THE EYE OF ARETPO
June 8, 2021
Guests Of Honor:
Professor Egon Spengler
Co-Winner, 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics
Co-Founder, Ghostbusters International
Dr. Enrico Amore
Dean of the Sons of Ether
" 'Guest of Honor'...'Nobel Prize for Physics'...you have no idea how much it does my heart good to see you talked about like that. Finally." the grey haired woman said, her face beaming.
"Erm...well..." the white haired man said, slightly sheepishly, removing and cleaning his eyeglasses.
"She's right, of course." Eden told him. "We're biased, but it's the whole world realizing what we already knew..."
"Yes, well..." the older man coughed, returning the spectacles to his face. "I'm afraid that I don't deal with celebrity as well as your Uncle Peter, Eden."
"Who does?" the older woman rolled her eyes.
As they shared a chuckle, John came up to them, having caught up to the rest after parking his car.
Now in their seventh decade of life, the years had taken their toll on Professor Egon Spengler and the former Janine Melnitz. The Professor's limp, which had started to develop in his late thirties, had become more pronounced--he walked with a cane all of the time now. His wife had arthritis that could make every day a struggle. But there was still a lot of life in their faces--especially when together.
As she so often had over the years, Janine took a long look at her husband and children, taking a snapshot with her mind to store in the trove of "photos" she treasured most. The day he'd asked her to marry him. The day of that wedding, with friends and family--so many now no longer here--all around. The day those two she saw so much of him in entered the world as two tiny, adorable bundles.
Now her son was a man even taller than his father, less lanky, but with his jaw line and intense eyes. Wearing a sport coat and tie, which didn't suit his usual style quite as much as they did his father, but through a mother's eyes fit him so darn well.
Now her daughter was a woman with her father's reserve and seriousness, with blue eyes just as intense, tall and beautiful with her long blonde hair. Even through a mother's eyes, Janine knew that her twenty-something self would probably have been seethingly jealous of Eden Marie Spengler.
My children Janine thought. It wasn't from Egon that John's red hair or Eden's taste for blocky jewelry and mini-skirts came from (the latter thankfully subdued for the occasion)
Our children. Egon looked, as he often did, a bit behind the times (John had fondly joked that "Dad dresses like he could be the fourteenth Doctor Who") but through it all, she still saw the gawky, endearingly awkward, transcendentally wise man she met nearly four decades before.
"So this is it?" John asked, as he looked at the sign. "This is the notorious ball room?"
Egon chuckled dryly. "Yes...Good grief, I don't think I've been here since that day..." And like his wife a few moments before, memories drifted into his mind...
"Whoa!!! Doctor Spengler!!! Gnarly!!!"
The four Spenglers turned to see a fifty-something man wearing a bellhop's uniform with an incongruous pair of flip flops.
"I...beg your pardon?" Egon asked hesitantly.
"I'm Bud! This is so totally radical! I, like, remember when you were here the first time and Old Man Grout was pissed about it for weeks! So, like, how's Slimer doing?"
"He's doing fine." Egon answered, noticing a slight whiff of what his old friend Peter Venkman liked to euphemistically refer to as a "medicinal herb". "I'll be sure to tell him I saw you here."
"Awesome!!!" Bud said excitedly. "He needs to stop by more often--Old Man Grout's been dead for like...oh...at least ten years...maybe more. I'm trying to remember which President we had...was it Dubya or Barack..."
The elevator dinged, distracting Bud's train of thought. "Oh! Gotta go, Doc! Try not to blow up the ball room this time, okay? They'd just make me clean it up again..."
Janine looked at Egon when the elevator door closed. "That guy's been a bellhop here...for forty years?!"
"I guess some people do find contentment in a lack of goals." Eden shrugged.
When they were admitted to the ball room, it was an...interesting sight. Numerous men--and a few women--often wearing ill-fitting suits and strange haircuts. There was one man with tinfoil on his head arguing with another man, who was shouting that "Steam will save the world!!!"
"Professor Spengler?" a voice accented in Italian asked.
They turned see a short man with olive skin and curled black hair adjusting his glasses. He was dressed in a jacket and scarf in shades of green.
I think he's another one of your regenerations, Pop... John joked to himself. The scarf is very Sylvester McCoy...
"Yes." Egon replied, shaking the man's hand. "I'm afraid I don't..."
"No, you wouldn't." the man shook his head gently. "Dr. Enrico Amore, the current Etheric Dean..."
"You're Dr. Amore?" Egon replied, a bit of surprise obvious. "I must apologize, but with your reputation I admit I expected someone...er..."
"Older, Professor?" Amore chuckled. "Sometimes the aged have the wisdom to refuse a boring job like mine..." He kissed Janine's hand. "Mrs. Spengler, an honor." She just kind of nodded and made an agreeable noise.
"And you two must be the Twins." he said, kissing Eden's hand in similar fashion to her mother's.
"If we must, we must. On the whole, I'd rather be Ewan MacGregor..." John quipped as he shook Amore's hand.
"The Twins have much significance in mythology." Amore said, fixing John in a stare. "From Romulus and Remus, to the Gemini myth of Castor and Pollux. A man and woman who shared the womb, some say, are the most auspicious of them all...the 'Sacred Twins' some lore calls them. For example, some versions of the Gemini myth say that Helen, not Pollux, was the true twin of Castor..."
He broke off and closed his eyes, his face apologetic. "My apologies for babbling. Astrology is a bit of a side hobby of mine...so much rich symbolism. If you will all excuse me, I do have to make sure everything's ready..." With a last half bow, Amore walked off.
"Good thing we didn't mention we're Geminis." John quipped. "He probably never would have shut up."
"He seemed very charming." Janine countered. "Though I'm surprised he seemed more interested in you than your sister..."
Eden looked at her mother as though she was crazy.
"Maybe he's a ten percenter, like Lars Wallance." John shrugged. "All I can say, is that something in that look gave me the creeps. Being a ninety percenter, I think I'll stay away, thanks."
"Wow." Eric said. "Beating up a gremlin with your bare hands! Anybody who thinks being in a wheelchair doesn't mean you can be a good Ghostbuster doesn't know what they're talking about."
"Garrett won an award from a disabled rights group once." Roland added. "Him, Dr. Baugh in LA, Rob Statler in Philly. They consider them good role models..."
"I keep forgetting Mr. Statler's deaf." Eric nodded. "You wouldn't know it from the way he does his job..."
"So speaking of jobs..." Kylie asked, looking at Eric. "Told any of the others yet what Rein-Hagen Academy was really training you for?"
Eric sighed. "Not yet...I was sorta working toward telling JC about it earlier, but then Edie showed up and things got a bit...derailed."
Eduardo drew a card. "Is it just me, Rico, or I see a bit of a flush as you say that?"
"Huh? What?" Eric was clearly flustered by this.
"Thought so." Eduardo smirked. "I been developing a keen eye for the signs of male libido. Having two daughters does that to a guy."
There were some chuckled from Garrett and Roland. Kylie just rolled her eyes. "Eden is a good woman, Eric. But I gotta warn you if you're wanting to go there: she takes a lot after her father..."
"Well...then..." Eric chuckled sheepishly. "Then she's not involved with anyone. Who knows? Patience can work wonders...just ask her Mom..."
"Who got frustrated and banged an accountant in the meantime." Garrett quipped. "You gonna ante up or fold, Torgo?"
"I ain't losin' to you this time, Roller Boy." Eduardo retorted, drawing another card. Slimer was floating behind Eduardo, trying to babble advice.
"I admit, I'm hoping now that I've put in some dues in the Order, I was kind of thinking of seeing what I can do with GBI." Eric said. "I'm hoping one Franchise or another might want a guy with my talents."
"Vincent and Arcane Division don't want you?" Kylie raised an eyebrow.
Eric exhaled. "They probably would take me. But in all honesty...after being subjected to Dr. Belmont's training regimen for three years, I'd like to be somewhere else. Be my own man just a little. I know that's hard to do when you join a company and have the same last name of one of its founders, but it's even worse if you look like you're sponging off your teacher too."
Kylie chuckled dryly. "Belmont's scary enough to work with. I'd hate to think what having him as a teacher would be like."
"Believe, your Latin has to be letter perfect, and heaven forbid you get less than a 95% on one of his Magic Theory exams..." Eric smirked. "I think if he didn't have the Gift he would have been an English Professor or something..."
Roland sighed disgustedly, dropping his cards. "I'm out."
Slimer babbled. Eduardo gave him an evil glare.
"Now or never, Torgo." Garrett grinned.
"You're bluffin', Roller Boy." Eduardo retorted. "Show'em!!!"
"Read'em and weep, Torgo. Full house!!!"
"I hated that show." Eduardo groaned as he watched Garrett pick up the pile of poker chips. "Uncle Joey sounded like a moron." Slimer babbled something that sounded suspiciously like "Told you so."
"But above them have stood two names. Aretus of Troy, writer of the scroll later named by the Arabs who translated it the Kitab Al-Alacir, which first postulated, centuries before Aristotle, the Fifth Element--the primal essence of the universe itself, which could be manipulated by a philosopher with the right level of knowledge and will. Quintessence. The power to change the universe without the help of the gods."
"With him, we revere Roger Bacon, the Thirteenth Century Franciscan Friar and alchemist, who laid the groundwork of the scientific method that would lead the world out of the dark ages of superstition and misery. And in founding the alchemical guild known as the Solificati, out of which later grew the Voltaic Order, which became the Electrodyne Engineers, which over a century ago became the Sons of Ether, Roger Bacon is, indeed, our forefather."
John's mind started to drift...he knew it all by heart from his own initiation into the society; he looked around and regarded some of the faces his father had pointed out to him. Dr. Mark Brandenburg, one of Egon's physics students in the late 1980's. Dr. Dennis Fischer, alias "Morehemoodus", an "atomic wizard" who aided the original Ghostbusters back in 1989, during the advent of Astorath.
One person that was more that just a face to John couldn't make it--Dr. Fritz Baugh, temporal theoretician and one of the founders of the Ghostbusters West Coast franchise, had to cancel at the last minute when one of his four daughters fell out of a tree and was hospitalized.
"But now, perhaps, the third great mind of our society walks among us. In 1973, a the age of fifteen, MIT graduate and Columbia University parapsychology student Egon Spengler first attained a tangible reading of the 'x-energy' that he later identified as Psycho Kinetic Energy. In 1982, the twenty-five year old Doctor Spengler submitted the groundbreaking paper Psychokinetic Energy and the Quantum Flux...it was derided by mainstream science..."
There were several loud boos and a shout of "Mainstream science sucks ass!!!"
"...Derided by mainstream science, and may have contributed to Dr. Spengler's firing the next May by Columbia."
Well, that and all the coeds Uncle Peter was harassing John smirked.
"...But hit the Sons of Ether like a bomb. In a mere ten years, Egon Spengler had found the Quintessence. The Ether wasn't as our Nineteenth Century predecessors had believed it would be--but it was real. That in itself would earn Dr. Spengler our undying acclaim, but he went on to attain further breakthroughs, most notably in mapping the structure of the dimensional axis."
"Furthermore, with his three closest friends, he co-founded the greatest boon to paranormal research the world has ever seen--Ghostbusters International."
"Last year, the world at large finally acknowledged the genius we've been aware of for four decades. Dr. Spengler and his co-researcher, Dr. Raymond Stantz, share the greatest honor a scientist can attain: the Nobel Prize. Now, tonight, we acknowledge the third great mind of the Sons of Ether: Professor Egon Spengler!"
There was a round of loud, heartfelt applause as Egon somewhat sheepishly took Dr. Amore's place at the podium.
"Erm...thank you. Well, I just got in from Cleveland, and let me tell you, my teleportation pod is exhausted..."
There were several guffaws, while Janine just rolled her eyes. Scientist humor
"Now, Dimsworth." he said quietly into the cell phone.
He twirled the silk top hat on his index finger, and then dropped it gracefully onto his head
Anderson just stood there silently.
Marie, thankfully, was dressed now, in a low-cut white shirt that exposed her midriff and a pair of blue sweatpants. Anderson had to admit the green bandanna with the yellow check pattern Marie was wearing was oddly attention-gathering.
"Uncle Yuz was a lot more like Grandpa...really 'old country'...wasn't really thrilled when both Mom and Aunt Yuki ended up involved with 'Gaijin'" Marie chuckled ruefully. She shook her head. "What was he doing getting killed in London?!"
"So you have no idea what this item is?" Anderson asked.
"Why would I?" Marie answered.
"He did send it to you." Anderson noted. "Perhaps there is some reason he had that you are not aware of...at least not immediately?"
"Like what?! I..." Marie's eyes narrowed. "Didn't you say something about being in the 'Occult Crimes Unit'?"
Anderson nodded slightly. "Well, we are police detectives with all of the ability to investigate 'normal' crimes. But there were reports that some odd men were sighted about the same time and place that it's estimated your Uncle apparently jumped into the River Thames. They said the odd men looked like 'zombies'..."
" 'Zombies'?" Marie shook her head. "I hear they have lousy teeth..."
Anderson didn't react.
Marie sighed, and looked around the apartment. Her companion of the previous night--Dave or Don or whatever his name was--had been roused and hastily sent packing, which was pretty easy once he realized that Inspector Anderson was a cop, not a prospective third participant in a three-way. Though the look on Miss Inspector's face when he suggested that was priceless. Marie stared at the gold medallion that her uncle had apparently died for.
"If you're in the Occult Crimes Unit..." Marie finally said. "You might not think I'm crazy when I say that maybe it was sent to me because of who my Dad is. More importantly, who some of his friends are..."
"One of my Dad's friends is Ray Stantz, one of the big shot Ghostbusters from back in the 1980's. Come to think of it, his son Eric left a message on my machine saying he'd be back in town today..." Marie smirked. "He was always an energetic kid. I bet he's grown up quite nicely..."
"You think...perhaps..." Anderson mused. "Your uncle sent this to you because you might be able to get it to the Ghostbusters?"
"It's as good a theory as any." Marie shrugged.
"There is a Ghostbusters franchise in England." Anderson pointed out. "Why wouldn't he have contacted Dr. King and his group? They'd be much closer."
"How the hell should I know?" Marie sputtered. "It was just a theory!"
Any further discussion was interrupted by the sound of breaking glass.
"He got that gag from your Uncle Peter." Janine whispered with amusement.
Eden listened to her father tell the story of the time he got molecular destabilized and sent to the Nether World. She'd heard it before, of course, but it was fascinating to watch the reaction to it around the room.
She felt a surge of pride as the collection of eccentrics applauded him. She'd taken a few psychology courses, and was familiar with Freud's theorem: a woman's first male role model, the man which any other will find himself compared to consciously or unconsciously, is usually her father. I know most little girls think their Daddy is the smartest man in the world...but how many of them can point to his Nobel Prize as proof?
Eden smirked vaguely, remembering when she was four years old and her mother had shocked her with the assertion that "Eden, dear, your Dad may be the smartest man in the world, but there are some things even he doesn't know."
Of course, few women in the world had the other male presence she did: a fraternal twin brother. She had to envy him some times--he was more like their mother. Emotional displays she found sloppy and uncomfortable seemed so much easier to Johnathan.
She was broken from this contemplation by a sound from Johnathan's pocket.
"You did not bring..." Janine rolled her eyes.
John sheepishly extracted his prototype PKE meter--the "GBX" he'd dubbed it--from his coat pocket.
Janine chuckled quietly. "You really didn't fall far from that tree, did you?"
Egon's dissertation on the hospitality habits of the demon Tolay was interrupted by a large puff of smoke in front of the podium.
Out of the smoke came a man dressed in a black tuxedo and top hat, complete with white gloves and a cane; his slicked-back black hair and pencil mustache adorned a handsome, if somewhat seedy, looking face.
"Prepare to be amazed, Ladies and Gentlemen, by the magnificent magic of the proficient prestidigitator..." the man made a flourish with his cane. "Zoraldo!!!"
"A magic show?" Eden heard one voice in the crowd say. "That is so tacky."
"This has got to be Dr. Volcano's idea." another quipped. "He always had the weirdest sense of humor..."
"You've seen lesser magicians pull rabbits from out of their hats..." Zoraldo gestured, and with a --poof-- his hat had turned into a sleepy looking lapine. "Well watch as Zoraldo turns his hat into a rabbit!"
"This is worse than that guy in LA who claims he's a vampire." another heckler interjected.
"Now...we need a volunteer from the audience!" Zoraldo said, snapping his fingers, causing a gaudy magic cabinet to appear in a puff of smoke.
He looked too and fro. "You, Young Lady!" he said brightly, gently taking Janine Spengler by the hand and pulling her to the box.
"You gotta be kidding me." she said sarcastically.
"Mom..." John started to protest. A light on top of his GBX was starting to blink rhythmically.
"Skeptical, Ma'am?" Zoraldo asked cheerfully.
"I've been around a few years, Kiddo." Janine retorted. "It's all done with mirrors and trap doors."
"Maybe." Zoraldo nodded. "But watch closely!"
He pushed her into the box, and snapped his fingers.
"Arbadacarba! Otserp ognahc!!!"
There was a flash of red light.
Janine Melnitz Spengler disappeared.
John Spengler stood up. "Pop!"
He didn't even need to say anymore than that--Egon now noticed the blinking PKE light, the tone in his son's voice, and a flash of memory. Zoraldo wasn't Calimari, wasn't using Houdini's magic box...but the similarity had become noticeable.
"Very clever, Mister Zoraldo..." Egon said forcefully, walking to the magician. He was already angry with himself for being caught so flat-footed. "Now if you don't mind--I'd like my wife back!"
"Why, Professor, you cut me to the quick!" Zoraldo said, with exaggerated mock hurt. "I will certainly reunite you with your charming wife posthaste!"
"I don't like the sound of..." Eden started to say.
Zoraldo shoved Egon, and he stumbled into the box. Before he could get his bearings, Zoraldo snapped his fingers again, not even bothering with the invocation phrase.
In a similar flash of light, Professor Egon Spengler vanished from view.
"Father!" Eden said, concern showing in her voice.
John was a little quicker to act--he was out of his seat, looking ready to lunge at Zoraldo and tear his throat out.
"Thanks one and all!" Zoraldo said cheerfully. "I also do Bar Mitzfahs!!!"
Before John could get close, he snapped his fingers again. A new plume of smoke billowed, and John appeared at the other side of it, choking and grasping at thin air.
"Johnathan! What happened?" Eden asked.
John just snarled, and looked at his blinking meter.
"That magic show sucked." they heard one of the Etherites say loudly.
Sitting not far away, Dr. Amore stroked his chin, a look of mild concern, tinged with curiosity, on his face.
The front door was thrown open. Another emaciated form was standing there, skin hanging off of it in patches.
"See?" Marie said dryly. "Their teeth are terrible..."
Extreme Ghostbusters Created by Fil Barlow
Ghostbusters West Coast Division Created by Andy Harness and Vincent Belmont
Ghostbusters 202X Created by Fritz Baugh and OgreBBQ
Eric Stantz, Marie Lupin, Yuzuru Fuyuno, Charlene Zeddemore, and the Inquisitors created by OgreBBQ. Johnathan and Eden Spengler, TJ Anderson, Jeremy Cranston, Dr. Amore, Zoraldo created by Fritz Baugh. Jessica Venkman and the Rivera Sisters created by EGB Fan. Captain Rebbecca Gates created by Ben King. Marie's friend Makayla created by Ghostdiva.
The Sons of Ether are inspired by the Tradition of the same name from White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension, created by Stewart Wieck and Mark Rein-Hagen. The Solificati and Electrodyne Engineers also come from Mage. Developed for the GBOT continuity by Fritz Baugh, with the advice of Vincent Belmont.
Rein-Hagen Academy is, of course, named for Mark Rein-Hagen, co-creator of Ars Magica and the original World of Darkness.