Reggie watched the Ghostbusters fall to the ground about thirty yards away as the Sorcerer's attention was snatched from them.
"What're you doing?!" he shouted at Janine in disbelief. "That's Sophie you're shooting at!"
"Whaddaya think I'm doing?" Janine snapped, trying to push him out of her way while keeping the stream trained on the Sorcerer. "I know this looks crazy, but trust me, that's not really Sophie!"
"I don't believe this! I don't believe this! I don't—"
"Stop talking and zap some skeletons or something!"
"Alright, alright, alright!" Reggie, feeling on the verge of a mental breakdown, turned and opened fire on the first thing that moved. The skeleton screeched as it was blasted backwards out of sight.
"Great! Keep it up!" Janine complimented through gritted teeth.
Meanwhile, Egon pushed up from the patch of dead grass he'd been lucky enough to land on. "What's going on?!"
"Oh wow!" Exclaimed Ray as a bolt of lightning illuminated the scene for a split second. "It's Janine and…and Reggie?"
"Huh," said Winston, also sitting up, "kid's not the sharpest tool in the box, but he's kinda handy with a particle thrower…" He trailed off as pandemonium ensued.
Skeletons started wailing in terror and running every which way in panic at the sight of the Sorcerer trapped in the stream of one of the armed newcomers. A few of them had actually seen the damage these bright ribbons of light could do. Even the big intimidating ones that had been holding on to each Ghostbuster clapped their hands to where their cheeks should have been and screeched along with the rest. The Head Ghost, who seemed to sense things were about to go downhill, vanished into thin air.
"And he thought that guy was his most loyal follower?" Winston asked, almost laughing.
Peter rolled his eyes and got to his feet, shoving his former skeleton-guard to the ground. "Outta my way!"
The other three followed, knocking over some skeletons of their own on the way to where Janine and Reggie were.
"It's about time you two showed up!" Peter hollered over the noise.
"You can thank them later, Venkman," Egon answered for Janine, who had her tongue between her teeth in concentration and was starting to break a sweat. "Right now we have a job to do!"
"They found our packs!" Ray pointed to the heap of equipment a few feet to the right and immediately ran for it.
"Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!" Winston threw a grateful glance heavenward.
"You know, Janine," said Peter, "if you weren't so busy right now, I could kiss you…"
"Shut up and help us out here!" she snarled.
"LOOK OUT!" Reggie's stream suddenly swept toward the other three at the pile, nearly taking their heads off. Luckily, they managed to hit the deck just in time.
"WATCH IT, KID!" yelled Winston as he sprang back up to his feet seconds later and pulled on his pack.
There was a loud zap followed by another skeleton's scream as it was caught by Reggie's stream and sent flying in the opposite direction.
"Nice shot!" said Ray, switching on his own thrower. "Just keep us covered, we'll take care of the Sorcerer!" His stream shot up to join Janine's, as did Winston's.
"Ah, crap..." Peter let his pack slide to the ground. "I forgot the little minions sabotaged mine!"
"Take the kid's!" shouted Janine.
Peter turned to where Reggie had been standing only moments before, but he was now about ten feet away, still zapping like a mad-man.
"Uh…he's a little busy at the moment. And the weird part is he's not doing all that bad."
"On second thought," Ray yelled, struggling to keep his stream wrapped attached to the flailing Sorcerer, "forget letting him cover us! We need you here, Peter! Egon's going to try the modified stream!"
"Ray," Egon cut in, "I don't think that option is available anymore if what you suspected earlier is true—"
"We have to try! If there's any shred of Sophie left in there, we've got to pull it out now!"
"Ok, ok!" The pack hummed to life as Egon flipped the switch. "I'll do it…"
"Go for it, Spengs." Peter started trotting off in Reggie's direction. "I'll be back before ya know it."
Another fork of lightning ripped across the sky as the Sorcerer gave a terrible howl, attempting to bend the streams away. A greenish jet of light burst from Egon's thrower and joined the others, curling around its writhing target.
The ghost tugged violently at the shining knot, jerking Janine, Winston, and Ray forward several feet. Egon, however, stayed where he was since the Sorcerer went right through the loops of his stream as if they were nothing but coils of air.
"Uh…we have a situation…" he started.
"Plan B! Plan B!" shouted Winston frantically. "What's plan B?!"
"Since when do you guys ever have a plan B?!" Janine shot back as she was nearly wrenched off her feet by a second forceful haul from the Sorcerer.
"Slam'im!" Ray commanded over the shrieks. "Maybe we can wear him down enough get him into a trap and we can figure it out from there!" Without hesitation, he, Janine, and Winston pulled down hard, forcing the Sorcerer out of the air and smacking him down to the ground.
"AAAAIIIIIIIEEEEE!" he yowled.
"NO!" Reggie, now without the extra pack, suddenly pushed them aside, trying to get to what looked like his girlfriend. "Stop doing that!"
Peter, hot on his tail, snatched his arm and pulled him into a sort of headlock to keep him from getting any closer. "You're gonna get yourself fried! And that kind of thing really reflects badly on our image!"
"AGAIN!" bellowed Ray. The straining spirit was lifted into the air once more, and this time sent reeling sideways into the mausoleum with a crash. Bits of crumbling stone flew out everywhere. The smoldering eyes where Sophie's hazel ones should have been flickered and dulled slightly as the Sorcerer faltered. "YAHOO! He felt that one!"
"The trap!" Winston shouted. "Egon, we need the trap!"
Egon reached to his belt, but at that moment, a dark, smoky streak whooshed in from nowhere, bowling him over and sweeping Janine off her feet.
Janine went flying off to the right, far away from where the others were still doing battle with the Sorcerer, tangled in the Head Ghost's clutches. She was considering biting one of the arms holding her, but before she could open her mouth, a greenish flash of light narrowly missed her ear and hit the ghost smack in the face. Unharmed but completely surprised, he dropped her and corkscrewed high into the sky, preparing for another go. His green eyes brilliant with fury, he lurched forward in midair, hurtling back down at her as she got to her knees.
Breathless and still a pretty dazed from the drop, Janine was entirely unprepared for the Head Ghost's next attack. She cringed, but just before he could reach her, somebody smashed into her from the right, sending her to the ground and landing on top of her.
"OOMF!" she huffed as all the air in her lungs was forced out. She glanced up after a split second into a pair of eyes behind scratched glasses hovering mere inches from her own. "Egon?!" she wheezed.
"Uh…hi." He answered awkwardly.
"You…ow…you saved me! Again!" Even though his weight was all but crushing her small frame, Janine had the urge to wrap her arms around his neck and plant one right on his lips. Instead, she screamed and pointed up at the smoky green-eyed streak speeding straight for them. Obviously intending to do some serious damage this time, the Head Ghost plunged out of the sky…but was brought to a complete standstill by a proton stream that shot out of nowhere and looped around him.
"OH YEAH!" came Peter's unmistakable yell of triumph off to the side. The Head Ghost was pulled out of Egon's and Janine's line of sight and the next thing they heard was a click and a beep as a trap's doors flipped shut. "Gotcha!"
Now that that was over with, Janine really needed to inhale. "Get…get off," she spluttered.
"Huh?" Egon leaned an ear in closer to her mouth.
"I can't…breathe! GET OFF!"
"Oh!" Egon rolled to the side and Janine gasped sharply. "Sorry about that…"
Janine blushed slightly. "Don't be."
"C'mon, you two," said Peter, who'd finished his quick victory dance. "Ray and Winston are fighting an uphill battle back there!"
"Where's Reggie?" Janine asked as Egon hauled her to her feet.
Peter aimed a thumb over his shoulder. There on the ground about ten feet behind him in an unconscious heap was the T.V. repairman. Lying next to him was a chunk of a tree branch.
"What did you do?"
"Well, somebody had to get him outta the way while we finish this…"
"He's got a point, you know." Egon shrugged, casting a sideways glance at Janine.
"Still, it looks like that hurt," she said.
Peter cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck, now avoiding eye-contact. "Well…I might've hit him just a little harder than was necessary…"
Janine sighed and rolled her eyes. "C'mon."
Peter, Egon and Janine arrived back at the battlefield just in time to see Sophie's arms fly out wide, causing the streams to rebound violently.
The five of them ducked as the sizzling bands of light whipped over their heads.
"Shut'em down!" Winston cried as his pack fizzled. He fumbled for the switch and flipped it before the stream could lash back the other way again.
"I didn't know he could do that!" hollered Ray.
"He's more powerful than before," Egon said as if this were just some lecture in a classroom. "He can now manipulate the streams to do whatever he pleases. It's a simple matter of—"
"This is nuts!" Winston interjected. "What now?"
"NOW YOU DIE!" the Sorcerer shrieked above it all. He threw Sophie's head back and out came the cold laugh the Ghostbusters had come to know all too well.
Peter lifted an eyebrow. "Well, there ya go."
"Boy, he sure recovered fast…" Ray started, but was cut off by the low rumbling coming from the ground directly below their adversary.
"Oh no," Egon mumbled.
A giant marble headstone was uprooted right beside them and rose into the air just above the cackling ghost. The rumbling escalated in strength and was accompanied by a rush of wind as several more sizeable headstones flew up to join the first.
"Whoa!" Ray couldn't keep the dumbstruck wonder from creeping into his voice. "This is fantastic! He's tapped into Sophie's power and now he's—"
"Shut up, Ray!" Peter snapped.
"We should probably take cover!" Egon shouted.
"Good one!" Janine remarked.
"One problem," Winston shot back, "he's already taken all the cover!"
He was right. The massive, glowing hedge was beginning to rip itself out of the ground all around them. The panicking skeletons were lifted into the air as well, flailing and kicking as their feet parted ways with solid earth.
"He's maaad," sang Janine, covering her head with her arms. "He's really, really maaad…"
"We have to try bringing him down again." Ray straightened up, tightening the straps of his pack and looking ready to spring right back into action. Winston and Peter caught his arms before he could get any further.
"Are you crazy, man?!" exclaimed Winston. "There's no way we'd have a clear shot through all of this junk flyin' around!"
"He's right," agreed Egon. "The chances of the streams actually penetrating that mass of 'junk' and making contact are next to nothing."
All this time, the Sorcerer had slowly risen through the vortex of swirling debris and skeletons. Now, almost touching the blackened sky, he stopped laughing and turned those fiery eyes down on them. Sophie's lips curled into a maniacal grin.
"I have been waiting for this moment." The hissing voice was eerily quiet, but seemed to pierce through the rumbling and the wind all the same. He raised Sophie's arms above her head, ready to deal the final blow…
"Janine…" Egon said hoarsely, eyes wide, "your hair!"
She rounded on him. "My hair? Egon…my hair?! We're about to die and you're worried about my—"
"No, no, he's right," said Winston, pointing at her. "It's standing on end!"
"Wha…?" Janine immediately clapped both hands to her head and gasped. Her shaggy, reddish bob was indeed standing up from her scalp without any help from the mousse she'd used that morning.
"Hey, I like it." Peter grinned. "You should wear it around the office like that sometime."
"What's going on? It's like I rubbed a balloon all over in it or something…it's like its full of st—"
"—static electricity!" finished Ray. "EVERYBODY DOWN!"
The five of them dropped and covered their heads just as the Sorcerer resumed his horrible laugh.
"I CANNOT BE STOPPED! WITH THIS NEW POWER I WILL RULE THIS CITY! I WILL—"
A blinding and earsplitting bolt of white-hot lightning sliced down and stabbed the earth. The whirling objects were blasted outward, as were Janine and the Ghostbusters.
After what seemed like forever, the thunder diminished into a crackle, then finally died away into complete silence. The rumbling through the ground stopped and the wind was nothing more than a breeze.
Ray raised his head cautiously to have a look around. There wasn't a skeleton or a ghost in sight, just piles of what was left of the headstones and the hedge. Even the mausoleum was reduced to a heap of stone rubble.
"Wow." It was the only word he could think to say at the moment. He glanced over at the others as they started to stir. Everyone's hair was standing straight out just like Janine's now and they all looked a little singed around the edges.
"Hey!" said Winston, smiling. "The sky's clearing up!"
"Oh good," Peter croaked. "No more lightning. Thanks for the heads up, Ray."
"Don't thank me, thank Janine's hair. That's what tipped me off."
"It's amazing I have any hair left after that," she muttered darkly.
"Interesting," mused Egon, rubbing his chin and looking like he was mulling something over. "That lightning bolt seems to have diffused the Sorcerer's spiritual manifestation right out of this plane of existence."
"Come again?" asked Peter.
"Well, he's already dead, so it wouldn't have killed him. Where else would he have gone?"
"We did it!" Ray was now on his feet, laughing. "We got rid of the Sorcerer! He's outta here!"
"Finally." Winston blew out a heavy breath and wiped his brow.
"Don't get too excited yet," Egon interrupted. "We still have one problem. A big one."
"Now what?" Peter smacked his forehead, not exactly ready to face yet another dilemma after what they'd just been through.
"Wherever the Sorcerer went…whatever was left of Sophie must've gone there with him."
The others exchanged horrified glances.
Peter gulped. "Oh crap!"
To Be Continued…