HEARTS IN ECLIPSE
PART THREE

By Fritz Baugh


GBI Case File GBNY-1998-16/387
January 1998
Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year Sixteen
550 Central Park West had been built in the Roaring Twenties, when all looked bright for the United States in the afterglow of the victory in the World War; it was also known as the Shandor Building after it's designer, architect Ivo Shandor.

"Where it all began..." Peter Venkman muttered to himself from the passenger seat of the ECTO-1.

"I'd say that was a no brainer..." Ray nodded in joyless agreement as the vehicle came to a stop under Winston Zeddemore's deft handling.

The three men and younger Ghostbuster Garrett Miller exited the vehicle (Garrett rolling out the back ramp on his wheel chair), and Ray began to pass out proton packs. All were in full Ghostbuster uniform--Venkman in his brown and green/blue, Winston in his aqua and red, Ray in his tan and brown, and Garrett in the monochrome tan of a junior member of Ghostbusters New York.

A blue Ford Mustang pulled up next. Roland Jackson, Gabriel Martin, and Vincent Belmont were all wearing the same tan flight suits as Garrett.

The last vehicle skidded to an angry stop, the doors of the yellow Volkswagen emitting the last two junior members of GBNY--Kylie Griffin and Eduardo Rivera, neither wearing a uniform--and the driver of the vehicle.

Janine Melnitz looked at the building, eyes on fire. "The little prick wanted a showdown, he's gonna get a showdown." she snarled. Her uniform matched those of the other older Ghostbusters, with only the orange of the collar and cuffs keeping it from being an exact match of the blue and pink uniform currently missing from the line-up.

They all looked up at the building....it was now deserted, covered in tendrils of violet energy that matched the power signature of the energies thrown by the possessed fix-it shop employee earlier in the day, and by the transmogrified Louis Tully only an hour before.

"What's this crappy old dump gotta do with any of this?" Eduardo grumbled as he buckled on his pack. He disdained uniform, and was wearing a vest, blue jeans, and cowboy boots.

"You never study..." Kylie rolled her eyes at him. Her outfit resembled football padding, with the large, round Mark 2 ghost trap attached to its back.

"It's what Louis said when he grabbed Egon--'where it all began'..." Janine said, jabbing off the safety of her neutrona wand.

"This was the building Shandor designed to attract energy to summon Gozer the Gozarian..." Ray explained.

"It was all in the movie, Eduardo." Gabe pointed out.

"I never saw it. Plus Murray doesn't look like Dr. V anyway..."

Ray shook his head and continued "Louis was living here in 1983, when that all happened...so was Dana Barrett."

"So this really is where it all began, at least for him. If Dana hadn't been haunted by Zuul, she never would've gone to us..." Venkman continued. "If that hadn't happened she never would've met me. And Louis never would've met..."

"I ain't listenin' to that lecture again right now, Venkman." Janine interrupted angrily.

"The point is..." Winston stepped in, hoping to prevent the discomfort from getting out of control "This is the place he associates with starting all his trouble. So yeah, this is where it 'all began'..."

"So what are the chances Poindexter is going to just let us walk in?" Garrett asked. "Or roll, as the case may be."

Winston wistfully wished he'd had the time to try and find Dalia, the shaman who'd helped him awaken the spirit of the Ibandi chieftain Shima Buku. That Tangalli mojo might be a real help right about now...especially since Louis is apparently mixed up with the Ibandi "Lord of Gloom"...

Ray pulled out a PKE meter. "I'm almost afraid to turn it on..."

"Then don't" Vincent suggested. "If you're wondering whether the Professor is here, I am indeed detecting his essence. It's not being masked, and I doubt even with the Master of Gloom's power Tully's sophisticated enough in the ways of magic to generate a false signal." There was a noticeable look of just a tinge of relief in the crowd. "But this barrier is powerful."

"Power this!!!" Eduardo snarled, getting annoyed once more at Vincent "showing off", and blasted the tendrils with his proton gun.

A nearby tendril shot toward him.

"Eddie!!!" Kylie called, and shoved him out of the way of the tendril.

"Yep. Not the warmest of welcomes." Garrett deadpanned.

For the second time in too short an interval, Egon Spengler awakened to pain...there was a dull, unpleasant throb to the wounds he'd received back at Christmastime, compounded with a dull ache at the back of his head.

Within seconds, his computerlike brain rebooted the last events before he'd gone unconscious...the appearance of the transmogrified Louis Tully...Were Janine and the others all right? Did he...

He opened one eye just enough to see...the giant Louis--who looked like he should be shouting "LOUIS SMASH!!!"--was there, staring at the staircase.

Egon processed several thoughts at once This was his apartment at Central Park West, where he lived before he was possessed by Vinz Clortho...and the gem in his head matches the one Kylie and the others found earlier today. However he got it, he's clearly in the spell of Anthal-Noje, the "revenge spirit"..."By placing the heart in eclipse, the gloom grows stronger"

"Louis..." Egon finally spoke. "What are you trying to do?"

The monstrous Louis turned to face him, the purple gem sparking with violet energy. "Awake, huh, Spengler? Just in time for the show..."

"Show?" Egon tried to keep his voice as calm, but firm, as possible. "Louis, I know there are some unresolved issues, but..."

"Oh, shut the fuck up!!!" Louis snarled, and a violet tendril wrapped itself around Egon's mouth. "You don't have the slightest idea why I'm doing this, because you don't have one ounce of emotion in your scrawny body."

"But then again, that's what they all go for, isn't it? Some emotionally dead twerp or a smirking dick or some workaholic fuckturd who'll crap all over them to further his career.." he grabbed a lamp and powderized it. "While the guys who'd treat a woman like a queen if given a chance get ignored..."

"But now the nerd gets his revenge...you assholes aren't going to get away with this anymore...I'll even let you watch what's happening..." Louis grinned, and with a wave of his hand a shimmering image appeared.

Egon could see the Ghostbusters--Roland's team, the two new recruits, his old comrades, and Janine...thank goodness she's all right--splitting into groups.

"And even if they get in, they'll find some nasty surprises waiting for them." Louis gloated. "The Lord of Gloom has given me the power of a god!!!"

Within moments, the three smaller groups took up positions. "Vincent?" Venkman asked.

"Almost ready, Doctor Venkman..."

Janine's eyes narrowed. I swear, if he's hurt one hair on Egon's head...

"Hey, er...be careful, alright?" Eduardo finally said to Kylie sheepishly.

"Yeah..." she responded simply, Venkman's words of earlier coming back to her "For the love of whatever God you want to worship, you two get your act together. I hate sounding like a selfish ass, but I really do NOT want to go through this bullshit again..." But what about Vincent? Why do I keep getting this weird vibe around him?

Vincent cleared his throat. "This spell will take care of the barrier. When you feel the wind kick up, fire at the barrier..."

Vincent leaned back gracefully, and began moving his arms around, his hands almost weaving the spell in a literal sense

"What's Mr. Wizard doing, Tai Chi or somethin?" Eduardo in a disapproving voice

"He's busy Eddie....don't interrupt..." Kylie rolled her eyes.

I swear she comes to his defense one more time... Eduardo thought to himself with a scowl

Vincent's voice called out, almost echoing...

"Per usum meum, Ego evocare venti fortunate abjicere magicus illus prohibere transitum nostrum...."

Vincent's voice became louder, and more firm, as what seemed to be the sound of disembodied voices hummed a single high note, as the the air around them seemed to crackle...the wind began to pick up...

"...Hic Magicus inflectere ad sussare ex mundanus ventus!!!"

Vincent's right arm extended into the air as he shouted the final words, the wind about him whipping his long hair wildly about.

"On three..." Roland called.

"THREE!!!" they all called in unison, proton fire hitting the Shandor Building's entrance from three different directions.

"Now!!!" Janine yelled, as the combined attack and the mystic whammy Belmont was throwing caused the field surrounding the entrance to warp and buckle. She, Venkman, and Kylie fired, and a hole appeared.

"Quarterback sneak!!!" Venkman whooped, as the assembled group jumped into the hole

No sooner had they entered, than the doors slammed shut, and more energy tendrils appeared inside.

"No rest for the weary..." Venkman quipped. "I'm getting too old for this shit..."

About time you got inside... Louis Tully's voice called out of the ether. You figured it out even without his help. I'm impressed...well, I think you know the way from here, don't you?

"Aw, no..." Venkman realized, looking up. He wasn't enjoying the thought of climbing all those stairs again...

"What does he mean by that?" Janine asked.

Venkman couldn't resist. "We go up..."

"Problem." Garrett pointed out.

"More than one..." Gabe called out, pointing. "Look!!!"

A glowing form had appeared...a sneering teenage boy, nevertheless dressed in shorts and a t-shirt more befitting a ten year-old. He had short hair and large glasses, and looked very much like a younger version of Louis.

Venkman, Ray, and Winston looked at each other. "Oh crap...is that who I think it is?" Ray asked out loud.

Janine nodded, having seen the person in question more recently than they had. "Yeah...Louis's spoiled brat nephew, Lawrence."

"Anybody want to play?!?!" Lawrence said, with a maniacal gleam in his eye, and a throng of giant toys appeared: several of the hit toys of the late Eighties and early Nineties. Power Guy, Murray the Mantis, Shredder from the Ninja Turtles, and the original Green Power Ranger. "About time Uncle Louis got me some good toys..."

The toys attacked. The giant Power Guy figure screamed "By The Power of Greyskull!!" and chopped at Winston with his sword.

"I think he's mixing up references..." Ray pointed out. "Greyskull was from He-man..."

"I don't think he cares, Ray!!!" Venkman shouted, shooting at the Green Ranger, who shouted a battle cry and dodged easily.

"How in the hell did Lawrence get here?" Janine snarled, barely missing being tagged by Murray the Mantis.

"It's not really him..." Vincent surmised. "It's a projection of the gloom gem...a projection of Louis's image of Lawrence..."

"Well, well, well, if it isn't the red haired bitch..." Lawrence sneered. "You got mad if I tried to call you 'Aunt Janine', even though you were...well, I get the last laugh now, and you're going to call me Uncle!!!"

"Your jokes are just as dumbass as the real Lawrence's" Janine retorted.

"I think..." Vincent mused. "THIS should help out

Vincent spread his hands outward and away from his body, reminding Venkman of the conductor of an orchestra.

"Falsus memoriae quod detinare....Super Ventis ex nudiustertius...."

A purplish and lightly sparkling mist coalesced out of thin air around them; time seemed to slow to a crawl

"....Tu perfunctio tuum promisum..."

Vincent shouted the final words as he swung his arms and torso in a circular fashion, seemingly twisting the very room they stood in. "Apage!!! Et facere non injuriam!!!"

The toys and Lawrence all froze. "Fire!!!" Vincent shouted. "I can't hold this long!!!"

Within seconds, the frozen Lawrence and assembled toys were blasted--they vanished into purple haze when hit with enough proton energy.

Vincent staggered, and Winston grabbed the younger man's shoulder. "What's wrong, Belmont?"

"The spells I have cast within moments of each other have taken more from me than I had anticipated..." Vincent explained. "And I have not eaten today..."

Garrett rolled his eyes and smirked "Gotta love a guy whose mind's in his stomach..."

"When a wizard casts a spell, it is not unlike doing any physically exerting activity..." Vincent added

Ray nodded knowingly. "Even wizards get tired."

Vincent looked rueful "I was a fool not to bring my satchel with me...even more of a fool to not bring something to eat..." He looked almost contrite. "Sorry, but it looks like I may have to sit this one out..."

Venkman nodded. "We have some important issues that won't wait for Spooky to get his game face on."

Vincent staggered. "Between the barrier and that...I'm not sure how much I have left..."

"I can't go up the stairs anyway." Garrett admitted ruefully. "When Vince gets his mojo working, we'll blast back out of here...if we don't hear from you in like, an hour, we'll call those assholes in Brooklyn..."

"I think that might be best." Ray nodded. "Be careful."

"You too." Vincent replied.

As Vincent watched everyone leave, Garrett pulled a Zagnut bar out of his pocket and tossed it at Belmont's head.

Vincent deftly snatched it out of midair, and turned to look at his "attacker"

"Nice catch, Bruce Lee..." Garrett chuckled. "I was saving that for after this mess, but eat up if you need a boost...the sooner you kick start that voodoo again, the sooner we can catch up to them."

For what seemed to be the first time...Vincent smiled at Garrett.

"Well, well, well...they took out the first challenge quicker than I thought..." Louis admitted. "I didn't know about that hippie guy's power...but he's out of the game now, it looks like...and they'll find the next obstacle even more fun..."
"Well, Peter..." Ray grunted on the tenth floor. "Decided which floor you want to throw up on yet?"

"I'm leaning toward just going ahead and getting it done early..." Venkman replied. "Lean a little closer..."

"Well, well well...looks like we gots company..." a snide Brooklyn voice called out of the darkness.

"Oh dear...and such dirty ones, too..." a pinched, prissy voice joined it.

"You know what this needs--a little cleaning!!!" A glowing teenage boy jumped out of the darkness, and blasted Ray with a giant super soaker. He was dressed in baggy clothes, and a backward ballcap sat on top of his head.

"Victor?!" Janine shouted, realizing the attacker was a grotesque parody of her nephew, Victor Irwin.

"Hey Aunt Jay...sorry I gots to kill you all and stuff...but I've seen the light. Uncle Lou is a pretty cool guy, and you're a stupid bitch for dumpin' him!!!" Victor sneered, and fired at her.

"You all right, Ray?" Winston asked.

"Yeah..." Ray responded. "It was just water..."

Then the room was filled with a horrid, shrieking tone that made all of them wince in pain.

"Huh..." the other attacker said indignantly as he floated into view. He was a taller man dressed in dandified clothes, and carrying a violin. He stopped to pull out a small bottle and spray it in his nose.

"Who the fuck is that foofy jerkwad?" Eduardo grumbled.

"Andre..." Venkman replied.

"Andre?" Roland asked, still not understanding.

"Andre Wallance. Oscar's biological father--Dana's ex. He was a violinist in the orchestra..."

Victor started shooting again, and Andre played another disharmonic number on his violin.

"I don't think they like yer music, 'Dre..." Victor gloated.

"Well, Venkman is a Philistine, and has Philistine friends..." Andre chortled. "I could've understood Dana dumping me for a fine man like Louis, but a Neanderthal like that? Oh please..." He played another riff.

"That. Is Enough. Of That!!!" Venkman snarled, pulling himself up. "You're not the real Andre--Dana didn't leave him for anybody. That shithead left her!!!"

He fired, hitting the ghost Andre.

"And the real Victor would've been caught dead before calling Louis 'Uncle'...'Doo Doo Head' was his preferred nickname!!!" Janine snarled, hitting the ghost Victor.

"I only got the one trap..." Kylie pointed out. "What if we need to use it on Tully?"

"We worry about that then!!!" Ray shouted.

"Let me, Doctor Stantz." Gabe said, holstering his particle thrower. "I need to remind you from time to time Belmont isn't the only one who can fling a spell..."

From out of his uniform, Gabe produced an Ankh medallion. He began to trace a pattern in the air and chanted...

"Binew Ne Iretey A'Nen Sedjer Kher Kem-Mew!!!"

His voice seemed to overlap itself as the room darkened to almost pitch blackness, drowning out all of the Ghostbusters' shocked gasps. The two figures writhed and shouted angrily as they melted into purple smoke....the room began to lighten again as the smoke retreated into the shadows with the rest of the darkness.

"We'd better get moving," Gabe says as he started sprinkling a white powder around the walls of the hallway, "That was just a temporary dispersal spell, and won't last forever..."

But before anyone could move, a loud feral growl filled the room.

"What the..." Roland started to say

Out of one of the apartments nearby burst a four-legged creature resembling the unholy spawn of a Doberman pinscher and a gargoyle. It plowed Gabe hard, knocking him ten feet into an unconscious heap.

"A terror dog?!" Ray shouted incredulously.

"Why not?" Venkman sneered. "This whole stupid gauntlet is Tully's issues come to life..."

Another terror dog appeared, knocking over Winston and Eduardo with one quick charge.

"Eddie!!!" Kylie cried.

You know what to do... a loud, deep voice reverberated through the ether.

One of the dogs--the one with the smaller horns--suddenly emitted tendrils from it's back. The tendrils wrapped around Janine, dragging her onto the creature's back and holding her fast.

"Don't fire!!!" Ray shouted at Roland and Venkman. "You'll hit her!!!"

The other dog--the one with the larger horns--snarled and it's face contorted into a horrific grin as it eyed Venkman. A set of tendrils shot out of it's back, grabbing the man.

Roland got off one good shot, severing one of the tendrils, but there were too many of them. Venkman was dragged into place on the terror dog's back similarly to Janine.

"I can't reach my fucking thrower..." Venkman grumbled. "Bad dog!! Bad bad dog!!!" he said much more loudly and forcefully.

"This is why I've always been more of a bird person..." Janine quipped bitterly as she tried to wriggle against the bonds with little success.

"Peter!!! Janine!!!" Ray called, trying to run after the terror dogs. But within moments they were out of eyesight and earshot. "Shit..."

"You all right, Eddie?" Kylie was helping Eduardo up.

"Remind me that if I get a dog, nothin' bigger than a Chihuahua..." Eduardo said as he shook his throbbing head.

"What about you, Mister Zeddemore?" Roland helped Winston up.

"I've been better..." Winston replied.

"I'm all right too, thanks for asking." Gabe interjected.

"We were getting to you..." Roland commented.

Gabe was grumbling as he brushed himself off. "Dammit...I've hunted wild game in the darkest parts of Africa...and some ugly pooch gets the damn drop on me...GOD, how humiliating..."

"Don't worry...no one saw much..." Winston reassured him.

Gabe sighed, then a look of abject horror crossed his face. He seized Winston's arm. "...oooo....uuuhhhhh....don't tell Belmont!"

Winston looked at Gabe quizzically "Sure, man...not a word"

Winston went over to Ray. "I really doubt it was coincidence they grabbed Janine and Peter."

Ray nodded. "It's going just the way he wants it..."

"The question is..." Roland asked rhetorically. "Just what does he intend to do to them all?"

After sprinting briskly up several more flights of stairs, the terror dogs dissipated, dumping Peter Venkman and Janine Melnitz painfully on the cold floors.

"You all right?" Venkman asked, rubbing his throbbing backside, not looking forward to scrambling to his feet with a sixty pound pack on his back. I mean it...I've been thirty-nine four years in a row...I really am getting too old for this shit...

"Yeah..." she grunted, actually getting up faster than he did. "Where are we?"

"This looks familiar." his eyes narrowed. "We're close..."

"Are you my Mommy?" a thin voice called out of the darkness.

Two proton throwers were quickly armed.

A girl stepped out of the ether. Probably four years old, with cascading rings of brown hair and large eyeglasses, with a bulky sweater, a pleated skirt, and Mary Janes over drooping white socks. "I'm looking for my Mommy..." she stared with her large brown eyes. "You look like her...but she went away...left me and Daddy all alone..."

"Look, I'm sorry, but..." Janine started to say.

Venkman put a hand on her shoulder. "And who is your Daddy, Sweetheart?"

The girl smiled. "His name's Louis Tully...and he's the greatest Daddy in the world!"

Janine inhaled. "Louis is your father?"

"What's the matter, Dear?" a rumbling voice, carrying only the faintest echo of Louis Tully's meek tones, chided her. "Too late to be jealous now..."

The monstrous figure stepped out of the shadows, a twisted parody of Venkman's Cheshire grin on his face.

"Son of a..." Janine snarled, pointing the blaster.

A tendril appeared out of the ether, interposing the bound and gagged Egon Spengler between Louis and his would-be attacker.

"It'd be real shame if you blasted him, wouldn't it?" Louis gloated.

"Let him go." she snarled.

"Please, let's not fight in front of the child..." Louis said, walking over to the little girl, who looked up and beamed at him. "Isn't she precious? Tell her your name, Princess..."

"Lana Florence Tully." the girl said proudly.

"None of this is real, is it Louis?" Janine said. "Lawrence, Victor, Andre...this girl."

Louis looked at her "Lana could've been real...you could've made her real."

Janine didn't respond.

"The first time you ever came on to me you said that 'Motherhood was a natural instinct' for you...but that was a lie, wasn't it?" Louis continued. "We tried a little...at first...then you started to pull away from me. Motherhood wasn't such a natural thing after all, was it?"

"This is the child I always wanted..." the massive form looked mournful...almost, vaguely, like the Louis they knew. "The child you never let me have..."

"It...it wouldn't have been right." Janine finally responded, looking hard at the girl. Lana certainly had Louis's bearing, and slightly nerdy fashion sense. She realized she really shouldn't be surprised that Louis had fantasized about what their child might look like. She'd done it more than once herself...but every time, the vision--a boy, always a boy--would have a very un-Tully-like tallness and lankiness to his build. An un-Tully-like firmness to his jawline. An extremely un-Tully-ish squiggly tail at the back of his red hair...

"Well, of course not..." Louis sneered in response. "And it's just as well, because it would've been heartbreaking for Lana to have a lying bitch like you for a Mom..."

"You suck." the girl said angrily, sticking out her tongue.

"Because it's all about this shithead, isn't it?' Louis gestured at Egon. "I bet you won't have any problems with having his hellish drop, would you?"

"Louis..." she finally said. "Listen to me..."

"I'm tired of listening to you and your lies!!!" Louis shouted. "Like the lie about how you loved me! Like the lie about for better or for worse! Like the lie about how you'd gotten over..." his face contorted in disgust as he said the name "Egon Spengler."

She exhaled deeply, and shut off the neutrona blaster. Janine unbuckled the proton pack and let it fall to the floor.

"Um..." Venkman said.

Though he wasn't able to say anything, Egon's eyes went wide.

"Louis...I don't know how to say this any other way than how I already have..." she walked closer to Louis, Lana, and Egon. "But I'll say it again: I'm sorry. I'm sorry Egon and I had a lot of issues...sorry that I let it all get to me, and brought you into this. It's not your fault--none of this is. It's Egon's, and it's mine...mine for being stupid, mine for being lonely and desperate, mine for getting too flattered by all your well-meaning gestures. Mine for lying about my feeling, not only to you, but to myself, for a long time."

"If destroying me is the only way you can find peace, I won't stop you." She fought off a weird pang of deja vu at what she was saying. "There are times I wished I could've loved you, Louis--but I couldn't. I can't. I love Egon, and I always have...even when I didn't want to." she looked at the ensnared physicist, her eyes beginning to water " And if you'll just let him go, you can do whatever you want with me."

Louis looked conflicted. "I..."

"Look, Louis...Buddy..." Venkman holstered his thrower (but didn't remove his pack). "The lady's being honest here, couldn't you be a little more honest in return?"

"What...what do you mean?"

Venkman went over to Lana. "You say this is your dream child, right? The one you always wanted to have with Janine?"

Louis replied with a tinge of impatience. "Yeah..."

"Then howcome she doesn't look a thing like Janine?"

Everyone else--Louis included--did a double take.

"What...what do you mean?" Louis finally asked.

"Lana reminds me of someone else I know..." Venkman replied, pulling his wallet out of his pants. "It's strange, but despite the different eye color she reminds me some of my daughter Jessica..." he explained pulling a photo out of both Jessica Venkman and her mother.

"Lana isn't Janine's child in your dreams, Louis." Venkman continued. "Even her name hints at the truth, doesn't it? 'L'..as in 'Louis'...'--ana' from..."

"Dana..." Louis said, once again a tone of forlorn in his voice.

"She was worried about you, Big Guy..." Venkman said, actually going close enough to the hulking form to lay a hand on his arm. "She cut me a new one when I told her about the fit I threw earlier. And she was right. I'm sorry too--I got mad over something I shouldn't have...and I hope you'll forgive me."

"I hope...you can forgive me, too, Louis.' Janine said.

"Forgive? Even after...I..." Louis's eyes filled with tears. "What have I done? I'm so sorry..."

Then the transmogrified Louis emitted a burbling cry, and crashed to the ground.

Lana Tully emitted a plaintive wail of "Daaaaaaaaaddy..." and faded into nothingness.

Vincent Belmont inhaled, about ready to try again to breach the barrier.

Garrett grimaced as he put the last fresh proton core he had into his blaster.

Vincent perked up, suddenly, and held up his hand, motioning for Garrett to not open fire. He looked around intensely, scanning the entire volume of the room.

Then the barrier disappeared.

"Gosh. I'm good." Garrett said brightly.

"The malignance is dispersing..." Belmont announced.

"Well, sure it is. They realized they were dealing with the MAN." Garrett smiled, and punched Vincent's arm playfully

Ray, Winston, and the rest of "Team Extreme" ran up the final flight of stairs to find a much more auspicious sight than they were expecting.

Janine and Egon were in a firm embrace

Venkman was helping a now normally-proportioned Louis Tully extract himself from the massive pile of ectoplasm generated by the disintegration of his Hulk-like new look...

"Is everyone all right?" Ray asked, excitedly.

Venkman nodded. "Yeah, but I think GBI's accountant is going to need a bath...I feel for you, though--I spent every day for like eight years getting slimed..."

Louis looked at him with confusion. "You mean I still have a job?"

"I don't see why not." Venkman replied. "Er, Ray...could you take care of.." he pointed at the purple gem on the floor.

"Huh? Yeah, right..." Ray nodded, pulling out a sample jar to scoop up the gloom gem. "I guess these will have to go into the same fridge we keep the mood slime in..."

"I just wonder where these things came from." Winston remarked. "We never did find the bum who sold them..."

Louis looked around. If for only a moment, he felt...like he belonged there. Peter Venkman still wanted him around, even after Louis had effectively admitted he still loved Peter's wife.

And he cast a look at Janine, now doting over her fiance. They do really belong together, don't they?

I'm just sorry I didn't realize it sooner...that I was lying too. To you and to myself. I can't be angry at you for spending four years wishing I was Egon Spengler when I spent them wishing you were Dana Barrett...

Outside the Shandor Building, a man dressed like a smelly bum looked on as the tendrils of violet energy faded.

The look on his face showed his displeasure. He failed... he remarked to himself ruefully as he walked into an empty alley. I knew it was a risk ensnaring one so stupid with the Shard of Gloom...but this failure is more dismal than I had ever anticipated.

He pulled back the left sleeve of his dirty coat to reveal a high-tech arm-band. "Initiate transit to Null Zero." He said, his voice colder and more menacing than it had been addressing Louis Tully earlier that day.

A shimmering doorway appeared, and he stepped through...

On the other side was a bright, clean, all but featureless room. The bum began to peel off the tattered, dirty clothing...

...Josiah Nodus threw the rags into a hole in the wall, the devices there breaking them back down into raw matter until he needed them again.

He put on a clean set of clothes, though not the business suit he'd worn for every public appearance. Not the black trenchcoat he'd worn when confronting Sarim-Lar or the Zodiac Lords. A simple, if elegant and slightly anachronistic looking shirt and breeches.

There was a conspicuously human grunt of displeasure as he sat in the ornate chair that appeared with but an exertion of will.

He waved his hand, and one of the featureless walls opened, revealing a device resembling a high tech fish tank. There was no water in the tank, just a few sparkles of orange energy.

Six years...and this shard of the Gemini force has yet to yield it's secret to me

After six years, the Ghostbusters have returned...and my gambit with Tully and the shard of Anthal-Noge has failed. Failed. Instead of driving Spengler down the path destined him, it has driven him deeper into the grips of debased humanity...

He realized, despite his periodic declarations of having evolved far beyond his own human animal, that he was furious.

And worse...

The fury did not bother him...

Epilog
Two Days Later
"You..wanted to see us, Professor?" Kylie asked hesitantly as she opened the door.

"Ah, Kylie...Vincent...sit down." Egon said, tone steady, not betraying any hint as to what he was thinking. He was facing away from them, and they heard the clicking of computer keys.

"Look, Sir..." Vincent said as he sat. "If it's about my argument with Roland, I assure you the matter is closed. He was here first--he's Field Leader unless you or one of the other senior Ghostbusters around. I have no problem with that."

"I'm glad to hear that, Vincent, but that's not why I asked you here." he wheeled around in the swivel chair to face the two at last. "I'm more concerned about the connection between you and Kylie."

"Connection?" Vincent asked, a little confused.

"Egon..." Kylie said, a little defensive. "There's nothing...going on, if that's what you're saying. And...y'know, even if there was, it really wouldn't be your business..."

Egon cocked an eyebrow. "I'm the last person in the world to try and dissuade two Ghostbusters from pursuing a romance. But I don't think that is what's happening here."

"Sir..." Vincent said, mouth slightly dry. "I have to be clear: Miss Griffin is a fine woman, but...I'm already seeing someone."

Kylie looked a little shocked. "What?"

"That woman we encountered on the Mitochondria Eve case...Aya Brea." Vincent explained. "We...well..."

Egon held up his hand. "As Miss Griffin said, your personal life is your own business. And it doesn't change my concern much at all...I'm simply trying to make you two aware that, no matter what happens or doesn't between you, you two do indeed share a connection."

"You said that already...so if you don't think we're...y'know...then what do you mean?" Kylie asked. She hated to admit it, but she was finding Vincent's revelation just a tad annoying.

"This." Egon said, selecting a window on his computer monitor. "I think this is something you need to see..."

GBI Case File GBNY-1991-9/280 ("The Zodiac Imperative")
Subject: The Zodiac Avatars
Identification: Class VII entities possessing human hosts
PKE Reading: Uncertain; equipment unable to accurately read

On Summer Solstice 1991, a circle of powerful beings calling themselves the "Zodiac Lords" appeared at Stonehenge, and then possessed twelve humans as part of their "Imperative"

Click here for full Case File

Of the twelve, five have been positively identified.

"Lord Aries" Victor Irwin, born 3-26-79, Brooklyn, New York. He is the nephew of GBNY staff member Janine Melnitz

"Lord Gemini" Shannon Phillips, born June (?) 1976. See Case File GBNY-1989-7/109 "The Father Thing Trilogy" for more information.

"Lord Scorpio" Vincent Abraham Belmont Born 10-31-74. Identity confirmed in 1996, during personal interview between Dr. Belmont and E. Spengler. See GBNY employment file for more information

"Lady Aquarius" Kylie Griffin, born 2-12-78 in New York. May have been the first one possessed, due to tropical astrological references to beginning of "Age of Aquarius". GBNY was contacted by Ms. Rose Lockyer, the subject's great grandmother. (Identity confirmed shortly after by phone interview with Ms. Lockyer)

"Lady Pisces" Lillian Peacecraft, born [redacted] See GBNY-1991-9/271 ("Shadow Of The Inquisitors") for more information.

RFS:jm (7/91) revised 12/97 ES

Kylie was shocked. "Wha? What kind of joke is this? I don't remember any of this at all..."

"I know you don't." Egon nodded. "We know Victor and Shannon, and interviewed them after the incident--they, like you, have no memory of the event. The only one thus far has been Vincent--he'd mentioned some disjointed memories when he first contacted me by mail, and I went through the case files and realized it was the same person."

"Why does he have memories, then, and the rest of us don't?" Kylie asked.

"It might have to do with Vincent's own mystic potential..." Egon explained. "And his family--a certain...propensity for dealing with the supernatural exists in the Belmont family history. It might have left him with a unique...resistance to the avatar."

"Or it could have been my faith, Professor." Vincent added.

Egon looked at Kylie as he continued, looking vaguely embarrassed. "I admit I didn't realize you were also connected to that incident until Vincent made that comment about 'already knowing' your astrological sign. I checked the file, and sure enough your name and that of your great grandmother were right there."

"That is the reason for the...tension between you." Egon summarized. "I think, on some instinctive level, even though Kylie has no conscious memory of the incident, you two recognized each other. You had both been possessed by entities connected to each other, and some echo of that connection still resonates."

"So what does it mean, then?" Vincent finally asked.

"It may mean nothing." Egon replied. "Or whatever you want it to."

" 'Whatever you want it to'..." Kylie repeated as she and Vincent left Egon's lab. "At least it doesn't mean we're 'fated to be together' or some crap like that...I hate the thought of my life being set in stone like that."

"I apologize if the mere thought of me is so vile..."Vincent replied.

"That's not what I mean and you know it. Besides...like you said, you got a girl already..."

"True...but think about what it would've meant if Egon had said it did mean we should, er. 'be together'...for just one thing. The look on Mister Rivera's face when we told him." Vincent grinned.

Kylie smirked slightly back. "That would be funny...but I think after the last few days the last thing this place needs is any more jealousy and miscommunication."

Vincent chuckled. "With that, Miss Griffin, I most heartily agree..."

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Based on Ghostbusters Created by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis

Extreme Ghostbusters Created by Fil Barlow