Disclaimer: Mulan belongs to Disney; Mass Effect, Quarians and Geth belong to EA and Bioware; neuralysers and the Men in Black belong to Columbia Pictures; the concept of minis belongs to Miss Cam and the PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia.
The fic 'Parenthood' belongs to Wills Lover, and can be found here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3947243/1/Parenthood
Thank you to Firemagic and my other readers on the Board for beta-ing this.
Chapter 3: Mission to 'Parenthood' (wherein Eagrus finally gets to use his sword and much coffee and Bleepolate are consumed).
"Console, we don't even have the disguise generator back up again, yet," stated Eagrus, without even looking around.
The beep trailed off into an unhappy-sounding whine, before falling - grudgingly - silent.
Eagrus finished the sword he was sharpening and placed it back on the rack. Then he took the liberty of reading the Mulan badfic on the console, and prepared accordingly. He had already been off to the General Store and returned with copious amounts of coffee and Bleepolate, which he had piled up neatly in a corner. He had then gone down the RC cupboard and discovered a kettle and other useful items, including a DORKS. He had also acquired a heat-retaining flask, which he now filled with hot, black coffee, and added to the backpack beside the pile. He also packed the DORKS, CADs, neuralysers, exorcism kit, crash dummy and two pairs of Glopsnerch earmuffs.
Aside from minis, there were two other people currently in the RC. Cyba was being uncharacteristically quiet, what with being completely engrossed in polishing scorch-marks off her armour. There was also a technician from DoSAT, who was busily investigating the faulty disguise generator after it had given them Suvian-coloured disguises during their last mission.
The technician - and unnamed Quarian, apparently from the same continuum as Cyba's minis - finished first. Eagrus guessed the environment-suit-wearing humanoid was lucky that Cyba was otherwise occupied, lest he would probably have been bombarded with questions. As it was, he was working under the close eye of the mini-Hun, Zouh, who had been loath to part with Eagrus and had moved in.
"It's all checked, but I'm afraid I cannot find anything wrong with it," said the technician. "If anything is faulty, it must be an intermittent problem."
"Oh, wonderful," announced Eagrus, splattering the technician's helmet with Sar-Plasm.
The technician, being experienced enough of unsatisfied agents, wisely took his leave.
Zouh, meanwhile, climbed off the top of the cupboard (from which he had been surveying the work on the disguise generator), and took up his usual position on Eagrus' shoulder. Eagrus, it turned out, rather liked this idea, because he and Zouh had quickly come up with the system of each watching the opposite direction, ensuring nobody could sneak up on either of them without great difficulty.
Joke and Mess Efekt, Cyba's mini-Colossi, crept out from where they had been hiding - behind her bedroom doorframe. Geth and Quarians were not known for getting on well with each other, and the Geth in question had also upset their mistress, who had given them more than one haranguing over her scorched armour already. Needless to say, they were now being somewhat careful.
"BEEP?" tried the console cautiously.
"Cyba's still polishing her armour," stated Eagrus.
"No, I'm done now," Cyba corrected him. "Preferably for a long while." That was directed at Mess and Joke, who immediately scuttled for cover again. "Now," she said to Eagrus, "what are we up against? Strategic assessment?"
"Well, the summary described this fic as a 'stroy'," replied Eagrus. "Adding 'de' to the front of that gives you my opinion on the matter."
"Oddly enough, beyond the summary, the spelling is better," continued Eagrus.
"Better but not perfect?" tested Cyba.
"Indeed." He pulled out a piece of parchment, an ink bottle and a quill, and scratched out the words: bad spelling in places, but I've seen worse.
"Cough - that Mass Effect mission - cough," agreed Cyba.
"I've decided you get the Remote Activator today," announced Eagrus, handing his agent partner the aforementioned device.
"Ooooh, fun!" exclaimed Cyba, eagerly.
"You do know how to use it, right? Basic training covered it?"
"Good. You can never be too sure."
Cyba grinned and started pressing buttons, causing Eagrus to fall through a portal under his feet. A muffled thump, followed by a rather less muffled "OW!", came from the vicinity of the shower. Eagrus then emerged, not looking best pleased. The mechanical giggling from the direction of Cyba's room only made him scowl more.
"They didn't cover it very well, then," he concluded. "Unless you intended to dump me in the shower, that is?" His eyes were daring her to say that she had, but she just cleared her throat, smiled sweetly, and refused to give anything away.
Eagrus went over to the disguise generator and set their disguises, while Cyba pressed buttons again.
Cyba abruptly vanished from the RC, landing painfully on a rock. She winced, but did at least note that her disguise was not a horrible Suvian colour this time. In fact, she was dressed a lot like Zouh, in brown furs and dull metal armour. She had just discovered she was carrying a sword when something heavy landed on her head.
The something turned out to be Eagrus, also dressed as a Hun. There followed a lot of scuffling and shoving, as the two agents untangled themselves from one another and got to their feet. Cyba was about to give Eagrus a loud telling-off, but noticed just in time that her portal had, remarkably, come out in the right place. That place happened to be Mulan's garden - in Old China, no less - and shouting would undoubtedly gain the attention of the possessed canons. She settled for removing her helmet, pointing furiously at the dent in it, and replacing it on her head. Then she turned and shut the portal, allowing Eagrus to roll his eyes without her noticing.
"This fic is written in the first person, alternating between Mulan and Shang," Eagrus told her once she was done. "As such, we set up this crash dummy, else get pulled into the role ourselves. Given that Mulan and Shang are both possessed by Sue-wraiths in this case, being pulled into their roles would result in us being possessed. Needless to say, the dummy is especially necessary."
"How do we get them, then?" asked Cyba.
"Good question," Eagrus complimented her, earning a smile in return. "The answer is, we have to exorcise the canons separately - namely, whichever one isn't using the first person at the time. Whichever one is 'I' at the time will be incorporeal, but the other one can be dealt with."
"What happens after we exorcise the first, then it swaps back to that one being 'I'? Won't that undo the exorcism?"
"Ah, but there's no possessing the crash dummy," explained Eagrus triumphantly, "leaving us free to clear out the second wraith."
"Oh, good!" smiled Cyba, then abruptly changed the subject. "Hey, this armour's nice. Not as pretty as the Chinese armour, but still passable. Lovely and warm."
"Cyba? Concentrate!" was Eagrus' only reply.
One summer day I was sitting on my new stone bench in my new garden and waited for Shang to come home. I was getting so mad Shang is never late where was he? I Finlay heard his stallion coming towards the garden. Shang got down and said "Hi sweetie sorry I am late the Emperor wanted me to see me after work." I walked over to him and gave him a hug and gently spoke to him "It is OK I was a little mad but I was mad with worry." He gently took my hand and smiled and we went in to the stables and put his horse in the stables.
"And so it begins..." Eagrus grimaced, as the crash dummy was drawn into a sitting position on the bench. That was about the only thing clear, though - the rest was just 'generic garden'.
Lack of description, wrote Eagrus.
"The sooner we start, the sooner we're done," responded Cyba, paying no attention to what her partner was writing.
"Sword-fest," whispered Eagrus, grinning as he hid in a generic bush.
"Armour-fest," Cyba whispered back, joining him.
"Hmm, it's summer," observed Eagrus.
"Yes, now I'm hot," Cyba complained. She glanced at the words, foolishly seeking some kind of solace. All she got was bad grammar.
"... Sitting... and waited? Charge!"
Eagrus added it to the charge list as a tense shift hit them, thanks to no separation of Mulan's thoughts from the rest of the prose. He added that to the list, too.
"Guess what I want to know," Eagrus challenged his partner.
"When the comma storm's going to start?" ventured Cyba.
"Who's this 'Finlay' person? I thought this was Mulan's 'prov'."
"You mean PoV, right?" frowned Cyba, glancing at the Words. "Oh no, it really does say 'prov'! What's that supposed to mean, providence?"
"Provi-dense, more like," muttered Eagrus. "Wraiths and other Suvians usually are a bit, well, lacking in the intelligence department."
"Wait for it... OK, here we go: the jumbled, comma-less, paragraph-less conversations are back in business!"
Sure enough, Mulan (via the dummy) and the newly-arrived Shang were, once again, engaged in a conversation that continually ran into itself, got into a tangle and yet still somehow carried on at a blinding pace, which was almost impossible to follow. Somewhere in the middle of it, Shang and the dummy hugged, and a missing colon dropped out of the sky and hit Eagrus' helmet.
"It's about time that was nothing to do with me," commented Cyba smugly. At that moment, of course, the heavens opened as she once again managed to encourage yet another imminent punctuation storm.
"You were saying?" replied Eagrus, equally smugly.
I remember we were at the front door ready to go in then everything went Black. I have no idea what happened. I suddenly felt Mulans body right next to me and I woke up with a startled exasperation. Mulan looked down at me and said "Are you OK??????" I said "Yeah I think so. What happened???" Mulan said "I don't know I think you just got a little weak." Mulan and I stood up and smiled at eachother. Mulan said "Come on Shang lets go out to the kitchen." I followed her and sat down on our couch. Mulan went to the kitchen to prepare dinner like she always did.
Mulan appeared on the bench and the dummy was wrenched over to replace Shang as he vanished. Then the entire world went dark - and it was the darkest dark either agent had ever seen.
"Oh great," came Eagrus' voice. "He capitalised the colour black, and now it's all Dark Black."
"Don't tell me that's another Suvian colour," muttered Cyba.
Eagrus didn't say anything.
"Well, am I right? Is it?"
"You said not to tell." The scratching of his quill on the charge list told her all she needed to know, though.
At last, the impromptu night lifted and it became plain what had really happened: Shang had fainted.
"What?!" exclaimed Eagrus, now watching in horror from around the doorframe. "Shang doesn't just faint!" Scratch, went his quill.
Amid the commas, a lone apostrophe punched a hole in the charge list, trying to make itself noticed after it had been missed out of the word 'lets'. Eagrus noted that too.
"They have a couch," commented Cyba. "What self-respecting person in Old China calls anything a couch?"
"Charge," agreed Eagrus.
Meanwhile, without any commas in the Words to give it pause, the fic was running faster and faster, like a runaway train rapidly gaining momentum downhill. The garbled conversations were now so quick that they had done what they were threatening to do from the beginning - namely, become complete gibberish. The fic looked like a movie in fast-forward mode, and all the agents could do now was pick out the odd word or punctuation error through the ever-accelerating mess.
The two protectors ducked inside as a 'young solider' came to the door, completely oblivious to the comma storm still raging around him.
"Ooooh, one of the terracotta army is at the door!" exclaimed Cyba.
"'Solider'," muttered Eagrus. "What's he supposed to be more solid than, hmmm?"
"The downpour of commas?" suggested Cyba.
"Wait a moment, did that say 'Emporer'? But it was spelt right earlier..." Eagrus looked like he was on the verge of tears. Out came the Bleepolate, as a new mini-Hun joined their party.
Meanwhile, Shang and the terracotta soldier went off to another room and began talking, before Mulan went off to join them a moment later.
"Hey, she's going 'to the living'," chuckled Cyba. "Where was she before, among the dead?"
Eagrus peered around the kitchen door cautiously, before retracting his nose in much haste.
"Disgusting!" he retched. "And that's before the smell! Cyba, you don't want to know what you could catch from her cooking. This wraith needs to see a psychologist."
Cooking among the dead, he wrote.
"Psychologist? Where?" pressed Cyba, suddenly worried.
"Don't you like psychologists?" Eagrus inquired.
"No! The best thing you can do is avoid them like the plague!"
"It's all right, there isn't one here. I said the wraith needs to see one."
"Oh, that's okay then," said Cyba, relieved.
"Cyba," Eagrus changed tack. "Are you struggling to keep up with this fic?"
"Yes," she agreed.
"Same here. Good thing I brought some coffee. We could do with a boost."
"Ooh, coffee!" Cyba squeaked excitedly, and together they drank.
"The emporer wanted me to Shang something," they heard the terracotta soldier say, now more discernibly.
"How do you Shang something?" queried Cyba, now brimming with energy.
"I don't know," shrugged Eagrus, also buzzing. "Hey, maybe you use him like a sword. I might like to try that - with the wraith."
"Haha, they're going to the 'dinning room'!" giggled Cyba, who was now blatantly hyper. "Sounds like university halls!"
Eagrus snickered too, having lost all trace of his usual seriousness.
"Whooopeee!" he said. "Let's go and make a racket! They can't hear us over the din!"
"Hey, Shang just said 'yeah'."
"Charge!" announced Eagrus, loudly. Nobody noticed. Meanwhile, he and Cyba took the idea of charging literally and shot into the room...
...just as Mulan ran out, crying.
There was a crash outside the door, followed by a tangled heap of limbs and broken by a beep from Eagrus' CAD.
Mulan. Human female. Canon. 89.9% OOC. Warning: possessed! FIZZzzzz...poof!
The CAD short-circuited and disintegrated in a puff of smoke and ash, leaving Eagrus to put out the flames on his hand.
Possessed!Mulan was the first to extricate herself, and unfortunately she recognised them.
"You! You two again I knew you were Huns!"
"Oh dear," groaned Eagrus, "the 'Sues are the ones we gave to the Huns in our last mission, back in wraith form!"
"Well," said Cyba to Possessed!Mulan, "you landed in the right time, if with no more commas."
"Why you Shang! SHANG HUNS!"
Shang was still in the 'dinning room', however, and unable to hear her.
"Let's get her now!" pleaded Eagrus, regaining his footing.
"No: rules are rules. We need all the charges," Cyba reminded him.
"I call tactical override of the rules!" decided Eagrus.
Mulan, seeing an opportunity, ran for the door to the 'dinning room'. Eagrus tripped her up with an outstretched leg, still being under the effects of the coffee.
"Keep her down while I get the exorcism kit out," he instructed Cyba.
Cyba pinned her down, but Mulan was stronger. Managing to wriggle free, she got to her feet and went for the door again. Cyba clutched at her, missed, and fell back on her final - and only - weapon:
Cyba's scream was so loud and shrill that Mulan stopped to put her fingers in her ears - whereupon Eagrus whacked her over the head with a case containing the Mulan DVD and roared:
"Vile 'Sue-wraith, I cast you out! The power of Disney compels you!"
Mulan's body swayed, before falling over next to the candle that was now sitting, lit, on the floor. The wraith coalesced above, furious, and Eagrus swiped it with a jar and slammed the lid shut.
"We'll charge you later," he promised evilly.
"What happened?" groaned Mulan. "Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?"
"Exorcising the wraith that was possessing you," stated Eagrus, sweetly.
Mulan went for a sword on the wall, and Eagrus immediately drew his, ready to parry.
"Why are you trying to help me, Hun?" Mulan demanded. "Is this some kind of trick?"
"Ah, but I am in disguise," said Eagrus eloquently.
"Don't tell her that!" Cyba squawked.
"Well, I thank you for freeing me, but I don't entirely trust you, yet."
"We still need to exorcise Shang, milady," Eagrus spoke.
"Milady?" repeated Cyba, incredulously. "Eagrus Khan! Do you fancy her?!"
"I'm with Shang," stated Mulan flatly.
"No?" tried Eagrus hopefully.
"You do!" retorted Cyba. "You're not fooling me, Eagrus. You're going to be watching the No Drool Videos when we get back!"
"You're a woman," Mulan frowned at Cyba. "I know I have used this ploy, but it seems a little strange for a Hun to try it. Who are you? Also, what are these 'No Drool Videos' you speak of?"
"Never mind," replied Cyba. "They're a training regimen or sorts, if you must know. The fact is: we're not Huns, and we're here to fix the trauma you and Shang are being forced to suffer by forces beyond your control. When we're done, you won't remember a thing. We just need you to play along with the words, so the wraith possessing Shang doesn't notice anything untoward."
"All right," Mulan relented, "but I will be keeping my eye on this... Eagrus Khan."
"Come on," Cyba addressed Eagrus. "We have more charges to get for the wraiths."
With the disruption of the fic by the exorcism of the Mulan!wraith, Cyba and Eagrus had bought themselves a little time. However, this ran out right about then.
Shang came rushing out of the 'dinning room', 'quicker then fast can be'. The agents had, at least, already taken up position in a side-room. The bad conversations started up again - full of modernisms like 'honey' and 'boss' - and topped by the terrible crime of using 'Y' instead of 'why'. Eagrus made sure to note it all down - with vigour.
"You know," commented Cyba, "it's lucky this is set in Old China."
"Why?" inquired Eagrus.
"Because Mulan hasn't heard of the Mongol Golden Horde."
"Neither have I."
"Not even Genghis Khan?"
"Yep. I'd wager that's who you're named after."
"Who was he?"
"A great military leader in real, World One History. His empire got as far as Europe."
"Ooh..." smiled Eagrus, and Cyba was sure he stood up a little straighter, with pride.
"I just thought - whoever wrote the badfic you were rescued from... bad spelling aside, maybe they weren't so terrible after all."
At last, Mulan and Shang went to bed, and Cyba skipped forward to the training camp. To her surprise, Eagrus immediately donned a pair of Glopsnerch earmuffs, and handed her a second pair.
"What are these for?" She stepped through the portal. "AAAAGGHH!" She clamped the earmuffs over her ears, shut the portal and dived behind the nearest tent. Eagrus followed suit. A group of soldiers came to see what the noise was about, found nothing, and left again.
Meanwhile, Mulan was still singing. With the wraith removed, she was singing quite well, but the song did not suit her voice.
"Ow," mouthed Cyba.
"Non-canonical song," Eagrus mouthed back.
The gibberish conversations started back up, and so did their accompanying comma-storm. The agents were once again glad of their armour.
"'Were' is our tent?" asked Mulan, and the continuum shivered at the misspelling that simultaneously caused a grammatical paradox.
"Yuck." Cyba pulled a face.
More gibberish followed.
"Do we have to sit through this?" questioned Cyba. "Are there any major charges left?"
"I suppose not," shrugged Eagrus, scanning the words ahead. "Misspellings, bad grammar and punctuation - oh, and Mulan being eight months pregnant after two months marriage. Skip to the end."
Cyba opened a portal, getting it a little off and catching the tail end of another non-canonical song.
Miley looked up at me and I placed her in my jacket and hoped on Kahn. "Regardless on what I promised your father Miley I am going after him." Miley giggled and I found the place and I went in hiding really well and Miley stayed quite. Shang heard me with the Keys and said "what?"
"The baby is called... Miley?"
Eagrus made a strangled sound.
"Oooh, she 'hoped on Kahn'. Your call, Eagrus!" grinned Cyba.
Eagrus strode out and took the keys from Mulan.
"Hello, Shang," Eagrus said, pulling the jar containing the other wraith out of his backpack.
"You! Filthy Hun you follow me everywhere and have it in for my wife!"
"No," corrected Eagrus, "I just have it in for wraiths with no concept of commas."
"I also have it in for wraiths who possess my husband," added Mulan.
Eagrus unlocked the cell and Possessed!Shang barged his way out, succeeding in taking Eagrus' sword from its sheath as he went past. Cyba tossed Eagrus her own sword and the two men began duelling up and down the room. Cyba had to admit that Eagrus was rather good at this; then again, he was a trained swordsman.
"Be careful! That's my husband!" cried Mulan.
Cyba stepped out of the shadows behind Possessed!Shang and grinned. The shadows flickered from the light of a candle-flame.
"I CAST YOU OUT! THE POWER OF DISNEY COMPELS YOU!"
Shang slumped, Eagrus put the swords away and the wraith went for Cyba in a fury. Eagrus snapped a jar around it before it could get very far.
"No, you don't," he chided the Shang!wraith. "Honours, Cyba?"
"Nah." Cyba shook her head. "This is your fandom the most; I'll let you have the pleasure."
Eagrus took a deep breath:
"You are charged with possessing canon characters; with bad spelling in the summary; with bad spelling in places in the story, but we've seen worse; eating in a 'dinning room'; poor descriptions; bad grammar, particularly in the form of muddled tenses; causing tense shifts; not separating thoughts from the rest of the prose; with temporarily changing Mulan's name to Finlay; inconsistent and incorrect capitalisation; lack of commas and other miscellaneous punctuation shortages..."
"You know, I'm really sick of comma-storms," added Cyba, with feeling.
"Making everything go Dark Black," continued Eagrus.
"Yeah, black is fine, but don't capitalise it," expanded Cyba.
"Anyway," Eagrus began anew, "you are also charged with: making Shang faint for no good reason; having a couch in Old China, and other modern language; making the fic run in fast-forward mode; bringing a terracotta soldier to the door..."
"Solider, indeed!" Cyba shook her head in exasperation.
"... for cooking amid rotting corpses; for having both an Emperor and 'Emporer'; for creating minis; for trying to Shang something; for using the letter 'Y' instead of 'why'..."
"Despicable: modern text-speak in Old China," muttered Cyba.
"... with making Mulan cry; with making Mulan sing non-canonical songs; with making Mulan eight months pregnant after two month's marriage; causing a grammatical paradox with a misspelling of 'where'; taking a baby on a dangerous rescue mission and calling the baby 'Miley' - this is supposed to be Old China!"
"You are sentenced to expulsion from this continuum... again..." began Cyba.
"... and don't come back this time!" finished Eagrus.
They opened the jars and plunged the canon material into the wraiths, which vanished.
Mulan blinked. "I feel odd..."
"Your world's going back to the way it should be," explained Eagrus.
"What about Miley?"
"We have a nursery. We can bring her up there."
"Thank you," Mulan murmured, and promptly vanished. On the floor, Shang had vanished, too.
"Portal, quick!" instructed Eagrus.
Cyba opened a portal back to the RC, and they jumped through just in time for the non-canonical prison and its contents to cease to exist.
Emporer, the mini-Hun, applauded, and Miley started crying.
Cyba pulled a face. "Let's get this baby to the nursery quickly," she suggested.
"You're not much of a motherly type, then?"
"No," stated Cyba flatly.