Thursday, 3 January 2013

OFU-Squared: Welcome

A black screen.

Out of the darkness something bright and cheerful comes spinning: a sunshine-yellow smiley face. As it approaches, it becomes clear that 'cheerful' is either an understatement or an outright lie – the teeth-baring smile reaches far above where its ears would be, utterly dominating the face and giving the whole thing a distinctly malevolent aspect.

The image – the logo, though of what it is not made clear – holds for a long moment. And then another. And another. It holds for long enough that any viewer might begin to feel like it is... watching them? And when it fades – is it vanishing, or simply... going elsewhere?

A desk fades into view. It is large, solid, wooden, and set in a stone-walled room. On the shelves around it sit a handful of egg-timers, several heaps of paperwork, and a battered red handbag. A man is standing in front of the desk, looking at the camera.

"Good morning," he says, "or afternoon, or evening, or potentially night. I am Doctor Huinesoron, the Administrator of the Official Fanfiction University of Discworld, and I am here to welcome you to the Official Fanfiction University of Official Fanfiction Universities!"

The man rubs the bridge of his nose. "Yes, I know how that sounds," he admits. "We call it OFU2, or OFU-Squared, for what I hope are obvious reasons." He considers this, and adds, "In fact, if they aren't obvious reasons, you may have further to go in becoming an OFU Coordinator than you think."

Doctor Huinesoron picks up a sheet of paper and scans it. "As you know – by which I mean, as we hope you know, but have learnt not to expect – you have been accepted as a student of OFU2 due to your expressed desire to create an Official Fanfiction University of your own. Your desire is to be commended – however, it says nothing about your skill level.

"It is a sad fact that some who attempt to run OFUs fail miserably at their stated task. They drive their staff members wildly out of character, allow fangirl students of the worst kind complete freedom from consequences, and distort the very fabric of the world – all while purporting to teach their students how not to do these exact things!

"From this tragic state of affairs has arisen OFU2. As your astute minds will no doubt have detected, this is a distance-learning university. Your lessons and lectures will be delivered in the form of videos filmed by myself and other OFU Course Coordinators. You will be expected to watch these, and take notes, because yes, there is an exam at the end of it.

"The Headmistress – and if you have gotten this far you ought to be able to figure out who that is in short order – has expressed concern that the ideals of Learning Through Pain may be neglected by this video format. She need have no such fear. As part of your education, we will be walking through several 'Sueniversities', OFUs which managed to get everything precisely wrong. And to ensure that you experience the pain of seeing such things just as much as we do, you will be writing a 10,000-word essay detailing and analysing the Sueniversity of your choice."

Doctor Huinesoron smiles at the camera. "One more thing," he notes. "It may have occurred to the brighter among you that OFU2 is unlikely to collect any minis of its own, and thus, that you will not be under the usual threat of danger, distress and dismemberment. On your first point, you would be correct – but not the latter. Rinsewind!"

The battered red handbag on the shelves suddenly sprouts hundreds of tiny little legs and leaps down onto the desk. Doctor Huinesoron pats it gently and smiles.

"This is a mini-Luggage," he explains. "I will be donating several to the service of OFU2 – and my colleagues on the teaching staff will be following suit. Since we have access to PPC-designed portal technology, we can reach you if needed."
He pauses a moment, and his smile widens into something approaching the OFU emblem at the beginning of the video.

"In fact, this may be a good time to look behind you," he suggests. "I hope you have some bacon handy..."

Disclaimer: OFU2: Welcome is written by Huinesoron. The OFU concept is the property and creation of Miss Cam. All Discworld material belongs to Terry Pratchett.

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