Agent Cassandra. Agent Alison. I must say, I was rather surprised to see your transfer request.
“Why’s that, ma’am?” (Cas)Sandra asked. Her partner snorted.
“Could it be because we’re among the SO’s most notorious Assassins, and the last people in the world you’d expect to move to Bad Slash?”
Sandra tilted her head, frowning. “... no? That doesn’t sound like us at all.”
“Didn’t think so.” Alison shrugged, then straightened up and looked at the Queen Anne’s Lace. “So why’s that, ma’am?”
The Flower waved her blossoms vaguely. Simply because most agents looking for a change tend to apply to the Floating Hyacinth’s department, Agent Alison. I was simply-
“I normally go by ‘Freckles’,” Alison - Freckles - corrected her. “Uh, ma’am.”
Why in the Multiverse would you wish to be known as ‘Blemishes’? the Lace wondered. Never mind, I’m not all that interested. Am I correct in thinking you have been trained in Bad Slash techniques?
“That’s right, ma’am,” Sandra said. “Agent Xericka was very, uh…”
“Clear and concise,” Freckles supplied, keeping her expression completely blank. “Though she was pretty vague on what actually constitutes an exorcism.”
That was by my request, the Queen Anne’s Lace told the ex-Assassins. I have a… small task I would like you to carry out for me.
Exorcism Method #001: PPC Standard
Harry Dresden leaned into the kiss, feeling Thomas’ muscular arms tighten around him. A sigh escaped his lips as he pressed close, and-
“Now!” The woman who leapt out of the trapdoor held a candle in one hand, its flame letting off a magnesium glare. With her other hand she was frantically ringing a bell, filling the room with a cacophony of sound. Harry fell back against the wall, clutching at his head - and that was when the second woman clambered out of his cellar, book in hand.
Freckles hammered at Harry and Thomas indiscriminately with her hardback copy of Blood Rites. “Out, spirit of incest!” she yelled over the sound of Sandra’s bellringing. “Avaunt, spectre of impossible biology! Wraith of slash, in the name of Butcher, I abjure thee - release these men!”
With a wail, the smoky form of a slash-wraith coiled out of the canons’ bodies, coming together in the air over their heads. “But they are mine!” it wailed, its voice a reedy complaint. “Harry and Thomas’ love is pure and-”
“Oh, shut it,” Sandra snarled. She dropped her bell (onto Thomas’ head, as it happened), fished a jar out of her pocket, and neatly swept the wraith into it. “The DMSE&R are gonna love you,” she said, screwing the lid on tightly.
Freckles frowned. “You think so?” she asked. “I mean, it’s a fairly normal slash-wraith, when all’s said and done.”
“Not any more, it’s not,” Sandra corrected her. “Now it’s Exhibit A in the Great Exorcism Caper.”
“... are we really calling it that?”
“No. No we’re not.”
Based on the Christian exorcism from World One, the standard PPC exorcism has undergone significant streamlining over the years. The majority of agents have discarded the ‘bell’ and ‘candle’, leaving only the ‘book’ - a portion of the canon, rather than the original Bible.
It is considered significant that this exorcism style functions even in worlds where Christianity does not exist. The implications regarding the application of ‘canonical’ exorcisms outside their native canon bear thinking about.
#004: Harry Potter
"Keep him steady!"
"That's not as easy as you make it sound!" Freckles called back, leaping over a fallen tree. Frodo was barely three paces behind her. "Why couldn't we have had a normal mission, huh?" she demanded. "One where Frodo's a wuss, not a psychop-eek!" She dodged around the hobbit's attempted decapitation, curved around a bramble thicket, and headed back towards her partner. "Get a move on!"
Sandra closed her eyes, focussing on the images that were by now burned into her brain: Frodo Baggins sitting under a tree, book in hand, glancing up as he heard Gandalf approaching. After watching the movie so many times, the memory was as vivid as reality: the green of the leaves, the softness of the grass, the incredible blue of Frodo's eyes.
"Expecto Patronum," she murmured, raising her wand - actually a miniature version of Gandalf's staff - and sketching a five-pointed star in the air. "Expecto Patronum..."
Freckles screamed, only a few yards away, and Sandra's eyes snapped open. "Expecto Patronum!"
A burning silver streak of light burst from her wand, lancing past Freckles and striking the ground in front of Psycho!Frodo. The blazing form of Sandra’s Patronus crouched for an instant, then leapt in a burst of electric fire. Frodo had no time to run.
The wraith was hurled out of Frodo, flying backwards across the clearing, and passed through half a dozen trees before it had time to recover. It swirled back towards its victim, desperate to regain its host - and completely missed Freckles leaping in from the side, jar in hand.
Holding the trapped wraith up, Freckles glared at her partner. "Two things," she said.
"One: never do that to me again. And two: your Patronus is a squirrel?"
Based on the Patronus Charm, the Harry Potter-verse exorcism’s primary difference is in altering the memory drawn on to cast the spell. Rather than focussing on a happy memory to drive away Dementors, the PPC variant utilises memories of canon to banish uncanon. The drawing of canon-appropriate images in the air is deemed strictly secondary, and possibly entirely useless.
#011: Lord of the Rings
Toby stretched out his hand. "Oh Jarrie, my darling love!"
"Toby, my sweetling precious love!" called Jareth, running towards him down the passageway. Toby held out his arms to embrace his beloved, and-
"Dance, magic, dance!" sang a sudden voice, high and clear, and a figure in black stepped into the passage between them. "Put that magic jump on me/Slap that baby, make him free!" The figure raised her hand, and the bundle of cloth she held seemed to snap into sharper focus than the world all around. Jareth stopped as if running into a brick wall, and the slash-wraiths erupted from the canons, screaming in their reedy voices - only to be snapped up in jars as the agent's partner darted past.
"Nice work," Freckles called, lowering the fabric.
"Likewise," said Sandra. She tossed a jarred wraith from hand to hand before slipping it into her pack and squinting at her partner. "By the way, is that...?"
Freckles glanced down at the bundle. "The original too-tight leggings," she confirmed, and winked. "Don't worry - Bowie doesn't know I've got them."
"Yeah," Sandra muttered, "that's not what I was worried about..."
Evil in The Lord of the Rings is banished in two ways: by song, particularly Elvish song, and by Elvish artefacts. The transposition of this to canonical song and objects connected to the creation of the canon is simple.
Sandra peeked around the bedroom door, then grimaced and drew her head back. “We’re in the right place, at least,” she said. “I could wish we’d got here a bit earlier - or a bit later - or any other time at all, really.”
Freckles rolled her eyes. “Prude,” she said, leaning to look past her into the room. “Ooh, Carrot looks good.”
Sandra shook her head. “Captain Carrot, Legolas… you really do like them ‘pretty’, don’t you?”
“What, should I go mooning after a certain crazy Steward of Gondor instead?” Freckles retorted.
“Lord Denethor wasn’t crazy in the book,” Sandra pointed out, “but if you can’t see the attraction of an older man-”
“More like oldest,” Freckles interrupted, “and, excuse me, not crazy? You must have read a different-”
“Hush and let me work,” Sandra muttered, holding up her DVD of Going Postal. Opening the door a little further, she held the disc to her eye and peered through the central hole. The occupants of the creaking bed were in no position to notice her. “And… there it is,” she murmured. “Looks like this wraith wants to be a puppeteer - it’s hovering over the bed, pulling their strings.”
“Should make it easier to hit, at least,” Freckles said. “Though the idea of lobbing things at Vimes and Carrot’s heads does have some appeal…”
“Which is why you’re not doing the throwing,” Sandra told her. “You have the smoke bomb?”
“Here you are.” Freckles handed her partner something cold and hard, and Sandra nodded her thanks.
“Then let’s do this.” The PPC agent got to her feet, still holding the DVD in front of her eye, and pushed her way through the door. The canons, directed by the wraith, looking up in startled surprise - but by that time Sandra had already thrown. The glittering object hurtled at the wraith, and…
… did not explode in a cloud of smoke, but ripped straight through. Still, the effect was dramatic enough: the slash-wraith screamed, tearing itself away from the canons, bleeding what looked like steam from the hole Sandra had made. It whirled around, perhaps trying to escape - and then a second gleaming projectile caught it in the chest, and the jar snapped it up.
Ignoring the canons for now, Sandra crossed the room and picked up the freshly-jarred wraith. Then, from by the wall, she collected the other jar, the one Freckles had handed her. “Alison,” she called, holding it up, “what exactly is this?”
“Exhibit Z,” Freckles supplied, joining her and taking the jars. “The smoke bombs kind of got a little bit broken, but ghost-types are also weak to ghost moves, so I thought-”
“Well-improvised,” Sandra admitted, “but next time, ask me, okay?”
“Sure thing, boss,” Freckles said absently, uncapping her permanent marker. “Now, onto more important things: what comes after Exhibit Z?” She tapped the pen against her lip, leaving a black streak, and then beamed. “Of course!” And, very carefully, she labelled the new wraith: Exhibit Z - Part Two: The Wraithening.
In the Pokemon universe, invisible or indistinct ghosts can be seen using a Silph Scope; the translation to viewing them through the canon material (in this instance, the hole in a DVD) was a simple one. Similarly, ghost-type Pokemon are known to be weak to dark- and ghost-type moves: attacking with smoke bombs or previous wraiths is highly effective.
#042: Young Wizards
Sandra hopped over the last rocky outcrop, breathing heavily. “Okay, he’s coming this way. You got the encyclopaedia?”
“Just looking for it,” Freckles replied, rooting through her pack. “Shouldn’t be a second.”
“Great.” Sandra glanced over her shoulder nervously. “So what did you get? Britannica? Americana?“
“Uh… not exactly.” Freckles pulled a sheet of paper out of her bag and held it up with a guilty look. “I, uh, sort of… printed it off Wikipedia.”
Sandra turned and stared at her. “I wish,” she said, “I really wish I could believe you were kidding.” She scowled at her partner. “Couldn’t you at least have used Encarta?”
Freckles tossed her hair. “Don’t be silly, no-one uses-”
With a sound halfway between a screech and a roar, their target charged out of the mouth of the canyon. As tall as a giraffe, wings furled into sleek front legs, its toothless beak large enough to swallow either agent in one mouthful, the gigantic winged reptile took one sweeping look around, then aimed directly for the PPCers.
“I didn’t know they could run,” Freckles said, head tilted critically. “That four-legged gait is really quite-”
“Two legs is enough for me!” Sandra cut her off. “Run!”
Freckles wasted no time in following her out across the field. Trying her best to ignore the rapid crashing of the pterosaur’s feet, she held up her sheet of paper and began to read. “Azhdarchidae, from Aždarha, the Persian word for dragon, is a family of pterosaurs known primarily from-”
“He’s getting closer!” Sandra yelled, looking back in terror and nearly tripping over a fallen branch for her trouble. “Skip the lead!”
“Er, right. ‘Azhdarchids are characterized by their long legs and extremely long necks, made up of elongated neck vertebrae which are round in cross section. Most species of azhdarchids are still known mainly from their distinctive neck bones and-’”
The rock came, Freckles would later swear, out of nowhere. One minute she was running (and reading) for her life, the next she was flat on the grass, doing neither. Squeezing her eyes shut in terror, she waited to feel that sharp beak clamp down on her leg.
It didn’t. Instead, Freckles heard what seemed to be an inquisitive trill, followed by Sandra’s manic whisper: “Keep. Reading.”
“‘-and not much else.’” Freckles rolled over and stared up at the azhdarchid pterosaur, which was peering down at her with a bewildered expression. “‘The few azhdarchids that are known from reasonably good skeletons,’” she went on, swallowing hard, “‘include Zhejiangopterus and Quetzalcoatlus. Azhdarchids are also distinguished by their relatively large heads and long, spear-like jaws. It had been suggested-’”
With a cry, the azhdarchid threw its head back, and a gigantic shadowy shape flung itself away from the pterosaur and into the sky. It looked like a nightmare - a demonic bat the size of a small plan, its tiny head stippled with needle-pointed teeth. Wings flapping madly, it let out an earsplitting screech and lunged for Freckles - only to meet an expertly-thrown jar from Sandra in midair.
The jarred wraith clattered to the floor, shaking furiously, and Freckles breathed for the first time in what felt like three seconds. Still prone, she watched her partner walk across and pick up the jar, then turn and grin at her.
“Well,” Sandra said, “that-”
Freckles tipped her head back to look up at the five-meter azhdarchid still looming over her. It was peering down its beak, scrutinising her intently
“I’m terribly sorry,” it said in the most cultured accent you could imagine, “I simply don’t know what came over me.” Then it lowered its alarmingly long neck towards her, and in some indefinable way give off an air of adjusting its spectacles. “I say,” it went on, “what manner of bizarre creature are you?”
“Uh,” Sandra said, backing away, “we’re, um…”
“Deinonychus,” Freckles said, smiling her toothiest smile. “This is what we look like under the feathers.”
“Really? Oh, how fascinating.” The azhdarchid’s gaze swept from her to Sandra, and then back. “I never would have guessed,” it went on. “Now, then, I’m afraid I simply must be going. Farewell!”
The pterosaur swept its wings out in a rush, all ten meters of them, and launched itself from the ground. It beat its wings once, twice, three times, and then it was gone.
Freckles managed to get her mouth closed again, and accepted Sandra’s silent hand up. “You know,” she said, staring after the azhdarchid, “I’m still not convinced he was a canon character.”
“Me either,” Sandra said, and glanced at her. “But what the Lace doesn’t know…”
Modelled on Nita Callahan’s banishment of the Lone Power by reading the Book of Night with Moon, this exorcism consists of reading an encyclopedic description of the species or character in question. The insistence of some agents that it should be printed in luminous ink and read in Latin appears groundless.
Agent Cassandra. Agent Blemishes.
“You’re never going to let that go, are you?” Freckles muttered.
Unlikely, dear, the Queen Anne’s Lace said mildly. Am I correct in thinking that you have reached a conclusion?
“Yes, ma’am,” Sandra said, holding up a memory crystal. “It’s all in the report, but I can summarise the most important outcome right now.”
Do go ahead, the Flower said. I am… not all, but at least sufficiently ears.
“Right.” Sandra took a deep breath. “Basically, ma’am, we’d like to request a transfer. Again. Back, I mean.”
I see. The Lace tilted her bloom. Might I ask why?
Freckles snorted. “Maybe because we’re fed up of being attacked by people we’re not allowed to defend ourselves against?” she suggested. “At least in Mary-Sues we can fight back.”
One might suggest that you ought not to be getting into situations where you need to fight, the Flower said, but of course I wouldn’t be so tactless. She reached out a frond, took the crystal from Sandra’s hand, and placed it on her desk. Very well, I shall send a message to the Sunflower Official. ‘Agents Cassandra and Blemishes wish to-’
“Oh, come on!”
Disclaimer: The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. Agent Xericka belongs to PoorCynic. Sandra and Freckles belong to me (Huinesoron). Dresden Files is Jim Butcher’s, Harry Potter is J.K. Rowling’s, The Lord of the Rings is J.R.R. Tolkien’s, Labyrinth is Jim Henson’s, Discworld is Terry Pratchett’s, Pokemon is… someone’s, and Young Wizards is Diane Duane’s. Azhdarchid pterosaurs belong entirely to themselves, though my depiction is modelled off Mark Witton's reconstructions. And while I’m not sure there’s a canonical, mild-mannered, upper-class azhdarchid, there should be.
Author’s Note: The idea that there could be alternate styles of exorcism has been mooted about on the PPC Board several times. Since the classic (‘PPC Standard’) method is modelled heavily on Real World Catholic exorcisms (bell, book, and candle), could other belief systems regarding ghosts, demons, and possession, be modified in similar ways?
According to Sandra and Freckles, the answer is an emphatic yes. Furthermore, these exorcisms can be used in any canon, just as the Catholic version can be employed away from Earth.
It should be noted that the specific exorcisms used here are Sandra and Freckles’ own constructions. They are available for general use, but should not be presumed to be authoritative.