CONSEQUENCES AND TRUTH
From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBWC CEO
GBI Case File No. GBWC-2007-25/300
From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBWC CEO
GBI Case File No. GBWC-2007-25/300
Jeremy Hicks had drawn the short straw, and was currently lashed to the roof of the vehicle, proton thrower in hand.
"Havin' fun, J?" Andy Harness called out the window.
Jeremy's response was unprintable.
Jason Knetge was leaning out the passenger window, gun similarly in hand. "We just gotta get her before she gets to Beverly Hills!"
"I'm still not convinced she's possessed." the driver of the converted SWAT van, Mick Nielson--the GBWC's newest member, formerly of the Ghostbusters Tampa and South Coast Divisions--quipped. "I mean, it's London Sedgewick--she's probably just stoned or drunk again. Or stoned AND drunk."
Ahead of them, a pink Ferarri was ducking in and out of traffic. The blonde starlet spun her head around 180 degrees and cackled at them. "There is no London, only Phosssomac!!!"
London Sedgewick's father, a hotel tycoon, had called the Ghostbusters on suspicion that his daughter was possessed ("She's been acting stranger than usual since she got sentenced.") They weren't sure they were eagar to help someone mostly famous for popping out of the vagina of a rich man's wife, being filmed having sex and having it posted on the internet, and starring in a brain-cell destroyingly stupid "reality" show, but Ghostbusting is a business and Sedgewick pere was offering a very very large check for solving the problem...
"At least this shouldn't be as bad as the time Brittney got possessed by that silicone spirit..." Andy remarked.
"But if Brittney was here, they might both take off their underwear." Jason replied. "That might make it worth it..."
"Sez you." Mick replied. "I'm not sure I'd want to touch that with a borrowed dick. You'd really want to go where Kevin Federline has gone before?"
Jason looked ready to hurl. "Good point..."
"Some of us have girlfriends and families, you know!!!" Jeremy shouted chidingly. "And we'd like to get back to them alive!!!"
"Pfft....you and your demands, J..." Andy quipped.
"I don't think I'd be so concerned if every reporter in California wasn't following us..." Jason said, looking at the long line of cars behind them. "I didn't realize there are so many tabloids in the world..."
"I saw a Fox News van in there..." Andy noted.
"Well, that doesn't mean much..."
"And ABC, NBC, CBS, UBN..."
"I like press as much as anyone, but aren't there any real stories calling for these fuckturds' attentions?" Mick snarled.
"What? When there's a rich white blonde woman to cover?" Andy replied brightly.
The doctor chuckled as she listened to the patient's swollen belly with her stethoscope. "Your boss? You mean..."
"Peter Venkman. The one Bill Murray played in the movies, even though...." her voice changed to a mocking tone sounding vaguely like Garfield the Cat " 'He looks nothing like me.' " she paused. "Everything all right? You've been listening for a few minutes..."
The doctor looked her in the eye and smiled reassuringly. "Nothing wrong at all. In fact, I think it's one of the strongest heartbeats I've heard in a long time. Sounds like your little girl is going to be quite a runner."
"Oh, Grife, that's just what my husband is going to want to hear..." Chelsea Aberdeen Baugh laughed. "Trying to run after a toddler on his artificial leg...that's gonna be a sight..." Her face then grimaced.
"You okay?" the doctor asked.
Chelsea nodded. "Just that stitchy pain at the side of my stomach, like you already told me was normal."
"October 1 is still a bit of a way away, Chelsea. And it's only going to get worse..."
"I thought you doctors were supposed to be reassuring." Chelsea laughed.
"Not to the point of lying." the doctor responded. "If it makes you feel any better, I remember how nervous I was when I had my first, and I was an OB/GYN intern at the time..."
"I really should've known better." Chelsea shook her head, rolling her eyes. "It was New Year's and Fritz and I have a history with New Year's. 2004 it was the first time we...well, practiced for this." she smirked, rubbing her belly. "Then in 2006 we got engaged, so naturally what else could be the fallout from 2007?"
The doctor laughed, and told Chelsea to go ahead and cover her belly. "Everything's still checking out fine, Chelsea. The desk will get you your next appointment all set up--other than that, call any time if anything worries you. I'd rather you call when you didn't need to than not when you did."
Waiting for her were the two most important men in her world: the father of the baby she was carrying, and the father of the baby her mother carried three decades before--Dr. Fritz Baugh and Jim Aberdeen.
"Everything okay?" Jim asked.
"The doctor says everything's working as it should." Chelsea nodded, accepting a peck on the cheek from her husband. "Says she could be a runner..."
"Oh no..." Fritz rolled his eyes.
Jim laughed. "If the kid takes after her Mom as a kid, you are in trouble, Fritzy..."
Fritz pulled out his cell phone. "Don't let me forget to call our Moms when we get back to HQ. You know how insistent they get about getting their status reports." Fritz smirked fondly. "Especially mine after we found out it was a girl--she had four boys. You should've seen her when my brother found out his was a girl..."
"Eh, I had one of each but Pauline had a girl...I bet she's really hoping #2 will be a boy..."
Fritz and Chelsea exchanged a look. "Bite your tongue, Dad." Chelsea said.
"Let's...not get ahead of ourselves, Jim." Fritz agreed.
Jim Aberdeen guffawed as he led them to the car.
"If Fritz comes in and you're playing Word Whomp again, he'll be mad."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Hah hah. I'm entering some invoices since Chelsea's a bit busy today."
"A couple more months, and you'll be doing that full time for a little while." Aidan joked. "Any sign of Rachel today?"
Rose shook her head. "Nope. She's still been hiding a lot since..."
The GBWC's diminutive engineer, Dr. Nathaniel "Otter" Masterson, jumped through the doorway from the garage, apparently excited.
"Otter?" Aidan asked warily.
"I thought I heard someone utter the word 'busty' so I had to check it out! I thought maybe Jennifer was here today!"
Rose sighed. "No, Otter, I said 'busy'. Chelsea's busy today..."
"Well, she's busty too." Otter replied. "Even before she got knocked up. But now, well..."
Rose groaned and was looking for something to throw at him as Aidan turned to the TV. They had a TV set up in the reception area ostensibly for the customers, but during afternoons was often tuned to Rose Prevost and Chelsea Aberdeen Baugh's favorite soap operas. At the moment, though, it was news...
Tom Snowjob, the President's press secretary, was talking. "...Just because the Attorney General fired all of the US Attorneys and replaced them with Karl Rove's friends doesn't mean it was politically motivated, any more than the Vice President declaring himself Supreme Chancellor of the First Galactic Empire means he's gone insane and overstepped his authority..."
"...And if Fritz finds out you had Fox Noise Channel on one of the TVs here..." Aidan chuckled.
"I like Fox Noise!" Otter chimed in. "At least I do when I turn the sound off--they have the best NILFs!"
"It isn't Fox Noise." Rose insisted. "They interrupted 'The Brave and the Bold' for the briefing. Just when we were about to find out who the father of Midge's baby is too, the bastards."
" 'NILF' ?" Aidan asked, afraid of the answer.
"I think Fritz said the Daily Show came up with that one." Otter replied. "It means News I'd Like To..."
There was a loud gong on the screen, and the "BREAKING NEWS!" logo came up.
"We interrupt the Presidential daily briefing for late breaking news: Celebrity socialite London Sedgewick is being chased through the streets of Los Angeles by the Ghostbusters..."
"They interrupted their interruption for this?" Aidan asked incredulously.
Otter looked disgusted. "London Sedgewick? Bah...even I have standards..."
"Ghostbusters. Like Totally Ready To Believe You, Dudes." he answered.
" 'Dudes'?" a familiar voice replied. "That isn't in the official motto now, is it? I need to show up for the meetings more often"
"Not my fault New York is so much fun, Jeff." Aidan chuckled. "So what do we owe the honor of this call?"
"I have to ask about all the London Sedgewick crap...what's going on there?"
"I didn't know you cared about London Sedgewick."
"I fucking don't." Jeff answered, the disdain obvious in his voice. "But it's on every fucking channel here, and now we're starting to get calls about it because some of the news guys here know I split my time in L.A. too. I need to have something to tell them before Bo starts shooting..."
"You pretty much know everything I do." Aidan shrugged instinctively, even though Jeff couldn't see it. "I'm not on the job because somebody had to stay on standby here, and I won the draw."
"Nobody else at all home?"
"Well, Rose is on break, which is why I answered the phone. Chelsea's still at the baby doc, and Fritz is with her..."
Jeff laughed. "You do not want to know what Bo thinks about babies..."
There were some loud crashes, and several rude words being shouted.
"Gotta go...a guy from the New York Post just broke in. I better not let Bo kill this guy...beat up some, maybe, but not kill..."
Aidan laughed as he hung up.
"What was that?" Rose asked, coming back to the desk.
"Jeff." Aidan replied. "He was breathlessly waiting for news on London Sedgewick."
Rose rolled her eyes as she sat down, knowing (or being fairly certain, anyway) that Aidan was joking. She had just settled in when she was pleased to see Fritz and Chelsea finally return to the building. They were in mid-conversation as he held the door for his pregnant wife. "...Quite an offer, and I know we should give it some serious thought..." she was saying.
"I know." Fritz agreed. "I'm just not sure about making the move--and it's not like we don't have the room here."
"How'd it go?" Rose asked, hugging Chelsea. She'd never had children herself, so this was all quite interesting to her. Truth to tell...she found herself feeling oddly protective, like Chelsea was her own dau...baby sister or something.
"As I told Fritz and Dad, the doctor said she'll be quite a runner..." Chelsea answered. Rose laughed at the thought.
Aidan and Otter, having heard the commotion, came to check in. "Anything from Andy or the others in the field?" Fritz asked.
"Nothing new since they cornered her." Aidan answered. "We haven't heard from them directly, mind you, but since London Sedgewick is involved, it's on every channel except the Cartoon Network..."
Fritz grimaced and rubbed his temples. "I try not to get pissed off at these things anymore, but sometimes it's impossible. All the real stories in the world, and they pay so much attention to this brain-dead flake you'd think she invented the cure for cancer or something."
"Please, Boss, not the 'vacuous, shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture' rant again..." Rose mocked. "Er, what in the world were you two talking about when you came in?"
Fritz and Chelsea looked at each other. "Whether to move out or not." she finally answered.
"Jim Aberdeen has a friend in real estate." Fritz elaborated. "He owned the apartment Chelsea lived in before we got married, and he's found a house he wants us to consider moving into."
The room was silent.
"Fritz, you've lived here since this place started up!" Otter answered. "It'd be damn weird to not have you here."
"We haven't made any decision yet." Chelsea shook her head. "We'd have to before too long, but not yet. On the one hand, it'd be nice to have a slightly more normal life. On the other, we definitely have the room here, and it definitely lets Fritz stay on top of things..."
"The main thing we can't decide on yet is...well...the danger factor." Fritz admitted. "It doesn't happen often, but sometimes some rather intense things happen at Ghostbuster headquarters. We had Ashram trash the place a couple years back. Scorpion, Teth-Apophis, and the Peoplebusters all broke in here. And not just us, of course--Nightsquad, GBUK, Doom Patrol, even the original Ghostbusters have each had their headquarters blown up."
"Good point..." Aidan had to admit.
"On the other hand..." Fritz continued. "A separate house is, in some ways, more exposed. We're all public figures to at least a minor degree, and anyone who really wants to find us probably could pretty easily. The warehouse is fortified, reinforced, and defensible. A Gozer cult or the Soul Tracker would have a much rougher time trying to harm a baby here."
Chelsea smiled sheepishly. 'We don't know what to do..."
"We interrupt this coverage of the latest bombing in Iraq for this important breaking news" they heard the TV in the reception area say. "Star London Sedgewick has been taken back to the LA Correction Center!"
"Grife..." Fritz grumbled.
"Looks like they got her." Otter remarked. "Hope they didn't catch anything else in the process..."
A crowd of drooling, slackjawed fans--pre-teen girls with miniskirts, thirty-five year old men with skin so pale it was almost green, every reporter on the West Coast--was waiting.
"Free London!!!" one fat guy with his hand down his pants was saying.
"So are we to take this that Ghostbusters hates rich people, now?' Julio Ramanajan of Fox News shouted. They ignored him.
Mick and Jason led London up to Sheriff Baka, a drooling, slack-jawed character with messy hair and perpetually fogged glasses. "Well, we brought her back..." Jason told him.
Sheriff Baka made an indecipherable noise, tilted his head sideways, then said. "I'm turning her loose."
"WHAT?!" the entire crowd said in unison.
"She served a full three hours time..." Baka replied. "I think the poor girl's suffered enough."
London squealed happily. "I knew giving him that blow job would pay off!!!"
"You gotta be kidding me!!!" Andy shouted. "She was sentenced to forty-five days!"
"I know there's time off for good behavior, but this is fucking absurd." Mick snarled. "For one thing, I don't think she's been on 'good behavior' at any point in her life..."
"I just can't force her to endure jail with her fragile health!" Baka replied, looking like he wanted to masturbate right then and there.
" 'Fragile health'?!" Andy roared. "Being a spoiled brat who hasn't been held accountable for anything in her life is a disease now?!"
Jeremy shook his head, and put his hand on Andy's shoulder. "You have no idea how much I hate saying this, but there's nothing we can do about it, Andy. We did our part. Let's get our fee and get the hell out of this travesty..."
Nobody in the audience caught it, but Davis nearly lost his place in his routine. Sitting at the back was a face he hadn't seen in a while...though it looked a little worse for wear since that last occasion.
"Observe--an ordinary, nondescript cardboard box." Davis continued, showing the box decorated with crude, marker drawn smiley faces--with fangs--to the audience. He held it up, turned it over, opened and closed the flaps. "Awesome" Davis Spurlock was dressed in his usual stage outfit: dark glasses, and a suit coat over a Count Chocula t-shirt.
"Now...where did I put..." he grabbed his hat from the small table, and turned it over. A sleepy looking rabbit fell out. "Ah! Harvey! There you are!"
"Observe as I put Harvey into this normal, totally nondescript box." It took him a minute, as he pantomimed the rabbit biting him.
"Now..." he grinned, pulling up a chainsaw.
The audience gasped as Davis pulled the rev cord and the device growled to life.
"Magic time!!!" Davis shouted, bringing the chainsaw down on the cardboard box, destroying it and the small stage table it was sitting on. A massive spray of blood shot out of the site of the destruction.
The room was silent with shock, and concern.
Davis picked through the pieces of the smashed box and table. He pulled one tiny shard up and looked under it. "Harvey?"
The rabbit--totally intact, fur completely unsoiled--jumped onto Davis's jacket, and went up to his shoulder. It peered quizzically as Davis picked up another tiny piece of the detritus.
The audience cheered and clapped.
Davis looked around and did a double take at the rabbit sitting on his shoulder.
Davis and Harvey took their bows. "See? I told you I'd make you a star!"
"Another good show, Davis." one of the regulars complimented.
"Thanks." Davis replied. "You still have to pay for that, Steve."
"Your act sucks ass." Steve retorted just as quick.
Davis moved to the darkest corner of the club. Sitting there was a disheveled man with bloodshot eyes and a shaggy beard and mop of dark hair.
Davis sat down, shuffling a deck of cards. "Been awhile." he finally said.
The man grunted.
"Poker?" Davis asked brightly.
The man didn't react.
Davis shuffled the cards to his other hand, then into his jacket. "I'd ask how you were holding up, but from a guess...seeing as how you look you were chewed up and spat out by a grizzly bear..."
"It's been a year..." the patron's voice finally rasped, a Southern accent noticeable. "I still can't sleep an entire night...I experience it all over again."
"Kyle..." Davis tried to gently dissuade him from continuing the uncomfortable line of thought.
It didn't work.
"He taunted me...said he was going to use her as his 'plaything'. She spat in his eye...I pleaded with him to release her, but instead..."
"Instead he killed her." Davis finished, his own normally jocular voice somber.
"He pulled her heart out of her chest..." the shabby man sobbed. "Then he threw it onto the ground, like it was nothing. Like she was nothing. I didn't...I didn't even get to avenge her...Victor Nightstalker was the one who burned that bastard..."
Three years before, on a case, Dr. Kyle Stevens, one of the co-captains of the Ghostbusters West Coast, had met and fallen in love with Gen Brown, then the proprietor of the Bathory Roseport.
But then, two years later, the vampire lord Master Orus captured and murdered her as part of his own scheme to remove the Ghostbusters as a threat to his evil agenda.
"I tried so hard to deal with it..." Kyle shook his head. "And I thought I was. But with everyone else being so happy...Jeremy and his family, and Fritz and Chelsea...she's pregnant now, actually..."
Davis just looked at his hands. "Well, I figured if it was Jeremy or Fritz being pregnant, I'd probably have heard about it on the news..."
"They're all so happy..." Kyle continued. "And it just makes me feel worse. I went on leave...I had to. We got a new guy now, Mick, who's got a lot of experience at Ghostbusting...I just had to get away for a while. I need to think."
"Think about what?" Davis asked.
"What am I even doing here?" Kyle counter-inquired.
"You took the Santa Monica freeway down to..."
Kyle shook his head. "That's not what I meant."
Davis shrugged, and started eating a toothpick. "Then what do you mean?"
Kyle sighed wearily. "I don't know what my life is anymore. Do you know what I originally trained to be? A Doctor. I became an Orthopedic Surgeon--and though I hate to sound arrogant, I was a damn good one. I became chief surgeon at Stevens Point Hospital when I was barely any older than some of the interns..."
"I always wanted to help people. And I did...until the night a monster barged into my operating room and murdered one of my patients. I mean monster literally--he'd sold his soul to a demon to get the power to avenge himself, and in return became the demon's errand boy." Kyle shook his head again, more memories he'd tried to bury coming to the fore. "He did the exact same God damn thing that Orus did to Gen--he ripped his victim's heart out of his chest and held it up like a damn trophy."
Kyle tried to compose himself before continuing. "I don't know how in God's name I never got blamed for that--the hospital Administrator was not exactly a model of understanding."
"So I became a Ghostbuster. And I was...I was damn good at that, too--so good they made me one of the leaders. The things I've seen...the things that have happened to me...I got turned into a hulking monster, I fought skull-headed fire ninjas, bugbears, Micheal Jackson, sea monsters, a demon who looked like Gerard Butler..."
"Who?" Davis asked.
"Werewolves..." Kyle continued, ignoring Davis's remark. He started to rub his shaggy hair with one hand. "Werewolves more than once. I've seen undead Nazis, a radioactive serial killer, a soul collector with a sword, a hideous mockery of myself from a parallel dimension, and a rapping mummy. What kind of life is this?!"
Davis said nothing. Though truth to tell, and as Kyle well knew, Davis was one of the undead himself--a vampire. A vampire of a particular descent known for its bouts of mental instability--a Clan known as the Malkavians--and a lot of this sounded like Just Another Day to him.
Kyle was nearing the edge now, Davis could tell. There were tears in the still-living man's eyes as he finally continued his rant. "I stood by helpless as a deranged Sumerian demon trashed our headquarters, and as a goodhearted young man killed himself saving the world. And I could do nothing when Orus killed the woman I love..."
'WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT?!" Kyle howled, his blow to the table so ferocious that it splintered. Davis even flinched, and that wasn't something he did very often. Kyle was normally so mellow, so genuinely nice...you almost didn't notice he wasn't exactly a small, scrawny-armed man.
"All I ever wanted to do was save people." Kyle looked at his hands. "I couldn't save Jon Dennison. I couldn't save John Lipsyte. I couldn't save Gen Brown. I'm a failure...and I can't hide from that anymore..."
Davis stood up from the table. He carefully removed his ever-present sunglasses, folded them, and placed them into his jacket pocket. He then deliberately removed his jacket and placed it on a nearby chair.
He walked over to the slumped Kyle, blew briefly into each of his hands, and grabbed the larger man, hurling him into a nearby table.
The table broke to pieces under Kyle, and he scrambled to his feet, eyes shining with shock and rage. "What was that for?!"
"You gonna stop crying, or you gonna do something about it?" Davis sneered.
Kyle lunged for the vampire, snarling ferally. Davis dodged him, and side-tripped him, sending him into the destruction of another table.
Kyle howled and lunged again, this time brandishing a chair leg as a weapon.
Davis grabbed his arm, twisted, it, and the leg dropped to the floor. But Kyle slugged him full on the face with his other hand, sending the smaller man reeling.
Kyle pounced, slammed Davis to the floor, and began to punch him in the face, again and again, shouting curses the whole time. "DAMN YOU, ORUS, DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!"
After wailing away for a good thirty seconds, Kyle stopped. He looked at his now-bloodied hands, and at the pounded face of Davis Spurlock. "What am I doing?" he finally sobbed, getting off of his pinned sparring partner.
Davis sat up, sniffing and making a noise as he did. "Getting that rage out of your system."
Davis shook his head. "Nothing I can't fix. Vampiric regeneration, you know."
Kyle looked at him. "But...why?"
"You've been holding that in for way too long, Kyle. It was eating you alive. It still might..." Davis wiped his chin with a nearby tablecloth. "Plus, you know, I do like to get beaten up every once in a while. It's fun."
Kyle shook his head at that last remark, and noted to himself as Gen often told him That's a Malkavian for you...
"I knew Gen for a long time, Kyle. Truth to tell...I was a little jealous of all the time she spent with you...at first I thought it was just the Toreador blood she had...you know how they are with their 'objects of art'..." Davis shook his head. "But then I realized how much less gloomy she was. For the last two years of her life, she wasn't just going through the motions anymore, only existing to drive off the boredom night to night. Pardon the phrase, but you made her come alive again. Made this nightmarish living death we all have to deal with a lot less nightmarish for her."
"She loved you, man. And it would break her heart to see you looking like this. That spirit you used to have...the spirit that would help anybody, anytime, even creatures like us...that was what she loved most."
Davis put his jacket back on, and pulled out his sunglasses. "You let that man die because of what happened to her...and her death really was in vain."
Kyle nodded, but was unable to speak as he broke down in tears.
"Sedgewick's mother told reporters 'This isn't right! How dare one of us rich, beautiful people be held to the same standards as some dirty lowlife poor person!' "
"Well I'll be damned." Aidan said as he took another bite of pizza. "Sometimes the criminal justice system does work..."
"Even here." Jeremy added.
"I won't believe that until Karl Rove is dragged off in handcuffs..." Fritz replied.
"The good guys can't win them all." Chelsea shrugged.
"We still got paid by her Dad." Andy reminded them. "Ten times the going rate--a drop in the bucket for him, of course, but a real gravy day for us..."
"I just had a horrible thought." Rose looked frightened. "You all know how she tried to cut an album a while back, right?"
"Dear God don't remind us..." Jason shook his head, looking pained.
"After she comes out of jail...what if she decides she's got 'street cred', and tries to make a rap album?"
"Some of us are trying to eat here, Rose." Fritz grumbled. He was just about to further explore his disdain for the musical form when the cell phone in his pocket started to ring. He looked surprised for a second, as most of the people who knew the direct number to it were sitting in that room.
"Ghostbusters West Coast Division, Dr. Fritz Baugh speaking. How many I help you?"
"Yeah...can't tell he worked in retail for three years..." Andy whispered brightly.
"Kyle?" Fritz replied, causing the attention of everyone in the room to become riveted on him. Even Rachel peeked out through a wall.
"I had to call...because I don't think I'm coming back..."
"Not coming back? What to you mean by that?"
"There's a lot I still have to figure out...and I don't think I should make you all wait for me. You and Andy can have the team. Box all my stuff out and throw it out, for all I care. Just take care of my cats for me...I'll miss them..."
"Kyle, you're not making any sense..."
Everyone else started to look a little uneasy at the tone in Fritz's voice. "What's he saying?" Jeremy asked.
"I'll treasure the time we spent together...and all of you...more than you'll ever know. But I have to do this...it's the only way I'll be able to sleep at night. The GBI phone will be mailed to you as soon as I hang up...and please, just don't try to find me..."
"Kyle, wait, what..."
The line went dead.
"What's going on?" Aidan asked.
"Damned if I know..." Fritz replied, putting the phone away, his face somber
Ghostbusters West Coast Division Created by Andy Harness and Vincent Belmont
As usual, much of the vampire lore in this story is based on that of White Wolf Games' Vampire: The Masquerade from their "World of Darkness" (Version 1) line.