NODUS

By Fritz Baugh

Prolog
Location: Unknown to Human Science

(Before "Shadow of the Inquisitors")

It is almost time.

I would allow myself a moment of satisfaction, but that would be a human response. A human feeling. And I have divorced myself from the burdens of human feeling long ago.

I am a creature of logic. Reason is my forte. The messy thrall of sentimentality will not hinder my plans.

I stride around my laboratory. Maybe I will allow just the faintest ember of satisfaction after all...

My pride in this place would be justified, after all. It is a pocket continuum, filled with all of the paraphernalia I will need to carry out my objectives. A place that I literally willed into existance.

It hadn't been easy.

I had once been a human being, with all of the attendant passions, albeit of a more tightly controlled variety of most. I had friends. I had a purpose, one that most would call noble. I had even, tentatively, begun to allow myself the basest of human feelings--that toxic emotional soup they call "love"...

But then I was betrayed. And thus, I removed myself from them. I became a creature of logic and reason like never before. Who needs emotions and all of the problems attendant to them?

And in one moment, the shutters of ignorance cast upon my eyes by my own humanity were thrown aside. Every thought I had could become true. A life of purest science could be mine.

I literally willed this place into being; even in my feeling days, I could grasp the concept in a way no other human alive could, save perhaps one, and with the full force of my transcendance I learned what I needed to warp this reality to my whim. I have created the perfect laboratory and staging base.

But I needed more power to accomplish my perfection.

I found myself drawn to the stories of the Twelve, they known by some as The Children of Zodiac. Certainly, one of them could be useful...but none of them would suffice--all would either balk at my plans for the reordering of humanity, or be more than willing to betray me when the time was right.

But the Twelve are only Eleven.

There are two Moments approaching.

The first is the turning of the Age and the appearance of the Children's opposite numbers, the Zodiac Lords. Every two thousand years, it will occur as it must. Humanity will be judged, and if they are found wanting all of my plans will be for naught...

The second is the Ascension, when the Eleven are joined by the Twelfth. If I can find the Twelfth before his Ascension, I can control him, and through him all of the power of the Children. Even the Order of Hermes will be beholden to me, and unable to deny me.

But I have seen the Ascension go wrong before...some variable I cannot account for is fouling my calculation, and this angers me. A flaw always does.

Then I regard the images in my minds eye.

"The Five who are One..."

They were part of the Prophesy, and I have no reason to doubt that. Defeating beings such as the Zodiac Lords is their mission, and they have triumphed over beings arguably far more powerful than the twelve Lords.

But it is said that they also are part of the Ascension. Somehow, it is through their actions that the Twelfth will attain his destiny. But how?

None of them could be the Twelfth, of that I can be certain. And I can't help but question the veracity of the claim, as I have seen their futures, and the Primus of Hermes is not part of it. I don't see the Twelfth in any of their children. This is the variable, then. If the Prophesy is wrong about the Twelfth, how could it be so right about the Zodiac Lords? And if someone around them is destined to be the Restless Warrior, why can I not see that?

At the Cusp of Oranos, the Stars Will Seek Judgment
The Twelve stand Marked by their Destinies
The Five Who Are One Will Stand United Against Them
And then, When the Enigma Is Revealed
They Will Stand United with the Restless Warrior
And Secure the Destiny of Hermes,
Thus the Ascension of the Children of the Twelve..."

Yes..."Five Who Are One"...

The smirking charlatan, the one most obsessed with his own gratification. Always ready with a quip. Utterly lacking in the ability to be anything more than the loser, and just as lacking in the self-awareness to see how pathetic you are.

The child-man. Perhaps you would have potential, but you are crippled by your inability to see the world with anything approaching an adult perspective. Instead you wrap yourself in your warm fantasy, and are thus lost.

The muscle. An orderly mind, to be certain, but certainly the least of my obstacles: your physical power is nothing to me. Your mind is nothing to me. Your ridiculous superstitions are even less than nothing to me.

The thinker...if only you knew. In you is the greatest potential of all, but it is buried under the detritus of a soul still too far in the grip of base sentimentality. I wish I could teach you, but even if you attained the same revelations I did, well...then you would actually be a threat to me.

And you...the harlot. The scarlet tressed succubus. I know what you have claimed, but your actions betray the truth of your forked words. Is it merely to goad the one you say is in your heart? I think not. I think you are as obsessed with your own gratification as the charlatan, but even less honest about it.

Fools all. But fools of the most dangerous sort: fools brimming with potential they are still blissfully unaware of.

I pull on the mask, black with a red visor. Interlaced into it are various sensors and detectors, allowing me to observe several different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum all at once. It will also protect me from the intrusion of...unwanted psychic senses. Spengler's equipment I've already taken into account...

The bodysuit is also shielded. It resembles cloth, but carries the protection of an intermeshed material of my own invention, more powerful than Kevlar, and expressly designed to disperse the power of an alpha particle ion stream...

The vest and coat are of a look I would describe as "techno-Edwardian", but an anachronistic look is one I have favored since my human days. It is, again, armored against all attacks I could conceive being thrown against me.

And then the gauntlets. Packed into them is a significant amount of firepower, more than sufficient for the task at hand: I could even bust ghosts with it, ironically enough.

I pull the garb into place. After a series of checks, I determine that all is operating nominally.

"Plot dimensional jump to plane 8932 Alpha, Sidereal code 0701-7-C-6"

confirmed. access point?

"Primary access point. Grossjuck Plaza." Maybe there's a touch of irony in me still...Paul Smart's crumbled empire will serve my needs perfectly. And with one year remaining until the Zodiac Lords appear, I will have plenty of time to get my pieces in place

confirmed. dimensional shunt online. awaiting final order.

"Execute"

The shimmering gate appears. On the other side, an empty, closed office can be seen. It will be so easy, and so perfect, to make use of Paul Smart's crumbled domain to mask my true intentions.

I spare one last thought to the ones I left behind. My friends and colleagues. The woman who brought me such ecstacy and such heartbreak. They would never have approved of this action...but they lost any say into my life when they stabbed me in the back. I sneer a last curse at all of them, and angrily push them back out of my mind---wallowing in emotion will serve no use when my plan is so close to bearing fruit.

I step into the gate. The destiny of the universe begins today.

So swears...

Hm...what am I now?

Yes...

So swears Nodus...

June 8, 1993
Residence of Professor Egon Spengler
New York City
Thirty five year old physicist Egon Spengler awoke with a start. The dream had seemed so tangible...so real...

Most of the time, he wasn't fooled. He was well aware that he was dreaming. Those dreams often involved long meetings with Albert Einstein, Galileo, or Sir Isaac Newton--the giants of science, the greatest minds in human history.

But not this one.

It wasn't the first such dream he'd had over the last ten years. Nor the most...intense......but it was the most real

She had his shirt and tie already off before they even made it into the room, and kicked her other shoe off--it landed in the sink, but she really didn't care. He laid her on the bed gently, gently removing her green, triangular eyeglasses before kissing her again. She pulled his frames off...he was far more nearsighted that she was, but knew he wouldn't need to see very far for a while...

They undressed each other slowly...savoring each moment despite the lust that wanted to hasten them. His undershirt, trousers, and shoes joined her dress, jewelry, and nylons on a pile on the floor. He audibly gulped when he realized what came next...she closed her eyes reflexively as he reached around to fidget with the clasps on her brassiere...he removed the item slowly...

"Oh my..." he couldn't help but gasp approvingly. He had, after all, more than once secretly wondered...

But he defied her expectations once again by not touching them...yet...he kissed her neck. caressed her arms...then looked up with a start.

"Egon?" He moved over to the pile of clothing on the floor, reaching into his trousers.

"I suddenly had a realization of a...preventative measure, and remembered that I did, indeed, have the required..." he paused and smirked. "Protection" With that he held up a small, silver-foiled square with a round, half-dollar sized object wrapped inside.

"Hm...now this is a pleasant surprise, Doctor Spengler..."

"Well, er, Peter gave it to me just before we went off to the Chateau Ritz..."

"So THAT'S what he did...heh heh..." she giggled. And it was musical.

"Um...yes..."

She took the small foil package out of his hand, with a smirk "Here...let me put it on you..."

"Um...er...oh my..."

"..."

He shook his head angrily, trying to banish the white-hot memory from his head. A year and a half later and he was still having these thoughts...he should be over this by now.

Ten years... he realized with a start.

"Exactly ten years..." he even spoke out loud, looking at the calendar. June 8, 1993. It was ten years ago this very day. He and his two best friends had been fired weeks before, at the end of the Spring 1983 term...Peter had conned Ray into getting three mortgages on his parents' house to finance their insane venture...

On June 8, 1983, Ghostbusters Inc. had opened it's doors for the first time. They'd just run their first ads. It was the day the fledgling company's first client had walked through the front door to complain about a monster in her icebox.

The day Egon Spengler had first met the secretary Ray and Peter had hired the day before.

I've got to stop doing this to myself... he chided internally. You got what you always said you wanted--you always said a true scientist could not afford the messy emotional attachments...that all the "normal" things were for people who didn't have as much to accomplish as you do...

He jiggled the mouse to call up the display on his computer. After checking the weather, he noticed an alert...

Alert: Flag for Public Records

Egon grimaced. He'd set his computer to keep track of the public records databases--he just found himself unable to believe his friends would continue to notify him as to weddings, and births...but he unavoidably just had to know

Specify target hit?

Melnitz, Janine

His blood froze cold. What if something had happened to her? Again?

No. She'd endured enough bad luck for two life times. With him out of her life certainly this must be good news...

He inhaled. And clicked the link

Slimer picked through the remains of the breakfast Egon had dumped on the bed. It wasn't Slimer's bed, really--it was the bed Peter Venkman had occupied off and on for eight years.

He knew he should be hungrier...he had always been hungry, for as long as he could remember...but lately...and it wasn't because Peter went away...it happened before then...

Egon had tried to explain it to him a couple of times. "Back in June of 1991, a massive paranormal event at Stonehenge caused a serious degradation of Earth's psychokinetic energy matrix...many of the entities on Earth's plane at that time found themselves unable to remain, and almost no new ones were able to come through. Because of your emotional connection to this firehouse, and the fact that you've been in our dimension for at least eight years, it's provided enough focus for you to remain here. But you are suffering from acute psychokinetic deprivation..." and on, but the big words made Slimer's head hurt.

He knew he should be hungrier.

And that he missed Peter

He was startled out of his lethargy by a loud crashing.

"YOU BITCH!!!" he heard Egon's voice shout, in an anger that unnerved him. Egon was never that angry. He was never angry, period.

There was a feral shout, and more crashing sounds. Glass breaking, electronic devices being smashed...Slimer hid under the bed, and whimpered mournfully.

Egon surveyed the wreckage that had once been his laboratory, his breaths deep and labored. The desk chair he'd sat in had been thrown against one of the book cases full of assorted electronic gear and test tubes. Several more items he'd grabbed and hurled into the wall.

State of New Jersey Marriage License Filed June 6, 1993

Tully, Louis B.

Melnitz, Janine

The phone rang. He grabbed it angrily. "WHAT?!?!"

A few seconds passed. "Egon? Is something wrong over there?"

Egon inhaled deeply, beating the uncaged beast back into his subconscious. "I..er, sorry about that, Edward...a bit of a lab accident, I'm afraid."

"Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. Though I lost something rather valuable and irreplaceable..." he found himself admitting out loud.

"Equipment breaks, Egon, it happens" Edward's smooth voice returned with a chuckle. "I was just reminding you of the staff meeting today--we can't have you missing them all the time. It was fine when you were the New Guy but you survived your first year, and that means you're part of the group now."

Egon chuckled uncomfortably. "I'll be there, Edward. That is if I can manage a ride..."

"You and your weird phobia about driving...tell you what, I can pick you up about ten. That work?"

"That shall be....acceptable..." Egon answered, the emotion almost completely drained back out of his voice.

Josiah Nodus looked at the calendar. June 8, 1993. This is the day...

He punched the button on his desk intercom. "Miss Kinkaid, I'm invoking protocol one."

"Absolutely not to be interrupted until further notice. Understood, Mister Nodus."

He actually contemplated smirking in satisfaction--well trained his secretary was, and she never was foolish enough to hit on him.

He pulled back his left sleeve, revealing a band with lights running across it. "Open gateway to Null Zero."

confirmed. dimensional shunt online. awaiting final order.

"Execute"

A shimmering, door-shaped hole appeared in the office. Nodus nodded, and stepped into it.

It faded away, leaving the office unoccupied.

"I know we haven't know each other all that long, Egon...but is something really bothering you?" Dr. Edward Kirilian asked the taller, blond man sitting in his passenger seat.

Kirilian was older than Egon, probably in his fifties, and much stockier. His greying hair was brushed straight back from his face, and his large nose was somewhat hooked.

Kirilian was the senior instructor and researcher in New York City Community College's parapsychology department, but of course lacked Spengler's history at the fringes of the public eye. However, if Kirilian resented his new colleague--who had actually managed to get a class of three to sign up for his course, besting Kirilian's best of two--he didn't show it.

"Do you think the board will give you your research grant?" Egon deflected, not wanting to talk about it.

Kirilian sighed. He respected Egon a great deal--in some circles of paranormal study, Spengler and Ray Stantz were practically rock stars--but found the man very evasive when it came to his personal life. He finally relented at Egon's redirection of the topic. "I hope so...those Toltec skulls offer tremendous research potential. The Russian government is not going to part with theirs, and so far Wilhelm Reichart wants way too much...but if I can get that grant that collector in Bavaria will be willing to sell his."

"I'm still not sure about your theory in regards to the creation of a dimensional portal, Edward."

"Spengler, please--I know creating dimensional portals is old hat to you..."

"It's accomplished through scientific means. I experimented with Polynesian runes in an experiment at Columbia, which failed horribly and cost me an associate in the process."

"And that's why I want your expertise in these things, Egon. I still don't understand why you're slaving away at a third-tier institution like NYCCC. I can't believe Columbia doesn't want you back. Or Miskatonic--you could practically write your own contract there..."

"I have my reasons, Edward, and let's leave it at that." Egon replied, some of his frustration inching into his voice.

"...But I'm glad to have you." Kirilian finished, trying his best to smile. It was kind of an unsettling smile.

The engine on Kirilian's car--a Ford Escort that was already several years old--suddenly made a noise that can only be described as a power belch. Then it died out completely.

"Seven hells..." Kirilian snarled.

"Perhaps we had better see how bad the damage is..."

"I thought you didn't drive."

"I didn't have a license until I was twenty-six. But I built an internal combustion engine in my garage when I was six..."

"Probably the damn drive belts again..." Kirilian griped as the two got out of the car. "I swear..."

Nodus looked at them from a nearby rooftop. Kirilian's car breaks down...they get out to fix it...any moment now...

And he realized, strangely enough, he was feeling...excited about what was about to occur.

"Take a look at the spark plugs, but..."

Egon's musing was cut off by a sudden noise from his sport coat.

"What the hell is that?" Kirilian asked. "I didn't know you carried a beeper..."

"It isn't." Egon replied firmly, extracting a device from his pocket. "It's a Psychokinetic Energy meter, version 2, to be precise..." He pulled the swing arms out of the top of the small device, and they began to blink and raise higher.

"You carry that everywhere, don't you?" Kirilian shook his head. "Take the scientist away from Ghostbusting, but you can't take the Ghostbusting out of..."

"There's an epsilon wave building--a dimension transit is about to open...right where I'm standing?"

There was a blast of light, and the astonished Edward Kirilian was standing at the side of the road alone.

"Spengler!!!"

Nodus nodded, and reactivated his gauntlet. "Reconfigure to plane 6780 Kappa, Sidereal code 0608-7-C-9"

Confirmed

"Execute"

The shimmering gate appeared once more, and the man called Nodus stepped through it.

"Riding the Tilt a Whirl until every part of your body, not just your stomach, wanted to vomit" was how he described the sensation to Peter Venkman once...it wasn't the first time he'd experienced unplanned dimensional transit. The Netherworld was the first time...then when I went to the Worlds Fair of 1964 and met... but his brain short circuited that thought, as it was taking him down a road he didn't want to go.

Not if he wanted to keep his senses up enough to figure out what had happened to him, and how to get out of this mess.

You are probably wondering why you are here... a deep voice called from the ether.

Egon looked around. There was no discernible source of the sound...in fact, he wasn't even certain it really was a physical sound. Telepathic contact, perhaps?

The room suddenly exploded with bright light.

You have many questions--but that is to be expected, Egon Spengler. You have been brought here because of your mind--the most powerful intellect on your world today. It is a mind that would be capable of bending reality, should it be properly conditioned.

Egon's eyes narrowed. Some of what his mysterious host was saying reminded him of an entity he'd dueled with eight years before....the so-called "Master of Shadows", who had sought to prove his intellectual superiority. Misfortune and a dash of luck gave Egon and his friends the victory that day.

The Master of Shadows is still interred in the Containment Unit...I made sure of after Samhaine ruptured it in 1989 and the Boogeyman escaped. And after Samhaine escaped again. There's no chance it's him...but if it's a being with similar intentions, there will no doubt be..."tests"...

Egon finally spoke aloud. "And just why is this of interest to you?"

Just the question I expected you to ask...the answers will be forthcoming should you earn them. Take a look at the room around you...

Egon glanced around. He was in a grey painted section at one side of the room--there was no sign of a door near him, only on the other side of a black and white grid that resembled a chess board.

I give you eight pawns... and eight white objects appeared, some three feet tall and resembling the classic representation of the most lowly of chess pieces. If you can discern the truth before you run out of them, you will be able to reach the other side of the room. And your next challenge. And compared to that one, this one will be as easy as pie...

Egon's suspicions were aroused instantly. Eight pawns. There is clearly some trick to this... and something else began to gnaw at the back of his mind. A creeping feeling that this scenario felt familiar somehow.

Command the pawn to move, and it will...

"Er...you." he said, pointing to the first pawn. "Move forward."

The pawn moved onto one black square.

"Move forward again"

The pawn advanced one more step.

Lasers began to shoot out of the floor and ceiling, blasting it to bits.

"Oh crumbs..."

He ordered the next pawn out. This time a white square. One step. On the second step, the fusillade resumed and destroyed it just as it had it's brother.

The third pawn fared even worse--he sent it to a black square as before, and it was destroyed on the first step.

The fourth managed to make it half way.

Five and six did about as well as two and three.

Only two pawns left, Doctor... the voice gloated.

Think, Egon, think...

He ordered the pawn to move diagonally, which in chess was technically illegal save when capturing another piece. The pawn made it to the last row before being blasted into bits.

Your last pawn, Doctor...use it well...

Underneath the hand covering his jaw, a slight smirk appeared at the edge of Egon's mouth. Of course...

He ordered the last pawn to move.

Under his guidance, the last pawn reached the other side.

Impressive...but is it realization of the truth, or simple luck?

"I don't believe in luck." Egon replied defiantly.

With that, he instructed the pawn back to him. Successfully. And then walked to the other door himself, stepping to and fro as necessary.

"I would say I pass your test. Most fair of you to provide the clue--'Easy as pie'. But the key isn't 'pie', as in pastry, it's 'pi'--the ratio of the proportion between a circle's diameter and it's perimeter. Using the digits as a coordinate system, passing the obstacle is, indeed, simplicity."

The voice laughed. My confidence in you is validated. Continue... and with that, the door sprung open.

The next room was dark. Egon looked back, but the doorway he'd come through snapped shut.

Two spotlights sprung to life, illuminating two pedestals in the center of the room.

Both pedestals stood about four feet high, each with a large button on the face of it. Atop the pedestals stood carvings....one was egg-shaped, the other was a representation of a chicken.

One button opens the way to the next test. The other fills the room with mustard gas. Choose carefully.

Egon looked at the two figures. He couldn't help a moment of reminiscence...the man called Cubby who sold his soul for the asinine purpose of eliminating all the chickens in the world. And the time he, himself, had been victimized by the curse of the werechicken.

Is that the purpose of this? "Testing" me as the Master of Shadows did...reminding me of one of the episodes in my Ghostbusting career I'd most rather forget? Or is there something else...

"You have been brought here because of your mind--the most powerful intellect on your world today."

He inhaled, and jabbed the button on the pedestal under the egg.

A door opened on the far corner of the room.

Excellent...you recognized the question, and answered it properly. Continue.

"Which came first, the Chicken or the Egg?" A classic philosophical question...as a scientist, the proper answer is the Egg--because the first Chicken would've been a mutation of a similar avian that proved superior to it's progenitors. Thus, the Egg comes first.

The room, as the rest had been, was dark. Then a series of different colored lights flashed. Yellow...green...red...orange... red...yellow...green...orange... red...green...orange...yellow... yellow...green... green....yellow...green...

Then it was dark again, for a few seconds.

I understand your parents didn't believe in toys, but perhaps you might recognize this game...

As in the last room, a pedestal appeared. Only one this time, and atop it was a disk divided into four quadrants. Red, green, orange, and yellow.

I hope you paid attention...enter the proper sequence, and the testing is over. Enter incorrectly, and...well...suffice it to say, I will have to do a lot of mopping.

Egon's eyes narrowed.

He keyed the sequence into the disk.

Yellow...green...red...orange... red...yellow...green...orange... red...green...orange...yellow... yellow...green... green....yellow...green...

A trap door opened beneath his feet, sending him spiraling into darkness once more.

Excellent, Egon Spengler...you passed the tests. As I knew you would, of course...they were, after all, only a formality...

"You said the testing was over..." he finally said, pulling himself off the floor. The room was filled with darkness, but he could hear something...something moving...

I know of your history, Egon Spengler...I didn't think you would take this seriously if I didn't indulge in some theatrics...allow me to introduce myself...

There was a blaze of violet light, and from that light something that would have no doubt horrified a lesser man appeared. It looked like a giant anthropomorphic beetle, with a maroon carapace, standing some seven feet high. It's head, though, was bloated, with a huge, pulsating brain apparently having broken through it's helmet-like covering. Four of it's limbs resembled arms, but the last two were thicker, and more resembled legs...and were covered in a rather incongruous garment that looked, for all the world, like khaki cargo pants.

At the center of it's "chest" was a glyph that looked carved in...two sets of circles joined together, reminding Egon of nothing so much as some crude representation of a hydrogen atom.

Nodus strode into the room with the chessboard. And crossed to the other side, stepping to and fro, without incident.
"You may call me...Sarim-Lar. I am the Lord of the Izumo, the Voice of Knowledge, and Warrior of the Thunders. I have watched you for many years...and I have been curious." As the creature spoke, it adjusted the other incongruous feature of it's appearance--the thick, blocky (almost Buddy Holly looking) eyeglasses under it's protruding brain.

"Oh?"

"I have had dealings with the Council of Eight before...and with Spelger-Noje, he who is known to you as the Master of Shadow. When word reached me that he had been defeated and bound by one of the monkey-creatures on this lowly planet, I understandably grew curious..."

"I have watched you since then, through eight turnings of your world about it's star. And you have proven more than a worthy apprentice..."

Egon took a few seconds to process this. "Apprentice?"

Nodus strode into the second room, jabbed the button under the egg, and continued on his way.
"I am the Voice of Knowledge...and it is my calling to speak that Knowledge to the worthy...and you are worthy. With the tools of your science, you have rent the Gauntlet separating the dimensions, and have reshaped the way your world views itself. It is your intellect that has proven key to protecting your world from the eldritch horrors that beset it as the new Age begins...from the Shapeless Destructor, to even the primal Lords of the Xodiac itself."

"I offer you the key to transcendence...to reshape the world by the force of your will, to know all that you wish to know--and far more. The answers to questions you haven't even yet known to ask..."

Nodus entered the final room. He keyed the sequence into the disk, and the trap door opened beside him. He floated down the opened shaft.
Egon's head was spinning...he could somehow sense it...the truth in Sarim-Lar's words. Ultimate knowledge? To know the answers to questions he hadn't even known to ask yet?

It would be everything he'd spent his life thirsting for.

But still...

"It has been my experience that such things seldom come without...a price." he finally replied.

"And that is why I have waited, Egon Spengler. I could see your bright potential....but that transcendent intellect of yours is crippled and stifled by the base emotions that still grip your mortal heart. The savage in you, and it's affections for the other mud creatures that crawl on this world. The animal in you gripped by it's primal urge to mate."

Egon inhaled deeply.

"You have long known, deep down, that these feelings...these animal passions, were what restrained you. You have often wished to unchain yourself from them....forget the tiresome bonds to the chattering creatures who shared your domicile, but not your world. Forget the scarlet-tressed succubus that toyed with your yearnings, but quickly brushed you aside for a specimen far your inferior."

The beetle creature moved close.

In the darkness, out of sight, Nodus watched. He knew he was taking a risk....Sarim-Lar had great powers of perception, after all. But the creature was focused on the task at hand...and Nodus had taken the creature's senses into account as best he was able...

Which was considerable.

Egon felt the burning...the others? The ones who distracted him for so long...the ones imprisoned by their ignorance, their petty preconceptions...imprisoned by their lusts and foolishness...

The one who had walked out of his life...and had just married Louis Tully.

"Accept my offer, Egon Spengler. I will purge you of the fetters of emotion...that vast mind of yours will be free at last, and with it....you will reshape reality itself...I offer you the Universe. And all that is required, is the leave your World behind..."

The creature extended a hand. A ball of violet light crackled there, the power that would begin Egon Spengler's transformation. Ultimate knowledge.

Ultimate understanding

To have the pain go away

The pain.

Peter

Raymond

Winston

Janine

Nodus felt...strangely...anticipation...

It was an all-too human reaction, he knew...but he also knew...

What was about to be born here

Egon could see it. The light of Knowledge, the light of Reason, the light he had been chasing since he was able to even formulate thought.
Dare he say it?

He was feeling...excited...

To be free of the humanity...to be nothing but Knowledge...to live nothing but Reason...

His hand closed on the glowing orb...

"No."

" 'No'?" the creature asked, shocked.

" 'No'?!" Nodus repeated.
"Your offer sounds generous, make no doubt about that. But I cannot accept it." Egon inhaled deeply, and turned to face the creature, his eyes hardening with determination. "It's a false choice--because my emotions. My humanity. Are just as much a part of who I am as my mind."

There was a rumbling. The sound of thunder.

Egon stood his ground.

"It was my humanity that allowed me to pass your tests...if I had never known Ray Stantz, I probably never would have recognized the first puzzle as being from an episode of Doctor Who. My theological discussions with Winston Zeddemore were what impressed upon me the meaning of the chicken and egg conundrum. And strangely enough, as my parents didn't believe in toys, it was a jock freshman named Peter Venkman who introduced me to the one your third test emulated."

"My feelings don't shackle me, Lord Izumo--they're what drive me to achieve what I have."

The creature stood silent for ten long seconds. A sparkling of violet light played around his armored carapace.

Then he flexed his hand, and the ball of light it held dissipated.

"You disappoint me, Egon Spengler. Very well, then...return to your shattered, miserable human life...wallow in the inane affairs of the chattering apes you call your friends. Burn with the frustrated lust for the one that spurned you. One day, you will look back upon your life and regret this decision..."

Then the world around Egon vanished into a haze of light...

And he was standing on the road beside a shocked Edward Kirillian.

The insect like creature seethed. "All this time and effort...a mind capable of shattering the universe...what a waste."

"That's funny, Sarim-Lar...I once said the same about you."

The creature turned, and a black garbed man was standing there.

"Who are you, to talk to the Voice of Knowledge so brazenly?!" the creature snarled, the violet lightning starting to play about him again. "I will not..."

Sarim-Lar stopped cold in mid threat. "YOU?!" the creature recoiled. "But this is impossible!!!"

"Impossible? When I'm standing right here, beam primed to deliver the same fate that was in store for you anyway?"

"I...I..." the creature stammered. "I don't...I don't understand!!!"

"That's exactly what the Master of Shadows said when he was defeated."

The beam fired.

Some Time Later
The portal opened, and Nodus re-entered his office.

He did not immediately inform his receptionist that he had returned. His black suit was ripped in spots, still smoking, and covered in giant bug guts.

What went wrong?! he howled to himself, not bothering to stamp down the rage that was creeping into his otherwise ordered mind. Egon Spengler was suppoed to accept the offer. Attain the power of his birthright, and surpass Sarim-Lar. Surpass him, and destroy him

He sat in his chair with a meaty thud. And how does this affect the Ascension?

Jamaica Bay
Egon had sat through the staff meeting, barely listening. He'd explained what happened to Edward in enough detail to satisfy the older man's curiosity, and then thankfully the meeting had gone back around to budget expenditures and other such nonsense.

He looked over the dockside...it was here, three years earlier, he'd saved her soul from the hellish monster that coveted it. Told her, finally, that he loved her.

I did this myself. I made a mess of my own life, and no Lord of Knowledge is going to change that.

He drove them all away. Peter. Ray. Winston.

"Janine..."

It was barely audible, but it was the first time since that fateful day a year and a half before he'd said her name aloud.

The words of Phineus Eventide came unbidden. And you, Egon Spengler, are probably expecting me to say the red means "Knowledge" or "Wisdom". You would be wrong. Red is your Passion, your love of knowledge, your love of your brothers in arms, and your love for the one your heart has chosen as it's own. Unlock that Passion, and unlock your true destiny...

He reached into his pocket, and withdrew the coin she'd given him ten years before, a souvenir token from the 1964 World's Fair.

I genuinely hope you're happy with Louis, Janine. That he can be there for you in the ways I never allowed myself, be the man you need.

But he'll never love you like I do

He drew back, ready to fling the coin into the waters...it would be a perfect gesture, saying goodbye to that screaming pit of heartache once and for all...

But he couldn't.

And for just a second...He whipped around suddenly, but there was no one there. He knew it was impossible, but for only a moment, he could swear there was a hint of a familiar perfume in the air...

He shrugged, put the coin back in his pocket, and began his return to the lonely firehouse once known as Ghostbusters Central.

Based on Ghostbusters Created by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
Questions? Comments? Go to the Ectozone Message Board
Edward Kirilian from the Extreme Ghostbusters episode "Heart of Darkness" (EGB-131;#136) written by Neil Ruttenberg
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