THE ZODIAC IMPERATIVE
PART TWO

By Fritz Baugh


GBI Case File GBNY-1991-9/280

Previously

Something is about to happen...
The most powerful of wizards and creatures blessed--or cursed--by the supernatural feel it...
At Stonehenge, an apparition appears, and posesses a young girl in New York city
Eleven more appear
The Imperative is beginning...
Location Unknown
The dimensional shunt opened, and the man called Josiah Nodus stepped into a room filled with high technology and a cold, ominous mood. Several displays were beeping for his attention.

His blue eyes took in all of the readings in an instant, and they confirmed his suspicions.

"The Imperative is in motion..." he said aloud.

All scans of psychokinetic matrix fluxuations confirm that conclusion

"Time since first manifestation?"

Five minutes, twenty nine seconds

"And the manifestation was at Stonehenge, correct?"

Affirmative

The man simply nodded, and allowed a brief smirk of satisfaction.

London
Elizabeth Hawthorne, the woman who called herself "Lady Enlightenment" awoke with a start.

It wasn't the dream...a pleasant one involving a horsedrawn carriage ride with a man she'd met recently, a man posessing auburn hair and the most soulful eyes she'd ever seen...it was the sudden, white-hot blast of power that had intruded into dream.

"Lilly? That the heck is going on?" she heard Barney Lupin's muffled voice.

Contact Made... came another voice, pure telepathy...speaking in Lilly Peacecraft's voice--but some how not hers.

She inhaled almost instinctively...even without drawing on her knowledge of ars Vis, the sudden surge of quintessence in the area was noticeable.

Only taking the time to wrap her sheet around her nude body, she ran to the source of the surge of power.

Barney Lupin was standing outside Lilly Peacecraft's room, having assumed the powerful crinos form, mid way between man and wolf. "I couldn't sleep, and then I heard her shout...now she won't answer me..."

"Something is happening, Bernard--rip the door off..." Liz said simply

But before he could do it, the door flew open on it's own.

"Lilly!!!" Barney shouted.

Floating about a foot off the ground was Lilly Peacecraft, in her pink pajamas, her blonde hair unkept but swirling as though by the winds. When she opened her eyes to face them, the pupils, iris, and corneas were blurred and obscured, only a solid pink glow showing.

"That's not Lilly..." Liz said.

Lilly smiled an enigmantic smile, and floated out of the room toward them. Your insight serves you well...I can sense you are a spellsinger yourself...

"Whoever you are, let our friend go!!!" Barney snarled

And one of the Changing Breeds...this world has definitely grown more interesting over the last Age...I am afraid that I cannot do as you ask--your friend has been Chosen...to serve the Imperative...

" 'Imperative'?" Liz repeated, trying to recall whether the Hornbook or Lady Persuasion had mentioned anything about an 'Imperative"...

The thing wearing Lilly's body smiled an enigmatic smile.

So it has been ordained, so it will be...

Liz took one step--before she was slammed back into the wall by a guyser of glowing pink liquid. Barney was similarly knocked back.

Immersed, she almost blacked out...the sheer power of the...feeling...the feeling that she should just stay there, drowning...because all would be lost. You cannot stand to the power of the Imperative.

With herculean effort, she brought herself standing, weaving every Empathic Fortitude spell she could recall...the fuzz cleared out of her head, and she looked around...

Lilly Peacecraft had disappeared. Barney Lupin lay writing in what had to be a similar ordeal to Lady Enlightenment's own--if he had any awareness of his surroundings it didn't show.

Considering that I'm naked and covered in this pink slime, perhaps that's a blessing Liz allowed before retrieving the soaked sheet and re-wrapping it around her body.

It's ectoplasm...charged with intense emotional energy... she realized, leaning over to examine the puddle of it on the floor. I wonder how it would compare to the 1988 reports of 'mood slime'...

She saw that Barney was beginning to recover his senses also. "Liz..wha happen? Lilly..."

"Gone, Bernard." Liz shook her head. "The ectoplasm was strongly charged with emotional energy, and it incapacitated us long enough for her to escape."

Barney muttered under his breath as Liz walked briskly back to her room to dress. Something of major import is going on...

And as she closed the door, she allowed herself one other thought. In more ways than one...I wish Ray and his friends were here now...

Ghostbusters Central
"I'm telling you, Peter, the PK level has dropped back to normal--maybe even slightly below. So I don't know if it's a malfunction or not--but weird stuff often happens around solstice time..." Ray said, not sure if he was trying to convince or unconvince himself.

Venkman rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands in frustration.

Winston came up the stairs, looking at his two fellow Ghostbusters. "That call was from a lady named Rose Lockney--says her twelve year-old great granddaughter just flew out the window, eyes glowing purple."

"Think we should check it out, Peter?" Ray asked.

"Maybe I'm getting spooked with that call from Irena, but yeah...maybe we better."

"I think we should call Egon." Winston said firmly.

"Normally I'd protest, but under the circumstances..." Venkman agreed, nodding and dialing Egon's cel number.

"....."

"....."

"...egon...did you hear something..."

"...no..."

"...me either..."

"....."

"....."

Venkman's eyes narrowed. "No answer..."

"Let's get the call..." Ray said. "We'll try again in the car..."

Lafayette, Indiana
He scanned the empty lunch room one more time, and then was both relieved and terrified to discover that she was there. Ann Fishburne. She gave a small grin and gestured for him to come on over to the table.

The rotund young man, all of twenty years old, with large glasses and a curly mess of brown hair, gave her a nervous smile and sat down. "I was hoping you woudn't mind me bothering you..."

She looked back into her Star Trek novel. "You know you're welcome to eat with me any time."

Ann may not have fit anyone's definition of "Great Beauty", with her small frame and her own set of large eyeglasses, but he'd know her since the eighth grade and had fallen for her pretty hard before the end of ninth. They'd ended up in different classes in High School and had drifted apart, but then discovered they were in the same college, and had seen each other off and on after that.

"Finally going to go home this week?" she asked him playfully.

"I think so...I've been there long enough to get vacation time, so I'm taking next week off. They're mad, but as long as I'm back by the Fourth..."

Ann giggled. "By now you actually miss the family..."

"Well, let's not go that far. I miss my parents...I miss Al...but Cliff has gone overboard into a rap fetish: back at Christmas I'd be trying to sleep and he'd be playing 'I Saw Momma Doin' The Wild Thang With Santa Claus' at high volume."

"Not a 2 Crew fan, I take it?" she giggled, pushing one of her black locks out of her eyes.

"Ann, it was when their stupid so-called album hit #1 that I decided to stop paying attention to popular music." he said indignantly.

"Only twenty and already becoming old."

"Cliff's almost a teenager now, after all, so he thinks he knows everything..." he gestured, knocking his Pepsi over.

"Ah! Grife!!!" he shouted in frustration as it poured all over him.

"You okay?" she asked.

"Fine...fine..listen, let me go get some paper towels and wipe this mess up...wait right here..." he said as he waddled off.

She did as he asked. If he'd had a third eye on the back of his head, the affectionate look she had would've sent his heart soaring.

Then she was hit with an emerald light that dropped her to the floor.

She opened her eyes, now glowing green. Contact made

She looked to and fro, seeing no one to impede her. With a gesture, there was a gust of wind that threw open the door. She floated into the sky, and quickly began to fly to the East.

Her would-be suitor waddled back into the lunch room. "Ann?" he called, noticing that her book was laying on the table, and her purse still flung over the chair.

Twenty year-old physics student Fritz V. Baugh picked the book up, and looked toward the open door. "Where did she run off to in such a hurry?"

Stonehenge
Phineus Eventide, Prince of Warlocks, and Archmage Zandrik materialized in a flash of light.

"I see no sign yet..." Eventide remarked. "That gives us time...such as it is."

Zandrik nodded.

Eventide closed his eyes and steepled his fingers, calling on the powers of magick he'd studied for over three hundred years.

Ray slammed the mobile phone down. "Still no answer..."

"They went to Janine's parents for dinner..." Winston noted. "Maybe try them..."

"Aren't we here?" Venkman asked with mock innocence as the car pulled up the address Rose Lockyer had given them. "Call after we get out..."

Ray looked at Venkman, suspecting that Peter had some ulterior suspicion They have been getting closer lately...what if Peter's right? And thought of Louis again, feeling for the little man. I know what it's like to feel left out of this game...

Ray shook those thoughts out of his head as the three Ghostbusters left the ECTO-1 and donned their proton packs (Ray once more thinking of Louis--wishing he'd been along on this call just as he was with them earlier in the evening, during the Letterman taping). Unlike Winston and Venkman, he pulled on long black work gloves and strapped an ecto-visor to his head. He also pulled out a spare PKE meter.

They went to the indicated apartment, and were greeted even before they could knock on the door. A lady who looked to be at least seventy was standing there, her hands shaking. "I heard the elevator and hoped it was you..." she said, her voice soaked with emotion.

"Rose Lockyer?" Ray asked simply. She nodded.

She moved over to the phone. "Steven...I have to go...the Ghostbusters are here...no, stop saying that...I...no...no it's not your fault, I keep telling you that..."

She nodded a couple of times. "The Ghostbusters will get Kylie back, Steven...they have to. I have to go...I'll call you when I know something..." and she hit the button on the phone to break the connection.

She could barely put the phone back on the cradle her hands were trembling so badly. "My grandson...Kylie's father...he's quite upset..."

Venkman took Rose's hands with a tenderness that would've surprised people that didn't know him as well as Winston and Ray did. "That's understandable, Mrs. Lockyer. Please...just tell us what happened..."

Rose, looking the whole time on the verge of tears, told them how her great granddaughter, twelve year-old Kylie Griffin, was suddenly struck by a purple energy arc, and began to say strange things--without moving her mouth.

"Telepathy..." Ray mused.

"What did she say after that, Mrs. Lockyer?"

"Contact made...something about 'the Avatar is suitable'...and 'now to find my kindred'..."

"I don't like the sound of that...'Kindred' means there may be more than one..." Winston said.

"I've heard the term used with vampires, but this doesn't sound like anything associated with vampirism..." Ray added.

Venkman rolled his eyes. "You got vampires on the brain, Ray."

Winston moved over to the window. "This definitely looks like it was busted from the inside...and this is a solid window, too."

"They don't live in the best neighborhood, after all..." Venkman nodded.

"Your granddaughter isn't the Hulk, is she?" Venkman asked Rose. Rose shook her head. "Ray, how hot is this place?" Venkman said, turning to Ray

"Huh? Oh..." Ray said sheepishly, pulling the PKE meter out of one of his pockets. "I'm so used to Egon doing this..."

Ray flipped on the PKE meter.

And was promptly met with some very angry pops, hisses, and smoke. Ray switched it off as quick as she could.

"That's bad." Venkman deadpanned. "Between Romania and this, you guys are breaking those things way too quick."

Ray wanted to say more, but fear of alarming Rose kept his mouth shut.

Venkman went over to Rose. "Mrs. Lockyer, we'll need any information you can provide on your great granddaughter. Maybe a picture or two."

"Will...will you be able to find her?"

"I think so--we have some special stuff back at headquarters that should help us." Venkman lied sweetly. "We'll call you as soon as we know something."

The three Ghostbusters went out to the ECTO-1. "Peter, do you know how much PK energy must have been in that room to cause that kind of reaction out of the meter?" Ray said, wiping sweat off his forhead.

"Don't tell me, let me guess--the scientific term would be 'assload', wouldn't it?"

"At least a valence of ten, maybe more..."

"I'm calling the Melnitzs..." Winston said firmly, dialing the phone.

Canarsie
Fritz Melnitz grumbled as the phone rang. "Nisey? Dee? Somebody get that!!!"

Doris Irwin grabbed the phone. "Sure, Pop, why strain yourself." she teased him affectionately "Melnitz, whaddya want?" she answered cheerfully.

"Doris? This is Winston Zeddemore...are Egon and Janine still there?"

Doris started to wrap the phone cord around her finger, adopting a mischeivous look. "Nope. They left about two hours ago. You mean she hasn't dropped him off at the firehouse yet?" she said asked facetiously

"Not as of when we left a little while ago..."

"If I had to hazard a guess, Mister Zeddemore..." she smirked, knowing the mood her sister and her male companion left the Melnitz house in "You might try her apartment."

Winston said something she couldn't quite make out.

Contact made she heard in her head. In Victor's voice.

Something ice cold covered the back of her neck. "Victor?" she said, fighting a sudden sense of panic.

"Victor? Baby what's wrong?!?" she heard her mother's voice, with all of the fear and panic she found herself suddenly grappling with.

She dropped the phone and ran.

"Doris? Doris???" Winston shouted into the phone.

"What's wrong?" Ray asked.

Winston shut up and just listened.

Doris ran into the Melnitz kitchen and the sight froze her blood completely.

Her son, Victor Irwin, was floating about two feet off the floor. The tray of chocolate chip cookies his grandmother had just had him take out of the oven lay on the floor, its contents scattered.

His eyes shone with an obscuring light, angry and red in color. The Lord of the Dynamic Fire has come, mortals...tremble in fear!!! they heard, though Victor's mouth did not open as it twisted into a smug smirk.

"VICTOR!!!" Doris screamed.

Interesting...I sense something in this place...

Doris moved forward to grab him, shake him, scream at whatever had done this to her son, but she never got the chance--there was a flare of energy, red--the same red as his glowing eyes--and resembling flames, that pushed her back.

Her parents, Fritz now in the kitchen with his wife, grabbed her.

Victor gestured, and the window in the kitchen exploded outward in a blast of red sparks. He nodded and flew into the night's sky, a fiery trail of red following in his wake.

"I heard a lot of shouting of Victor's name...but nothing else..." Winston explained, continuing to hold the phone.

"Maybe he shaved the cat again." Venkman offered helpfully.

"You didn't hear the panic in Doris's voice, Peter." Winston returned. "It sounded like..."

The gruff voice of Fritz Melnitz came onto the phone, his thick Brooklyn accent loud with growing fear. "Please tell me you're onea' Janine's Ghostbuster friends...my grandson Victor, he's been like posessed or something!!!"

"Winston Zeddemore, Mister Melnitz, and yeah...tell me what happened."

Melnitz told him, as best he could.

"Aw man...listen, we'll be right there, Sir...we'll call Egon and Janine on the way...hang in there..." Winston hung up the phone.

"Winston, what's going on?!" Ray asked.

"I'll give you the low down on the way to Canarsie--and we need to call Janine's apartment double time!!!"

Confirming avatar manifestation...Brooklyn, New York

Nodus nodded. "Victor Irwin. Janine Melnitz's nephew." he had stripped the last of his outer clothing, his expensive Italian suit, off. Down to his boxer shorts, he pulled on a solid black body suit.

He pulled on the mask, black with a red visor.

The vest and coat were of a look some would describe as "techno-Edwardian" Once more, all black save some dark purple highlights

And then the gauntlets. Packed into them was a significant amount of firepower, more than sufficient for most tasks: he could even bust ghosts with them, ironically enough.

He stood before the monitors, and began to download the data showing into the band on his left arm.

"Has the London manifestation reached Stonehenge yet?"

Negative. But this will occur within moments

"Excellent."

"This is more difficult than I believed it would be..." Eventide grunted. "I'd harnessed the power of Stonehenge before...the last time almost two years ago..."

"The Spirit of Halloween making his periodic return, yes..." Zandrik nodded, also deep in concentration. "I was with some Akashics in Tibet at the time..."

"We have to do this, Fallagar..." Eventide grunted, a bead of sweat gently falling from his brow. "No matter how difficult..."

"That time the properties of this place aided you..." Fallagar nodded. "This time, it's what we're fighting against...the raging tide of quintessence, which this place uses for it's other purpose..."

"Especially since the Solstice approaches...it must be what they're awaiting for the final Judgement..."

"Yes..."

What...is this???

Fallagar's eyes shot open. "Oh hell..."

Approaching the complex was a girl, maybe thirteen years old, with long blonde hair flowing in the winds, wearing pink pajamas. A pinkish glow came from her eyes.

Mortals... she said in a girl's voice, but without speaking. This place has been chosen as the site of the ritual of judgement...flee it now, and await your fate...

There was a crack of lightning, and the girl was thrown back.

"Keep the ritual going, Eventide!" Fallagar snarled, pulling his staff out of the ground with his left hand, his right one still surrounded by sparkles of dancing electricity

"You cannot..."

"One of us has to..."

YOU DARE?! the voice roared, and the girl pulled herself from the ground. I am the Lady of the Primordial Waters!!! One of the Twelve chosen to carry out the will of Xodiac!!! You dare to raise your mortal hands to me?

With that, there was a burst of pink light around her. When it subsided, her garments had changed--she was now wearing a simple shirt and pants colored a similar pink as the glow from her eyes. A pair of gloves, boots, a belt, and a cape were all in matching white--a golden broach clasped the cape, and on it was an engraved glyph looking vaguely like the capitol letter "H"

With that, the girl that had been Lilly Peacecraft gestured, and summoned a guyser of glowing pink ectoplasm.

The man called Fallagar held his hands in front of him, throwing up a countermagick that deflected the fluid as though a glass wall had appeared.

The girl physically snarled (though the intimidation value was significantly blunted by her cute features and squeaky voice) I see you have some knowledge of the spellcrafting, mortal...quite unexpected...

She gestured again, a second guyser appearing. He extended his right hand, the gem on his middle finger glowing violet, the second guyser dispersing as had the first.

But Fallagar was visibly straining, sweat beginning to pour down his face as well.

I embody the powers of the Principle of the Fish, mortal...the Primordial Waters are at my command...the waters of instinct and emotion, the primal essence of life itself...

Another guyser of slime appeared.

Drown in them, arrogant fool!!!

"Fallagar!!!" Eventide shouted, bringing his own power to bear against the creature. The spell is disrupted... he reproached himself. But if Fallagar falls, I will not have the power to stop this myself...

You would also fight the coming that is ordained?

"I know the lore of your kind, creature. The human race has moved beyond your power to judge--it must find it's own way." With that, he gestured. The same dimension shunt I used on Whately and Whitworth...she may not be expecting...

That is for us to judge... she replied.

"ARS MANIUM!!!" Eventide shouted, a sudden field of black light surrounding the girl. The fabric of space-time began to pull and distort, the girl's body beginning to blurr and shift.

You seek to banish me? I am in awe of your arrogance...

Eventide grunted as he pushed all of his considerable will into the effort. Focus, Phineus...focus...the fate of the whole world could be...

But that was when Phineus Eventide's world exploded in a painful blast of violet electricity.

Irena Cortez could feel it palpably now. Something was in the air.

She had been raised apart from her parent's people...the werewolf tribes of the Southwest...but even at her young age some of the lore of the Garou had reached her ears, and as more time went by...as she became comfortable with what she was again, more and more of it sprung into her conscious memory...

"The Changing Breeds are Gaia's soldiers, Young one...our link to it is strong. When it is joyous, you will be joyous. When it is in pain, you will be in pain. And when it is afraid...you will know it's fear..."

And right now...she knew the Earth was definitely afraid.

Shannon stood near the door...his young features soaked with sweat. He was slipping into something that she had to call delirium...

"Shannon, I'm going to call Peter again...he said he'd call back, but you look about ready to pass out..."

Shannon just looked up at her. "..it's coming for me, irena...i can sense it..."

Irena, most of all, had to fight the panicky sensation that he was right...even without any idea whether there was any "it"...but why "it" would be coming for him, why he could sense it--that was something she had an obvious and unnerving guess about.

Her supernaturally-enhanced senses detected the smell of ozone. She looked to the East, and an orange glow crossed her field of view for a split second.

And then, standing by Shannon Phillips, was a glowing orange shape, looking vaguely like two human-sized figures joined, literally, at the hip.

"Nooooo!!!" he screamed, and began to run.

So this is to be the avatar of the Primordial Wind? Fascinating...finding a truer case in duality would be difficult... a voice came into Irena's head.

"You just stay away from him!!!" she snarled. Like Barney Lupin, she was a werewolf. She assumed her crinos form, and jumped the creature(s?), fangs bared...

Passing straight through it.

We don't have time for play, mortal. The Imperative beckons...

There was a flash of orange light, and the glowing shape was gone. "Shannon!!" she howled.

Shannon ran, blind panic having completely overtaken him. He wished his mother was there...Peter...the other Ghostbusters...anybody...even if Nathaniel Blaque and Astorath, the beings he hated most in all of the world, had appeared and offered to help him in return for an eternity of servitude to them, he probably would've accepted it.

And then it all vanished into a haze of orange light...

Irena ran out of the house...and the sight before her froze her blood.

Shannon had changed completely. The strange garment, an orange bodysuit with white cape, gloves, belt, and boots--the cape clasped with a round broach bearing an glyph resembling the Roman numeral 2--was the least of it. His body had changed. His skin now yellowish and smoothed, his hair disappeared, a set of horns projecting from his forehead.

He looked like he had the first time she'd ever seen him, when he was under the thrall of Astorath.

His eyes sprung open, now featureless and glowing the same orange light as the creature that posessed him.

Such...power... a voice now sounding much like Shannon's said without moving his mouth. A daemonseed...possibly the most powerful avatar we have ever had...

"Bastard!!! You can't do this!!!' Irena howled, feeling the bloodlust beginning to swell.

The posessed Shannon just glanced at her. And an arc of orange electricity threw her back ten feet into a tree.

Curious...I sense a strange resonance in this one...and one not having to do with it's daemonseed...perhaps the mark of...

If there was any more, Irena Cortez could not hear it, the weight of the injuries dealt her overtaxing even her supernatural endurance...

"Phineus!!!" the man called Zandrik Fallagar shouted, as an arc of violet electricity cut down the Prince of Warlocks just as he was beginning to win the battle of wills with his opponent.

He looked to the West to see another girl, like the first maybe twelve or thirteen in age, but this one with pale skin and long black hair. She was dressed now in a garment identical to the first, albeit one purple in color instead of pink--and matching the glow in her eyes. The glyph on her broach was different also--a design that might be described as "a couple of wavy lines"...

Her name was Kylie Griffin, though Fallagar could not be aware of that fact.

Mortals standing against us? Aware of us even before the Gathering is complete? Will wonders never cease...

It does strike me as a curious age, indeed... Lilly's thoughts said, shaking off the effects of Eventide's spell.

"Elsa..." Fallagar called, as he brought himself to standing. The slime had been charged with emotional energy...trying, as she'd said, to drown him in both a physical and metaphysical sense. Thoughts of love he thought he'd moved past...the pains of so many battles...Elsa give me strength...

The pink clad one turned to Eventide, blasting him with the same sort of psychomagnetheric slime that she'd used against Fallagar (and, earlier, Liz and Barney). Stunned from the lightning burst, he didn't have time to throw up a countermagick sheild, and took it full.

Do you have the faintest idea with what you deal with? the creature posessing Kylie Griffin asked Fallagar as the archmage painfully pulled himself to his feet.

"Do you?" Fallagar retorted, as a tempest of wind began to blow about. He twirled his crooked staff, and a gust hurled Kylie back, smacking her into one of Stonehenge's monolithic stones. She bounced off of it with a curious electical sparking effect.

"I know well what your kind wants, and what my companion told yours is what I also believe: No. More. Judgements!!!" and he gestured, summoning several bolts of lightning from the sky. They struck the posessed Kylie...

And she deflected them back at him.

You... her thoughts came. I sense it now...you are one of the Children...and not just one of them, the one who shares my sigil: the Lord of the Steady Wind born to mortal flesh...

"All...the more reason to stop you..." he said, defiant through the pain of his growing injury.

All the more shame to fall before me she retorted, hitting him with another blast.

Fallagar... came Eventide's voice in his head. Flee...while you can...

"I can't leave..."

You must...we have failed...

"Then Earth is..."

Find the Five Who Are One... was Eventide's last communication, before Zandrik Fallagar's world disappeared into a swirl of light...

To Be Continued

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