GEMINI RISING
PART FIVE

By Fritz Baugh


Ghostbusters Case File 1999-613
The Past:

Back in the 1980's Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Ray Stantz, and Dr. Egon Spengler formed Ghostbusters Inc. Along with Slimer, Winston Zeddmore, and secretary Janine Melnitz, they were so successful they drove themselves out of business by catching all the ghosts. Peter moved to Hollywood, Ray became a used car salesman, Winston became a commuter pilot, and Egon kept watch over the Ghostbusters Central firehouse when he wasn't teaching at New York City Community College.

But when the ghosts returned, Egon recruited four of his students--Roland Jackson, Eduardo Rivera, Kylie Griffin, and Garrett Miller--to become the "Extreme Ghostbusters." Janine is along to help watch over the younger Ghostbusters too.

Today:

The Extreme Ghostbusters answered a call from Mayor Edwin MacShayne to investigate a temporal disturbance.

An enigmatic man called "Romulus" appears, and tells them he must talk with Professor Spengler. They take him back to Ghostbusters Central, where he is interrogated by Egon.

Another mysterious being, "Professor Ulforce" briefly appears, reveals that the true timeline has become corrupted and fractured into two imperfect parallel worlds. Pollux, Romulus's partner, has landed on the other.

Romulus tells them of the "true" history of the Ghostbusters: most shockingly, of the marriage of Egon and Janine, and that it was the kidnapping of their newborn twins, Johnathan Christopher and Eden Marie, that started the disruption of the true timeline. And that to restore the proper flow of history, and heal the timeline, they must locate "Nodus".

Ghostbusters Central
77th Street and Fifth Avenue
New York, NY
June 13, 1999
"Even in the uncorrupt timeline Josiah Nodus is a mystery." Romulus reported as Janine typed away at a computer terminal. "He came practically out of nowhere to become the wonder of the stock market in 1990, buying up an industrial electronics company called Grossjuck Industries. He turned that into Nodus International."

Janine frowned. "That name we recognize!!! Grossjuck was owned by a slimeball named Paul Smart who used me to get ahold of Ghostbusters technology!!!"

"Please continue." Egon coughed, Janine not the only one uncomfortable with the mention of Smart.

"He wasn't any ordinary industrialist, either--he became familiar enough with Professor Spengler's tech to circumvent the PKE meter detection abilities." Romulus answered

"Fascinating." Egon mused. "What else is there that Nodus has done?"

"He hired the Ghostbusters to go to Romania, ostensibly to guard one of his employees, but knowing full well that the man she'd been sent to see was an elder vampire. Then he popped up during the Zodiac Imperative crisis of 1991...he helped the Ghostbusters get to England, then appeared at the end of the event, and tried to attack one of the Zodiac avatars."

"I hate to digress, but just what are those? You've mentioned all of that before..." Roland asked.

"Twelve powerful dudes who attempted to 'judge' humanity. One for each sign of the Zodiac--it was by scanning the Ghostbusters, the Five Who Are One, that they judged humanity fit to survive."

"This all sounds like something from an issue of the Justice League Of America!" Ray said excitedly "Anything else?"

"That's all I remember from the GBI case files I've read." Romulus replied.

Janine looked over at the rest of them. "I may have something!!!"

Egon, Romulus, and Ray crowded around the computer screen. "I did find something about a Nodus!!!" Janine told them. "It's at Grossjuck's old high rise off 40th Street. But there's no 'Josiah Nodus' mentioned--the company press releases all talk about their whiz-kid female CEO, Marie Nodus!!!" Janine clicked a link. "They even got a picture of her!!!"

Romulus grumbled when the picture appeared.

The picture was of a tall, well-built woman with attractive features and a head of long blonde hair. There was a cold, ominous look in her blue eyes.

"Romulus?" Janine asked, feeling a strange sort of unease looking at the picture, and from the obvious reaction of their visitor.

"Marie Nodus is a dead ringer for the full-grown Eden Marie Spengler." Romulus told them.

"You're certain of that?" Egon asked.

He gave Egon a look that reminded Janine of the same one Egon gave Peter whenever he said something obtuse. "Believe me, Professor, I know Eden Spengler when I see her."

Winston zipped up his aqua jump suit, trimmed on the collar and sleeves with red, and regarded himself in the mirror. "Never thought I'd be wearing this again so soon."

"Tell me about it." Peter smirked. His jump suit matched Winston's, but was brown with blue-ish green trim.

"You think any about what that Romulus guy said?" Winston asked him. "About you actually settling down and getting married?"

"You too, remember..." Peter teased.

"I know. But it's really a stretch for you. How many times you been in the celeb magazines with a new girlfriend?"

"I can't help it if I have a way with the ladies. This 'Dana' person must really be something to rope me in..." He paused. "Wierd thing is..."

"What?"

"I don't recognize the name...but I get the wierd feeling that I should."

"Egon!!!"

He'd been dreading this.

He glanced at her, then went back to the data they'd printed out on Marie Nodus. Egon's eyes narrowed--Marie Nodus, he realized with a start, had the exact same hair color he did...

"Egon, you're avoiding me!!!" Janine said more forcefully, moving in closer.

"I am not avoiding you." he replied bluntly.

"Oh yes you are!!!" she replied.

He finally looked at her, and adjusted his eyeglasses. "Is this because of what Romulus said about our...counterparts? And the relationship they allegedly had?"

He noticed she'd already donned her jump suit--pink with blue trim. His colors, but reversed. "Allegedly? You said yourself you believe him!!!"

He didn't have an easy answer. "That's immaterial..." he finally thought of replying. "We didn't see each other for six years after we downsized..."

"You avoided me for years even before that!!!" she grabbed his glasses and pulled them off. "What have you been afraid of, Egon?"

He shrunk back, realizing that her proximity was causing an uncomfortable set of reactions. His temperature was rising, his heartbeat was accellerating. Blood was starting to flow to places he wasn't used to it flowing to..."I..."

"I kept waiting for a sign out of you!!! And every once in a while I got one!!! You agreed to meet my parents!!! You took me to that carnival.!!! And you acted really really jealous when I dated Paul Smart and Louis Tully!!!" She leaned in closer. "Just what were you afraid of?!"

She kissed him. He felt himself beginning to weaken. To surrender to it. To welcome those strange sensations...

She pulled away. "Why aren't we together, Egon? Romulus says we should've been married by now. You told me you loved me when you freed me from the Lotsabucks...but then, when I came back, it was like none of that happened!!!"

He scratched his head. "You're right...it's almost like..."

"Something's missing." she nodded. "But why can't we remember it?"

He put his glasses on and sighed deeply. "We shall find out the truth soon enough."

Romulus blinked when the five older Ghostbusters came downstairs. "Um...why is Ray wearing one of Professor Spengler's flight suits?"

Ray looked down at himself and his blue and pink jumpsuit. "Um...I dunno...this is what I wore on Thanksgiving a couple years back..."

"Come to think of it you did wear a tan one with brown trim in the old days." Peter remarked.

"Meesa like seein' you ready for action, Peter." Slimer said glowingly. Peter and Slimer made a high-five gesture together.

Romulus looked like he was ready to be sick again. "Venkman and Slimer are making me gag as bad as the pink flight suit." Janine, in her pink and blue, looked confused. "In real life she would die in pain before wearing one like that..." Romulus explained, shaking his head. "And what happened to the name tags?"

"Name tags?" Eduardo asked.

"On the left chest pocket. They're supposed to have patches with their last names."

"Meesa think that sound silly."

"We'll take the car to Nodus Plaza..." Ray told Roland.

"Meesa not get to go?!" Slimer asked, flabbergasted.

"Only the original four and Janine." Romulus shook his head. "Ulforce was clear on that: 'You must take the Five Who Are One, and find Nodus'. Taking anyone else might be...bad."

"How bad?" Winston asked.

"Only making the temporal disturbance worse bad." Romulus replied.

"Janine and the Geratol Patrol get to go, we have to stay here..." Garrett grumbled. "This stinks..."

"We need you kids to hold down the fort." Peter informed them. "If this doesn't work...or it's a trap or whatever...we need to know somebody's gonna be back here to rescue us."

"Or carry on after we're gone." Winston said brightly.

"You say the nicest things, Zedd..." Peter replied.

"I still think this whole thing stinks..." Garrett repeated.

There was a familiar clunk and electronic whine. "I have had about enough of this..." Kylie snarled, brandishing her proton pistol, aiming it at Romulus.

"Er, Ky..." Eduardo said hesitantly.

"This guy comes in out of nowhere, says the Professor and Janine are supposed to be together, and that I'm supposed to be with Eduardo and we're supposed to believe him?"

"Meesa believe him!!!" Slimer shouted.

"What about me?" Kylie cried. "What if maybe I like Egon too?"

Romulus took a step closer. "Miss Griffin, I know it's hard, but c'mon...in the real timeline, you and Eddie have two kids. Two really beautiful daughters named Conchita and Rose..."

Garrett started to laugh uproariously. "Conchita?!"

"Shut up!" Eduardo snarled at him. "That's a great name..."

"Rose?" Kylie asked. "Like my great grandmother?"

"Exactly." Romulus nodded.

Kylie lowered her gun. "All right...maybe the 'real' Eduardo has better table manners..."

Nodus Plaza, Off 40th Street
"One more question..." Egon asked. "You and that man both referred to...the Spengler children as the 'Gemini Twins'. It seems conspicuous in light of the other astrologically themed elements of the 'Five Who Are One' concept..."

Romulus looked out the window. "I'm not sure what it means myself. I first heard that when Delphia contacted Pollux and me. Pollux even picked that name as a sorta...nod to our mission."

Peter blinked.

"Castor and Pollux were twins in Greek myth. " Ray explained from the passenger seat. "They're also the names of the two brightest stars in the constellation of Gemini."

"We're here..." Winston said from the driver seat, pulling the ECTO-1 to a stop.

All five Ghostbusters had an uncomfortable sense of deja vu as they left the car.

"I really hate this place!!!" Janine muttered.

"Agreed." Egon stated.

"Sounds like at least some of it happened in your timeline the way it did in the uncorrupted one." Romulus nodded. "In the complete timeline, it was not long before you guys went out of business the first time, in 1986..."

"We never went out of business in 1986." Ray said. "And for us this all happened in, what..."

"1988." Egon said simply.

"And what do you mean 'the first time'?" Winston asked.

"You got sued and shut down over the Gozer case." Romulus answered. "It finally came to trial and the court order was issued in 1986..."

"The only time we went out of business was when we caught all the ghosts and had to downsize!!!" Janine said.

"Egon..." Peter grumbled. "Why didn't you guys come up with lighter proton packs?" He struggled into his proton pack.

Romulus looked up at the building, then at his device. "The readings from the GBX confirm it...there's definitely an anomaly emitting delta and epsilon particles on the top floor of that building."

"Epsilon and delta? I was in Tri Kuppa Bru myself..." Peter cracked.

"Delta particles--time dihalation. Epsilon--dimensional dihilation." Egon explained simply.

"The whole package. Great." Winston deadpanned.

The secretary understandably blinked when the six of them got off the elevator. "The Ghostbusters? But nobody reported any ghosts here..." the secretary said, confused.

Peter sidled up to the desk. "Your talents are clearly wasted here. I'm a big Hollywood type nowadays, and maybe I could use you in a movie... What's your name, cupcake?"

Egon and Janine both rolled their eyes in unison at Peter's old schtick.

"Er..."

"It's worth a try..." Winston shrugged. "Tell your boss that famous Hollywood agent Peter Venkman is here. The guy who Bill Murray played in the movies."

"Look, give me a minute, here..." The phone on her desk buzzed. "Yes, Ms. Nodus? Well, the Ghostbusters--the old Ghostbusters--are here, and some other guy..."

"Tell her it's urgent." Romulus said forcefully.

"One of them said it was urgent." the secretary said, then sat there for a few seconds. "Yes ma'am..."

She gulped as she put down the phone. "She says she already knew you were here, and to send you right in."

The large door opened, and a blonde woman stepped out. She was in a business suit. "Lydia Van Horn, Ms. Nodus's personal assistant." she introduced herself. "She said she needed to see the six of you privately..."

"Lovely hair..." Peter commented, grinning.

Lydia wasn't even looking at him, instead giving Romulus an extremely approving look. "I don't suppose you'd be up for an even more private meeting? Assuming Ms. Nodus doesn't ask you first...you definitely look like the type she'd go for..."

"You have no idea how incredibly disturbing that fact may be..." Romulus said simply.

They entered the office, and Lydia closed the door behind them.

"Nice..." Ray whistled.

"Mine's nicer." Peter retorted.

"Greetings." a rich contralto voice cut through the room. "I admit, the appearance of the Ghostbusters in my humble establishment was unexpected." the chair at the desk swung around, and its occupant stood up. "Marie Nodus, CEO of Nodus International. And to what do I owe the honor of this visit?"

Janine gasped...the picture she'd seen somehow didn't do her justice. She was tall, with a sensual build obvious even under an expensive Italian suit. She realized the woman's hair wasn't just blonde...she could swear it was the exact same shade as Egon's, and her eyes were just as blue, just as intense...but so cold it made his look fiery.

"I brought'em here, Miz Nodus." Romulus answered, stepping forward. His face had hardened.

"Yes...I bet you did..." Nodus replied. "I would assume that if the services of the famous original Ghostbusters are required, it must be a matter of some importance."

Egon was feeling more deja vu than ever. Like Janine, he was rivetted to this woman...he realized it was very similar to the strange, unwelcome emotional reaction he had when he'd first met Romulus a few hours before.

"Utmost." Romulus answered. "Let us start with this: what can you tell us about the whereabouts of Josiah Nodus?"

Nodus raised an eyebrow, in a curiously...Spenglerian fashion. "My father is sadly no longer in this world."

"Josiah Nodus...is you father?" Romulus replied. It didn't escape the notice of the Ghostbusters that this seemed to take him aback.

"He made me everything I am today." Nodus answered.

Janine stepped beside Romulus. "What about Johnathan Christopher and Eden Marie Spengler? Those names ring a bell?"

Nodus smirked. "Yes...I suspected that incident in the park was something like this. I had been warned that those dedicated to the old order would make a last, desperate attempt to stop what is happening."

"You are behind this..." Romulus stated.

"In a manner of speaking..." Nodus replied. "It all depends on your point of view--in our eyes, what we are doing is what needs to be done to put an imperfect, illogical universe to rest, and build a better one in its place."

Ray Stantz unhooked his neutrona wand. "I'm not completely sure what you mean by that, but I'm pretty sure I don't like the sound of it..."

" 'Our' eyes?" Winston asked.

"My father, my brother, and myself..." Nodus answered. "And noone, not the fabled Five Who Are One, not a temporal oddity from a timeline that will soon be no more, will stop us!!!"

"My butt..." Peter snarled; all five Ghostbusters now had their neutrona wands at ready.

"It will soon be too late for you to stop it." Marie Nodus smirked. "Even if you were capable..." She sneered, and there was a blast of orange light.

When the crushing pain, like a vise had been put around his head and completely closed on it, Ray realized he was on the floor, Peter and Winston next to him. "You okay?" he asked Winston.

"No." Winston grumbled.

"I'm fine..." Peter muttered, clearly NOT fine...

Ray looked up...he saw Egon and Janine, woozy, in pain, but at least managing to be up to a kneel.

More surprisingly, Romulus was still standing.

"Eh?" Nodus asked, clearly not expecting this result.

"The Chronomancers' know their stuff. This is probably one of the reasons I'm here." Romulus said, a defiant tone growing in his voice. "Whatever power Josiah Nodus has awakened in you is useless against me..."

"You are him..." Nodus snarled. "Immune to my power you might be, but I can still destroy you!!!" It was quite obvious she was now genuinely angry. She pulled back the left sleeve of her suit to reveal a high-tech armband. "Protocol Sixty Six!!! Authorization Marie Curie Nodus!!!"

Egon was trying to struggle to get up...trying to figure out why he and Janine were only staggered while his friends were blasted to the ground--and Romulus was unaffected--when three shimmering doorways opened.

Three robots stepped out of the doorways, which disappeared behind them. "RoboBuster Protocol Sixty Six: Extermination of All Intruders Threatening A Member of the Nodus Family. Protocol Activated"

"Look out!!!" Ray shouted as one of the robots fired a proton beam out of its forearm housing. Peter barely evaded the blast.

"RoboBusters?!" Janine cried. "They're different, but still..."

They did indeed vaguely resemble the robot Paul Smart had built years before, but unlike the original RoboBuster they were truly bipedal, and their heads connected to their neck instead of to the humps of systemry on their backs.

"My RoboBusters will take care of the Five Who Are One..." Nodus sneered. "You, Lord Gemini, are mine!!!" With that she whipped out a gun, and fired. Romulus was thrown into the wall by a blast that looked conspicuously like a proton blast.

"Janine! Look out!!!" Egon shouted, shooting the robot that had tried to blast Janine.

The RoboBuster seemed to halt suddenly. "Error...Protocol Error...Psychokinetic Trace matching on-file entry of..."

"Override, you misprogrammed pile of junk!!!" Nodus shouted.

Romulus used the distraction to shake off the blast, and charged Nodus, bodychecking her to the wall.

Winston fired a beam at one of the RoboBusters. It splashed off of it.

"It's proton shielded!!!" Ray shouted.

"Then what the heck do we do?!" Peter shouted back, now hiding behind Nodus's desk. All four of his comrades ran back to join him.

"Are you all right?" Egon asked Janine.

"I'm fine, Egon!!!" she replied, hugging him.

"Hey, Ray...you still got Len Wolfman on your speed dial? Captain Steel would really come in handy right now." Peter asked

"Sure. You got the time to wait for him to conjure Steel up?"

"Not unless he can get here six seconds ago." Winston grumbled

The three robots stood at the other side of Nodus's desk, in a line. "Prepare to fire."

Nodus shot Romulus again. "You cannot stop me...you cannot stop us...this is what I've been preparing for my whole life!!!"

"A life that was stolen, Nodus..." Romulus replied. "Two lives that were stolen..." He dodged the next blast, and knocked the pistol out of Nodus's hand.

Whoa... Janine smirked, noticing. If I didn't know better I'd swear there's a bit of a Brooklyn scrapper in that one...

"We might try aiming for a joint..." Egon said.

"Oh, Egon!!! That's brilliant!!!" Janine said excitedly.

"Knee or elbow?" Ray asked

"Knee." Winston said. "It should knock them down."

"Like the kids do it...Ready on three..." Egon said.

"I don't care if you look like my brother..." Nodus snarled. "I WILL kill you!!!" She pulled another pistol out of her jacket, and fired again, point blank.

"I really hope this works..." Ray said.

"Been nice knowing you guys if it doesn't." Peter sighed.

Janine grabbed Egon and kissed him hard.

He looked dumbfounded for a second.

Winston shook his head with a smirk.

"THREE!!!" The five Ghostbusters jumped from behind the desk, and fired.

"I shouldn't be surprised, I suppose, that you are still alive." Nodus said, both impressed and gloating at the same time. "While a normal human being would've been cleaved in half by that blast...well, we're not quite normal humans, are we?" She blasted him again.

Romulus knew another blast or two, though, would do it...Hurts to even more...but I gotta get up...'cause the whole universe's balls are in the vise here!!!

One of the robots fell, it's leg sheared off.

Romulus reached for his belt, to undo it, use it as a weapon, then his hand brushed against the chrono-quartz crystal. It had come out of his collar during the fight. It was starting to pulsate.

With a lightning quick motion, he lept into the air, and smacked the crystal against Marie Nodus's forehead.

Nodus screamed in agony, and the world around them faded in a blast of white light...

Near Ghostbusters Central
"Today's the day..." the vaguely Hispanic teenager grumbled.

"We march right in there." the blonde girl beside him added.

"And insist we be given our due." the third member of the party, a boy with a red flattop, finished.

"How dare Doctor Spengler hire a bunch of new kids!!!" the girl said angrily. "When he could've called us!!!"

"We beat the Boogeyman and Samhain singlehandedly!!!" the redhead added, just as angry. "What had these losers done before they lucked into this?"

"I was the original Hispanic wisecracker!!!" the third one whined. "If Doctor Spengler asked, I could've grown a dumb goatee too!!!"

"So let's do it!!!" the redheaded kid pumped his fist in the air.

"JUNIOR GHOSTBUSTERS FOREVER!!!!" all three shouted in unison.

Then there was a loud noise, like a truck backfiring.

Eduardo was grumbling when there was a knock on the door. He opened it to see a policeman and two beefy guys standing there. "Er...can I help you officer?"

"Er, yeah, we...have a bit of a situation." the policeman said. "These guys backed over three teenagers who were hiding in that alleyway next to this place--any chance you know who they might be?"

"I dunno...maybe I'd better get some of the others?" Eduardo said.

"IDs we found said their names were Donald Rodriguez, Catharine Mueller, and Jason Rafferty"

"Don't ring any bells to me." Eduardo shrugged. "Let me go get my friends..."

After Eduardo closed the door, the two workmen started quarrelling again. "Dammit, Larry, I told you to check before I backed the truck up..."

"I did, Joe! I swear!!!" Larry replied. "But they were behind that ad sign--I didn't think anybody would be hiding back there!!!"

"Simmer down, guys." the policeman shook his head. "So far this sounds like a tragic accident, nothing more."

"What do you mean some kids got run over by a truck?" Kylie asked incredulously.

"That's what the cop said. Donald somethin', Catharine whozit, and Jason somethin' else..."

Slimer's jaw dropped. "Meesa Junior Ghostbusters buddies?! Oh no!!!" he screamed, and flew out the door.

Eduardo, Kylie, and Garrett all looked at each other. "What the heck is a 'Junior Ghostbuster'?" Eduardo asked.

Roland ran down the stairs. "Has anybody heard from the Professor?!"

"No..." Garrett replied. "What's wrong?"

"Every instrument in the place is going haywire!" Roland answered, looking on the verge of panic.

Kylie jumped up, ready to check the instruments herself, but then cried in shock. "Look!!!"

There was a white light starting to blurr their visions.

"Oh heck..." Garrett breathed.

"Time to find out if this Romulus guy is on the level..." Roland said, saying a prayer.

Just before their world faded to nothing, Kylie grabbed Eduardo and kissed him hard.

"Where...where are we?" Ray looked around, dumbstruck. Only a second before, they were shooting at the two remaining RoboBusters...then they heard a shout, and a blast of white light, and now...

The place around them was featureless. White walls, white floors. "Looks like a Doctor Who set..." Ray observed.

Peter, Winston, Egon, and Janine were right next to him. Not far away, Romulus sat on the ground, exhaling deeply. The necklace hanging around his neck was now glowing orange.

Egon pulled out his PKE meter. "I don't have the slightest idea what these readings mean." he said.

"Oh my gosh!!!" Janine cried, seeing Romulus's wounds. "Are you all right?"

"It's not as bad as it looks, Miss Melnitz." Romulus replied, nevertheless groaning as he got up. "I recover pretty quick..."

"What happened to Nodus?" Winston asked.

"She's currently contained inside the chrono quartz." Romulus replied, hefting the crystal. "But we don't have much time--with her inside it, it'll soon start to destablize and eventually shatter, which not only frees her but causes me to be erased from this timeline. We gotta hurry.." He pulled his device out of his belt pocket.

"Do you have any idea what this place is?" Janine asked him.

Romulus arched an eyebrow. "It's a dimensional null zone...it appears to be the same one from which the RoboBusters were emitted."

"Great." Peter muttered. "There might be more of those things here?"

"I'd just about count on it..." Romulus replied. Then he stopped. "I'm getting a feedback! Another GBX signal!" he looked up, a look of...anticipation crossing his face. "Can it be?"

"Be what?" Egon asked.

"This way!" he pointed, and walked off briskly.

"I hope he'll wait for the rest of the class..." Peter deadpanned.

"It should be just around..." he said, nearing a juncture. They rounded the corner...

Only to see Marie Nodus (albeit wearing a blue and pink outfit in place of her suit) and five individuals who seemed extrememly out of place, even clad in tan flight suits and movie prop-accurate proton packs: movie actors Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts.

"Oh nuts..." Peter muttered.

To Be Continued
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