TRANSITION

From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBWC CEO
Supplement to GBI Case File No. GBNS-2004-22/203
And GBI Case File No. GBWC-2005-23/201

He was floating in a void...he heard noises, and voices...but couldn't make them out.

I failed. I love her...I want to protect her...but I just wasn't strong enough to save her...now she's lost to me...

Life without her isn't worth the living...maybe it's just as well if I...

And then there was a shimmering white light.

Without a second thought, he began to move toward it...

September 27, 2004
Tennessee
The wind was unusually chilly for a late September night in eastern Tennessee as the ECTO-1S roared into the garage of Ghostbusters Tennessee.

Until only a few months ago, this garage had belonged to the East Tennessee Ghostbusters; but due to various circumstances, the ETGB and what remained of the operation of their predecessors, the Middle Tennessee Ghostbusters, had become one operation.

Dr. Andy Harness, the leader of GBTN, got out of the driver seat of the truck. "One thing is for sure, I'm glad we got out of there before that guy started shootin' at us..."

Harness's three companions were dressed in the same uniform he was, the design newly commissioned by GBTN: grey, with green trim about the shoulders and legs. It was one of the distinguising differences from the ETGB, who wore camoflage.

They were the newest members of GBTN, though each had at least a year and a half of experience with Ghostbusters International: all three had, in fact, served together with Harness in the presently dormant Ghostbusters West Coast.

"I just don't understand it." Dr. Kyle Stevens, the former leader of GBWC's South Team shook his head. "We had only barely entered the parking lot. And caught the ghost before it could harm any of the customers..."

Andy shrugged. "Well, me and that Wal-Mart kinda have a...history."

Jeremy Hicks chuckled. "So that's the one you rammed that troll into..."

"He had it coming." Andy replied.

"The troll or the Wal-Mart?" Jeremy asked brightly.

"Yes." Andy retorted.

Dr. Will Ketcham rolled his eyes as they bantered, and grabbed the ghost trap from the back of the truck. He headed to GBTN's containment unit.

Zach Foster, one of the holdovers from ETGB, was on the phone. "Wait...hold on, Andy and the others just got here."

"Sucks when the secretary takes a day off, ain't it?" Andy asked.

" 'Client Administrator' Andy." Jeremy corrected. "You know how mad Rose or Mrs. Spengler get when..."

Zach cut him off. "Andy...you better take this call." The look on his face short circuited any debate.

"Andy Harness, Ghostbusters Tennessee..." A pause. "Dr. Stantz? How things going out East? I..."

A few seconds later, all the blood drained out of Andy's face. "I'll let them know Sir. Thanks."

Harness hung up the phone, his usual bravado deflated.

"Andy?" Kyle asked.

"Get Will." Andy responded. "It's bad..."

England
Ben King Sr. took a moment to look at the setting sun. Only a few months back we couldn't help but wonder if there would even be sunsets ever again...it's amazing what being in the middle of a near cataclysmic crisis can make you appreciate...

Not that Ben really needed much reminding of how ephemeral life could be. At thirty nine, he was one of the oldests member of GBI outside of the founders themselves. He'd had a marriage fall apart on him, a son grow up practically a stranger, a friend murdered by an eldrich horror. And a more recent murder that he'd been helpless to prevent.

Okay...now you're feeling sorry for yourself. Ben shrugged. That son came back into your life a year ago. And you've become part of something grand and positive. You have some of the best friends a man could ever ask for: your mates Iain, Tommy, and Roger. You even have friends on the other side of the world, like Vincent and...

Just then the telephone rang. He heard Rosey Collins, one of Ghostbusters UK's junior agents, answer it.

He couldn't hear the exact words, but he heard the tone of her voice change. Whatever she was being told, it was upsetting her.

He walked to the reception area; she had just hung up the phone, and she looked stricken.

"Rosey? What's the matter?" he asked, dreading the answer.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dr. CJ London adjusted the setting on his PKE Meter. It made a noise he didn't like, and it showed on his face. CJ was a bookish man of African descent, and peered at the errant meter through round eyeglasses.

"Still on the blink CJ?" the deep voice of Rob Statler broke into his contemplation. Also of African descent, he was a much larger man, bald but sporting a goatee and mustache. If one looked closely, they'd realize he was wearing a hearing aid.

"This software patch is messing something up." CJ replied. "It worked for Professor Spengler, so it's gotta be something I'm doing wrong." CJ pushed a few more buttons, and the meter emitted an angry beep.

They both wore blue and grey uniforms, sporting a Ghostbuster logo with a blue circle and slash, that marked them members of one of GBI's newest franchises, Ghostbusters: Doom Patrol. Formed just a few months before, they were a diverse group that some in GBI suspected Egon Spengler modelled after the defunct Ghostbusters NOMAD.

"Maybe have Salina or Brian look at it when they get back from their run." Rob said. The other three members of Doom Patrol (Salina Duran, Brian Roig, and Andrew Williams) were currently on a "zap and trap" run.

"Maybe so.." CJ shook his head. "Or maybe call the LA office, since they were the ones who wrote it in the first place..."

They'd walked to the front desk as they'd talked, where Erin Cummins, the Doom Patrol Client Administrator, was working. They heard her inhale sharply.

"Erin?" Rob asked, both noticing that she wasn't liking what she was seeing.

"You guys better see for yourselves..." she said, turning the computer monitor.

To: gbdp@ghostbustersinternational.com
From: jmspengler@ghostbustersinternational.com
Subject: Dr. Fritz Baugh, Ghostbusters West Coast

They read the message that followed.

"Oh my God..." Rob muttered, not completely believing what he was seeing.

St. Eligus Hospital
New York, NY
"This is NOT happening again..." Peter Venkman muttered to himself as he threw open the door to the waiting room "Please let this not be happening again..."

Jen Spengler, still dressed in her black Ghostbusters Nightsquad uniform, looked up to face him. "Thank goodness you finally made it..." she said quietly.

He saw two people he didn't recognize holding and comforting someone he did...barely. Those gotta be the Aberdeens... he realized, having been told they'd already been brought to New York. Sitting between them was their daughter, dirty, tear-stained ex-Client Administrator of the Ghostbusters West Coast, Chelsea Aberdeen. She was wrapped in a blanket, and didn't even seem to notice anyone had entered the room.

"I...had to make a stop first." Venkman finally replied.

Next to Venkman, a tall man with a scruffy beard had his arm around an older woman. The older woman looked ashen and pale; Jen realized with a start that some of her facial features were familiar. "This is...Mary Baugh, Fritz's mother. And his brother Al."

All three Aberdeens looked up. Pauline got up and embraced the woman without a word needing to be said--they'd never met before, but the common dread of danger to their child forged a stronger bond than words ever could.

"Go ahead and sit here, Ma'am..." Jim got up.

"Thanks..." Al said. "Mom, this is Chelsea..."

They'd never really met before today either, but it didn't matter. There was one love they shared, and with it all the pain and fear that love was bringing them now. They held each other and cried together.

"A doctor..." Venkman looked around. "Could someone get me a f***ing doctor?!"

"I'm so sorry, I..." Chelsea sobbed. "This is all my fault..."

"Please..." Jen stopped a nurse. "Let someone know that Dr. Baugh's mother is here..." The nurse nodded, and quickly walked off.

"Jim Aberdeen." Chelsea's father introduced himself to Venkman and Al. "I hate to dredge up a cliche', but I wish we'd met under better circumstances..."

A nurse came up to Pauline. "Mrs. Baugh?"

"That's her on the couch with my daughter." Pauline pointed.

The nurse went over to the couch. "Dr. Stewart will be up in a few minutes...I'm supposed to give you Dr. Baugh's effects." she gently handed Mary a large, clear plastic bag. A blue t-shirt, a right boot, and a black garment--the left chest patch bearing its wearer's last name--were easily visible. "The...er, left boot was too soiled to be saved..." the nurse said, somewhat hesitantly. Mary stroked the nametag, and started crying again.

Chelsea looked at her. "I..." she couldn't figure out what to say, and held up the item she'd been gripping. A blue-rimmed set of eyeglasses with a shattered left lens.

A few agonizing minutes later, a short woman in surgical scrubs appeared. "Mrs. Baugh? Dr. Rena Stewart, Orthopedic Surgery..."

"My son..." was all Mary could say.

"Dr. Baugh was suffering from a gas gangrene infection...by the time he was brought in here, the bones in his left foot were all but completely pulverized. We.." she paused. "We were forced to perform an immediate emergency amputation. Dr. Baugh's left leg was amputated below the knee."

Mary and Chelsea sobbed, and hugged tighter than ever.

"The surgery was a complete success." Dr. Stewart continued. "We've got him on practically every antibiotic we could find, and the surgery site is hooked up to a suction machine in hopes of removing any remaining infectious matter.." She rubbed her head. "We're doing everything we can, but right now it's up to him."

"When...when can we see him?" Pauline asked.

"He should be in post-op in a few minutes--I'll send a nurse up to get you."

"Thank you..." Mary said, quietly.

When she left, Jen sat back down and removed her glasses to rub her own weary eyes. "He was released from the curse...no new infection appeared, but the damage that was already there was still at work. Vincent..."

"I couldn't risk a spell." Vincent Belmont's voice broke in as he re-entered the room, Bo Holbrook close behind him. Like Jen, they were still wearing their Ghostbuster uniforms. "He'd been under the influence of the magic of a primal god. Trying to unweave that without a vast amount of knowledge of the exact workings of the curse would've been as dangerous as the curse itself."

"Vincent Belmont." Jen told Mrs. Baugh and Al, as she all but fell into Bo's embrace. "Arcane Division. And this is Bo Holbrook with Nightsquad. They were with us when..."

Al shook Vincent's hand. "He talked...talks about you both a lot in his emails."

Vincent shook his head. "If only I were worthy of such regard." He looked at Jim Aberdeen. "I have been asked to relay a message to you, Sir. Your sister wishes to speak with you."

"I got nothing to say to her..." Jim replied, his face contorting with anger.

"Jim..." Pauline put a hand on his shoulder. "She's family. You ought to at least find out what she wants to say. What justification..."

"I can't leave now." he shook his head.

A nurse came up to the assembled group. "I can take you to the post-op. But only three or four at a time."

Jim kissed his ex-wife on the cheek. "Okay...you go with Chelsea. I'll go see what Dottie can possibly say about this...if there's any change..."

Pauline nodded. Jim hugged his daughter. "When he's out of danger, please...you need to be checked out too..." She nodded, still looking at the floor.

I suppose as a Deist I should be skeptical of the accounts of the "light at the end of the tunnel"...though I am in a profession...used to be in a profession...that dealt with the restless dead day in and day out. It's a scientific law, after all, that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed, and why shouldn't that apply to the psychokinetic essence as well?

He was floating in an etheric sea...the light was drawing nearer...it was so warm, inviting...like it was calling to him, offering the answers to every question he didn't even know he had...

The "Other Side"...

He found himself filled with anticipation. The thought of seeing so many he missed again...both Grandfathers. A Grandmother and Step-Grandmother. Nick.

The light will recieve you, Fritz. You've more than earned it. But the thing is...it ain't your time yet.

There was a shape forming in the light, blotting it out, moving toward him. It came into shape... a human shape, a young man of African descent, dressed in a familiar tan flight suit, the neon orange logo on his right shoulder phosphorescent. As were the letters on his chest patch: LIPSYTE.

John! John Lipsyte!!!

John Lipsyte had been Fritz's teammate, a bright, friendly young man with a psychic gift and a warm heart.

Who's own life had been cut tragically--but heroically--short less than six months before, when John had sacrificed himself to stop the mad death god Anubis.

Nice to see you again, Doc.

You too, John. I guess we'll have a thing or two to catch up on...

Well, thing is, Doc...you're ahead of schedule.

Figures...I can't even do dying right. I died a failure, John...not like you. You saved us, you saved the city, you saved the world. I couldn't even save myself, never mind Chelsea...

Are you done feeling sorry for yourself now, Fritz?

Despite his joy at seeing his dead friend again, he felt anger. What the hell do you mean by that?! I would've thought that the Other Side would welcome newcomers with a little more sympathy...

Would you listen to me? You're not supposed to be here...that's why I'm here, to stop you from going into the light. Well, not stop...I can't stop you, really...but to talk you out of it.

Why even bother? I told you...I failed...I failed everyone...

Is that what you think?

Red Hook Precinct, NYPD
She expected the anger in his eyes as he looked at her. It was palpable, even seperated by a glass partition. "Hello, Jim..."

He didn't speak for ten seconds further. "Why, Dottie?"

"Jim, you have every right to be angry...the last thing I wanted was to involve her with this..."

"You have a funny way of showing it."

Dorothy Aberdeen exhaled. "Jim...you knew Zach. You knew what it did to me when he died...I...I stopped living even then, in a lot of ways. And when it happened to Geoff too...when I saw Chelsea living the same nightmare I did..."

"And this was the answer?"

"I had a dream one night...right after Geoff Sheppard died...in it a woman told me that she had been betrayed by my ancestors, that a curse had been put on our family. I didn't say anything then, how could I? You didn't believe in ghosts or curses or any of that..."

Jim nodded grudgingly. He did now--but it wasn't until the last year and a half, when his daughter started working for Ghostbusters. When his son was menaced by an entity called a bugbear...

"Well, I had already been living in New York for a while, Jim. I already knew ghosts were real--I'd even seen one. Back around '91 or so I was cut off in traffic by a skeleton on a motorcycle."

"I started to do a little research..." she continued. "There was a book that came out around that time, Spengler's Spirit Guide, and it talked about Toad Island. I finally went there two years ago...and I was attacked."

"Attacked?"

She nodded. "A giant man, one of the roustabouts there, grabbed me on the midway. He said he'd seen me in a dream...I thought it was just a stupid pick up line, but then he said 'You're the one she wants...you're an Aberdeen...' "

"Giant guy?" Jim asked. "That that Arvis character who's also in the lock-up?"

She nodded. "He brought me to the cavern..said he'd seen the Consor there...Lucindra. I..."

"What?"

Dorothy looked embarrassed. "Arvis is a lot more sensative than anyone gives him credit for. He told me that years before, he'd been lied to by a guy named Nogad--who said he'd find someone for Arvis to love. He never did, but..."

Jim blinked. He wasn't sure he liked where this was going.

"Then Lucindra appeared, and told me the whole story...well, the whole half-lie, about how she'd been in love with Fergus Aberdeen, our ancestor, and how Danise MacDuff seduced him, and forced Lucindra into five hundred years of service to Dagon. And about the curse...that would keep killing our loved ones until someone took her place when the servitude ended, on September 27, 2004."

Dorothy started to tear up. "I thought about Zach, and about Geoff, and about Chelsea...and about Scotty, if he had any daughters. I was crushed with guilt...Zach died because I loved him. And...I told her, 'I'm an Aberdeen....to atone for my family, I'll take your place'." Dorothy looked down. "She seemed quite pleased with that, until..."

"Until what?"

"I was standing there naked, she was examining me. Arvis was watching, with a look I hadn't seen in a man's eye in thirty years...and then she drew back, and said 'Thou art not suitable'." Dorothy looked at him again. "I'd already gone through menopause...and for Dagon's purposes, the...candidate...had to still be fertile at the time of the transformation."

Jim shook his head. It was all starting to fall together. "So instead you dragged Chelsea into this?"

"I didn't have any choice, Jim...once I found out she was seeing someone, and the date closed in, I knew we were running out of time. I had to get her away from him, before the curse took hold...before it killed someone else we loved. I had to convince her that the only way to end the cycle was to have her go in my place..I..." She started crying. "I'm so so sorry..."

Jim got up. "You're blood, Dorothy, and that won't change. But if you expect me to forgive you for this, it all depends..."

"On...on what?"

"The only man in the world who loves my daughter as much as I do is fighting for his life right now. If he makes it...well, Chelsea isn't one to hold a grudge. Maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to get the charges dropped and be a family again..."

He turned away. "And if he doesn't...I have no sister. You and your monster boyfriend can rot in here for another five hundred years."

The smell of the antiseptics irritated their noses as the four of them entered the post-op area. The sight before them brought Mary Baugh and Chelsea Aberdeen to another round of tears.

Tubes were sticking out of his nose. Numerous IVs were leading to his arms. Monitor pads were taped to his chest.

And there was a large tube from a device set on the stretcher, making a soft suction noise...leading to where, until this morning, the man's left foot had been. But the bandaging around the leg ended six inches below the knee. After that, there was nothing to bandage.

Al patted his brother's shoulder. "Mom's here, Fritz. I'm here. Dad and the Twins couldn't make it yet...work and all...but..." Something caught in his throat. "Damn, it just isn't right seeing you like this...

"My boy...my baby boy..." Mary sobbed, caressing his face.

Chelsea pushed a reddish brown hair out of his face. "This is all my fault...I never...I..."

What else am I supposed to think, John? I don't know how much you know about what's happened back on Earth...

I know exactly what happened. That's why I'm here.

Then you know I couldn't find a way to get away from the bullshit in LA to go look for her. And when I did, I was almost too late...except that my blundering only made it worse. And now she's lost to me...

Lost?

She threw her life away for me...she had to become something inhuman, the "Consor of Dagon"...just to save my worthless ass. She's gone.

"Honey..." Pauline started to say.

"It's true." Chelsea shook her head, surprised in a way she still had tears left. It seemed like all she'd been doing for the last few days was crying. "I put him in this mess."

Al looked up at her. He didn't know her was well as his brother did--obviously--but he'd worked with her for a time himself, at the same place Fritz met her. "I don't think that's fair."

"I didn't know that falling in love with him would doom him." Chelsea continued; if she heard Al at all she didn't show it. "I didn't know about the curse. When I found out I tried to save him...tried to keep him away so he wouln't end up like this. Instead...he threw his life away for me!"

Fritz, Dude...like I said, I know what's happened. I know what's happening right now. Let me show you...

The out of body experience? Are we gonna hit every cliche?

John grabbed his hand, and the light faded away...the world of the living began to take shape around them, though Fritz didn't recognize the place. A hospital?

I know you know them, Fritz.

Doctor Venkman...Bo and Jen...Vincent...

Your friends. Them, and Joey, and Jeff, and all the others. They're all still dealing with what happened to me...if you go too, go out like this, what's it gonna do to them?

And let me show you something a little closer to home...

The world around them shifted again.

Fritz knew the hair wasn't literally standing up at the back of his neck--as a ghost, he didn't really have hair or even a neck--but that's what it felt like. Looking at his own stricken mortal form...the missing limb...and then the awareness that his body wasn't alone in the room...

Mom...Al...and...

Chelsea?!

"He loves you, Chelsea." His mother finally spoke up. "If he didn't he never would've done what he did. Noone blames you for what happened...and neither would he."

...never...I could never blame her. I just don't...what happened?!

Bo and the others got there just in time. Lucindra was beaten. Chelsea is safe. But there's just one thing: if you die, Lucindra really does get the last laugh. If her curse claims one last victim...what do you think that's gonna do to Chelsea? She lost her childhood sweetheart to it...it took her years to finally come out of that shell she built around herself. If you go...she goes back in. And never comes back out.

Man, have you really thought about what this all means? Anybody can say they'd die for each other....you two were actually ready to do it. You just about did. You two not only talked the talk, you nearly walked the walk...er, excuse the phrase.

That's love, my friend, the kind of love that not too many people ever find.

I...

You can go into the light...throw away your life, doom her to living alone...or you can go back to where everyone's waiting for you. Especially her.

It's not going to be easy...I've lost...

I didn't say it'd be easy. But after all of this...how hard could it be?

Fritz looked up at John, knowing...feeling...it would be the last time for quite a while

Thank you, John.

Ghostbusters Forever, Man!!!

With one last embrace, Fritz turned his back from the light--for now--and reached toward the crippled form awaiting his return...

"That's not how it feels, Mrs. Baugh." Chelsea shook her head. "It feels like I did everything to prevent this...and I failed....I failed..."

Her left hand was loosely holding his right. She gasped when it closed around her thumb, like it was afraid to let go.

"His eyes!" Mary exclaimed. "I saw them flutter!!!"

Al darted off to find a nurse or a doctor.

They were beside themselves when those blue eyes opened, and squinted to take in what they were seeing. "...i must have died..." he croaked weakly. "....because i can swear there are angels standing around me..."

His mother hugged him first. Chelsea was still crying...but the first smile in two months was on her face.

They were jarred from their seperate thoughts when Pauline entered the room, the relief and joy on her face obvious. "He's awake!!!" she shouted.

Venkman sighed deeply, looking like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Jen hugged Bo...and even Bo's normally churlish expression softened.

Vincent said a silent prayer.

Jim, already in route back to the hospital from the police station, had a mist in his eyes as his ex-wife relayed the news. "I'll be there was quick as I can...but please, like I said, tear that daughter of ours away long enough to get looked over herself..."

After he hung up, he spared a glance skyward. "Thank you..."

October 22, 2004
He looked at the room in the Rehab Center one last time. His brother Al stood nearby, having gotten the last of his clothes stashed away in a duffel bag.

"We got everything?" Al asked.

"It looks like it..." Fritz responded.

Al excused himself to use the bathroom. Fritz looked at the last two things to be stowed...

One was the pile of get-well cards he'd recieved over the last three weeks. Cards from the other Ghostbusters teams--GBUK, Doom Patrol, Onarga. Cards from his former GBWC teammates (Except Jeff...it's like he dropped off the face of the Earth). Even in the midst of his campaign for the Senate, Ron had dropped a line ("You can afford to be nice to Democrats?" Fritz had asked jokingly.) His aunts and uncles spread throughout the country. Nick and Leon Hogan's mother. Even Harvey, the bartender at the White Diamond. Corey Jones and some of the others at the K-mart in Indianapolis. He looked at one in particular.

Fritz--
Get well soon.
--Bernice Roderick

It brought him to the other item still to be stowed--the ceramic flowerpot that had come with that card. A small one that looked almost like a giant coffee mug, with a smiley face on it. Two years ago that probably would've had me in tears, Bernice. But pardon me for saying this...you had your chance and lost it.

He stowed the cards and the pot in the duffel bag. Then, with a deep breath, transferred himself to the wheelchair.

"Your ride's here..." a female voice called. He looked up and grinned as she entered the room. She was wearing a jacket (it was late October, after all) and long pants.

Chelsea kissed him and sat down on the bed. "Er...where's Al?"

"The bathroom again." Fritz replied. He looked at her as he had so many times for the last month...she looked more like the woman he remembered, her eyes no longer sunken, her skin glowing, her hair not as stringy and...

"Your hair?" he realized. "It's different..."

She grinned and played with it just a bit. "Well, I figured with my man getting out of the hospital, I'd better start taking care of it again. You like it?"

"Absolutely." Fritz replied.

"Great. Now all we gotta do now is get yours cut..."

"But what if I didn't want it cut?" he teased. He'd been shaving again, but his hair was definitely longer than it had been the entire time she'd known him. Other than that--and the missing foot--he was also looking much like his old, healthy self again.

"We'll discuss it later." she smiled.

"For you." Fritz smirked, pulling a card out of his shirt pocket. "Happy Birthday."

"Fritz Baugh, believe me, if there was any circumstance where forgetting would be forgiveable..." she laughed, taking the card. "Besides, getting to take you out of here is more than enough of a present..." she leaned in and kissed him again.

Al finally came out of the bathroom. He rolled his eyes in mock exasperation at his brother and his brother's girlfriend sitting there slobbering all over each other. "I hate to break this up, but we gotta get going?"

She giggled and kissed Fritz one more time. Al hefted the duffel bag as she pushed the wheelchair. "I bet you twenty bucks that when we get the rest of the team together none of the guys says anything about it..." Fritz said mischievously.

"Deal..." she laughed.

December 10
The corner of Rosencranz and Vista Del Mar Highland Avenues
Los Angeles, California
Rose Prevost, adjusting the neon orange Ghostbuster logo in the reception area, was a little bit startled to hear the sound of the lock to the front door being opened.

"This is a surprise inspection..." a familiar voice called as the door opened, admitting three newcomers, one in a wheelchair.

It still amazed her how much life was back in his voice--an energy that wasn't there four months ago. "Welcome back to GBCentral West, a work in progress, Doctor Baugh. And I finally meet my famous predecessor at last..."

Fritz nodded. "Rose Prevost, Chelsea Aberdeen. Chelsea, Rose Prevost, our other Client Administrator..." He then pointed to the third member of their party. "And this is Al, my brother--he's not quite ready to let me out of his sight yet."

"Well, we all know what kind of trouble he gets into..." Al replied, shaking Rose's hand.

"And it's an honor to finally meet you at last..." Chelsea said warmly as she then shook Rose's hand.

"Do I still have a job?" Rose cracked.

Chelsea laughed. "Absolutely..." Fritz answered. "This is definitely not a one-person job, not even with the smaller line up it looks to be..."

"And the fact that this guy is not gonna be going on a lot of field runs." Chelsea added. "Not even an option until they fit him for the prosthetic."

"Well, let me take you around to see the now not-so-trashed HQ..." Rose said. "Otter is around here somewhere...and another surprise..."

Fritz and Chelsea looked at each other, wondering what that meant.

The "surprise" was in the garage area. "Joey?!" Chelsea and Fritz said in unison.

Joey Williams, the GBWC's founding CEO, smirked and waved from the driver seat of the ECTO-1N. He got out of the car and hugged both of his old friends.

"This is a surprise..." Fritz nodded.

"Just thought I'd come in and supervise for a little bit, for old times sake."

"Translation: do nothing but get in the way of the people who are actually working." Rose kidded.

"Doctor V tipped me off that you were dropping in today." Joey grinned. "So how you doing?"

"Getting there." Fritz answered. "They took me off the antibiotics right before Thanksgiving, so I got to go back to Indy for that. They're waiting for the wounds to heal up a little further before clearing me for a prosthetic."

"We'll be heading back to New York in a few days." Chelsea added. "Kaila Zeddemore's invited us to Christmas dinner with them..."

"Glad to hear it." Joey's expression changed, becoming a little more serious. "I know things kind of fell apart quick...and that's part of why I'm here. I want to make sure you knew that, well, I turned the keys over to you, and I'm sticking to that. You were doing most of the work by the end anyway, and it's only right. I'm gonna treasure the experience of being a Ghostbuster for the rest of my days, but it was also right for me to move on." Joey smirked again. "That said, if you ever need me--pardon the phrase, You Know Who To Call."

"Count on it." Fritz nodded. "And I thank you for your trust."

"You've more than earned it." Joey replied. "I like what you're doing to the place..."

"Just wait until it's finished." Fritz smirked.

The next stage of the Ghostbusters West Coast...

Act Two, Part One

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