Vigo needed Oscar Wallance so that he might live again.
The Ghostbusters stopped him, and since then their business is again thriving. But in the process of reuniting, they made the decision to hire one of Barrett's former neighbors, Louis Tully, as a company accountant and legal adviser, which seems to have provoked some uncharacteristic reactions from the Ghostbusters' longtime client administrator and unofficial fifth member, Janine Melnitz.
Continuity Note: This story takes place not long after the events of Ghostbusters 2, and during Venkman, Winston, and Slimer's vacation to South Dakota as seen in the Real Ghostbusters episode "Transcendental Tourists" (RGB-201010;#501)
A couple of pedestrians stopped to watch as two men got out of the car; a tall reedy blond man from the passenger side, a shorter copper-haired man from the driver side.
"Never thought we'd be coming back here so soon." the shorter man, wearing a tannish-grey flight suit bearing the same cartoony symbol on the right shoulder, and a nametag on the left chest pocket reading "STANTZ."
The taller man's flight suit was similar, though a more bluish color, and the nametag read "SPENGLER". "The director I spoke to sounded quite distressed."
The pedestrians came closer. "So you guys really are the Ghostbusters?" one asked. "The ones from a few years ago?"
"Yep!" Dr. Ray Stantz replied amiably.
"I told you!" one of the pedestrians said to the other.
"Hey, last time we saw them they were drivin' around with that weird peace-sign thing on their car!" the other one replied. "I thought they were just some impostors tryin' to rip the Ghostbusters off, not the real deal!"
Ray laughed. "We have to be sure to tell Peter that they said that. He was so against ditching Peace Sign Mooglie."
Dr. Egon Spengler rolled his eyes. "If we're done with the public relations..."
"He's vacationing in South Dakota right now." Egon answered.
"I remember you from last time we were here!" Ray said. "Rudy, right?"
Rudy nodded, and shook Ray's hand. "Strange time for a vacation. I guess the big case wore him out!"
"I guess you could say that..." Ray chuckled. "I think we're expected?"
"Oh yeah." Rudy nodded. "You know I still miss 'World of the Psychic'." He picked up a phone and punched a button. "Doctor Schoening? Yeah, the Ghostbusters are here." Rudy nodded, and hung up. "He'll be down in a minute or two."
Ray looked around the room. One particular piece of artwork drew his attention. "I know Peter likes to accuse me of being an 'art snob' whenever I talk about Modern Art, but that thing looks like somebody took some scrap metal, nailed it together, and spray painted it orange."
Egon read the title card. " 'Some Junk I Nailed Together And Spray Painted Orange', by N.Fox."
"Oh yes, that was quite a bargain on the Museum's part!" a new voice broke in. "Ms. Fox let us have it for only two million dollars! And the title--what a brilliant bit of post-Modern irony!"
Ray looked about ready to throw up; Egon quickly shook the man's hand. "Dr. Schoening?"
"Geoffrey Schoening, DFA, the new head of the Restorations Department."
"Egon Spengler, PhD, Ghostbusters Inc, and part of the reason you have this job, I suppose."
Schoening chuckled just a little uncomfortably. "And that's why I called you today." He looked at Ray. "Are you all right, Mister..."
Ray shook it off. "Stantz! Dr. Ray Stantz! Sorry about that! So how can the Ghostbusters help you today?"
"I think it'd be quicker to just show you." Schoening replied. "This way."
"The, er, cherub painting still the same?" Egon asked.
Schoening nodded. "Nothing has changed. That strip you placed on it still looks the same."
"It's effectively psychokinetic litmus paper." Egon explained. "In the presence of strong PK traces, the pink strip will turn blue."
"We originally tested it by putting it on a prototype personnel badge." Ray added. "But then we ended up with Slimer hanging around, so the original use kinda went away. We still offer them to clients to help detect possible repeater activity."
The curator went over to one painting, covered in a tarp. "We called you because just last night we were auditing the rest of the Restoration department. And we found this."
Schoening pulled off the tarp.
The color drained out of Ray's cheeks. Egon actually gasped.
"My recommendation is that you let us take this out of here. Immediately." Egon said brusquely.
"Gladly, Doctor Spengler, gladly!" Schoening nodded.
"Is something wrong?" the voice of Louis Tully squeaked from behind her.
Janine quickly shook her head. "No! Everything's fine!!!" She could practically hear the voice in her ears. "You must appear cheerful at all times! Nobody likes women who are sarcastic and unpleasant!"
"Oh okay I was wondering..." Louis started to say.
Janine cringed inside. He's going to ask me out again...how do I... "Oh! I almost forgot! Something came in the mail for you yesterday after you left!!!" She picked up a box from her desk and handed it to him.
As Louis studied it, and started to drone on about the price of parcel postage, she just wanted to crawl into a hole. Or at the very least, back into her bed back in Brooklyn.
Hung over she remarked to herself. Every day for the last week. Before this week, her one and only hangover came after her friends Shirl and Marie dragged her to a bar to celebrate their high school graduation.
She had drank alcohol since then--her sister's wedding for example--but never that much. And she hadn't now.
Yet she still felt hung over.
Louis was just about to finally start opening the package when the firehouse doors opened, and the ECTO-1 returned.
"Oh hey Ray how's it going I see the modifications to the ECTO-1 decals are finished did anyone notice I still think the peace sign confused people even though Peter says..."
"Uh, not right now, Louis." Ray shook his head. "We got a big problem!'
"Gosh! What is it?" Janine asked.
Egon raised an eyebrow. "Are you all right?"
"Of course!" she chirped.
Egon turned away, and pulled out his PKE Meter. "Still no noticeable reading in the area."
"Let's get it upstairs and give it the full once-over." Ray nodded. "Janine, can you help with this?"
Stored in the back of the ECTO-1 was a flat object, about three feet wide and seven feet long.
Janine visibly flinched. "It gives me the creeps! What is it?"
Egon raised an eyebrow again. "Something that might completely justify that reaction."
"Oh my gosh!!!" Janine cried as Ray revealed the contents.
Janine hadn't actually seen the painting before, but she recognized it from the pictures that the Ghostbusters had brought back. Scowling at them from the painting was a powerfully built man with pulled back blond hair, dressed in dark armor.
"Vigo the Carpathian?! But how?!" she shook her head. "I thought you said you'd destroyed him!"
Louis looked ready to faint. "How...how did he get back in the painting?"
Ray shrugged. "That's just it--this isn't the Vigo painting. Or at least, not the same one--that one's still in the museum, and still has the four archangels and a cherub that look suspiciously like us and Oscar."
"Dr. Schoening says this one was just found in storage, literally yesterday, in Dr. Poha's backlog. We don't even know if Poha knew about it." Egon was studying his PKE meter. He raised an eyebrow and looked at Janine for a second. "And he wasn't so much destroyed as dispersed, in accordance to one of the most basic laws of paranormal physics. You may remember the Grossjuck incident a few years back."
Janine's stomach turned at the memory. Yeah, first time you say six words to me in a month and it's to remind me of that... "Oh yeah..." was all she could squeak.
Louis ducked out of the room.
Egon, touching on an incident he didn't have the fondest memories of either, adopted a more conciliatory tone. "Janine, could you please get the Giga Meter off my desk?"
"Huh? Oh, sure!"
"I thought you'd updated the PKE meter to handle psychomagnetheric fluctuations." Ray asked.
"Yes." Egon nodded. "But the upgrade hasn't been fully tested yet--the Giga meter has."
"Makes sense." Ray replied. "Maybe I'll try the KUD meter..."
"Logical." Egon agreed.
"It arrived!!!" Louis said excitedly. He was wearing a brand new Ghostbuster flight suit, in a grayish-green color trimmed with a purple collar and cuffs. "TULLY" was on the name patch.
Ray nodded, "Not bad! It certainly fits you better than Egon's suit--I mean, I'm heftier and Winston's stockier, so I'd think Peter would be the closest to your size. Egon's lanky, but he's like a foot taller than you! Why that one?"
Louis shrugged. "I dunno...it's the one Janine picked out for me."
Ray felt confused. "That's extra weird--she's normally good with sizes. She'd know Egon's uniform would fit you like a tent, especially as much time as she's spent sizing..."
Some instinct told him to stop right there. As much time as she's spent sizing Egon up. "...Er, for all of us, to help out in suit orders."
"Oh well yeah she sent the sizes in for this one and it's perfect so I dunno what was up...anyway now I can be a real backup Ghostbuster if you need me to help fight Vigo or something!"
Ray suddenly wished Peter was there. Ray had the growing feeling he might have stumbled onto something that made less and less sense to him the more he thought about it; Venkman's gifts for reading people would be really really useful right about now.
"Well, er, we don't know if Vigo's coming back yet, Louis." Ray finally said, with a bit of forced cheer that someone more perceptive than Louis might have caught onto. "But if so, yeah, with Winston and Peter on vacation, we may need every particle thrower we can get!"
Louis started scratching himself. "Hey is this always gonna itch like this?"
Ray chuckled. "It goes away once you get slimed a time or two."
He'd taken off his Ghostbuster uniform shortly after returning to HQ, and was now in a sweater-vest and tie. Dammit, now I'm being reminded...of how damn hot that man is. Why now? I'm succeeding in getting over him, right? I don't need this...this feeling like a schoolgirl in heat...I...
"Is the painting putting off a reading?" Janine asked.
"Nothing noticeable." Egon answered. "But neither did the original when Ray and I examined it the first time, and this was after Peter insisted Dana saw it looking at her." Egon glanced quickly around the room, then looked at her. "But I have to repeat my earlier inquiry--are you all right?"
Janine felt her face flush. "Why? What would that have to do with Vigo?"
Egon shook his head. "Nothing. Probably."
For just a second, Janine's "sarcastic and unpleasant" side bubbled up. "Bullshit. You never ask questions without a reason."
Egon chuckled, and tugged at his shirt collar. "Well, it's quite odd. I hadn't intended to scan you, but you were right there and the reading was quite unavoidable: your psychomagnetheric resonances have been completely polarized. I haven't seen the like before--that's why I asked if you were feeling all right."
Oh Adonai what have I done...I keep forgetting how awesomely smart he is...he's figured out everything...about Louis and about...
He turned off the meter and set it down. "Of course, my studies of psychomagnetheric resonances are basically in their infancy. It could simply be, for lack of a better term, 'normal' for you--perhaps due to your psychic potential, or your past experiences with paranormal entities."
The thing that surprised her most was realizing that she was disappointed that he apparently hadn't figured everything out.
"I also considered the possibility that you were affected by the recent psychomagnetheric surge related to Vigo's attempt to manifest." Egon asked. "So you haven't noticed any...unusual sensations lately?"
You mean like being so fucking mad at you I wanted to screw a dweeby little nobody and I even put him in your uniform like that'd make him even a tenth the man you are, and right now I want to drag you down and fuck your brains out, something like that?!?! one half of her inner voice wanted to scream.
"No" she finally answered weakly.
Adonai, tell him!!! Help me, Egon, I'm going fucking insane!!!
He held her gaze for a moment longer.
Then he shrugged, and turned away. "I apologize. I will endeavor to get a better database of psychomagnetheric baselines established in the near future. Thank you for your help."
She exhaled. She felt the heat and the fear subside.
And it disappointed her.
"No problem!" she lied cheerfully, and left the room.
He sighed. He couldn't put his finger on it, but something was still bugging him. Something that had nothing to do with the menacing painting, and everything to do with the woman that had just left.
He snapped his attention back to the painting. It was a sudden sensation, like being watched.
He looked at the meter. No energy fluctuation, but still...
Egon's eyes narrowed as he regarded the painting.
"There is a mystery here, and I am going to unravel it."
Whether he was talking to the painting of Vigo, or about the woman who'd just left the room, or both, he wasn't sure himself.
"Transcendental Tourists" written by Len Jansen and Chuck Menville.
The PKE Badge concept comes from the Ghostbusters International core rulebook by West End Games (1989)