Monday, 11 April 2011

An Introduction Of Sorts

Obligatory disclaimer: the PPC was created by Jay and Acacia. This disclaimer will get longer as more things get added to it.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with drinking heavily. Except, of course, the hangover the next day. The kind of hangover which makes grown men awake with a scream and fall over every time they stand up. This was exactly the type of hangover that Teddy Leach woke up to. Unfortunately for Teddy, when he woke up he did not have a clue where he was.

At first he thought that the reason he didn’t know where he was was because his eyes would not focus. For several minutes, he pulled a series of increasingly odd expressions and made an equally odd series of eye movements, in an effort to focus. When his eyes finally did focus, he still had no idea where he was. He was, as far as he could gather, lying in a generic gray corridor, where he had apparently passed out. At least, he thought he had passed out there – he could not remember what happened yesterday, or the rest of the week for that matter. He strained his memory, desperately trying to remember what had happened. His face twisted into a mask of utter concentration, complete with his tongue sticking out. His poor, dry, tongue.

I don’t know where we are… but I’m gonna be sick. Teddy… Teddy?” The voice had come from somewhere behind him. Of course, with his hangover, the voice could have been coming from the ceiling for all he knew. Even so, Teddy was sure that he recognised that voice. Slightly gravelly, with a hint of sophistication, and a garnish of arrogance. He racked his brains, trying to remember where he’d heard it before. The effort caused him severe mental pain.

Wherever you are, come here. I need someone to throw up on.”

Get stuffed…” Teddy’s throat felt as dry as a camel’s arse – it was difficult to speak. The voice began to vomit profusely. Teddy had been lying on his stomach all this time, and it only now occurred to him to roll over and look at whoever was currently chucking his guts up. He tried to use his arm as an anchor, but it gave way under his weight, sending him down, face first. He landed with a comedy smack, which echoed through the corridor and did little for his already horrendous headache. He decided to try again, this time rocking from side to side. When he felt confident enough that he could do it, he summoned practically all of his energy…

And overshot massively. He was once again flat on his face. This was getting very old, very fast. While Teddy had been trying to roll over, the other man had finished vomiting and had been trying to stand up. He was audibly having about as much luck as Teddy. He decided to give it one last try: he rocked from side to side, and in one fluid movement, rolled over onto his back.

Well, well, well… Well done, brother,” the other man grumbled. At once, it hit Teddy – he recognised the voice, and the person using it. It was his voice.

Oh… must you follow me everywhere?” Teddy grumbled.

I’m your evil twin. It’s what I’m supposed to do.” He pulled a face. “Besides, it’s not like I have anything better to do. And I do love a good drink.”

Of course you do, you’re-” Teddy suddenly became distracted by footsteps echoing on the floor behind him. They were approaching much too quickly for his hungover mind to estimate how close they already were. Evil!Teddy’s eyes were focussed behind Teddy, watching the approaching figure. The footsteps quickly stopped. A shoe-clad foot gently nudged Teddy’s head, making him groan in agony, then a handsome, upside-down face loomed over him.

You must be the new guy,” the stranger said. What a strange emphasis he put on the word ‘new’, Teddy thought. He seemed to have put an almost unnatural amount of stress on it, as if he really wanted to get his point across. Of course, he did not have a clue what the stranger was talking about.

New guy… what? I… I really do hope you’re mistaken.” He heard Evil!Teddy slap his head, and then grunt in pain. He must have forgotten about his own headache.

I remember. Oh…”

What?” He hated it when his twin did this. Unfortunately, he did it a lot.

We might have applied for a job. And attended an interview. And got the job. Your fault.” Evil!Teddy tried to stand again, and once again came crashing down. He dragged himself over to a wall and managed to prop himself up.

I’m afraid that’s not wholly accurate,” the stranger said, placing more unnatural emphasis on 'afraid'. The stranger leaned on a wall and continued, leaving Teddy floundering on the floor, trying to get onto his feet.

You applied and attended the interview, but the Marquis wanted you to come back when you were sober.” He coughed. “You’re lucky we’re understaffed, or there’s no telling how he’d have reacted.”

Teddy lashed his arms around, and hit the stranger’s leg. The stranger bent over him again.

Could you…?”

Of course.” The stranger helped Teddy to his feet. By some miracle, he did not fall over again, although his legs felt weak.

Thanks. Who are you?”

My name is Bertram.” He tipped his hat, which Teddy had previously not noticed. Teddy smiled his appreciation and regarded Bertram. He was clad in a black suit with a red tie. The buttons of his jacket were golden and his hat appeared to be a fedora. He looked ever so slightly odd.

Teddy Leach.” Bertram looked puzzled.

No, Bertram,” he said. There was not one trace of humour in his voice.

I swear things like this don’t happen to normal people…” Teddy muttered under his breath. “My name is Teddy Leach.”

Oh, I see.” That speech tic was starting to get on Teddy’s nerves. “But who is the other guy? He looks like you.”

Aye, him… he’s, uh, my evil twin.” Again, Bertram looked puzzled. “Don’t ask.”

He’s evil?”

Don’t talk about me like I’m not here,” Evil!Teddy snapped. “Do that again and I’ll be putting ground glass in your breakfast.” Teddy looked at Bertram and raised his eyebrows.

It wouldn't be the first time. At any rate,” Teddy said, “we’re sober now. Where do we go to for the interview?” Teddy started to walk over to his twin.

In that case, the Marquis will want to see you straight away. If you follow me, I’ll take you to his office.” Teddy reached his twin and helped him to his feet.

Are you ready?” The twins ignored Bertram and began to whisper to each other. Well, Teddy whispered, his evil twin hissed.

This can’t be a good idea,” Teddy whispered.

Okay then, you leave and piss off a Marquis by doing so. I’ll attend your hanging.”

The nobility aren’t allowed to have people executed any more, brother.”

What makes you think he obeys the law? Look at this place.” Evil!Teddy gestured around him. “This place is more like a supervillain’s hideout than a stately home.”

What, so you want the job he’s offering? We don’t even know what it is.”

I do. Don’t you remember that I remember? You know what a Mary Sue is, right?” Teddy nodded. “This is an organisation that… deals with them. Kills them. They deal with other problems in fanfic too. Being out of character, for instance. That’s all I remember though… Come on… you know you want to.”

Teddy had not heard anything past ‘Mary Sue’. When he heard those two words, he began shaking violently, a murderous glint in his eye. When Evil!Teddy finished speaking, he punched him in the gut. Teddy doubled over in pain. His hangover suddenly got worse, and for several moments it felt as if he was going to explode.

This was your idea anyway,” Evil!Teddy added. Teddy straightened up as the pain faded.

Okay… okay… let’s go to the interview,” Teddy said sourly. The twins walked over to Bertram, who had been watching the exchange with a bemused expression on his face.

Finished? Good, follow me.”

There was no telling just how many corridors and rooms they walked through. They all looked practically identical. The twins had started to bicker with each other about whose fault it was that they passed out. Halfway through a particularly eloquent tirade about ‘next time I should just fillet you and leave you for the cannibals’ Evil!Teddy spotted something odd: a small, pink rodent. His hatred of all things pink flared, and he made off after the unfortunate creature, screaming something about soup cans and tinsel. It scurried away with a well-dressed, if dirty, man bounding after it. Bertram stopped.

A large number of those things managed to follow an agent back here.” Bertram's word-stressing grated more and more on Teddy's nerves with every sentence he uttered. “We've still not got rid of them all. Should we go after your brother?”

Teddy had finally lost his temper with Bertram's strange manner of speech. He wheeled around and grabbed Bertram by his collar.

Stop speaking like that!” he shouted into Bertram’s face, covering it with spittle. Bertram was unfazed. He jolted his head, and the brim of his hat connected with Teddy’s forehead. It wasn’t much, but in Teddy’s hungover state, it caused sheer agony. He let go and stumbled back, rubbing his head and looking dizzy.

I do not speak like anything,” Bertram said with finality. Teddy was in too much pain to argue.

Agh… I’m sorry. Ah, my head… no, there’s no point in going after him. He’ll find me sooner or later. And he’s not my brother. Well, we’re not fraternal. It’s complicated. Let’s just say,” Teddy straightened and shifted his weight, “that he’s an abomination of science and leave it at that.”


They continued on, through yet more nondescript corridors and rooms. Minutes turned into hours, hours of seemingly aimless wandering. Teddy could not say with any certainty how long it took to find the Marquis’ office, even with his guide. Suffice to say that it was far too long for his liking. When Bertram finally stopped at a door, it came as a great relief.

Here we are. I’ll wait outside for you, it’s not like I’ve anything better to do.”

Teddy thanked him and opened the door.

Hello. Come inside.

Teddy jumped – the voice came from inside his mind rather than the outside world. Telepathy was the second-least thing he’d expected. The very least thing he’d expected was to be greeted by a large daisy in a very nice suit. It was crowned by a bowler hat which rested almost precariously on its topmost petals. Teddy dithered on the doorstep, not entirely sure why an overly large daisy was wearing a suit and a hat. He was even less sure of why it was drumming its fronds together.

I said ‘come inside’. Do not dither.

As odd as it felt, Teddy obeyed the Flower.

You’re a plant. A psychic plant.”

I am a Flower, he snapped. I am not one of your brainless plants. I am the Marquis de Sod.

Teddy stifled a laugh at the novelty of a plant saying ‘sod’.

Do not even think about it. I see that you are sober this time. I also see that your annoying twin is not with you. It stroked a petal with a frond. I trust that your memory has not been affected by your drinking?

Unfortunately, Teddy’s memory had not returned.

I can’t remember a thing,” he said calmly. “Sir,” he added after a brief pause.

Do not patronise me with your false manners. His frond hit the table with an audible thud. In our last interview, you told me that you would like to take a job which involved repairing the damage caused to your fandoms by bad fanfiction. Your twin was busy trying to disarm you. At this, Teddy opened his coat and noticed the holster strapped to his shirt. He’d had no idea that he’d been carrying a weapon.

It is a pity that he did not succeed. I told you to come back when you were sober, so that I can tell you where to go. You will need a partner, so I have assigned you to work with Agent Bertram of the Department of Floaters-

Teddy groaned in frustration and was just about to launch into a tirade about just how irritating Bertram’s speech patterns were before the flower cut him off.

I am aware of his manner of speech. I am equally aware that he will get on your nerves, and vice versa.

Surely that's a bad idea?”

No. It is a good idea. The Flower slid a piece of paper across his desk with a frond. Go to this Response Centre. You will spend the rest of your natural life there.

Teddy was aghast.

Now get out.

He stared at the Flower. If Flowers were capable of staring, the Marquis stared right back. Eventually, Teddy picked up the piece of paper and left. Bertram greeted him.

It looks like I’m to be working with you,” Teddy grumbled irritably.

Good, I needed a new partner,” Bertram said cheerfully as he began to lead Teddy to their RC.

What happened to your old one?”

He was eaten by zombies in Luskan.”

The journey to their RC continued in silence as Teddy wondered just what he had let himself in for. Fortunately, it only took a few minutes to reach their RC. Bertram opened the door and they walked inside. It was as grey as the rest of Headquarters. Teddy mumbled something about decorating and not spending the rest of his life in a grey box.

It’s not such a bad place, really,” Bertram said, trying to reassure Teddy. It was rather unsuccessful, of course. He walked over to a couple of office chairs and rolled one over to Teddy.

The rest of my life… That plant said that I’d be spending the rest of my life here!”

You will, but we get holidays.”

You’re not helping.”

You’ll get used to it, Ted.” He sat down. “Oh, don’t call them plants; they’re Flowers. They’re our bosses, and they don’t like being called plants. It’s a derogatory term for them. Like referring to a human as an ape.”

This place is crazy.” Teddy sat down and started to spin. Eventually, his memory started to come back. He groaned at what he could remember doing, including stealing the pistol which was now holstered under his coat. He groaned again at what he could remember Evil!Teddy doing, including stealing a bottle of something labelled as ‘The Holy Hangover Cure’ and pouring it into someone’s food as they blundered through the canteen. Or at least, a canteen. Then again, Evil!Teddy did things like that even when he was sober.

Why did you come here anyway?” Bertram asked eventually. He had ignored Teddy’s repeated groaning, instead choosing to play with a deck of cards he had in his pocket.

I wanted to get some revenge on badfics. My twin just wanted to kill things. We saw a recruiting poster for the PPC and thought that we’d make a go of it. We hopped on a plane to New Caledonia and...” he rubbed his goatee, “we managed to drink the entire drinks trolley dry. I still don’t remember how we got through the door.”

Bertram smiled and continued to play with his cards. He wheeled over to a table and began to make a house out of the cards. He knew he was tempting fate.

Why did you come here, Bertram?” Teddy asked. He had stood up and was looking around the RC for something to do.

There’s not much to say. I lived in New Caledonia and heard the PPC were understaffed. Not sure how many years I’ve been here, but it’s a few.” His speech was starting to get on Teddy’s nerves again.

Why do you talk like that?”

Like what?”

You place stress on random words.” Bertram looked confused, but did not take his eyes off his cards. He had made the walls.

I don’t.” Teddy wore an expression of utter exasperation and waved his hands around as if he wanted to hit something.

Forget it.”

Bertram had almost finished the roof when the Laws of Narrative Comedy kicked in.


Cards flew everywhere as both men almost suffered a simultaneous heart attack. As if on cue, Evil!Teddy kicked the door to the RC open and sauntered in. Bertram rolled his eyes. Things could only get crazier from here on in.


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