By chance, a certain trio of Jagers stumble across an adorable five year old Agatha separated from Barry Heterodyne. What follows is Agatha's childhood in Merchanicsburg, raised by Mamma Gkika and the von Mekkhan family. A peculiar way to grow up, but not one prone to a boring lack of Death Rays.
The central story, It takes a village (or sometimes an army), covers Agatha's discovery and early childhood and University years. A second story, Keep it under your hat, chronicles a collection of drabbles that did not fit into the larger narrative.
This fanfic contains examples of:
- #1 Dime: Ducky has a pfennig coin she won from the neighborhood bully in a bet. She keeps it on her nightstand.
- Adapted Out: Moloch, as well as all the Castle Wulfenbach characters (including Theo and Krosp) and all the circus characters (including Zeetha), do not make an appearance due to differences in the way the story flows. Agatha never spends any time on the Castle, and never encounters the circus.
- Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
- Agatha and the Jaegers, of course. While her relationship with them was never bad in canon, here she grew up with them and knows every single one by name.
- Mamma Gkika ends up raising Agatha as a daughter. This also means that she doesn't meet Adam and Lilith until much later in life, and while she likes them, she doesn't see them as her parents.
- Agatha goes by "Agatha Heliotrope" because she is supposed to be Van's cousin. They grow up very close.
- Rather than being Beetle's Ditzy Secretary who he keeps around because of her family, Agatha is his Hypercompetent Sidekick and he doesn't know anything about her. She is able to avert much of the early parts of the comic by "accidentally" sending a message to the Baron about the Hive Engine, meaning Beetle doesn't get a chance to commit treason. Likewise, she has Merlot's (very grudging) respect.
- Her relationship with Gil starts out much more positive, since they're able to skip the whole "killed someone in front of her and then kidnapped her" thing.
- Her relationship with Tarvek has both upsides and downsides: Since he never participated in a plot to kidnap her, she doesn't have any major reason to distrust him. On the other hand, since he never helped her escape from some kidnapping, she doesn't have much reason to trust him, either. She gets a much less competent impression of him overall, since he's largely dragged along as Ducky's "souvenir."
- Agatha is well aware that "Higgs" is one of her generals from the start, since without the Other in her head there's no reason to hide it.
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: As Agatha Heterodyne's top minion, Petra's work is to think whatever her liege lady is thinking and start carrying it out."We didn't follow it," Petra replied, "but it was in the direction of the Castle, if you're thinking what I think you're thinking."
"Well, it is your job to think what you think I'm thinking," Agatha said, and gave Petra a toothy grin. She turned to Van, Carson and Tarvek. "We may have just found our way in."
- Ascended Extra: Mamma Gkika, thanks to being Agatha's adopted mother here.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Gil once again uses his old "mimmoth inspector" routine, this time to get close to Agatha's medical lab under TPU.Construct: You got a badge or somethin', boy?
Gil: Why would I need a badge? What possible reason would anyone have to impersonate a mimmoth inspector?
Footnote: The answer would shock and confuse decent upstanding folks.
- The Call Put Me on Hold: Agatha's ancestor, Persiflat Heterodyne, had the embarrassment of only breaking through when he was thirty-four. He proceeded to Show Them All.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: Radovan Heterodyne, aged ten, was left with the Jaeger Generals while his father was busy with something. Radovan led a raiding party all the way up to Warsaw.Footnote: "Well, at least he didn't cause any real trouble," had been Lord Heterodyne's reaction when he received this report, before casting his attention back to his experimental musical guinea pig assassins.
- Child Soldiers: Mentioned. Mechanicsburg schools teach Invasion Preparedness, Efficient Torture Techniques, and children are instructed in the use of small arms at an actual firing range. It is worth noting that the children are not expected to use these skills as actual soldiers, and are just learning them to make more efficient minions for the Heterodynes.
- Conditioned to Accept Horror: Minor example, Played for Laughs.Footnote: The seneschal Gyula von Mekkhan had had some peculiar views on children, also shared by his brother, who served as the first Schoolmaster. They were both convinced that children found skeletons extremely jolly, and had thus decided to cover every surface of the school in them. While in any other town, this would have revealed itself to be a horrendously bad decision leading to countless traumatized children, the children of Mechanicsburg were usually quite inured to the aesthetics of their home town by the time they reached school age, and if they felt anything at all about the school's choice of decoration, it was merely a mild puzzlement about why it was so overdone.
- Deadpan Snarker: Both Ducky and Petra take this role from time to time.
- Doom Magnet: TPU seems to be a source of chaos. In Agatha's first month, there have been three lab fires, a robot uprising and Professor Vogal nearly drowning in a vat of plum syrup.Footnote: TPU was, it seemed, a breeding ground for disaster, and this wouldn't have been half so bad if most people didn't react to disaster by standing slack-jawed in its path.
- Everybody Knew Already: It only takes a few years for the people of Mechanicsburg to realize that Agatha is the Heterodyne (partly due to her habit of heterodyning while thinking hard). They do a great job of keeping it a secret from outsiders, but by the time she's fifteen the various spies in town are starting to realize that something is up.
- Expanded Universe: Keep it under your hat serves as one for stories that cannot fit into the main story's narrative.
- Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Heterodynes are apparently rather good at this.Footnote: The best innocent mien had been perfected by Iscarriot Heterodyne, who could look downright angelic even while in the act of physically stabbing someone in the back. He was a real people person.
- Footnote Fever: Early chapters have footnotes, usually to give a little bit of exposition on Agatha's ancestors.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Mamma Gkika's method of dealing with children and Jaegers (who she considers functionally the same). Someone wants to do something stupid? Let them. They'll figure out why it was a bad idea soon enough. Da Boyz spent several months having a lot of trouble getting a young Agatha to bed on time, but after one night at Gkika's where she could stay up as late as she wanted, she finally understood the importance of obeying bedtime.
- Hard on Soft Science: There's a riddling sphinx that preys on the Philosophy Department, with great success.Footnote: Philosophy students and faculty members alike were notoriously susceptible to riddles, which were known to bring the entire department grinding to a halt for weeks as the answer was debated. Nobody outside the Philosophy Department noticed any difference.
- Noodle Incident: The Great Wall of China is apparently sentient, though less bloodthirsty than Castle Heterodyne, but has a higher bodycount.
- Original Characters: Many, surprisingly they are applied to the betterment of the story!
- Put on a Bus: Interestingly zig-zagged. Ducky gets put on a bus for an entire arc, but the readers are eventually filled in on the shenanigans she's gotten up to, and in the end it almost feels like Agatha was the one put on the bus. It's used to help fill out a time-skip to great effect.
- Pyrrhic Victory: One footnote claims that the trope name in Europan parlance is a reference to Agatha's ancestor Pyrrhus Heterodyne, who tended to invoke these in his foes and single-handedly embarrassed an entire generation of heroes.A Pyrrhic victory, in Europan parlance, refers to the inexplicable event in which a Spark defeats you even though he spent the entire battle dealing grievous damage only to himself.
- Real Men Eat Meat: Mamma Gkika incorporates meat into all of Agatha's meals, even salad.
- Sink or Swim Mentor: The professors at TPU largely view lab accidents as a way of weeding out the stupid. They are therefore rather annoyed that Agatha keeps saving people, but she also prevents expensive property damage, so they can't get too mad.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Agatha subtly goads Tarsus Beetle into upgrading his clanks, with the result that Beetle becomes too busy with proving he can keep up with the younger clank-designers to wallow in his grudge. Later, Agatha sends a message to the Baron about the Hive Engine. Consequently, Beetle doesn't get a chance to commit treason, and since he does not know who Agatha is, does not get killed while trying to murder her.
- Since Tarvek flees Sturmhalten ahead of his plans, he never reveals the truth about Anevka's clank or deactivates her. Instead she finds out about it on her own and then escapes.
- Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Gil helps put down a large, dangerous clank that was rampaging through the university. When asked what it's for, he is informed that it represents the Roman Empire. That's it.Agatha: Some of the students find it helpful to have a visual aid.
- The Madness Place: Mechaniscburgers have learned instinctively to step way, way back when a Heterodyne is tinkering with something.Laszlo picked himself up and retreated closer to the other Jägers, not consciously, but because hundreds of years of being in the Heterodynes' service had conditioned him to steer clear of them when they were working on anything.
- The Stations of the Canon: Zig-zagged, Agatha still ends up a student in Beetleburg, but not before she has a number of adventures along the way.
- Too Dumb to Live: Agatha's classmate at TPU, Kyril. Moments after being told not to touch anything in a lab, he presses the big red button and is nearly killed. Agatha doesn't even know whether Kyril is his first name or last name, but figures she'll find out at his funeral.
- We Have Become Complacent: Subverted. After Agatha subtly hints that his clank (combat robots) are painfully obsolete, Tarsus Beetle becomes driven to prove he can keep up with the younger designers.