} [A bolt of green lightning emerges from one of the house's windows and
} strikes a tree, which disintegrates in a shower of splinters. The army
} of police surrounding the house cower behind their barricade. Police
} Chief O'Herlighy raises his megaphone again]
} O'Herlighy: This isn't helping your situation! Throw out your weapon,
} whatever it is, and come out with your hands up!
} Booming Voice From Inside House: YOU DIDN'T GROVEL, SUCKER!
} [Another bolt of green lightning snakes outwards and strikes a pair of
} police cars, which are thrown high into the air before crashing back to
} earth upside down, scattering officers in all directions]
} BVFIH: YOU OWE THE ORACLE A BETTER TARGET! MWAHA HA HAAH!!!
} [The sound of an approaching siren cuts into the fiendish laughter,
} and an extraordinary vehicle screeches to a halt amidst the crowd of
} onlookers behind the police barricade. It looks like an old ambulance,
} with numerous aerials, antennae and less easily-identifiable
} instrumentation on top. On its side is painted a logo of a single
} large eye framed by a computer screen.]
} [The ambulance door opens, and the scrawny figure of Zadoc the Priest
} steps out into the street. He is wearing utilitarian grey robes covered
} with a lacework of what looks like strips of silver foil. His feet are
} covered by large rubber boots, his hands by thick insulating gloves,
} and a pair of goggles adorn his forehead. On his back he carries a
} large metallic contraption which looks suspiciously like a
} heavily-disguised aqualung. A hose emerges from it, attached to a
} flamethrower-like nozzle sheathed in a holster at his left hip. Zadoc
} waves to the crowd]
} Zadoc: Never fear, honest citizens, the AOLBusters are here!
} [Three more similarly-clad figures step out of the ambulance and start
} waving to the crowd. Chief O'Herlighy bustles up to them, angrily]
} O'Herlighy: Who the hell are you guys? What do you think you're
} doing here?
} Zadoc: [holding up an ID] Oracular Priesthood, AOL Cleanup Division.
} My name's Zadoc, these are my fearless colleagues Darkmage, Viles
} and Chew. Give them all a big hand, folks! Chew's the baby of the
} team. Say hello to the nice policeman, Tim.
} Chew: Hello to the nice policeman, Tim.
} O'Herlighy: Well, there's nothing for you priests to do here. Leave now
} before someone gets hurt.
} Zadoc: Explain it to him, Otis.
} Viles: What you have here is an Anti-Oracle Liberation situation, or
} AOL event, as we term it. It happens sometimes when a newbie tries
} to incarnate without taking all the necessary precautions, like
} reading the FAQ.
} Darkmage: You see, instead of having the muse of the Oracle enter into
} him, allowing him to impart sweetness and light to all and sundry,
} the incarnation may instead find himself possessed by the Oracle's
} evil twin, which is bad.
} O'Herlighy: How bad?
} Chew: Very bad.
} Viles: Degrees of possession can vary. Usually they're not as serious
} as this one. Grade 2 event, wouldn't you say, Ian?
} Darkmage: At least, if not Grade 1.5. Nasty.
} Chew: So, if you'll just keep your people out of the way for the next
} ten minutes, Chief, we'll sort this for you.
} O'Herlighy: You're not seriously planning to go in there?
} Viles: Seems a nice place. Shame to waste it, but it can't be helped.
} Darkmage: Don't worry about us, Chief. Our superconductive exoskeleton
} suits will protect us from direct Zot impacts. The energy is
} channelled through these flexible platinum strips into the earth
} without causing excessive defibrillation of our bodily tissues.
} Viles: At least, that's the theory.
} Chew: You guys really know how to build confidence.
} [While they explain, Zadoc has been whipping up the crowd into a chant
} of "Who're You Gonna Call". Satisfied, he joins the others, beaming]
} Zadoc: So, whaddaya say we go do some damage?
} [The AOLBusters place their right hands one on top of the other and,
} with a cry of "Go, priests!" turn in unison and head for the house. The
} crowd cheers wildly as they trot up the path towards the front door.
} They are halfway there when the door opens and a bolt of green
} lightning is unleashed directly at them. The bolt strikes the ground at
} their feet, causing it to erupt into an shower of earth and gravel. A
} huge hole opens up, swallowing our heroes. The crowd gasps with dismay]
} [The dust clears. At first, nothing can be seen inside the hole. Then,
} some fingers appear at the rim. They grip the tortured earth and pull.
} The mud-spattered face of Zadoc rises into view. Gradually, the other
} priests emerge, grubby but apparently unhurt. The crowd bursts into
} wild cheering]
} Zadoc: It's okay, folks! Just a minor set-back, no harm done!
} [Chew helps Darkmage out of the hole. The latter winces as Chew grasps
} his arm]
} Chew: You all right?
} Darkmage: Yeah, just a slight compound fracture. I've had worse.
} Viles: Want to sit the rest of this one out?
} Darkmage: Are you kidding? This incarnation is toast!
} [The priests unsheath and activate their weapons and, with a roar,
} charge into the house through the still-open front door, which slams
} shut behind them. There follow 15 minutes of green and yellow flashes
} within the house, accompanied by explosions, crashes, loud Zot noises,
} screams and occasional cries of "Don't cross the beams!" Every now and
} again, a discharge bursts through the roof, showering tiles and debris
} onto the surrounding policemen. Eventually, silence descends on the
} house. The crowd holds its breath]
} [After what seems an eternity, the front door begins to creak open,
} then drops off its hinges. Two figures emerge from the wreckage of the
} house: Chew supporting the injured Darkmage. Their robes are torn and
} they are covered in blood, scorchmarks and what looks like but surely
} couldn't possibly be melted marshmallow. Grimsly, they stagger down the
} path, the crowd and police following their slow progress as if
} mesmerised. Then, ever so slowly, they raise their heads, grin broadly
} and give a thumbs-up sign. Three more figures now appear in the
} doorway: Zadoc and Viles, carrying the slumped figure of the
} semi-conscious incarnation between them]
} Zadoc: We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!
} [The crowd erupts; even the police throw down their guns and join in
} the euphoric cheering. People surge forward and mob the AOLBusters,
} reaching out to touch them as they pass]
} O'Herlighy: [trying to shake all their hands] You boys were wonderful,
} just wonderful!
} Chew: It was nothing, really.
} Viles: All in a day's work.
} Darkmage: All right, folks, time to go home. Nothing to see here.
} Zadoc: No autographs, please. Well, perhaps a few...
} [While Viles holds the stunned incarnation, Zadoc and the other two
} priests climb onto an upturned police car to receive the adulation of
} the crowd. People are now in raptures, laughing, crying, singing.
} Zadoc waves his arms as if conducting the pandemonium. Unnoticed by
} anyone, the incarnation begins to recover his senses. He turns to the
} priest holding him captive]
} Incarnation: Was it all right, Mister Viles?
} Viles: You did great, son.
} Incarnation: Really? Mister Zadoc, do you...?
} Zadoc: [without turning] Fantastic, kid, you're a natural. Give the kid
} 20 bucks, Otis.
} Incarnation: Twenty bucks! You said I'd get...
} [Viles grabs the incarnation by the lapels and slams him against the
} body of the police car]
} Viles: Listen, punk, we know your email address, see? You want us to
} fix it so you never get digested, ever again?
} Incarnation: No, no, I'm sorry, Mister Viles, I'm... I'll never mention
} it again, honest I won't.
} Viles: That's the spirit. Now bug off, son, you're cramping our kudos.
} [The incarnation slinks away into the crowd, unnoticed. Viles climbs up
} to join his colleagues, causing the crowd to redouble their efforts. It
} seems to the four AOLBusters as if they are afloat on a sea of noise]
} Zadoc: God, I love this town!