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Ghost's Apartment in the Fens

A few days after he met Fleur de Joie

 

Casper was pacing around in the apartment, looking at his phone. He had been thinking about this for a while now. Should he use Comrade Frost's number? It was a leap to make, skipping all those steps and asking about getting into the Freedom League, and he still wasn't sure if he even wanted to join, but Carrie would think it'd be cool if he was a member of the Freedom League, right? At least once she finds out about him being Ghost. Could be nice to have some support network, too. 

 

Did the Freedom League offer a stipend or payment or anything like that? Casper looked around his tiny apartment. That... well, it wasn't the important thing, but it wouldn't be bad, right? Probably not what he should lead with.

 

Breathing out heavily, he sat down on his and looked at the phone. Alright, alright. Fleur had given him this number, he should use it. Worst that could happen was a no, right? It would probably be a no, but he had to try, at least. Punching in the number, he waited for Comrade Frost to answer...

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The phone rang a few times and then someone on the other end picked up. 

 

"Yeah, is Frost." asked a distinctly Russian-accented voice over the sound of blowing wind. "Who is this?" 

 

On the roof of Freedom Hall, Comrade Frost was holding his "guest" telephone after in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. The only people who called this phone were people who his colleagues had given his number to, but nobody had told him to expect a call. He was thus not hostile but not necessarily friendly either. He paced as he spoke, the lit Camel he held the only spot of light near him. 

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He actually picked up the phone! 

 

That was... yes. So far, so good. Then... now what? 

 

Casper probably should have tried to plan this far.

 

"Um, hello, I'm, uh, Ghost. Y'know, the guy that flies around and goes through walls and stuff in Freedom?" Maybe he'd heard of him? Maybe not. Didn't sound like he had been expecting his call at least. "Fleur de Joie gave me this number, cus, uh, I... guess I wanted to try to join the Freedom League?"

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"Okay, yeah, this is right number." said Frost. He put out the cigarette in his palm, pressing hard to put out the ember, and continued the conversation, high winds around him as he spoke. He sat down on an outside vent, looked at the cigarette he'd stifled, and with a sigh slipped it into his coat pocket. "Fleur de Joie is pretty good judge of character but we need more introduction than that. Why do you want to join Freedom League? I have to tell you is not luxury posting. All this super-technology and they make me smoke on the roof!" 

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There was noise on the other end of the line, like winds blowing all around him. It was a bit difficult to make out what he was saying, especially with that accent. Fleur really hadn't been kidding about it. 

 

Don't ask him to say Moose and Squirrel. Don't ask him to say Moose and Squirrel...

 

"Maybe they could put in some smoke cabins? Y'know, those glass boxes that doesn't let the smoke out? Would solve that problem, at least?" He was getting sidetracked. "Right, uh... I'm, kinda already running all over town all the time, and well, I've been at this for a while. Like, a long while, and I feel like... maybe I could do more? I mean, I've got experience, I've been doing this since 2003. I've dealt with a bunch of bad guys. Real bad ones, too, and, uh... Yeah. Maybe its time that I step up?"

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"Oh is this midlife crisis?" asked Frost blandly. "Is fine, I had that in 1962 and almost caused World War! Funny story!" He laughed, not sounding amused at all, then added "We should meet face-to-face to discuss professional matters and for audition. Are you free at present moment?" Suspiciously, he eyed a small cluster of pigeons that had landed nearby. "Is short notice I know but that does not bother me." 

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Casper paused.

 

Is this midlife crisis?

 

Seriously?

 

"Sure, if you say so. Beats spending all I got on a fancy car, I guess." 

 

He could kind of see what Fleur had meant about Frost.

 

"Yeah, I'm free. Just tell me when and where."

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"Oh is perfect then," said Frost easily. "There is little art gallery in Riverside, I have understanding with owner. Dobrinksi's, place has great many traditional Russian paintings. We meet on second floor and talk business, look at paintings. You meet me there in couple of hours, eh, say five o'clock. You have any allergies to shellfish, infernalism, cigars?" he inquired curiously.  

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"Yeah, sure. I think I know where it is." 

 

Art gallery? Yeah, sure, why not. Not the place he'd guessed, but alright, could do that.

 

"Nothing to worry about, I think. I'll be there at 5."

 

Full costume, then? Yeah, probably.

 

"Thanks."

 

That was... an easier start to things than Casper had thought it would be.

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At five o'clock sharp, Comrade Frost stood on the second floor of Dobrinksi''s and checked his old-fashioned gold watch. Renting the facility had gone without a hitch, Dobrinski owing him a favor relating to his immigration to the United States in 1991. So here he stood surrounded by fairly good imitations of Aivazovsky and Savrasov paintings, holding a piping hot cup of coffee in his hands as he waited for it to freeze to ice, the room full of the smell of the small appetizers he'd had warmed up for the occasion. "Tum-te-tum," he muttered to himself as he stuck his hands in his jacket pocket, rocking back and forth on his feet, "Oh you song! Little song of a maiden," he muttered to himself, "And reach for the soldier on the far-away border, along with greetings from Katyusha...."

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Casper was running late

 

Of course he was running late. 

 

Not a lot, just fifteen minutes or so, but still, not the best first impression. 

 

He had his excuses, of course. He had his reasons. Like stopping a couple of the Devil's Advocates from trying to cause chaos along the way, but, y'know. This was a meeting with Comrade Frost. About the Freedom League. Not the best first impression to be late.

 

Flying as fast as he could, Casper finally reached the front door of Dobrinksi's and was let in, urrying to where Frost was supposed to be. By moving through the floors and coming out of the floor not far from Frost.

 

"Sorry, sorry! I got held up, had to stop some bad guys along the way."

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The room was cold when Casper entered, despite an obviously thrumming-lively heating system. "Ah, come in, come in! Make yourself at home," said Frost, all smiles at his arrival. By the time Casper had arrived, Frost was dressed in a vaguely old-fashioned suit that was pure, almost-gleaming white. "Just one moment," he added, waving a finger as he walked to the stair below. Hand cupped to his mouth he called loudly, "Is all right, Yuri, man came up through floor! No need for welcoming committee!" That got back a shout in Russian, one that Frost returned with an edged smile, and then Frost approached Casper to clap him on the shoulder with icy grip. "Glad to see you. Here there is food, and beverage, still warm I think." Casper could see  a cup of frozen-solid coffee at one end of the table along with the rest of the dishes. 

 

"So here you are! Tell me, what do you think of art?" he asked, gesturing to the paintings on the walls. "Is fine example of Russian creativity, no?" He tapped the glass over one with a pen he pulled from his pocket. 'This is Savrasov's Monastery of Caves, even older than I am, yes?" He laughed. "You would hardly know of rock-eating cult of devilmen underneath if you did not know they were already there. That is Russian art for you!" he added cheerfully, hand in his pocket, a raconteur in his element. 

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Oh, great. It was cold. Just great. Of course, if Frost pretty much ate all the heat in there, it made sense. Still, great.

 

Ghost looked down at himself, in his costume, while Frost was dressed in a white suit. At least they had the same taste in color?

 

"Huh. Sure, thanks." Casper reached out for the cup and... it was frozen solid.

 

So much for it being still swarm, huh? He eyed the contents of the cup for a moment, then slowly placed it down on the table again when Frost turned to gesture to the paintings. 

 

"It looks nice, I guess. Rock-eating devilmen cult sounds a bit less nice." He moved closer, looking at it. "Not really much of an art guy, sorry, but it's kind of interesting that the white buildings in the back seems lighter than the rest. Y'know, looks like it's more than just whatever they're built with. Sunlight, maybe?"

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"...no," said Frost, sounding concerned. "Is made of stone. Castle of sunlight is in Ukraine." There was a pause, and then he laughed. "Hah, got you! Look at your face!" he said, suddenly snapping to cheerfulness again. "Anyway, come sit, come sit," he said, taking a seat himself at the head of the room's small table and looking up at Ghost with an expression of great interest. "So you wish to volunteer for Freedom League, eh?" He made a little gesture with his hand that suggested he was used to having a cigarette in it. "Magnificent. What can you do?" 

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Casper stared at Frost for a moment. He couldn't have misunderstood that, could he? Or... he grinned behind the mask as Frost laughed. Dad jokes. The Russian thermovore was making dad jokes.

 

Sitting down by the seat, he shook his head and laughed lightly. "And people tell me my jokes are bad. Yours are something else, Comrade." Alright, he could play along. "Was that supposed to be an icebreaker?"

 

Frost probably couldn't see the grin behind Ghost's mask, but the joke had helped put him at ease. "Yeah. I met Fleur a few days ago, gave me the idea. I've been doing this a long while. Maybe it's time I do something more, y'know? And, well..." He moved his hand down on the table. Then through it. And back up again a few times, for the effect.

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"Interesting," said Frost, seemingly all business as he watched Ghost demonstrate his powers "How do you accomplish effect?" He folded his hands in front of his  mouth and looked at Ghost with the air of a man who was waiting for the real action of the play to start. 

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"I just... kinda do it." Yeah. Casper had a feeling that wasn't gonna cut it. He really didn't like to talk too much about his powers, what they were and how he got them, but he was the one that came to Frost. He had to give something, right? "I too close to an extradimensional looking glass device at Astro Labs that sorta malfunctioned. So, my entire body's pretty much riddled with this weird extradimensional radiation and I can do this. I sort of... dimensionally disperse my body. If that makes any sense?"

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"In size, or..." Frost spread his cupped hands curiously, then added reassuringly, "And so that, and...physical and tactical training, like the Raven or Foreshadow?" He didn't offer anything else, not wanting to prejudice the younger man's story about his own abilities. Exaggeration would get them exactly nowhere fast. "I hope you understand, am not trying to encourage underselling or exaggeration, but is good to know where we stand, yes?" 

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"Oh, yeah, I get that. Need to know what others can do, best way to figure out where to put people, right?" Ghost reached and grabbed a cup with frozen coffee off the table, then moved it down through the table, to continue his demonstration. "Nothing with size, no. Can't really grow or shrink or anything, but it's like, part of me are here, and part of me isn't? So I can kinda move through stuff. Most things can't really touch me. Got a problem when things get too cold, so..." He looked down at the cup with the frozen coffee. It wasn't cold enough to stop him from going through stuff, but still.

 

"So. Yeah. I... don't really have any formal training, I guess. Plenty on the job experience. I've been at it since 2003, so... yeah. Done my fair share of crazy stuff." Ghost moved the coffee down, into the middle of the table and let go, moving his hand up. "I can affect other stuff with this. Get it stuck in things. Sorta stun them, or, y'know... hurt them. Or if I grab something or someone, I can make 'em move through stuff like me."

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Hm," said Frost. He considered that a moment, then extended his hand to Ghost. "Demonstrate the latter, if you please." His grip was deathly cold; not dangerously so, but the effect was as if Ghost had stuck his hand out and grabbed a tractor left outside in a Siberian winter. 

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Oh that was cold. Not cold enough to hinder him, but... y'know... cold.

 

But cold was kind of Frost's deal, wasn't it?

 

"Told ya I don't do well with cold, right? Just about the only thing that'll affect us, so, y'know, don't do anything funny while I do this. Don't want you to get stuck inside something." Ghost was sounding much more serious right then and there. Getting Frost stuck inside a table probably wouldn't help him at all with this application.

 

He took Frost's hand in a firm handshake, then motioned with his hand towards the table. "C'mon. Try to walk through it. Just, y'know, don't let go."

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