Disclaimer: Mulan belongs to Disney; Star Trek and all its contents belong to CBS Paramount; Mass Effect and all of its contents belong to EA and Bioware; the concept of minis belongs to Miss Cam and the PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia.
The fic being sporked, 'Untitled 1', belongs to Wills Lover and can be found here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3949306/1/Untitled-1
Many thanks to Firemagic and my other readers on the Board for beta-ing this.
Chapter 5: Mission to 'Untitled 1' (wherein Cyba screams a lot).
"An undead tech monster?" repeated Cyba flatly. She rolled her eyes - well, one of them. She also appeared to notice that only one moved, because one hand slowly went to her face on the side that that had remained fixed. She froze, the possible matches for Eagrus' description gradually reaching the forefront of her mind. When she spoke again, her voice had risen several octaves and become very shrill:
"GET ME A MIRROR, NOW!"
Eagrus interpreted this as giving her a wide berth as she went to the mirror in her room as fast as she could. Apparently, that was a quick walk, to the accompaniment of a heavy thud, thud, thud from her feet.
Cyba slammed her door.
There came a moment's silence, during which Eagrus and the minis took cover in Eagrus' room.
From Cyba's room, there came an ear-splitting shriek that the walls and door did very little to dampen. Although not fatal, the noise was so horrendous that a banshee from any continuum would have been proud of it, nonetheless. Then there came the sound of the door being thrown open, followed by a crash that marked it as possibly thrown quite literally, if not necessarily intentionally.
"AAAAAAGGGHHHH!" screamed Cyba. "EAGRUS! EAGRUS! HEEELLLLLP MEEEE!"
Eagrus gulped, coming out of his room very gingerly. The minis did not follow; in fact, he was sure he felt Joke give him a little push in the right direction with one foreleg.
"Is that it?" asked Eagrus incredulously. "Not that you're part machine, full of tech and look like some mad necro-transmuter's been at you? All that racket... over having cables for hair? Women!"
Cyba ignored that last comment, instead regarding him very seriously. That alone ought to have made him worried.
"Do you remember when we first teamed up, we had that - discussion - about uniforms?" she asked him.
"Yes..." he confirmed tentatively. "You had a complete flip about them containing technology from some species from Star Trek. The Borg, wasn't it?"
Cyba visibly flinched, taking deep breaths to try and keep herself calm.
"You said you hadn't heard of them, except the name DoSAT gave you."
"Yes..." he agreed, getting ready to dash back to his room at any moment.
"Take a good, long look, Eagrus, because I FREAKING AM ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Ah," realised Eagrus. "I'll fetch the DORKS." Keeping to the edge of the room, he darted past her and grabbed the device in question. It was currently in the shape of a very detailed, black-and-green octahedron. He did not recognise what it was supposed to be, but it got a glare from Cyba.
"A DORKS with the appearance of a tiny Borg Diamond. The Ironic Overpower is mocking me," she said. "Now hurry up and TURN ME BACK!"
Eagrus wasted no time in setting the DORKS to return her to her natural form. Cyba waited as it glowed and began emitting its sci-fi sounds that belonged in really old science fiction movies. Her hands were clasped tightly together, one pale and mottled, the other black metal.
The glow subsided.
Nothing had changed.
Eagrus tried again.
"Er, Cyba..." He backed away carefully. "It isn't working..."
"Try turning me into something else first?" suggested Cyba, before crying in the direction of the ceiling: "Ironic Overpower, I am sorry and I take it all back! I surrender; you win! Now please don't leave me like this!" There was a touch of hysteria in her voice.
Eagrus turned her into a goblin.
She breathed a sigh of relief.
Then he returned her to her natural form... except, when the glow died, she was back to being the 'undead tech monster'.
"DoSAT... DoSAT!" she screeched frantically, ploughing toward the trapdoor. She yanked it open - clean off its hinges - and started down the rope ladder - which promptly snapped. She ended up unceremoniously on her metallic backside in the corridor. To add insult to injury, the ladder came down on her, whacking her over the head. A Ferengi agent came down the corridor, took one look at her, and fled in the opposite direction. She let her head fall into her hands with a slight clink. Then Eagrus landed on top of her.
"Sorry," he apologised.
"DoSAT," she muttered single-mindedly. "DoSAT, DoSAT, DoSAT." Completely ignoring Eagrus, she began marching down the corridor.
"You won't get there like that," he said. "Thinking about where you're going won't get you there."
"DoSAT are in for it," hissed Cyba, her feet thumping with every step.
"Cyba, what are you going to do when you get there?"
"They are going to turn me back, or I'll, I'll... SCREAM AT THEM!"
Eagrus quickly donned the pair of Glopsnerch earmuffs he had swiped on his way out of the RC. After all, when this was over, he intended to have his hearing intact.
"Anything else?" he asked, trying to take her mind off her destination... and her predicament.
"Mostly screaming," replied Cyba. "Lots of screaming."
"Saving their ears isn't on your agenda, then?"
"Definitely not. Unless they turn me back. Then I'll think about it."
"Don't worry: they'll fix you, and everything will be fine. It's OK, Cyba."
"No. It isn't."
"Well, I don't know... that armour plating looks quite good on you..."
Cyba took a deep breath to begin haranguing him, but then realised that it could actually be a compliment or an insult, and fell to pondering it in silence.
With Cyba sufficiently distracted, they then arrived at the Department of Sufficiently Advanced Technology rather quickly. Cyba got to the door first, barging it open with a metal shoulder. Several technicians scuttled for safety, leaving the slowest among their number to deal with the newcomers.
The slowest happened to be the same Quarian who had come to service the disguise generator a couple of missions ago.
"Did it malfunction again?" he asked gingerly.
Cyba put her hands on where her hips would have been.
"Well, what do you think?"
"You... blew up your CAD?" he tried hopefully.
"The disguise generator exploded and turned me into...this! And the DORKS won't turn me back!"
"Here, let me try one of our spares," he suggested, fetching one from a nearby workbench.
It did not work.
"All right, I'll try an actual disguise generator."
That failed as well.
"Stand still, I'll give you a scan."
An orange, holographic omni-tool gauntlet flared around his arm and he directed a scan at Cyba.
"Oh, that is interesting. Very interesting."
"What is?" demanded Cyba.
"It... er... seems to have permanently changed your natural form..."
"The form you currently have is... er... permanent. I cannot change you back. Medical could probably remove some of the hardware, but it'll only come back the next time you use a disguise generator or DORKS to return to your natural form."
"Uh, oh..." murmured Eagrus.
"So I'm STUCK like this?"
"Er... I'm afraid so, yes," confirmed the technician, and wisely ran away.
Cyba screamed. Loudly.
"Cyba? Calm down! Don't panic! I'm sure Medical can help in other ways..." tried Eagrus quickly.
"I've got a better idea," decided Cyba. "PAAAANNNIIIIIIIIIIC! AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!" She started off into the corridor, her legs still stubbornly refusing to do anything other than 'walk with loud thumping'. Abruptly they adapted, taking Cyba as much by surprise as Eagrus. She suddenly found herself sprinting, and immediately cannoned into the far wall and knocked herself out, falling with an almighty CRASH.
Eagrus dragged her to Medical, which was not easy, because she was now very heavy. He also dreaded to think how scratched her metal parts might be getting - and how furious she would be when she woke up and finally stopped panicking.
"Well, well, what have we here?" inquired Doctor Fitzgerald, upon their arrival. "Is that your agent partner? Have you just come out of the Star Trek continuum? I didn't hear the Borg alarm."
"There's a Borg alarm?" asked Eagrus.
"Yes. It goes off when an agent gets assimilated. There was a whole crisis a couple of years back, didn't you know?"
"Assimilated?" said Eagrus blankly.
"Into their hive mind."
"Oh. That might explain the panicking... and why so many people are so scared of these... Borg."
"You want my advice, Eagrus Khan? Go and watch Star Trek. Make a strategic assessment, just in case you ever end up going there. Besides, it might help when dealing with your friend here, in the future." He, Eagrus and two nurses managed to haul Cyba's unconscious form onto a bed, which they wheeled into a particularly secure-looking side-room.
"So, Eagrus, how did this happen?" he queried.
"Disguise generator accident. We already went to DoSAT. It seems to have changed her natural form permanently. They reckon any use of a disguise generator to return her to her natural form will return her to this state."
"Has she displayed any unusual behaviour, at all?"
"Well, she screamed a lot - so, normal," shrugged Eagrus.
"How did she come to be unconscious?"
"She ran into a wall."
"Right." The doctor began scanning her with a tricorder.
"Well?" pressed Eagrus.
"No outbound networking signals whatsoever; and her ability to receive such is damaged. It looks like the transformation wasn't entirely perfect. Oh, and her hardware appears to have taken up the properties of her uniform."
"Is she hurt?" asked Eagrus, concerned.
"No. If this change can't be undone by DoSAT, it's a good thing her hardware is imperfect. Ordinarily, we have to remove as much of it as possible to prevent the networking. If every time she removes a disguise, she reverts to this state, with perfect hardware she would become part of the hive mind every time she came back from a mission. She's actually rather lucky."
"So, she'll be all right?"
"Mostly," replied Doctor Fitzgerald. "She might still have... tendencies. It would be advisable to keep an eye on her, especially if you ever encounter the Borg proper. Oh, and don't tell her that. If she's panicking as much as you say, it's best if she doesn't know about possible tendencies. Tell her not to worry."
"So she will be all right?"
"Just the usual hazards of being a PPC agent. Her sanity might take a knock. Anyway, she should come around shortly. Oh, and she might also need some help adjusting to her new implants. Without ever having been part of the hive mind, she may not know how to use them."
"She walked and talked - and screamed - well enough," muttered Eagrus.
"Yes, but that is presumably because that connects to the same parts of her brain. Anything extra, and non-automated, she will likely need to learn the old fashioned way. I'll refer her to FicPsych."
"You can try," Eagrus told him, remembering something Cyba had said to him a few missions ago. "She doesn't like psychologists."
Eagrus stood back and took a moment to get used to his partner's new appearance. Cyba Zero still had the same basic features: female, humanoid, and the same face beneath the attachments. Her skin, however, was pale and mottled, and her human left eye had been a washed-out grey colour when it had last been open. Her other eye had been replaced with a mechanical lens and a side-mounted laser, with the metal covering about a third of her face. All of her hair had completely gone, and in its place were several thick, long, black cables woven together with strands of silver, forming the impression of a low pony-tail reaching about half-way down her back.
Most of the rest of her body was entirely mechanical, built of a dull, black metal, interspersed with the odd light. It was little wonder that she thumped when she walked. The only skin she had was on her head, neck and left hand, all else being hidden under heavy plating. Her right arm appeared to contain some kind of technological gadgetry, but what it did was anybody's guess. Eagrus was just glad it had not happened to him - being a creature of tech was not something he found appealing.
Cyba came around about five minutes later, if such a time measurement could be achieved in HQ.
"Ohhhh... where did that wall come from...?" she moaned.
"You can feel pain like that?" Eagrus queried.
"I know when I suffer damage. Even superficially. And I think my mind makes up the difference."
"The doctor says you'll be fine. He especially said not to worry about getting mixed up in any hive mind."
"You know about that?" She looked immensely relieved.
"He explained," Eagrus informed her. "So you can stop panicking, and especially stop screaming from now on, all right?"
"All right. Thanks, Eagrus." She smiled weakly and together they headed back to the RC.
When they arrived, it became apparent that DoSAT had been in while they were away. There was a new - reinforced - trapdoor and, when they opened it, a new heavy-duty chain ladder swung down for them. At the top, a new disguise generator had been installed in the main room.
"I'm cold," she stated once they got in. "Did somebody turn the heating down or something? It's freezing in here."
"Just in here? Feels fine to me," Eagrus shrugged.
"No, all of HQ," Cyba disagreed. "It feels like the Arctic."
"Agent Zero?" inquired a voice suddenly, and a technician came cautiously out of her room.
"Yes..." she replied, regarding him.
"I've just finished setting up you new sleeping arrangements, and I adjusted the temperature setting in there to something that might be more to your liking."
Cyba rushed over as fast as the 'loud and thudding walk' setting - which her legs seemed to be stuck on again - would allow her. The door had been replaced with a metal, automatic one, and the air was a lot warmer on the other side of it.
"Ahhh, bliss," she smiled. "Thanks," she told the technician. Then she noticed her new sleeping arrangements: her bed had been replaced with a Borg alcove. "Oh bother, I have to learn to sleep standing up..."
"Your new flash patch is on the table," the technician informed her helpfully.
"Thanks," said Cyba again, picking it up. "Oooooh, preeeettttty..."
"It's just a like for like replacement," shrugged the technician.
Cyba blinked her human eye and shook herself. "It's just that... wow... red has never looked so... beautiful." Forcing herself to take her eyes off it, she proudly stuck the motif of a red pen to the metal of one of her upper arms. Only then did she notice that the technician had gone.
She wandered out into the main room, and spied Mess and Joke eyeing her with what appeared to be approval.
"Blip?" asked Joke.
"Bleep?" inquired Mess.
"What?" queried Cyba, smiling.
"Bleep beep!" went Joke, pointing at her with a foreleg before doing a little skip.
"What are they on about?" questioned Eagrus, coming out of his room and joining them.
"I think... they approve of my being part machine..."
Both mini-Colossi nodded vigorously.
"Awwwwwwww," went Cyba. "What a lovely pair of cuties you are!"
Eagrus and Zouh rolled their eyes, and Eagrus muttered something about 'tech creatures'.
"Oh well, I'd better go and try out that alcove for size," shrugged Cyba, and went off back into her room, her minis in tow.
"I'd better gen up on this Star Trek, then," said Eagrus to Zouh. The cupboard had all the canon material he needed, of course, so he carried a stack into his room and began watching it.
Cyba stood in her alcove. She was not sure how this was supposed to work, but she did not feel in the slightest bit sleepy. She stuck her nose in the air and closed the eye she could. Nothing changed.
She opened her eye and regarded Mess and Joke.
"I don't feel any different," she told them.
They continued to watch her with intent interest.
She tried again, still with no success.
"Any ideas?" she asked the minis.
Joke shrugged, and Mess shook his head.
She closed her eye and leant back, trying to fall asleep the old fashioned way - only standing up.
Eagrus was watching carefully and committing everything to memory for strategic purposes. About ten minutes in, however, there came a muffled thump from Cyba's room. He glanced at the wall, then carried on watching when he heard nothing else.
Eagrus glanced up again.
He resumed watching.
He carried on watching.
"BLEEP!" One of Cyba's minis sounded indignant.
"Sorry Mess. Are you alright? I didn't mean to fall on you!"
Eagrus glanced up again, then went back to his film.
Several minutes later:
"OWIE! Sorry Joke! Maybe you two should sit further back?"
Eagrus got up and went to see what in the Multiverse was going on in there.
"Eagrus: are these legs supposed to have some kind of park function? Because I can't find it!" grumbled Cyba, before he could even open his mouth.
"I wouldn't know..." he admitted.
Cyba stood back in her alcove and closed her eyes. About a minute passed, then she started to sway and fell forwards to land with a crash on the floor.
"Urgh... ow..." she groaned.
"I see," he mused. "Well, I guess I'll just have to leave you to it. Practise makes perfect!"
Cyba glared at him. "Don't you talk to me about perfect!"
Eagrus snickered and beat a hasty retreat before she got up.
Several hours later, Eagrus finished watching Star Trek and came out into the main room of the RC. He noticed that Cyba was now camped out by the console, apparently awaiting a mission. He had thought it had gone quiet next door.
"No luck sleeping, then?" he probed carefully.
"Nope." She turned back to the console and continued coaxing it. "Don't you have a mission for us? Pleeaaaase? Pretty please? "
NO, read the screen.
"Please with shiny lettering and gemstones and red flashing lights?"
NO MISSIONS AVAILABLE. GO AND ACCLIMATISE.
"Are you sure? Not even a teeny, tiny, little one?"
"Cyba, it won't give you one if you're asking," stated Eagrus.
"Console, I swear you did that just to spite me," muttered Eagrus.
HEY, IT'S RARE THAT AGENTS ASK SO NICELY. IT IS ONLY A SHORT ONE.
"Thank you thank you thank you!" squawked Cyba.
The details flashed up.
"Oh, well I never. Guess who?" snickered Eagrus, splattering Cyba with Sar-Plasm.
"Them again. So much for third time lucky. Let's go deal with it."
"Why do you want a mission so badly anyway?" questioned Eagrus.
"I can't sleep, I can't figure out my new body, and I'm BORED. Being something else for a while will be... a relief."
"Ah. I thought so," commented Eagrus. He opened the portal, set the disguises and off they went.
"Human again!" grinned Cyba triumphantly, as they landed behind a tree, in a comma-storm, in a generic garden.
"Nice armour too!" Eagrus pointed out, and she grinned. They were wearing Chinese sets again.
"Any plan?" asked Cyba.
"Find the wraiths. Get rid of them. Save the lovely Mulan."
"Alright alright! Forget the 'lovely' part. Not that she isn't lovely, just forget I said it."
"Where are they?"
"The... comma-storm?" tried Cyba.
"Correct!" agreed Eagrus.
"How strange! I never would have thought to look for them there!"
"Cyba, please try not to flood this place out with Sar-Plasm."
"What about these others?" queried Cyba, gesturing around at the trio of characters: Bri'Aunna, Yoa and their unnamed daughter.
"Take the kids to the nursery and recruit the rest."
"Recruit them?" Cyba did a double-take.
"This fic is so short I skimmed it in seconds," explained Eagrus. "The wraiths are floating somewhere above us, trying to have more or less all of the other bit characters killed off by Huns. They have also made Bri'Aunna want to let them. As such, they cannot have their own way. We're looking for Bri'Aunna, Yoa, Miley, two unnamed daughters, Will, Elizabeth and however many children they have."
"What about charges?"
"Just watch," spoke Eagrus, as Bri'Aunna ran to the gate and started talking to it. In the absence of any mentioned person being there to utter the other half of the conversation, the gate started talking.
"Ooh, loot!" exclaimed Cyba. "A talking generic gate! It could guard our RC!"
"I like that idea," agreed Eagrus. "We'll pick it up on the way back."
Abruptly, a generic bedroom appeared by the generic garden and Bri'Aunna ran into it. She then picked up 'her mom's favourite neckless'.
"'Neckless'?" repeated Eagrus. "Whose neck went missing?"
"Better: it's jewellery!" cheered Cyba.
"That... turns the wearer's neck invisible..."
"It's an interesting style, but I'll take it!" decided Cyba.
"Women," muttered Eagrus.
Suddenly, the grey and faded visage of Bri'Aunna became the perfect copy of Mulan.
"I see." Cyba now understood why Eagrus wanted to recruit the bit-characters.
Bri'Aunna came out of the bedroom, crossed the garden and went into the palace that appeared out of the comma-storm.
"That's it. I'm charging those wraiths with conjuring buildings," decided Eagrus. "It's their lack of paragraphing and description, again."
The agents tailed Bri'Aunna through the palace until she met the 'emporer'. The rather confused mini-Hun of the same name - who they had met on their previous mission - abruptly appeared beside them, looking rather confused. He recognised them quickly, however, and tagged along.
"Bri'Aunna your parents were the best worries and The huns are attaking china again," spoke the 'emporer'.
The mini face-palmed.
"Definitely worries," agreed Cyba. "I worry at their persistence."
"No, they just failed to learn when to quit. Typical Suvian low intelligence, I'm afraid," Eagrus informed her. "Oh no, there's a..."
"Bleurgh!" went Cyba.
"... spatial wrench coming," finished Eagrus, too late.
"YOU AGAIN!" shouted the wraiths. Being in spirit-form in the Words, the wraiths were not actually possessing anything this time. Unfortunately for the wraiths, the wrench had landed Cyba right in front of them and her ensuing belch had landed all over them.
Eagrus opened a portal to the patch of comma-storm just in front of where the bit characters were supposed to get killed by Huns.
"Bye!" grinned Cyba, and dived through after him just before the portal closed.
"Hold it!" commanded Eagrus.
The bits stopped.
"If you go any further this way, the Huns will kill you all," he warned them.
"Except Yoa, for some reason," added Cyba.
"LET THEM COME!"retorted Bri'Aunna, following her lines in the fic.
"Oh, come on!" snapped Eagrus. "I thought you were supposed to be just like Mulan, and Mulan would not do this."
"What do you know of my mother?" demanded Bri'Aunna.
"What do you know of your mother?" replied Eagrus, knowing full well the description would give her no good answer to that.
Bri'Aunna paused and thought about it.
"I... guess I don't know much at all."
"Didn't think so," said Eagrus. "Perhaps, if you were not so keen to rush to your death, you would have a chance to learn."
Bri'Aunna thought some more.
"But who will stop the Huns?"
"None of this was supposed to happen anyway," explained Eagrus. "You were created by an entity from another world, which specialises in changing what is supposed to happen. It skews fate from its rightful path. We are also from another world, but we specialise in removing these entities and keeping fate on course. Come with us and we will teach you everything."
There was a silence, during which Bri'Aunna threw off the 'neckless', disgusted. It was, of course, immediately pounced on by Cyba.
"Anyone willing to join us, step through this portal." Eagrus opened a portal back to HQ, and all the bit characters gradually went through - right into the hands of FicPsych and their dreaded (mandatory) No Drool Videos.
"Heads up! New recruits incoming!" he called after them. To Cyba he said: "Now that's done, let's deal with the wraiths."
He opened a portal to the usual patch of the comma-storm, where the two wraiths that called themselves Mulan and Shang were still floating, having been bound by their own fic into being unable to do anything.
"Right," said Eagrus, marching over to them with his hands on his hips. "Cyba, read the charges!"
"Fake!Mulan and Fake!Shang, you are charged with: well, all the usual stuff, really, as well as conjuring buildings. Oh, and trying to kill off most of the other characters for no good or even any apparent reason, and making Bri'Aunna want to die while also 'being like Mulan in every way'. That's just an ugly business in general. I liked the talking gate and the 'neckless', though."
"Mulan would not want to die," growled Eagrus. "Now, do we have to go through all the usual rigmarole, or are you just going to go away of your own accord this time?" He pointedly opened a portal to the Void.
"Never!" hissed the wraiths.
"No, I know Suvians never learn," Eagrus agreed.
"It was worth a try, though," Cyba consoled him.
They went through the rigmarole again, cast the wraiths into the Void, collected the talking gate, and went back to the RC.
"Well, that was quick," observed Cyba.
I TOLD YOU IT WAS A SHORT ONE, the console reminded her.
"I know, but thanks anyway," replied Cyba gratefully. "Now I guess it's back to the adjusting."