FLIP SIDE WAR
PART FOUR

From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBWC CEO
GBI Case File No. GBI-2007-25/310

Previously

After finishing a seemingly routine case, four members of the Ghostbusters West Coast--Mick Nielson, Jason Knetge, Aidan Munroe, and Rose Prevost--are snatched up by a tornado and deposited on the Flip Side, the Bizarro World that the original Ghostbusters visited years ago.

They encounter the Peoplebuster counterparts of Mick and Jason, and are helped to safety by an eerily familiar man named Victor Ulforce. Ulforce, in turn, takes them to Ellie, the Flip Side's living counterpart of GBWC Spirit Liason Rachel Leavenworth.

In New York City, at virtually the same time, the debut concert of Oscar Wallance Venkman's band, Mood Slime, is interrupted by the appearance of the Extreme Peoplebusters. The Peoplebusters kidnap Peter Venkman and return to their home dimension.

They had a stowaway, though, GBWC and Nightsquad member Jeff Nash, who runs into the Peoplebusters' longtime enemy: Professor Ian Epimetheus. The same Professor Epimetheus who had once been the mentor to GBI co-founder Egon Spengler

A Storage Area At JFK Airport
New York City
The darkness was split by the headlights of a modified 1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor, cutting the gloom that a garage door had been standing guard over.

"...The dimensional readings are useless all by themselves, but fortunately, we do have means of traversing the dimensional barrier." Egon finished. He was now clad in his legendary blue Ghostbusters flight suit.

Ray, Roland, and Kylie were with him, also in uniform. Roland looked confused at the contents of the garage, a small, swivel-winged aircraft bearing the Ghostbusters logo on its wing. "The ECTO-4?" he asked. "It's a masterpiece of experimental aircraft design, but you're telling me it can jump dimensions, too?"

Slimer floated nearby, having come along when Ray mentioned that they "Were going to go save Peter." He darted into the ECTO-4.

"Oh yeah!" Ray said, rubbing his hands with excitement. "Well, I mean, it did. It was originally built with the most advanced version of Egon's transdimensional gate technology. We used it to rescue Shannon Phillips from Astorath back in 1990..."

"1989" Egon corrected simply.

"...And then to jump to the shard realm of Ceratel to fight Nurtog." Ray continued, unabated. "But then it got wrecked when Nurtog used it against us to get back to New York City. We managed to salvage enough of it to get back ourselves, but after that it couldn't transport Freddy Krueger to a dream plane."

Slimer emerged from the ECTO-4, a look of disappointment--he'd apparently expected Venkman to be waiting inside the vehicle.

Roland and Kylie rolled their eyes at Ray's odd metaphor. "I remember the dinosaurs attacking downtown." Kylie mentioned. "Grandma Rose insisted later it was mass hysteria or a movie being shot."

"We weren't able to replace the dimensional warp drive, because building it in the first place involved going into debt for a quarter of a million dollars." Egon explained.

"SuperCard. Don't leave your home dimension without it." Ray quipped. When they all looked at him, he added "Peter's not here--somebody had to say it."

Egon continued. "And for a long time after that, it was a moot point." He produced some blueprints. "But now, the financing isn't a problem, just the time and technical expertise to rebuild it."

"The plan's drawn up and everything!" Ray smirked. "Good--means all the math is done."

"I don't think any of us would appreciate a Tunguska sized blast, no." Egon deadpanned. "This is the part I'm going to need your help with, Ray, and Roland, especially--it will take time. There's no way around that."

"Then we'd better get to work." Roland nodded.

Los Diablos
The Flip Side
Mick looked at Ellie. "He's gone?"

Ellie nodded. "He said he was doing a quick recon of Perishing Park. He shouldn't be back for at least an hour."

Mick exhaled. "Good. Because Ulforce is creeping the heck out of all of us."

Ellie sighed. "I was as shocked as any of you when I first met him, after our last meeting on your world. I don't know how he got here, and why he looks different. I can only imagine you've all been worried..."

The Ghostbusters looked at each other. "I think the situation is more complicated than you realize." Aidan said. "Victor Ulforce may look like the Fritz Baugh we work with, but our Fritz is still at home. We all talked to him on the radio just before we got here."

Ellie's eyes went wider.

"Believe me, if he'd been gone the last eleven months, Chelsea would have a lot of explaining to do about that baby she's going to have any day now." Mick added.

"The resemblance isn't perfect." Rose added. "He's got longer hair. Maybe...I don't know, a little younger looking, maybe."

"But what about the big one?" Jason asked. "Ulforce still got both legs?"

Ellie nodded. "I've seen him without shoes on." She looked uncomfortable. "I did try to ask him about this world's Fritz Baugh, but he didn't want to talk about it. He got kind of angry, actually."

"Just when you think this place can't get any wierder, it does." Jason shook his head.

"Ulforce works with Professor Epimetheus, the leader of the Flip Side Ghostbusters." Ellie continued. "I met the Professor just once--he's spent most of his time since I joined in Boo York. He said he saw signs of 'troubling things' going on, which seemed to get worse after our last meeting. Our Peoplebuster Dr. Baugh has spent most of the intervening time there, most notably."

"I bet they're up to something." Aidan mused. "Our getting sucked here might be part of it."

"Professor Epimetheus was one of Professor Spengler's--our Egon Spengler's--mentors during his college days." Rose mentioned. "And I swear Janine mentioned somebody named Ulforce once...in passing, though. She seemed a little vague on it herself."

Mick brooded for a minute. "Ulforce creeps us out, but he's not the priority. Getting home is--unless our being here really is part of some bigger plot the Peoplebusters are cooking up, in which case stopping it would be more important. But we can't do either one until we know for sure."

Mick put a hand on Ellie's shoulder. "Can you get us into contact with Professor Epimetheus?"

Boo York
The Flip Side
"No f***ing way!" Jeff exclaimed.

Professor Epimetheus looked at him quizzically. "Oh?"

"I...er...know this place back in the Real World." Jeff answered. He didn't really want to explain the whole thing right now, but the Brooklyn firehouse that he was being led through the wall of was, in fact, the counterpart of the one Jeff's other team--Ghostbusters Nightsquad--had used as their first headquarters (Prior to being blown up by a Samhaine cult in 2003, anyway).

"There now." Epimetheus exhaled, settling into a chair at the reception desk. "This place is safe enough. It's a bad neighborhood--none of the Peoplebusters really like to come here."

"Thanks." Jeff nodded.

"Now then..." Epimetheus raised an eyebrow in a way Jeff found oddly familiar. "You don't seem quite as shocked at your predicament as most new arrivals. You even seemed to have some idea as to what this place is and who I am, I daresay."

Jeff scratched his head. "It's because I do. My name's Jeff Nash--Doctor Jeff Nash. I work for GBI--Ghostbusters International. Your old student, Professor Egon Spengler, is one of my bosses."

Epimetheus livened up. "You know Egon? And it's 'Professor' Spengler now?" The older man grinned.

"He taught at a community college during the Nineties." Jeff answered. “He doesn’t anymore, but the title sorta stuck. I think it’s like...well, there are a lot of Doctors in GBI, but he’s the only one we call ‘Professor’. Maybe a bit of ‘the most equal among the many’.”

“I admit, the whole reason I chose this place is because it reminded me of the one Egon and his friends use.” Epimetheus got a curious gleam in his eye. “When I last visited New York, I met a young lady who seemed rather taken with him, a Miss Melnitz...”

Jeff smirked. “You mean Mrs. Spengler?”

Epimetheus chuckled. “I hoped he’d come around.”

Jeff rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well, I understand there’s a lot of stories there...”

Epimetheus coughed. “And the others? Raymond, Peter, and Winston?”

Jeff’s featured darkened. “Well, actually, that’s kind of what brought me here...”

Ghostbusters Central West
Los Angeles
Chelsea popped a mint into her mouth as she listened to the phone. "Professor Spengler told us to get back to headquarters and wait for more information there. Apparently he has a plan for getting Doctor Venkman back, and it might help us find out what happened to Mick and the others."

"All well and good, Fritz." Chelsea nodded. "But does that mean we're not going home tonight?"

"Well, I'm probably not going to." Fritz replied, a note of disappointment in his voice. "I can drop you off and head back, assuming you don't want to stay in the old room tonight."

Chelsea laughed, and rubbed her swollen belly. "Normally, maybe....but in my condition, our room is way too far away from the bathroom."

Fritz chuckled at the other end.

"Looks like things are going okay in New York with the concert, though." Chelsea added, craning a look at the TV. "It came back on just after you guys left."

"...Fans are cheering as Mood Slime walks off the stage. I'd say that despite the technical difficulties, and the surprise appearance of some of Oscar Venkman's father's Ghostbuster friends in some sort of weird stage show, this concert was just the sort of success the hot new band needed! We were supposed to be interviewing Peter Venkman after the show, but we can't seem to find him..."

Andy Harness walked into the reception area. He had a proton pack on, and was fiddling with the monitor box that normally attached to his utility belt. "Is Fritters and J gonna be back, soon? This whole situation is just creepy as hell, and the sooner we get back together the better..."

The Soul Tracker paused. The sign on the building was known to him. Known to his Master---and he had been told not to confront the men and women wearing it again. Not without the Necromancer's approval.

But the evil he sensed...the darkness...

Otter looked to and fro. All alone...at last...

He reached under his work bench and pulled out a package. Slowly, quietly, he started to unwrap it. This is the perfect time since they're all watching the concert...

His face was beaming as he gently pulled a copy of Playboy magazine. It had taken him a lot of scrounging on Ebay to get ahold of it--a replacement for the magazine one of his coworkers had destroyed nearly three years before.

"Oh Jenny...together again..." Otter purred, tenderly flipping to the part of the magazine that he most wanted. He knew now, which he didn't then, that the pictures were photoshopped...but he still wanted them anyway...

His contemplation was shaken by the crash of shattering glass, and an internal security alarm.

He hastily stuffed the magazine back into it's box and under his work bench before running off to see what was wrong.

"Chelsea?" Fritz said suddenly. "Chelsea?!"

"What's going on?" Jeremy asked.

"There was a loud crash, then the line went dead." Fritz answered simply.

A tone started to sound on Fritz's cel phone; the display flashed "001 INTERNAL SECURITY ALERT"

Without another word, Jeremy flipped on the Ecto-Cruiser's siren and gunned the accellerator.

Andy shook off the shock of the loud noise.

The front window of the reception area was now strewn about the floor in a million pieces. Chairs and the television were knocked over.

Chelsea lay against the back wall, of questionable consciousness, the wheelchair she'd been using tipped over beside her; from the angle she lay, her swollen, pregnant belly was distressingly prominant.

Andy jabbed the safety of his neutrona wand.

Standing in the middle of the mess was a tall, athletic figure wearing a shabby, tattered green costume that swirled around him; the cut of the outfit struck Andy as oddly familiar, but he couldn't take the time to consider from where. The intruder would have been an attractive human man, if his skin wasn't freakishly blue and topped off with a clashing shock of bright orange hair.

"Hold it right there, Smurf Boy!!! I hope you got a good insurance plan--those picture windows aren't cheap, you know!" Andy shouted. I gotta deal with this joker quick and help Chelsea...

The intruder looked at Andy with its blank yellow eyes. "Calcent is near. You will tell me where he is."

"Calcent?" Andy repeated. He knew he knew the name, but it just wasn't processing yet. Too much else was going on.

Ask questions later! Andy chided himself, firing.

The proton beam splashed off the intruder, doing it no harm in the slightest.

"Oh shit..." Andy realized, as it all fit together.

"You will take me to the Eye Collector..." the intruder said, eyes glowing.

Otter ran into the garage. "Harness! What the Jehosephat is going on? Are the alarms...uh-oh..."

Otter's indignant question trailed off as he noticed Andy wasn't alone--the blue man with the bright orange hair and glowing yellow eyes was with him.

Fortunately, Otter had grabbed a proton pistol he kept in his workshop for just such an occassion. The team had been reluctant to let him have it after the time he nearly shot one of Kyle Stevens' cats, but eventually acquiesced. And I'll get that furry demon next time it tries to crap on my tools, too...

"Freeze!!!" Otter shouted, brandishing the weapon.

"You are of no consequence." the blue man snorted dismissively.

Otter fired the pistol.

He hadn't seen Andy's attack, and thus didn't know how ineffective it had been; his own shot was no more helpful.

"Well, crap, did I break this thing again?"

The blue man gestured, and Otter vanished from sight.

Ghostbusters Central
New York City
"Jess calm down any?" Janine asked Dana, putting a cup of coffee in front of her.

Dana nodded. "A little...I left her with Oscar. Oscar was going to duck the press until tomorrow anyway."

"More importantly, how are you holding up?" Janine asked.

Dana sighed. "I don't know...it just hasn't hit me really, I think. I don't know...after things like the Anaheim Theatre, the time a pyramid sprung up in LA, and the boys taking a trip to Gozer's dimension, I feel like I'm almost starting to get used to it."

Janine chuckled.

Liz sat at the table with them, looking through a book. "Right about now I wish I hadn't spent the last twenty years avoiding all the weirdos in House Merinita. The energy at the event seemed to be Faerie in nature...and they're the experts on that."

"I don't think Peter ever mentioned any little elves baking cookies when he went there before." Dana quipped.

Liz looked up. "Faerie is one of the four realms of power identified by Hermetic scholars. Werewolves call it 'The Wyld'. Faerie power is influenced by human imagination. Stories, dreams. Not all dreams and stories are about little elves baking cookies. If you think about it, it explains a lot: the Flip Side is like the story of Ray, Peter, and Egon retold by Tim Burton."

Janine laughed despite herself. Fortunately, Dana managed a dry chuckle at it too, so she didn't feel completely out of line.

"The thing is...remember that some of those faerie tales have some very dark endings. Not everyone goes home and lives happily ever after." Liz closed the book and sipped her coffee. "The danger is just as real as if they were going back to Gozer's place."

Ghostbusters Central West
Long Angeles
The Soultracker strode into the wrecked reception area. Perhaps this monster felt the blast of power too...did it draw it out?

He heard a gasp, and turned toward it quickly, sword drawn.

There was a woman covered with sweat, and obviously very pregnant. She was shakily holding a gun of some sort--a gun, he realized, was identical to the one a Ghostbuster had brandished at him a year before.

"I am not your enemy." he said simply.

She doubled over in pain, an anguished cry escaping from her.

The Soultracker hesitated. For so long thinking his human emotions were as dead as his reanimated body, but now...was this an ember of compassion he felt? Could he help this woman?

He shook it out of his mind angrily. "Your friends will come to help you soon enough. My mission is my only concern."

"...wait..." she said weakly, collapsing again.

For half a second, he almost did.

Andy remembered...almost three years before...January 2005...
His opponent was tall, and pale, dressed in shabby, tattered dark clothes. A pouch was slung over its shoulder, and a bloody carving knife was gripped in its right hand. Its face was strangely indistinct, with phosphorescent green eyes glowing from under the foul-smelling fluids dripping from it. "Perhaps your eyes belong in my collection too..." the creature quipped menacingly.
"According to the archive, the description partially matches a drawing of a Ninteenth century legend, when Los Angeles was still owned by Spain...there were three desperadoes who terrorized the local countryside. There real names were never discovered, but the Native Americans call them Darmond the Tormentor, Calent the Eye Collector, and the Blemisher." Kyle read.

Is this guy one of Calcent's buddies? Andy asked himself. Which one? And why can't I MAKE MYSELF MOVE THE WAY I WANT TO, DAMMIT!!!

"This door?" the intruder asked.

"Yes" Andy's voice answered, robotically, despite Andy's every effort to stop it.

"Open it." the intruder commanded.

Andy jerkily extracted his key ring from his utility belt, and opened the door.

Inside was the core of the facility. To the right, the backup power generators and the main computer core housing the team's server.

To the left, the large, round, red shape of the Ecto Containment Unit sat humming evenly. To one side of the unit was the monitoring and maintenance station for the ECU. To the other...

Andy tried not to think about any of it. If he's the Blemisher or the Tormentor, it's probably what he's after. If he can read my mind as well as he can control my body...

"The cold..." the intruder mused. "Here." He walked toward the spot Andy was trying so hard not to think about--the freezer in which Calcent the Eye Collector had been interred since January of 2005.

"The power this night awakened me, and I saw that you were gone." the intruder spoke to the freezer. "I followed you to here...if I did not bring you back, the Tormentor will be displeased when he awakens..."

Heh. I was right. Figured all of that out without Stevens or Creepy Freeze here to do it for me. You must be the Blemisher, I guess. Heh.

Fat lot of good this all does me

"Open it." the Blemisher commanded.

Andy's face knotted in concentration as he tried to stop himself from complying. To not throw the switches to the freezer, and the internal speaker keeping Jackie Wilson on continuous loop. To not be part of letting one of the most horrific creatures Andy had fought in five years of Ghostbusting be free again.

F*** YOU F*** YOU F*** YOU!!! Andy's interior monolog shouted.

His hand, unfortunately, reached for the fateful switches.

If Winston Zeddemore had seen Jeremy and Fritz run into the battered reception area, he probably would have chewed them out for rushing in with no idea what they were doing like a couple of rookies instead of four-year veterans.

Fortunately for them, of course, Winston was on the other side of the continent.

"Chelsea!!!" Fritz cried in horror, seeing his wife lying on the floor.

Jeremy didn't hesitate. "Get her out of here. I'll handle...well, whatever the f*** this is!"

Any other circumstance, Fritz probably would have pulled rank and argued, but concern for his wife and unborn daughter understandably overrode anything else. "Can you move?" he asked her.

She nodded weakly, and let him lead her to the Ecto-Cruiser.

Jeremy didn't move until he heard the car's engine gunning, and the sound of it's sirens ordering other vehicles out of its way.

Jeremy entered the garage area a little more cautiously (more in line with procedure that wouldn't have gotten his ass chewed out by Mister Zeddemore), and the sound of clicking entered his ears. The Geiger Counters? He was about to investigate further when the door to the core of the facility flew open, and a man in black was hurled into one of the standby Ecto-Cruisers.

"The Soul Tracker?!" Jeremy realized. He brandished his proton gun. "Hold it right there!"

There was an unearthly snarl, and a figure Jeremy didn't recognize lept out of the ECU room; it tried to punch the Soul Tracker, but his prey dodged. The Ecto-Cruiser took the brunt of it instead.

I do not wanna be here when Mick sees that...

The Soul Tracker swung his sword; the Blemisher (though Jeremy wouldn't discover his name until later) disappeared, reappearing behind the Soul Tracker.

The other guy looks like Bad News too...which one do I help, if either of them? And where's Andy?!

"This battle will only bring more destruction to this place." The Soul Tracker said, turning slightly to Jeremy. "I will deal with this accursed one--and I must do it quickly. The nuclear fire he contains is draining my own power."

The Soul Tracker swung his sword. There was a blast of light, and when it faded, both supernatural entities were gone.

"What the f*** just happened?!" Jeremy cried.

There was another flash of light, and Otter appeared, blinking confusedly.

"J? What happened to the color nightmare?"

"Search me..." Jeremy answered. They both turned to see Andy stagger out of the ECU room, and then fall to the floor.

Boo York City
The Flip Side
"...Living versions of Mick, Jason, and even Aidan--all in one piece!" the Peoplebuster version of Andy Harness (sporting a decayed appearance and a Yale ball cap) told them from the screen. "And someone else, too, a woman."

"Fascinating..." the Peoplebuster version of Fritz Baugh mused, rubbing his chin.

"Where are they now?" Peoplebuster Winston asked.

"Well, they got away." Andy paused. "It was Ulforce, Fritters. He got'em to safety."

Fritz snarled. "That blasted nondead doppleganger gets all the more vexing, especially after last Life Day..."

"You're the only guy I know with two meat selves, Frito." Peoplebuster Eduardo commented. "What does that mean?"

"I don't know." Fritz seethed.

"These guys popped up, it sounds, right about the same time you sent the New York guys to the meat world." Peoplebuster Kyle Stevens, standing beside Andy, noted. "You think this is a coincidence?"

"Unlikely." Fritz answered. "I always knew the experiment had the possibility of creating a random counterportal on the meat world. This is a rather interesting symmetry, though..."

The conversation was broken by anguished shouts. "No more! Gaaah!!!"

"Silly Pee-tah..." a second voice chided. "Remils just want youssa to get big and strong. So keep eating!!!"

"So what are your orders?" Andy asked.

Fritz and Winston glanced at each other, and nodded.

"Find the Ghostbusters." Winston said. "And bring them to us."

"The more hostages we have, the stronger bait we have to lure Epimetheus out of hiding." Fritz added.

There was another anguished shout.

"Especially as it looks like Remils is gonna make sure the one we have doesn't last much longer."

And evil grin appeared on Andy's face. "This is where the fun begins..."

To Be Continued
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