IN THE BEGINNING....(OF THE FUTURE)
In the Spring of 2092, after 3 decades of failed research and hopeful theories, a small group of scientists in Switzerland were finally able to identify, isolate and physically record the first official “ghost” in history as the spirit escaped the deceased body of a hamster. Unfortunately, the apparition could not be seen by the naked eye. Its image was captured digitally using a camera with a special lens that the scientists had spent years developing. Additionally, the hazy, translucent form they observed was only visible on screen for a few seconds before it seemed to dissipate, but every speck of evidence that they recorded lead the team to believe that what they recorded was a genuine ghost. To confirm that this event wasn’t a fluke, the group repeated their documented procedure on four more subjects: two additional hamsters, one cat, and finally, on an elderly chimpanzee. With each of these subjects, however, the ghosts seemed to vanish within seconds, leaving zero physical evidence of their existence.
However, after one of their subjects, a 57-year old woman, died of heart failure, they used the same technological methods to voyeuristically witness her spirit escape her body and take shape in the air, but before it evaporated, one of the scientists, Jan Brixton, was able to communicate with it. “Wait,” she said gently, “where are you…going?”
No one on her team, especially Jan, expected a reply, so it was shocking when the specter slightly turned around, looked at Jan with organically shifting eye sockets that resembled cigar-smoke rings, and muttered “Why, my dear, I am going home.”
“Where is home?” Jan asked. There was no reply, as the ghost of this woman turned back around as if to float away. So Jan desperately asked a second question, “Do all of you go…home?”
This question stopped the spirit from turning away. “Not all of us, my dear.”
“What do you mean?”
“The friendly ones do. The ones like me. We go home.” The ghost tilted her head down, closed her eyes, and then looked back up at Jan and continued, “The one’s who stay…well…they don’t EVER want to go home. Because here they can still get into…trouble.”
Within seconds of saying the word “trouble”, the female apparition formed a subtle smile as she completely disappeared into thin air.
An abundance of verbal comments were piling up on top of each other, each one competing for anyone to hear them:
“That was incredible.”
“What did she mean, trouble?”
“Excuse my scientific expertise, but you just talked to a fucking ghost!”
“What kind of trouble?”
“We did it…”
“Holy shit, we DID it.”
“Human contact with the deceased!”
“She said SOME of them STAY HERE!”
“WHAT DID SHE MEAN, TROUBLE?!”
The room suddenly fell silent as each of the scientists stared at each other in awe, unaware of their next move, until Jan simply reacted to her instincts. She picked up the recording-device that was fitted with the special lens and pointed it away from the dead woman, and toward the rest of the team, immediately stopping in her tracks. Jan was the only one of them who could look though the lens and see what the camera was seeing.
“Umm, hey, you guys…take a look at the monitors,” Jan said, sweating.
The rest of the team glanced up at the monitors in unison, and each one of them noticed the same thing appearing on those screens: They were all surrounded by brightly-colored, floating spirits similar to one they had just seen, but with one major difference: these ghosts had maniacal grins and menace-filled eyes. The ghosts were calm for a few seconds as they hovered, but then, as if on cue from a conductor, they all lunged violently at the team.
Jan dropped the recording device as she and her co-workers screamed their last breaths.
Neither the scientists’ deaths, nor their discovery was hidden from the press, and in January 2093, headlines screamed the announcement that was heard all throughout the planet Earth: “Ghosts are REAL! And they can KILL YOU!”
Almost immediately, the same technology used to locate spirits by that famous team from Switzerland was was publicized and retooled for consumers in the form of special one-lensed eyeglasses. Simultaneously, a ghost-hunter named Balek Parker, direct descendent of famed hunter Verti Parker, developed a gun that could destroy the ghosts completely, by using a combination of genetically modified salt and excimer lasers. He quickly patented this technology for consumers and by 2095, “ghosting” (or ghost-hunting) was all the rage.
Although some ghosts who opted to stay on earth were, indeed, extremely dangerous, most of them were simply mischievous and categorized as household pests. Hence, ghosting took form in many ways. Some ghosters did it for sport, while others did it for religious reasons, believing that they can absorb the spirits’ past lives by ingesting them, but the most popular form of ghosting was simply “pest control”.
By the year 2108, ghosting was among the top 10 most popular professions on Earth. Unfortunately, however, there was also a lot of corruption that had evolved within the ghosting community, mainly because when a ghost was “exterminated”, there was nothing to show for it. A lot of ghosters were actually scam artists who pretended to exterminate the spirits by simply performing some basic-level scare tactics and then promising that the haunts were isolated and destroyed. Millions of dollars were wasted each year among households that hired fake ghosters. Something had to be done to counteract this “honor system”.
In 2110, Balek Parker re-emerged in the public eye with a solution to this problem: a technique he called “tooning”. “Tooning” was the process of adding a specially–mixed gas to the ectoplasm of the ghost, which, when combined, shrunk and crystalized the ghost’s essence, freezing it in a pocket-sized enamel form that looked like a small cartoon pendant. In other words, “tooning” a ghost trapped it inside it’s own personal tomb. This “crystalized” representation of a spiritual form meant that physical evidence could then be provided whenever someone captured and exterminated a ghost. This “tooning” process was also a way to identify the different species of ghosts after they had been captured, as these crystallized “toons” could be seen without the required eyewear needed to see ghosts.
Balek Parker utilized his new technology to create and patent “Toon Guns”. These toon guns simultaneously sprayed the gas on to the ghost while vacuuming its essence into an attached container where the crystallization took place.
When a household was believed to be haunted, the ghoster would then be able to use the toon gun to rid the property of the ghost as well as offer the patron the chance to keep the “trophy” of their spirit. These trophies quickly became unique family heirlooms, and ghosting remained a popular profession while finally weeding out a lot of the scam-artists within the business.
Years went by as ghosting was perfected as a profession, eventually being offered in schools across the globe, with thousands of students carving great careers out of ghosting. After all, at this point there had been over 2000 years of people dying and spirits walking the earth, so there was a great deal of ghosting to be done.
Things were “normal” for a while, until…
In 2116, NASA revealed that spirits and ghosts don’t ONLY exist in the usual organisms like plants and animals. Unforeseen by any theorists or astronomers, NASA made a shocking discovery after retrofitting their telescopes with similar lenses that ghosters have used for years. Through the eyes of the Earth’s most power telescope, they saw the angry spirit of the entire dead planet of Bewmer, and it was rapidly moving toward Earth, clearly threatening its existence. If this planet-sized-ghost wasn’t stopped, Earth could be destroyed. Military forces from almost every country united and called for volunteer ghosters to travel into space, where they would work together to destroy the spirit of the dead planet, Bewmer.
In October 2117, a small army of nearly 3000 ghosters from across the globe was deployed to the dead planet of Bewmer. Almost immediately upon their arrival, all communications were lost.
One year later, in November 2118, 5 of the original 3000 ghosters miraculously arrived back on Earth to report that their mission was accomplished, that the ghost planet was defeated, and that they are the only ghosters to survive. The specifics of what happened on that planet for those 12 months was never debriefed. These 5 ghosters had saved Earth from being destroyed.
Word spread quickly of their success beyond Earth and well into the galaxy, where this team of 5 unknown ghosters was immediately viewed as saviors who could deal with ANY kind of spiritual haunting. Almost immediately, leaders from planets from all over the galaxy were reaching out to this Earth-crew, requesting them to venture into outer space and exterminate unruly spirits who are haunting the living. And so they did just that, one bizarre planet at a time.
These are the adventures of this unlikely team of heroes, who now call themselves “The Astralnauts”…