Tangled Webs


A Summary

In the far reaches of time and space, things are different. Strange forms of matter abound, and exotic radiations. But by far the strangest thing to us earthbound is the sheer number of plotholes.

In our world, these strange portals occur only by a million to one chance - something which, in our Narritivium-deprived corner of the universe, happens rather less than nine times out of ten. On the world in which our story begins, however, plotholes are packed in closer than we can imagine, several hundreds per square kilometre.

Plotholes come in many varieties. One of the more benign types allowed this world - which orbits around a binary system of yellow dwarf and superdense black hole - to hold an atmosphere which would seem familiar to any terrestrial life form. However, it is a more dangerous variety which concerns us, specifically the time-space distortion. These, although less common than the reality-twisters, can still be found at a rate of one per kilometre or so.

Most reach only a handful of metres before fading out. Some, though, stretch across entire continents. One in a million is long enough to escape the gravity well even of the hole in the system's centre. There is no practical limit to their length, whether measured in time, space, or alternate realities. Nevertheless, a long hole is very unlikely. Only one in nine hundred billion reaches as far as our insignificant planet.

For our purposes, that is enough.

It was a time of expansion. Great wooden vessels sailed the seas between the Old World and the New, Europe and America. One such ship was carrying a selection of seeds for the captain's garden. The vessel struck the nine hundred billion to one plothole at exactly the right moment and was whisked across space at many times the speed of light.

However, even at such fantastic velocities, the journey was too long for the terrified crew. They died there, in the empty airlessness of intergalactic space, and none now live who remember their names. Yet, though they knew it not, they played a part in the creation of the greatest organisation ever.

For, in the rich atmosphere of that far off world, the seeds sprouted. Spreading slowly from the crushed remains of the ship that had brought them, plants of Earth soon covered the once lifeless planet.

The black hole, however, would not let them rest. One day, a bright flash lit the sky as the hole grasped its companion, the small yellow star, in tendrils of gravity and devoured it. From that meeting strange radiation flooded out, distorting space and twisting the DNA sequences of the plants on that nameless world.

In short, a miracle occurred.

A sunflower, tall amid the grass of the endless plains, sensed the sudden light and flinched. Then, in wonder, it realised that it could flinch, and more - that it could think.

He was the first. There were others. Daisies, ivy, even a lichen - across the globe representatives of the plants came slowly to awareness, and began to seek out others of their kind.

At first they moved in silence, but when one poppy tripped and let out an enormous psychic scream, they began to call to one another with their newborn minds.

In time, a great number had gathered, and they built themselves a gleaming City amid the grass of the plains. Slowly, they learned to use the resources of the world around them, building their knowledge until they were able to harness the most powerful of them all. The Flowers began to manipulate plotholes.

At first they could only ride them, going blindly to the end. Several of the Firstborn were lost in that way before sensors were developed to find the endpoint of a plothole. Great was the day when, after watching a machine screen for several hours, the First of the flowers, the Sunflower Official, stepped forward and found himself at the other end of the plaza, right where he expected to be.

After that, knowledge increased exponentially, and it was only a matter of time before plotholes were being twisted, moved from their original courses and used as public transport. A new building was constructed to house the plothole technology, a building known only as Headquarters.

Great devices were created to stabilise the plotholes, and using them the HQ building was extended. When a hole opened to a planet in a neighbouring system, a stabiliser and pressure seal were thrown up, and in time a corridor was built through the hole and HQ expanded further.

Then, one day, an ironwood tree named Hornbeam made the greatest technological breakthrough yet. He learned how to create plotholes.

The Organisation expanded yet again, leapfrogging from planet to planet. In some realities they encountered beings now known as 'Mary-Sues', beings who created plotholes instinctively. After a few efforts to harness the power, the Sunflower Official decreed these rogue plotholes a threat to stability, and ordered all 'Sues executed if they produced too many.

But all was not well on the homeworld of the Flowers, a world simply known as Origin. Sentiment was growing among the civilian population and some Conservatives in the Organisation, a conviction that plotholes should not be used as extensively as the Organisation used them – or perhaps should not be used at all. The Civil War that erupted in 1975 HST was brutal, all-consuming – and inevitable.

Faced by the onslaught of invaders from Origin and its City, the Sunflower Official made a fateful decision: the Organisation was to be cut off from its homeworld, and all portals back would be sealed. To emphasise this separation, he gave the Organisation a new name, reflecting their role in the destruction of the rogue plothole generators known as Mary-Sues. The Organisation became the Protectors of the Plot Continuum.

The PPC continued to expand, claiming the hidden places of countless worlds for their sprawling, six-dimensional Headquarters. On the day the plants opened their first portal to Earth, a young Korean man stumbled through. A brilliant technician with an uncanny skill with plothole technology, he was quickly dubbed Makes-Things by the Flowers (some say they simply could not pronounce his true name, others that the very concept of a non-descriptive ‘name’ was too foreign for them at that time), and the name has stuck ever since.

As Makes-Things and Hornbeam improved on the PPC’s technology, taking great strides into unknown levels of plothole control, something went wrong. The Cascade, a great multiplying of uncontrolled time-space distortions, spread outwards from the core of HQ, threading itself through the Multiverse and creating a ready-made expansion zone.

But the Cascade was not benign. The fringes of it touched the black hole around which Origin still spun. The system was destabilised, and Origin’s death was only a matter of time.

Receiving a desperate call for aid, the PPC turned homewards at last. All efforts to repair the damage failed; the orderly evacuation was consumed by the resurgent Civil War; many Flowers died in the Fall of Origin. Disheartened, the PPC turned outwards once again, leaving only a single plothole – or ‘portal’, as they were now known - open to the system. Here they brought specimens of all the new plants they found, in the hope that they too might mutate.

As Captain Dandy and his Weeds set out to explore the Cascade and ensure no other worlds met Origin’s fate, the Protectors returned to their duties. Makes-Things found ways to miniaturise the portal creation and stabilising technology, and to fit them into a console that filled only a single wall. In the space that remained he added some things of his own invention - a device to detect the hated 'Sues, a summariser of their effects on the host reality, and a really loud annoying thing that went [BEEEEEEEEEP!!!!!!!].

Adapting these new inventions, he designed Canon Analysis Devices to detect the specific influences of the 'Sues on each character. However, all this technology was rarely used - even with disguises, the Flowers did not enjoy leaving HQ, and often merely destroyed a planet housing a possible 'Sue to save time. The S.O. knew about this, but there was nothing he could do.

... nothing, that is, until a portal to Earth scooped up two girls and dumped them in Makes-Things' lab, giving him the shock of his life.

Their names were not, sadly, Jay Thorntree and Acacia Byrd. It would have been nice, but unfortunately, History doesn't work that way.

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