By Fritz Baugh
GBI Case File 0-1999-16/613
In 1984, Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Ray Stantz, and Dr. Egon Spengler formed Ghostbusters Inc. Winston Zeddemore has since left the company to become Mayor of New York, and Venkman has angrily distanced himself from his past accomplishments; Ray and Egon continue to run Ghostbusters International with the help of Louis and Janine Tully.
To take up the slack, Ray and Egon hired the team known as "Ghostbusters 2000": Jack Lowell, Franky Tate, Moira Drew, Carla Delgado, and junior trainee Nat Carson.
Ghostbusters 2000 answered a call from Mayor Winston Zeddemore to investigate a temporal disturbance.
An enigmatic woman called "Pollux" appears, and tells them she must talk with "Professor" Spengler. They take her back to GBI Headquarters, where she is interrogated by Egon, Ray, and Nat.
Another mysterious being, "Lady Delphia" briefly appears, reveals that the true timeline has become corrupted and fractured into two imperfect parallel worlds. Romulus, Pollux's partner, has landed on the other.
Pollux 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".
Janine looked at her. "Hm...now that you mention it..." she began typing away.
"Please continue." Egon asked.
"But it became quite clear that he wasn't an ordinary industrialist. By some accounts, he had become quite familiar with Ghostbuster technology, enough to discover a way of circumventing Professor Spengler's PKE meter's detection abilities."
"Why do you keep calling him 'Professor'?" Moira asked.
"In the uncorrupt timeline he spends six years teaching paranormology at New York City Community College." Pollux answered. "The title stuck."
"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, knowing full well that the man she'd been sent to see was an elder vampire. Then he appeared during the Zodiac Imperative crisis of 1991...he helped the Ghostbusters arrive in 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..." Lowell asked.
"They were twelve powerful beings that attempted to 'judge' humanity. They each took their names from one of the signs of the Zodiac--it was by scanning the Ghostbusters, the Five Who Are One, that they judged humanity fit to survive."
Ray shook his head. "This sounds like something from an issue of the Justice Society of America. Anything else?"
"That is all I remember from the GBI case files I've read." Pollux replied.
Janine looked over at the rest of them. "I may have something..."
Egon, Pollux, and Nat crowded around the computer screen. "I did find something about a Nodus..." Janine told them. "It's even an electronics firm, based on a highrise off 40th street. But there's no 'Josiah Nodus' mentioned--the company press releases all talk about their whiz-kid CEO, Albert Nodus..." Janine clicked a link. "They even got a picture of the guy..."
Pollux inhaled sharply when the picture appeared.
The picture was of a tall, well-built man. He had handsome features and a head of thick red hair. But the look in his green eyes was cold, and ominous.
"Pollux?" Janine asked, feeling a strange sort of unease looking at the picture, and from the obvious reaction of their visitor.
"Albert Nodus is the very image of the full grown Johnathan Christopher Spengler." Pollux told them.
"You're certain of that?" Egon asked.
She gave him a look that, curiously, reminded him of the look Janine always gave Venkman whenever he said something obtuse. "There are very few people in the world more qualified to identify Johnathan Spengler than I am."
After Venkman hung up the phone Winston finally spoke up. "I take it you're in for the duration, huh?"
Venkman looked down at himself, his tan flight suit with his last name sewn into the left chest patch. "I never thought I'd be wearing this thing again..."
"All these years and you still haven't figured out how to tuck your pants in..." Winston quipped.
"It's just laziness." Venkman replied. "How the mayoral staff take you ditching them?"
"Since it's only for an afternoon, a lot better than they did when you resigned on Inauguration Day."
Venkman chuckled. "They were pretty mad...but hey, look how it turned out! I think everyone came out for the better in the deal!"
"But you heard what that lady said, Pete. I wasn't supposed to be mayor..."
"Too bad for the 'real' world...I bet it's some pandering cockroach like Lapinski or that character that prosecuted us..."
Winston embraced him. "Good to have you back, man, even if it's only for a day..."
"Strange thing is...it's good to be back. I swear I can't even remember what I was mad about in the first place..."
Winston looked quizzical. "Now that you mention it...niether do I."
He'd been dreading this.
He glanced at her, then went back to the data they'd printed out on Albert Nodus. Egon's eyes narrowed--Albert Nodus, he realized with a start, had the exact same hair color Janine did...
"Egon, you've spent years 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 Pollux said about our...counterparts? And the relationship they allegedly had?"
He noticed she'd already donned a flight suit--one of his. It was too big on her, but she was wearing it anyway. It fit her about as badly as another one of his had fit Louis ten years before. "Allegedly? You said yourself you believe her..."
He didn't have an easy answer. "That's immaterial..." he finally thought of replying. "You are married to Louis Tully. Supposing I had any...feelings...that fact in itself would be grounds for avoidance."
"You avoided me for years even before he came along..." 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 waited for any sign out of you...I got one or two. Like that hug when you beat Gozer. But then the court shut you down and you vanished. I found out where you were and you didn't take my calls and always had your students cover for you." 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...
He pushed her away. "This isn't right..."
"No, Egon--according to Pollux, us being apart is what's not right." She stood up and turned away. "That's what your afraid of, isn't it? That you spent all those years denying you're a human being...that you do have feelings for me."
He put his glasses on and sighed deeply. "We shall find out the truth soon enough."
"We don't get to go?" Franky asked crossly.
"Lady Delphia's words were clear: 'Take the Five Who Are One, and find Nodus...' " Pollux shook her head. "To take anyone else might be inviting further temporal disaster."
"Mrs. Tully gets to go and we have to stay here..." Franky grumbled. "This sucks..."
"We need you kids to hold down the fort." Venkman 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, Yerhoner..." Venkman replied.
A familiar clunk and electronic whine interrupted their banter.
Louis Tully was standing there with a proton pack. "I don't think so..."
"Louis..." Ray said soothingly.
"Move and I'll shoot!!! I mean it!!!" Louis shouted.
"Louis. Dude. What is the problem?" Venkman asked.
"What's the problem?!" Louis yelled back. "This wierd woman comes out of nowhere, says everything's wrong, you all believe it for no reason, and I'm the one with the problem?!"
"Louis..." Janine started to say.
"Shut up!!!" Louis screamed in reply. "Don't think I haven't noticed you getting all hot and bothered by her little fairy tale about you and Doctor Spengler!!!"
He pointed the neutrona wand at Pollux. "I'm not gonna let you take my life away from me...Janine's the one thing I ever did right, the only woman who ever liked me, and I'm not going to let you take her away from me with your stupid little story!!!"
"And waving a gun around and threatening her? She'll find that endearing?" Pollux retorted, staring at the little man. He noticed there was no fear in her eyes--indeed, there seemed to be a growing sense of contempt.
"I'm the only one not under your spell" he finally said, voice shaking a little bit. "I'll stop you!!!"
"Mister Tully..." Pollux said. "I think you're afraid because you know, deep down, that like the rest of them, you know what's right and what isn't."
"I can't lose her!!!"
"That's inevitable Mister Tully." Pollux replied. "I know I said that in the true timeline, you lost her...but what I didn't say is that, while it takes time, you find someone else. Someone all your own---someone who loves you and only you. Not Peter Venkman or Andre Wallance. Not Egon Spengler. You."
He stared at her, trying to divine the truth of her words. "Really?"
He wavered for a few more seconds, then lowered the thrower. "I'm sorry I..."
"We'll talk about it later." Ray said, patting him on the shoulder as Carla gently removed the thrower from his grip.
"I know Louis." she nodded. "But one way or another, I gotta go. I gotta find out the truth--we all do."
"Yes..." Egon agreed, with a swiftness and conviction that surprised them all. Venkman grinned like the Cheshire cat and elbowed Winston.
"See? I told you he might be human after all..."
Pollux adjusted her eyeglasses. "In all honesty, I don't know. I first heard that reference when Delphia contacted Romulus and I. I picked the codename 'Pollux'..." She seemed to need a second to measure her words. "As a sort of acknowledgement of our mission."
"Castor and Pollux were twins in Greek myth. " Ray explained from the driver seat. "They're also the names of the two brightest stars in the constellation of Gemini."
"We're here..." Winston said, pointing at the highrise in front of them.
All five Ghostbusters had an uncomfortable sense of deja vu as the ECTO-1A parked in front of the complex, and the six passengers left the car.
"Before Nodus bought it, it was owned by Grossjuck Industries." Pollux explained. "But the Ghostbusters had visited even before that--in 1986, Grossjuck's CEO, a corporate robber baron named Paul Smart, stole Ghostbuster technology and attempted to drive them out of business."
"It still sounds weird talking about Ghostbusting in 1986." Winston shook his head. "We weren't even in business then..."
"The uncorrupted timeline does include some events that will be familiar." Pollux told him. "The court cases from Gozer finally came to fruition that year--after that, Ghostbusters was out of business for two years.
"Was I doing parties for ungrateful yuppie larva in that time?" Ray asked, rolling his eyes as he put on his ecto goggles.
"Yes, actually." Pollux answered.
"Shit..." Venkman cussed. "I forgot how heavy these things are..." He struggled into his proton pack.
Janine didn't look too comfortable either. She'd worn one a time or two in an effort by Ray to get her knowledgeble with the equipment ("Just in case" he said) but couldn't imagine wearing it every day.
"I met this Nodus guy at a few events." Winston mentioned. "Didn't seem all that interested in politics, thank goodness. Bit of a cold fish, but a couple of the women on my staff said they thought he was cute." He looked at Egon. "Kinda like the way women talk about you."
Pollux looked up at the building, then at her 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 don't remember that fraternity..." Venkman cracked.
"Delta particles--time dihalation. Epsilon--dimensional dihilation." Egon explained simply.
"The whole package. Great." Janine deadpanned.
Venkman sidled up to the desk. "Normally, I'm the one who gets confused for someone else. Usually movie stars. What's your name, cupcake?"
Egon and Janine both rolled their eyes in unison at Venkman's old schtick.
"Save it, Mister Barrett." Winston said calmly. "Please tell your boss that the Mayor of New York is here to see him."
"Yeah, right, I..." the secretary started to backtalk, then her eyes opened wide. "You are the Mayor! I just didn't recognize you in..." she dialed the phone. "Mister Nodus? The Mayor is here to see you..."
"Tell him it's urgent." Pollux said forcefully.
"One of them said it was urgent." the secretary said. "Well, he's here with some Ghostbusters." The secretary sat there for a few seconds. "Yes sir..."
She gulped as she put down the phone. "He says he 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, and had what looked to be the exact same haircut as Pollux. "Lydia Van Horn, Mister Nodus's personal assistant." she introduced herself. "He said he needed to see the six of you privately..."
"Lovely hair..." Venkman commented, grinning.
Lydia did seem a bit flustered by the comment. "Mister Nodus asked me to do it this way...says he likes the style." She looked at Pollux with something that might be jealousy.
"You have no idea how incredibly disturbing that fact may be..." Pollux said simply.
They entered the office, and Lydia closed the door behind them.
"Nice..." Ray whistled.
"Mine's nicer." Venkman retorted.
"Greetings." a deep 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. "Albert 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 him justice. He was taller than even Egon, with a larger build obvious under his expensive Italian suit. His hair was the same red as her own, and his green eyes were cold, but intense.
"I have brought them here, Mister Nodus." Polux answered, stepping forward. Her face had hardened.
"Yes...I bet you did..." Nodus replied. "I would assume that if the services of the Mayor of New York and the founders of Ghostbusters International 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 man...he realized it was very similar to the strange, unwelcome emotional reaction he had when he'd first met Pollux a few hours before.
"Utmost." Pollux 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?" Pollux replied. It didn't escape the notice of the Ghostbusters that this seemed to take her aback.
"He made me everything I am today." Nodus answered.
Janine stepped beside Pollux. "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..." Pollux 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 sister, 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 ass..." Venkman snarled; all five Ghostbusters now had their neutrona wands at ready.
"It will soon be too late for you to stop it." Albert Nodus smirked. "Even if you were capable..." He sneered, and there was a blast of orange light.
The next thing Ray knew, he was thrown against to office wall, Venkman and Winston next to him. "You okay?" he asked Winston.
"No." Winston grumbled.
"I'm fine..." Venkman muttered, clearly NOT fine...
Ray looked up...he saw Egon and Janine, knocked down but still where they started.
More surprisingly, Pollux was still standing.
"Eh?" Nodus asked, clearly not expecting this result.
"The Chronomancers' wisdom in giving me this mission is more apparent that ever." Pollux said, a defiant tone growing in her voice. "Whatever power Josiah Nodus has awakened in you is useless against me..."
"You are her..." Nodus snarled. "Immune to my power you might be, but I can still destroy you with my bare hands!!!" It was quite obvious he was now genuinely angry. He pulled back the left sleeve of his suit to reveal a high-tech armband. "Protocol Sixty Six!!! Authorization Albert Einstein Nodus!!!"
Egon was trying to struggle to get up...trying to figure out why he and Janine were only knocked down while his friends were blasted against the wall--and Pollux 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. Venkman barely evaded the blast.
"My RoboBusters will take care of the Five Who Are One..." Nodus shouted. "You, Lady Gemini, are MINE!!!" With that he jumped Pollux, knocking her to the ground. His hands reached for her neck, and started to squeeze.
"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 stupid bucket of bolts!!!" Nodus shouted.
Pollux used the distraction to push him off of her, then a kick to the stomach, staggering him.
Winston fired a beam at one of the RoboBusters. It splashed off of it.
"It's proton shielded!!!" Ray shouted.
"Then what the f*** do we do?!" Venkman 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.
"Careful, 'Professor'..." she replied, giving him a mischievous look. "That almost sounds like you really do care..."
"I...I would be lying if I said I didn't" Egon admitted, looking a little sheepish.
"Now if only you'd admitted that ten years ago..." Ray rolled his eyes.
"Hey, Zee...could you like call the police and arrest these guys?" Venkman asked.
"I don't think we have any holding cells strong enough to hold nuclear robots..." Winston replied.
"C'mon, they can hold Bronx gang-bangers, nuclear robots should be a piece of cake."
The three robots stood at the other side of Nodus's desk, in a line. "Prepare to fire."
Nodus grabbed Pollux angrily and threw her into the wall. "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..." Pollux replied. "Two lives that were stolen..." She kicked him in the family jewels, and then pummelled him.
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.
"I left all mine in LA." Venkman retorted.
Ray bonked him on the head. "He means a knee or an elbow."
"Knee." Winston said. "It should knock them down."
"Ready on three..." Venkman said.
"I don't care if you look like my sister..." Nodus snarled. "I WILL kill you!!!" He howled with a disquieting feral rage, and grabbed Pollux once more, throttling the life out of her.
"I really hope this works..." Ray said. "One..."
"Been nice knowing you guys if it doesn't." Venkman sighed. "Two..."
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.
Pollux felt her life starting to slip away...It cannot end this way...the entire universe is at stake!
One of the robots fell, its leg sheared off.
Pollux realized she felt something against her hand...the chrono-quartz necklace had come out of her collar during the fight. It was starting to pulsate.
She got a hold on it, and smacked it against Albert Nodus's forehead.
Nodus screamed in agony, and the world around them faded in a blast of white light...
Lowell chuckled, then said reassuringly "Simmer down, little dude..."
"I'll have a team sent out as soon as we have an ECTO available. I promise." Nat said a little more calmly.
Franky was pacing, and fidgetting with one of the piercings in his nose. "I still think this whole situation bites..."
"I know. They get to have the fun, while we're stuck here watching the fort, listening to Nat go psycho on the phone." Lowell cracked. "They'll be back soon..."
"You sound like you don't believe what this Pollux chick is selling." Franky replied.
"If she's right, then she's right. If she's wrong, she's wrong. Me worrying about it isn't gonna change the outcome either way."
Franky glared at him, his cheeks turning red. "Did you listen to what she was saying?! She said we aren't real--that when the...'proper' universe comes back, we'll probably we wiped out!!! This isn't f***ing fair...I finally found something in life I don't hate, and then it's some big lie...and I'm not even real..."
Carla uncurled her legs from the cabinet she was sitting on, and looked at him. "Pollux didn't say we didn't exist, Franky. She just said we weren't Ghostbusters right now..."
"Ghostbusters 2000 is a complete temporal oddity." Pollux stated.
"We don't exist?" Franky huffed.
"I didn't say that." Pollux replied. "But the Ghostbusters in the year 1999 are a completely different group. Dr. Roland Jackson, Eduardo Rivera, Kylie Griffin, and Garrett Miller."
"So? Almost as bad..." Franky grumbled.
"Since she didn't say we didn't exist...I think we do." Carla continued, hopping off the cabinet. "And if we exist...what's to say we don't become Ghostbusters later or something?" She gave Franky a wink. "I've never thought of you as someone to let a little thing like the reorganization of the universe stop you from getting something you really want."
Lowell rolled his eyes, but not without fondness.
Moira ran down the stairs. "Guys!!! Something is happening!!! Every instrument up there is going crazy!!!"
Nat jumped up from the phone, ready to check the instruments himself, but then cried in shock. "Look!!!"
There was a white light starting to blurr their visions.
"Oh crap...I guess this is it!!!" Lowell said.
"I'll see you on the other side, Tacklebox!!!" Carla shouted at Franky.
"GHOSTBUSTERS 2000 FOREVER!!!!" Franky and Lowell shouted in unison, as the world around them faded to nothing...
The place around them was featureless. White walls, white floors. "Looks like a Doctor Who set..." Ray observed.
Venkman, Winston, Egon, and Janine were right next to him. Not far away, Pollux sat on the ground, exhaling deeply. The necklace hanging around her neck was now glowing orange.
Egon pulled out his PKE meter. "I don't have the slightest idea what these readings mean." he said.
Janine helped Pollux up. "You all right?" she asked the younger woman.
"I shall be fine, Miss Melnitz." Pollux replied.
"What happened to Nodus?" Winston asked.
"He is currently contained inside the chrono quartz." Pollux replied, hefting the crystal. "But we don't have much time--with him inside it, it will eventually destablize and shatter, which would not only free him but cause me to be erased from this timeline. We must hurry." She pulled her device out of her vest pocket.
"Do you have any idea what this place is?" Janine asked her.
Pollux arched an eyebrow. "It's a dimensional null zone...it appears to be the same one from which the RoboBusters were emitted."
"Crap." Venkman muttered. "There might be more of those things here?"
"I would just about count on it..." Pollux replied. Then she stopped. "I'm getting a feedback! Another GBX signal!" she looked up, a look of...anticipation crossing her face. "Can it be?"
"Be what?" Egon asked.
"This way!" she pointed, and walked off briskly.
"I hope she'll wait for the rest of the class..." Venkman deadpanned.
"It should be just around..." she said, nearing a juncture.70406t us230--> They rounded the corner...
Only to see Albert Nodus (albeit wearing some strange red and purple uniform in place of his suit) and five individuals--one woman and four men--wearing what they could only think of as outlandish, multicolored parodies of their own flight suits and proton packs.
"Oh hell..." Venkman muttered.