THE ZODIAC IMPERATIVE
PART THREE

By Fritz Baugh


GBI Case File GBNY-1991-9/280

Previously

Something is about to happen...
The Imperative is beginning...
The youngest Inquistor and the Son of Astorath
A girl known to one who's destiny lies over a decade hence
And blood to one who is already a powerful force
All and others have been taken
The Prince of Warlocks and the Archmage of Wind move to prevent it...
But they fail.
Upstate New York
An ill wind is blowing...

The long haired young man looked up from the book he was reading, and took off his glasses. A few months shy of his seventeenth birthday, the young man had a stack of books next to his reading desk that would make many a college student cry for mercy. Books about--and books in Latin. Occult references. Religious texts. Certainly not the shallow pap favored by his peers (if they bothered to read at all instead of having Street Fighter II tournaments...)

"Vincent?" came a knock at the door.

The young man looked up. "Yes, Chastity?"

"Mom wants you to know that dinner's about ready..."

Vincent looked at his watch, and opened the door. His younger sister, some ten years old, was standing there. "I'd lost track of time...I didn't realize it was getting so late..."

"Well, Dad had to work late again, and Mom decided to fix dinner late. You know how she can be...so what are you reading, anyway?"

"You would probably find it dreadfully boring."

"Try me."

"It's an essay about a Medieval crafter of mystick artifacts. He was called Himinis the Mad and he liked to put nasty curses on his items as 'jokes'..."

"You're right...that is boring." she replied, with an exaggerated yawn. "I'll tell Mom you'll be right down."

Vincent smirked as she left. "Princess" was the nickname he and some of his brothers had for their sister, the youngest of their large clan. Perhaps it was all but inevitable, being the last child after seven boys, she was a little spoiled by her parents. And her brothers.

He closed the book...

And his vision vanished into a sea of glowing aquatic blue.

Contact made... a voice said inside his mind...apparently in his own voice.

He opened his eyes with great effort...there, swimming in a sea of blue energy, was a shape...vaguely like some sort of insect...a scorpion?...glowing the same blue, with a glyph resembling a stylized letter "M" showing on it's head.

"What...what are you?!"

You...resist my control? This is unexpected...

"I don't know what kind of ungodly creature you are...but I demand you release me!!!"

You are in a position to demand nothing, Mortal. the creature snorted, and began to roil and change...when it was finished, Vincent was looking at a copy of himself, minus the glasses, wearing a costume consisting of a pants and tunic in the same aquatic blue, set off by white gloves, boots, and a cape, and a broach with the same "M" glyph.

"An astrological design..." Vincent realized. "The glyph of Scorpio..."

Your insight serves you well, Mortal. the copy replied. But if you really understood the meaning of that sigil, you would not even think of resisting me...

Vincent had begun to understand that he wasn't in the physical world anymore...what he was seeing was a metaphorical landscape in his own mind. A mind which had been invaded by this Scorpio creature.

"In the name of God...get out of my mind!!!" Vincent howled, throwing himself at the creature. The doppleganger staggered, and that seemed to scare and enrage it.

I...I don't believe this!!! No chosen avatar has ever resisted my power before!!! this in intolerable!!!

"Then simply leave...it will solve both of our problems."

Mortal fool!!! I am the Lord of the Steady Waters, Chosen by Zodiac to pass Judgement on your pathetic world!!! I WILL NOT BE DENIED BY A MORTAL!!! the creature howled in reply, and the world around Vincent vanished into a blue haze...

"As you would have it, monster take my form...." Vincent snarled defiantly as his consciousness began to fade. "but I take solace in the fact that my SOUL is NOT yours to take!!!"

In the outside world, Vincent's body stopped shaking. "Incredible power in this one..." Vincent's voice...but not Vincent...noted. "It will serve the Imperative well..." With that, the young man gestured, and was clad in the same blue and white outfit as the doppleganger on the mindscape had been.

Outside the house, Dr. Benjamin Angus Belmont, Professor of Anthropology, was pulling into the driveway when he saw the blue flash in one of the bedrooms.

He got out of the car quickly, an instinct telling him something was very very wrong.

His youngest son appeared, dressed in a strange outfit. "Vincent?!"

Your offspring has been chosen to serve the Imperative... With that, he flew into the sky, heading East, not looking back. Within seconds, Vincent Abraham Belmont had vanished from his father's eyesight completely

Apartment of Janine Melnitz
Brooklyn, New York
She drank in the warmth of the moment...the sense of peace...contentment of a sort she couldn't remember feeling before...ever...

She listened to the steady beat of his heart, and it was beautiful. Against her cheek was his only lightly haired chest...even his smell, tinged with sweat from the exertions of the last few hours, was beautiful...

She wanted to take that moment...that whole night...trap it in a bottle...and treasure it forever.

Was it because it had been so long? She would be lying if she'd claimed to be virginal when she met him eight years ago...but since then, she'd only been intimate with one other man. It had been two and a half years before, and it had been profoundly disappointing on just about every level.

No. It wasn't any of that. It was that this was right in a way no other relationship she'd ever had was.

She opened one eye and looked up at him. His normally stern face was in an uncommon expression of calm. She'd seen him sleep before--but even then, it carried an expression of trying to wrest the secrets of knowledge from the universe even from Morpheus's realm. Instead, he looked like Atlas, relieved of the weight of the world.

She closed her eyes again, and nuzzled back up against him. I wish I could just stay like this forever...

She had just about drifted off to blissful sleep when some jackass began pounding on her front door.

Janine Melnitz awoke with a start, her eyes flashing with anger. Beside her, Egon Spengler stirred, still a little dumbstruck by the events of the last few hours.

"I feel sorry for whoever that is..." he managed to say.

"If it's that creep down the hall wanting to borrow my blender again, I swear I'll rip his lungs out right where he stands!!!" she snarled, throwing on a bathrobe, and storming to the door with that distinctive "walk" of female anger.

She shouted at the door. "Who the hell is it?!"

A tiny voice, a tenor she know well, came back from the other side..."Um...it's me, Ray...Um..."

She muttered another curse or two and undid the six locks that held her door in place. Sure enough, Ray Stantz stood there, face beet red.

"Um...listen...we know, um, Egon's here and...well..."

"Is it that important?" she spat out. Ray gulped hard. Like Peter and Winston, he'd been secretly hoping that things were going to finally...happen for their two old friend, and the bitter irony that so much was happening just when it was was not lost on him.

Egon appeared, part the blanket of her bed wrapped around his waist. "I will assume this is of utmost importance, Raymond." Neither missed the rather intense tone in his voice as he said this. Ray gulped again--Egon was genuinely fighting off anger.

"Believe me Egon, none of us wanted to spoil this for you...but it is that important. For one thing, it involves Janine's nephew Victor..."

Egon and Janine both looked at each other.

About fifteen minutes later, Egon appeared, wearing his trademark Ghostbuster flight suit, blue with pinkish trim and the name "SPENGLER" sewn into name tag over the left chest pocket. "..well, it's really because Peter was convinced I would be the one Janine would be least likely to murder for interrupting..." Ray was saying to him.

Egon shot up one eyebrow as he straightened his glasses. "Valid reaction."

Janine appeared, also dressed in a flight suit. It was the same blue as Egon's, though the cuffs and collar were orange. The nametag read "MELNITZ". "Don't say a damn thing. If this involves my nephew I am going. If Dr. Venkman doesn't like it, I'll tell him exactly where he can go and what he can do with himself when he gets there!!!"

Ray gulped for a third time, and grinned nervously. "Welcome aboard..."

When Ray, Egon, and Janine got to the ECTO-1, Winston was standing outside. Venkman was still in the car, and they could see him on the phone, gesturing frantically.

"Winston?" Ray asked.

"We got a call on Ghostbusters Mobile just a minute ago--it was Irena Cortez."

Venkman got out of the car, his expression grave. Janine had a lump in her throat herself--Venkman had bonded with Shannon somewhat, in a way she'd only seen surpassed by the clear love he had for Oscar Wallance. His voice was unusually flat when he finally spoke. "That was Irena. Something just posessed Shannon, and it sounds awful similar to what happened to the Griffin girl and Victor..."

"You had better tell us the full story on the way to the Melnitzes..." Egon said gravely.

London
The doors outside the safe house came open, allowing a red and blue clad woman with long dark hair and her large dog--a very wolf-like dog with a dark coat and a green plaid collar--to leave.

"The flow of vis...I can practically smell it..." the woman said.

The dog growled something that would've surprised a casual listener for sounding very much like the English word "Yeah..."

Lady Enlightenment didn't need any spellcrafting to find the direction she was looking for--there was a deepening glow in the sky that made it more than obvious where the trouble was coming from

"Stonehenge..." she gasped. "Of course...one of the most powerful nexi on the planet...and with the solstice coming it has to be positively boiling with tass..." Behind her, the dog began to growl. "Bernard? What's..."

...Sodalis...

Before she could react any further, there was a swirl of light and something appeared, some ten feet above the ground. Gravity took over as the swirl vanished, and the man hit the ground with a loud, meaty thud. A stick resembling a shepherd's crook clattered and rolled away.

Behind her, Barney began to shift...he became larger, but still doglike. "Be careful, Lizzie..." he said, heavily buried in growls.

Liz went over to the man--he was covered in a pink-colored psychokinetic ooze that she'd already encountered that evening: when their friend Lilly Peacecraft had been posessed.

"...ars...intellego...mentem...ars...intellego...mentem..." she heard him muttering over and over. There was a flash of light, and the layer of concealing slime vanished.

A magus?

He was dressed in a purple coat, vaguely Edwardian in cut, with an otherwise semicasual wardrobe with a tie and khaki pants. But it was the device on his left chest that suddenly drew her attention...

"Lizzie..." Barney noted, assuming full crinos form. Interestingly enough, when he did his tacky green and yellow pants appeared "Ain't that a lot like that symbol on your broach?" It was indeed a very similar glyph resembling a backwards letter P.

"It's a Hermetic mark...I was passed it by my mater...but according to her no male had been inducted into that lineage since the Middle Ages..."

"I guess...all I know is I don't like some of the angles he's lying in...and if he's got Lilly's mood slime all over him then he might know something about what happened to her."

Liz grimaced. The man's left arm was probably broken in at least two places, true enough. And Barney was right--if he knew something about Lilly, they had to do something. On the other hand, this brazen man appeared to be breaking several tenets of the Peripheral Code, and that was something that she just couldn't help but be annoyed about...

The man emitted a burbling howl, and sat bolt upright. With a loud scream, accompanied by a round of cracking noises that churned their stomaches, he flexed the shattered arm, again and again. his face dripping with sweat, an angry howl accompanying every flex. After several horrific minutes, he flexed the arm once more. No sound came from it this time, the movement appearing completely normal. With a grunt, he collapsed back to the ground.

"Wow..." Barney noted.

"So...in summation, at eight PM Eastern Daylight Time, there was a spike in the PKE levels recorded at the lab..." Egon Spengler was saying. "Shortly after this, the first call came in, from a Rose Lockyer about her great granddaughter being posessed. Calls came in in short order describing similar events occuring to both Victor Irwin and Shannon Phillips..."

"If I had idea one who this Griffin girl was, I'd wonder if it was someone out to get people who knew us." Ray nodded.

"Any ideas yet?" Janine asked Egon,

"Only that the timing cannot be coincidence--right on the cusp of the summer solstice, one of the most psychokinetically active times of the year." Egon answered. "At the solstices, the equinoxes, and a few other times of the year (such as October 31) the flow of PKE at the ley line nexi increases geometrically for a brief amount of time."

Ray nodded. "And whatever is going on is intended to draw on that."

"That still doesn't explain what it wanted with my nephew!!!" Janine noted.

"No." Egon shook his head, "It doesn't..."

The ECTO-1 had already stopped at the Melnitzes, and given Egon and Janine an opportunity to do their best to calm her frantic parents and sister. Egon had actually gotten his best set of readings about a block away--when they got closer, the PKE meter began to overload as it had Ray at the Lockyer's a few hours before.

"I gotta call Irena when we make it back to the Firehouse..." Venkman said. "She's gotta be going nuts...I just wish I had something to tell her..."

"Yeah, but if you don't call she's likely to run all the way down to Manhattan to find you." Winston deadpanned. "You especially don't want that when Dana's coming to town soon..."

Venkman couldn't help but chuckle...then he looked up and realized there was a man standing right in the middle of the road.

"WINSTON!!!" he shouted.

"OH SHIT!!!" Winston shouted, having seen the man at the same time Venkman had. He jammed ECTO-1's brakes, leaving a long trail of rubber behind the vehicle. But it wasn't going to be enough...the large car wouldn't be able to stop in time...

The man held up his left arm.

The ECTO-1 came to an instantaneous, dead stop only inches from him.

Venkman leaned out the window, with the man apparently safe it was okay to be pissed off at him. "Hey, Asshole!!! What the f*** are you doing?! Don't you know there are laws against jaywalking?! Or did you not see the tons of lights and sirens we were blaring away?!"

"Peter..." Ray gulped. The man was dressed all in black, a long coat with some dark purple hightlights. His face was covered by a mask sporting a featureless red visor.

"And we're the Ghostbusters--if you think your little Halloween costume scares me, well, I've seen scarier costumes on first graders!!!" Venkman continued.

Something was making the hair on the back of Egon's neck stand straight up. He pulled out his PKE meter. "What in the?"

"I'm afraid I don't have time to continue this discussion, Doctor Venkman. More pressing matters call for your attentions." The voice was deep and resonant...and Janine had the nagging feeling she'd heard it before.

Nodus?

The black-garbed man jammed a button on his left gauntlet. In a blink of an eye, the ECTO-1 had disappeared from the world.

"He's stirring..." Barney noted, stepping closer. "You wants I should put him in a headlock?"

"Not yet..." Liz said firmly.

"I say..." the man muttered, in a clipped accent that sounded vaguely English. "That's an experience I wouldn't like to partake of again for a while..."

"I bet..." Barney couldn't help himself. "I was about expecting you to turn into Tom Baker or something..."

The man pulled himself upright, and with a gesture and a brief gust of wind the shepherd's crook he'd been carrying returned to his grasp.

"A Garou? Fascinating..." The man said studying Barney. "And I must say those pants are quite cool..."

Barney grinned and fluffed his pockets. "I get that a lot" he admitted, with a toothy grin that would terrify 90% of the human populace.

"Magus!!!" Liz said, clearly having enough of all this chumminess. She gestured, and several bands of energy appeared around the man. "I am Lady Enlightenment, filia of Lady Persuasion, Follower of Guernicus, Quaesitor Maga of the Order of Hermes. You appear here in the middle of this brewing unpleasantness, which is suspicious enough, but you wear the Hermetic mark of a line of succession which has been exclusively female since the Thirteenth Century"

The man seemed more amused that threatened. "Lady Melwen Fallagar, Filia of Zandrik, Follower of Jerbiton..."

Liz seemed a little taken back. "You...know of this?"

"Of course. Allow me to introduce myself, Lady Enlightenment." Just the faintest smirk came to his mouth. "I am Zandrik Fallagar, Filius of Delphia, Follower of Jerbiton , Archmage of the Order of Hermes...I bear the same Hermetic mark...because I gave it to your mater's ancestor."

Liz's eyes went wide. "You're the one who disrupted the Tribunal of 1983, claiming to be the great Archmage--despite the fact that he would be over eight hundred years old, and not even the best longevity potions known to the Order could make an eight hundred year old archmage look twenty five!!! Impersonating a Hermetic Archmage carries some stiff sanctions, Magus, including gilgul..."

"And what was the judgement of the Quesitor at that Tribunal?" Fallagar asked calmly.

Liz stepped back.

" 'While we cannot confirm the identity of Archmage Fallagar, Ex Jerbiton, nor can we deny the possibility that he is, indeed, who he claims to be.' They go on to say that Master Porthos seemed convinced...and the decision was signed by the Prima of House Quaesitor herself."

Fallagar gestured, and the energy bands surrounding him disappeared without seeming to take much effort from the man. "Now then, Milady...we can stay here and debate Hermetic law further, or perhaps we can do something about the fact that Earth is about to possibly see all of human civilization destroyed..." With that, he gestured toward the growing glow in the sky.

"What do you know of this?" Liz asked, still extremely suspicious, but sensing the truth in the man's words. "You were covered in the same psychomagnetheric ectoplasm our friend used against us..."

"Blonde girl, about age thirteen? Born in late February or March?"

"Um...yeah..." Barney replied. "How'd you know? She was born March 3..."

"It's why she was chosen by that avatar..." Fallagar replied. "Pisces, sign of the Primordial Waters...A second had shown up while Eventide and I were attempting to lock down Stonehenge--Aquarius of the Steady Winds. There will be..."

Fallagar's explaination was cut off as a glowing shape began to appear in the street. A long, sleek automobile with an assortment of electronic gear on it's roof...

"Riding the Tilt-A-Whirl again..." Venkman groused, as he realized the world was beginning to reappear around him. "Egon, these little trips are beginning to really suck..."

"Peter, don't take this the wrong way, but bite me."

"Man, she's influencing you already..."

"Where...where are we?" Ray was the first one to ask, looking outside the car. "It looks like somewhere on Earth--a city or something, but ...huh?!"

He caught sight of three beings standing on the street only a dozen yards away from them. One was a youngish man in a purple coat he didn't recognize. But the others he did--he recognized the crinos form of Barney Lupin, but most of all he recognized "Liz!!!" he said, opening the door of the ECTO-1 and getting out.

"Ray! Wait, man, it could be..." Winston started to say.

"Liz...what's going on here?" Ray asked her. "Where are we? Did you bring us here?"

"Of course not, Ray..." she replied, concerned yet somehow unable to avoid a sense of relief at seeing him and his comrades. "I don't know if I know any more about this than you do..."

"These are two of the 'Inquisitors' we encountered in Romania..." Egon was explaining to Janine as they got out of the car. "Liz Hawthorne is a mage calling herself 'Lady Enlightenment', while her companion is Bernard Lupin--a werewolf."

Janine had to giggle and roll her eyes. "It still amazes me how you can say things like 'and he's a werewolf' so casually..."

"Hey, Pete..." Barney whistled. "Why didn't this firecracker turn up at our last meeting? Hey Red...like my cool pants?"

Janine rolled her eyes. "They are cool. But don't try anything, Poodle Boy--I find excessive body hair a turn-off..."

"Ouch" Barney chuckled.

Egon cleared his throat conspicuously loudly. "Janine Melnitz, our Secretary. She's not a field agent--she's here for personal reasons."

The man in the purple coat was studying the new arrivals, a strange look in his eye, rubbing his chin. Which could be most fortuitous...if Phineus's words are true...

"So where's Father Portenza and Lilly? And who's that weirdo?" Venkman asked, indicating the man in the purple coat.

"Padre's still in Rome dealin' with the fallout from our Romanian adventure. Lilly...um...well..." Barney's voice trailed off.

"Call me Fallagar, Doctor Venkman. I have heard much of you from a mutual aquaintance of ours, Phineus Eventide, Prince of Warlocks..."

"Eventide?" Liz reacted. "You mentioned him earlier...is he involved with this also?"

"Yes..." Fallagar replied. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I propose we compare notes...I would hazard some of the reasons the world famous Ghostbusters are out this not-so-fine night dovetail into what has been occuring to the rest of us..."

A short distance away, Nodus monitored events through his suit. I must be cautious...a wrong move could jeaprodize everything...I will get my opportunity. I must be patient.
"Your account of Lillian's posession matches the stories of Victor, Shannon, and Miss Griffin." Egon summarized "Which means there is at least four posessed people out there..."

"The final number is twelve, Doctor Spengler." Fallagar said simply.

"You sound quite sure of that, Mister Fallagar."

"I am." Fallagar paused. "You see...what is going on is in accordance to a plan, mandated by a powerful supernatural force, utilizing a system of symbolism I'm sure every one of you is familiar with to some degree. Lady Enlightenment recieved extensive study through her Hermetic apprenticeship....I'm positive Doctor Stantz, as educated as he is in the occult, is probably also quite knowledgeable. Even Dr. Spengler is versed in some of it's symbolism to be sure..."

"Man, howabout you stop talking in hot air circles and tell us what you're talking about?" Winston interrupted with exasperation.

"Astrology, Mister Zeddemore." Fallagar answered simply.

" 'Astrology'?" Venkman repeated incredulously. " 'What's my sign?' and all that stuff? Earth is under attack by a horoscope? That's nuts--mine didn't say anything about destroying the world today--all it said is 'you might have a chance encounter with an interesting animal'..."

"Sounds accurate to me" Barney deadpanned.

"I don't think I have to tell the Ghostbusters of all people that many mythologies contain the rudiments of truth. A fellow named Gozer was the most obscure of Sumerian myths until about eight years ago, for example..."

Venkman had to admit. "Touche'."

"Linked to astrology is an honest astronomical principle--the recession of the equinox. Every year, due to the wobble of Earth's orbit, the apparent point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator at that start of spring moves ever so slightly backward. When the Greco-Roman astrologers recodified the principles, the point was in the constellation Aries. In around 4BC, it crossed over into the previous sign, Pisces. And after some two thousand years, it has now retrograded back to the sign Aquarius..."

" 'The Age of Aquarius'..." Janine nodded. "Like the song back in the Sixties..."

Fallagar nodded back. "Yes. But what is unknown to the world at large is this: at the beginning of each Age, twelve beings appear, each linked to one of the signs of the Zodiac. They posess human bodies and congregate at a powerful point of mystic interest, and..."

"And what?" Ray asked.

"Pass Judgement on humanity's continued fitness to rule the planet, or whether it might be time to destroy civilization and start all over again."

"Man, that is NUTS!!!" Winston sputtered. "I'm with Pete--I refuse to accept that we're about to be killed by a horoscope!!!" He went up to Fallagar, angry on several levels. He often was when another "pagan" idea was rearing it's head. "Just where did you get this nonsense, anyway? You said they appeared in 4BC--I don't think there was anything in the Bible or Roman history about that..."

"4BC?" Ray mused, a thought or two rolling in his head.

"There wasn't a manifestation." Fallagar replied, a new, impatient tone beginning to rise in his voice. "A circle of Mercuric wizards, acting on the warning of the leading scholar of Atlantean history of the time, identified the access point and used a powerful ritual to temporarily drain it of it's vis...PKE as you call it. Unable to manifest, the avatars stayed in their home realm. Until now."

"So what's different this time?" Janine asked.

"Phineus and I attempted the same strategy...we located the avatar manifestation point at Stonehenge and teleported there as soon as we were certain. We set about trying to stem the flow of energy...drain it below a critical threshold that would stop supporting the manifestation and cause it to dissipate." Fallagar paused, his face not changing expression. "But due to the properties of Stonehenge, we failed."

Egon's eyebrow shot up. "What do you mean by that?"

"Stonehenge isn't just a nexus point...it's a geomantic construct, actually designed--according to some stories--to trap spiritual energy and even evil spirits. By trying to stop the flow, Phineus and I were not only trying to go against the nature of the energy flow, we were trying to go against the powers of Stonehenge itself. We weren't enough."

"Where is Eventide now?" Ray asked.

"The last I saw of him, he cast a teleportation spell to send me out of there for help..." Fallagar answered. "As far as I know, he's still there at the avatars' mercies."

"Oh man..." Winston said as he opened the door to the ECTO-1. "Then maybe it's time we stopped jawing and got moving."

"Agreed." Egon nodded. "Miss Hawthorne, Mister Lupin, you are more than welcome to join us."

"Accepted." Liz replied. "I could get myself there magically, but this way I can save the energy for the battle..."

The seven piled into the car, helped slightly by Barney assuming his full wolf form (a very small, dog-like one by wolf standards). Venkman smirked with satisfaction from the passenger seat when Ray and Liz got wedged together, provoking a blush on the occultist's face.

"You coming?" Winston asked Fallagar.

"My ring contains a spell of flight that will not draw my own vis reserves..." he replied. "I will join you shortly."

Winston shrugged--still convinced the man was a weirdo and probably insane--and gunned the ECTO's engine. "Just remember--in England, you drive on the wrong side of the street..." Venkman was already nagging him.

Fallagar waited a full minute. "I assume it is you who brought them here?" he said, not apparently looking at anything.

Nodus stepped out of the shadows. "That I did, Lord Archmage. Simply call me Nodus."

"The enigma...very droll..."

"I would think you would be happier. I brought the Five Who Are One right to you..."

Fallagar looked at him at last. "You seemed quite versed in some rather obscure lore, Mister Nodus."

"Hard won, I assure you." Nodus crossed his arms. "I know of much more that you did not tell them...Lord Aquarius."

For possibly the first time that day, the wizard's eyes flashed with genuine anger. "You talk of things you have very little business speaking of, Mister Nodus, and of no relevance to the crisis at hand."

"Oh really? Perhaps not...but if they are the Five Who Are One, destined to play the crucial role in the Judgement...they are also the Five Who Are One destined to play just as crucial a role in the Ascension..."

"Today will prove the former. Only then will I concern myself with the latter." Fallagar replied firmly. "I begin to sense more than one secret you hide yourself, Mister...Nodus. It might be in our best interests to mutually keep what we've discussed here to ourselves..."

There was a gust of wind that knocked Nodus forcefully to a nearby wall. "Otherwise..." Fallagar growled "...an enraged Archmage is not a sight that one takes pleasure in. Or endures for very long."

There was a long unconfortable silence.

"Very well, Archmage. I speak of nothing of the Children to them..."

Fallagar nodded. "That will do for now..." With that, he extended his right arm, and with a flash from the purple stone adorning his ring, he took to the skies.

Nodus smirked under his mask. Very interesting indeed...after eight hundred years, you can still be human...enjoy your "victory" Archmage. We'll see who has the last laugh...

Phineus fought to keep what consciousness he could...he could feel them all around him, their spells draining his own quintessence...and nothing he could think of, no spell granted him by three centuries of communion with Mother Gaia, was helping him...They are the chosen of the ancient gods...and against that, my power is nothing...nothing...Zandrik, my friend...do not fail to find them...

They stood in a circle, at the center of Stonehenge.

Victor Irwin, clad in red. "Aries...of the Dynamic Fire..."

Next to him, an Arabian boy clad in orangish-red. "Taurus...of the Steady Earth."

Shannon Phillips, clad in orange, his head bald and demonic horns showing. "Gemini...of the Primordial Wind..."

A black woman in orangish yellow..."Cancer...of the Dynamic Water."

Another woman, dressed in yellow, her expression severe. "Leo...of the Steady Fire."

A little girl, about age ten, with chestnut hair, dressed in greenish-yellow. "Virgo...of the Steady Earth."

Anne Fishburne, college student, dressed in green. "Libra...of the Dynamic Wind."

Vincent Belmont, dressed in aquatic blue. Unlike the rest, an occassional bead of sweat seemed to fall from his brow. "Scorpio...of the Steady Waters."

A well-tanned man with blond hair, dressed in deep blue. "Saggitarrius...of the Primordial Fire."

An old Caucasian man, with only a few wispy white hairs, clad in midnight blue. "Capricorn...of the Dynamic Earth."

Kylie Griffin, clad in purple. "Aquarius...of the Steady Wind."

Lilly Peacecraft, clad in pink. "Pisces...of the Primordial Water."

Next to her, completing the circle, was Victor Irwin.

The Circle is Complete...

All is in readiness

The Imperative will be fullfilled.

Judgement will be pronounced!!!

To Be Continued

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