THE SPIRITED DRIZZLEPUSS

From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBWC CEO
GBI Case File GBNY-2007-25/212

Long Island, New York
January 2007
Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year Twenty Five
The ECTO-1 glided down the streets of the sleepy town, its sirens silent and display boards dark.

It turned down the road leading to an old mansion at the bottom of a hill. When it came to a stop, all was silent.

The silence was broken when the doors of the vehicle opened. From the passenger doors two men in their early twenties; each was Caucasian, with brown hair, and wearing matching tan flight suits. The similarities ended there.

The taller one was wearing sunglasses, and had his hair neatly combed. "MUNROE" was the name on the tag above his left chest pocket. He looked at the old building with no obvious passion.

The slightly shorter one was much stockier; his hair was a bit messy, and he sported bushy muttonchops. His flight suit was only partially zipped, to show off his white and red t-shirt with the logo of the original Ghostbusters. "KNETGE" was on his name tag.

"Well, it sure looks like it could be a haunted house..." Munroe quipped.

"Yeah! This is gonna be great!!!" Knetge said excitedly, moving to the back of the car.

The man who climbed out of the driver seat was quite different from them in just about every way. Of African descent, in his early fifties, though his eyes still showed a very youthful vitality. Indeed, save for the white streaks in his hair he could probably pass for a younger man. Anyone familiar with the history of Ghostbusters would realize his face, his aqua blue flight suit trimmed in red, and the nametag reading "ZEDDEMORE" were that of the very same Winston Zeddemore who was hired by the founders of the company practically on a whim.

And had gone on to, fairly literally, go through Hell with his three comrades.

"Looks can be deceiving." Winston told the two as he strapped on his proton pack (the Mark 4, somewhat lighter and more advanced that the one he first strapped on in 1983, but almost identical appearance-wise). "What can we do to verify any activity?"

Knetge looked excited. "PKE Meter!!! Do a quick scan!!!" He started patting himself down...

Munroe smirked slightly, holding up the meter. He flipped it on, and the two arms at the side rose some and blinked.

Winston nodded.

"Got anything, Aidan?" Knetge asked.

"Looks like...there is a signal, but nothing definite." he turned to Winston. "I'm not Professor Spengler, of course, who could probably tell you where it is, what it can do, and what key it shrieks in just from that reading, but I think there's probably something there."

"It took Egon a while to get that good too." Winston chuckled. "But a quick scan outside is just the beginning. C'mon..."

Jason Knetge and Aidan Munroe were the two most recent hired of the Los Angeles based Ghostbusters West Coast Division, one of Ghostbusters International's more active franchises. At one time, it was the company's largest, with ten active members and three other staff; it hadn't been that big since 2004, but was slowly working it's way back up size-wise.

Winston had to admit he liked Jason quite a lot--he was enthusiastic, and had eagarly loaded himself down with the full assortment of Ghostbusting equipment: Ecto-goggles, black work gloves, even an extra ghost trap attached to his belt. It was a little like going back two decades and working with that day's Ray Stantz again.

Winston strongly suspected that the two were in a curious mix between being in awe of him while finding it grating to be "babysat", but procedures were procedures. Ghostbusters International had opened "Fort Arnold" over two years before, and certainly recommended all new recruits spend some time there before being declared field-ready...but in recent months, Winston--as the Commandant of Fort Arnold--had become a little more forceful about that requirement.

There had been too many problems in the last couple of years. The rogue status of the Manalapan franchise. The Minnesota team that was alienating much of the company with its self-importance. The defection of two members of the Tampa franchise, and them then making trouble not only for their former comrades, but for the Los Angeles based Ghostbusters West Coast. Worst of all, the spectre of death that had somehow never touched Winston and his brethren had seemed to become a far too frequent visitor of late; he was determined that, if he could help it, there be no more Shades or Ecto Ernies or Euan Sinclairs or John Lipsytes or CJ Londons or Julie Madisons...

So when the GBWC's CEO, Dr. Fritz Baugh (who had once come frightfully close to being snagged by that hand of fate himself) recruited these two promising young men to his team, Winston had been insistent: "I want a look at these guys myself".

Which led them to spending much of the month of December in New York, undergoing a full regimen of training. And today, as Winston made sure to remind them, as "a sort of final exam. An actual call--I want to see how you rookies handle a real bust..."

"So what do we know?" Winston asked as the threesome neared the door of the mansion.

Jason pulled out a piece of paper. He mouthed some words on it and finally read aloud slowly. "Colonel Floyd Bassett called...saying he was being haunted by something...he called a 'Drizzlepuss'..."

"And there was a brief mention in Spates Catalog of the 'Drizzlepuss' as a sort of water spirit, possibly related to a nymph or undyne." Aidan followed up.

"Mrs. Spengler also said Colonel Bassett was quite agitated and offered twice the standard rate of $5000 if we took care of it!" Jason nodded, putting the paper away.

Jason rang the doorbell. A deep chime came from inside the house.

They waited a good two minutes. Jason rang the bell again.

"Are you sure you read the address right?" Aidan asked.

"Yes!!!" Jason replied, a bit agitated by the insinuation. "I hope this doesn't mean the Drizzlepuss got him..."

He was about to ring the bell a third time when the door finally opened. A fat, bald man with a large, bushy walrus-like mustache answered the door; he was wearing an old fashioned bathing suit with a tank top and long shorts, the kind of apparel one wore swimming a full century ago. He was soaking wet, and holding a mop.

"Uh...excuse me, we're the Ghostbusters? I'm Jason, this is Aidan, and he's our boss, Winston Zeddemore...we're here to see Colonel Bassett?"

"Oh! I say, Suh, thank the Heavens you've finally arrived!!!" the man said, his voice deep and somewhat pompous. "I've been almost literally beside myself..."

"So is Colonel Bassett here?" Jason asked.

The old man harrumphed. "I happen to be Colonel Bassett, young man! The blahsted Drizzlepuss drove off all of my servants! I tell you, Suh, it absolutely impossible for a real gentleman to keep house without servants!!!" Bassett looked down at himself, indicating his wet bathing suit. "I haven't even a stitch of dry clothing anymore--the blahsted pest delights in keeping me soaking wet!"

Winston moved forward, shaking Bassett's hand. "That's why we're here, Colonel. I've dealt with things like this for over twenty years, and while my men here are newer at this, they know what they're doing." Or at least I hope so...

"When did the Drizzlepuss start bothering you, Sir?" Aidan asked, removing his sunglasses as the group stepped inside.

"Just a few weeks ago." Bassett replied, wringing his shirt out. "At first I thought it was my Uncle Abner, and a gentleman always respects his family, Suh. But after he scared off my wife and my servants, I realized something quite, quite shocking: this Drizzlepuss is not a gentleman!!!"

"How long you owned the house?" Jason asked.

Winston didn't say anything, but he was tallying up some good marks. They were both asking the right questions so far.

"The family has owned it for nearly a century, Suh. Bought it when the Crumleys went bankrupt back in Nineteen Aught Eight. I've lived here since I was a child. I assure you nothing of the sort has happened in all of my years..."

There was a loud clanging. And a reverberating giggle.

"The Drizzlepuss?" Jason asked.

"The Drizzlepuss is in the basement! The bawstard is trying to put out the fuhnace again! Foul, I say!!! Foul!!!" Bassett started to run (well, more like comically waddle) off.

"Wait for us, Colonel!" Winston said firmly, as he and his two students caught up.

Jason had his neutrona wand unholstered. Aidan continued to study his PKE meter. "I'm definitely getting it...and it's getting stronger..."

Bassett threw open the door to the basement, and screamed "FOUL, YOU WATERLOGGED PEST!!! FOUL!!!"

"Aw, watsa matter, Colonel? You not like the way I turned your study into a swimming pool? they heard the creature guffaw.

"Ghostbusters, freeze!!!" Jason yelled, pushing past Colonel Bassett.

"I say!" Bassett grumphed indignantly.

"Not gonna freeze until I drown this baby..." the Drizzlepuss chortled "Right now it's too warm!!!" The Drizzlepuss was basically water in human form, though its features were indistinct from the neck down.

Aidan moved beside Jason,, thrower also primed and ready. Winston's was unholstered, but he stayed just behind Bassett: he wanted to see them act without his guidance (or interference) as much as possible.

"Fire!!!" Aidan growled.

The two beams slammed into the Drizzlepuss; the ghost shouted several strings of obscenities, and vanished into a cloud of steam.

"Did...did we beat it?" Jason asked.

"I can't see....the steam is too..." Aidan started to reply.

The Drizzlepuss's crazy giggle started again. "You two are even bigger party poopers than Colonel Dachshund here...I'm afraid you're making me very very angry!!!"

There was a loud noise as the Drizzlepuss attacked the furnace. The noise was like a tea kettle whistle being played through a concert sound system, angry steam billowing all around the Ghostbusters and Bassett, driving them from the room in pain.

Then Aidan and Jason heard the loud cracking of wood, and a shout from Winston: "What the???"

"Mister Zeddemore? Mister Zeddemore?!?" Jason shouted.

They finally were far enough from the heat and noise to stop; Bassett had actually managed to keep up with them fairly well, though he was wheezing heavily. "It is ungentlemanly a thing to say, but I hate that blahsted prick..."

"No sign of Mister Zeddemore?" Aidan looked around. Jason shook his head.

"Do you think that thing got him?" Jason asked.

"I don't like that idea, Suh...' Bassett informed them. "Until now, the pest has been irksome and mischievous, not murderous."

"We're not going there." Aidan shook his head. "Mister Zeddemore has still got to be alive--I'm sure losing one of the company's senior members on our first job is grounds to be fired from GBI."

Jason nodded agreement, then looked at one of the walls. "Hey...Colonel...this picture on the wall..."

Jason indicated a painting of a sour-faced man in an Admiral's uniform. The bottom of the frame carried a plaque "Adm. Wm. W. Crumley Jan 31, 1831-Feb 21, 1907"

"That was one of the Crumleys, Suh...the family that lived here before my family bought the place."

Aidan leaned in closer to the painting. "Actually...save for the sour expression...it looks like the Drizzlepuss..."

"I say, young Suh...I think you may be on to something!" Bassett remarked, eyes widening. "I hadn't really noticed!"

Just then, the now familiar crazy giggle filled the room, and water sprayed from the painting like there was a fire house on the other side.

"I reiterate my ungentlemanly hate of that soaking prick..." Bassett grumbled.

He thought he heard his daughter's voice calling to him.

"Charlene?" he muttered as he opened one eye. For a moment he was afraid that she was there...that she'd done as she'd jokingly suggested, stowing away on a Ghostbusting run. "I am fourteen now, Dad...not too many years until I can start working for the family business..." Especially as, Winston knew, she had an ulterior motive or two...That crush on Dr. Jackson have much to do with it, Charlene? He knew she could do a lot worse, granted, but Roland was currently about twice her age. And it gave him a funny feeling to think of his little girl involved with someone who worked for him. Kinda like when Charlene's Aunt Evangelean fell for one of the guys who worked for Dad's construction company...of course, that worked out pretty well. They got married, moved to Montana...

All of that had flashed through his brain in a second, then he pushed it away. he remembered where he was and what he was doing. He was on a job, one that was already becoming far more difficult than he had anticipated.

The room was shadowy, with just enough light to see a few pieces of broken wood around him. He stood up and pulled a flashlight out of his utility belt--if necessary, it could be attached to his neutrona wand (an idea Ray had had after getting killed one time too many on Doom 3 because you couldn't use your flashlight and your guns at the same time)

The light shone on a gaunt, ashen face with leathery skin, with thin dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. "Long time no see, Zeddemore..." he said in an oily voice, mouth opening to a toothy, Chesire leer.

"You..." Winston growled, features hardening.

"Stay between us, Colonel..." Jason said. "We'll protect you..."

"We did a great job protecting Mister Zeddemore, didn't we?" Aidan retorted.

"Aw, c'mon, like Mister Zee kept saying: he was busting ghosts while we were in diapers. You got any idea why the proton beams didn't work?"

"Well, I left my copy of the Ghostbusters Handbook in the car, but at a guess: the entity doesn't just look like water, it is water. The Drizzlepuss must be similar to a tectonic entity: it's posessing the water and making it its body. Since it's a material object, the proton beams don't disrupt it--they just heat the water."

Colonel Bassett's eyes were glazed over. "I'm afraid you've lost me, Suh..."

"Which part?" Aidan asked.

"Just about all of it, Suh."

Jason looked thoughtful. "Which means that maybe if we heat it enough..."

"If it is William Crumley, it's a Class 4--and just as crafty as any human could be."

Jason just realized he'd lost his Ecto-goggles when the ghost sprayed him. "Aw, damn..."

"Your headgear?" a hand reached out, holding Jason's goggles.

"Um, er...thanks..." Jason said, taking the goggles and putting them back on. But then he was doused by all of the water that was inside them. "Son of a bitch!"

"The Drizzlepuss!!!" Aidan cried, turning to level his thrower.

The watery creep shot them the bird, hosed them down again before they could fire, and vanished through a crack in the wall, laughing maniacally the whole time.

Bassett spat out a fish. "I am beginning to really really really dislike that bawstard..."

"Nathaniel Blaque." Winston growled, flicking the setting on his neutrona wand. "Don't move a muscle."

Blaque was wearing the same black trenchcoat Winston remembered, but with a symbol pinned to the lapel. Winston was familiar with the symbol: the insignia of the Order of Hermes "I didn't come here to battle you, Zeddemore..." the gaunt-skinned man chuckled. "It's just been so many years since I've seen any of my old Ghostbuster friends..."

"You saw Vincent Belmont two years ago..."

"Two and a half, but who's counting?"

"You're behind this?' Winston asked. "You summoned that Drizzlepuss?"

"Not really." Blaque replied. "It's been here for a century, but dormant. I simply...awakened it."

"Why?"

"I was hoping for the obvious, of course. That the pompous owner of this place would call the Ghostbusters...I wanted to see what my old friends were capable of these days. It's been quite a long time, after all."

"Not long enough."

Blaque looked shocked. "Why, Mister Zeddemore, I detect a distinct lack of pleasure in seeing me. I hadn't even asked how my dear little Shannon is doing..."

"You go anywhere near him..."

"I'm not interested in Shannon Phillips today, Mister Zeddemore." Blaque gestured dismissively. "The demonic essence within him was dispelled when Astorath was destroyed. And not even Astorath could survive a nuclear blast at a range of, oh, about zero..."

Winston said nothing.

"No, Zeddemore, my interest today is squarely in you..." Blaque said, his eyes narrowing.

The two Ghostbusters and their waterlogged client were in the kitchen

"As I recall, the Crumleys were a Navy family..." Colonel Bassett told them.

"He was in an Admiral's uniform in the picture..." Aidan remembered.

"Quite right, young Suh..." Bassett nodded. "Though...yes, I recall the story now. My Uncle Abner told it...he said the last of the Crumleys was a bit odd. Didn't really want to be in the Navy--he wanted to go west and hunt gold in the deserts. But his family protested--they were a family with a tradition, of course! So the last Crumley died alone..."

"He probably swore to get even..." Aidan nodded.

"I think I'm ready!" Jason finally said. He'd been working for several minutes. "I think this will do it!" He held up his creation, composed of several sponges he'd sewn together. "If we can mop up the thing's watery form, he should be susceptible to the standard procedures..."

"If this works, I'm sure you'll get a Crunch bar." Aidan smirked.

"You are probably the most interesting of the Ghostbusters in a variety of ways." Blaque told him. "Spengler is a quintessential Etherite. They always interfere with things that are better left untouched. Stantz is a dabbler in the occult in more ways that one. Venkman is a huckster who found a scam that noone else was working--the territory was all his. But you?"

Winston kept his cool. He didn't react to any of this. He saw where Blaque came up with all of those generalization...but knew how wrong they were as well.

"You were raised by a devout Christian mother, and a stern salt-of-the-Earth father. You're a man of deep faith. Yet for over twenty years, you've been confronted with monsters that would seem to undermine that faith--almost on a daily basis."

"Like right now?" Winston couldn't help but ask.

Blaque didn't react. "Where is your God, Winston Zeddemore? You've met Marduk, and Gozer, and Cthulhu...with gods of the Greek myths and gods of the Egyptians. But where is the God of Abraham?"

Winston was really beginning to feel angry...it was a question he'd grappled with more than once.

"And worse..." Blaque paused dramatically. "You deal in good faith with sorcerers! From the alliances with Phineus Eventide, to the likes of Lady Enlightenment and Vincent Belmont. Doesn't your own Bible say 'Suffer not a witch to live'?"

Winston had just about had enough. He tightened the grip on his particle thrower. "I ain't gonna take any aspersions on my morality from a guy who nearly sold out the entire world to a perverted demon..."

"You point your gun at me, Zeddemore?" Blaque chuckled. "Science and sorcery is always an unpleasant and unpredictable concotion..."

"You said something like that to Peter once." Winston replied. "Right before he kicked your ass..."

After some considerable prompting, Jason and Aidan had managed to convince Colonel Bassett to stay in the kitchen. They realized he wouldn't be any less immune to being discovered and pranked by the Drizzlepuss, but at least he was out of their way.

"I think I found him..." Aidan said quietly. "Either that or that grandfather clock is peeing on the floor..."

Jason nodded. "Yank open the door and I'll do the rest..."

Aidan crept up to the clock; he realized they weren't sure the Drizzlepuss couldn't see or hear them, but it was a chance they were pretty locked into taking.

Aidan pried the door open, exposing the surprised Drizzlepuss.

"Tag! You're it!!!" Jason shouted, throwing the giant composite sponge.

""Yipee!!!" the Drizzlepuss shouted, catching the sponge.

It went exactly as Jason had anticipated. Upon touching the sponge, the Drizzlepuss was sucked up before it even realized what was happening.

Aidan and Jason looked at each other. "Well that wasn't such a chore..." Jason finally said.

Aidan regarded the sponge ruefully. "Now we got to get back to figuring out what happened to Mister Zeddemore. Thanks a lot you drippy son of a..." He reared back to kick the sponge in frustration, but lost his balance on the wet floor. He smashed down on top of the sponge.

With a loud, wet squirt, the Drizzlepuss was squeezed back out.

"Thanks, Pal!" it shouted gleefully, skipping away.

"SHIT!!!" the two rookie Ghostbusters shouted in unison.

"But more than anything, Zeddemore..." Blaque grinned, hands still in the pockets of his trenchcoat, apparently unconcerned. "More than the deists, and the demons, and the wizards, I wonder how your faith survives Shima-Buku..."

Winston didn't move...."And what has that got to do with it?"

"Don't the Abrahamic religions teach that each man is allotted only one life, with which to prove himself worthy of Salvation or Damnation? And then to be told that you are not just a descendant of an ancient Tangalli chieftain...you are his reincarnation, in defiance of your God's wishes?"

"Shut up..." Winston snarled. This was hitting too close. It was a question he'd grappled with himself for two decades...the most concrete paradox between what he'd been raised to believe, and what he knew, in the depths of his soul, to be true. He'd felt the spirit awaken...not from without, like a posession, or a summoning...from but from deep within his soul.

How could both beliefs be right? And if both couldn't be right...which one was wrong? The one he had been taught, or the one he had experienced firsthand?

Blaque leered in satisfaction.

"Oh no you don't!" Aidan snarled, angry with himself after his clutzy error had nearly blown the case. He grabbed an empty flowerpot sitting on a nearby table.

Jason had the sponge, and was trying to herd the ghost to Aidan. "Take it easy, Palsy!" the thing taunted.

Aidan jumped, the flowerpot upside down, trapping the Drizzlepuss inside it.

"Now I got you!" he growled. "Ready, Jason?"

Jason nodded, and moved beside Aidan. Aidan turned the pot quickly, and Jason stuffed the sponge inside before the Drizzlepuss could react. It was quickly sucked inside once more.

But that wasn't the end of it; the flowerpot in hand, they sprinted back to the kitchen, dashed past the surprised Colonel Bassett, and shoved the pot into the freezer.

"We're gonna leave him there for a little bit..." Aidan explained.

"Inside the sponge he can't move. And once he freezes up, he should be completely harmless." Jason explained to Bassett.

"Oh, Jolly good, Suh..." Bassett exclaimed, provoked to almost ungentlemanly glee. "But, er, what about your superior?"

"That's the next order of business..." Aidan replied.

"Are you going to do it, Zeddemore? Shoot an unarmed man, who is not threatening you?"

Shake it off, Winston...shake it off. The bastard is trying to rattle you...and damn it, it's almost working. Keep it calm...

"I'd say every other time we've dealt with you is probably cause..." Winston retorted. He sounded more confident than he really felt. Setting 5 on the proton pack would confine an organic being, but was almost useless against a supernatural manifestation. And the normal attack setting wasn't much use against a living target except at it's highest power, when it could be lethal.

Blaque, as a powerful wizard...who had possibly been altered by his dalliances with evil...didn't easily fit into either set of circumstances.

Blaque's eyes shifted to somewhere above them. "I would say the farce upstairs is now concluded, Zeddemore. I will take my leave of you...but the time is coming. The dominos have been slowly being set into place...and when the time is right, all it will take is one push...and the dominos will fall..."

Nathaniel Blaque vanished, leaving only his evil laugh lingering in Winston's ears.

"Professor Spengler demonstrated it once..." Aidan muttered, trying to adjust the PKE Meter. "But I've slept a few times since then."

"I think it's a menu called like 'Specific Detection'..." Jason scratched his head. "I knew we shouldn't have left the manual in the car..."

"Specific Detection, then it's 'GBI Personell'..." a familiar voice called out. "I usually left that stuff to Egon, of course..."

Jason, Aidan, and Bassett were surprised--and of course relieved--to see Winston Zeddemore coming out of the basement. He was covered in dust, but apparently unhurt.

"You okay, Mister Zeddemore?" Jason asked.

Winston nodded. "Other than the bruises to my pride, I'll live. You guys okay?"

"We're great!" Jason beamed. "We caught the ghost!"

"Well, he's definitely chilling out..." Aidan clarified. "We're waiting for him to get completely frozen..."

"I am quite pleased at your subordinates' performances, Suh. I will heartily recommend your service to my country club if they should require it..."

"Much appreciated, Colonel." Winston nodded graciously. Bassett was a bit pompous, but he seemed a decent fellow...it angered him knowing, now, that all of his torment was because of some sick game Blaque was playing. Even the Drizzlepuss was a victim in some ways....he was at rest until that creep reawakened him. That's low.

"You are all true gentlemen, and I am glad to have your aquaintance. I believe the agreed upon total was...$10,000?" Bassett asked. "Er...I hope you don't mind waiting a few minutes for my checkbook to dry..."

Interstate 495 Westbound
Two Hours Later
The ECTO-1 was rolling back toward Manhattan, the frozen Drizzlepuss stowed in the back seat. Winston had already called Ghostbusters Central, and Ray was already attaching a ghost trap to the microwave...

Jason had suggested they let them take the trap with the Drizzlepuss back to LA. both because they were the ones who actually caught him..."and it always wanted to go to California. Now it can. Maybe it'll be more at peace being in our ECU..."

"So..." Jason finally asked Winston. "Do we graduate?"

Winston chuckled. "You guys did great. Fritz is getting a glowing report...though next time, try not to lose the senior agent on the scene, okay? Andy Harness is a lot crankier about that than I am..."

Jason's grin was wide. He'd already been through a lot with the gang back in LA...he knew they thought a lot of him. But to get the approval of one of the legends of the field...this was a moment he was going to long remember.

Aidan sat a little more impassively, sunglasses back in place, though they detected a slight smirk of satisfaction.

Winston sighed as he watched the road. I think a lot of people think that meeting all these other gods means mine doesn't exist. I don't see it that way. God doesn't work by snapping His fingers and making stuff appear, or throwing lightning bolts from the sky. He works through people, even, sometimes, the ones who don't believe in Him.

That's what I believe, Blaque. I don't have all the answers...and with His grace, someday I'll ask about Him about Shima Buku myself...

Epilog
Ghostbusters Central
All four other faces in the room were grave as Winston finished the story.

Peter Venkman sighed heavily, and took off his sunglasses. He'd just arrived back in New York after a week's trip in LA. "One fact I really really hate about this situation is that I know you're going to insist that I call Shannon and Irena about this..."

"It would probably be best." Janine Spengler said. "Though if talking to them really makes you that uncomfortable I'll do it."

Ray Stantz shook his head, and scratched his ruddy beard. "We didn't hear from that asshole for fifteen years, then he pops up, then vanishes for two more, and now he's on the scene again... It doesn't make much sense on the surface of it."

Egon Spengler's face was impassive. "I can only assume that he has been busy, just not in a capacity we could see. We now know for a fact he set off the explosion that destroyed Astorath. Possibly, he was injured in that attack. Certainly, we know he spent at least some of the time before his encounter with Vincent rebuilding his status within the Order of Hermes. Now...whatever he has been up to, he feels he can more openly engage us."

"Maybe..." Winston nodded. "I know I got the impression he was itching for a fight. But also we know how that guy can think in the long term." And he looked at his friends with unmistakable concern. "And that he's not above using kids in his schemes..."

It was a troubling thought...

In the 1970's, Nathaniel Blaque had led a coven dedicated to the demon Astorath. In 1976, a member of that cult gave birth to a half-human, half-demon child, a "Daemonseed": Shannon Phillips. Blaque posed as the child's tutor, waiting until the time was right. In 1989, when Shannon was thirteen, Blaque sacrificed the coven--including Shannon's mother--to help cast the spell that drew the demon to Earth. The Ghostbusters, with the help of werewolf Irena Cortez, defeated Astorath and freed Shannon; Astorath had perished in the detonation of the nuclear bomb the demon himself had tried to threaten his enemies with.

Irena had become Shannon's guardian, and they'd lived a normal life ever since. Save for one terrible night in 1991, when Shannon had been posessed by one of the Zodiac Lords...

"That makes it all the more imperative that we notify them." Egon said firmly. "Raymond, I also suggest Elizabeth be told what has happened..."

"I'm not sure taunting a Ghostbuster is a crime against the Peripheral Code..." Ray nodded. "Liz swears Hermetic politics have gotten almost as bad as Capitol Hill. But hopefully there's some people who'll still listen..."

"I'll drop a line to Rich. Make sure everyone in GBI knows this monkey is out there, and he's got no shortage of feces to hurl." Venkman sighed. "I just wish I knew what he was up too..."

"He said his 'dominos will soon fall'..." Winston added. "We need to be on our guard. Whatever this creep has in mind, we gotta be ready. We know it might not be an exaggeration to say that millions of lives, or even the entire world could be on the line here..."

None of them liked the implications of that thought.

But they couldn't deny the truth of it either.

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