Meduseld was dark when Dr Huinesoron pushed the door open, dark and cold – but not empty. Though the Riders of Rohan were gone – most of them to the Staff Section of OFUM – the Golden Hall was playing host to the Course Coordinators of the OFUs of the multiverse.
Miss Kat of OFUWho was fidgeting, as usual, though Dr Huinesoron doubted she’d ever occupied herself making chains out of discarded pieces of bridle before. Mr Allen and Miss Carol (IAHF and OFUH respectively) seemed moderately awestruck by the tapestries (one of which MBSFA’s Mr Ben seemed to be trying to take home). Mr Marty, also of MBSFA, was glaring at the fire and shivering sporadically. And all of them, Dr Huinesoron noted with a suppressed sigh, had gotten there before him.
The door creaked as he closed it, and the Coordinators looked up (those that weren’t already paying attention). “Thank you all for coming,” Dr Huinesoron said. “This meeting was very short notice, and you all have things to do, so thank you for making the time.”
He glanced at Miss Irene of UDEM and nodded. “I know those of you who chose not to join the Official Fanfiction University of Official Fanfiction Universities-“ as always, the full name provoked chuckles from the group – “must be concerned, so I will say this out the outset: this has nothing to do with OFU-Squared. We’ll do our thing, you do yours, no hard feelings.”
Nods and murmurs from around the Hall. OFU2 had been controversial for a number of reasons, and several of the Coordinators still weren’t back on speaking terms. Since Dr Huinesoron had been the driving force behind its establishment, he wasn’t sure whether they actually believed him, but at least they were listening.
“As you may have heard,” he said, pulling himself upright, “OFUDisc has been attacked. I’ve had to close down the university, send the students home, and take the non-canon staff into hiding.”
Across the Hall, IAHF’s Mr Hugh murmured something. Dr Huinesoron’s ear twitched.
“I’m aware that some of you have been invaded before,” he said, an edge of irritation creeping into his voice, “and I would never try to undermine that – but this is different. This isn’t an invasion of fangirls, with their single-minded focus, or Sues, with their glitter-induced stupidity.”
“Who is it, then?” someone asked, invisible in the shadows.
Dr Huinesoron held up the leaflet Cazzie had given him. The cover was dominated by a black circle, an elongated white ‘S’ cutting across it. “They call themselves Ispace,” he announced. “Their self-appointed mission is to protect elves – all elves, across the multiverse – from any form of harm. They will attack canon characters to protect Mary Sues. They invaded OFUDisc to ‘rescue’ one of our students from our ‘cruelty’. They are heavily-armed, have technology I have never seen before – and they have set their sights on the Official Fanfiction Universities.”
There was a long, dangerous silence. Then Mr Allen stood.
“Let them try.”
Now Miss Kat was on her feet too, the brass rings she had been toying with falling from her fingers. “We cannot have another security breach,” she said, seemingly to herself. “I must inform the minis to double the defences.”
The fragile calm in the Golden Hall shattered, all the Coordinators talking at once. Mr Allen was glaring at his phone, trying to get a signal; Mr Marty was cursing and trying to push through to the door. Dr Huinesoron waved his hands for attention, but none was forthcoming.
Then he felt a stir in the air behind him, and a voice spoke – calm, yet cutting through the babble like razor-sharp claws. “Some quiet, if you please.”
Silence fell like the Downfall of Numenor. Dr Huinesoron turned to look into the eyes of Miss Thundera Tiger, who smiled slightly and nodded towards the back of the hall. Dr Huinesoron followed her gaze, noticing for the first time the shadowy shape seated down there – not on Theoden’s throne, but on a low stool beside it. He swallowed hard.
“Thank you,” he said, certain that his words would be relayed. Then, again, to the whole group: “Thank you. Friends, colleagues – this is not a threat we can handle on our own. I know, I know.” He held up a hand to ward off the objections he could see on various faces. “The OFUs have always been independent; that was the main argument against OFU-Squared. I’m not trying to reopen that discussion. But however independent we are as teaching establishments, we need to unite our defences. Not even all the mini-Balrogs in Arda could hold off the spaceships I’ve seen from Ispace – and I guarentee you, OFUM will be one of their first targets. Where would you find more ‘cruelty to elves’ than Middle-earth?”
Despite the presence of a legendary OFUM Miss at his back, Dr Huinesoron felt the crowd’s attention start to slip away again. The buzz of conversation rose, and he had to raise his voice to still be heard.
“I propose an alliance – a pooling of our strength to strike back against Ispace, wherever they may hit us. And a refuge, for when we can’t hit them hard enough – which I assure you will happen, however fast we move. An OFU is its staff, not its buildings; if we lose the teachers, it doesn’t matter how hard we fight, we will have already lost the battle.” He was shouting now, straining to be heard. “We can’t take on Ispace individually! There’s more strength in numbers! WE HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER, OR WE WILL-“
Miss Thundera Tiger touched his shoulder. “Enough,” she said, slipping her words under the racket. “They understand. They’ll do what is right. Just give them time.”
“But I don’t know if we have time.”
“Neither do I.”
Disclaimer: Middle-earth belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien. The OFU concept and Miss Thundera Tiger belong to Miss Cam, and are used with permission. IAHF and MBSFA and their staff belong to Lily Winterwood, OFWho to Kittythekatty, and OFUH to Snowy the Sane Fangirl. OFUDisc and Ispace are my own, as are all plot details.
Author's Note: This chapter was one of the more difficult to write, because it required multiple people to make it work. While the Coordinator of every single OFU is at the meeting (or at least, was invited), the only ones I've given specific details of are the ones I've specifically requested to use - or, in the case of Miss Thundera Tiger, have been opened up for general light use by Miss Cam.