TJ Anderson has returned to her homeland of England, but she's not alone--John Spengler is with her! They're having dinner with TJ's father Martin when her uncle Sylvester calls to tell them that his great grandfather's coffin was stolen.
Naturally, everyone back home in New York is waiting to see if the inevitable is about to happen for John and TJ. As they're speculating, Eric Stantz receives some information about his ongoing search for Pippi, the magical cat--that a century ago she and the mummy Ahagotsu encountered an English scientist named Thomas Cadonfloyd.
The same man who's coffin was just stolen--Thomas Cadonfloyd was Sylvester's great grandfather, and thus TJ Anderson's great great grandfather.
"I'm not Inspector anything anymore, Doctor." TJ shook her head slightly.
"And Johnathan Spengler..." Ben looked at her traveling companion. "Good grief, last time I saw you, you were about..." he held his hand down to about his waist "...this high. And in trouble for building a volcano in your Grandmum's bathtub."
TJ chuckled slightly.
"Grandma Dee appreciated science, but geology in her bathroom was beyond her limits." John shrugged.
"Did he tell you about the time he and his sister tried to make a tweed jacket explode?" Ben said brightly.
The thirty-seven year old King was dressed in the GBUK flight suit, blue with red striping on the trousers and the Ghostbuster logo modified to have a Union Jack pattern inside the prohibition sign.
"I don't believe so..." TJ looked at John with an amused look. "But it does sound like something he and his sister would do." She looked at Ben. "I assume this means you last saw him when you were living in America, then?"
"You remembered that?" Ben nodded. "Right, yes, trained detective."
"Ben worked with my cousin briefly before he moved here, too." John added. "Jen told me to say hello to you, and remember to see her when you visit this year."
"It was a bloody mess last year after the royal succession." Ben rolled his eyes. "But yeah, you're right. My bad."
"It's quite fascinating how your accent changes depending on who you're responding to." TJ noted.
Ben and John just shrugged. "I can see why she gets along with you so well." Ben noted.
After a walk to the facility's Tool/Equipment Maintenance Room (still on the ground floor of the three story structure) Ben indicated a work bench. "So let's get to what brought you here, shall we?"
"Indeed." John nodded. He was holding a metal suitcase with the GBI logo on it. He set it on the counter and unlocked it.
Inside were five devices, about the size and shape of smart phones, but sporting yellow and black caution striping near the top.
"So this is the fabled GBX." Ben whistled. "PKE meter and ghost trap all in one."
"Johnathan's creation." TJ added. "After some...shall we say...bumps in the road of development."
Ben took one of the devices out of the box. "Nice...good heft." He glanced at TJ briefly Is it just me or did she sound like she was a bit proud of John's accomplishment?
"After two years of field testing, the last year being completely successful, and consulting with my Pop, Ray, and Roland, it's now available for use by other GBI franchises." John explained.
"And we were first..." Ben smiled.
"Er, second." John shrugged. "Charlene Zeddemore told me that she and the West Coast team's CEO would have my atoms scattered all over the time stream if they didn't get first crack."
Ben laughed. "Doctor B can be scary if he wants to be."
"Anyway..." John continued, pulling out his own GBX, then grabbing the manual from the box.
TJ's cell phone rang. "Who in the bloody..." She looked at the display, and groaned slightly. "Excuse me a moment..." she said, pointing at the phone, then leaving the room.
"The first thing, of course, is activation..." John started.
On the other end of the line, Eric chuckled nervously "Marie isn't even in the room, I promise. Look, I wouldn't be bothering you if it wasn't important"
"All right. What is it?"
"Mom got hold of some of Zephyranthes's notes about Pippi. And she found something..." At this, Eric told her about his discoveries, that in the 1920's Pippi's first contact upon escaping Ahagotsu wasn't with Zephyranthes, but with the son of an English Earl...
"Dr. Thomas Cadonfloyd?!" TJ said in surprise.
"Yeah. And right there, on the list of his living descendants was a name I recognized. His great-great granddaughter. You."
TJ sighed and sat down. "He died almost thirty years before I was even born. And I never heard anything about him except a couple stories from my grandfather about how much he loved jelly babies. Certainly nothing about wizards and shapeshifting cats." She paused. "But it is damn strange that it comes up now."
At this point, she told him about Thomas Cadonfloyd's grave being robbed just a day before.
"Damn. That is very suspicious timing. Any leads?"
"No." She shook her head even though he couldn't see her. "I'll see my uncle this weekend--he was about six when Thomas died. I'll ask him if he ever heard any of those stories, and if there's some family records that might help. When Johnathan and I are done here, I'll brief Dr. King and the head of the London OCU. That's really all I can do unless something else comes up."
"Gotcha. Thanks TJ. See you soon."
She put the phone away, and had to fight off a shiver.
Behind them, TJ re-entered the room. John glanced at her and nodded. "Well, the cartridge is still there, actually, and I already showed you the ATF, NRADS, and condenser settings, but this is something I ported over and improved from the Mark 2 traps."
"I never got to use those, actually." Ben shook his head.
John continued. "The main grid cartridge in the Mark 2 didn't have to be removed after each use, and I've kept that with this, though with almost a quarter century of tech development I could make them smaller. But let me tell you, getting the positronic flow to stop overloading the induction regulator was the last big hurdle to get through."
He held up one of the new GBXs. "The cartridge doesn't need to be deneutronized after every use, like the old ones, but it does need to be popped out once in a while. You'll know when it needs it when it won't hold more than 50% charge. Just use the cartridge release knob here..." He turned it, and part of the device came loose with a click. He pulled the cartridge, the part that actually had the caution striping on it, free of the GBX. "Just connect this to the charger and it'll be scrubbed in about an hour." He indicated the case he brought. "There's an extra cartridge for each GBX, and all the details are in the manual."
"Smashing." Ben said.
John turned to TJ. "Something important?"
TJ grimaced slightly. "Maybe..." She told John and Ben what she'd learned from her call with Eric.
"Crap..." John mused. "Maybe it is a 'wanker cult' or something."
"If it's a coincidence, it's a bloody hell of one." Ben agreed. "We've kept our eyes and ears open for this Ahagotsu chap since you sent us the message last fall, but nothing. Still..."
"Like I told Eric, I will call Chief Inspector Gates and brief her." TJ continued. "Other than that...well, suspicions and coincidence aside, we really don't have anything linking this grave robbery to Ahagotsu or anything else supernatural."
"True." John agreed. He turned back to Ben. "So...any more questions about the GBX?"
"Nothing right now." Ben replied. "I'll look over the manual with the others; if we have any big issues, you're still in London for a few more days, right?"
"Yeah." John nodded. He smirked slightly. "But I'm busy Saturday night."
Ben raised an eyebrow.
"My uncle is having a birthday party." TJ explained just a bit too quickly. "That's what he means."
Ben rolled his eyes. "Of course, Inspector, of course."
A large collection of bubbling vials and vats of foul-smelling fluids adorned the room. In the center, a table was covered by a sheet--which seemed to be concealing an unmoving human body.
A very large one.
Next to it, the man Ahagotsu only knew as Doctor Vidius was adjusting an electronic device. "Most would agree that your are completely correct, Mister Harley." Vidius removed his visor to wipe sweat from his brow; it was the first time Ahagotsu had ever seen the man's brown eyes, as they were usually concealed by the translucent green visor. "Only a little more time now..."
"I look at your eyes and say the carpet and the drapes don't match...wait a minute, that means something else, right?"
"And I would imagine you wouldn't like to know the answer to that." Vidius quipped. He turned to Ahagotsu. "It's fortuitous you interrupted me now. It reminded me that I need to do some shopping."
"Oh, goody!" Ahagotsu clapped excitedly. "Should I have Bombie put on his best shroud?"
"No." Vidius shook his head. "Believe it or not, I have to go out to actual stores. To procure some items that will allow me to blend into 'polite' society for a time."
"So it isn't another grave robbery?" Ahagotsu feigned disappointment. "Bombie will be so disappointed."
Vidius mused. "You see, I need to revive someone, but this time in a more...metaphorical way. And to do that, I will have to wear the mask of the mundane." He paused to put his visor back on. "For a time, I will need to impersonate the man I used to be."
"Will you be back for tea?" Ahagotsu asked. "Maybe pick up something for me from Marks & Spencer?" Vidius ignored him, and left the room.
Beside Ahagotsu, Pippi hissed.
"Aw, what's the matter, Kittypusspuss? Vidius steal your favorite catnip mouse for his experiments?"
"I don't like his smell." Pippi said.
"With a mummy and a zombie--not exactly exemplars of hygiene, particularlly dental--around, he's the one you're complaining about?!"
"Because he has the distinct smell..." Pippi snarled. "...of a Cadonfloyd."
Ahagotsu raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"...No way in hell I was going to let Lupin find out about my grandfather and uncle." TJ was saying as they walked to the front door. "She makes jokes about how 'hoity-toity' she thinks I am now, imagine if she found out I really was from 'blue blood'."
"Nah, you'll be okay." John told her. "Eric's Dad is actually a Scottish Duke. Uncle Ray's mother was the younger sister of the Duke of Dunkeld and he named Ray his heir."
"Really?" TJ did manage to smile slightly. "That's good to know..." She opened the front door.
"Father? We're home." TJ called out.
"Hey, Marty, where are you?" John added.
"Half a moment, I see a note..." TJ picked it up and rolled her eyes as she read it. "Another bloody call from the Ministry. I'd swear he'd work less if he just stood for election as an MP."
"Wonderful." John nodded.
They looked at each other. There was an awkward pause.
John finally broke it. "Guess we find out what's on the telly?"
"Maybe some replays of the Japan Open." TJ turned on the set, then wrinkled her nose. "Bloody hell...it's an American mutant rugby game..."
"We could see that back home!" John said.
"Flip on to the BBC." John suggested. "Maybe there's some Doctor Who reruns or something on..."
There weren't, but they decided the news was worth watching. There were some inevitable reporting about the current troubles in the Middle East, which led to a report with a Scotland Yard officer being interviewed about their anti-terrorism security measures.
"You had a uniform like that, right?" John asked.
"Of course I did. Still have most of it--just can't wear it in public without being put in prison." TJ answered.
He gave her a mischievous look. "I bet you look great in the version with the mini-skirt."
" 'Version with the...'?" she sputtered. "Johnathan Spengler, I was a law enforcement officer." She drew closer to him with an annoyed look on her face. "Not a Kissogram."
He met her annoyed gaze, and smiled. "Yeah, but I bet you'd make a great Kissogram..."
"I mean, I know you have the legs for it. And I've heard your singing voice..."
She started to blush. He wasn't sure yet whether it was anger, embarrassment, or both.
"Oh, wait, yeah, I forgot the one thing I can't verify." He rubbed his chin.
"And what the bloody hell is that?"
"The whole 'kissing' part." John's eyes narrowed. "For all I know, you're a terrible kisser."
Her eyes narrowed. "Oh really?"
"Well, I mean..."
He didn't get to finish his thought. Because she grabbed him and kissed him.
For fifteen seconds, they were frozen in place. He felt his body temperature rising...his heart beating faster...he started to wonder when other physical reactions would kick in...
She released him, with a satisfied smirk on her face.
"...i stand corrected..." he managed to squeak.
"I should bloody well think so!" With that she stood up and strode out of the living room toward the stairs.
Oh wow what just happened here? John mused to himself, finding it surprisingly hard to think.
She sunk to the floor, finding it surprisingly hard to think. And why do I want so badly to go back down there and do it again?!
...Because it was so bloody fun...
"Johnathan, it's Eden. How did it go with Dr. King and the UK team today?"
"Are you all right? You sound...distracted."
"...tj's in her room and i'm not i'm downstairs watching tv but i'm fine everything's fine ..."
"...i'll talk to you later eden...i need to spend some time in the bathroom..."
And the day he met Tessa Jane Anderson.
"I just got a call from Sylvester's assistant, Mister Huntwick." Martin told him as he joined John in the hallway. "He'll be here in about fifteen minutes." Like John, he was in a tuxedo.
"Your brother-in-law likes to put on posh parties?" John asked.
"Not really." Martin shook his head. "He just feels like he has to, the whole 'I'm the Earl of Lungbarrow and have to act like it once in a while I suppose' thing. I'd only be half surprised if he showed up in a chicken costume."
John laughed. "Sounds like more than one person I know back home." He nodded a couple times, then looked at the picture displayed in the hallway--stamped "14/02/2005". "This is your whole family, right?"
Martin nodded. "Yes. On Janey's seventh birthday."
In the center was a birthday cake with seven candles, the birthday girl standing behind it. Right beside young TJ, with a mischievous look on his face, was a little boy who looked a lot like Martin. Martin stood to one side, his eighteen-year-younger face somewhat less lined; behind TJ to the other side was a beautiful woman who looked very much like TJ, albeit with long, black hair collected into a braided tail slung over her left shoulder.
"I can definitely see the resemblance." John said. "Your wife was gorgeous."
Martin nodded. "That she was."
"Martin...after all this time, I gotta ask. What happened to her? Your wife, TJ's mother, what happened to her?"
Martin sighed. "I guess I'm not surprised Janey never talked about it."
"You don't have to if you don't want to."
"No, you need to know this, especially as you're meeting Lisa Jane's brother tonight. This picture, you see..." he gestured to it. "...was from the last birthday Janey had with her Mum."
Martin paused then continued. "Janey was seven. Her brother Jacob was a month shy of five. Lisa Jane was a botanist--had a degree from the University of Nottingham--and worked in a botanical garden downtown. She liked taking the tube to work; she could have driven herself, or even had someone from her father's staff take her, but she insisted." Martin smiled slightly as he said this.
He exhaled, then his face grew harsher. "In July, a bunch of bombs went off in the subway system. Some religious arseholes thinking they were making some rubbish point about their superiority by murdering a bunch of innocent people."
"Adonai. You mean..." John realized.
Martin nodded. "Yes. My wife, Janey's mother, was one of the victims."
"Damn." John rubbed his face. "I'm sorry, Martin. I had no idea..."
"Thank you." Martin replied. "You had no way of knowing. But it's important to know that to understand Janey--she changed after that. Became more driven. I think it's why she became the kind of person she is--to keep innocent people from dying at the hands of wankers like that, living or dead."
John processed this for a few minutes; the two were silent. John finally said "While we're at it, what about TJ's brother? All I ever heard her say about him is that her stuffed Paddington fell on his PlayStation once..."
Martin chuckled slightly. "And she didn't hear the end of that for about a week. My son Jacob..."
They heard footsteps coming down the stairway.
For the second time that week, John Spengler found it difficult to think.
She was wearing a strapless ball gown in a rich shade of violet with long gloves in a slightly lighter shade; as she held up the hem of the skirt to walk down the stairs, the dress's matching shoes--with a modest heel, which she had insisted on--gingerly stepped down.
And he had thought Tessa Jane Anderson was beautiful before? That was nothing compared to this.
"I'm not holding things up, am I? It's been ages since I had to bother with this much bloody primping and make-up."
"Oh, no, Dear, everything's fine." Martin reached over and closed John's agape mouth. "Mister Huntwick is still a few minutes away, I'd estimate."
She looked at John. "Well, what do you think?"
He just made some incoherent noises.
"And here he was just looking at the picture of your mother, saying she was gorgeous, and how much you looked like her." Martin said mischievously.
She blushed. "Really?"
John adjusted his collar, shaking himself out of the hormonal stupor he'd just encountered. "Well, the Fifth Amendment is a thing in my country, not yours, so...yeah."
She reached up and straightened his tie. "You look...quite smashing yourself, Doctor Spengler. Neither of us have seen the other like this..." She managed a quick wink at him. "I supposed that it makes having to dress like penguins and cake toppers worth it."
He smiled back, and took a pair of glasses out of his pocket, round green frames, and put them on. "I almost forgot this."
"I thought you didn't need spectacles?" TJ asked, looking a little confused.
"I don't" John replied. "Eden got these for me on our birthday; she has a similar pair in red, and said if we ever wanted to 'Spengler Up' these might come in handy. Just plastic with no prescription, but otherwise pretty much the same as Pop's"
She stared at him for a few seconds.
"What?" he asked, his glasses drooping slightly.
She smirked. "To borrow an observation, your father is a quite handsome man, Johnathan." She reached over and pushed his glasses back up his nose with one finger. "The spectacles accentuate your resemblance to him."
His glasses fogged up, and he looked dazed again.
"Janey, I think you broke your escort." Martin said, trying his hardest not to laugh with approval at it all. Just then, his phone dinged. "Looks like Huntwick is here."
John composed himself. "Shall we go, TJ?" He held out his left arm.
"Yes, let's." she nodded, picked up her clutch, and took the offered arm.
"There, you feel better now, Pussems?" Ahagotsu asked.
Pippi hated to admit it, but..."Yes..yes I do."
He reached down and scratched her head; she flinched.
Vidius stepped into the office. "Well, how do I look?"
Ahagotsu was taken aback. "Awful! That black and white suit--it's hideous! Dreadful! I mean...look at it, so dreary and boring! You look like a bloody penguin! I implore you, borrow one of mine--maybe the green one with the purple check pattern and the yellow polka dots? At least take a whoopie cushion with you!"
Vidius rolled his eyes. "I think I'll pass."
"Good grief...you even have a boring hair color now--I mean, drab old ordinary brown, really?"
"My natural shade, my dear Pharaoh. I can't shock the people I'm about to visit..."
He adjusted the tie on his tuxedo. "At least not any more than my simply showing up there will, anyway."
"Stag party?" Ahagotsu asked.
"More like...a family reunion." Vidius smiled, his brown eyes twinkling. "Have Bombie bring the Mini Cooper around; I need to crash an important party. I just need one more thing to make my breakthrough...or, to be more precise, I need one more person!"
His sense of humour still sucks... Ahagotsu thought to himself.
Pippi just stared at the chuckling man. Cadonfloyd or not, there was definitely something about him that she Did. Not. Like.
Ghostbusters 2023 Created by Fritz Baugh and OgreBBQ
Splash picture inspired by the classic cover to Now Comics' Real Ghostbusters Vol. 1 No. 4 (November 1988) painted by Ken Steacy
"Lungbarrow" is not a real place, but is instead an in-joke to a somewhat notorious Doctor Who novel written by Marc Platt in 1996, presenting an origin story of the Doctor that only looks restrained and respectful of continuity compared to "The Timeless Child".
Hobbs Lane Music Hall and Ahagotsu are from the Ghostbusters International RPG supplement Tobin's Spirit Guide, by Kim Mohan with Robert S. Babcock. (West End Games, 1989)
Ray Stantz being a Scottish Duke comes from "Bustman's Holiday" (RGB-76029;#245) by Richard Mueller.
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. Developed for the GBOT continuity by Fritz Baugh.
Characters not taken from official material were created by Fritz Baugh unless otherwise specified.
Some development of TJ Anderson aided by EGB Fan.
Ghostbusters UK created by Iain Bennett, Ben King, and Tommy Simpson
The tweed jacket incident comes from EGB Fan's story "Likening Kids to Pickle Jars"
Jen Spengler was a member of the legendary Ghostbusters Nightsquad franchise.
Charlene Zeddemore created by OgreBBQ and Fritz Baugh. Some development by EGBFan. Ghostbusters West Coast created by Andy Harness and Vincent Belmont.
Chief Inspector Rebbecca Gates and the Occult Crimes Unit created by Kingpin.