It was a sad and battered league of AIRQ players that met up in a secluded dead-end corridor just around several metaphorical corners from the Department of Angst's one RC. The Mary Sue Invasion had left the League with injured players, precious little undamaged corridor to play in, and a Building Maintenance team with a grudge and a lot of overtime to do, and yet still they were soldiering on.

'My turn,' said Agent Gypsy of the Bad Slash team, with some satisfaction. She thunked her foam-covered bat into her palm, and turned a grey eye, alight with the flame of competitiveness, on the opposing team, that of the Department of Floaters. 'Cray's still in Medical.'

'So,' said Agent Trojie, also of Bad Slash and the nominal 'leader' of the League, 'today's fixture has myself, Pads, Gypsy and Lux against Titus, Murtagh, July and Library. The current ranking is DBS, one, DoF, zero. If the DBS win this match, then they are declared the winners of this season, and get this shiny trophy!' She held up a piece of wood, to which had been nailed a Quiddich bat. The whole thing had apparently been drenched in urple paint. 'The inaugural Urple Bat trophy! Behold its ... urpleness!' The other Agents flinched slightly. 'If the DoF win, we'll have a tie-break match at some point.'

'We have got to find some more teams,' said Titus. 'A 'best-of-three' is not what I call a thrilling league table.'

'We've had volunteers from the scientists in DMSE&R, and a few from the DMS, though not enough for a team yet,' said Murtagh, fidgeting as a man will when he's been deprived of the Magnums he's accustomed to carrying during every waking moment.

Trojie threw the ball up in the air experimentally, watching it flash with colour as it hit the ceiling. She caught it again, and grinned. 'Lights out, guys!'

Luxury hit the light-switch.


A flare of lights heralded the first swing.

'A hit, a hit!' came Titus' voice, just as an 'OW!' resounded down the corridor in a voice that sounded suspiciously like Library's.






'Argh! The old war wound!'

'Pads, the war was last week, it hardly counts as old.'

'It's still a wound.'

'You broke your tail. You're in human shape right now, or you wouldn't be talking.'

'Woof! ROWR!' There was copious whining. Then there was a rolling sound and a loud collision, as of five or so people all managing to fall over one other person, who is prone on the floor and rubbing their knee, which they've just twisted on a carelessly discarded Quiddich bat.

'For Glod's sake, turn back into a human and pick up your bat!' came Trojie's voice from about two foot off the ground.

'Why is she dog-shaped anyway?'

'Um, so that she can bite my ankle?' said July in a strained voice.

'Pads, let go.'

There was a grumbling sound, and then the soft noise of an Animagus translation. Footsteps indicated her making her way over to the entangled Agents.


'Pads, *hands*!'

'I don't mind,' said someone with Lux's voice, giggling.

A jealous 'hmph' came from Trojie, and all members of the pile of Agents trying to extricate themselves felt Pads remove her hands precipitously.

'Could someone pass me my bat, please?' she said carefully.

'Here,' said Murtagh grumpily. 'Can we play the game now?' he asked.

'Sure thing,' said Trojie. 'Who's got the ball?'

A flash of light indicated its presence. 'Come and get it!' said Library in a sweet voice, before thwacking it across the corridor so hard it ricocheted off the walls three times and glanced off Gypsy's skull. There was a little sigh and a sliding noise, but no-one really noticed.




'I'm okay! Take *that*, July!'

It seemed that Titus and July's vendetta was once more open for business, despite them being on the same team.



'Lux! Hands!'

'There's no-one adventurous left in this damned organisation,' said Lux, and then 'Hah!' as she hit the ball a crack.

'Plenty of adventurous people, just no-one who wants to do the horizontal rumba, with you, in a dark corridor, surrounded by other agents with blunt instruments and hard rubber projectiles,' said Pads, her words punctuated with the sound of bat connecting with ball as she and someone she hoped was a member of the Floaters played a fast and furious volley. 'In fact-' she started, before mysteriously shutting up. Had they not been so pumped up with adrenaline, the other players would have noted this never-before-witnessed event with awe, but as it was, her sudden and uncharacteristic silence mid-sarcasm went unnoticed.


'Library, that was me!'

'Sorry, Murtagh!'




'Okay, pain in interesting places...'


'Is it just me,' said July suddenly, 'Or have there been less and less exclamations from Bad Slashers lately?'

'You're right,' said Murtagh.

'All in favour of turning the lights back on?' Library asked. After a brief silence, she added. 'Voting by voice, seeing as I can't see your raised hands.'

'Yeah, sure,' said July. She reached out to the wall, fumbling her way along until she found the switch.

A scene of carnage met the Floaters' eyes. Both Gypsy and Paddlebrains were unconscious, miraculously un-trod-upon, Trojie appeared to be nursing an enthusiastically-bleeding head-wound and a pair of broken glasses, and Luxury was the apparent source of Titus' silence.
'Luxury, if you don't unhand my innocent partner this instant, there will be Trouble,' said Murtagh threateningly.

'I feel much less innocent now,' said Titus once Luxury had been removed from his person. 'Much, much less innocent.'

'But he's so cuddly,' said Lux, pouting.

'I think we'd better get some stretchers down here,' said Library, crouching at Gypsy's side.
'*I* think we *won*,' July added.

Trojie looked up at the triumphant Agents of the opposing team. Clamping a hand over her sliced scalp, she smiled wanly. 'I'm prepared to go with that,' she said. 'Now, can we move before BM come back?'