This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
Quick note from the writer—this is a departure in some ways from my usual stuff—for one thing, I’ve included a few pictures here that hopefully will give you a better idea of the Tenchi characters (the pictures all come from the incredible No Need For a Homepage! Web site, btw). In addition, if you aren’t familiar with Tenchi Muyo, I’d suggest you visit Tenchi Muyo: An Introduction to get an idea of what the series is like. Other than that, hope you enjoy!
As ECTO-1 rolled into the aged, grimy confines of Ghostbuster Central, Peter Venkman consulted his watch and sighed. It was 10 in the morning, and most of the time, he'd be just waking up from a long, sound sleep in his warm, comfy bed with the new Serta Comfort mattress he'd bought a week ago. Winston Zeddemore would have just made a fresh pot of coffee, Egon Spengler would be puttering around in his lab, Ray Stantz would be bustling around checking the equipment, and Janine Melnitz would be down at her desk keeping everything running. Lunch was just around the corner, and a hot shower was a definite possibility. Life was good.
Alas, this morning was a different story. He and Winston had gotten two calls last night--the first, a "screaming phantom", had turned out to be a neighbor's cat up a tree and the other, "loud thumping noises and moaning" had been exactly what you thought the minute you heard it. By the time they'd returned from that call, the sun had already risen and Janine was on his back, demanding that he go out and collect some overdue fees so that they could make payroll. Knowing it was never wise to come between a redhead and her paycheck, Peter had retrieved "The Persuader", grabbed Winston and headed back to the car.
"The Persuader" was one of the Ghostbusters' finest inventions. Dreamed up by Venkman and built by Stantz, it was basically an empty ghost trap, but a little judicious rewiring made it indicate that something nasty was inside. Whenever a client balked a bit too long in paying their bill, one of the team would head down to the office with "The Persuader" and suggest that, should payment not be forthcoming, he might have to open the trap and let the imprisoned creature free. Since its advent, "The Persuader" had done a remarkable job of keeping Accounts Receivable at an all-time low.
"Here," Peter sighed, tossing the receipt bag to Janine. "Five for five."
"Baby hasn't let us down yet," Winston grinned, putting the fake trap in his locker. "You should have seen the look on the guy down at Rockefeller Center, Janine. For a second I thought we were going to have to call an ambulance."
"Oh, yeah, I remember that one," Janine chuckled as she sorted through the checks. "Took 'em two weeks to clean all the slime off the walls, and another two to paint the walls."
"Better yet," Zeddemore continued, "the visit to Xanacorp paid off even better. Not only did David Xanatos himself apologize for the late payment, he gave me two box seats for today's game. How about it, Pete? Yankees-Mets, first base line at The House That Ruth Built, beautiful summer afternoon. How can you say no?"
"Through a yawn." Venkman was shambling toward his office area. "I'm beat, Zee. I can't go back to sleep in ten seconds like you can. Janine, hold my calls and tell the world to go away until I've finished my well-deserved nap."
"Will do, Doctor Venkman." Janine looked up at Winston and smiled. "As much as I'd like to, Winston, I can't. I've got a ton of work to do here, and I promised Sharyn we'd go shopping at lunchtime."
"I do not believe this," Winston grumbled. "Where's Ray? Or even Egon. I'll settle for Egon, but I will not let these tickets go to waste."
"They're downstairs," Janine said. "I don't think they'll go, either. You know how worried they've been about the containment lately? Well, they brought someone in to take a look at things and see if there's anything that can be done."
"You have got to be kidding me," Zeddemore said. "They found someone who not only understands all that weird science stuff but can improve on it? Where on Earth did they find this guy?"
Internet, where else?" Janine replied. "And for the record, it's not
a guy, it's a woman. Kind of. I think."
* * * * *
"Hmmm." "Uh-huh…" "Yup…" "Hmmm…."
Ray Stantz glanced over at his best friend and colleague, looking ever so slightly worried. "Egon," he whispered, "are you sure about this? I mean, this isn't a place for kids, and she's poking around some sensitive equipment."
"I'm not completely comfortable with this either," Egon Spengler replied softly. "But she correctly answered every question I asked her and was able to recite precisely how the containment operates just by giving the equipment a casual glance."
"But Egon…she's just a twelve-year old girl…"
The subject of the conversation turned around. "Why, Doctor Stantz," the girl said brightly. "You of all people should know not to judge by appearances, and it's a wise woman who chooses not to look her age."
By all appearances, she was a bright-eyed girl of about twelve years with an incredible tangle of red hair that soared up behind her before plunging down to about her knees. She wore a variation of a Japanese schoolgirl's uniform beneath a kimono jacket and kept her mess of hair in place with a bright purple ribbon. But her body language hinted at a much older soul, and her deep green eyes just about confirmed it. There was an ageless wisdom lurking behind them, along with something else that made the most secure person just a bit uneasy.
"Doctor Ray Stantz," Egon said in introduction, "this is Washu. Washu…"
"Now, now, now," the girl chided. "Doctor Spengler, I told you I'd only help on one condition, and you've already violated it." She folded her arms over her chest and tapped her foot expectantly. "I'm waiting."
Egon sighed heavily. "Ray…this is…'Little Washu'. 'Little Washu', my colleague, Doctor Ray Stantz." Washu smiled brightly and offered her hand to the Ghostbuster.
"Pleased to meet you, Little Washu," Ray said, shaking the hand.
"Pleasure's mine, Doctor Stantz. I've read a number of your entries on TobinNet. You've got quite a mind. Don't suppose you'd like to visit my lab in Japan sometime? I could use a brain like yours on several experiments I've got going!"
"That…might be nice." For some reason Stantz wasn't sure if she meant whether it was his knowledge or his actual brain that she could use. It was definitely something in the eyes. He shivered slightly and forced a smile on his face. "I have to admit," he continued, "I haven't come across any of your work."
"Well, when you're the greatest scientific genius in the galaxy and you're stuck on this planet with its primitive technology, you tend to lie low," Washu replied. "Except, of course, to occasionally make the incredible breakthrough, patent it, and make a bundle of money."
"We wouldn't know," Spengler muttered.
"At any rate," Washu continued blithely, "I've finished my inspection, and I'd say you boys are deep in Ca-Ca Canyon without a burro. Your containment is running at over 107 percent capacity, and I'd estimate you have approximately four days to find some way to vent the excess energy before you vaporize most of Manhattan." Her eyes grew wide and dreamy. "It would truly be something to see," she murmured. "The explosion of a lifetime…"
"Miss…I mean, Little Washu," Egon said, interrupting her reverie, "you haven't really told us anything we didn't already know. Can you help us find a way to safely reduce the excess paranormal energy?"
"As a matter of fact, I do have an idea, Doctor Spengler. You see, it so happens that I'm currently developing a little pet project that is going to require tremendous amounts of energy--amounts significant enough that I'm having a difficult time finding a suitable resource. Your PKE would be perfect." She leaned forward, her green eyes glinting dangerously. "So, I propose a trade--I help you drain your containment, and in return you let me keep the energy. Do we have a deal, gentlemen?"
Ray and Egon traded worried glances, then sighed. "Do we have a choice?" Egon asked.
"Not really, no."
While Peter normally found a soft, feminine giggle rather pleasant and beguiling, he preferred hearing it while fully awake, not while he was trying to sleep. Deciding to ignore it, he was just about back to Dreamland when the sensation of fingers running through his hair shot through him like a live wire. He reluctantly opened his eyes so that he could get this over with and go back to sleep.
A beautiful woman with yellowish cat eyes, a mischievous smile and an untamed mane of cyan-colored hair sat floating a foot above his desk. "Hi." Her remarkably colorful outfit, which consisted of a loose white dress, red leotard, and bold orange and green jacket, displayed her curvaceous assets to full advantage as it rippled in the still air—neat trick, that, he had to admit.
"Hi." Floating woman attempting to seduce him. Been there, done that, saw the movie. Peter closed his eyes again and hoped the girl would get the message.
Nope. More fingers went running through his hair. Another giggle. "You're kinda cute." Pause. "Geez, what happened to all your hair?"
Peter opened his eyes again. "Do you mind?"
The girl leaned closer, eyes sparkling with glee. "Not at all, cutie pie. My name's Ryoko. What's yours?" She was in a position that gave Peter a clear view of her generous cleavage. He had to admit it was pretty impressive, though her taste in clothing and color choice ran a bit contrary to the norm. But for incredible cleavage he could make allowances. When he was awake, that was.
"I'm Peter Venkman, and I'm taking a nap. What are you doing here?"
"Oh, Mom had to make a consultation call here, and I had to come along with her," she said with a bored sigh. "She said something about giving Tenchi a day of peace—as if he’s going to get any with that spoiled princess thinking she’s got him all to herself.” Ryoko scowled at the thought, then sighed again. “Now she's downstairs with those two science guys, and I'm stuck up here, and I'm bored. Isn't there anything fun to do around here?"
Peter sighed and sat up. "Janine!" he yelled. "What's the story here?"
Before the secretary could reply, the room suddenly went dark save for a single spotlight around the floating girl. From the black depths came a mysterious voice:
Created over 2000 years ago by the great scientific genius Washu, she blazed a crimson path of destruction across the galaxy before being captured and imprisoned deep within a cave on the planet Earth. Now, 700 years later, she has been freed by her beloved Tenchi and seeks to make a better life for herself. Blessed with the powers of flight, teleportation and energy manipulation, she is known and feared as the Demon Summoner, the Scourge of Jurai, and a thousand other names. She is…Ryoko.
The voice faded away and the lights came back on. Peter stared at the woman and shook his head. "How did you do that?"
Ryoko shrugged. "It's an anime thing."
"Well, it's very nice to meet you, but I'm very tired, and I make it a point never to date women who are over 1500 years older than me." Peter closed his eyes again.
"But I'm bored," Ryoko whined.
"That so?" She turned to find Winston standing beside Venkman's desk. "Interest you in a baseball game, then? I've got a spare ticket and no one to use it."
"Baseball?" Ryoko scratched her head, then grinned. "Hell, anything's better than sitting around waiting for Mom. You've got a deal. When do we leave?"
"We can head out any time you'd like."
"Great! Let me go tell Mom and I'll be right back." With a graceful flip, Ryoko dove through the floor without so much as a ripple; Winston watched her vanish and shook his head, amazed that such an incredible sight seemed so mundane to him these days.
"I gotta start meeting normal people," he muttered.
“Let me see.” Seconds ago Washu had produced a holographic representation of a computer laptop from thin air; now she was typing rapidly on its keyboard and studying the small screen intently. “What we need here is a pipeline, from your containment, through a subspace gap, and over to my storage tanks. Shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete.” Without warning she reached over and slapped Ray’s hand, which the Ghostbuster had been waving back and forth through the intangible (for him) machine. “Naughty, naughty, Doctor Stantz,” she warned. “Hands off the equipment, or Little Washu will spank!”
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Ray breathed, transfixed by the holo-laptop. “I don’t suppose you could come up with an extra one, could you, Washu?”
“Well, Christmas is coming,” she said with a sly smile, “so if you’re a good boy…” She looked over at the stairs; Egon was wearing one proton pack and carrying another with him. “Oh my. Spengler genetics and atomic radiation. I can’t wait to see your children!”
“Hmmph.” Egon handed the extra pack to Ray. “These are precautionary. We’ve had bad experiences in the past when we’ve attempted to vent the containment. There’s a tendency for the power to rush out much faster than we can compensate for.”
“Not to worry,” Washu assured him. “I’ll have everything under control. Nothing can possibly go wrong.”
Ryoko and Winston emerged from the subway station and joined the massive crowd that was pouring toward Yankee Stadium. “Wow,” the alien woman said. “That’s pretty darned impressive, I have to admit.”
“Some of the greatest baseball games ever played were in here,” Winston told her as he handed the gatekeeper the tickets. “Come on through the turnstiles, and we’ll head for our seats.” So enthralled was Ryoko with the sheer size of the edifice, however, that she unconsciously went intangible and simply passed through the metal bars; the usher taking tickets glanced down, scratched his head, then shrugged and continued his work with the attitude of a man who’d seen just about everything in his time.
“Okay, we’re in section…” Winston looked around and smiled sheepishly at his guest. “Hey, I hate to do this, but I need to take care of some business, if you know what I mean. Would you mind…?”
“Of course not, Mr. Zeddemore. You go right on ahead. I’ll wait around here.” Ryoko smiled brightly…which, for anyone who knew her reasonably well, was the equivalent of “red alert”.
“Hey, great. Be right back. And it’s ‘Winston’, hear?” Ryoko nodded and waved as her host went to the rest room. The minute he was gone, she quickly made her way over to the automated teller machines against the wall.
Ryoko had noticed all the people who’d walked up to the devices, inserted a card and punched some numbers, and subsequently received some local currency. Well, she didn’t have a card and didn’t know which buttons to push, but when you got down to it, a bank was a bank was a bank. She slipped into an adjacent wall and emerged seconds later with a big handful of twenty dollar bills which were quickly stuffed into a convenient dress pocket.
When Winston returned a few minutes later, Ryoko was now wearing a Yankees baseball cap along with matching t-shirt, and carrying a pennant, a bag of peanuts, a giant pretzel, a huge foam “We’re Number One” hand and a genuine Derek Jeter bobbing-head doll.
“Shall we find our seats, Winston?” she asked brightly.
Something about that Washu woman bothered the hell out of Janine. Well, granted, it was spooky enough having someone who looked to be about twelve and talked like four times that running around, but after all, this was Ghostbusters. Expect the unexpected. But ever since her arrival, the weirdest things kept happening.
Take twenty minutes ago. Janine had just finished the payroll and was about to head over to the bank with the morning’s deposits. Suddenly, a big black hole shimmered into existence in front of her desk and a cute little girl with blue hair and pigtails the size of Texas came stepping out. She was carrying five small boxes, which she quickly placed on the desk along with a big jug of…something.
“Can I help you?” Janine asked after a moment.
The girl giggled. “Hi! My name’s Sasami! Washu thought everyone might be hungry about now, so I made some lunches for you!” The kid was radiating cuteness, so much so that Janine thought she was going to pass out from saccharine overload. But it was impossible not to like her, she decided.
“Thank you very much, Sasami,” Janine replied, bowing slightly—she wasn’t sure if that was the proper custom or not, but what the hey.
“You’re very welcome!” The girl looked back and forth, then leaned over the desk and whispered in conspiratorial tones, “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure thing,” Janine grinned, leaning forward as well.
“Is…is there really a ghost called ‘Slimer’ that lives here?”
“Nope. They made him up for the TV show.”
Sasami’s smile fell slightly. “Oh, shucks. I was really hoping to see him.” She leaned forward again. “What about Louis Tully? From the movie?”
Janine sighed. “Sadly, that one does exist.”
“Now THAT’S scary,” Sasami declared. “Well, I’d better get back home! It was very nice to meet you!” She hopped back into the black hole, which subsequently vanished with a pop.
Janine gathered up the boxes—if memory served, they were called bento—and left one at the still-sleeping Doctor Venkman’s desk, another at her own, and started downstairs with the remainder.
“I have got to start meeting normal people,” she muttered to herself.
“CO’BEER! CO’BEER HERE!” cried the aisle vendor.
“Yo! Cobeer!” Ryoko yelled, waving a twenty as added incentive. As the salesman came down the stairs toward them, she turned to Winston. “What’s a ‘cobeer’?”
“Cold beer. And make it two.” He reached for his wallet, but Ryoko had already paid for them and was handing one to him. “Thanks. Where’d you get all this money?”
“Oh, I have my ways…” She sipped at the frosty cup. “So, who’s winning?”
“No one, so far. But it’s just the third inning.”
Ryoko pondered this. “Okay. I think I get this.” She rose to her feet and waved her foam finger. “YO! GO YANKEES!” After sitting down, she turned to Winston. “How was that?”
“You’re catching on,” he chuckled.
“If she asks me to be her ‘guinea pig’ one more time…” Egon muttered as he sealed the final shunt connection into place. Ray was nearby, running some final diagnostics on the containment while sneaking forlorn glances at Washu’s holographic laptop computer. You could practically see the saliva dripping from his mouth.
“That does it, Doctor Spengler,” Washu called. “I’m showing a perfect interface seal. Very nice work.”
“Thank you.” Egon carefully put his tools away and set them over by the staircase before joining the odd woman. “You’re certain this will work, now.”
“Oh, of course. I’ve done it a million times before, Doctor. This is as simple as splitting atoms with a proteonic laser generator—after the first time, you never forget how.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
“That would be wise.” Washu consulted her instrumentation, then looked over at Ray. “Whenever you’re ready, Doctor Stantz.”
“Opening containment…now.” As Ray manipulated the controls, the eerie energy known to them as PKE slowly trickled out of the containment interface. It slowly filled the transparent tubing, stopping at the main shunt seal that led into the subspace hole.
“The seal is holding,” Washu announced. “Preparing to open the shunt on my mark…now.” She pressed a series of buttons on her laptop; the seal crackled briefly then faded, allowing the steadily-building PKE to roar on through the pipeline.
“We’re at one hundred three percent capacity…one hundred percent…ninety-five percent,” Ray intoned, keeping a close eye on the containment instrument panel. “Ninety…eighty…seventy…”
“How much did you want me to take?” Washu asked Egon.
“We’d like to retain a minimum of ten percent, so that our security protocols don’t activate.”
“Ten percent is doable. My storage tanks are taking everything in as we speak. You see? I told you this was easy as π…”
Without warning a stunningly beautiful blond woman with deep brown skin and wide blue eyes came through the subspace hole. “Miss Washu!” she cried in a sweet sing-song voice. “Oh Miss Washu! Where are you?”
And Egon Spengler’s heart froze at the two words that escaped from Washu’s mouth:
“That was so much fun!” Ryoko declared, wrapping her arm around Winston’s as they left the stadium. “I can’t thank you enough for taking me. I really had a wonderful time.”
“I’d say.” Winston glanced down at the large shopping bag which held all of Ryoko’s original purchases and a few new ones—three pinstriped Yankee Beanies, an autographed baseball, a commemorative photo book about the stadium, and two more Derek Jeter bobbing-head dolls. This didn’t include the authentic Yankee jersey she was wearing loosely over her dress, either. “I’d say you’ve got enough stuff there to remember this trip for a long time.”
“Well, you know what they say about living for the moment,” she laughed. Winston noticed some kind of commotion over at one of the stadium ATMs—looked like a few bank people had opened it up and were yelling at the cops about something—but figured it was nothing to worry about. ATM fraud happened all the time in New York; it wasn’t like anyone had come up with a new way to get a few bucks on the sly.
“Oh, but I forgot my manners!” Ryoko dug through the bag and retrieved a Jeter doll. “Here, Winston—for being so nice and letting me tag along!”
“My pleasure, Ryoko.” He’d never hear the end of this from Pete…
“Hey, babe.” A distinctly unfriendly voice drifted from a nearby alleyway. Winston instinctively stiffened; the Bronx was not the safest of places, even in proximity to the ballpark. He’d been reading about some holdups occurring after games over the past few weeks, and it looked as though he and Ryoko were going to learn about it firsthand. “Got anything for us?”
Five big, ugly men in their late teens emerged, making quite sure their knives and chains were visible to their prey.
Ryoko didn’t freeze or cower. No, she did something far worse. She smiled. “Oh yes,” she nodded, her grin widening and her golden eyes narrowing. “I’ve got something special for you.”
Of course, their would-be muggers didn’t catch on. “Okay, sweetie,” the ringleader said, waving her over to him. “Bring it on over. Bring it all on over.”
Winston sized up the odds: not great, but the lack of guns was encouraging. He was fairly sure he could pull this off with a minimum of hassle…but Ryoko stretched out her right arm and blocked his way.
Ryoko stretched out her right hand. A small ball of energy flickered into existence. She squeezed the ball, which then stretched up and out into a long, slender line. She wrapped her fingers around the base of the construct.
And then she floated up into the air--about three feet off the ground, to be precise. “Ready or not, here I come,” she purred.
Winston had never seen five men wet themselves so quickly in his life.
They made the mistake of hesitating before running for their lives, which gave Ryoko plenty of time to swoop down and attack. Her energy sword hummed and swished with every stroke, accompanied by the terrified screams of five men who’d gotten far more than they’d counted on. And above it all was laughter—Ryoko’s delighted, maniacal laughter as she soared and dove again and again, hemming her attackers against a wall, where they cowered and begged for mercy.
Sadly, the cops were there almost immediately, along with a small crowd of appreciative onlookers. Ryoko let the sword flicker out just before they arrived, but gave the huddled, whimpering mass of Jell-O in front of her a look that emphasized her ability to bring Mr. Sword back any time she pleased. Winston gave the cops a statement and quickly guided his guest to the subway entrance—he had a feeling the sooner they got back to the firehouse, the better.
Ryoko leaned back against the seat and sighed happily. “You know what, Winston?”
“I love New York. It's my kind of town!”
“Who is that?” Egon demanded, pointing at the angelic, somewhat addled-looking blond woman who’d just arrived via the subspace hole.
“That,” Washu replied, “is the bane of my existence. Mihoshi,” she yelled, “how the hell did you get here?”
“Oh, Washu!” Mihoshi smiled brightly and waved. “I just woke up from a nap and was going to get something to eat, and I guess I made a wrong turn somewhere and…and well, here I am!” She blinked a few times and looked around. “Ummm…Washu, where am I?”
“In deep trouble!” Washu glanced frantically at her instrument panel. “Mihoshi, listen to me very carefully, even though I know it isn’t going to make a bit of difference in the end. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!”
“Ummm…okay!” And sure enough, Mihoshi headed straight for Ray, who was still monitoring the containment control board.
“She looks pretty harmless,” Egon said to Washu.
“Oh, yeah. So does the Halmarian Xornax…cute and cuddly right up to the point where it rears up and tears you into bite-sized pieces,” Washu muttered. “Doctor Spengler, to be blunt, Mihoshi is at the same time the most disaster-prone and luckiest individual to ever walk the Universe. No matter how terrible the state she gets herself into, she comes out without a scratch.”
“And anyone who’s with her…?”
Washu glanced up at the scientist. “I assume you’ve heard of the term ‘friendly fire’?”
In the meantime the subject of conversation had tapped Ray on the shoulder. He looked up and became instantly enraptured at the sight of the incredible vision of beauty. “Hi!” she said. “My name’s Mihoshi! Are you a Ghostbuster?”
“Why, uh, yes,” Ray stammered, caught off-guard. “I’m Ray Stantz. Pleased to meet you, Mihoshi!”
“Oh, the pleasure’s mine!” She glanced down at the flickering instrument panel. “Wow! This sure looks a lot more complicated than my Galaxy Police ship! What’s it do?”
“I…I’m making sure this machine here,” Ray pointed at the containment, “doesn’t go out of control.”
“Boy, that sure looks complicated!” Mihoshi shook her head. “My ship is so much easier to work. I mean, if I want to make my report to headquarters, I just press a button, like…”
“NO!” screamed Washu.
“NO!” screamed Ray.
“NO!” screamed Egon.
“…this,” Mihoshi finished, resting a dainty finger on a large red button and pressing down on it.
There was a soft click, and seconds later the containment vent snapped wide open. PKE roared out of its confined space, slamming into Washu's shunt tube so hard that the seals connecting the pathway to the Ghostbusters' equipment popped free. Paranormal energy immediately flooded the room, seeking further egress to the outside world. Claxons wailed and red lights flashed wildly, giving the room an even more supernatural air.
“Oops,” said Mihoshi.
Peter and Janine appeared at the doorway seconds later, each carrying a proton pack. "They won't do any good!" Egon yelled. "This is free-floating energy, completely dispersed! There isn't anything we can snare!"
"So what do we do?" Peter yelled back as he took the stairs down two at a time.
"TRAPS!" Ray bellowed over the dim. "USE THE TRAPS!"
"Of course!" Egon replied. "Peter, Janine--over here!" While Stantz struggled to regain control of the runaway containment, his comrades raced over to the clean trap rack and grabbed as many ghost traps as each could carry. Spreading out, they then rolled the devices haphazardly across the floor and smashed their feet against the activator pedals, opening the miniature containment units. PKE poured down their hungry electronic maws--so much so, unfortunately, that the traps overloaded and exploded in bright bursts of light and sparks.
"Oboy. What now?" Peter asked.
“Ray—can we reverse the oscillation on the PKE frequency modulator?” Egon yelled.
“No! The controls are locked up!” Stantz replied. “I need some time to reset them!”
“Lovely,” muttered Janine. She grabbed her thrower and started firing at the PKE—not that it was going to do a bit of good, but it made her feel better.
Meanwhile, Mihoshi had reached Washu's side. The petite scientist had not joined the Ghostbusters in their attempts to contain the energy that swirled all around them; instead, she was concentrating completely on her holo-laptop screen. "Okay. There…and there…and there. That should activate the cutoffs to the storage tanks, so there's no danger of backflow."
"Oh, Washu, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…" Mihoshi blubbed.
"Hmmm?" Washu looked up and around. "Well, this certainly isn't good. Let me see…" She raised a single finger up into the vortex and concentrated. "Huh. I had a feeling it wouldn’t be that easy."
"But Washu, you got rid of that nasty ghost thing that was on my ship the one time…"
"That was a solid entity, my dear," Washu replied. "This is freeform. Such a waste, too," she sighed. "The things I could have done with it. Oh well, no use crying over spilled PKE. Come with me, Mihoshi.”
"But where are we going?" Mihoshi wailed as Washu walked calmly through the insanity, dragging the sobbing woman behind her.
"Right here," Washu replied, now standing beside Ray at the containment controls. She studied the panel for a moment, then glanced over at Mihoshi and smiled. "All right, girl. Time to save the day for all of us."
"Wha-what?" Mihoshi gasped.
"Just pick a button and press it."
"Do as I say, Mihoshi."
"Oh…golly…" The frazzled young woman hesitated, one trembling hand above the controls, then she looked away, covered her eyes, and picked a button at random.
Suddenly the containment reversed itself, sucking in PKE…and anything else it could get hold of…at full power. The Ghostbusters suddenly found themselves hanging onto anything solid they could reach as an incredible whooshing noise roared past their ears. Ray grabbed hold of Mihoshi and pulled her down under the control console, which seemed to be the only apparent haven in the room. The roar grew in intensity…
…then fell silent. The Ghostbusters opened their eyes and hesitantly looked around.
“Son of a gun,” Peter breathed. “We’re still alive.”
“Just a second,” Ray said, scrambling to his feet to first assist Mihoshi, then to check the containment. “Wow. According to this, we’ve got less than four percent PKE in there.”
Egon helped Janine to her feet, then went to join Stantz. “The security protocols activated. We’ll have to reset them before we can reactivate the containment.”
Peter looked around the basement, which was surprisingly unscathed. “You know,” he commented to no one in particular, “this really stinks. I mean, this is our story, taking place in our firehouse, the danger is caused by our equipment…and we get our butts bailed out by someone from a program that wasn’t even made in the United States. We just don’t get any respect any more.”
“Well, Peter,” Egon said quietly, “if you’d prefer to have the firehouse brought down around us, with Ray cradling your broken body while gently brushing the hair out of your eyes while I stand nearby weeping with self-recrimination for not being there on time, feel free to tell Washu. I’m sure she’d be happy to accommodate you.”
“Was I complaining? Was I? I was just commenting, that’s all.”
"Golly!" exclaimed the lovely Mihoshi. "Where's Washu?"
"Let me get this straight," said Ryoko to the Ghostbusters. "My mom is in there?" She jerked a thumb toward the containment, which was humming along contentedly to itself.
"See for yourself." Egon gestured to the viewer portal; Ryoko leaned down and peered within. A rather irritated-looking Washu was sitting lotus-style in the midst of a swirling miasma of colors.
"We'll get her out as soon as we can," Ray explained. "The problem is that when the PKE got loose, we only managed to recover about five percent of it. Any energy levels under ten percent automatically activate our lockdown protocols, so until Egon can reset them…"
Ryoko grinned evilly and leaned over conspiratorially. "How much to keep her in there for good?" she whispered.
"Ryoko!" exclaimed a horrified Mihoshi.
"I'm afraid that's not an option," Egon informed her stiffly. He moved over to the portal and activated the microphone. "We should have the unit reset within the hour, Ms. Washu," he intoned.
"I want you to know, Doctor Spengler, that I don't find this amusing in the least," came the heated reply. "And Doctor Stantz…"
"Yes?” asked Ray.
"KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY COMPUTER!"
"Gentlemen, thank you for your hospitality," Washu said a short time after regaining her freedom. "I assure you that your excess PKE will be put to good use. Yes, very good use indeed…" Her face momentarily twisted into an evil grimace, and a spine-chilling giggle burst from her mouth before she regained her composure. "Sorry," she said quickly. "Occupational hazard."
"That's…quite all right, Ms. Washu," Egon said slowly. "We're grateful for all your assistance, and hope we can call on you again in the future." Sometime in the next millennium, he added silently.
"Miss Mihoshi, may I say that it has been a delight to make your acquaintance," Peter said, gently taking the hand of the lovely lady and kissing it. "I also hope to be of service some day…"
"Dana," hissed Janine. Peter winced and reluctantly let go of the girl's hand.
Ryoko and Winston were standing nearby. "I can't thank you enough for taking me to the game," she was saying with a shy smile. "And don't worry, I won't tell Tenchi about it. He gets insanely jealous when other men take me on dates, you know. Just grabs his sword and starts swinging at whatever he can find."
"Oh, I'm sure Ayeka has been keeping him nicely occupied," Washu commented.
A look of sheer fury briefly crossed Ryoko's face. "What are we waiting for?" she demanded. "Let's get going!"
"There's the door," Washu noted, pointing at a door that normally led to one of Ray's many storage closets. When Ryoko whipped the door open, however, the Ghostbusters could just make out an incredible panorama of tubes, lights and sounds.
"Your lab, I take it?" Egon asked Washu.
"It's not much, but I call it home." She turned to Mihoshi. "Come along, my dear. We've caused enough mischief for one day, I'd say." They followed Ryoko through the door, which shut by itself with a soft click. A moment later, when Winston opened it again, only Ray's jumbled collection of tools and devices could be seen.
"Well, this was certainly a day," Peter said with a sigh.
"It certainly was," Egon agreed.
"I sure won't forget it any time soon," Ray noted.
"Wasn't too bad," Winston said.
But in the back of their minds was one common thought:
We have got to start meeting normal people!