ON THE STAGE
Arden nods. He turns to see Deen near the judges.
Well, obviously we have a... change... but the show’s gotta go on, so here come our final contestants - Vehement Volition!
The audience applauds. Arden’s bandmates rush over to him.
Hey Arden - don’t worry. We’re gonna take the prize!
Yeah man. All the craziness gave us more time to rehearse the choreography.
Stranglehold’s gonna send those demons back where they came from! We’re gonna kill it!
They take their places on stage.
Yes we will. Yes we fucking will.
They head onto the stage in darkness. Arden is last to take his position.
As he passes the Demons, Arden locks eyes with Ebaneen Demon. She looks hideous and feral - but for one brief moment, he catches a sad look from her. A human look.
He hesitates for a moment. Then, feedback from the stage shakes him out of it.
Arden psyches himself up, bopping his head and body as he grabs the mic.
He turns back to his band, signaling them to start. Richie gives a fast count-in on the sticks.
The song starts. Heavy drums, sludgy bass, chugging guitar...
The intro ends and the opening verse hits. Arden opens his mouth to sing... but no sound comes out.
Tense looks from his bandmates. They loop back and hit the verse again.
Arden is still. He lowers his head.
Turk struts over, trying to look casual. He leans in.
Arden! What the hell are you doing?
Stop. Just stop.
Turk stops playing his bass. F.F. and Richie look at him.
Turk shrugs, pointing to Arden. F.F. lets the last chord ring out. Richie crashes on the cymbals, then stops playing.
The audience looks baffled at the train wreck.
What’s going on 'ere?
A shaky Deen watches from the side of the stage.
What the fuck are they doin'?
On their platform, the judges sweat.
Wonderful. We’re fucked!
To the side of the stage, the Demons look gleefully to Vehement Volition. They lick their chops.
Heh heh... we whill win!
Ebaneen Demon stares at Arden.
Arden lifts his head slowly. He raises his and sets his gaze straight through the audience.
Absolution can’t exist
If fear lies in our hearts
Retribution can’t resist
Until the healing starts
His piercing voice fills the club with raw power.
The band picks up the cue and perfectly joins in on the second verse.
Wonderment will take us all
Beyond this mortal form
Our withered bones ever will fall
But our spirits will carry on!
As he sings, he turns his gaze to Ebaneen Demon.
The other Demons look confused as Ebaneen Demon begins moving toward Arden.
No! You sthay here!
Ivor Demon grabs Ebaneen Demon, but she pushes him back. He topples over, taking his bandmates down with him.
As Ivor Demon recovers, Ebaneen Demon takes her place on stage next to Arden. He points to a second microphone stand.
Ebaneen Demon, coming out of her trance, pulls the mic from its stand as the song moves into the next verse.
As we whander through the night
Shtadows blur and intertwine
Casth out from the saving light
What’s mine is yours and you are mine
Arden smiles. He grabs Ebaneen Demon’s hand as they sing the chorus in unison.
ARDEN AND EBANEEN DEMON
Fighting the darkness ‘til dawn arrives
Entwined like trees
Clashing like knives
Only together can we both
The rest of the band play like machines, trying to hide their delighted smiles from the audience. Gotta keep it metal!
Around the room, everyone - Deen, the judges, the audience - they’re all blown away.
One of the Demons on the side of the stage can’t help but headbang. Ivor Demon punches him in the shoulder.
On stage, F.F. comes out of a blazing guitar solo. Arden steps back as Ebaneen Demon takes the next verse.
Wolves will cower as we passth
Ravens sing in sthkies above
Serpents hiss with eyes of glassth
Beaststh all fear our raging love
Arden moves back to his mic.
The sun comes up revealing us
The world outside holds no allure
Only the trees can hold our trust
We have the curse, there is no cure
The band goes into explosive double chorus that ends the song. They strike the final chord and the audience goes nuts!
Deen, wearing a huge grin, steps out in front of them.
Excellent performance, Vehement Volition and, uh... special guest!
The audience continues clapping.
Okay, please step back so we can check in with our judges.
The band and Ebaneen Demon move to the opposite side of the stage as the Demons. Arden pats Ebaneen Demon on her back.
Amazing job, uh... Eb!
She stares at him, breathing heavy, then nods.
Deen takes center stage. The audience watches nervously.
The winner of Tatterdemalion’s Battle of the Bands is on this stage right fuckin' now. Judges - what do you say about Vehement Volition?
That is some fucking metal, boys.
Cliff flips over his card. It’s a 9. Applause!
We got a nine from Cliff! Lezlie?
I'd give you higher if I could. But that wouldn't be fair now, would it?.
Lezlie reveals her card - a 6. Murmurs from the crowd.
Lezlie comes in with a... a six.
What the fuck are you thinking, Skorch?!
We have to be honest. I thought the bass player was a little behind.
On stage, Arden stares down the Demons. Ivor Demon mimics eating him. Arden gives him double middle fingers.
We got this, fucker...
Deen walks over to the judges’ platform.
Tyrus, you hold in your hand the score that will determine the winner of this contest - not to mention the future of every human being here tonight.
Awed silence from the crowd.
Vehement Volition needs a ten to win. Show us what you got.
The one... merged... the one and zero put together... make ten!
Tyrus stands, holding his scorecard above his head with both hands. He turns slowly.
After a dramatic moment - he flips it around.
It’s a 10!
Hesitation in the crowd.
The other judges look at Tyrus.
I'm serious! They are the true metal!
The applause slowly crescendo. The crowd, bands, judges, and club staff are elated!
The Demons look to each other awkwardly. Arden stares at them, confused.
He walks over to Ulrich.
Shouldn’t they just disappear or something?
Ulrich looks surprised.
They should. I wonder-- oh! There must be a public announcement of their defeat!
Arden rushes over to Deen and whispers. Deen lifts his mic.
The winners of this year’s Battle of the Bands is... Vehement Volition! You guys fuckin’ ruled!
Cheers all over. Arden grabs Ebaneen’s clawed hand and brings her center stage, where they take a bow together.
And that means that The Putrefication Principle... loses!
Jeers and laughter from the audience.
The Demons try to take center stage, but the crowd boos them, tossing bottles and other trash. The Demons look impotent.
No! We whuzz robbed!
Arden and Ebaneen smile. They’re sweaty and breathing heavily.
Oh no - the air’s running out! How are we gonna--
The Amulet pulses and pulls itself from Ivor Demon’s neck, hovering high above the stage.
A DEEP HUM sounds as a SWIRLING GREEN VORTEX forms. The audience stares up at it, mesmerized.
Loose objects on the stage and in the audience pull free, flying as the vortex pulls them in.
One by one, the vortex lifts each Demon. They hover near the club’s ceiling looking terrified.
The vortex pulls the Demon Drummer in. As he goes through, he screams as his skin is ripped off! A gush of green blood falls to stage, covering Wes, the club owner!
HAIRY METAL FAN
Hell yeah! Real gore!
Demon Guitarist struggles to break free, but the vortex rips him apart as well. More blood splashes down onto the crowd.
Ivor Demon is pulled up. He swings and spins violently, but there’s nothing for him to hold onto.
Ulrich cups his hands, calling up to Ivor Demon.
How you like my hammer-ons now, bitch?
Is that guy obsessed with the hammer-ons or what?
Ivor Demon’s face is ripped apart as he’s pulled through the vortex. His green blood douses the judges.
Shitty vocalist anyway.
Arden smiles - until Ebaneen Demon’s body lurches upward toward the vortex.
He jumps up, grabbing onto her arm.
She look petrified as she flies higher. Arden wraps his feet around a lighting truss and struggles to hold tight.
This is bullshit! That medallion fucking cheats!
The vortex suddenly grows blindingly bright, bellowing smoke. It groans, shrinks, and closes up completely.
Ebaneen Demon and Arden fall apart, each landing in a separate part of the the smoke-covered stage.
Arden stands, holding his stomach. The audience watches in anticipation as the smoke around Ebaneen slowly clears.
Her form comes into view. Arden rushes over to her.
He bends down, helping her up. As the spotlight hits her and the smoke recedes, we see that EBANEEN IS HUMAN AGAIN!
Am I... am I...
Arden holds her tight.
You sure are.
A huge cheer from the crowd!