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Old Feb 1 2007, 07:32 AM   #1
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Default Mary Sue's Revenge!

I've just realised that I've not posted this parody-fic here yet, and seeing as I've just updated it, I thought now would be a good opportunity to do so. Be warned... it WILL cause you pain in places. If you want to leave any feedback/comments, please use the other thread.
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Old Feb 1 2007, 07:32 AM   #2
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Chapter 1: Mary Sue's Revenge

Mary Sue Smith finished the last sentence of the story with a sigh, and checked the last tick box on her list. That would be the one marked "Twu Wub (vomit)". Scanning the page before her, Mary was appalled to see that she hadn't missed a single box. Sure enough, multi-talented apprentice Harper Mellissaressa had impressed Gold Sparkleth the moment her opalescent eyes had met spotted the hapless hatchling, while her main rival had been left standing only to be clawed to death by a green.

A pity really, as in Mary's opinion the remarkably sensible EvilBitch! Naora was the least one-dimensional of the story's antagonists. Alas, the story had, inevitably, only gone downhill from there onwards, passing the usual plot tokens en route to the oh-so-shocking ending of "I hate you, you gorgeous bronze-riding hunk, but now our dragons have shacked up together, so why don't we? BTW, I luuuurve you. Squee!". To make things worse, this was followed by a rambling authors note detailing the many babies the couple had, who all impressed gold or bronze. Gah! It really did make Mary want to vomit. On top of that, the girl - well, Mary assumed the author was female, with a name like "RammothsTRUErider" - had an interesting, scattershot approach to spelling and grammar. Mary shuddered. The clueless author seemed to be under the impression that covering all your bases was a better option than consistency. Not a good sign. Ignorance could be corrected, given enough time and a patient Beta; willful stupidity on the other hand...

Frustrated at the futility of even trying, Mary Sue closed her internet browser with a vicious click of her mouse. Sure, she could have fun sporking the god-awful crapness of the thing on her favourite website, but it didn't change the fact that it was her name that was synonymous with... Mary Sues. Of course, it went without saying that she knew better than to expect high-quality writing from the infamous "Pit of Voles", especially in this fandom. Cliched plotlines were common enough in the books themselves, so as far as fanfic was concerned, she expected to have to wade through sewage, or "sue-age" to find the rare gems. But even her light relief of enjoyable dross was being spoilt these days. Someone had to stop the decline. Bad writers seemed to be breeding like... like Sparkleth and Mellissawissawatchamacallher. And they just kept. On. Writing. If you could call it writing.

Mary shoved the mouse mat away from her elbow, and rested her chin in her hands glumly. She wanted her name back, dammit! And to teach these nitwits a lesson, somehow... or at least to get them to shut the hell up.

And that was when she spotted the mailbox icon blinking in the corner of her terminal. Curious, she opened a new window and had a look. The title suggested it was just another spam: "Mary Sue! We have the solution!" Yes, that sounded like another offer for generic c1alis, or pen1s enlargement. But she opened it anyway, and read the contents.

Oh my.

There was a god. And he sure as hell wasn't a benevolent, forgiving one - not as far as those crapfic authors were concerned. Rubbing her hands with glee, Mary Sue quickly posted a reply, listing her top five most despised authors.

They'd think their dreams had come true.


They'd be wrong. Very wrong.
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Old Feb 1 2007, 07:33 AM   #3
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Chapter 2: Melissa goes to Pern!

Why did computers always crash at the wrong time? Melissa Carpenter had just finished the first chapter of her new masterpiece, and now it was all gone! It had taken her a whole half hour to write as well! Still, she knew the whole story like the back of her hand, and nothing would stop the detailed new saga of Mellissaressa's further life, loves and achievements as the saviouress of Pern being shared with the world. She'd just have to start over, and remember to save this time.

But before she could start typing, she realised she had a new e-mail. Maybe it was an explanation of why her genuine rolex watch hadn't arrived yet? But no, it was just some kind of joke e-mail. Still, as Melissa read it, she found herself genuinely wishing it was real.

'Owing to the unprecedented levels of excellence displayed in your fan fiction, we hereby offer you, Melissa Carpenter, a unique opportunity. Yes, by repeating the following phrase, you will instantly have the ability to be teleported to the location of your choice, including the option of travel to... Pern! All you need to do is to state the code numbers in the e-mail header, describe your desired destination, and then simply state "For Faranth's sake, take me to [wherever]." Teleportation will commence immediately, and although a round-trip is provided as a matter of course, you may find it convenient to tidy up your affairs in advance.'

Well, there was no harm in trying, was there, even if it was a joke? Throwing caution to the wind, Melissa rapidly reeled off the string of letters and numbers. What next? Oh yes! Who did she want to meet though? Why, Jaxom of course! But she didn't like the sound of Ruatha's cold winters, so how about the southern continent. Even better - why not Landing? Then she could get AVISAS or whatever it was to not let Master Robinton die!

Melissa closed her eyes, and concentrated.
"I want to be on Pern, near Landing. For Faranth's sake, take me to Pern!"

Within a heartbeat, she was gone from her room. There was a stiff breeze blowing, and an uneven surface beneath her trainers. She opened her eyes, with a huge smile on her face, just knowing that it had actually worked!

The first thing she saw was the leading edge of threadfall descending towards her.

She didn't see much else after that.

But on the plus side, at least no-one had to see "Mellissaressa Saves Pern Again!!!!!"
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Old Feb 1 2007, 07:34 AM   #4
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Chapter 3: Lucy in the dark, with Whers

Lucy "Lorana" Jenkins couldn't believe the cheek of those cows! A wher could, too, fly in daylight, if it wanted. And flame, and eat thread, and so what if it didn't make sense to them? Todd said it worked, and that was good enough for her. Although, there were a few things that Lorana thought Todd could have done better. Like, why did whers have to be so ugly? Or just come in the normal colours? Purple matched the colour of Master Wher Handler Luciana's eyes soooo much better, so why did all her reviewers have to be so mean about it? And, if they wanted, a queen wher could mate with Mnementh, and Luciana could be Weyrwoman! She sighed, and flicked her plait dramatically over one shoulder, wishing it was was as icy blonde and long as her character's, instead of being mousey and full of split ends. Yeah, what did they know? She took an angry bite out of her hamburger, not caring as the juices dripped onto her shirt.

A sudden beeping alerted her to the arrival of a new e-mail. Hopefully it'd be notification of another "OMG!!! I luv ur story rite more plEEZZZEE!!" review, rather than just another bitchy rant about her spelling. Her spell checker did all that properly, so why did they keep saying things were wrung?

But no, this was something quite different. Unable to resist the temptation, "Lorana" followed the instructions in the e-mail.

"I want to be on Pern, anywhere, so long as I'm with real, live whers! For Faranth's sake, take me to Pern!" she gasped.

Suddenly, everything went black. Where was she? It couldn't be between, because she could feel herself, and the ground. Was it Pern?

"YES!" she shouted, and screamed in enthusiastic pleasure, clapping her hands as the sounds echoed back to her. She could hear something too - a sort of scratchy, scrabbly noise. It was getting closer.

"Hello? Is anyone there? Are you a Wher?"

Her eyes gradually adjusted to the dim light, and she could just about make out several dark shapes approaching. They were making angry, growling noises as well now.

Almost as if they were territorial, and annoyed at being woken up by a screaming idiot, who certainly didn't smell as if she belonged.

She smelled more like food, in fact.

Lucy "Lorana" Jenkin's screams echoed around the cavern once more, but not for very long.

Despite the fact that the whers soon discovered that denim didn't taste very good, and got stuck in one's teeth, the crunching noises went on for much, much longer...
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Old Feb 1 2007, 07:35 AM   #5
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Chapter 4: The Stu-thor from hell

Oh, now that was just. Plain. Wrong. Mary felt as if her mind had been reduced to a quivering puddle in the darkest corner of her skull, praying desperately for some bleach. The fic was like... like some deformed love-child of "Luthien" and "Tea-setting Neville". Brekke and Mirrim weren't her favourite characters, but she would admit to having a soft spot for F'nor and Canth. Even so, that wasn't the point. Not even Toric deserved a Gary Stu like that! She scanned the titles of the Stu-thor's other stories. Hmph. Deserving or not, it seemed like not a single 9th pass character, Toric included, had escaped unscathed.

Well, there was only one answer. Mary Sue quickly sent a follow-up e-mail to her mystery friend.

~ ~ ~

Josh flexed his puny muscles, and read his most recent batch of e-mails. One in particular was rather intriguing. Not that it was at all believable, but the thought of actually going to Pern in person, and meeting all his favourite characters... ooh, he could write a story about that all right! Featuring himself, the one and only Josh Benford, rather than just a proxy Gary-Stu. Hmmm...

Josh read through the e-mailed instructions one last time, then pulled his well-thumbed copy of "People of Pern" off his bookshelf. He clearly visualised his destination, and the people he wanted to introduce himself to, and started to reel off the required phrases.

"...take me to Fort Hold, right now!"

After a moment of blackness, a beautiful landscape appeared in front of his eyes. Grass, a river, trees. He spun round to look for the hold itself.

He was standing right beside a rocky cliff that looked as if it could have been where Fort Hold was meant to be. But as for the Hold itself... well, it just wasn't there.

"I said, take me to Fort Hold, right now!" he shouted, hoping this time it would work properly. The scenery flickered once, but remained suspiciously unchanged. Confused, he listened as his words echoed back to him.

"...right now... now... now..."

Whoops.

Still, he was actually on Pern, and the 21st century would be pre-thread, right? He worriedly glanced around, not sure which way was east. Well, there didn't seem to be any tell-tale shimmers of grey haze or anything, so he guessed he was safe. And that wasn't all! He could see actual, living, breathing, flying firelizards! Maybe he could find a clutch of eggs, and impress some?

Josh started to walk towards the group of firelizards, slowly and quietly so as not to disturb them. But they must have spotted him, as the entire group vanished before he got halfway. Disappointed, he sat down on a nearby rock and wondered what to do next.

He didn't have to wonder for very long. A sudden squarking alerted him to a brown flit flapping overhead, eyes whirling the orange of alarm.

"Hey little guy, I won't hurt you," he said, trying to emote some friendly thoughts. But the creature just blinked between again.

The implication that the arrival of thread hadn't been responsible for inspiring that skill in firelizards was completely lost on him. A species can't evolve an ability like teleporting over night, after all. If Josh had had time to think things through properly, he might just have realised that some other menace might still be lurking on the surface of Pern.

Such as a nasty, vicious, very fast predator.

~ ~ ~

Disappointed that his warning had been ignored, the brown flit returned to his fair. They'd seen the newcomer arrive, and it seemed to have the same kind of ability as themselves. But if it was stupid enough to sit on top of the monster's feeding grounds, well, that was just too bad.
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Old Feb 1 2007, 07:37 AM   #6
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Chapter 5: A conversation with SueSlayer

Mary Sue was quietly working on her course work when she realised that someone was trying to reach her via her messenger software. The name wasn't one she recognised, but she had a feeling she knew who it was. Who else would call themselves "SueSlayer"?

~So, what did you make of their crapfics?~ she asked. ~And what did they make of the real Pern?~

~To use your preferred word, they were indeed particularly putrescent pieces of crap. Nevertheless, more names are required. Only half made it as far as Pern.~

So, this power actually believed he'd sent them there. Huh. That was either impressive, or worrying. Or both. Setting aside her concerns for a moment, Mary wondered what had happened to the other three.

~What, did some of them opt for Cottman IV instead? Or Valdemar? Or heaven forbid, Hogwarts?~

~We have other teams working on those fandoms,~ the messenger elucidated. ~ But you'd think, with all the emphasis on clear visualisations in the books, they'd know better.~

~We both know very well how unlikely that is!~ Mary replied. ~But simple teleportation doesn't have the same hazards as between, surely? I mean, it's not like they're going to suffocate en route... How come they didn't get there?~

~They got taken where they asked to go.~

~Which was WHERE...?~ Mary typed impatiently.


~One requested "the Rukbat System". However, she neglected the precaution of a spacesuit, and expired in short order. "In Pern" was another poor choice.~

Mary felt a shiver run down her spine. This didn't sound good. She'd thought this was all some kind of joke to start with, but it didn't seem that way anymore. Not knowing what to do next, she watched numbly as SueSlayer went on.

~Do you have any idea how much that taxes our power? Opening a rift into the centre of a planet is a dangerous business, you know.~

"I'm sure that it is," she muttered numbly.

~Glad you appreciate our efforts. As for the fifth. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.~

Mary was so perturbed by the typed laughter - a string of ROFLs or LOLs would have been less chilling - that it took her a while to realise that SueSlayer seemed to have heard her. Definitely NOT a good development.

~Number 5, little miss block-paragraphs-of-doom, well, she foolishly requested to be "in the actual Pern books".~

Mary winced. "And?" she whispered, morbidly curious.

~Her nearest copyright library has some unusual puddles in its stacks. Many of the surrounding books have suffered damage, but our logistics department has seen to the cost of sending replacements and a cleaner. We can't abide damage to BOOKS, you know.~

Starting to feel very creeped out, Mary consoled herself that three of them had made it to Pern. Even if it wasn't quite what they expected, at least they'd got to visit their favourite fictional planet. She went to type a query on her messenger, and then decided against it. Asking aloud seemed to do well enough, and was less likely to be logged somewhere.

"But the other three are okay, aren't they?"

~We need more names. Details of their new lives on Pern will be forwarded on receipt.~

"I'm not sure..." she said slowly. Three out of six living a new life wasn't a great record.

~Your unwillingness to comply is noted. However, your e-mail correspondence and sporking records will suffice in the interim.~

"WHAT?!" Mary gasped. "You can't just..."

~We can.~

"You have to warn them properly! Promise me you'll do that, else I'll warn them myself."

~...

...Very well. Revised text will be supplied for your approval. Any changes you suggest will be implemented. Further action on your part will not be necessary.
~

Not be necessary? Mary wondered what she could possibly do in the event that it was...
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Old Feb 1 2007, 07:37 AM   #7
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Chapter 6: Late nights and stale coffee

Mary sighed, and reached for her coffee mug. The contents had cooled down to room temperature, and a pale, thin skin was forming on the surface. Still, it was the it only half-mug of caffeine in reach, so it'd have to do. Trying not to think about whether this was tonight's mug or yesterday's, she downed it in a few quick gulps. Four thirty in the morning, and she still didn't have a clue about who SueSlayer's next... victim... would be.

That's what they were, no doubt about it. Victims. So much for three 'new lives on Pern'. SueSlayer had passed on the promised details several hours before, details which had been disturbingly brief and final. The first piece of poor-quality video footage had just appeared on Mary's screen with no warning, and she had watched in horror as the first hapless author dissolved before her eyes.

Somehow, she had to make this stop.

She'd started by going over ever review she'd ever made. Sometimes she'd had the patience to give concrit, other times she'd simply heaped scorn on their pathetic prose - the latter type all from nice, secure sock-puppet accounts, of course, but that didn't seem to matter as far as SueSlayer was concerned. Then, she'd had to track down all those stories she'd sporked less publicly. Well, most of them were less public. There were a few cases where the merciless derision of the collective had been anonymously linked back to the original author, followed by a whole spectrum of responses ranging from tearful suicide notes to threatening legal-ese. Not that they were any easier to find than the rest, with the site on the blink like it was right now. Did SueSlayer have its own records, or could it pull the information directly from various databases, electron by electron? With all that Mary knew now, she wouldn't be surprised if it could.

But maybe she was going about this the wrong way? The fanbrats seemed to have a pretty widespread community out there, even if it was about as saccharine and insubstantial as candy-floss. Mary clenched her teeth, and mentally switched off her internal grammar-nazi. This wouldn't be easy, but it might just work...
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Old Feb 1 2007, 07:38 AM   #8
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Chapter 7: Crystel-sparkle Wyer! Now with zebra-striped dragons!

The blank persona sheet hung in front of Mary's eyes like a... a grimy toilet, in dire need of Cillit Bang? She hadn't even begun to fill in the blank spaces, and it was already a work of horror. Well, it was only going to get worse. First things first, she needed to devise an appropriate name.

Charrie's name! --- Kyllyryanna Moonshadow ---

There, that'd do nicely. She'd be sure to spell it several different ways in the "charrie biogaraphy" section, maybe add a middle name and an identical male triplet there too. One had to blend in, after all.

Charrie's star sign! --- ---

Charrie's birthstone! --- ---

Charrie's favrite color! --- ---

Charrie's ideel 1st date! --- ---

Charrie's pet's favrite food! --- ---

Ughhh.. ***? Aside from wanting to vomit every time she saw the word "charrie", what was the relevance of all this? It looked like someone had had a major sugar-trip doing OkayLover! tests, and wanted the whole world to do likewise. Still, coming up with a few random details wasn't exactly the chore of the century. Mary swiftly cobbled a handful of words together, mentally saving her strength for the later sections of the form. The six-generation family tree wouldn't be too bad; judging by the genealogy of the existing denizens of Crystel-sparkle Weyr, they weren't meant to make sense, or even be biologically plausible. No, it was the "biogaraphy" that'd take most of her effort.

Kylylyryana was born on the thrid day of the thrid month of the thrid year of the thrid pass, in the shadowy moonlight of all three of Pern's moons.

A between-times accident could explain her sudden appearance in the 9th pass, but dates like that were worth using! And if they had a problem with the extra moon, then... no. They'd never even notice. Anyway, on with the form.

She was the daugther of the Lord and Lady of Rautha Hold, and a talented Harperess. Kylrylanna was a master singer, and walked the tables aged 9 and 15 because everyone loved her singing sooooooo much! lol! She was also a tallented smith, and was stronger than the strongest men, and they all asked her advise, but she didn't make much stuff except for fancy joolery 'cos she didn't want nasty big mussles. When Kylyanala was 14, her identical twin brother...


Mary smothered a laugh. As if the normal rules of biology were meant to apply to fandom Sues!

...was searched for Benden Wyer, and he impressed twin bronze dragons! Kyllyryanna-lia was sad to see him go, but lerned she could here all dragons, and was given twelve flit eggs as a reward for saving Ramouth's clutch from the evil Lord Chalken, but before they could hatch she was atacked by a mysterous stranger and had to call the dragons to rescue her, and they did but she was so badly hurt that she nearly dyed, and she didn't speek for a whole turn. When Kylyranna-lia was 14 and a 1/2 she won the acclame of all Pern for singing the Ballad of Lorana in evry hold on Pern...

Mary stopped watching the words appear on her screen. This was far, far too painful! Sometimes, the ability to touch-type could be a decided disadvantage. Dropping her gaze to her keyboard, she switched off auto-correct and added an entire page of painful run-on. By the end of it - an end which broke off suddenly mid-sentence - any pretense at sanity had vanished, and Kyllyrya-whatsit had a deeply twagic past that would put any Sue to shame. Fortunately, it was easily matched by the audacity of her implausible "tallents". Still, there was something missing. Ah yes.

Mary held her breath, re-positioned her cursor, and added a single word mid-way through.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111eleventy!LOL!
Perfect.

And with gold/silver striped Annayryllykth already impressed to the Sue, she could jump in and start playing as soon as the approval arrived. A few quick posts, and then she could start trying to get SueSlayer's attention. They'd be looking here, for sure - Crystel-sparkle "Wyer" had spawned many, many sue-thors in the past, and the next victim was bound to be around here somewhere. And if not? Someone would know where Mary could try next.
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Old Mar 8 2007, 09:06 AM   #9
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Chapter 8: In which the owner of Crystel-Sparkle Weyr is about to approve Mary's persona sheet, but gets distracted by an unfortunate e-mail...

Escaping to a life of drudgery

A few seconds short of hitting the 'send' button on her e-mail window, Anna heard the double-beep that signified the arrival of another new message. She'd been approving charries for Crystel-Sparkle Weyr all evening, and was just about done with sending out replies, but if this was another persona-sheet she might as well read it first. The last one she'd read had had some fantastic ideas, and so long as that Mary girl didn't mind her charrie slotting in with the existing ranking members of the Weyr ('hierarchy' not being part of Anna's lexicon), Anna reckoned that they'd have many fun hours of RP ahead. Maybe Kyllyryanna could become best friends with her own Weyrwoman Allairyanna? Or they could be long-lost half-sisters? The options were endless! Anna idly touched up her cherry-flavoured lipgloss, and opened her newest e-mail.

Unfortunately for Anna, it wasn't another poorly-written persona sheet after all.

The first sentence was so surprising that Anna pushed her chair back and blinked. She'd waited so long to get this kind of recognition from other people. Of course, her friends all knew how wonderful her writing was anyway, but most other people on the internet were just sad old bitches obsessed with 'grammer', who wouldn't know one end of a good story from another. Wondering how those words would sound aloud, Anna read the opening sentence again.

"Owing to the unprecedented levels of excellence displayed in your fan fiction...'' the message began. Unprecedented levels of excellence! Anna hadn't had an OMG! moment like this in, like, hours!. She read on, enthralled.

It was all just nonsense, of course, but a small part of Anna's brain wanted to give it a try anyway. She re-read the last paragraph on last time - it was all some kind of legalese, about visualising th destination clearly and specifying conditions for return - and forumlated an image of her ideal life on Pern.

She could be just like Annessa! Annessa, her greatest character, who did what Lessa should have done. And had plenty of Teh Hawt! Secx! with F'lar, and loads of twin babies, and didn't take any nonsense from the Oldtimers but made them reform, and stuff like that. Really, it was the obvious choice - what other piece of her fan fiction could this e-mail be talking about, other than her masterpiece?

But where to begin the story, when to start living Anessa's life?

Anna flicked through her notebook, refreshing her memory. Page after page of purple glitter-ink covered paper passed through her fingers, and she realised she had only one choice.

This story was too good to miss a single second of it. She'd have to begin at the beginning, as a drudge in Ruatha.

Closing her eyes, Anna began to visualise her Pernese life. An early morning, with mist still clinging to the valley floor, the Watch-wher safe in his den, and a bribed guard on the fire-heights watching the rising sun glint off the metal blades of Fax's invading horde. It was the most creative image she'd ever strung together in her short life, and when she opened her eyes again, it was onto a view of the image as reality.

In the years that followed, Anna would often find herself desperately looking at the same view, then clenching her eyes and wishing herself home. It would have worked, if the conditions of her return that she'd decided on at the moment of transfer had been met... but Annessa's life had taken a very different route to the contents of Anna's notebook, and it would have taken a miracle to reconcile the differences.

The changes had begun mere hours after Anna's arrival. That was the first day, the day Fax had invaded, the day she'd suffered the same consequences as every other young woman of her age in the Hold. As time moved on, the life that Annessa should have lived diverged more and more from the realities of life as a drudge in an occupied Hold. It didn't help that she had to live with the consequences of her situation. Even the fact that Pern didn't have cosmetics or indeed decent shampoo, and that the filth and physical strain of her lifestyle rapidly ruined her looks, didn't change the misery of Annessa's life by much.

It might have been bearable if she'd had a friend to turn to, but Lessa was a pyschopathic bitch who made Annessa's life hell, and took great pleasure in her continued misfortune. On the fateful day when one of her tormentors was killed, and the other was Searched for Ramoth's golden egg, Annessa found herself silently cheering. It didn't matter that her last chance of meeting the conditions of her dreamt-of future were slipping through her fingers, and that any hope of returning home was disappearing with them. By then, Annessa was a broken woman, fit for nothing more than the life of drudgery she'd escaped to.
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Old Feb 13 2008, 09:54 AM   #10
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Chapter 9: The rising tide of Sueage

Mary-sue stared at her computer screen, utterly astounded. No, she wasn't still feverish from the 'flu... there really hadn't been a single post on Crystel-sparkle's web forum in the past twenty-four hours. Looking closer at the date-stamps on the different threads, Mary realised that the role-play had died off not long after she'd joined - and at about the same time as a sudden explosion of activity in the OOC sub-forum.

Oh dear. This didn't look good. Six weeks ago she'd have blamed it on a server outage or something, but now? Mary cursed her bad luck at falling ill at the wrong time, and tried to figure out what to do next. She'd meant to use their stories to help locate SueSlayer's next target... was it too late for that now?

Ten minutes later, Mary knew the answer with chilling certainty. Every single member had received a copy of SueSlayer's missive. The fact that they'd got the revised text version - the one which included Mary's veiled warnings and a lot of emphasis on clear visuals - well, that was scant comfort; having seen the gaping plot-holes and inconsistencies in their stories, Mary didn't reckon they'd be any better equipped for dealing with real life, let alone something like SueSlayer.

Delving into the next thread on the page, Mary came to the conclusion that that wasn't quite true, and that she'd actually underestimated some of them. Why, this was a whole page's worth of discussion on accidentally arriving in the middle of Threadfall! Mind you, the solution they'd reached wasn't really all that appealing. Imagine asking to arrive on Pern coated with Wher saliva!

~One of them did...~


Mary glared at the blinking message that had just materialised on the screen.

"Oh, no... I mean, there's canon, and then there's canon. And as far as Wher saliva goes, I really don't think Todd thought things out properly at all."

~No, he didn't. I wasn't sure myself, but the recent evidence was conclusive. You seem interested in the subject; do you require video?~

``NO! You sick, sick bastard...'' Mary shuddered; she really, really didn't want to see another Thread death. She closed the message window, only for a replacement to immediately appear.

~Why, thank you!~

Doing her best to ignore SueSlayer's apparent attention, Mary turned back to the forum. There were even a few web-cam clips posted - they'd actually managed to record each other vanishing! Considering the state of the site, the number of disappearances was truly phenomenal. Mary couldn't help wondering how long it'd be before someone outside of the Pern fandom noticed something was up. Unless the vanishers had been smart enough to request a trip they could return safely from...

~Another 'no'. Although they were rather inventive, as far as Sues and Stus go.~

"I don't want to know."

~Haven't you ever wondered if twin dragons were possible?~

Mary shook her head "Not really. Ever the twain put me off that cliche a long time ago."

~Pity. Getting the beasts to survive on a single yolk long enough to Impress was one of my proudest moments. They died minutes later, of course, leaving their new partners quite mindless. Hardly much of a change in that respect though.~

As morbid as the conversation was becoming, Mary suddenly realised that it might actually serve a useful purpose. SueSlayer seemed to enjoy crowing about its triumphs, but if she could find a weakness, some kind of flaw that could be exploited...

"Do you do much in that respect? Tinkering with the dragons?"

~The black dragon was quite a challenge, I can tell you. Finding a workable mutation took a lot of attention, but I achieved the desired colour in the end. There was an unfortunate side-effect with the workings of the secondary stomachs... the first time they used firestone, the beast actually exploded. My oh my, Igen hasn't seen a mess like that since an angry assistant chef gave half the Weyr a bad case of dysentry! But no. Mostly I work on bending the Pernese populace into the correct shape to fit the visitor. You can hardly blame me if they can't take the very angst-fest they requested, can you?~


Well, that was a tricky question.... not. "Er, yes. As it happens, I believe I can."

Mary shook her head, and stared at the remains of the deserted forum-Weyr. She was no closer to finding an answer, or some way to fight back. Maybe if she'd just been a bit quicker? She supposed she could try again, but-

~You think you can stop ME? Ha. Ha. Ha.~


"Listen, I am going to stop you, no matter what it takes!''

~And who was it who drew my attention to the first Sue-thors? Or to Crystel Sparkle? Don't think you'll find help anywhere else... I wouldn't even try, if I were you.~

But what choice did Mary have? She had to find a solution, somehow, somewhere...

~If that's your final decision, then so be it. Expect consequences.~

Chilled, Mary tore the plug for the computer's power supply from its socket, and watched the monitor fade to a blissful, empty black. For the moment, SueSlayer was gone. It had to be.



And then, echoing up the stairwell came the sound of someone hammering on Mary's front door.
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Old Feb 13 2008, 09:54 AM   #11
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Chapter 10 - Big Trouble

Mary stared at the blank walls of her cell from the corner of the hard, narrow bed, and spent a few moments wondering if it would be worthwhile hammering her head against them. Someone had checked in on her twice since she'd been left here, and she guessed it was somewhere in the region of four or five in the morning. Apparently, the duty psychologist didn't start her shift until half eight, so she had a while to wait yet before they started examining the insides of her head.

The insides of her computer would another matter entirely. She was enough of a geek herself to be familiar with their usual working patterns, and at this time of night a virgin hard-drive with who knew what inside it would be better than SlashDot on a sugar-rush for the station's sweaty-looking tech. Mary wondered whether SueSlayer would make it easy for him - neat orderly directories of stories and death-footage all scrapbooked together - or if it'd be more cryptic, forcing the tech through a caffeine-fuelled marathon before he found something horrific, incriminating, or most likely both.

It didn't really matter though. Rearranging electrons was nothing for a power that could reorder reality; either way, she was in big trouble. You didn't need much imagination to
figure that out.

"I suppose you find this amusing," she shouted at the walls.

The walls didn't answer.

But SueSlayer did.

This? A little dull for my tastes, really. The voice could have been Mary's own, twisted into a whispering, sibilant mockery. But I suppose it passes the time. Do you want to know what they're saying about you? Oh, I know you do.

Mary carried on staring at the wall, which was now looking very tempting.

No? Then what about those lovely little authors you despised so much? Playing around with their comedic tragedies, thinking that simply Impressing a Pernese dragon would rid them of all of the deep-seated psychological traumas they'd thoughtlessly wished on their alter egos? The madness they invariably die from is really quite delicious, you know. Or I could tell you what DracoMagnet wished himself into? Ah, the details they get hung up on! Imagine thinking you needed to specify how between worked in order to enjoy the place?

"Let me guess. Cosmology 101 wasn't up to it?"

Hardly! It was exhausting containing the consequences to a single universe. Quite set me behind on my targets.

Was that... was that some sign of weakness? Mary decided to push harder - it was either that or let the bastard carry on monologuing like a cliched villain. "But you can rearrange time, space... if it was too taxing for you, why not just not bother?"

Silence.

"Hello? Slayer?"

Silence.

"You can't, can you?"

Mary waited, her mouth dry. Was this the answer she'd been looking for? Eventually, SueSlayer spoke again.

Mary, Mary, Mary. Do you really imagine that my undivided attention isn't up to any task that you or anyone else could devise for me? Try me, test me, if you dare doubt it. You want to, I can tell. Go on. Do it. You'll only make me stronger when you fail.

And with those words, Mary Sue knew exactly what it was that she had to do.
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Old Feb 13 2008, 09:55 AM   #12
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Chapter 11 - Retroactive Continuity

The more she thought about it, the more she knew that this was the only thing that might work, indeed, the only thing she was even capable of trying. Mary stopped pacing and stared at the wall above the narrow bed, wishing that there'd been even the tiniest of windows there. She'd have liked to have seen...

No. She couldn't afford any doubts, or regrets. Mary closed her eyes, took a deep breath to steady her nerves, and slowly began to speak.

"Slayer? I hope you're listening. I've a story for you, and I think you'll like it. I think you'll find it rather... compelling."

Silence. Mary took that as a good sign, and went on. "Ten years ago, the story begins. In winter. It's dark, wet, and a girl and her parents have spent the last seven hours driving back from a funeral. Her mother's sister's the one who's just died, her only other close relative.

"Anyway, it's winter, and it's cold. The roads have been getting icy, dangerously so. The girl never sees how the accident starts - or maybe she does, and just doesn't remember, because this isn't an accident that my parents were ever going to survive. However it happened, it happened, and at some point I got knocked unconscious. When I wake up, a lost and traumatised orphan... well, it won't be in the back end of beyond's best excuse for an intensive care unit. Not any more."

Mary opened her eyes to the sound of deep, malicious laughter.

Beautiful. I didn't think you'd try this for ages yet, you know.

Mary shook her head. "I don't care what you think. I know you can't stop me doing thi..."

And why would I want to? Elaborate all you want, but don't mistake the outcome. Make a true Sue of yourself, and you WILL die. Just like all the rest.


"Perhaps," Mary admitted. An almost-hysterical giggle slipped from her mouth, as she struggled to take the fact in. Well, it was a definite possibility, especially if SueSlayer did everything in its power to see that things worked out that way. It would need her death, she realised, with everything she had planned for it. Turning back the clock, Bamf!-ing her onto Pern, constructing her life there in accordance with her wishes... those things in themselves would no doubt be trivial for the creature, but that wasn't how she was hoping to hurt it. No, in order to take her from her life then, Slayer would need to undo everything she'd done since. And not just everything she'd done, but everything she'd caused to happen, too. A ripple spreading out through time and space, erasing every last trace of her except perhaps for a sad footnote in a country newspaper... None of this would have happened, nothing at all, no-one would have died... and as well as expending all that effort, SueSlayer would surely have to lose every last bit of the power it had gained since it had first contacted her, maybe even more than that.

That was where she'd start.

Laughter echoed around the room once again, and Mary felt a sinking feeling in the core of her body. It was trying to make her doubt herself, trying to...

And then SueSlayer showed her just a fraction of what it was capable of, the sheer horror of it all pouring into her mind from every angle. It would do all she asked, down to every last detail, and there was nothing, nothing she could do to stop it finding some flaw that could be exploited, some means of killing her horribly, and it didn't matter even if she weakened it close to oblivion in the process, because she'd never, never, live long enough for it to be enough.

Gasping for breath, Mary realised she'd collapsed to the floor. She felt ill, weak and blind as a newborn kitten. She pressed her hands to her ears to try to block out the laughter, squeezed her eyes shut and slumped over her knees, almost ready to give up, but knowing that she couldn't. People had died, but she could do something about that. Even if she couldn't stop SueSlayer from feeding on her Sue-death and returning stronger than ever, finding a new proxy and starting the whole thing in motion again, at least she'd be rectifying her own mistakes. That would be worth it, wouldn't it? It'd be damning not to at least try, and...

And...

And the principle was sound!

A sudden surge of hope rushed through her. She'd been so close, so close to making the mistake that the Slayer was banking on - believing that she could make a better Mary Sue than all the rest had done, a perfect, canon-compatible alter-ego that wouldn't die of madness or stupidity, that wouldn't require the whole planet to be turned on end and its inhabitants turned into one-dimensional pod-people fulfilling her every whim. And Slayer was right, no matter how much effort she put into designing her new life, there'd always be something she'd overlooked.

But that wasn't what she was about to do.

Mary opened her eyes again, and pulled herself to her feet. This was it. "I'm not lying unconscious in the ICU, I'm on a coldsleep tank on the Bahrain, orbiting the planet of Pern. A fourteen year old war-orphan, with all the proper paperwork, nothing remarkable at all. Not even my own name, which I'm keeping. And I don't know what happens next, and neither do you, except that it won't conflict with canon at all. So that means no hard-to-explain death in the early years, no special achievements or bonfire-lighting honours, nothing except whatever I choose to do, unpredictably, second by second."

SueSlayer's laughter finally trailed away into silence.

You believe that changes things? it asked softly.

Why else would it try so hard to break her will, to terrify her into acting too swiftly or not at all? What else could explain that scintilla of urgent fear she'd felt, that tiny fraction that hadn't been her own? Mary's mouth felt dry, and she swallowed nervously. "Does it change things? Denying you direct control of events? Forcing you to let things unfold naturally, to place me in a universe where anything could happen? Yes. I've seen what you are now, I know you, and I know this'll change things enough."

It had to. All she needed to do was survive there for as long as possible, to live out as much of her natural lifespan as possible. Every minute she spent still breathing would weaken it further and faster. She knew it. It knew it.

It was time.

Mary held the image of her requirements firmly in her mind, and rapidly reeled off the alphanumeric string she'd first seen only a handful of days before. After that, there was just one more thing to say.

"I'm a fourteen year old orphan in a cold-sleep tank on the Bahrain, which has just entered orbit around Pern. For Faranth's sake, take me there."

And then she was gone.
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Old Oct 27 2008, 06:46 AM   #13
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Chapter 12: Starting Afresh

The six thousand colonists who first settled Pern came from many different planets and many walks of life, leaving their old lives far behind in the past. Mary Sue Smith was no different. She was one of several dozen orphans, and, like many of the others, rather quiet in demeanour. Still, it was only to be expected that some of them were reluctant to talk about their experiences prior to boarding the Colony Ships. She was here for a fresh start, just like every other colonist – well, all except for a few notable exceptions – and the teachers and work group coordinators were happy enough to see her working hard at her assigned tasks. They were sure she’d come out of her shell eventually, and if some were quietly appalled at the gaps in her knowledge of basic tech, at least she made up for it by trying hard. And if she did relapse into depression or psychoses like a handful of other colonists already had, overwhelmed by the enormity of their isolation on a new planet, at least Pern had two superb psychologists on hand in the form of Tom Patrick and Cos Melvinah.

Slowly but surely the first years passed, and Mary’s teachers’ initial worries faded. Mary was still a quiet young woman, but she’d made good friends amongst the other orphans, and seemed to be making the most of colony life. After a few different placements she settled down into an apprenticeship with the colony’s pharmacologists, just another one of Landing’s productive, invisible workforce. Life was good, and at times she even forgot about the horrors that were soon to come.

The day that Thread first started falling was one of those times.

She’d volunteered to stay inside and brew the week’s batch of numbweed salve, trading her usual day off with one of her colleagues who wanted to celebrate his partner’s birthday with a trip to the coast. Had she known, had she subconsciously remembered? The penny had dropped the very moment Boris and Dingo had started screeching and hissing at the window… she’d meant to warn people, somehow, but instead she was stuck alone in a stinking kitchen, weeping and waiting for the first Fall to finish. The two firelizards stayed only long enough to be sure that she wasn’t going to try and leave, then left her to fight the Threads. Mary watched from the window for a while, then brushed aside her tears and decided to be useful. Her salve would spoil if she left it unattended and, unlike herself, she was sure it’d be needed in the days to come.

In the end, she proved herself wrong. There was a steady stream of people coming in and out of the pharmacy after that first Fall, seeking sleeping pills, painkillers, tranquilisers and all the usual sundries. They left with whatever their doctors thought they needed, and more besides. Even after the worst Threadfalls, in the darkest hours of the colony when all seemed lost, Mary couldn’t hide the fact that she was full of hope, and she couldn’t help sharing it either. Not much of a difference to make, but a good one nonetheless.

In fact, it was almost certainly the main reason why she made it onto Kitti Ping’s list, so her darling Emelath told her many years later. And who would argue with a queen dragon?



The End...
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Old Oct 27 2008, 06:46 AM   #14
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Epilogue: ...or IS it?

The older of the two white coated medics slowly drew the door closed, the swish of the door against the carpet almost masking the sound of his younger colleague’s brief sigh. Shaking his head, he locked the door and pocketed the key. “I warned you she was an odd one, didn’t I? Still, you can’t expect good results every time, and your thesis won’t suffer from her failure to respond to the new therapy.”

“I know, but it’s just… it’s such a waste! To be so convinced of such horrible things that never even happened, without any obvious etiology, and no abnormalities on the MRI scans… we don’t even know what’s truly wrong with her, let alone how to make her even halfway sane again.”

The professor tutted, and patted his doctoral student on the shoulder. “Give it time. Science may move too slowly to benefit her, but there’ll be others in the future who’ll thank us. Progress happens faster in many small steps, and I’m sure you’ll get your Nature paper one of these days.”

“Yeah, I know.”

They walked away down the hall, their muffled footsteps fading out into silence.

Behind the locked door, the woman’s mad, chilling laughter soon started up once again.
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