I await your words, Great One
Report your progress. Do you have the Eye?!
No, Great One...but all is working to our benefit. I told you of the Ghostbusters...I have sent one of their leaders to a regio. My trap was perfect--they suspected nothing until it was too late.
And what use is this to me?
Finding them will be the focus of the Ghostbusters attention. Our true plan may proceed--and if necessary, I can even barter their lives to the Lupin woman for return of the Eye.
The Eye will be taken from her...or she will surrender it to me! Either way it will be mine!!!
Ours, Zoraldo. Ours. Do not forget who has given you this power...and this mission.
Ever in your service, Great One.
"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.
Marie and Anderson turned to see the main window of the former's apartment shatter, a hand reaching inside. A withered, emaciated, very pallid hand.
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..."
Anderson looked to and fro, and grabbed the first thing that looked even vaguely like a viable weapon: a plastic broom handle, which seemed to have ended it's expected association with an actual broom . Considering what she'd already learned about Marie Lupin and her absent roommate's lifestyle, Anderson decided she didn't want to give the issue any more consideration than that.
With a whirling flourish, she slammed the broomstick into two zombies in a quick, deft motion.
"Anderson! Down!!!" she heard Marie shout.
She ducked, as one of the zombies on the other side of the room exploded in the aftermath of an explosive burst of sound.
Marie cocked the shotgun she was brandishing, and fired again. Another ex-zombie added to the stains on her carpet.
Anderson twirled the broomstick again, and kicked one of the zombies out the window; it hit the street three stories below with a loud thud.
"You're a cop--don't you have a gun or something?!" Marie snarled, dropping the spent shotgun and raising a large pistol.
"I take it you've never tried to get through American Homeland Security with a firearm." Anderson retorted.
"Not if I let them know I have it, no."
Anderson dispatched another zombie, and the plastic broomhandle finally shattered from the exertion. She took a tentative peek into the hallway. "Clear--but we can't be certain for how long."
"Great. Here." Marie handed her a gun. "It's a little more efficient than spin kicks."
"You're also aware that, as a rule, English officers do not..."
"Less talk, more running from zombies, Detective."
"Grab the amulet." Anderson said.
"Yeah. Dollars to doughnuts, being attacked by zombies right after I got it ain't a coincidence." Marie nodded, grabbing the parcel holding the golden amulet. "Not after zombies killed my Uncle Yuz for it already."
They quickly sprinted into the hallway--just as a door opened. Marie's nosey neighbor Mrs. Tugfiogl. She gave the two women a skunk eye.
That same moment, the elevator bell rang and it opened, revealing four more zombies.
"Oh shit." Marie snarled.
Mrs. Tugfiogl screamed and ran back into her apartment.
"The stairs!" Anderson shouted.
Thankfully, they were quicker than the zombies. Marie shot the lead one, sending him falling back onto his fellows, slowing their progress.
"Nice moves back there, though." Marie complimented. "You wanted to be a Jedi when you grew up, didn't you?"
Anderson's cheeks colored slightly. "Well, that or a Green Lantern. I had the worst crush on Ewan MacGregor when I was a child."
"Figures." Marie rolled her eyes. "I thought he was better in Trainspotting anyway."
"John and Eden said the Professor and Janine just got whisked away to another dimension." Roland replied, groaning as he zipped up his flight suit, brushing a bit of dried slime off the "Jackson" name tag. "We gotta go check this out."
"Let me come with you!" Eric said, excitedly.
"No." Kylie shook her head. "You're not a GBI employee, and we know what kind of trouble that could get us in. Stay here in case your Dad or one of the others calls."
"We also told John and Eden to get back here immediately." Roland added. "If someone's after the Professor and Janine, they could be after them, too. They'll be safer here than anywhere else."
"I bet JC didn't take to well to that idea." Eric chuckled.
"Well, no." Roland agreed. "But he didn't argue, either."
"You wanna be useful, Enrico..." Eduardo stroked his goatee. "Check the databases--maybe there's something on this whackjob who kidnapped them. What did Juan say his name was?"
" 'Zoraldo' " Garrett said mocking. "He's sure got the name to be a corny stage magician, if nothing else."
"We know, Eric. But we've been doing this since you were in diapers--trust us." Roland laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
Eric looked conflicted, but finally relented. "Zoraldo, huh..." He grinned. "I won't let you down, Doctor J!"
The four Extreme Ghostbusters gave him a high five as they got into the ECTO-1 and drove into the night. Eric watched the vehicle leave with just a hint of want in his eye, but shook it off.
"Zoraldo", huh... Eric mused. Come to think of it, that name does ring a bell somewhere...
Eden was sitting in the back seat, concerns about how her brother was stewing only adding to the barely contained sense of panic about her parents' conditions. "What else are we going to do? We're not Ghostbusters."
The car was a red 2015 Volkswagon Beetle Hybrid convertible that John had purchased on his sixteenth birthday; the top was currently down, which only made Eden even more jumpy, but John apparently needed the air.
"You realize that right now we're older than they were when they went to work for Pop?" John said cryptically.
Eden's eyes narrowed. "What has that got to do with it?"
John didn't get the chance to answer, though, as two women ran to the driver side of the car. The closer one, the one in the green sport coat and mini-skirt, pulled out a badge and waved it in John's face. The other one, of mixed Eastern ancestry and sporting a cool headband, kept looking back and forth, furtively.
"Officer Anderson, Occult Crimes Unit. I don't have time to explain, but we're commandeering this vehicle--it is a situation of utmost emergency!!!"
John looked at the woman with a skunk eye. "You have got to be kidding me." he said with exasperation. He was trying not to note that the officer was actually quite attractive, or stare at the way her deep, labored breaths were making her chest heave. "Look, Officer, I really don't have time to deal with..."
"We're sorta short on time!" the other woman shouted. Before John could otherwise react, his vision was suddenly filled with a green miniskirted derriere and two nylon sheathed legs as the second woman pushed the first into the car on top of him.
The protest Eden was about to register was cut off when she saw a half dozen shambling, decaying corpses approaching from the same direction their new passengers had run from. "Johnathan! Zombies!!!"
The woman in the headband jumped into the back seat with Eden. "DRIVE, ASSHOLE!!!"
"I will as soon as I get your friend's butt out of my face!!!" John growled, grabbing the woman's calves and flipping her off of him and into the passenger seat (albeit sideways, on her back, legs splayed out the other side of the car).
"Buckle up." John deadpanned, and the car screeched out, full throttle.
I hope this bluff works Anderson remarked to herself. Technically, I'm not even sure American police have the authority to commandeer a private citizen's vehicle, and I'm not an American policewoman.
The man driving the car was tall, with a head of red hair that was a bit unkempt at the top, and formed into a squiggly rat tail at the back; it was an intriguingly eccentric look, she had to admit. And, the realization rolled ever so subtly into the back of her mind, his broad shoulders and chiselled jawline actually made him a rather attractive example of male homo sapiens.
It also penetrated her consciousness that there was a passenger in the back seat, a tall, blonde woman, but Anderson's attention was fixed on the driver. The driver who responded to her with a rich basso voice.
The look he gave her, though, like she was some annoying child, intense green eyes flashing with exasperation...it pissed her off. She was only doing her job! And being chased by the undead! How am I going to explain this to this arsehole before...
Unfortunately, before she could even finish the thought, Anderson found herself thrown into the man's lap by Marie, then was manhandled into the passenger seat--albeit upside down and legs splayed out awkwardly. All of a sudden I wish I hadn't worn the mini-skirt.
She felt the car lurch into motion, and scrambled to right herself and get into the seat properly.
It was just as she buckled in that they heard the sound...
"Motorcycles!" Marie shouted, pointing behind them.
Sure enough, three hogs were barrelling down the street, decayed corpses in biker leathers riding them.
"Now there's something you don't see every day." the driver remarked.
"Like what?" Eduardo asked.
"Like there's this wierd feeling in the back of my head. Like something's coming full circle or something."
Roland huffed as he donned his proton pack. "I get that feeling too...something about Eric coming back and wanting to join a Franchise. And when we found out John was working on some new prototype combo PKE Meter and ghost trap. You know...we're all older than Ray and Egon where when they hired us? And almost as old as Peter and Winston were at the time?"
"You sound like you're ready to retire or something." Eduardo snorted.
"All I can say, Eduardo, is that every morning when my back aches from wearing a proton pack, in the way it never did when I was nineteen, I begin to understand why the Professor and the others decided it was time for younger, stronger people to do the heavy work."
"Well, we'll plan your retirement party after we rescue Egon and Janine." Kylie smirked. "For now, lock and load."
They strode into the Hotel lobby. "Suck in the guts, Guys, we're the Ghostbusters." Garrett said loudly.
They all looked at him.
"You were all expecting me to say 'Somebody see a ghost?' weren't you? Admit it."
When the Ghostbusters entered the ballroom, there was a brief round of applause from some of the Etherites gathered there--the ones that weren't either enebriated or arguing with their compatriots. (Or both).
Kylie took some readings--and fended off the advances of a bald drunk in a visor --as she caught up to Eduardo, who was trying to extricate himself from a wild-haired man ranting about how steam would save the world.
"So you don't have any idea who booked this Zoraldo character?" Eduardo sputtered.
"We all assumed it was Doctor Volcano's idea." a nearby Etherite, who looked like Dr. Drakken from Kim Possible. "But anyway, to refute Professor Stiemhead..."
"I assure all of you." another voice broke in. "Noone here hired this magician."
Kylie recognized the Italian man. "You're Dr. Amore, the Etheric Guildmaster."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Griffin." Amore said pleasantly, as he shook her hand. As he did, she realized there was a weird feeling coming over her...something vague, but familiar. And not entirely pleasant.
"You're saying you didn't arrange this Zoraldo character?" Eduardo asked. "Then how'd he get in?"
"I believe the technical term is 'Gate Crashing', Mister Rivera." Amore looked around.
"And nobody we talked to seemed to have the slightest idea who this guy was." Garrett added.
"Curioser and curiouser." Amore stroked his chin. He looked at Kylie. "Aquarius."
The creepy feeling intensified. "What?"
"I'm going to guess Aquarius is prominant on your birth chart." Amore said warmly. "Astrology is something of an interest of mine."
"Uh...yeah..." Kylie muttered. "I was born on February 12th..."
"We ain't tellin' you which year." Eduardo interjected slightly defensively.
Amore chuckled. "I hope the younger Doctors Spengler will be all right. I was a little concerned when they left so abruptly."
"They'll be safer at GBCentral." Garrett pointed out. "There's someone there who can school any corny stage magician but good. And there's no way they're gonna catch them before they get there--you've never seen John Spengler drive." There was a note of approval in his voice at that last remark.
"You ladies have some very interesting admirers." John said cheerfully. "Though they have lousy teeth."
Anderson was fighting off disorentation...she just wasn't used to being in the right hand front seat of a car without a steering wheel. Or a brake--she was definitely missing a brake right now.
Marie poked Eden. "Keep a hand on me, Blondie." she prompted with a smirk. "But no funny business--it isn't the time."
Eden was confused about the entire statement--but then their new passenger pulled out an enormous pistol, and turned to face behind the speeding car.
"This is for my front door, you undead pricks!!!"
In a loud crack, one of the zombies was hit with a round. It kept on pursuing.
"I knew I should have brought the Arasaka..." Marie muttered.
"Aim for the wheels!" Eden prompted.
Marie fired again. "F***...missed!"
A semi truck had the temerity to be in their way, just because it had the green light and the Volkswagen didn't.
John executed a quick turn, avoiding the semi.
Fortunately for the four escaping humans still on this side of the spiritual divide, and unfortunately for one of the artful undead, it didn't.
"We could have been killed!" Anderson sputtered. "You drive like a daft maniac!"
"Write me a ticket later." John replied in a surprisingly blase voice.
The other two zombies were a little more skillful (or lucky), and were back on the red VW's trail soon enough. One, in fact, revved his motor, and started to gain.
"It's getting closer!" Eden shouted.
Marie fired more shots. Some hit the zombie, or his bike, but didn't seem to do much damage. "It's not really fair for these guys to be bulletproof. I mean, sure, they're lacking working soft organs now, but geez..." She pulled the trigger once more and got nothing but a click. A few more clicks. She muttered a very vulgar word that Eden recognized as Japanese.
Unfortunately, the chase had taken them down a tunnel. John didn't have nearly as much room to maneuver as before.
"Johnathan!" Eden shouted.
"I know, I know!" he replied.
"Hold it steady, Red..." Marie prompted.
The zombie got within arm's length. It extended a claw, ready to try and grab at Marie.
Marie was quicker--she jammed her spent shotgun straight into the spokes of the motorcycle's front wheel.
The motorcycle rolled end over end several times, and slammed into the tunnel wall in a fireball.
"Scratch two." Marie said brightly.
Slimer, floating nearby, repeated the phrase "Hotel Sedgewick" in his babbling approximation of English, and laughed, doing a few midair barrel rolls.
Eric was on the computer, scrolling through pages of information. I didn't find anything about a "Zoraldo" in the "members only" section of Redcap.org...I was probably confusing it with Zorad Summonestrus, the Tremere mentioned in some of Master Fallagar's journals.
The phone rang again. Eric answered it cheerfully, and listened to the caller for a minute.
"Wait a minute...say that again? There were zombies on motorcycles?"
"How are you doing this?" Anderson asked. "I've never seen a car like this move this fast!"
"I tinker." John smirked.
"It's going to catch us!" Eden shouted.
"Like Hell." John snarled.
Then the equation changed drastically--at an upcoming intersection, the warning lights and lowering guard rails heralded the impending arrival of a freight train.
"It's going to cut us off!" Anderson cried.
John spared a second's look at the approaching motorcycle. Then a second to look at the oncoming locomotive.
Inside his brain, a series of vectors and calculations processed at lightning speed. He was, after all, a Spengler.
He actually slowed a little bit, much to the consternation of his three passengers. The pursuer closed.
Then he sped up, barelling at the intersection at full speed; the pursuer kept coming.
"JOHNATHAN!!!" Eden screamed.
"Oh Shit!!!" Marie shouted.
Anderson grabbed his arm. Even in her eyes was a look little short of blind panic.
The red Volkswagen hybrid streaked through the intersection 1.67 seconds before the locomotive reached it.
At that exact moment, the pursuing undead biker was 1.67 seconds behind the red VW.
In an angry crash of shredded metal and the pulverization of undead sinew, the chase was ended.
The car screeched to a halt. For a full five seconds, there was nothing but labored exhalation.
Anderson grabbed John by the lapels. "WERE YOU TRYING TO GET US KILLED, YOU BLOODY IDIOT?!"
"You're welcome." John exhaled.
Marie gave a thumbs up. "That was AWESOME!!! You ought to be a race car driver or something, Man."
Eden said nothing, but John knew that would change when they were alone. His sister was probably the most reserved person he'd ever met--she wasn't going to chew him out for his recklessness with a couple of complete strangers watching. But she was going to express her displeasure.
"I'm sure there's a great story behind why zombies are chasing you through the streets." John said, putting the vehicle back into gear. "But your social life is your own business, and I'm already working on an emergency. So unless you're going to arrest me or something, I'm outta here. You guys can get a ride from our destination or whatever."
"I probably would arrest you for reckless driving." Anderson admitted, crossing her arms and legs, looking away from him. "But I'm a bit outside my jurisdiction."
"Yeah, I thought you had a rather upper middle class English accent to be a New York cop."
Anderson blinked. "What?"
"Specifically, I'd surmise you were raised in the Chelsea area." Eden added blithely.
"How...how in the world..."
"A friend of ours married a guy from Chelsea." John smirked. "And my sister inherited our Dad's ear for languages."
"Sister, huh?" Marie poked him. "Good. She won't be offended if I hit on you in front of her."
Anderson made a disgusted noise.
"Well, look, Johnny, we got a bit of a situation of our own. There any chance you're going to Tribeca, is there?"
John and Eden both looked at her. "Varrick and Moore close enough?" he asked.
Marie looked shocked. "That's exactly where we... How did..." She slapped herself on her forhead. "Johnny and sister...of course...you're John and Eden Spengler, Egon's kids!"
Anderson looked around at him, not sure what to make of this revelation.
"Marie Lupin. My Dad was Barney Lupin, the werewolf." She reached out to shake Eden's hand. "I'm told I was even there when your parents got married, but I was only about a year old."
"Your father is Aunt Elizabeth's friend." Eden nodded. "Eric Stantz has mentioned you from time to time."
"He just got back into town, I hear."
"He did." Eden nodded. "We saw him earlier today."
Anderson stared at John. It somehow made her suspicious that she and Marie had just happened to be rescued by the children of one of the men they were trying to reach..."Detective Inspector Tessa Jane Anderson. Scotland Yard Occult Crimes Unit." she said warily, extending a hand.
"Johnathan Christopher Spengler, PhD; Spengler Institute for Metaphysical Examination." John responded, returning the handshake. "Pretty firm handshake for a left hander, TJ."
"What did you call me?"
"My name is not 'TJ'. " she responded a bit brusquely. "How would you like it if I called you 'JC' or something like that?"
"Eric calls me that all that time." John retorted brightly.
"Would you just drive?" Anderson sputtered. "The sooner we get to the Ghostbusters the sooner we're done with each other!"
"You wish is my command." John smirked. "TJ"
In the back seat, Eden rolled her eyes. Marie held her hand over her mouth to stifle the belly laugh that so wanted to escape from her.
Going to like what? Zoraldo's voice snarled at the back of his temples.
Dimsworth jumped a good two feet.
"The Lupin woman and the policewoman who came from England..." Dimsworth grovelled. "They escaped the minions...even the riders...even..." Dimsworth whimpered, expecting the next sensation he felt was his brain being pulled through his nose.
Zoraldo was silent for a few moments.
This is unfortunate...but not fatal to the Great One's plan. Let the Lupin woman reach the Ghostbusters--I have secured our bargaining chip. But we will act quickly--they must not be allowed enough time to discover the true significance of the Eye of Aretpo.
Not before it is too late for that knowledge to do them any good.
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.