Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Legend of Sleepy Hellhole

Dr. Macalahan called with a new "quest" for the group: finding the long-lost "Lantern of the Deep."

"I've been doing some research into local history, and I found something odd. Not long ago, there was a talisman brought from Ireland, called the 'Lantern of the Deep.' It was brought to Texas by an immigrant family, and kept in one of the businesses in the city of Harmony Hill - now non-existent. The city started failing in the 1870s, but was well and truly destroyed when a tornado flattened most of it in 1906. After which, by the way, news of the lantern simply stopped. However, recently unearthed information suggests to me that the Lantern of the Deep has returned to its watery home - or at least a watery home. I suspect it was at first merely lost - or hidden - but when Martin Lake was flooded in 1976, it was covered as well. The lantern has a - sadly unspecified - curse, but from what I can tell, great tragedy follows it. Which is why I'd like for you to see if you can find it, before some poor fisherman snags it, and ends up calling another tornado or something."

However, the work likely would require a good amount of underwater work; he offered to help them get into a SCUBA class. Still needing a phys-ed class, the group decided to go ahead and get trained, first.

About a week later, early Friday morning, while walking to class, Priya heard someone talking about how they had missed Chemistry, because the professor hadn't shown up. Will and Alistair also overheard the news; by lunch time, the professor had missed several classes, and a sub was called in for his last afternoon class. No one seemed to know where he was, so the students decided to go investigate. After dropping in at the library and finding the professor's home address, they paid a visit.

Unfortunately, no one was home - and the front door was unlocked. Inside, the house was trashed; they found blood in the hall. Outside, they found footprints leading away from the house to an alley, and under a bush, a scrap of paper - a map! It lead them about 20 minutes south of town, off the main road and onto a dirt track, mostly used by oil company vehicles.

On the way, Alistair got a phone call from his overprotective parents - they were in town! He managed to convince them he wouldn't be back for 40 minutes or so... though didn't stop to consider that they would spend those 40 minutes talking with his annoying roommate and Michele, his girlfriend...

There, Priya, Will, and Alistair found a large number of people dressed in dark red robes, chanting, dancing around a bonfire... and the missing professor dead, tied to a table. As they watched, one of the cultists lifted a staff over his head; another cultist stepped forward, removing the robe she was wearing - and leaving her entirely nude. The first cultist touched the staff to the bloody corpse of the professor, then touched the bloody end of staff to the naked cultist. Almost immediately, she fell to the ground, her mouth hanging open, drooling onto the ground; she shuddered, writhing inhumanly, as her body sprouted hair, and her arms and legs thinned and shortened, while her torso elongated. She turned her head upwards, her eyes blank and staring, and with a final shudder, completed her transformation into a huge jaguar!

The cultists went wild, cheering and chanting. Alistair, hoping to bring down the leader, crept to the edge of the firelight and took a shot at the leader with the staff, hitting him in the head, and dropping him almost instantly! The cultists, hearing the gunshot and seeing the muzzle flash, turned and started running towards Alistair, who charged back up the hill to flee the crowd. The jaguar bolted forward, catching up with him just as he reached the hill, though only scratching his body armor. Priya swung her new spear at the jaguar, and Will stepped forward, undecided at the moment what to do.

Just behind the jaguar were a horde of cultists; almost immediately, half a dozen cultists surrounded the college students... but between Priya's slicing spear and Will's new katana, they mowed through the cultists like a weed whacker through dry grass. A few well-placed cuts dropped the jaguar... but not before the person with the staff, below, managed to heal it once or twice.

As the cultists on top of the hill fought, the cultists at the bottom of the hill continued their ritual. A cultist was killed, and his blood used to touch another recently-disrobed cultist. The man staggered backward, pulling his arms in towards his chest; he shook and twitched, moaning, then with a horrible, wet, tearing sound, ripped the flesh from his body, revealing a man-sized bat, its wings ending in wicked claws!

Next, another man was transformed into a raging were-ape; then a woman was turned into a were-owl. One after the other, however, the creatures were cut down or shot; the staff-wielder, now a tall blonde woman, was unable to heal them quickly enough. A well-placed shot from Alistair killed her, too.

Will and Priya charged down the hill, cutting down the next staff-bearer, then focusing on the were-ape. At this point, only 6 cultists remained; one slipped off to help the man with the head wound escape, leaving 5. Those five slipped and fell in the blood and mud, unable to grab the staff. The instant one of them did, he got a spear tip in the back of his head for his troubles. The next managed to whack a fellow cultist, transforming him into a werewolf, just as the were-ape fell dead. And with a swing of his blade, Will split the staff in two, and killed the cultist as well.

The staff sparked with red electricity as the decorative head exploded into fragments; almost immediately, the werewolf returned to human form.

Alistair, meanwhile, chased after the two escaping cultists; he reached them as they dove into the nearest car, and managed to shoot out a wheel before they escaped. He returned to the bonfire, where Will and Priya were interrogating the three surviving cultists... and when he realized they had no information to give, gunned them down in cold blood!

Realizing they were standing in a field of corpses, dripping in blood and filth, the three students quickly found some non-blood-soaked robes (those discarded by the first three were-creatures), and tossed their own clothing into the fire. Alistair drove them to the Sabine, where they washed off... or rather, traded the blood and mud for plain ol' mud. He called James, who brought them all a change of clothes (if a little ill-fitting), and they quickly made their way back to campus.

While Priya and Will were each able to get a showed and fresh clothes, and fall immediately into bed... Alistair arrived home to find his parents waiting for him.

Lucky for Alistair, his girlfriend didn't exactly get along with them. She played nice, but as soon as he was home (somewhat bedraggled, but at least not dripping in blood), she immediately jumped to his defense: "Oh, sweetheart, you look so tired out! Why don't you go get a shower? We can wait!"
She immediately turned to his parents and explained, "Like I told you earlier, Alistair is so helpful, always helping people out with things. He's been helping a friend clear out his, uh, backyard. I'm sure he's absolutely bushed."

After what may well have been the most comfortable shower of his entire life, Alistair had only to spend a few minutes with his parents before Michele shooed them away, and told him to go to bed.

All three were asleep before their heads hit the pillow... but what of their dreams?

As a note, here... there is definitely an ongoing investigation into the deaths of 21 cultists. Detective Morris of the Longview PD was called in by the Gregg County Sheriff's department, as well as the FBI and the ATF... Here's hoping you don't all go to jail. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Gobsmacked

Real talk, people - the write-up will follow.

I enjoy being challenged by my players. I love when my players come up with something I didn't think of, or try a route I hadn't considered. I adore surprises. I am not an easy GM to derail...

But then there was tonight. I... I am shell-shocked right now. Gobsmacked. Absolutely floored.

I expected one of two outcomes: either the gang would go all-out in destroying the staff, making sacrifices to destroy it, at which point the cultists would leave angrily, their plans foiled - or even be held in a stalemate until the cops arrived, and be arrested... Or, the gang would see that they were outnumbered, and would quietly gather some evidence, then sneak away and get help from the police, from their mentor, from the FBI guy, from old friends (zombie guy's brother, the professor they know can control bugs, Cryptid Underground, Lurk Until Dawn, the list goes on), even from other classmates (ROTC, anyone?) or heck, the Russians, that weirdo owes them a favor for saving his life, right?

But no.

Oh no.

Oh Hell no.

After the failed assassination attempt, the gang proceeded to kill every last cultist. All of them. The three that survived long enough to surrender? Shot dead. And then, a complicated attempt at covering their tracks, complete with throwing a gun in a bonfire, burning their clothes and donning cultist robes, and getting their team mate to bring them new clothing... All before showing up on campus.

Before I can even close out this adventure, I need to make a bunch of rolls to determine just how the police react to the scene... Because they showed up about five minutes after the gang left. I honestly don't know if the gang is going to stay out of jail. It's up to the dice.

I'm still reeling from the outcome; this has wide reaching results that have literally detailed the campaign.

And I'm loving it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Bug's Life

Early one Monday morning, Alistair and Will were on their way to a class when they heard a scream from the office area; making their way there, they found a secretary standing at an open doorway, staring in horror at the body of Entomology professor Dr. Lyle Canton - covered in hundreds of insect bites and stings. A quick search of the office revealed nothing more than the few insects the professor kept in plastic terrariums. The professor appeared to have died Saturday. The door was previously locked, and there was no sign of forced entry (or exit) - nor signs of bugs.

Remembering Johnny Chafe, the group went to interrogate "bug boy". After some pressing questions, he revealed that his notebook was likely stolen. He had an alibi for the weekend, too, which helped the students believe him.

Back to Glaske, they asked around and discovered that Dr. Sheila West and a graduate student, Eddie Ruiz, didn't show up for class that day. A little more investigation revealed the professor's address; that afternoon, the students headed over. They found a beat up economy sedan in the driveway, but got no answer from knocking on the door. Realizing the neighbor across the street was snooping on them, they trooped over, and after convincing her they were not selling anything, asked about the professor. The woman pulled out the notebook she kept notes on the comings and goings of everyone in the neighborhood, and pointed out that the car's owner had showed up early Saturday, and hadn't left.

The group thanked her, then vaulted the fence into the back yard; Will picked the lock on the fence, and James quickly grabbed his tools from his truck. After picking the back door lock, Will and James headed inside. James flung open the mudroom door, and instantly had to dodge a swarm of flying and crawling insects, ending up shaken from the experience. The others were slightly farther back, and managed to get through the insect onslaught unscathed. Alistair rushed inside, and fired off the a circle of protection from insects he had prepared; most of the bugs were forced away, and fled. Eddie, now looking more like the main character from The Fly, screeched, calling two giant swarms of insects - one of creepy-crawlies, and one of wasps and other fliers. He stepped forward, ignoring the protection circle entirely, and struck at Alistair, thankfully doing very little against his body armor. Alistair was quickly joined by the others, who shot, bashed, whacked, and tazed the big bug-man (though the tazer seemed to have no effect). Will narrowly avoided certain doom (by burning a black chip!), while James took a few good thwacks. The flying insects didn't manage to get through the barrier, but the crawling insects did, though the heavy clothes of the students protected them from the bites and stings.

Having killed Eddie - or what was left of him, he was mostly bug at that point - James and Alistair, uh, ripped off his arms and fashioned them into melee weapons. Because of course they did.

After desecrating the corpse, the students broke open the cocoon Eddie had been watching, and found Dr. West! She was unconscious; after a bit of cleanup, the students called the police and an ambulance. After answering some questions, they headed over to Eddie's apartment, and ransacked the place, finding the notebook in the process. It seems Eddie had modified the formula, splicing DNA to make the liquid injectable; the process didn't seem to work well for him, however.

Two days later, she regained consciousness, and seemed perfectly fine - though Alistair followed her around a bit, and realized that she could control bugs, too. Filing that away in "useful information to have," the group left her to her own devices.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Series Of Magic Tubes

Before the semester started, Matt Meranda and Ariel Summers (both Burn survivors) started dating; Matt, however, became obsessed with the strange phenomena of the Burn; just before the semester started, he had a little too much to drink, and mentioned that he could see "magic pipes" running all over campus, due to some concoction he found online. He insisted on driving home; however, he wrecked his vehicle...

Not long afterwards, the group heard Dr. Harry Wells telling his friend Dr. Jeong Yi that he found something - a nanomachine, trapped in a block of glass! His analog electron scanning microscope caught a picture of it. Stranger, he said, was the fact that the school's microscope couldn't see it. He could even find the objects around the nanotechnology, but it wasn't there. He took it back home and looked again, and there it was, plain as day! He handed his friend a couple printouts he had made - one picture with the nanotech, one without. Excitedly, he pointed out exactly what surrounded the tiny machine. It couldn't just vanish; so where did it go? His theory was that it was somehow cloaked - hidden from the digital electron microscope, but visible to the old analog scope.

As he left the cafeteria, a black sedan pulled up, and a thin, bald man in a dark suit stepped out. After a moment of conversation, Dr. Wells, of his own volition, climbed into the back seat with the man.

At the same time, Derek Ward caught up with the gang and asked them to check on Ariel. He told them that Matt's vehicle was found totaled, but no Matt inside... just blood. Police suspected he tried to get out and get help, and died in the woods. Ariel locked herself in her apartment and wouldn't come out.

Visiting Ariel turned up a pile of occult books, specifically about ley lines; she seemed to firmly believe that Matt was wandering the woods: "Just wait. I promise you he will show up in another day or two alive and well." Although she seemed to be hiding something, they weren't able to figure out what - and she wouldn't let them take the books.

Back at Mary Lynn's bookstore, they studied the map of ley lines from the decades previous; perhaps there was something there? There wasn't anything to find at the scene of the accident... Crayton's Compendium turned up some information on ley lines, and mention a ritual, True Seeing, that reveals them. Alistair opted for the slightly more expensive version, and bought the same stuff Matt did, following a link Matt had written in the margin of one of the books.

The next morning, the student newspaper came out with details on the crash - the wrecked car was certainly not "walk away" material. It was wrapped around a tree, and every window was smashed. Meanwhile, Dr. Wells' case turns up a letter, supposedly from him, saying there was a "sudden family emergency"... of course, Dr. Wells is estranged from his father, and has no other family, which Dr. Yi is happy to point out. In the lab, the man in black carted away the electron microscope, flashing a Secret Service badge and stating that they removed dangerous, unregistered equipment from his lab; the university doesn't fight it, as that is technically true.

At Dr. Wells' house, the group found his electron scanning microscope in the basement, and the tiny slice of glass with the supposed nanotech stuck in it; after a bit of discussion, they decided to leave it there, though they took his notes.

Alistair followed the ley lines he could see - nothing at Dr. Wells' house, but there were several on campus, with two of the larger ones on top of the education building - along with a flash of movement! While Alistair looked for a ritual to assist them, James took off, following his instincts... and not getting much of anywhere. Will, using a lockpick fashioned by Priya,
picked the lock on the roof door, and onto the roof. Ariel was there, holding a cheap steak knife, with a hasty bandage on her arm; Matt was there as well. Well, his corpse... as fresh as it looked, he was very obviously dead. Ariel quickly waved them off, explaining how Matt was researching these teeny-tiny bugs, and how they could do all sorts of stuff, but they needed the right information to begin. "It's ok! Everything will be fine! Just... just stay back!"

Of course, they were having none of it, and whacked her over the head, knocking her out. And then Alistair saw the shadows spinning out from the two newly-joined ley lines... The creatures attacked, but the group was able to hold them off; Alistair tossed them the other vials, and quickly they applied the "ley line mist" to their eyes. Matt, meanwhile, began groaning and coughing...

Unfortunately, their weapons weren't damaging the creatures; Alistair, who could now see his Spirit Guardian, found it bodily shielding him from the wraith-like shadows. Hoping they were some kind of ghost, he grabbed a container of salt from his bag, and told Priya to pull out the one she was carrying. Priya dumped water on her, Will's, and James' weapons, then poured salt onto them, leaving a lovely crust. Together, they made short work of the shadows; Alistair, away from the group, tried dumping salt on Matt (which had no effect), then dumped two thirds of a container over a ghost - which destroyed it! Finally, they finished off the last of the shadow-wraiths. Ariel crawled over to Matt, who was moaning louder, as if in intense pain; quickly, they staunched the bloodflow and got him to a hospital.

A few days later, Matt's recovery is nothing short of miraculous; even so, he's still in a great deal of pain. He calls the group to the hospital, and asks that they not pass around the fact that, y'know, he was raised from the dead by nanotechnology. Alistair was quite adamant that it wasn't nanotech, but magic; he and Matt agreed to disagree on that point.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wells remained missing; Dr. Yi electred to take care of his home (which, thankfully, is paid for), and his plants.

The day after visiting Matt in the hospital, Will got a phone call:

"You don't know me, but I know you, Will, as well as your friends. Do not be alarmed; I am a friend. Furthermore, I know that you have recently discovered information on nanotechnology. Do not discuss this with anyone else. You may find that those you have already discussed this topic with will no longer remember. I will not interfere with you, as I believe you have an important role to play... but tread carefully. There are others who are... not as understanding as I am."

Me, Myself, and the FBI

The leather patch (recovered from the super-zombie) turned out to have a small symbol on it; some successful research later, and the group found that it belonged to a group known as the OBR, a Russian intelligence group of some sort. They learned more when they ran into an old friend - Kit Muller, of the FBI! He was following some sort of shape-shifter. He explained that the OBR were essentially the KGB, except their work centered on the supernatural; he had run into one or two of their agents. The group was lead by none other than Maksim Kuznetsov, the old man they had met some months earlier! Kit also mentioned Vladislav Rasputin, an edgy ritualist, and how he really hates the song "What Is Love."

Priya, Will, and Alistair soon found themselves on the trail of another book thief; a local bookstore was hit, and Mary (the owner of the bookstore they use as their hoe base) asked if they could go check it out. They did so happily, arriving to find a slightly damaged bookstore, and one Vladislav Rasputin, possibly more edgy than Kit described. They approached him, and warned him off from the books. Using their connection with Mary, they convinced the bookstore owner to lend them the new books he had received, so they could keep them at Mary Lynn's bookstore.

At the bookstore, late at night, they were awakened by a clatter as someone tried to get in. It was Kit! However, he seemed a little off; they called his cell phone, and found Kit was actually in his hotel room. They delayed the doppelganger long enough to give Kit time to arrive (he raced past, then slammed on the brakes and backed up), but the creature was gone in a flash. After some discussion - and verifying the books were safe - Kit headed back to bed.

The next evening - Friday - they headed to RPG night (I know, I know, no recursive RPGs), and the next day visited their GM's home (yours truly). Alistair tried to steal a brick from the foundation, and after a telling off, settled for a brick from under the house. Using the time to do a bit of studying, they learned that there was some kind of object of power hidden in some Indian burial mounds. That evening, they headed to the woods, and after a bit of hiking, found the mounds. As they were looking around, once again Kit showed up; this time, they didn't bother asking questions, and immediately opened fire! Whatever the creature was, it wasn't human - their bullets seemed to only barely be hurting it. Only Priya's ax did any real damage.

Quickly, Priya began forming a chalk circle; she was grabbed by the creature, who shook her book bag off, spilling books all over the ground. Alistair completed the circle, and as soon as Priya broke free, completed the outline. The creature slammed against the temporary boundary (chalk circles are useful, but don't last long unless they have a ritual to back them up). Throwing its (tremendous) weight against the boundary, it broke free, grabbed the book, and slammed its hand into the open pages. Instantly, it was transformed into a 12 foot tall beast, with demonic red skin, cloven hoofs, massive wings... well, you get the idea. The group had been expecting something like that, however, and quickly got over the fright; they fired a few more rounds at it, hit it with an ax, and eventually killed it. It fell backward into a yawning void and was gone...

Just as Kit showed up, Priya discovered an unconscious body laying in the underbrush: Vadislav! Will immediately began singing "What Is Love (Baby Don't Hurt Me)", to which the injured ritualist responded with a pain transference spell. Further singing caused a massive headache... Kit took Vadislav into custody, after learning what his plan was - calling the demon to do his bidding, Vadislav bit off a bit more than he could chew, and ended up with some greater fiend instead of a ghostly Vard√łger. Oops.

The book, however, was gone; whatever it held, that mystery was lost forever...

Book-It!

The group were hired by a friend of LeTourneau, the daughter of Marvin Ashwright, a well-known local philanthropist and businessman who disappeared in 1998. Promised a good bit of money, the group set out to get organized. Well, get books organized, anyway - the Ashwrights were donating Marvin's library to LeTourneau, or at least some of it.

The house was a sprawling Victorian-style mansion, out in the country; it was obvious that Ms. Ashwright came from money. After setting them up Friday night, she left them to their own devices. That evening, they packed and sorted books, seeing a few strange things, like a man watching them from a mirror, or footsteps walking through empty halls. After a bit of exploration, they decided to stay the night, and get the rest finished in the morning.

The next morning was a further drudge of stacking and sorting, but eventually, they had found every last book, and were well on their way to getting it all finished. After a supper of Pizza King, they heard a knock on the front door. Alistair and James went to investigate; suddenly, there was a crash! A haggard, gray-skinned human stepped through the plate glass window by the door - a zombie! James lit into it, whacking it with his pipe wrench, and Alistair went for his gun. After fighting off those zombies, the others found yet more attempting to walk through a french door in the west bedroom, and still more coming in the back door! James, having finished off the zombies in the front, heard sounds to the east, and ran out the door to intercept them. Will finished off the zombies to the east, and Priya and Alistair took care of the zombies at the back door. Priya headed east, hearing sounds of zombies - and found two zombies grabbing a box of books! Interrupting them, she chucked an ax, injuring one.

Meanwhile, James went toe-to-toe with a huge, muscular, super-zombie, with a glowing symbol stitched onto its chest; after a few misses, he slammed his pipe wrench into it, nearly hacking it in half! It, like the other zombies, collapsed into a pile of dust and dirt - though this time with the strange patch-like scrap of leather in the dust. Hearing the battle in the house, he spun and hurled his secondary wrench, flinging it through the open window and into a zombie! While it was stunned from the blow, Will and Priya finished it off.

Tired (and in the case of Alistair, bruised and battered), the group reconvened in the main library. Once assembled, they heard a faint click - a secret entrance! Inside, they saw two things: one, the very dead skeleton of Marvin Ashwright, and two, a comprehensive security system, still working, with cameras in every hallway. For a moment, they glimpsed a burst of static - in the form of a man, waving serenely.

In the center of the room, resting on a display, was a book, hand-labeled "Ashwright's Arcane Tome", in square script.

Thankfully, there was not much damage; the group was paid for their efforts, and went home to sleep off the excitement.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Pakku Mansion

After a lovely Christmas break, it's time for a little ghost hunting! GlennMac called the group into his office, and introduced them to a new member, a Flight Mechanic named James Carrar. He handed them an address to investigate, a property that was rumored to be haunted; several people had tried to buy it, before being run off by "ghosts". The price had dropped to a mere $10,000, barely more than the property alone, even though the building was in good condition. If nothing happened, it would be scheduled for demolition soon. GlennMac had managed to get the electric company to turn on the lights, but there was no running water at the moment.

Reaching the property (with Austin's girlfriend and roommate in tow), they took a look around. The building was a very large, single-story home; they stepped inside, and started looking for ghosts. They hadn't gone far before the front door slammed shut! Shrugging, they continued their search. Every room's door was locked; they managed to break, pry, or pick a few open, but didn't find anything interesting, apart from some furniture, empty boxes, and garbage. Oddly, they kept scuffing over shards of some kind of crystal or broken glass.

Eventually, James and Will found a fist-sized glass sphere; it looked important, so they grabbed it. Out of the corner of their eye, they saw a flicker of movement! Lugging their recording gear with them, they chased the shape down one hallway and another, finally cornering it; they finally saw it for what it was - a bluish, dripping, humanoid shape! They approached, and it suddenly turned, growling, and ran for Alistair! Raising his hands in defense, he dodged aside, neatly flipping the creature over his head. It dashed off, moaning...

It was at this point that someone pointed out that the mansion sure looked like a Pac-Man map.

Gosh, really? Pac-Man? No idea why you would think that.

In the corner, they found another bobble; Alistair held onto this one. Looking through it, he realized that certain forms were clearer than before, while others were more... ghostly. Suddenly, they heard a scream from Alistair's roommate! Dashing towards the source of the sound, they ran into a figure clad in an orange jumpsuit. It slid to a stop and looked them up and down. "We-heh-heh-hell, now! What have we here?" Grinning, he fished in his pocket, and pulled out a metal plate with loops of wire - a poor man's brass knuckles. He took a swipe at James, who retaliated by swinging a heavy pipe wrench at him. The wrench slid easily through the ghost... Alistair, realizing that his glass ball might have an effect, held it out and tried to activate it. With a "WHUM", all the lights in the old house changed from flickering orange bulbs to slow-moving tongues of blue-white flame. The ball itself dripped blue light, glowing brightly. James took another swing, and this time, connected! Will, moving in from behind, pulled out his tazer-club, and let the ghost have it; shaking, the jumpsuit-clad jailbird crashed to the floor. Alistair, arriving with his glowing ball, pulled out his gun and shot the ghost in the head. The ghost's form vanished in orange smoke...

Meanwhile, someone else pointed out that the globes seemed to function like the powerballs from Pac-Man. Hmm, how strange.

Just then, they heard sounds from behind them! They turned to find... the roommate? Behind them? Huh. Searching further, everyone stuck together to investigate the rest of the house. It wasn't long before they found an oddly dead-end hallway. The wall and the end seemed to... fade in and out, almost. Alistair stepped forward and held his globe to his eye. The hallway seemed to continue on, unimpeded. Curious, he stepped through the wall! His girlfriend, already freaked out by seeming him headshot a ghost, absolutely freaked out. Screaming, she ran towards the wall, only to find herself catapulting into the hallway! She was so overcome by fear that a streak of white appeared in her hair.

Gosh, someone said. That hallway is EXACTLY like Pac-Man!

After a little exploration more, someone realized that the music I had been playing the entire time was the Pac-Man theme song. Finally, the pieces began to come together. James suggested that everyone look for the large room in the center; they did, and found another ghost - first, a pink-haired punk girl, who yelled at them for hurting her friend, Bashful. Using another globe, they defeated that ghost when James came up behind her and bashed her head in with his pipe wrench.

After defeating Pinky, they came to the center of everything. Alistair found a secret door, but no way to open it - and suddenly, the fourth ghost slid through the wall! Growling, the demonic form slashed at Alistair. James shrugged and moved on, realizing he wasn't going to be able to do much against a ghost, and reasoning that he already had proof enough of ghosts. Alistair took a good hit, shrugged it off with a chip, and decided that maybe he would NOPE out too... abandoning his girlfriend in the process. Luckily, Will got there just as the ghost entirely missed hitting her, and gave him a good taze. Furious, Alistair's girlfriend dug out a can of mace ad a set of cast's ears, and proceeded to beat the ghost to within an inch of its... death, I guess? She and Will finished it off, as well as the blue ghost that reappeared.

James, meanwhile, had a very Matrix moment when he finally opened the door - there was a brick wall behind it! Alistair hurried past, grabbing crystals off the floor, and showed James how they clicked together. If this was Pac-Man, then they surely had to collect all the dots, right? And so, they did. The whole team (except for Alistair's roommate, who was rocking back and forth and mumbling to himself about walls and ghosts) gathered every last dot. As they clicked together, the perfect globe they formed began once again to glow blue, and down the hall, they heard the door click open. Quickly, they hurried into the room; there, with a skeleton draped across the controls, was an old Pac-Man game, the screen showing the movement of the ghosts and party members. Just as the ghosts materialized inside the room, they unplugged the arcade. Shadow, the red ghost, was pulled into a black abyss; Clyde, the orange ghost, fled through a wall, but the rattle and slam of a jail door echoed behind him. Pinky paced back and forth, staring as she slowly vanished, mumbling, "No, no, I can't be dead, I can't be...!"

Last, with a heavy yet peaceful sigh, Bashful faded away into nothing.

As they left the room, they realized the other room doors had unlocked; inside, they found the body of Clyde, an escaped convict, who had tried to hide out in the house and gotten shot and locked in a storage room for his trouble; Pinky, forcibly overdosed in the kitchen; and Bashful, a writer who came to the house for its ambiance, and was drowned by... Shadow, a serial killer who died playing the only game he loved more than killing, and who, through it, managed to keep on killing after he died.

Unfortunately, all the recordings they had were muffled, static-y, or overexposed; every shot of a ghost was useless, and every recording of a ghost's voice was unintelligible. It was enough that the gang knew what was going on, but they also knew no one would buy that they had been fighting ghosts...

Still, GlennMac was pleased with the footage; "If nothing else," he said, "It proves that ghosts can't be photographed by conventional means! We'll have to just keep on trying!"