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(Disclaimer: The concept of the PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia, bless ‘em. The Marquis de Sod and Agent Quen belong to the extended PPC community. Danny Richardson, Laura Dukes, and Rachel the intern belong to me. The male intern is up for grabs.)

Ah, Agent Dukes. For a moment I thought you were going to completely ignore that summons I sent you.

Laura Dukes slid her sunglasses down her nose to better glower at the flower sitting across from her. “I was gonna respond,” she groused. “I just got caught up in some research and lost track of time. There was no reason for your agents to drag me down here!” She twisted a strand of her red hair between her fingers in obvious irritation.

Playing an online tournament of Bad Company 2 is considered research? the Marquis de Sod asked.

“It could have been,” Laura said. “We could get a Bad Company potential badfic in tomorrow, or the day after. It’s an emergency! Who’s got the knowledge and expertise to go in and scout around without getting turned into chili con carne by frag-happy soldiers?” She pointed at herself. “You gotta think ahead about this stuff, de Sod.”

The Marquis de Sod sighed as he skimmed through the file in his fronds. Agent Dukes, the Sub Rosa has been complaining to me about your work ethic as of late. There was a dismissive spitting noise from across the desk, which the Marquis ignored. You’ve shirked your assigned investigations, you’ve antagonized your fellow spies, and you apparently knocked out the DoI computer system for three hours by trying to download an illegal copy of – the flower looked up from his folder – Far Cry.

“That was for research purposes!”

The Marquis dropped the folder onto the table. Do you want to be decommissioned, Miss Dukes? he growled.

“Hell no!”

Then why are you doing everything in your power to become so?! The Marquis slammed his leaves onto the desk in a rage. You’re violent and unpredictable. You refuse to follow protocol. You are the WORST spy the DoI has ever had the misfortune of training.

There was an uncomfortable pause. Laura attempted to set fire to the Marquis with her mind, but seeing as she had no actual psychic powers there was no effect.

That is why I have decided to grant your request to be transferred into the Department of Mary Sues.

“Well, you can go fu—” Laura stopped as her ears caught up with her mouth. “Say what?”

You’re out of DoI. I’m assigning you to work in the Video Game division, so as to capitalize on your, ah… talents. They will appreciate your seemingly bottomless capacity for violence. The Marquis picked up the discarded folder and began making a few notes in it. Agent Quen will tell you your Response Center number outside. You are dismissed.

“I… I’m in?” the agent finally managed. “Seriously?”

I do not joke about these sorts of things, Agent Dukes.

Laura smiled the gleeful grin of someone who just found a hundred-dollar bill lying on the sidewalk. “Well, all right then!” she exclaimed. “The Assassins! De Sod, I was totally wrong about you and I am sorry for all the times I called you a mulch-head! I won’t let you down!” She got up and casually saluted the flower. “I’m gonna go get settled in, maybe polish my daggers! Gotta look good when you shiv Sues, you know,” she said as she turned to leave.

I should hurry if I were you, the Marquis suddenly added. Your new partner is probably waiting for you right now.

Laura froze again. “Uh… beg pardon?” she asked, her blue eyes narrowing to slits. Suddenly that hundred-dollar bill was just a piece of paper with a Ben Franklin stick figure on it.

Your new partner, an Agent Danny Richardson. the Marquis said. We recruited him just last week. Fell through a plot hole. I understand you haven't had a partner since the Mary Sue invasion, but the DMS has a different way of operating. You will likely adapt.

“Whoa, whoa! I am perfectly capable of handling Mary Sues on my own!”

This isn’t a reflection on your skills, Agent Dukes. If flowers could humorlessly smirk, the Marquis would have been doing so. This is a reflection on your behavior. A second agent – especially one like Agent Richardson – will help keep you on the straight and narrow. You are dismissed, Agent Dukes.

“You—”

Do I have to call in the agents that escorted you here?

Laura grimaced. “This ain’t over, De Sod,” she muttered on her way out.

Yes it is, actually.

“Do you always have to get the last word?!”

Yes.

* * *


Laura grumbled under her breath as she stomped through the flat grey halls of PPC headquarters.

“Partner…” she muttered. “I don’t need a partner. Maybe someone to hold my extra knives while I’m stabbing Sues, but that’s about it.” She raised her voice as she turned to look over her shoulder. “Do you think I need a partner?”

This last statement was addressed to the two interns trailing in her wake. They were staggering under the weight of various bags and boxes, all of them with Laura’s name and new RC number on them. “Well?” Laura asked again.

The first intern peeked around the baggage in her arms at Laura and smiled. “Couldn’t say, ma’am!” she chirped. Her brown pigtails bobbed in time with her speaking. “I’ve only known you for a few minutes! I’d need to know you a bit better before making judgments like that!”

Laura pushed her sunglasses up her nose. “For the sake of my argument,” she said, “just agree with me.”

“Oh. Okay then!” The brunette cleared her throat. “You don’t need a partner. You’re a one-woman army! Cutting throats and taking names, that’s you!”

“Damn straight!”

“That’s why the Marquis transferred you to the Assassins, after all,” the intern went on. “It’s not like this was an excuse to give you missions with dangerous video game Mary Sues in an effort to get you killed!”

“Yea— wait, what?”

“Uh, ma’am…” the other intern said as he attempted to readjust the boxes in his arms. “Are we there yet? I’m starting to lose feeling in my left hand.”

“We’re almost there,” Laura said. “Be careful with those boxes, they’re full of important electronic equipment.”

There was a pause. “The video game consoles are important electronic equipment?” the intern finally asked.

“They’re for gorram research, all right?! Now what were you saying about me getting killed?”

"Nothing!" the female intern said cheerfully.

* * *


Laura stopped outside a RC and double-checked the piece of paper Agent Quen had given her. “All right, we’re here. That doesn’t mean you can leave!” she said, eying the male intern in mid-escape attempt. “I might need someone to hold things while I get this new place wired up.”

“No problem, Agent Dukes!” the brunette said. The other intern said nothing as he worked out the kinks in his arm.

Laura opened the door and stepped inside. It was a typical RC: console, bathroom, side room with bunks for napping, storage closet, the whole shebang. It looked as if it had just been cleaned; new partner must be a neat freak, Laura thought.

“Hello? Agent Richardson?” she called out. “Must’ve stepped out.” She turned her attention back to the interns. “All right, start bringing that stuff in. Carefully!”

“Oh hey, are those the bookshelves I ordered?” said someone behind her.

“Gah!” Laura whipped around to see a tall blond man standing in the doorway to the bunkroom. ‘Where the hell were you hiding?!” she demanded as she mentally went over the ‘how to tell if you’re having a heart attack’ checklist.

“I was just taking a nap in the other room,” he said. “So those aren’t my bookshelves?”

“No, those are my things.”

“Oh! Then you must be Agent Dukes!” He offered out his hand. “Danny Richardson,” he said.

“Laura,” she said as she shook his hand.

Danny looked over her shoulder to the toiling interns. “What is all that stuff anyway?” he asked.

“It’s for research,” the male intern said dryly.

“He wasn’t talking to you, nooblet!” Laura said. “Now get back to work!” She gave Danny a once over. “Are you sure you’re Danny Richardson?” she asked.

“Uh, last time I checked,” he said. Why?”

“You just don’t strike me as the video game type. You look more like one of those guys who never leave the campus library in case they miss some fascinating research on starfish or something.”

Danny chuckled. “Well, that wouldn’t be entirely incorrect,” he said. “I was more into English literature than mollusks, though.”

“And the tie?” Laura reached over and grabbed the blue tie hanging from his neck.

“It’s my first day on the job. I wanted to make a good impression.” Danny carefully removed the tie from Laura’s grasp and tucked it back underneath his black cardigan.

Laura snorted. “Right. What’s your Gamerscore?” she asked.

“I don’t own an Xbox.”

“Okay, what’s your trophy count?”

“I don’t own a PS3, either.”

Laura squinted at Danny. “Do you game at all?”

“Of course! SimCity, Civilization—” Danny stopped as Laura facepalmed. “I’m guessing that those were the wrong answers.”

“I’m gonna feed that stupid daisy to a giant sheep.”

Danny furrowed his brow in confusion. “Beg your pardon?” he asked.

“I’m gonna find a continuum where there are giant sheep, I am going to hog tie de Sod, and I am going to throw that stupid daisy through the portal to giant sheep-land, and then I'll do something awesome that'll make me feel even better.”

“Is there something wrong?”

“A-DUH!” Laura shouted. “We’re in the frigging Video Game division of the Department of Mary Sues and you don’t know Jack M. Diddley about the video games we’ll be protecting! There ain’t gonna be any SimCity Mary Sues, I can tell you that right now!”

“Hang on a sec,” Danny said. “I admit that my hands-on experience with conventional video games is lacking. However, I’ve done plenty of research on some of the more popular games to write fan fiction. Go ahead, test me.”

Laura crossed her arms and leaned against the wall. “Alright then, rookie,” she said. “In Kingdom Hearts, what are the three different things that make up a person?”

“Heart, body, and soul,” Danny quickly responded. “If a person gives in to evil, their heart is consumed by darkness and they become a Heartless. If a very strong heart becomes a Heartless, the body and soul that are left behind may become a Nobody.”

“Mass Effect 2!” said Laura. “Who are the love interests for a female Commander Shepard?”

“Garrus Vakarian, Jacob Tyler, and Thane Krios. Kelly Chambers, Morinth, and Samara are also possible romance options, but they won’t unlock the Paramour achievement.”

“True or false! You can summon Ceiling Cat in Scribblenauts.”

Danny hesitated. “Uh… false?”

“EHHH! I’m sorry, but the correct answer was true! You may also summon a Longcat. Good effort, though.”

Danny looked nonplussed. “Why would you summon a Longcat?”

Laura rolled her eyes. “For the lulz, why else?”

“Okay, okay,” said Danny. “So I haven’t researched every aspect. I’m a fast learner, though. I can adapt. Trust me, I am completely prepared for this job.”

“We’ll see,” Laura said. She gave Danny a nasty smile. “Think you can kill a Sue?”

“Can I kill an abomination against good writing?” Danny shot Laura one of his own smiles right back. “How could I not?”

Laura let out a short harsh laugh. “Okay, Danny,” she said. “I guess I can put up with you for now. Just remember that I’m the senior agent and we won’t have any problems. I tell you to jump and you go get a trampoline. Got it?”

“And I would respect that if this were the Department of Intelligence,” Danny said. “It’s not.” Laura scowled as he went on. “You’ve got as much experience killing Mary Sues as I do, which is none. You’re my partner, not my boss.” He grinned. “Besides, ‘that stupid daisy’ told me to watch you, to keep you in line. I intend to do so.”

The redhead sighed. “I can see this is gonna be loads of fun,” she said.

“Agent Dukes?” said the brunette intern as she stepped in between the two agents. “What did you want us to do with this box labelled spare heat sinks?”

“Put it in the bunkroom, Rachel,” Laura said. The intern nodded and went into the other room.

“So…” Danny said. “You didn’t see anyone with bookshelves out there, did you?” Laura shook her head. “Ah well.” He stretched his arms over his head and yawned. “C’mon, don’t look so gloomy! I’m sure we’ll get a mission so--.”

BEEEEEEEEEP
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