SILENT NIGHT

Filed by Mick Nielson, GBWC
GBI Case File No. GBWC-2008-26/315

December 25, 2008
Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year Twenty-Five
The last gleaming rays of light had just started sinking below the L.A. skyline as the Ecto-Cruiser pulled into the warehouse Headquarters of Ghostbusters West Coast. The doors opened and several blue jumpsuit-clad men stepped out. Jason Knetg shut the back door and crossed to the trunk, opening it and removing the smoking trap from that night's bust. He and Mick Nielson headed inside, followed closely by Aidan. These three had drawn the short straws so-to-speak with working the Christmas Eve shift"Not that they had anywhere to be anyways"

"Look, all I'm saying is, what if Santa Claus was some kinda spirit? I mean, how else would you explain the legend?" Jason said, continuing their conversation from the car.

"Jason, I don't TRY to explain the legend, its just a fairy tale." Mick said, rolling his eyes as he pushed open the garage door and held it for Jason, still toting the smoking trap.

"Bull, I've seen too much weird stuff in this line of work to be tricked into thinking its just a legend. He's gotta be some kind of spirit who can either stop time temporarily or teleport with incredible speed."

"Has anyone forgotten the possibility that he wasn't real AT ALL?" Aidan piped up from behind as he headed upstairs to change out of his slime-coated jumpsuit.

Mick and Jason entered the E.C.U. chamber and Mick opened the hatch, leaning against the wall while Jason inserted the freshly caught ghost into it. "I still say you're nuts, Knetg"Santa Claus was just a legend based off of a really charitable guy WAY back in the day."

"Well how do you explain all the presents getting delivered in one night then?" Jason asked smugly, then flipped the switch to seal the ghost inside the containment unit.
Chelsea and Rose bustled around the kitchen of the Baugh family's house, preparing Christmas Eve dinner while Fritz had some semblance of control over their daughter and John, the young boy Mick had been given charge of. The turkey thermometer dinged and popped up out of the roasted bird just as Chelsea finished setting all the places out on the table and Rose quickly pulled it out, carrying it to the dining room.

"Boys! Dinner!" Chelsea shouted. Fritz rolled into the room, Abby firmly secured to his lap and John trailing behind, followed by Rose's boyfriend. They all sat down at their places and complimented the girls on the fine looking meal laid out before them. Fritz, wanting to keep to tradition, decided to hook his leg on so he could actually stand for the toast. After securing Abby to her booster seat, he did just that.

"I'd like to propose a toast"" Fritz started, pushing himself up to a standing position and raising his glass. The others followed suit, waiting for him to speak. Fritz thought a moment, then took a breath and began to talk" Only no sound came out.

Chelsea furrowed her brow a bit, rubbing her ear to make sure nothing was obstructing it, but Fritz's face showed equal confusion as he cleared his throat and tried again"The result was the same though, no words came out. "Are you alright, dear?" Chelsea tried to ask, but like her husband, no sound came from her throat. "Hello?" she shouted, but there was nothing. She quickly turned to Rose, panic welling up now. "Can you hear me?!" She mouthed, but Rose just shook her head, her hands going to her own ears.

"Oh God"I've gone deaf!" Rose mouthed, but Chelsea shook her head, indicating her own ears and mouthing that she couldn't hear either. The baby began silently crying at this point, obviously upset that she could not hear her parents, Chelsea rushed to her and picked her up, trying her best to calm the child, looking to Fritz, who was already moving to the phone, dialing the number for HQ.
The phone was on its third ring by the time Jason made his way over to the reception desk and grabbed it. He raised the receiver to his ear, but couldn't say hello. He tried again, then looked at the phone, dumbfounded and tried shouting randomly, but no sounds came out.
Fritz waited for almost a minute with no response. He could hear sounds of feet and shuffling bodies, but no voices, which worried him even more"It was NOT an isolated incident.

John, thinking quickly, turned the television on, but the local news was just a "technical difficulties" graphic. Quickly switching to the state news, the Anchor on that channel was a startling change from the forced silence they'd all been experiencing.

"-and reports are flying in from all over concerning the sudden cutoff of speech in the L.A. area. No explanation has been given yet and authorities are baffled. The preparations for any kind of major incident for the holidays were put in place as usual, but nothing could possibly have prepared them for this""
Mick took a deep breath and screamed at the top of his lungs, but still nothing had happened. It was dawning on them that any kind of vocal noises had been completely disrupted. Rachel phased down through the ceiling, leaving a residue of slime in her place, frantically motioning to the others that she too had lost her voice.

Mick ran a hand through his hair nervously, if the GHOSTS had lost their voices too, something VERY weird was going on"He hurried to the computer and opened a word document, typing quickly. ˜anyone have texting on their cell phones?'
Fritz's cell began vibrating and he snatched it up, it was a message from Aidan, updating him on the situation. Ghosts losing their voices too? He quickly texted back that he was on his way and that everyone should remain calm. He kissed Chelsea and Abby, laying a reassuring hand on both their cheeks before rushing out to the car.

20 minutes later, Fritz was caught in a minor traffic jam, one of the neighborhood streets had been blocked off and Fritz could see crime scene investigation unit and the home had been cordoned off with police tape. As he passed, one of the officers noticed the Ghostbusters logo on his license plate and held his hands up to halt. Fritz pulled over and the officer motioned for him to follow. PKE meter in hand, Fritz followed the officer into the house, highly confused, but unable to ask what they could POSSIBLY need his help for"Then he saw it. He entered the living room and saw several detectives around a body lying on the floor, a pale-skinned body with bloodshot eyes.

One of the detectives waved Fritz over and showed him his note-pad. ˜Coroner says this is the third case like this tonight. The heart has been removed.'

Fritz glanced down at the body, but there was no visible sign of a removal point on the chest, causing him to arch his eyebrow in curiosity. He crouched down and scanned the body with his PKE, reading high levels of energy, indicating that something ectoplasmic had come in contact with the victim. He stood up and wrote on the notebook. ˜I have to get to my lab if I'm going to get answers, also, I'll need to see the other bodies.'
Almost 2 hours later, Fritz arrived back at the lab with three PKE readings from the bodies as well as photographs of them. After briefing the other Ghostbusters on the current situation, he retreated to his lab to run the results.

Just as he shut the door to the lab, Jeremy entered the building, holding up his hands to the others in a very ˜wtf?' kind of motion. Mick just shrugged and wrote ˜boss is working on it' on the dry-erase board they'd set up during their time waiting for Fritz. Jeremy looked over at Rachel, who had floated over when she saw him enter. ˜you ok?' he mouthed, which just got a silent laugh from Rachel. The two exchanged a painful look, which was mostly what their "relationship" was and Mick was saved from the awkward moment by a knock at the door.

He hurried to it and opened the door, seeing a cop waiting there, who held up a piece of paper. ˜another heart removal'.
Mick, Jeremy and Jason all entered the house, passing through the crime scene tape and looking around. There had been a struggle this time. The other victims had been sleeping, but this one had been awake apparently"Something had crashed through the door and attacked him.

As they scanned the house for trace PKE, one of the detectives handed Mick a sketch from the neighbor, who had witnessed the attack. Mick's eyes went wide and he knocked on the wall, waving the others to follow him as they rushed back out to the cruiser. The officers (out of habit) called for them to explain what he'd thought of, but of course, no words came out.
Fritz exited the lab, looking over his notes. The offending spirits were obviously high-powered, most likely dark poltergeists, but he still couldn't understand how they'd managed to take all the voices in the city"

The three on-duty Ghostbusters rushed in and Fritz looked at them hopefully. Mick handed him the sketch and held up a ˜hold one moment' finger, running to his room. Fritz looked at the drawing, frowning at the image of a tall, skinny man with beady, sunken-in eyes and a wide devilish grin on his face, bald headed and dressed in a very nicely tailored suit"Grinning face"tailored suit

Mick returned at that moment and confirmed Fritz's thought by slamming down a large book labeled "fairy tale creatures" onto the reception desk and flipping through it to "The Seven Gentlemen". Fritz knew the story, so he and Mick quickly got to work, writing down the basics

"The Gentlemen were ghostly surgeons that traveled to a village (or city in this case) and stole everyone's voices so nobody would be able to scream. They then proceeded to stalk the citizens and extract 7 hearts of some specific type.

"Each of the victims"" Fritz wrote. "Has been a charitable person of some kind. I did some checking and one of them recently donated over 3,000 dollars to an orphanage."

"So basically, we have some collector spirits going around killing nice people on Christmas Eve?" Jason wrote.

Mick nodded and then grabbed the newspaper, indicating that a brand new homeless shelter had opened up THAT morning, all as a result of one person, Jennie Jones.
The abandoned clock tower was silent as a graveyard, the boarded up windows had just the faintest amount of light shining through and shapes drifted by them, causing eerie shadows to dance across like some kind of macabre puppet show"The front door slowly opened and out of the doorway emerged seven figures, all in a straight line. Their perfectly polished shoes drifted a foot off the ground and their hideous grinning faces surveyed their surroundings as they headed off into the night to claim their next victim. The Seven Gentlemen drifted along the street, flanked on all sides by a troupe of ghosts in straight jackets, twirling around the street and grabbing their heads, almost as though they were in some kind of dance.

The Gentlemen drifted along the streets silently, glancing at one-another, their never changing grins twisting as they seemed to hold silent conversations with one-another. Finally, they came to the newly opened homeless shelter and approached the front doors, which opened automatically in their path and allowed them to enter, even though they'd been locked moments before"

The Gentlemen drifted down the hallways until they reached the living quarters, floating down the aisle of bunks, past the sleeping homeless people and surveying them with curiosity until they reached the office of Jennie Jones. One Gentleman swiveled around, indicating the office door, which he received and approving nod from the Gentleman behind him. The door slid open effortlessly and they approached the bunk in the rear of the office, which held the sleeping form under the blankets" The Gentleman in the lead slowly, gracefully lowered his hand to the blankets and pulled them aside, but was greeted instead by the deep humming base of a charging Proton Pack.

Mick Nielson mockingly returned the grin from where he lay on the bunk, then blasted the first Gentleman in the face, sending him twisting and turning through the air away from the bed. The others parted like the red sea, allowing the ghost henchmen to charge the room, attacking Mick and forcing him to break off his attack on the Gentleman. Just as they entered the room, the sleeping "homeless people" burst from their bunks and blasted the ghosts at the same time.

The Gentlemen ignored the pandemonium around them and drifted towards the other entrance while the Ghostbusters battled their henchmen. They found a broom closet and opened it, revealing the huddled form of Jennie Jones inside.
Mick kicked a trap out into the center of the office and blew on a whistle hanging from his neck and the other Ghostbusters slid their goggles down to shield their eyes from the light of the trap as it sealed his ghost inside. A moment later, another whistle blew and 3 more ghosts were sucked into their respective traps. Just as the room fell silent again, a scream split through the building and the team rushed towards the closet, finding it open and Jennie laying on the floor, just like the other victims"

Jason swore silently and turned just in time to see the Gentlemen leaving, an orb containing Jennie's heart hovering just above one of their palms"He frantically motioned to the escaping ghosts and the Ghostbusters rushed after them, but by the time they reached the outside, the Gentlemen were quickly floating up the block.
Mick stomped on the accelerator of the Ecto as it launched forward and gave chase, barely screeching around the corner in time to spot the Gentlemen entering their abandoned clock tower hideout. The car squealed to a halt in front of the building and the team rushed inside, taking the Gentlemen by surprise as they burst through the doors. Fritz thrust his hand forward and they opened fire, their beams slamming into the Gentlemen and pushing them back. Suddenly though, the Gentlemen started moving towards the team, almost as though the beams were nothing more than a strong breeze.

Fritz frantically tried to come up with a solution and ran into the adjacent room, where the Gentlemen had been headed. He spotted a table filled with strange tools and 7 jars arranged on it, 6 of the jars contained the glowing hearts of their victims. In the center of the table, Fritz spotted a strange antique box with echoing sounds coming out of it. His mind suddenly snapped back to the fairy tale and he remembered a portion which said:

"No mortal weapon could harm them, but the princess screamed once and killed them all."

Fritz whipped out his cell phone and sent a text out as fast as possible, then reached for the box, but one of the henchmen came flying through the wall, knocking Fritz backwards and dumping him out onto the floor.
Mick, Jason, Aidan and Jeremy backed away, switching to the repelling streams on their packs, which were able to knock the Gentlemen back when used in short, powerful bursts, but the traps had proven completely useless. Now though, the Gentlemen began pulling out large, wicked looking surgical tools from their coats and moving in on the Ghostbusters again.

Aidan charged his thrower and blasted the gentleman nearest him, then broke through the line, the others followed suit and split up, to divide their enemies.
Fritz fired his proton pistol, blasting the henchman ghost and crawling his way towards the table, frantically reaching up for the box, but he was stopped when the ghost recovered and grabbed the back of his jumpsuit, lifting him straight up off the ground! Fritz lashed out with his hand and grabbed the table, keeping himself from being pulled too far, but he nearly knocked the table over in the process, and he did not want to think about what would happen if those hearts were removed from the jars"
Aidan reached the top of the stairs and kicked a small table down on top of the Gentleman pursuing him, but that only slowed him down.

Mick managed to dodge back to avoid one of the Gentlemen as it methodically jabbed a scalpel at his torso. Mick blasted it away, but silently shouted out in pain as another Gentleman sliced along his back, just next to his pack's ALICE frame. He stumbled forward and turned to fire, but Jason moved faster, blasting his foe through the window.
Fritz reached as far as he could and BARELY managed to snatch the box up, just as the table tipped dangerously high. He released the table and the ghost, who had been pulling him hard, shot straight up through the ceiling"Unfortunately for Fritz, he was mortal. He slammed into the ceiling and toppled to the floor, the box just in front of him. As the other Gentlemen sensed their box was in distress, they moved towards the room Fritz was in.

Suddenly, Rachel zoomed through the wall and took in the scene with horror. She recognized these guys from an incident almost 100 years ago--but that didn't matter now. Fritz saw his spirit liaison and grabbed the box, raising it high over his head, he slammed it down with all his might, shattering the wooden cube under his palm.

"RACHEL! SCREAM!"

"What?" She asked, still disoriented by the sudden return of their voices.

"SCREAM NOW!"

Rachel took in a deep ˜breath' so to speak and let loose with a long, loud high-pitched scream that echoed not only through the building, but the entire block.

The Gentlemen clutched their heads and started to tremble as the scream filled their ears until their bodies couldn't handle it anymore. Their heads each exploded, sending yellow and green ectoplasm splashing all over the assembled Ghostbusters and their bodies dropped to the floor in heaps.

As the silence returned, it was quickly broken by the faint sounds of people everywhere rejoicing at their voices being given back. Christmas caroling even began breaking out and Fritz nodded in approval. "Nice scream Rachel" He said, then let himself fall to the floor, sighing with relief.
The Ghostbusters all trudged back into the Baugh home, welcomed back by Chelsea, John, Rose and her boyfriend, who'd been waiting there with baited breath. The TV squawked away in the corner, relaying the image of a reporter holding a hot compress to her throat. "...seven persons have suddenly woken from comas here at LA General, thanks to a series of a emergency heart transplants..."

Rachel snorted. "Transplants, my slimy arse," she croaked, rubbing her throat. Apparently, her loss of voice would extend a bit longer than the others'.

"Just as well," Fritz shrugged. "We're probably better off without the extra attention."

She rasped something eminently negative about green tea in response before drifting to the kitchen. Jeremy followed, fruitlessly trying to improve her attitude. "Don't take it so personally..." For a moment, the others looked around at each other in search of cues for the proper response.

"Screw it, at least we got paid..." Mick announced before plopping onto the couch. The others grunted assent and followed suit.

The team didn't even bother cleaning off the ectoplasm. Slime-covered as they were, they simply raised their glasses and silently toasted each other a Merry Christmas.

THE END
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