Everything Under The Sun... And Then Some!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The New Gundam AGE is Dawning...

The first decade of the 21st Century was a little rough for the Gundam franchise. Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino's Turn A Gundam finished up it's run, which had begun in 1999, in 2000 and the fans in Japan eagerly awaited what the next project would be. Turn A had been successful but also controversial due to mecha designs by American Syd Mead (famous for designing the look of the movie Blade Runner), Jules Vernian overtones and serious unmarketability (a fact which Bandai might have thought was Tomino giving them the One-Fingered Salute).

Across the pond in America, Gundam did enjoy a brief surge of popularity when the 1995 series Gundam Wing was aired in the summer of 2000. I can't remember when I first saw GW exactly but I think it might have been in early 2001. Unfortunately, after the popularity that Wing generated, Sunrise/Bandai insisted that the series be followed up by the original MS Gundam... which had been made in 1979. Not that First Gundam is bad in any way, it just looks dated and still has a lot of dumb 70s Super Robot cliches. Gundam's popularity in the US immediately took a nosedive, especially with the 9/11 terror attacks and not even airing series like G Gundam or 08th MS Team could save it.
In 2002 the first series of the new decade was launched, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. Unfortunately SEED was not necessarily the best Gundam evar. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy SEED and its characters (particularly Cagalli)
but I really wish it had not followed the storyline of First Gundam so much. Also, it took fanservice, clip shows and stock footage to a new level and had the first bonafide sex scene in a Gundam show (not that you actually see much but its pretty obvious that Kira and Flay are naked and doing it.) Other than that though, it was a pretty good series. It's sequel series, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny however... well that's a story for another time. Suffice to say that Destiny is to Gundam what Revenge of the Fallen is to Transformers: A load of bull honkey. There was a VERY short OVA Destiny side-story called STARGAZER released in 2006 and then Gundam 00 (pronounced double-oh) premiered in 2007, took a break in 2008 and finished in 2009.  So it was pretty much like any decade of a franchise, it had ups and downs but more downs than ups I think.
The new decade was started off with the Gundam Unicorn OVA premiering in March 2010, Gunpla Builders in August of that year and also the Gundam 00 movie A Wakening of the Trailblazer (no that is not a typo). These three things are all made of epic amounts of WIN, so this new decade is starting off strong. And now, in a little more than a week, we will be getting the first new Gundam series of this decade, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE. Now this series has been getting a lot of buzz on the internet, and a lot of it is not good. Fortunately though, this bad press is being generated by trolls. What do I mean by troll? Well according to Wikipedia: In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. In other words, they're internet douchebags.
Why do I mention this? Bcause the announcement of Gundam AGE, has caused a storm of nerd rage on the internetz that would make the Trekkies, Warsies or Sonic fans blush with shame. Based on a few magazine scans (some of which have been faked), a couple of two-minute trailers and the offcial reveal by Sunrise, many so-caled "fans" of Gundam have said things such as "this is Gundam for the Naruto crowd!" or "Gundam has sold out and become commercialized!"
Samuel J. Houston on a bicycle, these people are seriously deluded. Now, I'm not going to pick apart the troll arguments here, others like Chris Guanche of MAHQ.net have already done that, I just mention it to point out that condemning something before you've even seen the first episode is completely stupid. It's the equivalent of a five-year-old refusing to eat his broccoli because "I've never had that before and it looks yucky."

Anywho, what's the deal with Gundam AGE? Well wether or not it is intened to be a kids show is irrelevant. I wouldn't be at all surprised because that's what SEED was supposed to do back in 2002, bring in a new audience. And even if it is intended for kids, who cares? Quality can be independant of demographic. I still enjoy cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series, Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) and The Real Ghostbusters. Even though they did have some truly stupid episodees, they also had very mature ones. One of the best lines I ever heard came from the Batman: TAS episode 'Heart of Ice.' (Think of it Batman: To never again walk on a summer's day with a hot wind in your face and a warm hand to hold. Oh yes... I'd KILL for that.") The point is to cut loose and have fun, something the internet generation is sorely lacking.
Back to Gundam AGE, we've got a couple of firsts here. Over the last thirty years, Sunrise has kept Gundam in house, but on this project they're collaborating with game studio Level 5, responsible for games like Dragon Quest VIII and the Professor Layton series. They have a pretty good track record and Sunrise must have liked the concept or they'd have NEVER agreed to let these guys come near the Golden Gundam Goose. The story of AGE takes place in another alternate universe, the Advanced Generation timeline. It's going to feature a multi-generational story that takes place over 100 years and three Gundam pilot protagonists that are father, son and grandson respectively. For now we're assuming that one part of the story focuses on the father Frit or Flit or however his damn name is pronounced and then will transition to when his son was a Gundam pilot and so forth. The title Gundam mobile suit itself, the AGE-1 will eventually evolve into the AGE-2 and AGE-3 (I think). It's a very interesting premise and we'll have to see where it goes. Now, that all being said, I'm not really hot on the character designs or the design of the show or on the desing of the Gundam AGE-1. I do honestly think that the mechanical designer took the original RX-78-2 Gundam and slapped on some 00 Raiser motifs. Hopefuly it will look better as it evolves into the AGE-2 and so forth.
Original RX-78-2 Gundam mobile suit from
Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)
AGE-01 Gundam AGE-1 from 
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (2011)
So there we go. Now since this series is new and will be airing once a week, I'll actually be doing episode-by-episode reviews, something new for me. Below I'll be posting some links to information about the series and some YouTube videos about how to kill Gundam Trolls! Here's to the new series: Excelsior! (I hope).
Gundam AGE: Addressing the Stupidity, Part 1
Gundam AGE: Addressing the Stupidity, Part 2





Mandala 2


Chapter II: Extended Service Agreement

            The Sedgewick Hotel was one of the ‘Grand Old Hotels’ of New York City, the kind that had been built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the skyscrapers started to rise around the city, these elegant edifices became icons of America’s wealth in the Industrial Revolution. But like many things in New York it had its secrets as well. What had been called a ‘cult,’ had been discovered in the building’s basement many years ago. Ever since that day, there had been some reported hauntings at the hotel, almost always on the twelfth floor. Back in 1984, the ‘disturbances’ had become so serious that the hotel’s manager, having seen a certain commercial on television, called New York’s first and only paranormal investigation and elimination company.
For that reason, the Sedgewick held special memories for the Ghostbusters as the site of their first call. And the site of their first restraining order too. Now, seven years later, they were back. Janine had called ahead to let the manager, a new one apparently, know that they were coming. He was not at all thrilled.

The doors to the Sedgewick’s lobby swung open and the Ghostbusters marched in, Venkman swaggering like he owned the place.
“We’re back!” he said loudly. The guests, bellhops, concierges and staff just stared at them. Marty felt like he was being looked at like a particularly unwanted house pet.
“Is this most people’s usual reaction when you guys arrive?” he asked.
“Meh, don’t worry about it kid,” replied Venkman nonchalantly, “the straights always get nervous when we show up.”
Out of the crowd, the manager came swooping down on them.
“That disgusting green blob is up on the 12th floor again, wreaking havoc! I demand a refund right now!”
“Sir, if you’d checked the fine print on our invoice…” began Peter, when Ray broke in, “Invoices!”
“Right, invoices, you’d see that the warranty on re-haunting expired some time ago. You should have taken the extended service agreement.”
The manager scowled sourly and gestured towards the elevators and then stalked off. Marty was so busy trying to take everything in that he almost didn’t notice the other Ghostbusters walk off towards the elevator. He hurried to catch up to them. Snatches of conversation floated past him as he rejoined the others.
“Isn’t that the Ghostbusters?”
“Get up to the room and get all our stuff before they blow up the whole building!”
“I don’t recognize that one guy, I thought the fourth one was black?”
“The hotel safe is rated against ray guns right?”
“They moved us into a corner suite on the 10th floor, I bet the twelfth is why THEY’RE here.”
Egon already had his PKE out and was scanning the lobby.
“I’m picking up some very unusual readings here and not just from Slimer. I’d like a chance to look around the whole building, if you don’t mind.”
“No problem,” replied Ray, “We’ll take Marty, head on up to the twelfth and get Slimer.”
Egon began to wander off, waving his PKE at various people and objects and generally acting like someone who wasn’t quite right. Venkman jabbed the button on one of the elevator panels. Surprisingly there was an immediate ping and the doors to one car opened, revealing a very beautiful young woman. She was dressed in a maroon turtleneck over which she wore a white blouse and navy jacket, along with a skirt of the same color, and knee high black leather boots. She had dark brown hair pulled into a bun at the back of her head. If the intended affect was supposed to be scholarly, the result was entrancing. Combine that with lovely jade eyes and she was just about the loveliest thing Marty had ever seen… next to Jennifer of course.
“Well hello. Don’t worry miss, you’re perfectly safe, the Ghostbusters are here,” said Peter, charming as all get out.
The lady seemed to not comprehend this for a moment, a dazed look on her face, which then turned into a pretty scowl. I mean, wow! How many women do you know who can make a scowl look pretty?
“Back off loser! Never gonna happen!” she said angrily and stalked off to the lobby. Venkman just chuckled.
“That approach rarely works with me, I’ll show you why later,” he called after her.
The Ghostbusters piled into the elevator car and Ray hit the button for the twelfth floor.

             “Alright Ace, get ready,” said Ray to Marty, unlimbering his neutrona wand. Peter and Marty did the same.
“Dr. Stantz, would you do the honors?” asked Peter.
“Proud too Dr. Venkman,” replied Ray, throwing the activator switch on the wand, his proton pack powering up with that now familiar click-whine. Venkman and Marty did the same.
“Part of our settlement with the city,” Peter explained, “Proton Packs must remain off in heavily populated areas.”
“And it satisfies the restraining order the maid here had put on us,” added Ray as the elevator doors opened and they walked carefully out.
“World we live in today! You shoot a stream of highly-charged protons at someone and they get all sue happy!” scoffed Venkman sarcastically. There was a sudden creaking noise from around the corner of one of the branching corridors.
“It’s him!” shouted Ray. Venkman instantly spun around and opened fire. A baggage cart flew into a wall and a bellhop, screaming his head off, ran down the corridor.
“Great, another plaintiff,” grumbled Venkman.
“Well if Slimer didn’t already know we’re here, he does now,” said Ray pulling on his Para-goggles and unholstering his PKE Meter. “Marty, start scanning.”
Marty pulled out the PKE he’d grabbed out of the Ecto-1B and switched it on.
“We can explain the finer points of the PKE later, but for now, the louder it buzzes, the closer to a source of PK energy you are. The readouts on the screen will help you identify what is you’re homing in on,” Ray explained as the three of them moved slowly down a hallway. “Your para-goggles are now linked to your PKE, new feature that Egon and I added. Makes it almost impossible for ghosts to hide from us.” At that, Ray’s and Marty’s PKEs began to hum loudly, the little sensor arms rising and blinking furiously.
“This way!” cried Ray as he took off down one of the halls, “Venkman, Marty, hurry up!”
“Aw c’mon Ray, I’m always the one that gets a face full of slime every time the little green buddy escapes! He doesn’t even know me well enough to hate me!”
As they passed by the stairwell, Marty saw a green light flare from the hallway in front of him.
“Contact!” shouted Ray as he ducked under a flying suitcase. Several more pieces of baggage came flying towards them, causing the three Ghostbusters to duck.
“Just another screwed up day at the office,” muttered Peter.
As they walked slowly down the next hallway, wary of more assaults from flying luggage, a sound like slurping and chomping could also be heard.
“I think we just found the little scud ball,” said Venkman, a dangerous glint in his eyes.
“And there he is!” said Ray as he peered around a corner. Slimer was a couple of yards down the hall, floating next to a room service trolley and tray, devouring every last scrap of food on it, even though it simply passed right through his ectoplasmic body, like the wine he was drinking was currently doing.
“ Remember, zap ‘em, cap ‘em and trap ‘em,” said Ray to Marty. Marty nodded, a scowl on his face.
“Time for round three,” he said.
He and Ray swung around the corner almost at once and opened fire on Slimer. The little blob howled and took off down the corridor, the force of his flight, carrying the trolley down the hall as well. Slimer zoomed down the hall, screaming with the impact of the proton beams until he hit the wall and passed through it. The same could not be said of the trolley, which smashed into the wall, spilling the remainder of its contents across the floor.
“Oh, we had him!” moaned Ray, “Quick! I’ll go with the Marty down that way, Pete, head the other way and we’ll catch him in a pincer!”
“Naw, I’ve seen how this one ends. I’ll let you two handle it. If you need me, I’ll be by the elevators, where I can escort any ladies safely to their rooms.”
“Right,” said Ray dubiously, “c’mon Marty, we’re burning daylight.” PKEs held out in front, para-goggles down, the two tracked Slimer through the halls.
“Uh, this thing just lit up like a Christmas tree here Doc Stantz,” said Marty.
“Great! From where?”
“Well it’s kinda weird. It’s coming from this plant pot.”
Ray smiled and drew his neutrona wand.
“Things aren’t always what they appear to be.” He blasted the pot, which burst apart revealing Slimer, who took off again. A blast from Marty only grazed him.
“This is way heavy,” Marty exclaimed.
“Yeah, it’s a wonder we caught him with so little damage done to the place last time,” said Ray as they raced after the spud. Suddenly the radios crackled and they heard Peter moan, “Ray! I don’t feel so good!”
“Uh oh we got a man down! Move!”
They took off down the hall leading back to the elevators. Marty found himself huffing and puffing like he’d run a one-minute mile. Sixty pounds of proton pack can really take it out of you!
They rounded a bend and came back to the elevator alcove where Venkman was sprawled on the floor in a puddle of green goo.
“There he is! He’s been slimed! Again! Help him up will you Marty?”
Marty promptly helped Peter to his feet.
“How did this even happen?! I was covering the elevators!”
Venkman was pretty disgusting, now that Marty got a good look at him. The slime was swathed all around his shoulders chest and neck. Peter was making a futile attempt to brush it off.
“The mutant Stromboli snuck up on me! Gah! Funktified again!”
“Maybe I could get a towel from the rooms?” suggested Marty tentatively. Whatever reply Peter had was cut off when the Radio crackled again and Egon’s voice said, “You guys need to get down here right away. Our live-in science experiment is tearing up the lobby and he’s not alone.”
“More Ghosts?” said Ray skeptically, “But we gave this place a clean bill of health seven years ago.”
“New people die every day,” Egon deadpanned.
“All right then, call the elevator, cadet.”
The car arrived after only a few moments and the Ghostbusters stepped inside, Venkman still wiping slime off and cursing fiercely under his breath.
“You think he’d be used to it by now,” Ray stage-whispered to Marty.
“I can hear you Ray,” said Venkman grumpily.

Mandala 1


Secret of The
Mandala
A Ghostbusters/Back to the Future
Crossover



Part I: Of Martys, Ghosts & Bar-Mitzvahs



Chapter 1: You’re Hired!

Monday, November 25, 1991
7:00 PM EDT
New York City, New York


            Marty McFly stared up at the old firehouse, taking note of the giant plastic sign and the banner that hung over the huge double doors, originally designed to let a fully loaded fire engine out. But there were no firefighters here anymore. The sign featured the stylized image of a ghost, the classic bed sheet variety, trapped behind a NO logo, like no cigarettes, but no ghosts instead. The banner read, in block letters, GHOSTBUSTERS.
Marty reflected ruefully on the chain of events that had lead him here. A couple of weeks ago he’d begun to have nightmares after he had moved into his new apartment. It was always the same nightmare every time. He’d find himself alone in some place, such as a nightclub in the last dream. A beautiful, exotic woman would appear before him and shortly they would begin making out only to then be discovered by Marty’s fiancĂ©e, Jennifer Parker. Jennifer would then turn into some kind of monstrous creature and that would usually be when Marty would wake up screaming his head off. The nature of the nightmares had derailed an otherwise perfect engagement. Marty and Jennifer had been set to have a big Thanksgiving wedding with their families and friends in Los Angeles but the anxiety of the dreams and the pressures of work and preparation for the wedding drove Marty almost to the breaking point. He had become halfway convinced that the dreams meant that he and Jennifer were going to break up or that he really would end up cheating on her. Things had gotten to the point that Jennifer had then called on Marty’s old friend and mentor, Dr. Emmet L. Brown. Doc Brown had assured them both that they were together and happy, the last time he’d checked on them in the future. That hadn’t been quite enough for the stressed out musician so Jennifer and Doc’s wife Clara finally convinced Doc to take the couple into the future for a very quick check on the state of their marriage. Marty, Doc, Clara and Jennifer had hopped into Doc’s steam locomotive time machine and headed off to the future. But something had gone horribly wrong. Instead of arriving in Hill Valley California, 2015, they ended up several months ahead in 1991 and three thousand miles away in New York! Whatever had happened to disrupt their transition had shorted out and destroyed several of the train’s vital systems. Only quick action on Doc’s part and the Emergency Landing System saved them from becoming a smear on the Manhattan cityscape. Thus trapped, they were presented with two problems. The damaged time machine required massive repairs and equipment they didn’t have money for and Doc was very worried about what he called a space/time anomaly that was supposedly responsible for their crash-landing.
In order to try and solve both problems, Doc and Clara were watching over the train and trying to effect what repairs they could while Doc tried to figure out the cause and source of the anomaly while Marty and Jennifer were sent out to try and earn some money to pay for equipment necessary to repair the machine.
And now here he was, about to become a Ghostbuster. Nobody had been more surprised than him, after answering the ad in the paper and then actually being called up by THE Ghostbusters. Marty remembered when the Ghostbusters had first showed up, a little over a year before that long weekend he and Doc had spent time travelling in1985. The stories had been a fantastic and Marty had of course gone to his mentor to ask about them. Doc had been fairly amused.
 Speaking of the Ghostbusters, they were probably waiting for him. He took a deep breath and grasped the handle of the man-sized door that had been built into the bigger doors, opened it and stepped inside.
“Well, here goes nothing,” he muttered to himself as he stepped into the fire hall. The first thing that caught his eye was the Ghostbusters’ famous car, the Ecto-1. It was once a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor combination ambulance and hearse, but the Ghostbusters had gotten a hold of it back in ’84 and transformed it into their personal ghostbusting vehicle. Now it sat there in front of the doors, silent, the pulsing emergency lights still.
He took a moment to look around the massive main floor of the building. The ceiling was about two stories of the ground, meant to hold a one of those old 1940’s era fire engines. The place smelled of oil, grease, metal and some other strange odors that Marty really didn’t want to guess at the origin of. It also looked like the definition of a disaster area, with odd piles of equipment, tools, desks, tables, chairs and other odds and ends piled hither and thither.
            The brr-inngg of a telephone snapped him out of his reverie. He walked past the Ecto to the back of the hall. There was a desk set up there and a fairly pretty, red-haired woman sitting there, wearing a headset.
“Hello, Ghostbustas! Is your haunting an apparition, poltergeist, banshee, wraith, phantasm, demon, specter, troll, goblin or… no, we do not summon dead family members so that you can ask them the combination to the safe. Yeah well, same to you pal!”
The woman reached over and slapped a button on the phone. At that, she looked up and finally noticed Marty. The plaque on her desk identified her as Janine Melnitz.
“Hi there Ms. Melnitz. My name is…”
“Oh yeah, you’re McFly. They’re waiting for ya upstairs.”
“Uh, okay.”
Just then there was a tremendous explosion from upstairs. Little bits of plaster and dust floated down from the ceiling.
“Oh don’t mind that. They do that at least once a week and they haven’t killed anyone yet.”
“Right…”
Marty turned to head towards the staircase that ran along the East wall (east if you’re looking at the doors from the inside that is) and stopped in his tracks.
“Holy crap! What is that?”
“Yeah. That’s Slimer,” said Janine.
The ghost in question, a disgusting, translucent, green blob, with yellow, crooked teeth and beady orange eyes stared back at him from inside the containment cell he was imprisoned in. It had what seemed to be a glass front to it that allowed people to see what Slimer was doing. There must have been some kind of technology keeping him trapped in there otherwise Marty was sure Slimer would have just escaped. Currently the blob was holding what looked like an oversize playing card in one pudgy hand and doing some sort of psychic imitation. It turned the card over and smiled that crooked smile which quickly turned to a grimace as it threw the card down angrily. Whatever it had expected to see obviously wasn’t what it wanted. Marty could just make out that the other side of the card had three wavy lines on it.
“You might want to head upstairs,” broke in Janine in her thick Brooklyn accent, “They’re expecting you.”
“Thanks,” he said, still slightly fascinated by the creature and began to make his way up the old staircase. After all, one just didn’t bump into a ghost everyday.

On the second floor of the building, Marty found the Ghostbusters. The second floor was a combination living room, dining room, kitchen, laboratory, rec room and workshop. Consequently it was as cluttered with all manner of odds and ends, from arcade games to pool tables to the kitchen to rows of shelves filled with all kinds of strange electronic gadgetry, like downstairs. Thank heaven that the living quarters were a separate part of the floor. The Ghostbusters themselves, the famous Original Three, were standing over in the corner that seemed to be the laboratory/workshop part of the second floor. They were wearing their tan GB jumpsuits but Dr. Ray Stantz, the slightly heavier one of the three, was the only one wearing a proton pack.
“Good job Egon, I think you took out most of Bayonne with that one. Would you like to try for the Bronx next time?” remarked Dr. Peter Venkman. Whatever comment Dr. Egon Spengler might have had was cut short when Ray spotted their new recruit.
“Hey, it’s the new cadet! Welcome aboard!”
“This might be a little dangerous,” commented Egon, fiddling with the pack and not seeming to pay much attention to what was going on around him.
“Great,” commented Ray, “Danger is our life.”
“We’ll start at 50% capacity this time. That should keep any burning or tissue damage to a minimum,” said Egon, finishing his adjustments.
“Hey Egon, if you’re going to burn any tissue, do it to the new kid. You can’t kill Ray, our mortgage is in his name.” replied Peter, drawing something of a nervous look from Marty. What am I getting myself into?
“I guess he’s right,” said Ray with a grin as he stepped forward and shook the Marty’s hand, “what’s your name kid?”
“It’s Marty, Marty McFly.”
“Now you’ve gone and jinxed it Ray! You remember what happened to the last guy?” said Venkman. Well that didn’t sound good to Marty.
“Do I want to know what happened to the last guy?” Marty asked with just a touch of nervousness.
“No,” all three said at once. There was a very pregnant pause.
“Well, let’s get him suited up and ready to go!” said Ray.
“Here put this on,” said Egon, handing Marty a neatly folded jumpsuit.

A few minutes later, he was suited up and hauling on a proton pack.
“He’s tuned up and ready to go,” proclaimed Stantz as he helped the Marty finish adjusting his straps.
“Holy crap this thing weighs a ton!” Marty groaned as he adjusted the straps of the pack.
“On the upshot though, it’ll keep you in shape better than a lifetime membership at the gym,” grinned Venkman.
 “Now,” said Egon, “We’ve perfected an extensive training regimen that will teach you all of your equipment’s basic functions.”
“It takes a while to achieve Master Throw Skill,” said Ray patting Marty on the arm, “But it’s definitely worth it.”
Just then a wave of blue-white light and noise swept through the room like a hurricane. Marty yelped and quickly glanced around him expecting the room to be in shambles, but everything was mostly fine. What a way to begin a guy’s career!
“What the hell just happened?” blurted out Marty.
“Was that us?” asked Egon.
“Ray?” asked Venkman with look on his face somewhere between annoyed and befuddled.
“Must have been some kind of psi energy pulse! A collected and centralized necromantic convulsion, level seven or more!” said Ray excitedly.
“Agreed. We need PK and EMF measurements now,” said Egon, pulling out his ever-trusty PKE meter and beginning to scan the room.

Marty’s assumption that the firehouse had been left relatively unscathed by the blast of necromantic energy wasn’t entirely true. Slimer had been highly agitated by the wave and now bounced around his containment cell. One violent bounce cracked the front of his cell. Slimer might have existed just to eat (if existing is the right word for it) but he knew a potential escape opportunity when he saw one.
Up on the second floor Janine, startled as all get out by the psi wave had come up to question her bosses.
“Not to sound too ignorant or anything but is a level seven… whatever, bad or VERY bad?”
“On a scale of one to ten…” began Egon.
“Let me guess: it’s a seven?” finished Peter sarcastically.
“Let’s just say that we’re about to get real busy,” Ray said. At that moment there was a crash of breaking glass from below. They all rushed to the fire pole well and stared down into the garage/offices. There was a ghostly cackle and Marty caught a glance of green.
“And that is not the fun kind of getting busy, is it Ray?” said Peter with a grin.
 “Hurry, we have to get him back if at all possible,” said Egon as he slid down the pole.
Venkman rolled his eyes. “No wait, come back,” he drawled and then wandered over to the arcade games.
“He doesn’t seem to be too excited to get that ghost thing back,” Marty commented to Janine.
“He and Slimer have old history sweetie,” Janine said over her shoulder as she headed for the staircase. She wasn’t as fond of the fire pole as the guys were.
“Hey Marty! Get down here, you’re missing a great opportunity!” came Ray’s voice from the fire hall.
“Yee-haw!” shouted Marty as he slid down the pole.

He joined Ray and Egon in the basement, where some of the Ghostbusters’ more sensitive equipment was housed, including the mysterious Ectoplasmic Containment Unit. Slimer was hovering directly in front of the exposed portion of the unit.
“There it is!” said Ray.
“It seems oddly drawn to the containment unit,” Egon said, scanning the ghost with his PKE meter.
“He’s been fascinated by it ever since you installed the new viewer unit,” said Ray as they watched the ghost gaze mesmerized at the viewing device mounted to the front of the ECU.
“All right Mr. McFly, you’re up!” said Ray, gesturing for the Marty to step forward.
“Me? Are you sure?” he asked a little hesitantly.
“I’ll talk you through it, you’ll be fine,” replied Ray with a reassuring smile, “wake him up a bit with your proton gun.”
Slowly, Marty unlimbered his proton thrower from its bracket mounted to the right side of his Proton Pack. Flipping the activation switch that Egon had pointed out to him earlier, the device emitted a deep, sub-sonic click and then a mounting whine as its internal cyclotron powered up. Marty took careful aim and fired. A squiggly beam of red-orange energy, wreathed in blue lightning leapt out from the barrel of the gun. Now, Marty was normally an excellent shot, his skills having been honed by hours in the arcade, but the kickback was more than he anticipated and his shot grazed Slimer and struck the ECU. Marty jerked the thrower down, scorching some concrete and shutting it off frantically.
“Not the Containment Unit!” cried Ray, “That’s some highly sensitive equipment you’re disintegrating there Marty!”
“Looks like Slimer went for the sub-basement!” yelled Egon as he rushed towards the ECU, which was now emitting large sparks and gray smoke. A red light flashed above it as an alarm bell rang out. Just as Egon reached the unit, another ghost popped out and flew towards the sub-basement door.
“Damn, there’s another one!” said Ray, jumping aside so as to not be slimed by the ghost as it swooped past. He threw a look at Marty and seemed to be about to start lecturing him. Marty scratched the back of his head self-consciously. This was not how he wanted to make his first impression!
“That one was my fault!” said Egon as he began to work on the damaged ECU, “I was fine-tuning the interspatial gasket this afternoon. I’ll handle the Containment Unit, you two go get our escapees!”
“C’mon cadet,” said Ray, gesturing for Marty to follow him through the door. Marty sheepishly followed him down some narrow stone stairs wide enough to allow only one person at a time. Ray looked over his shoulder and gave Marty a reassuring smile.
“Don’t sweat the Containment Unit. It’s easy to get excited first time out with the proton stream. Egon will have it fixed in no time.” Ray threw open a door, reached in and flicked a light switch. Only a couple of dim overhead lamps turned on, casting pale light into the gloomy sub-basement.

Upstairs, Peter approached Janine at her desk.
“Please tell me the kid isn’t blowing up our Containment Unit. You know everything we had to go through with what happened to the last guy.”
“Doctah Venkman, if you don’t want Mr. McFly to blow stuff up, maybe you oughta be done there helpin’ them hmm?” she replied only slightly condescendingly.
“No thanks, I’d rather have the ECU blow up in my face than deal with the little onionhead again. I’ll be in my office.”

In the subbasement, Ray and Marty had cornered Slimer, who was flying in aimless circles overhead.
“Okay, this is our standard procedure for taking down ghosts. Given the right conditions, Slimer’s harmless… mostly. Can’t be so sure about the other one though. Stay alert.” Marty nodded and raised his Proton gun towards the green blob.
“This is how it works. We call it Zap ‘Em, Cap ‘Em and Trap ‘Em. First you have to use your proton stream to weaken the entity to the point where it can be captured. Go ahead, give him a blast!”
“How do I know when he’s had enough?” asked Marty.
“You’ll see,” replied Ray with a grin.
Marty frowned as he took aim again.
“Round two you little snotball,” he muttered darkly and fired. This time his blast hit Slimer dead center. Boiling ectoplasm sloughed off the ghost as it wailed and dove to the side. Ray ducked to the side as well and opened up with his stream as well, striking Slimer with two proton onslaughts.
“Yeah! How do you like that creep!?” yelled Marty. For the next few minutes, they chased Slimer around the sub-basement until he splorched his way through a wall.
“Darn it we lost Slimer!” snarled Ray.
Suddenly there was a whoosh, and the second ghost flew out of a crate, cackling. It was a grayish ghost of what appeared to be an enormously fat man.
“Let’s get him,” cried Marty as he turned his proton stream on the ghost. It howled as the stream played over it. He and Ray blasted it a few more times, steadily weakening it. They were careful this time not to let it escape through a wall.
“You’re doing real well cade—Yow!” Ray cried, shutting off his proton stream. Marty didn’t have time to ask Ray why he had done that. The ghost lurched drunkenly into a stack of old boards and floated there, looking dazed.
“Now’s your chance! Throw a capture stream on him. The switch is right below the activation switch.”
 Flipping said switch, Marty fired up his proton stream and encased the ghost in a web of proton energy. Ray threw a box-like device down onto the ground near the ghost.
“Okay, bring him over to the trap. Some ghosts still have a little fight left in them but if Fatso gives you any trouble, a few hard yanks or smashing him into something usually helps!”
Marty guided the ghost over to the trap, not having to do any yanking. This ghost was out for the count.
“Don’t look directly into the trap!” Ray ordered as he stomped the foot pedal that was attached to the ghost trap. The yellow and black striped doors on the top of the trap snapped open and a cone of brilliant light flared out. The ghost began to be sucked down into it, wailing piteously.
“Cut your stream Marty!” said Ray. Marty did so and the ghost was pulled down into the trap, the doors slamming shut behind him. All was suddenly quiet, except for the beeping the trap made.
“Nice job Marty! Oh and always remember to retrieve your traps.”

Now that the action was over Marty realized how much his heart was pounding. His hands trembled from excitement and he blinked some sweat out of his eyes.
“That was awesome!” he exulted.
“It’s some kinda rush, isn’t it?” agreed Ray. There was a hiss of static over the radio walkie-talkie that was clipped to the left shoulder strap of his proton pack.
“Ray,” came Egon’s voice, “Have you caught them yet?”
“We’re batting .500, Slimer escaped. Our cadet bagged his first one though, a really nasty customer,” replied Ray, shooting Marty a small smile. Marty beamed like it was Christmas all over again.
This might not be such a bad job after all!
“Oh and about earlier, you have to be VERY careful about crossing the streams. In a word, don’t do it.” Added Ray.
“Seriously,” said Egon over the radio.
“Stings like the Dickens,” said Ray.

After the recently filled ghost trap had been emptied in the restored ECU, the Ghostbusters (accompanied by a very reluctant Peter Venkman) decided to head out and see if they could find Slimer.
“Here Marty, you should read over this manual on the new equipment I’ve installed in your pack while we drive.” Said Egon, handing Marty a ridiculously thick sheaf of papers.
“Hey, how come this mump gets all the new stuff?” asked Venkman irritably. Obviously he was never going to be sold on the idea of going after Slimer and was taking it out on the Marty, who was now trying to look invisible.
“He’s our new ‘Experimental Equipment Technician,’” replied Egon.
“He gets a cool title too?!” said Venkman disapprovingly. Marty continued to try and melt into the background.
“It means he gets to haul around a bunch of dangerous, unstable, untested equipment that could potentially blow us into New Jersey,” said Ray, grinning at Venkman. Marty wanted to be surprised, but after seeing some of things that Doc had built, he wasn’t as much.
“Oh, so he gets to lug around a bunch of untested hardware that could potentially blow us into New Jersey? Keep the title kid; it’ll work hard for you.”
“Well then, where do you think we should go to find Slimer?” asked Egon.
“The Sedgewick Hotel,” replied Ray, “It’s the first place the little spud will go.”
“Of course, back to its initial manifestation point.” Said Egon, nodding his head. They opened the doors to the Ecto-1B and began to climb inside, Ray in the back seat, Egon in the middle and Peter sidled around to the driver’s side.
“Plus they have a buffet there,” commented Ray.
“A GREAT buffet,” replied Venkman, “Janine, when Winston gets back from the opera, extend an invitation to join us at our table at the Sedgewick.”
Turning to spear Marty with a look he said, “Hey scooter, you’re up! Training is on-the-job tonight. Try not to destroy too many Manhattan landmarks will ya? That’s our job.”
The Ecto’s engine roared, its lights pulsed, its siren blared. As the fire hall doors opened, the Ecto shot out, skidded to the left and zoomed off into the night, with Marty grinning the whole way.
Jen is never going to believe this!

Mandala 0


Monday, November 25, 1991
7:15 PM, EDT
New York City, New York

            It was a dark and stormy night. Well, to be technically correct, it was a dark night and soon to be stormy. But not a storm of the natural variety. Ron Cushing didn’t care that it was a dark and soon to be stormy night, he was just trying to stave off the boredom his job as a security guard entailed. That was why he was splitting his attention between the security monitors and the TV. Currently the tube was showing a commercial featuring three guys in tan jump suits.

“Are you hearing strange noises in the middle of the night?” asked one man with a boyish face.
“Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic?” asked the second man, with a hawkish face, ridiculously holding a flashlight under his chin.
“Have you or any of your family ever seen a spook, specter or ghost?” asked the third man, who had a sly face and a widow’s peak that he somehow managed to make seem not to detract from his suavity.
“If the answer is yes, then don’t wait another minute, pick up you phone and call the professionals,” said the first man, “Call the…”
“GHOSTBUSTERS!” said all three together, “We’re ready to believe you!”
“Franchises available soon!” said the third man, “Call for details!”
And then, there was a flash from one of the monitors. Ron jerked up and stared at the flickering screen. Did he just see something float past the screen? He grabbed his radio and called out, “Hey Steve! You down there in the East wing man?”

Down in the said east wing, another security guard, and a tall young man with a blond crew cut. “Yeah man, I’m here.
“There’s something headed your way man!” Ron’s voice crackled over the radio.
“All right, I’ll check it out,” Steve said as he pointed his flashlight down the corridor.
“Hey man, aren’t you heading into the new section, the Gozer exhibit?”
“Yeah.”
“I been reading about the guy who donated most of that Gozer stuff, Shandor. Guy was creepy man, he was into the occult! You know, the supernatural, man!”
Just then Steve, who had been examining the hall, twitching his light over the displays when his light landed on a sarcophagus containing a skeleton.
“Gah! Geez… hey Ron, why don’t we talk about it some other time? Any other time.” The he jumped again as shape ran past him. He jerked his light towards it, a scream rising in his throat but the light played over the form of a young woman carrying a stack of books. Oh good, thieves he could deal with.
“HEY! You’re not supposed to be in here!” he yelled and began to chase her. But just as he did, he heard an explosion of noise, like a jet airliner, from behind him. He swung around and stared in horror as a tremendous light washed over him and screamed.
The wave of sound and light exploded out from the museum and began to expand in a ring across the whole of New York City, reaching out as far as Liberty Island.

Mandala 3


Chapter III: And The Kitchen Sink Too!

            Everything was fine until the elevator jerked to a halt just as they were about to stop at the Lobby level. Ray glared up at the ceiling.
“All right Slimer, you’ve had your fun! The elevator is off limits!” He reached up and punched the talk button on the walkie-talkie that was clipped to his left shoulder strap.
“Egon, I think we may be stuck in the elevator. We need some help.”
“THINK we’re stuck?” replied Venkman in exasperation, “Well let’s see.”
He bent forward and began pushing random buttons on the elevator control panel.
“Think we’re stuck, think we’re stuck, think we’re stuck, think we’re stuck. Ray, you guys good with officially stuck in the elevator? Show of hands?”
“Does this kinda thing happen to you guys often?” asked Marty.
“Not always,” replied Ray. There was a sudden clank of metal on metal. Something was fiddling with the doors. Ray raised his proton gun warily.
“Get ready,” he said. The doors began to crack open.
“Kill it Ray!” snarled Venkman, eager for justice to be meted out on Slimer. The doors flew apart and Egon poked his head inside.
“Need a hand?” he asked with a trace of a grin. Venkman turned baleful eyes on Ray, as if somehow this was all his fault.
“You always fail me, don’t you Ray.”
Now reunited, the three Ghostbusters and Marty the Rookie jogged back down the corridor leading to the lobby. Sure enough, Slimer was there, flying circles near the ceiling.
“All right little buddy, time for you to get yours,” growled Venkman as he aimed his proton gun. Perhaps Slimer heard for at that moment he turned and zoomed and the arches to the right of where the Ghostbusters were. They were about to follow him when two more ghosts zoomed into the room, their cackling sounding forth with an odd echo.
“Two more!” cried Ray as he fired a proton stream at one of the ghosts. Egon must have already blasted this one some because Ray managed to entangle it in a capture stream almost immediately.
“Forget the little Onionhead for now, this one’s fighting capture real hard!” he grunted as he attempted to wrangle the ghost.
“He’s a New York bellhop Ray. Just tip him!” quipped Peter as he turned his Proton stream on the struggling ghost. Marty stared on in fascination at these particular ghosts. It was indeed, or rather, had been a bellhop, the distinctive red coat and cap with brass accoutrements instantly recognizable. It’s “face” was covered in scarred greenish skin and wide, bloodshot spectral eyes danced madly as the ghost wailed in its proton beam cage.
“Man, this is heavy,” he breathed. He supposed he should have been slightly more wierded out by what was happening to him but after nearly erasing himself from existence, partly creating an alternate “Hell” Valley, participating in a real, no-holds-barred Western showdown, running from Prohibition-era gangsters, and the Crisis of Multiple Martys (plus a healthy dose of horror movies watched at his friends’ houses) there wasn’t much that could really freak Marty McFly out anymore.
“Marty, watch it!” cried Ray but it was too late. A wooden lamp stand crashed into Marty with enough force to knock him to the floor. The lamp stand flared with a red outline and then another of the Bellhop ghosts popped out of it, cackling madly. Coughing from having the wind knocked out of him, Marty stared up at the Ghost first in bewilderment, then in mounting anger. That thing had hit him on purpose! And it thought that was funny! Marty didn’t get mad like he used to, not after what had happened with Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen in 1885, but this was one step too far.
“You little son of a bitch,” he snarled grabbed hold of his proton gun and blasted a stream at the ghost. The spectral bellhop wailed and tried to dodge away, but another blast caught him from the side. Marty glanced over and saw that it was Egon. Together, they wrangled the ghost up in a web of proton energy.
“Hold him for me a moment,” said Egon as he shut his thrower off and unlimbered a ghost trap from his belt. The ghost immediately tried to escape but Marty, remembering what Ray had told him, yanked his thrower down hard. The effect was somewhat whip-like, with the ghost slamming hard into the floor, taking the fight out of it for a moment. Egon tossed out the trap and then threw a capture stream on the ghost again. From there it was actually pretty easy to guide the ghost over the trap, activate it and bag themselves a ghost. Marty grinned down at the now smoking trap.
Doc, time travel is cool and all but I think these guys have got one up on you with nuclear death rays!
Ray and Peter, who’d already caught their bellhop, walked over to where Marty and Egon were.
“I think you’re getting the hang of this cadet!” Ray said happily. Marty was about to reply when there was a crash from the adjacent Grand Hall. The four Ghostbusters ran into the hallway to see that two more bellhop ghosts had now joined Slimer and they were chasing the last of screaming patrons and staff from the Hall. The Ghostbusters let rip with their proton streams but the ghosts managed to dodge this time and split up. The bellhops zoomed down the Hall towards the Grand Staircase whilst Slimer pelted off down a side corridor.
“Can we call Winston and tell him that his night off is officially over?” asked Peter a little plaintively.
“Peter, you take Marty and go after Slimer, Ray and I will go after the other two that floated upstairs and be careful! I’ve been detecting significant bulges in the PKE fields here that indicate that this is not a normal clean-up job.” Said Egon as he began to head for the staircase with Ray. Peter watched them go for a moment and then grumbled, “He’s gets so cranky when he hasn’t had his nap. C’mon junior.”

They jogged down the corridor they had seen Slimer go down when Venkman began sniffing. Marty noticed it too and for once it was something that he actually wanted to smell, not the vaguely mucus-like scent of ectoplasm.
“Hey now… is that honey-glazed ham? And… prime rib?” said Venkman almost dreamily as they rounded a corner and came face to face with a set of doors and the hotel manager they had met earlier. There was an ornate sign posted on a tri-stand next to the doors, something about the Alhambra Ballroom and a Bar-Mitzvah.
“Ah yes, the Alhambra Ballroom. The little turd wouldn’t be able to resist.” Venkman remarked smugly. The hotel manager, hearing Venkman’s voice flinched a bit and spun around to face them. When he saw who it was, his eyes widened.
“No! absolutely not! The Rodriguez Bar-Mitzvah is set to start in half an hour. The guests will be arriving in fifteen minutes! And you’ve done quite enough already! I’m sure that… thing… will just go away on its own.”
“I’ll bet that beef brisket is the special? The Spud won’t be able to resist that,” said Peter, looking over the manager’s shoulder as a particularly loud crash emanated from the ballroom.
“I’m… I’m willing to risk it,” the manager stammered as another crash sounded forth.
“Sir I’m sure we could, you know, just get in there and get out pretty easy,” offered Marty.
“You don’t know the Spud, Junior,” Venkman muttered under his breath.
“You’re not going in there!” the manager stated with as much authority as he could muster, crossing his arms over his chest and trying (and failing) to look imperious.
“Well that’s all we needed to hear,” said Venkman, shrugging his shoulders and beginning to walk away, “Okay, coffee break everybody, fifteen minutes. Service has been declined beyond this particular point.”
As Marty and Peter casually strolled away from the Ballroom, Marty glanced back as yet another crash came from within its depths.
“So… what do we do Doc V?” asked Marty. Venkman made a noise of general discontent.
“The Alhambra’s off-limits? The shnutz you say. Nobody slimes Pete Venkman twice and gets away with it. Follow me Junior.”
Venkman led him back through the Grand Hall of the lobby until they came to another side corridor. After poking around for a minute or two Venkman said, “Aha!” and pointed to a door with a nameplate that read ‘Kitchen.’
“We’re going to cut through the kitchen? But didn’t that guy tell us not to go into the Ballroom?” said Marty. It wasn’t that he was uncomfortable with subterfuge, he’d had plenty of practice with that back in 1955, 1885 and 1931 but this was a whole new ball game he was still learning the rules to… and was hopefully playing well.
“Relax kid. See if we don’t catch the little green buddy like that yuppie suit wants, it’s gonna eat every piece of food in the whole place and then he’ll probably try and sue us for not doing our jobs. Besides you seem to have a handle on your thrower now. C’mon let’s go.”
The door was unlocked, probably in the rush to evacuate the lower floors.
“Hellooooo, Chef?” called Venkman as they stepped cautiously inside.
“Champion. All right kid, you lead for a while.”
The kitchen looked much like what Marty imagined the big kitchens in places like this always looked. Big stainless steel counters and ranges and vent hoods, racks of dishes, pots, pans and utensils as far as the eye could see. Except most of these items, well almost everything that wasn’t bolted to the wall or the floor was floating.
“Whoa!” was Marty’s succinct opinion.
They were just about to walk through a set of double doors when all the floating objects in the room crashed to the floor as one, startling the bejeebus out of Peter and Marty.
“Gah!!! You’d think I’d be used to that by now!” cried Peter.
“Does this Slimer, uh, guy usually do stuff like this?” said Marty, starting to get just a little annoyed with having to ask this question.
“Nope, this is something new, probably the work of whatever else Egon and Ray are investigating. Keep sharp.”
As they walked through the double doors, Marty’s attention was drawn to a countertop that was placed under an open section of the wall to another sub-section of the kitchen. The countertop itself was covered in slime but this slime was black and had a very tar-like appearance to it.
“Okay don’t touch that slime! It’s slimey and… very dangerous. Seriously kid, it will really ruin your day,” said Peter. Marty, who’d just been about to touch the stuff out of morbid curiosity, jerked his hand back, which was just as well as the ghost of a grossly obese man in a heavy rain jacket and wielding a fishing rod exploded up from behind the wall, roaring at the two Ghostbusters. Before Peter or Marty could get a shot off at the ghost, it zoomed off and through a wall.
“Yep, definitely something new,” commented Peter, “But he’ll have to wait a bit, the ballroom’s through here.”
Following Peter, the two went through another set of doors into a tiled corridor that led to an entranceway into the Alhambra Ballroom. Marty for his part was pretty impressed. On the meager money he had after finishing college and still trying to find a job, there was no way he could ever have afforded to bring Jennifer here, even just for dinner. The Ballroom itself had been built an even more expansive level of early twentieth century auteur than the other parts of the hotel that Marty had already been in, all capped off by a truly magnificent crystal chandelier. The place settings at the table nearest them probably would’ve even given Marty’s author father a run for his money. There were easily a dozen tables set up across the expanse of the room, bracketed on one side by what had to be an obscenely expansive Grand Piano and on the other by a buffet table. It was this buffet table that Slimer was assaulting; currently he was in the process of devouring a five-tier cake.
“Would it kill him to mix in a salad once in a while? All right kid, remember the drill, blast him ‘till he’s tired and then we’ll put him back in his home.”
“Yeah, I got it Doc V.”
Trapping Slimer actually turned out to not be as complicated as Marty feared it was going to be. Now that he was used to the kickback from the proton stream, his aim served well in getting Slimer worn down enough that he and Peter were able to wrangle him into a trap. Looking around the ballroom, Peter whistled in admiration. Although there were long scorch marks across the wall where proton streams had hit it, most of the damage in the ballroom had been done by Slimer. It didn’t really matter to the hotel manager who rushed in at that moment and gasped in horror.
“The Alhambra Ballroom! The Bar Mitzvah! What have you done?!”
Venkman took it all in stride.
“What seems to be the problem? Thanks to me and my exclusively assigned recruit here, the festivities can now proceed in an entirely ghost-free environment. So… your welcome… eh? Oh and to the Rodriguez: L’Chaim, from the Ghostbusters.”
With that, Venkman sauntered out of the ballroom, Marty right behind him.