By Fritz Baugh
Ghostbusters Case File 1999-613
Twelve houses of the Qizzonu...what was that?!
She wasn't surprised when she heard a new noise fading into her earshot--the distinct wheezing groan that signalled the arrival of one of the few beings who could comprehend, never mind reach, her solitary domicile.
She gathered her purple cloak as the blue shape solidified: an exotic chair, with various strange items attached to it. In the chair was sitting an old man, the eyes under his mop of unruly grey hair hidden by a red-tinted set of ether goggles.
"You've felt it, then?" she asked him.
"Even before every instrument I had went completely haywire." the old man responded. "As they said in the era of my childhood, there's a massive disturbance in the Force..."
She gestured...feeling weaker...Intelligo tempus...
She staggered again, as the man produced a device that looked vaguely like a Ghostbuster PKE meter, a blue and white case with flashing arms at the side. He muttered something unprintable as the screen faded to an error message...
Error: Delta Energy Level Exceeds Sensor Tolerance Parameter.
"Delphia?" he asked.
"There's...there's a massive tear developing in the timestream..." she finally said..."Something is trying to rip history apart...and..." her eyes narrowed. "The Ascension has been compromised..."
She gestured again, more frantically. "The disruption is centered on one of the crucial events...the twenty-first day of Gemini...in the Ninth Year of the Age of Aquarius..."
The old man nodded. "June 13, 1999."
He was the successor to the far more popular Lenny Clotch, but managed to get reelected by greasing the right palms and giving the occassional "tough on crime" speech. The fact the the Greatest City On Earth hadn't been sucked into the Tenth Level of Hell on his watch (despite a close call or two) certainly didn't hurt his image.
"And in conclusion..." MacShayne continued, flipping a page of his notes. A beefy white man of Irish descent, he looked the stereotypical politician. But he didn't get to finish the sentence...
There was a sudden howling of wind, and the skies suddenly began to twirl with an ominous indigo light.
"What shall we do, Mister Mayor?!"
MacShayne grimaced. He hated having to say what he was about to say, but knew there wasn't much alternative. Whatever was happening, it was outside the purview of the NYPD, the FDNY, and the National Guard. All organizations except one... "Call the Ghostbusters--now!!!" he commanded.
Something has happened...
It's all wrong...
Pollux, where are you?
The tailgate opened to allow a man in a wheelchair to roll out of the vehicle. He cracked his knuckles as he observed the scene. His upper body was muscular, and his head was topped with a mop of brown hair. "Now there's something you don't see every day..."
The driver of the car was an African-American with a wide jaw. Like the man in wheelchair, he was dressed in a tannish-colored jumpsuit. "You recieving telemetry at Ghostbusters Central, Professor?"
"Affirmative, Roland" a deep voice replied.
"Can you hear Eddie belch from there, Professor?" the single female of the group, dressed in what looked to be orange football pads and made-up in classic "Goth" fashion, quipped.
"Not yet." the deep voice returned. "Perhaps if you fed him more chili..."
"I hate you all, I just want you to know that..." the last human member of the group, a Latino with unruly hair and a goatee grumbled as he went to the back of the ECTO-1. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I want my proton pack." He was dressed in a vest, bellbottoms, and cowboy boots.
Roland Jackson, Garrett Miller, Kylie Griffin, and Eduardo Rivera were the newest members of Ghostbusters--they had been students of one of the original Ghostbusters, Egon Spengler, before a supernatural crisis placed them in the position to continue the legacy of the world's first Professional Paranormal Investigators and Eliminators.
One more member of the group was there, but he wasn't quite human--he was green, shaped vaguely like a potato, and floating.
The four twentysomethings walked over to Mayor MacShayne. Most of the rest of his entourage and audience had fled, but MacShayne himself stood his ground. He refused to be intimidated by things he still wasn't quite sure he believed in.
"Hello adoring public!!!" Garrett called cheerfully to what few people were left. "The Extreme Ghostbusters, your spook smashers for the new millenium, have arrived!!!"
"I keep telling you, that name is already dated..." Eduardo grumbled. "Nobody does the 'Extreme' thing anymore..."
"Mayor MacShayne!" Kylie called. "When did this start?"
"Pretty much ten seconds before my assistant called you clowns.' MacShayne replied, mopping his brow. "Now do something!!!"
"What do you think, Slimer?" Roland asked their green companion.
"Meesa seen enough dimensional portals to know one when meesa see it..." Slimer replied. "Yousa gonna finish that sandwich?" he asked one of the remaining mayoral aides.
"I'm getting an increasing PK sine curve here, Professor. Is that consistant with what Slimer said?" Roland asked.
"Hmmm..." Egon replied at the other end. "Roland, are you getting a five-seven-two curve in the third harmonic?"
"Can we stop yakking and blast something?" Eduardo puffed impatiently.
"Yes, Professor..." Roland replied. "That's exactly the reading I'm getting here..."
"Meesa don't like that 'Hm...' Egon..." Slimer said.
"The harmonic is consistant with delta wave emission..."
"Translate that into English for us, Doctor." Garrett asked. "Then put it into words with less than three syllables for Eddie to understand."
"Delta waves are a property of chronal flux..."
"Time dihalation." Roland added simply.
"Great..." Kylie quipped. "I can think of worse things than Micheal J. Fox and a Delorean popping out of that..."
The swirling maelstrom flared, and a blast of orange light shot to the ground, maybe a hundred yards away from them, splitting the ground open...
..And then the maelstrom was gone, as quickly as it had appeared.
Three neutrona wands were at the ready. Roland stepped forward first, PKE meter still blinking. "The PK surge has subsided...but I'm still picking up some residual readings...and...I think..."
"Think what, Jacko?" Eduardo asked.
"It looks like there might be someone there..."
"Investigate..." Egon's voice prompted. "But be careful..."
Slimer went back to the ECTO-1, and grabbed his smaller proton pack. "Meesa think maybe this calls for an experience Ghostbusting hand, don't yousa?"
"The more the merrier." Eduardo rolled his eyes.
It took a moment for the smoke around the blast point to clear...the four Ghostbusters and Slimer moved forward, cautiously but with determination...
"The PK is still fading... Egon commented. "Do you see something?"
"Whoa..." Kylie said, eyes going wide.
"There's some dude in the middle of that!" Garrett commented.
"A, er, Dude?" Egon's voice came back.
"Male, Caucasian, Maybe six-six with red hair......" Kylie reported. "Wearing some kinda sleeveless red and purple outfit with white straps. Shows off his muscles..."
"You don't have to sound that impressed..." Eduardo grumbled.
"Keep it up, Ky. Eddie is getting quite jealous..." Garrett chuckled.
"Appears to be breathing...I'd estimate twenty-five years in age..." Kylie continued, trying to ignore them
"And big feet..." Garrett smirked. “But I’m sure Kylie noticed that already...”
“Keep your mind on your work Roller Boy...” Kylie hissed.
“Slimer?” Roland asked.
“Meesa not like this...it’s like Meesa seen this guy somewhere before, but not remember where...”
"Edie..." the man called deliriously, in a basso voice. "Pollux..."
"Nodus!!!" he exclaimed suddenly, sitting bolt upright.
"Just hold it right there, Beefcake From Beyond..." Garrett said firmly, levelling his particle thrower.
The man looked at them with his intense green eyes, studying them with a strangely familiar expression. “Well, okay...” he muttered, and got to his feet with a speed and grace that belied his large frame. He pulled a small electronic device, looking vaguely like a pager, from one of the packs on his belt. He grunted at what the screen displayed. "June 13, 1999...just like the plan..."
He looked at them again, a slightly amused look on his face. “So far so good, but just how deep in the stinky are we? Ulforce said the entire causal nexus was in jeopardy.”
" 'Causal nexus'? Great. We found the Professor’s long-lost brother..." Eduardo grumbled. "Can I shoot him now?"
"Slimer?" the man suddenly exclaimed, gaze fixing squarely on the Ghostbusters’ resident Class Five Full Roaming Vapor.
“Who are yousa?”
"You’re a lot cuter than the Slimer I knew.” the man replied. “In fact, you look more like the one in the cartoons...”
“Hah?” Slimer asked.
“Integrity breakdown is definitely taking place.” he mumbled to himself. "Replacement of personalities with semi-fictionalized counterparts..."
"Please let me shoot him now." Eduardo pleaded. "I don't care how smart he is--this is getting annoying..."
"Doctor Jackson, I need to talk to Professor Egon Spengler." he said firmly. "It is a matter of utmost importance..."
" ‘Doctor’ Jackson?” Garrett repeated with bemusement. “Please tell me this ain’t that Tempus thing again...”
"Egon, you’re about to have company..." Roland said after a few seconds.
"I look forward to it, Roland." Egon replied. The man stroked his chin.
"You just behave yourself around the secretary." Garrett grinned. "She has a weak spot for tall guys who use big words.”
“Believe me, Mister Miller, you got nothing to worry about there...”
“We’ll be the judge of that, Mister...er...”
"For now..." the man answered, putting the small device back into his belt. "Call me Romulus..." He walked over to the ECTO-1. "What the heck did you do to the car?"
"What do you mean?" Roland asked, defensive.
"The ECTO-1 is supposed to be a 1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor--this car looks like some kind of retarded knock-off..."
"I don't know where you got that idea--we added some stuff to the roof and the back, but it's the same car the Ghostbusters have been driving since the 1980's" Roland informed him.
Romulus looked even less pleased, but didn't say any more about the matter.
Romulus cocked an eyebrow. “Why the hell is it green?”
“What color should it be?” Kylie asked.
“More of a brick red...” Romulus replied.
“It’s always been green as long as Meesa been here...” Slimer replied.
The ECTO-1 pulled into position in the garage. A cheerful looking woman with red hair looked up at them as they got out of the car.
Kylie was certain she heard Romulus inhale sharply.
"It's about time you got back, Guys!!! I've already got five calls from the TV stations and the Mayor's staff trying to find out what was going on!!! And on top of that..." the older woman informed them, in tones that were still perky and chipper despite her age.
Romulus suddenly looked ready to re-experience his most recent meal in reverse. “What the hell happened to her voice?”
"Don’t let the media boys or the Mayor’s goons bother you, Janine.” Garrett cracked. “Since we weren’t waving any money around or volunteering to shoot squeegee guys, they have to hassle us.”
“I’m not bothered!!! But...” her voice trailed off as she saw the tall, red-haired man for the first time.
They stared at each other silently for thirty seconds.
“This is the guy we found in the park, Janine.” Kylie explained, not liking the way they were looking at each other.
Romulus broke the silence, a strangely...contrite tone in his voice. "I apologize for being surprised, M..." He stopped himself. “Mrs. Spengler.”
There was a round of laughter among the younger Ghostbusters.
“Mrs. Spengler?” Janine looked shocked, then laughed. “Yeah, I wish...if he’d just come to his senses!!!”
Romulus’s face pinched. It gave Janine a chill...it reminded her very much of the look Egon could get when one of his molds went bad.
"The Professor is a tough nut to crack--that guy has a broom lodged so far up his rear end he could sweep the floor with his nosehair." Eduardo blathered.
"Drop dead, Rivera!" Kylie snorted.
“I apologize for my assumption then, Miss Melnitz.” Romulus said.
Janine looked--and truth, felt--slightly embarrassed.
“What are you, a stalker or something?” Garrett asked. “And which one are you after?”
“Garrett, that is a really mean thing to say!!!” Janine said.
“Aw, c’mon, he comes in here spouting all this stuff about ‘casual necks’...”
“Causal nexus” Romulus interjected.
“...And on top of that, has some idea that you and the Professor have a sorta almost thing going on?” Garrett continued. “Am I really the only one suspicious of that?”
“This is our case, remember?” Slimer prodded Garrett. “Meesa think he’s weird, but Meesa like him!”
Romulus looked at Garrett, intense eyes grave. "Let's just say that I have the best possible justification for knowing about Egon and Janine's relationship. I need to see Egon Spengler. Now."
"Easily arranged." A deep voice cut into the chatter.
Romulus inhaled deeply before turning to face the speaker, like he needed to prepare hirself.
Professor Egon Spengler was the brain behind the founding of Ghostbusters Inc. The fourty-one year old physicist was the only member of the original Ghostbusters to still be active with the company. His blond hair had grown long over the years between the career of the original Ghostbusters and the founding of the “Extreme” Ghostbusters, and was gathered into a ponytail. He adjusted his thick-rimmed eyeglasses as he studied the new arrival to Ghostbusters Central.
“Damn...” Romulus shook his head. “He looks at least twenty years older than he should...”
Egon wasn’t wearing a Ghostbuster uniform--instead he sported a sleeveless sweater over a button-down shirt and tie.
“I’m Professor Egon Spengler, Chief Executive Officer of Ghostbusters Inc.”
"I know who your are, Professor. Or at least who you're supposed to be. For the moment, call me Romulus." the mysterious man replied.
"Egon?” Janine asked, sidling up behind the scientist. She knew him well enough to know he was unusually focussed, even for him
"Very well then." Egon replied after a moment. "The gate you appeared out of appeared to match the theoretical properties of a temporal distortion..."
"Indeed it was, Professor." Romulus answered. "I know you know all about Bell’s Theorem of Parallel Dimensions...”
"Of course. It's the theorem that with each instant a new number of parallel dimensions are created, depending on the choices made by the inhabitants of the timeline. Not exactly a new revelation--I've built several devices over the years designed to penetrate the dimensional barrier." Egon looked at him. "So what are you suggesting, then? That you're not from the future, but native to some parallel timeline?"
"At the moment, Prof, I'm not completely sure..."
"Is anyone else getting really bored right now?" Eduardo muttered under his breath.
"I was sent here from a time zone in the 21st Century." Romulus explained. "A massive temporal disturbance had been detected on this date, June 13, 1999. For several reasons, my partner and I were chosen to traverse the timeline to this date."
"When I arrived, I found myself in a world that doesn't match the history books--or my own personal recollections. Worse, I have no concrete inkling as to the fate of my partner, code name ‘Pollux’”
Roland scratched his head. “Pollux and Romulus? Those are twins from Greek mythology, but they don’t match each other.”
Romulus did manage a slight smirk. "Well, I didn't want to be Helen or Castor, she didn’t want to be Remus, and niether of us wanted to have to keep spelling Clymenestra..."
Roland about choked. Egon found himself smirking in a curious and unbidden echo of the mysterious stranger.
A chill went down Janine's spine...at how strangely similar Egon and Romulus’s smirks seemed.
Just then the PKE meter on Roland’s belt began to flash. The strange device Romulus had used earlier began to beep.
"More temporal flux?" Kylie asked as Roland studied his meter.
"Yep..." Romulus answered simply, pulling something out of his collar--a glowing crystal attached to a necklace.
"Fascinating..." Egon said.
"It's a piece of quartz that was charged with temporal energy during a lab accident." Romulus explained. "It helps anchor me to this zone, and would theoretically have provided insulation against the Blinovich Limitation Effect. The glow means that either the scientist who accidentally created it or Lady Delphia are trying to contact me..." He pushed a few buttons on the device he carried.
A shimmering image appeared, fading in and out. A man, wearing an eccentric black and blue outfit, with grey hair and eyes covered by a strange visor. He was sitting in a high-tech chair of some sort.
"Professor Ulforce!” Romulus called out.
"I can't...maintain this link for long, Lord Romulus..." the projection said. "The situation is graver than we realized..."
"Pollux? Any idea?" Romulus asked.
"She is safe, for the moment..." Ulforce answered. "Lady Delphia is contacting her just as I am you...the causal nexus is more than compromised, the damn thing is unravelling...Delphia and I’ve managed to hold it down to two imperfect causalities, but it’s taking all the power we have to keep it from fracturing further. Pollux is in the other split reality..."
“As long as she’s all right...” Romulus replied. “So what do we do now, Prof?”
"The central nexus of the disturbance will exist in both realities...you must find it...”
"Nodus." Romulus said. "That was the word I was thinking of when I appeared here...”
"With the timestream breaking down, maybe the Fourth Law is bending...it was someone your parents knew, a man who was very much an anomaly himself. Find the Gemini Twins, Romulus...the Five Who Are One must be together, or all is lost..."
Romulus looked around the room. "There’s a bit of a problem with that--I only see two.” He looked at Egon. “Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore--where are they?”
“Peter is in Hollywood--he’s an important agent now.” Egon replied. “Ray is selling used cars in Colorado, and Winston is flying a commuter plane in Montana.”
"And it's pronounced 'Zeddmore', not 'Zeddemore'!!!" Janine added.
"I will use...what power I can send to bring them to you, Romulus." Ulforce said, strain beginning to show on his face. "You must take the Five Who Are One, and find Nodus..."
There was a blinding flash of white light.
Professor Ulforce was gone.
Three men were sitting on the floor in his place.
One had a brown mullet and a cel phone clutched in his hand. "Hello? Helloooo?"
“It has a cruise control, I swear...” the pudgier man with a thin frizz of auburn hair was saying. “Huh?”
The African American man was dressed in a pilot suit, and his formerly dark hair was distinctly grey. “Aw, man...don’t I get a little down time before the next flight?”
“Good grief...” Romulus shook his head. “And they look twenty years too old too...”
“Peter!!!” Slimer squealed happily, and threw himself at the man with the cel phone.
“Slimer Little Buddy!!!” Peter Venkman replied, hugging his green friend tight. “So this is another one of Egon’s wacky experiment, huh?”
Romulus incredulously repeated the words “Slimer Little Buddy”. “Bunsen’s Burner, it’s worse than I thought...”
“Egon?!” Ray hopped up, excited. “Wow!!! You did it!!! You finally invented a working teleportation system!!! This is soo cool!!! We can really wow them at the next Star Patrol convention!!!”
“I...” Egon started to say.
“Well, next time, a little warning before you beam us across the country.” Winston rolled his eyes. “What if I’d been in the middle of a flight?”
Peter was playfully prodding Egon. “He’s just mad because if your gizmo works, he could be out of a job...”
“He didn’t have anything to do with it.” Romulus interjected sternly. “It was at my instigation."
The three of them turned to face him.
“This is our latest case, guys!!!” Janine beamed. “His name is Romulus!!!”
“You’re a tall one.” Peter remarked, shaking his hand. “I like the haircut--you know Egon had a squiggly tail like yours in the old days?”
“So I’ve been told.” Romulus replied. “That and keep Doctor Venkman away from my sister...”
“Aw, the gossip rags would have you believe I’ve dated half the women in Hollywood.” Peter pshawed. “It’s only been a third, tops...”
“Dana must be thrilled.” Romulus replied, eyes narrowing.
“Dana? Dana who?” Peter asked.
“Dana Barrett.” Romulus answered.
“I don’t think I remember that name.” Peter replied. “But when you’re Doctor Vee, you don’t always get their names...”
“You’re still looking good, Janine.” Winston was saying, hugging her. “Still keeping this guy in line?” indicating Egon.
“As best as I can!!!” she replied brightly.
“Venkman likes Slimer...Venkman sounds like a retarded Bill Murray impersonator...Miss Melnitz sounds like a cheerleader...Slimer talks semi-coherently...yeah, the world is in it deep...” Romulus muttered to himself.
“So how did you get us here anyway?” Ray asked, clearly excited. “Did you really use a real life teleportation system?”
“It's not that simple, Ray.” Egon replied. “Not more than two hours ago, he appeared out of a temporal anomaly.” He turned to Romulus. “That ‘Professor Ulforce’ man said the temporal causality nexus has been fractured into two imperfect timelines?" Egon mused.
"And who was that guy?” Kylie asked. “And who is ‘Lady Delphia’?”
"And what was that stuff about the Gemini Twins and Five Who Are One?" Roland asked.
"It answers one question: I haven't been deposited into some parallel dimension--the situation is far more grave." Romulus replied.
"Please, be sure to use small words for Eddie’s sake..." Garrett chimed in.
"This isn't a parallel timeline--this is the right one, the one I came from, but it's being torn apart. Lady Delphia and Professor Ulforce are the most powerful chronomancers known; but all her magic and his Etheric science have been able to do is hold the breakdown at two timelines. For the moment."
“Egon, I think we found your long-lost brother” Peter rolled his eyes.
"I said the same thing..." Eduardo noted.
“Think of the progression of time like...a really long novel.” Romulus said. “Now take the book apart into chapters, split them into two piles, give them to two seperate groups of people who hadn’t read the book before, and have them read them.”
“We’ll say for sake of argument that they still read the chapters they have in order, but there’s lots missing. Events that led to the future I know have been ripped into two imperfect continuities.”
"The damaged timestream is trying to compensate for the loss--the audience is writing in it’s own fill-ins for the missing chapters, but even at that the stopgaps are filled with events and people that didn’t exist at all in the healthy timeline, while ones that were crucial to the flow of proper history have been displaced to one or the other, or maybe even lost entirely."
"This is beginning to make my head all thumpy..." Garrett cracked.
"But you still haven't told us who these Gemini Twins are...or the Five Who Are One..." Roland noted.
"The Five Who Are One are the five people who defeated the Zodiac Lords in 1991." Romulus said. "And raised the Gemini Twins."
Romulus looked at them. "Egon Spengler, Janine Melnitz, Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore. The five of you."
"It's pronounced 'Zeddmore' " Winston corrected. "There's only two 'e's in it..."
"We didn't defeat any Zodiac Lords in 1991..." Ray protested. "Though that was about the time we defeated all the ghosts in the world and shut down the company..."
"Janine does cut quite a sight in that pink jumpsuit.” Peter joked. Slimer laughed and they high-fived. Janine pouted.
"And the Gemini Twins?" Egon asked.
Romulus paused. "The Gemini Twins were raised in the care of the Five Who Are One. And here’s the kicker: according to the history I know, they were born today: June 13, 1999." He looked at Egon then Janine. "Their birth names are Eden Marie and Johnathan Christopher Spengler, the twin children of two of the Five: Professor Egon Spengler and his wife, the former Janine Melnitz."
Janine gasped. Egon stiffened noticeably.
“You hound you!!!” Peter slapped Egon’s back.
"Thing is...something happened to the Spengler Twins, and it concerns a man called Nodus. Whatever happened, it began the unravelling of the causal nexus of the true timeline, it's splitting into two imperfect sets of events. We need to find Nodus, restore the Spengler Twins, and set things right."
"Right?" Janine asked, moving closer.
"This is nuts..." Eduardo grumbled. "I think someone ate too many Frosty Cakes and it’s giving him sugar shock...”
"You're saying this world is all wrong?" Ray asked. "So what are we 'supposed' to be..."
"You, Doctor Stantz, are married with a son, Eric. Mister Zedd-e-more is also married, and has a daughter, Charlene. Both of you run Ghostbusters with Egon. Doctor Venkman is married to Dana Barrett, and raises not only her son Oscar, but a child of their own, Jessica. He is still involved with Ghostbusters, but spends a lot of his time in Hollywood as an agent."
"And Oh my Gosh...Egon and I..." Janine said, eyes starting to tear up.
Egon's eyebrow shot up.
"And what about us?" Garrett finally asked. “Let me guess, we’re all wrong, and to fix the timeline we have to cease to exist?”
“Not at all.” Romulus replied. “But there are differences. By 1999, for example, Kylie and Eduardo were already an item...”
Kylie and Eduardo looked at each other.
Peter looked at his old friend. "Spengs, you don't think any of this is true, do you?"
"There is no logical evidence." Egon replied. After a pause, he added. "But I also think he speaks the truth."
"What...what makes you say that?" Ray asked, as flabbergasted as any of them.
"It's not in my normal nature, but..." Egon replied, clearly uncomfortable. "I feel the truth."
" 'Search yousa feelings...' " Slimer quipped. Janine giggled.
Romulus grinned. “Now you’re starting to sound like the Egon Spengler I know.”
"So where to we go from here?" Roland asked.
"First we need to find out everything we can about this man 'Nodus'..." Egon replied, trying to surpress a strange feeling of gratitude at Romulus’s statement.