<!-GHOSTBUSTERS title; on an EGB story there would be a different picture (GBWC stories use a different template, one created by Ron and refined by me>
Book Six: Exaltation
Transcribed by Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBWC; Ben King, GBUK; and Dr. Vincent Belmont, GBUKGS/GBAD <!40803t>
GBI Case File GBI-2004-22/001
Location: Moot of the Painted Sands, Nevada, Near Las Vegas. Time: 3: 00 AM GMT 8:00 PM PDT
"I don't approve of this, Your Majesty..." the giant man wearing nothing but a loincloth snarled. "This mangy stray and this hippie desecrating the presence of..."
"Then it is to their good than I am in charge here, and not you, Winters." the muscular man sitting by the fire cut him off, dismissing him with a gesture. "You may be a descendant of the esteemed Vashnivski family, but I am the King here..." He didn't look "kingly" to one's first impression, wearing a beaten duster, but there was a regallness to his gaze that could not be denied.
"I thank you, Your Majesty..." one of the newcomers, a woman in her forties wearing a simple shirt and pants, bowed.
"Hey, Kingy..." the man with her, a few years older, wearing a muscle shirt and green pants with a yellow check pattern, said brightly, waving at him.
"You will hold your tongue in the presence of King Albrecht, Mutt, or..."
"Hey, the name is Arsene Lupin IV. My friends call me Barney, you may call me Mister Lupin Sir..."
The giant in the loincloth growled. Barney growled back at him.
"Ragabash through and through..." Albrecht shook his head, not without amusement. His face hardened. "We've all felt it--Gaia is in terror. And Rainpuddle tells me you are the ones who know why..."
A young girl, with long silver hair, wearing a simple tunic, nodded beside him.
Winters growled again. "And all of this on the word of a girl barely out of cub hood..."
"The Geomancer herself attests to Rainpuddle's gifts. Her word is good enough for me, Lord Winters." Albrecht glowered. His patience with Winters was wearing thin. "Speak, Irene, Child of Gaia..."
"Twenty-one years ago, allies of ours defeated the Wyrm-spirit called The Shapeless Destructor." Irene told him. "And what we, and our allies, and the will workers of Hermes, have seen, leads us to believe that it is about to rise again. Should this happen..."
Rainpuddle finished Irene's comment. "The Apocalypse."
Location: Unknown, Time: Unknown
Ray looked out into the blackness of the barren landscape, and at the unfamiliar night sky. There wasn't a single constellation he could recognize, cementing his fear that he and Winston were indeed on an alien world. The blood red moon, which did nothing to light the gloom of the seemingly perpetual night, loomed menacingly over their heads. He had never seen a "sun" rise, nor set. The passage of time was obscured, and his digital watch only read "3:00 am;" as for the date, he had no clue. He turned again to Winston and prodded their campfire. Neither of them had spoken over the last hour.
"Man, I'm hungry..." Winston muttered, breaking the hour long silence.
"You're telling me," Ray sighed, "who knows HOW long it's been since we've eaten?"
The two men were silent once more for what seemed like an eternity. Ray's thoughts wandered back to New York, after their climactic battle with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. He thought of the rest of the Ghostbusters. Most of all, he thought of his son, who would undoubtedly be sick with worry.
"I'm sure they'll all be alright," Winston spoke up, as if reading Ray's mind, "and I'm sure they're looking for a way to get us home."
Ray only nodded and prodded the fire gently. The flames provided the only light to see by in the forsaken world that from their short exploration had proved to be a barren wasteland, marked sparsely by the remains of dead vegetation. Despite its size the crimson lunar body offered no illumination to the surrounding landscape whatsoever. This world didn't look evil, it felt evil. The malignant aura cast by the planet seemed to feed upon their good spirits. They felt alone.
"Yeah," Ray sighed, "They're looking for us."
Ray looked up; Did someone just call his name?
Ray looked over at Winston, who was also looking around emphatically for an unseen speaker. He turned to Ray.
"Yo, man, are you doin' that?" Winston asked. Ray only shook his head. Both men were on their feet in a flash, hastily donning their Proton Packs. They looked out into the darkness, waiting for their eyes to adjust, straining too see beyond the light of the campfire. Ray could hear his own heartbeat over the high-pitched whine of the cyclotrons on their backs. Something was out there, but what?
"Show yourself! Come out!" Ray shouted into the darkness.
A figure lumbered into view. It was a dark figure wearing what looked like a cloak as black as the night he stepped from, and his wide-brimmed hat obscured his face from view. He leaned heavily on a large staff, and held out his hand threateningly at Ray and Winston.
"Ghostbusters..." it rasped. "Yes...Ghostbusters...what are you doing in a place like this, little lost Ghostbusters? It seems that you have lost your way."
"One of Gozer's minions," Winston shouted, "Blast it!"
Ray needed no further convincing, and both men let loose with a proton stream that streaked toward the stranger. The proton streams arced away from the stranger as he waved his hand at them, as if pushing them aside. The stranger then pointed his finger at Ray's neutrona wand, and Ray shouted in pain as he dropped it; it had suddenly grown white-hot, and painful to hold. The stranger's hand then pointed at Winston, and his Proton Pack shut down. Winston tried to restart it immediately, but the ignition refused to fire.
Both men looked up, ready to do battle with their attacker with their own hands, only to find that they couldn't move. The stranger in black then removed his hat and stepped into the light of the campfire...
"VINCENT!" Winston shouted.
Vincent flashed a broad smile, and both Ray and Winston's apparent paralysis seemed to melt away. All three men embraced in a friendly hug before both Ray and Winston bombarded Vincent with questions.
"Are you stuck here, too, Vincent?" Ray asked.
"No, and it is a very long story of which I will tell you while we walk," he said, looking around the campfire before urging them to follow him, "things are very bad right now, and we must leave this place immediately, post haste."
Ray and Winston wasted no time in picking up what few belongings they had lying on the ground. Vincent held out his hand, with his palm upturned.
A blue flame roared to life in Vincent's hand, chasing away much of the darkness that surrounded their campsite. An eerie fog appeared on the ground along with the illuminating flame.
"Wow. Fantastic!" Ray said excitedly, "what spell is that, Vincent?"
"It's called 'The Wizard's Torch'," Vincent explained as he once again donned his hat, "It has many uses. It is a source of light, and it reveals "hidden things."
"What hidden stuff?" Winston asked as the men began walking.
"See the fog on the ground?" Vincent asked, "that's unmanifested ectoplasm. This place is FULL of it. I'm not sure where it's coming from, but I do know that we don't want to be here. The reason you couldn't see it before is because it's naturally invisible."
"Where are we going?" Winston asked, as the campfire was now out of sight.
"Oh, yes..." Vincent chuckled, "I almost forgot; It's story time!"
"Well," he began, "I suppose I'd better start from the beginning."
"We knew that Vinz Clortho and Zuul may attempt to bring back Gozer."
"Man, I know you didn't come out here to tell us that..." Winston rolled his eyes.
"I know...but let me collect my thoughts. One of the last passages we found in the Book of Gozer read that, 'The sleeping god's heart still beats within its chambers; It awaits its servant's call.' This, we hope, means that Gozer itself has some sort of 'heart."
"That'd make sense." Ray nodded. "We suspected all along Gozer's 'heart'--or, at the very least, his heart in the metaphysical sense--went somewhere else when we defeated him back in 1983. When we cleaned up what was left of its body, we stuffed it in our Containment Unit, where it coagulated and reformed the Marshmallow Man. The PKE Gozer left inside the marshmallow when it was banished eventually formed its own intelligence..a very basic intelligence, but one nonetheless. In a way, it's almost like Slimer. The new Stay-Puft was like a child...he was kind of a nice guy."
"That was the whole reason they let him out." Winston added. "They want Gozer's body back. If only we'd been able to stop them..."
Vincent looked up in horror. "This all happened after I left--the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was freed?"
"Yeah...lady calling herself the Herald of the Destructor opened the ECU." Ray answered glumly. "She used some kind of psychic mind probe to get into my head to get the access codes--it was like being French kissed by a Terror Dog."
"Peering into the mortal mind," Vincent interrupted, "a vile spell in the hands of evil."
"We threw everything we could at Stay Puft" Ray continued, "all of us guys at the Firehouse, Gabe and your group, even Bo's motley band. But we weren't enough--they opened a portal at Ground Zero and sucked the two of us and Stay-Puft right in."
"Lovely," Vincent grumbled. "In the Chronicles, Gozer had attempted to invade Earth before. It was at Stonehenge that Gozer was banished to its own realm by the wizard Merlin. We've established that we need some sort of 'foil' to Gozer, and I've concluded that Merlin's staff be used as that 'catalyst.' I have since sailed to Avalon in whereabouts unknown to search for it."
Vincent indicated the staff he was carrying. "As you can see, I have succeeded, but my acquisition of it wasn't without its...setbacks. I was waylaid by an old acquaintance of yours..."
"Thank you for leading me here, Dr. Belmont," said an oily voice from the shadows of the trees, "when I have the staff of the great Merlin, nothing will stop the summoning of Gozer!"
Out from the trees, stepped a pale and gangly man. His thin features were almost skeletal, with his skin being stretched over his face like old leather. His oily black hair was slicked back, and his hair was pulled into a ponytail. His black smoking jacket and vest were adorned with a number of talismans, and an all too familiar pin; a pin with the symbol of the Order of Hermes. His face twisted into an evil Cheshire grin as he stared at Vincent with his blood red eyes.
Vincent shook his head in disbelief. "You..." he whispered.
"I am touched, Belmont." the man chuckled. "I would've thought I was too insignificant for the scion of a great legacy like yours to recognize..."
Vincent sneered. "Don't short-change yourself, blackguard. 'Nathaniel Blaque of Tytalus' is one of the most despicable wizards since Vigo Deutchendorf...your exploits run the gamut of Code violations from the unauthorized sale of magical items, to the highest crimes of diabolism. You're a Barrabi and a traitor! You have no right to still wear that symbol!"
Both men stood silent for only a moment.
"Yes, Blaque," Vincent scoffed, "I have a good memory for complete assholes."
"Nathaniel Blaque?!" Ray broke in. "You can't be serious..."
"We ran into that slimeball fifteen years ago..." Winston added, voice trailing off. Nobody here needed to hear any more.
"Barrabi and a traitor?" Blaque laughed. "A strange comment coming from the one who was caught red handed with Renon the Hell-huckster at the Green Dragon."
"A transaction made with legal currency..don't even begin to compare me to you." Vincent seethed through clenched teeth. "You led a cult dedicated to a dark god for over a decade...you had one of you minions impregnated and give birth to a daemonseed--and then killed her and the rest when it suited your purpose. You made a soul pact with Astorath, and you paid for it with the most illegal of currencies: immortal souls."
Blaque's evil, Cheshire leer only increased. "And who's word do the Quaesitors have that I was ever involved with such a thing? The daemonseed's? A bunch of mad Etherites? Yours?! Your biggest concern was acne when that...allegedly occurred."
Blaque laughed heartily. "And you are also tainted by your association with Egon Spengler, the most notorious Etherite of them all. Believe it or not, Sodalis, there is a growing number of the Order who find opposing the Ghostbusters an act of heroism..."
"And allowing a dark god to destroy the world--that's heroism as well?"
"The Order will prevail, you know that.." Blaque sneered, "If Gozer is summoned...well, it is quite fortunate that someone loyal to the Order--me--will have the Staff of Merlin." Blaque replied. "Stand down, Belmont of House Bonisagus. I was told to take you alive, if possible...but if forced, I am authorized to kill you..."
Vincent drew his wand. "Why is it that whenever I have something important to do, I get waylaid by jackassery?"
Blaque reached into his coat, producing a sleek black wand of his own.
"A wand?" Winston asked. "I don't remember that from the last time we met the guy..."
Vincent shook his head. "All Hermetic wizards carry a wand...their Sigil. It's used in a few rituals; in voting at Tribunal; and in Certamen, the formalized Wizard Duel. Blaque claimed he was being sanctioned by the Order, so he followed the ritual...to a degree. He started before I declared that I was ready."
"Abiego!!" Blaque howled, violently swinging his wand at Vincent as if he were swatting a fly. Vincent was knocked off his feet as his body sailed through the air stopping only when his flailing form hit a large oak tree.
"Herbam obstringo!" Vincent shouted at Blaque, twirling the wand in a looping fashion. From underneath Blaque, grass and tree roots took on a life of their own, first snaring his feet, and then beginning to wrap around his legs, constricting him like a giant python, squeezing the life out of him.
Blaque's expression turned to one of shock, as he tried desperately to struggle free, only making the tree roots squeeze tighter. He began to sweat as he concentrated on the tree roots, unable to move his arms. He felt the roots squeeze tighter still, and found himself unable to breathe.
"De..Def.." Blaque tried to speak, struggling against the encompassing vegetation, now creeping over his head.
"Defloresco!" Blaque gasped. A crackling black energy enveloped the roots, withering them into sickly black strands. The roots fell off of him, and he shook off the remaining plants as if he were covered in dust. Blaque seethed with rage.
"Is THAT the extent of your powers, Belmont?"
He raised his wand high in the air, spitting his spell through clenched teeth. "Ignis!" he spat, as the tip of his wand exploded into an inferno of flames. "Deflagro!" he shouted as pointed the flaming wand at Vincent. The blazing hellfire leapt from the tip of the wand at Vincent, sailing through the air, taking on the form of a fiery snake. He reflexively shielded his face with his arms as the sizzling serpent coiled around him, setting his entire body ablaze.
Blaque watched on eagerly, grinning triumphantly. His grin faded when he hear Vincent's voice within the conflagration. Out of the blaze, Vincent's hand appeared, clutching his wand, which was sheathed in a dull blue glow.
"Glacio!" Vincent hissed, as a shower of freezing wind and ice erupted from the tip. Blaque was frozen where stood, as a solid statue of ice and snow. The flames that enveloped Vincent began to die, revealing him to be completely unharmed. The last flicker of flame disappeared, as Vincent let out an audible strained breath. He looked on as a single drop of sweat rolled down his face.
The statue of Blaque erupted in a shower of ice shards, and Blaqued stumbled to the ground. His body was soaked from head to toe. He lifted his head up to look at Vincent. His face twisted with fury as a few strands of his oily black hair fell into his face.
He struggled to regain his footing, and again pointed his wand at Vincent. Vincent followed suit. The two wizards stood staring at each other, only hearing the rasping of their own breath.
"You..can't..win.." Blaque wheezed. "Tempto animus!"
A beam of swirling black energy fired from the tip of Blaque's wand, only to be met by a bright green beam from Vincent's. The two beams roiled and crackled.
"The Test of Will, Blaque?" asked Vincent as he drew in a deep breath, "so be it. May the greatest will prevail!"
"I warn you. I was the top in my house at Certamen..." Blaque sneered. "And House Tytalus is the Order's masters of the art..."
"You've been living among Mundanes and the Fallen far too long, Blaque..." Vincent retorted. "You don't have Astorath's power to call out to."
"Oh, I get all the power I need, Belmont...from my hatred. My hatred of the Ghostbusters; From my hatred of that ungrateful brat Shannon Phillips; From my hatred of the idiots in the Order who preach accommodation with technomancers and the madmen currently running our world into the ruin of cold logic; And at this moment, my growing hatred for the traitor helping all of those enemies: YOU!!"
Blaque's ebony beam flared. Vincent fought it, but it tore through his defenses, piercing his Parma Magica, and filled his body with painful negative energy. Vincent cried out in agony as he felt every nerve in his body burn.
"Surrender, and I will spare your life!!" Blaque howled.
"Go to hell!!" Vincent shouted back.
I have to concentrate...he's right...hatred is a powerful focus. I need my focus. I can't think about Gozer or Jeremy or Bestler or any of the rest of it right now. Jill. Think of Jill.
Vincent grimaced, and broke the black energy that surrounded him.
"How dare you!!" Blaque shouted.
Vincent's wand roared to life, and pierced through the energy with a lance of emerald energy. The tug of war began anew.
Jill, my Love...so much that I haven't been able to say...so much I want. Yes. Yes it is time. Let us survive this unholy day, and I swear I shall make it up to you...
"No!! NOOOOO!!" Blaque screamed as Vincent's beam slammed through his defenses at last. The green energy surrounded, feeling like acid upon his skin.
Hatred may be a powerful focus, but love is an even more powerful one.
Blaque snarled, and tamped his wand to the ground, the ritual indicator of submission.
"Help me, or leave, Nathaniel Blaque." Vincent barked. "I will suffer no more idiocy."
"Then I shall leave, Vincent Belmont." Blaque looked up at him,
his oily smile already back in place. "But unless you follow me, the Order shall hear of how you attacked their duly deputized agent, and resisted a Hermetic warrant of arrest. Even if you succeed in your mad quest, your loyalties will be questioned more than ever..."
Blaque faded from sight; his maniacal cackle
lingering echoing in the still air for many minutes after...
"Ungh..." Ray shivered. "That asshole always did give me the creeps..."
"After I defeated Blaque, I found the resting place of Merlin. I remember very little of my time within Merlin's Barrow. All I remember was sailing into the mists of an underground lake, and awakening here with the Staff."
The three men stopped at a small gondola sitting on the sands of a black beach. The blood red waters lapped lazily at the shore, bringing with it the icy chill of a sinister sea breeze. Ray looked out at the waters and shuddered. He would be happy to leave this place far behind. He wanted to be with Eric again; He wanted to be with his whole family again.
Winston and Ray pushed the small watercraft out into the foreboding red sea, and hopped in with Vincent.
June 8th, 2004
The End of the World
Fritz opened a can of Pepsi from the vending machine and sat down in the chair. It was 4:00am, and it had been decided to have a small group find the Quarry and report back, but for now everyone else would try to get some sleep.
Fritz knew sleep was going to be impossible for quite a while. It is only 8 PM back in LA...maybe I shouldn't be surprised. He thought of the whole situation at hand. He thought of how Vincent might be doing. He thought of Ray and Winston. He wished they could get contact back with New York. Most of all, he thought of Chelsea.
He adjusted his glasses and looked at his notes by the light of the candle on the table. He took a sip and turned the next page.
He swore he heard his name being called. He looked up.
"Hello?" he called into the darkness of the room.
No answer. Oh great...now I'm losing my already-tenuous grip on sanity completely...
He looked again. Then at the candle, which flickered.
The candle flickered, and for a moment, Fritz saw Vincent's face. Fritz blinked in disbelief, and looked around the room.
"Fritz! It's Vincent! We haven't much time..."
Fritz looked at the candle with wide eyes. He saw Vincent's face floating above the flame of the candle. Fritz looked at the can of Pepsi, and immediately tossed it aside.
"Fritz?" came a voice from the door. Jeff Nash came into view. "Hey man, are you ever gonna sleep?"
Fritz pointed a finger at the candle beside him, and weakly muttered, "The candle is talking to me..."
"Right, man." Jeff muttered, with a tone of concern, "and it's telling you to go to sleep and make an appointment with Dr. Seward in the morning."
The candle flame flashed blue, making both men jump, and an image formed above the blue flame...it was the miniature form of Vincent Belmont.
"Do I have your attention?" the image of Vincent grumbled.
"Son of a bitch!" Jeff gasped as he quickly stepped up to the table.
"I don't have time!" Vincent shouted, "Get to Portsmouth immediately! I'm here with Winston and Ray."
"Are they alright?" asked Fritz almost immediately.
"Yes," Vincent replied seemingly looking around, "but they are weak from starvation right now."
"Well, we..." Fritz began.
"No time, Fritz," Vincent interrupted, "Gozer already stirs."
"Grife, what the Hell was that all about?" Fritz asked Jeff, still unsure of whether or not he'd actually experienced the last five minutes or if it was just a dream.
"I dunno," Jeff muttered, "but I'm waking Egon and the others..."
New York City
12:15 AM EDT; 4:15 AM GMT
"We're working on it as fast as we can, Mrs. Spengler"
the voice of GBI Director of Ghostbusting Operations Richard Roy came over the phone. "But the GBI IM programs were still being tested, and when the server went down in the blackout, the whole system was knocked out of whack."
"I'm about ready to come down there and whack the server myself..." Janine growled in response. "I know it's not your fault, Rich..." she sighed. "I'll check back in a little bit." She hit the button to disconnect the cell line with distinct aggravation.
She was currently in the Arcane Division headquarters, as practically every system at Ghostbusters Central had been knocked out by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man's emergence a few hours before.
She rubbed her forehead, trying to push aside the worry, the fear, and the exhaustion. With Egon and Peter in England, and Ray and Winston...not here, I'm the senior GBI member on the scene. I have to keep it together.
In the garage, the survivors of that battle were still assembled. Eduardo Rivera, Kylie Griffin, and Garrett Miller of the Extreme Ghostbusters. Roland lay on a cot, resting from the wound he'd received in Stay-Puft's rampage. The other members of the Arcane Division--Dr. Gabriel Martin and Nate Inugami were accompanied by Nightsquad, Jen Spengler, and Bo Holbrook. Cliff Roswell and Zac Crago, had been ordered by Bo to "procure cheeseburgers."
Bo and Nate were currently guarding the limp form of a young woman dressed in an obnoxious hot pink Ghostbusters uniform. Her name tag read "GLADSTONE." As a recent retrieval from Ghostbusters Central, she'd attacked Janine, apparently possessed, just before the mysterious "Herald of Gozer" had freed Stay-Puft. The last member of the Arcane Division, Dr. Harry Seward, was standing over her.
Seward was a gifted hypnotist, and currently had the intruder quite under. He preferred not to use hypnotism so bluntly; but this was far from an ordinary circumstance.
"What is your name?" He asked.
"Mary Sue Gladstone...Spengler..."
"Spengler?" Jen asked incredulously.
"Eeegon is my husband..."
"Jesus Christ, where do they keep coming from?" Bo muttered.
"Where are you from, Mary Sue?" Harry asked.
"Well, that explains it," Bo grunted as he chomped down on his cigar.
"Why are you in New York, then?" Harry continued.
"I came to see Egon..."
"Did he invite you?"
"Of course not." Janine whispered. "He doesn't even know this little..."
"He would if he knew...but when I tried to become a Ghostbuster that Egon rip-off and that woman in the slutty short skirt stopped me..."
"When was this?"
"Last April...when Peter and those new guys set up in LA..."
Janine had a sudden moment of comprehension. "Waitaminute...Dr. Venkman mentioned that he'd interviewed some obsessive fangirl at the West Coast recruitment drive last year...is this really the same one?"
Mary Sue continued "But I couldn't meet Egon...I got scared...until the nice lady gave me the courage. All I had to do was kill the Bitch..."
"Oh you didn't..." Kylie growled. Harry raised his arm to silence Kylie.
"The 'nice lady'--what did she look like, Mary Sue?" Seward asked.
"She dressed all in black...and had a really soft voice. I remember...some kind of pretty blue light like water...that's when I had the courage to go find Egon..."
"Why did she help you, Mary Sue?"
"I dunno...maybe she believes in true love..."
"Gross. Isn't he, like, forty years older than she is?" Nate asked, "Little chick's got issues. Can't you, like hypnotize them away?"
"It would be against my principles." Seward answered. "I think the psychosis is too rooted anyway..."
Nate Inugami looked up when he heard a rapping at the front door. "Did someone order pizza?"
Janine went to answer it. "I'll get rid of them--I don't see how this could possibly be more important than what we're working on..."
On the other side of the door was an attractive woman in her early forties, dressed in a dark red jacket over a dark blue dress; a symbol resembling a backwards letter "P" was pinned to her lapel. Her slightly curly dark hair was set off by one coppery patch over her left temple.
They had met thirteen years earlier, during the Zodiac Imperative crisis. Lady Enlightenment was a member of the same Order of Hermes that Vincent belonged to. She was a witch, specifically one of the Quaesitors--the keepers and enforcers of Hermetic law. It was a job that kept her quite busy, and never in New York nearly as often as she liked.
"Liz!" Janine said, a shock that was one part joy and one part fear coloring her voice. "I...um...Ray's..."
Liz gave her a quick hug, and shook her head. "I heard all about it--but we don't have a lot of time to worry about that now. Let's just say I know they're all right, for the moment."
"I'm sorry, I..." Janine started to say.
Liz shook her head. "Are Eric and the other children all right?"
Janine nodded. "They're with Dana and my nephew Victor...you don't know how glad I am that you're here..."
"Unless she's got us a quick way to get to England, I'm not gonna get all excited..." Bo grumbled, puffing on his cigar.
"Who is to say, Mister Holbrook..." Liz replied, smirking enigmatically "That I don't?"
12:15 AM EDT; 4:15 AM GMT
"What a dump..." Joey Williams grumbled. Like Fritz, he was used to LA time, so it wasn't really "the middle of the night" for him.
"It's a quarry, not a resort, Joey..." his teammate, Robert Griffiths, reminded him, rolling his eyes.
"Did they really film that show Fritz watches here?"
"No. That was Wapsley Woods Gravel Pit, I think..."
"I found it!!" they heard Ben King Sr's voice call out. They moved as quickly as they could in the dark, with flashlights illuminating the dank, dismal place.
They caught up with Ben and Eric Rose, examining a pedestal adorned with rubble.
"So what makes you think this is it?" Joey asked.
"The design matches the stuff I was sent." Ben answered, shining his light on a distinct piece of the rubble. "And I'd think this would clinch it" The mostly intact, recognizable stone head of the terror dog Zuul lay on the ground.
"Holy shit..." Robert muttered, lighting a cigarette.
"We need to call the Professor and the others." Eric shook his head. "Let them know we've confirmed..."
"Your destruction, sub-creatures..."
Joey didn't even get to turn around before he was knocked fifteen feet, crashing into a rock. Jeremy Hicks, his teammate and friend--or, to be more accurate, a supernatural malevolence wearing Jeremy Hicks' body--stood there, eyes glowing like a pair of burning coals in the darkness.
"You defile the Master's temple..." a second voice snarled, Sarah Jones stepping out of the darkness.
The possession is either complete or close enough to it to start shitting our pants...Eric thought, pulling out his thrower.
"Conserve your power...we will need it to raise the temple and awaken the Master..." Jeremy...Vinz...suggested.
"I haven't got to play as much as you have, Vinz..." Sarah replied, scattering Robert and Ben with a purple blast of energy. "Though I admit I like this decisiveness. Much better than that last pathetic form of yours..."
"As do I..." Vinz grinned.
"You are NOT doing this, J!!" Joey shouted, still a bit unsteady. "You've got to come out of there, Buddy...Vinz can't have completely knocked you out..." Joey opened fire upon him, illuminating the darkness with streams of protons.
"Shows what you know, Williams..." Vinz replied, dodging Joey's proton blasts and running to him with blinding speed. "Your friend put up quite a fight, I admit...but no mere mortal can resist the will of the Keymaster for long..."
He grabbed, Joey's thrower, yanked it from the pack, and smacked him with it hard. The thrower sparked as pieces flew from it. Joey's head rang from the pain as he felt the coppery taste of his own blood on his lips.
"We've got to retreat! The four of us can't do it!!" Ben shouted.
Eric hated the thought. Competing impulses dueled in his head. On the one hand, he still had Vincent's admonishment from the day before ringing in his ears: You're all grown up Ghostbusters, now. You're ALL capable of standing on your own two feet, and making decisions for yourselves! If we all thought to ourselves 'Oh Lord, I couldn't possibly be as smart as the great Egon Spengler,' would ANYTHING get done? No!" On the other, they'd just basically taken out one quarter of his on hand team in barely more time than it took to blink.
Then I'm making the decision for ourselves Vincent--"Pull out!! The others need to know, and we can't tell them if we're all dead!!"
Robert grabbed his fallen teammate, and the four of them ran for the waiting ECTO-UK as fast as their tired legs could carry them.
Sarah and Jeremy did not try to stop them. "Let them go, Vinz..." Sarah purred. "They will probably return soon with more, but it will be too late. Nothing is going to stop the Master's return..." She looked at Jeremy, and they began kissing hungrily.
Ghostbusters UK Headquarters
12:30 AM EDT; 4:30 AM GMT
"Dr. Venkman and Iain are on their way to Portsmouth..." Rosey told them. "I told them you insisted they call you as soon as they have them."
Egon nodded, taking a moment to study the crystal orb on the desk in front of him, the one Vincent had sent from Arcane Alley...as he did, he adjusted a connection on the device sitting in front of him, an unwieldy contraption of cannibalized proton pack parts and other odds and ends. He wished he had Ray or Roland here to help with this, but nobody else available would be able to do what he needed done--he had to finish this himself.
Rosey was about to ask if there was anything she could help with when the bell rang. It was unusual to have visitors this time of night--but when a team had a Graveyard Shift, it was not unknown either. "I thought I put out the sign saying we were temporarily closed due to the crisis..." she grumbled as she headed to the door.
She opened the door to find a man in his early to mid twenties, with a head of wild brown hair and wide blue eyes standing. He was of average, even slightly scrawny build, dressed in a long purple coat, with khaki pants and a floppy blue tie. Pinned to his lapel was an insignia resembling a backwards letter "P".
"I'm sorry, Sir, but didn't you see the sign? We're temporarily closed to new cases due to..."
"The unfolding crisis, yes." the man responded in a calm voice, an accent that sounded much like her own, but with some element...some flavor she couldn't quite identify. "Two of the founding Ghostbusters are here. I'm afraid I don't have time for niceties--I need to speak with them immediately about this crisis."
"Zandrik Fallagar?!" Egon exclaimed, as close to emotional shock as he got, as the newcomer entered the room with Rosey.
"I take it he's on the level, then?" Rosey asked.
"I have no reason yet to believe otherwise." Egon replied. "It's been thirteen years for me, though Ray and Liz..."
"Thirteen years? What was he then, about eight?" Jeff couldn't help but ask.
Egon responded "He's a member of the Order of Hermes, just like Vincent."
Jeff did a double take, comprehension dawning on him. "Oh yeah...Vincent mentioned their longevity potions..."
"I wish I had more time, Doctor, but we must move posthaste." Fallagar broke in. "The Order has been empowered by a Special Tribunal to act on this matter. The Magus Dominus himself will be arriving shortly--and Lady Enlightenment is already in New York, preparing to bring reinforcements from your own organization."
1:00 AM EDT; 5:00 AM GMT
The sky began to roil. The stars began to blot out, a darkness even deeper than the night spreading across the sky.
Zuul and Vinz Clortho looked up from where they lay. Their lust was sated.
The ground began to quake. From the Earth, the shape of the ziggurat temple rumbled forth, sheathed in tendrils of purple lightning.
The naked, possessed bodies of Jeremy Hicks and Sarah Jones stood, spread their arms, and called out to their master in it's own horrific tongue.
Los Angeles, California
Just before 10:00 PM PDT; 5:00 AM GMT
Andy Harness yawned as he opened the refrigerator door. Kyle Stevens' two cats, Maggie and Mister Whiskers, materialized and started to rub his legs, purring the whole time.
"I woulda thought you'd know by now I'm not gonna feed you." Andy muttered. He poured himself some orange juice and, resolved that he probably wasn't going to get to sleep tonight, headed to the rec area on the other side of the floor.
He realized he wasn't really surprised to see Chelsea Aberdeen, the Ghostbusters West Coast's Client Administrator, curled up and dozing on the couch. She'd barely moved from since the end of her shift at 5PM--not since the news had lit up with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man stomping around New York City.
Poor girl...this is the first time Fritz's been away very long since they became an Official Item, and it'd probably be driving her nuts even without this End of the World stuff going on...
The news droned on. The same loop of footage--Stay Puft being shot in the face and falling, the swirling dimensional rip sucking in Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore--played over and over as the reporters talked.
"...No further reports from New York City after the rampage of the famous Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the possible loss of two of the founding Ghostbusters. In other news, officials still intend to honor the late President Ronald Reagan by..."
The entire building shook with the boom of a tremendous thunderclap.
Living in California, the entire team was aware of the dangers of the San Andreas Fault. Chelsea awoke with a start. The two cats ran and hid in the utility room. Andy heard the doors to bedrooms opening--and more ominously, some of the building's alarms started to sound.
Peter Kong ran the quickest, reaching the Ecto Containment Unit. "That isn't where the alarm's coming from...everything's fine..."
Mike Chad called from the computer room. "It's the PKE sensor alarm..."
Andy and Kyle Stevens looked at each other. "How bad is it?' Kyle asked, afraid of the answer.
"It's almost as bad as April, Dawg...and the level is still climbing."
Andy, Kyle, and Will Ketcham cast a glance at Leon Hogan. Leon was filling the opening on the team left by that April incident.
Andy stepped forward. "Chelsea, try again to reach New York or London. Hell, call Georgia and see if Ron knows anything. Everyone else--full gear."
Leon had to ask. "This my first official End Of The World crisis?"
Will playfully slapped him on the back. "You get used to it..."
New York City
Just before 1:00 AM EDT; 5:00 AM GMT
Liz had just about finished drawing an elaborate design on the floor. "Under the circumstance, I can't create a teleportation circle any larger, or capable of more than one transit." she looked at them gravely. "Even this wouldn't be possible if not for Archmage Fallagar and the Magus Dominus creating a sympathetic one in England."
"We understand, Liz." Janine put a hand on her shoulder. She had already strapped a proton pack on.
"So who's going? We draw straws?" Eduardo asked.
Garrett looked ready to throw something. "I don't know how wheelchair friendly GBUK's place is."
"We need at least a few back here in New York to pull together the other Franchises." Janine shook her head. "And we can't take everybody..."
"Fuck this noise." Bo snarled. "That asshat trashed my car. The Hain Witch didn't get away with that, Gozer ain't either."
With a little more discussion, the line-up gelled. From the original office; Janine, Eduardo, and Kylie. From Arcane Division, Harry, Gabe, and Nate. Filling in the last positions were Bo and Jen of Nightsquad.
Garrett, Roland, Cliff, and Zac would stay behind to try and establish contact with the rest of GBI.
Technically, to be ready if the others fail, but no one really gave the world much of a chance if the group in or soon to be in England couldn't stop the impending doom.
"I'm going too!!" a voice broke into the discussion.
They turned to see GBI CFO Louis Tully standing there in full Ghostbusting gear; proton pack, gloves, ear protection, and his own uniform.
"You gotta be fucking kidding me..." Bo snorted.
"Louis..." Janine turned to him as gently as she could manage. "I don't think..."
"No, I don't think any of you understand..." he interjected. "None of you were ever possessed by a terror dog. None of you know what it's like to spend years of your life waking up from nightmares about it--nightmares that came back just a few days ago. I know this creep and his minions in a way none of you ever will--and I just can't sit on the sidelines here thousands of miles away when maybe, just maybe, what happened to me can help not only the guys going through it now, but maybe even the whole world!"
The whole room was dumbfounded.
"I have to admit he has a point." Liz finally said. "If there's any mystic resonance from his earlier possession remaining, it might prove useful."
"Mrs. Spengler?" Seward asked. "The final say on this is yours..."
Janine rolled her eyes, feeling, for just a moment, a touch of the real fondness that led to some disastrous decisions in her past. If Louis had been more like this in the past, maybe he never would have let me screw up his life so bad... "All right, you're in Louis. But pay attention, and for pity's sake don't get in anybody's way..."
Jen had to smirk despite herself. Like I thought last year when he cussed out the mayor...I think a little bit of her rubbed off onto him after all...
It was just about then that Liz staggered, as though she'd been hit in the head by a 2 x 4. Janine moved over to catch her.
A clap of thunder rattled the building.
"But the sky's clear..." Kylie noted.
Loud howling came from outside.
Gabriel was breathing heavily. "I think Gozer just rolled over in his sleep."
"There's been a shift in the quintessence..." Liz said. "Whatever is happening, it has just gotten worse..."
"Then we need to get to England now..." Janine stated.
1:00 AM EDT; 5:00 AM GMT
They all felt it; the Earth shake with fear.
"England doesn't get earthquakes like this!" Rosey shouted.
"This is not an earthquake." Fallagar replied, putting the finishing touches on the transport circle. He had doffed his long coat, and rolled up the long sleeves of his white shirt to draw the mystic design.
"Outside!!" Ben Junior ran up.
Practically everyone save Fallagar and Egon ran outside.
The sky swirled with darkness. The moon vanished behind a black cloud swirling into view like a viscous patch of oil spreading over the sky.
"I have a bad feeling about this." Joey said.
"The ritual has started." Vincent Belmont's voice spoke. He was standing there with Venkman, Iain, and the somewhat worse-for-wear looking Ray and Winston. "We don't have much time..."
"Egon's working on the whammy right now." Venkman said. He'd only been able to share a quick hug and a "Don't scare me like that. It'll give me grey hair" with his two companions. They all knew there'd be time for a proper reunion later.
"Hermes' Portal is ready!" Fallagar shouted.
"Will it be affected by everything else going on?" Fritz asked.
"We shall have to hope not." Fallagar replied. "It will activate as soon as both have been energized..." He grabbed his wooden staff, and began to make gestures. "Hic et illic Intericio duo congredi.."
1:00 AM EDT; 5:00 AM GMT
"...Nos comporto campus..."
Lady Enlightenment continued the invocation. The ones selected to journey to England were around her.
Garrett was too rapt with attention on the glowing radiant circle to notice the sudden movement beside him...until it was too late...
"...nos amandatio corpum transmeo!!"
1:00 AM EDT; 5:00 AM GMT
The conference room of the former sanitarium was flooded with white light, with the barest sprinkling of violet sparks.
Fritz gasped as, where the circle was only a moment before (the markings appeared to have vanished), a collection of individuals both familiar and unfamiliar appeared. Janine Spengler, Louis Tully, Bo Holbrook, Jen Spengler, Eduardo Rivera, Kylie Griffin, Gabriel Martin, Harry Seward, and Nate Inugami he'd met--in some cases fleetingly--the previous autumn. The woman standing in the midst of them, Liz Hawthorne, he didn't recognize.
"EGON!!" he heard, and was physically tackled.
"What the fuck?" he heard Bo exclaim.
Fritz blinked twice, then recognition hit him. I know her! That was the obsessive fangirl that kept bugging Chelsea to get her into contact with the Professor! The fangirl who kicked Jeremy in the face during the recruitment!
"Careful, Miss..." Robert grabbed her, pulling her off the dazed historian. "He's already got a girlfriend..."
"How the fuck did that crazy bitch get here?!" Bo snarled.
"She jumped into the circle just as it activated..." Liz explained, shaking her head. "It was too late to deactivate..."
"Hey!" Mary Sue cried. "You're not Egon! You're that rip-off from LA who wouldn't let me talk to him!"
Vincent stepped over to the intruder. "We really don't have time to deal with you right now--sit down in the corner, be quiet, and don't touch anything, and I won't have to turn you into an animal more befitting your temperament. In your case, a sow in full rut would probably be appropriate!!"
"Daaaaaamn..." Nate cried in amazement, "You're lucky, he turned ME into a newt."
Gabe immediately glared at him. "Do NOT tell us that you got better.." he growled.
Mary Sue looked shell-shocked for a few seconds. Then a weird grin appeared on her face as Robert led her to a chair. "You know...he's pretty cute too for someone who's not Egon..."
"He already has a girlfriend too." Robert rolled his eyes.
"LIZ!!" a voice called out.
"RAY?" the woman in red answered. Ray Stantz pushed from behind Venkman and Joey, taking the woman in a strong embrace, leading to the two sharing a very long, heartfelt kiss.
"Um..." Iain said, among many in the room not sure what to think of this.
Ray looked around the room, realizing he and Liz were drawing a lot of quizzical looks. A wide grin appeared on his face. "Oh yeah...some of you haven't met Liz yet, have you? Well, it's okay--being married for nine years means we can be kissyface even at the end of the world."
There were several loud guffaws. "So THIS is the mysterious Mrs. Stantz..."
Liz picked a piece of dirt out of Ray's beard. "When I heard you'd been sucked into that rift, I feared the worst...but somehow knew you'd be okay..."
"Eric holding up?" Ray asked.
"I got in a brief call before we left--Dana and Victor are looking after him."
"We gotta have a talk about him when this is over--something happened a few hours ago..."
"Not now..." Ray shook his head.
"In case you were wondering, Mrs. Spengler." Adam informed her. "The Professor is down in the lab..."
Janine rolled her eyes, and made a wry, affectionate grin. "Of course..."
Venkman clapped his hands to get everyone's attention. "Okay, okay, we'll have time to get mushy later--everybody, either get to the garage or get to the front yard. I gather we got more company coming..."
"You aren't kidding, Doctor Venkman!!" Ben Junior yelled. "Get to the front yard, quickly!!"
5:15 AM GMT
Having just appeared in the front court of the former Staffordshire asylum, each guided by their own respective seers and oracles, were not one but two groups.
One was comprised of a fair number of men and women in ornate robes, many of them sporting wide-brimmed pointed hats.
The other had a collection of mostly, as an average, much burlier men and women, many of them wearing simple clothes. More interestingly, a few wolves walked among them.
There were members of both parties looking at each other with no small amount of suspicion.
"Lizzy!! Ray!!" the voice of Barney Lupin called from the burlier group.
"Lady Enlightenment, Follower of Guernicus..." one from the other group called. The robed crowd parted, four men almost as burly as the other group, each wearing a red hat, stepped forward, flanking a man with a long purple robe. On his portly jowelled face hung a long white beard that nearly touched the ground. The hem of his robe, a pure black, glittered, as if you could see the night sky within it. His piercing silver eyes looked upon Liz through a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles.
"Magus Dominus..." she said reverently, dropping to one knee. Vincent did likewise. And even Ray, though not a Hermetic wizard, but in support of his wife, knelt.
"We do not have time to stand on ceremony, Sodalis..." the old man said, waving his hand. "I think we've got other things to worry about than formalities..."
"On that we agree." Albrecht said, stepping forward with Barney, Irene Cortez, and the seer Rainpuddle right beside him. "The Magus Dominus of the Order of Hermes and the King of the Silver Fangs, of the Garou nation, have a common cause this day. We request the audience of one Dr. Egon Spengler."
5:30 AM GMT
Leon Vega looked on at the colourful throng gathered outside of the building. A hundred new smells both familiar and alien assaulted his heightened senses, some putting him on edge whilst others sang with something inside him. He was suddenly aware of three presences approaching him and he turned his head to face the two strangers who were being led by Iain.
"Leon, I'd like to introduce you to two people Peter thought you should meet."
"Irena Cortez..." She paused as she shook Leon's hand, studying the face of the man before her. After a few moments she finally added. "You're Fianna."
Something probably approximating the closest Leon had come to complete surprise ghosted across his face and vanished just as quickly. "You have been taught well, Ms. Cortez."
" I'm Arsene Lupin IV." Barney greeted, grabbing Leon's hand and shaking it so hard that Iain wondered if he'd pull the man's arm out of its socket. "But everyone calls me 'Barney'." He smiled as he let the introduction sink in. "So, should we sniff each others butts now?"
"Cardinal Albert Simon." Vincent said icily.
"Doctor Belmont." Cardinal Albert Simon replied just as icily, tipping his top hat with a slight bow.
There was no love lost between these two. Vincent was certain Cardinal Simon was probably enjoying Vincent's recent problems with the Quaesitors--and that was assuming he wasn't involved in them.
"You did it, didn't you?" Simon asked. "You recovered the Staff of Merlin."
"A little bird also told me that you brokered the instrument of Gozer's destruction with Renon, as well?"
"Yes, if it's any business of yours.."
"Good." Simon replied.
Vincent actually glanced at his old enemy.
"You finally begin to see that there are necessities to preserving life." Simon replied in steady tones. "You realize that it is not the means that justifies the end, but quite the other way around. No matter what ideology you follow, you must do whatever it takes. The Destructor would leave the world in a state that would be to the liking of neither of us."
[So a Fianna, a Child of Gaia, and a Bone Gnawer walk into a bar...] the smallest of the three wolves in the room--one that more resembled an overlarge German Shepherd than a wolf--remarked, in a feral tongue that only the other two could understand. They had retreated from the main conversation, which Barney had offhandedly noted "This will be the boring talky shit. We'll catch up when they're done and ready to do something."
The brown wolf shook her head. [No wonder Peter gets along so well with you...]
[Dr. Belmont mentioned that the founders had worked with Garou before. I know it's a cliche', but it's an honor to meet you, even under this horrible circumstance.] said the third wolf, the large black one with the glowing green eyes.
[I think all of us are a little disconcerted by all of this.] the brown wolf agreed.
[Concerts? I haven't been to a concert since I saw Styx in the Meadowlands in 83--they rocked!!] the Shepherd-looking wolf said excitedly
The black wolf shook his head [If you're anything other than a Ragabash, I will be surprised]
[Aw, shoot...I like surprising people, too...]
[How long have you been here, Leon?] Irena asked, rolling her eyes.
[I've been with the Ghostbusters about nine months--I joined last fall]
[I met the originals back in 1989--doesn't seem possible it's been fifteen years...]
[You guys mind if I lick my balls?] Barney asked brightly.
Irena grumbled with exasperation. [I'd rather you didn't...]
[Aw, c'mon, that's the best part of being able to turn into a dog. Back me up on this, Leon...]
[Gaia is terrified] Leon shook his head, the mood too somber to react to Barney's attempts at humor. [She's been screaming since that book reappeared]
[I felt it even back in America] Irena nodded.
[This is everything that the storytellers have feared for ages untold.] Leon nodded gravely. [This is the Apocalypse...]
[Not if we have anything to say about it.] Barney said with uncharacteristic resolve.
"You're the historian, I understand?" Fritz was shaken from his check of his proton pack by the words of the wizard Fallagar.
Fritz looked at the younger-looking man warily. Truth to tell, the man unnerved the hell out of him. "So some have said..."
The wizard gave him an enigmatic smirk. "Then you should witness this moment of history..."
Fallagar pointed to the center of the bustling activity.
"This is a meeting of a kind that has not been seen on this world for centuries." Fallagar explained. "To one side, Morgond, the Magus Dominus, the leader of the Order of Hermes. To the other side, Albrecht, King of the Silver Fangs and thus, nominally the entire Garou nation. And with them..."
Egon Spengler stood in the middle of them, in full uniform. Fritz was amazed by one simple fact: there was no intimidation in Spengler's eyes. He was standing between two of the most powerful beings on the planet...two men who could destroy his mortal body fairly easily. Egon remained with steeled resolve.
"With them, the greatest Etheric mind since Aretus and Bacon." Fallagar continued. "This day, three factions of the mystic world stand united..."
The impact of Fallagar's words started to wash over him. As a historian, he often wondered what it was like to witness the great moments of history first hand...to have been there when Rome was founded. When Copernicus and Newton reshaped humanity's view of the universe. When the Shot Heard Round the World was fired at Lexington.
He was even too young to have remembered the day an assassin changed American history at Daley Plaza...he was but a schoolboy when seven brave astronauts perished in the Florida skies. He well remembered the horrible Tuesday morning less than three years before...but had been separated from it by a continent.
Today, he was there.
"Mark it well." Fallagar told him. "For one day...should we survive...someone will have made sure that it is remembered..."
Iain Bennett ran up to Fritz and Fallagar. "I think the Professor should take this call." he said, holding up a cell phone. "It's from the Prime Minister."
Two years before, the four founders of GBI had journeyed to London when Prime Minister Tony Blair was in, as they might say, a "spot of trouble". It was when Ray, Egon, Winston, and Venkman were aided by a paranormal investigation team called S.P.R.I.G. that the United Kingdom got it's own GBI franchise.
What that basically meant was that Blair knew firsthand anything the Ghostbusters told him was not automatically impossible.
"We've already identified the source of the event--Tonnes Quarry, South of London. We will be on our way to the location momentarily." He paused as Blair said something. "Understood, but tell them to not get in our way when we get there. We will handle this." He cut off the line.
"He is the only one who could do that..." Fallagar told Fritz. "Sometimes, there is an advantage to not living in the shadows..."
"The RAF and the Army are moving to secure the area." Egon told everyone else. "We need to get moving.
"Road trip!!" Venkman and Joey said in unison.
Fallagar watched for a moment, not moving, as the Ghostbusters, wizards, and werewolves moved to leave.
"[I thought this was against your code, Archmage...]" the Magus Dominus's voice spoke to Fallagar alone, in perfect late Twelfth Century German. There would be no one else present fluent enough to follow the conversation. "[You have forsworn active involvement in affairs not pertaining to your own circle...]"
"[You know very well why, Morgond.]" Fallagar replied. "[One of the Children is involved...the Lady of the Steady Waters is a servitor of the Destructor. She threatens her own destiny, ours, and the entire world's...]"
"[You and your Ascension...]" the Magus Dominus shook his head "[If I wasn't so curious myself as to what it would bring...]"
"[We'll just have to make sure we both get a chance to find out...]"
5:45 AM GMT
The assembling array of military vehicles parted. An awesome array of forces moved into the scene.
The ECTO-UK was in the lead, lights flashing. Another, similar vehicle save for it's black color; the ECTO-GS; Ben King's Mini Cooper; Tommy Simpson's motorcycle; and a couple more vehicles Venkman had hastily rented were all close behind.
One of the assembled military officers grumbled. "I can't believe we're staking our bloody existence on this bunch of charlatans..."
His superior glared at him. "The orders came from the Prime Minister himself, Chaplain. They will be obeyed."
The gaping maw stood before them, filling the skies above Tonnes Quarry.
"I got a real bad feeling of Deja Vu here..." Winston noted.
"Despite what some might say, you see one end of the world you haven't seen them all." Venkman agreed. "But this one does seem uncomfortably familiar..." He unconsciously stroked the wedding band underneath his black work glove. Dana, Jess, Oscar...If I don't make it back from today...
"We only got here in fifteen minutes?" Fritz asked, looking at his watch incredulously.
"A mystic trick." Liz answered. "Not quite as difficult as teleporting everyone, and doesn't require the energy and material expenditure."
"Gaia is with us." Rainpuddle added. "She made sure we'd be there."
Some of the burlier GBI members--Robert, Eric, Winston, and Bo--removed and gingerly carried from the ECTO-UK a strange device, composed out of cannibalized proton pack parts, other miscellaneous electronic gear, and a glimmering orb. The same glimmering orb Vincent had purchased from the demon Renon.
"This is the key to our strategy." Egon had told them all. "It's comprised of two parts: an anti-matter bomb, and the globe of elements. The explosion of the bomb will shatter the globe containing all five Hermetic elements. Both the pure interaction of matter and anti-matter, and the disharmony of magic and science, will create an explosion larger than..." It unnerved them that even Egon couldn't come up with an adequate description. "An explosion hopefully large enough to suit our purposes."
No one even wanted to ask what would happen if it didn't work.
As the various GBI members bustled into their equipment, the four original Ghostbusters found themselves alone for a moment.
Ray shook his head, and lit a cigarette. "How in the hell did we beat Gozer all by ourselves last time?"
Venkman chuckled. "We were twenty one years younger. And had a lot of dumb luck." He grabbed Ray's cigarette and took a drag off of it.
Winston took the cigarette next. "We've got a lot more on our side going into this one. We just gotta hope it's enough."
Egon took off his glasses. "This is exactly why we created this company. Why we expanded it--so we wouldn't have to do it by ourselves anymore. It will be enough--it has to be."
"Everybody's waiting for you old men..." a very familiar voice broke in, that of the only other one who'd been there since the beginning.
"But Janine..." Venkman countered. "We were just writing our speech about how in our day we had to go through ten miles of snow uphill both ways to fight Gozer!"
That brought a round of laughter from all five of them, even Egon.
Venkman smirked. "I'll see you on the Other Side, Ray."
"Been nice working with you guys." Ray countered. "Even you, Peter."
"Okay, okay..." Winston chided, as he led Ray and Venkman off. "I think we better give these two just a minute."
Egon and Janine looked at each other. Egon pulled out the familiar shape of the "lucky coin" he was given before that earlier battle. "I think I'm ready."
"I thought you didn't believe in luck." she teased.
With that, the two Spenglers embraced for a long kiss they hoped wouldn't be their last.
"Not everyone's going into the portal." Egon announced. "A team of GBI agents and Hermetic wizards will remain behind."
"Why?" Eduardo asked. "You'd think we'd want everyone where they might be needed."
"There are four main scenarios. The first is that none of this matters. Gozer wins. The Earth is destroyed or rendered unlivable--in which case, it won't matter where anyone is. The second scenario is total victory. Everything works as intended. We beat Gozer. Candy and teddy bears rain from the sky. Everyone goes home and dies of old age."
There were a few uncomfortable chuckles.
"But we have to be ready for two other possibilities: if our scheme with the anti-matter bomb fails, a team must remain behind for a last-ditch sanction. If Gozer starts crawling through that portal, all bets are off--you're authorized to cross the streams, to use the overload--any means necessary."
"We're already passing around the keys to the proton pack overload safeties." Ray added.
"The last one...is that we succeed." Egon's voice caught slightly. "But we don't make it back."
"Somebody has to still be here to carry on after we're gone." Winston added gravely.
"The wonderful guys of the RAF have given us a sturdy, fast vehicle with atrocious gas mileage to carry about the actual bomb in." Venkman said. "We wish to extend a personal thanks to GBI's good friend Chaplain for making this possible."
Iain Bennett rolled his eyes. It means more hell to pay, but it's worth it.
Vincent Belmont, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore had already visited the realm once--they would be going. Louis Tully's prior connection to the enemy was ruled potentially useful. Egon Spengler knew the most about the weapon--he was going. Peter Venkman was thus included by fiat. Chance determined the rest:
Chosen to enter the portal, and the dark realm: Fritz Baugh, Iain Bennett, Jeff Nash, Bo Holbrook, Nate Inugumi, Ben King, Sr., Gabriel Martin , Harry Seward, and Jen Spengler.
The last ditch defense/survivor team: Janine Melnitz Spengler, Adam Bestler, Kylie Griffin, Robert Griffiths, Eduardo Rivera, Eric Rose, Tommy Simpson, Rogers Kennedy and Johnson, Jill Valentine, Joey Williams.
The entirety of the werewolves present, including Leon Vega, Barney Lupin, and Irena Cortez, were going. "As Gaia's warriors, there would be no finer death that in preventing the Apocalypse!" as Albrecht stated it.
Many, but not all of the wizards were going. Lady Enlightenment--Liz Hawthorne Stantz--would be making the journey. Morgond, the Magus Dominus, on the other hand, would remain behind. "I have the utmost faith in all of you." he told them. "Especially as the Archmage of Winds will be making this journey with you..." A revelation that shocked even Liz.
6:00 AM GMT
"Guys!!" Chelsea shouted. At this point, like the others, she was wearing her flight suit--it made her feel, somehow, more at ease. Like she was closer to Fritz and the others.
Will and Chad ran into the room. The TV finally had something different from the Stay Puft footage that had been running over and over again.
"...That's right, Vernon, Sky News confirmed that there was a massive mobilization of the Royal Air Force and the UK's army centered on a quarry south of London. Their reporters say that members of Ghostbusters International are also on the scene; one unconfirmed report says that founding members Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore, who disappeared in New York only hours ago, were sighted with the group."
"If true, that would be a relief." New York anchorman Vernon Fenwick commented. "We may make it through this yet."
"I've got Rich Roy on the phone!" Andy shouted. "He says he's trying to get a line open to London now!"
"Tell him we've heard from Ron, ECTO Canada, and that guy Peterson in North Carolina." Will shouted back. "And every one of is ready to mobilize if we need to."
6:00 AM GMT
Janine Melnitz Spengler had never been what one would call a reverent soul. She felt early on in life that if there was any higher force in the universe, it either didn't care or had it in for her. It had been why she'd made some dreadful mistakes involving some more accessible, more "real" presences--and it had nearly cost her soul in the process
But now, as the man she loved more than life itself, and the three men who'd become her brothers in every real sense of the word, vanished into an unknown destiny, she found herself praying in a way she hadn't since she was barely much older than her children.
Adonai...keep them all safe...
6:00 AM GMT
2:00 AM EDT
"Did you hear what he said?!" Eric Stantz cried. "He said they saw Dad and Uncle Winston! They're all right!"
Dana bit her lip, noticing that the reporter called the report "unconfirmed"
Just be careful, Peter, you jackass... she said to herself. All of you be careful...
Location: On The Other Side
They didn't even realize they'd crossed over for a moment. One moment, the swirling portal filled their vision...the next, they were in a dark, alien land. No zap, not even the "Riding the Tilt-A-Whirl until you want to puke" feeling.
"Priority one: set up the access point!" Egon barked.
A line trailed from behind the transport jeep. With the unreliability of radio signals in PKE saturated environments, combined with the dimensional transit, a physical transceiver cable was set up to (with hope) carry the signals back to Earth.
The werewolves formed a perimeter as Ray and Jen removed the radio station and set it up.
"Ever been to another dimension before, Fritzy?" Bo asked, lighting a stogie.
Fritz shook his head. "First time."
"Dimension virgin, huh? Too bad--Gozer plays it pretty rough..." Bo chuckled. "My first time was the Blair Witch, who looks like a Catholic schoolgirl in comparison..."
It was a death quiet. It was a calm before the coming storm. Vincent stared at the moon. His gaze pierced the red veil, staring into the black abyss beyond, where the coming void awaited.
Vincent fished out a locked from around his neck. He opened it up, and gazed longingly at two pictures. On the left, was Jill Valentine, smiling up at him with her clear blue eyes; a cascade of brown hair swept gracefully around her shoulders. The picture on the left was one of a young girl, in her very early teens. She had short, pretty black hair, and beautiful brown eyes. She had a smile that showed a hint of insecurity. Resting between the pictures, was a 24-carat diamond ring. Vincent sighed deep. He had the courage to meet certain death, but not the courage to ask a simple question.
"Priority two: We need to find Gozer itself." Vincent said. "By placing the bomb at it's heart, we can end this. Once and for all." Vincent paused.
"I'm getting a signal!" Jen reported.
"Let me." Vincent said. He knew it would have been better earlier...anytime earlier..."Earth, do you read?" But there might not be a later.
"We're here, Doctor Belmont." Eduardo's voice answered. "The reception is crap, but we hear you."
"Put Jill on for a moment."
There were some looks between the various Ghostbusters--particularly the ones who remember Jill's meltdown the night before.
"I'm here, Vincent." Jill's voice answered.
Vincent inhaled. "This isn't the way anyone ever imagines this happening, but impending destruction does have a way of focusing one's priorities. Jill...my Love...if we survive this day..." he reached into his pocket, feeling the heft of the ring box. "Marry me."
There was a stunned silence. "I...you're right, this isn't exactly the typical fantasy proposal that I.."
The connection was swamped by static.
"Jill? Jill!!" Vincent shouted.
But if Jill Valentine said anything else, it was lost to the ether.
It figures... Vincent shook his head ruefully. Gabe moved closer to put a reassuring hand on his shoulder...
What seemed to be hours went by. The main camp had been set up, and final preparations were being made. The bleak and dismal world was filled with an unnerving quiet.
"Sub Creatures!!" an angry telepathic voice shouted. "You dare despoil the Shapeless One's realm with your filth?!"
Nearby, the two familiar Terror Dogs, Zuul the Gatekeeper and Vinz Clortho the Keymaster, were eyeing them. It only makes sense...Venkman realized. This is the Gate, they're Keeping it...
"J..." Jeff growled, pulling out his neutrona saber.
"We can't kill them..." Fritz said. "Jeremy's one of us..."
"If it's a choice between him and everyone on Earth..." Gabe snarled in reply. "There's no real choice..."
"Keep them from the equipment!" Ray shouted.
Louis, standing near the Jeep, gulped hard as Vinz moved in his direction.
Zuul jumped for the transceiver. Ray shot at her. She dodged the shot, and body-checked him, ramming him into the device.
Vincent reached into his coat. "There are always alternatives." He couldn't think of the rest of it now...he had done the hard part. The easy part would be defeating a primal god to insure he got to hear the answer...in person.
He threw the small red bottle of Aglophitis, which exploded into a cloud of crimson smoke when it hit Zuul.
"Zuul!!" Vinz growled, turning his attention from the Jeep.
The cloud dissipated, and a nude human body--young, female, red-haired--fell out of it. Her body began to convulse, and she reared back on her knees, and retched upon the ground, spewing a viscous glowing red liquid. The liquid quickly evaporated into a cloud vaguely shaped like the terror dog form of Zuul.
Vincent stared down Vinz. "A spiritual purgative, Keymaster. Brewed from the Aglophitis I procured not long ago. The Gatekeeper's unwelcome domination of Sarah Jones' body is at an end." He pulled out another bundle. "And I just happen to have a second dose for use with Mister Hicks."
Vinz growled angrily--and turned tail and ran.
"We gotta go after him!" Jeff shouted.
"Nash, Bennett--with me!!" Vincent shouted.
"Vincent!!" Ray exclaimed.
"Let him go." Egon shook his head. "We need to establish contact with Earth--if we still can."
"Stay Puft not like this place... the giant, marshmallowy behemoth noted, a tinge of sadness in his voice. His face had regenerated from the dual rail gun hit it had taken the day before, but his smile had not returned--it was as close to a frown as the configuration of his face allowed.
He tried to remember how he got to this place. It was certainly emptier than the one he remembered best, the one with all the mean ghosts who ran away and shouted curses whenever he tried to play with them. Or the city he remembered being in briefly...it was fun taking walkies, but all of those little, shouting people with their fragile metal chariots were kind of annoying.
"Slimer?" he looked around. He remembered Slimer. Slimer was his friend. he'd even come to visit him in the place with the mean ghosts...but he couldn't see Slimer, and that made him sad.
There was something else in the sky, though. Stay Puft looked at it, and realized it wasn't quite a bird...it was bigger, and uglier. And it scared him.
6:30 AM GMT
The basement of GBUK HQ was flooded in red light as Ben Jr and Rosey flew across control consoles and computer screens doing their best to prevent a Containment breach. Even though the Ghostbusters had done their best to patch the machine up after Jeremy's attack the wounds were still raw and the machine was incredibly sensitive to the waves of Psychokinetic Energy that were surging up from the southern counties.
Rosey flinched as a panel belched sparks, one of her hands swatted at the small flecks of light to stop them setting her hair alight as her free hand punched in a series of hastily written command codes.
"If we can't do anything to stop this thing from blowing-" A loud bang erupted from the unit that allowed them to observe the unit's contents via camera. -"would we even have enough time to evacuate?"
"Probably not." Ben remarked forlornly as he balanced a service manual in his lap as he twisted several dials. "We'd probably be flash fried before we got out of the basement."
"Then I'll never get to kiss Egon!" Squealed Mary Sue who just stood there looking useless.
"Then again... maybe it wouldn't be so bad." Rosey rolled her eyes.
"I just wish you and Dad had been nicer to each other these last few years." He smiled sadly as they exchanged a look before returning to their task.
Gozer the Gozarian...Gozer the Destructor...Vulguus Zildrohar...the Traveller has returned, at last!!
Stay Puft didn't know what it was. But he knew he had to run!
You cannot escape me, Traveler... you are me! You are the Corpus, the power that was sealed on the other side of the Gate when the Blasphemers destroyed it!!
"Stay Puft not like you!!"
In this world, there is no choice!!
Stay Puft's Brobdingnagian strides were shattering the landscape. For the first time in his existence, he realized he was rather rotund, and wished it were differently. If he was skinnier, like the little shouting people, he could run faster.
"You all right?" Bo asked Jen. Jen nodded.
"That earthquake was not natural." Fallagar said simply.
"Wizzo, I don't think anything here is natural..." Barney growled.
Egon's first priority was checking the bomb. "The bomb appears to be all right..." he said aloud, to reassure everyone else.
C'mon, guys... Ray pleaded quietly.
The skeletal, bird-like creature shrieked it's anticipation.
At last!! After too many years, we will be one, once more!! After untold ages of denial, the land of Iaoue's Chosen will be MINE!!
"NNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!" The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man screamed.
The bird grabbed him with its giant, emaciated wings. Stay Puft tried to get free, but the giant bird creature ignited, burning him badly.
Stay Puft dimly understood his mind starting to fade...to be pulled apart, and subsumed back into the darkness...the darkness, he realized, from which he'd been born in the first place. He didn't want to. He hated this darkness.
But it was too powerful for him.
His last thought was, again, of Slimer.
I'm sorry, Slimer...
The alien world of Gozer's realm assaulted their eyes, ears and nostrils as Jeff, Iain and Vincent chased after The Keymaster. All three had come to know the creatures known as Terror Dogs through the reports and case files from 1983 but for the three Ghostbusters, their combined personal experiences of the beings only amounted to a week in total.
"Vincent, I don't suppose you could do something to stop him, could you?" Jeff asked, deftly drawing the hilt of his proton-saber and igniting it.
"Who do you think you're talking to?" the wizard remarked. "I think The Earth's Carbuncle would give him a nasty shock." He pointed the staff at the terror dog as he ran, shouting, "Terrestris vomica, displodo!" The ground beneath Vinz Clortho cracked, and a burst of jagged, loose rock exploded from under him mid-stride. It yelped in pain and surprise, misjudged what would've been a dramatic jump from part of a nearby rock face and tumbled to the ground.
"Excellent shot!" Iain enthused. They were suddenly brought to a jarring halt as a hulking werewolf seemed to fly from overhead, landed on the ground with practiced ease and carried it's momentum forward into a pounce onto the prone Terror Dog.
"I don't care how close to death we are, that was really cool." Jeff smirked and the three Ghostbusters resumed their quick approach. The Terror Dog and werewolf shuffled and bounced across the ground as they fought at each other, even though the werewolf was now bleeding from several nasty bites it remained calm resolved in not doing damage to the terror dog. The three Ghostbusters had just caught up with the two warring creatures when Vinz managed to use his hind legs to propel the Lycan off of him and hurtling towards the paranormal investigators. Whilst both Iain and Jeff managed to leap to the side with a swift role, Vincent was taken by surprise as the bulky, furred form of the werewolf collided with his slender frame, toppling him over.
"Get off of me, you miserable rug!!" He bellowed as Jeff and Iain took off, quickly approaching Vinz who was now shaking his head and climbing back to his paws.
"Your hindrances are becoming really irritating!" He roared, scraped the ground like an enraged bull and charged. The two Ghostbusters judged the charge and each swept away to the Terror Dog's sides just when it seemed it was going to strike them. As he shot past the two swept back to standing beside each other and within a moment Excalibur was unsheathed.
The Terror Dog and the Ghostbusters began to move in a circle, never taking their eyes off of each other. The terror dog reared back, and roared. From the deafening bellow, a stream of aqua blue ectoplasm issued forth from its maw, knocking Jeff off his feet. Iain swiftly dashed forward, raising Excalibur above his head, preparing to strike Vinz.
"What happens if I chop off one of his limbs by accident? Will Jeremy lose one of his?"
In Iain's moment of hesitation, Vinz struck. Sinking his teeth deep into Iain's side, he lifted him up, shaking him from side to side like a rag doll, and tossing him aside. Iain tried to get up, but a fiery pain in his side caused him to collapse. He glanced down at his side where Excalibur lay, and saw it laying in a small pool of blood; his blood.
The Terror Dog growled, dug it's feet into the ground and pounced at Jeff. In a blur of fangs and protons, Jeff's proton saber flashed, shedding sparks each time it collided with Vinz's scabrous bulk.
"Duck!" A voice suddenly shouted. Jeff deftly flipped to the side as a third human flew from behind, and in a graceful arc swept the staff of Merlin down onto the Terror Dog's head, landing the head of the shaft between the creature's horns, with a singular cry; "MACTO!" There was a blinding flash, and a moment later Vinz hit the ground and spun, foaming at the mouth as Vincent touched down and spun, making the tail of his coat cut dramatically through the air for a short moment.
"For that and what you did to Zuul, I'll eat your intestines!"
"You'd be better off eating the Chinese take out on Desbrosses Street." Vincent smirked and he tamped the staff on the ground and pointed a finger at the prone terror dog. "Sagittae Magica!" Vincent shouted, unleashing a series of glowing white dart-shaped bolts from his outstretched finger. They arced through the air slamming into Vinz Clortho.
The white darts continued to sprout from his finger as he guided them in an arc around the Terror Dog, causing the ground to explode around it, upsetting the creature's balance and momentum.
"Son of a Grath-Neckflick!" Vinz bellowed. "Fight me like a pitiful man and not some cowardly Zech-Krieer!"
"Fine!" The wizard snapped. He raised the staff into the air, and then brought it down into the rock surface of the ground beneath his feet, shattering it with a small explosion of blue light as he staked the staff. He then proceeded to remove his hat and coat and hung them on the it. "Of course! What's one more pathetic waste of time?."
"You talk too much."
"I know... Jill says that a lot." The two pounced at each other, the Terror Dog swiping at him with it's sharp claws and vincent pulling the Belmont family whip from his belt. With a flick of the wrist, Vincent snapped the whip in front of him drawing first blood before he and Vinz collided in the air. Vinz clawed at Vincent's thigh, and both fell to the ground, wincing in pain.
"After I've finished with you, you'd wish you'd been roasted in the depths of the Sloa-" His speech was cut off with a dramatic, and anticlimatic CLANG! Vincent looked up, brushing his damp hair out of his eyes to see that Iain and Jeff had cold-clocked Vinz Clortho with Excalibur and what looked like a broken portion of the receiver Zuul had damaged. Iain cringed as a sharp pain crawled up his side.
"... that's hardly sporting." Vincent protested, disappointed at the turn of the fight.
"Forget bloody sportsmanship, douse him!" Iain growled through the pain, gesturing toward the stunned monster with his sword. Vincent paused for a moment before retrieving a second glass vial from his coat that contained the spiritual purgative.
Vincent pulled the hat from his head, and the scarf from his chin. A faint breeze fluttered the tails of his coat. He dug the heel of the staff in his hands into the ground. He leaned upon the Staff of Merlin, shedding its silent glow, illuminating the dark path about him. He surveyed the long road up to the summit. The barren landscape around him showed no signs of life.
The sky, however, was unusually clear. Each star in the alien sky was significant from the rest. The clearness of the night sky, however, did nothing to ease the stillness...or the loneliness.
Vincent looked back at his two companions. Jeff looked up at him, holding the crumpled form of the young man that was Vinz Clortho, warrior king, Keymaster of Gozer.
Jeremy kept mumbling the same phrase incoherently, as a boy, tossing in his sleep, troubled by the nightmares wrought by the beast that was once within him.
"I'm sorry...I'm sorry...I'm sorry..."
Iain Bennett ambled up beside Jeff, and rested his crippled body against a group of boulders that lined the path to the mountain summit. He clutched his side, nursing a bandaged wound near his hip. He breathed deep, and applied pressure to the wound, which was staining the bandages a deep scarlet.
"You sure you're up to this one, mate?" he wheezed, "Vinz here nearly made me about 3 feet shorter..." He tried to chuckle, but winced at the pain.
Vincent put his hat back on. He looked back up toward the summit, and paid close attention to the mysterious moon that loomed above...deep crimson in color, twice as big as Earth's lunar body.
Vincent tossed Iain a small red vial.
"Pour it over your wound," Vincent instructed.
"The earthquake's over--is that a good thing or a bad thing?" Jeff's eyes narrowed.
"I sense the latter." Vincent began to climb the steps. He clutched the staff in his hands, and braced himself upon it as he trudged up the long, dark road. "Tell the Professor to take the bomb to a point 167 degrees and approximately seven kilometers from the portal. That is where Gozer's heart is."
"Be careful, Vincent. Don't screw up here...we'll see you at Ground Zero in 20 minutes." Jeff shouted after him. "Alive, Vincent! Come back ALIVE!"
A hellish and deafening roar pierced the night sky. Vincent shot his glance skyward. Jeff and Iain looked around in a frantic panic.
"I must hurry!" Vincent shouted down at the two, "It will come from behind the moon any time; I must be there to meet it!"
Jeff grimaced. He had second thoughts.
"No, Vincent! Come down from there! We need you at Ground Zero!"
"Go!" Vincent waved back, "Our science
is no more use here..."
Jeff began to follow him, but when a second piercing roar shook the mountainside, he slung Jeremy over his shoulder, and braced Iain's arm around his shoulder. "Belmont!" Jeff shouted.
Egon watched from the gate, as several Ghostbusters rushed hurriedly around him, checking equipment, and some of the wizards tracing great runes in the dust.
Egon saw a great storm coming overhead, he saw the lightning dance across the clouds, and the loud thundering of the ground...and he heard the fury of Gozer.
"I don't like the sound of that..." Gabe remarked.
"Good guess." Jeff Nash interjected, walking up to the site with the wounded Iain Bennett hanging on to him, and the delirious Jeremy Hicks in his arms.
"Jeremy!" Fritz said. "Is he..."
"He got the crap knocked out of him by Vince's whammy." Jeff answered. "But he's himself again."
Fritz, having known Jeremy longer than anyone there, showed visible relief.
The concern in Ben's voice was noticeable as he examined Iain. "You all right, Mate?" Dr. Seward, who had been looking over Sarah Jones (fortunately, the group had packed some blankets, and one was now covering her nudity), gave Iain a quick look-over.
"I'll live..." Iain said.
"It would be better to get you to a hospital..." Seward noted.
Louis found himself transfixed by Jeremy. He had no clear memories of his own possession, only a few vague but powerful impressions. Did I look like that afterwards?
"Vincent scoped out where we need to set us up the bomb..." Jeff exhaled, as Fritz brought a blanket for their barely conscious teammate. "167 degrees from the portal, about five miles..."
Egon immediately looked in a direction almost exactly opposite the gate. "We need to move as soon as..."
"You may have defeated the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper..." a new voice broke in. Ray gulped--it was a voice he recognized, the voice of the person who'd violated his mind the day before. "But they are not the Shapeless Destructor's only minions..."
"Oh shit." Jeff cursed.
A massive horde of entities stood there. Horrors with dangling limbs, gaping maws, and jutting teeth and horns. Monsters that both resembled demonic versions of Terran animals--and things that the fevered imagination of the maddest madman would have had trouble dreaming up.
But perhaps the most horrific part was that standing at the front, leading the mob, were a band of human beings--if, having sold their souls to primal evil, they could still be referred to as such; they were the same cult that had orchestrated the transit of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man to this infernal place. The black garbed fiend, the Herald of Gozer who had violated Ray's mind, stood in command of all of them.
"We'll handle this." Fallagar said simply, and moved forward. "The Childe of Scorpio is my responsibility."
The transformed Albrecht growled in agreement.
Ray had to fight off a weird moment of anxiety. Maybe it's because "We'll handle this" is what Qui-Gon said before he took on Darth Maul, and we know how that turned out.
The Herald laughed. "I should have known they would send you. This is your 'Ascension', foolish warlock: the reign of Volguus!!"
A blast of blue light, pure telekinetic force, crashed against an unseen barrier. A blitzkrieg of angry violet lightning served as a retort, stopped by a force field fueled by hate.
Ray tried to reach the Jeep, but he was cut off--a giant slobbering fiend lunged at him, but was hit with a blast of pure mystic energy, throwing it back. One of the Hermetic wizards had saved him--but was then attacked from all sides by six more monsters.
Back at the Jeep, Ben was transfixed for a moment, the spectacle of it all washing over him. "DRIVE!!" He heard Egon shout to Winston, and the Jeep lurched into motion. He saw that Louis and Fritz were the only others to reach the vehicle as the battle swirled around them.
"Get out of here, Fuckers!" Bo shouted. "We'll deal with these asswipes and catch up later!!"
"There!" Egon shouted, pointing at a spot in the throng of enemies. Egon pulled his thrower, and leaned out the window. "Full stream!!"
The four proton packs sparked to life, clearing a path through the enemies.
"They're not going to make it!!" Venkman shouted.
"Yes. They. Are." Elizabeth Hawthorne Stantz replied firmly. She stood in a circle of wizards, all chanting. They raised their hands to the sky, and shouted in unison: "Cari animi, adminiculum! Adsumate signo uto care!"
A wind blew across the landscape.
From the summit, Vincent Belmont looked down at a pool of water at his feet. Touching the water, he saw in the ripples the image of the onslaught.
Vincent raised the staff high.
"Vincent Belmont sends his aid.."
"Cari animi, adminiculum! Adsumate signo uto care!"
"Armored warriors who would stay, upon the winds of yesterday, come fulfill your promise bold! From Hades deep, and ether cold!"
"Not all ghosts are evil. Not all spirits desire Earth's destruction. The noble spirits, those who have given their all for their fellows, and those linked to us by love, we beg for your aid!!"
Bo Holbrook was not an easy man to shock. In seven years of fighting every kind of horror imaginable--out of control geomantic phenomenon, dimensionally-unstable witches, the dark god of Halloween--but this was one of the days he was genuinely impressed.
Ghosts appeared out of nowhere, to grapple and annoy the hordes serving Gozer. House ghosts, Domovyen, eccentric old uncles, even house pets.
And two guys wearing Nightsquad uniforms.
"Get your ass in gear, Holbrook, before it gets shot off!!" Shades McPherson barked at him. A spectral proton pack was on his back, and a spectral neutrona wand shot a blast of mystic energy at the ghost that was trying to sneak up on Bo from behind.
"Shades...Oh Man..." Bo breathed. It had been less than a year...he shook his head, he couldn't let this distract him.
"Forget me already?" Ernie Slaughter quipped.
"I'm trying." Bo retorted. He had to keep moving, keep joking--before seeing his old friends again, even in spectral form, brought him to tears.
Liz looked up toward the dark clouds surrounding the summit. She saw lightning flash, and something from the flank of the army of creatures that threatened them.
Hundreds of glowing figures materialized.
Ghosts. Mounted samurai warriors, English longbowmen, Roman soldiers, Civil war cavalrymen, World War II soldiers, and even a legion of 300 Spartans rising from Hades, led by their king. All of the world's long lost heroes joined the fight against the minions of Gozer. It was as if the entire Ectosphere fought against extinction at the destructor's hands.
Jeff Nash fired his rail gun again. He was out of the mood slime rounds he'd brought already. Somehow, it had ended up to him to guard the weak, shattered forms of Jeremy Hicks and Sarah Jones. "I ain't letting them get you, J...not after going through all this trouble."
"That goes double for me!!" a voice Jeff never expected to hear again rang out. The slightly translucent form of John Lipsyte materialized next to him, spectral neutrona wand in hand. It hadn't even been two months since he'd made the ultimate sacrifice to save Los Angeles from Anubis.
Jeff smirked. "Glad to be working with you again, Lipsyte."
Venkman also received a bit of spectral help, if you wished to call it that: from a drippy, green, potato-shaped Class Five he was more than familiar with. "Dammit, Slimer, I'm trying to stop the undead hordes of Gozer from destroying the Earth, here! Could you slobber all over me later?!"
The mountain shook, and the fury of Gozer resounded throughout the skies. Vincent walked on. When Vincent took his first step onto the summit, all went quiet.
It was a death quiet. It was a calm before the coming storm. Vincent stared at the moon. His gaze pierced the red veil, staring into the black abyss beyond, where the coming void awaited.
It emerged. As a great shadow separating from the very stars itself, its black form melted from around the scarlet moon. Great wings formed from the looming shadow, slowly taking shape.
"So..." Vincent murmured, gripping the staff with both hands, and locking one foot behind him, "...it begins."
Vincent spread his hands wide, as if to take flight. He took in a great breath, and his shout pierced the night sky, reverberating through the wasteland...
The staff flared up suddenly, and a bolt of power arced through the staff, and Vincent's body, dissipating as it reached skyward.
Thundering storm clouds swiftly rolled in from seemingly nowhere at all. The blanketing nimbus frothed and weaved, as some massive cauldron in the sky. A titanic blast of wind blew from behind Vincent; his own magic nearly knocking him from the summit. The wind stirred the storm clouds further, and the clouds became as black and terrible as the great formless shadow that resided above them.
Almost at once, the ground was wet as the very floodgates of heaven opened, bludgeoning the ground with a torrent of rainfall.
long and hard. "COME, FALSE GOD! SHOW ME YOUR DIVINE PROVIDENCE!"
In answer, the gargantuan form of Gozer burst through the cloud cover, a terrible form to behold. the wings of the black shadow seemed to stretch from one end of the sky to the other, and its body was the form of a man; skeletal, seeing no face or features, save the two crimson eyes, burning furious, like coals from the fires that burned in Hell.
Vincent grinned sadistically, and gripped the staff once again, chuckling. "Come on!" Vincent taunted, "Let's see what you false idols are
The Jeep bounced along under Winston's expert driving. Everyone else in the vehicle had their throwers ready...but in a turn of events that served more to unnerve than reassure them, they didn't encounter any opposition.
Egon and Winston looked at each other as they got their first look at their destination. "That has got to be it..."
Louis nodded, not saying anything. He could feel it.
All but Ben and Fritz could remember, even if only on a subconscious level which was the case with Louis, what Gozer's temple had looked like inside the ziggurat atop 550 Central Park West. It had been an otherworldly structure of glass with Egyptian accents, set against an angry alien sky. A flight of steps had led up to the structure and at a small landing in them there had been two plinths which was where Louis and Dana had taken their places after being possessed by Vinz Clortho and Zuul.
The temple that the Ghostbusters saw before them was like the original's bigger and much more evil brother. The structure itself hovered on a shattered piece of the landscape above a yawning chasm, an angry scar across the planet's face that appeared to go on forever. The temple was five stories high, with each level lined with what appeared to be Babylonian columns. The first level was shaped like the letter 'T' with the longest wall facing them and dominated by a large glowing arched entrance. The second level was circular and acted as a base for the third which was square and topped by row upon row of statues of fantastic and frightening creatures. The fourth level was once again round and topped by a impressive dome, and atop the dome was the fifth and final level which was then topped by a spire not unlike one you'd find on a cathedral. Maybe that's what it was supposed to be, a black cathedral build by the followers of Gozer and the souls of those claimed by the Destructor. It was impossible to guess how big the place had to be with them being so far away and that only served to make their hearts sink even lower when they saw the bridge they would have to drive across.
It stretched on for what seemed like miles, twisting and curving and yet completely unsupported. Like the Great Wall of China, the span featured small structures that were spaced out every several dozen feet, and each was topped with a statue of a Terror Dog. Winston hoped that they'd stay statues as gunned the engine, and the Jeep began to roar across it to the temple. There was a bridge to the glowing structure. Winston gunned the engine, and the Jeep roared across it to the temple.
The Jeep skittered to a stop, and the five jumped out, guns at ready. "Winston, the bomb..." Egon said. "Ben, you're probably the second sturdiest here--help him with it."
"Not saying much..." Ben rolled his eyes.
"Fritz--I will need your help when it's in position." Egon finished.
Fritz nodded. Then a strange smirk crossed his face.
"What?" Louis asked.
"It's amazing the things that go through your mind at a time like this. I just realized that for once I'm actually the youngest person here..."
Ben and Winston took the bomb out of the truck and placed it on the ground, near the black, pulsating crystal at the center of the structure. Egon nodded, and Ben and Winston redrew their throwers; Fritz clamped his to his belt and moved to aid Egon.
"Why aren't we being attacked? Doesn't Gozer know we're here?" Ben asked.
"Maybe not." Winston answered. "No more than one of us'd know when a virus reached our brain--it may not have expected anything to ever get past every other defense."
"I have waited over fourteen hundred years for this day..." the black-garbed woman snarled. "I will not allow anyone to stop this now--especially not you!!"
She gestured. An arc of sheer telekinetic force, driven by hate, sprang forth. The aqua blue energies crashed against an invisible barrier. The target was pushed back, but the field held.
"It is not for you to decide, Lady Scorpio..." Fallagar replied, his voice firm. "And I have the utmost faith in those who will determine the future..."
"Don't call me that!!" she howled. "I refuse to be bound by the games you and the others play!!" This time the blast came from underneath, catching him off guard. The force drove him upward; a second telekinetic blast caught him full force, throwing him a good fifty meters into one of the numerous outcroppings dotting the dismal landscape. "I am the Herald of Gozer!!"
"Torb!! Sloar!! Advance!!" the Gozer cult's second in command, the dark wizard who'd been called "Ragnarok", called out.
"I don't like the sound of that..." Jeff muttered. A creature that reminded Jeff of a tyrannosaurus Rex..except for the fact that it had not one, but TWO heads. Muscle and sinew hung from the creature like old rags. The only things holding the creature together, seemingly, were the scant sheathes of silvery plating covering its body.
Behind it, the ground ripped asunder, exposing a creature with a gaping maw, belching fire and sulphur, with flaming tentacles, shrieking it's unholy hatred.
"Yippe-ki-yay, Motherfucker!!" Bo shouted, having managed to jump on the Torb's back. It seemed to annoy the creature, and it started to try and buck him off--leaving it less able to defend itself from the angry Garou who moved to attack it.
Jeff was drawing a bead on the Sloar when something grabbed him.
"Jeff!!" John Lipsyte shouted.
Jeff realized it was another Sloar. The tentacles started to burn him...it hoisted him toward its fiery mouth...Jeff struggled to avoid that fate. Dammit...to go out like this...
And suddenly, there was a flash of blue light. The Sloar howled in pain and dropped Jeff. Its tentacle was frozen.
What the fuck?! Jeff wondered.
One of the Garou leaped in and sliced the tentacle off. A wizard blasted it. But just as that Sloar went down, the other grabbed the werewolf and the mage, and devoured them.
Fritz was trying not to think about Chelsea. Trying not to wonder if he'd ever get to see her again when the ground lurched violently, throwing him into the air.
He tumbled, heard shouting and a cracking noise. Before he could react, he was hanging over a precipice, Ben holding on to his left ankle.
"I got Egon!" Winston shouted; Egon was dangling from his grip.
He realized what had happened--they'd been hit with another massive tremor, and it had nearly thrown him and Professor Spengler into the gorge surrounding Gozer's heart.
"I got good news and bad news..." Louis whined. "The good news is that the bomb didn't move...the bad news is that the bridge fell apart and took our truck with it!!"
"Worry...about that...later..." Winston grunted, straining to haul Egon up. It would've been easier if he hadn't been weakened by his earlier ordeal, and Egon wasn't wearing a sixty pound pack...
"I...got you...mate..." Ben was straining even more, not being in as good a shape as Winston.
"AAAHHH!!" they heard Louis shout.
"Louis!!" the four cried in unison.
Louis's nightmare was standing before him. The image was shadowy, and translucent, but unmistakably that of a terror dog.
"You..." it's voice came into his mind. "The spell the sorcerer worked made my Host incapable of supporting me any longer...but you...pathetic specimen that you are, you were my last Host...I won't need to take time. I don't have to prepare you first, because you are already primed..."
His instincts were telling him to run. To hide. To pee himself and faint, like he'd done more than once before.
There was nowhere to run.
The bomb that was Earth's last hope was right behind him. If Vinz Clortho became solid again, he would destroy it, and secure Gozer's victory.
If Vinz Clortho became solid again, it would be a death sentence to everyone he ever cared about. Mom. Andrew. Lawrence. Ted and Annette Fleming. Janine.
"Hold still, Host...and I will make it easy..."
The translucent terror dog leaped for him.
No. He was not going to run. He was not going to hide. This wasn't then. He wasn't helpless this time.
Louis Bartholomew Tully's face hardened into a sneer. With a shout as feral as the terror dog's, he thumbed the trigger on the neutrona blaster and fired.
The shot slammed the shocked demonic minion dead on...it howled indignantly, writhing in the beam.
"Not. This. Time."
With a fluid motion, like he'd been doing it for years, his left hand found the ghost trap lashed to his proton pack, and threw it.
No. More. Nightmares.
He stomped the pedal, and the cone of light sucked the weakened, yelping Vinz Clortho into it's innards.
"Holy cow..." Winston breathed.
Louis stumbled. He felt just about ready to faint.
"Well..." Egon, himself gasping for air, clasped a hand over Louis's shaking shoulder. "Well done, Louis."
Winston helped pull Fritz up--at one point, the younger man was about ready to try to hit the emergency release on his pack. "Glad I didn't have to blow it..." Fritz said with a weak smirk. "I'd hate to have to listed to Joey complain about the $10,000 hit to the budget..."
Vincent swept the staff over his head, and his shout shook the mountainside.
A white bolt of lightning danced across the clouds, and lanced out at Gozer. The stroke of lightning pierced it, and tore gaping holes in its wings. Its mammoth form fell from the sky, crashing on the wastes below.
Vincent had only a moment to wait before a great shadowy skull loomed over behind him, and opened its abyssal maw. Vincent spun around, and grew wide eyed. Reflexively, he held the wizard's staff aloft. A cascade of ebon fire poured forth from the jaws of Gozer, engulfing the form of Vincent.
"TUUM INFERNIS IGNIS NON INJURIS MAGUS!!"
The flames instead parted around Vincent, the tumultuous heat only forcing sweat to trickle down the sides of his face.
Gozer reared up; his great mass an eclipse, blocking the little light that the scarlet moon had to offer. Darkest shadow and fierce flame surrounded Vincent as its enormous claws gripped the sides of the mountain. Its tremendous roar shook the ground on which Vincent stood, and Vincent's footing faltered. Yet, he stood firm.
"TU NEQUEO PRAETERIRE!!"
The great beast loomed, but fell back. Vincent raised his arms higher, and wider.
"TU NEQUEO PRAETERIRE!!"
The beast raised a mighty claw in defiance, and it fell with terrible strength and speed. The great black claw exploded into white fire, and it howled in unholy pain, raising its still-burning hand to the skies.
A blinding white light shone from the staff, and Vincent held it high.
"SACRES IGNIS! EXIRE, ET FALSUM DEUM CONSUMERE!!"
Blue fire erupted from the staff, and engulfed the shadow, and the flames silhouetted the great horror of Gozer. It was a fearsome deity indeed. Its skeletal form burned and writhed, and it clutched its horrific skeletal face. Its titanic ebony wings withered away, consumed by the exorcist fire.
Vincent stood triumphant, but felt weak. He felt the hot wetness and the copper taste of blood on his lips as it trickled from his nose and beyond his chin. The hair on his temples turned a flat grey, and Vincent's weather beaten face had taken on an aged look. He fell to one knee.
The great beast tried once again to crush Vincent from beneath its clawed fist.
Vincent used both hands to raise the staff above him, and gave a shout. His bellow resounded for miles around.
And the staff came down, sundering the summit. The fist of Gozer came down, as well, landing its blow. Gozer fell into the chasm below, and Vincent fell from the mountainside, his cry of pain drowned by the great thundering pain of Gozer, and the sundering of the mountain...
Iain cleaved a Torb in two. Excalibur was soaked with the ichors of a number of enemies he thought Professor Spengler would have trouble keeping track of.
The black garbed Nephandus--"Ragnarok"--who had performed the ritual that tore open the hole to Gozer's realm, shouted a curse. Black fire played on his hands, and shot them at Iain like a blowtorch...
Excalibur shone, and the black fire was deflected.
Both were surprised by this turn of events, but having been on the battlefield before Iain recovered his wits quicker. It's the sword of Arthur...the magic of Merlin or the Lady of the Lake is watching out for me.
In another circumstance, he might have hesitated--but he was at war just as he'd been in Iraq a year before, and in a swift motion he swung the sword...
The cultist's head and body flew in separate directions.
"We're committed now, aren't we?" Ben said, taking a moment to look at the gaping chasm surrounding them, including where the pathway they'd driven across used to be. The pathway--and the vehicle itself--were still falling, for all they knew.
"There's no turning back now." Winston nodded, gravely. "But we knew it could come to this all along."
"So did John. And Ernie, and Shades." Fritz added, taking off his glasses, and putting them in his left chest pocket.
"I got no regrets." Louis said, sounding more confident than any of them--Egon and Winston included--could ever remember hearing him. "I just beat the monster that's haunted my nightmares for the last twenty one years--as far as I'm concerned, I'm going out on the highest note I ever could!"
"All I need is finish the final sequence..." Egon said. "As soon as I push this button, the overload starts." He looked at them. "There was no need to prime the remote trigger, so sixty seconds is all that we will have."
All four men looked at each other, and nodded.
Professor Egon Spengler nodded back, and jabbed the button with his gloved hand.
Ridiculous sub creature...
The voice of Gozer roared. I sense the stench of all of those who ever opposed me about you...the ones who were not gods...and the one who's sorcery defied me before them...
The blast of hellfire swirled around, pounding through the wizard's Parma Magica...Vincent's coat and flight suit were on fire...
You are not a God either...
A tendril physically slammed Vincent into the stratum wall.
But I am.
And all of them--all of the pretenders, all of the fools who ever laughed at me, all of the pathetic, simpering mortals on your world. All of Xodiac's offspring will fear me. Iaoue Himself will grovel for my forgiveness...
AND I WILL NOT GRANT IT!!
Vincent screamed as the demonic monster slammed him into the wall of the chasm again, feeling his bones grind and break under the horror's attack.
Ray Stantz gripped his proton thrower. It was hot in his hands, even through his gloves--as they guy who'd built and programmed it, he knew exactly how to disable the auto-shutdown.
Liz Hawthorne Stantz was right beside him.
"I always said I knew I'd never die alone..." Ray said out loud.
"You never were." she replied, knowingly.
Vincent felt the pain engulfing him.
"...Look at you, you hypocrite...didn't the Bible, YOUR book you hold so dear say 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live?' Deuteronomy 18, verses 10 and following: 'Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritualist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you." Adam retorted.
Was Bestler right? Have I been living a lie? How could a just and loving God condemn his servant to Hell for being born with the Gift? WHY?!
He realized, through the fog of pain, that Gozer had stopped beating him.
The demonic bird creature looked away...
...to the direction, Vincent knew, its black heart lay.
WHAT...IS THIS?! the horror roared. THE SUB CREATURES DARE?!
The Destructor started to more to leave...
NO!! Vincent's mind screamed. He could not allow the monster to leave. He could not allow the monster to save itself.
He felt the tickle of a familiar, but dangerous power. Twilight...the uncontrolled flow of magic through a magus's body. A power that could warp him...or even destroy him...
But any other alternative was now gone.
His grip tightened around the Staff of Merlin. It glowed with a bright, white light. He weakly pulled out the rosary hanging around his neck, and wrapped it around the staff.
God help me...I ask not for the power to save myself. I ask not for the forgiveness of my many sins. I even ask not for you to smite this unholy horror. I ask you for the power to stop this monster long enough for my friends to succeed--because I know they will!! Give me this strength, even if it costs my life!!
Gozer looked back at him.
Vincent Abraham Belmont felt the power course through him. The magic burning his body from the inside out; a spell of a dozen magnitudes or more, of a kind a human body was never meant to contain...
"THY WILL BE DONE!!"
The form of Vulguus Zildrohar, Gozer the Gozarian, the Lord of the Sebouillia, ripped apart in a blaze of white fire. The mighty demon howled his insult and pain to the skies.
Blood and ichors stained the fields. The bodies of many a werewolf, and many a wizard, and uncounted demonic hordelings, lay piled on the ground.
Peter Venkman spared a glance, seeing King Albrecht literally rip a hordeling in half.
He saw Nate Inugumi and Gabe Martin about to overwhelmed by two giant trolls.
He made one desperate glance, hoping to find Ray in all of this. He was never going to see his wife or his children again, but it would be nice to see his little brother (in spirit if not in blood) one last time...
Slimer squealed, and pointed.
The summoning circle that the Hermetic wizards had used to call Slimer and all the other friendly ghosts had been forgotten about in the press of battle.
But it was glowing. And a shape of the purest white light began to appear...
"Fifteen Seconds!!" Egon shouted.
Regrets? Winston Zeddemore thought to himself. That I won't watch my daughter grow up. That I won't be there for Kaila. But I know I will see them again some day...
It's attention is clearly back on me...I will not survive it long, but it will be enough. It has to be enough.
The white light blasted into the skies, heading toward the heart of Gozer
"ZERO!!" Egon shouted.
The globe of elements began to vibrate. The whine of the attached cyclotrons reached deafening intensity...
Matter and anti-matter. Fire, Earth, Water, and Air, and mana. Science and Magic. All met, for a fraction of a second, in a metaphysical orgy of conflicting forces, pushing against each other and all around them...
...Reaching a indescribable climax that had reality itself howling an orgasm of pain as it was ripped apart.
The horror shouted, as the very fabric of it's dark realm began to shred, the shockwave of force spreading from the temple in which the creature's black heart lay.
The shock wave slammed into it, blasting the monster apart, like a sand sculpture in a wind tunnel. As it was destroyed, it's shape seemed to shift...for just a moment, a Tyrannosaurus...a Sloar...a human woman with severe features...
...and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, who smiled at him gratefully, and mouthed the words "Thank you" as he was shattered into nothingness.
Vincent Abraham Belmont nodded in return, waiting for the shockwave to claim him. They did it.
But instead of the destruction he expected, his world was engulfed in white light...
Are we alive?
Louis wondered to himself. Or is this what death is like...
He thought of Dana, and Janine, and his family...he'd miss them.
From the white light, an image appeared. Female, with long blonde hair...familiar, somehow. Not actually there...more like a dream the he had forgotten...
"While it takes time, you find someone else. Someone all your own--someone who loves you and only you. Not Peter Venkman or Andre Wallance. Not Egon Spengler. You."
Even the voice seemed familiar...almost like Janine's daughter, now that he thought about it...
Ben removed his glasses with one hand and wiped his watering eyes that stung from the nearly blinding light. I'm sorry, Junior... I'm sorry, Andrea
The Herald of Gozer stood, robes in tatters, a few straggling strings of red hair framing the dark green eye showing from under her torn hood, glowering contempt for her opponent. The scythe of pure psionic force rose over her head, ready to cleave off another limb if given a chance.
The Lord of the Steady Wind stood there, expression more serene, as another blast of pure electric force arced and swirled in his outstretched left hand.
She suddenly turned, as the skies were filled by white light.
"NO!!" she howled.
"Fulmenius gladio!!" he shouted, driving the attack home.
She stood shocked--in more than one way--for a moment, she looked less angry, less inhuman...and more like a frightened child. She didn't resist as the lightning blade tore into her abdomen...
I told you they would do it...
The man called Zandrik Fallagar allowed himself just a second of satisfaction as the white light consumed them both...
Vincent gasped in awe.
A giant woman, pale, the size of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, with flaming hair and wings, stood looking down on him. "Seraphic Radiance..." he realized.
He saw everyone else, and knew that they would be all right.
The Seraphim nodded, and the light became brighter than the Sun.
The beating of white wings, and he lost consciousness, a soft voice in his ears...
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant..."
7:45 AM GMT
All at once, Rosey could've sworn she'd gone deaf as she could no longer hear the half-dozed screeching Containment Unit alarms.
She opened her eyes and she could see that Ben was as equally perplexed. Whilst dust still trailed down from the ceiling and the fluorescents swung from side to side it was as if they were in the eye of the storm, but all of the Containment Unit diagnostics were okay even if not 'peachy', and the machine was humming contently to itself.
An uneasy silence hung over the building and perhaps the world, even Mary Sue was stunned into a rare moment of quiet reflection... Leaving the two young adults to wonder 'just how many might have survived?'
7:45 AM GMT
"Mrs. Spengler!!" Joey Williams shouted. "Look!!"
"The portal!" Kylie shouted. "What's it doing?!"
The swirling tear in the sky began to distort and shrink. An unholy howling could be heard from it.
Then a blast of white light streamed from the hole in the sky, striking the ground a good quarter mile away from them.
When the light faded, the hole was gone. The darkness in the sky began to fade. It became just another late spring morning in England.
"What just happened?!" Robert shouted. "Did we win, or..."
Janine unholstered her particle thrower. "Only one way to find out..." she said, gesturing toward the impact site.
"What's that noise?" Eduardo asked.
"Sounds like whistling..." Tommy Simpson commented.
Recognition dawned. "The bloody Colonel Bogey March!!"
Ghostbusters, magi, and werewolves were in formation, like a triumphant army. Which, of course, they were. At the point, the four Founders of Ghostbusters International, the only beings to have ever gone up against the ancient horror more than once--and come back to tell about it both times.
Unsurprisingly, the scene disintegrated into chaotic shouts of triumph.
"Well..." Eduardo told Kylie, deadpan. "They're not dead."
"We came, we saw, we blew his fucking ass up!!" Bo Holbrook yelled, lighting a stogie. Jen Spengler rolled her eyes, but gripped his arm a little tighter.
"You gotta stop scaring me like that!!" Janine chided jokingly, the worry melting away.
"I'm sorry." Egon replied simply, just content to be with her again.
It didn't take long for it to turn into a group hug, which even Louis was invited to join.
"You're such a glory hog." Iain remarked at Ben as the spectacled Ghostbuster approached, but the statement was underpinned with a broad grin as he heartily hugged his comrades, sending dust pluming from Ben's head and shoulders and causing Tommy to wince in pain.
"Ow. Ow. I pulled my shoulder muscles, Iain." Tommy pleaded, but still exhilarated and euphoric.
Jill pressed through the crowd until she found who she was looking for. Vincent Belmont was being supported by Gabe Martin and Nate Inugami. He looked so pale--for a moment, her heart stopped again...until he looked up at her with weary--but joyful--eyes.
"I think we lost the connection before you heard my answer..." Jill told him, tears in her eyes. "The answer is yes..."
Morgond, the Magus Dominus scanned the crowd. He shook his head gently, with a little bit of sadness in his eye, for he knew that at least one face was not in it...
"It may not be candy and teddy bears--but we'll take it!" Winston quipped. He looked at the horizon, at the Sun shining its golden light on a brand new day. A day the world very nearly didn't have. "I love this planet!"
New York City
3: 45 AM EDT
Sleep was just about to finally overtake the nervous and scared children when they were jolted to attention.
"This is Vernon Fenwick, Channel Six News, and our affiliates at Sky News in England have just told us that the mysterious hole in the sky that appeared above Tonnes Quarry, south of London, has vanished. And..." Fenwick held his hand to his earpiece. "And that we are receiving live, raw footage that shows members of Ghostbusters International, having apparently dealt with the situation..."
Images began to play across the screen. Perhaps no one in the room was more joyous than Eric Stantz, seeing not only the father who had disappeared the previous evening, but...
"Dad and Mom?!" he laughed, tears in his eyes. "Sometimes she surprises even me..."
The Spengler Twins held onto each other and squealed as the pan of the camera found their parents, holding each other in much the same way.
And when Peter Venkman winked at the camera, a weary Cheshire grin in place, Oscar, Jessica, and their mother, shook their heads, and hugged each other tight.
Los Angeles, California
12: 45 AM PDT
"Repeating, Sky News in England is reporting that the mysterious hole in the sky has disappeared, and the members of Ghostbusters International who went into it have apparently returned..."
There were whoops of victory all around her, but Chelsea Aberdeen couldn't join in. Yet.
"There's J!" Chad exclaimed. "And Jeff!"
"Who's that with Doctor Stantz?" Leon wondered.
It wasn't until the camera panned to one shell-shocked face, looking straight at the camera--as though Dr. Fritz Baugh was looking through the thousands of miles straight at her--that she felt a wave of relief and gratitude. She broke down in tears, saying a silent prayer of thanks.
June 12th, 2004
Four Days Later
The winds blew calmly over the headquarters of the Ghostbusters UK.
The membership of Ghostbusters International was assembling once more--this time, thanks to the generosity of the Magus Dominus, the Order of Hermes would be supplying a teleportation spell to get the lot of them back to the United States.
With a couple of notable exception...
"You sure you want to do this, Spengs?" Venkman asked. His old friend was rechecking the air surfaces of the ECTO-4, a half-eaten Twinkie in his hand. "The teleportation circle is a lot faster..."
"True." Egon agreed, finishing the Twinkie. Unlike Venkman, he was back in his familiar blue flight suit. "But the ECTO-4 has to get back home somehow, and it would take a rather gruesome amount of magical resource to teleport it--so why do so when it can get back to New York under its own power?" He gave Venkman a mischievous look. "Besides, it's not like I'm traveling alone this time."
Janine appeared with a clipboard, wearing her matching flight suit. "I wrote down all those numbers like you said, Egon--and they look more or less like what you said they'd be." She handed him the clip board as Venkman smirked and rolled his eyes. "Now can we get goin'? The Twins' fifth birthday's tomorrow, you know..."
"Yeah, well, just don't crash into the ocean when you're distracted." Venkman said cheerfully. "If you died like that after surviving the Second Coming of Gozer, I'd have no choice but to belly laugh rather inappropriately at the funeral."
He left them to finish preparations for takeoff as he walked back to the assemblage. Yeah...I got more reason to get home quicker. My wife's still back home, probably ready to kill me for all this...
Ray and Liz had already left--the Magus Dominus himself had ordered her to take a month off after this. It was too good a chance to pass up, and they'd already arranged to teleport home, collect Eric, and spend a month with her family in Nova Scotia.
"I have to once again offer my congratulations, Vincent." Fritz said. "August, you said?"
"That is correct." Vincent nodded. "Jill and I decided we'd wasted enough time over the years...seems to be endemic to Ghostbusters romances, doesn't it? Anyway, we hope to have everything wrapped up here so we can return in July and finalized everything after that."
"I suppose to everyone else, it might seem sort of shotgun." Ben Sr. chuckled. "Though let me remind everyone there are dangers to getting married too quickly..."
"Then what about you, then, Dr. Baugh?" Ben Jr. looked at him conspiratorially. "I understand you've run up quite a bill conversing with Miss Aberdeen..."
"Erm..." Fritz looked away. "Let's not get a head of ourselves. We've only been actually dating a few months...I haven't even known her quite three years yet..."
"Looks like they're about ready go to, Fritzy..." Bo came up, slapping him on the shoulder. "Unless you want to stay here and learn how to drink tea and call soccer 'football', we'd better get moving."
"Think how good it will be to see Miss Aberdeen in person again." Vincent smirked.
"Ye Gods, we won't see them for a week after this..." Jeff rolled his eyes. "Hey...anyone seen Jeremy?"
There were some worried looks all around.
"How in the hell did you deal with having done that, Mister Tully?"
Louis looked around at Jeremy.
"Um...you can call me Louis..." Louis replied nervously. "Considering that we're both in a club with only two or four members, depending on how you look at it, I'd feel weird if you kept this 'Mister Tully' stuff."
Jeremy nodded. "Okay..."
Louis sighed as he wiped his glasses. "As to how to handle it...well, I threw myself into my work, chased a few gullible Eastern European models...and spent twenty one years waking up at least once a week with screaming nightmares. That help?"
"So much to look forward to." Jeremy smiled wanly.
"At least you have something I didn't--someone to talk about it to. Someone who really does know exactly what you went through." Louis told him. "I couldn't even talk about it to Dana, really, though we tried a time or two. Um..." Louis looked around. "Speaking of Gate Keepers, how did it go, yesterday?"
"Hah?" Jeremy was shocked. "How did you know.?!"
"I wish I could say it was some special Keymaster insight, but I just happened to be heading to pee when you snuck out..."
The events of the day before played over again in Jeremy's mind's eye...
When he entered, he noticed that there were less than ten students in the entire building. That there were few chairs and most of them were filled with parents waiting for their children; he decided to lean against a bare wall until class was over.
That took about fifteen minutes.
"The little buggers still won't put the sparring equipment away by themselves. They have no idea how much this stuff costs," she stated to no one in particular.
"Well, you know they could balance the budget for this place. Give you some time off," he said as he stooped over to help her pick up.
She didn't look at him. "That would be so kind of them. But I'm gonna hafta close this place down if business doesn't pick up before long."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sure the neighborhood will miss it."
"Not really. The neighborhood seems to want this place to go because they say that the violence at schools and at the parks seems to be rising, and they blame me."
"That's just wrong of them. And how do they know that it's your students?"
"Because the fights or whatever seem to be with kids that know karate."
"Oh. Well, you only teach it, what they do with it after they leave here is not your fault, it's theirs," he said, trying to comfort her.
"They still blame me because I teach it."
"So? They blame you because it's easier than blaming the TV. But that's no reason to give up. Just move if you can."
"I've searched everywhere around here, and there's no place that has the adequate open floor space for a dojo of this size, or any size for that matter."
"Well, you could always relocate," he suggested.
"Where? There are already more well established dojos in the area..."
"I meant to LA." he said "With me."
At that statement, she got a surprised look on her face. It was true that they had gotten close, even though it was mostly Vinz doing the talking, but part of it was the feelings that Jeremy himself felt the first time he laid eyes on her. And he knew that she was interested in him just by the way she looked at him. But he needed to know if it was love or just the animal instincts of some otherworldly dogs.
"I...I...don't know," was all she could respond with. At that point she wondered if every member of GBI that had a near-death experience with a member of the opposite sex fell in love that fast. There just seemed to be a quality about him that just seemed irresistible to her, but couldn't figure out what it was. She was trying to figure out something to say when he responded.
"It's OK if you don't. I'd understand completely. I mean it's a big step in such a short relationship, but it's up to you."
She just stared at him. Every boyfriend she had, both of them, had wanted to move in the same day they met. But they never listened to what she wanted. This American left it up to her if she wanted to move in with him. No wonder she liked him.
He took a huge chance at saying that, with a fifty-fifty chance of the outcome he wanted. But no matter what, his feelings for her couldn't be ignored.
"You could move after you get your affairs here in order. It doesn't have to be tomorrow," he added with a glimmer of hope in his eyes, knowing full well that he had to go back to America in the morning.
"I need time..." she finally said. "I'm sorry, but..."
"I understand." Jeremy nodded, feeling a sinking feeling in his stomach.
"It could have gone better." Jeremy admitted. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper with an email address on it. "But it could have gone a lot worse, too!" And she did kiss me before I left...
"Has there been any word of the Archmage?" King Albrecht asked the Magus Dominus.
Morgond shook his head, but a slight fond grin was visible under his beard. "Zandrik is very difficult to destroy--and he is of a kind that doesn't feel time the way even one such as myself does. He disappeared in the Fifteenth Century, and nobody in the Order saw him for five hundred years; we thought he'd been lost to Final Twilight. Then he turned up at the Special Tribunal of 2122 Pisces... It's just a matter of when--but he will be back, and probably when it seems least likely."
"So is this really all over?" Eduardo asked. "Is Gozer gone for good?"
"Well, technically, Uncle Egon doesn't think so." Jen answered. "A primal, supernatural entity such as that is almost impossible to completely, utterly, irretrievably annihilate. It is entirely possible that it's etheric substance may eventually recongeal." She raised one eyebrow. "But he estimated it probably won't be for at least three million years."
"Good enough for me." Eduardo replied.
Mary Sue, meanwhile, was whining. "But after all this I never got to meet Egon!!"
Venkman rubbed his aching temple. "Now I really know why Spengs went home separate from us..."
"Tell Dr. Stantz we'll keep an eye on the quarry and send him bi-weekly PKE reports and then monthly ones according to the timetable he set us." Tommy asked as he shook Winston's hand.
"If I didn't he'd probably keep asking me for them." He smiled in return and then faced the two youngest members of GBUK. "Ben, Rosey, thanks for watching over things here... if your Containment Unit had blown up things might've gone differently."
"Piece of cake." Rosey joked.
He then turned to look at both Eric and Adam "And you guys should know, there's positions for both of you at the Fort if you're interested in taking a sabbatical. Just ask."
"I'll keep that in mind Winston, my contract's up with these guys in a few months." Adam smirked.
As Winston bid his goodbyes Barney and Irena bid their own.
"C'mon, you have to go to Tijuana!" Barney insisted. "There's some fine tail out there, and I mean that literally."
"As unique a trip I'm sure it'll be... I'm needed here." Leon replied, without the least bit of sorrow at missing a road trip with the Ragabash.
"I'll try find some time where I can take a vacation... I think you'll like Shannon." She smiled and let a moment pass before shaking his hand. "Thank you."
"It was for Gaia." Leon replied and the three parted company.
As the light of the teleportation spell faded, the members of the Ghostbusters UK exhaled.
"Well, this has definitely been a learning experience." Ben said.
"Please, don't tell me you're going soft in your old age?" Iain chuckled. "This is the part about all of the lessons about friendship and faith?"
"No." Ben shook his head. "The learning experience is this: next time Iain wants to go digging around in Solitary Confinement--don't let him!"
Iain pretended to hit Ben as the group turned and walked back into the former insane asylum they called home.
Based on Ghostbusters Created by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
Extreme Ghostbusters Created by Fil Barlow
Ghostbusters West Coast Division Created by Andy Harness and Vincent Belmont