I kind of want to do some more writing on this later, but I got what I needed done, and want to watch some Doctor Who. I might add more words before going after comics. I might not.
The group split up around me, again since they were the ones with all the weapons. Jack and the female, Kate, took the lead with Andrea. Jack kept his weapon at the ready, while Kate kept scanning the area for any sudden appearances of things our eyes might not catch.
The others picked up the rear, to keep anything from following us. Chris stayed close to me, but also kept her watch towards where we had been, keeping everyone divided evenly amongst the group.
Boone and James, the other Ghostbusters drew their weapons and kept their eyes peeled to the rear. Before we continued moving forward, I took a few photos of them all, and returned to the center of the cluster.
Chris gave one last look back at her cape, laying motionless in a rumpled sheet on the floor. She gave herself a quick check to make sure there wasn't anything else on her costume. The act was more out of nerves, and concern for the costume, than herself, as any acid would have long ago eaten through it.
I didn't need to stay there, but it was the safest place for me at the time. We remained spread out quite a bit, as Jack, Kate, and Andy moved ahead to clear the area down the hallway to the right of where Chris and I had entered.
Kate lowered a pair of goggles down over her eyes as the two fo them ventured down the passageway and scanned for any anomalies in any way they could. Once the way had been secured without incident, she came back down and motioned with her hand to follow. I took one last photograph of the dead alien, wondering who they had been before this afternoon, and started down the hallway.
The poor guy who had the misfortune of dressing up as Pac-Man stayed as close to me as possible, keeping a nervous eye on anyone with a gun, which was understandable as the creature was in need of a fix, and seeing people getting blasted was not helping his mental state any.
The quiet that pervaded the hall was made all the more noticable by the sheer lack of it up to that point. Nothing accosted us the entire way to the stairs leading up from the bottom floor. The only things we came across were more dead bodies which we had to step over, and try to ignore the smell that was beginning to waft off the corpses.
We came out into a large room with doors that emptied into the parking garage connected to the hotel, an abandoned information desk to the left, and the escalators to our right. They were no longer working, remaining stationary in their tracks, as unmoving as the set of stairs running between the two. Whatever had knocked out most of the lights on this level must have left them without power as well.
The silence was broken at last by a loud roar on the other side of the doors outside. The concrete cave made the sound reverberate and echo louder than it would be under normal circumstances. Everyone with a weapon aimed through the glass doors, laying in wait for whatever may be out there.
A flickering light reflected off the cars that remained outside the doors, and it grew in intensity as the sound did the same, whatever it was growing closer. As the light and noise grew, through all that I could hear the whine of the Ghostbusters' proton packs firing up when they flipped the switches on their weapons. They were ready for whatever might come by, as long as it was dead.
The light kept growing, and the sound filled our ears, until a man clad in leather from head to toe, spikes and chains adorning his clothes, reflecting the light coming from his bike, whose wheels were on fire, as well as his head. Within the flames encircling his head was only a skull. Even with no eyes, we could each of us feel him looking us over, and sizing us up.
James leaned closer to Jack, and I could hear them with ease, with the rumble of the motorcycle no longer echoing as much right in front of us, and the roar of the engine dying down to more of a purring undercurrent.
"Hey, ain't that the fella the Peter and the guys fought a few years ago?" His voice had the hint of a Texan accent, even being half-whispered to his coworker.
Jack shook his head, but never took his twin, unblinking eyes off the flaming creature out there, as it never took his eyes off of our group. Or whatever passed for eyes.
"No, that thing was the Headless Horseman. He had a burning pumpkin that looked like a head, not a burning skull."
Kate joined in the discussion, returning the goggles to sit atop her brown, curly hair. "Well, we've still got a burny thing on an awesome bike, it might be related to the Horseman. Maybe we should zap it just in case?"
The flaming skull jerked and if it was possible for bone to shift, I could almost have sworn that its brow had furrowed as if it was able to hear us. Which would not have surprised me in the least.
I pushed into the group of them, and placed a hand on the barrel of Jack's weapon, lower it a few degrees. "No, he's a spirit," as I said it, Jack's weapon jerked back up, and they all tensed, and leaned forward, ready to strike. I even heard a whimper from Pac-Man at another ghost being present. "BUT, he's one of the good guys, arguably. The Ghost Rider punishes the wicked, and unless you've done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about."
The Ghost Rider gave a nod through the window at me, gave each of us one last look, before revving his engine and driving off.
We all moved to the doors and watched as he drove around the far corner, and up a level of the garage. From the way the sound was moving, it seemed as if he was circling the area. If Ghost Rider was staying true to his character, he was likely a big help in keeping the more problematic threats contained. I hoped that any damage he had done to anyone's psyche could be undone when we found the Phoenix. Of course, at least they wouldn't be dead. Unless they had proven more problematic than he could handle without getting rough.
With Ghost Rider patrolling the area outside and doing his part to keep things contained, we all turned our attention back towards the escalators, to continue our journey upwards.
Jack and Kate took a dead escalator each and backed up them, making sure nothing was lurking above that could jump on anyone's backs as the came up to the next floor. With that done, and each of them standing at a front corner of the rectangular space in the floor made for the escalators to go through, we were motioned to join them.
The group of us scattered up the three sets of stairs as we went where we wanted, and left the other floor below and behind us, done with and forgotten.
All we found were more dead bodies in the immediate area. I'd lost track of who and what everyone was by then, and no longer cared to check every body. Even my curiosity had its limits.
We were on the same level of the lobbies that was connected to the main ballroom where registration took place. Even through the heavy, closed doors, I could still hear commotion going on in there. Today, there would have been more people in costumes, and with all of them being herded into lines and confined spaces, there likely would have been more panic and chaos in there.
It was possible we could do some good in there, but the sooner we ended this for everyone, the better. Jumping headfirst into another firefight would only end up getting more people around me killed. Better to move onward and put an end to this now.
I did my best to ignore the sounds creeping out from behind the doors, and urged everyone to keep moving. "We'll come back for them later, if we can't fix this," I promised.
As we moved through the lobby, once again having some light to guide our way, although there were several flourescent tubes smashed on the ground, and others that were flickering on and off as things were falling apart from all the violence that had been sweeping through here.
Once we'd come around the escalators through the large room and to the next set on the opposite side, I looked back over what we had travelled. "Does anyone else find it rather disturbing that we're not encountering a whole lot of resistance?"
Boone gave a nod and holstered his weapon as we took a break beside the next escalator up. "I was thinking that same thing, yeah. We've been capturing ghosts left and right, and there's other guys taking things out, but should it really be this quiet? Everything can't be fed, dead, or resting, right?"
"I'm not sure, I did put down quite a few aliens, and some other baddies," said Andy, giving her gun a confident pat.
I shook my head and leaned against a nearby wall. Pac-Man sat at my feet, well he hovered closer to the ground. "We've taken out a number of things, sure. That doesn't explain this. Something is up, and I hope it's just as simple as things pulling into groups and consolidating in areas that just aren't here. Our luck doesn't really go that way, though."
"Whatever's going on," said Jack, "If they want to give us a clear path to our objectives, I don't really have a problem with that. As long as we don't let our guard down, we should be able to handle it."
I rested my arms atop my camera, thinking it over. "It could be a trap, but it doesn't feel like it. The place just feels, I don't know, empty. This place was crawling with critters earlier." I gave a sigh, and looked upwards. "We never would have gotten this chance to just stand here and blab. Nothing's even coming down after us. Whatever, not going to worry about it. Just everyone stay on guard, and keep weapons ready. Let's move."
I made a sweeping motion with my arm and got everyone moving up the stairs. Even with our words to remain cautious, we didn't take as much time making sure the stairs were safe as we had before, and just moved upwards, with quick glances behind and up.
As we came off the stairs and turned the corner to go up the matching set that was in place directly above us, we came face to face with a pile of dead bodies I found very familiar.
The ruined body of the Predator lay prone on the ground, full of holes, and a Spartan pike running through its chest. I gave a thought to taking the gauntlet with the nuclear detonation device away, but having something like that made me nervous, and I didn't want the temptation to use it at hand. Leaving it where it was, was probably for the best.
Chris looked down at the body, and piked up the long staff weapon it had been carrying. Her hand gripped the metal shaft, and after a few seconds of aquainting herself with it, the long pole collapsed to a more managable size. A wide smile appeared on her face at the new toy in her hands.
"Ok, this is cool. I am so keeping this on my belt. Shiny!" I liked seeing her happy after everything that had happened, and wouldn't tell her to put it down.
Next to that, lay a handful of Spartans, clawed up, some were missing heads, others were chewn up. Even a few zombies littered the ground. The zombies that were dead, I hoped they were dead this time, had crushed skulls, and brains leaking out. I wasn't sure if that would actually kill them per se, but as long as they weren't moving, I'd take it.
The evidence of Luthor's group coming through was clear as well, as several villains that weren't zombies, and I rememebred seeing in that gathering just outside where I now stood. Green Goblin was draped, broken backed, over the escalator railing nearest me.
Near the doors, I could see a puddle oozing underneath them, and Mister Freeze's body still laying outside.