Ghostbusters 2021: The Eye of Aretpo, Part Six
From the Files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBI Historian
GBI Case File GBNY-2021-39/001
It has been thirty-eight years since the opening of Ghostbusters International's legendary first office.
The mysterious death of former baseball player Yuzuru Fuyuno sends TJ Anderson of Scotland Yard's Occult Crimes Unit to New York. She finds Fuyuno's niece, Marie Lupin, who was the intended recipient of the one clue in the case: a creepy amulet. Not long after TJ arrives, the two women are attacked by zombies and run for their lives.
Marie and TJ hitch a ride from fraternal twins John and Eden Spengler, who are having a bad night of their own: their parents-GBI Co-Founder Egon Spengler and his wife Janine-have been kidnapped. After shaking off a gang of zombie bikers, the Spenglers and their new friends head to Ghostbusters Central, where they meet up with Eric Stantz, son of another founding Ghostbuster.
There, they are contacted by Zoraldo, who not only was party to Yuzuru Fuyuno's death, but was the kidnapper of Egon and Janine. He proposes a simple trade: the Eye of Aretpo, the amulet Marie has been given, for the Spenglers and the Extreme Ghostbusters. Facing no choice, the youngsters accept; Zoraldo flees with the Eye, and fulfills his part of the bargain.
But the Ghostbusters and the elder Spenglers have been left in no condition to act against what happens next. Zoraldo and his cult first summon a dark fortress, and then Amot-Naphemus itself. The Earth is two hours away from...something bad.
John, Eric, Eden, Marie, and TJ realize that there's no one else to call. Fate has brought them to this moment, and put the legacy of the Ghostbusters into their young hands.
New York City
June 8, 2021
"This is Cody Jones at the Channel Six studios, where at this hour there is panic in Southern Manhattan. Some grainy video has been sent to our studio...as you can see, it shows a large, irregular, black building of some sort that has appeared in the Hudson River. We've been flooded with calls about, to quote one witness, 'Zombies in Eighties clothes' running amuck and attacking pedestrians...And more than one frantic caller has asked the same question: Where are the Ghostbusters?"
The television blaring Channel Six shattered, destroyed by a zombie wearing Roman gladiator armor.
A homeless man shrieked as the creature advanced on him.
Then he heard a siren.
A blast of energy crackled around the zombie. It shrieked, and then fell to the ground, and moved no more.
The homeless man looked up, seeing the flashing lights as the ECTO-1 sped on its way, smoke still pouring from the proton cannon on its roof.
"Ghostbusters!" the man cheered. "Yeah!"
"The zombies appear to be drawing power from a central source." John explained from the passenger seat, studying his GBX. "The proton blast seems to disrupt and dispel whatever is animating the bodies."
"Good for us." Eric remarked from the driver seat. "And good shooting, Marie."
Marie was sitting at the center seat in the back of the car, which controlled the roof-mounted proton cannon, a feature of this newest incarnation of the ECTO-1. "I owe it all to my Dad, who taught me two important things: how to shoot, and how not to get caught by the guy who owns the land we were hunting on."
Eric chuckled and rolled his eyes.
"You didn't tell me this thing was gonna itch so much, though." Marie said, fiddling with her brand new beige flight suit.
"We have it on good authority that once you get slimed a time or two, it should loosen up." Eden commented. "I hope so-for one thing, mine seems a bit tight around the chest."
TJ nodded in agreement. "You had that problem too?"
Marie snorted derisively. "Okay, shut up, I hate you both now. They fit fine if you have normal proportions instead of being Laurel and Hardy Barbie."
Eric made a choking noise, his face turning bright red. He was clearly trying to avoid the belly laugh that would have probably earned him an ass kicking later.
John managed to get by with a simple raised eyebrow.
Jeremy Cranston watched the footage of zombies rioting, and shifted nervously in the reception desk seat. Being the receptionist at a Columbia University department, even the Spengler Institute, didn't really prepare him for this-the most excitement he usually got was on the days John Spengler staged his periodic explosive accidents (such as earlier that same day).
But Eden called him, politely asked him to help out, and he got here as quick as he could.
He sighed. She was gorgeous, and the first woman who'd ever gotten the joke he told about squaring polynomials, but how was he going to ever have a chance with one of the smartest people in the world?
Professor Spengler and his wife currently lay in the upstairs beds, along with the four "Extreme" Ghostbusters. There was a PKE Meter sitting on the desk, activated, but Jeremy had only the faintest clue what he was supposed to wait for.
And then Eden and the rest had left him there. John had activated the "lock-down", the security systems that completely sealed the former firehouse from the outside world as well as activating several paranormal safeguards, but Jeremy still wasn't feeling all that safe.
How did Mrs. Spengler or Mr. Tully ever deal with this? It's almost worse than having to go out there and actually fight the demons-at least out there you know how close you are to the world being destroyed. Here all we can do is sit, and wait, and wonder if every little noise is just Slimer upstairs cleaning out the refrigerator, or the beginning of the end.
"Mayor Jacobs just released a quick statement: he has been personally guaranteed by an agent of Ghostbusters International that the famed worldwide paranormal investigation agency is on the case."
Jeremy heard a thud.
The outside camera showed zombies in gladiator helmets starting to pound on the outside walls of the firehouse.
If they get in, and do something to the Containment Unit... Jeremy gulped. He nervously picked up the weapon Eric had insisted he have ready-a "Proton Pistol"-and hoped he wasn't about to have to try to use it.
"Captain Jacobi! Look!"
The beat cop's excited shout was followed by a siren.
Many of them having grown up in the earlier parts of the century, when Ghostbusters International had finally become a thriving, nominally accepted part of New York's culture, the cops managed a brief cheer even as they attempted to keep the invading zombies and the inevitable civilians too curious and/or jaded to flee away from each other.
The ECTO-1 skidded to a halt. After at least one of the five individuals within took a deep breath, the doors open and the new Ghostbusters made their public debut.
"Wow." Marie remarked, looking at the black, ominous structure. "Nobody told me Tim Burton had a summer home built here."
"Ghostbusters!" Captain Jacobi shouted, her relief now tempered by what she saw-or what she didn't see, namely at least one face she recognized. "What's going on here?"
"We think we're on the verge of a major paranormal event related to an entity calling itself 'Amot-Naphemus'" Eric explained. "It's connected to the kidnapping of Professor Spengler and his wife earlier tonight."
"Okay." Jacobi nodded. "But where's Doctor Jackson and his team? Good grief...are you guys sporting 'Rookie' tags?"
"Um..." Eric stuttered.
"We may be new at this, but I assure you, we're all fully trained and have the full confidence of GBI's leadership." John lied blatantly. "Now if you'll excuse us, Captain, we got zombies to toast."
Eden smacked John as they got back into the car. " 'Fully trained'? First you lied to the Mayor, now you're lying to the police?"
"Well, okay, it's a bit of a stretch." John admitted. "But c'mon...you, me, Eric, we've been around this stuff all our lives. Marie's a crack shot, and TJ adds..." He feigned a contemplative expression.
TJ rolled her eyes and made an exasperated noise. "How many fire fights have you been involved in, Doctor Spengler?"
"Oh yeah, the cop thing." John said brightly. "I knew there was some other reason you were along."
"You know, if we destroy the car, my Dad will kill me." Eric said, starting the engine.
"Just use some of that money piled up in Gringotts Bank to pay for the repairs." John said brightly.
Eric scratched his forehead with his middle finger, and gunned the engine.
"You know what the last thing to go through a zombie's mind is when it dies all over again?" Marie asked.
"Most zombies are actually..." Eden started to answer
"Particle beam." Marie finished, grinning madly as she took the controls of the roof cannon.
The ECTO-1 replivehicle roared forward, cannon firing. Zombies flew away in pieces as the car charged, at least ten hurling to the Hudson River below.
"Ichor stains. Wonderful." Eric rolled his eyes. "And here I am out of Warlox..."
"Look out!" TJ shouted, as the car plunged into the dark opening of the fortress
"Acba yin Lo-kum yin Kym-nark-mar Acba yin Netosa yin Erva"
Zoraldo looked up at Amot-Naphemus. "Is there...a problem, Great One?"
I sense intruders...intruders into my fortress. Wielding the nuclear fire of our enemies. The enemies you said you had dealt with!
"Ghostbusters?" Zoraldo spat incredulously. "That is impossible! The co-founder and his mate still lie helpless! Their proteges as well! All at my hand! I assure you, Great One, it cannot be..."
SILENCE! Amot-Napheums flexed, and a blast of energy played about Zoraldo. The sorcerer shrieked in pain, and fell to the ground. They will not be allowed to interfere. Legions! he called into the air, the halls shaking with his fury. Find and destroy them!
The ECTO-1 skidded to a stop. "This is as far as we can go on wheels." Eric said.
The five pseudo-Ghostbusters scrambled out of the car, as Marie threw open the back door, pulling out the rack holding the weaponry they'd need.
Eric looked over the five proton packs. "Oh yeah..."
"Gear up." Marie said.
Eric shrugged a pack on, his face beaming. "I was born to wear this stuff."
"Bite your tongue." John snarked. "That's a Tully line."
TJ regarded her pack, and the neutrona wand attached to the right side. "I hope someone someday remembers there are left handed people in the world."
"Well, yeah, but GBI doesn't hire too many." John ribbed her. "They're sinister."
Eric guffawed, and Eden groaned. TJ bit her lip. She actually found it pretty funny, but wouldn't give John the satisfaction of admitting it.
"What?" Marie asked.
"We'll explain it later." Eden told her.
"Setting one is Attack Mode." Eden explained, in part to remind herself-this being the first time she'd ever even contemplated using the weaponry in a "live" setting. "It generates a positive charged stream that neutralizes the negative electrostatic charge of ectoplasm. Setting two is Confinement-it generates a negative charged shell around an entity in preparation for being trapped. Setting three is Repulsion, a negative ion flow to push entities away from you. Setting four is Solar Beam, which is basically only effective against vampiric undead and other sunlight-adverse opponents. Setting five is Organic Confinement, which is similar to setting two, but designed for living beings. It's also practically useless against most ectoplasmic manifestations."
"Before we go any further..." Eric said.
"Don't cross the streams?" Eden offered. "It's bad."
"No no..." Eric asked them to hold out a hand each, and then muttered an brief incantation. "I've extended my own magic defense-the Parma Magica-to each of you. It's not going to be very powerful split five ways, granted, but if a zombie with a low penetration attack tries to hit you, it may make all the difference"
Eden looked around. "Curious...there does seem to be a slight difference in perception. Just the slightest bit...subdued."
"In a place like this, that's probably not a bad thing." Marie quipped, arming her pack like she'd worn one for years. "Now when am I gonna get to shoot something again?"
"Ask and thou shalt receive." TJ said dryly, pointing toward the two score of undead that was now bearing down upon them.
"Gulp." Eden said.
"Only fifty of them?" Marie snorted dismissively. "Whatever."
"Let's go, Ghostbusters!" Eric shouted, firing.
"And that's Kong and Spencer's line." John shook his head. "That's even worse."
"Eat lead, Suckers!" Marie shouted.
"Actually, the proton beams use alpha particles, which are closer to helium, than lead." Eden corrected Marie.
"What. Ever." Marie rolled her eyes.
In a pretty impressive display, the five neo-Ghostbusters fired in a unison that almost might have fooled an observer into thinking it was practiced.
Well, except for John being knocked on his butt by the recoil, and TJ and Eden just about dropping their throwers.
Marie and Eric, however, did a pretty good job of mowing down a good three zombies apiece before the things knew what hit them.
Eric moved closer to Eden, in hopes of covering her while she got her bearings. "Eden! Brace with your legs!"
Eden growled to herself as she reset her stance and fired again.
John was in worse straightsﾗthe zombies were closing in him, recognizing the weak link in their opponents' chain.
TJ, having gone through police training-which even in the UK involves some experience with firearms-adapted quick, and was now proving to be a better shot than Eric. "Pick yourself off the ground, Spengler! You're not doing much good down there on your arse!"
"Depends what you want me doing." John retorted.
John managed to get up, and finally fired successfully. But the zombies had already cut him off from the others.
"We gotta find Zoraldo and Amot-Naphemus!" Marie reminded everyone. "Blowing away zombies, as fun as it is, is just giving them more time!"
Eric clamped his thrower to his waist. "Give me a few secondsﾗI'll see if I can whip up something."
"Perdo Corpus!" Eric shouted, with a blast of energy that demolished three of the closest zombies. But more of them kept coming.
"Johnathan!" Eden shouted, her brother being cut off from them by zombies.
"Retreat and regroup!" they heard him shout. "At least some of us gotta get to the big shots!"
Eric staggered a little, the spontaneous spell of a form and technique combination that wasn't his forte having drained him, tried a different track. "Creo Ignem!"
The zombies were blinded by a burst of pure white light. When they recovered their senses, the five Ghostbusters were gone.
"Acba yin Lo-kum yin Kym-nark-mar Acba yin Netosa yin Erva"
The zombies closest to him shrieked and fell to pieces.
More power! the dark god screamed.
Zoraldo-the man once known as Thomas Riley, aspiring stage magician-looked at the being he'd served for a century with new horror. "But Great One...the Nadir is almost here...it's only a matter of..."
The Ghostbusters are here NOW! the demon roared. I have seen much over the last four decades, Zoraldo. The defeats of the First God of Fire. The One Who Cannot Die. The Deepest One. The Shapeless Destructor. The Death God of the Nile. The Dark Trickster of the North. Them, and so many others.
I WILL NOT BE DENIED IN MY MOMENT OF TRIUMPH!
The castle shook with the dark god's rage, and reverberated with crackles of his magic power.
Eric looked around as the castle shook. "You okay, Eden?"
"I'm fine." Eden replied simply, pulling out her PKE Meter. She had deactivated the energy level sensors, making the meter only capable of sensing PK flowﾗotherwise, the device probably would have been burned out by the ambient energy in this place, even with the steady improvements in the devices' breakers over the decades. "The psychokinetic energy seems to be flowing in and out of a central spot. Best guess is that's where Amot-Naphemus and Zoraldo are."
"Then let's go." Eric said. "So...um...did you miss me any?"
She blinked at him. "What kind of question is that?"
"Just wondering." Eric asked, chuckling nervously. "I mean, we all grew up together. Us, JC, Charlene, Jess and Oscar. You ever wonder what kept me away?"
"Six years with nary a word was...uncharacteristic, I admit." She finally said. "But I assumed you had good reason, and I think I've been proven correct."
"I've seen some amazing things as a wizard, Edie." Eric said. "Last year, the Order held its Grand Tribunal. They've been holding them every thirty three years since the Middle Agesﾗthis was the Forty First. Me, Master Vincent, and my Mom, and..." He stopped. "The damndest thing is I really can't say too much about it. Though I did win in Certamen against some asshole from House Tytalus that was badmouthing our Dads."
Eden managed to chuckle, and it made his heart sing. "I really should berate you for trying to distract me during all this, but...thanks." She gave him a slight smile. "It really is nice having you back, Eric."
Marie and TJ stopped to catch their breaths. "The zombies seem to have lost us. For the moment." TJ remarked.
"We gotta catch up with the others." Marie nodded. "They're the ones who know what's going on."
"Johnathan put it simply enough: retreat and regroup. They will probably be trying to find Zoraldo and Amot-Naphemus, so we should do likewise, as that is where they'll be or be arriving at soon enough."
Marie nudged the shorter woman. "He'll be so happy you're paying attention to him. And that you were so worried when the zombies cut him off."
TJ looked at her. "What in the world are you babbling about?"
"Oh, come off it." Marie rolled her eyes. "Johnny is quite the hunk of meat, isn't he?"
"We're fighting for our lives against a dark god and a zombie horde, and you expect me to be appraising men?"
"Oh, I know, what's to notice, right? The broad shoulders, the deep voice, the big feet" She nudged TJ in the ribs at that one "The sense of humor? The four digit IQ? Not much there, right."
"I only met the man four hours ago!" TJ sputtered
"And yet you're both already putting off pheromones so thick the air shimmers around you." Marie leaned in close. "After all, you're already his type. You saw his sister and his Momﾗshe was a Hardy Barbie herself back in the day."
"I think you need to get your sense of priorities in check, Lupin." TJ spat. "Even if I were to admit that Dr. Spengler is attractive, I barely know the man. Not all of us consider having a pulse and a Y-chromosome sufficient reason to take a man to bed."
"And that, Anderson, is you making things more complicated than it needs to be. You weren't grown in a test tube, so that means that about twenty four years ago, your Mommy saw something she wanted, your Daddy gave it to her, and nine months later..." Marie snapped her fingers under TJ's nose. "There was a bouncing baby girl who tried way too hard not to soil her diaper. So quit looking down on me for realizing that men are a feast to be enjoyed. And Johnny is a slab of prime ribﾗso go feast!"
TJ made an exasperated noise and stormed off.
Marie rolled her eyes, and looked off as though talking to someone. "Stick around. It's obviously gonna be one of those Ghostbuster romances."
John peeked around the corner; all clear.
He activated his GBX.
Error: PK Level Exceeds Sensor Tolerance Parameter.
"Even with the improved breakers I put in..." he muttered.
He was too distracted resetting the meter to only detect PK flow to see the zombie approach himﾗuntil it opened its mouth to fire a blast of toxic vomit.
Fortunately, the spew splashed against an invisible barrier, confusing both the attacker and the intended victim.
"Hey, Man..." the zombie whined in a high-pitched voice. "Why didn't that hurt you, Man?"
John got his wits first, though, and blasted the zombie. That thing Eric did to us... he realized. I better remember to thank him for it later.
GBX is showing the PK flow to and from a central point...I be that's where our Big Nasty is. He adjusted his thrower. "Wish me luck, Mom and Pop..."
Zoraldo felt a bead of sweat on his brow.
My soldiers are still being destroyed... Amot-Naphemus's spectral voice growled. But their time is running short
Zoraldo looked at his long-time master. For so long, he'd just labored to do as the dark god commanded. For so long, he'd worked solely to get out of the hellish domain of cold and sorrow. He would do anything to get away, to attain the power the Great One promised him.
He realized that, over the course of a century, he'd never really given much thought as to what that would mean to the world he'd left behind.
Begin the next stage of the incantation Amot-Naphemus commanded.
"It is not yet the Nadir, Great One."
No. But this way we will be ready when the exact moment strikes. Ready in case the Ghostbusters get past my army of minions.
"Yes, Great One." Zoraldo inhaled, and began the next chant.
The Eye of Aretpo began to glow. It freed itself from Zoraldo's broach, and floated toward the awaiting Dark God.
"JC!" Eric shouted, seeing his friend being chased by various zombies. He and Eden scattered them with a few shots.
"Thanks." John said. "You guys all right?"
"Copacetic." Eden replied dryly.
The sound of proton beams being fired from their left was followed by shouts of "Baka!" and the arrival of Marie and TJ.
"What kept you?" John deadpanned.
"We ran into some old friends." TJ replied.
John grinned. "Star Wars references."
"Oh, just buck up and give him a great big French kiss." Marie rolled her eyes, prodding TJ with her elbow. "Show him how concerned about him you were."
TJ sputtered, and turned bright red from anger.
"Marie, quit pushing." Eric scolded. "We're trying to stop the world from being destroyed, quit trying to play matchmaker."
"Besides." John added. "Contrary to popular belief, not all men consider double X chromosomes and a pulse sufficient enticement a mere four hours after meeting."
Marie laughed at that, which only drew confused looks from everyone but TJ, who just put her hand over her eyes and muttered.
They're right outside! Amot-Naphemus projected, his distress becoming obvious.
"I don't understand this..." Zoraldo shook his head. "I just don't see how they..."
I NEED MORE POWER!
Zoraldo felt his knees buckle, and his breath caught in his throat. "Great One...he croaked, and at his arm, where the skin peeking out between his glove and his jacket was becoming tighter and spotted. He yanked off the glove of his left hand, seeing his hand becoming withered, and translucent. "What have..."
You have served me well, Thomas Riley. Amot-Naphemus replied. But I can no longer afford to sustain your mortal life force with my power. Not when the moment is at hand and agents of defeat are near. But I assure you...you will become the new general of my undead legions.
Zoraldo crumpled to the ground, and lay very still.
"Ungh." Marie groaned, as the fivesome saw their opponent for the first time. "It's after midnight, and Cinderella has become one ugly pumpkin."
"Full stream!" John shouted.
"Just don't embarrass me again, Johnathan." Eden quipped.
The five beams ripped into the massive entity. To their credit, none of the five Ghostbusters fell down this time.
On the other hand, it didn't seem to be hurting Amot-Naphemus very much, either.
The Dark God waved his hand, slamming the five youngsters with a telekinetic attack that downed them. Eric felt it blast through his parma with little effort.
This is what I've been afraid of? Amot-Naphemus snorted. These are the mighty Ghostbusters? Yes...I see it now from Zoraldo's mind. He was more successful than it looked...you aren't even truly Ghostbusters. You're Fuyuno's niece, the Brittanian whom he followed to her, Spengler's whelps, and...well, he doesn't know the last one, which means he is of even less consequence.
But consider yourselves blessed. For your courage, I will allow you to live long enough to witness my completion. The Nadir of Helios is at hand, and at that time, the Eye of Aretpo will be reabsorbed into my substance. I will be whole in my power for the first time in a dozen millennia!
"'Nadir'?" John said, checking his watch. "But midnight was an hour ago."
"No, he's right, JC." Eric shook his head. "F-ing Daylight Savings Time, it's throwing it off an hour."
"The amulet!" TJ suggested, pointing at it as it floated toward Amot-Naphemus. "If that's the source of its power, perhaps if we destroy it instead, whatever the entity is planning might not happen."
They didn't even discuss it further. They blasted away at the floating Eye of Aretpo, but the psychokinetic energies swirling between it and Amot-Naphemus were too strong. The beams just couldn't penetrate it.
"Give me a minute..." Eric said, beginning to softly chant. "It's a last-ditch thing, but if I can gather enough power...if you can do something to distract the monster..."
Zoraldo wheezed weakly.
All he had done for the last century was leading to this moment.
"Eye Fo Optera Ot Em!" Zoraldo croaked.
Amot-Naphemus's gloating laughter filled the hallﾗuntil the Eye of Aretpo suddenly lurched away from him, and to the waiting hand of his servant Zoraldo.
Zoraldo? the Dark God howled WHAT TREACHERY IS THIS?
"A fair one, I think." Zoraldo responded. "You betrayed me first, so now I'm returning the favor."
Amot-Naphemus roared, and began to stomp toward his former minion.
Eden had an idea. "Setting three! Full stream!"
John, TJ, and Marie joined her in the attack; the four reddish beams slammed into Amot-Naphemus. The monster howled with rage and indignity, and while it didn't seem to be driving him back, he was no longer moving forward.
AND TO THINK I WAS ABOUT TO SHOW YOU MERCY! YOUR DEATHS WILL BE PAINFUL AND PROLONGED FOR THIS!
"Thanks for the concern." John quipped.
"Get ready to shut off..." Eric said. "Now!"
The beams left the monster.
"Perdo Vim!" Eric shouted, gesturing grandly. "Eternal Bane of the Wyld!"
A blast of magic slammed into Amot-Naphemus, knocking the Dark God to one knee.
" 'No consequence'." Eric mocked.
That actually...stung. There was honest surprise in the Dark God's voice. That was the work of the Spellsingers...the stink of the Atlanteans lingers around this world still...
"I don't think that's going to keep him long." John said nervously.
"Tsukiko..." Zoraldo creaked, placing the Eye of Aretpo on the ground. "I believe the honor should be yours."
Marie looked at Zoraldo, and then at the golden amulet. "Why should I trust you?"
"My time is almost done, Tsukiko Lupin." Zoraldo coughed. "And what have you got to lose at this point?"
Amot-Naphemus, in contrast, was suddenly screeching desperately. Don't touch that! It's not yours! I...er, did I say something about prolonged and painful death? That was all a joke! Hah hah funny, right? I know you mortals just love humor! So let's just all be friends, and I'll let you be my new elite minions.
"Yeah, we already saw how you treat your elite minions, Bunky." Marie charged her thrower, placing the nozzle against the cursed item. "This is for Uncle Yuz, you ugly son of a bitch!"
Time seemed to stop for a second.
The Eye of Aretpo shattered into a spray of golden shards.
Amot-Naphemus began to bubble, and convulse. NOOOOOO! DAMMIT! TWELVE THOUSAND YEARS AND I WAS SO CLOSE! THIS ISN'T FAIR! THIS SUCKS! THIS F-ING SUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks...
Within moments, there was nothing left of the Dark God of Atlantis but a puddle of grayish ectoplasmic goo, and a twisted skeleton of approximate human sizeﾗthough the Ghostbusters would have no way of knowing it, the sole mortal remains of cultist Roderick Dimsworth.
"I'm confused. Did we just win?" TJ asked.
The now wizened and shriveled Zoraldo chuckled. "Thank you..."
"Why?" Marie asked him.
"I hated my parents. I hated the world that threw me into the charnel house of Europe's Great War." He coughed. "But most of all, I hated Amot-Naphemus. And I realized that I didn't hate the entire world enough to want it destroyed."
He gestured toward the Spengler twins. "With Amot-Naphemus gone, the power that ensorcelled your parents and the other Ghostbusters has dispelled. They should be none the worse for the experience."
"I committed a great many crimes, Tsukiko Lupin. I won't ask your forgiveness for them...but..." He wheezed. "...But for what little it might be worth, I am sorry..."
Marie looked at the pathetic, dying man for a second. "You spent your last moments in the service of Gaia, Man. That's the kind of death a lot of us hope for. Go in peace."
With one last wheeze, Thomas "Zoraldo" Riley breathed no more.
"That was very..." Eric didn't know what to say, putting a hand on her shoulder.
"Maybe I will forgive him." Marie said. "Someday. But I figured he earned a better death than me calling him a murdering asshole, right?"
The dark castle shook violently, throwing the five young Ghostbusters off their feet.
"I think with Ugly and Zoraldo out of the building, the building ain't gonna be stickin' around long." John surmised.
"The ECTO-1!" Eric shouted.
"HAUL ASS!" Marie shouted.
With that, the five tore off at a run.
Running through a crumbling castle while dodging debris and re-dead zombies was bad enough, but wearing heavy proton packs made it worse.
Still, they made it to the waiting ECTO-1 without incident, and practically stuffed themselves inside.
"Drive, Asshole!" Marie shouted from the back.
"This would be a good time to see if you can drive as crazy as Johnathan does." Eden told Eric from the passenger seat.
TJ and John were in the middle seat; the situation was too chaotic to really care about the fact that they were a mess of entangled arms and legs.
Eric gunned the engine, and it lurched into motion. He muttered a quick "Rego Terram" spell intended to make the car move just a little faster.
"Look out!" TJ shouted as a piece of black rock tried to land on the car; Eric dodged it.
"Let's just hope the bridge is still there, or this is gonna be a real quick trip." John quipped.
"Shut the f- up." TJ sputtered, afraid he was going to be right about that.
Fortunately, it was still there.
Unfortunately, it started to crumble as the car crossed.
Eric howled and literally willed the vehicle to keep moving. "I never thought I'd be reenacting Don Rosa's 'Return to the Asscrack of Doom' anytime today!"
The car roared over the transom back into Manhattan as the bridge finally dissolved. It skidded through several doughnuts before finally coming to a stop with the help of an unoccupied police car.
"Oops." Eric shrugged.
"Congratulations. You now have three points on your driver's record." Eden said, before giving him a quick hug.
They looked to see the last of the black castle shatter, and sink beneath the Hudson River.
"Aw, too bad." Marie rolled her eyes. "I was hoping to hold my next Swinger's Club party there."
Just about then, the danger passed, John and TJ became conscious of the rather...intimate posture they were in, and scrambled to extricate each other and reach separate sides of the car.
"We did it." Eric exhaled. "We. F-ing. Did it!"
The crowd was starting to surround the car, and a chant started to resound in the late night summer sky.
"Ghostbusters! Ghostbusters! Ghostbusters!"
Jeremy wasn't sure he believed his ears. The pounding stopped.
The closed circuit camera showed the zombies outside the firehouse slumping to the ground, and dissipating into piles of ash.
Jeremy turned to the sound of movement-Roland and Kylie looked downstairs. "What's going on here? Who are you?" Kylie asked. Eduardo had joined his wife and friend, and Garrett was rolling toward the elevator.
"Mister Cranston?" Egon Spengler's voice noted, confused. "The last thing I remember was the magic show...Janine had just..." His wife, of course, was now right beside him, also looking groggy. An ecstatic Slimer floated nearby, babbling excitedly.
"John and Eden." Janine asked. "Where are they?"
"...On the scene where the mysterious structure that appeared just a couple of hours ago has crumbled back into the Hudson River. We're trying to get in close to interview the apparent newest hires of Ghostbusters International, who are believed to be responsible for the structure's destruction and the halting of the zombie outbreak the city was suffering only moments ago..."
And there, on the screen, wearing rookie uniforms, were John, Eden, Eric Stantz, and two women none of them recognized. The crowd was chanting "Ghostbusters! Ghostbusters! Ghostbusters!"
"Sounds like we missed quite a show." Eduardo quipped.
The five Extreme Ghostbusters looked at each other, their next mutual decision becoming crystal clear.
The Ghostbusters International Headquarters Building
30th Street and Seventh Avenue
One Week Later
Dr. Peter Charles Venkman, Chairman Emeritus of Ghostbusters International, took the podium.
It had been, reportedly with some reluctance, that, at the time of his sixtieth birthday in 2014, he'd finally stopped dying his graying hair its youthful brown, and stopped having face-lifts to hide his age. But even with greyer hair, he still had a very energetic, mischievous Cheshire smirk that gave him the face of a much younger man.
(And, as he no doubt thanked the throw of the genetic dice for, at least he still had his own hair, and didn't have to resort to the cheap toupees his own father had.)
"Ladies, Gentlemen, Julio, glad you could all make it today." Venkman began. "I have two announcements to make concerning GBI, in the aftermath of last week's little...well...incident." He winked at the crowd. "So if you were expecting an announcement about Mood Slime's next disc, I'm afraid you're gonna be disappointed."
There were a few chuckles, and one exaggerated sigh of disappointment. If Venkman had any bitterness at being known nowadays less as "Peter Venkman, World Famous Ghostbuster" and more as "Rock Star Oscar Venkman's Dad" it never showed.
The other three original Ghostbusters-Egon, Dr. Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore-sat in the front row of the conference, with their respective wives, and Venkman's wife Dana.
"After a staggering twenty-four years on active duty, which began when they were just out of high school, the four current members of Ghostbusters New York-which some of you guys like to call the 'Extreme Ghostbusters'-have resigned from day-to-day Ghostbusting work, and have entered the reserve list."
"Dr. Roland Jackson has accepted a new position in GBI's Research and Development division. He'll be working with Dr. Ray Stantz in the development of new Ghostbusting technologies, and improvement of the stuff we already use."
"Dr. Kylie Griffin will be moving over to the Spengler Institute, the joint research venture between GBI, Spengler Labs, and Columbia University, taking a full-time position that just opened up there. She gets to work at my old digs at Weaver Hall; I think we forget to tell her that Dean Yaeger's ghost occasionally shows up to cuss at them."
"Eduardo Rivera has been named the new Commandante of Fort Arnold, GBI's training facility. You may recall it's lacked a full-time head honcho since Winston announced his semi-retirement, and well, we just found our man."
"And last but not least, Garrett Miller will be tending to his duties as a physical therapist full time. While he will no longer be involved with GBI to even the extent of his teammates, he's still listed on the reserves, and we have no doubt he'll be there when we need him."
Venkman indicated the four Extreme Ghostbusters. "Twenty-four years, people. I think that merits a round of applause."
The requested round of applause-long, loud, and heartfelt-quickly followed.
"So where does that leave the ol' Hook and Ladder Number Eight?" Venkman grinned. "That nastiness last week gave us our answer. Five brave young people stepped up to the challenge, and passed it with flying colors. The fact that we're having this press conference instead of sacrificing goats to Amot-Naphemus is proof of that."
"The field leader of the new GBNY is Dr. Johnathan Christopher Spengler. Formerly of the Spengler Institute, he's a genius level physicist and engineer who graduated high school at age 13."
John came out, now clad in a flight suit with his last name sewn into it. The uniform was purple, with red on its collar. Unlike a standard suit, however, it was sleeveless-the red tee shirt underneath it sported the Ghostbusters logo on the right shoulder.
"Tessa Jane Anderson comes to us from Jolly Olde England, where she served a stint with Scotland Yard's Occult Crimes Unit. She brings her background in detective work, and her training in dealing with sociopaths will no doubt help her in dealing with her coworkers."
TJ appeared, looking a little nervous. Her flight suit was of standard cut, and while the collar and cuffs were orange the rest of it was a similar shade to John's. She glared at him, and he got an amused look on his face.
The look was echoed by his mother, who poked her husband and whispered "Same color with orange? I think this means we need to watch out for this one..."
Egon raised an eyebrow, amused in his own right.
"Marie Lupin formerly worked as a night club manager, where she probably dealt with much stranger creatures than she ever will at GBI. She's also a crack shot, and has a background in crypto zoology."
"Meaning her father is a werewolf, so she knows a thing or two about their society." Liz Stantz whispered to her husband. "Barney is quite proud of her."
Marie grinned and milked the crowd for applause. Her flight suit was green, with yellow cuffs. Venkman noted to himself, with amusement, that she hadn't tucked in her pant legs. Well, we know who the cool one on this team's gonna be
"And filling out our day-to-day team is Eric Stantz. Like Johnny, he's a Ghostbuster legacy, and is probably an even bigger trove of occult lore than his father was, a graduate of England's prestigious ReinﾕHagen Academy. That's spelled with a dot in the middle, by the way."
Eric wore a flight suit of standard beige color, much like his own father's had been. The trim on his collar was green, though, and he wore a blue jacket with flame designs on it over it. His trademark aviator goggles were perched on his head.
"Dr. Eden Marie Spengler was also asked to join GBNY. She declined a full time position, deciding to remain with the Spengler Institute, but has accepted a position with GBNY's reserves. She's a genius physicist, linguist, and cryptographer, and like her twin brother graduated high school at age 13."
Eden joined her brother and friends. Her flight suit was bluish purple, with reddish-purple cuffs; it was obvious to several of those present that the colors were similar, though not identical, to those on the uniform her father had worn for so many years.
"Ladies and Gentlemen...the Best, the Beautiful...the All Brand New...Ghostbusters!"
The room erupted with deafening applause.
Ectozone Editorial Staff: Dr. Vincent Belmont, EGB Fan, TheRazorsEdge
Additional Beta: Ghostdiva, Kingpin, OgreBBQ, Brian Reilly
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Eric Stantz and Marie Lupin, and Yuzuru Fuyuno, Charlene Zeddemore, and the Inquisitors created by OgreBBQ. Johnathan and Eden Spengler, TJ Anderson, Jeremy Cranston, Dr. Amor? Zoraldo, and Amot-Naphemus created by Fritz Baugh. Jessica Venkman, created by EGB Fan.
Alec Jacobs created by James Van Hise and Neil Grahame; he first appeared in "Hat Trick", in Now Comics The Real Ghostbusters No.28
The Order of Hermes created by Jonathan Tweet and Mark ReinﾕHagen for Ars Magica, currently published by Atlas Games. They also appeared in White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension and Vampire: The Masquerade. Developed for the GBOT continuity by Vincent Belmont and Fritz Baugh. ReinﾕHagen Academy is, of course, named for Mark ReinﾕHagen, co-creator of Ars Magica and the original World of Darkness.
Zoraldo's incantation is a little in-joke to the Palladium Fantasy Role Playing Game by Kevin Simbieda, and is based on the power words presented there.
"Warlox" is a creation of Vincent Belmont