Tangled Webs

Agent Ontic's Backstory

Ontic Laison ran down the streets of Paris. They were after her. She didn't know why, but she knew they were going to hurt her. She was used to pain – had to be, after what she'd been forced to do for the past two years – but that was different. She knew the customers wouldn't kill her. These men might. They'd certainly sounded like they would.

The sixteen-year-old ducked into a ruined building – even eight years after the war had ended, Paris was still not rebuilt – and wished frantically that her brother were here. Steve, though he was younger than her, had spent his time on the streets while she'd cared for Elanor, and later, while she'd been working. He would know how to get away from the men.

Ontic ran past a heap of bricks and found herself in a narrow alley. She ran down, not knowing where she was, wishing only for someone who'd help her, save her, take her away from-

She ran into the pair of women in black as they stepped out of a doorway. As she rebounded against the wall, she immediately assumed the worst – that they were with the men who were chasing her – and tensed to run again. Before she could, the shorter of the two grabbed her arm. "Are you all right, child?" she said in strangely accented English, the language of the Commonwealth. Ontic glared at her.

"Let me go!" The Parisian girl struggled in the woman's grip, but could not get away. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the taller woman – who seemed to have some sort of weird facial deformity – look back in the direction Ontic had come from.

"Someone's after her," the tall one said in a hushed tone. The short one frowned and looked down at Ontic.

"Are you being chased, dear?" she asked kindly. Ontic, however, wasn't in the mood for kind.

"Yeah, and they'll catch me because of you, catin!" the girl snapped. The two women looked at each other.

"Would you like us to take you somewhere safe?" The shorter one asked. Ontic nodded quickly, thinking that if they planned to trap her, she could get away just as easily anywhere else, and probably easier if they weren't watching her.

"Morgan!" exclaimed the tall one. Both Ontic and Morgan looked at her. "You can't do that," she said in explanation, "the SO won't like some street urchin being brought to HQ."

"Yeah?" yelled Ontic. "Well, your friend's offered, hasn't she? So your Ess Oh will just have to live with it, right?" Privately, she was a little apprehensive about this 'SO' and this 'HQ', but she figured that they couldn't be far away, and if she did things right, she might get a few days away from the brothel before escaping. And after all, it couldn't be far away, not with the clothes the two women were wearing.

The tall one shook her head. "Why did you have to offer, Morgan?"

"I'm just too kind," replied Morgan, and then added, "Besides, we may get a new recruit out of it. The SO likes recruits."

Something about the way she said that made Ontic suddenly afraid. It wasn't the accent, though that was very different from Ontic's own French one. It was just something that made Ontic think that she might be getting herself into a worse situation than the one she was trying to get away from. Silly, she thought, what could be worse than being chased by those men? Or even than the brothel? She nodded to herself, her mind made up. "Well?" she said to the two women, cutting off their conversation. "You can't hang around chatting all day, I need to get away."

Morgan looked at her friend, and Ontic could see that she was amused. "Impetuous little thing, aren't you?"

"I'm not little!" Ontic muttered angrily, but not too loudly. She didn't want to upset Morgan. After all, she was rescuing her.

The form that rescue took, however, was totally unexpected. The tall one pulled out a small metal device – Ontic tensed, thinking it was a weapon – and pressed a button. A point of blue light appeared in midair in front of it, rapidly stretching out into a blue horizontal line. To Ontic's amazement, the line split into two, parallel, which raced away vertically, joined by two similar lines at their ends, to form a blue doorway through which a grey room could be seen. The girl stared at the doorway as the tall one stepped through it. This changed everything. How could she run if she didn't know where she was?

"Well, come on," said Morgan, pushing her towards the doorway. "Not backing out now, are you?"

"Of course not!" replied Ontic. Stung into action by Morgan's implication that she was a coward, the Parisian stepped through the door…

… and stared at what she saw there. Behind a desk was a six-foot sunflower wearing a pinstriped suit. Ontic rubbed her eyes, trying to work out what was going on, and then a voice, that she somehow knew came from the sunflower, spoke in her mind.

Well, it said, you are quite a mess, aren't you?

~

"Who is she?"

Dassie looked over at Nendil. "You're late."

The elf nodded. "I know. Who is she?"

Dassie shook his head. "She gives her name as Ontic Laison. She comes from Paris, in one of the Possible Future dimensions. Beyond that…" He shrugged.

Nendil looked through the one-way window at the girl lying in the bed in Medical. "Did the examination turn up anything?"

Dassie nodded. "She's sixteen, human, and shows signs of repeated violent sexual activity. We're theorising that she worked as a prostitute." He kept his face impassive, but couldn't help feeling a little sorry for Ontic. He glanced down at his clipboard. "Oh, yes, and she says she has a sister, named Elanor, who she wants to bring into the PPC once she's sure it's safe."

Nendil snorted. "Of course it isn't safe. She's an assassin now."

Dassie nodded. "DMS. But consider where they've been living – a city ruined by war. By comparison, the PPC is safe."

"Scary thought, that," said Nendil, and Dassie couldn't help agreeing. After a moment, Nendil spoke again. "We'll be watching her first two missions, as usual. If we see any qualities we like, we find a way to get her."

Dassie nodded, not revealing his disapproval. "If we can get the SO to give her up, of course. He's been getting more resistant to our requests of late."

Nendil smiled coldly. "He will if he knows what's good for him," the elf said, and turned away. Dassie shivered, and then followed his fellow DISer back to DIS Central.

~

Mortic Wentway sat in his Response Centre and drummed his fingers on the console. He was bored. The Department of Mary-Sues: Star Trek Division was usually flooded with missions, especially after the recent release of Star Trek: Generations, but he'd been sitting there for several hours now without a single beep.

A sound from the door made him look up, and he saw a short, dark-haired girl standing in the door. "Yes?"

"Um, Agent Wentway?" she asked, in French-accented English.

"That would be me," Mortic said, standing up. "Would you be my new partner?"

"Um, yes."

"Well, come in, then." He waved her to the room's single chair. "I'm Mortic, you can call me Mort. And your name?"

"Um, Ontic-"

[BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!]

Ontic flinched away from the sound, and Mortic looked down at the console. "Quiet, you," he said, slapping a hand on the mute button. As he read the readout, he hisses softly. It was bad.

"Hey, Ontic," he called over his shoulder, "are you familiar with Star Trek canon?"

"Euh…" She stood up and walked over to him. "No. Sorry."

"Hmm." Mortic frowned, and then shook his head. "It doesn't matter. There's not enough canon here to recognise as it is. Just a few names, really… well." Shaking himself, he pressed a few buttons on the console. "You mind being a crew member?"

"Euh, no, that's fine," she replied, bemused. He nodded distractedly and then walked over to a metal cupboard on the wall.

"Original Series, so it's… let's see…" He pulled open the cupboard to reveal several racks of phasers. Taking out two of the crudest-looking, he threw one to Ontic, noting with satisfaction that she caught it easily. "This is a phaser. You point it at something, press this button, and it shoots. This here switches it between modes, ranging from stun up to disintegrate. Got that?" Ontic nodded, wide-eyed. Mortic smiled.

"Good. Now, come on, let's go. The sooner we get started, the sooner we get it over with." Reaching over to the console, he opened a portal and stepped through, Ontic close behind him.

~

Ontic stepped out of the portal into a metal corridor. She had no idea where it was – Mortic had called the canon 'Star Trek', which implied something to do with space, sort of like Zodiac Incorporated – but for the moment she didn't care. Of far more concern was the chill feeling around her legs, which she discovered, on looking down, was due to the clothing she was now, somehow, wearing.

"Mortic!" she yelled. "What is this?"

He replied without looking back at her. "This is the Starship Enterprise. It's where our mission is taking place, and-"

"Not that," she said, irritated, though filing the information away for reference, "this!" She waved a hand downwards to indicate her clothing as he turned.

"Oh, that?" Her partner grinned, looking mischievous. "It's standard uniform for female crew members in this time. It's your disguise."

"But it's so, so short!" It's so much like what they made me wear back in Paris was what she was thinking, but she didn't say it. Better than Mortic didn't know what she'd once done, what she'd once been. That was all behind her. It wasn't behind her sister, dear Elanor, though. Ontic shuddered, and swore to herself that as soon as she was out of this mission, she would get Elanor – and Steve, if he'd come – brought to the PPC.

Mortic, apparently taking the shudder as a response to the uniform, smiled. "Don't worry, Ontic, we don't have to deal with Original Series stories very often. This one's something of a rarity – and a horrible rarity at that. Come on, the Captain is waiting." With that, he walked off down the corridor, leaving Ontic to follow while trying to tug the skirt down to give her some sense of modesty.

"Well, Spock, it's all worked out rather well, hasn't it?"

The two agents stepped out of the corridor into a large room, in the middle of which two men – one of them appeared to be green – were talking. "This is the Bridge," hissed Mortic. "The man is Captain Kirk, and the Vulcan, the green one, is Spock. Or at least, he should be."

"It certainly has," the one called Spock said, a grin appearing on his face. Ontic twitched. The grin was exactly the same as the one some of the men had had, just before they'd used her. Mortic, seeing the twitch, took it for something else.

"Yeah," he muttered, "Vulcans are meant to be emotionless. I guess the author forgot… or just didn't like it."

As if on cue, a deafening voice echoed through the room. "AN I know he's not meant to show emotions but it works better this way!" Ontic stumbled back against the wall, barely noticing that Kirk and Spock were still talking, oblivious to the yell. Mortic offered her a helping hand, which she took after a moment's hesitation.

"That was an Author's Note. One of the banes of our existence. Now, I need to write a charge list…" Letting go of her hand, he pulled out a notepad and pencil and began writing. Ontic returned to watching Kirk and Spock.

From what she could gather, the pair had grown tired of following orders from someone – neither of them said who – and had stolen the Enterprise. They had proceeded to fly it into deep space – Ontic had a moment of satisfaction at having her guess confirmed – and then enslaved the crew. The men had been set to work building some sort of garden, while the women had been 'prepared', 'made ready', 'set up', and other such phrases that left Ontic without a clue as to what was going on.

The agent was about ready to curl up in a corner and go to sleep, the dialogue was so boring, when something happened that immediately caught her attention. A girl entered the room. A girl she recognised. A girl who looked like… herself.

Ontic stared, and then reached out and whacked Mortic on the arm. "Mort!" she hissed. "She's me!"

"What?" Mortic looked over at the girl, and blinked. "She… does appear to be."

"But she can't be! Why would I be here?"

"I don't know…" He shook his head, glanced up at the ceiling, and then looked at Ontic sharply. "You may not want to watch this next bit, actually."

"Why-?" She got no further. In the room, Captain Kirk grabbed hold of the girl, pushed her roughly against a metal wall, pulled his trousers down, pulled her skirt up – she was not wearing any underwear – and…

Ontic watched in horror as the girl was forced to do what she herself had done for the past two years. She barely felt Mortic's strong hand grip her shoulder, but was grateful for it all the same. She was on the verge of rushing out there and killing Kirk right now for what he was doing, and although she hadn't received much PPC training, she knew that killing the canon characters was a very bad idea.

After an indeterminable amount of time, Kirk was done, and stepped away from the girl. To Ontic's utter disgust and amazement, the girl showed every sign of having enjoyed it. Giving Kirk a cheeky grin, she pulled her skirt down and cheerfully left the Bridge. Ontic stared after her.

"Yeah," Mortic said, "it's completely unrealistic. The next bit's worse, but it… she… it won't look like you, so it shouldn't be as bad. You think you can handle it?"

Ontic nodded, feeling Mortic remove his hand from her shoulder as she watched the pair on the Bridge. Kirk, showing an energy she had never seen in any man, apparently wanted more, but this time, Spock wanted to join in. As a new girl – this one with long, blonde hair hiding her face – walked onto the Bridge, Spock pulled his own trousers down. The pair of canons surrounded the girl, Spock in front of her, Kirk – saying "I feel like trying something a little tighter!" – behind, and lifted her skirt. As the men pressed into her in unison, the girl threw her head back. Her hair fell away from her face, and Ontic saw a set of features that she knew very well.

Elanor.

~

Mortic was taken completely by surprise. One moment Ontic was calmly watching the two Canons begin having sex with the 'Sue, the next, she let out a wild scream of rage that made all three of the characters on the Bridge look round. Mortic tried to grab her, but it was too late. Darting forward into the room, she leapt onto Kirk's back, grabbed his head, and twisted. Even from the corridor, Mortic could hear the snap, and could see the Captain's body go limp. Wrapping her legs around the threesome to keep herself up, she reached around the now-terrified 'Sue and broke Spock's neck, too. Dropping to the floor, she looked around wildly for a few moments – like a hunted animal, Mortic thought – before her gaze latched onto the 'Sue, who had pulled herself free of the dead Canons and was now backed up against a wall. Ontic let out another scream, and then ran off down a corridor, completely ignoring the 'Sue. Mortic thought that very odd – surely she should have killed that one, too – but as more screams came echoing down the corridor, he gave up on that line of thought and began to run.

He emerged into a long room, which had become rather a bloodbath. Bodies of female crew members were everywhere, quite a few of them mauled. The surviving women were running around screaming while Ontic raced around between them, killing them in more or less messy ways.

Mortic reached for his phaser, and then cursed. Apparently it had dropped to the floor somewhere behind him, and he didn't have time to look for it. Lunging forward into the room, he grabbed Ontic around the waist. "Ontic! Stop!"

She showed no sign of having heard him. Snarling, she span in his grip and threw him down onto the floor. He was so surprised that he didn't have time to employ his Order-trained strength before she started attacking, pounding him with hands and feet.

~

"DASSIE!"

Dassie span around. "What, Nendil?" Then he noticed the screen, and stared. "Is that Ontic?"

"Yes, it is," replied Nendil, "and we have to stop her! She's killed two Canons, and she's nearly killed her partner!"

Dassie swore, which made even Nendil stare for a moment, and lunged for the Remote Activator. Grabbing it, he pressed the autolock button – this was a DIS-issue Remote Activator, designed to lock onto the subject being watched – and jumped through the portal before it was fully formed, Nendil close behind him.

They emerged right behind Ontic, who was just about to bring her foot down on Mortic's neck in a killing blow, and grabbed her, pulling her backwards. She lashed out at them with hands, feet and teeth, but against two she had no chance. It took a while, and both DIS agents ended up with some fairly serious injuries, but eventually they managed to knock her out.

Leaving Nendil to support the now unconscious agent, Dassie lifted the Remote Activator – awkwardly, using only one arm due to a break in the other – and opened a portal directly to the Medical Department. He stumbled through, and gestured to the doctor who was walking past. "Three agents through there… injured… get them out and get them fixed," he managed to say, before he passed out from blood loss.

~

You realise, of course, that we cannot allow Agent Ontic to remain in your department.

The SO looked over his desk at the Bracket Fungus. I don't see that it's any of your business.

When an agent goes insane on a mission – especially so dramatically – it cannot help but be the business of the Department of Internal Security.

The SO sighed. He didn't like the DIS, but he didn't want to argue with them. They could make things difficult. Fine. Take her.

Thank you. You are being very reasonable.

Yes, yes. The Sunflower waved a frond. Now get out.

Certainly. The Bracket Fungus moved towards the door, and then turned back. By the way, I hear Agent Mortic is recovering very well. And then he was gone.

The SO sighed again. It was just like the Bracket Fungus to say something like that, just to show off how much he knew. Shaking his petals, the Sunflower leafed through the pile of papers on his desk until he found the one he was looking for. Agent Alex Orange… yes, I think you will make a perfect partner for Mortic.

~

Ontic lay on the hard bed, drifting in and out of consciousness. Around her, snatches of conversation floated through the air, but she didn't remember them. She was vaguely aware of people touching her, but they were boring, so she didn't concentrate on them. Eventually, however, she found herself waking up.

"We've repaired some of the damage," said a voice, "but the fact remains that something caused large areas of her brain to become scrambled. We're working on a device that would be able to sort it out, but it won't be ready for a year, and she'd die by then. So we had to make do with a botch job."

What are the effects? asked another voice. Ontic noticed that it was strange, not coming through her ears but instead acting directly on her mind.

"Well, we're not entirely sure. We think she'll have a rather short attention span, and something of an inability to focus on more than one thing at a time. There may be other, deeper effects, too…"

I see. Ontic finally remembered to open her eyes, and saw an elderly man and some sort of fungus looming over her. Ah, she's awake. Hello, Agent Ontic. I am the Bracket Fungus. You will be working for me from now on.

"Hello, Brackie," said Ontic, smiling sweetly up at the plant. "That sounds delightful."

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