INVASION OF THE DANISH SNATCHERS
PART ONE

By Fritz Baugh


GBI Case File GBNY-1991-9/125

Choronolgy: Omnibus Timeline Year Nine; subsequent to "Terror on the Jersey Turnpike"
Prelude: Beneath New York City
"Well, Spok, you think we've outrun them?"

There were five of them.

"Difficult to say, Gork...you know how kobolds are."

"Yeah, I know...Kobolds suck."

They were not human.

"All we wanna do is one simple food job, and those damn kobolds have to stick their ugly noses into it."

"Oh, give it a rest, Nad. We outran them, and I can practically smell the food from here!!!"

"That's dog crap you're smelling, Pud. You just stepped in a pile of it."

"Eeeeww..."

"Hey, if you don't want it..."

"You're just saying that to gross us out, Zuk."

"Is it working?"

"Don't make me beat you like a redheaded undyne, twerp..."

"Would you two be quiet!?" the apparent leader hissed. "Nad, Pud, Zuk, give me a hand with this manhole cover."

The four little creatures helped him heave the cover open, and they climbed out into a darkened alley. The bum laying half passed out nearby looked at them with bleary eyes, took a long gulp from his paper bag, and threw it in the dumpster. "Archer's right...I gotta stop drinkin' that stuff..."

The four critters began to giggle maniacally. "it is ours, brothers!!!" the leader, Gork, told them with a wicked grin on his face.

Ghostbuster Headquarters
"I'm tellin' you, Ray...the stacked blonde at the Subway was givin' me the major eyes. Uncle Petey had what she liked...and she definitely had what Uncle Petey liked."

Ray Stantz rolled his eyes at Peter Venkman's usual self-aggrandizing statement. "But were they real or sililcone?" he retorted.

Venkman assumed his Cheshire grin. "I don't know yet...but I will."

Ray yelled upstairs to Winston Zeddemore that the evening's dinner was here. Then he turned back to Venkman. "Oh yeah? How? Okay, scratch that, I know what you mean there...but how are you gonna call her if you don't know her number?"

"Raymond, I'm gonna enjoy shutting you up on this one. She scrawled the number on the wrapper to my sandwich..."

"Which Slimer just ate, wrapper and all..."

"Which Slimer just ate, wrapper and..." Venkman turned around, seeing the round green entity chewing greedily, grabbing another sandwich from the bag. "SLIMER!!!"

Egon Spengler, the fourth Ghostbuster, was unaware of any of this. He was looking in the bathroom mirror, adjusting his tie, then fidgeting with the Ghostbuster logo lapel pin. He cocked an eyebrow, looked around self-consciously, and allowed himself "Not bad, Doctor." Then he exhaled sharply...and the anxiety attack he'd been anticipating for the last three hours still failed to materialize.

He took three steps down to the main floor when a proton beam whizzed about a foot away from his head. Slimer was screaming and phased through the ceiling. Venkman was at the foot of the stair brandishing a particle thrower, the proton pack it was attached to laying on the floor.

"If you don't want me to leave tonight, Peter, you would just simply have to say so."

"Damn ghost ate my dinner. Again!!! And on top of that..." Venkman stopped, suddenly realizing... "Careful,Egon. That almost sounded like a joke."

"I'll try not to let that happen again." the physicist deadpanned as he finished coming down the stairs.

Ray elbowed Venkman. "Forget about the subs, Peter. You know I bought extra. You can get your sub cookie's phone number next time..."

"It was the principle of the thing." Venkman sneered, rolling his eyes. He turned back to Egon, his mood changing to playful amusement. "And as for you...if you think I'm going to risk my life, sanity, and health by asking you to stay tonight, forget it!!! They could call and say Gozer is eating Central Park and I'd still say go, Egon--I'd rather face Gozer than a certain pissed-off redhead..."

Egon smirked.

Winston gently nudged him. "Lookin' real fine, white boy..."

"I reminded him about my pea soup green suit..." Ray started.

"Sure. Right" Venkman groaned.

"Raymond, you know it, um, wouldn't fit me properly." Egon responded diplomatically. Pea soup green was Egon's favorite color, but he had enough fashion sense to know that he (or Ray. Or just about anyone) looked hideous in it.

Truth to tell, the outfit he was wearing was snazzy, a blue sport coat with matching shoes and tie, white pants, and a shirt in the dreadfully-close-to-pink shade of light magenta he used as the trim on his Ghostbuster uniform.

Venkman had grabbed his extra sandwich..."At least one of us is getting some tonight..."

Egon looked at his watch.

He raised an eyebrow as a familiar engine noise appeared outside the garage door. "She's two minutes early."

"Knowing her, under the circumstances, I'm surprised she didn't show up, like, an hour early..." Winston smiled, elbowing the taller man.

"He was still in the shower then, it would've been perfect..." Venkman offered, eating another bite of his sandwich.

There was a light knock at the door before it opened. "Guys? Egon?" a familiar Brooklyn voice called. Janine Melnitz, the Ghostbusters' secretary and unofficial fifth member entered the firehouse...

Which led to four jaws hitting the floor.

Oh great...Egon thought to himself ruefully NOW comes the anxiety attack.

She was wearing a shimmering fuschia dress, and several blue pieces of jewelry that matched it well. The skirt came not quite to her knees to show off her nylon-clad legs a little. Her red hair was freshly permed and curled.

Egon Spengler had to admit to himself that she looked simply, completely ravishing. There was a voice in his brain, one he didn't let talk very often , that was whispering that maybe they didn't need food after all...but he muffled it before it could get very far.

She, meanwhile, was giving him a very wide-eyed, approving look. If the other three Ghostbusters were still in the room, she didn't notice. She walked over to him slowly. "You're quite the hottie, Doctor Spengler..." then she adjusted his tie. "though slightly crooked." Unbidden, he felt his temperature rise at her touch.

"I thought the guy was supposed to pick up the girl, not the other way around." Venkman said with mock contrariness.

"She's the one with the car, Peter."

"Only because any time you get any money, you spend it on framistats and test tubes"

"True enough..." he had to admit.

"A man secure enough to accept a ride from a lady..." she purred. "Damn sexy..."

Venkman made mock barf noises.

"Shall we take our leave of these jealous philistines, Professor?"

He offered her his arm. "Let's shall."

"Not so fast!!!" Venkman broke in. "We gotta talk about his curfew!!!"

"Curfew?!" both said in unison. Ray chuckled--he thought it was incredibly cute.

"Yeah..." Venkman said sternly. "You must understand, Doctor Spengler...if you come back home at any time BEFORE three AM, you are in serious, serious trouble." Egon rolled his eyes. Venkman took him aside. "And you better have this, just in case...", pressing a small object into Egon's hand.

It was a small, foil package; inside it was a round object about the diameter of a half dollar.

Egon turned bright red.

"Egon..."

"I'm coming I'm coming"

Venkman bit back an incredibly fithy corallary to that remark...

"What was that about?" Janine asked Egon as they left

"Better you don't know"

The destination was the Chateau Ritz, one of the better eating establishements in the city.

"Reservation for Spengler, party of two."

The maitre d' gave him a wide-eyed look. "Egon Spengler...the Ghostbuster?"

"One and the same" Janine confirmed, not without a touch of pride. "So are you gonna seat us or what?"

They were seated quickly, and as they perused the menus Egon adjusted his collar self-consciously. For about the fifth time.

"Scratchy shirt?"

"Um...no...I..." he grinned sheepishly. "Just feeling a little thermodynamic excess"

"I knew you were hot, Egon..." she teased, giving him a heavy-lidded look that just made his temperature rise a half-degree higher.

"You've been known to assert that whatever I wear..." he replied, giving her a quizzical look. "How little clothing am I going to have to be in before I look comfortable to you?" he continued, with a strange little smirk.

She about fell out of her chair. Her own thermodynamic balance became excessive by about a degree. Adonai help me...that sounded like a leading question...She just about wanted to whoop for joy.

What just came out of my mouth?! He was starting to ask himself. Peter's the one who says things like that, not me. Which is more the curious, because it felt...right.

"I'm just lady enough not to give you the answer in a public place, Doctor." One nylon clad foot slid out of a purple pump and into a white pant leg. "But taking your shoes off can be a good start."

Egon's face stiffened at the touch. But he didn't tell her to stop.

"Janine..."

"Egon..."

"I..."

"Don't say anthing..." she said, in a whispery voice, leaning closer. "Don't break the spell..."

He leaned in closer too. They were just a few inches away now. It' s like her lips call to me...inviting... "I had no intention..." he responded with uncharacteristic breathiness...

Just about then is when the first plates started to be flung out of the kitchen.

Winston laughed as he creamed Venkman at Genero Fighter II Hyper Ultra Mondo Turbo Deluxe Super Galactic Edition for the fifth time that evening.

"Dammit!!!" Venkman was whining. "Why can't I get Ultra Turtle's Nutcruncher to work?"

"Even if you did..." Winston gloated, standing to do an endzone dance. Venkman could be so full of himself Winston enjoyed taking him down a peg "You would still be no match for the Atomic Onion Breath."

"Maybe I'll give you the secret pass code to use Audit, Peter..." Ray offered.

The three old friends laughed deep and hard.

Winston broached the subject all of them had on their minds. "Ten thirty... anyone else hopes this means things are finally working for Egon and Janine?"

"You know it..." Ray nodded vigorously. "Of course, we know how you feel, Peter--you won't consider it a success unless they come back with twins..."

"And you're not just the slightest bit jealous?" Venkman teased him.

"Why should I be?"

"Well, Winston has Kaila...and I am, of course, a Certified Ladykiller...if Egon has, at long last, taken his head out of his butt, that would leave you as the lone lonely Ghostbuster..."

Ray rolled his eyes. He was trying not to rise to Venkman's bait. "Egon's one of my best friends, Peter...like a brother to me, just like you and Winston. And Janine's like a sister..."

"You condone incest?" Venkman ribbed.

"Oh, grow up, Peter!!! It's an analogy!!! I'm just saying that...well...I remember thinking way back when we hired her, and you made some stupid remark, and she gave you this look. It was the same look Egon gives you when you say stupid stuff. And I don't know if she'd even met Egon yet, but I...I dunno...I had this wierd feeling like I was looking at his missing half or something. And then she did meet him, and latched onto him with the ferocity of a wolverine, no matter what he said or did." Ray looked at the ceiling. "I hope I can meet someone some day who loves me half as much as she loves him."

Winston placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "You will, man. I can see it now...little people roaming the firehouse...happy little tiny Rays...redheaded Spenglers blowing the place up...assorted Venkmans of various maternities...and, of course, some tough little Zeddemores to keep everyone in line."

"Yeah..." Ray agreed, with longing.

Venkman was unusually quiet.

"Peter?"

"There is hope, at long last, that our sexually repressed pal realizes what a good thing he has going for him." Venkman finally replied, with an unusual lack of levity. "And I swear that if Egon screws it up, goes back into his shell and pretends he feels nothing when he so clearly does, I'm gonna kick his scrawny ass halfway back to Cleveland." And unbidden, his thoughts added If he screws it up like I did. And the name he tried to forget and was down to thinking about every half hour or so...

Dana...

Several chefs ran screaming from the kitchen.

"Monsters!!!" one was shouting. "Ugly little monsters!!! They're in the alfredo!!!"

" 'Monsters'?" Egon asked, looking at the kitchen door, his face hardening into a familiar look of professional intensity. Almost instinctively, a PKE meter was whipped out of his jacket pocket.

Janine's face pinched angrily; she was seething inside. Damn damn damn damn damn....he was so opened...we were...and then THIS!!!

Her mood softened just a tad as she heard him grumble, with some honest disgust. "Typical rotten timing."

The maitre 'd ran up to Egon. "Doctor Spengler!!! You gotta do something!!! There are monsters in the kitchen and..."

"Calm down." Egon ordered. "I'm not detecting any unusal PK resonance..."

More plates flew out of the kitchen, one beaning the babbling maitre 'd, knocking him out.

"It could just be a labor dispute..." Janine offered, still trying in vain to think of a way to tactfully say Forget about the monsters and let's get back to that action...

Some of the other patrons of the restaurant were getting antsy.

"Perhaps somebody should phone the police." Egon had just suggested when something jumped out of the kitchen and landed on a nearby table.

It looked about two feet tall, and was bundled in a trenchcoat that looked like it had been fished out of a dumpster (it had)

"Scram, softskins!!! Now!!!" it yelled, flashing the entire room.

If Egon had had any doubt that something inhuman was behind the commotion, it was dispelled. The creature in the coat shouting "booga booga booga" and wagging it's tongue at the patrons (who were obligingly running and screaming out of the place) was shaped like two soccer balls fused together, with a leering, toothy mouth and eyestalks attached to the top one, two blobby arms and legs to the bottom one. It's hide looked like some sort of hard, almost rock-like substance.

"Don't panic!!!" Egon was shouting to the panicked patrons. "File out calmly"

"Or somebody'll get hurt!!!" Janine added.

The creature laughed as the group milled out.

"Definitely not a labor dispute" Janine rolled her eyes when they made it outside. "So much for the big, romantic evening..."

Egon looked at her and spared a slight smile. "This will be made up, I promise you." he stated simply, with no trace of doubt. She smiled back.

The restaurant manager came up to Egon. "Thank God everyone got out all right...listen, um...Doctor Spengler...could you..."

"Aid in the situation? Of course. I..." he pulled his cell phone from his jacket, turned it on, and started to dial the number for Ghostbuster Central.

Janine put her hand on his to pause it. It was a small but significant satisfaction to her that he'd turned the thing off, which he seldom did. But she was still too frustrated to make this painless. "We normally charge a standard rate of $5000 for the first elimination, $1000 per additional..." Her voice became a little higher and angrier. "I at least want a free meal out of this!!!"

"Whatever you want!!!" the man replied, sweating so hard his toupee was starting to wilt. "Just save my restaurant!!!"

Egon rolled his eyes at her with amused affection, dialing the number.

Ray and Venkman played paper-rock-scissors when the phone rang (Winston was in the can)

Ray lost. "And if you tag reset while I'm gone, you're in trouble!!!"

Venkman grumbled as he moved his hand away from the reset button. "How in the hell is he beating me with Crayola Man, anyway? All that guy does is puke on command..."

Ray ran up the stairs a moment later. "Peter!!! It was Egon!!!"

"Let me guess. He accidentally insulted Janine and she ditched him in Central Park, so he needs a ride home."

"Wow!!!" Ray gasped. "Peter, that was amazing!!!"

"Don't tell me I'm right?" He meant it for once, too.

Ray grinned mischeviously. Deep down he was glad to have gotten Venkman, even for only a moment. "No...but that's exactly what he said you'd think. Actually, we got a job!!!"

Within a half hour, the ECTO-1 roared up to the Chateau Ritz. Many of the patrons had already called for their cars and left, but Egon, Janine, and the manager were standing outside. The manager's toupee had long fallen off, and he was biting his fingernails. Egon was studying his PKE meter, with a more studious expression than normal on his face.

The other three Ghostbusters were in full uniform. Ray, in his tan and brown uniform, was sporting his proton pack, ecto-visor, and an extra trap. He went over to Egon. "So what we got, Egon? Randy poltergeist? Dissatisfied customer who died from food poisoning?"

"I don't know"

Venkman patted his ear a few times. Venkman preferred to travel lighter than Ray; he wore only a proton pack with his brown and green/blue Ghostbuster jumpsuit. "I'm hearing things...I could swear I just heard the phrase 'I don't know' coming out of Egon Spengler's mouth."

Winston, in his aqua and red jumpsuit, was outfitted with the proton pack and an extra trap, much like Ray. "Man, it scares me when I hear that."

"The creature who appeared was definitely sentient and communicative. It was definitely not human, nor any creature I have encountered in zoological study. But it was not a ghost, either--it's not emanating any psychokinetic energy." as he talked, he removed his sport coat, placing it in the back of the ECTO-1 as he donned a proton pack and utility belt.

"He's right..." Ray confirmed, taking a quick reading of his own.

Janine had gone to her car and traded her dress shoes for a pair of sneakers. She went to the back of the ECTO-1.

"We did bring a spare..." Winston informed her.

"You're a smart man, Mister Zeddemore" she replied, strapping on the pack. It was a strange image, with her small frame and shimmering dress, hefting an unlicensed nuclear accellerator to her back. "The little snots made this very personal". Egon spared her a long look, then seemed to be having more trouble with his collar.

Venkman and Winston flanked the door, SWAT style, ion blasters primed. It had taken Winston some time and experience, but he'd taught these college boys a thing or two about military and police tactics over the years. Venkman smirked at him; Winston nodded, and they kicked in the door, guns extended.

The manager, watching from behind the ECTO-1, whimpered.

The five charged in, to find...nothing.

The dining room was a mess, but that could've just as easily been from the patron's abrupt exit.

"That table over there..." Janine pointed, whispering. "That's where the little sucker flashed us."

"You had some excitement this evening after all?" Venkman whispered gleefully.

The dirty, rumpled coat was thrown in a heap on one of the table's chairs. Ray poked at it with his thrower. No reaction.

"Pick it up..." Venkman suggested.

"You pick it up!!!" Ray bit back. "It looks like it was thrown away during the Nixon Administration."

Egon shushed them with a gesture. "Listen. The kitchen." he said simply.

There were giggling, gargled inhuman voices chattering and giggling. "Sounds like Gremlins 3..." Venkman joked.

"Set for low power dispersion." Egon said. "They're not ectoplasmic. We don't want to harm them unless we have to..." Venkman and Janine looked like they might want to argue the point, but didn't.

This time, Ray and Egon flanked the kitchen door. "Maybe one of us should go in and attempt to communicate...reason with them." Ray suggested.

"Okay, I'm up for that." Venkman agreed, moving next to Ray. "Ray, think of a number between one and one hundred."

"Um...sixty seven?"

"Ray!!! You guessed the number!!! That means you get to go in and talk to the little creeps!!!"

Ray shot him a dirty look. But holstered his gun and strode into the kitchen.

The other four looked at each other. "Like I've said before...bravest idiot I know" Janine rolled her eyes.

The monsters were destroying the kitchen like four year olds in a toy store.

Nad was throwing spoons at Zuk, who was throwing linguini back at him.

"You couldn't hit the broad side of a troll, Jerkface!!!"

"Your aim is so bad the toilet back home is yellow by the floor!!!"

Pud playing in the oven. "Nice and warm in here..."

Gork was digging through one of the pots on the stove. He scooped out the contents and ate a heaping handful. "Hey...this stuff's good. What you say this was, Spok?"

" 'Es...car...go...' " Spok read off the recipe book by the over. "I believe you are eating snails, Gork."

Gork vomited loudly.

Spok continued to paw through the kitchen. "Gork!!! Fellows!!! I have got it!!!"

"Don't give it to anyone else." Zuk chuckled.

Spok glared as Nad whacked Zuk with a soup ladel.

"What you find, Spok?" Gork asked, wiping the last of the puke off himself.

"The Grail!!!" Spok said excitedly...holding up a cheese danish.

"You. Da. Galdori!!!" the other four chanted in unison.

"Boss is gonna love this!!!" Gork cheered, doing an endzone dance. "Cheese danishes are his fave..."

They all turned as Ray Stantz loudly entered the kitchen.

"Good evening. As a paid representative of the management of this facility, I must ask you to leave the premises at this time. If you choose to leave voluntarily, the management waives all claims to monetary compensation for damages incurred and buisness lost. If you do not choose to leave, myself and a team of trained paranormal eliminators will be forced to act on his behalf and cause your forceful removal."

"Who's this jackass?" Nad sneered.

"Who cares? Grease him!!!" Gork ordered, flinging a can of Crisco at Ray.

"Well...how you think Ray's doing?" Janine asked Egon.

There was loud clattering, and the distinct, high-pitched scream of Ray Stantz.

"From the sounds of it, not very well." Egon replied, with characteristic understatement.

"I dunno...maybe he's just building a rapport with them." Venkman offered.

Ray ran out of the kitchen covered in Crisco.

"Or he's getting greased." Winston observed.

"This better not be giving you two any ideas--this isn't the time for it!!!" Venkman cracked, looking at Egon and Janine.

"I don't think they want to negotiate..." Ray sighed, wiping grease off his face.

" 'They'?" Janine repeated. "There's more than one?"

Ray nodded. "Five, I think..."

"No clues as to their motivation?" Egon asked.

"They're pigging out like Slimer on Super Bowl Sunday---maybe they're just hungry?"

"Too bad...that guy in the toupee almost as bad as my Dad's is paying us to put an end to their little feeding frenzy. Time for more...agressive negotiation."

"But Peter, I..."

Venkman wasn't listening to Ray's argument, dollar signs in his eyes. Plus...he was genuinely mad. He'd picked up from Egon and Janine's body language that things...were going quite well for them before the monsters showed up. Ray's comments earlier ("You won't consider it a success unless they come back with twins...") did contain a salt of truth, after all...

Venkman kicked in the kitchen door. "Chowtime's over, you little suckasses---eat this!!!" With that, an alpha particle beam hit Nad dead on...

...And Nad blinked at him. "Hey...what was that? Was that supposed to hurt?"

"Oh hell." Venkman said simply.

"Full stream!!!" Egon ordered from behind him. Each of the five targetted a different one of the five monsters. There was an angry chorus of electromagnetic crackles, each knocking it's target to the floor.

"Did that..."

Ray didn't even finish the question. The five imps picked themselves up off the floor, a little smoke coming from them, but with no real, discernable damage.

"Oh hell." Janine echoed Venkman's earlier curse.

"Boys, I think this bunch of softskins has officially asked for the six pack of whup-ass to be opened. They have ticked me off!!!" Gork sneered.

"Us too!!!" the other four shouted in unison.

"For the pride of the Galdori!!!" all five howled.

" 'Galdori'?" Ray and Egon mused in unison.

"Duck!!!" Winston shouted, dodging the large uncooked bird (as fate would have it, a duck) flew through the air, barely missing his head, hitting the wall with a loud, wet slap.

"New strategy!!!" Venkman shouted. "Haul it!!!"

The five Ghostbusters moved quickly to the door. Venkman, in his haste, missed seeing a spot of Crisco on the floor (a remnant of the attack on Ray), and slid into a rack of pots and pans, burying him with a cacophonous clatter.

"Peter!!!" Ray cried.

"Worry about yourself, fat boy!!!" Pud howled, charging Ray with a turkey baster, brandishing it like a sword.

Egon and Janine were moving toward the entrance. "I need the database in the ECTO...there might be an entry on these 'Galdori' creatures..." Egon was muttering.

Zuk jumped onto a table, blocking their way. He had an assortment of carving knives in his hands. "There's no need to fear, Captain Cutlery is here!!!" Zuk paused. "Okay, I lied. Be very afraid!!!" He jumped, trying to stab--Egon dodged, and Zuk landed on another table.

Gork charged Winston with a rolling pin, but Winston fired, knocking him back with a particle stream. "They're not hurt too much, but the impact does slow'em down..."

Spok was still in the kitchen, loading cheese danishes into a take-out bag.

Venkman pulled himself out of the mass of pots and pans. "Not the kind of pot I usually hurt my head with..."

Nad whacked him on the back of the head with a skillet. Venkman went down and didn't move.

Ray had managed to shoot the turkey baster out of Pud's hand, and Pud circled behind a serving cart--he shoved it at Ray, knocking him to the wall.

Zuk threw one of his knives--Egon deflected it with his PKE meter, but it caused the meter to arc and Egon took a nasty shock, stunning him.

"Egon!" Janine cried with concern.

"Forget your mate and worry about yourself, Baby!!!" Zuk howled, charging her. He sliced the conduction wire to her proton gun with his first slash.

Winston was now arm-wrestling with Gork---the little creature was much stronger than it looked.

Zuk threw his second knife. It didn't hit Janine, but pinned her to the wall by her skirt.

Janine inhaled hard. Her eyes flashed with anger. Her face went almost as red as her hair. "That. Is. It. " she snarled. "It's bad enough my romantic evening is ruined when you little jerkwads showed up and started your bullcrap, BUT DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THIS DAMN DRESS COST ME!?!?" She swung the proton gun like a baseball bat (breaking it into pieces in the process), sending Zuk on a line drive into the kitchen, splashing into a sink full of soapy water.

She extracted herself from the wall with a grimace, going quickly over to Egon. "Egon?"

"...I feel like the floor of a taxi cab..." he muttered weakly.

Spok pushed another serving cart, this one catching Winston by surprise, knocking him back.

Nad threw a table cloth over Egon and Janine. He jumped on top of them and knocked their heads together.

"Egon!!! Janine!!!" Ray cried.

"We have the danishes, Gork." Spok shouted. "Perhaps it is time to leave."

Gork looked around the room. "Yeah...this party's started to suck, anyway...where's Zuk?"

Nad appeared, hefting the ion gun from Venkman's proton pack.

Winston and Ray uttered a scatologicla curse simultaneously.

"Bet it hurts them a lot more than it hurts us..." Nad said with evil glee, firing a beam that whizzed over Ray's head and blew up a light fixture.

The two ran outside, and took a few seconds to exhale. The manager poked his head out from behind the ECTO-1. "Is..is it over?"

Ray shook his head. "Peter, Egon, and Janine are still in there..."

"I dunno...you think maybe some tear gas or something will help?" Winston asked Ray.

"It couldn't hurt...if they're corporeal, living creatures, maybe it would..." Ray was adjusting his ion gun. "But just in case I'm reversing the polarity of my blaster...otherwise if the streams crossed..."

"Right." Winston nodded. He went to the tail gate of the ECTO-1 and pulled out a tear gas canister--they'd gotten some from the police during a recent case involving a spectral motorcycle punk.

He pulled the release and threw it in. Clouds of the acrid gas came billowing out of the Chateau Ritz; at first there were some incredulous protests of "What the hell is this??" and several loud crashes and bumps...then silence.

Winston threw a gas mask to Ray, and they went back into the restaurant.

On the floor were several turned over tables. Janine's smashed ion gun. Thrown to one side was the proton pack it belonged to. Another proton pack was right next to it, Egon's damaged PKE meter also close. A third was just by the door of the kitchen. "Egon!!! Peter!!! Janine!!!" Ray called, his voice muffled by the gas mask.

Winston ran into the kitchen. "No sign here, either--there's the pile of pots Pete fell into, but no Pete..."

"Oh, man, Winston, you don't think..."

There was a burbling noise, and Zuk climbed out of the sink. "Son of a b***h!!! The a******s left me here!!!"

There was the sound of two proton guns being cocked.

"Go ahead, softskins!!! Blast me all you want!!! I'm not afraid of...huh?" It's just about then that Zuk realized he was melting.

"Hey!!! I'm dissolving?! What the hell is this?! Did you do this somehow!? I protest!!! I...(blurble):"

Zuk dissolved into a puddle of mud, then from the mud came a mist...a mist that recongealed roughly into the shape of Zuk before he melted.

Winston acted on a gut instinct and fired. Zuk was caught in his stream, writhing and cursing. "It's a ghost after all!!! The trap, Ray!!!"

Ray threw the ghost trap, which sucked Zuk into it with almost infuriating ease.

"I'll be damned."

Ray and Winston went quickly back to headquarters; there was a $9000 check now sitting on the reception desk, but neither really cared right now.

"Some kind of minor tectonic entity, maybe an earth element sprite of some sort..." Ray was theorizing, typing some info into the Spirit Compendium, their computer database that combined many of their occult books such as Tobin's Spirit Guide, Spates Catalog of Nameless Horrors, and Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen.

"Then why didn't they register on the meters?"

"Sometimes the entity's PK is masked by the molecular structure of the matter they've fused with. Think about the haunted steel shipment, or the evil geranium..."

"I'd rather not."

"You didn't flush the trap, did you?"

"Of course not, Ray. I figure that if the little twerps did take the rest, he might be our bargaining chip."

Slimer was hovering around, muttering, clearly looking for something...

"We didn't bring you any leftovers." Winston said simply.

Slimer babbled something else.

"Well, um..." Ray answered, hitting "Enter" to begin the search. "Peter isn't back yet. We're....gonna go pick him up later."

Slimer rolled his eyes and babbled something dismissive, possibly about Venkman's social life, and floated off.

"I put in the term 'Galdori'. " Ray explained. "I never heard the word before, but maybe Tobin or Spates had."

"So...onto question number two: what caused the little turd to melt, and is it something we can use?"

"I dunno...the manager said they use standard dishwashing liquid, but maybe, since their bodies appear to be created from earth matter...maybe since thier bodies are simply giant, animated piles of dirt, that simple soap and water concoction dissolves their physical forms."

"In that case...I got an idea..." Winston said, with a gleam in his eye. "You keep looking for info while I go to the store..."

To Be Continued

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