gone_byebye: (President Winston)
Monday, January 28, 2008
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

When a joint military or scientific operation of any kind concludes, there are always reports to be written and read. The number and magnitude of said reports doubles with every agency or department added to the mix, and then multiplies exponentially for every country beyond the first to get in on the deal. The incident near the Magnetic Pole had involved the United States Marine Corps, the National Paranormal Activity Survey, the State Department, the Defense Department, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Canadians (both the Ministry of Extraordinary Threats and the RCMP, for some reason), the Finns, the Danes, the Russians, and a private non-governmental agency. President Winston found himself considering, as the last report was brought in, whether he might be able to get away with building a fort out of all the paperwork involved and hiding in it until his chief of staff went somewhere else. He dropped the idea, of course, but it was still an appealing one; he'd have to remember it for later.

As it stood, he already knew what was in most of the reports. There was an intern in the State Department who'd been plenty happy to read the President the executive summaries, although her tone made it abundantly clear she didn't believe a word of what she was reading. That was just fine with Winston. He didn't really want to believe most of it, if it came right down to it. Maybe once next January rolled around he'd even have that luxury. Right now? Not so much. Right now he had to slog his way through at least two of the reports, starting with the one from the Marine unit's commander.

It went about as he'd expected. The Marine Corps was undoubtedly the finest and most versatile fighting force the United States had ever assembled, but the fifteen men they'd been training since the Foliage Census incident hadn't been up to the job. Shooting alien horrors? Sure, fine, they did that. They were fantastic at that. Too bad the shooting didn't actually do much to the things that really needed it. Of the fifteen specialists they'd sent up to the icecap, eight of them were laid up in Bethesda with injuries that made the doctors cough in disbelief. The remaining seven were making Defense Department psychologists very, very busy. What made it worse was that it was the considered opinion of every single person involved that no other Marines could have done better. In fact, most of the info the President had pretty much pointed at any other Marines winding up either dead or beyond the help of the psychologists. Really not a reassuring statement, that.

The other report, more detailed and fleshed out with references and recommendations, was from Captain Korpan, the Canadian operations leader. Korpan's people'd been preparing for just such an emergency for more than a hundred years, and he had more than a few recommendations for the Americans- recommendations President Winston found all too familiar. He sighed and put the papers down, sliding one hand under his glasses to rub at the corners of his eyes.

There was no way around it, and definitely no way to just pass the job on to his successor instead. This was too big for private contractors and too important for the inexperienced to handle.

They were going to have to take Dr. Venkman's suggestions after all.
gone_byebye: (Ministry of Extraordinary Threats)
Mid-January, 2008
RCMP/Ministry of Extraordinary Threats Emergency Hangar
Alert, Nunavut, CA

Even in times of the highest tension and most danger, people find ways to keep themselves busy, and neither the Ghostbusters nor the men and women of the world's northern watch bureaus were any great exception. "Ray? Ray! Ray, check it out." Venkman shook his friend's shoulder. "Egon's in a fight with one of the Inquanok guys."

Ray opened an eye and glanced sideways. Several of the Danish contingent and a couple of the Pohjola Project's Sami members were gathered in a semicircle centered on Egon and a broad-faced, dark-eyed man in Danish uniform. "Wow. Spengs is looking kinda..."

"Green," Winston finished for both of them. "That's freaky. What are they fighting about?"

"The worst thing they've ever eaten," said Venkman. "Eske's winning."

Ray and Winston exchanged glances. They both knew Egon's eating habits. "How?" Ray finally asked.

"That's not food," Egon suddenly said, loud enough to be heard over the snickering Greenlanders. "That's biological waste. You can't consider anything with that level of ammonia in it to qualify as edible."

"This from the man who admits to eating casu marzu," said his opponent with the serene smile of a man who knows he's won. "Hákarl is nothing-"

Winston shook his head. Ray gave up on the possibility of a nap and stood up. "Has anyone seen where Captain Korpan went?" he asked, and one of the Finns pointed. "Thank you."

He found the Canadian in the tiny office attached to the hangar, one hand pressing his headset against his ear and the other taking frantic notes. As Ray walked in Korpan lifted his eyes, winced, and held up a piece of paper that read:

Magnetic fields flaring
Deep ones report Russian helicopter near 82.7° N 114.4° W
Radio comms dorppinng like brick

A moment later Korpan scribbled one last line:

Dammit, I can spell. Marines on the way. Tell the others. We're going in.

Ray shuddered, nodded, and went in search of a better door.

[OOC: Assume everyone will be arriving from Milliways within five minutes of each other. Also, don't click on the food links above if you have a weak stomach.]
gone_byebye: (Ministry of Extraordinary Threats)
It seldom pays to rule Russia without being in good physical condition. The job of leadership for the biggest country in the world ages you quickly, and the only way to fight back against that is with a good diet and hard work. At least, President Antonov always thought so. That was why his bodyguards were miserable that morning: it was January, and not yet dawn, and the man insisted on going for his usual morning run. Someone had tried tactfully suggesting a treadmill months ago, but it was the President's contention that the rigors of winter made for better training than any machine in a climate-controlled environment.

They were all praying for snow when Admiral Matochkin joined them. That, at least, meant that the run slowed. Matochkin had matters to discuss with the President, always, and preferred to pursue them while they ran well away from possible listeners or recording devices. The run slowed enough to allow the two men to converse without too much strain on either, and that helped, in the guards' estimation.

Around the point in the President's run when Matochkin usually split off and went back to his business, several more runners joined them. They had the look of Navy men, and did not speak, only grimly followed along.

Around the point when the President would have turned to go home, the Navy runners reached under their coats.

A police patrol found the bodyguards an hour later, still unconscious and twitching on the pavement.
gone_byebye: (dammit...)
For a long time, Ray was not good at sleeping on airplanes. Too many bad memories. The circumstances of that dark December morning haven't been revisited in many, many years, but there were still enough echoes when Ray gets on the plane bound for St. John's that he didn't trust the possibility of sleep. He settled into his seat instead (the window seat next to Winston), closed his eyes, and concentrates as he'd done pretty much every day of his life since the weird, weird world-bouncing exile imposed on him by forces unknown at Milliways began. Whatever it was they were going up against in the high Arctic, it had him scared spitless, and fear was not going to be productive when they get there. So-

I will not fear. The words were worn smooth with familiarity by now, if not in any groove that their originators would recognize. Fear is the mind-killer, the spark-destroyer that brings total obliteration. Where fear leads I do not follow; where fear forbids, I go as needed. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me-

The thought that floated up at him as the usual mish-mosh that inhabited his skull quieted was loud enough for him to stop and listen. It was Artie the gerbil's voice- You'd think for a supposedly peaceful mission they'd pick a sub that wasn't named for the largest nuclear explosion in human history.

Something about that almost made sense, in a horrible kind of way. There was something, something he had to remember, he just-

Verily doth the King of Hell itself ride 'ere the stars align and his get pollute the sea with their very presence.

Garion's world's demons weren't affiliated with the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic Heaven/Hell axis, or any of the Buddhist Hells. Garion had said that Hell was another universe altogether. The king of Hell didn't map out to anything that Ray knew, except, except-

"Winston, gimme the phone."


"The skyphone. I need to do some research right now." Ray scrambled for the phone inset in the seat in front of Winston and punched in the Firehouse number. "Hi, Janine? This is Ray. Can you put Ecto on for me?"

"Hi, Daddy," came the car's voice after a moment. "What's up?"

"Ecto, honey, Daddy needs you to check on something, okay? Load your reference files. Fast."

"Okay," said the car a few seconds later. "I'm ready."

"Pull up any competent listing of royal titles, historical and otherwise, that you can find. Cut out anything that falls below the rank of grand duke." He could feel Winston staring at him; he didn't care. "Fictional titles count."

"Got it, Daddy. Next?"

"Cross-ref the results with any listings in the online text of Tobin's Spirit Guide that utilize any words referencing Hell or demons." He thought a moment, then added, "Or extradimensional or extra-universal entities, for that matter. And in your other entity reference listings, too. Might as well go for broke."

The pause this time was slightly longer. "This is getting a little freaky, Dad."

"I know, sweetie, I know. I'm sorry I didn't think of this in time to do it myself."

"You owe me for this. I want an increase in my allowance.

"You'll get one. Is the cross-ref done?"

"Uh-huh. It's kind of a big list, Dad."

"Hell's big on hierarchies, I know," Ray says. "Okay, slicing time. Filter it so we only get beings with ties to Russia, explosions, nuclear power, bombs, or the high Arctic."

Several moments later, there was a soft ping! noise over the skyphone. "Got one, Daddy. It's kinda tenuous, but it's a better link than Koschei the Deathless."

Ray wrinkled his nose at the thought. "This kind of thing doesn't sound like Koschei's style," he agreed. "Lay it on me, kiddo."

"Okay." There was a pause and a small electronic flourish, the equivalent of a human clearing her throat. "'I started with loathing when told of the monstrous nuclear chaos beyond angled space which the Necronomicon had mercifully cloaked under the name of Azathoth' - whose epithets include The Blind Idiot God, Nuclear Chaos and the Daemon Sultan."

"Ray?" said Winston. "Ray, you okay there? You don't look so good."

"I'm fine," said Ray, shaking his head rapidly. "I'm sorry- I'm fine. We're, um... hang on." Into the phone he said, "Thank you, Ecto. I appreciate it."

"You're welcome," said the car. "Don't forget about my allowance."

"Your confidence in our ability to survive this kind of conflict is reassuring," said Ray dryly.

"I kinda thought you might think that way," Ecto said cheerfully. "Bye, Daddy."

Ray hung up the phone and ran one hand over his face. "Gimme a minute, Winston," he said.

"Take all the time you need, man, you look like you need it."

"Thanks." Ray settled back in his seat again, and closed his eyes.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain....
gone_byebye: (Ministry of Extraordinary Threats)
In every body of armed forces there are men who don't sit quite right with all the rest of their uniformed brethren. They pass the physical, and they pass the psych exam, but there's something about them... it's not really what their service is looking for. Some of them get stopped early, and sent home before the problems start. Others wash out during training. The rest...

The rest remain, sand in the Vaseline, and people wonder what the hell drew them to the uniform they wear in the first place. They cause trouble. They make people worry. They set their commanders' teeth on edge. But they're there and they survive. What else are you going to do with them but keep them around until you can pass them off on some other unlucky commander? They might be needed someday.

In mid-2006, a Justice Department investigation led by Seda Sarkisian uncovered more than most branches of the United States Government had previously been willing to acknowledge existed. Their delvings into the files unearthed at Foliage Census harked back to the sort of study the top men of Roosevelt's day had undertaken, both in terms of wild technological speculation and in terms of... other things. Foliage Census had only been interested in tracking technological innovation and movement, but they had set their sights on the Ghostbusters at the last, and that meant they had information in their files on subjects so far from technological that no one in the Office of Science and Technology Policy had been willing to touch it. A junior aide at the Defense Department had overheard two of Ms. Sarkisian's investigators talking, though, and she relayed it to her superiors. They thought on it for a while, and then they acted.

The files from Roosevelt's time, sealed by Dwight Eisenhower's presidential order, were unearthed and reopened. One by one, commanders of Marine Corps units across the United States received notifications to review their personnel and make certain recommendations; and, one by one, they thanked their lucky stars that they had finally rid themselves of their most problematic subordinates. Some of them came back, and some of them left the Corps- but fifteen stayed the course, in the end. Their mission was simple: study everything the Top Men had learned, along with everything the Top Men had had to study to get to that point, and figure out how to use it in the field- if that were at all possible. Privately, doubts were expressed, right up until three of them simultaneously sat up in their bunks on the night of December 11th, 2006 and started shouting for the project leader to bring them telescopes now.

It was an event that would not be repeated, despite doubling and tripling their training and practice sessions, until January of 2008- when the televised sight of Admiral Yevgeny Matochkin watching over the Russian president's shoulder as the President shook hands with Canadian and Danish diplomats set all fifteen Marines to screaming...
gone_byebye: (oh god it's gonna eat me)
The office in which the President of the Russian Federation was meeting with several foreign diplomats was old, but well-cared-for, a room that bespoke dignity and tradition to a degree even the destructive regimes of the past had been unwilling to entirely destroy. The waiting room attached to it was not quite so dignified, having been refinished in the past few years, but it tried. Admiral Matochkin rather liked it. There was something refreshing about its desperate desire to match up to the old office next door, its repainted walls and too-clean carpet seeming almost to beg for the approval of the past. No, he had no objection to sitting there and waiting for Antonov to finish his meeting; Matochkin was a patient man, and what did not happen now would happen eventually.

He could not make out the sounds of the foreigners' voices beyond the fact that they were speaking. The door was too thick, the old office's walls too hung with drapery- any number of things. Another man might have listened harder, or tried to snoop. Matochkin saw little point to it. He would find out what he needed to know in good time. For the moment he pressed his thumbs together and waited, humming tunelessly to himself because a man must do something while he waits if he is not to fall asleep.

When the door opened to let the diplomats out Matochkin was already on his feet, and by the time their eyes were on him he was saluting. There were greetings and shaking of hands and farewells, as there always are; there were polite words exchanged and hopes expressed, and promises given- Matochkin did not listen very closely to those, even the ones he spoke. Once you have learned to deal with men of government you come to understand how much of any promise is only formula. But the forms must be obeyed, and so he spoke and they spoke and it was as it should be, and then they were gone.

Matochkin turned then to President Antonov. "Is everything finished?" he asked.

"For the day, yes," said Antonov, a thin man with thinning hair and tired grey eyes. "The Canadians were insistent beyond belief. They'll want to speak to you tomorrow about this."

"They will all want to speak to me," said Matochkin, "unless I'm very much mistaken."

"Well, yes," said Antonov. "Officially, they will. But the Canadians have specifically asked for you."

Matochkin considered that, and then shrugged. "As they like. It won't change anything. Did you tell them what we had agreed upon?"

"Oh, yes-" Antonov picked up a few of the papers on his desk and began rearranging them with long, pale fingers. "That we insist upon our sovereignty, that the methane cladrates are as vital to our future as air and water, that this is no more than our right- all of those things. But they kept insisting."

"I thought as much," said Matochkin with some satisfaction at being proved right. He kept it out of his face. "The policy stays the same, though- yes?"

"Yes, yes, officially the supernatural does not exist, the events in the United States have been the result of mass hysteria and not replicated anywhere else, we do not intend to integrate madness into national policy, it all stays the same," said Antonov. "They found that frustrating, I think. Most of their arguments hinge upon the supernatural elements of the Polar regions, and without it they have no ground on which to stand."

"Of course," said Matochkin. "That was the point from the beginning, wasn't it? We will have what we deserve, just as I told you. Do not waver, Mr. President."


"Do not waver, Mr. President," Matochkin repeated, a flicker of irritation rising in the back of his mind for the first time all day. "Has the policy steered you wrong yet?"

"No, we-"

"Then stay the course, exactly as we agreed," said Matochkin. "Ignore the nonsense they put in front of you. Argue them only on the points that require no proof. They can't match us there."

Antonov started to speak, but his words stopped in his throat.

"As I said. Mr. President, when this is done, I promise you that all of it will pay off beyond your wildest imagination."

"I don't know..." Antonov looked down at his papers again. "Yevgeny, what if-"

"They can't stop us, Mr. President," said Matochkin. "No matter what they ask of us about the Sukhoy Nos voyage, history will bear out what I have been saying. We will have what we are reaching out our hands for even now."

Antonov's expression was a grateful one, and the rest of the conversation came down to specifics of what to tell the Canadian diplomats in the morning, and what they might concede and what was to be kept in reserve. But none of it made much difference, so far as Matochkin was concerned. He had said all he was going to say already.

He had given the order to launch the Sukhoy Nos on its Polar voyage an hour ago.
gone_byebye: (Ministry of Extraordinary Threats)
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
United Nations
Conference Room Level

"Officially," said Secretary of Defense Keller as he strode through the underground hallways with Ray at his heels, "this meeting isn't happening."

"I hate it when people say that," muttered Ray, scrambling to keep up. "It never means anything good."

"As much as I can understand your preference for transparency, Dr. Stantz, this really isn't the kind of meeting that anybody gets to know about without passing a whole battery of tests. Most of 'em psychological."

"Well, I- what?"

Keller's mouth twitched. If Ray didn't know better he would've called the expression a suppressed smile. "You'll see," was all he said as he stopped at a door marked 366. "One question, though. You get along with Canadians okay, right?"

"Huh?" said Ray helplessly. "Yeah, sure. Why wouldn't I?"

"Just checking." And the Secretary of Defense opened the door.

Ray stepped into room 366 and blinked. Then he blinked again; then he rubbed at his eyes with both hands. "Told you," said Keller's voice from behind him, and the man was definitely grinning now. "Not exactly the kind of thing most people're ready to hear about. Would one of you gentlemen please introduce yourselves?"

"Certainly, Mr. Secretary," said a firm, pleasant voice; the owner, a man of about Ray's height, stepped forward and held out a hand for the shaking. "My name is Benton Fraser. I'm the Minister of Extraordinary Threats for the nation of Canada. . . and so are these other gentlemen."

"All fourteen of us," said the same voice, from the opposite side of the room. The speaker, who appeared identical to the man shaking Ray's hand in every way except for an apparently prosthetic right foot or lower leg, raised his hand in greeting. "With the possible exception of Fraser Prime over there."

Ray could no more have stopped the slow swiveling turn of his head at the designation than he could have stopped the sun in its motion across the sky, but there was nothing especially mechanical about the Benton Fraser in question unless it was hiding behind his eyepatch. "Um-"

"I assure you, Dr. Stantz," said Fraser Prime, "it's only a designation for convenience's sake. My world was simply the first to begin the process of making multiversal contact with other Canadas in the hopes of heading off a multidimensional cataclysm. We were already too late to save our own."
gone_byebye: (college)
14 North Moore Street, Manhattan
November 29, 2007

Ray had a policy of not listening to Christmas music until Thanksgiving Day or later. When he was a kid, his mother always said that that was the proper day to start the holiday season. For all that a mutual decision before Ray and Catherine were even born meant that nobody in the Stantz household followed any particular religion, Christmas music was one of those things that just seeped in through the cracks. It couldn't really be helped, and the 'no television until you're five, and then only an hour a week' policy cut down on a lot of the garbage that went with the season in other people's households. Christmas music was meant to start on Thanksgiving, no earlier, as a similar means of cutting down on possible toybegging and the like.

When Ray grew up he found out that most of the rest of the world had no such policy. Christmas music happened earlier, a lot earlier, and just kept going and going and going. The first time Ray discovered that fact he sort of liked it, but by the second year it felt all wrong, and by the third year he was reflexively refusing to so much as listen to the radio until Thanksgiving itself. It wasn't Scroogery, it was just a matter of wanting the radio to shut up until a more seemly time.

Some years, Thanksgiving came a little too early for his musical tastes. 2007 was one of those years. Ray simply refused to turn on the radio for anything except the classical stations and 1010 WINS, since they only played music as part of their commercials. Anyone who argued with him got a Look- and what a Look they got! One of the unexpected payoffs of Ray's time in Arkham was twenty-five years' worth of finely honed librarian skills. You didn't argue with that Look if you had any sense at all. You just didn't.

It wasn't until the twenty-ninth of November that Ray was willing to let anyone switch on WLTW in the car. After the first few tense seconds he nodded, and everyone- Ecto included- let out a sigh of relief. Not that they really got to hear much, since they were on their way to a string of vapor removals scattered across sixteen blocks of Jackson Heights, but it was still nice to hear in the increments of time they managed to grab in the car. By the time they finally headed for home, exhausted to the last man (Ecto tactfully avoided ribbing any of them for this), not a one of them so much as noticed what they were hearing any more.

Well. One of them did. As the car wheeled down Canal Street towards Varick, Ecto paused at the sound of the lyrics. "Uncle Egon?" she said quietly.


"Am I hearing what I think I'm hearing?"

Egon adjusted his glasses, sat up a little, and frowned at the speaker. "That would depend on what you think you're hearing," he said after a moment.

"I kinda think somebody might've been paying a little too much attention to what you guys did last year on the Space Station when they wrote this."

"Then yes. You are, in fact, hearing exactly what you think you're hearing. Raymond, wake up."

"Wngh?" Ray opened an eye. "What? We're still moving, I don't have to-"

"You don't have to get up. You just have to listen."

Ray's eyes sagged shut for a moment-

"-ugly Shoggoths!
And horrid Deep Ones, too!
Shub-Niggurath is waking up- and so is Cthulhu!"

-before flying open in that way that generally precedes a statement that one does not need caffeine any more.

"You better watch out,
you better go 'way,
before the big guy comes home from R'lyeh!"

Or, for that matter, ever again.

"The Great Old Ones are coming to town!"

Ray let out a very small whimper as the car pulled into the Firehouse driveway.
gone_byebye: (squee!)
When the door opens from Milliways, Ray very nearly does the White Boy Dance of Uncoordinated Flaily Joy. It's the alleyway. It's the alleyway between the Firehouse and the Bubble Bar Champagne Lounge. It's the alleyway and it's not Antarctica. That's really all he could possibly hope to ask for at a time like this and it's everything he can do not to get down and boogie in a way completely unbecoming a Jedi, even a force-blind one.

When he checks the New York Post vending machine on the street in front of the Firehouse he really does do the White Boy Dance of Uncoordinated Flaily Joy, because it's still the same day. Time might've passed in Milliways while he was on Mythos Earth, but it sure as heck didn't pass here. He hasn't been missing. He hasn't been missing at all. He's home, he's safe, it's all right! Of course he's going to flail around like a freshly landed salmon in the bottom of a boat! Something finally went right!

Ecto's not there when he steps into the Firehouse. Of course she's not there. She and Winston had left for Floyd Bennett Field earlier so that she could go out and play with Francis without getting in anybody's way. That's fine, he's good with that, he only barely remembers it but remember it he does, and when Janine gets up to ask him if he's okay, well, she's getting the full Jimmy Stewart whoop of joy and dance-with-me from the end of It's A Wonderful Life. He'd do the same for the Siamese fighting fish on her desk, but even with a labyrinth organ those don't really appreciate being made to deal with the air all that much, so Ray just raids Janine's desk drawers until he finds the packet of dried Tubifex worms and drops in a treat for the perpetually surly fishy form of Walter Peck.

By the time everyone else comes back Ray's managed to get himself a little more coherent, at least enough to give an explanation. Egon has his PKE meter out within a syllable and a half of the word 'Arkham', and the look on Peter's face as Ray's explanation progresses would be considered priceless if the term wasn't necessary for the look on Egon's face when Ray produces his diploma from Miskatonic and his Sumerian-language notes on the Antarctic expedition. (He did, after all, get to see the upper levels of the underground complex of the Elder Things- he might have been there to trade himself for Gedney, but that didn't mean he didn't want to take notes on what he saw!) Ray is only too happy to let Egon hook him up to every possible testing device and piece of analytical equipment they own after that. It's technology. It's their technology, not some bizarre eldritch hybrid of principles beyond the ken of ordinary men. It's the stuff that home is made of.

There'll be a lot more discussion in the days ahead, in between all the rhythms of everyday life in a city under slow but constant siege from the restless dead, but for now everything is as good as Ray could ever ask for. And when the boundless ebullient energy that's kept Ray moving since his arrival finally wears off and he's too exhausted to go upstairs, Ecto pops open her back door.

Ray's never slept anywhere so comfortable in his life as the back seat of that car feels right now.


gone_byebye: (Default)
Raymond Stantz

February 2014

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