1. Full Story
On the screen, two blackened hands with shuddering fingers writhe in agony.
“Shire!” screeches a tortured voice. “Baggins!”
One of the humans jumps up. “Captain!” she calls.
The captain, a stern-looking and heavyset man, ducks into the forward cabin. Like the others, a jack in the base of his neck shows he once lay captive and helpless in one of the towers himself.
“We’ve found the One,” the woman, Bee, announces, sounding pleased. She pauses slightly, then amends, “in this interface, at least.”
“It’s in a place called the Shire,” her companion, Jammer, reports to the captain. “In the hands of one, uh, Baggins.”
The captain takes a seat in front of the computer screen and selects a few controls. Lines of symbols flicker down the screen and its fellows, showing, to the practiced eye, strangely shaped towers, cavernous underground passages, and finally a pleasant countryside with half-sized round doors carved into rolling hills.
“Here?” asks the captain, pointing. Bee nods. They all lean in a little closer. A tall figure, in outward appearance an elderly man in a grey cloak and a pointed hat, is banging on one of the doors with a long staff.
“Olorin!” exclaims the captain in alarm. “He will convince the bearer to destroy it, of course. How soon can we go in?”
Jammer surveys the screens again, changing their focus. “The palantiri never work as predictably as a good old-fashioned land line,” he says. “Unless we wish to enter through Rivendell – “
“Far too risky!” the captain snaps.
“Well,” sighs Jammer, “it could take us months to establish a strong enough connection. We’ll start working on it right away.”
“And we’ll try to contact Curunir,” Bee adds. “He has been coming around to our way of thinking lately.”
Of seven, only three palantiri remain in the interface known as Middle Earth. One, the Orthanc-stone, in Isengard, is too close to Rivendell to safely send anything more than a message through.
“So the One has been found?” Curunir asks of the seeing stone.
“Yes,” the captain replies, from the safety of his ship.
Curunir says, “I did say I would help you to retrieve it. I would very much like to see a world where Men and machines can co-exist without enslaving each other.”
The captain smiles, though he knows Curunir can see nothing but a great lidless eye, wreathed in flame. “Glad you’re still with us, Curunir.”
“I will do what I can to help you,” Curunir replies, “but you know it is only a matter of time before the other Istari and the Elves discover that I have switched sides.”
The captain thinks for a few moments. “I am close to being able to send some of my men through. Perhaps if you could waylay Olorin, we would have time to reach the ringbearer and retrieve the One.”
Curunir smiles in return. “Consider it done.” He replies.
The second palantir, the Anor-stone, is in the hands of the steward Denethor. Though not precisely in league with the Elves, he has no love for the forces of Mordor, and is strong enough to thwart any entry into Middle Earth through the stone in his possession.
That leaves the Ithil-stone, in the very heart of Barad-Dur. It is a very long way from the Black Gates to the Shire, on horseback and across unfriendly territory.
At first, everything goes according to plan. Curunir is able to imprison Olorin, though of course it cannot be long now before the Elves learn of his change of loyalties, or begin to suspect that it might herald further activity by the resistance inside this interface. The nine who have entered Middle Earth ride hard and fast for the ringbearer, still in the ponderous process of leaving the Shire. Middle Earth is a smaller and more experimental interface than some, and far more proof against hacking by members of the resistance. Though they are able to take physical form, they can neither see nor be seen as anything more than the ever-cascading lines of symbols, hazy blue in this interface rather than the standard green.
It hampers their ability to search for the ringbearer and the One, and causes them to be viewed with suspicion wherever they go. Whether through sheer bad luck or through tampering from the controlling overmind that manages the interface, their timing is ever impeccably slightly off. They reach the Shire and the green door of Mr. Baggins’ smial less than half an hour after he left it. They pursue him and his two small companions throughout the night and the following day, only to be turned off at the last second from approaching them by a band of elves.
Agents are certainly thick on the ground in Middle Earth. They almost seem to outnumber the humans and other mortal creatures who inhabit the interface. The nine wonder if it does not take more energy for the machines to manage Middle Earth than is produced by it. Perhaps it does, for it has been everywhere said by those they meet in their journey that the elves are leaving Middle Earth.
On the assumption that the One has left the shire with the four travelling hobbits, five of the nine attempt to pursue the four hobbits into a region known as the Old Forest, but once again the intelligence supervising the interface is able to turn them from their quarry, shifting the paths and the lay of the land inside the forest until the riders are trapped and the hobbits herded safely behind a hack-proof firewall guarded by a very powerful agent indeed. The other four stay behind to watch the Shire, just in case the hobbits have accomplished some sort of sleight-of-hand.
In the now-deserted realm of Angmar, the riders, posing for the moment as barrow-wights, are almost able to get their hands on the ringbearer, Frodo, long enough to speak to him agent-free about the power of the One, but he is somehow able to once again summon the agent who sheltered him after the Old Forest and they are obliged to turn aside and plan their meeting for another day.
“Resourceful little things, these, what-do-you-call-‘ems, hobbits,” comments Coal as they ride for Bree.
“A little too open to suggestion from the Istari for my taste,” mutters Bee.
“Maybe that’s why the machines bred them,” speculates Jammer. “I’ve seen a few in their pods out there,” he gestures to one side as though the world outside the matrix is separated from them by some physical direction. “They really look like that.”
This excites more speculation from the riders, as to whether the machines have undertaken any other selective breeding or genetic modification projects and what possible advantages such projects might yield. Jammer is of the opinion that hobbits produce more energy in proportion to their size than humans, which would also seem to explain why the creatures can eat and eat and eat without growing too fat to move.
“Well, here’s to our luck in Bree,” says Phoenix as they ride up to the top of the ridge overlooking the city.
“We’ll need it,” mutters Coal. “They don’t seem too inclined to talk to us, do they?”
“Maybe if we looked like kindly old men with pointy hats instead of disembodied black robes,” Bee replies sourly.
The other riders laugh humorlessly. It’s true – their appearance is not exactly of the sort to inspire confidence in a new acquaintance.
“Maybe it’s time for, well, a more – aggressive approach,” suggests Quintus. The others look at him and he shrugs apologetically.
“Sure, if we want to scare them off and make them distrust us,” Phoenix says.
Bee fingers the hilt of her sword speculatively and thinks for a long while as the sky darkens. “Not yet, boys,” she says finally. “Not in so populated a place. Let’s give it one more try with the nice approach first.”
Coal and Phoenix glance at each other in approval as they spur their horses forward, but Jammer and Quintus exchange a darker look.
The riders have a piece of luck at last, for they find one of the hobbits wandering alone by himself in the streets. Bee leans down from her horse.
“A good evening to you, Master Meriadoc,” she says. Due to the difficulties in inserting themselves into this interface, the nine have found that their speaking voices are little more than a low, growling hiss.
Poor Merry jumps several feet in the air. “Wh- what do you want?” he stammers.
“A few minutes of your time, if you will,” replies Bee. Merry looks extremely doubtful, but the other riders surround him, giving him little choice.
“Please, don’t hurt me! I haven’t got anything valuable, or – “ he begins.
Bee dismounts and kneels before him. “Perhaps you could carry a message to your friend for us,” she says, trying to sound kind and reassuring. It’s very difficult.
“What kind of message?” asks Merry warily.
“Your friend carries something of great value to all of the peoples of Middle Earth,” she states.
“Not that I know of,” he lies bravely.
“Well, I will not ask you to confirm or deny it, since you have doubtless been told that many sorts of creatures will try to take the One from the Ringbearer, but I would ask you to hear what I have to say, for you do not know the true extent of its power,” replies Bee.
“Gandalf said you lot want to take the Ring to the Dark Lord, and that he’ll use it to take over Middle Earth!” Merry exclaims. “I don’t think I need to hear any more, thanks!”
Bee looks up at Jammer. “Gandalf?” she mouths.
“Olorin,” he mouths back. Bee curses silently. The only one of the Istari – agents specially assigned in Middle Earth to containing the power of the One – to remain true to his task. Istar-style agents have long been abandoned in most of the other interfaces of the matrix.
“What if the Dark Lord, as you call him, is trying to save the people of Middle Earth from a far more terrible kind of slavery?” Bee asks Merry.
Merry’s brow wrinkles in confusion. “What do you mean?”
Bee takes a deep breath. She’s sure the members of the resistance assigned to freeing people from industrialized interfaces have a far easier time of this next task. Maybe that’s why the agents are experimenting with so many new pre-industrial interfaces. “The world you see around you,” she gestures, “doesn’t really exist. It’s an illusion given to you by a sort of – “
“By the Valar,” replies Merry. “I know that. Well, at least, that’s what the elves say.”
Bee is thrown for a loop. The elves have told them this? “By the Valar, sure,” she says. “But what’s really happening is that the Valar have got you imprisoned, and are feeding off your energy. If you can help your friend bring the One to Barad-Dur, or even to Isengard, we can help you to truly free the people of Middle Earth.”
Merry crosses his arms. “The only imprisonment I see here is you lot trying to keep me from going back in to the Prancing Pony and having a good pint of beer,” he states flatly. “Good night to you!”
Suddenly he ducks and runs right between the legs of Coal’s horse, which rears up, neighing fearsomely. Its agitation is contagious, and soon the other horses are skittering and whinnying. Quintus, who has slipped off his horse, grabs Merry by the shoulder before he can escape.
“Hey!” cries Merry, but Quintus holds him down.
“Jammer, this one needs a blue pill, I think,” Quintus says to the other rider. Jammer produces a large blue pill from somewhere inside his robes and hands it to Quintus. Merry struggles in Quintus’ grasp, but is no match for the Man’s strength. His cries are muffled by one large hand, removed long enough to slip the pill into Merry’s mouth and quickly hold it shut again. Merry’s eyes bug out and he makes a gagging noise, but Quintus tilts his chin back and strokes his throat until he is forced to swallow the pill. He immediately goes limp.
Quintus feels a slight pang as he sees the hobbit’s slight form, crumpled unconscious in the muck but still somehow angelic looking. “Sorry, little fellow,” he mutters as he re-mounts his horse.
“So, to the Prancing Pony, then,” says Cole, turning his horse around now that it has been subdued.
“Well, maybe we’d better wait until they’ve closed things down in there a little more,” Bee replies. “We’ll sneak in through the window, or something. We’d probably be turned out on our ears if we showed up at the front door.” This last, a bit bitterly. She hopes that other members of the resistance, seeking for the equivalent One in other interfaces, have an easier time of it.
They wait. Lights go out in the inn. When there is no sign of life from the room they have identified as having been given to the hobbits, they force the windows and creep stealthily through them. Quintus and Phoenix have to duck – it’s a hobbit-sized room and the ceiling is too low for their tall frames.
Bee peers around the room. In the dark it is slightly easier for the riders to see with something approaching normal vision. Three of the hobbits appear to be buried completely under their blankets, but of the fourth a curly mop of brown hair can be seen at the head of the bed. She smiles. The bearer of the One.
Silently, so as not to wake the others, she walks over to the bed and puts a gentle hand on the sleeping form.
It gives, in a way that a sleeping hobbit’s shoulder should not. She stands up abruptly, nearly bumping her head against a rafter. She bends down again. Perhaps she was mistaken. She pulls a corner of the blanket back, and discovers a bolster topped with a brown woollen mat.
She lets out a cry of frustration, the poor quality of the hack into this interface making the sound a high-pitched, fearsome wail. In anger, she raises her sword and stabs the bolster until feathers fly through the air. Her colleagues have similarly despoiled the other beds, also occupied by bolsters rather than hobbits. For good measure, they knock the beds over.
Finally, Bee takes a deep breath. “Quintus, I think it’s time for your aggressive approach,” she says. “What did you have in mind?”
Here we come to an interlude in our tale in which you may imagine, if you like, a bullet-time fight between Gandalf and the Ringwraiths on Weathertop. No amount of my descriptive powers could ever do such a scene justice, although I imagine it would be at least five times as cool as Aragorn’s slow-mo fight with the Ringwraiths on Weathertop, which is my favorite fight scene in FOTR. It would also be at least five times as cool as Gandalf’s fight with the Balrog, which is Owen’s favorite fight scene in TTT. Depending on Howard Shore’s scoring talents, it might or might not be as cool as the infamous Lobby Scene in The Matrix. But it would definitely be really cool.
Our fight scene ends at dawn with Gandalf taking a spectacular flying leap off the cliff and landing neatly on the back of Shadowfax, who is waiting patiently hundreds of yards below but who kicks off into full gallop as soon as Gandalf is seated. The world rolls away beneath his feet with a great noise of wind.
Bee, breathing hard, lowers her sword. “Follow him!” she orders Tor, Mags, Acid, and X-Ray. “If we’re lucky, we can take him out before he has the chance to report to Elrond.”
The four so ordered nod and take their own flying leaps off the cliff. They are not so lucky in their horses, however, and have to mount them in the regular way once they reach the ground below, although you may imagine that the regular way for a person with Matrix powers in Middle Earth to mount a horse looks somewhat the way Legolas’ horse-mounting scene looks at the beginning of the warg attack in TTT, only from more angles all rotating around at once. Their horses speed into motion and are soon a blur themselves.
Bee glares at Quintus. “So much for part one of your plan,” she snaps.
He glances away apologetically. “How was I supposed to know he escaped from Curunir?” he mutters.
“Well,” says Bee, sitting down to rest on a broken statue, “at least we got to him before he was able to rejoin the hobbits.”
“What about this Man they’ve got with them now?” asks Phoenix. “Is he going to be a problem?”
Jammer says, “I think he’s in league with the elves.”
“Great,” Bee mutters.
They wait for three days after their fight with Gandalf, certain that the hobbits and their new companion will have to pass this way en route to Rivendell. Their plan, as repeatedly enunciated by Bee, is to put all the others out with blue pills before sitting Frodo down for a chat about the One. Given his faith in the good intentions of the Istar and the previous intractability shown by his kinsman, Bee has not much faith in this plan, but it’s the only plan they have.
Twice the little party separates, but unfortunately Frodo remains with the Man both times. Phoenix gasps a little when she sees the Man’s face. “That’s Aragorn, son of Arathorn,” she hisses to the others.
“Yeah, the one who’s in Elrond’s back pocket,” Jammer replies.
“He’s good. Really good,” Phoenix says. The others look at her strangely. “His fighting! He’s one of the strongest warriors in Middle Earth!”
“Spend much time watching him on the survey screens?” Bee asks her slyly. For once, Phoenix is glad of the faulty interface, because none of her compatriots can see her blush.
Bee sighs. “Well, I wish they would separate again, but I’m afraid if we wait too long we’ll never get a chance. Let’s go!”
They advance towards the travellers’ small encampment. Unseen by the others, Quintus wedges a red pill into the notched tip of his sword.
Pippin and Merry fall to the ground in terror at the sight of the five riders. Sam shrinks to Frodo’s side. Aragorn is momentarily nowhere to be seen, which Bee knows can’t be a good sign. An agonizing moment’s hesitation, and suddenly Frodo has donned the One.
Bee’s spirits rise, for it will allow him to see Middle Earth for what it truly is, see that it is nothing more than columns of figures racing down into eternity. Bee, Jammer, and Quintus advance towards Frodo.
His eyes widen and he draws out his own short sword, which, strangely, in the pervading misty blue of this interface, flickers red. Bee and Jammer stop – they’re not intending lasting damage in this encounter, either to themselves or the people they’re trying to save – but Quintus continues to advance.
“Quintus!” cries Bee, as Frodo cries, “O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!” and stabs Quintus in the foot. The next thing she knows, Quintus has run his blade deep into Frodo’s shoulder and the hobbit cries out in exquisite agony, wrenching the One from his finger. Before she has time to react to Quintus’unexpected manoeuvre, however, Aragorn, son of Arathorn has returned to the camp with a flaming brand of wood in either hand and she has more immediate things to worry about.
When the five riders have retreated a sufficient distance from the Ranger’s fury (and Phoenix’s assessment is no exaggeration, for he proves more than a match for the five of them, likely due to his tutelage by the elves of Rivendell), Bee grabs Quintus roughly by the shoulders.
“Damnit, Quintus, what was that for?” she demands.
Quintus quirks a grin. “I slipped him a red pill. He’ll have to help us now,” he says, sounding very satisfied with himself.
“You what!?” exclaims Bee, incensed. Members of the resistance are strictly warned against using such guerilla tactics in freeing people from the matrix.
Any attempts at argument on either side, however, are rendered as unintelligible shrieks by the weak connection with the interface, so Bee settles for pummelling Quintus repeatedly in the face and solar plexus . She is aided in her task by Phoenix and Jammer, who prevent Quintus from returning the blows, but Coal looks on with arms crossed, saying and doing nothing.
When the pummelling has stopped, there is a lot of hostile staring. Finally, Quintus and Coal mount their horses and spur off into the night.
With no word of where their erstwhile colleagues may have gone, Bee, Phoenix, and Jammer ride to the Bridge of Mitheithel, on the Road between Weathertop and Rivendell. They catch sight of an elf Phoenix identifies as Arwen, the lover of Aragorn.
“That’s a bit strange, isn’t it?” Jammer asks. “An agent with a human, I mean.”
“Plays right into their hands, I think,” Bee says. “Best way to secure a man’s loyalty is with his –“
“No, I don’t think that’s it,” Phoenix interrupts. “This one seems to somehow wish she could be human herself.”
“Really?” Jammer asks, with great interest. “Do you think she could be brought over to our side?”
Arwen catches sight of them and raises her sword. She speaks a few words to her horse, who starts towards them at great speed. The three riders spur their horses away to the west as quickly as they can.
“Guess not,” mutters Jammer half an hour later when they have lost their pursuer.
Quintus and Coal, not so far along the Road towards Rivendell as their former companions, are also chased for a short distance by Arwen.
“Only one?” scoffs Coal. “If they knew exactly how much danger their precious One was in, they would have sent more than that!”
“How long d’you think before the pill makes its way into his bloodstream?” asks Quintus.
Coal’s eyebrows draw together. “Depends where it ended up. It’s not really as if the pill itself is going to move inside his body. We’ll probably have to wait for the chemicals to seep out in their own good time. And of course, we’ve never tried the red pills on hobbits before. We don’t even know if it’ll work the same way. I mean, clearly their metabolisms are very different than ours.”
“Well, soon, though, right?” Quintus says. He is beginning to regret his plan, which had seemed like such a cunning one at the time.
Tor, Mags, Acid, and X-Ray know nothing of the falling-out between their colleagues, and nothing of the red pill which even now may or may not be working its chemistry to expel Frodo from the pod that connects him with the matrix. They know only that Shadowfax, himself an agent of some intelligence, is far too fast for their own horses, and has left them far behind, carrying Gandalf to Rivendell.
Suddenly, there is a sound of horses’ hooves pounding over the plain and a powerful stallion gallops into view, carrying an elf in riding-dress and an unconscious hobbit.
“There!” exclaims Tor, spurring his mount into pursuit. “It’s only one. We can overtake her. Is that the bearer of the One?”
The other three spur their horses and they form a line across the plain behind the elven rider.
“He looks injured,” comments Mags. Tor squints at the tiny form, many yards in front of them.
“He must have tried to resist them or something,” Tor speculates. “Come on, we’ll get him out of this. Wonder if the others had a chance to talk to him about it yet?” The four riders spur their horses again.
The elf is a fine rider, and she dodges and weaves through trees and over fallen logs.
“Come on, boy,” Mags urges her horse, digging her heels into his flanks. “It’s only the fate of the freedom of Middle Earth at stake.”
From out of nowhere, Coal and Quintus join the four galloping riders. The elf looks back at them in alarm and spurs her own horse forward.
“He’s still here,” Quintus comments, in some disappointment.
“Yes, you were the ones in charge of convincing him to take the red pill,” Tor retorts. “Gandalf made it to Rivendell. Where’re the other three?”
“Oh, I got Frodo to take the red pill, alright,” Quintus replies breezily. “Bee and I had a little disagreement over it.”
Tor squints forward at the hobbit again, glad to see they are gaining on the fleeing elf and her captive. “He’s still here,” he says wonderingly.
“Yes, well, Quintus tried a non-approved delivery method,” Coal calls from the other side of the line of riders. Tor cocks an eyebrow at Quintus, but Quintus says,
“No time to explain now!” and rides forward.
The elf is dodging through another coppice of trees, though Quintus and X-Ray have almost caught up to her enough to box her in.
Three more riders join them in their pursuit. Bee looks hard at Quintus, who has fallen behind the elf again. “He’s still here,” she says.
“Well, all the more reason for us to get him back from the elves and explain what he’s going to see before he falls through the rabbit-hole,” Quintus replies.
Bee nods curtly and the pursuit continues. The nine riders form a v-shape, surrounding the elf from the sides and behind. For a moment, Jammer is close enough to reach out to the hobbit, but with a sudden burst of speed the elf has pulled ahead of them again. The riders feel the familiar skip that means something has been changed inside the interface and suddenly the tree-dotted plain in front of them has turned to an ice-cold raging river.
The elf is on the other side, horse rearing and sword raised.
“Give up the halfling, she-elf!” cries Bee over the rushing of the river.
“If you want him, come and claim him!” retorts the elf.
Miraculously, Frodo rouses himself from his stupor. “Go back!” he cries weakly. “Go back to the Land of Mordor, and follow me no more!”
“Some re-education necessary,” mutters Phoenix.
“Yes, and not the kind they’ll give him there,” X-Ray adds darkly.
“Come back! Come back!” calls Bee. “To Mordor we will take you.”
“Go back!” he whispers desperately.
“Maybe we can at least get the One, the Ring,” suggests Mags. “Pass it on to a new bearer, or just take it back to Mordor ourselves. Isengard, even, since it’s closer.”
“The Ring!” cries Bee, and “The Ring!” echo the others. Bee urges her horse forward into the water, followed closely by Jammer and Phoenix.
“By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair,” says Frodo with a last effort, “you shall have neither the Ring nor me!”
Unnoticed by the nine riders, the elf has been muttering things in the strange elven tongue. Frodo seems taken by a strange fit, and drops his sword, shaking from head to foot.
“It’s working! The pill’s working!” exclaims Quintus.
A great roaring and a rushing, a noise of loud waters rolling many stones. The riders look up the stream of the river and see rushing towards them a plumed cavalry of waves. White flames flicker on their crests and amid the water are white riders upon white horses with frothing manes. Bee, Jammer, and Phoenix are overwhelmed by the waves. As they go under, the columns of symbols break up and give way to static.
“Bee! Bee!” a strange voice comes to her through the blackness. She feels strange, heavy, like a weight is pressing down upon her chest, and there is a great rushing in her ears. With some effort, Bee opens her eyes and finds herself back in the ship, reclining in her chair and still attached to the jack in the back of her head.
“Captain,” she croaks. Her own speaking voice sounds unfamiliar after so many months in the shadow-world.
“What happened in there?” the captain is asking. He unplugs Bee, then Phoenix and Jammer, who are also slowly coming to themselves. Bee sits up and rubs her neck, starting to explain.
With alarm, the remaining six riders watch their companions go under the flooding river. Suddenly, behind them, Aragorn and the three remaining hobbits appear with burning brands in either hand. Across the mass of water, the elf can be seen, continuing with her captive, towards Rivendell.
“Well, boys, this one’s a write-off,” says Cole resignedly. “Might as well follow them in. If that red pill’s going to take effect, it’ll do it whether we’re there or not!”
He follows the three fallen riders into the river, and the rest of his companions follow suit.
Back in the now-unfamiliar confines of the ship, the former riders huddle over the screens. An alarm sounds, and the captain touches a control. Frodo’s life signs have been detected in the outer world, and his pod can be located. Jammer switches quickly back into his role as pilot and turns the ship towards the pod in question, as smoothly and swiftly as he would spur the horse he has been riding for so many months.
Inside the interface, the rest of the crew watch as Frodo is brought to a chamber within the house of Elrond himself, a chamber somehow hobbit-sized and full-sized all at once. The alarm sounds quicker, but Elrond rushes in to the chamber and injects something into the hobbit’s chest that immediately causes the alarm to cease, without bothering with the niceties of a form of treatment consistent with the technology of the interface. Gandalf gives Elrond a wry look, but Elrond shrugs dismissively and begins to inspect the unconscious ringbearer with more thoroughness and less haste.
“The wound on his shoulder is now almost closed,” says Elrond, “Yet I do not think a mere blade can have caused such a fever.”
Gandalf leans over to peer at Frodo, then straightens up. “I am sure you know your business, Elrond,” he says.
“We have long suspected that the Men” Elrond curls his lip, as though the very thought of them is distasteful to him, “have some sort of pill that, if taken by someone inside the matrix, ejects them permanently from the system without killing the body. It is how the ranks of the resistance have swelled so quickly.”
Gandalf raises an eyebrow. “Really?” he murmurs.
“Yet, that cannot be what was given to Frodo, for it acts very quickly. I believe he is stabilized now, but he will bear careful watching.” Elrond continues.
And so they watch, Elrond and Gandalf and Frodo’s faithful companion Sam, and the crew of the Telperion, for three days. Every time Elrond’s medicine wears off, Frodo starts to gasp and writhe and the alarm begins to sound in Telperion’s control centre, indicating Frodo’s location and imminent eviction from his pod. Every time this happens, Elrond rushes in with a stronger injection, right to the heart every time, and some violence is done to Sam’s memory by Gandalf.
Finally, in the middle of the third night, Elrond puts Sam into some sort of drugged sleep and opens up Frodo’s chest cavity, right there on the bed. He pokes and prods dispassionately until Bee looks away.
“The poor dear!” she cries in distress. “We have to get him out of there!”
“Ssh!” hisses Jammer. “He’s doing something!”
They all lean in close around the tiny screen. Elrond has got something very small between his thumb and forefingers. He brings it up to his eyes to scowl at it. The red pill, diminished greatly in size but still recognizable.
“Great, Quintus, now you’ve really done it!” exclaims Cole.
“Well, I didn’t know that would happen!” protests Quintus.
Elrond’s gaze travels beyond the tiny pill in his grasp and seems to penetrate right out through the screen and bore into the captain’s eyes. Suddenly, a different sort of alarm sounds – the sort that means Telperion is under attack.
As the crew take their positions for battle, Bee says to no-one in particular, “Let’s hope Morpheus and Trinity are having better luck with that 20th-century Earth interface!"
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.