POST MORTEM KOMBAT
Filed by Dr. Jeff Nash, GBWC South Division
GBI Case File GBWC-2003-21/010
POST MORTEM KOMBAT
Filed by Dr. Jeff Nash, GBWC South Division
GBI Case File GBWC-2003-21/010
Jeff ambled over to the nearest bathroom, wiped the crust from his eyes, and took a look in the mirror. He noticed with mild satisfaction that the dark circles beneath his eyes were nearly half the size they had been before he went to bed.
Not that it matters...I still look like the walking dead. I suppose it could be worse. I could look like that Griffin chick in Venkman's photo album...or even worse, her boyfriend. Heh...
After deciding, despite the greasy, disheveled state of his long, dark hair, that a shower could wait until later in the day, Jeff strolled down to the lab to see what progress his companions had made in his absence. Upon arriving in the little factory section of the warehouse that Dr. Nathaniel "Otter" Masterson called home, Jeff nearly stumbled over a pile of discarded machinery. The entire room was cluttered with metallic odds and ends, some old and rusted over, some new and shiny, some working, some not. It was like a junkyard had come to life and claimed it's own little corner of their headquarters. Dr. Nash managed to navigate his way to the center of the room, a fairly cleared out space in which Otter and Dr. Fritz V. Baugh sat, discussing their latest work.
As Dr. Masterson turned to greet his colleague, a look of faux-horror came over the old man's face. "My lord, the dead have risen from the grave and come to devour our brains!"
"And they've gotten their wardrobe from an M.C. Hammer yard sale! Oh, the humanity!" Jeff teased back, slapping his palms against his cheeks and gasping Home Alone-style. "Seriously though, can't a guy wake up around here without people pointing out his lovely complexion? It's like nobody's ever seen a nerd before..."
"It could be worse," Fritz observed. "You could look like that Griffin woman in Dr. Venkman's photo album."
"The dame with the horror movie makeup?" Otter asked, recognizing the reference.
Suddenly, Andy Harness walked into the room from behind Jeff and added his two cents. "Eh, the one that scares me is that Latino guy she's standing next to in the picture. Trust me, Creepy...if you looked like that, I'd have to knock your lights out."
"I appreciate you trying to make me feel better, guys. But I've already been down that road today. Can we talk about something a little more 'current events'? Like where everybody is? The place seems awfully quiet today..."
Fritz adjusted his glasses as he provided a response. "Mr. Daniels and the North team were called away on a job in...Oregon, I believe it was. I stayed behind to assist Nathaniel in construction of the equipment we hope will facilitate the capture of The Scorpion, so Dr. Stevens took my place on the mission. Dr. Venkman is in New York, as usual. That leaves just the four of us and Misters Kong and Chad who, if my timing is correct, should be in the common room, either playing that Halo game or forcing Sub-Zero to watch one of the highlights of western animation...The Powerpuff Girls."
"I see...so how is the equipment coming along, anyway? You guys finish my little toy while I was getting my beauty sleep?"
"Funny you should mention it, Junior. Have a look-see for yourself!" Otter picked up a small, chrome flashlight-shaped object off the workbench and popped a yellow and orange "plasma core" canister into the bottom. He handed the device over to Dr. Nash and gestured for him to step back. "Okay, now hold the end of the device away from your body and hit the red switch."
Jeff pressed down on the small red "On" button at the top of the cylinder and watched in amazement as it hummed to life. A bright orange proton stream burst out of the end and wobbled through the air in defiance until the crackling blue bolts of electricity surrounding it tamed it into the straight, flat shape of a longsword's blade. The emitter sparked and crackled with life as the device's true intent became clear.
"Dude..." Andy enthused, "It's a lightsaber!"
Dr. Baugh cleared his throat and quickly corrected his teammate. "'Neutrona Saber,' actually. Jeffrey surmised that while Scorpion could easily defend himself against the consistent strikes of a particle beam, attempting to defend against a melee weapon of the same nature would be enough to throw off his timing and leave him vulnerable. We also decided that a device with such a limited use in the field would benefit best from utilizing a more limited power source. Hence, the battery-like plasma cells...a remnant of the New York division's short-lived equipment remodeling back in '97."
Andy barely paid attention to Fritz's explanation, opting instead to pick up another neutrona saber and twirl it around like the leader of a marching parade.
"How did you get the proton beam to focus like this?" Jeff marveled. "I've never seen one not wobbling all over the place before."
"What does it matter?" Otter complained. "It gets the job done, don't it?"
Fritz rolled his eyes and pulled a musty looking cardboard box from underneath the workbench. "Masterson found a strange piece of glowing crystal in a box that Dr. Venkman had labeled 'Stuff from Manhattan.' He said to me, and I quote, 'why the heck not?' and cut a lens from it and stuck it in there, just to see what would happen when the beam was focused through it."
"And it worked, just like I said," the old hipster brushed them off. "Score one for O-dawg. Now let's drop it already and stop loitering in my lab so I can grab myself some mad nappage, eh?"
Fritz ignored the eccentric engineer and went on. "I've been looking at these reports that were in the box, and apparently, they're all written by Dr. Vincent Belmont, and a good portion of them are addressing the subject of 'Crystallized Ectoplasm', or 'Chrysm,' as he has named it. Apparently, Chrysm pretty much allows objects that would never work normally to do what they're supposed to. The example given here," he added, pulling a sheet of paper from the box, "is a weapon called a 'Zeus Cannon.' With a Chrysm power source, this gun is able to fire pulses of electricity as intense as a lightning bolt. So...I can only assume that's what the crystal Otter made the lens out of is."
"Strange that the beam doesn't stop at the lens and latch onto it," Jeff mused, turning the device in his hand and examining the emitter. "It being made of ectoplasm and all."
Fritz nodded his head in agreement. "At that short a range, the beam would probably destroy the casing around it trying to grab ahold of the Chrysm...if it were behaving normally."
Eventually, Harness got bored of swinging at empty air, however, and took a shot at the nearest, biggest piece of equipment. As the particle blade struck the object, however, it merely bounced off with an electric hum. "Hey, what gives? It doesn't cut!"
"Ha!" Otter responded triumphantly. "I turned down the intensity because I just knew one of you rugrats would start goofing around with it!"
At that, Andy and Jeff both took a long, hard look at the handles of their new toys, found the golden power setting dial, and set the blades to full neutronas. At that, the two presented their blades to each other as if they were a pair of sparring duelists, and each responded with a devilish grin.
"En garde!" "Touche'!" the two chimed simultaneously before charging at each other, blades at the ready. Before they could strike, however, Fritz suddenly jumped in between them, arms flailing.
Both men skidded to a halt, almost unnerved by the sudden, uncharacteristic break in Dr. Baugh's cool.
"There's something I need to tell you fools before you get yourselves de-atomized...Don't cross the blades."
"Shit...let me guess," Andy responded, kicking dust off the ground in disappointment. "All life as we know it will stop and every molecule in our bodies will explode at the speed of light, right?"
"Exactly," Fritz continued. "So exercise a little common sense when wielding these devices. Would you, Gentlemen?"
"Total protonic reversal...bummer." Jeff quickly deactivated his saber and set it back on the workbench. "You know what, Andy? I think you can handle the ninja on your own. I'll back you up with a thrower like everybody else."
"Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence. I'll be sure to tell Scorp' that you recommended me when he goes to chop my head off..."
"Any time, buddy. Any time. So...let's go see if Captain Cold hasn't given himself a matching scar by trying claw his eyeballs out after enduring the horrors that are Cartoon-Cartoons, hmm?"
"Hey, I resent that," Otter threw in. "I happen to like the Powerpuff Girls!"
As the other three Ghostbusters in the room began to exit, Andy Harness calmly added a reply, not even looking back to acknowledge Dr. Masterson.
"I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear that."
Before they could get out the door though, their path was blocked by Chelsea Aberdeen, their secretary. "Sorry boys, we've got a call." With that, she handed Fritz the worksheet and with a wink, headed back to her desk in the garage bay. Fritz examined the paper in his hand, then adjusted his glasses and turned back to the group.
"Well, it looks as though we can't postpone it. According to this, we've already rescheduled this job twice this month because of other cases. On the positive side, it's a local job. I suggest you get ready for work, gentlemen."
"It's not the one with the giant spider in a diaper, is it?" Jeff asked, scratching the base of his neck nervously. "Because I don't do spiders. I told Chelsea to hold off that one until North Team gets back."
"No, this looks like a just a normal free repeater."
Andy peered over Fritz's shoulder at the sheet. "So who's gonna guard the ninja while we're out?
"Bad idea," Jeff assessed. "We need at least two or three people on the bust, and it's gonna take more than the leftovers to defend against Scorpion if he returns while we're gone. I say we take Subbie with us."
"We can't take that guy on a job," Andy complained. "He'd only get in the way!"
"What if we left him in the Ecto?" the grungy occultist considered.
"Leaving the man alone in a van is no better than leaving him here," Doc Fritz explained, already on his way out the door. "We have to take Sub-Zero along, and we have to allow him to participate in the bust...unless anyone has a better idea?"
Andy and Jeff thought it over for a second, looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and followed him out.
"Alright," Andy conceded, "but I get to keep my eye on him the entire time."
"I used to...but that was a long time ago. They, uh...they went to an ex-girlfriend when we broke up."
Jeff was kneeling down in front of a tacky, overstuffed chair, petting the orange tabby cat lying there contentedly. Beside him stood the owner of the house, a kindly old widow named Abigail Forrester. "Ohh...that's a shame," Mrs. Forrester shook her head solemnly in understanding.
"Well...we have a couple cats who wander around the office. They belong to one of my colleagues who couldn't come along."
"Oh, that's nice to hear. I love kitties, you know. Chester here keeps me company, and I..."
The other four Ghostbusters and Sub-Zero, who had chosen to cover his ninja togs in a trenchcoat rather than wear one of their flightsuits, none of which would've fit him anyway, were currently scouring the house with PKE meters and other, less reliable detection devices. Jeff had taken the living room, and stopped to pet the cat for a moment when his readings turned up ghost-free. Just then, Pete Kong came out of the kitchen with a Ghost Sniffer, pointed it obnoxiously at Jeff, and squeezed to get his attention. Jeff just sighed, batted the air-sucking wand out of his face, and stood up.
"The ground floor is clean. Andy says for us to check the basement."
"Right," Jeff nodded his head. "Which way, ma'am?"
Mrs. Forrester led them to the stairs. "Careful going down there. Those steps're awful steep...and rickety."
"Oh, joy," Jeff groaned sarcastically. "By the way, ma'am," he warned in a serious tone, "you might want to take Chester and move somewhere safe, in case the ghost comes upstairs. When the action starts, things have a way of getting real intense, real fast."
With that, he took point and carefully climbed down backwards, hands clinging tightly to the rails. Peter waited until his feet were on safe ground to follow him down, climbing the same way. Before he made it to the bottom, though, a step suddenly gave out beneath his foot. The small ex-cartoonist waved his arms about wildly, trying to keep his balance, but it was no good. He fell back screaming, right into Jeff's lap, sending both to the ground and a cloud of dust and splinters into the air.
With a grunt, Jeff tossed Pete off top of him and the two shaken men climbed to their feet, a difficult task with Proton Packs on, that made them look like a pair of turtles stuck on their backs. They finally stood up, coughing and dusting themselves off. Before either could make a comment or crack a joke, though, every lightbulb in the room suddenly popped. The sound of laughter, of both menace and genuine amusement, filled the darkness around them. Jeff slowly drew his PKE meter and switched it on, the screen and wings immediately coming alive with activity. He swept his arm across the room, trying to pinpoint the entity's location. The readings clearly indicated something was in the room, but he couldn't pinpoint a location. He heard the sudden whine of a particle thrower heating up beside him, and looked over at his partner.
The younger and much shorter haired of the two, who had thankfully left his Mickey Mouse cap in the van, was pointing his aim wildly this way and that in the dark. "Gimme some light," he whispered to Jeff.
"Pete, ghosts glow. It's obviously turned invisible."
"I know that! I just wanna see where the heck I'm shooting when it pops up, y'know? In case I miss and hit something valuable."
"I think the condition of the stairs makes it clear whether or not there's anything of value in this glorified hole in the ground."
For a beat, it was completely quiet, as if the ex-cartoonist was deeply considering those words.
"Jeff, you don't have a flashlight, do you?"
Another beat of awkward silence passed.
Suddenly, the meter came to life, indicating that the entity was critically close. Peter and Jeff gave each other a curious glance, then, caught a strange light in their peripheral vision.
They heard a kindly voice behind them ask "Can I interest you fine young men in a new vacuum cleaner?"
They looked back over their shoulders, where they were greeted by the sight of a partially transparent, ashen-white human being. It appeared to be a man in a neat tweed jacket, tie, and hat, carrying a suitcase and smiling and waving. He noticed their blank stares and frowned.
"No? A shame...It really was a nice vacuum."
Suddenly, the ethereal traveling salesman's expression changed from a pleasant greeting to a roar of anger, his facial features morphing into something evil and demonic. It leapt right at them.
"No solicitors!" Peter screamed, firing without hesitation. The beam caught the ghost, but it was so close to the wand by that time that the beam carried the entity back across the room, splattering it against, or rather, through the wall. Peter merely grumbled "Aww nuts," snapping his fingers.
Jeff quickly checked his PKE meter, noting that the entity was rising quickly through the ground. He paused for a moment to guess distances, then yanked his walkie-talkie. "Guys, he's headed for the backyard! Over?" With that, the two men rushed back upstairs, deftly leaping off the worst steps that were breaking away beneath their feet, before they could fall.
Andy's voice came back over the radio as they reached the top. "Harness here! Frosty and I can't get there in time, we're on the...what?"
"Andy? You there? Over?"
"What the fuck do you think you're...HEY!"
Jeff and Peter made it out the back door just in time to witness the sight of Sub-Zero leaping right out of a closed second story window. The martial artist's lithe body flipped through the sky amidst a shower of broken glass, twisted in mid-air so that he'd be facing toward the house on landing, and planted himself on the ground perfectly straight like an Olympic gymnast, not bearing a single scratch. Andy poked his head out of the broken window, barely managing a "Holy shit!" As the ghost emerged from the ground, everyone watching was too frozen in awe to take a shot. Fortunately, however, Sub-Zero wasn't done making an impression.
He knew he and his products were no longer welcome, but the first thing the sales-ghost saw was an unarmed man in blue and black standing right in front of him, blocking his exit route. With a defiant roar, the entity charged forward, aiming to run right through him. Just as the slimy solicitor approached, however, Sub-Zero evaded with another amazing acrobatic display. Giving the ghost a sly grin and a wink, the ninja leapt up and flipped a good five feet backward. The truly amazing thing, however, was that the flipping form seemed as though it was being propelled by something. The air beneath his feet exploded in a small shockwave of ice particles, and as his body took off, the space it previously occupied was filled by a sudden gathering of snowflakes and frost droplets.
The freezing water particles were drawn together and coalesced into a perfect icy replica of Sub-Zero himself, which the ghost ran right into. Rather than passing through the statue, however, the entity's contact with it caused it to shatter and reform as a shell around him, freezing his ectoplasm solid! By this time, Fritz and Chad had made it to the backyard and were standing around with their jaws agape, just as awed as the others.
Sub-Zero dusted off his hands and ran over to the others, shaking the nearest, Jeff, to get his attention. "The ice will not hold long! Capture him, quickly!"
Blinking rapidly to regain his senses, Dr. Nash finally pulls the Ghost Trap from his pack and tosses it across the yard, right over to the ice-salesman. After a few silent, tense moments, the shell begins to shake, then crack, and finally shatter...just in time for Jeff to stomp the pedal.
After the ghost was caught, Andy ran down the steps and out the back door, and the six men gathered around the smoking trap.
"Did it work? Did we get 'im?" Peter mumbled, giving it a tap with his foot.
Everyone paused for a moment as it crackled with electricity. Then, seeing the indicator light beep positive, Nash finally picked it up and carried it off.
Fritz walked over to give Mrs. Forrester the bill, while the rest of the team shuffled off as well, following Jeff back to the Ecto-1S. On his way out, Andrew Harness gave the backyard one final glance, and muttered something to himself.
Five Ghostbusters and a ninja sat on the brand new couch in the living room of the warehouse, snacking, watching TV, and casually discussing the episode of Justice League that was on at the moment. And to most of the busters' surprise, the Chinese ninja was taking an active interest in the show.
"I know, it's whack! Like, right, Ice-dude? You agree with me! Who's idea was it to make this dude G.L. anyway?"
"Well, Michael, he's the only African-American on the show. You know how TV shows have to meet certain politically correct standards these days," Fritz commented.
Peter Kong, sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table, as they'd run out of room on the couch, asked "Well what about Black Vulcan?"
"That guy sucked," was the immediate reply from a scoffing Andy Harness.
"Fo' shizzle," Chad agreed.
Now it was Jeff's turn to scoff. "Not as bad as John Stewart."
"I beg to differ," Fritz retorted.
"His name sounds racist anyway," Andy went on. "Why's he gotta be 'Black Vulcan' and not just 'Vulcan'?"
Jeff nodded his head as he reached into a bowl of barbecue chips and grabbed a handful. "Good point. But Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner should still be Green Lantern, and some other black superhero should be filling the PC quota."
"I hate to play Devil's Advocate, but they already have Hawkgirl on the show. How many more obscure characters that only fans of the comics will recognize do you need?"
Before anyone could respond to Fritz's question, though, an alarm sounded. Warning sirens wailed and emergency beacons strobed, painting red light across the room. It was the "Intruder Alert" alarm, indicating that headquarters was being breached...The Scorpion had finally returned.
The five men jumped to their feet and raced to the garage, readying their equipment as the doorway was peeled apart by Scorpion's unyielding katana blade. Upon their arrival, Sub-Zero was in the lead, followed by Andy and Jeff, with Peter and Fritz in the rear, armed and ready.
"For a ninja, this guy sure isn't big on stealth," Andy quipped.
"He's underestimating us,"Sub-Zero answered. "He doesn't believe you are a threat, so he's taking us head-on. You know, you do not have to do this," he pleaded. "I have not requested your help. If I were to slip out the back right now, he'd follow me, and you could go about your..."
"No way," the long haired Ghostbuster beside him insisted, powering up his proton sword. "You helped us, now it's our turn to return the favor. Besides, I wanna repay that son of a bitch for that kick in the jaw."
"Alright, gentlemen," Fritz reminded them, "stick to the plan. Andrew, Jeffrey, Mr. Zero, do as much damage as you can as quickly as possible. The rest of us are ready, should the spirit become free."
Jeff looked over at Andy. "Well, gentlemen...round two." He looked at Scorpion, who was poised with his sword out, ready for battle, then turned his gaze back to Harness and gulped nervously. "Ready when you are, Clampett."
"See you on the other side, Mr. Creepy," Andy smiled back. "Well, what're we waiting for?" Andy pointed his saber forward and shouted out a simple war cry, "FIGHT!"
The particle sword-wielding Ghostbusters charged into battle beside Sub-Zero, who had flash-frozen himself a rather large, dangerous looking sword of ice. The three men came at Scorpion all at once, the more inexperienced Andy swinging wildly, and Jeff carrying his sword at the side, waiting for the right time to strike. Andy rolled to Scorpion's left, Jeff dodged to his right, and Sub-Zero ran straight-away at the offender, leapt into the air, and flipped right over his head, leaving his back perfectly exposed, as he turned around to face them, to a trio of proton beams from Fritz, Chad, and Peter. The blasts rocked Scorpion, but didn't knock him down, and when the beams cut off, the swordfighters used the opportunity to strike.
Sub-Zero swung low, slicing a gash right across his pursuer's abdomen. The ghost-man dropped his samurai sword and howled more out of anger than pain. To the ice warrior's surprise, the wound oozed lava, rather than blood, and Sub-Zero's weapon was ruined in an instant. Deciding to rid himself of the melting sword as effectively as possible, the Lin Kuei warrior reached way back and gave a thrust, shoving the remains of the blade deep into his foe's gut and all the way out his back. The last of the ice quickly melted away, but the wound was left intact, bubbling and oozing hot magma out of both sides of Scorpion's lower torso.
Suddenly, Scorpion reared back a clenched fist and bashed his prey in the side of the face. Subbie spun around and stumbled, almost tripping over a bundle of cables running across the garage floor, then quickly regained his bearings and fought back with a few punches and chops of his own. Andy snuck in a small stab to Scorpion's side, but the zombified shinobi shrugged it right off and continued unarmed combat with his target. He kicked Sub-Zero in the chin, dazing him just long enough to grab him by the tunic and toss him back into the torn garage door.
As the enemy was suddenly out in the open, the other four Ghostbusters took their shot, but like the first time, most of the blasts were resisted by his superior strength and Kevlar armor. As the particle streams shut off, Scorpion shoulder-charged Andy right in the gut and out of the way, then approached Sub-Zero.
The shinobi in blue scrambled to his feet and rushed to defend himself, blocking an errant swing of the fist, then a kick towards the midsection, but his opponent was just a bit too strong for him, and in a dizzying display of martial arts prowess, Scorpion beat Sub-Zero within an inch of his life with a series of punches and kicks. Blow after blow, mostly to the head, rained down on the scarred Asian man, sending him almost slumping to his knees. Finally, with an uppercut that made everyone watching groan as if they themselves had been hit, Sub-Zero crashed to the ground, a bruised, battered mess. His tormentor refused to stop there, however. Scorpion pulled his beaten foe to his feet, hoisted him high above his head, and with superhuman strength, lobbed him right into the laps of Fritz, Peter, Chad, and Jeff, who just happened to be standing near the other three, waiting for a chance to run in with a cheap shot when the ninja wasn't looking.
As the four temporarily incapacitated members of the team crawled out from beneath Sub-Zero's unconscious body, Andy found himself alone with the mustard-colored juggernaut. He desperately recalled all he could from the fencing classes he had taken in his youth, and opened up on Scorpion. Unfortunately, the better trained warrior deftly blocked every blow with his wrist gauntlets and tossed Andy aside like it was nothing.
Harness refused to give up, however, and leapt to his feet, screaming a defiant battle cry. He faked a high and outside swing, leaving Scorpion open for a slash in the thigh. Another fake and the ninja took a shot in the shoulder. A few more and Scorpion was bleeding magma from both arms and legs. He didn't appear to be losing strength though, and disrupted Andy's assault with a punch in the face. The dazed Tennessee native stumbled backward, only to trip as Scorpion finished with a leg-sweep that dropped Andy to his back, knocking the wind out of him.
It was that moment that Scorpion decided he was done toying with his prey. He craned his neck and looked back at the limp Sub-Zero and the now only three men guarding his body. The specter's eyes narrowed at the four forms before him, the blank, empty globes seeming to burn with anger.
Scorpion's hand reached up, peeling at the collar of his hood. In one swift motion, the ninja ripped off his entire mask...including the skin. Peter cringed in horror at the sight of the bare skull staring back at him, fire burning hotly in it's empty eye-sockets, while Chad mumbled a "holy shit" and Fritz merely adjusted his glasses, murmuring "Fascinating." Then, the jaws parted, the head reared back, and the cartoonist, the physicist, the games tester, and the unconscious form in their care dove aside just in time to avoid being engulfed in the searing stream of flame that was The Scorpion's breath.
The spectre turned his head, trying to follow him with his fire breath, but all of a sudden, was forced to stop his assault as he felt a tap on his shoulder and a voice behind him ask, in the calmest, most rational voice, one the oddest questions he'd ever heard.
"Hey...you like apples?"
The ninja turned to face the source of the query, and was met by a most surprising sight: the heel of Dr. Nash's foot rocketing into his unprotected cranium at high speed. Scorpion's lower jaw snapped completely off the skull at the force of Jeff's kick, and his head was arched back a good ninety degrees. Jeff followed up the attack by driving a proton blade, set to full neutronas, right into his chest.
The spirit wailed like a banshee as a second blade was suddenly driven into its spine from behind, that of Andy Harness. Andy winked at Jeff and taunted the specter some more, before dealing the finishing blow. "How do ya like them apples?!"
With that, the two Ghostbusters struck at the same time, Andrew pushing his blade straight up from it's spot in Scorpion's chest through his skull, Jeff dropping to his knees, forcing his blade down the length of the ninja's body. The end result: The body began to split down the middle, and with a spectacular explosion of steaming hot blood and guts, released the malevolent soul within. As Harness and Nash rolled away to avoid the splattering of lava and bone, Sub-Zero shook out the cobwebs just in time to see what was happening, and let out one final command to the other three Ghostbusters waiting with particle throwers ready.
In a matter of seconds, the ethereal mist that was The Scorpion was snared in a trio of particle beams and sucked down into the electromagnetically enforced solitude of a Ghost Trap. And with that, their job was done, and Dr. Nash let out a deep sigh of relief he'd been holding onto since Four AM the night before last. He broke his usual stoic character for a short moment and broke into a celebratory dance right then and there, uncoordinatedly doing what should've been a moonwalk over the smoking trap, before stopping, pointing down at it, and declaring in final victory...
But not tonight. No, tonight Jeff felt really good. He felt the kind of good you only feel after something like kicking a zombie's skull in and stabbing it with a lightsaber. The kind of good that makes you forget the fact that you're about three pounds of makeup shy of looking like a goth girl. The kind of good that makes you look at Wolverine and just...not want to bitch. That, my friends, is a rare kind of good.
Eventually, Peter Kong entered the room and sat next to Jeff. After a few moments of awkward silence, Peter spoke up. "So...you're in an awfully good mood tonight."
"Yep," was Jeff's simple, grinning reply.
Peter pushed on, straining for conversation. "Sure kicked that ninja's ass, back there."
"Eh, lucky shot."
"I guess that Sub-Zero fellow's gone for good?"
"Yeah, he said he was gonna head back to China...pick up the pieces...something like that. Hell...if there's enough left out there, he might even mail us a paycheck."
"Heh...wouldn't that be nice for a change? Us actually getting paid what we're due."
A few more moments passed in silence as Jeff and Peter watched the tube. "If you don't mind me asking..." Peter suddenly straightened up, "Where did you learn to kick like that? And don't tell me some crap like you used to play football, because I know that's a lie."
"Heh...Okay, I'll let you in on a little secret. My dad's a truck driver. You know, the big rig, cross-country kind. Well...thanks to his love for most things hillbilly, I ended up with a 'healthy' diet of professional wrestling growing up. It's been sort of an on-again off-again guilty pleasure of mine for years. In fact, it's really the only thing close to a sport I can stand to watch...and even then, only to laugh at it. Anyway, I picked that kick up from a dude by the name of Shawn Michaels...he calls it the 'Sweet Chin Music.'"
Jeff and Peter shared a hearty laugh over the revelation for a few minutes, before Pete pressed on, suddenly curious. "And the 'applesauce' thing? What the heck was that?"
Jeff shrugged his shoulders. "Well, the other day, Andy and I were watching Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and we both really liked the Good Will Hunting parody scene. And that's pretty much all there is to it."
"Okay," Pete nodded in understanding. "So riddle me this: If your dad was a truck driver...how'd you end up in all of this? You know...the Ghostbusting?"
"Well..." Jeff started to say, thinking about just how much of his life's story he should reveal. He finally decided to give Kong the short answer. "My Mom's side of the family is the imaginative one. She used to watch stuff like Star Trek and buy me comic books all the time."
"Ah...well, it could always be worse," Peter joked. "Your parents could be that Griffin chick and her boyfriend we saw in Venkman's photo album. Man, I feel sorry for that kid of theirs. Especially with a name like 'Conchita.' I can just see the cruel little bastards picking on her in elementary school..."
Jeff chuckled along, then paused for a moment, holding his index finger up as if to make a point. "Actually, it's not that bad. I mean, it's Spanish, right? That's as good an excuse as any to have a silly name. Besides...it's not as bad as, say...'Avril Lavigne.'"
The two broke up in laughter for another couple minutes, before Peter caught his breath and spoke up again. "So I hear you're having Otter carve you a custom handle for your neutrona saber?"
"Yup," Jeff beamed with pride. "Shaped like the Master Sword."
"Dude, no way! I'm the old-school gamer around here, the Master Sword should be mine!"
"Hey, who in this room cut a ninja in half recently? Do you even know how to hold a sword? I think that proves who the real Hero of Time is around here..."
"Oh you wish. Boot up the NES and I'll show you who owns the Triforce in this house!"
Ghostbusters West Coast Division Created by Andy Harness and Vincent Belmont