3. Act III
Make yourselves comfortable and put on some coffee, because it's going to be a long night. The prim semicircle that our group was seated in has given way to careless disorder. The Secretary is sitting down and idly munching Doritos; Aragorn paces about the room, thinking; Legolas has laid his bow and quiver next to his chair, and Orlando is fiddling with one of the arrows. They're all far beyond feeling awkward around each other at this point; right now, they're just eleven guys stuck in the same big mess.
SAMWISE: [morose] We're never going to get out of this, are we?
SECRETARY: Well, not with an attitude like that, we're not.
GIMLI: I still say we are a match for them! Why sit here quibbling? Send us to that realm and we shall gain a swift victory!
ELIJAH: Look, I'm not any happier about this than you are, but I don't think fan fiction writers deserve to be hacked to pieces. Rapped across the knuckles and forced to study grammar, maybe, but....
SECRETARY: We can't heckle the authors, it's against regulations. Besides, plenty of people do that already and it never works.
ORLANDO: Why can't you just shut down this department, if it's that much of a problem? Or at least put a limit on the number of Rings stories per day.
SECRETARY: [grimly] No. We will not censor the freedom to write; we'd lose too many good stories along with the bad ones. There's no way around it, people. The solution has to come from you.
MERRY: [sulkily drinking his soda] Why do we always have to save the world? It gets right bothersome.
Legolas watches Merry with idle curiosity, then picks up a can and tries to figure out the tab. Almost absently, Orlando takes the can, pops it open, hands it back. Legolas sniffs the beverage warily and tries a sip. Elf-keen sense of taste, ridiculous sugar content – he practically shudders out of his chair. Orlando shrugs, takes it again and starts drinking it.
LEGOLAS: Ai! What mountain brings forth waters such as this?
ORLANDO: No no no, it isn't supposed to be water. Mountain Dew's just a brand name.
LEGOLAS: [not exactly getting it] Brand name.
ORLANDO: Yeah. See, it's basically carbonated water with syrup in it, and they call it Mountain Dew to advertise it because it's supposed to be refreshing, and good GOD this conversation is weird!
BOROMIR: [shaking his head] I cannot see a way out. What chance do we have, if we can be snatched from our world at any moment?
GANDALF: [dryly] And because you are in a strange land, you must surrender your fate to chance? That would bode ill for us indeed, once we reach Mordor.
FRODO: But what can we do? If we wish to return home, we must play out the story; we cannot control how it ends.
SECRETARY: Not how it ends, no. There are subtle things you can still decide for yourself, but for the most part you just have to follow along.
Aragorn stops in mid-stride and scowls at her in frustration.
ARAGORN: There must be something we can do! What hope is there of succeeding in our Quest if we cannot defeat even this paltry obstacle?
SECRETARY: [checking her watch] Well, whatever we decide, it had better get going pretty quick. Merry and Pippin have a shounen ai scheduled at Amon Hen in ninety minutes, and I don't even know how long we can keep Legolas.
ORLANDO: Wait, Amon Hen? Isn't that the bit where all those goblins come charging out of nowhere, and Merry and Pip—
SECRETARY: [eep!] Mr. Bloom! Please!
ORLANDO: [taken aback] What? I was just....
SECRETARY: I'm sorry, really I am, but if you don't mind, I had to pluck them out of Book Two, Chapter Three. Page 277. Just before "Crebain out of Fangorn and Dunland" and all that. They haven't got that far yet.
ORLANDO: Oh, whoops! [brightly, to Merry and Pippin] Right! Forget I said that.
Uncertain pause. The Mary Sues seem to be having a sleepover party (replete with pillow fight) next door, and it's hard to concentrate over the noise. Frodo shakes it off with an effort.
FRODO: [to Secretary] You said there are some things we can choose for ourselves. What can we control?
SECRETARY: Well, how cooperative you are with the author, for one thing. I mean, if the story isn't a good one, Gandalf can be impossible to write. And how many stories does he get each week? Maybe two.
LEGOLAS: Would this help the rest of us?
SECRETARY: Yes, some. But it's exhausting work, especially going up against so many. [pauses, sighs] I think it's going to have to be a little less direct than just fighting the stories. We need to be creative about this.
ORLANDO: [half-serious] How about summoning a troop of Uruk-hai to the Mary Sue room?
SECRETARY: Oh, ha ha. [then, as she warms to the idea] Say now!
ELIJAH: Are you sure that's a good idea? They don't have any sort of Hydra Head thing going for them, do they? The Mary Sues, I mean, not the Uruk-hai.
Pippin looks confused.
ORLANDO: Err... you'll find out.
PIPPIN: [going off] Well that's just lovely! I should have stayed home. "Someone with intelligence," my eye!
SECRETARY: [re: idea] It is awfully tempting, I have to admit. But even if it was successful, more will come – they always do. And at worst, the warriors would fall to the Mary Sues' power before the first blow fell, and what would we have then? A bunch of lovesick Uruk-hai. Wouldn't be pretty. No, we have to strike at the core of the problem.
GIMLI: And what does that mean?
SECRETARY: It means each of you has to find some way to influence the writers, as to avoid overuse of certain plot points. I have one or two ideas, but we're in need of some serious brainstorming here.
ELIJAH: Well, let's get it over with, before Legolas gets sent on a picnic with Aragorn, or Fiesty Barmaid With A Troubled Past, or whoever the hell they decide to pair him up with this time.
LEGOLAS: [wryly] I would choose you, Aragorn, if that is any comfort.
Orlando laughs. Earlier bickering aside, the guy is pretty cool.
Having a concrete task at hand, the Secretary returns to crisp determination. She flips through the pages in the clipboard and gets out her pencil.
SECRETARY: Okay. What I'm going to do is deal with you one at a time. We'll start at the characters with the smallest problems and work our way upward. Mr. Gandalf, as I've said, you're more than capable of holding your own in the stories, so I won't preach. If I could just ask, though – do you still have contact with the Old Guard? You know, the scholars and intellectuals who fell in love with the book fifty years back?
GANDALF: Yes, at times.
SECRETARY: Good. If you'd do me the hugest favor and drop them a note. A lot of them are teaching advanced English classes, or have children and grandchildren of their own. Their power is stronger than they imagine. The great minds of old can use these movies to rekindle the appeal of fine literature. [beat] Or at least sit the kids down and make them read the darn book for once.
Gandalf nods sagely.
GANDALF: I will deliver your message. In return, please ask the late Mr. Tolkien to stop calling on me at all hours of the night to vent his frustrations, as it makes staying properly rested a difficulty.
SECRETARY: [making a note] "Stop griping. Can't sleep." Gotcha. Okay, moving on to Boromir.
Boromir lifts his chin proudly, ready to face down the universe. The Secretary skims through his case file.
SECRETARY: Let's see here. Boromir son of Denethor... knight of Gondor... pretty sheild... right. The situation isn't desperate. You get enough of the romance fics, but not too many, glad to say. Slash gets heavy at times, but it's nothing we can't handle. Your story potential is, uhm, not quite as expansive as the others, so you should be fine.
BOROMIR: [slightly insulted] Expansive... feh. Why would my legend be any less than the rest of the Fellowship?
He gives Elijah a questioning glance. Elijah squirms.
ELIJAH: Hey yeah, you know, that's... gee, I couldn't say.
BOROMIR: Hmph. They don't know a good tale when they see it, I'll warrant.
SECRETARY: Well, that's debatable, but it's neither here nor there. In any case, if things do start getting rough, we have a loophole. For some of your stories, we can pop in Faramir instead, and they never even know the difference. He was so eager to go to Rivendell before your father sent you, he'll be glad to help.
She flips a few pages.
SECRETARY: Okay, now it gets a bit more complicated. Mr. Aragorn? Oh, stop pacing, would you, you're making me dizzy. Now here's the situation. You're an appealing character, really you are. And your vow to protect Frodo on his Quest is, let's face it, charming as all get-out. It's just ... well, the slash. We've been trying so hard to handle it, but it's getting a bit much. You do have a distinct lack of lady friends, after all.
ARAGORN: [biting] Do forgive me if I haven't spent my time throwing myself at women for the past several months. There were other things to tend to, even if I wasn't betrothed to –
SECRETARY: [a tad nervous] Arwen, yes. Funny you should bring her up. See, your obvious attachment to her makes your Mary Sue factor almost zero, and that's a good thing, believe me. And I'm in no way trying to insult her, she's a fascinating character, very... pretty, and noble, and... chaste, and....
ARAGORN: Pretty! Noble! She is nothing less than the fairest and purest of all living beings in Middle-earth! She is the greatest treasure of ...!
SECRETARY: Yes, yes, I realize that, I do! It's just that we see so little of her. And no offense, but she could loosen up just a smidge.
As Aragorn sputters over this last comment, the Secretary turns to the actors.
SECRETARY: I understand that your director is making some decisions in regards to increasing her role in the story. Fleshing her out, so to speak.
ORLANDO: Yeah, pretty much. I think he's still figuring out how far he can take that before the Tolkien following gets upset.
SECRETARY: Right, right. And I'll trust him to stay as true to the book's intent as he can. But my superiors are encouraging Arwen's development as much as possible. The screenplay is technically fan fiction, after all, and that means we have a little influence here. I've spoken to Arwen a few times in the past couple of days, and she's agreed. If we can delve a bit deeper into her character, that's great. If we can get her into a battle or two – fabulous. I'd even be willing to have the movies play up just a bit of a love triangle aspect with Legolas... easy now, Aragorn, I said just a bit. Giving Arwen a sexy edge makes her more interesting to the general public, meaning more people will write Aragorn&Arwen stories. Let's face it, better for us to have Arwen slightly off character than to have you lusting after the hobbits all the time.
Aragorn starts to argue, but breaks off. She's got him there.
SECRETARY: Would you agree to this arrangement?
ARAGORN: Very well, if we must.
SECRETARY: Good, good. She'll be right back to normal when she returns to the book, I promise.
ELIJAH: And hey! Speaking as one who has seen One Night at McCool's? Sexy Arwen is a big plus.
ORLANDO: Most definitely. Have a good time, you old dog, you.
Aragorn tries not to look too interested.
SECRETARY: Moving on, then. Mr. Gimli... this should be fun....
GIMLI: [adamant] I will not go traipsing about with the Elf. I refuse.
SECRETARY: I know, I know. And that's part of what I wanted to discuss with you anyway. You haven't been holding up your end of the fics nearly enough, I have to say. There's the slash, yes, but it's a relatively small amount, and other than that? Practically nothing. I haven't come across one romance story for you – not one. Really, is that fair to the others?
MERRY: Oh, I can't quite say that's his fault.
BOROMIR: [teasing] What with all the charming hobbit competition, you mean?
MERRY: No, no, it's just that Dwarf-maidens don't seem to be in great supply. Even Bilbo never saw one, and he visited with the Dwarves all the time.
SAMWISE: Aye, Mr. Merry, that's a fact. Truth be told, I've sometimes wondered if they exist at all.
GIMLI: Don't be daft! What, you think we Dwarves just spring out of the ground? Of course they exist! They just stay at home in the mines more often than not. Better place for them, too. Smelting to be done. [beat] Though the road does get lonely, betimes...
SECRETARY: [jotting away] Well, maybe if you lot were equal opportunity employers who let their women pitch in every so often, you wouldn't get so lonely, would you? Now, I'm going to see if I can dig up some Dwarf-centered stories for you. There has to be someone who'd be interested in developing that aspect of Middle-Earth. And we'll see what we can do about the she-Dwarf thing. In the meantime, can anyone think of some way to broaden Gimli's appeal to the younger crowd?
ELIJAH: I don't know. I mean, he already talks loud and beheads things; what more do you want?
ORLANDO: [smirking] You could have him join the WWF, just for grins.
The Secretary stares at him blankly for a long beat.
SECRETARY: That has to be the strangest thing I've ever heard.
ORLANDO: Yeah, I wasn't seri—
SECRETARY: I love it! That's going on the list! [scribble scribble] What a good idea!
ORLANDO: Good ide— it was a joke!
SECRETARY: No, really! He'll be a hit!
GIMLI: What are you talking about? Who will I hit?
SECRETARY: [really going with it] Big hulking wrestlers, that's who! Annoying loudmouthed warriors who really haven't a clue about fighting techniques! You could wipe the floor with them!
Gimli lights up like a 100 watt bulb.
GIMLI: A battle! Now that's more like it!
SECRETARY: Just imagine! There's even one who calls himself The Rock! If we had you two face off, the slogan potential would be endless!
ELIJAH: Dude, you can do that?!
SECRETARY: Absolutely. If Star Trek: Voyager can do it, so can we. Okay! I'll schedule some stories for Gimli in the WWF department, then. Great thinking, Mr. Bloom. [a thought] Say, you should try writing fan fiction yourself sometime!
ORLANDO: Ha. No.
SECRETARY: Well, good progress anyway. Let's talk hobbits, shall we? Merry and Pippin, we'll start with you.
At this point, it should be noted that Merry and Pippin are each on their second can of soda and have their eyes on a third. Sugar high ahoy.
SECRETARY: I’d have to say the main problem here is characters getting pigeonholed. There are so many stories people could write about these two, if they’d just take a moment to think of the possibilities. Merry’s surprising ingenuity, for example, or the history of the infamous Tookish streak that gets Pippin into so much trouble. But no. It’s always slash, hurt/comfort, slash, hurt/comfort. Pippin falls down and bumps his head and Merry has to smooch him back to health. Poor things.
BOROMIR: Egads. How irritating!
SECRETARY: I’ll grant you that, but it’s a bit more than just irritating. There’s a real danger when you get characters into a rut like that. If you keep putting them in the same story over and over, it takes longer and longer to get them back into character. And we can’t send them back to The Lord of the Rings acting like that, it would mess everything up. You two will have to do something to get separate stories for a while.
PIPPIN: Well, don’t look at me! Merry’s the one that’s doting on me all the time.
MERRY: Doting on you! Rescuing your sorry backside is more like it!
They start bickering rapidly.
PIPPIN: Oh, you do not!
MERRY: I do too!
PIPPIN: Do not!
MERRY: Do too!
PIPPIN: Do not!
MERRY: Do t— stop that, Pippin!
PIPPIN: There you go again! Acting all high-and-mighty, you… you pillock!
MERRY: [squeaking indignantly] Git!
MERRY: Whiney… stupid… head!
PIPPIN: I mock your feeble insults! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!
ORLANDO: [to Pippin] Right, no more caffeine for you. Hand it over, boyo.
The Secretary looks bemused and makes a note onto her clipboard.
SECRETARY: Well well. Not quite the solution I had in mind, but it'll do.
ELIJAH: What solution? Mountain Dew? How does that work?
SECRETARY: Think about it. Imagine the reaction if every M/P story was two hobbits on a sugar high having s—
ELIJAH: [clutching his head] OH. God. Oh.
SECRETARY: Yes, that's the one. Merry, Pippin, I'll just keep some two liter bottles handy when you have slash duty. One or two stories like that and they'll start looking for something else to write.
ORLANDO: [managing not to laugh] You think that'll be enough? Those writers, you know, they're persistent....
SECRETARY: Well, if it comes to that, we'll try getting them drunk.
ORLANDO: Ah. Good plan.
PIPPIN: [sobering] Just a moment – you're certain we won't remember any of this later?
SECRETARY: Promise. Though you might notice a slight headache and some pulled muscles the next morning.
MERRY: Well, okay. As long as you promise.
ELIJAH: [rubbing the bridge of his nose] That is not right. Gyahh....
SECRETARY: Good, that’s one more down. Let’s keep going. Just a few left and then we’re done, but now we get to the big problems. Frodo, Sam… ergh.
FRODO: [depressed] I’m sorry. I never meant to cause so much trouble.
SAMWISE: It isn’t your fault, Mr. Frodo! Why, it’s that blasted Ring again, more likely than not.
Frodo absently fingers something tucked into his collar.
FRODO: Does it have such a power? How dreadful that would be!
GANDALF: The wiles of Sauron are cunning indeed. All the more reason to destroy it, as soon as we can.
Elijah perks up. All at once, he's oddly intrigued.
ELIJAH: So you really have it here? What's it look like?
FRODO: [hedging] Ohhh, not much to it, really. Round, shiny, yellow-colored....
ELIJAH: Do you think I could s—
SECRETARY: Ooookay, punkin. Don't make me separate you two, all righty?
ORLANDO: Honestly, Elijah, you know better than that.
ELIJAH: [a bit startled] What? I wasn't gonna!
SECRETARY: Yes, that's what they all say.
BOROMIR: Hmph. Weakling.
ELIJAH: Okay, YOU of all pe—
ELIJAH: [grumpy] Well he shouldn't!
SECRETARY: Mo-ving on, please. The point is, Frodo is getting worn out and Sam is being typecast as a bumbling puppy without an ounce of sense. There are too many people putting them into too many crazy situations all at the same time, and it’ll end in disaster if we don’t stop it. We should be thinking less about mysterious rings of power and more about fixing the problem.
ELIJAH: Okay, fine. Is there something I can do?
SECRETARY: Well, that depends. Tell me about this romantic comedy thing of yours coming up.
ELIJAH: The wha? Oh! Yeah, it's this –
SECRETARY: There's a pretty girl in it?
ELIJAH: Well, Mandy Moore....
SECRETARY: Do you kiss her?
ELIJAH: Aaaaand how is this relevant?
SECRETARY: Trust me, it's a huge help. The faster you can lure people over to your other characters, the better off we'll be. When does the movie come out?
ELIJAH: I don't know. Sometime next year.
SECRETARY: [shaking her head] The Two Towers will be out first. We don't have that much time. Hokay, Frodo. Looks like the ball's in your court.
FRODO: [bravely] What must I do?
SECRETARY: First off, you're going to have to go easy on the "wide-eyed" thing. No, I'm serious, your eyes just – there! Yes, that! Stop it! Okay, that's better. And second, if you want to avoid being cuddled to death, then the only choice is to become less cuddly. You could – goodness, I don't know – start arguments, or hog the food, or whine all the time....
Frodo is not liking this idea. He starts to protest.
SECRETARY: Wait, wait, hear me out. When you return to Middle-Earth and resume your Quest, you may be as courteous and endearing as you like. You have nothing to fear from that in the book. But fan fiction is a whole different ballgame. You have to adjust. Roughen yourself up every so often. Be rude to people. The less-determined writers will start to leave you alone.
SAMWISE: [stoutly] You can be rude to me, Mr. Frodo!
SECRETARY: There you go. Perfect. That'll help with the slash issue too. Here, Frodo, give it a try.
FRODO: But... but I could never...!
SECRETARY: Now now, I know you don't want to, but we all have to make sacrifices here. Start small; call him a name or something. He understands, don't you, Sam?
MERRY: [enjoying himself] Go on, Frodo! Have at 'im!
Expectant pause. Poor Frodo's at a loss.
FRODO: Um... w-well all right, uh... Sam, you're a... a...
Samwise braces himself; ohhh, the loyalty...
FRODO: ...blockhe— [caves instantly] No, I can't! Oh Sam, I'm sorry! I didn't mean it!
SAMWISE: It's all right, Mr. Frodo!
ELIJAH: Wow, guys, that was brutal.
SECRETARY: [struggling] Well...maybe if they worked on it a little, they could... [gives up] ...alter the most touching, well-known friendship in literary history. Drat. It won't work.
ORLANDO: Of course not. What with Tolkien's idealization of the whole master/servant rela— Sam!
SAMWISE: What! What'd I do!
Orlando has an idea. Boy, does Orlando have an idea.
ORLANDO: Why do you stay with Frodo so much, Samwise?
SAMWISE: [bewildered] Because I promised him I would.
SAMWISE: Because it’s my duty, if you follow me.
ORLANDO: And why’s that?
SAMWISE: [fumbling] Because… because I’m his friend, and…
ORLANDO: [triumphant] And his servant. Am I right?
SAMWISE: Well, yes. Yes, you could say that.
ORLANDO: And the Gaffer was Bilbo’s servant, wasn’t he?
SAMWISE: Yes, but….
ORLANDO: How long has your family been serving others, Sam?
SAMWISE: I don’t know. A while….
ORLANDO: A long while, right? For generations. Because it’s expected of you.
MERRY: What difference does that make?
ORLANDO: What difference! I should think it’s obvious. I mean, just because Sam is born into a certain family, he has to settle for tending Frodo’s garden for the rest of his life? That doesn’t seem fair. It’s right exploitive, if you ask me.
Frodo is shocked at the very idea. Elijah is trying not to snicker.
SAMWISE: [resentful] He is not! I get holidays whenever I like!
ORLANDO: Well, sure, you do. You’re one of the lucky ones. What about all the other hobbits in the Shire that have to drudge away cooking the meals or cleaning the chimneys all day? Some of them could be making lives for themselves, starting their own careers, getting educated. But they’re stuck being the hired help, all thanks to some muddled-up family tradition put in place by the upper classes. Don’t you see? It's all part of this... outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in your society.
ELIJAH: [under his breath, á la Monty Python] I'm being repressed! I'm being repressed!
ORLANDO: Quiet, I'm working here. [to Samwise] What I'm saying is, the circumstances of your socioeconomic status have no bearing on your potential. Defy the norm, Sam! You could set a new standard! You could advance a new spirit of equality! You could... [hesitates; it's worth the risk] You could be Mayor!
PIPPIN: Mayor? Sam?
ORLANDO: You! Am I right, Elijah?
ELIJAH: [deadpan] Abso-LUTE-ly. We have a sense about these things, you know.
SAMWISE: [in awe] Bless me!
The Secretary shakes her head wryly, but doesn't interrupt. Orlando’s in his element.
ORLANDO: In fact, I happen to think you can do anything Frodo can, if you just put your mind to it. Why should he get all the attention? Get out there on your own and kick some ass!
Despite his brief confusion as to how kicking an ass would remedy the situation, Samwise is obviously intrigued. Still, he wavers.
SAMWISE: But I can’t just go off and leave him. He’ll be needing my help.
ORLANDO: Exactly. And this is your chance to help him, don’t you see? He has more than enough to be worrying about right now. If you must be pulled out of Middle-earth at any given moment, take control of these stories and give him a break. You have a responsibility to him – and to hobbits everywhere – to take action. So what are you going to do?
SAMWISE: [stronger now] Well, when you put it like that, I suppose I might….
ORLANDO: You might or you will? Right now, Sam! Make a choice! Take a stand! Will you do it?
That does it. Good ol' Sam is fired up.
SAMWISE: All right! All right, I will!
ELIJAH: You da hobbit!
SECRETARY: [breathless] My, but you paid attention at that Guildhall academy of yours!
ORLANDO: Thanks, I do my best. [aside to Elijah] "You da hobbit"?
Elijah shrugs, grinning.
SECRETARY: Okay. Okay, I think that will work. Good luck, Samwise, you're going to need it. I guess that just leaves Legolas, and....
Everyone stares at the door of the Mary Sue room. Everyone slumps. Next door, several of the Mary Sues have got out lyres and pan flutes and are playing a stirring Christina Aguilera medley.
ORLANDO: You know what the worst part is? She's immortal.
SECRETARY: Immortal and unchangeable. There's really no avoiding her in any fandom, to say nothing of yours.
LEGOLAS: Then what can be done? Have I no hope?
SECRETARY: Now now, we can't give up before we've started. We've got this far, haven't we?
PIPPIN: What if... well, maybe someone could write a story where Legolas goes off his head and shoots her full of arrows?
LEGOLAS: [desperate] Yes, I could do that!
SECRETARY: That story's been written already. She comes back and haunts him in his sleep. It... doesn't end well.
ARAGORN: Then some trick, perhaps, to make Legolas less appealing to her?
SECRETARY: Well, there's always....
ARAGORN: .... which would not involve him falling in love with me?
SECRETARY: Oh. No, not really. The whole "immortal wisest and fairest of all beings" thing is too much of a force.
LEGOLAS: Curse my Elvish beauty! It seems I must fling myself in front of an Orc's poisoned dart if I wish to escape!
SECRETARY: They wrote that one too. She saves your life by turning you into a vampire.
Legolas groans and buries his face in his hands. Glum pause. Things aren't looking good.
ELIJAH: Honestly. Give any character piercing eyes, mystical fighting skills and a British accent and people go absolutely nuts over….
The Secretary’s head snaps up.
SECRETARY: Hold on a moment – what did you say?
ELIJAH: [puzzled] Oh, you know. The whole "ancient race of graceful warriors" mystique. They love that stuff.
All at once, the Secretary is aglow. She snatches up her clipboard and pencil.
SECRETARY: That’s it. That’s it! Gracious, why didn’t I think of that myself! How perfectly simple!
ELIJAH: What? What’d I say?
SECRETARY: [scrawling notes] Let’s see now… Link from The Legend of Zelda… Drizzt from The Dark Elf trilogy… a couple of Babylon 5’s Minbari… Robert Jordan’s Aeil race should give us at least three or four… we could get Obi Wan Kenobi if George Lucas doesn't sue....
Elijah and the rest of the group are utterly confused by this time.
ELIJAH: Will you stop for five seconds? Seriously, what did I say?
SECRETARY: Well, these characters are clones, you see.
ORLANDO: Ohhhh, clones. Okay. No, wait, I’m still lost.
SECRETARY: Sorry, just a bit of the jargon around here. All of these characters, to varying degrees, are inspired by Tolkien’s Elves. Because Tolkien defined the fantasy world so completely, there isn’t a single one of these characters that hasn’t been influenced by Legolas in some way.
GIMLI: Ah, I see! Then as far as the unholy masses are concerned….
SECRETARY: They’re just as good as Legolas. For all the Mary Sues care, they are Legolas. Hence, The Clones.
She finishes her list with a flourish and grins at them.
SECRETARY: Watch this – here’s a neat trick. [lifting her clipboard aloft and speaking in ringing tones] It Is Done!
Brief silence, and then – shazam. From the next room comes a noise that’s somewhere between tinkling crystal, howling wind, and a grand finale fireworks display. The door to the Mary Sue room is backlit in dazzling light which swirls, flashes, and shimmers with nifty four-pointed sparkle thingies. As everyone gasps and shields their eyes (as is expected of people gazing at nifty four-pointed sparkle thingies) the light seems to condense to a spot just inside the door and wink out. Out of nowhere, countless manly voices take up a stirring call; the Mary Sues squeal deafeningly in response. The ground begins to rumble. The Lounge shakes as thousands upon thousands of dainty feet pound the foundations in a stampede.
ARAGORN: [shouting over the din] What have you done?!
SECRETARY: [gleeful] Wait for it!
Even as she speaks, the noise reaches its height and starts to subside. The sound of running feet dwindles; the shrieks fade to a distant howl, then to a wailing note on the wind, then to silence.
All is quiet. Their faces begin to light up.
ELIJAH: [whispering] Does anybody else hear that?
Legolas strains his Elvish hearing to the utmost.
LEGOLAS: [puzzled] I hear nothing.
ELIJAH: [woohoo!] I know!
Legolas slumps with relief.
SAMWISE: It worked! They're gone!
ARAGORN: A triumph! The Battle of the Clones!
ELIJAH: Since Attack of the Clones would be copyright infringement. Ha ha ha! Hoo boy.
ORLANDO: Oh, Elijah. For God's sake, man.
ELIJAH: Sorry. Sorry.
LEGOLAS: But what has happened? Where have they all gone?
SECRETARY: It’s simple, really. I summoned those characters to embark on heroic quests – ones which require the assistance of a few dozen courageous and beautiful maidens each. The quests will take at least as long as yours, if not longer, and they’ll be romantic and adventurous enough to satisfy the most melodramatic heart. I’d say we can divert a good three-fourths of your Mary Sues to these stories and they’ll never know the difference. You can get a good night’s sleep for once, Mr. Greenleaf – or a good night’s Elvish fugue state, whatever you want to call it.
GANDALF: Most impressive!
SECRETARY: [blushing] Oh, goodness, Mr. Gandalf. You could do much better any day of the week, you know that.
She makes a final note into her clipboard, then pauses. She glances at the ceiling, listens for a moment, and breathes a deep sigh of satisfaction. All is calm in the fabric of space-time.
SECRETARY: Ahhh! Much better.
MERRY: [hopeful] So does this mean we're done?
SECRETARY: Looks like it!
ORLANDO: Wait, what about us? You can handle our stories okay?
SECRETARY: Oh, it isn't much of a problem. [hinting] Of course, if either of you were to decide to get married or join a monastery in the immediate future, I certainly wouldn't complain....
ELIJAH: I like her. She's funny.
SECRETARY: [resigned] All right, it never hurts to ask. Just one thing – in the unlikely event that you read the stories written about you and experience negative side effects such emotional scarring or recurring nightmares....
ORLANDO: [getting it] Ohhh. We wouldn't hold you accountable.
SECRETARY: Really? Oh, good. That's very understanding of you.
ELIJAH: Sure. It's cool. Do we have to sign something?
SECRETARY: Nahh, I trust you. Well! I guess the only thing left to do is send you all back where you came from. You folks back to the book, and you two back to your fanfics.
ORLANDO: I don't suppose you could put us back a little further along? Say, just after the "The End" bit? I'm not keen on losing my pants too.
SECRETARY: Ohhhh, goodness, I don't know, that's completely against regulations.... [caving in blithely] What the hey, we all deserve a break. Off you go.
The Fellowship start gathering their gear together.
GIMLI: It's back to our extremely grim and perilous Quest, I suppose.
PIPPIN: You know what the funny thing is? I don't feel so bad about that anymore.
SAMWISE: Me neither. Why, I'd even be in the mood for making some sausage rolls for dinner when we get back.
PIPPIN: Oo! Sausage rolls! How do we get to Middle-earth?
SECRETARY: [pointing to the larger door] Down the hall, fifth door on the right. Not the fifth door on the left, that's Gotham City.
Everyone's set. Aragorn and Boromir lead the way toward the door, with Elijah and Orlando bringing up the rear; the Secretary stands next to the exit to usher them out.
SECRETARY: [flight attendant] Buh-bye! Thank you! Bye now!
ARAGORN: The Fellowship strikes its first victory! I am proud to be a part of so courageous a group.
BOROMIR: In an entirely fraternal and comradely sense, of course.
ARAGORN: [as he and Boromir exit] Well, of course.
MERRY: You know, it's a shame we can't just leave the Ring here. It's as good a hiding place as any, I'd say.
SECRETARY: Oh, heavens no, not the Lounge! With all the characters that come through here? What if one of the Star Wars people found it or something?
ORLANDO: Heh heh. Jar Jar Binks with the One Ring.
GANDALF: Do not speak of such evil!
ORLANDO: You're right, sorry.
SECRETARY: Goodbye, Mr. Gandalf. Always an honor working with you. Good luck with the whole... you know... [whispers] oretold-fay agic-tray eath-day.
GANDALF: Oh, yes, that. It'll be a nuisance, but I'm rather certain it ends well.
SECRETARY: I'm sure it will. Until next time! Bye, Merry and Pippin! Oh! Gimli! Just a tip – you might want to practice fighting with folding chairs.
GIMLI: [from the hallway] Hah! I will defeat those ruffians barehanded!
Just before he exits, Legolas faces Elijah and Orlando, places a hand over his heart, and bows.
LEGOLAS: Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo.
ORLANDO: Um... thank you?
ELIJAH: [sotto, to Frodo] What's that mean again?
FRODO: [prompting] "A star shines...."
ELIJAH: Oh, right! "Hour of our meeting." Got it.
SECRETARY: Bye, Frodo. Good luck on your Quest.
FRODO: Thank you.
ORLANDO: Now Sam, remember what I said. It's up to you.
SAMWISE: I will.
As Frodo and Sam exit....
FRODO: [anxious] You know I never meant to repress your potential, don't you, Sam?
SAMWISE: Oh, don't you worry, Mr. Frodo. We'll just have to discuss my wages later, is all.
ELIJAH: Watch out for giant spiders!
SECRETARY: Mr. Wood! Now what did I tell you?
ELIJAH: Well, I'm just sayin'. General rule of thumb.
SECRETARY: [skeptical] Sure. Oh, I almost forgot, I need to take you two through the central office to send you back. It won't take long.
ORLANDO: [walking out the door] That's fine. And when I get home, I'm going to put on a tee shirt. And a flannel shirt, and maybe a sweatshirt over that if I can find one that matches, and a coat, and....
Elijah angles a curious glance at his own clothes, which were perfectly normal before the Mary Sue attack.
ELIJAH: What story did you pull me out of, anyway? It couldn't have been too crazy if I was dressed like this.
The Secretary laughs gently and pats his shoulder.
SECRETARY: Oh, you dear thing, you. I think it's better if you never find out.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.