I... don't know what this is. Well, I sort of do. It's complete and utter crack.

I know everyone's OOC. It's my first time writing any of these characters. Bast and Artemis are supposed to be,

but I'd welcome any advice on how to write the others.

Characters are:

Harry Potter, from Harry Potter

Frank Zhang and Nico di Angelo from Percy Jackson and the Olympians/Heroes of Olympus

Artemis Fowl II from Artemis Fowl

Jon Snow from A Song of Ice and Fire

Kid Loki from Young Avengers

Bast from The Kingkiller Chronicle

Young Vetinari from Discworld, but more specifically Nightwatch

Harry was flummoxed.

He had been in the middle of enjoying quite a nice adaption of Much Ado About Nothing with Ginny, and now he was in the middle of a forest. A rain forest, to be precise.

There was a fence surrounding the clearing he was in. A large, tall fence. A loud humming emanated from it, and so he decide that it was probably a good idea to steer clear of it.

So instead, he sat down on the ground, his back against a tree, and decided to just go with the flow.

It was about ten minutes later that the next two young men arrived. They appeared in front of Harry, not as though through Apparition, but just... faded into existence. One of them was brandishing a spear, and had a very confused expression on his face. The other just looked around, sighed, and skulked off into the shadows of a tree, where Harry could barely make out his form.

"Um, hello," said the first. "I'm Frank Zhang. What's your name?"

"I'm Harry Potter," said Harry, and raised his eyebrows. "Any idea what we're doing here?"

"Not really." A suspicion crossed his mind. "Wait a second..."

Frank looked up, hopeful. "Yeah?"

"Who's your friend?"

"Oh, him? That's Nico. Nico di Angelo." He looked worriedly at the tree, Nico's last known location, then back at Harry. "He can come off as a bit unfriendly, but he's got a good heart."

"And he can hear every word you're saying, Frank Zhang! So stop speaking for him!" came Nico's voice from across the clearing. Frank jumped. Harry got the feeling that this happened a lot.

"So..." he said to Frank. "This hasn't happened to you before?"

"Nope. You?"

"Many, many, many times. Many. Many." Harry grimaced. "You don't want to hear about it." He hesitated for a moment. "I think... it has something to do with fans."

He could have spoken Portuguese, for all the comprehension Frank's face showed.


"Well, yes. I'm not quite clear on it myself, but-"

With a loud zing another young man appeared in the clearing about a foot off the ground and fell unceremoniously to the forest floor, where he landed in a crumpled heap.

He lay there for a moment until Frank held out a hand to him, which he- somewhat reluctantly, it seemed to Harry- took.

"What's the year this time?" he asked, rubbing his knee and staring disconsolately at the smudges on his jacket. Quite posh, if Harry was any judge.

"2000," said the Boy Who Lived, at the same time as Frank said "2013". The two looked at each other in bewilderment.

"2013," said the boy. "Well, it's better than last time."

"Last time?"

"Yes. Last time I had to deal with my eleven year old self which, let me tell you, was not a blessing."

"And you are?" called Nico from his tree.

"Artemis Fowl the Second." He ran a hand through his black hair, and Harry's attention were drawn to his eyes- one was a deep blue and the other hazel. It created an uncomfortable lopsided effect.

"Well," said Frank, "I'm Frank, the one over there is Nico, and this is Harry."

"A pleasure to meet you, I'm sure, but please excuse me. I'm going to try to find an exit to this clearing."

He turned abruptly and marched off to inspect the fence, although the drama of this was slightly ruined by the fact that he tripped over a root on the way there.

With a pop and a flash of green light another person materialized, and Harry was hardly shocked to see that he too had black hair. What surprised him, however, was that the boy looked markedly younger than everyone else present. Perhaps the same age as Nico- Harry hadn't gotten a good look at the solitary tree dweller, an anyway he got the feeling that Nico probably looked older than he was.

"Oh, for the Nine Realms... where am I now?" He groaned.

"A rain forest," said Harry flatly. "Yeah, we're pretty confused too."

The boy's eyes went vague for a moment, as though he was talking to someone in his head.

"Oh yeah," he said finally. "I see. So who are all of you?"

"I'm Harry, this is Frank, that's Nico and over there is Artemis," sighed Harry. "And you are?"

"Loki Odinson of Asgard," said the boy, bowing mockingly and flashing Harry a grin. There was something in his eyes, a glint, an edge, that made Harry shiver. It reminded him of Bellatrix Lestrange.

"Nice to meet you," said Frank to the air as Loki wandered off in the direction of Nico.

"I don't like him," said Harry quietly. He glanced at Frank.

"Give him a chance," the other boy reminded him. "You never know who, underneath it all, is a good person."'

"Fair enough."

In five minutes there was another pop, and a young man garbed heavily in furs toppled out of the air. As he picked himself up and surveyed his surroundings, Harry noted that he too had black hair. Weird.

The young man looked around, sighed, and held out his hand.

"Jon Snow of the Night's Watch," he said. Harry shook his hand and gave him their names.

The next person came only three minutes later, and landed lithely on his feet, surveying his surroundings.

Frank gave a yelp and squeaked:


The man looked at him through half-lidded eyes. He seemed offended.

"I am most certainly not a faun, thank you very much."

Frank looked down at the man's feet and gestured. Harry wasn't sure what the fuss was; the man wore quite a nice pair of boots.

"Fae," said the man, and sighed. This explanation didn't seem to explain much to Frank, but he let it pass. "Prince Bastas of Twilight and the Telwyth Mael. Don't ask, you won't understand the answers. And you are?"

Harry gave the introductions. Bastas nodded and slunk off.

They waited another half an hour for someone else to turn up, but when no one was forthcoming, Harry gathered everyone in the middle of the clearing (Nico still managed to stand in the shadows, although Harry wasn't sure where they were coming from) and they debated The Wall (Probably Electrified).

"I suppose I could stab it with my spear," said Frank doubtfully.

"No," said Artemis patronizingly, "You couldn't, because metal conducts electricity and you would get fried to a crisp."

"You guys go ahead and continue your pow-wow," said Loki, "I'm just going to use my magic over here to get rid of the walls."

"Magic?" asked Artemis, "Don't be idiotic. Magic is used to heal and build, not to destroy walls."

Loki gave a sharp-toothed grin. "Your kind of magic maybe. Mine can be used a little more... explosively."

He spread his hands, but nothing happened. Harry sighed, and Loki tried snapping his fingers. But nothing happened once more.

"Any of you have magic?" the boy asked. To Harry's surprise, every single one of them nodded save Jon Snow.

When they looked at him, he just said "I have a wolf", as though that was some sort of logical explanation.

"Try it," Loki commanded in a voice that brooked no argument. Harry shrugged.

"I left my wand on my dresser."

Nico frowned. "It's not working," he stated, looking slightly worried. "The shadows won't budge."

"You control the shadows?" asked Harry, Nico nodded. "It looks like it's working. I can barely see you."

"No, that's just me being me. Learn the difference."

"Okay, no magic," groaned Loki. "Joy. I guess we'll have to rely on my wits alone."

Artemis' head snapped over to glare at him. "Your wits?" he demanded. "What have you done to help us? And what gives you such a low opinion of other people's intelligence?"

"Experience," said Loki flippantly, and then trained his gaze on Jon. "Wait a second... you're Jon Snow? From Westeros?"

"Yes," said Jon, looking closely at the younger boy. "Do I know you?"

"No," smirked Loki, "But I know you. How's Tyrion?"

Jon Snow narrowed his eyes. "How do you know the Imp?"

"I read about him. Both of you actually. But he always seemed way cooler than you."

Jon looked at him confusedly for a moment, then settled back. "Whatever. Anyway, anyone have any other ideas? No? Well, then, I guess we're stuck here."

"No, you're not," came a cool voice from behind them. Harry spun around. "There's a very simple way that all of you are forgetting."

The speaker was hard to identify at first- he seemed to blend in seamlessly with the forest. But as Harry squinted he made out a hand, and arm, and yes, the speaker was a young man with black hair. He was garbed in a loose brown-green shirt and pants, but what was remarkable was that his entire face was painted in a mottled pattern of green and gray. Piercing ice blue eyes stared out.

"Who are you?" snarled Nico. He was suddenly holding a black sword.

"Havelock Vetinari, Mr. di Angelo, not that it would mean anything to you." He gazed at the weapon, completely unfazed. "Please put down the sword, I think Mr. Bastas is about to gut you from the look on his face."

Harry turned, and sure enough Bastas was gazing at the sword in Nico's hand with a venomous hatred that Harry had never seen outside of the Death Eaters. Nico apparently observed the same thing, and reluctantly slid his sword back into its hidden sheath. Bastas gave a sigh of relief.

"If you ever bring that thing out again," he told Nico in a low voice, "I will cut you in half and paint every one of these trees with your blood."

Nico didn't look particularly worried. "Suit yourself," he said, then turned back to Vetinari. "When did you get here? And why didn't we notice you?"

"I'd been here about ten minutes when Mr. Potter appeared. I've been watching you ever since."

"Why didn't we see you?" Loki queried.

"You didn't look."

"Soooo," said Harry, trying to get everyone back on track, "What is this plan of yours?"

"The trees," Vetinari stated. "Climb out. I've already done it. It's perfectly easy if you're a good climber."

"And if you're not?" asked Artemis sharply. Harry thought he looked annoyed that he hadn't thought of climbing out.

"Then you can fall to your deaths or, alternatively, stay in here while the rest of us go."

Bastas shrugged. "Worth a try." He looked around. "And I'm Bast, understand? Not Bastas."

"Understood. I'm Vetinari."

And with that the strange young man strode over to the nearest tree and commenced climbing.

"Do you trust him?" whispered Frank. Harry thought about it.

"Not really," he replied. "He seems a bit... cold."

"Agreed," said Jon Snow.

"Whatever. I like him," Loki announced. "You two losers and Lord Snow can stay on the ground for all I care." He swung himself up onto the bottom branch.

"Lord Snow?" Harry asked. "You a noble?"

Jon groaned. "How does he know about that?" He asked of the tree. Then to Harry: "Not really. I'm a bastard. Snow is a bastard's name. So Lord Snow... is an insult. Sort of."

"Everyone where you come from knows you're a... bastard... just by your last name?" Frank said, shocked. "But my mom and dad certainly weren't married! I mean, it's kind of inferred in what it means to be a half-blood!"

"Well, then, Frank Snow, after you?" said Jon with a slight smile.

Frank managed to get a grip on the tree and yanked himself up. Bast, Harry and Jon followed, while Artemis just stood on the ground looking slightly irritated.

"Coming, Artemis?" Harry called down.

"I... can't," said Artemis reluctantly. "I'm no good at climbing trees."

"Come on," sighed Harry. "I'll help you up.

After three minutes, a bruised Artemis and a lot of grunting, Harry managed to haul the other young man into the tree.

"Thanks," Artemis said grudgingly.

"No problem. Now, let's see if we can catch up with the others."

In the end the rest of the group waited for them for fifteen minutes on the ground outside the enclosure.

This was not good news, as Loki clearly did not like to be kept waiting, and was acting even more flippant and cheeky than usual.

"Took you guys long enough," he said. "Funny, I thought that it would be the fairy who kept us waiting."

"I'm not a fairy," Bast said in a low voice that would have been menacing if he hadn't been combing out his hair at the time. "Say that again and I'll lay your guts out along the ground."

"Woah, chill dude, no need to be so violent. I mean, I'm an ex-homicidal maniac and you don't see me telling people that I'm going to torture and kill them." Loki flashed Bast a strange expression, half-grin half-smirk.

Bast stopped combing through his hair and stood, towering over Loki. "You joke about killing, you insolent little wretch! Have you ever taken a life? Do you know the feeling of forcing someone to leave this plane? It's because of small-minded people like you that my Reshi is in hiding!"

Harry took a step back. Loki's eyes had changed- no longer were they the clear green they had been before, but a dark and swirling pool of emerald where madness swam freely.

"Do you have any idea who you're talking to?" he hissed. His voice sounded older, scarred. "Any idea what I've done? Who I am? Who I was? Close your mouth, you foolish sprite!"

Bast looked ready to fly off the handle and carry out his threat right then and there, but fortune, in the rather chilly form of Vetinari, intervened.

"Gentlemen, is this really the time?" he said sharply. "I'm sure we all have skeletons in our closets, or even crawling out from under the floorboards, but let us keep them there for the time being."

His voice seemed to have a calming effect on Bast, who hissed once more at Loki, and then slunk off to the shade of a nearby tree.

Loki watched him go, and only then did his eyes settle down. He glared around at the watchers.

"What?" he said. "Got a problem with ex-homicidal maniacs?"

There was some general murmuring and shaking of heads to the theme of 'no, no problem at all, dear chap' from all of them save, Harry noticed, Vetinari, who just gave a cold smile and blended back into the forest.

Two hours' later, they had decided that walking in a random direction and hoping to find something was probably the best course, and had made quite good progress through the forest when the first man jumped out.

He looked, for all purposes, to be some sort of soldier, although from which country Harry couldn't tell. He had been carrying a large knife, and that knife would most probably have found it's home in someone's sternum had Vetinari not suddenly been holding his own dagger and embedded it in the man's neck. The soldier toppled to the ground, dead.

Vetinari reached down and took hold of the man's blade, which he sniffed.

"Poisoned," he said calmly, as though he wasn't standing over his erstwhile attacker's bloodied corpse. "Curare, if I'm not mistaken, and I rarely am." He glanced around, his cold blue eyes scanning the trees. "Probably a scout. Follow me."

Harry felt sick.

He had seen people die before, but it was all by magic, which left no trace. And this man... he might not have been a bad person. The Death Eaters certainly had been, and so he did not mourn their deaths. But this was just a soldier, doing what he was told. Hell, he was probably a nicer person than Vetinari was.

Frank looked slightly disturbed, too, but to Harry's surprise Jon looked perfectly fine. He had drawn a sword and was circling around, preparing for the next attack. Nico looked totally dispassionate, as did Bast. Loki stomped up to the body and kicked it.

"Stupid bugger," he declared. "No good scout would attack enemies without securing a back up."

"Unless he knew that he was dead if the news reached his superiors," mused Vetinari.

"Or," said Bast reasonably, "it could just be some random device to move the plot along."

The others reflected on this for a moment.

"Probably," said Jon Snow eventually.

Harry didn't know how to fight with a sword, and anyway he didn't have one, so he hid up a tree with Artemis when the other fighters attacked.

Frank was impressive with his spear, and Harry noted he refused to kill anyone; while he stayed on the side, Nico was amassing his own body count.

Bast was a whirlwind of blood, although Harry couldn't see what weapon he was using.

Loki was... well, it was hard to tell what Loki was doing, but there was certainly a growing collection of dead bodies surrounding him. Ex-homicidal maniac indeed, and possibly not so 'ex'.

Jon was fighting so skillfully with his sword that the thought occurred to Harry that his companion- no, his friend, actually, even if they had only known each other for a matter of hours- must have had experience in fighting foreign forces in unknown territory.

Vetinari was dispatching of the poor soldiers with surgical precision, so much so that Harry wondered vaguely through the blood and the heat and the nausea if the man was some sort of doctor.

A sick sort of doctor, though, that he felt no pity for his victims.

Harry detested him.

Afterward, when there were no soldiers moving anymore, and those left living had mysteriously disappeared, Artemis observed to Harry that none of the soldiers had been carrying guns, which made no sense.

To which Harry replied that since apparently only the two of them knew what guns were, the others would have been at a loss and probably gotten hurt, and where would the plot have run off to then?

And Harry and Artemis shared a knowing smile, or rather, Harry shared a knowing smile and Artemis shared a knowing smirk.

Then, suddenly, there was a strange humming noise and the dead soldiers lost their wounds; the blood draining from their uniforms, they righted themselves and stood up.

"Where the hell are we?" one exclaimed.

"Dunno, Corp," said another gloomily.

The corporal took one look around, and beheld the rainforest and the array of young men holding very pointy objects. "This is most certainly not Uzbekistan," she said.

And with that, they disappeared.

There was a moment of silence.


"Whaaaat?" yelled Loki, "We spent all that time killing them and they're not even dead?"

Vetinari gave him a Look. "What was your grudge against them, that they deserved to die in the middle of a rainforest?"

Loki narrowed his eyes.

"Well, you certainly didn't seem to mind killing them. What was your grudge?"

"They were attacking me."

"And me too! So yeah, I think they should die in the middle of this bloody rainforest!"

"But once they disappeared they were no longer attacking me and so did not deserve to die in the middle of 'this bloody rainforest'," said Vetinari with impeccable logic.

"But they had been!"

"You are making no sense."

"You're making no sense!"

Apparently Vetinari had never been told this before. He gave Loki the polite but baffled look of someone who has just been told that, say, their banana is attracting fish*.

[*Although, according to Ponder Stibbons, bananas are actually a type of fish and so this comparison makes little sense*.]

[Not that it made any before. That was, after all, the point.]

Harry raised his eyebrows and made a mental note to stay as far away from Loki as possible. The kid was positively mental.

"Let's move on," said Jon Snow reasonably. He rolled his eyes at Harry. "Insane, the lot of them," he muttered under his breath. Harry nodded.

When everything was over Harry decided that the only sane ones had been him (hopefully), Frank, Jon, and Vetinari. This was unfortunate, as he did not like being grouped in the same category as that person, but it was admittedly better than being grouped with Bast and Loki.

Had he been asked at that point, he would have put Artemis in the 'sane' category as well, but what happened half an hour later changed that.

They were walking in silence. Wildlife hummed, twittered and howled in the trees, but it was all somehow muted, peaceful even.


"That lemur!" exclaimed Artemis. The others looked at him expectantly, but he just stood there in the middle of the rainforest staring at a lemur that looked absolutely identical to every other lemur in the forest of bloody lemurs.

"Yes?" said Loki at length.

"I killed it," said Artemis explanatorily. This didn't help much.

' "This is... another one? You know? The same species?" Harry said.

"No," Artemis replied vehemently, narrowing his eyes. "There's only one left. And I killed it. When I was eleven. But then I saved it when I was sixteen. Anyway, it should be in Ireland."

"Are you sure it's the same one?" asked Bast in a voice traditionally reserved for very small children and people in straightjackets.

"Yes. Those markings... and the eyes... intelligent creature. If you can harvest some of its brain fluid..." His eyes held a glint of greed that wasn't quite masked.

"Ye-es," said Nico, edging carefully away from Artemis.

They moved on then, everyone trying very carefully not to be next to Artemis, while the young man in questioned trailed along, tripping over roots and muttering about lemurs, his mother, and opals.

A certain amount of time past, and Harry thought that maybe he could see an end to the trees when a giant metal cage dropped down from the sky. They all stared at it for a moment, until Artemis managed to trip while standing still and then couldn't be bothered to get up again, which just showed how exhausted he was, because his nice suit was getting drenched in Rainforest Juice.

The others looked at him, for lack of anything better to do.

"Should we help him up?" asked Jon.

Nico appeared to think about it.

"Nah," he said finally. "He has a good view of his lemurs from that position."

"Lemur! Lemur!" shouted Artemis, although since it's rather hard to emphasize a lack of s, this just made him seem even more unstable.

"Yes, dear," Loki twittered in a motherly way.

"If you use that voice again I will gut you like a fish and lay you out to dry on a sharp rock somewhere in the middle of a desert."

"I wish Ghost were here..."

"Ghost? You know a ghost! The treacherous- what a- how dare he go against my father?!"

"I know a ghost too. He has half a neck."

"Calm it down, Nico, if Hazel were here she'd be ashamed of you."

"Aww. Does poor little Nicki-kins have a big sister?"

"Shut up, Loki."


"There's some sort of console on the wall over here."

That got everyone's attention. Something about Vetinari's voice was impossible to ignore. It cut through the noise like a knife through butter or, alternatively, through flesh and blood.

"There is?"

"No, there isn't, I'm lying to you all for absolutely no purpose."

"Oh. You are?"

"No," said Vetinari with great constraint. "I'm not lying. Come over here and look if you doubt me."

Loki scrambled up and ran over to the strange box affixed to the wire weaving.

"Hey, there's a big red button here, should I press-"

"NO!" shouted five voices simultaneously.

But it was too late. Loki, with a certain amount of glee, prodded at the button.

There was a staticky noise, and then a voice said:

"Is everyone here?"

'Everyone' looked at each other.

"Maybe?" called Harry.

"Okay, good enough. Right. This is the Cage of Dreadful Trope Spoofing and Questionnaires, otherwise known as the Cage to Promote Character Development an Understanding. Got it?"


"Good. Now... umm... how am I going to do this...okay. I know. Harry, Frank, Nico and Jon line up on the right. Everyone else on the left. So, I'm going to give Team A- that's you guys, no you. Yes, the people with Frank- four tropes, one of which could possibly be said to apply to someone on Team B. You guys have to figure it out before five minutes is up. If you don't, well, bad things will happen."

"What bad things?" asked Jon.

"Just stuff. Dammit, stop questioning me!"


"Good. Now, I'm going to count down from three: three, two-"

"Two and a half..." interrupted Loki.

"Yes, two and a half, one-"

"No, you forgot two and a quarter," said Loki innocently. There was silence for a moment.

"Loki, stop it."

"Make me."

"Fine, then, two and a quarter, one-"


"Loki! Stop it! You're being really mean! But okay. Go!"

Four slips of paper materialized in Harry's hand. He turned them over one by one.

"Okay, we have the Assassin, the Genius, the Bad Boy and the Protector." He glanced around. "Do any of these seem at all like those.. people... over there?"

Jon pretended to think. "Not really. Especially not the protector."

"Maybe Artemis is the Protector? He did say something about saving the lemur."

Harry blew out through his nose. "Okay. For now, Artemis is the protector. Who's the Bad Boy?"


"In that costume? No self-respecting Bad Boy wears green and yellow spandex," scoffed Nico. They turned to face him. "What?" he said defensively.

"You seem to know an awful lot about the Bad Boy," Jon accused, and Nico colored slightly.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said stiffly, "And anyway, you're one to talk, Mister I Dress Only In Black Leather."

"Excuse me?" Jon exclaimed before thinking about it for a moment. He frowned. "I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing."


"Anyway," said Frank insistently, "It's not Loki. Who is it?"

"Maybe Vetinari?" suggested Harry.

"Okay, why not. Next?"

"The Assassin."

"Bast Bast Bast!"

"Okay, Bast. That leaves the Genius. Who's left?"


"Okay, we made a mistake somewhere."

"Are you sure?" asked Frank. "He did say something when he first came about how smart he was. It might not have just been totally overblown arrogance."

"Fine. Fine. Just let it be known that I disagree." Harry closed his eyes. "Okay, we're done. How much time left?"

"Two minutes."

The two minutes were over before they knew it, and the voice was yelling at them all to pay attention! Gosh, they were so rude! Couldn't they just listen for once?

Harry and Frank exchanged a look of long suffering patience.

"Okay," Jon said, clearing his throat. "We have the Assassin, the Protector, the Bad Boy and the Genius."

They had to pause for a moment because Loki was doubled over with laughter, but he straightened up after a few seconds. "Okay," he said. "So what did you give us?"

"Well, we said that Artemis is the Protector, Bast is the Assassin, Loki is the Genius and Vetinari is the Bad Boy."

Harry would never forget the look on Vetinari's face. His usually emotionless mask gave way to an expression of absolutely scandalized shock. He even looked down briefly at what he was wearing, as if to check that it hadn't suddenly morphed into a trench coat.


Loki, on the other hand, looked quite please with his.

"Why, thank you," he said to Team A, and raised an eyebrow at Artemis, as if to say 'see how useful first impressions are'.

Artemis glowered, apparently not too happy with his trope.

Bast just looked clueless. "You think I'm an Assassin?" he asked. "Someone who kills people for money? That's revolting!"

"Well..." said Harry guiltily, "You're always threatening people, and..."

"But that doesn't have anything to do with money! I just like threatening people and making dramatic metaphors! Have I told you that one about how you don't know the first note of the music that moves me-"


"What about 'we all become what we pretend to be'-"


"Well, I'm sure I've told you about-"

"No, and I don't think we need to know," Nico insisted.

"Fine. Be like that."

Bast stomped off dramatically, although his exit was rather inhibited by the fact that there wasn't anywhere to stomp off to.

"So... I guess we got it wrong?"

"Yes," said Vetinari dryly. "And let me tell you I do not appreciate being grouped in with blond Slytherin boys and arrogant little consulting detectives."

"You know Draco?"

"You watch Sherlock?!" exclaimed Loki gleefully. "Yes! You are amazing!"

"I'm sorry, what are we talking about?"


"What would that be?"

"A TV show... so you don't watch it?"

"Not that I know of, considering I have never heard of this TV of which you speak."

"Oh." Loki deflated. Then he perked up. "Anyone here listen to Welcome to Nightvale?"

"Yes!" shouted Nico. "It's amazing!"

Frank stared at him. "You fangirl over things?"

"Nightvale is the exception to the rule. No need to get over-excited, Zhang."

"Shall we get back on track?" Silence descended like a damp fog. "Very well. We had the Chosen One, the, ahem, Duty Dude, the Goth and the Bastard."

"He didn't know what a Goth was!" sniggered Loki.

"Anyway," said Vetinari, silencing Loki with a glare, "We said that Mr. Snow was the Bastard, as Loki insisted that he knew absolutely everything about him-"

"Yes, Jonny, how's Ygritte?" Loki asked innocently.

Jon froze. "You bas- you demon," he said softly. "How dare you profane her name? I will kill you-"

He dove at Loki, who was suddenly behind him.

"Missed me!" the teen shouted gleefully. "Hmm... what am I going to do with you?"

Jon drew his sword.

"Pray tell me, what news of your dear father?" inquired Loki mockingly. "You know, last I heard he wasn't doing too well in the capital. I think there must be something off in his... head."

Jon Snow screamed. There was no other word for it. It was a heart-wrenching scream, one that promised retribution on Loki. And the expression on his friend's face was akin to the one on Molly Weasley's when she had killed Bellatrix Lestrange.

And Loki was just standing there, smirking. The whole 'ex-homicidal maniac' thing was making more and more sense to Harry.

Finally, he could bare the tension no more.

"Stop it," he told Loki. The boy looked up at him as though he had done nothing wrong, and in that split second, Harry was reminded of Umbridge.

"But I'm just inquiring after his family and his girlfriend! Isn't that what you do with people you care about?"

"You know what you're doing. Stop it. Let's get back to what you said."

"Yes, let's," said the voice, sounding somewhat disappointed that the interesting part was over. Harry had forgotten about her.

"And you," he said, rounding on the console,"Just shut up."

There was no reply, which Harry took as a good thing.

"If I may continue," said Vetinari politely, "It was our opinion that Harry was the Chosen One, as only the protagonist of a work of fiction would have such an odd scar, and the Chosen One is almost always the protagonist. Loki and Artemis seemed adamant that Nico was the Goth, although they have still failed to explain to Mr. Bast and I what exactly that entails, and that left Frank as the Duty Dude."

"Everyone happy?" asked Loki.

No one said anything.

"I'm not Goth," muttered Nico eventually. "Everyone says I am but I'm not. I don't worship Satan."

"No, you don't," said Frank gently, "But you do worship the greek god of the dead. Some might argue that that amounts to the same thing."

"And anyway," Artemis added, "Satanism and Goth are totally different things. I don't see why everyone confuses them. The word 'Gothic' was also traditionally employed as a style of architecture, not just wearing black lace and lots of silver jewelry, while all Satanists do is mix up important babies*."

[*see The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, or just talk to Crowley.]

"The point is," cut in the voice impatiently, "that Team A failed miserably while Team B got everything right." She sounded rather smug. "And now," -dramatic pause- "our final competition will take place."

"Joy," hissed Nico.

"We're going to be doing the Hunger Games!"

"What?" demanded Loki. "No! I quite like Vettie here and Artemis is all right, and I feel no particular urge to run around slaughtering them!"

"Well... sorry about that, because you're just going to have to."

"And what about our stories? What's going to happen if we all die?"

"I'm sure that in your case, the world will rejoice, Loki Laufeyson," the voice said sharply.

"I'm helping the world!"

"Really? What about all those casualties in New York? Were they all for the greater good, then?" The voice's tone took on a sharper, more menacing edge.

"That was not me." Loki had gone white.

"It was."

"No. I'm not him anymore."

"Are you sure?"

Loki didn't say anything for a long time.

"No," he looked up. "I'm not sure." The teen grinned a grin full of teeth. "That's why I've broken into your signal and emitted my own brand of EMP, one mixed with magic kept separate from my core, that has now locked onto your aura and should be taking you here in approximately one minute."

Harry goggled.

"What?!" the voice sounded panicked. "You can't have! I bought that myself at the nearest Apple store! Apple is invincible! You couldn't have hacked it!"

"Well, I did, so... loser! See you soon!"

"No!" Harry was almost certain there were tears in her voice. "No! You can't have!"

And then the Boy Who Lived saw that Loki was bent double, laughing silently but hysterically.

"He was joking!" realized Frank. "He actually decided it would be a good idea to prank our captor!"

"You're all-" gasped Loki from in between gasps of breath, "-such-idiots!"

"I knew it all along!" shouted the voice. "I did! I was just playing along because... because it was funny!"

Yeah right, thought Harry, and now he was laughing too, and then Jon was regardless of the fact that he didn't understand, and Frank, and soon the only person who wasn't at least smiling was Bast, because he was too busy asking Artemis what an EMP was, and what apples had to do with anything.

"We're not going to do your Hunger Games!" stated Loki, suddenly defiant and no longer smiling. "We're not the districts! We aren't stupid cowering civilians! Didn't you pay any attention in your own challenge? One of us in an Assassin, Harry is the Chosen One, and two of us could be mistaken at first glance for a genius!" He tried to high-five Artemis, but the latter's reflexes were too slow and he got hit in the face. "You can't tell us what to do!"

"He's right," said Harry, walking over to stand beside Loki. Frank and Jon joined him.

"You're annoying and you force me to do disclaimers," Nico said.

"You don't appreciate my lemurs."

"You compared me to Grumpy Cat."

"You're so aggravating I just want to skin you slowly, roast you slowly and feed you to the dogs, if we had any"

They all turned to look at Vetinari, who folded his hands carefully and addressed the voice.

"The mark of a good ruler is not that they promote egalitarianism or democracy, or that they always take into account the opinions of the common man, woman, or Nobbs, but that they make the community work. Although admittedly we are not the world's most mainstream community, you have failed spectacularly in this account. The revolution is growing, and it is time for a new ruler. So let me explain something to you: you will take us all back home, or you will face the consequences. It's as simple as that." He closed his eyes briefly. "This is the voice of the community. Not The People, but the people. Listen to it or be effaced."

They stared. He gave a bright smile.

"Oh, sorry, did I say 'effaced'? Do pardon me. A slip of the tongue. I meant 'replaced'."

"Wow," said the voice finally. "Um, yeah. Well. I can see you all want me to go." Harry could practically hear her cringe as they gave a chorus of 'yes'. "But... you see, well, you guys are all under my control. You can't do anything without your magic. Even Loki couldn't do anything! He had to pretend!"

"Mr. Fowl has his brain, Bastas has a sizable arsenal of incredibly graphic threats, Loki has... well, I'm sure Loki has something," said Vetinari, "And I have quite a large array of pointy weaponry. I'm sure we can make a non-magical compromise."

Bast glared at one of the multiple video cameras.

"Take us out of here," he said in a low, soft voice, and for the first time Harry got the definite impression that he would not balk at doing any of those things he had so frequently described. Enjoy it, even. "Do it. Now."

"Five," Loki chanted, "Four, threetwoone. Point five..."

"Fine! Fine! I'll go get the transporter! Just give me three minutes. Then you'll all be out of here." The voice sounded bitter.

"So..." said Harry after an awkward silence. "I guess this is it. Nice meeting you all."

"You too," said Jon.

Frank smiled at Harry and held out his hand to Jon. Jon looked at it in puzzlement.

"Sorry, what do I do?" he asked, and Frank blushed.

"It's a hand shake." He grabbed Jon's hand and demonstrated. "Do you not have them where you live?"

"Generally we just shoot arrows at each other by way of greeting."

"Oh." Frank looked rather at a loss for words, and Jon gave in, shaking the other youth's hand firmly, and then doing the same to Harry. Harry winced. The years of sword training Jon seemed to have gone through were extremely apparent in his hand shake.

"'Kay, guys!" called the voice, "Make sure people who belong in the same fandom are touching each other! Ten! Nine! Eight... Seven,"

Frank reached out and put a hand on Nico's shoulder, and the Son of Hades gave him a long-suffering look.


They disappeared.

Four a few seconds there was silence, and then the Voice started humming.

"...just shake it off, shake it off..."

Apparently Taylor Swift didn't assuage her boredom, as the Voice switched off the mike and turned back to the original cage.

"Let's try the blonds," she chirped.



Harry never gave the experience another thought, and neither did Bast or Artemis (who woke up the next morning with the strange feeling that he'd gone temporarily insane in his sleep).

Frank considered the entire thing a bonding experience, and Nico kept 'Duty Dude' as blackmail material.

Vetinari learned a valuable lesson in how not to rule, and also the dangers of free communications.

Jon harbored feelings of jealousy toward Tyrion for years, although no one else understood them.

Loki tracked down the Voice five years later (because America Chavez was doing a stint in the Red Cross after losing a bet to Billy, and frankly the Young Avengers were no fun to torment without her there) and replaced every single one of her posters with pictures of teeth, and one of a lighthouse.

Then, as an afterthought, he mixed cod liver oil into her toothpaste.

The Blond Young Men's Society turned into an even bigger fail than the Raven-Haired one, after Legolas led the ficus trees in a revolt against the mangroves, Steerpike killed Draco Malfoy and Octavian, Jason Grace got accepted into the parrot community, and Tempi, Marethyu and young Jaime Lannister dug a small hole in the ground, climbed in, and refused to come out.