SHADOW OF THE INQUISITORS
By Fritz Baugh and Jim Harley
GBI Case File GBNY-1991-9/271
Venkman, still sulking, didn't give Winston the satisfaction of a spoken response. But he did scratch his forehead with his middle finger.
It took about an hour's drive from the village to reach the castle...it looked only slightly less menacing in broad daylight than it did in the twilight the previous day.
The car parked and Lydia gave some brief instructions to the chauffeur. With that, the Ghostbusters unloaded the trunk--including the bulky packages that held their proton packs. Ray had modified them to fire the sunlight-simulating beams they'd used once before...
As they approached the front door, the shadows started to fall over them. Even in the morning light, this part of the castle was dark. "Egon?" Winston asked the tall physicist.
"There is definitely an elevated PK level in the area..." Egon responded, turning one of the knobs on his PKE meter. "But I still can't get much of a specific reading"
The four Ghostbusters and Lydia went over to the door, where the door knocker was mounted below a sytlized crest with a "B" motif. "The family crest..." Egon confirmed." 'B' is the Cyrillic equivalent of 'V"...for Vashnivski."
"If it makes a scream when we knock it, I'm running back to the car." Venkman deadpanned.
Just as Ray reached toward the knocker, the door started to creak open. Venkman instinctively edged in front of Lydia.
It took a few seconds for something to appear out of the darkness. A short man (only about five feet tall) with dark, curly hair, a straggly, curly beard (but no mustache), and black clothes that blended into the darkness, revealing nothing of their cut. Only a small gold medallion could be seen, with a small engraved design resembling a poining arrow.
"Um...good evening Sir, my name is Ray Stantz and..."
"You aren't Jehovahs' Witnesses, are you?" the little man said, in a voice that reminded Venkman of nothing more than RiffRaff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show
"Um...no..." Ray answered, hestantly.
"Good. The Lord of the Manor hates Jehovah's witnesses. You aren't...Amway salesmen, are you?"
"Good. The Lord of the Manor hates Amway salesmen. You aren't selling Girl Scout Cookies, are you?"
"Nope! That either!!!" Ray responded, a little more confident now.
"Oh. Too bad. The Lord of the Manor simply adores Thin Mints..." the little man responded. With that, he opened the door wider, gesturing for them to enter.
"In the name of the Lord of the Manor, Baron Igor Vashnivski, I bid you welcome..." the little man said pleasantly.
"Lydia Van Horn, from Nodus International. Would it be possible for me to speak to his Lordship? My employer has a very mutually beneficial proposition to offer him Mister, erm..."
"I'm nobody of any significance, Miss Van Horn. Call me Chiron, if you must give me a name..."
"Chiron? Like the centaur in Greek mythology?" Ray asked.
"Yes...that is correct...not often I encounter somebody who gets that reference..." With that, the man emitted a strange little chuckle. "If you will excuse me for a few moments...I must inform Lord Vashnivski that he has company..."
"Go right ahead, Riff..." Venkman answered, provoking Winston's elbow to impact on his gut.
As soon as Chiron was out of their sight, Egon promptly produced his PKE meter. He switched it on...and was just as promptly rewarded with an angry sequence of beeps, pops, and fizzes--Egon dropped it just in time as it destroyed itself in a small explosion of metal and wire.
"I'm going to venture the opinion that that is Not Good." Venkman deadpanned.
"Indeed." Egon replied simply.
Lydia looked at them. "Could someone just explain what you mean by that?"
"The PKE meter is sorta, well, our ghost detector. It picks up the energy ghosts and other supernatural entities run on." Ray explained. "If it's overloaded and burnt out like that, that means there's a hell of a lot of energy in the area..."
"Vashnivski." she intoned simply.
"Not necessarily." Egon corrected. "But it is safe to say that there is some powerful, and thus dangerous, supernatural force in the vicinity. And futhermore, we've lost our most reliable means to identifying it. We must be careful."
Chiron reappeared. "Lord Vashnivski will not be able to see you promptly, and for that he apologizes. It will not be until this evening that his schedule will be clear--he invites you to stay for dinner, and will be able to entertain your proposals afterwards. You are free to remain at Castle Vashivski until that time--or return to your own lodgings until that time, if you prefer."
"After sunset...great...allays my suspicions a whole lot..." Venkman whispered to his companions.
"Peter..." Ray said sternly.
"The limo driver can return as soon as I call him, but it will take time..." Lydia pointed out.
Egon turned to Chiron. "It appears we will be staying, Mister Chiron."
"Oh, good." Chiron responded, the faintest smile coming onto his strange mouth. "I will prepare rooms for you should you need their services, and you are free to wander about the castle. Except for the basement. Go there and you will be killed."
"Is that a threat?" Ray said, his hackles raised. He was pretty pliable in ways, but being told directly what to do always angered him.
"I did not say that I would kill you." Chiron returned simply. "This way..."
The four Ghostbusters and their companion shrugged and followed.
It was 1986, a few months before the Ghostbusters ended up being forced out of business...her sister Deann had gotten a job at Grossjuck and somehow ended up mentioning Janine to her boss, CEO Paul Smart. Smart asked to meet her over lunch. Janine was understandably reluctant, but a voice she trusted at the time...to her everlasting regret...egged her on You become more beautiful every day, my Dear... the thing told her. What better way to prove your growing allure than by meeting with this man?
As it turned out, Smart wasn't interested in either her mind, her heart, or even her body--he wanted access to Ghostbusters Central. He serruptitiously photographed the plans for patented Ghostbusters equipment and then dropped off the face of the Earth for weeks--only calling to unviel his scheme to drive the Ghostbusters out of business, RoboBuster X-1.
The first time she went to the building to confront Smart, and he'd ordered his automaton to destroy the Ghostbusters mascot, Slimer. The second time, the five Ghostbusters went to, ironically enough, save Smart from the maelstrom entity created from RoboBuster's ionizing blasters...they defeated the maelstrom, embarrassed Smart, and got Slimer back in the process.
But she hated this reminder of the second largest embarrassment in her romantic history.
Especially as sitting next to her was Louis Bartholomew Tully. The first largest embarrassment in her romantic history.
The cab pulled up to Nodus Plaza, and the two got out--Janine opened her door and exited quickly before Tully could make any clumsy attempt to open it for her.
"You have all the paperwork, Louis?" she asked him curtly. She was dressed in her most professional looking ensemble--a cream colored suit with jacket and knee-length skirt over a yellow blouse
"Um...yeah...all the forms and the releases and everything you told me to bring..." he droned in response. Dressed in his usual brown pants and sport coat over a blue shirt, sporting a yellow bow tie, he tried not to stare at her...because to him she looked absolutely stunning.
They went into the lobby. "I'm Janine Melnitz and this is Louis Tully. We're with Ghostbusters International and we need to meet with Mister Nodus."
The blonde girl at the desk gulped, and reached for her phone--it rang before she could grab it. "Send them up" came the voice at the other end of the line. The voice of her boss.
She pointed toward the elevator. "Mister Nodus...apparently knows you are here..."
Janine's eyes narrowed.
Egon's counting on me...and that makes it all worth it.
Egon had asked her before he'd left..."Investigate Nodus...I admit there's something about all of this that I can only describe...as a bad feeling..."
The chair at the large oak desk turned to face them, and Josiah Nodus stood to greet them. "Miss Melnitz...Mister...Tully, I believe? An unexpected pleasure to meet you, but a pleasure nonetheless. I am Josiah Nodus--welcome to my office."
When Nodus shook her hand, Janine could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
He was tall, almost the same height as Egon, with slicked back dark hair and handsome features (not quite Spengler handsome, in her eyes, but presentable nonetheless) capped off with a goatee and mustache. His business suit was black, and quite expensive. He had deep blue eyes that seemed to take in everything in the room...eyes that couldn't help but remind her of Egon's every so slightly...
Especially the way they were looking at her like some sort of amusing lab specimen. The same way Egon had looked at her at first.
She shook her head angrily. I cannot be having this reaction...I'm in Paul f***ing Smart's office...I'm standing here with Louis f***ing Tully...that's gotta be why my skin is crawling...
Nodus noticed. "A problem Miss Melnitz?" His voice was deep and rather melodic.
"No..." she replied, with just a tad too much force.
"Then how may I help you? Have you heard something from your comrades in Romania?"
"Um, well, no..." Louis answered. Far from the sharpest tool in the shed, he nevertheless sensed now would be a good opportunity to speak up. Janine seemed to be a bit unnerved. "We just brought over some standard forms we thought we needed to discuss with you personally you see we don't deal with big companies very much and the money amounts were causing some questions from the bank and..."
"Whatever I can do for you, Mister Tully." Nodus replied simply.
Janine sat quietly as Louis pelted him with questions and paperwork. Nodus answered every question expediently, and what he didn't sign immediately he kept to have his own accountants look over. "No problem we have copies of all of it..."
"Excellent. If that is the last of it....Miss Melnitz, you've been awfully quiet, over there..."
She looked up with an angry start, and surpressed the sarcastic answer her instincts threw to her lips. "This is all Louis's area, Mister Nodus. I'm here because I've worked for the company a lot longer than him..."
"Not curious about anything else?"
"Why would I be?"
"I'm aware that your employers were direct competitors to Grossjuck for a time. Curiousity would be a natural reaction." He arched an eyebrow, as though to suggest something he was not putting into words.
"We're done here, aren't we Louis." she replied. It wasn't a question.
"Um, okay but if anything else comes up we'll let you know and try to get back to us about the papers we left and be sure to call if you have any questions the number is 555-2020 and..." with that, she physically grabbed Louis and drug him out of the room.
"Something about that guy is giving me the major league creeps, Louis." she admitted.
"Um...wanna go talk about it over coffee or something? I know a great place near here and..."
She just held up her hand to cut him off. "Do whatever the hell you want, Louis. I'm going back to HQ. I gotta call Egon..."
He snarled inside as she turned away. Egon...it's always gonna be Egon isn't it? (sigh)
He hugged the wall and crept along toward where it came from slowly...stealth was not something he was good at, being a pudgy man, but he'd learned some tricks over the years from Winston.
He realized he heard something scratching...and a loud sigh.
It's coming from this room over here... He suddenly wished he'd had time to go upstairs and grab his proton pack. What if there really are vampires in this place? He clutched the vial of holy water he'd thought to bring with him just in case, and peeked around the entryway to the room.
The scratching came from the dragging of a chalk over the floor of the room...a circle design was on the floor, with other apparently random marks around it. Random to anyone who hadn't studied occult lore as long as he had, anyway...A circle? he thought to himself in amazement and horror. He and Egon had picked up a few mystic circle tricks over the years--Egon had even used one once to confine the witch spirit Genevra--so Ray knew a real circle when he saw one.
The figure drawing it was slight, but in the darkness that was about all he could make out. He was wearing a hood over his face, and a long cloak...Ray couldn't even make out colors.
The artist turned suddenly. Ray hid back behind the door jamb. After fifteen seconds, the scratching resumed. Whew...guess he didn't see me...
Ray waited for a few more seconds before looking again. The artist continued to draw for another minute. He stood to observe his handiwork. Ray leaned in closer to try and discern the intent of the circle...
And suddenly his world exploded in pain and light.
He had no idea how long he was incapacitated--perhaps only a few seconds--but the next thing he knew the figure drawing the circle had him pinned to the ground, their right hand raised in the air and glowing with angry light. "I don't know how you found me but..." the voice..a female voice..trailed off, and inhaled deeply.
Ray had seen enough magic in his time to see that he was in trouble. Deciding that the best defense was a good offense, he took advantage of the person...the woman's?...momentary hesitation to headbutt her, grab her right wrist with his left hand--pinning it away from him--and rear up to reverse the sitution from a moment ago. "Look, I don't know who you think I am, but..." it was his turn to have his voice trail off as he jerked her hood off...
And the face of Lady Enlightenment looked back at him.
"Doctor St...Ray? What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same thing!"
Just then, as the winds of luck would have it, Peter Venkman passed by the room. To see his old friend straddling the hot lady they'd met at the bar last night. Venkman's face lit up like a Christmas tree. Cheshire grin in place, he walked over to Ray, pulled something from his pocket, and handed it to him. It was a small foil package, and inside it was a flat round object about the size of a half dollar.
"Glad to see that, unlike our physicist friend, I don't have to draw you a diagram. But use this, Tex--never hurts to be careful."
Ray's face turned as red as Janine's hair. "Peter!!! This isn't what you're thinking!!!"
Venkman just replied "Yeah. Right." With that, he high-fived Ray and strutted off. "Don't worry--Spengs and Zedd won't hear it from me..."
"PETER!!!" Ray screamed at his friend.
Lady Enlightenment took the opportunity to shrug Ray off of her. Ray didn't resist.
"What...what's going on here? What's that circle all about..."
She turned back to him, a look of surprise--albeit a strangely pleased surprise--on her face "I wish I could tell you, Ray. I know you would probably understand--but I'm prohibited..." She never explained further--there was another flash of light, and when Ray recovered his senses he was in the room alone.
Winston cocked an eyebrow. "He musta bagged one of the chambermaids..." he sighed, with resigned disapproval. Dana doesn't get into New York nearly enough...
"I'll pass it along to the others, Janine. I hope we can get this business done soon." He paused as she said a few things more, bringing something as close to a smile as his face usually got. "And I you. I look forward to returning to...home."
"Returning to you" is what you wanted to say, Homeboy...You should have. Winston grinned. He still needed to place a call with his girlfriend.
"I'm not sure I like that look on your face, Peter."
"Egon, Buddy, oldest pal I have, I swear to whatever deity you want me to I have behaved in a perfectly honorable fashion the whole day."
"I believe that about as far as I coulda threw Mee-Krah with one hand..." Winston retorted, rolling his eyes.
"Oh ye of little faith." Venkman smirked. "I mean, sure, I thought about seeing if Lydia was taking a bubble bath or something but thought better of it. But anyway...nope. Not me. I'm staying out of trouble. Ray...now that boy we gotta watch."
Egon and Winston looked at each other. "Right." they responded in unison.
Spent, the circle vanished. In it's place was the same tall, intense man Venkman had seen talking with Barney Lupin the day before. He looked around the room, made an approving grunt, and strode to the door.
"You're welcome." Lady Enlightenment deadpanned as he passed her.
"You did what was expected of you. I see no reason for pleasantries." the man responded in a harsh voice.
"Then by all means, Kalashnikov, let's just get this whole mission accomplished."
"You have verified?"
"Not certain until I meet with the Baron."
"That will happen soon. It is almost time for Portenza and the others to arrive." He walked off briskly. "I expect you to continue to perform your duties."
She muttered a rather vile Latin curse as he left.
"A lot of businessmen prize their privacy." Winston offered.
"Yeah, and so does my Dad." Venkman counteroffered.
"I agree that there is nothing incriminating...but..." Egon was interrupted when Ray, flustered and red-faced, ran into the room.
Venkman got up from the couch with a neutral expression on his face. "Ray, Ray, Ray...I can't believe you came back so soon...I hope she wasn't too disappointed..."
Ray looked ready to shake him. "Peter, I told you that was not what you thought it was!!!"
Egon and Winston looked at each other.
Chiron appeared. "Gentlemen...Lord Vashnivski requests your appearance at the dining hall in one hour. It appears we have other company arriving as well..." Chiron bowed and left.
" 'Other company'?" Winston asked.
Ray's eyes went wider. "I wonder if he knows about..."
"Knows about what, Ray?" Egon asked.
Venkman started to grin again. Ray gulped hard.
The strange little man had offered earlier in the day to have any of their needs met...and Lydia had offhandedly mentioned that she hadn't had a proper bath since she'd left New York. Upon returning to her room, she'd found one ready for her...warm, bubbly, inviting...with an exotic scent that just seemed to fill the air with bliss...
After spending a little bit of time being afraid that that Venkman fellow was going to spy on her, she gave in. He is kind of charming, granted...but I don't think I could stand that for very long...Mister Zeddemore is studly enough, but I'm afraid I never really found myself drawn to men of other races. No problem with those who do, that's just not me. Now Dr. Spengler...Egon...there's a guy I wouldn't mind sharing this bath with...too bad he already has a girlfriend...
She stuck her left leg into the air, looking at the soapy bubbles on it. Maybe just five more minutes... she told herself.
Then she heard a sound.
She snapped her head around to find a tall, severe looking man in a dark trenchcoat standing by her door. "Damn..." he muttered as he pulled out a pistol. "Scream and I blow your head off." he said simply. Lydia noticed the pistol had a silencer on it--not even the gunshots would draw any attention.
The man looked around the room, seemingly unaffected by the fact that the woman sharing the room with him was not unattractive and completely nude save a layer of foamy bubbles.
"Wrong turn." he muttered with frustration. "Nobody told me the Baron had other guests..." he pointed the pistol at her again.
"You, Sir, are an intruder in the Manor." the voice of Chiron broke in. "And an inordinately rude one at that, accosting a lady in the bath."
Before the gunman knew what happened, he was hurled half across the room, away from the naked woman in the tub, crashing into a dresser set. But the gunman recovered quickly, springing to his feet and...
pyeeew pyeew pyeew
Three silenced rounds struck Chiron dead on. The little man was hurled back, landing in the bathtub.
At this point, Lydia Van Horn screamed her lungs out.
"Lydia!" Venkman shouted, and the foursome ran toward her room
Wherever the intruder was, he was no longer here.
There were loud knocks at the door. "Lydia!!!" Venkman's loud voice came through. Chiron shrugged, grabbed a bath towel, and tossed it to Lydia. She had her wits enough about her to wrap it around her nakedness before Chiron opened the door.
"Is everything all right in here?" Egon asked sternly.
"Man, this better not be what it looks like..." Winston growled, seeing an upset Lydia fresh from the bath, and Chiron soaking wet...
"There was an intruder." Chiron said simply.
"He had a gun!!!" Lydia shouted, near hysterical. "He was going to shoot me, then Chiron came in and stopped him and..."
"Are you all right?" Ray asked, now noticing that Chiron was bleeding.
"Nothing I cannot recover from--it's not as bad as it looks." Chiron replied with his strange little smile. "I must inform the Lord of the Manor that we have an intruder. Please continue to prepare for dinner--I am assuming that the Lord will not let this unpleasantness upset his plans."
Chiron left, and the Ghostbusters turned to their hostess. "Are you all right, Miss Van Horn?" Egon asked.
"I am unhurt, Doctor Spengler...just a little frightened."
"I think we should give her a full physical examination...OW!!! Winston, you just hit me!!!"
"You had it coming Pete."
Lydia told them what happened. Egon and Ray furrowed their brows when she told them of the possibility that Chiron was a vampire...
"We shall have to consider that possible." Egon allowed. "However, his normal pallor and the fact that his hand, when we shook it, seemed warm, would be anomalous with that conclusion."
"He could always be using a vampiric discipline to make us think he's ruddy and warm...' Ray countered. "The art of Obfuscation or Presence could explain it..."
"I think one of us should stay here and guard Lydia..." Venkman said with just a little too much enthusiasm.
"I agree. Outside her door." Egon clarified, causing Venkman's expression to droop.
They had allowed Venkman to take "first watch"--with half-joking threats to hurt him if they heard Lydia screaming--then the three remaining Ghostbusters conferred among themselves quickly.
"Thing that concerns me is this: if the Baron or Chiron really is a vampire, what keeps them from sucking our blood or turning us into one of them at the dinner? We sure as heck can't go in there strapping our packs..." Winston pointed out.
Ray shivered "Being Embraced is not on my priority list, either...but we have an answer, don't we, Egon?"
Egon simply went to one of his suitcases and opened it. Inside were four small guns looking vaguely like science fiction weapons. "I think this will at least provide us some small protection."
Winston's brow furrowed for a second, then he whistled. "Now I know where I've seen those before...those are some of Doc Hazzard's proton guns..."
Doctor Will Murray Hazzard was an old friend of Egon's maternal grandfather, Frederick Melton, and unbenownst to the world at large leader of a team of "mystery men" back in the 1940's known as The Crime Patrol. Two years ago, the Ghostbusters had been embroiled in a case involving the Crime Patrol's old enemy, Fu Fang, coming back from the dead to scheme against his old enemies.
"It has a very limited payload, approximately a half dozen shots--and they're nowhere near the power of the full pack..." Egon began.
"It was enough to save the Crimson Crimebuster's ass the first time he used one.' Ray pointed out.
"True. And it does keep us from being totally defenseless while being unobtrusive at the same time."
"And they've been calibrated to fire the same mock-sunlight frequency as the packs" Ray added.
"Sweet" Winston said, picking up one of the guns and twirling it like a cowboy. "Wonder why you haven't done more with this idea..."
"The power concern is the main reason." Egon answered. "I've drawn up some concepts based around a plasma core system, but again the firepower and payload suffer greatly compared to the current proton packs..."
"Plus the proton packs are cooler" Ray chuckled.
"I ain't gonna argue with you on that." Winston rolled his eyes, placing the gun back into the suitcase for now. "Now gimme the phone, Egon--I gotta get a call into Kaila before dinner..."