Sunday, 15 April 2012

A Very Awkward Exorcism

Well, this is interesting. I'm pretty sure records of agents' training are supposed to be confidential... on the other hand, this is a mission report, so I suppose that doesn't apply. Still, it makes an interestingly different read. Let's see.

Mission: A Very Awkward Exorcism
Agents: Sergio Turbo and Nikki Cherryflower, Floaters
Continuum: Card Captor Sakura

I find this report to be a very good introduction to PPC proceedures. Agent, er, Nikki fills the role of 'naive protagonist' perfectly - she's clever enough that things don't need to be beaten in the ground, but ignorant enough to make the introductions she gets purposeful. I may recommend to the Marquis that we give copies of this to new recruits, to teach them what we're about. I particularly like the fact that the training doesn't stop when they enter the fic - Sergio is clearly a natural at this.

On the other hand, I'm sorry to say he seems a little too fond of his own voice. The vast majority of his report is dialogue, often with no tags to indicate who is talking - although that isn't an issue, he shows us his personality and Nikki's very well, so I can tell who's who. Nevertheless, the constant speech is a little tiring - I'd appreciate a little description at times, not so much of the surroundings, but of Nikki's reactions. Body language is still language, and I'm sure she had some.

On the subject of reactions... I've never met Sergio or Nikki in person (I don't get out much), but they come across as very hard-hearted. Sergio admits that Sakura is his Lust Object, and yet has barely any response to watching her be raped. Perhaps he's a recent transfer from Bad Slash, but I wonder whether he's simply blocking the memory - to the unfortunate detriment of his report.

But perhaps I'm being too harsh. Certainly his reactions towards the end were genuine - both the attraction and the embarassment - so he clearly has a normal emotional range. Perhaps his purpose in this report was to present his training of Nikki in a clear, unadorned manner, and he decided to cut out his own reactions for clarity's sake. Either way, I think he is worth watching - not that I have any choice in what reports I receive. Still, I'd like to read more.

-T. Ryan, Dept. of Personnel, DOGA Archivist

City Escape

And so it continues. What is this, Implausible Crossovers? That's Narto's old department... oh, Nar.

Okay. Pull myself together. Bad Terri, no reminiscing. Review. If I keep this up, the R&R Division will give me a part-time job.

Mission: City Escape/dead space sega style, Feeling Sorry, WHEEL OF TRAGETY
Agents: Florestan and Eusabius, DIC
Continua: Sonic, Dead Space, Mario, Banjo-Kazooie

I am quite terrified at the prospect of agents being given three missions at once, even short ones such as these - think of the filing! But if it has to happen, these three were a good match for each other. I'm surprised Agents Florestan and Eusabius didn't protest more, but I note that their file shows them to have a rather antique origin, so perhaps they were simply too polite.

The presentation of the differing styles of the three fics - script, centred, parenthetical - was masterful; I truly felt the agents' pain as they found themselves in each new situation. Perhaps the least fleshed-out was the centred story - it is mentioned once, and is amusing, but seems to fade into the background. I'm sure they felt the pressure of that centring more than they let on - and perhaps they should have written more about it. For someone like me, stuck in the Archives all day, it would have been an interesting read.

I do wonder at the language the pair use - look, it's even affecting me. I'm inclined to wonder whether they're playing on some reputation they have in HQ (I wouldn't know) and exaggerating their formality somewhat in the retelling. My suspicions on this front are strengthened by the fact that they occasionally slip into colloquial speech - the final 'Let's do this!' is one example. On the other hand, who knows? We've had stranger folk in here.

One point I do take issue with is during the climax of their third mission: one of the agents, Florestan, gives a 'review' to an author-wraith (described as a Sue-wraith, which I believe is department policy - precision is vital in DIC, where Sue-wraiths and slash-wraiths are both common). Unfortunately, this 'review', while appropriate in tone, nevertheless blurs towards being a flame. An insulting term is used towards the writer of the story - which is frowned on in most departments (the proposal for a Department of Author Abuse never got off the ground). My only consolation is that I'm inclined to think this 'review' was never actually given - it reads like a 'brilliant retort I would have made'.

On the whole, though I admit to not having any knowledge of the canons involved, I found this suitably entertaining. A few flaws, but far better than those agents who refuse to release their reports at all. I'd much rather have something to read than nothing.

-Terri Ryan, Dept. of

-- oh yes, and I found a bizarre piece of overprinting in my copy. The 'fourth wall' line in the third mission, for some reason, has folded on top of itself. Strange.

-T. Ryan, Dept. of Personnel, DOGA Archivist

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Gaspard in Aperture/sarah in aperture

I honestly have no idea what's going on any more. After that wodge of old reports I was sent, I assumed that was it - but now I'm receiving current Intelligence reports for some reason? Well, at least it's more interesting than Gen's latest origami-report (space-warping powers, yes; paper-folding, not so much).

Mission: Gaspard in Aperture/sarah in aperture
Agent: Gaspard De Grasse, Intel
Continuum: Portal

I find Agent De Grasse's (Gaspard's?) depiction of life in Intel's Action Division endlessly fascinating. I didn't even know they had a cubicle farm, but Gaspard makes it not only a learning experience, but entertaining as well. His colleague Angus takes constructive console abuse to a new level, and my only complaint is that I find myself a little confused over the scale of the whole thing. The only number given is a cubicle address, 'Cubicle 5294, Stupidity Lane', which even by the most conservative estimates gives well over 10,000 Intel Action Agents. I think we would have noticed that - but then again, I suppose consecutive numbering never did catch on here.

I do have to query Gaspard's interpretation of his interaction with the DIA. From what I've seen, DIA operatives may be dismissive, but they never display the overt contempt Gaspard describes. Either a member of their team was having a seriously bad day (which I'm sure the Tiger Lily would never allow), or Gaspard is exaggerating somewhat (and in a less generous frame of mind I might say 'making it up'). Presumably what actually happened was that he told them his RA might be broken, and refused to explain further - or, of course, that earpiece of his (do Intel have those?) was a prank given to him by persons unknown. You never can tell with agents.

Nevertheless, I did reach the end of this report satisfied that my time had not been wasted. Gaspard's slow realisation of exactly what sort of predicament he was in is near-perfect - and I firmly approve of his decision to let certain quotes from the 'fic stand on their own. Those lines don't require narrative commentary, and I'm glad it wasn't offered.

-T. Ryan, Dept. of Personnel, DOGA Archivist