Blank Sprite is going to be posted here like the rest of my spinoff from now on. There are some reasons why I decided to do so.
– Media Enhanced Writing failure: Despite most readers actually finding the background music fitting, the system was buggy (two songs stopped working after just a few days, and it messed up the formatting) and unwieldy for pretty much everyone, so I’m discontinuing it. As a result, I don’t need to use a different blog for Blank Sprite anymore.
– The other blog I was using had a lot of invasive sidebars, making navigation for some people difficult. (Sorry, Nesh.)
“Are… Are you sure you want me to do it?”
Sergio was kneeling near a girl. She was sitting on the ground, her back leaning on a wall and her bloodied hand on her belly. A puddle of blood was slowly forming under her, mixing itself with the heavy rain.
“You said that I can’t survive this, didn’t you? Then just spare me the suffering.”
Sergio slowly aimed a chromed Desert Eagle at the girl’s heart. He tried to keep his hands steady, but the shakiness just didn’t want to go away.
“Come on, I want to see Faith again. I’ll tell her that you said hi. Oh, and kick the Organization’s ass for me, will you?”
Sergio just couldn’t understand how she was able to smile in such a situation. He tried to hold back his tears while he cocked the gun. “G-goodbye, Kath.”
The Desert Eagle’s powerful blast sound filled the air.
Sergio woke up, the detonation still ringing in his head. It took him several seconds to realize that he was sitting on his bed. He was also looking around startled, like he was looking for the scene he just saw in the interior of his RC.
He had had that nightmare again.
At least I didn’t wake up Nikki and Corolla, he thought while trying to calm his heavy breathing.
Sergio sighed, and laid down on his bed again.
“For how long will you keep haunting me, big sis?”
Mission Record 01 – An easy mission
Sergio, Nikki and Corolla hid in a bush in King Penguin Park. Their mission in a Card Captor Sakura badfic was going smoothly, and the three Agents were waiting for all the involved characters to gather in the park as per the fic’s plot.
“OK, we just need to wait for Sakura and then we can neuralyze all of them,” Corolla said while looking at the Words.
“Good. Meiling with magical powers? The earlier we fix it, the better,” Sergio said, “That girl’s too dangerous with them.” He looked at the King Penguin and sighed. A big chunk was missing from the giant slide, and obviously the culprit was Meiling, who had been practicing recklessly with her new and uncanonical powers.
“Well, this fic’s version of Tomoyo is what gives me the chills, actually,” Nikki said. “She’s got thrice the Sakura obsession she usually has, and also costume-generating powers. I still can’t believe that she came up with… that costume in a T rated fic!”
Corolla patted her on the shoulder. “We’re going to fix that. Get ready, Sakura’s coming in three… two… one…”
Corolla pointed at the entrance of the park, but nobody was there. “Huh? The words say that she arrives after Syaoran stops speaking… and he just did, right?”
Syaoran was, in fact, looking around silently. After a little while, Tomoyo and Meiling started looking around too, all of them with very confused faces.
Nikki looked at the Words, and then again at the scene. “Where is Sakura?”
“This is not normal,” Sergio said. “If the Words have something in it, it just happens, even if it isn’t possible. Sakura should’ve appeared there even if she was in an entirely different country just a few minutes ago, and she was here in Tomoeda. Unless… Nah, scratch that. It’s not even considered possible.”
Corolla wanted to ask what he was talking about, but Nikki spoke first.
“So, what are we going to do?” Nikki asked. “Split up and search for her?”
“Good idea,” Sergio agreed. “I’m going to check the area around Sakura’s house. Nikki, the school area. Corolla, stay here in case she shows up.”
Corolla offered a mock salute. “Roger that, Captain!”
Several hours later, Sergio entered King Penguin Park. The canon characters were nowhere to be seen, and his partners were at the swings. While Corolla was clearly having fun with hers, Nikki was just sitting idly on the other one.
“Any luck?” he asked. Nikki just shook her head as Corolla stopped swinging.
“Syaoran and the others went home after about an hour,” the Unison Device explained, “it wasn’t in the Words, so I think the plot of this fic isn’t going to continue at all.”
Sergio leaned against one of the swings’ steel pipes, looking at the night sky as if the answer could come from the stars. After a little while he glanced at his partners. “We have to tell the Flowers about this. Let’s go.”
The Agent fished out a Remote Activator and opened a portal to Headquarters. The trio walked through and found themselves in front of the Sunflower Official’s office.
“Why the Sunflower?” Nikki asked. “Our Department Head is the Hyacinth, and before going to her we would need to talk to the Bonsai Monkey Puzzle Tree, right?”
“I’m afraid this is something big,” Sergio said as he opened the door and walked in.
It is considered polite to knock before entering someone’s office, Agent Turbo.
Sergio ignored him and slammed his palms on the desk. “Sir, we have a Blank Sprite.”
Despite lacking a face, the Sunflower managed to look surprised.
A Blank Sprite? Are you sure, Agent Turbo?
“Sakura Kinomoto, continuum CLW-5219-196-CP, fanfiction ID FFW300913, chapter seven. Six-hour search carried out without success.”
The Flower seemed to just stare at him for several seconds.
… I understand. It might be early to call this a Blank Sprite, but this is a strange situation for sure. Give me a minute, Agents.
Nikki looked at the Sunflower in curiosity. It was quite rare to see a Flower worried by something. However, the brunette was also puzzled by how Sergio described the situation: the phrasing sounded like it could have come out of a soldier’s mouth.
According to Intel, Sakura Kinomoto is indeed missing from her continuum. In addition, the fanfiction you were given as a mission has just been deleted.
Corolla blinked. “Deleted? What a coincidence.”
“Coincidences don’t exist,” Sergio flatly stated.
I’m not finished, Agents. Intel reports also indicate that Madoka Kaname from continuum FST-1808-211-GU is missing too.
The three Agents stepped back instinctively as they heard Puella Magi Madoka Magica’s Continuum Identification Code.
“Madoka disappeared too?” Sergio asked with an incredulous look on his face.
“But… she’s a goddess! Everywhere and everywhen in the whole multiverse! How could it happen?” Nikki asked.
The Sunflower did the telepathic equivalent of a sigh. I don’t have the faintest idea, but we have to get them back. Agents Turbo, Cherryflower and Corolla, you are from the Special Operations Division, right?
“Yes, sir. We were transferred there about a year and half ago.”
The Sunflower “sighed” again. We can’t let this become public HQ knowledge, even if it is just a Trans-Dimensional Snatching gone wrong. Chaos would spread quickly otherwise. The Sunflower noticed the looks that the three Agents were giving him. Well, more chaos than usual, as several Agents wouldn’t react well to a possible new emergency. I have no choice but to assign this mission to you. Find whoever is kidnapping canons before they strike again.
Nikki nodded. While there weren’t many Agents active in the Cardcaptor Sakura continuum, Madokaism was a “religion” widely followed in HQ, and the disappearance of the Goddess of Hope would probably cause quite a stir. In fact, she was a Madoka worshipper herself.
“Do we have something to work on, at least?” Sergio asked. “For all we know, they can be anywhere, and we simply can’t search the whole multiverse.”
Unfortunately Intel didn’t discover anything useful, but we still need to start working on the issue right now. According to DoSAT simulations, the continua involved will last a week, ten days at most without taking permanent damage.
Sergio crossed his arms. “Yes, I read the article on that magazine, how was it called? Sue Tactics? Still, I-”
“Wait, I might be on to something here,” Nikki interrupted him. “Usually, in Trans-Dimensional Snatchings the characters are kidnapped because someone wants them, right?”
Yes, it’s right, Agent Cherryflower.
“Then,” Nikki continued, “it is someone who likes Magical Girl shows, because the characters disappeared are both from Magical Girl series, right?”
It’s as good as a guess we can make now.
“Wait, do you mean that someone is collecting Magical Girls?” Sergio asked.
Nikki waved her hands dismissively. “I know, that’s quite far-fetched, but-”
“It isn’t,” Sergio interrupted her, “it means that this someone is probably going to act again. We just have to keep surveillance on the possible next victims in order to catch the culprit.”
“Nanoha, maybe?” Corolla wondered, “We have a famous classic and a famous deconstruction, so the next one might be a famous reconstruction.”
Let’s work on this hypothesis then. You three are tasked with keeping Nanoha Takamachi’s house under surveillance. I’ll have Intel keep an eye open on other series, just in case. Dismissed.
The Sunflower seemed to have regained his composure, and the three Agents saluted and went towards the door.
Also, knock at the door before entering next time, Agent Turbo.
The maze of corridors seemed to never end as the trio walked through it.
“So, what is this Blank Sprite exactly?” Corolla asked, “I never heard this term.”
“It’s not official PPC terminology,” Sergio explained, “the term was coined by a magazine, Sue Tactics. I believe this magazine started running in 2008 after the Mary Sue invasion, and stopped in 2010. It had several what-if articles about emergencies, but the sheer stupidity of some of them led to the magazine’s demise. Giant talking potatoes trying to talk Assassins out of killing Sues by promising them free potato chips? Seriously?”
Sergio shook his head and continued. “Anyways, one of the most sound ones was the so-called Blank Sprite. As you know, a character being involved in a fic doesn’t prevent him or her from appearing in other fics or in canon. The article, though, investigated the possibility of a character being forcibly ripped out of canon completely, along with simulations of possible consequences.”
Nikki looked at him with a puzzled expression. “It looks like an useful analysis, though. Why isn’t it in the manual?”
“Because it shouldn’t be possible,” Sergio answered, “the authors of the article tried to come up with ways it could happen. They didn’t find any.”
The brown-haired guy sighed as they finally arrived at their Response Center. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
“We’ll get through this. Besides, I think the Flowers would send reinforcements if the situation goes awry, right?” Nikki said as she opened the door and entered.
“Probably. But, then again, he wants to keep this classified, so we shouldn’t expect it until things go really bad.” Sergio answered. The brown-haired Agent put down his backpack and restocked it with food supplies, as there was no indication of how long the surveillance part would take. He also took the Beretta ARX-160A2 assault rifle from the ammo rack and put it near the backpack.
“Do you think I should take some more grenades?” Nikki asked.
“I think we can use some stun grenades, yes,” Sergio said with a nod, “it’s the safest way to put the enemy out of commission if they’re near the hos… the canons.”
Corolla noticed Sergio’s slip. “Hey, you keep talking like a soldier today.”
Sergio smiled and rubbed the back of his head. “Uh?… Oh, sorry. I… I was one, several years ago. I guess the old habit kicked in when the situation caught me off guard.”
Nikki glanced at him. Several years ago?… But he’s just 21. Could it be… Was he a child soldier?
Sergio put down the binoculars on a nearby table. The three Agents were in the house right in front of Nanoha’s, and currently Sergio and Corolla were in the room that gave the best visual on the magical girl’s home.
The male Agent turned around and smiled as he noticed that Corolla, currently disguised as a Japanese police officer like the rest of her team, had fallen asleep while still sitting upright on the sofa.
Not that he could blame her. It was well past two o’clock in the morning, and nothing had happened yet.
“Still nothing?” Nikki asked carrying two cups of tea. She offered one to Sergio, who answered her question by shaking his head. The two Agents sat down, and started drinking their tea silently.
“What if I was wrong and the only targets were Madoka and Sakura?” Nikki asked after a little while, “maybe we’re just losing time he-”
Sergio raised a hand to stop her as he noticed the lights of a vehicle coming through the curtains. He got up and looked through them.
“Wake Corolla up and come out; you were right!” Sergio said as he grabbed his rifle, “there’s a black van with a German license plate out there, and I don’t think they’re tourists visiting Uminari’s residential area by night!”
The male Agent ran out and took cover behind the wall surrounding the house’s garden. He carefully peeked out as Nikki and Corolla joined him.
“It’s them?” the Unison Device whispered.
“I think so. Four men armed with compact submachine guns. So, either Nanoha accidentally blasted up something in Germany and the GSG9 anti-terrorist unit is after her, or we found our kidnappers. Let’s try to take them alive.”
Nikki nodded, retrieved a stun grenade from her hammerspace, and threw it towards the four men.
Sergio left cover as soon as he heard the detonation. One of them was down, probably unconscious, while the other three, despite looking fairly disoriented, were still standing.
“Uminari Metropolitan Police! Drop your weapons and put your hands behind your head!”
The three men, though, didn’t seem to listen to him as they opened fire. The Agent dove behind a dumpster as Nikki started returning fire with the Barret Shoot spell, taking down another one. The two remaining men started retreating towards the van.
“They’re escaping!” Nikki shouted. Sergio fired a couple of bursts and hit the one who was going towards the passenger’s door. The other one managed to get behind the wheel and turned on the engine.
Sergio came out from behind the dumpster and ran towards the van as it started moving. The Agent fired again, but only managed to shatter the rear window. I’m not going to hit anything this way!
Sergio dove to the ground, and fired again, this time aiming for the left tire. Firing from a prone position had proved to be more successful, as one of the bullets hit the tire, causing it to blow up. The van swerved out of control and ended its run against a telephone pole.
“Nice shot… but I’m afraid it isn’t going to help your reputation,” Corolla commented as she cast the Ring Bind spell on the two unconscious men.
“C’mon, I wasn’t driving it!” Sergio rebutted as he got up. The Agent walked towards the van, putting away his rifle and unholstering his pistol in order to have a free hand to open the door.
In the meantime, Nikki heard the noise of a window opening. She looked up, and noticed that Nanoha, who appeared to be still a kid, was awake and looking at them. “What’s going on, officer?”
Nikki smiled at her, trying to come up with a suited response. “We were chasing after some bad guys, but we caught them. Don’t worry, little miss, it’s all over.”
Nanoha smiled back and nodded. “I see. Thank you, officer!”
“You’re welcome. Good night!” Nikki said.
Corolla walked next to her as Nanoha closed her window and went back to bed. “Nice job, Nikki. We aren’t even going to need to neuralyze her.”
“Hey! You might want to see this!” Sergio shouted from the van. When the two girls got to him, they noticed that their partner had taken the balaclava off the head of the dead man at the wheel. Apparently he was killed by the trauma of the impact, as there were no visible injuries on him.
“His hair looks strange… it’s gray, but it also gives the impression of being… er…” Nikki said, unsure about the right word.
“Nondescript?” Corolla added helpfully.
“I guess it is pretty much what it is,” Sergio agreed, “I never saw one before, but I think this is what they call a Defective.”
“You mean a failed Sue or Stu from a Mary Sue Factory?” Corolla asked, “well, it sure does look like one…”
“Yes. And I think the others might be Defectives too, as it would explain why they didn’t put much of a fight, and especially how easily this one died,” Sergio said, “considering how little far he went, and the speed the van lost by swerving around, it couldn’t have been going faster than forty or fifty kilometers per hour when it hit the pole.”
Corolla scratched her head in puzzlement. “Uhm, it’s kinda hard to believe that these four were attempting to kidnap Nanoha.”
Nikki in the meanwhile was looking at the interior of the van. “Besides, isn’t this truck too… realistic? If those were just mooks, a generic van would’ve sufficed.”
“Yeah,” Sergio confirmed. “it’s a Ford Transit, and their guns are Heckler & Koch MP5Ks. Whoever sent these nondescript mooks here took the effort of giving them definite and practical equipment. It just doesn’t make any sense, Sues don’t plan that well.”
Sergio sighed. While their surveillance had worked in theory, it apparently ended up only giving them more questions.
“Hm, has any of you heard of a continuum called ‘Alarm für Cobra 11’?” Corolla asked, a holographic window open in front of her.
Sergio gave her a quizzical look. “It’s a German police series. Very popular in Italy. Why?”
“‘Cause according to my CAD this van comes from there.”
The male Agent, with his brow knitted in thought, opened the van’s glove compartment and retrieved some documents from there. “Let’s see… This van is apparently owned by a shipping company in Cologne called ‘Bestest Shipping Co.’”
“Sounds very like a Mary Sue Factory’s name. Almost too blatantly so,” Nikki noted.
“Yeah, and in a continuum where Sues are almost non-existent,” Sergio added, “I’m one of the very few Agents who know this continuum, and even then I got only one mission in it. It doesn’t even have a fanfiction section on the Pit. It would be a perfect place to go unnoticed, but…”
“Sues don’t want to go unnoticed. They want everyone to know them and fawn on them,” Corolla completed for him while crossing her arms.
“Yes. Time to go speak to the Sunflower again… well, after cleaning up this mess,” Sergio said.
The Agents looked at the aftermath of their little battle. It was going to take a while.
Did you have to drag them here? The Sunflower Official did the telepathic equivalent of a frown as the three Agents entered his office dragging the two surviving Defectives with them.
“We would’ve dropped them in DMSE&R if you didn’t tell us to keep this mission classified,” Sergio rebutted as he let go the still-unconscious Defective, “and killing them right away felt wrong as they might know something.”
Nikki dropped unceremoniously the other one. “Yeah. We have more questions than before.”
I see. I’ll get this sorted out. Agent Cherryflower, if I recall correctly your Device is capable of sending back a continuous video feed, right?
“Yes, why?” the brunette answered.
I believe that a Mary Sue Factory is behind this, too. Agents Turbo and Cherryflower, you will go to the Alarm für Cobra 11 continuum to find it. Agent Corolla, you will stay in your Response Center to act as a relay between them and HQ. Once the factory has been located a rescue team will be assembled and dispatched.
The Sunflower Official, despite his lack of eyes, managed to give Sergio a piercing stare. Don’t attempt a rescue on your own. We never staged an assault on a Mary Sue Factory before, but we can take for granted that it is too much for only two Agents to handle.
“I understand, sir.” Sergio answered, his expression unreadable.
I hope you do, Agent Turbo. Dismissed.
When the three Agents arrived to their RC they found a woman waiting at the door.“Hi, Anne. What are you doing here?” Nikki asked.
“Hi. The Sunflower sent me to reactivate Sergio’s Codec. He said that he might need it for his next assignment.”Corolla glanced at him. “You have a Codec?”
“Uhm… What’s a codec?” Nikki asked.
“It’s a nanomachine-based communications device from the Metal Gear continuum,” Anne explained, “It works similarly to telepathy, as it is operated directly from the brain.”
“I had it deactivated when I joined the PPC,” Sergio said with a flat tone, “a mobile phone works just fine for me. Besides, using it too much always gave me headaches.”
“You aren’t a fan of it, am I right?” Anne asked.
“I just don’t like stuff being directly linked to my brain,” Sergio said as he opened the RC’s door, “but I guess that having my Codec working again might be useful.”
The group entered the RC, and Anne put a small briefcase on the table.
“Well, Nikki’s Device can act as a relay for it, so you can use it to talk with her, or people who are in telepathic contact with her, even when you can’t physically speak,” Anne said as she opened the briefcase and retrieved a hypodermic spray from it. She then gestured Sergio to sit down.
“I hope it isn’t going to sting,” he said.
“Don’t worry, you…” Anne said as she quickly put the business end of the spray on the side of his neck, “… didn’t even feel it, right?”
The male Agent passed a hand on his neck. “Oh.”
“By the way, Nikki,” Anne said turning towards the brunette, “is Vanguard working well?”
“Yes. It works really well, and my magic stopped changing randomly,” Nikki said. She looked up in thought for a little bit, then spoke again. “well, I still became a mermaid a couple of times while I was bathing, but I think you did a great job anyway!”
“I’m happy to hear it. I wanted to put a Full Drive mode in it too, but unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to. I’m sorry.”
Nikki shook her head. “Don’t worry. Lancer and Saber forms are more than enough.”
“I see. Well, I have to go now. Good luck with your assignment,” Anne said as she exited the Response Center.
Sergio sighed and walked to the weapons shelf. “I’m afraid we’re going to need a lot of it.”
The male Agent took his Benelli M4 shotgun from its shelf, and kept rifling through the shelves in search of something else.
“Aren’t the shotgun cartridges over there?” Corolla pointed out, hoping to help. Sergio shook his head. “I’m looking for the Hatton rounds, not the buckshot ones. Here are the beanbags… sabot… Uncommon Comma Special… Oh, here they are.”
Sergio proceeded to load five of them in the shotgun, and put five more in the stock saddle. “Good. Nikki, can you lend me a bit of your hammerspace? I can’t carry both this and the ARX simultaneously.”
Nikki gave him a puzzled look. “Yes, of course. But why do you need both?”
“I loaded the Benelli with breaching rounds, so if we find Sakura and Madoka and they are locked up somewhere, the lock isn’t going to be a problem,” Sergio explained, “Corolla, can you set up the portal?”
The Unison Device nodded and started typing on the console.
“You are going to try rescuing them yourself anyway given half a chance, aren’t you?” Nikki asked.
Sergio kneeled near his bed and reached under it. “You are beginning to know me too well.”
No, I am not, Nikki thought, But I want to.
“Where did it go?… Oh, here it is.” Sergio said as he pulled out a small carrying case of the kind used for small guns. The Agent retrieved a pistol from it. “Take it, Nikki. I know you don’t like guns, but considering what we’re dealing with I want you to have a backup weapon. It’s a Walther P99. Single action, sixteen rounds in the magazine. It’s already loaded.”
Nikki gave him a puzzled look as she took the gun. “You kept a loaded gun under your bed?”
“Well, I was keeping it ready as an emergency weapon,” Sergio justified himself, “and those tend to be useless without bullets.”
“I see…” Nikki said as her partner put the case back under the bed. However, before he closed it, Nikki noticed that there was something else in it – some photos and what looked like military dog tags.
The brunette kept thinking about it even as they walked through the portal. Were those mementos of Sergio’s past?