And it's actually a fairly long one, too! I had a devil of a time writing it, dang thing kept wanting to go off in it's own directions. Anyway, here's hoping you like where I finally wrangled the bunny down.
A "Life at the Lair" story
In the wake of the invasion of the Mary-Sues, certain bugs in the Lair's security system had been revealed. It had been installed to ensure the protection of its authors, but had neglected to take into account the vulnerability of its fandom characters. The system hadn't known how to respond against the inherent evil of the Mary-Sues, and the boys who were supposed to be the last line of defense had failed even worse.
The system could be reconfigured to prevent further attacks, but as for the condition of the boys...
That was an oversight that needed immediate reparation.
"Okay, here's what we're gonna do," Moon announced, after she had assembled all of the Lair's residents in the main chamber. "We're going to run a test scenario on our security procedures. This means we're going to engage the security system, have someone break through it, and see how long it takes to eliminate a potential threat. I'll need everyone not participating in the test to remain outside for the duration of the scenario -- for your own personal safety, of course."
"Aw, man!" Storm pouted. She'd only just managed to get into the Lair, now she was gonna get sent out again? "Not fair!"
But Michael slipped Tomy's grip enough to wrap an arm around her shoulder, too. "Don't worry, hun, we've got something special planned for those of us stuck outside."
Storm lit up immediately, snuggling into Michael's side as she looked up at him. "Oh, like what?"
Tomy, still wrapped tightly in Michael's other arm, grinned at the young author. She, of course, had been with him all morning, so she already had an idea of what the afternoon's scheduled entertainment was to be. "You're gonna love it!" she confided. "Mi and Kitt are..."
"Ah, ah, ah," Michael shushed her with a wink. "It's a surprise."
While Storm was being reassured, Moon had been passing out assignments. For everyone to participate in the security test, she handed them a packet detailing their part in the exercise. For those not participating, she shooed them out the door and out of the way.
Jack stood by watching as everyone but him (it seemed) received their instructions. "What about me?" he asked, purposely turning his soulful brown eyes on Moon.
"Umm..." Moon stared, then shook herself free of the hypnotizing effect of his gaze. In light of his attempted manipulation, she had no problem at all smiling sweetly at him as she told him, "you're not needed."
Jack's jaw dropped open. "But, but... I'm a colonel in the Air Force! Second in command of a top-secret facility! I've run many a training exercise -- I have valuable combat and procedural knowledge," he protested.
Nick, also out of the test for the sake of fairness -- since he'd helped build the security system, after all -- laid a not-so-comforting hand on Jack's shoulder. "Don't take it personally. You just don't have the right stuff for this operation," he said, trying and failing to achieve a sincere tone. Some part of him; okay, a HUGE part of him, was just too amused by the older man's kicked-puppy face to feel sorry for him.
Nearby, MacGyver (still sore about losing their "who's the better pilot" discussion) started snickering at Jack's expense.
Jack glared at his double. "Why's he in on it, then?" he asked, venom dripping from his tone.
"He's not," Nick said, startling them both. He raised an eyebrow at Mac's surprised look. "What? You helped set some of the traps around here, surely you don't think we're going to let you participate? That'd be cheating."
Jack broke into laughter at Mac's thwarted expression. Shaking his head in exasperation, Nick wound up having to enlist Gumnut's expert experience to herd the infamous bickering duo out into the sunshine.
Naturally, they quaked at the sight of her manic grin and headed for the door with all due haste, pushing and shoving each other to be first through. Nutty flashed Nick a conspiratorial wink, then sauntered out after them calling their names in her sweetest, sexiest tone.
As soon as they were gone, Moon got things going again. "Alright, boys and girls! Those of you left have been chosen because you possess some special ability that'll come in useful during this test. For most of you, I suppose that's heightened senses of some sort," she looked across at the assorted vampires, mutant, werewolf, and Sentinel. "Pick a partner and pair off; you'll be working in teams. Your objective, to track down Darien here. He'll be hiding somewhere throughout the Lair."
The assorted vampires, mutant, werewolf, and Sentinel glanced at each other, looked at the tall, skinny, unkempt young man leaning indolently against a wall (who grinned cheekily at them in return), then looked back at each other. They all came to the same conclusion at once.
"You've got to be kidding!" they stared at Moon in disbelief.
"I'm serious!" Moon asserted. "He's got a nifty trick of his own up his sleeve. One which we're not going to tell you about, but which you'll be sure to find out if you can succeed in capturing him. Now pair up, and we'll get started!" she ordered.
Spike immediately reached out to snag Red Wolf, drawing her close to his side. "I've got the red head," he called out, the same way someone would call 'shotgun' when going for a car ride.
The Sentinel, of course, would be working with his Guide as always.
Logan suddenly found himself staring into the excited eyes of wild-looking woman. He looked her up and down, then grinned. "Shall we?" he offered, holding out his arm in invitation. She nodded, allowing him to take hold of her hand. Her increased proximity brought her scent to tickle the mutant's nose and he frowned briefly in puzzlement. "You smell familiar," he said, "do I know you from somewhere?" But the woman just giggled madly in response, and Wolverine shrugged, deciding it wasn't all that important. He'd remember sooner or later.
Among the Forever Knight vampires, a different kind of problem was occurring. Janette wavered between joining the hunt with her father or her brother, but when Moon reiterated that she could only chose one, LaCroix calmly put an end to the dilemma by stepping forward. "I will go with Janette," he declared, and the matter was settled.
Nicholas sulked, but ceded to his master and stepped back.
"Oy, you should go with Peaches!" Spike suggested, seeing the lone vampire. "You'll make the perfect match; a couple of broody, guilt-ridden poofters..." He looked around for his sire, wanting to see the Great Poof's reaction to his taunts.
Angel wasn't there.
Spike turned to Moon in confusion. "Hey, how come he isn't here, too?"
"What? Oh, Angel! Yeah, um... he's busy with Leni right now. She's been awful busy lately, I thought she deserved a break, you know? And she loves to play with Angelus, so I thought I'd give her a little gift." Moon smiled innocently, hoping he hadn't heard her slip.
But Spike wasn't so easily fooled. "Angelus?" he stuttered. "You let Angelus out?! Are you nuts!"
"Hey! It's not permanent!" Moon defended herself. "He'll have his soul back in a few hours, don't worry. This was just a little favor from the The Powers That Be. They owed me one," she said, casually sliding the folder of incriminating satellite photos behind her back. "TPTB can be nice sometimes," she added primly.
The silence that followed was overshadowed only by the roar of laughter that erupted a moment later. Even Moon grinned, realising the stupidity of her own statement.
But finally the mirth ran down and Operation: Safeguard was begun. Darien took a five a minute head-start to 'disappear' down the tunnels, then the teams split up and went off on the search.
Left behind, Nick (the FK one, not the KR one!) quirked an eyebrow at his hostess. "So who's that Darien guy, and what's so special about him?"
Moon grinned deviously. "Darien Fawkes, former thief, now the secret weapon of The Agency. Considered their most valuable agent for one reason, and one reason only: he can turn invisible!" She cackled gleefully. "They all think they're hunting some poor shmuck who's gonna try and find a bolt-hole to hide in. They have no idea that Darien'll be running all over the Lair, daring them to find him even though they can't see him."
"But, then... how are they supposed to capture him?" Nick asked, suddenly confused about the point of this little exercise.
"With their other senses, of course! That's what this is all about, Nick! Those vile barbie-clones were able to infect the boys because they couldn't see past their perfect exteriors to the hollow evilness inside them. They relied too much on what they could see, instead of what they should have been able to sense. Hopefully they'll learn better after this test."
Leaving Nicholas de Brabant to contemplate her clever plan, Moon strolled out to check on the Lair's other denizens. She'd arranged for Dominic Toretto and Brian O'Connor to come by with their race cars; although she also thought Roman Pearce might have come to, since he mentioned something about not wanting to leave his 'bro' to get into trouble on his own. But between them, Michael, Nick (the KR one -- c'mon, people, keep up!), and the AIs, Moon had set up an action-filled afternoon of street racing all along her private drive.
And the boys had even agreed to give the ladies lessons -- private lessons!
Smiling widely in anticipation, Moon hurried out for her own, ahem, 'educational' session.
We have two new authors joining us in the Lair today, stormr_d and leni_ba -- everybody say "hi!"
As for the rest of you, don't forget to get your bios in! :D