The adventure proper began with the team being awakened at 1:30 a.m. by a frantic phone call -- a woman named Mrs. Mason said that some ghosts in the Great Falls Memorial Gardens cemetery had her son Terry, and pleaded with the Ghostbusters to come rescue him. In varying states of wakefulness, the heroes geared up and drove out to the cemetery in question, where they found parents, kids, and cops (including straight-laced Detective Bob Johnson, who immediately tried to send them home again, but was out-talked by Lola's Cool 5), as well as heightened PKE readings and an unwholesome greenish glow coming from beyond the gates.
Apparently Terry and his two friends were out past their bedtime on a Friday night (Tsk!) and were walking home past the cemetery when they heard the sounds of an argument inside. Typical 9-to-11 year-old mutual dares ensued, and they all went into the cemetery to investigate. They didn't find anything interesting at first, but then suddenly something came bursting out of a fresh grave -- two of the kids ran like bats outa hell for the cemetery gate but the third (Terry) in a not-so-brilliant move climbed up the nearest tree instead. The kids who got out called their parents, who then called the police and the Ghostbusters when their own attempt to rescue Terry was stymied by ghosts flying all around.
Taking their ECTO-1™ Licensed Reproduction Vehicle into the cemetery, the heroes first encountered a group of somber-looking blue half-torso apparitions, who wailed at them in ghostly torment: "Make her shut up! Maaake her shuuuuut uuup!" ... and then promptly vanished. Bruno theorized that these were cemetery residents who had been stirred up by something. This theory was borne out to be correct by what they found in the middle of the cemetery: the shambling, green-glowing corpse of a haughty and obviously-wealthy woman -- sort of a zombie Margaret DuMont -- lambasting a stately-looking spook in 1920s garb. Not too far from the undead woman's open grave, Terry Mason was up a tree, being barked at by the woman's spectral diamond-collared yap dogs.
Investigation revealed that the shambling socialite was the late Mrs. Vanity Duchesne, recently deceased due to heart attack at age 70, respected by all, who was demanding that the ghost of the late Senator Arthur Hardeman give up his gravesite to her on the grounds that his was higher up the hill and had a better view. Attempts to get near Terry to rescue him out of the tree were foiled by menacing growls from the spectral yap dogs, until finally the Ghostbusters decided there was nothing to do but let the proton packs do the talking. BZAAATZORCH-VORP-VORP-VORP...
Seeing her precious poochies attacked made the late Mrs. Duchesne fly into a rage (literally, as even in corporeal form she took to the air). Her mink stole attacked Bruno, causing him to fall backwards into her open grave, and she summoned several animated piles of roly-poly bitey skulls. Ivan used the Enigmatic Contrapulator Device to field-modify his proton pack, creating a wide area blast that took out several bitey skull piles at once; the rest of the team blazed away at Vanity and her yap dogs (except during the rounds that Bruno spent trying to become disentangled from the ferocious mink stole). The fight ended abruptly when Vanity, her power exhausted, exploded with a blinding green flash, returning to her (now once-again closed) grave and leaving the cemetery back to normal. They quickly rescued Terry, but the residual PKE readings around the grave, combined with the fact that they hadn't actually trapped Vanity, suggested to the heroes that this particular job might not be over yet. Nevertheless, they haggled a very good fee out of Mortimer Plantem, the manager of the cemetery, who was very insistent that the Great Falls Memorial Garden had never once had an unsatisfied customer -- or given a refund.
With the warm fuzzy feeling of a job well done (or at least, well half-done), they headed back to their headquarters and back to sleep for the rest of the night. The next morning, another call came in: a freelance computer programmer in Bethesda called saying that his upstairs neighbor had been "kidnapped by a painting." Somewhat baffled by this assertion, they went over to his apartment to investigate.
The programmer, Todd Yan ("If Yan can code, why should you?"), explained that his upstairs neighbor was a painter and "kind of a weirdo, but who isn't, right?" (The neighbor turned out to be the famous Danish avant-guarde artiste Klaus Varunderfingermingel.) Earlier that morning Todd had heard a thump from upstairs but didn't think anything of it until he noticed a patch of pink psychomagnetheric slime oozing its way through his ceiling in the dining room ... which animated one of Todd's toy Daleks, now in the kitchen attempting to raise an army in the silverware drawer. When he went upstairs to investigate this, Todd had found Klaus's apartment covered in slime and spotted Klaus inside one of his own paintings, doing a very good impression of The Scream. "When I saw that, I thought, 'Who ya gonna call?' After all, you guys deal with this kinda stuff all the time, right?"
The Ghostbusters went upstairs and found the loft apartment much as Todd described, with the added wrinkle that the only illumination was coming through the skylight -- which instead of the expected blue sky was showing the crazy vista of an alien world. Squidging their way through the slime-flooded apartment, they found that the painting depicted a chunk of floating rock in the same alien sky that was visible through the skylight, open which Klaus was indeed standing and screaming, moving in the painting in a very short loop. They also found that there was a floating paintbrush continuing to work on the painting, dipping itself in a peculiar bottle of pigment on Varunderfingermingel's desk.
While they were checking out this bizarre scene, the heroes were attacked by some of Varunderfingermingel's sculptures, animated by the coating of psychomagnetheric slime into dragons, or possibly Demon Ostriches From the Hell of Lost Car Parts. The trashy and ill-tempered pieces of modern art pounded pretty heavily on Bruno, but were quickly brought down by the application of the new slime-blowers. With that distraction out of the way, the heroes went back to investigating the haunted painting. Charley, ever the man of action (if not necessarily good self-preservation instinct) grabbed the slime-covered paintbrush and decided to start altering the painting -- only to immediately get sucked into it and stand there next to Klaus, also doing a very good impression of The Scream. Ivan, poking around as well, quickly followed suit, also getting sucked into the painting and leaving Bruno and Lola to deal with it.
Examining the pigment bottle revealed that it contained black slime, the most extreme form of negatively-charged ectoplasm ... which Klaus Varunderfingermingel had apparently mistaken for a rare and exotic pigment. Further deduction led them to the conclusion that this bottle was the source of the slime in the artist's loft -- apparently once there had been enough on the painting to open the portal to ... wherever the floaty rock was ... the stuff had come bursting up out of the bottle like so much foam from a science-project volcano.
They knew from their training that the way you generally deal with negatively-charged slime is to hose it down with positively-charged (green) slime. Unfortunately, one of the slime blowers had gone into the painting with its attendant Ghostbuster, but fortunately Bruno was still wearing his, and he thoroughly hosed down everything in the place, including all of the (now-ruined) million-dollar Varunderfingermingel original works of art, the desk, the bottle, and the haunted painting itself. Although this quickly neutralized all of the slime, it didn't do anything for the people trapped in the painting, who kept right on silently screaming in their 3-second loop. Lola and Bruno tried to take the painting back to the GB offices to study it, only to discover that while they had it with them, they couldn't leave the building -- the reason the skylight showed a strange alien world was that the entire building had been dimensionally displaced and was floating on its own chunk of rock in that alternate dimension!
This, naturally, didn't make the heroes too happy (nor Todd, for that matter). They took the painting back up to Varunderfingermingel's apartment and thought for a bit. Finally, using a bit of the green ectoplasm from Bruno's slime blower and some of the non-haunted paints off of Varunderfingermingel's desk, Lola added a door to the chunk of rock in the haunted painting. This immediately broke the loop, and Charley, Ivan, and Klaus all ran for the painted door and came piling out of Varunderfingermingel's coat closet. Once the connection between dimensions was thus severed, reality snapped back to normal. Varunderfingermingel, seeing his life's work(s) obliterated by slime, was incensed and distraught ... but was rapidly cheered up by being doused in green slime himself ... and the realization that all of the art had been insured for millions of dollars and he was now filthy rich.
While preparing Varunderfingermingel's lengthy bill, they interrogated him on just where he got the bottle of pigment. When he informed them that it had come from a little hole-in-the-wall in Rockville called "Sam's Curiosities or something like that," they immediately made the connection to Eliza Shamblan, the owner of Shamblan's Antiques, whom they'd rescued two weeks previously from a taxicab possessed by an ancient Hittite dog-god.
They decided it was time to check out Shamblan's shop, since they were fairly close anyway and there certainly seemed to be a connection between the events. Eliza greeted them relatively cordially (considering how big of a bill they'd saddled him with last time), and seemed genuinely surprised by their accounts of the weirdness associated with the "bottle of rare and unique pigments" he'd sold Varunderfingermingel. He explained that there was no connection between the statue of Grraauuff and the bottle as far as he knew; he'd acquired one at an estate sale a year ago, and the other in Cairo sometime much more recently.
During this discussion, Charley had been scanning around the shop with his PKE meter, and found a spike in PKE readings around a marble bust. While he was investigating it, he thought he heard it whisper, "Buy me!" The more he checked it out, the more it seemed to whisper to him. "Take me home!" "Put me up on your mantlepiece!" So, true to his nature, he pulled out his credit card and bought the thing.
Ivan, also poking around with a PKE meter, found a readings spike on a 4' tall, casket-like box made of some unidentifiable dark wood decorated with sea-life and tentacle motifs, as well as an elaborate puzzle-lock. When he asked Shamblan about it, the shop-owner explained that it was a curiosity known by the tongue-in-cheek name of "The Cabinet of Dr. Calimari," and that he'd been trying to figure out the puzzle-lock (as puzzles and ciphers were his hobby). The Ghostbusters extracted a promise from Shamblan that he wouldn't open the cabinet without letting them know first, and headed back to the office, where Charley quickly assembled a mantlepiece to put his new marble bust on.
The heroes decided it was time for some research; in the Roylance Guide to Secret Societies and Sects they found a face to match their unidentified bust: it belonged to a theosophist (sort of an esoteric scholarly mystic) by the name of Hieronomous Vorgo III, who was noted as being a member of the Order of the Copper Twilight and summed up, "In a word: avoid." In The Spates Catalog of Nameless Horrors, they found an entry about the Cabinet of Dr. Calimari, an artifact that had spent the past thousand years or more passing from owner to owner, leaving madness and death in its wake. It was rumored to contain "a treasure beyond all imagining," but in all of its history nobody had managed to open the puzzle lock ... although many had gone mad trying.
The heroes digested this bit of unwelcome news, but took no further immediate action on it (even though the bust of Hieronomous Vorgo whispered to Ivan that it liked him and would kill him last). Instead they went back out to the Great Falls Memorial Gardens (remember that place?) to see what the readings were like during the day. They were rewarded with the discovery that there was definitely a PKE signature similar to the artifacts from Shamblan's shop coming from inside Vanity Duchesne's grave.
We ended the session there, with the Ghostbusters trying to figure out just what to do next. Unfortunately, we won't know what happens next until part of the gaming group comes back from vacation in June ... d'oh!!!