"Let's get smiting?" Emily stared in disbelief, her brown trenchcoat billowing in a sudden draft. She was not staring at the Hordes of Righteous Demonic Evil, not at the flowing tendrils or teeth. She was staring at her brother, a short, slim teenager. And yes, he was wearing goth makeup. Look, it's a viable fashion choice, all right? Standard, he would say, demon hunting gear. Right down to the black trenchcoat that was a size too big for him. "Well," mumbled Luke, looking down at the floor and momentarily forgetting the demonic Hordes. "I refuse to banish that Horde if you're going to run around saying things like 'let's get smiting.' Especially if it's in that horrible, fake accent of yours. You're from New Jersey, Luke. Not London." Emily folded her arms, a pouting expression upon her face. The draft had begun to pick up, and now her auburn hair was billowing. Mildly picturesque. There was some dissension amongst the Demonic Hordes; milling about, shouting, and making snide remarks about certain protagonists gumming up the works. Apparently, some of them expected more pummeling, and cursing. Lots of cursing. "Shut up," growled Emily, finally turning toward the demons. "Give us a blessed," she emphasized that last word, causing the demons no end in discomfort, "Minute. And YES, I know I'm using a tone of voice on you because otherwise I'd be collapsing from fear or something!" The demons looked at each other. "Gah," responded one demon, quietly. "Look, all I'm saying," said Luke, now almost hiding behind Emily. Those demons had big teeth, man. "Is that we need some kind of battle cry, all right? Lots of them have one." He gestured toward the doors of the LNHQ's cafeteria, as the two stood in the remnants of the kitchen. "And, er, can we kind of finish this up? I don't like the way that one's eyeing me up." Emily slapped her forehead. "I don't care if lots of them have one. It's silly." She kicked a can of peas, that had been dropped during the initial arrival of the Hordes. "Ngh," said another demon, and gestured toward its wrist. Emily got the feeling this meant they were on a schedule. "Fine, fine," she said. "Oh, just...beGONE already? Asparagus or some other word of equal mystical might." Nothing. No bombastic expulsion of brimstone, no teleportation effects. "Joy," mumbled Emily. "Asparagus," she said. Not in a normal tone of voice. In the tone of voice which explains, quite amicably, that the words spoken in it are, despite everything you've ever heard to the contrary, words of cosmic importance which are suitable for removing unpleasant demonic infestation. And there was a "POOF," without much fanfare. Well, there was some light screaming. And then the demons were gone. "Good. Good. Great. Joy. Are we finished, then?" She glared at Luke, who kind of jumped. "Oh. Yes. Right. No battle cry. Right. Right," he muttered, the draft disappearing. All that billowing, naturally, stopped. "Er..." "What now?" "No smiting at ALL?" =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Blue Light Productions Presents TEENS IN TRENCHCOATS, episode the second, "Demon Hunters Shouldn't Smite. Period." by Ben Rawluk, last seen in Plaid. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Oddly enough, the corridors all seemed so...dark. This thought had sort of popped into Luke's mind as the two wondered down one of them, Emily walking briskly and he sort of meandering in a grim manner. Apparently, no one ever bothered to change the light bulbs. "So, what's so bad about smiting?" Luke carefully looked across at his sister. "That's what demon hunters are supposed to do. I know." "And how do you know that?" Emily looked at him, pointedly. "We've been demon hunters...what? Two weeks..." "Three," corrected Luke, glumly. "An' I read it in a book." "Do you believe EVERYthing you read? Smiting...smiting makes us sound like a bunch of Biblical types, or something. And after the last guy, I hear, who was one of those around here...well. I'd like to avoid that kind of reputation. It's bad enough that we have to run around fighting monsters." She came to a halt, turning slightly to face the perfectly ordinary door they had come across. "Here we are," she said. "The man who'll know what we should do." "I think I've heard of him," said Luke. After a moment of careful brooding, accompanied by the appropriate shadows being cast across his face. "Occultism Kid. Now here's a demon hunter. Sacrificial blood, arcane pentagrams, dusty books, runny candles..." "I get the picture," said Emily, and gingerly tapped on the door. No screams of the damned; a good sign, to be sure. Just silence. "Maybe he's not in..." "Try again," said Luke, flatly. "This guy's supposed to be amazing." "High praise," came a voice from behind the door. "One moment, please. Got to tidy up for company, you know how it is." The sound of scraping. And a crackle of fire. Smoke. A dripping faucet. Then more silence. "C'mon in." The door swung open, greeting the pair with a tale figure in a white trenchcoat, appropriately silhouetted for effect (No doubt by magic, Luke thought), who gestured emphatically for them to step through. "You're the new demon hunting kids. Stomper mentioned you'd be coming by." "Er...hello?" Emily stepped inside Occultism Kid quarters, moving her head from side to side, trying to fix on something comforting. It was all blood and occult symbology, though. "I'm Emily. This is my brother, Luke..." "Hi," said Luke, a broad grin forming across his face, breaking the brood. "I'm a fan." "Mmn," said Occultism Kid, "I gathered. I'm afraid I don't get out as much as I used to. In the early days. Before all the newer demon fighters and occultists...The misfits, you folk, people like the Occult Heroes...showed up. And the magic's no help. Takes a lot out of you, y'know?" "Well, not really. We're kind of new to this." "Ah. Sure. MAKE me feel like an old man," smiled Occultism Kid. He fixed Emily with a stare. "You're quite...strong, you know that. Lots of manna, there, I suspect." He turned, glancing toward Luke. "Unlike you. You'll never get the hang of magic, I don't think." "What?" Luke's mouth hung open. "I...I won't? Never?" "No. Sorry, but you have a disruptive quality to you. Don't touch anything, you might explode something." He smiled, though. Good-naturedly. "Now. You two specialize in demons?" "It's all we've faced," said Luke, quickly. "So far," said Emily. "He seems intent on making it our career decision or something." She narrowed her eyes, "And what does having a lot of 'manna' mean?" "A natural affinity for magic. Most people have a little of it, but you're quite strong already. With the proper training..." "Oh. More studying. Joy," grimaced Emily. "Do you have prophetic dreams, Emily?" "Ha?" Emily looked confused. "What, like seeing the future? N-no, not as such..." Occultism Kid shrugged, and moved slowly over to the side of the room. "Anyway, you'll learn you have to face more than a few bat winged demons. Especially in this place. Wearing trenchcoats. Practically wearing the magical equivalent of 'Come smite me,' you know." Luke grinned at the word 'smite.' Emily frowned. "What can we expect?" "Oh. Well, excusing this younger generation's perchance for bloody melee involving brimstone cocktails, hellfire, and demonic hordes...all kinds. Vampires. Hauntings. Elder Gods demanding bloody sacrifice on a daily basis." "Sounds fun," said Luke. "A real party," mumbled Emily. "Yes, well. Around here, you'll probably have to deal with a haunting. More than one or two ghosts floating about, you know what they say. I'm getting a little old, but I've been doing my best to cool any practically offensive ectoplasmic displays, and I've been busy dealing with a few occult problems elsewhere. And the Misfits, for all their joyful strength, are probably clawing their way out of whichever Hell that Perdition's decided to drag them into this week." "Perdition?" Luke looked up. "Yes. Lovely girl. Archetypal Demonic Attitude on Legs, though." Luke nodded, slowly. "So, how do we figure out these hauntings, then?" "Let me see." Occultism Kid squatted down by the bookshelf, and began to rifle through some papers. "You're natural affinity will probably draw some activity toward you. You can probably just ask some of the nicer ones to leave, before they cause any kind of imbalance. You may have to banish one or two of the nastier ones...a bit like getting rid of a demon, I suppose." "Ah," said Emily, "That's it?" "Good heavens, no," said Occultism Kid, with a slight smile. "This is merely an introduction...a prelude, if you will. We have a lot to go over. But later. Oh, one other thing. Not all the ghosts...not all the ghosts are a good idea to mess with. One of them...bitterness aside...should probably just be left to his own devices. Some kind unknown element is holding him on this plane of reality." "How do we know which one?" "If you hear any Jerry Garcia vocals filling your head...you'll know." Luke stared. "Isn't he that guy from that band? Mom's got a bunch of their records?" Occultism Kid considered this, "Maybe you should consider locking him in his room while you go hunting, Emily..." "Should?" Emily smirked, "What do you think I've been doing since the start? If he wasn't so good at picking locks..." The lobby of LNHQ. Oh, don't look so scared. You know what it looks like. Big. Well-furnished. Usually being cleaned up after the latest in a long line of battles or cosmic entrances which shred the wallpaper and generally do their crater-making thing on the floor. And across from the glass doors which have been replaced several hundred times...without hyperbole, I might add...is the receptionist's desk. Mahogany, covered with piles of paperwork and a small, efficient workstation for the receptionist on duty. Fred, for the moment. Crystal, at times. Or Kyoko. Or one of the others. Those receptionists, they know their business. They ignore everything, deny everything, and generally try to avoid looking up when the supervillain du jour pops in to obliterate all of creation. Look, it's their JOB, all right? Sadly, Fred was looking up when the door opened. "No big deal," you say. "Just a door opening. Nothing sinister about that." Amateurs. A cat pawed its way in. A black cat, no less. Which, I'm sure, is what you expected, no? They're always black. Hush, it's occult. Luke'll be happy. Emily will be busy wondering why the hell a black cat's important. Or any cat, for that matter. So, we'll just stick to the cat, which had just wandered in. "A cat," said Fred, nonplused. "How odd. I wonder if Panta's been devolved or something. At least it's not wearing spandex, I suppose." The cat jumped on to the desk, and stared at Fred with dark, rippling eyes. Fred stared back. "Er?" "Dahling," purred the cat, in musical tones, "Would you be so kind as to direct me to the demon hunters? The children playing grownup, in their trenchcoats." "...I...I..." Fred tapped on the screen. Demon hunters, demon hunters, think fast. Oh. Those two. Makes sense. "...Oh-occultism Kid's room. Suh-second floor." "Thannnnnk you, dahling." The cat jumped off the desk, and disappeared down the corridor. Fred continued to stare after it. "Right. More paperwork, less looking up." More stalking down the corridors, thought Emily. She walked beside her brother, slowly down just enough for him to keep pace while still brooding. And it was still dark; shadows seemed to be cast everywhere, flooring like liquid across their faces and across the walls. "Well, that was different," Emily said, after a moment. "We have homework, I guess. Find some ghosts." Luke looked over at her. "I can't believe I'll never be good at magic!" A pout. Emily sighed, inside. "Oh, stick with me. Maybe manna rubs off?" They continued walking, in silence. "So," said Luke, "We got to find some ghosts. How?" "He said they'd come to me...us." And then there was a voice. It was sweet, filled with honey. "Maybe you should try a more...pro-active approach," said the voice. Out of the corner of her eye, Emily could have sworn she saw a small, black cat. But it was gone, in a rush of activity. A girl, with porcelain skin, wearing a black halter-top and jeans, stood before them. She smiled serenely, strands of her gorgonic, black hair flowing before their eyes. "I can help with that. I'm good with the undead." "Um," said Luke. "A vampire slayer?" "Not hardly, dahling," said the girl. "Witch, after a fashion. A demon...hunter." "Really come out of the woodwork, don't you," said Emily, folding her arms in her usual fashion. "Popping up just after we join, huh?" "That was coincidence, dear. They sent me after the other newbies." "Ah," said Emily. What, she thought, was happening? She didn't believe the girl, it was a lie for some reason, but...but, for some intangible reason, the doubts just faded with the girl's eyes on her. "I'm Emily," she said after a moment. "A lovely name," said the girl, "I'm Ravencroft. And you, Mister Big-Strong-Trenchcoat? What do they call you?" Under the white face paint, you could tell Luke was blushing. "Luke." "Oooh," said Ravencroft. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance." "Riiiight," Emily mumbled. "What was that, Em?" "Nothiiiiing." Ravencroft smiled. "Now, you want to find ghosts? Dears, you've come to the right girl. We'll help you tap your hidden potential." Emily looked at her oddly. "We've known you what...less than a second? And you suddenly decide you're going to delve in the nether realms, or whatever, with us? What makes you think we trust you?" "Well." Ravencroft's hands moved to her hips. "I'm unbelievably trustworthy. I shall not tell a lie, and all that jazz. I can solve your problems and make you the most famous trenchcoaters to ever walk these hallowed halls, or ANY hallowed halls, for that matter." "...wow," said Luke. "I don't know," Emily muttered. Something was gnawing away at her defenses. "They'll forget all about that crusty, old Legion of Occult Heroes...wherever they've gone. And the Misfits? Ancient history. Right down to the prehistoric fishbowl..." "Er, what?" Emily raised an eyebrow. "Fishbowl." "...nevermind, dahling. They'll remember you guys. And me, of course, because we're a team. A team of mighty trenchcoaters and demon hunters, rogues and rapscallions the lot of us." "No we're not!" Emily took a step back. "We don't know anything about you, you don't know anything about us. You could be lying." "I just SAID you could trust me, didn't I?" "But that's a catch-22..." "Trust her," whimpered Luke, "She's sooooo cool, Em." "Hush." Emily scowled at her brother. "You've put him under some kind of spell." "Nahhhh. Just a little glamour. Maybe. Look, you want proof?" "Yes," hissed Emily. "You want to find ghosts? I'll give you a ghost." Those big, pools-of-nothing eyes blinked, twice. She snapped her fingers. There was a horrible screaming sound, echoing throughout the corridor. "Gyeek," exclaimed Emily, grasping her ears. "That sound..." "What?" What?" Luke looked around. "What do you hear?" A twinkle of white, sort of floating in front of the group. A burp. "Screams," said Emily. "Don't you hear them?" "No," said Luke. He glanced over at Ravencroft. "Don't worry, dahlings. Luke's just not RECEPTIVE enough." The burp of white expanded quickly, Emily's eyes widening as she watched. First it was a trenchcoat, vaguely transparent. Followed by a tie-dyed t-shirt, the psychedelic colours flowing magically. Then a skeletal, unimpressive figure filled in, transparent as well. "You mean, he can't see that?" "See what?" Ravencroft grinned, darkly. "Nope. Poor boy. Has no clue." And then Emily heard music, quiet and serene. "Emily....Luke, I suppose, as well. I'd like to introduce to you...DeadHeadMan." "Narf," said the ghostly figure, who was too busy trying to lose a lunch that just wasn't there, to do more than barely attempt to look up. "Poit." "Why's he sound like Pinky?" Emily narrowed her eyes. "Who sounds like Pinky?" Luke strained to see something, but failed miserably. "Him," said Emily, pointing to the empty space in front of the group. "Transcendental bus passes do that," smiled Ravencroft. "Are you all right, dearie?" "'m fine," said the ghost, in a voice that was all echoey. "Who're you all?" "I'm Ravencroft. This is Emily. And Luke. Only Luke can't see you." "Story of my life." "Um," said Emily, stepping forward. "I think we're supposed to get rid of you, DeadHeadMan. Send you back to the afterlife, that kind of thing?" The ghost looked up, a contorted smile appearing on his lips. "Really? Thank you, thank you, thank you!" He floated forward. "I've been waiting around forEVER. And that Occultism Kid guy said it couldn't be done..." "Oh. You're THAT ghost?" Emily tilted her head. "He told us to leave you alone." Luke had sort of started to lean against the wall, looking vaguely bored. "What's going on, now? Is he gone? He...she...it?" "No," said Emily. "This guy's still here. What do we do, Ravencroft?" "We say we'll try and find a way, Em." A smile, darker. Showing teeth. "Just because some crusty old sorcerer who doesn't know right from left can't send him away, doesn't mean we can't. First step on our quest for fame." "Oooh," said Luke. "Syndication." "Does this mean you can't free me?" DeadHeadMan frowned, slightly. "Nice to meet you, just get my hopes up, why don't you." Emily slapped her forehead. "Okay, Ravencroft. You pulled DeadHeadMan here. Any ideas on how to get rid of him?" "Yes," said the ghost, "Any ideas?" "Well, dahlings," grinned Ravencroft. "The answer is obvious! We must steal...the Net.crominicon! Then we can do it!" "...Ha?" DeadHeadMan crossed his intangible arms. "This is going to take awhile, then?" "The what?" Luke perked up. "What's a Net.crominicon?" "How is that obvious? Kind of coming out of left field, since no one's ever mentioned it. To. Us.Why do I get a feeling that finding some bizarre mystical item from who knows where is going to crop up again and again?" "Oh," said DeadHeadMan, "That. Occultism Kid's got it in his quarters." Emily stared. "So, where do we find this...whatsit?" Luke, obviously. "Weren't you listening? He just said," muttered Emily. "Oh. Right. DeadHeadMan says it's in Occultism Kid's quarters. If he has this thing, Ravencroft, we hasn't he used it on DeadHeadMan, then?" "Um," said Ravencroft, "He's stupid?" "Nah, Occultism Kid's cool," said Luke. "I'll go back and ask him for it..." "No," said Ravencroft. "He'd never give it up. We must, as I said, steal it. Just think of all the spells you can learn...all the demons you can hunt...with the Net.crominicon in your hands!" "Ah," said Emily, "It's a power hungry thing?" "Excuse me," said DeadHeadMan, "Can we speed this along? If it's not going to happen, then I'd like to get back to my regular routine of being bored and floating around, unnoticed." "Shan't take us too long," said Ravencroft. "Just a little thievery." "Is this such a good idea?" Emily glanced back in the direction of Occultism Kid's quarters. "I'm sure he'd be glad to give us some help, with it. He probably knows all about it..." "Nah. Stealing's what magicians do. Especially when wearing trenchcoats. Plagerizing spells, stealing spell components, kidnapping familiars, bonding themselves to daemons..." Ravencroft smiled. Luke smiled back; the argument of 'how things were done' won him over. "Merciless scavengers of the unknown," exclaimed Luke, with a bit too much glee. Emily felt the urge to slap her forehead again. "Smiting demons left and right!" "Luke," said Emily, quietly. "Why'd you use that word?" "Which?" Ravencroft looked between the two. "Merciless?" "Smiting. Luke, we've talked about this already. Twice." "Ooooh," said Ravencroft, "Angstful tension between the teammates. Bonus." "Hush." "Look, am I going to get helped any time soon?" DeadHeadMan began to tap his forearm. The two girls looked at each other. Luke just looked confused. "What? What?" "...shoot me," muttered Emily. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= I'm know. Sorrysorrysorry. I just couldn't resist DeadHeadMan. He's permanently embedded into my brain. I love the floating dead. Ravencroft...Ravencroft is...different. Or not. Put another checkmark under the "Goth Style" column. And try not to run away too obviously. Thanks to Jen Whitson for putting up with my procrastinating and laziness. And inspiring me. Inspiration also derived from Jesse Taylor ("SMITE!"), Gina Donoghue, etc. etc. Annnd, I hear we get the return of Thesaurus Lass and Entropy Kid. Classics in the making. Um, right. Emily, Luke, Ravencroft, and DeadHeadMan are copyright 1998 to Ben Rawluk. Me. Fred's...Public Domain, last I checked. Yes? Been around forever, that one. Occultism Kid, even longer...copyright to Josh Geurink, wherever he's wandered off to. Josh? Hi? Please send comments of what you thought, to email@example.com ... I can assure you they'll be greatly appreciated. Yesyesyes. Indeed.Back to the Index.