OPENING NIGHT
PART FOUR

From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, Official Historian
Some material provided by Dr. Andy Harness and Dr. Kyle Stevens, South Team Co-Captains
And plot assistance from the entire GBWC team
GBI Case File GBWC-2003-21/001
Previously

Director John Dennison was attacked by the mysterious supernatural assassin known as "The Ravisher". Despite the best efforts of six civilians present at the attack --Dr. Joey Williams, Dr. Fritz Baugh, Jeremy Hicks, Peter Kong, and legendary Ghostbuster Dr. Peter Venkman--and the chief of staff of Stevens Point Hospital, Dr. Kyle Stevens, the Ravisher succeeded in murdering Dennison.

East Tennessee
May 1, 2003
"Dude, for summer, it's not very hot." Brandon Harness said.

"Well, maybe if you got out of Ecto and turn off the A/C, you'd feel real Tennessee weather at work!" Bill replied.

The East Tennessee Ghostbusters--Dr. Andy Harness, Dr. Johanthan "Bill" Rollow, Dr. Josh Goben, and Andy's cousin Brandon--had been around for less than a year, and they had already become one of the more noted franchises on the eastern side of the United States. They were different, for sure, but they seemed to fit in perfectly with the optimistic, energetic spirit of true Ghostbusters. They were only 17, except for Brandon, who's birthday was four months away. They had received a lot of criticism from many people. After all, four teenagers with nuclear accelerators spells trouble, but the "boys in camo," as they were dubbed, had caused minimum damage.

The most expensive incident occurred was when Bill went on vacation. They had taken the Ecto-1S to a routine call at Wal-Mart. Apparently a troll had been conjured up by some wizard from Oklahoma and was rampaging through the Plant Department. The proton packs only seemed to tickle the monster, so Andy, having one of his rash moments, put the pedal to the floor and rammed the green booger into the side of Wal-Mart. The creature splattered all over the place. And that had been their trademark ever since. A few days later, they saved the town of Adams from the Bell Witch, but the ramming of a troll into Wal-Mart became the identification mark of the ETGB.

The other mark that could only belong to the ETGB was Ashram. He was your typical "take over the world" moldy Babylonian god. He fed off bad vibes and had a really short fuse.

If he wanted to be respected, he came to the wrong state.

The first time he had tried to take over the world, he had been humiliated by a teenager who he could only describe as loud and had a white helmet. Andy and Bill captured the raging demon after he had possessed one of the gothic library workers. To add insult to injury, Ashram wore a robe that had Andy making fun of him constantly. The humiliation was too much for Ashram. He vowed that one day he would kill the young Ghostbuster even if it meant destroying himself.

But none of that mattered this day.

Bill's PKE meter began to chirp and flash. "I got'em..."

Andy gunned the engine.

A spectral Model T was zigzagging back and forth on the road ahead of them.

"Can tell they're moonshiners..."

The fact that there was one ghost apparently passed out drunk, hanging out of the Tin Lizzie, didn't hurt that impression either.

"Shee-oot!!! The fuzz!!!" the ghost in the driver seat wailed, and gunned the motor. But even propelled by spectral energy, he couldn't outrace the ETGB's vehicle.

"Andy, could you try and hold a little more steady???" Brandon whined. "I can barely draw a bead on the peckerwood..."

"No problem, just tell'em to stop, that'll solve everything." Andy deadpanned back.

"You see the way Andy walks when he's in love? Zigzaggin and bumping into things? Just use that as a basis..." Josh offered. Andy took a second to scratch an itch on his forhead. With his middle finger.

Brandon scored a direct hit.

The ghost car veered and crashed, tumbling over the hillside and coming to rest. In the parking lot of the local Wal-mart.

"Aw, man...this keeps up they're gonna ban us from there..." Brandon smirked.

"You have to go to the mall to get Maxim anymore anyway..." Josh retorted.

The driver got out, clearly panicked. His partner was still completely oblivious as the ECTO-1S screeched to a halt.

There was the sound of three more particle accellerators firing up.

The moonshiner looked to and fro...

"Any last requests?" Bill asked the ghost moonshiner.

"Um..don't shoot me?"

"Bill, you know we don't do requests..." Andy pointed out, a grin on his face.

"Oh, yeah." Bill replied.

Thirteen seconds later, both the moonshiners were incarcerated in a ghost trap.

Andy high-fived this teammates. "Those guys ain't gonna be selling that awful stuff anymore--it was an insult to moonshine." He looked over the Wal-Mart. "Now let's scoot before the manager knows we're here..."

The East Tennessee Ghostbusters were quickly met by their secretary, Mindy Baxter, as they pulled into their firehouse.

"Hey, Min...what's up?"

"We got a visitor." she said, quickly and quietly. "An important one."

They grumbled a little bit as they walked over to the desk Andy had claimed as his own. They about peed themselves when the chair whirled around to reveal a man they had never met but, as Ghostbusters, knew and practically worshipped.

"D...D...Doctor Venkman!!! Brandon stammered. "W...we can explain what happened at the Wal-Mart! It wasn't our fault..."

Venkman just stared wide-eyed at the apologetic ghostbuster.

Andy, who now had a GBI degree in parapsychology, smacked Brandon in the head and introduced himself and the others to the legend standing in his office.

"Nice to finally meet you guys--I've been reading the files Louis and Sherm sent me, and they tell me you do good work and always pay your franchise fees on time."

"Is that why you're here, sir?"

"Nope, Andy, and it's not to romance your attractive secretary, as tempting as that is--I'm a married man, you know."

Mindy tried hard not to blush as she rolled her eyes. She'd heard all about Venkman. That he was annoying yet charming at the same time. That's true enough...

Peter explained how trouble with a dog dude named Ravisher had murdered a friend of his a couple of weeks before, and thus sparked the formation of a new franchise: "The Ghostbusters West Coast. Doctor Harness, I want you to train these guys in the fine arts of ghostbusting."

"What? Why me?"

"Who better than a person born to shoot stuff?" Peter had asked.

Andy was flattered, but with only three ghostbusters, Tennessee would sink into the tenth level of hell.

Peter pulled out his checkbook and stared at Andy.

"I can write a lot of numbers on this check, Doctor Harness. What's it gonna take?"

May 10, 2003
Robert John Griffiths, PhD (Electrical Engineering), grimaced as he saw the "NO SMOKING" sign posted at the convention center. He muttered a curse and put out the cigarrette he'd just lit a few minutes ago. "Bennett was bloody right...damn health Nazis really are running the Colonies nowadays..."

A black haired woman heard him speaking out loud, and turned to him. "Wow! cool accent!!! Are you from England?"

"No. I'm from Pittburgh. I just talk like this so I bloody confuse people."

She giggled and walked off. "I'm here to become a Ghostbuster!!!"

Enough to make me reevaluate...

He flicked the extinguished cigarrette towards a trash can. It bounced out and hit the floor, where a young man of African ancestry picked it up.

"You missed."

"So I did."

The dark-skinned man dropped the cigarrette in the trash. "I got it!"

"Um..thanks..."

The shorter man (by about five inches) extended a welcoming hand to Robert. "John Lipsyte. You gonna be a Ghostbuster too?"

"Robert Griffiths." Robert replied, returning the handshake. Somehow, he just couldn't help but to like this guy...something so earnest in his eyes. "That's the plan, Mate."

A slightly cubby, black-haired man with large eyebrows wandered up. He was playing a Game Boy Advance. "Dudes, 'Sup..."

Griffiths just looked at him like he'd said something in Martian.

"Not much." John replied. "You here to be a Ghostbuster too?"

The third man looked up. "Ghostbuster? This ain't the game con? That is so whack..."

"I'm not going to bloody ask."

"The game con is at the other side of the center, I think..." John informed the newcomer. "I think if you go down the hall to the left..."

"Chillax, Homey..." the guy cut him off. "I think I'll take a look at the goods you're sellin' me...the 'Busters are cool, y'dig?"

"I'm with you on that. John Lipsyte..." John introduced himself, shaking hands with the Game Boy man enthusiastically. "I've been a big fan of the Ghostbusters for as long as I can remember!!!"

"Micheal Chad, my new friend, but call me Chad...or Mister Clutch, 'cause things have a way of workin' out for me. Maybe this is one of those times."

Robert was beginning to wonder if the Americans put something in their water...

Andy Harness was waiting in traffic behind a Hindu cab driver; a very rude one, as well.

Impatiently, Andy honked his horn at the cab driver. " Hey!! Move it along ! You're holding up the traffic back here !"

" Up yours ! Stupid loudmouth hick!! " Then the cab driver threw his cold drink and a chicken sandwich at Andy's beloved truck.

This was a mistake. " That's it !" Andy said, aggressively as he got out of his truck. As he approached the cab driver. Andy jerked the driver out of his cab and slamming him on the hood for 3 minutes.

As fate would have it, he was outside the comic store known as the " Grand Collecter".

Jeff Nash was setting up a Trigun DVD to play on the store's video system when he noticed the commotion. " Such strange people ." Jeff said to himself.

A few minutes later Andy came into the store. Apu was taking a little nap in his cab. "Say Creepy, you wouldn't happen to have a phone that I could use would ya?" he asked Jeff.

" Yes. In the back." Jeff answered him. "But the last time I let someone use it the place got trashed."

"Listen, Mister Creepy, I've had enough aggravation for one day, and if I get any more I'll..."

Jeff cut him off. "Waitasec...you ain't Andy Harness, are you?"

Andy was struck speechless for once.

"I knew there was a Ghostbuster from Tennessee coming into town today, and you're about as Tennessee as they come. And you're wearing a flighsuit with the name 'Harness' on the chest patch." Jeff pointed to the back, a little bit of a smirk crossing his face. "Tell Doctor Venkman that Jeff can vouch for you being...delayed."

Andy chuckled as he went to the back. "Mister Creepy is just full of surprises...or something...ain't he?"

The sign read

GHOSTBUSTERS WEST COAST DIVISION

10AM-4PM

"I've landed in the middle of a bloody geek convention..." Robert muttered to himself, taking in the large crowd of people.

Almost all of them were wearing jumpsuits of one sort or another. Some the uniform tan seen in the movies, others in various hues (all too often clashing badly)

A man of about their age, wearing round glasses with brown hair sporting a widow's peak, came up to them. "Three more...great...how did I let Joey talk me into this?" He had casual clothes, but a cheap paper nametag that said "GBI STAFF"

"John Lipsyte!!! Pleased to meet you!!!" John said eagarly, grabbing and shaking the man's hand.

"Um..yeah...Jeremy Hicks" he replied, taking three pieces of paper off the clipboard he was carrying. "Fill these out and wait until the blonde lady calls out the number at the top." Jeremy pointed at a lady at the front of the gathering, also in a "GBI STAFF" tag (Chelsea Aberdeen, though Robert, John, and Chad weren't aware of that yet) who was looking at a clipboard herself.

"235?" she shouted.

"Me!!! That's me!!!" the same dark-haired lady whom Robert had met earlier bounded to the front of the room.

"This way..." Chelsea said, leading the woman to a table where Dr. Peter Venkman and Dr. Joey Williams were sitting, both wearing sport coats and ties. Joey had a similar paper nametag (though his read "GBI FRACHISE CEO"), while Venkman's was plastic, engraved, and had his name and the title "GBI CEO"

Venkman stood up and introduced himself and Joey to her. "Our business operations manager, Miss Aberdeen, tells me you scored quite well on the test. Miss..." he looked down at the paper in front of him.

"Mary Sue Gladstone!" she anwered brightly, before Venkman could read it.

"Miss Gladstone" Joey nodded. Not too bad a piece of work here either...

Mary Sue looked at both of them, then around some...she saw a third man, with a "GBI STAFF" tag, playing Beenimon on his Game Boy Advance (Peter Kong, though she didn't know that) but that didn't seem to satisfy her. "Egon isn't here?"

One of Joey's eyebrows shot up. "Egon?"

"The whole reason I want to be a Ghostbuster is so I can meet Egon! He is like the perfect man, and I want to give him all the love he needs!!!'

Venkman's eyes narrowed. "You...do realize that Professor Spengler has been married for the last five years?" he asked her slowly.

Mary Sue's nose shrivelled with disgust. "Oh, c'mon, Peter, you worked with that bitch, you know how she is--she just wants one thing out of him and that's it. She's just no good for him!!! It's a mismatch made in Hell!!! I have a black belt in karate--I can take her!! Hi-Yah!!!" With that, she threw a roundhouse kick at harmless empty air...

...Or it would've been if Jeremy hadn't chosen the wrong moment to walk up.

Peter Kong jumped up and ran over to the now out-cold Jeremy.

Venkman's face adopted his fakest smile and he shook Mary Sue's hand. "I think we've seen all we need to, haven't we Dr. Williams?"

Joey had just as forced a smile. "I think we have Sir!"

"We'll send the application to the home office for processing, and contact you shortly! Thanks for your interest!!!" Venkman continued.

"When should I call..."

"We'll call you, Miss Gladstone!!!' Joey said brightly.

"I'm gonna be a Ghostbuster!!!" Mary Sue chanted happily as she walked away. "I'm gonna get to meet Eeeegon!!!"

When she left the room, Venkman aggressively tore her application into tiny pieces and threw it into a waste basket marked "home office". "Insults to the sister-in-law are Uncle Petey's grounds to reject your application, have a nice day. Bitch"

Joey nodded in agreement. "Is Jeremy all right?"

"I think so.." Peter responded.

Joey handed him Jeremy's clip board. "Great. But until he wakes up I need you to pass out the paperwork..." Joey grinned beautifically.

Peter Kong groaned, put his Game Boy away, and walked off to do his work.

"So what do you think of the place?" Kyle Stevens, MD asked.

"I think this building should be condemned." Fritz V. Baugh, PhD, responded. "And this junk computer next to it."

"I know...we have to talk Joey into springing for a DSL link...this 56K just won't cut it." Kyle nodded. Fritz hit a few more keys, and the familiar sound once described by Dave Barry as "a duck choking on a kazoo" was heard.

"So...what first?" Kyle asked.

"First, I'm going to Tobin Online...let's see if the name 'Ravisher' shows up...just because Doctor Venkman didn't recognize it, doesn't mean that it doesn't have some sort of 'history'..."

Search Term: Ravisher.

No match found.

"That was pointless" Kyle sighed.

"Let me try some other things..."

Search Term: Jackal, Hoodie

No Cross Reference Found

Jackal: The jackal is a common figure in several supernatural pantheons. Some of the most important gods of the Egyptian mythos, most notably Anubis, were depicted with the heads of jackals...

Hoodie: Slang term for sleeveless hooded sweatshirt. No occult meanings known.

"Anubis?"

"One of the chief gods of the Egyptian mythology..." Fritz clicked on the description.

Anubis (Greek rendering of proper ancient Egyptian name Anpu)(Click here for exhaustive historical and anthropological examination)

Brief Description: One of the chief gods of the ancient Egyptian Mythos. He was master of the Land of the Dead, and one of the sons of the chief god Osiris (Asar). Often described as having the head of a jackal. In some versions of the myth, he sides with his uncle, Set (Sutekh) against his father, and is party to Osiris being rent into fourteen pieces.

Note From RStantz: The existance of the Egyptian Pantheon has not been verified, but it's safe to say that Anubis would be a Class VII of incredible power. In other words, he would not be the guy I'd want to learn the truth from...

"Heavy stuff" Kyle whistled.

"Indeed." Fritz agreed. "The Egyptian myth was one of the more colorful of ancient civilizations. For example, Osirus and Isis, who married and had a child, Horus, were actually brother and sister..."

"Oh gross..." Kyle shook his head.

"Indeed. There was more incest in Egyptian myth than in anything short of a Jerry Springer episode..."

Suddenly the whole room, screen and all, went pitch black.

"Not again..." Kyle grumbled.

"I swear if they don't get the power grid for this place fixed..." Fritz muttered angrily. "

Chelsea Aberdeen called Robert's number.

Robert went up to meet Venkman and Joey.

"You're an electrical engineer, Doctor Griffiths?" Joey asked.

"That's correct, Mate. Lancaster College. 3 A levels in ICT, Engineering and English Media. Been working as an aviation specialist for BAE systems in Warton."

Venkman seemed genuinely pleased. "Well, Joey can always use someone to fix his stuff when it breaks...So why be a Ghostbuster?"

"Always wanted to do something to help people, Mate. I read about those guys back home saving the Prime Minister, and I wrote them asking if they needed any more help. Guy in the GBUK, King, wrote back and said they were fine for now, but GBI was opening a new office here..." Robert smirked. "And I admit I bloody love this place. Actual sumlight. Girls in bikinis. Don't get that back in Morecambe, that's for damn sure..."

Venkman and Joey looked at each other, nodding. Joey shook Robert's hand. "Doctor Griffiths, you're in."

Further back in the room, Peter Kong stopped when he saw another man playing a Game Boy. "Whoa...is that the new GBA port of Genero Fighter II Hyper Ultra Mondo Turbo Deluxe Super Galactic Edition???" he cried excitedly.

"Sure is, dawg..."

"And you unlocked Audit?! Wow, how did you do that--I was beginning to think he was a myth!!!"

"Weirdest thing....I dropped it, and then when I switched it back on, there he was. It's just my luck workin' for me again..."

Chelsea called out another number.

"That's me, dude. Here--I'll let you play mine while I'm gone..."

"Wow, thanks!"

"Chillax, my friend!"

Micheal Chad went up to Venkman and Joey. "Thanks for coming, Mister Chad." Joey greeted him, shaking his hand.

"Cool to be here." Chad admitted.

"So...this biography you wrote for us is really interesting..." Venkman said, looking over the paper. "You went to Columbia in Toronto? I'm a Columbia New York grad myself you know..."

"Awesome."

"And after that you worked at a radio station..."

"Until it went belly up. So I blew my savings on a bus trip...made it to Redmond, where I ended up testing games for Microsoft. I was on the bus next to a guy who had a problem with his beta test on a game...I was playin' a Game Boy, and he asked me for ideas 'since you're a gamer an all'...well, I gave him some ideas he liked, and when I mentioned I had a Masters in Computer Programming he got me a job there. That's just the way things happen to me." Chad grinned.

"So why are you here today?" Joey asked him

"Like I said, things happen to me. I just think it was my karma to miss the game convention and end up here...bein' a Ghostbuster would be solid cool, y'dig?"

"Chelsea did say he got the highest score on the test of anyone." Venkman pointed out.

"Really? Dawg, most of that was just drawing a real pretty pattern with those ovals..." Chad grinned disarmingly.

After a few more questions, Joey ended the interview. "Thanks for coming, Mister Chad..."

"Just call me Chad." With that he high-fived them and left.

Joey and Venkman just looked at each other. "You think he was serious about the pretty pattern bit?" Joey asked.

"Maybe...but if he was, well...I've seen too much to totally discount the idea of benign karma."

Chad went back to take his seat near Robert and John just as John's number was being called.

"I hate the Evil Eraser...I hate him hate him hate him..." Peter Kong grumbled as he got beaten up again.

John Lipstye shook hands with Venkman and Joey. "It is such an honor to meet you, Doctor Venkman! You gotta understand...I've been following you guys for as long as I can remember. I've seen the movies like a dozen times apiece and seen all the cartoons--even though that Coulier guy didn't sound a thing like you..."

"Just tell me you're not nursing a fatal attraction to Janine Spengler or my wife" Venkman deadpanned.

"No Sir!" John replied, seeming a bit confused. "Why would you ask that?"

Joey chuckled.. "Nothing, don't worry about it..."

"I see you went to UCLA for two years, but didn't graduate?"

"Could never decide on a degree. And my parents got tired of paying for it. But I took several classes on mechanical engineering, religious history, and some other things I hope might prove useful!"

They asked John a few more questions and thanked him for coming.

John went back to Robert, Chad, and Peter. "How'd you do, Mate?"

"I blew it. I had to. I sounded like some dorky fanboy..."

"Chillax, my brother..." Chad said, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Everything will work out for the best. It always does..."

Maybe for you, but I blew it...I guess it's just as well I didn't mention anything about the visions...the dream I had last night...

He spared a glance at Jeremy Hicks. He was the man in that dream...the one the lady in the water talked to...but what did it all mean?

"Mates, what say we go get something to eat? Worrying about it won't do any good, and I'm bloody famished anyway."

Peter shook hands with all three. "I wish I could go with you, but I'm theoretically part of this show, so...Good luck to all of you!"

Venkman, Chelsea, and Joey were looking over the paperwork when Peter and Jeremy had shown the last applicant out the door. It'd been a long day.

"Some real good ones in there." Joey admitted. "We hired this one, Griffiths, on the spot. And I think these two here are the ones we should go with..." he said, pointing to two other papers he'd set aside.

"You think they'll be okay with Fritz and Kyle?" Jeremy asked.

"I don't see why not." Joey responded. "They both said they'd trust our judgement in the matter, and hey, they stayed at home to play with the computer so they lost their say anyhow, right?"

"Fritz knows you know what you're doing" Chelsea said simply but firmly.

Venkman rolled his eyes and smirked. If Joey reminded him a lot of himself, Fritz Baugh and Chelsea Aberdeen reminded him ever so slightly of two other people of his close aquaintance.

"If we're quick enough...." Peter said eagarly. "We can still catch them and make it official!!!"

May 13, 2003
"It's him..." Peter Venkman murmured out loud.

A small, strange vehicle appeared, a custom piece of technology that had set it's developers back quite a few pennies. Truth to tell, save for a grateful wizard and a chunk of gold, they'd probably still be paying for it now, a good fourteen years after its creation.

As the vehicle settled to a deft landing, due to the skill of it's pilot and it's VTOL engines, more details became apparent. Venkman smiled with fond (and an occassional not-so-fond to be honest) memory or two. I nearly got eaten by a dinosaur once in the thing...amazing I can still look at it.

But the familiar device on its wing always provoked a fond reaction: a cartoony ghost in a red circle, barred with a crosshatch. The letters "ECTO-4" were painted beneath the insignia.

Andy Harness, standing beside Venkman, whistled with genuine fascination. "Pretty spiffy space shuttle there, Dr. V. I'd ask to get us one, but Rollow'd just crash it anyway..."

After the whine of the engines faded, Venkman walked over to the hatch. With the groan of hydraulics, it opened, allowing Venkman's oldest friend, fellow original Ghostbuster, and brother in every important sense, Professor Egon Spengler, to step out. Egon's curiously configured head of blond hair that was beginning to lighten...not being nearly as vain as Venkman (though few people were) he felt no need to hide his age, especially not when someone close to him like to purr that it made him look "even more distinguished". His piercing blue eyes regarded the landscape critically, peering over the rims of his tiny red glasses.

His dress, as always, looked more befitting someone of an older generation: a vaguely Edwardian coat in purple atop a vest and tie in the colors of light blue and magenta he'd often favored. There was a cane in his right hand, though he wasn't using it to walk at the moment--though the shorter man knew he sometimes did, a legacy of their shared and often dangerous occupation...

Venkman took off his Ray-Bans, regarding the newcomer with a Cheshire grin, a mischevious twinkle in his green eyes. "You're ten minutes late."

"There was traffic over Albuquerque." Egon deadpanned in a rich basso.

With that, Venkman laughed and they embraced like the old friends they were.

Behind them, Harness shook his head with mock annoyance, and chuckled. "If y'all just invited me along to intiate me into your gay love club, I'll have to pass..."

"Quite a mouth on that one." Egon smirked.

"You know I can't stand sarcastic people, Spengs..." Venkman responded, and rolled his eyes. "Andy, go ahead and unload the packs. Professor Spengler and I have a lot to catch up on."

"No problem, Dr. V..." Harness replied, making a mock salute. "Um...if you'll just open the hatch..."

"Oh" Egon replied, fishing a device out of his pocket. He punched a button on it and the tail hatch of the ECTO-4 sprung open. Harness reached inside and began to root through the contents.

Egon and Venkman took a long look at each other.

"Los Angeles has been treating you well." Egon remarked.

"Not too bad...it smells different. Not better, but different. I kind of miss weather sometimes, but the earthquakes and mud slides kind of make up for it. Plus there's always girls in bikinis around..."

"I thought you gave that up."

"Hey, I'm married, not dead, Spengs." Venkman grinned. "Look, but don't touch. Even better if they don't see you looking, but Dana knew how I was when she married me..."

"And married you anyway."

"How is everything back home? I mean, other than the fact that Dana is still six shades from livid that our 'little Hollywood jaunt' turned into something bigger."

"To paraphrase your earlier statement, she knew what you did for a living when she married you. But I honestly think Jessica is quite confused--she loved spending time with Eden at first, but I think by now she quite misses her father."

Venkman shook his head and made a grouchy noise. "So how are the twins doing?"

"They're grounded from Bill Nye reruns this week, actually. They were visiting New York and built a working volcano in their Grandmother Melnitz's bathtub. It was an inspired work of genius, of course, but...well...Denise was quite angry about the flaming shower curtains."

"And you don't want a Jewish grandmother angry about flaming shower curtains..." Venkman chuckled.

"Still, it was better than the time they rewired my mother's toaster and blacked out half the neighborhood."

"Now where do they get that from, anyway?" Venkman elbowed him.

"The quest for knowledge is a noble instinct." Egon stated with mock pomposity, crossing his arms. "I'll have you know I built a working volcano in my parents bathtub myself at about the same age..."

Andy Harness caughed to get their attention. "Sorry to interrupt, Y'all, but I got the packs unloaded. So where you want'em?"

Egon and Venkman walked over to the four crates now sitting beside the ECTO-4. Venkman pried one open and whistled. "Whew...I'm surprised...they look..."

"The same as they used to?" Harness cut in, genuinely amazed. "I thought Dr. V said they were 'new and improved'..."

"I was going to say 'clean'..." Venkman chuckled.

"They are improved, Andrew. They take some of the design innovations Roland introduced into the 1997 version into account, not to mention the vast improvements in computer miniaturization since 1983, while maintaining the essential configuration of the original packs. There were some problems with the plasma core system that became more apparent as they were used--for one thing, compared to the five thousand year half-life of the original packs the 1997 system burned out worryingly quickly. Plus, well...Ray preferred it this way."

"He's such a softy..." Venkman chuckled. "Computerized, you say?"

"Absolutely. Complete computer control of the coolant system to minimize the danger of breakdown, not to mention tracking and telemetry systems that will allow them to be monitored from a GB Central mainframe."

"All I know is..." Andy broke in, "I just hope the computer ain't Windows based. I'd hate to be in the same county when the program controlling the coolant system crashes..."

Venkman high-fived him. He turned back to Egon "Be sure to tell Tex thanks...I know putting together a dozen proton packs on such short notice couldn't have been easy."

"Your check more than paid for the materials, Peter. And you know he enjoyed the challenge of it. Roland's classes had let out and he was able to aid in the contruction, as did Eduardo.."

Venkman blinked. "Eduardo Rivera? That Eduardo?"

"He's become quite handy of late, Peter. I look at it as him following in a tradition of Ghostbusters who are smarter than they seem..."

Venkman laughed for a few seconds.

Egon continued: "There are ghost traps attached to each proton pack, as well as one extra in each crate for a total of sixteen--it should me more than sufficient to start. And also in each crate is one of these..." Egon reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a polished metal box, about the size of an old vhs tape, with a handle on the bottom, and flipped a switch. Two arms flipped out and began to glow and beep slowly.

"Now that's different..." Venkman admitted. "The new model PKE meter, I take it?"

"Of course." Egon replied, just a twinge of self-satisfaction showing at the corner of his mouth. "This is arguably the most upgraded piece of Ghostbuster technology, as the advances in computerization and internet technology have been more beneficial to it than any other piece of our equipment. The range is approximately twice what it was before, the scanning and detection parameters more precise, and the memory is literally a million times what it was in the 1984 model. Like the proton packs, it offers full telemetric capacity with a GBC host, as well as theoretical internet capacity on par with the state of the art cellular phones. In addition..."

Venkman clamped a hand over Egon's mouth. "As long as there's an instruction book written in a language close enough to English for my tech guys, Robert and Fritz, to understand, we'll be fine. Egon."

Egon put the meter back in his pocket. "Of course...but promise you will contact me or Ray of any questions about it arise."

"Duh" Venkman replied simply.

"And here is a CD-ROM with the full technical details of the proton packs, meters, and ghost traps, as well as the information you'll need to create your own containment unit. It's encrypted, of course--you'll need to unlock it using your old GB Central password. After that, you can designate authorized users of the software..."

"You know I suck with computers, Egon..."

"(Sigh)...then authorize Andrew and, presumably, a 'tech guy' or two..."

At least he used my old password...Venkman thought to himself. The name of my favorite porno movie...no way I'd forget that...

He grinned to himself for a moment...before his face darkened.

"Peter?"

"How'd the background check come out?" Venkman asked, his voice more serious.

Egon pulled a sheaf of papers out of his pocket, and handed them to Venkman. Venkman shuffled through them, muttering. "You gotta meet these guys sometime, Spengs...parapsychologist... engineer... physicist... good combination, there huh? Mister Creepy is an Occult scholar, good good... couple creative types. Game tester...and an ani...what? Egon, is this right? This guy really is Jake Kong's son?"

"Apparently so."

"I thought that nose looked familiar. This gets weirder all the time..."

Egon looked at his friend for a moment silently. "Peter, be very careful about this. As always, if you need our help Ray, Winston, Janine and I could..."

Venkman shook his head. "You guys have enough to worry about, Egon. You just can't handle this situation from thousands of miles away. That's where Andy comes in..."

Egon looked at Andy. "This is a large responsibility, Andrew. But I know you're up to it--your work with the East Tennesse Ghostbusters proves it."

"I won't disappoint you, Professor."

Egon spared Venkman one last handshake that somehow turned into another hug.

"You better get going, old buddy..." Venkman said. "I don't want Redzilla mad at me for keeping you too long. Just say those kids for me. Let me tell you, they're going to be breaking science club hearts before you know it..." Venkman gently cuffed him. "One more way they take after their dad."

As Egon turned back toward the ECTO-4, Venkman shouted back "And tell Ray Stantz he better come along too next time or I kick his ass!!! He and Winston both owe me pictures of their munchkins too!!! Remind them of that!!! And while you're at it don't forget about Ray's otaku porn..."

Egon Spengler shook his head affectionately one last time as he closed the hatch of the ECTO-4. Within three minutes, the small craft had returned to the skies, heading east.

Venkman watched it until it was out of sight.

"I have to thank you again for recommending me, Doctor Venkman..."

"Hey, we're all pals here, call me Peter..." Venkman exhaled. "And in a week you may not be thanking me..." He tried to heft one of the crates and shouted. He held a hand to his back and moaned in pain. "You'll have to carry them to the truck for me, Andy...my back's been thrown out again!!!"

Andy gave him the skunk eye, half suspecting Venkman was making it up to keep from having to carry anything (he was) and started to pull one of the crates along.

Andrew Harness, PhD spared one last look of his own in the direction the ECTO-4 had vanished. An oft-repeated line from X-Men comics started to roll though his head...

"Welcome to the West Coast, Andy Harness...Hope you survive the experience!!!"

Of course, if I'm not successful...We're not successful...I won't be the only one...

The car pulled up to the former warehouse on Vista Del Mar Highland Avenue

Venkman and Andy walked inside.

There were two white-painted vehicles, freshly polished, sitting there waiting.

One was a 1959 Cadillac Meteor, the ubiquitous choice of Ghostbuster franchises to follow the tradition established by the legendary founders. The orange tail fins were set off by stripe patterns on the sides of the car, and an array of electronics gear on the roof rack, including various sirens and lights, an LED display board on each side, and even a radio dish.

Its license plate read "ECTO-1N"

The other was a converted SWAT van, once more with an assortment of decals on the side and equipment on the roof.

Its license plate read "ECTO-1S"

Both had a phone number, KL5-GBWC, and a stenciled phrase "Totally Ready to Believe You" added to them.

But the most noticeable mark was the insignia. The legendary Ghostbuster logo--albeit in neon orange.

Venkman strode over to the reception desk. Chelsea Aberdeen looked up as he approached. She was wearing a stylish outfit in various shades of purple, which included a vest, a floppy tie, and a pleated mini skirt. A nametag clipped to her shirt bore the neon orange logo, her name, and the phrase "GBWC OPERATIONS"

Also standing there was Boris Meely, an old aquaintance of Venkman's (they'd met on a case back in 1985) and a freelance photographer that got sent a lot of work by GBI.

"They ready?" Venkman asked.

Chelsea whistled loud. "Showtime fellas!!!"

The ten men filed into the room, all wearing identical tan/greyish flight suits, utility belts, and all but one with matching work boots. Each one had a nametag..."WILLIAMS" "STEVENS" "BAUGH" "CHAD" "NASH" "GRIFFITHS" "HICKS" "KONG" "LIPSYTE"

One the right shoulder of each was the neon orange Ghostbuster logo.

"This thing kinda itches..." Jeremy griped.

"Wait until you get slimed a time or two. That'll loosen it up..." Venkman replied with a chuckle.

Andy Harness, now wearing a matching suit, marched over to the others. "I'll learn these guys just fine, now let's get some pics to excite the folks back home, Shutterbug..."

Meely took quite a few pictures, both of the assembled group and of each member.

"I think we got a Spooks Illustrated cover in here somewhere..." Meely chuckled.

"One last thing to do..." Joey grinned, motioning for his new colleagues to join him outside the warehouse. All of them but Robert moved off to do so...

Once they were outside, Joey pointed to above the door. "Let it rip, Doctor Griffiths!!!" Joey yelled.

Robert smirked and pulled a switch.

Nothing happened.

The assembled neophyte Ghostbusters looked at each other.

Robert Griffiths let loose a stream of unprintable curses, pulled out a large rubber mallet, and whacked the lever box six times. He hit the switch again.

A glowing neon sign burst into life, casting an orange glow over all of them.

"Lady, Gentlemen...Andy...the Ghostbusters West Coast Division is now Open for Business!!!" Joey announced.

Suddenly, the chiming tones of the Ghostbuster theme started to play from Venkman's pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and answered it.

"Doctor Peter Venkman, Legend of Ghostbusting...Wassup?" He listened for a few seconds. "Ray!!! I was just reminding Egon to chew you out for me since you got all lazy and stayed at home...What? He did? Ray, that's great--even better than I was hoping for!!! I'll take back everything I just said about you--this time. Thanks, Ray--Bye" Venkman had a mischeivious look on his face as he put the phone back in his pocket.

"Doctor Venkman?" Peter Kong asked, just a little unnerved.

Venkman looked at them all, his Cheshire grin flashing. "Boys...we've got company coming..."

To Be Concluded

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