POST MORTEM KOMBAT
Filed by Dr. Jeff Nash, GBWC South Division
GBI Case File GBWC-2003-21/010
Filed by Dr. Jeff Nash, GBWC South Division
GBI Case File GBWC-2003-21/010
Doctor Jeffrey R. Nash yawned as he checked his watch. So far, it had been a typical night at the warehouse. As usual, everyone had gone to sleep in their individual rooms, or home to their apartments hours ago. Everyone except for him, that is.
Jeff liked to stay up as late as possible, preferring the quiet and darkness of night to the obnoxious noise and bright-and-cheery qualities of daylight. He spread out across the couch in the “common room” and went back to his reading material, a book on the urban legends and ghost stories of Hollywood. Normally, the grungy looking twenty-nine year old with a Ph D. in the study of the occult preferred to be watching cartoons or reading something more decidedly fictional, but it was now his job to keep up on the spiritual history of an area he was admittedly new to, so here he was, flipping through the pages and pages worth of wildly exaggerated accounts of phenomena he didn’t expect to ever come across anyway.
As Jeff stopped to take a sip from the can of Cherry Coke he kept next to him on the coffee table, the noise attracted one of Dr. Stevens’ two cats who wondered about the warehouse from time to time as if they owned the place. “Maggie” hopped up onto the couch and immediately set a course for Dr. Nash. Just as the feline crawled into his lap and settled in, however, Jeff was startled by a knock at the door.
“Who in the nine hells could that be at this time of night?” Jeff asked no one in particular as he got up, apologetically shoving the cat aside and heading for the garage bay, where much like the Ghostbusters Central firehouse in New York, both the Ectomobiles, Chelsea Aberdeen’s office, and the front door were located. On the other side of the door stood an officer of the LAPD, taking Jeff slightly by surprise.
“You a Ghostbuster?”
Jeff paused for a moment, two thoughts running through his head. The first was whether he should take this opportunity to mimic the “dropping off or picking up?” speech from the 1984 movie about the home office’s origins. He dismissed that thought quickly, figuring the cop wouldn’t get the joke. Going with his second thought, Jeff stared straight up at the neon “no-ghost” sign hanging just a few feet above his head and considered making a snide remark for a moment, but thought better of it, opting instead to get his point across with a loud, deliberate sigh of annoyance.
“Yeah...I am. I’m Dr. Nash, what’d we do this time?”
“Actually, sir...we picked up this guy earlier tonight and...” The policeman shuffled uncomfortably, as if searching for the right words, before he finally went on. “Well, you’d better come have a look.”
“If you insist,” Jeff sighed as he shrugged his shoulders and stepped outside. The cop led him to the back of his paddy wagon and opened up the doors, revealing a man of Oriental ancestry, judging by his eyes and skin tone.
The individual had an impressively muscular physique, short, spiky black hair, and wore what looked to be a pair of black pajamas with no sleeves, covered by a blue tunic and loincloth that were decorated with ornate patterns of Chinese letters and symbols. Running vertically over his right eye, the man bore a long scar, perhaps the remnant of a slash wound from a knife fight or something. The man’s shoes were more like socks that ended in two toes, a style of footwear Jeff knew to be called “tabi boots.” Dr. Nash also noticed that the black pajamas had a hood attatched, pulled back and hanging around the oriental man’s neck, and under his chin hung an ornate blue mask-piece designed to hide the lower half of the face. If he didn’t know any better, Jeff would have said this guy was trying to pass for a ninja.
The “ninja” was sitting against the side of the truck with arms crossed, and remained oddly quiet despite the fact that Dr. Nash was giving him this rather obvious visual inspection. Even stranger than that, though...his entire hands from fingertip to forearm seemed to be encrusted in a thin layer of steaming, smoking, solid ice.
“See what I mean, Doctor? We couldn’t get anything out of him, not even a name. He just sits there, not saying a word. Every once in a while, he looks around with these wild, paranoid eyes like he’s a Navy Seal or something studying his surroundings and planning an escape, y’know what I mean? And on the rare occasion he does say a word or two, he just mumbles about someone being after him, and how we’re not safe near him...but we’ve been detaining him for hours and nobody came looking. We don’t know what to do with him, and we figured-Hey, this is what you guys are here for, right?”
The officer watched as Dr. Nash pulled a small blue device that looked like a calculator on a stick out of his pocket and tapped a button on the keypad. Suddenly an antenna raised from either side and started blinking in yellow and red. The PKE meter beeped and clicked rapidly as Jeff held it up to the mystery man. All of a sudden, the stranger’s hand lashed out and grabbed the device, instantly coating it in a layer of frost. Jeff’s eyes darted up towards those of the weary stranger staring back at him, and the oriental man spoke clearly for the first time.
“For your own safety, you have to let me go. This is a serious matter! If you keep me here, he will kill you to get to me.”
Jeff felt a wave of intense cold creeping into his hand and was suddenly forced to drop the freezing PKE meter, watching as it shattered against the pavement like it was made of glass. He shivered instinctively and asked the other man, “’He’ who? What are you talking about?”
The Chinaman’s eyes darted back and forth in paranoia, as if expecting his would-be attacker to jump him then and there. When he was convinced he was alone, he turned back to the wary Ghostbuster and uttered two simple words...
“So let me get this straight,” started Harness, visibly upset. “The cops dropped this schizo off and they just expect us to take care of it? What the hell kind of law enforcement is that?!”
Fritz, the Ghostbusters’ resident physicist, quickly acted to diffuse Harness’s temper. “Andrew, this individual instantaneously solidified the airborne water molecules surrounding a piece of our equipment with his bare hands. A particularly temperature-resistant piece of equipment at that. I do believe that qualifies as paranormal activity, don’t you?”
“Excuse me?” Jeremy Hicks chimed in, talking through a mouthful of Cheerios, “Someone wanna repeat that in a language we all have in common?”
“He turned my PKE meter into an ice cube.” Jeff let out a sigh as he sat at the table, balancing an open book in one hand and a bowl of Waffle Crisp in the other. “Not to mention the fact he claims there’s a dead man after him...Oh, and get this: He says his name is ‘Sub-Zero.’ Bet that made for an interesting birth certificate,” Jeff added as he sat the bowl down and filled it to the brim with milk, earning the notice of Dr. Baugh.
“If you don’t mind my inquiring...” Fritz began politely, “How exactly can you stand to eat that? It’s practically pure, concentrated brown sugar. I may not be a medical doctor, but even I can see that it can’t possibly be good for your health.”
“Normally, I go to bed before the sun comes up. Thanks to Frosty the Snow-Ninja in the living room over there, though, I never got the chance. If I’ve gotta be up all day working on this gods damned case, I’m gonna need a little ‘pure, concentrated brown sugar,’ thank you very much.”
“Speaking of the case,” Jeremy broke in, “Any luck finding something on this Scorpion thing in the books?”
Jeff shook his head, indicating the negative as he closed the book he had been searching through and started to rub his temples. “The name didn’t turn up a thing, and Mr. Freeze wasn’t willing to give me anything of greater detail, so it’ll be a miracle if I ever narrow this one down. Chances are, either this thing doesn’t exist and he’s making it up, or...”
“Or what?” Kong asked impatiently. Up until then, Peter had been silently enjoying his Eggo Waffle. At this point, however, he had become interested in the discussion enough to join in.
“Or nobody’s ever documented it before, duh,” offered Joey, just before stealing a bite of Kong’s waffle, grinning like a fool all the while.
“Hey, leggo my Eggo!”
Fritz cleared his throat, regaining Peter and Joey’s attentions. “...Which means we’re going into an investigation completely blind. Not that we’ve never done that before...but with a simple name like “The Scorpion” and a Modus Operandi of homicide, you would expect something to turn up. And why does this Mister ‘Zero’ seem so reluctant to tell us anything helpful?”
“Maybe because it’s none of our business?” Jeremy offered innocently.
All of a sudden, their conversation was interrupted by the sound of a loud, violent roar. The six Ghostbusters instinctively shot up from the table and raced to the living room to trace the source of the commotion. Once there, they were met with the sight of “Sub-Zero” being attacked by a man dressed in black and yellow armor, wearing a hood and mask that hid everything except his eyes, which were a blank, pupil-less white void. The ensemble was topped off by a short, thin samurai sword sheathed on his back.
“It’s...a ninja!” Peter observed with a hint of disbelief in his voice.
“Another one?” Andy whined.
“One with poor fashion sense, at that,” Joey added. “What kind of shadowy assassin wears bright yellow?!”
“Oh for the love of...” Jeff sighed, slapping himself in the forehead as he observed the surreal scene before him. “It’s like I’m trapped in a freakin’ cartoon.”
“This would be the mysterious ‘Scorpion’ then?” was Dr. Baugh’s only reply as he took a moment to adjust the glasses perched on his nose.
The six Ghostbusters raced to the back of the Ecto-1N and pulled out the rack bearing their proton packs. As they strapped on their equipment, the ninja took a swing with his sword at his target, who just barely managed to backflip out of the way. The attacker swung again, prompting Sub-Zero to dive behind the couch, which with an effortless swipe, was cloven in two.
As Jeff witnessed his usual reading spot become two reading spots, he switched his neutrona wand on with a satisfying hum. Dr. Nash looked back to his companions and grinned with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. Of course, it was more of a scary, dangerous grin the way he did it, but it was enthusiastic nonetheless.
“Alright, boys...let’s say ‘Hello.’”
With that, Nash opened fire on the spectral intruder. Instead of snaring him, however, the proton stream struck his solid body in the back, catching him off guard. The ninja dropped to the ground with a crash and an unearthly howl, his sword slipping out of his hand and clattering across the ground in the commotion.
“Umm...did I get him?”
Unfortunately, The Scorpion wasted no time in rising to his feet, and just as quickly turned to face the interlopers. Suddenly his seething hatred became tangible as he narrowed his eyes and conjured balls of flame in his open palms.
“Well that answers that question...” Jeff nervously quipped as he adjusted the settings on his thrower.
“Okay...so he wants to play with fire?” Joey joined in, neutrona wand at the ready. “Let’s make it hot!” With that, all six teammates opened fire on the undead shinobi. The proton beams struck him hard in the chest, the force causing him to disperse his fireballs. His yellow tunic started to catch fire, but the material seemed to be partially made of Kevlar armor and barely burned at all. As far as fighting off the entity himself, the attack had no effect at all! He not only stood there and took it, he started advancing on them!
“Umm...not good, guys! Not good!” screamed a panicking Jeremy.
“Would someone like to tell me why this isn’t working?” Andy chimed in.
“His body seems to be solid,” Fritz observed. “The proton beams aren’t latching on because his body isn’t negatively charged like most ectoplasmic entities!”
As if to confirm the good doctor’s statement, Scorpion suddenly shook off the proton beams and broke into a sprint, charging right for the six of them. The team cut off their streams and dove for safety, but the hellspawned ninja’s feet suddenly lit up and started to glide across the floor at superhuman speed, as if rocketing along on a pair of flaming rollerskates. Scorpion skidded up to the man who opened fire first, and with one smooth backflip, kicked the toes of both feet into Jeffrey’s chin, sending him flying back onto the roof of the Ectomobile with a violent crash.
Scorpion suddenly wrenched his head sideways, sensing that his true prey was getting away. As Sub-Zero made a dash for the door, the spectre thrust his right hand forward, palm out, and spoke for the first time.”
“GET OVER HERE!!”
With that, the skin of his palm split open and a razor-sharp arrowhead attached to the source by a rope rocketed out towards its intended target. The deadly harpoon came within inches of Sub-Zero’s head, but was denied as Joey managed the save by tackling the icy man to the ground. The spear buried itself in the wall and Scorpion roared in defiance.
Before the villain had a chance to retrieve his weapon, however, Sub-Zero rolled over from underneath Williams’ grasp and shot both his palms out. The air around his fingertips seemed, to Joey’s eyes, to ripple like water, and in a split second, Joey witnessed invisible particles in the air begin to glow blue and move and swirl and collect at the base of Sub-Zero’s palms. These freezing water particles coalesced into a single sphere of magical arctic energy right before his eyes. The ice ball gathering between Sub-Zero’s hands suddenly released itself and struck Scorpion in the chest, quickly growing and spreading across his struggling form. Soon, the spectre’s entire body was caked in a layer of thick, immobilizing ice.
With the situation seemingly cooled down (no pun intended), Andy quickly pulled out a pocket knife and severed the rope connecting The Scorpion to his harpoon. Fritz cautiously approached the frozen form of the ghost ninja, examining it with his PKE meter. He had little time to take readings, however, as the ice statue began to vibrate. Fritz backed away and shielded his face as the frosty shell exploded in a spectacular show of pyrokinesis. Once the hail of fire and ice stopped, however, The Scorpion himself was gone as well!
“Hey! Where did he...?” Peter started before he was interrupted by Sub-Zero.
“It matters not,” the ice warrior grunted as he reached his feet. “He is gone now, but he will return. He always does. I do not wish to put you in peril any further. Please, allow me to leave this place before he comes back and puts you all in further peril.”
“Fascinating,” was Doctor Fritz’s only reply as he scanned the scattered remains.
“Oh ye gods, did that ever suck!” Dr. Nash moaned, reminding the rest of the team that he was still in the room. He groaned in agony as he strained to sit up on top of the Ecto-1N, surrounded by damaged roof-rack equipment. “Landed right on the damn satellite dish.”
In the background, Sub-Zero began to grumble. “None of you are listening to me! It is not safe here. I must go! He will come back to this place if I stay, and I refuse to be responsible for what happens to you all!” He started for the door, but was blocked by the South team’s leader, Dr. Andy Harness. Angered more by the damage to the car than to his teammate, Harness took charge of the situation, turning to Sub-Zero and grabbing him by the tunic.
“I think it’s time we had a little talk.”
Of the six Ghostbusters present in the warehouse, five, including Jeff, were seated around a long, wooden table designed to accommodate the entire GBWC roster. A few of the team liked to call this area the “Briefing Room”, like the one on the U.S.S. Enterprise in Star Trek. At the moment, they were discussing the events of just a few hours ago, while in a small office off to the side, Andy Harness was giving their visitor from overseas what Joey referred to as “the Bad Cop, No Cop routine.”
Jeff was nursing a sore back after the harsh landing on top of the Ectomobile’s satellite-crowned roof rack. Fortunately, his proton pack had absorbed most of the impact, leaving him largely unharmed. Jeff had to admit though, the bruise still “hurt like a bitch.” His chin, where he had taken a direct hit from the toes of Scorpion’s boots, had been sore for a while as well, but keeping ice on it for an hour or so had caused that pain to fade away much quicker.
“Really?” chimed in a surprised Kong. “Where in the world would they have information on undead ninjas who wear bright yellow?”
“Huh?” Pete replied, scratching his head. “But I thought you said...”
“What they do have,” Jeff cut him off, “is information on cryokinetic ninjas who wear dark blue. I found stories from ancient Chinese legend of a secret brotherhood of assassins known as the ‘Lin Kuei.’ Turns out ninjitsu isn’t the only thing these guys were known for. They were also rumored to have mastered ancient dark arts that gave them control of the elements...or to be more specific, the element of cold.”
“Well that explains the superhero codename,” mused Joey. “Personally though, I would’ve gone with something more colorful. Perhaps ‘Snow-Man?’” He suggested, wiggling his fingers with dramatic flair. “Or how about ‘Captain Creamsicle?’”
“You know that if you let me leave, you won’t have to worry about me anymore.” Sub-Zero finally said.
“Yeah, but I couldn’t sleep at night knowing that elemental ninjas were free in the streets.” Andy dead-panned.
Sub-Zero just glared at the Ghostbuster. “You’re very young compared to the other warriors.”
“You fight ghosts, do you not? That must make you warriors. So are you an apprentice to them?”
“Apprentice?!” Andy shouted, definitely pissed. “I’ve been catching ghosts way longer than these guys. And that’s not the point. I should be asking the questions, Johnny.”
“May I leave if I answer all of your questions?” Sub-Zero asked, shifting in his chair.
“No. You’re stuck here until we can figure out what to do about the mustard colored freak. Now why is he after you exactly?”
Sub-Zero sighed, as if he too were losing his patience. “Please, let me leave. He will crush you all without even trying, and I do not wish to have your deaths on my conscience.”
“Trust me. He’ll have to try. Now let’s hear some answers! Why is he after you?” Andy shouted, starting to get angry again.
“Please.” Sub-Zero pleaded. “You cannot stop him. The only reason you defeated him tonight is because he did not expect your interference. When I was with the police...”
“Police?” Andy interrupted. “All right, Johnny. We’ve got time, so let’s hear all about your adventures.”
“It doesn’t say,” Jeff continued, shrugging his shoulders. “I dunno, maybe I’ll place a call to the Manhattan franchise. They’re the experts, I’ll ask them to look into it when they’ve got some free time...which should be plenty, considering just how many franchises they’ve got in that city.” Jeff couldn’t help but let out a snort before continuing, “Anyway, what my research does say is far more relevant. Get this: the Lin Kuei were known to frequently feud with a rival clan in Japan known as...” Jeff paused as he double-checked the pronunciation on his print-out. “Ah, here it is, the ‘Shirai Ryu.’ Guess what their team colors are.”
Joey’s head perked up as he realized the connection between the man in one of the side rooms being chewed out by Andy Harness, and the spectral martial artist that had recently invaded their place of business. “Far too bright for hiding in the shadows. No wonder this guy got waxed, he’s been pulling espionage missions dressed like a jar of mustard!”
Fritz chimed in, deducing the last piece of the puzzle, “This Mister Zero must be responsible for the murder of this Scorpion character. And now his rival has returned from the grave, seeking to even the score.”
Jeremy raised his hand, drawing attention to his next question. “So what is he doing in Los Angeles? I thought you said these guys were from Japan?”
“And China,” Jeff corrected him. “Sub-Zero probably abandoned the clan and traveled here to America to escape The Scorpion. However, the entity followed him here...and now here we are, the only things standing between a former assassin and the vengeful spirit of one of his victims.”
Suddenly, yet another voice entered the discussion from across the room. Dr. Andy Harness was returning to the table. “Well isn’t that special? Remind me again why the Hell we’re playing bodyguard for a murderer? Jesus, this guy was with the police tonight! Don’t they do background checks anymore? Who the hell runs the cops in this town, Chief Wiggum?!“
“Yeah, the cops must have a file on him because ninjas always carry photo ID, not to mention having criminal records in countries they just arrived in...”
Harness continued his ranting, ignoring Dr. Nash’s deadpan remark. ” And what if we do bust this thing for him? Why, we’d be destroying the evidence...if ya think about it, we’d be accomplices in the murder! Why don’t we turn our throwers on Chilly Willy and save the spook the trouble? It’s not like the boy can afford to pay us after this, anyway. I mean, does he look like the wealthy sort to you? Dude’s wearing pajama pants for crying out loud! He probably stowed away on someone’s ship to get over here in the first place!”
For a brief moment, everyone went quiet. Quickly however, Jeremy chose to break the silence. “He does have a point, you know.”
Dr. Baugh couldn’t help but cock an eyebrow at his colleague. “Are you suggesting we attack that man with our equipment, simply because he probably can’t afford our services, and may or may not be responsible for the spirit that’s haunting him, and consequently us?”
”That’s not what I meant, Fritz. I say we toss the ice man onto the street and mind our own business. The proton packs don’t seem to have any effect on this thing anyway. Maybe we’re better off not getting involved.”
“Things are not always as they seem. I would think men in your line of work especially would be aware of that fact.”
Everyone in the room froze (no pun intended) and all eyes landed on Sub-Zero, who was approaching the table from behind Andy.
“E-Excuse me?” Peter managed to spit out.
Sub-Zero casually shrugged. “Despite your ‘evidence’ to the contrary, gentlemen, I did not take The Scorpion’s life.”
Andy wheeled around to face Sub-Zero and addressed him with a tone usually reserved for taxi drivers not familiar with the English language. “Oh yeah?! Well then why the Hell’s he after you? What, did he decide he didn’t like your asymmetrical face and wants to give you a matching scar on the other eye? Or maybe you just owe the bastard twenty bucks, is that it? Why don’t you explain it to us? If you, a trained assassin, are not responsible for his death, than why in the blue blazes does he want a piece of your coconut to hang on his mantle so bad?!”
“First of all, I am, in fact, not an assassin,” Sub-Zero protested. “A killer perhaps, and admittedly a thief, but not an ‘assassin’. I’ve never accepted a job that involved taking someone’s life without allowing them the chance to defend themselves. I may be ‘cold-blooded,’ but even ninja are allowed personal ethics.”
Andy was about to respond with something no doubt rude and vulgar, but Fritz quickly clamped a hand over his mouth and bade the Chinaman to continue his story.
“I have, “he paused momentarily, “excuse me, had an older brother. He went by the same codename I do now, and possessed the same powers. They say the gift of cold runs in my family, you see. Anyway, a couple of years ago, our clan was contracted for a mission. Supposedly a simple theft, no killing involved. No killing, that is, until we discovered that the Shirai Ryu had been hired for the same task. My brother and Scorpion were the agents sent by each side.”
“Let me guess,” Joey interrupted, rolling his eyes for emphasis. “The two of them ran into each other and started fighting. Typical ninjas, solving all their problems with violence.” As Joey rambled off on a tangent, Sub-Zero resumed his narration.
“Precisely. My brother managed to win the fight...but he was not satisfied. He was a far less scrupulous man than I. Scorpion fell to his knees, begging for mercy...and he was granted none.” The matter-of-factly tone with which the ice-ninja spat out the last sentence gave most of the men at the table a shiver.
“To die on one’s knees, in a place of worship no less, is a great dishonor.” Sub-Zero paused and let out a deep sigh, as if recalling the tale made him weary in some way. “And now, Scorpion’s spirit will not rest, or so it believes, until it has restored its honor. Which means avenging himself. Unfortunately, he did that already, and yet roams the world of the living still. I guess he can’t figure out why...”
“What exactly are you saying?” Jeremy spoke up, as Sub-Zero took another pause.
“My brother is dead, of a means most unnatural. And when I inherited his name and his powers...apparently I inherited his demons as well.”
Andy was screaming incredulously. “You mean to tell me that we nearly got killed over a case of mistaken f**king identity?!”
”Indeed. Scorpion hunts me now as the tiger stalks its prey; lying in wait, choosing precisely the right time to strike. The moment we let our guards down, he will return. And as you have seen...he is unstoppable.”
For a minute or two, the room was silent. Each man let the gravity of the situation sink in for precious moments, before the silence was shattered by a single voice. Doctor Fritz Baugh stood up, active PKE meter in hand, and declared simply, “Maybe not.”
Dr. Nash immediately rushed to his side to get a glimpse of his findings. “What, have you found a weakness?”
“That depends on your definition of the term ‘weakness.’”
“Feel free to clarify any time, Doc,” Joey interjected.
“As I had mentioned earlier, while we were engaged with the entity, it’s body can’t be snared by the proton beams because it’s solid, like a human being, as opposed to being composed of negative psycho-kinetic energy and fluidic ectoplasm like most spirits. I believe I may have discovered why.”
“Well by all means, do tell,” Andy offered, genuinely intrigued, as everyone in the room was at that moment.
“A soul typically becomes a malevolent spirit when it does not wish to be parted with the body, as in the case of a violent death. Without a vessel, the spirit is only able to generate a field of ectoplasm around itself vaguely resembling the form it took in life. This is obviously only the case with spirits Class III and higher...anything less simply lacks the energy necessary to generate anything more than a change in temperature, a ball of light, the form of a single appendage, and so on.”
“Right, right,” Jeremy followed along. “So...what makes Scorpion different, then?”
“Scorpion’s not composed of ectoplasm at all, but rather his own reanimated corpse. Rather than allow his spirit to pass on and take a new form, he forced his soul, by sheer act of will, to re-bond with his body. A truly impressive feat, one has to admit.”
“So what you’re saying is...he’s a zombie?” Hicks offered. “Then shouldn’t he be finished already? We’ve fought a lot of zombies and they never came back after we blew them up before.”
“Not quite...zombies are soulless, decaying corpses. The Scorpion is a living corpse...but a sentient one.” Doctor Baugh corrected.
“He didn’t blow up either,” Sub-Zero added. “He teleported.”
“Teleported?!” Jeremy practically spat out in surprise. “Is that even possible?”
Fritz backed the frosty fighter up. “Mister Zero’s right. I was going to mention it myself, before he beat me to it. You see, if he Scorpion had detonated himself, there would be frozen chunks of flesh and bone all over the floor. All I found on the garage floor when last I looked was water...or rather, melted ice. No, I believe what we saw when Scorpion blew apart that shell was a means of teleportation.”
“You mean, he just willed himself to be somewhere else...and it worked?” Pete inquired, confused.
“Precisely,” Fritz carried on. “The entity transported his body to another point in space and time, likely one not very distant from this building. The fiery display we were witness to was merely a momentary look into a dimensional aperture...a glimpse at the atmosphere of the otherworldly plane his vessel passed through for that brief moment.”
“You mean like when Nightcrawler ‘Bamf’’s in the X-Men?” Jeff added.
“Yes, except less like brimstone and more like napalm.”
Andy spoke up once again. “Ahh...point well noted. Thank you Doctor Fritz, that was most educational. Except for one thing: He’s a little harder to stop than your average mobile corpse. Normally, a dead body would be torn apart by our beams, or at the very least set on fire. But we hit ol’ mustard jar with six of them at once, and he just stood there. Oh, pardon me, he didn’t ‘just stand there,’ he freaking ran right at us!”
“Well when we shot him, I noticed he wasn’t burning up because his outfit was flame retardant,” Pete interjected, raising his hand as if to get a teacher’s attention. “It looked like Kevlar, the stuff they use in bulletproof vests and this fireproof cooking glove I saw on the Home Shopping Channel. Oh, and Batman’s costume.”
“Has it ever occured to you that you watch entirely too much television?” Williams cracked, a wry smirk on his face.
“Once in a while,” Pete admitted. “Then I change the channel and forget what I was thinking about,” he smiled innocently and shrugged.
“It takes a lot of PKE to generate an ectoplasmic body like a Class IV would need,” Jeff mumbled quietly, as if he were thinking out loud. Slowly his voice grew louder so that everyone could hear his train of thought and get where he was going with it. “Since Scorpion has no need to waste all that energy on giving himself form, he is able to do other things with it, like conjuring flames, shooting harpoons out of his bare hands, and you know teleportation’s gotta be draining on a soul’s reserves. In fact, I’d wager that’s why he hasn’t come back for round two yet. He over-exerted himself and now he needs to recharge, so to speak.”
“God, on and on, he never shuts up! Is this going somewhere, Creepy?” Andy broke in again. “Or are you trying to narrate some sort of boring PBS dinner theater thing here?”
“Patience, Jed Clampett,” Nash shot back, poking fun at Andy’s southern origins. “As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted...Scorpion will probably wait until he’s fully recharged to come back and try again. He knows we’re formidable foes, and he knows we’ll be waiting for him, so he’s not going to try anything at less than full power. I dunno how much time that gives us, but it’s gotta be enough for us to come up with a plan.”
“Like what?” Hicks interjected. “How are we supposed to catch a ghost who’s not a ghost?”
“Well the first time I shot him,” the occultist continued, “he felt it. The particle beam even left a nice, smoking hole in his back, where there wasn’t any of that damn armor, if I remember correctly...which means our streams can harm him. The problem is the armor he wears...and he seems to have enough superhuman strength and endurance to shrug off the concussive force as well...if he sees it coming, anyway. So we just have to hit the right spots.”
Jeremy rubbed his brow, trying to think. “The problem is,” he reasoned, “a proton beam is too wild and uncontrollable to aim like that. They wobble all over the place, and the only way to guarantee we’d hit him in the soft spots would be to strafe it, and that would tear the heck out of the walls too.”
“Indeed,” Fritz sighed. “If we could just figure out a way to hit him more precisely...all we’d need to do is deliver enough damage to his body to render it useless and force his spirit out. Then we can zap and trap him like any other ghost.”
The assembled six Ghostbusters and Sub-Zero sat there silently for a few moments, musing over the vague beginnings of a plan, before Dr. Williams spoke up. “Okay...how do we do that?”
Jeff scratched at his goatee, a sign that he was thinking hard. After a few minutes, he spoke up. “We need something precise, something easily controlled with manual dexterity. And I think I have an idea.”