SHADOW OF THE INQUISITORS
By Fritz Baugh and Jim Harley (OgreBBQ)
GBI Case File GBNY-2003-9/271
SHADOW OF THE INQUISITORS
I wonder how Janine would look in that dress... Egon allowed himself to wonder, and a small smile formed at the thought.
Chiron led them to a foursome of people already there. Ray and Venkman looked at each other--they recognized three of them!!!
The Latino man in his fourties they did not recognize. He had short, neat dark hair that was starting to salt and pepper. But the other three they did:
Barney Lupin was standing there in a tux that matched the pants he was wearing the day before--green and yellow. On anyone else, it would've looked incredibly tacky, but on him, it worked somehow.
The young girl they'd seen..."Lilly"... was also there, wearing a frilly pink dress.
But Ray found himself unable to look away from Lady Enlightenment. She was wearing a deep red dress that came over one shoulder, with evening gloves and a necklace bearing the same backwards "p" design as the broach she'd worn earlier.
"Is that..." Winston whispered to Venkman.
"Oh yeah..." Venkman replied, quite impressed himself.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, might I present Ms. Lydia Van Horn, Dr. Egon Spengler, Dr. Raymond Stantz, Mr. Winston Zeddemore, and Dr. Peter Venkman." The four Ghostbusters and Lydia nodded.
"In turn, I present Father Diego Garcia Portenza, Miss Lillian Peacecraft, Ms. Elizabeth Hawthorne, and Mr. Arsene Lupin IV"
Elizabeth Hawthorne... Ray rolled it in his mind, liking the sound of it. I wonder if that's her real name...
"Please, call me Liz..." she said, looking straight at Ray. Whether it was because she had concerns about what he'd told the others--or something else--only she knew...
"Hey Pete..." Barney said with a wave. "You here for the buffet too?" He looked at Lydia. "I'm seein' all sorts of things I like here..."
Lydia rolled her eyes. First Venkman now this guy...it's like I'm being chased by wolves...
"You're a priest?" Winston asked, shaking Portenza's hand.
"Si, Senor Zeddemore..." Portenza responded, with warmth. "And you are quite famous, I understand..."
"If I can show you all to your seats..." Chiron interrupted gently. Considering the guy was shot like an hour ago, he's awful chipper... Venkman thought to himself. And just what are these guys doing here, anyway?
The guests were led to the dining table, and as befit the station of the Manor's owner, it was quite large--it could have easily sat twice over again as many as it was now. Chiron led them each to a seat, apparently in an arrangement determined beforehand. Lydia and Father Portenza were sat next to one end--a larger, more ornate seat that all easily assumed would be occupied by their host. To Venkman's annoyance, he was sat next to Lilly. And Liz right next to Ray.
Barney laid back in his chair and propped his feet on the table. Chiron glared at him.
Lupin grinned mischievously and sat up right.
Egon studied the set up. His brow furrowed. No silverware. All gold, just like at the Vostok castle...
Chiron excused himself, leaving the others to talk for a few moments.
"So what brings you here to this charming country?" Father Portenza asked Lydia.
"I am here to offer Lord Vashnivski a lucrative arrangement with Nodus International. More I cannot say until I speak with him...and you?"
"My associates and I have been sent on behalf of the Catholic Church. There is a cathedral nearby that was unfortunately destroyed during the last World War...we are hoping to renovate and restore it, and seek Lord Vashnivski's support in the matter."
"You don't look Catholic to me..." Ray blurted out to Liz.
"I'm not, really. You might say I'm 'work for hire' on this." she replied.
Somehow, Ray knew she was being honest about that.
"Ladies and Gentlemen..." Chiron reappeared. "May I present the Lord of the Manor, Baron Igor Vashnivski."
There was a barely audible rustling of cloth as the Baron entered the room. Dressed in a long, flowing cape, a vest over a shirt with puffed sleeves, and spats, he looked like something from an earlier century.
His hair was long, though gathered back in a tail...befitting his anachronistic look, the cut resembled the powdered wigs worn by nobility in the Eighteenth Century.
His features were narrow, with prominant cheekbones; his eyes were also narrow, but left no mistake that he was well aware of his environment.
His face was very pale.
"Welcome to my humble Manor." he said simply, with strongly accented English.
My God, if he isn't a vampire he sure should be... Venkman thought to himself, tightening his collar.
Chiron and the Baron went over to the table, the little man introducing his master first to Lydia. She seemed to blush and stammer a little as he kissed her hand.
Chiron introduced Vashnivski to each guest around the table in turn. Lilly, Ray noticed, appeared to have to keep from wincing as he kissed her hand.
And when Ray shook the Baron's hand, it did not escape his notice that it was cold as ice.
Just because he's a vampire does not mean he should be instantly destroyed... Ray reminded himself. We've met "good" vampires before...
After being introduced to everyone, the Baron went to his chair and bade everyone to sit. Chiron snapped his fingers and several maids appeared, bearing the dishes of the evening meal.
"And now..." the Baron said. "It is rare that I get visitors at my castle at all, never mind two parties of them in the same day...To what do I owe this honor?"
"Well, first your Lordship, I can assure you that it is coincidence..." Lydia started, with a weak smile. "I represent Josiah Nodus, President of Nodus International, who is interested in forming a mutually lucrative business alliance with you..."
"And why does he think I would wish to ally with a foriegner?"
"An appropriate question, your Lordship...he wants to offer you the means to make this area the cutting edge of the coming new Europe--as you know, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the whole Communist Empire, the next decade or so is a period of intense potential."
Ray looked at Liz as Lydia began to make the fuller pitch to the Baron. "What is going on here?"
"I can't tell you, Ray...I told you that earlier..."
Barney looked at Liz. "So, is he..."
Liz and Lilly both nodded. Lilly looked about ready to either hurl or run in terror. "I'm certain now, Bernard. Kalashnikov was right." Liz replied.
"Egon?" Winston asked
"He certainly matched the profiles." Egon said simply. "But without a working meter, I am still not sure."
"And why me?" Vashnivski was asking Lydia.
"You have the resources and prestige to make this idea workable."
"You astound me with your flattery, Miss Van Horn...and I admit, there is much that sounds intriguing.."
With that, Baron Vashnivski nonchalantly gestured with his left hand, picking a crossbow bolt en route to his chest out of thin air.
What the f***??? Ray, Winston, and Venkman all thought simultaneously.
Chiron looked off to the rafters of the room, in the far darkened end. "Do you mind? We' re trying to eat over here..."
Vashnivski growled, and snapped the bolt in half. "Anatole, really...did you think I wasn't aware of you the very moment you materialized in my castle?"
Liz looked startled.
"Who's Anatole?" Barney asked Lilly.
There was a loud shout, and the tall, powerful man the Ghostbusters had seen at the bar the night before, and Lydia had seen earlier that day, jumped out of the shadows, a crossbow slung over his shoulder and a Soviet AK-47 now firmly in his grip. "Then I guess I have to do this the old fashioned way..."
"GET DOWN!!!" Winston shouted, shoving Egon down. Chiron positioned himself in front of Lydia as Venkman and Ray both pushed and shielded Lilly and Liz, respectively.
There was an angry bark of fire that Winston knew all too well (he still heard it in his nightmares at times) and the Baron was thrown back to the wall, chair and all, blood spraying everywhere.
"Dear God, what in the hell are you doing???"
"Despite the look of it, Mister Zeddemore..." Portenza responded, a hard edge coming into his voice. "His work."
Kalashnikov hoisted the AK-47 triumphantly. "Wooden bullets. Just like staking."
"That's him!!!" Lydia shouted. "The psycho who tried to kill me in the bathtub!!!"
"Indeed." Chiron confirmed. "I must ask you to leave the premises immediately."
"Don't dictate to me, you freak...your master's gone, now maybe you too..." Kalashnikov aimed the gun at Chiron.
"No!" Lilly shouted. "He's not..."
"I think it may be about time to make a stand, Guys..." Venkman noted, unholstering his proton six shooter. Egon and Winston did likewise, but Ray hesitated--something was just not right about the situation, he agreed, but the one who'd assaulted the woman he was supposed to be guarding was apparently an ally of someone...well...
Dare he admit it?
Someone he found himself very much wanting to trust.
"Lilly's right, Kalashnikov..." Lady Enlightenment said, looking just a little dazed by the violence. "Chiron isn't a vampire. He...well, he's certainly alive."
"I repeat, Anatole. You really should leave. Now."
"You threatening me, little man?"
"Liz..." Ray looked at her. "I think it's time you told us what's going on..."
"Baron Vashnivski is a vampire. Though being a paranormal expert yourself, you probably knew that already."
"We suspected it." Egon admitted.
"We are indeed here on the business of the Church, Doctor Spengler." Father Portenza continued. "We are, you might say, paranormal investigators ourselves. Our duty is to hunt down and destroy unholy evils such as vampires. It appears that Kalashnikov told us the truth about Baron Vashnivski..."
"So you're kind of your own miniature Inquisition then?" Venkman rolled his eyes. "Nobody expects that..."
"This will probably be your last warning." Chiron stated, with surprising intensity. "Leave, or you will probably be killed."
"Are you threatenin' us, Riff?" Barney replied, stepping forward.
"I did not say that I would kill you..." Chiron returned simply.
"Vampire or not, you served that monster..." Kalashnikov snarled, pointed his gun at Chiron. "I think maybe you should be dealt with anyway"
"But he isn't a vampire--you heard your friend...' Winston pointed out.
"She is my ally, not my friend. And as your comely companion could verify, I have no compunctions about murdering the living if it serves my purpose."
Lilly looked at Liz with pleading eyes. Stop this somehow...
"Over our dead bodies, Psycho Boy..." Winston snarled, aiming his proton gun.
"Your wish..." Kalashnikov snarled back.
"Anatole, I have completely lost patience with you..." a smooth, angry voice broke in.
All in the room turned to see the impossible.
Baron Igor Vashnivski, his outfit shredded and soaked in blood, was standing over the ruins of his destroyed chair, his eyes glowing an eerie red.
"I have extended you every hospitality. I allowed you to enter my domain. I did not have you hunted down and murdered for accosting my guests--you have the fact that you did not succeed in murdering her, and the words of Chiron to thank for that..."
"Executions always bring the mood down." Chiron snapped dryly.
"But now. You interrupt my dinner. You attempt to assassinate me. This affront is unforgiveable!!!"
"Save your spite, you undead freak!!! How in the hell are you still alive, anyway?"
"You think I would leave my heart where everyone would expect it to be?" With that, the Baron leaped with supernatural speed, ripped the gun from Kalashikov's grip, and threw it to the far corner of the room.
Barney leaped, and as he did he began to grow, distort, and sprout a lot of hair. By the time he grabbed Vashnivski, he had assumed a very canine appearance, his sport coat and shirt shredded--though strangely enough, his tacky green and yellow pants were intact.
"He's...a werewolf?" Lydia asked from her cover.
"Yeah, I guess so. We've encountered werewolves before too--I even dated one for a while" Venkman smirked, winking at her.
Portenza looked at Lady Enlightenment. She shook her head. Lilly looked ready to run. "The aura here is overloading Lilly's senses. But I'll see what I can do..."
"I would counterrecommend further interference." Chiron chipped in. "This is between the Lord of the Manor and his errant descendant."
"Descendant?" Egon asked.
"Whatever he calls himself, his true name is Anatole Vashnivski. He's descended from the Lord of the Manor's mortal bloodline."
Father Portenza brandished his cross. "Sanctus Dei" he intoned, causing the Baron to shrink back. Barney used the opportunity to punch the vampire hard, sending him into a wall.
"Watch this!" Barney said, his voice still recognizable if lower and growlier. "The Nightclaw jump kick!!! Awooo!!!" With that, he made a running start and jumped, right leg extended.
The Baron dodged him, and Barney smashed into the wall, becoming buried in the wreckage of it. "Okay...that wasn't what I had in mind.." he muttered.
"Father Portenza, you may tell Lazarus that, if not for this unfortunate incident, I would've gladly funded the renovations..." Vashnivski snarled.
Portenza brandished the cross again; Vashnivski shrunk back, quite angry.
"I'll kill you yet!!!" Kalashnikov--Anatole Vashnivski--howled, lunging for the Baron, brandishing a good, old fashioned wooden stake.
The Baron parried his charge, grabbed him, and hurled him into Father Portenza.
"Now for you, sorceress..." Vashnivski said with quiet promise.
"No!!!" Lilly cried, as Vashnivski advanced on Liz.
"No!!!" Ray Stantz echoed, and fired his pistol.
The proton beam struck Vashnivski in the arm, and he staggered, smoke coming from the wound.
Egon, Winston, and Venkman looked at each other, then fired shots of their own.
The Baron fell back, howling in agony, as the sunlight-mimicking beams did their work.
Chiron shook his head, and gestured with his left hand.
The proton pistols were ripped from the four Ghostbusters' hands, and scattered to the corners of the hall.
Vashnivski shrugged, and pure telekinetic force slammed into the Ghostbusters and Lady Enlightenment, knocking them to the floor. He grabbed the first one he could, which happened to be Egon, and hoisted him by his neck. "How. Dare. You."
Vashnivski seemed as surprised as anyone at the quiet force in Chiron's simple words.
"They are not to be killed."
Vashnivski dropped Egon with an annoyed grunt. He went over to the stunned Anatole. "This one...at least..."
"Do with him as you will, Milord." Chiron smirked.
"K..Kalashnikov..." Portenza muttered weakly.
But Baron Igor Vashnivski left, dragging Anatole with him.
"It was Sergei...Anatole..that came to the Church with information about a vampire lord in Romania." Portenza was telling Egon. "We were sent to verify this, and stop the creature if necessary."
"We were merely sent to bodyguard Miss Van Horn. Our employer had apparently heard some of the same rumors."
"I fear we have allowed ourselves to be used in a personal vendetta." Portenza shook his head.
"Will you try again?" Winston asked him.
"That is for my superiors to decide. But I will recommend against it--Baron Vashnivski seems content with his domain, and in the short term poses no threat."
"That would be my assessment also." Egon agreed.
"The Lord of the Manor will be pleased to hear that..." Chiron said as he entered the room they were in. "But you must all be gone from this place before the clock strikes midnight, never to return without his invitation. On that, he is quite resolute."
"Peter, Winston, secure our belongings and those of Miss Van Horn. That doesn't give us much time." Venkman and Winston nodded and moved off.
"By the way, these are yours I believe..." With that, Chiron handed Egon the four proton six shooters.
Lady Enlightenment went over to Ray. "This errand is what I could not talk about...I'm sorry..."
"No problem. I understand..."
With that, she smiled, and kissed him on the cheek. He blushed as she turned and walked away. It was only then that he realized that there was a piece of paper with a phone number in his hand.
"What about Kalash...Anatole?" Portenza asked Chiron.
"Better you not think about that..." Chiron answered cryptically.
"I do, Igor." the smaller man responded firmly. "I may lack the precognitive gifts of the Forever Swimmer, or the ability to peer through time as the Prima of Chronus, but one sense all of my order have is the ability to sense those connected to the Judgement...or the Ascension."
"So then...you think both are upon us?"
"And which are they, Chiron? Harbingers of the Judgement or the Ascension?"
"They are of..or know...the Five Who Are One spoken in the prophesy. That is why I could not allow their destruction."
" (Sigh)...I could use a Thin Mint right about now..."
There was a movement
He pounced, grabbed the source of the movement, ripped it's throat out, and began to drink.
Then he dropped the rabbit in horror.
Dear God...that Bastard... it all came back to him...
"Most appropriate punishment for your transgression, Anatole..."...and then he remembered the gleaming fangs that appeared in the Baron's mouth...the pinprick on his neck...he screamed in horror...and then his body was filled with white hot fire...
He pulled himself to his feet. His senses were now more acute...the still bleeding rabbit carcass smelled better right now than the most tantalizing of aromas he'd encountered...
...in his now passed mortal days.
That bastard Embraced me...
Anatole Vashnivski ran, his own senses--and ones new and alien to him--told him that the Sun would arise all too soon...
You will pay for this, Igor Vashnivski... he raged to himself. Because, in your arrogance, you've made one mistake: I have the time now...all the time in the world...the time to plot your demise. At my now cold hands...