Demon Hunt

By Moe Lane


Both Heaven and Hell have always worried that, someday, some sort of unambiguous evidence would appear that would reveal the War to the mass of humanity. It's just that nobody ever expected that it would be shrink-wrapped - or available in any computer store with any pretensions towards coolness, for that matter.

This unlikely camel's straw is a new video game called Demon Hunt. The premise is fairly straightforward: the protagonist plays a human that goes off on missions to take down an escaped denizen of Hell. Simple enough, and harmless ... theoretically. Unfortunately, the problems with Demon Hunt (from the average celestial's point of view) are convoluted, dangerous and all too concrete.

The first problem is that the types of demons involved are instantly obvious to anyone with a fragment of knowledge about the War. It doesn't go so far to use the names Calabim, Habbalah and/or Shedim... but calling them 'Entropies', 'Whippers' and 'Slavers' isn't fooling anybody in the know. Worse and worse, they act like their inspirations. Whoever wrote the code for this one either had extensive experience with all three types of Infernals or else managed to grab the War Faction's training manuals on the recognition of same, or possibly both.

The second problem? This game is sharp. The code is clean, elegant, with no bugs. The soundtrack kicks serious ass, you'd swear that the AI engine is actually thinking, the various boards are well designed and tricky and the action is fast and furious - and that's just the freeware version. The full game offers a multi-player option and a plethora of missions, ranging from standard 'shoot everything that moves' to 'search and contain the one Slaver in an airport without anyone else noticing'. In other words, it's almost physically addictive.

With the above two problems in mind, the third one almost pales in comparison. Almost. It would seem that the designer apparently had managed to 'borrow' some reference materials from Jean, as well as from Michael or Laurence. There's a lot of gadgets available that can detect, kill and/or capture demons, and most of them have direct analogues to items that Lightning has been quietly sitting on for the last few decades 'until the time is right'. The revelation of this has notably increased the noise level in Council meetings lately: the War Faction has been not quite politely inquiring why they weren't told about these fun new toys, at least, and they haven't been liking the answers.

In short, Demon Hunt, despite the soundtrack (which has not yet revealed any sort of hidden metaphysical meaning, despite constant playing by dedicated researchers), has the potential to be one of the most useful demon-hunting tools Heaven's ever seen - and it retails for $39.95. Unfortunately, eventually someone's going to put two and two together and come up with 'Hey! These buggers are actually wandering around!' - then proceed to post this epiphany on every computer board that he or she can access.

This will be bad. The last thing anybody needs is even a distorted version of the Truth out there. Hell doesn't want to be shot at and too many of Heaven's defense strategies require a human populace that won't joggle their collective elbows. This, of course, will explain neatly why the PCs get involved.

A little back-story seems appropriate, here. Obviously, either disaffected Servitors of Lightning or Technology are up to their eyebrows in this problem: astoundingly, the obvious answer is perfectly correct. In fact, it's the fault of disaffected Servitors of Lightning and Technology. You see, once upon a time there was a certain Outcast Ofanite of Lightning (Camiel) who got that way from arguing one too many times that the Archangel of Lightning's policy of suppressing anti-demonic devices among humans, well, sucked. Normally, Jean probably would have just reassigned the Servitor, but it really isn't a good idea to give even an Elohite Superior the finger.

At any rate, while wandering around Camiel ran into Mariel (no relation), Renegade Lilim of Technology. Mariel's own revolt against the system wasn't nearly as ideologically based as Camiel's: she just liked being Queen of the Geeks too much to want to bother with corrupting any of them. Her innate ability to epitomize the sleepless nighttime fantasies of every computer nerd out there wired to like girls was netting her a much more fulfilling life than working in some stupid Infernal lab would, after all. Alas, Vapula disagreed. The Lilim was trying to quietly gather enough cash to decamp to greener pastures when she ran into (literally) the Ofanite.

It was a match made in somewhere: both Camiel and Mariel are wizard computer programmers, and they more or less hit it off from the start. Camiel wanted to get humanity to be prepared for the inevitable day that the War went public, Mariel wanted lots and lots of cash - and both were in agreement that anything that screwed over Calabim, Habbalah and Shedim was a meritorious act in and of itself. Demon Hunt was the eventual result. A mass posting of the freeware version (coupled with the successful pitching of the product - via an otherwise worthless cutout - to one of the few software companies not even slightly influenced by the Media) followed. Then the two packed their laptops and got the Hell out of Dodge.

Finding the authors of this little unfolding disaster may be somewhat difficult: they both know damn well that people will be looking for them, and they have no intention of making the exercise easy. Tracking the cash will end at the cutout: from there, it will take a certain amount of digging, legwork and judicious resonance use to follow the trail, 'aided' no doubt by the various other entities looking for the pair. Bear in mind, of course, that the other teams may not have the same aim in mind as the party.

Eventually, dedicated searchers will find the pair comfortably ensconced on a very nice tropical beach, sipping tropical drinks and idly watching the horizon like a couple of paranoid-yet-contented hawks. It all depends on who catches up with them first, you see. Michael would be optimal, followed by Nybbas, Janus and, oddly enough, Furfur - though the last that might just because of the secret levels. You see, there's a boss level where you get to go up against (and eventually extinguish) a really ugly Entropy covered in flames...


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