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THE GHOST BUSTERS AND THE GOLDEN WITCH
CHAPTER 1-FULL CIRCLE
Summer of 1997. It's been 10 years since Jake Kong Jr. and Eddie Spenser Jr. took over their fathers' ghost busting business. And what an exciting and prosperous business it has been. Although their primary residence had always been 13 Canterbury Street, the boys had bought themselves homes of their own. Jake Kong Jr., leader of the Ghost buster pack, opted for a house in the Poconos in Pennsylvania which he shared with his wife of 3 years Jessica Rae-Kong. Eddie Spenser Jr., on the other hand, decided to buy a "handyman's special" in a town off the Long Island Sound in New York called City Island. Eddie chose that locale because of the house's proximity to City Island Ave. which is where the best seafood restaurants on the East Coast were found. Not to mention the view of the Long Island Sound from his bedroom window, especially in the summer, was absolutely breath taking. Although still a bit of a klutz, Eddie had become quite a handyman as he along with ghost busting gorilla Tracy, credited to being the smartest simian in the world, made repairs on the home every chance they had.
Today was no exception as the two find themselves putting the finishing touches on the backyard deck they were building.
-"Hey Trace, you done cutting that board yet?"
-"Ooh oh almost."
-"Great! One more nail in this 'coffin', and we can call it a day."
-"Oomph, all right! Eeh-eeh 'coffin'?", said Tracy with a quizzical look.
-"It's just a figure of speech, Tracy. I was talking about the deck, not a real coffin."
-"Oh!", sighed Tracy.
As Eddie started hammering the nail, his pager inside the breast pocket of his coveralls vibrated, distracting him to the point where he missed the nail and hit his thumb, HARD!
-"Yea-ha-ha-how! Not again! That's the fifth time this week!"
-"That's not funny, Tracy! I didn't laugh at you when you hammered your toe!", said Eddie referring to a time Tracy was using his foot to hold a nail instead of his hand.
-"Heh, so it's like that, huh? Remind me not to be so sympathetic to you the next time!"
Sucking his thumb in a feeble effort to ease the pain, Eddie pulled out his pager to see who was reaching him.
-"Huh? Ghost Command? 911?! Oh jeez, why now? I was hoping to work on my tan down at Orchard Beach for a few hours. Daaahhhh! If I must..."
Eddie went inside to use the phone he hooked up in the kitchen all the while wishing he could retire. At the age of 36, he still looked like he did in his 20's, sparkling light brown eyes, with hair to match, square chin, broad shoulders, and massive hands. Passing a mirror in the hallway, he checked his reflection pondering this.
-"Hm, too bad I'm only 5'7", or I would've tried my luck in the NFL."
Meanwhile, back at Ghost Command, Jake impatiently paced the floor wondering what was taking Eddie so long in calling him. It had been a good half an hour since he paged him knowing he'd been working on his "hideaway" as Jake referred to it. He had only been there once, and that was to help him start repairs on it. Although he questioned Eddie's choice in the house itself, he had to admit he was a little envious of the location he selected to the point that he wished he'd held off buying his Pocono home.
Finally, Answer bone began to ring, and Jake raced toward it to stop it from taking the call. Answer bone, seeing this, kept moving away from Jake 'til it was able to answer.
-"Hello, eh sorry, the Ghost busters are out of reach right now...heh, heh, heh."
-"Answer bone, it's Eddie. Let me talk to Jake."
-"Oh, it's you, bozo! What's the matter? Need 5 bucks for a Big Mac Attack? Heh, heh, heh!"
Eddie was used to Answer bone's wisecracks, but after all these years, it still bothered him that he was getting picked on because of his weight. Well he was in a foul mood enough as is, and Answer bone's remarks made him reach his boiling point.
-"Answer bone, if you don't let Jake pick up the receiver, I'll send you back to the Verizon phone company for parts!"
-"Okay, okay, take it easy. Don't have a bone to pick with me."
-"Eddie, it's Jake. What took you so long in calling me? I was getting worried!"
-"I, uh, had a slight accident.", said Eddie looking at his thumb.
-"Why doesn't that surprise me?", said Jake rolling his eyes heavenward.
-"Are you going to tell me why you paged me, or waste my time with another 'You got to be careful.' speech?"
Jake was taken aback by Eddie's comment. He can count on one hand the number of times Eddie spoke to him in that tone of voice since it really wasn't his nature.
-"Uh, sorry Eddie. I need you and Tracy back at Ghost Command right away. Jessica was told at the last minute to do a news special on our 10th anniversary."
-"6 PM, or actually between 6 and 6:30 since it's going to be a news clip."
Eddie looking at his watch realized that he didn't have much time to work with.
-"We're on our way, Jake."
-"Good, I'll see you in a bit."
-"Come on, Trace. We're going to be on TV tonight!"
-"Eeh-eeh, all right!"
Deciding not to bother with the bridge which was always congested during the summer, Eddie and Tracy took to the air in the Ghost buggy using its flight mode and were at Ghost Command within half an hour.
-"Jessica here yet, Jake?"
-"No, she's still at the station finalizing her assignment."
-"Good, at least I'll have a moment to shower and change. Speaking of changing, should we wear our uniforms?"
-"Which ones? What do you mean 'which ones'?
-"Go to your room and see."
Eddie did as told and to his amazement saw an incredible looking uniform. It looked pretty much like his old one except the jacket was black leather, his pants were a black pair of jeans, the T-shirt was light gray, and the boots were dark gray Timberlands. In one of the jacket pockets he found a pair of black driving gloves and a pair of prescription sports goggles.
-"Wow, whoever put this outfit together remembered I use glasses now.", thought Eddie as he tried on the goggles.
-"Happy anniversary, buddy."
-"You bought all this, Jake?"
-"Heh, heh, yeah, well, Jessica helped to pick out the uniform. Wait 'til you see mine."
-"I don't get it, as great as this uniform looks, why the change?"
-"I kind of felt it was about time we did. I was looking through some men's magazines and saw what the models were wearing. Then I remembered what I had in my closet and decided to do something about it."
Eddie, pondering Jake's words, realized he was right. As comfortable as his pilot's uniform was, it was getting rather faded with all the times he took it to the dry cleaners after some of his missions. Besides, it was the only thing he found in his size when he first went shopping for gear.
-"I'll miss wearing the hat, though.", he thought.
Moments later, Jessica arrived with her cameraman, ready to do the news feature on the Ghost busters. Even she couldn't believe it's been 10 years since she first met the boys. For her, it has been a hell of a "rollerghoster" ride going through one adventure after another. Jessica was attracted to Jake, a blond blue eyed man whose athletic build stood at 5'11", from the moment she first laid eyes on him. The turning point came the day Eddie was kidnapped by Prime Evil, a long time enemy of the Ghost busters who was part metallic, part muscle but always wore a blood red cape and sorcerer's gown. Jake and Tracy had to battle a band of rain makers called Thunder ghosts to stop them from flooding the world. She was riding in the back seat of the Ghost buggy, often referred to as GB, when Tracy was forced to make a sudden stop to avoid a group of Thunder ghosts that were on the attack. Jessica, not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle and fell hundreds of feet toward the Earth. The fright from the fall caused Jessica to faint, but she was soon awakened by the feeling of warm, soft lips touching hers. She couldn't tell who it was at first that kissed her because of the dark cloud she found herself in, but later put 2 and 2 together when back at Ghost Command, sometime after Eddie's rescue, she noticed a devilish grin on Jake's face every time he looked at her. Needless to say, Jake soon asked her out on a date, and the rest as they say was history.
-"Hey honey.", said Jake giving Jess a peck on the lips.
-"Hey Jessica.", said Eddie as he tied on his Timberlands.
Jessica looked at Jake from top to bottom and couldn't believe the transformation. Aside from his uniform which consisted of a long black trench coat, black button down shirt, dark gray slacks, and black oxfords, Jake eventually traded in his clean cut looks for a goatee and mustache.
-"Mmm, you look better in that outfit than I thought."
-"Thanks to you, babe."
-"Jake said you picked out my uniform, too, Jess. Thanks. What do you think?"
-"I think you'll be turning the ladies' heads soon enough, Eddie."
Eddie smiled at the comment, but knew it was something to see to believe. He hadn't had that much luck with women, sad to say. The two he dated in the past ended on sour notes. One ended when he found out she was using him to get close to Jake. The second relationship died when the girl confessed she was in love with the fact that he was a Ghost buster and not him as a person.
As Jake and Jessica talked about the seating arrangements and set up, Eddie looked at the pair with sad eyes, then excused himself "to check himself in the mirror". Once in his room, he reached into his closet to pull out an old shoe box full of photos. Reaching in, he fumbled through them 'til he found a photo of himself in his teen years, carrying a Puerto Rican beauty piggy back style. She had silver gray eyes, long raven waves of hair, and a smile that lit up the night.
-"Monica, I'm so sorry. If my pop hadn't moved me away, we could've still been together."
-"Show time, Eddie!", bellowed Jake from the office.
-"Coming!", called back Eddie as he hurriedly placed the photo back, put away the shoe box, and dried his tears. He checked himself in the mirror one more time before striding in with a false sense of pride in his new uniform.
-"Guys, I can't get enough of this uniform! I'm starting to feel a little like Mysteria in not pulling away from the mirror."
Eddie was referring to Mysteria's sense of vanity in that she thought of herself so gorgeous, she would worship herself in a mirror. Jake had used this to his advantage once during the time Prime Evil stole the Statue of Liberty. She was a tall, slender ghost with jet black hair and model looks sent to haunt the Statue while Prime Evil did the crime. All it took was a comment about her hair being a mess to distract her long enough to use the dematerializer on her.
-"Heh, you're not the only one feeling a little vain, Eddie, I'm starting to wonder if GQ magazine could use another model."
Chuckling, the three settled into some chairs set up in a semicircle in front of the camera while Tracy sat on his worktable behind them. Jessica felt it best to record the segment instead of doing it live to avoid any embarrassing comments or actions. She wasn't worried so much about Eddie, but Jake had been acting a little camera shy, lately. Jessica wondered if this attributed to a recent visit to Jake's father, whose receding hairline had become more evident.
-"All right guys, ready to do the show?"
The boys nodded and Jessica signaled to her cameraman Mike to start taping.
-"I'm here at 13 Canterbury Street, the address belonging to Ghost Command. It's been 10 years since Jake Kong Jr. and Eddie Spenser Jr. took over their fathers' business, and for them, it has been a successful run so far..."
As Jessica went on to interview the boys, a shadowy figure appeared in the kitchen. When it fully materialized, the figure belonged to a curvaceous female about 5'4", dressed in a long loose fitting gray gown with a cowl to match. She watched the action through one of the doors' windows as if she was waiting for something. Tracy, losing interest in the interview for a moment, looked around the room casually and caught the eyes of the intruder. As Tracy was warning the boys that he saw something, the mysterious stranger disappeared and reappeared right in front of them. Before they could act, the woman managed to bind Jessica and Mike with bands of light and nailed them to the wall. Jake at that moment ducked behind Tracy's worktable and came out with a just repaired dematerializer, a weapon used to decompose ghosts on contact.
-"Not a chance, Ghost buster!", said she firing a blast in his direction.
Jake fired in return, but was shocked at the sight of the woman swatting the blast away from her like a fly. The blast caught Eddie right in the abdomen causing him to drop to the floor yowling in pain.
-"Eddie!", cried Jake.
-"Oh no!", whispered the stranger.
With one look, she had Jake and Tracy nailed to the wall behind the table much like Jessica and Mike were.
-"You should've known better than to point that thing at a witch, Jake!"
-"A witch! No wonder why my nose didn't pick up anything!", thought Jake referring to a special gift he had, a nose that twitches whenever ghosts are present.
Walking hurriedly to where Eddie was, the witch knelt down in front of him to see how badly he was hurt.
-"I'm so sorry, Eddie! I didn't mean to hurt you. Please let me help."
-"G-g-g-get away from me!", cried Eddie through clenched teeth.
-"Please let me help, Eddie! You'll bleed to death if you don't!"
Reluctantly, Eddie removed his hands from his abdomen revealing a very angry looking wound. Wasting no time, the witch placed her hand over it and uttered the spell that brought him instant relief.
-"Evil be gone, goodness remain! Bring healing to this man, and relieve him of his pain!"
Within minutes, the bleeding stopped and the wound closed up with not so much as scar tissue left behind.
-"Gosh, thanks!", said Eddie as he sat up and looked at his stomach, "But if you came to attack us, why did you heal me?"
-"It's not my nature to hurt anyone.", said the witch dropping her eyes, "Besides, Prime Evil wants the privilege of destroying you and Jake himself."
-"Prime Evil! He sent you?"
-"Yes, and regrettably, I must complete my task. I promise to be gentle with you."
Carefully, the witch bound Eddie with no resistance on his end much the same way as the others, and with a heavy sigh, instantly transported herself and the Ghost busters to Haunt Quarters, leaving Jessica and Mike free from their bonds.
-"Jake!", cried a shaken Jessica as she rose to her feet.
-"Ms. Kong, I know this will be tough, but we have a story to break.", said Mike bringing her back to reality.
-"Huh? Oh right!", said Jessica reaching for her Nextel phone to tell the crew in the news truck what happened.
-"Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!", laughed Prime Evil triumphantly, "Good work, Wizra! You did in 2 hours what these other minuscule minions of mine couldn't do in 2 millennia! You've captured the Ghost-eerrrrgggghhhh-busters! This is the best day of my life!"
-"I only did as you commanded, evil one.", sighed she as she glanced up at her 'prey' with sad eyes.
-"This calls for a celebration! With the Ghost bunglers as my trophies, I'll have the respect and submission of all who doubted and opposed me. I'll finally rule the universe! And you, my dear Wizra, will be my queen! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
-"Wizra as your queen, Prime Evil? Ha, that's a shotgun wedding if ever I heard one!", shouted Eddie, jumping to her defense.
-"Be quiet you worthless buffoon! What woman wouldn't want to be the bride of an infinite ruler?"
-"I sure wouldn't mind trading places with that loser witch myself.", whispered Apparitia, a curvaceous ghostly beauty with silver hair and a lilt in her voice that rivals that of the late Mae West.
-"Watch your tongue, Appy. There's no telling what the boss will do if he heard you say that!", said Bratarat, Prime Evil's right hand "thing" for lack of a better term. Bratarat was a ghostly being who's part rat, part bat, part serpent, and all beastling.
-"Ooh, it's the truth, though, honey. Besides, the way she's being all wishy-washy around him, the marriage will end in Divorce Court for sure."
-"What are you two muttering about?!", said Prime Evil with an ice cold glare.
-"Uh, nothing your madness! Just discussing wedding plans with Bratarat."
-"Wedding plans, huh? In that case, I'll let you handle my future wedding, Apparitia. Once I conquer the universe, I'll have a wedding-slash-coronation ceremony. And for your sake, it better be the mother of all ceremonies!", said Prime Evil turning red hot.
-"Uh, nothing to worry about, your badness. It'll be a night to remember for sure."
-"Good. Now leave us! I need time alone with my future bride to discuss what to do with these idiots."
At his command, all the ghosts in the room dispersed, leaving only the Ghost busters with Prime Evil and Wizra.
-"So, it's your 10th anniversary, isn't it? Ten years, ten long years of my plans being thwarted. And by whom? By two measly mortals and a simple simian. Do you three have any idea how embarrassing that is? No, of course you don't because you're the ones causing the embarrassment! Well, that all ends today. Make yourselves at home, Ghost bunglers, because Haunt Quarters has become your new address. Scared Stiff!"
-"You called, sire?", said he appearing instantly before Prime Evil.
-"Yes you bucket of bolts! Take these prisoners to the very depths of my dungeon. Make sure they don't see a hint of moonlight. The very sight of them is making me sick, heeerrrrhhhh!"
-"Evil one, must you entrust the prisoners to someone so incompetent? You said yourself these minuscule minions couldn't capture the Ghost busters themselves. What makes you think Scared Stiff could keep them down there?"
-"Like I have a choice, my dear? 'Til I conquer the world, they are all I can rely on."
-"I'm insulted, beloved! I went out of my way to do as you asked, and you knowing how great my powers have become leave these three to this garbage can?"
-"Darling, are you actually volunteering to guard the prisoners?"
-"I'm saying, dear, that if you want to prevent the Ghost busters from escaping, you need to put someone who's capable of doing the job. Sadly, for me, I'm the only one that fits the bill."
-"Very well, Wizra, take the prisoners and guard them well. I'll send Fangster to relieve you in a few hours."
-"They will be of no bother to you. I'll see to that."
In an instant, Wizra disappeared from Prime Evil's sight along with the Ghost busters.
-"Sigh, and I was hoping for a romantic evening together too, but she's right. Even without their Ghost packs, the Ghost bunglers have managed to elude me time and again. Better to be safe than sorry, I suppose."
Minutes later, the Ghost busters found themselves placed in separate cells with Eddie getting the one near a torch. And just as promised, Wizra sat vigil beside the cells with her chair conveniently placed next to the one Eddie was in.
-"I don't know what to make of you, Wizra.", said Eddie frustratingly, "One minute, you look like you're regretting following Prime Evil's orders, next you're begging him to give you guard duty. What gives?"
-"I only did it because I prefer your company to his. Lately, the very thought of Prime Evil touching me has been making me ill. Besides, I can't help but wonder if we met somewhere before."
-"Us? I don't think so. The name sure doesn't ring any bells, but I have been feeling a connection with you for some reason."
-"The name 'Wizra' was given to me by Mysteria when I first arrived here at Haunt Quarters from the Witches Realm."
-"Yes. You see, about 20 years ago, I made a really big mistake. With my parents both gone because of a car accident, and my boyfriend forced to move away because of his father, I felt that my life was really becoming worthless. When Mysteria and I first met, she disguised herself to look like a teen witch like I was. She and I became good friends, or so I thought. During our time together, she kept planting these ideas in my head about my powers; that I could've gone back in time to stop the events I mentioned from happening and be a lot happier for it. When I told her I have to talk to my godmother Tara to see what she thought about it, 'Misty' said that Tara knew that she'd lose custody of me if I ever 'found out' that aspect of my powers, so she kept it a secret from me, I was so depressed about the way my life was going, I actually believed her. Misty said she heard about some other witches getting disgusted about the way my godmother was ruling the Witches Realm and wanted to do something about it. To make a long story short, those witches incited a riot that turned into a war, while Misty and I left the Witches Realm and came here."
-"Let me guess. That was when you found out who she really was, and what she told you was a big fat lie."
-"Half right. She did show me her true colors, but led me to believe that I wouldn't have listened to 'the truth' if she showed herself as Mysteria instead of Misty. Gullible me fell for her again. She said since my powers were still developing, I wasn't able to cast a 'time' spell...yet. But once I stayed with her long enough as her apprentice, I'll eventually be able to. 'Apprentice', humph, 'slave' was more like it. Not even a day went by, and already she had me doing her laundry, cleaning her room, giving her baths...you get the idea."
-"Damn, you already thought life was bad enough. You didn't need her to make it worse."
-"Tell me about it. I did try to leave once, but Mysteria said something that stayed with me 'til this very day."
-"That I was better off staying here, because by now I would be considered a fugitive of the law, the Witches Law in this case."
-"Why? You weren't part of the riot, you just ran away from home."
-"I know, but she had me convinced that all the witches in the Realm thought I was part of it. Besides, I was too afraid of what will happen to me if I did go back, so I've been here ever since."
-"So how did you and Prime Evil, ahem, 'hook up'?"
-"That poor lovesick fool doesn't realize I've been playing him like his bone troller.", said Wizra referring to his magic pipe organ, "Believe it or not, it took 5 years for Prime Evil to discover this 'unwelcome guest' inside Haunt Quarters. I guess he was so wrapped up in world conquest, he neglected keeping his own house in order."
-"How did it happen?"
-"I was taking some laundry to the laundry room when I accidentally bumped into him knocking the clothes to the floor. As I knelt down to pick them up, he took a good long look at me, brought his eyes close to mine and said, 'Where did you come from?'"
-'I'm Wizra, Mysteria's servant girl. A runaway from the Witches Realm. Surely, Mysteria must've mentioned me to you.'
-'She didn't?! She told me she did! Why would she lie to me about that?'
-'We'll see who the true liar is, my dear. Come with me.'
-'But these clothes! Mysteria will take a whip to me if I don't wash them!'
-'You have more to fear in me than a measly whip, wench. I said come!'
-'Gulp, yes sire!'
-'Do you recognize this girl?'
-'Sure sire. That's Wizra, Mysteria's slave.'
-'Rrraahh! Why was I the last to know about this?'
-'Uh oh, I guess she didn't tell you, did she?'
-'Would I have asked you about this woman if she did?!'
-'Er, no sire!'
-'Find Mysteria and bring her to me! Tell her it's regarding a certain tenant here at Haunt Quarters! She has some serious explaining to do.'
-'Right away, your despicableness!'
-'As for you, dear Wizra, I'm confining you to your quarters 'til I finish dealing with Mysteria. Where is it?'
-'It's the old pantry by the kitchen.'
-'Wwwwhhhhaaaatttt?! The old food pantry?! That miserable witch! I may be considered low enough to tickle a snake's belly standing up, but that's low even for me! In that case, I'm confining you to MY quarters! Come with me!'
-"Needless to say, Prime Evil punished Mysteria by giving her my 'old quarters' for five years.", said Wizra laughing at the thought.
-"Where did you move to?", asked Eddie after sharing her laughter.
-"To a room next to Prime Evil's chamber. Damn, talk about spacious! It was about as big as my old bedroom in the Witches Realm."
-"Sounds like he fell for you."
-"Mm-hm, and hard too. Believe it or not, he actually took on mortal form and male supermodel looks just to take me to see Phantom of the Opera and dinner afterwards. I couldn't believe the red evening gown he gave me for that night. Bustiere style with a long slit up one side of the skirt."
-"Yep, still have it too. He was showering me with gifts after that. Diamonds, jewelry, clothing, roses...my goodness! For a while, I did return his affection, even made love to him a few times, but only when I asked him to assume mortal form, and only because I was grateful that he didn't send me packing back to the Witches Realm. Things didn't last, though."
-"Eventually, he turned his attention back to world conquest, and I became his 'arm piece'. He didn't even want to assume mortal form for me, anymore, saying it reminded him too much of you and Jake. I only stayed in the relationship because I saw how much respect I was getting from the other ghosts. Not to mention he gave me all the freedom I wanted to practice my magic just so I can 'stay out of his hair', or in his case, 'off his chrome'. When I was convinced that my powers were more developed than before, I began to beg Prime Evil for assignments hoping to turn his attention back to me. After several 'nays', guess which assignment he reluctantly saddled me with?"
-"Our capture?", asked Jake in the next cell.
-"Bingo! And that was the one assignment I didn't want."
-"Why?", asked Jake puzzled by the statement.
-"Because I have a lot of respect and admiration for you guys. Not to mention all this time, I keep wondering about you, Eddie. I could almost swear on my mother's spirit that we've known each other in the past."
-"Wish I can help you out with that. You did bring back some memories when you mentioned that your boyfriend had to move away because of his dad."
-"Yeah, my dad had to do that with me because his marriage to my mom fell apart. Not to mention he didn't like how she treated me."
-"Dare I ask?"
-"Sure you can, it doesn't bother me anymore to talk about it really. She didn't abuse me physically, just verbally, to the point that I felt I couldn't do anything right by her, or by myself for that matter. Pop just wanted to get me out of that situation so I wouldn't feel so worthless. It worked to a degree, thank God, but I ended up leaving my girlfriend behind which hurt me more than anything."
-"Girlfriend? You had a girlfriend, Eddie?", asked an even more puzzled Jake.
-"Sure I did, Jake, or at least she would've been if pop would've let me dated. You don't remember that girl I used to hang out with a lot?"
-"Oh yeah, that girl with the silver eyes. Heh heh, you were ape sh-- over her for sure. What was her name? Minnie? Molly? Millie?"
-"Monica, Monica Suarez."
Wizra sat stunned for a moment with her jaw open at the sound of that name.
-"Wizra, you okay?", asked Eddie noticing her changed expression.
-"Wh-wha-what was that name you said?"
-"Monica MARIE Suarez?"
-"Y-you know her?", asked Eddie, his eyes widening at the thought.
-"EJ?", called out Wizra, eyes misting over.
Now it was Eddie's turn to sit stunned. He hadn't heard anybody call him that in years. And there was only one person he knew of that did.
Eyes wet with tears, Wizra removed the cowl she wore letting her long raven waves fall on her shoulders, the torch light revealing for the first time in what seemed like ages the silver gaze that captured Eddie's heart years ago.
-"I-I don't believe it! It is you!", cried Eddie whose eyes were misting over as well.
-"I-I can't believe it, either!", said Monica choking on her words.
Unable to embrace because of the bars separating them, Monica did the next best thing. Reaching through them, she managed to extend four fingers into Eddie's cell. Eddie, removing one of his gloves, took her four fingers into his massive hand being careful not to hurt them.
Jake, witnessing this, had tears in his eyes as well. He remembered the days after the two separated, how he would hear Eddie crying in his bedroom whenever he would sleep over, the times that he would follow Eddie to the park only to find him sitting on a bench just outside the playground. Eddie Sr. thought he was just going through changes as a result of the move, so he just left him alone telling "little Eddie" if he needed to talk or a hug to just let him know. Eddie instead kept to himself thinking that "big Eddie" wouldn't understand the love he lost.
After a few moments, Monica was the first to break the silence.
-"Your hands are alot bigger than how I remembered them."
-"Heh heh, proof positive that 'milk does a body good'."
Monica chuckled, resting her forehead on the bars. Eddie, seeing this couldn't resist the urge to give it a light kiss and a gentle caress with his lips. Then suddenly, Monica bolted upright as reality began to set in.
-"Dear Divine, what have I done?"
-"Wha-what's the matter?"
-"Look at you! You're imprisoned here in Haunt Quarters, and it's all my fault!"
-"No it's not, Monnie. You were under orders from Prime Evil. There's no telling what he would've done if you said 'no'."
-"Eddie's right, Moni...er Wizra. I've been thinking about your situation while you two were talking. If you can help us get out of here, we'll help you make things right in the Witches Realm."
-"You'd do that for me?"
-"Sure!", said Eddie emphatically, "Once the Witches Council finds out how you saved us from Prime Evil, that'll start the wheels turning back in your favor."
Monica mulled over Jake's proposal for a minute.
-"At least I won't be alone during the trial.", she thought, "All right. I'll help you, but on one condition."
-"Name it!", said Jake, voice filling with hope.
-"That's the condition. My name is Monica, not Wizra."
-"You got it, Monica!", said Jake with a grin.
-"Eeh-eeh, all right!"
-"Thanks Monnie, we owe you one.", said Eddie in a melodic whisper.
-"All right, guys. As the kids used to say in the street, 'We're ghost!'"
CHAPTER 2-JAIL BREAK
Monica put her cowl back on, seeing it was almost time for Fangster, a werewolf from the future, to relieve her. With a twitch of her finger, she unbolted the locks on the prison doors. With another, Ghost packs, which are back packs full of weapons, appeared in their cells out of everyone's view except their owners.
-"It's about time you arrived, you mangy mutt! Where've you been?"
-"Rar-arf, taking a dog nap, mistress. It's been a long day for me."
-"Right, a long day of you doing nothing, lazy bones! If anyone's had a long day, it was I keeping these Ghost bastards in check!"
As Monica created a story about how rough her shift was, Jake, dematerializer in hand, snuck out of his cell and grabbed her from behind.
-"Okay, fuzz face! No sudden moves or the 'bitch with a w' gets it."
As the two of them formed a stand off with Monica in the middle, Eddie snuck out of his cell right behind Fangster and nailed him with the Ghost gummer, a weapon which fires bullets of glue to entrap its victims. Jake, seeing his opening, gently pushed Monica aside and nailed Fangster with the dematerializer causing him to disappear.
-"Yes! Talk about clock work, that went off without a hitch!"
-"I'm glad, Jake, but don't celebrate just yet. If I know Prime Evil, he'll have the whole lot of ghouls in this place on us like white on rice within minutes! We'd better move!"
-"Too bad you exhausted your power bringing us over here, Monnie.", said Eddie as the four started down a corridor running.
-"Tell me about it. Looks like my powers weren't as strong as I thought. I'm really sorry, guys."
-"That's all right, Monica. This isn't the first time we've been inside Haunt Quarters. We'll get out of here for sure."
-"Jake, I just remembered something. Even if we do get out of here, how do we get back to Ghost Command without GB?"
-"Sigh, we'll have to cross that bridge when we get to it."
-"I'm willing to bet that by then, my powers should be strong enough to send YOU guys back to Earth, if not all of us."
In response, Eddie stopped, grabbed Monica, and spun her around to face him.
-"Don't even think about sending us home without you!", said he holding her by the waist, "We've been separated for 20 years. I'll be damned if we get separated for 20 seconds! If we can't leave together, then I'm not leaving, period!"
-"I'm siding with Eddie, Monica. You're already in danger here helping us escape. Far be it from us if we're going to let you face Prime Evil alone. Besides, we made a promise to help you make things right in the Witches Realm. There hasn't been a promise we made that we haven't kept, I won't let this be the first time."
-"There's a first time for everything, Ghost bungler."
With a hideous laugh, Mysteria, along with Sir Trancelot, a ghost knight from the past with the ability to cause people to sleep, and Scared Stiff, a futuristic robot, appeared at the end of the corridor.
-"Bolt for the exit, boys! I'll hold them off!"
-"But Monnie, your powers are spent! How are you going to do that?"
-"Not all of it, pa, I'll work with what I have."
-"Get them, fools!"
-"This will make you two 'sleep together'."
Sir Trancelot then fired a sleep beam at the love struck couple. Monica countered by causing a mirror to appear and used it like a tennis racket to volley the shot back. Sir Trancelot dodged it allowing it to hit Scared Stiff instead.
-"Nice return, my former mistress. Let's see how you fair with this."
Grabbing a spear from a suit of armor, he flung it like a javelin down the corridor. Monica ran as fast as she could, but fell flat on her face when the spear snagged the skirt of her gown.
-"Monnie!", cried Eddie rushing to her aid.
-"Keep going, EJ! I'll be right behind you!"
-"Sorry sugar pea, I'd rather have you beside me."
Eddie knelt down next to her and first tried to tear the gown with his hands to no avail. Then, reaching into his Ghost pack, he pulled out a jungle knife.
-"Curl your legs, babe!"
Monica did as told, and Eddie ran the knife through the gown being careful not to cut her. Jake seeing all this stood in front of them, dematerializer in hand, hoping to buy them some time.
-"You'll have to get through me first, Trance!"
-"Oh really, then I'll just have to go through all of you!", said he, causing his horse Fright mare to appear beneath him. Not wasting time, Tracy reached into his Ghost pack and flung a set of bolos catching the charging steed in the front legs. Falling forward, Fright mare flung Sir Trancelot within 10 feet of where Jake stood.
-"Nighty night, Trance!", said Jake firing the dematerializer, "Great work, Tracy!"
-"Wait! Where's Mysteria?", asked Monica as she stood up.
-"Right here, my former charge.", said Mysteria as she encased the foursome in her trademark purple mist. Unable to get a clear shot, Jake stood helpless along with the others. Suddenly, a ripping sound pierced the air.
-"Wha? My gown!, cried Mysteria as she solidified.
Sure enough, right by the shoulder blade, there appeared a rip in her sleeve. Seizing the moment, Jake turned to Mysteria and fired.
-"Nothing freaks Mysteria out more than a seam rip.", said Monica with a grin.
-"Great work, Monica!", said Jake, "That 'seams' to be it for now."
-"Speaking of seams", said Monica looking at a rip revealing her leg to the upper thigh, "I think you over did it with that knife, EJ."
-"My bad!", said Eddie with a devilish grin.
Starting down the corridor again, the foursome encountered a "fork in the road". Eddie, Monica and Tracy took the path to the left while Jake went right. Eddie back peddled calling out to him.
-"Jake, where are you going? The exit's this way!"
-"Yeah, I know, but I think we'd better head this way!"
-"But that's going to Prime Evil's chamber."
-"Yes, and that's where our ticket home is. If Monica can remember the chords Prime Evil uses on his bone troller to activate the transport beam, she can use her powers to play them, thus sending us ALL back to Ghost Command."
-"Why didn't I think of that?", asked Monica catching up to the boys with Tracy in tow, "Not to mention Prime Evil will probably be there alone since all the ghosts are dispatched to find us."
Unbeknownst to them, Prime Evil caught every word they said on the bone troller's viewer.
-"Ssssskkkkttttt!!!! So, my fiancee wishes to return with the Ghost bunglers to Earth, heh? I should've known I was being used. When will I ever find someone who'll love me for me and not my power? All right then, I'll let her return to Earth, but not before I add her power to my own!"
Moments later, the boys and Monica arrived just outside of Prime Evil's chamber. As a precaution, they found pillars to hide behind with Monica sharing the one Eddie chose. The boys all had their weapons drawn, ready to fight if necessary.
-"I don't like this, gang.", said Jake holding his nose, "My nose is twitching like crazy, but I don't see any ghosts anywhere."
-"I sense it too, Jake.", said Monica gripping Eddie's hand as he held her by the waist from behind, "I'm almost certain Prime Evil's here somewhere."
-"Almost doesn't count, dear Wizra.", said Prime Evil making the pillars disappear.
-"Show yourself, you coward!", cried Jake as he and the others looked for the source of the voice.
-"All in good time, Jake, but there's a little score I want to settle first."
At that moment, Monica's clothes were magically ripped off leaving the voluptuous, broad shouldered beauty crouching in a feeble attempt to cover up.
-"Monnie!", cried Eddie as he rushed toward her, jacket in hand.
-"Oh no you don't!", cried Prime Evil as he sent all three Ghost busters hurtling through the air and landing hard in different parts of the chamber.
-"Stay down, guys! I'll handle this!", said Monica as she stood up clothed in a sarong of light.
-"Must you be ashamed of your beauty, Wizra?", asked Prime Evil as he materialized in front of her.
-"Ashamed? Never! But it is a shame to expose a woman in public the way you just did!"
-"The Ghost busters are of no relevance to me, beloved. It has been a while since we last made love to each other. If you are running away with them because of that, then I'll make you change your mind.", said Prime Evil running his mortalized hand down her back.
Monica, feeling his hand on her, gave him a quick magic jolt causing him to stumble back.
-"No, that's not why. In fact, looking back on all those moments together, I'm left with one burning question. 'What was I thinking?' Why was I foolish enough to make love to you if I didn't love you? Why was I stupid enough to believe that I had no choice being that I was no longer welcome in the Witches Realm, or so I thought? If I wasn't so fearful of your power, Prime Evil, I would've left your ghostly ass a long time ago!"
-"So, you no longer fear me, then?", asked a somber Prime Evil.
-"And you never did love me?"
Prime Evil for a moment let the words sink in. Then, filling with rage, he lowered his eyes to hers.
-"So in short, I got played?"
-"In a word 'yes'!", said a defiant Monica.
-"Insolent witch! I took you to a Broadway show, dinner on several occasions, bought you all manner of gifts, and this the result?! Well, my dear Wizra, I desire a reimbursement for my trouble! You can leave Haunt Quarters with these Ghost bastards, but not before I have your powers!"
-"You'll have to take my breath first Prime Evil!", said an even more defiant Monica as her sarong of light slowly gave way to a tan lace bra and thong, then a black leather miniskirt, silver midriff top, black leather jacket, black lace gloves, and ankle boots.
-"That should be easy.", said Prime Evil firing a shot.
Monica dodged the magic bullet allowing it to hit a pillar, then threw one of her own which caught Prime Evil in the shoulder.
-"Not as easy as you think, huh?"
-"Lucky shot, bitch!"
-"Let's see you handle this!"
Prime Evil unloaded a blast from both his hands put together which Monica dodged by going skyward. To her surprise, the blast followed her like a heat seeking missile, but to Prime Evil's amazement, she swatted the blast away from her and right back at him. Prime Evil managed to jump away from the blast, but not without getting hit with a barrage of blasts from above.
-"Jake, you okay?", asked Eddie as he crawled to his side.
-"I-I will be.", said Jake struggling to his knees. "Where's Tracy?"
-"Oh-eeh-ooh-ungh-huh." was all Tracy could utter as he too made his way toward them.
-"What are we going to do, Jake? Monnie can't keep this up forever.", asked Eddie looking upward at the battle.
-"I know, but she's doing a hell of a job holding her own.", said Jake following the action, "I don't think she realizes the extent of her powers."
-"You noticed that too, Jake? Looked to me like her powers shot up when Prime Evil stripped her down."
Realizing the truth behind the statement, Jake filed it in the back of his mind for future reference.
Meanwhile, the battle continued with both parties giving and receiving shots both magical and physical. Monica fell victim to a knee lift from Prime Evil to the abdomen, then a double ax handle to the back of her head.
-"Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Give up, Wizra, you can't defeat me!"
-"That's what you think.", said Monica through clenched teeth.
As if shot from a cannon, Monica launched herself upward and jammed one of her broad shoulders into Prime Evil's midsection, then flying upward in an angle, drove him into the ceiling. As Prime Evil floated downward clutching his midsection, she gave him a knee lift to the face followed by a round house kick that sent him crashing into his bone troller. With a wave of her hand, Monica then unleashed a blast in the form of a sickle that sliced the instrument down the middle.
-"My bone troller!", cried Prime Evil after he jumped out of the way.
-"Oops, heh heh, my bad!", said Monica sarcastically.
-"You'll pay for that, bitch!"
-"Oh yeah? Well send us the bill!", cried Eddie as he let loose a gooey bullet from his Ghost gummer at Prime Evil.
-"Yeah, consider us her bankruptcy lawyers!", chimed Jake as he shot him with the dematerializer.
-"This is not over, Wizra, not by a long shot!", cried Prime Evil as he faded from view.
-"The name's Monica! Remember it!"
Jake and Eddie looked at each other and grinned at the statement. Relieved that it was over, Eddie walked over to Monica, pulled her close to him and "rewarded" her with a deep yet tender kiss. Jake leaning against a pillar, can only look on, glad that his lifelong friend has found true happiness just as he did with Jessica.
CHAPTER 4-THE ENCHANTED CHARM
-"You sure gave Prime Evil a thrashing, Monnie.", said Eddie cupping her face in his hands.
-"Yeah, I guess those karate classes I took really paid off. You know, if things work out for me in the Witches Realm, I should take them up again."
-"Sure, maybe you can go from brown to black belt in only a few."
-"I wish it was that simple.", said Monica with a chuckle.
Monica's face took a serious turn after a quick reflection of the battle she had moments ago.
-"Speaking of simple, with the bone troller destroyed, it won't be simple going home, now."
-"Oh my God! I forgot about my plan!", said Jake putting his hand on his forehead.
-"Don't worry, Jake. Monnie's power is more than back to normal. She can get us all home in no time, can you babe?"
-"Yeah, I guess I can. It's something I never tried before on my own. When I first arrived at Ghost Command, it was the bone troller that got me there. When I brought you guys here, it was with the bone troller's help."
-"I'm sure you can get us home, Monica. What I'm not sure about is how your powers accumulated and surpassed the level it was previously."
-"Yeah, Jake and I noticed your powers shot up when Prime Evil stripped you down."
-"Stripped me of everything but my dignity, thankfully. He even stripped the jewelry I...was...wearing."
-"What is it, Monnie?"
-"Jewelry. One of the pieces of jewelry I was wearing was a dream catcher necklace Mysteria gave me as a friendship gift when she was Misty. I felt my strength drain from me when I put it on, but I thought I caught the flu, so I didn't give it a second thought. I thought the necklace was too cute to remove even after Mysteria started treating me like a slave."
-"Let's find that necklace. I got an experiment in mind if you're willing to be a guinea pig."
Monica nodded, then looked around to see where her clothes landed when Prime Evil tore them off. Sure enough, there they were, right by the entrance to the chamber. Sorting through them, she found it, but collapsed after holding it in her hand. Jake, seeing this quickly went over to her and removed it from her grasp.
-"Monnie, talk to me. Are you all right?", said a concerned Eddie as he rested her head on his lap.
-"Ungh, yeah I think so. That's the same weird feeling I felt when she first gave it to me."
-"I knew it! Monica, I hate to tell you this, but all the while you've been wearing an inhibitor."
-"An inhibitor. In biology, it's a chemical that stops the nerves from carrying the signals from the brain. In this case, it's stopping you from using your powers fully."
-"That ghostly bitch! I can understand her taking my powers, but inhibiting them? Why would she do that?"
-"Once we confront Mysteria, that's when we'll have the answer."
-"Yeah, but not without a fight, I'll bet.", said Eddie taking the charm from his partner's hand. "In the meantime, let's take the fight out of this!"
Eddie tossed the charm into the air, then took out a revolver from his jacket pocket to shoot it skeet style.
-"Was that a revolver you just used?", asked a surprised Jake.
-"Yeah, got the license for it too in my wallet."
-"When and where did you get that?"
-"Remember when our pops were in financial trouble because of a slow ghost busting season?"
-"Well, this was left over from my stint as a security guard. When I resigned, they told me they were getting new guns, so I can keep it."
-"You're lucky. The only thing I got when I resigned as a McDonald's manager was a whack job tie with the emblem on it."
All three laughed, relieved that the problem with Monica's power was solved.
CHAPTER 5-HOME AT LAST
-"All right, guys. Ready to go home?"
The boys nodded as Monica quickly surveyed Prime Evil's chamber knowing it will be the last time she'll see it as Wizra. Then, letting out a deep sigh and shaking out her hands, Monica with outstretched arms uttered the spell that will take them back to Earth if not all the way home.
-"Okay, here goes. Portals of time and space, hear my plea. From this evil place set us free. Engulf us in a ray of light, and to Ghost Command cause us to take flight!"
The foursome were encased in a stream of light that within moments brought them back to the "scene of the crime".
-"Yay, way to go, Monnie! We're home!", said Eddie giving Monica a big hug.
-"I knew you could do it, Monica!"
-"I did it! I actually did it!", exclaimed Monica as she looked around, "You know, maybe Mysteria was right. Maybe with a little practice, I can go back in time and fix my past. My parents will be alive, I can dissuade your father from moving you away EJ, and instead of going back to the Witches Realm, all that mess with Prime Evil would've never happened!"
The boys looked at each other with dismay, then back at Monica. Then Eddie took her hands in his and let out a deep sigh.
-"Monnie, sweetheart, I'm sure you want to fix those things, but you got to think about what will happen if you did. You might change the future to the point that things will be worse. For starters, if you and I would've stayed together, we could've ended up in a situation we both weren't ready for. It was a miracle we kept it a secret from everyone as long as we did that we were finding time to make love to each other."
Jake was shocked at what at what he just heard. He couldn't believe that in all the years he knew Eddie that he would go that route, let alone keep it a secret from his best friend.
-"I'll have to talk to him about it when he's alone.", thought Jake.
Tracy on the other hand, let out a series of grunts telling Eddie of his disapproval of his actions.
-"I know, Tracy. Good intentions, bad judgment. We were too much in love to think about the consequences, back then. But getting back to what you said, Monnie, do you remember all those times you came to me crying about your pops beating up your mom?"
Monica nodded, listening attentively.
-"Well, think about what would've happened if they were still alive. She would've died eventually from getting beaten one time too many, and he would've gone to prison for it. Back then, it was a disgrace to have a parent in prison, let alone family."
Monica lowered her eyes letting the words sink in.
-"And you would've been caught up in the Witches Riots and eventually ending up dead."
-"Or, Monica, you could've gone all out to try to change your past only to have things happen the way they did regardless."
-"Jake's right, Monnie. Now let me ask you. Do you really want to 'roll the dice' when it comes to your future? Do you really want to know if changing your past will make the dice come up 7 or snake eyes? The best thing you can do right now is change your present even if it means going back to the Witches Realm to face the music."
-"I guess you're right, EJ.", said Monica with tears in her eyes, "I just hate the cards of life I've been dealt with."
-"My past wasn't exactly a 'royal flush' either, baby, but the game's not over yet."
Monica smiled at the last comment. Deep down, she knew Eddie was right. Still, the idea of going back to the Witches Realm scared her to no end.
-"Speaking of games, guys, how about a few rounds of black jack to get our minds off of what happened to us?"
-"Good idea, Jake. Better call Jessica to tell her you're okay. Maybe she'll want to meet our new found friend."
-"Anyone for pizza?", asked Monica causing a pie to appear, "My treat?"
Hours later, the boys and ladies were over at Eddie's place enjoying themselves over a few rounds of black jack. It was Jessica's idea to do it there as opposed to Ghost Command since the horror of her husband kidnapped before her eyes still lingered along with Eddie getting shot in the abdomen by the dematerializer. She tried her best to be friendly to Monica under the circumstances, but deep down she felt resentment toward her. Under Prime Evil's orders or not, this was the woman that kidnapped her husband, that hurt her close friend, that looked beautiful enough to have any man she wanted, even hers.
-"She'd better not play Eddie like she played Prime Evil!", she thought angrily.
Monica too tried to be friendly, but she felt the tension the moment she first saw Jessica. This was the woman whose husband she kidnapped, whose friend she had hurt, who was even more beautiful than she was with her long red hair and light green eyes.
-"With looks like hers, she can have any man she wants, even EJ.", she thought worriedly.
Finally, Jessica folded her hand and excused herself to grab a smoke outside. Jake who had felt the tension all night, decided to join his lovely wife to see what he can do to smooth things over.
-"Jessica, I told you Monica's not Wizra anymore. You don't have to keep holding my kidnapping over her head."
-"Did I say that I was? I've been courteous to her all night because you've asked me to."
-"There was a lot of curt in your courtesy, Jess! Everyone was feeling it. Poor Eddie's been doing his best to be the perfect host since this is the first time he's had company in his new home, and your attitude isn't making things easier for him."
-"Poor, poor Eddie. Too blinded by love to see her for the wicked witch she actually is!"
-"Eddie's not the one who's blinded, you are! I'm not sure if by hatred or jealousy..."
-"Me? Jealous? Of that bitch?! Please! Take out the hair extensions, silicone implants, and color contacts, and Eddie will probably date her because he can't get anyone else!"
-"That does it!", said Eddie through clenched teeth.
-"Pa, where are you going?", asked Monica worriedly following him as he stormed through the house to the backyard deck. Tracy too followed, afraid of what Eddie will do.
-"Jessica!", called Eddie, "If this was Ghost Command, I would've just taken Monica and left, but here I don't have that type of luxury! So unless you decide to ditch the green eyed monster, I'll have to ask you to leave!"
-"You're throwing me out?"
-"Yeah! Jake and I both told you what Monica did..."
-"What Monica did was hurt you, Eddie, or have you forgotten?"
-"No, no I haven't forgotten! I also haven't forgotten that it was an accident, and that she helped me the moment it happened!"
-"So that Prime Evil can do the job himself, I heard her loud and clear!"
As the three continued the verbal battle with poor Tracy caught in the middle, Monica looked on grievingly.
-"I can't believe I'm the cause of this!", she thought, "A ten year friendship gone in minutes, and it's all my fault!"
Monica walked through the house back to the living room. Approaching the card table, she touched her hands to her heart and caused a rose to appear in one hand and a note in the other. Giving each a kiss, she placed them both on the table and at the same time caused her outfit to change back to the cowl and gown she first appeared in. Then, making sure the others were still on the deck, Monica uttered the spell that would take her to the one place she felt loved even though she was alone.
-"Portals of time and space, hear me please! Move me from this house to where my parents rest in peace!"
Minutes later, the foursome came back inside when they noticed that Monica wasn't with them.
-"Monnie? Monnie, where did you go?"
-"Let me check the rooms. Maybe she overheard us and got upset. Tracy, you check the basement."
-"Guys," said a smug Jessica, "no need to go through the trouble. The witch has left the building."
-"What?", said Eddie as he followed Jessica's gaze to the card table. Rushing to it, he picked up the items that were left there. Unthinkingly, he put the rose between his teeth like a tango dancer and opened the note. What he read made him freeze causing the rose to fall from between his lips.
-"Yet another bad hand dealt to me! If this is how my life is destined to be, then I'm better off playing solitaire. I'll always hold you in my heart, EJ. Love, Monnie."
-"Eddie! Eddie what is it?", asked Jake as he took the note and read it.
-"Monnie's gone! Reunited after 20 years only to get separated again? No, good God, no!"
Eddie then collapsed into one of the chairs and cried burying his face in his hands.
Jake knelt down in front of Eddie to try to console him.
-"Eddie, buddy, please dry your eyes. We'll find Monica, I promise. Besides, it's tearing me apart seeing you like this."
-"If Jessica left you, Jake, you'd feel the same way, so don't hand me that line, okay? We don't even know where to begin to find her."
-"That was no line, Eddie. Believe me I'd be in pieces too. You're right about that. But you and I have been friends since birth. I know I don't often show it, but you're the little brother I never had, and I love you. The time you drowned, and I revived you with CPR, I kept praying with each pump on you chest that you'd come back around. When you two were reunited in Prime Evil's dungeon, I cried happily along with you because I saw how much it hurt you to lose her. As for finding Monica, I'll bet my home in the Poconos that Madame Why can help us."
-"I can't believe what I just heard! You're going to look for that miserable witch?"
-"Yes, and YOU'RE going to help me!", said Jake rising to his feet and glaring into Jessica's eyes.
-"Because it's YOUR fault that you couldn't get a grip that she's a changed woman and drove her out of here! Now the onus is on you to help me bring her back! To think you'd learn the same lesson I did when everyone else including YOU gave Headless a second chance when we had to stop Fangster from stealing the Aztec Medallion back in Ancient Mexico!"
Jessica's expression changed as the words sank in. Jake acted pretty much the same way toward the Headless Horseman as she did toward Monica. Jake, like she, had reason to resent Headless in that he deprived his ancestors from a fortune of gold in a gold mine by scaring away the workers to the point that the mine had to be shut down. Now it's the same script but a different cast.
-"All right, I'll help, but don't expect an overnight change."
-"Fine! I'll roll with that. Tracy, stay here with Eddie. Make sure he's well cared for."
-"You're not taking me along, Jake? Why?", asked Eddie rising to his feet.
-"You're too distraught to think straight right now, and rightfully so. I'll stay in touch with you here to let you know my progress.", said Jake with a reassuring pat on Eddie's broad shoulder.
-"All right Jake, if you say so. Just please bring my soul mate home.", said Eddie as fresh tears stung his eyes.
-"Soul mate?", thought Jessica, "Eddie's more a love sick fool than I thought."
-"Damn right I'll bring her home, buddy.", thought Jake as the two headed out the door to where the Ghost buggy was.
Minutes later at Haunt Quarters, Prime Evil got wind of the whole situation thanks to his powers. Unfortunately for him, he had no choice since his bone troller is still out of commission.
-"Sssskkktttt! So Jake and Jessica are after Wizra, heh? Not if I get to her first. In her distraught state, it should be easy for me to either win back her heart or take her powers."
-"But boss, she said she doesn't love you, remember?", said Bratarat.
-"Vividly. But such beauty shouldn't be wasted on that bumbling buffoon Spenser. He deserves a lot less than her. This I'll take care of myself."
Prime Evil turned himself into a puff of smoke and began to make his way to the graveyard where Monica's parents were buried.
Meanwhile, with GB's help, Jake and Jessica had made it to Madame Why's wagon where she lived. Madame Why, a longtime friend of the Ghost busters, was a modern day gypsy who has the power to see into the past, present and future using her crystal ball.
-"I was hoping you'd come, Jake. The spirits have been telling me the situation with Monica."
-"Then you know she's missing?"
-"Can you help us find her?"
-"Already have. She's at her parents' grave site. But you must hurry! Prime Evil is already on his way to try to win her heart again."
-"Over my dead body! Nobody's going to deprive my best friend of his happiness! Nobody!"
-"Oh Jake. Our lives will be so much easier if you let him have her.", thought Jessica.
The married couple hopped back into GB and sped off to their destination.
-"Good luck, Jake.", thought Madame Why, "I've no doubt you'll thwart Prime Evil's plans, but to convince Monica to return with you will be no easy task. There is only one person who can do that other than Eddie."
Madame Why quickly consulted her crystal ball to find out how to contact the Witches Realm.
Eddie laid on the couch in his living room holding the rose Monica left him. Part of him was angry at Jake for leaving him behind, but the rest of him understood why.
-"Funny how in all our missions, Tracy, I'd beg to go back home the moment they start. Now that I'm dying to be wherever Jake is, he decides to leave me behind. Guess I can't blame him. With Monnie gone, I can't even think straight."
Tracy let out some grunts asking him if he'd like to play a game or something to eat or drink.
-"Thanks, Tracy, but not right now."
At that moment, a bright light shown into the room startling Eddie. Then two women appeared before him, one who he had a little trouble recognizing.
-"Madame Why! Am I glad to see you!"
-"Good to see you too, Eddie. I'm sorry to hear about Monica, but I brought someone who can help us."
Madame Why gestured to her left. Next to her stood a fiery red head with green eyes and a statuesque figure that was slightly taller than Jessica's.
Eddie recognized the voice right away.
-"Tara? Tara McCormick?"
-"Yes, it's been a long time son."
Eddie got up to embrace her, but was a little embarrassed of his appearance.
-"Sorry about my looks, Tara..."
-"It's all right EJ. You're distraught over Monica's disappearance. Madame Why told me where we can find her."
-"By her parents' graves.", said Madame, "But we must hurry. Prime Evil is on his way there as well to win back her heart."
-"The hell he is! Give me 5 minutes, ladies, while I suit up!"
-"You mean 5 seconds, don't you EJ?", asked Tara who quickly changed his appearance at the snap of the fingers. Much to his surprise, she had him fitted with his old uniform and Ghost pack.
-"Hello, old friend!", he thought referring to the suit, "Thanks Tara. I owe you one."
-"Don't mention it. Now let's get to my goddaughter before she does something foolish!"
-"Portals of time and space, hear my cry! To Monica's parents' grave site cause us to fly!"
The threesome were encased in a beam of light that took them to their destination.
Monica sat on the ground in front of her parents' graves with her knees to her chin. After 20 years, it still hurts that they're gone. She missed her mother especially since the two often acted more like best friends than mother and daughter.
-"Mamita! Papito! I miss you both so much. I know it's been a long time since my last visit, but I've done some things that I'm not too proud of. I'm sure the spirits have told you what they were, so I'd best not repeat it. Seems like my whole life has been one big mess. Just before I got here. I unintentionally broke up a 10 year friendship. Is my life going to amount to nothing but misfortune and shame? If that's the case, then maybe I'm better off with you. Don't worry. I won't take my life. What I mean is I'll find a place to live close by and tend to you both. I can clean your headstones, plant some pretty flowers, even play my guitar for you. You always loved to hear me play, mamita, remember? Mamita, I don't suppose you can do me a favor, could you? Could you talk to the Divine for me? I was wondering if maybe He can rearrange things so He can come for me sooner than originally planned."
-"He may not come for you anytime soon, but I have."
Monica scrambled to her feet and looked around to see who spoke. Then her fright turned to anger when she realized who it was.
-"You have a lot of nerve coming here, Jake!"
-"I know, and I'm sorry to disturb you, but Eddie's been crying himself sick since you've left. He needs you right now."
-"He's better off without me.", said Monica lowering her eyes.
-"How can you say that? Ever since you two reunited, he's been a totally different person. He's a lot happier and a hell of a lot braver than before..."
-"Really? Then what did I do at EJ's house a few hours ago? I caused a 10 year friendship to go up in smoke! My whole life has been one misfortune after another! If I stay with EJ, I'm afraid I'll bring misfortune to him too!"
-"Monica, we've all had bad luck in our lives. That shouldn't be a reason to shut everyone you love out. If anything, it should be a reason to include them in. Eddie mentioned you turned to him when you were younger to talk about problems and situations, remember?"
Monica nodded in response.
-"Didn't it feel better knowing you can turn to someone to do just that?"
-"I suppose. I'm just tired of being a victim of misfortune, of being stuck in situations I have little or no control over."
-"What about Prime Evil?"
-"What about him?"
-"Looked to me that you had total control over that situation. Once you decided not to be under his thumb anymore, and stuck with it, you managed to set yourself and us free."
-"A freedom that will be short lived, Jake!", said Prime Evil appearing before them.
-"Can't a girl have a few moments of peace with her family?", cried Monica throwing her hands.
-"Yeah! This is sacred ground to Monnie, guys!", cried Eddie as he along with the ladies appeared, "Take the fight elsewhere!"
Monica couldn't believe her eyes at who she saw.
-"Yes, child, it's me. We'll get to the hellos in a minute. Let's take care of this problem, first! Get Monica behind me, EJ!"
-"I don't know who you are, witch, but this is none of your concern!", bellowed Prime Evil.
-"The name's Tara McCormick! I'm the head of the Witches Council! Anything regarding my fellow Council members or charges damn straight is my business! From what I heard, Prime Evil, my goddaughter Monica made it crystal that she's no longer interested in you. Now before you get embarrassed again, why don't you leave this place!"
-"Not 'til I have what I came for!", cried he as he shot a blast in her direction.
Tara managed to volley the shot with her hand right back at him causing him to stumble backward. Jake, seeing an opening, used the dematerializer yet again on Prime Evil.
-"I'll have what I want, Wizra! That you can bet on!", said he as he faded from view.
-"Aunt Tara, why did you have to get involved? Prime Evil was after me, not you."
-"Now what kind of godmother would I be if I didn't protect the child I was entrusted with?", said Tara with love in her eyes and voice.
For a moment, the two women looked at each other, each not believing the other was actually there in front of her. Then, Tara extended her arms beckoning Monica to embrace her which she did.
-"Child, why did you leave me?", asked Tara weeping, "Was it something I said or did? Whatever it is, please give me a chance to make it right so you can come home."
-"No Aunt Tara, it wasn't your fault. I was just so miserable with the way my life was turning out, I wanted to do something to change it. Stupid me thought that teen witch Misty could help me do that, but I only got into a worse situation. I even did some things that I'm not too proud of."
-"Most runaways do that in order to maintain themselves, sweetheart. Your experiences as a runaway, believe it or not, were not all that unique. I'm grateful to you Ghost busters, and you also Madame Why, for bringing my baby back.", said Tara resting her cheek on Monica's head.
-"Just repaying a debt, Ms. McCormick. After all, she did put her life on the line to save us from Prime Evil."
-"Yeah, but don't forget whose fault it was that you were there to begin with.", said Jessica as she approached the group, "I, for one, will be glad to see you return to the Witches Realm, Monica. Jake and Eddie may have forgiven you for what you did, but I haven't! If I catch you near either one of these two again, I'll..."
-"You'll have to live with it, Jessica, because like it or not, Jake has become my friend, and EJ and I have rekindled our love! Like Jake said to me, in troubled times I need to turn to my loved ones for support, not tune them out. I'll gladly do likewise for them should they need me."
Jake looked at Monica and smiled, grateful to add her to his circle of friends.
-"Tara, now that you and Monnie are back together, what will happen to her in the Witches Realm? Is she supposed to stand trial for her role in the Witches Riots?"
-"Unfortunately, yes. I'm convinced that all Monica did was run away, but the other witches aren't so sure. For obvious reasons, I can't preside over it, but one witch told me to keep her in mind in case she does come back. In mortal life, she's a judge in a state family court and has a lot of pull when it comes to finding the necessary resources like counseling and education."
-"Sounds like the perfect woman for the job.", said Jake concerned for Monica.
-"Aunt Tara, I know mortals aren't allowed in the Witches Realm, but can we make an exception for EJ at least? I'm scared to face the trial alone.", asked Monica gripping Eddie's hand as he rested it on her shoulder.
-"We decided to lift that ban 15 years ago, Monica, so both of the Ghost busters are welcome to come as well as Madame Why."
-"You bet we will, won't we Jake?"
-"The hell he is, Eddie! She got herself into this mess, she should be left alone to get what's coming to her!"
-"Ms. Kong, I can sense your anger toward my goddaughter. I can also see that no amount of convincing is going to make you change your mind. However, I will ask you to consider two things."
-"That you don't judge other witches by what Monica did."
-"And the other?"
-"Hair extensions, color contacts and silicone?", questioned Tara as she looked at Monica laughingly, "To accuse a woman of having those things without knowing her personally definitely seems like jealousy seeping in."
Jessica's jaw dropped at the statement. She then tried to wrack her brain wondering how Tara found out about the argument she had at Eddie's place.
-"Time to go, Monica."
-"K. See you in a few days EJ."
-"Sure baby. Stay in touch, will you?"
-"I will.", said Monica placing a gentle kiss on Eddie's lips.
-"We'll let you know in a few days when the trial is set."
-"Great! Thanks Tara."
-"No EJ, thank YOU.", said Tara as she and Monica faded from view.
-"About time we headed home too. We'll drop you off at your place, Eddie. After dropping you off Madame, Jess and I are going back to ours. I got some serious discussions planned for her.", said Jake glaring at his jealous wife.
-"Thanks Jake. I have to go back there, anyway. Poor Tracy must be worried about me."
The foursome climbed into GB and took off to their different destinations.
-"Welcome home, child.", said Tara as the two materialized in the Witches Realm. It wasn't that much different from the time she saw it last before her exodus, but it was still a welcome sight to Monica. It was a bright sunny day, a warm 72 degrees, and the trees and flowers were in full bloom.
-"Hm, seems a little warmer today. Would you like to change into something more comfortable?", asked Tara as she magically changed into a beige shirt dress with matching canvas shoes from the long black gown she wore.
-"But I thought we had to wear our witches gowns regardless while we're here.", said Monica as she sat on a nearby bench.
-"That too went out the window years ago. The only time we're required to wear them is when we're called to a meeting.", said Tara taking a seat as well.
-"I guess I have been away for too long."
-"A lot of changes were implemented sometime after you left. Not to say that one had anything to do with the other."
-"I'm not so sure, Aunt Tara.", said Monica with a smile and a suspicious gleam in her eye, "Ever since I became part of your life, you have been changing your tune quite a bit."
-"Well, that's because I've learned what it's like to be a single parent of a teenager. Teens do try a parent's patience as they try pushing the envelope in terms of 'finding themselves', but in the long run, conversation, compromise and caring all work to everyone's benefit."
-"So you took what you learned from raising me and pushed it through the Council?"
-"Not only that, but the other witches who were living double lives as mortals convinced us to change along with the mortal world so we won't seem so opposing."
-"So some witches and warlocks besides mom and dad have chosen to live double lives?"
-"Nearly everyone, now. We all came to the realization that we can benefit both the mortals' lives and ours by taking on jobs that serve the community like teachers, doctors, policemen, nurses, even the judge I mentioned."
-"Do you suppose once all this gets resolved, I can do likewise?"
-"No dear, that's not possible."
-"You have a special calling from the Divine to be the next Golden Witch."
-"Golden Witch? What's that?"
-"Every 500 years more or less, a witch is born with powers far greater than any of her peers. That witch, because of this, is expected to excel and eventually become head of the Witches Council. We coined the phrase 'Golden Witch' after someone heard a similar term used for a mortal with special talents, a 'golden boy'.
-"So how did you know about my destiny?"
-"Most witches don't manifest their powers 'til about 12 years old. Yours began when you were 2."
-"Mm-hm. Your mother heard you giggling in your playpen one day when you were supposed to have nap time. When she came over, she saw you making your teddy bear dance in midair! Poor woman called me with the news, unsure of whether to punish you or praise you."
-"Way! I responded by telling her to teach you how to control your powers along with your potty training."
-"I must have been a real handful after that, I'll bet."
-"Oh boy were you ever. Making toys appear that your parents said you couldn't have, making absence notes after playing hooky, going to the bathroom in school and transporting yourself from there to the park, even making a clone of yourself to send to school while you hid in the closet."
-"Uh, you know, it is getting warm out here.", said Monica, face and ears turning red with embarrassment.
Both women laughed as Monica changed from cowl and gown to light blue jeans, white halter top, white scrunchee, and high heeled sandals. Then, arm in arm, the two ladies walked toward the palace where they both lived.
CHAPTER 9-TRIAL AND ERROR
Two weeks passed since Eddie and Monica parted ways, but this time it wasn't for good. Every night for an hour, Eddie would light a red candle next to the photo of he and Monica at 15, and everyday would keep a red rose by it. Monica did likewise while in the Witches Realm. This was their way of celebrating their love while miles apart. Before blowing out their candles, each would say a prayer for the other asking the Divine, God in Eddie's case, to protect each of them from harm. This night, Eddie felt a special need to pray.
-"Dear Lord, I just got word from Monica's godmother that the trial is tomorrow. Please show her mercy, and convince her fellow witches that she needs counseling, not punishment, for what happened to her."
As Eddie continued to pray on Monica's behalf, the smell of her favorite perfume Opium filled the room. Then, a glimmer of light shined giving way to the bewitching beauty herself.
-"Monnie. I was just talking to the Man upstairs about you.", said Eddie as he rose from his knees and sat on his bed.
-"I know. I heard you from the Realm.", said she joining him, "Thank you baby. I needed that."
-"I can tell, sweetheart. I've never seen you so stressed before.", said he caressing her back.
-"'Stressed' isn't the word for it, pa. I'm wracked! I've seen past trials of my peers. Believe me, the sentences were not pretty!"
-"I'm sure they weren't, sugar pea, but don't forget the only 2 crimes you committed were running away from home and kidnapping us. Once they see the evidence of you making amends, there's no way they can give you a hard sentence, if a sentence at all."
-"Let's hope so, pa, let's hope so.", said she with tears in her eyes.
Eddie pulled her close allowing her to cry on his shoulder.
-"Dear God, I said all I can say.", he thought, "The rest is up to You."
Once Monica calmed down, she asked something that was totally unexpected.
-"Pa, would I be out of line if I asked you to make love to me?"
Eddie's heart jumped at the question. Heaven knows he'd been yearning to do so ever since the two reunited, but right before the trial? Monica felt his hesitation and decided to explain.
-"I know the timing isn't right, but I've been wanting to feel you inside me ever since we crossed paths again; to feel your hands caress me, your lips touch mine..."
Eddie gave in to his desire and brought his lips to hers savoring the sweetest kiss he's ever had. Easing her onto her back, he brushed her hair off her shoulder, and nuzzled it. Using her magic, Monica removed the shirt of his pajamas and the silk nightgown she wore. Eddie, noticing this, traced a line with his lips from shoulder to breast. Monica ran her slender fingers through his hair as he gently suckled enjoying a pleasure she hadn't felt in years. Reaching down, Eddie moved her thong to the side and massaged the witch princess to the point of ecstasy.
-"I missed you, pa. Oh God, did I miss you."
-"I missed you too, baby. You got me so bewitched, I don't want anyone else."
Eddie rolled Monica on top of him, anxious to show her he meant every word. As the two kissed, Monica removed the rest of their clothing, and Eddie gently thrust himself inside her.
-"Oh, ah, ay!", cried Monica in pain.
-"Babe! Are you all right? I-I'm sorry!"
-"It's all right, pa. It's not your fault.", said she causing a towel to appear after noticing blood, "I guess it's been too long since my last time."
-"Either that, or you're too tense from thinking about the trial."
-"I guess. Sh--! I wanted this moment to be perfect for us."
-"But it IS perfect, sweetheart. You and I haven't had a moment alone since we caught up with each other. We can always try again when you're ready, don't worry."
Eddie pulled her close and reassured her with a lingering kiss.
-"Now let's get you to the hot tub so you won't feel so sore in the morning."
Next day, Monica was back in the Witches Realm before sunrise. It pained her to part from her lover, but the last thing she wanted to seem to everyone was a flight risk. Just in time, too, as there was a knock on her bedroom door.
-"Monica? It's Tara. Are you awake?"
-"Yeah, uh, yeah I am. Come in."
-"Good, you're back. I was beginning to worry about you."
-"Wha? How did you know I was gone?"
-"I came by to give you some chamomile tea to help you rest only to find you gone. Rather than sound the alarm, I used my powers to find you. I had a feeling you were over at EJ's."
-"Uh, you didn't happen to..."
-"See what you were doing? All I saw was you crying on his shoulder talking to him about the trial. Anything else that happened between you two was none of my business really."
-"Thanks, Tara. I didn't mean to make you worry. I just wish the trial was over with so I can move on with my life."
-"I know, darling, but EJ did bring up a good point. You did use your powers to kidnap the Ghost busters, imprison them and let's not forget you did hurt EJ with that deflected blast. That's three strikes against you right there."
-"Gee, thanks a lot!", said Monica sarcastically.
-"I'm not saying that to be pessimistic, sweetheart. I'm just letting you know what to expect. You do remember the 'truth spell', don't you?"
-"That's the spell used during the trial to have your life played out like a movie, right?"
-"Right. Once that spell is cast, there's no way you can control your thoughts. Only the person who cast the spell."
-"I see. So what time is the trial?"
-"One o'clock. You'll have time to shower, change and meditate before then."
-"Mm-hm. It's important to have your mind clear when the spell is cast or it won't work properly."
-"Tara, now that you mentioned all that, do you know what the verdict might be?"
-"I've thought of nothing else last night, honey. According to my knowledge of the Law, if a witch or warlock is using his or her magic for evil, the punishment could range from limiting his or her powers, to total elimination of them, to banishment, to death. Death in your case definitely won't apply, but it's up to the Council to determine which of the other categories you'll fall under."
Monica fell silent as she listened to her legal guardian. She unlike Tara had no knowledge of the Witches Law, so she took her word for it. She then hoped the verdict would be a reduction of her powers since she had coped with it before while in Haunt Quarters. Part of her kept wishing that she could go back in time to fix her past, but Monica shut that part up by remembering what EJ and Jake told her back at Ghost Command.
Hours later, Jake and Tracy swung by Eddie's house to bring him breakfast and then take him to the trial. Neither party had that much sleep due to their concern for Monica and talked about it openly.
-"Thanks for the breakfast, guys."
-"No problem, buddy. Did you find out the time?"
-"Yeah. One o'clock. That should give us time to relax a little...if we can.", said Eddie closing his eyes and lowering his head.
-"I can't relax, either. Dig that. She's your girl, and I'm probably more worried about her than you are."
-"I don't know. I just have a bad feeling she's going to get a bum rap some how."
-"Yeah, I've been thinking that too. She may not have done anything during the Witches Riots, but once the Council finds out about us getting kidnapped, that's going to work against her."
-"Mm, mm, mm.", said Tracy shaking his head. Even he was concerned about Monica and her plight.
-"I just hope they give us a chance to speak about it, to tell them we harbor no malice against her."
-"Me too, Jake. Me too.", said Eddie staring blankly.
Jake got up from the kitchen table and walked to where Eddie sat.
-"I'm here for you buddy.", was all Jake can say as he gave Eddie's shoulder a squeeze.
-"I know. Thanks.", said Eddie looking up at Jake with sad eyes.
-"M-m-m-miracle of miracles!", said GB as the threesome climbed in, "You're using my doors for once."
GB's main complaint, whenever he revealed his personality was that the boys would usually jump in causing his shock absorbers to hurt.
-"GB, how can you complain at a time like this? My girl's going to be tried, and you're bitching about us using your doors?"
-"Well, excu-u-u-se me for expressing myself!"
-"Never mind him, Eddie. Portal turbo mode, Trace."
-"Right!", grunted Tracy as he purposely kicked the lever by the accelerator.
-"Ouch!," cried GB as he changed form.
Once they reached the Witches Realm, they noticed a tall blonde witch with an Amazon build standing by the gate.
-"Who approaches?", said the witch sternly.
-"Jake Kong and Eddie Spenser. We're here for the trial of Monica Suarez."
-"No mortals are allowed to enter during the trial, so you might as well leave!"
-"But Tara McCormick gave us the okay.", said Eddie, a little nervous being around the towering witch, but determined nonetheless.
-"He's right Alana. Let them pass."
-"Mistress.", said the blonde dropping to one knee, "Forgive me. I didn't realize these were the ones you've invited."
Alana then shot a disdainful glance back at the Ghost busters before rising.
-"Tara!", said Eddie giving the witch queen a hug.
-"Good to see you too, EJ. Mr. Kong, how wonderful of you to come.", said Tara extending her hand.
-"Call me Jake. Everyone does. How's Monica?"
-"She's fine. She's in her bedroom meditating. I'll have a servant bring her to the palace court yard."
-"No, wait. If she's meditating, then we shouldn't disturb her."
-"It's no trouble, Jake. I'm sure she'll be elated to see you both."
-"You bet I am!", said Monica appearing before them, dressed in cowl and gown.
-"Monnie.", said Eddie giving her a hug, "How did you know we were here?"
-"I felt your presence, pa. You don't know how warm and wonderful it felt."
-"I see the meditation helped clear your mind, child."
-"It did. The only thing it didn't do is calm me down."
-"We're all worried about the trial, Monica. Believe it or not, when Eddie told me last night he was going to pray for you, I felt compelled to do the same."
-"I was wondering who's energy I felt last night besides EJ's. Thank you, Jake. I needed that."
-"You're welcome.", said Jake with a smile.
-"Well, we still have about 3 hours. Who's up for lunch? And no one better say 'no thanks', or I'll force feed you all.", said Tara with a smile.
Poor Tara tried her best to lighten the mood to no avail. She even went as far as offering them her satellite system to watch. That plan backfired when most of the channels had either episodes of "The Practice", news of a court appearance by someone, or a mock trial on a soap opera. Even "Little House on the Prairie" had an episode involving the judicial system. When she started to set up her Monopoly game, she quickly put it away when she noticed all eyes on the "Go to Jail" and "Jail" spots.
Finally, the long awaited moment came. Jake offered to drive the ladies to the meeting hall where the trial was set to which they accepted. It turned out to be a bad idea as up and down the street, people looked in their direction and either whispered to one another, or shouted obscenities at poor Monica. Once inside, the quintet took their seats with Monica sitting alone directly in front of the Council.
-"Wish we were up there with her.", whispered Eddie.
-"It has to be this way, EJ. The Council does this to make sure no influences affect the truth spell."
The first to walk into the room was the amazon witch Alana Ballester (pronounced by-esther) who took her place by the Head Council's throne. Normally, Tara would be occupying it, but today it was reserved for a special presence. Who should happen to walk into the room at that moment but that special presence herself.
-"All rise!", said the court officer who accompanied her, "The court is now in session! The honorable Judge Margaret Ebolize presiding!"
All rose as the judge, a medium build African American about 5'5", entered the room. Rather than wear the traditional black gown required of the Witches Council, she wore a judge's robe as she arrived straight from the courthouse where she worked.
-"Good afternoon, everyone, you may all be seated. As you can see by my appearance, I arrived straight from work, so I need to ask the Council to forgive me for 'breaking with tradition'. For those of you who are wondering why I'm seated on this throne instead of our beloved head of the Council, Tara McCormick, the reason is that this unique case involves her goddaughter Monica Suarez. I understand the charges stem from her possible involvement in the Witches Riots?"
-"Yes your honor. Her disappearance occurred around the time the Riots have begun.", said Tara, "It's unclear whether she was actually involved in them, or she simply ran away from home. This session is to determine exactly what happened."
-"Very well then. Before we begin, is there anyone here who cares to voice any objections?"
Eddie nervously raised his hand.
-"Yes Mr. Spenser."
-"Well, um, actually it's not an objection, but a question. I-I was just wondering if you can explain briefly for my sake what exactly the 'truth spell' does and whether or not it will hurt Monica Suarez in any way."
-"Mortals are NOT permitted to speak during the session!", barked Alana at Eddie.
-"Yes they are, Alana, if they present a point related to it!", rebuked Tara, "Besides, he's not just any mortal, he's my goddaughter's consort!"
-"And a valid question it is, Mr. Spenser. You see, what the truth spell does is that it brings out memories from the defendant's mind and plays them out like images in a movie theater. The defendant has no control over these images, only the person casting the spell. It is important that the person selected to cast the spell is a neutral party, so the images won't be influenced in any way. Ms. Suarez will be conscious during the whole time, and will in no way be hurt by the spell."
-"Thank you, your honor."
-"You're welcome. Now, unless there are any other objections or questions, let us now proceed. Briana Lefevre, please step forward."
Just then, an 18 year old girl with hazel eyes and chestnut hair approached the Council.
-"Raise your right hand please.", said the court officer, a man 6'4" with a stocky build like Eddie's with dark brown hair, mustache and eyes, "Do you promise to use the truth spell effectively and without manipulation so help you the Divine?"
-"All right, Ms. Lefevre, do you remember how to execute the spell?"
-"I believe so, your honor."
-"Proceed whenever you're ready, dear."
-"Yes, ma'am.", said Briana who closed her eyes and meditated for a minute before uttering the spell, "Mind full of memories that are concealed, to the world let them be revealed. Of the Witches Riots that happened long ago, to the Witches Council I command you to show."
Within minutes Monica's memories began to play out for all to see. The first was a scene of the Witches Riots from her then vantage point, her bedroom window.
-'Child, get away from the window before you get hurt!'
-'Aunt Tara, what's happening down there?'
-'Some rebel witches and warlocks are revolting against the Council!'
-'No time to explain! I need you to go downstairs to the area just outside the dungeons! You'll be safe there!'
-'But what about you?'
-'I'll come for you when all this is over. I'm needed down there.'
-'No buts, just do as I say!'
The next scene was in the area just outside the dungeons where Tara told Monica to go. Just then, a teen girl with jet black hair and eyes appeared.
-'Looky, looky! If it isn't Cookie.'
-'Misty! How did you know I was here?'
-'I tagged your energy, silly.'
-'Did you peep what's happening out there?'
-'Yeah, mega bummer for the Council. So your godmother tossed your ass down here like garbage, huh?'
-'She just wanted me to be safe, that's all.'
-'Bullsh--! The truth is she didn't want you to show her up with your powers while she takes care of business. In reality, she's scared of you stealing her throne. Why do you think Tara became your godmother? To keep you under her thumb.'
-"That lying little bitch!"
-"Easy Tara.", whispered Eddie.
-'I don't think so, Misty. Tara's been anything but mean to me ever since my parents died.'
-'Like I said, it's all to keep you under her thumb. That old dou--- bag wants to stay in power as long as possible, and she'll do anything to keep it that way. Even you under wraps. If she really cared about you, she would've told you how to go back in time to stop your parents from getting killed.'
-"I didn't know she wanted to do that."
-'Not to mention, she'd be in here with you instead of out there fighting the rebels.'
-"I had to put her there to engage them. I wanted her to be safe. Her and the Realm."
-"I'm sure you did, Tara.", whispered Jake.
-'Come on. We're getting out of here.'
-'Where are we going?'
-'To my place. You'll be safer there than down here in this sh-- hole.'
-'But Tara said she'll come back for me.'
-'Honey, if you believe that, then I got Merlin's magic staff for sale. Now let's go.'
-"I panicked when I discovered she was gone. I tore up the Realm looking for my baby. I wondered over and over if it was something I said or did that made her leave. Now, I'm finding out that my little angel was lied to? If ever I get my hands on Mysteria, her spirit will cease to exist!"
-"Mistress!", called out the judge, "I understand how troubling this revelation is to you, but please control yourself. This is a courtroom for the time being, and I would hate to have you ejected and charged with contempt."
-"And I would not hold it against you if you did. Forgive me your honor."
-"That's all right, Tara.", said Cassandra Callahan, a red headed member of the Council from Tennessee, "I'm sure alot of witches and warlocks feel exactly like you do."
-"Humph, looks like we'll all have to take a number to beat down her ghostly ass.", said Shekina Johnson, an African American witch from New York City.
The comment sent laughter throughout the room which under the circumstances was music to Monica's ears. Then her heart froze as her gaze met that of Alana who was the only one in the room not laughing.
-"Well, it seems to me the matter has been resolved. Thanks to the truth spell, we've learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that Monica Suarez did not participate in the Riots after all..."
-"But what about her time spent in Haunt Quarters?", asked Alana boldly, "Everyone knows whoever lives there becomes Prime Evil's minion."
Monica and the Ghost busters grew pale at the statement. They couldn't believe the witch would be brazen enough to go there.
-"Then again, Alana, she may have been a mere servant of his.", countered Tara, "Besides, we're quickly losing objective of why we're here."
-"I'm well aware of why, mistress. You wish to exonerate your goddaughter from any and ALL wrong doing. I say let's review her memories of her time spent in Haunt Quarters to see which theory holds true. If not, then you and the rest of the Council will lose face in the eyes of the citizens of this Realm. What say you, your honor?"
-"Those charges usually warrant another court date, Ms. Ballester. I did say that Ms. Suarez wouldn't be harmed by the truth spell, but to use it twice on the same subject would leave her mentally drained."
-"A small price to pay for the truth to be revealed! It seems painstakingly obvious that you're all siding with Ms. Suarez, our token 'Golden Witch', our future leader! What kind of leader will we have if we keep her skeletons in the closet instead of face them? The 'Golden Witch', of all witches, should not and never be exempt from the hand of justice!"
-"No one is saying she's exempt, Alana.", countered Cassandra often called Casey by her peers, "We're saying she needs time to rest before the next trial."
-"I say we resolve the matter now!", shouted Alana shoving Briana away from Monica, "Mind full of memories from Monica's youth..."
-"Stop her, Hank!", commanded the judge of her burly court officer. As he rushed to Monica's aid, however, Alana held everyone fast in their spots. Not even the Ghost busters were able to move.
-"Reveal now the hidden truth! Of her time spent at Haunt Quarters and Ghost Command, show to all, this I demand!"
-"No!", cried Monica as she thrashed her head from side to side. Not so much from pain, but rather form fear that all the world will see the moments of shame she endured while in Haunt Quarters. All were forced to watch as her memories unfolded from the time Mysteria began to treat her like a slave, to the time Prime Evil courted her, to the time she kidnapped the Ghost busters, to the time she took them home, to the fight in front of her parents' graves. Once it was over, Monica with tears down her cheeks dropped to the floor, too weak to even speak.
-"Monnie!", cried Eddie as he rushed to her side. Cradling her in his arms, he glared at Alana with tears stinging his eyes.
-"You rotten bitch! This wasn't about justice! You just wanted to embarrass her to high heaven, so you can look better in the eyes of the Council!"
-"Say what you will, mortal, but the truth has been revealed. Thanks to the truth spell, it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Monica Suarez had been a minion of Prime Evil's. Review carefully what you've seen, ladies, for if you exonerate her of all wrong doing, you'll incite a new riot within the Realm!"
Cackling, Alana disappeared from the court room leaving everyone shaken and bewildered.
-"Mistress!", called Hank Traylor, the court officer, "Permission to round up the troops to pursue Alana Ballester!"
-"P-p-permission granted.", said Tara as she tried to compose herself.
Taking the events into consideration, the judge thought it best to postpone the trial 'til next month to give Monica time to recuperate. It wasn't an easy time, though, as poor Monica kept having recurring nightmares. Eddie, deeply concerned for her well being, asked Jake for a short sabbatical from his job to be by her side. With the blessing of both Jake and Tara, Eddie packed a few small bags and temporarily moved to the palace in the Witches Realm. The move did Monica a world of good as each morning she would wake up to find him holding her or at least feeling his warm, tender energy bathing her.
Finally, the day came when the trial reconvened. Everything pretty much picked up where it left off with the exception of the use of the truth spell as the Council has seen more than enough memories they needed to deliberate. Rather than be an object of ridicule from all in the court room, everyone stood solidly behind Monica and some even voiced their opinion to the members of the Council on the side to do away with the truth spell altogether.
-"All rise! The court is back in session."
-"You may all be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure you all agree that what occurred last month was a disgrace to the judicial system. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Alana Ballester on charges of unlawful imprisonment and tampering with evidence meaning young Monica's memories. Hopefully, her capture will be done as soon as possible. Sadly, however, the memories we have seen that day clearly reveal the extent of Monica's involvement with Prime Evil. Whatever the reasons were behind her involvement, according to the Witches Law, any witch or warlock who uses his or her power for evil will be subject to either a reduction of power, banishment, total elimination of power, or death. The positive thing we did see in her memories, and this we should take into account, is that the Ghost busters in a nutshell turned her heart around to the point that she has made amends by rescuing them and reestablishing her relationship with her godmother Tara McCormick. Members of the Council, have you considered a verdict, or do you need time to deliberate?"
-"No need, your honor, we're ready.", said a heavy hearted Casey. All month long, she and the other Council members muddled, discussed and debated over the verdict. This was one of the hardest decisions they had to make since this involves their future leader.
-"Monica Marie Suarez, please rise before the Council."
Monica nervously complied afraid of what she'll hear.
-"Before we render the verdict, is there anything you wish to say?"
-"Yes, I do. I'd like to take this moment to publicly apologize. First, to the Ghost busters Jacob Michael Kong Jr. and Edward Lawrence Spenser Jr. I apologize for carrying out Prime Evil's orders in kidnapping and imprisoning you both, especially you Edward since you were hurt during the capture. I hope you have truly and completely found it in your hearts to forgive me of my actions."
-"We forgive you, Monica."
-"We wouldn't be here supporting you, sugar pea, if we didn't."
Eddie's comment produced a mixture of chuckles and "awes" since everyone knew of his and Monica's rekindled love resulting from their capture.
-"Thank you. I also need to apologize to you Tara Giselle McCormick. My running away from the Witches Realm cost us 20 years of our relationship. Heaven knows there's no way to make up the loss, and there's no excuse for my actions. I pray that you too will find it in your heart to forgive me."
-"Like the father embracing the Prodigal Son, child, so do I embrace you.", said Tara as she walked over to Monica to hug her. There wasn't a dry eye in the house as for about ten minutes, the two women remained embraced. The Council made no move to interrupt as all its members were reluctant to render the verdict. When the two women finally separated and returned to their seats, Casey teary eyed stood up. After taking a deep breath, the southern belle began to speak.
-"Monica, darling, the Council had quite a time deciding your consequences. Clearly you shouldn't be excused of your actions, but at the same token we all wished we didn't have to do this. In fact, we believe it was partly our fault in how your life turned out because we didn't show you enough how much we loved you. Can you find it in your heart to forgive us, sweetheart?"
Monica nodded in response.
-"Thank you, honey. Now it is with heavy heart that we render this verdict. Monica Marie Suarez, we hear by sentence you to 2 years with your powers reduced to that of your infancy. What I mean is you're only entitled to move objects and to transport yourself short distances. Any major spell you try to execute will result in failure."
-"Wait!", interrupted Jake, "I don't mean to disrespect the Council, but you can't leave Monica with minimal powers! Once Prime Evil hears about this, he'll use it to his advantage and exact revenge on her!"
-"He's right!", said Yu Lin Hong, a witch from China, " That was what I've said during our meetings. If we love her as much as we say we do, we need to protect her or give her the power to protect herself."
-"But to do so, Yu Lin, would mean separation from one of her loved ones! That will tear her apart for sure!", countered Reina Garay, a witch from Brazil.
-"One of my loved ones?!", fretted Monica.
-"I'm afraid so, dear.", said Shekina, "The other two sentences we've considered were either two years with your powers but banished to the mortal world with no contact with the Witches Realm, or two years without your powers but confined to the Realm with no contact from the mortal world."
-"No, dear Divine, no! Please don't choose between those two!"
-"We must choose.", continued Yu Lin, "She'll be no good to her loved ones dead at Prime Evil's hand."
-"Well, since the Council seems to be dead locked on the other two sentences,", began Casey, "we have no choice but to let Monica decide. Monica, you have two weeks to decide on your sentence and say your necessary good byes."
-"But...", began a shaken Monica.
-"We're sorry, dear,", said Shekina, "but there is no other way around it. Council will adjourn for two weeks."
All the witches and warlocks slowly dispersed, many of them giving hugs and words of encouragement to the witch princess who was too overcome with emotion to speak.
-"Monica, I'm sorry.", began Jake when they were finally alone. Before he could continue, he felt a hard right to the nose causing it to bleed.
-"Jake!", cried Eddie as he pulled out a handkerchief.
-"You fu----- liar! You said you would help me make things right in the Witches Realm if I rescued you from Prime Evil! All you did was make matters worse! I should've left you to rot in his dungeon!"
-"Monnie! You don't mean that!"
-"Think about it, EJ! I could deal with reduced powers for two years, but at least I'd still have you and Tara both in my life. If it wasn't for your 'big mouth' friend, my powers would've been the least of my worries! Another bad hand! Another fu----- lousy hand!"
Monica broke down crying, running her hands through her hair. Eddie approached her to wrap his arms around her, but she feebly and lightly swatted at him.
-"Leave me alone. Don't touch me."
-"Uh uh, baby, I don't think you mean that either."
Proving Eddie right, Monica melted in his arms burying her face in his shoulder.
Tara witnessing all this knew better than to scold Monica for her behavior. She knew how upsetting this has been to her since she felt it in her energy.
-"Monica, I think you should rest now.", said she as she touched her back.
Monica looked up and nodded as she and Tara transported themselves and the Ghost busters back to the palace.
The meeting hall was finally empty, or was it? Just then, a butterfly that was hanging from the ceiling drifted down to the floor. As it did, it transformed slowly 'til its true identity was revealed.
-"Damn that Ghost fu---- Jake Kong! Monica would've been easy pickings for me if it wasn't for him!"
-"Maybe she still will be.", said Mysteria as she appeared before Alana.
-"How's that possible? If Monica chooses banishment, she still will have her powers. If she chooses confinement, she'll be well protected even though she'll lose them."
-"No need to worry, Alana. We'll have our day in the sun. We just need to be patient."
-"Patient? I've been patient for 20 years! From the time you and I first met and made that pact that you'll help me become the next Golden Witch if I gave you a seat in the Council, I've waited. When you took Monica out of the Witches Realm and doused her powers with the dream catcher necklace I gave you, I've waited. 'Til the day of the trial, I've done nothing but wait! I thought the wait was over when I finally convinced the Council to convict Monica, but that bastard Jake Kong had to stick his nose where it doesn't belong!"
-"Yes, his nose does have a bad habit of doing so. Unfortunately, we can't do anything as long as the Ghost busters are friends with Tara. As I said before, our best course of action is to wait."
-"All right, we'll wait. But if nothing happens within the next two years, I'll wipe you out of existence!"
Mysteria, although cool on the outside, felt as tense as a pulled rubber band. When she first met Alana, she was one of two teen witches with powers that surpassed all the others in the Realm. The other one, of course, was Monica. Alana was insanely jealous of Monica because her powers weren't as strong even though it cut pretty close. Not to mention she felt it was her birthright to be the next Golden Witch since she was born to an English Duchess and a Spanish governor, while Monica was born to a nurse's aid and a cab driver. Mysteria, just like with Monica, posed as a teen witch to befriend Alana. Then, filling her head with lies, she convinced Alana that she can help her become the next Golden Witch on the condition that she'll be given a seat in the Council. Now she fears the pact will be broken soon as it is getting harder and harder to appease Alana.
-"All this trouble because I wanted to get out from under Prime Evil's thumb.", she thought with a sigh, "Now I'm wondering if it's worth it."
The two witches then disappeared without a trace.
Back at the palace, Jake was in one of the bathrooms washing up. He had a hard time stopping his nose from bleeding after Monica's hard right jab even with Tara's healing spell. She was nice enough to give him clean clothes to change into, not just because his other ones were covered in blood, but Jake had also been invited to stay at the palace whenever he wanted to. Tara during his visits had become his confidant as Jake would tell her of his recent marital woes. Jake enjoyed Tara's company immensely. She often reminded him of his late mother, Jamie Carter-Kong, who died of breast cancer when he was a teen.
Once he changed, he went down to the courtyard to get some air and think about what transpired. As he sat on one of the marble benches, he saw the shadow of a woman next to his. Looking back, the shadow, as it turned out, belonged to Monica.
-"May I join you?", she asked nervously, thinking he would curse her out, and rightly so.
-"Please!", said Jake a bit relieved that she wasn't going to pick up where she left off.
-"I want to apologize for what I did. I was acting on my emotions and not with my head. I'm really sorry."
-"That's all right, Monica. I guess if I was in your shoes , I'd be just as upset. My God, to have to choose between your family and your lover. That sucks!"
-"I know. I'd rather not talk about it right now."
-"It's all right. Would you like to join me for tea and cookies? It's the least I can do for you after busting your nose."
-"I'd like that, thanks.", said Jake with a chuckle.
Monica caused a tray table with tea and cookies to appear in front of them. Then, she stared down at her hands as reality set in.
-"You know, Jake, if I choose confinement, I'd better get used to doing things by hand again."
-"I thought you said you didn't want to talk about it.", said Jake resting his hand on her shoulder with a look of concern.
-"I guess I do more than I realize."
Night came and all in the palace turned in. All except for Eddie who couldn't sleep. Giving Monica a kiss, he crawled out of the king size bed they shared and, putting on a robe, went down to the courtyard to smoke. As he pulled out a cigarillo, one to his surprise floated out of the box and to a hand with long slender fingers.
-"Mind if I join you?", asked Tara who couldn't sleep either.
-"Need you ask, Tara? This is your palace after all.", said Eddie with a smile.
-"Maybe so, but I don't want to intrude."
-"Is it intrusion if we're here for the same reason?"
-"I guess not.", said a surprised Tara. Usually a wise comment like that would come from Jake.
-"Tara, what are we going to do?", asked Eddie as he lit her smoke with a Zippo lighter, "I love Monnie to death, but I don't want to take her away from you. Not after reuniting with her after 20 years."
-"I feel the same way about you two. There has to be some way around this or at least make it easier for her to decide."
-"How? I mean, if I was her husband instead of her boyfriend, I could move here permanently, but I'm not, so I can't."
-"EJ, that's it!"
-"We've just amended the laws to include live in lovers not too long ago. Not to take you away from your world, but would you at least for two years consider making the Witches Realm your primary residence?"
-"What about my job?"
-"You can feel free to go back and forth as you please. I'm sure the Council wouldn't object to that."
-"Great! So let's talk to them about it tomorrow and see what they say."
Two weeks passed, and just as before, the trial picked up where it left off. As soon as everyone was seated, Shekina got up to speak.
-"Monica Marie Suarez, please rise before the Council."
Monica did as told, a little nervous but confident in the outcome of her decision.
-"Have you decided on your sentence dear?"
-"Yes I did. I decided to relinquish my powers and remain in the Witches Realm for two years."
-"Understand, Monica, that you are not to have any contact with the mortal world whatsoever."
-"Edward Lawrence Spenser Jr., please stand."
Eddie did as told knowing what will be asked of him.
-"Mr. Spenser, you do understand that Monica is not to have any contact with the mortal world at all. Not even a newspaper, the latest video or even a piece of pastry."
-"Then you're welcome to live with us during Monica's sentence. What will happen afterwards is up to you and her."
-"Now that the sentence has been chosen, Monica, you understand that it begins immediately."
-"Yes.", said she with a sigh.
-"Then, close your eyes and prepare your heart. For tomorrow you'll awaken with a start. At dawn, you'll discover you have no powers, and so it shall be 'til the end of your sentence hours."
Monica dropped to the floor as the spell was uttered. Eddie rushed to her side and scooped her up in his arms. -"What happened to her?"
-"She's in a deep sleep right now. It was necessary to do this in order for the spell to work. You're a wonderful man for agreeing to be with her during the sentence, Edward. Believe me when I tell you that she'll need you now more than ever."
Eddie could only nod as he didn't fully understand the repercussions of Monica's decision.
Dawn broke through the bedroom window as Monica stirred. Then, awakening with a jump, she realized something was wrong. Shivering uncontrollably, she climbed out of bed calling for her lover.
-"EJ, papi, where are you?!"
-"Right here, baby.", called Eddie from the bathroom as he shaved.
-"Pa! My powers ARE gone! I couldn't feel your energy when I woke up! I couldn't feel anybody's energy! It's as if the whole world has died, and I'm the only one left!"
Eddie's heart froze when he looked in her eyes. She had the look of a deer caught in a car's headlights before being hit. Calling for a servant, he sent her to find Tara.
-"D-don't worry, sweetheart. I'm here. I-I'm not going anywhere, right now."
Tara came as soon as she got word.
-"I had a feeling this was going to happen. When I didn't sense her energy, I knew her powers have been taken."
-"Tara, what happened to her? Why is she shivering?"
-"We witches have an ability to sense who's around us by feeling one another's energy. When that ability is taken, it's almost the same as a mortal going blind and deaf, but more intense. The impact is so great, it can cause a witch to go into shock.", said Tara as she brought an extra blanket for Monica, "These feelings will pass in a day or two, but she needs to stay warm and comfortable physically and spiritually."
-"Yes, comfort her with words. Hold her hand. Do anything to assure her of your presence."
Eddie did as told and was relieved when she drifted off to sleep. It was then that he finally understood what Shekina meant in the court room.
-"My poor sugar pea.", was all he can say as he kissed her before going to sleep himself.
Days passed, and so did the initial shock of losing her powers. Monica did everything she could so she wouldn't feel so useless. One promise she kept to herself was to go back to the martial arts. She used Tai Chi to keep her mind focused, and karate to keep up her strength. No matter what she tried, though, she couldn't find anything to ease her spirit. The only thing that did was the love she felt from Eddie's and Tara's energies. Now with her abilities gone, she felt more alone than ever. Seeing this, Eddie would often hold her, hoping that somehow it would make a good substitute.
-"Feeling better, sugar pea?", asked Eddie as he hugged Monica one day.
-"Yeah, sort of. I still shiver every now and then, but not like the first time."
-"Thank God. You gave me a real scare when it first happened. I didn't know what to do to help."
-"Thank the Divine you were there at all to worry about it. If I was alone, I would've died from fright."
-"I can imagine. I just wish I was a warlock, so I would know the difference."
-"Feeling what's around you. You told me one time how warm and wonderful my energy felt. I just wish I knew what you were talking about."
-"I guess the best way to describe it is that it feels like someone is hugging your heart."
Eddie, thinking for a minute, finally understood what it meant.
-"So with Prime Evil's energy, it's like someone squeezing your heart..."
-"With intent to kill, yeah."
-"So how's your sentence so far."
-"I'm dealing with it. I can only do but so much karate and cooking, though."
-"Too bad you can't use this time to study for your GED like you planned."
-"Hm, maybe I can. Let's go talk to the Council about it."
The couple made their way to the meeting chamber in the palace. Much to their surprise, they discovered the witches in street wear instead of the traditional gowns.
-"Well, look who's here.", said Tara, "What brings you two this way?"
-"Uh, well, we're sorry if we're interrupting anything.", began Monica, "I was wondering if I can add something to the Council's agenda."
-"No darling, you're not interrupting at all. We're just...uh...how do the kids put it?"
-"Chilling.", chimed Shekina with a smile.
-"Right. It turned out we didn't have much to discuss, today, so we decided to relax over tea and cookies. Care for some?"
-"Don't mind if I do.", said Eddie with a smile.
-"So what's on your mind, baby?", asked Shekina.
-"Well, I was just wondering if you can make a small exception to the rule about no contact with the mortal world."
-"And what is that?", asked Casey with a raised eyebrow.
-"Since I didn't graduate high school because of my running away from home, I'd like to make up for it by studying for a GED."
-"That's right! Monica never did graduate.", said a surprised Tara.
-"What a wonderful plan, Monica.", said Yu Lin.
-"Indeed.", said Reina, "But there's one small problem. Won't she have to wait 'til her sentence is over before she can take the exam?"
-"That's true.", said Shekina, "Unless we send her to the mortal world with an escort to make sure she comes right back when the test is finished."
-"That'll work.", said Casey.
-"Then, I can do it?"
Tara looked to the ladies for a nod of approval before giving the green light.
-"All right, it's settled. You can start whenever you're ready, sweetie."
-"Thank you, thanks so much!", said Monica hugging each member of the Council.
-"I have an old GED book at home, Monica. You can come by and pick it up whenever you want to."
-"If you need a tutor, dear, we'll talk to Judge Ebolize to see what she can do to get you one."
-"No darling, thank YOU!"
-"For making our day. I don't know about you, ladies, but I've been so worried about how you would handle your sentence. Two witches that I knew of lost their minds when they got the same type of sentence you did. I'm glad to see you wanting to turn it around for good."
Monica lowered her head and blushed. Here she was looking for ways to kill time while on punishment, and she ended up making an impact on the Council.
-"Thank you, I think."
CHAPTER 13-NO MORE DRAMA
Monica finally felt her life coming back together. With the help of a tutor, she was able to study for her GED exam. She "blamed" it on the Tai Chi for clearing her mind. She also decided to study the Witches Laws knowing her godmother will retire soon. Alana eventually got wind of all this by using her powers.
-"I've seen enough! I've waited long enough! Monica must NOT become the next Golden Witch!"
-"But the Ghost busters are still friends with Tara.", said Mysteria, "I told you before we need to wait for an opportune time."
-"Well, it looks like I'll have to make that opportune time. No more excuses, Mysteria! Come with me!"
-"Where are we going?"
-"We'll need an army to overthrow the Council. I know just where to get it."
Two months later, Monica, with Shekina as escort, returned to Earth to take the exam. Shekina knew it will be a few hours before her test is done, so she gave her her beeper number.
-"Now don't forget to page me when you're done so I can come back for you."
-"Where will you be?"
-"I'll be visiting a mortal friend of mine who lives in the Bronx. I'm only going to be there 'til you're finished."
-"All right, Shekina. Have fun."
-"Good luck, honey.", said she as they hugged each other good bye.
As Shekina went down the hall, she couldn't help but feel a familiar energy coming from the room where Monica was about to take the test. She then made a promise to herself to go back and investigate it later." Monica presented her id to the teacher supervising the test. After receiving her materials, she found a seat along the front row. As she was looking over her test booklet, a shadow loomed over her.
-"Excuse me, Ms. Suarez, but did you once had an English teacher by the name of Terry Martin?"
-"I believe so, yes."
-"I knew it! When I saw your photo id, I remembered you right away.", said the blond, blue eyed teacher whose height was slightly taller than Jake's.
Monica stared blankly for a minute before realizing who he was.
-"Oh my goodness! How long has it been?"
-"About 20 years, I would imagine.", said Terry with a chuckle.
-"Thank the Divine there's a familiar face in this room. You have no idea how nervous I am."
-"Oh I do, believe me. In fact, I heard about what's been happening with you 'til now."
-"Mm-hm, including what that bitch Alana did to you.", said Terry lowering his voice so others wouldn't hear.
Monica's jaw dropped when he mentioned her name. How could he have known all that happened to her? Unless...
-"Listen, it's almost time for the test to start. If you can stay after your test is finished, I can call your escort, and we'll talk some more."
Monica nodded and smiled grateful she had one more friend added to her circle.
Two and a half hours later, Monica finished her exam ahead of the others. After handing in her materials, she went back to her seat to wait 'til everyone else left. Remembering the "no contact" rule, Terry avoided offering her his newspaper and instead pulled out his copy of the Witches Laws.
-"This should help you kill time constructively."
Once everyone else left, Terry kept his word and contacted Shekina on his cell phone. Instantly, she appeared in the room unable to believe who she saw.
-"Terry! I can't believe it! How have you been?", said she with a hug.
-"Fine, thanks. I was glad to see Monica chose this locale to do her exam."
-"I'll say. It had to be the Divine allowing this to happen."
-"Mr. Martin, why didn't you tell me you're a warlock?"
-"Please Monica, call me Terry. I was one of the first warlocks to decide to live a mortal life. I wanted to prove to the Council that we can be a more positive influence on mortals if we lived among them. As for why I didn't mention it, I didn't want to seem like I was playing favorites."
-"Is that why you pushed me a little harder than the other kids?"
-"I was trying to show you that you can be a top student once you set your mind to it. I was pushing that on all my students, not just you."
-"Terry, could you come back with us to the Realm? I'm sure the Council will be very glad to see you."
-"I'd like that. Besides, it'll be great to see Eddie Spenser again. I haven't seen that boy in ages."
-"You really do know what's been happening with me, don't you?"
-"Hey, just because I don't live there doesn't mean I don't keep abreast of what's happening. We all care about you, Monica. Not because you're our future leader, but because you're like a member of the family. Before we go, ladies, how about I make a quick copy of your test booklet so I can give you 'unofficial results' when we get there?"
-"You'd do that for me?"
-"Sure. Keep it on the DL, though. I'm not supposed to do this, but I'm dying to find out how well you did."
-"Okay.", said Monica, dying to know herself.
Using his magic, Terry quickly locked the door to the room and pulled the shade over its window. Then, causing a table top copier to appear, he quickly duplicated her booklet and placed it in his backpack. Handing in his materials, he and the ladies walked out of the school to a spot where they can transport themselves to the Realm without being seen.
-"Terry? Is that you?", asked Tara as the three appeared in the palace courtyard.
-"Mistress Tara.", said he dropping to one knee, "It's been a long time."
-"A long time, indeed. I see the mortal life has treated you well."
-"Very. I hope you don't mind me being here. Shekina extended the invitation to return with her and Monica."
-"Not at all. You know you're never barred from the palace or from the Realm for that matter."
-"How did the test go, sweetheart?"
-"I think it went well. Mr. Mar...er...Terry offered to look over my exam to give me 'unofficial results'."
-"Terry, you know that's not your place to determine that."
-"Heh heh, yeah I know, but I'm dying to see how well she did. I couldn't resist."
Tara, thinking a minute, thought it was pretty sneaky, but allowed it anyway. After all, why wait 2 weeks when she can find out in advance.
-"All right. You talked me into it. Let me know when you're ready to grade it, and I'll arrange for privacy."
-"Thanks. I'll work on it in a little while."
-"In the meantime, lunch is about ready if you care to stay."
-"Love to. Is Eddie coming as well? I haven't seen that boy since high school."
-"He's on assignment with Jake. I'm sure he'll be back soon."
All the Council members gathered in the dining hall along with Terry and Monica. Word got to them fairly quickly about his return. They were all anxious to hear not only how well Monica did, but how life as a mortal had been for him. Who should happen to join them mid meal but the Ghost buster himself.
-"Hey baby.", said Monica.
-"Hey sweetheart, ladies...Mr. Martin?!"
-"Eddie! Good to see you son.", said Terry as he got up to shake his hand.
-"What are you doing here?"
Terry thoroughly brought Eddie up to speed.
-"Wow. You mean all the while I was being taught by a warlock?", said Eddie laughingly.
-"Yep. I wonder what your father would've thought if he found out."
-"Back then, he would've flipped, I'm sure. His past experiences with witches weren't all that positive."
-"Your dad must've run into some rebel witches then. Man, I can't believe you two reunited after 20 years. I remember how you first met."
-"How?", asked Casey always a sucker for a love story.
-"It happened a few months before Monica's parents died. Tara had her transferred to our school to get a better education. She was in a hurry to get to class when she bumped...no...collided with Eddie in the hallway..."
-'Oops, sorry about that. Are you okay?'
-'Yeah, it was my fault, really. I wasn't looking where I was going.'
-'Same here. Here's your bag.'
-'Thanks. Bye now.'
-"When Monica got herself seated, she looked into her bookbag...only to realize it was the wrong bag."
-'Mr. Martin, something's wrong. I think that boy I bumped into has my book bag.'
-'Look inside one of his books to see if it has his name.'
-'It says Eddie Spenser Jr.'
-'Ah, I know who he is and what class he's in right now. Let's go find him before he gets in trouble with his Math teacher.'
-"I took Monica across the hall to Eddie's math class. Sure enough, my colleague George Palmer was on him like a drill sergeant."
-'Come now, Mr. Spenser. You don't expect me to swallow that story, do you?'
-'I'm telling you, Mr. Palmer, this isn't my book bag. Mine would have a green binder, not a purple one.'
-'It's all right, George. You can turn off the interrogation lamp. They DO have the wrong bags.'
-'Well you two better put labels on them so this won't happen again!'
-'Here's your bag.'
-'Thanks. You're a lifesaver. Make that an angel.'
-'Thank you. I guess I'll see you later?'
-'Great! I'll look for you.'
-"Yeah, I remember that day. 'Drill Sgt. Palmer' as the kids called him thought I was lying like the other boys in class. He didn't apologize, but he did say something to me after class."
-'Listen, son. If you want to impress that young lady, it better be with good grades not stupid stunts.'
-"And you actually did try to impress me. Every time you passed a test, you showed me the paper. The truth is I didn't need to be impressed because I already was."
-"I felt it in your energy that you're sweet and caring. That's what attracted me to you more than anything."
The comment caused Eddie to blush. He always wondered what did he ever do to deserve a girl like Monica. It turned out all he did was just be his sweet self.
Once the meal was done, Terry requested privacy so he can grade the test. He was given one of the guest rooms in the south wing of the palace. Since it was Friday, Tara also invited Terry to spend the weekend to which he graciously accepted. Terry wanted to see for himself how the Realm has changed since he left. About two hours later, he finished grading the exam. Joining the others in the sitting room, he confronted Monica with the results.
-"Monica, how long did you study for the exam?"
-"About two months."
-"With a tutor?"
-"For about three hours a day, yes.", said Monica worriedly.
-"I don't believe my eyes."
-"What is it, Terry?", asked a concerned Tara.
-"I've never seen results like this."
Monica closed her eyes and dropped her head. Eddie in response caressed her back.
Monica jerked her head up at the news. She knew she studied for the exam, but she didn't expect to do THAT well!
-"That's wonderful!", said Casey giving Monica a hug.
-"Yay, baby you did it!", said Eddie as he picked her up and spun her around.
-"Calm down, everyone! Like I said, these results are unofficial. We'll have to wait two weeks to see if the diploma arrives."
-"Terry's right. We shouldn't jump to conclusions so quickly. I think it's a safe bet, though, that Monica 'iced' this exam."
-"You mean 'aced', don't you Aunt Tara?"
-"No, 'iced' because you probably froze everyone else in their tracks.", said Tara with a wink and a smile.
Two weeks later, the diploma arrived at Tara's home in New Jersey. Rarely did she set foot in that house because of her duties, but she made it a point to stay there to make sure Monica received that prized document.
-"Sweetie, good news! Look what came in the mail!"
-"Yes! Aunt Tara, it really does feel like my life is coming back together."
-"I'm glad baby, I really, really am.", said Tara as she hugged Monica tightly.
Eight months into her sentence, the Council called Monica to the meeting chamber. Monica quickly responded wondering and worrying about what was the matter. Eddie went with her fearing the worst.
-"Monica, honey, we were reviewing your life since your sentence started.", began Casey straight faced, "We called you in here to tell you what we discovered."
Monica swallowed hard and quickly reflected on the past few months to see what went wrong.
-"We discovered that since you used your time ever so wisely, there's no need for you to carry out the rest of it."
Monica's jaw dropped at the statement.
-"You mean I'm being pardoned?"
-"Yes darling, you are.", said Tara misty eyed.
Monica couldn't believe it and neither could Eddie. Granted some prisoners get time knocked off for good behavior, but she didn't think that would apply here.
-"I-I don't know what to say!"
-"Just promise us you'll keep doing what you're doing.", said Shekina with a smile.
-"I will, I definitely will!"
-"That's terrific, ladies! Thanks! Wait 'til I tell Jake the good news!"
-"So what happens now?"
-"Well, one of us gets to reverse the spell Shekina put on you.", said Tara as she approached Monica, "They all agreed the one to do it should be me."
-"Wait! Before you reverse it, Tara, there's something I want to say."
-"What is it son?"
-"Uh, you know how madly in love I am with Monica I'm sure.", said Eddie nervously but with conviction.
Tara nodded in response.
-"Well, I love her so much that I want to spend the rest of my life with her. With your blessing, Tara, I'd like to have your goddaughter's hand in marriage."
Monica was floored at the statement. She had no clue Eddie was even thinking about marriage.
-"EJ, I can't think of a better man for my goddaughter than you. Of course you have my blessing. The question is is Monica ready to take that step?"
-"Aunt Tara, EJ and I have been inseparable since we got back together. He was always there for me in times of trouble, and I love him for that. The truth is I'm not sure if that's a smart idea right now."
-"Why not?", asked a surprised Tara.
-"Was it something I did or said, sugar pea?", asked a disappointed Eddie.
-"No papi, nothing like that at all. It's just that with Tara retiring soon, I have to devote myself to studying the Witches Law so I can be an effective leader. I don't think I can do that and be a loving wife at the same time. That doesn't mean, though, that I won't marry you ever, just not now."
Sad but satisfied with the answer, Eddie pulled Monica close and gave her a warm embrace.
-"If that's what you want, baby, then I'm behind you all the way. I'm not going anywhere. Believe me when I say that."
-"I know, papi, thank you for understanding."
The rest of the Council looked at each other with mixed emotions. They're all pleased that Monica is so devoted, but at the same time, they wish she said "yes". After all, it's not everyday the Realm celebrates a wedding of such magnitude. For them, it would've been the equivalent of Prince Charles' and Princess Di's wedding.
-"Well, now that that matter has been resolved, sadly..."
-"Call me a hopeless romantic, sweetie. Now that it's been resolved, are you ready for me to reverse the spell?"
-"Yes, I am."
-"Then, Monica Suarez, close your eyes. For tomorrow you'll awaken with a surprise. You'll soon discover your powers are restored. Everything will be as it was before."
As in the past, Monica collapsed, but this time with a smile on her face. Eddie, catching her, couldn't stop the tears from flowing with joy.
-"Thank you, ladies. I mean that."
-"Thank you, for standing by her side. This must have been the toughest few months you've ever had."
-"They were, but for her I'd gladly do it over again if I have to."
-"I'm sure you would, son. I don't normally do this for fear it will change a destiny, but the spirits are telling me to say not to lose hope in marrying Monica some day. You'll have your heart's desire in the very near future."
-"They're also telling me to say...hm...to expect a 'little sugar pea'?"
-"A daughter! I always wanted a girl!"
-"My, my, my!", said Casey, "I'll bet you'll have no shortage of baby-sitters when that time arrives."
-"Humph, looks like we'll all have to take a number to sit for that little cutie."
The comment sent a chuckle throughout the room as Eddie made his way to the door with Monica asleep in his arms. Tara accompanied him to make sure she was made comfortable when they got back to her room.
Dawn broke as Monica stirred in her bed. Just as before, she awoke with a jump, but this time, it was with excitement not fear. Instead of calling for her lover, she used her powers regained to pinpoint where he was.
-"Hm, so my papi is in the bathroom, huh? And with a towel on, too. Heh heh heh, I think I'll tease him a little."
Monica turned herself into a papillon breed dog and snuck into the bathroom behind Eddie. Then with a swiftness that caught him by surprise, she bit an edge of the towel he wore and yanked it off.
-"Hey! Come back here with that!"
Eddie, in the buff, chased Monica all over the bedroom trying to take back his towel. Leaping on the bed, Monica got into a tug of war with Eddie. Then with a strength unbecoming a dog so small, she gave the towel a big yank causing Eddie to fall flat on his stomach on the bed. Licking his ear, she changed back to her beautiful self without her nightgown and thong.
-"Monnie! I should've known it was you."
Laying on his back, he felt a familiar warmth and strength near his thighs. Monica, seeing this, felt rather proud that she had that kind of effect on him in a big way.
-"So you're that glad I'm awake, huh?", she asked pointing with her eyes.
-"Damn straight, baby.", said Eddie as he caressed her well rounded hip and toned thigh.
Monica for a moment closed her eyes and enjoyed the feeling of his slightly calloused hand on her skin. Despite the fact that Eddie wore gloves all these years, the constant use of his weapons still left marks on them. Looking at her soft features, he smiled loving the effect his touch had on her.
-"Conquistame papi.", she whispered asking Eddie in Spanish to conquer her.
Obliging, Eddie got up on his knees and pulled Monica close to savor yet another sweet kiss. Easing her onto her side, he ran his thick fingers through her soft raven locks while nuzzling her shoulder and neck. Rolling her on top of him, he gently thrust himself inside her praying he won't hurt her like the last few times they tried to make love. This time, Monica received him completely, and the two enjoyed their union to climatic ecstasy. Monica relaxed in his arms and after one last kiss drifted off to sleep. Eddie on the other hand held Monica tightly whispering a prayer that what the spirits told Tara will soon come true both about the baby and his marriage.
CHAPTER 15-A KING DETHRONED
Two hours later, the two lovers were started awake by a commotion in the courtyard.
-"Mistress, come quickly! There's a warlock badly injured!"
Tara quickly came down along with Shekina and Yu Lin who had just joined her for breakfast. Eddie and Monica appeared as well wearing matching T-shirts, jeans and sandals. Kneeling over the brown haired, hazel eyed victim, Tara quickly did a healing spell, but soon discovered something was wrong.
-"Strange. I recognize the energy from somewhere, but I can't place the face."
-"I can.", said Monica, her blood running cold, "That's Prime Evil in mortal form!"
-"What?", asked Eddie in disbelief, "You sure, baby?"
-"Yes.", said Monica turning her back on the wounded form, "Remember what I said about he and I when we dated?"
Eddie nodded in response.
-"That's what he looked like whenever I asked him to take on mortal form."
-"Wizra?", called Prime Evil weakly, "Is that you beloved?"
Monica froze unable to speak. To think after the fierce battle they had in Haunt Quarters, he would still call her that.
-"She's not your 'beloved' anymore, Prime Evil, she's mine! Can't you swallow that?!"
-"Spenser! You're here too. Good! I was hoping to run into one of you Ghost bastards."
Eddie and Monica looked at each other, then back at Prime Evil.
-"Why?", asked Eddie sternly.
-"The Witches Realm and Haunt Quarters are in great danger! Get Jake, Tracy and Futura here at once, and I'll tell you all you need to know."
-"How do I know this isn't some trap you're springing on us?"
-"I'll allow Tara McCormick to use the truth spell on me. You'll see for yourselves what that renegade witch Alana Ballester is planning."
Tara frowned at the sound of that name. No wonder she was never found. She, like Monica did, was spending time at Haunt Quarters with Prime Evil!
-"Get him inside, ladies! I'll call Jake on the com-link."
Moments later, Jake and Tracy arrived in GB along with Futura, a sorceress from the future and a lover from Jake's past. This irony was made possible by their ability to time travel back and forth to see each other. The relationship ended when the trips became too much for them to the point that they would be too tired to visit, let alone make love. Lately, though, thanks to his recent divorce from Jessica, the two have been seeing each other again with Futura staying at Ghost Command for days at a time. This was something she wasn't able to do before since Eddie at that time was Jake's roommate.
-"Hey Eddie! What's the latest on Prime Evil?", asked Jake climbing out of GB.
-"He drifted into unconsciousness while I was calling you. You should've seen him, Jake. Prime Evil was in pretty bad shape when he got here."
-"Damn, if he's unconscious, then Tara can't use the truth spell on him."
-"Actually, that's the best time to use it.", said Monica joining them, "There's no resistance on his part, and no chance of his memories being manipulated."
-"That's good to know. Futura, this is Eddie's girlfriend Monica Suarez. Monica, this is Futura Rivera, my girlfriend."
-"Pleased to meet you.", said Futura climbing out of the vehicle and offering her hand, "Jake told me all about you and Eddie."
-"All good I hope.", said Monica with a chuckle.
-"Actually, the way he told it sounded like a love novel I couldn't put down."
Monica smiled at the comment and even more when they shook hands. There was a special kinship she felt in her energy, like the two were somehow related. Monica made a mental note to talk with Futura some more once all is resolved. Futura, too, felt that she and Monica were related somehow and promised herself to look up the name in her genealogy records first chance she had.
Inside the bedroom where Prime Evil rested, the Ghost busters, Monica, Futura, and the Witches Council all gathered anxious to see what the truth spell will reveal.
-"Well, here goes. ", said Tara taking a deep breath, "Mind full of memories that are concealed. To the world let them be revealed. Of Prime Evil's time spent with Alana Ballester, to the world be now made clear."
Within minutes, an image began to form before their eyes. The first scene they saw was the inside of Prime Evil's chamber.
-'There, that should do it. It has taken me months, but I think my bone troller is back in working order. All right then, which one of you f--- ups is willing to help me test it out?'
-'Uh, boss. How about trying something simple first, like using the viewer?'
-'Good idea, Bratty. Come to think of it, I haven't seen Mysteria in weeks. Let's see what she's been up to.'
-'No need for that, wicked one! I'm here, and I'm not alone!'
-'What? Not another witch! You caused me enough trouble when you brought in Wizra!'
-'If you thought she was trouble, Prime Evil, then you fail to know the meaning of the word! Observe!'
-'No, not the bone troller, again? It took months for me to rebuild it!'
-'That silly toy is the least of your worries, Prime Evil. Now, we can end this one of two ways. Either you surrender Haunt Quarters and your army to me, Alana Ballester, true ruler of the Witches Realm and possibly the universe, or I'll take it by force and leave you the measly mortal you constantly claim those Ghost f-----s to be!'
-'You dare threaten me, bitch? I'll give you the spanking I gave my ex before she left!'
-'You may have SPANKED her, but I've seen the BEAT DOWN she gave YOU! Allow me to refresh your memory in case you've forgotten!'
The next few moments showed an intense battle between the two with Alana gaining the upper hand. The battle bitterly ended when Alana drained him of his powers leaving him weak, badly injured and reverted to mortal form.
-'There, I left you with enough power to transport yourself to one location. Think carefully where to go, Prime Evil. You don't want to go to a place where someone can easily finish you off. Now get out!'
-"Damn! You sure Alana's not the next Golden Witch, Tara?", asked Eddie not believing what he saw.
-"Positive, but she can easily become it now that she has BOTH powers."
-"Not if I have anything to say about it! I noticed that all Alana did was use her magic. I'm willing to bet that her fighting skills are piss poor. Besides, if she has Prime Evil's powers, she must also have his weaknesses!"
-"Don't get cocky, child! Alana is alot more resourceful than you think. Once she sets her mind on something she wants, she'll do anything stress ANYTHING to get it."
-"Well then, I guess we'll have to do everything stress EVERYTHING to stop her."
All left the room to let Prime Evil rest, then made their way to the meeting chamber to come up with a plan. After a few hours, the best thing they decided to do was call all the witches and warlocks back to the Realm and train them for combat with the help of Hank Traylor, Judge Ebolize's court officer. Meanwhile, Tracy along with Mauro, Futura's brother, and a few warlocks who were engineers went right to work inventing and perfecting weapons and armor for everyone. Each was designed with the schematics of the dematerializer with the exception of the ghost gummer and specter snare, a gun that shoots a lasso at its intended target.
Monica and the Ghost busters came down one afternoon to check on their progress and try on the armor Tracy and Mauro designed for them.
-"How's it going so far, Mauro?", asked Jake.
-"Progress has gone more smoothly than I've hoped, thanks to these engineers. Together, we've enhanced the strength of the dematerializers and dematerializer nets by fine tuning the amplifiers. The compound within the ghost gummers have become more adhesive thanks to an adjustment in the formula. We've managed to extend the reach of the specter snares by 50 feet as well as strengthen the cables. We've also taken the liberty to create new weapons as well."
-"Great! What are they?", asked Eddie as he picked up a ghost gummer, his usual weapon of choice, to examine the workmanship.
-"This is a ghost grenade. It works like a conventional grenade except it eliminates ghosts within a half mile radius upon explosion without hurting mortals or witches. Here is a spirit sword. It decomposes ghosts with each successful strike. This is a specter shield. One block of a ghost's blow with it, and it's history."
-"Excellent work, gentlemen. Thank you. We don't know what we would've done without you, Mauro."
-"I'm merely doing what I can to preserve my lineage, Monica. When Futura told me we are somehow related, I knew that what happens now can very well affect our time as well. I just wish we had a moment to delve into our family trees to explore them."
-"So do I, Mauro, but that will have to wait 'til after the battle. I understand Tracy has my armor ready?"
-"Yes it is. The armor is designed to withstand a ghost's attack by stopping its ability to penetrate thus disabling it from attacking from within the body. Yours is on the table by the window. Jake, yours is just about complete. Eddie, we'll need to take your measurements before we can start on yours."
-"Good. I lost alot of pounds around the middle anyway. All the stress with Monica's trial, her sentence and this upcoming battle has left me with a nervous stomach."
-"Pa! Why didn't you tell me you were having health problems?", asked Monica as she tried her armor behind a dressing screen.
-"Sugar pea, you already had a full plate with your GED, studying the Witches' Law, and now this battle. The last thing you need is to worry about me too.", said Eddie walking up to the screen.
-"Listen, mister! If you want me to be your wife some day soon, you have to tell me these things so I can BE a wife and take care of you. One of the vows in marriage is 'in sickness and in health', remember?"
-"Yes dear.", said Eddie with a sigh and a smile.
-"Now hand me those shin guards over there and the bodice, will you pa?"
Minutes later, Monica came out from behind the screen and caused a full length mirror to appear. The armor looked beautiful in gold with shoes, shin guards, forearm bands, pelvic plate, and helmet. The only thing wrong with it is that the bodice looked like a reject from Madonna's wardrobe in that her breasts were cupped in steel spiral cases.
-"Uh, Tracy, I know I'm a 38D, but this is a bit much I'm afraid."
-"Sorry!", said Tracy shrugging his broad shoulders.
-"That's all right. At least you got the size correct.", said she as she magically changed the bodice to a softer silhouette, "There, that's better. What do you think, guys?"
-"I surrender!", exclaimed Eddie raising his hands and dropping to his knees in front of her.
Giggling, Monica magically brought a spirit sword to her hand. Then, taking 5 steps back, she used her karate skills to twirl and maneuver the sword with ease. She looked like poetry in motion as she executed every move flawlessly. Eddie, still on his knees, closed his eyes and tilted his head back. Monica, seeing this, spun clockwise as she stepped toward him bringing the sword down within a centimeter of his large neck. Gasping, Jake and Mauro ran toward the couple to see if Eddie was hurt.
-"Ha! Made you look!", said Eddie not moving an inch.
-"Amazing! The sword itself weighs 15 pounds, yet Monica handled it like a toy!", exclaimed Mauro not believing the closeness of the blade.
-"I'm stronger than I look, Mauro. Maybe when we get married, EJ, I'll carry YOU across the threshold."
-"Sounds good to me, baby.", said Eddie with a chuckle.
-"Thanks for trusting me with the blade, pa."
-"You're welcome.", said Eddie rising to his feet and kissing her hand after removing the blade.
CHAPTER 17-THE BATTLE FOR THE FUTURE
Posted atop the palace was a lookout point. Each witch and warlock manned it for 8 hours at a time since for this job, all that was needed was sharp vision, keen powers and a clear understanding of what's at stake. After weeks of preparation and waiting, the alarm finally sounded. Alana Ballester was spotted coming from the north with Prime Evil's army. What wasn't expected was an even bigger army of zombies accompanying her. Among them were the ones that used to be Monica's parents and Jake's mother. Alana strategically placed them on the front line hoping that Monica and Jake wouldn't be so brazen as to "hurt" their loved ones. All the witches and warlocks lined up in formation, one row after another, with Monica, Jake, Tara, and each member of the Council handling a "platoon". Eddie chose to battle along side Monica, the memory of his poor performance as a leader the day he took over Jake's job haunting him.
Minutes later, Alana atop a white stallion with wings, gave the signal to charge. As planned, four of the seven factions disappeared and reappeared behind Alana's army with the command to open fire. All who had dematerializers, ghost gummers and specter snares advanced as they fired, taking out a grand number of ghosts and zombies. The remaining three factions stood their ground and fired from the front taking out even more of Alana's troops. Jake and Monica gave the order to advance as they fired, but immediately halted their troops when they made a shocking discovery.
-"Jake! I can see my parents standing over where Alana is!", exclaimed Monica speaking to his heart.
-"My mom's with them too!", responded Jake in kind blessed temporarily with a gift to speak telepathically.
-"What do we do? We can't risk hurting their bodies or their souls won't rest in peace!"
-"Use the ghost gummers on them!", called Eddie using the same gift although his is more permanent thanks to the bond he and Monica share, "That way they'll be too tied up to hurt anybody!"
-"Great idea, Eddie! Everyone, advance with only the ghost gummers firing The rest of you, be selective in using the specter snares and dematerializers. Use them only on ghosts!"
Following orders, the troops advanced with word getting to the other factions to do likewise. Then, Tara had a terrific idea.
-"Jake! Can the dematerializer nets be turned off?"
-"Yes, but what good are they turned off?"
-"Instead of using them on ghosts, we can use them on the zombies and transport them to my dungeons and catacombs!"
-"Good idea, Tara!"
Tara issued the order to all who held the nets to turn them off and capture the zombies. Once caught, the witches and warlocks working the nets transported their catch to the dungeons back in the palace. A large number of witches and warlocks were assigned to guard the prisoners with Eddie placed in charge.
-"Sh--! I told Jake I didn't want to be a leader. Me and my big mouth for telling him about my job as a security guard. I guess he figured this is the one job I'm capable of."
-"Don't feel blue, beloved. At least you're safe, and so are Tracy and Mauro in the lab."
-"Yeah, but you're still out on the field, baby. Now I'm going to be worried sick about you as well as worried about these prisoners."
-"Order the witches and warlocks to do a 'sleep spell'. That'll make your job easier. As for your stomach, get Tamara our servant girl, to make you a flaxseed broth. That should soothe it."
-"All right, love. Be safe."
-"I will. Say a prayer to the Divine for us. We'll need it."
Alana, realizing her factions are dwindling, ordered a retreat and regroup. Even she with her abundant powers couldn't penetrate the walls of the dungeon to free her "soldiers". She then realized the one method she hadn't tried was the element of surprise.
-"We'll attack again at midnight.", said she to Mysteria, "This way we'll catch them off guard and hopefully unarmed."
Instead of chasing Alana and her troops while retreating, Jake and Tara ordered all to stand down and rest. As before, Point Lookout as it is lovingly called among the folks was manned at 8 hour intervals. Back in the dungeons, Eddie arranged for the prisoners to be guarded at 8 hour intervals as well as appoint a "night supervisor" so he can rest for 12 hours. Later that evening, Jake, Tara and Monica came down to visit Eddie as well as see if they can find their loved ones.
-"Hey papi!", said Monica embracing Eddie.
-"Hey baby! Boy that felt good."
-"Mm yes. How's it going so far."
-"Great! The sleep spell worked like a dream, I found someone to relieve me at midnight, and I'm getting along with the troops."
-"Any sign of my mom or Monica's parents, Eddie?"
-"Just Monnie's dad, Jake. Sorry. The others are probably still with Alana."
-"Can I see him?", asked Monica worriedly.
-"Sure, although I'm not sure what his state of mind would be if he wakes up."
-"I'll chance it, pa."
-"Okay. He's over there in cell 3."
Following Eddie, Monica walked over to the cell and found her father sleeping by the door. She noticed that Alana not only resurrected his body, but restored it as well to the point that he looked like he did when she was a teen. The only thing that reminded her he was still dead was the grayish hue to his facial features. Monica, kneeling, reached in to take his hand in hers.
-"Careful, babe. He's under Alana's spell, remember?"
-"I know, honey. I was just reminiscing.", said she as she clasped the cold, lifeless hand, "There's got to be a way to break the spell. There has to!"
-"Actually there is, or at least a way to counteract it.", said Tara.
-"What is it? Please tell me!"
-"Alana's spell only works on corpses. If we can revive your father at least 'til the war is over, the spell will have no effect on him. The only thing is the revival spell has been forbidden for us to use since too many witches and warlocks played God with it in the past."
-"Aunt Tara, you're the head of the Council. Can't you suspend the ban?"
-"I suppose I can, but very rarely can I act on a matter without consulting the other witches."
-"I suppose the spell can't hurt if used on at least Monica's and Jake's parents.", said Casey as she approached the group.
-"I agree.", said Shekina joining them, "Besides with Monica's parents alive that's two more for our ranks if they regain their powers."
-"I do not recommend it.", said Yu Lin, "Once the war is over, they will have to die again causing more heartache for Monica and Jake."
-"They are going through heartache now, Yu Lin, seeing their families like this! At least, with them alive, they won't have to fight against them."
-"I see your point, Reina, but I still don't like it."
-"Yu Lin, honey, for once you've been out voted.", said Casey putting her hand on her back, "Go ahead, Tara, you have the floor."
-"All right. Here goes. Hear my plea spirit of death, restore to this man his final breath. Cause him to live as he did before. This right now, do I implore."
Within minutes, as air filled his lungs and fresh blood coursed through his veins, his face took on a cafe au lait hue much like Monica's, and the hand she held became warm with life again. Convinced that the spell worked, Monica took her father to an available bedroom and stayed with him 'til the sleep spell wore off.
-"Wha-what happened?", asked her father fluttering his eyes open.
-"Monica? Is that you? You've grown! Have I been away that long?", asked Juanito Suarez hugging her.
-"Yes, papito, you have. I'm 37 now."
-"37?! Dios mio! The last thing I remember was kissing you goodbye before you left the car to go to school. Your mother and I then got into another fight about money on our way to the job. We were so into the argument, I didn't know my car had drifted to the wrong side of the road 'til it was too late."
-"So the rumors weren't true after all."
-"The neighbors were saying you had a few beers before you got in the car."
-"Hija, nothing can be further from the truth. I never drink before I work. I have to drive a cab. I'd lose my license if I'm caught by the cops drunk."
-"What about those times I saw you beat up Mamita? You weren't sober then!"
-"True. Very true.", said he hanging his head in shame. "I had alot of time thinking about that while I was in the spirit world. I kept praying to the Divine to tell you that I was sorry for hurting her and you in that way. I kept wishing I had another chance at life so I can fix everything."
-"Well papito, I guess this is that wish granted, but that's not why we brought you back."
Monica took the time to bring her father up to speed.
-"So, Alana has grown up too. She was always jealous of you, mi hija, even before you found out you were becoming the next Golden Witch. Whenever you went to visit your godmother here in the Witches Realm, Alana would do everything to make your life miserable. Spread nasty rumors, pull away playmates, steal your toys..."
-"I always wondered why she hated me. Whenever I would be nice to her, she'd spit on me and call me a commoner. I had to ask Tara what it meant."
-"So, she raised me and your mother from our graves to get to you, eh? Don't worry mi hija. My powers will be at full strength in a little while. I'll get your mother back."
-"Papito, it's not that simple. Alana's powers have become alot stronger. She's almost as strong as I am now."
-"You forget, Monica, I was in the army for a few years. If there's a way I can get into Alana's camp without being seen, I'll find it."
Just then, the alarm sounded again. This time, Alana's troops were surrounding the palace and all the camps that were set up around the perimeter. Just as before, though, the factions of the Realm were armed to the teeth. Following the same orders as before, the witches that controlled the nets captured the zombies and placed them in the dungeons while those with dematerializers, ghost gummers and specter snares coordinated their efforts to rid the ghosts.
Jake, remembering how the palace courtyard was structured, ordered the witches and warlocks in his faction to draw the ghosts there using their spirit swords and specter shields. Thinking they had the upper hand, the ghosts chased the witches and warlocks inside the courtyard. At Jake's signal, warlocks hidden in a balcony just below Point Lookout let loose a barrage of ghost grenades wiping out a good number of Alana's forces.
With powers at full strength, Juanito transported himself inside Alana's army in an effort to find his wife. After taking out a few ghosts, he finally found her combatting a fellow warlock. The warlock as it turned out was Monica's old school teacher Terry Martin. Appearing behind Zulma Suarez, Juanito caused a net to appear and captured her with it. With Terry's help, he brought her back to the dungeons where they quickly did a sleep spell followed by the revival spell. While Terry returned to the battlefield to tell Monica the good news, Juanito took his lovely bride to the same bedroom he occupied and kept watch until she awoke.
-"Pepe?", called Zulma using his nickname.
-"Right here, sweetheart.", said Juanito holding her hand.
-"Where are we?"
-"Back in the Witches Realm in the palace."
-"How can that be? The last thing I remember was you crashing the car."
-"Yes, but Tara brought us back from the dead because Alana captured our bodies and forced us to be a part of her army."
-"Alana? Monica's bully? She's only 16! How can a girl so young lead an army?"
-"She's 37 now, mamita," said Monica appearing before them, "and so am I."
-"37? No! I don't believe it. We've only been out cold for a few hours, maybe a day or two. And how could you say that we were dead? Look at us, we're healthy!"
-"I know you don't believe it now, mamita, but everything papito said is the truth. He wouldn't lie to you about this."
-"Think again, young lady. I know this man better than you do. He's always lying to me about everything. He says he's paying the bills, but he spends every dime on liquor. He says he's going to play dominoes with the boys, and he ends up with a girl."
-"Zulma, you know that's not true. If all the bills haven't been met, it's because I didn't make that much money. If I'm with another woman, she was one of my friends."
-"Liar! Take me home right this minute! I have to fix Monica's dinner! She must be so worried about us."
-"But mamita, I'm right here."
-"Nice try, but I can tell you're not my daughter. Unless you want to hear what I think about you, you'd better leave this room."
-"Mamita, it's me Monica. Please believe me!"
-"I said leave!", said Zulma as she threw a steel pitcher full of ice water at her.
Monica managed to block the pitcher with her specter shield, but not the hurtful words from her heart. As she turned around to leave, she uttered the sleep spell and caused her parents to go unconscious once more. Returning to her room, she took a teddy bear that Eddie had given her, hugged it close, then laid down in her bed to cry. Unbeknownst to her Eddie was asleep on the other side and was awakened by her sobbing.
-"Babe! What is it? What's the matter?"
-"Pa! I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."
-"It's okay, sugar pea. Something ugly must've happened if you're holding Eddie Teddy."
Monica chuckled at the name Eddie had given the bear. It was a custom made gift outfitted with an exact replica of his old uniform and ghost pack.
-"Yeah, something ugly did happen. I just got back from my parents' room."
-"How are they?"
-"Papito's fine. It's mamita I'm worried about. Papito knew he was dead when he woke up because he talked about his time in the spirit world. Mamita just thought she was out cold all this time and insisted that papito take her back home to fix me dinner saying I must be worried about her."
-"I take it she didn't recognize you."
-"Not at all! She threw a pitcher of ice water at me thinking I was papito's mistress!"
-"What? Are you all right?"
-"Sort of. I managed to block the pitcher with the specter shield, but my wrist took the brunt of the blow. I'll have a doctor take a look at it in the morning."
-"Good thing you had your forearm guard on too.", said Eddie removing it. "Why would your mom think you're your dad's mistress?"
-"I don't know, pa. I doubt if it's just that she's disoriented. Out of nowhere, she came out with these accusations of papito cheating on her and splurging his money on alcohol and women."
-"Any truth behind them?"
-"None! Papito's the most devoted family man I know. Sure he would beat her up when he got drunk, be he never wanted to be with anyone else. He'll submit to the truth spell to prove it without hesitation."
-"Do you think it would be smart to have a doctor look at her? Maybe your pop knocked her upside the head or the crash caused head trauma."
-"That's what I'm thinking too. I'll arrange for a doctor to examine her while she's asleep. There has to be a reason why she's behaving this way. This isn't like her at all."
-"Meanwhile, better wrap your wrist in an ace bandage and get some sleep. I know witches can go without it for days, but I'd feel better if you did."
-"All right, pa. I will.", said she handing her teddy bear to Eddie who placed it on the head board.
Monica magically removed the rest of her armor and wrapped her wrist in a bandage like Eddie suggested. Snuggling under the covers, the lovers tenderly kissed and drifted off to sleep in each other's arms.
CHAPTER 18-INWARD STRUGGLES
Days went by and there was no sign of Alana or her dwindled army. As much as Tara would've liked to, she held off on declaring victory. As much as she wished, she decided against sending the zombies back to their resting places for fear that Alana would resurrect and recapture them. Jake sadly spent many a sleepless night. He not only had his mother's well being to worry about, but Jessica had been on his case to leave the Witches Realm and come back to Ghost Command. Despite their divorce, Jessica still cared a great deal for him. Jake felt the same way for her, but knew deep down inside things will never be as before. Not as long as Jessica continued to act so selfish. The main reason he became a ghost buster besides the adventure was that he always enjoyed helping others. If it wasn't for Alana capturing his mother, he would've derived more pleasure from participating in the war for those two reasons.
Monica too had been losing sleep. She not only worried about Tara, the Council and the citizens of the Realm during the war, but her heart was burdened with the news about her mother's mental health. The doctor's examination revealed that she was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's Disease. She felt it best for her health and safety that her mother remain under the sleep spell.
Unable to sleep yet again, Jake and Monica found themselves sitting in the palace garden each not knowing the other was there 'til they saw each other's silhouettes.
-"Who's there?", asked Jake drawing his spirit sword.
-"Jake?", called Monica recognizing his presence.
-"Oh, it's you. Sorry Monica."
-"It's all right. What are you doing here?"
-"Same reason you are, I'm sure."
-"If the reason is that I couldn't sleep, yeah. And I'm worried abut my mom."
-"How is she?"
-"Remember months ago when I saved you from Prime Evil? When we got back to Ghost Command, you and EJ gave me reasons not to go back to the past to change it. Seeing her now and knowing she had Alzheimer's Disease makes me realize how important that advice was."
-"I'm sorry about your mom, Monica."
-"So am I, Jake. I hope this war ends soon so she can return to the grave in peace."
Jake, unable to mask his feelings any longer, began to weep.
-"Oh Jake, no. Please don't.", said Monica holding his hand and rubbing his back, "We'll find a way to get your mom back. I promise."
-"I know, and I appreciate the effort. It's just that...never mind."
-"Jake, please, if there's anything I can do to help, tell me. You helped me get away from Prime Evil and set things right in the Realm. What kind of friend would I be if I'm not given a chance to reciprocate?"
-"I don't think you can, Monica, even if I wanted you to. I'm just frustrated, that's all."
Jake took a deep breath before continuing.
-"About you. You and Eddie. You two seem to have the perfect fairy tale relationship, something I thought I had with Jessica, but didn't. I'm with Futura, now, but I'm not happy being with her either."
-"Is there friction between the two of you?"
-"No, there isn't. Futura's the most wonderful woman I know. The very thought of her makes me go weak in the knees."
-"So why aren't you happy with her?"
-"I guess it's because I'm with her not because I love her, but that I didn't want to feel lonely."
-"I think you definitely care about Futura, Jake. The trouble is the timing is all wrong."
-"You went right into another relationship without giving yourself time to get over the divorce. That's a mistake alot of people make. As for me and EJ having a 'fairy tale' relationship, it may seem that way, but we've had our own set of problems to deal with."
-"What?", said a surprised Jake.
-"Yeah, we did. We managed to work them all out, though, because we loved each other enough to do so."
-"What kind of problems?"
-"When EJ and I made love as teenagers, everything felt so right between us. We were a 'perfect fit' if you know what I mean.", said Monica blushing, "When we reunited, hoo boy. Let's just say he kept tearing me."
-"Yeah. It got to the point that I cried thinking I was going to lose him because of it. Instead, EJ found ways to get around it. Not to mention he reassured me that he loved me and that he didn't want anyone else."
-"That's exactly what I kept telling Jessica when you came into the picture. Despite that, she STILL felt threatened by you."
-"Me? Why? She knew that I was with EJ."
-"Monica, all she saw was a woman who in her eyes was more attractive than she was. Right down to your...uh...measurements."
Monica began to laugh at the comment remembering Tara's remark to Jessica regarding hair extensions, color contacts and silicone implants.
-"All the while, I thought SHE was more attractive than I was."
-"I think the two of you are both beautiful. Sometimes I catch myself wishing you were my girl instead of Eddie's."
Monica couldn't believe what she heard. She always found Jake to be handsome, but she never had any romantic feelings toward him. In fact, she often regarded Jake as the older brother she never had.
-"I'm flattered, Jake. Thank you.", was all she could say in response.
CHAPTER 19-FATAL ATTRACTION?
Just then, the alarm sounded yet again. Alana, with what was left of her army, was spotted on the crest of a hill near the palace. This time, she chose not to advance, but rather send a messenger to find Jake. The messenger she chose was the zombie of a 10 year old girl named Trixie Duvall who died of a broken neck when her horse threw her off after being spooked. Trixie because she was so young was the only zombie that didn't fight. Instead, Alana took great care to make sure she wasn't harmed during the war.
As Trixie reached the palace, the Council gathered in the courtyard with weapons drawn. Casey, dropping to one knee, asked the little girl the reason why she came.
-"I was sent by my mistress to find a man called Jake to give him a message."
-'What message is that, dear?"
-"I can't tell you. The message is for him."
-"We'll get him for you, sweetheart. In the meantime, I have a present for you."
-"A present? For me? Is it a doll?"
-"No dear, not a doll, but something more precious."
At that moment, Casey took Trixie's hands in hers and uttered the revival spell. Within minutes, the little girl was restored to her blonde, blue eyed, rosy cheek self.
-"Hey, I'm me again!", said Trixie looking at her hands, "Thank you! Thank you so much!"
-"You're welcome, dear.", said Casey receiving a hug, "Now once you give the message to Jake, I'll have a servant take you inside for something to eat."
-"But my mistress will be mad if I don't come back."
-"Don't you fret your pretty little ringlets, Trixie. We won't let Alana hurt you."
-"She's right, Trixie. You're safer here than with her.", said Jake approaching the group, "Now what was the message she sent you with?"
Trixie reached into a tattered purse and handed the message to him. What he read made his heart race.
-"If you're willing to make a deal for your mother, come to the bottom of the hill and come alone."
-"Come alone?! She's crazy as a rabid 'coon if she thinks you're going to do that!", said Casey taking the note and passing it to the others.
-"Jake, you can't face that witch alone. You're a mortal.", said Tara with a look of concern.
-"I know, but if she's willing to strike a deal involving my mother, I can't take chances going down there with backup."
-"Take this, then.", said Monica causing an amulet to appear, "It has a portion of my powers and the knowledge to use them."
-"Thanks Monica.", said Jake allowing her to put it on, "I'll be back as soon as I can."
Jake wasted no time in following Alana's instructions. Once he arrived at the bottom of the hill, Alana ordered Mysteria to hold the troops fast 'til she returned. She then transported herself first to meet Jake, then with Jake back to camp.
-"Welcome to my humble abode.", said Alana as she magically changed into a red lace negligee.
-"Alana, what's this all about?"
-"I just thought our factions deserve a rest from the war, that's all."
-"Yeah, right. You're up to something. I find it hard to believe all you want to do is socialize."
-"You're cautious. I like that in a man.", said she as she poured two glasses of Remy Red, "I'm willing to bet you won't accept your favorite drink for that same reason."
-"Now how did you know?", said Jake sarcastically.
-"Suit yourself. It's here if you change your mind. Speaking of changing minds, I'll bet I can change yours before the night is over."
-"About how you feel about me. I'm really not such a bad witch. In fact, your mother would've been eliminated instead of here resting if I was."
-"Show her to me!"
-"Very well, she's right behind you through that curtain.", said Alana as she magically moved the fabric barrier. Sure enough, there she was asleep on a cot.
-"I tore a page out of the Council's book and put her under a sleep spell. How convenient since I wouldn't need guards around her. Why don't you send her back to the palace now that you're here?"
Jake looked at her puzzled by the statement.
-"I know you can do it since you have Monica's amulet. Sigh, that girl has such poor taste in jewelry. She should've given you a dream catcher necklace like the one I ga...er...saw her wear."
-"You? You gave her the necklace?"
-"Yes, I admit I did. I wanted Mysteria to keep her out of my hair 'til I fulfilled my destiny."
-"You mean Monica's destiny!"
-"Bullsh--! That girl isn't suited to be a leader. She's not born of royal blood like I am."
-"That's not how the Divine judges people. If He felt Monica couldn't handle the job, then why would He give her the tools for it?"
-"To be my second in case I can't fulfill my duties.", said she sarcastically, "Really, Jake. Don't you think you're wasting your time defending her? If anything, you should be by my side as my champion, or better yet, as my king."
Jake found himself a little mesmerized by Alana's big blue eyes, but tried to remain focused. Then he had an idea.
-"A king, huh? Sounds a little tempting. I have something better in mind, though."
-"We don't need to be in the Realm for us to be rulers. We can have a kingdom of our own.", said Jake taking Alana by the hips, "With princes, and princesses, a maid to serve us and an iron chariot that can take us wherever we need to go."
-"I knew you'd be pleased."
-"It also sounds like typical suburban life!", said she breaking from his arms, "What kind of fool do you take me for, Jake?"
-"Nobody's making you out to be a fool, Alana. I'm saying that that's a more attainable goal than becoming a Golden Witch."
-"Is it? Maybe so, but it's also very demeaning. Besides, not every lofty goal can be attained by going through years of college and then an internship."
-"That may be true, Alana, but looking at your army, I'd say that your goal is moving farther and farther from your reach."
-"Looks can be deceiving, Jake Kong, but enough talk about the war. What do you say we send your mother back to the palace and explore the idea of you and me together?", said she caressing his cheek.
-"Alana,", said Jake taking her hand in his noticing for a moment that she was only 5'10", "I'll admit it. You are a beautiful woman, and under different circumstances, I'd take you as my own in a heartbeat. The way things are now, though, it'll never work out between us."
-"So you would prefer me as a typical housewife/witch then?"
-"Not necessarily. I'm sure you can accomplish alot in the Realm as you are now. Not that many witches and warlocks are chosen to be gatekeepers to it. Not that many are chosen to stand by the Head Council's throne. I'm sure that eventually, you would've become a member of the Council yourself."
-"I refuse to be the footstool of a commoner. I will be the next Golden Witch or die trying. I'll also have you, Jake, either in bed or in battle."
-"I wish you well, then, but I also wish you'd reconsider.", said he brushing a lock of hair from in front of her eyes before leaving magically with his mother.
CHAPTER 20-PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS
Alana found herself reaching for Jake and calling him as he disappeared. An overwhelming sadness filled her heart as she found a chair to sit in. She began to wonder if what Jake said was true.
-"He painted such a beautiful picture with his words.", she thought, "Could such a scenario make me happier than being the Golden Witch? No, such simplicity will never be enough for me. Why would Jake feel that it's enough for him?"
Pondering this, she magically changed back to her armor, finished her drink, and rejoined her troops. Much to Alana's and Jake's shock upon arrival, the battle raged on without them.
-"So the Council took advantage of the moment to attack my troops, eh? They'll pay dearly for that!"
-"I don't believe it! Alana took me out of the fight so her army could have the advantage! How could I have been such an a--h---?!"
Eventually, the two found themselves facing each other with weapons drawn, but for a moment neither made the first move.
-"Alana, how could you do this?!"
-"Do what?! You were the one keeping me busy while the Council engaged my troops!"
-"YOU order YOUR troops to attack US while I was in your camp!"
-"I never gave such an order! I told Mysteria to stand them down 'til I got back!"
-"Liar! I should've known better than be suckered like that!"
-"Funny how I was thinking the same thing! I said I was going to have you either in bed or in battle, but I didn't expect to have you this soon!"
With that said, Alana swung her sword in Jake's direction which he successfully blocked with his. Alana took several more swings, but Jake matched her blow for blow. Then, in a bold move, Alana magically removed Jake's helmet and knocked him to the ground with a head butt. Still alert, Jake managed to roll out of the way as Alana plunged the sword downward. Jake then grabbed a handful of dirt and flung it into Alana's eyes temporarily blinding her. Jake wasted no time in grabbing Alana in a full nelson, but she magically disappeared and reappeared right behind him. With a strength becoming the tall beauty, she grabbed Jake by the waist and executed a belly to back suplex. Alana then climbed on top of Jake and unleashed a flurry of jabs to the face. Jake countered by kicking Alana in the back of the head with his iron plated shoe. Dazed, Alana fell victim to a forearm choke after Jake rolled on top of her. Alana, remembering Jake's worst fear from a magazine article she read, turned herself into a human sized cobra. Jake, giving in to his fear, coiled away from her.
Just when Alana was about to strike, a sword came down within inches from her head.
-"Mind if I 'cut in'?"
-"Monica! Am I glad to see you!"
-"Get back in the battle, Jake. Aunt Tara needs you. This bitch is mine!"
-"Am I?", asked she as she changed back to normal, "I think you'll discover quite the opposite!"
Alana lunged at Monica's leg in an attempt to clip it, but missed as Monica magically disappeared and reappeared behind her. Seizing the moment, Alana kicked Monica's legs out from beneath her and grabbed her sword which laid nearby. Swinging downward, Alana's sword was blocked by Monica's forearm plates. Squeezing her hands into fists, Monica tripped a mechanism causing blades to form on her forearms. Snagging the sword with them, Monica crisscrossed causing the blade to break. Distracted by this, Alana felt a kick to the chin causing her to fall backward. Scrambling to her feet, Monica wasted no time dropping a double ax handle to the back of the head as Alana struggled to her knees.
Meanwhile, Jake did as Monica told and joined Tara in the battle. While he was away, Mysteria had somehow found a way to penetrate the dungeon and free the prisoners. Despite Eddie's best efforts with his guards, he was overrun and forced to retreat.
-"Jake! Thank the Divine you're here!"
-"Good thing I am! What happened?!"
Tara quickly brought Jake up to speed.
-"I should've known better than to give in to Alana. She probably gave orders to Mysteria to attack while we were gone."
-"Somehow, Jake, I don't think so."
-"What do you mean?"
-"It isn't like Alana to delegate others to do her work. She's a perfectionist by nature; always abiding by the adage 'If you want something done right...'".
-"You know, when I faced her about an hour ago, I did hear her say all she did was tell Mysteria to stand down the troops 'til she got back."
-"That's her all right."
-"If that's the case, why did Mysteria take it on herself to attack us?"
-"Your guess is as good as mine."
Finding themselves outnumbered and low on 'ammo', the troops under Tara's orders retreated to the hills surrounding the palace. Seeking refuge in a cave for them and themselves, the leaders sat down to reflect and plan a new strategy.
-"How could this have happened?", questioned Terry a little bewildered by the recent turn of events, "I thought the dungeons were secure."
-"They were.", began Eddie crying from frustration and guilt, "I don't know how, but one of the guards told me Apparitia and Bratarat appeared through the floor and into one of the cells. Before we could stop them, the lock for that cell was picked. While we were trying to put the prisoners back, they picked all the other locks. Before we knew it, we were out numbered. I had no choice but to order a retreat. Sh--! Why didn't I see that coming? What the f--- did I overlook? Where did I go wrong?"
-"EJ, don't beat yourself up, son. You did an excellent job in guarding the prisoners. No one anticipated the ghosts would find a way to penetrate the dungeons. Not even me."
-"Tara's right, Eddie.", said Jake putting a hand on his shoulder, "You did the right thing in ordering a retreat. Instead of casualties, there were only minor injuries."
-"Hm, thanks. Speaking of minor injuries, that's one hell of a shiner Alana gave you. Where is she, anyway? Come to think of it, where's Monica?"
-"Sh--! I left the two of them battling to help you guys!"
-"Do you remember where?", asked a concerned Tara.
-"About 100 meters west from here. We better get back there!"
Jake, still wearing the talisman Monica gave him, transported himself and Eddie to the spot where he left the ladies. Sure enough, the two were still at it, this time with Alana having the upper hand. Just before she was about to strike Monica with her own sword, Jake fired a blast knocking it out of her hands.
-"Surprised to see me again, Alana?"
-"No, I had a feeling you couldn't stay away for too long. Despite our differences, Jake, you have to admit you're still attracted to me."
-"Don't flatter yourself, hon!" said Jake with a bravado masking the fact that she was right, "I'm here to tell you your troops have run us into the caves with Mysteria taking command."
-"Well, for once that 'piggy backing' bitch did something useful."
-"There may be more behind it than you know, Alana. I talked to Tara about you. She said it wouldn't be like you to give the attack order to someone else. That you'd rather do it yourself."
-"That's true, but what of it?"
-"I think you'd better look into it. Mysteria may be double crossing you!"
-"Is she? Well, we'll see about that!"
CHAPTER 21-WHO YOUR REAL FRIENDS ARE
All four transported themselves inside the palace to the place where the chaos began. Eddie couldn't help but shudder as bad memories began to flood his mind. Monica, seeing this, quickly read his thoughts using a more private version of the truth spell. Once done, she laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
-"You fought bravely, pa. Don't short change yourself thinking you took the coward's way out."
-"I know, babe, I just can't help but wish that I'd tried a little harder."
-"There's a difference between fighting harder and fighting smarter, love. In my eyes, you fought smarter...and won."
Eddie, smiling at Monica's words, caressed her cheek before turning his attention back to Jake who was trying to figure out how to get to the throne room undetected.
-"Foolish mortal. Why did you bring us here? Don't you know where the throne room is?"
-"Yes, I do! Do you expect to just waltz in and confront Mysteria head on? She may have the palace loaded with guards by now!"
-"I know I said I admire a man who's cautious, but this is overdoing it! I say we confront her now!"
Alana then disappeared before Jake could grab her.
-"Sh--! That witch is too adolescent for her own good!"
Jake then disappeared after her with Eddie and Monica in tow.
-"Ow! Careful with that comb you brat!"
-"Sorry Mysteria, but your hair had a knot in it."
-"Well, try to get it out without pulling. Such a worthless child! I don't know why Alana resurrected you to begin with!"
-"I raised her by mistake, Mysteria, or have you forgotten?"
-"Alana! Heh heh. How nice to see you've returned.", said Mysteria nervously.
-"You'd rather see me gone for good, I'll bet, seeing that you've chosen to disobey my command to hold the troops 'til my return!"
-"Never, Alana. I was just giving you a head start in conquering the Council."
-"You'd better be telling me the truth, Mysteria! There's no place in MY Realm for lies or disobedience! Come Trixie."
-"Wh-wha-what do you want with her?"
-"To get her away from your harsh words, number one. Number two, since the truth spell doesn't work on ghosts, I'm going to use it on Trixie to see what she knows about you!"
-"You certainly can't believe the thoughts of a 10 year old. Sometimes they have trouble distinguishing truth from imagination."
-"Obviously, you don't know the effectiveness of the truth spell.", said Alana pulling Trixie close as if anticipating an attack.
-"Oh I know how effective it can be.", said Mysteria approaching Alana, "I wonder how effective it is on someone dead."
Mysteria fired a blast in Trixie's direction which Jake blocked with one of his own.
-"Pick on someone your own age, Mysteria!"
-"Jake! How surprising they've made you a warlock!"
-"Only for the moment, Mysteria!", said Monica appearing behind her, "If I had it my way, I'd make it permanent!"
Out of the corner of her eye, Mysteria spotted Eddie approaching her on her left with ghost gummer in hand.
-"Give up, Mysteria!", said Eddie, "Or do we have to do this the hard way?"
-"Oh I wouldn't dream of doing it the hard way, Eddie. Not with you doing it for me!"
With a cackle, Mysteria turned herself into a purple mist, and surrounded Eddie. Trying to get a clear shot, Eddie maneuvered around the floor 'til he tripped backward on the steps leading to the throne. The ghost gummer misfired in his hands causing a gooey bullet to hit Jake in the eyes after Alana moved magically out of the way with Trixie in her arms.
-"Jake!", called Monica rushing to his aid.
-"You clumsy baffoon! You nearly hit me and Trixie!"
-"Clumsy baffoon. Heh. Story of my life.", thought Eddie as he rose to his feet, "Better be nice to me, Alana, or the next shot will be on purpose!"
-"You wouldn't dare!", glowered Alana.
Suddenly, Mysteria appeared right behind Alana and shoved her to the floor. Grabbing Trixie, she bolted right for the door, but was in for a shock when she opened it.
-"Going somewhere, Misty?"
-"T-T-Ta-Tara! How did you get past my guards?"
-"We found a way to reverse the spell Alana had on the zombies without the risk of her resurrecting them again. They've all gone back to their final resting places."
-"Just like you'll be when I'm done with you!", Alana growled as she approached Mysteria from behind.
Grabbing her by the wrists, the blonde beauty uttered the spell that will sound the death knell for Mysteria.
-"Troubling spirit, cause us trouble no more! Revert to the mortal you were once before!"
-"No!", cried Mysteria as she felt herself become flesh, "If I revert to a mortal, I'll deteriorate from old age!"
-"That's the idea!", said Alana in a singsong tone of voice, "That'll teach you to double cross me!"
-"No! I don't deserve this! You wouldn't have made it this far without me! You would've been the bratty, impatient, sorry excuse for a witch you were when we first met! You'll regret this, Alana! A curse on you, your children, your children's children, and your children's children's children!", said Mysteria as she grew old, rotted, and crumpled to dust all in a matter of minutes. Futura, who came in behind Tara averted Trixie's eyes from the horrendous sight.
-"It's over, Alana!", said Jake as he rubbed one of his eyes where he took the shot from the ghost gummer, "Give yourself up, and the Council might go easy on you!"
-"The hell I will, Jake! Don't think for one minute I'll settle for that suburban dream you spoke of!"
Alana formed a gun with her fingers and pointed it directly at Monica. Causing Eddie's thigh to glow, she retrieved the weapon from the holster built into his armor.
-"Jake! She's got the revolver!", cried Eddie when he realized what happened.
With an evil chuckle, Alana pulled back the hammer on the gun and inched closer to the intended target.
-"Since I can't take the position by force, I'll take it by succession. With Monica gone, you Tara have no choice in the matter."
-"Alana, don't be a fool! Your right to succession will be null and void if you pull that trigger!"
-"We'll see about that! Say goodbye, Futura, to your great-great-great-great-great grandmother!"
Futura, upon hearing the phrase, looked on in horror as Alana pulled the trigger. Stepping between them, Eddie took the bullet in the back in the right lung and dropped to the floor.
-"EJ!", cried Monica dropping to her knees to see how bad the wound was. Drowning in his own blood, Eddie rolled onto his side and coughed as hard as he could to clear out the lung. Monica, seeing the puddle of blood forming, uttered two spells between sobs and tears.
-"Stay thy hand, oh spirit of death, for I'll not let you take my beloved's last breath! Evil be gone, goodness remain! Bring healing to my beloved and relieve him of his pain!"
Within minutes, the internal bleeding stopped, and with one final cough, Eddie expelled the bullet lodged in his lung. Satisfied that her lover was out of danger, Monica magically cleaned up the blood and spittle that was on his face and the floor and rested his head on her lap.
-"This is starting to be a habit, Monnie. You sure you're not an angel in disguise?"
Monica chuckled at the comment as she removed Eddie's helmet to make him comfortable. Eddie, seeing her cheeks wet with tears, raised his hand to dry them before turning his attention to the rest of the group. While Monica rushed to save Eddie's life, Alana attempted to fire again only to have the gun explode in her hand causing her to lose three fingers. The explosion was magically caused by, of all people, Futura.
-"That'll teach you to hurt my family, you monstrous hell cat!", she was heard saying as Alana crumpled to the floor yowling in pain. Jake, feeling terrible for Alana, caused a towel to form with ice around her hand.
-"Poor Alana. There's no way the healing spell can help her in this condition.", said Tara as she knelt down beside her, "The only thing I can do is to stop the bleeding and hope that no infection will set in."
-"Do whatever you can, Tara.", said Jake also kneeling next to her. Tears formed in his eyes as he held Alana's other hand and rested her head in his lap.
-"Jake? You're weeping for me? After all I put you and everyone else through? Why?"
-"Because I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy, let alone someone I...I...love.", said Jake as reality set in. Alana fell silent at the phrase realizing all the while, despite all the hurtful things she said and did to him, that she too was in love with Jake.
-"I should've tried becoming part of that picture he painted earlier.", she thought tearfully, "Now I may never get that chance."
Futura, upon hearing Jake's statement, silently left the room and tearfully looked for her brother to take him home.
CHAPTER 22-NEW BEGINNINGS
In the weeks prior to the day when Alana was about to stand trial for crimes committed against the Council, Jake, deeply concerned for her well being, stayed in the Realm. Eddie on the other hand chose to return to his City Island home with Monica to give her and himself a much needed rest, but not before Monica tearfully returned her parents and Jake's mother to their final resting places. With Tara's blessing, Trixie chose to stay in the Realm seeing it was the only way she'll stay alive. Since she got along so well with Casey, the Council decided to appoint her as her legal guardian. With the exception of Futura and Mauro, all gathered back in the Realm to bear witness to the trial. It didn't take long for the Council to deliberate seeing that there was no need to use the truth spell this time.
-"Alana Isabel Ballester, please rise before the Council.", said a somber Tara McCormick.
Alana did as told, afraid of what she'll hear.
-"Before we render the verdict, is there anything you wish to say in your defense?"
-"What is there to say?", began Alana with hung head, "I was driven by the idea that I was destined to be the next Golden Witch despite being told by everyone including Jake Kong Jr. that it wasn't meant to be. It was because of that notion that I acted like a mad woman to the point that I nearly took a life. I don't deserve to be forgiven, neither do I expect to be. I'll accept whatever punishment that'll be doled out without objection."
-"Very well. Jacob Michael Kong Jr., please rise before the Council."
Surprised to hear his name called, Jake rose quickly wondering what was expected of him.
-"Jake, although you're a mortal with witch given powers and not part of this Council, we do value your opinion in this trial. Before we render the verdict, we will take into consideration whatever you say."
Jake looked at the Council, then at Alana. Then, thinking for a moment, he opened his mouth to speak.
-"Take her powers if you must. Banish her from the Witches Realm if necessary, but please don't take her life."
-"Thank you, Jake. You may be seated. Monica Marie Suarez, please rise before the Council."
Monica stood up having a good idea of what will happen.
-"Monica, it won't be much longer 'til the day you'll take my place at the Head Council's throne. We value your input as well."
-"I sincerely believe in my heart that Alana is enduring punishment already because of the loss of her right hand. What she needs right now is rehabilitation. I also recommend a reduction of her powers so she can maintain independence without hurting anyone."
-"Well said, child. Edward Lawrence Spenser Jr. please rise."
-"As a long time friend of the Council, we value your opinion highly if not most of all. What do you say?"
-"Gosh Tara. I'm not sure I can answer that right now. My lung still hurts a little from the bullet I took for Monica the day Alana tried to kill her. If I say anything right now, it'll be my lung talking and not my heart. I hope you understand what I mean."
-"I do, and I think that's the wisest thing you've ever done since you first came into the Realm. Thank you."
-"You're welcome. I know you and the Council will do the right thing.", said Eddie as he sat down.
-"With the exception of Edward's statement, each of you echoed the sentiments of the Council in one form or another. Alana will need help physically and emotionally in dealing with the loss of her hand. The injury, however, will not substitute for the sentence her actions have warranted. Therefore, it is with displeasure that I sentence you, Alana, to confinement within the Realm in the uppermost section of the Northern Quadrant. Your powers, sadly, will be permanently reduced to that of your infancy. This way, you'll maintain your independence without the risk of history repeating itself. You will however be permitted visitors since it seems you have more friends than you realize. Isn't that right, Jake?"
-"Uh, yeah, yeah it is.", said Jake a little embarrassed.
-"Then it is settled. You do understand, Alana, that your sentence begins immediately."
-"Yes Tara.", said Alana with tears in her voice.
-"Dear Alana, prepare your heart. For tomorrow you'll awaken with a start. By dawn's early light you will deduce that your powers have been significantly reduced."
Alana collapsed to the floor once the spell was uttered. The guards that flanked her, along with Jake, Monica, Eddie, and Tara, transported her to the place designated to be her "new home". That home turned out to be a small cottage by a lake.
-"It's beautiful.", said Monica as she looked at the house and scenery.
-"Indeed. It's mine, but I thought it would suit Alana's needs the best. Once she awakens, I'll sign the deed over to her."
-"That's very sweet of you Tara.", said Jake admiring the surroundings as well.
-"Thank you. Monica, can you help me settle Alana in?"
While the women went in to make Alana comfortable, the men sat in the living room noticing its simplicity. The TV was an old color console that still worked like a charm. The VCR was an older model. The stereo was one that only had a dual cassette deck, turntable and a radio. The sofa, chair and love seat were overstuffed and tan in color, while the coffee and end tables were a simple design made of oak.
-"I hope Alana will like it here.", said Jake, "I know I do."
-"Yeah. This cottage is really cute.", said Eddie, "She'll need a newer stereo with a CD player, though."
-"I'll take care of that the next time I see her."
-"You've really fallen for her, huh Jake."
-"Big time. I can't help but wonder if I could've prevented this from happening if we met sooner."
-"Nah, I doubt it. She was too much of a hell cat to be tamed that easily."
-"I suppose you're right. Still, I just wish I could've stopped Futura from making your gun explode."
-"I wish I didn't have it on me that day. Alana's hand would've still been whole."
-"You two sound just like me the day I brought you home from Haunt Quarters.", said Monica joining them with Tara, "Didn't you tell me it's never a good idea to change the past but work on the present?"
-"The student has surpassed the teacher.", said Eddie with a smile.
-"How's Alana?", asked a concerned Jake.
-"She's fine.", said Tara, "She's awake if you want to see her."
-"Isn't she supposed to be asleep?", asked Eddie with raised eyebrow.
-"Not with this spell. She's aware of her powers diminishing, but she won't go into shock like Monica did. She'll just run a temperature for a few hours, nothing more."
-"Lucky her.", said Monica, jealously, remembering her experience with the power spell.
-"Look at it this way, honey. Hers will be permanent while yours was temporary."
-"Humph, that doesn't make the ordeal any easier to handle."
-"Jake?", called Alana from the bedroom.
-"Coming. Excuse me a moment."
-"I'm frightened, sweetheart. I've never had my powers taken from me before."
-"I know, honey, but you'll still have enough to get around and make your life easier."
-"It's not the same, though. I'm not sure if I can deal with it."
-"I overheard Tara say to Monica once that you're a very resourceful woman, Alana. If she's right, then there's nothing that can stop you from living life except you yourself."
-"Thank you, baby. I needed that."
Jake stayed with Alana 'til morning while the rest decided to call it a night. Deciding not to go back to City Island, the loving tandem accompanied Tara back to the palace. While they were preparing for bed, Monica felt a strange presence in the room.
-"EJ?", called Monica a little frightened.
-"Yeah, babe?", responded Eddie from the bathroom.
-"Pa! Get the ghost gummer! I sense something in this room, but I can't see it!"
-"We'll find it, baby, don't worry.", said a concerned Eddie as he did as told.
The two tore the room apart looking for the presence to no avail. Monica, out of fear and frustration, crawled beneath the bed to investigate. She was searching among the things that somehow ended up down there over time when a bright light shone in front of her causing her to gasp.
-"It's just me, sweetie."
-"Tara, am I glad to see you. There's a presence in the room somewhere, but EJ and I can't find it."
-"Evil or good?"
-"I can't tell, it's just there. The most frustrating thing about it is it keeps following me."
-"Really. Come on out of there a minute."
Monica did as told, and Tara used her powers to pinpoint the presence. Her hand guided her right to her abdomen where the presence was strongest.
-"There's your answer, Monica! You're about to have a baby!"
Eddie tripped over a pair of Monica's shoes in the walk in closet they shared as he was rushing out. As he tried to regain his balance, he somehow knocked loose a rack of clothes which somehow knocked over some hat boxes which knocked over his tie rack which catapulted one of Monica's high heels which busted a light bulb and landed on his head.
-"EJ! Are you all right?", asked Monica concernedly.
-"Never better, baby!", said Eddie as he struggled to get up, "You were right, Tara! We are having a 'little sugar pea'!"
-"Aunt Tara, don't tell me you've been playing fortune teller again!"
-"It wasn't my fault. EJ was so bummed when you turned down his marriage proposal, the spirits had to give him hope."
-"Well, looks like I'll have to change the future a little.", said Monica thoughtfully.
-"What do you mean?", said a concerned Tara.
-"EJ, I know this is commonplace on Earth, but I don't feel comfortable having a baby out of wedlock. Could we have a wedding sometime soon?"
-"How about next month?", said Eddie hopefully.
-"Wait! I have a better idea. Your coronation's at the end of this month. Let's kill two birds with one stone."
The day arrived when Monica was about to be crowned as the new Head of the Council. Hours were spent decorating the palace for the occasion. Everywhere one looked there were either gold streamers, gold balloons, sunflowers, or gold glitter. Tara even arranged to have canaries and doves released once the ceremony concluded. She chose to wear a royal purple witches gown and crown for the occasion, while Monica chose to wear a 17th century golden gown with hoop skirt. Her hair was tied up in a pony tail with ringlets cascading through it as well as two ringlets around the temples. Eddie was fitted with a gold tuxedo and cummerbund which looked fantastic since he lost a good amount of weight due to illness. The palace courtyard was made into a church like setting with white chairs, white altar, white arch, and a yellow carpet up the middle. As everyone gathered, Eddie snuck upstairs to see his lovely bride.
-"EJ! You're not supposed to see the bride before the ceremony. It's bad luck."
-"I know, but I couldn't resist. Besides, according to the program, I'm supposed to walk you down the aisle."
-"That's true.", said Monica as she locked the door with her magic and put her arms around her fiancé, "You look so handsome, I wish we can have our honeymoon right now."
-"Would you settle for a quickie?", asked Eddie with a wink.
-"Mm, I'd like that."
Monica magically caused two mannequins to appear and placed their outfits on them. Pulling her close, Eddie savored a sweet kiss, then traced a line from cheek to shoulder to breast. Monica closed her eyes as he gently suckled enjoying the waves of passion he created. Carrying her like a child, he laid her on the bed and did something totally unexpected. He planted butterfly kisses on her abdomen, hips and thighs before resting his lips between them. Monica, surprised at first, gave in to the sensations she felt to the point she had to muffle herself.
-"Where did you learn that?", asked she once Eddie finished.
-"Jake used to brag about it to me and his buddies years before he married Jessica. I just kept what he said in mind for future reference."
-"Talk about saving the best for last."
-"Uh uh, baby. It's only going to get better. In fact, everything will only get better. Our love, our lives, our family..."
Monica sealed his lips with a kiss seeing they didn't have much time to work with. Eddie, realizing the same, gently thrust himself inside her and the two quickly enjoyed their union. Monica magically freshened herself and Eddie up before putting back on their respective outfits. As the two came down to the courtyard, Tara met them with a smile.
-"There you are. I was wondering how long you two will be."
-"How did you know where we were?"
-"By putting 2 and 2 together. I don't need my magic to figure out what you two were up to.", said she with a wink.
-"Can't hide anything from you, huh Tara?", asked Eddie with a smile.
-"Not that easily.", said Tara with a chuckle, "Now take your places children. The ceremony will start in 5 minutes."
The ceremony opened with Briana Lefevre singing "Love Will be Our Home" originally sung by gospel artist Sandi Patti to a small orchestra to the left of the arch. The first to come down the aisle to the tune of that song was flower girl Trixie. She was quite a vision with gown and hair similar to Monica's except for a diamond tiara. Following her was her honor herself, Judge Margaret Ebolize, who was all too eager to marry the young couple when Tara approached her with the request. Then came the members of the Council, each wearing a gown of their choosing. Casey wore a pastel green Southern style gown with matching shoes. Shekina chose to wear an outfit native to her African ancestors. Yu Lin did likewise choosing an outfit reflecting those of ancient China. Reina simply went with a satin red gown that was halter style with matching shoes and long gloves. Tara was next to come down along with Eddie Sr. Eddie was nervous at first about telling his father about his bride being a witch, but was surprised and relieved when he readily accepted her telling him that he knew that not all witches were wicked.
The last to come down the aisle was the happy young couple. Since the ceremony was a combination of a wedding and a coronation, it was agreed that the best man and maid of honor weren't necessary. Had this been the case, poor Monica would've had to choose among the members of the Council which was no easy task since all were very good and loving to her. Once the couple reached the altar, Margaret began to speak.
-"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the presence of the Divine to celebrate two wondrous occasions, the marriage between Monica Marie Suarez and Edward Lawrence Spenser, Jr. as well as the coronation of our new leader. Each occasion is similar in nature, if you think about it, in that both involve the recognition of responsibility. Through this ceremony, the couple will reveal to all the fact that they each will accept the responsibility of commitment to their marriage to do whatever is necessary to keep the household together. Mind you, Edward, that marriage doesn't hinge on the notion, 'I'm the king of the castle, and you have to do what I say.' Remember that Monica is the 'queen' of the castle, so every decision that has to be made regarding the 'castle' has to be made together. Monica, I wasn't around the time you served your sentence for your involvement with Prime Evil, but from what the Council members have told me, you have handled your time very wisely. That alone shows me you are a very responsible young lady, and I have no doubt in my mind that you need no lecture from me regarding that. With that said, let us now proceed. Do you, Edward Lawrence Spenser Jr., take this lady to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold? To love, honor and cherish? For better or worse? In sickness and in health 'til death do you part?"
-"I...I...I do.", said Eddie choking on his words, tears welling up in his eyes.
-"That's all right, Edward. You have every reason to shed tears of joy this day.", said Margaret placing her hand on his shoulder, "And do you, Monica Marie Suarez, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? To have and to hold? To love, honor and cherish? Notice I said 'cherish' not 'obey'."
The comment sent a chuckle throughout the room.
-"For better or worse? In sickness and in health? 'Til death do you part?"
-"I do.", cooed Monica.
-"Very well, then. By the power invested in me by the Divine and the state of California where I'm from, I hereby pronounce you husband and wife. The rings please."
-"The rings! Oh no! I forgot to get them from the jeweler!", cried Eddie.
-"Good thing I saw the receipt you left at Ghost Command, buddy.", said Jake holding up the gift box which held them.
-"Thanks, Jake. I owe you one."
Jake brought up the box and held it open while Eddie pulled out the ring belonging to Monica.
-"As you slip the ring on Monica's finger, I'd like you to repeat after me. As this ring has no end, so is my love for thee."
-"As this ring has no end, so is my love for thee."
-"With this ring, I thee wed."
-"With this ring, I thee wed."
Monica magically retrieved the one belonging to Eddie. She marveled at its size since Eddie usually wears a size 14 ring.
-"As you slip the ring on Edward's finger," began Margaret trying not to chuckle at her expression, "please repeat after me. As this ring has no end, so is my love for thee."
-"As this ring has no end, and boy is that ever true...", said she holding up the ring.
-"Hey!", said Eddie laughingly.
The whole room filled with laughter at Monica's joke. Tara caught her eye and laughingly shook her finger at her.
-"I'm only kidding, sweetheart. The size of this ring actually adds emphasis to this phrase. As this ring has no end, so is my love for thee. With this ring, I thee wed."
-"Edward, you may now kiss the bride."
A hearty cheer rang out as the couple kissed tenderly. Monica raised her hand to dry a tear from Eddie's cheek.
-"This is truly the happiest day of my life. I love you, Mrs. Spenser."
-"I love you too, Mr. Spenser.", said Monica placing her forehead against his.
-"Now it's time for another reason for you, Monica, to say 'I do.'", began Tara, "Judge Margaret Ebolize said it best in that both ceremonies involve an acknowledgment of responsibility. This responsibility entails a position I've held for 30 years. That of being the Head Witch of the Council. This position is not to be taken lightly. There are times when decisions have to be made that will be heart rendering, others when not even the best knowledge of the Witches Law will help. It's a position that creates allies as well as enemies. Yet, above all else, it's a position that once accepted will change your life forever. You, child, have been chosen by the Divine for this position because your powers are beyond those of your fellow witches. Through adversity, you've won the love and respect of not only the Council members, but all within the Realm. You've even gone as far as proving to the Council without realizing it that you're a responsible young lady by using your time wisely while serving your sentence. It is with all this in mind that I'm ready to bestow upon you this position. Do you accept it?"
-"Then kneel before me, child."
Monica did as told with Eddie's help since the gown made it a little difficult to maneuver. Tara, causing a golden scepter to appear, lightly touched her on the shoulder.
-"Do you, Monica Marie Suarez-Spenser, accept the title of Head Witch of the Council, and agree to abide by the Witches Law to the letter as you govern the position, so help you the Divine?"
-"Do you also swear to defend the Realm of all evil at all costs to the death if necessary?"
-"Then, by the power invested in me by the Divine, I command thee to rise and take the throne. This day, I declare thee Head Witch of the Council, and Queen of the Witches Realm."
Cheers and applause rang throughout the courtyard as Monica took the throne. Once seated, a crown and medallion appeared on her, the same ones that Tara 'til now had possessed.
-"As tradition has it," began Tara once the applause died down, "once seated, the Queen of the Realm gives the first command. Mistress Monica, we await your orders."
Monica knew of this precise moment, so she prepared herself ahead of time.
-"I summon before me Jacob Michael Kong Jr., Edward Lawrence Spenser Jr., Tracy, Mauro Miguel Rivera, and Futura Muriel Rivera."
All those summoned stood before the throne.
-"Because of your resourcefulness and bravery during the Witches War, I have prepared a special gift for each of you."
Monica created five medallions similar to the one she wore to give to each of them. Included was the one she took back from Jake not long ago.
-"These medallions, aside from commemorating your involvement in the war, contain a portion of my powers. Once worn, you'll no longer be considered friends of the Realm, but fellow brethren and sister. In other words, you'll no longer be mortals, but rather warlocks and witch.
Stepping down from the throne, Monica took the medallions, one at a time, and placed them around their necks sharing something with each as she did.
-"Jake, thank you for not only joining in the fight and being a leader, but for being the big brother I never had."
-"I did it because I wanted to, Monica. You didn't have to impart your powers to me again."
-"I did it because I wanted to.", said she with a smile and embrace.
Jake returned the hug, but was slightly saddened that Monica only saw him as a "big brother" and nothing more remembering the conversation they had in the garden not long ago.
-"EJ, you're alot braver than you often give yourself credit for. I hope that one day, you'll find it in your heart to totally receive that."
-"Easier said than done, babe, but thanks for telling me."
-"You're welcome. I'm really looking forward to our life together. All 600 years of it.", said she with her arms around him.
-"600? Are you serious?", asked Eddie as his face lit up.
-"One of the blessings of having these powers is prolonged life. I'll be damned if I'm going to out live you, mister.", said she with a smirk.
-"In that case, Mrs. Spenser, be prepared to stay 'tiiiiiiiiilllllllllll death do we part.", said Eddie as he embraced his lovely wife.
Monica chuckling returned the hug before getting Tracy's medallion.
-"Tracy, thanks for all your help in getting the weapons and armor together. I hope you understand that you can't just use these powers to create bananas, but with wisdom, you can do alot more."
-"Uh huh.", responded Tracy as he kissed her hand fearing he might hurt Monica and the baby with his brute strength if they hugged.
-"Mauro, you don't know how overjoyed I am that you're my great, great, great, great, great grandson. I'm so proud of you that you've become a mechanical genius. I don't know what we would've done without you during the war."
-"Glad to help, 'abuela'.", said he using the Spanish word for 'grandmother', "I hope you and 'abuelo' plan to visit us soon. My son Laser will be thrilled to see you. He shares your interest in music."
-"Why isn't he with you?", asked a sad Monica.
-"He's on tour right now with his band Future Rock, but he wanted me to give you a gift. This is his newest release. He turned it into a CD from the master chip since you don't have the technology we do."
-"Tell him 'thank you' for me. I'll always treasure it."
Monica turned her attention to Futura only to find her with her head down. It didn't take much to figure out what was wrong.
-"My sweet angel. Life is full of heartaches. God knows I had my share of them. Give your heart time to heal, honey, before getting involved with someone else. I'm always available if you need to talk, or even if you just need me."
Futura nodded and smiled through her tears. As the two embraced, Futura spoke to her heart.
-"I'll treasure your gift, abuela. I promise to use these powers wisely."
-"I know you will, baby.", responded Monica in kind.
Moments later, a grand reception was held for the happy couple. The same small orchestra that played in the wedding was there to play as well. The orchestra proved very versatile as it played love ballads, classical music, disco, dance, salsa, and merengue. The singers that accompanied them knew most of the songs that played. Monica was even put on the spot a few times either to sing or play the guitar. During those moments, Mauro decided to test his new found powers by causing a digital video camera to appear to record the events to show his son Laser when he got home.
Eddie and Monica danced to most of the tunes that played, especially the disco songs since that was the era when they first met. For the reception, Monica changed into a golden halter style dress with matching heels while Eddie simply ditched the tie and cummerbund. Jake, a little worn from the party, decided to get some air in the palace garden. Much to his surprise, he was not alone.
-"Hello, Jake.", said Futura as she sat on one of the marble benches.
-"Hi.", said he as he approached her, "Is this seat taken?"
-"Okay if I take it, or would you prefer to be alone?"
-"No, you're welcome to it."
-"Thanks. Futura, about the recent turn of events, I didn't mean to hurt you. I guess like Monica told me, I didn't give myself enough time to get over my divorce from Jessica."
-"I understand, Jake. I kind of had that notion when we first started seeing each other again."
-"Yeah. Selfish me went right into it with you instead of being a friend and telling you to wait. I guess I had it coming when you dropped me for Alana."
-"Actually I decided not to date her. She needs time to get her act together before taking that step."
-"Looks like you need time too then."
-"I guess. Sh-- Futura, why does life have to be so complicated?"
-"Life is as you make it, Jake. The more you play your cards right, the more games you win."
-"You didn't get that from your family, did you?"
-"How did you know?"
-"Eddie used that analogy on Monica about a year ago."
-"Looks like abuela was more influential on the family than I thought."
Futura and Jake talked a little more before falling silent. Then, taking her hand in his, Jake kissed it tenderly. Removing her antennae magically, Futura rested her head on his shoulder.
-"I'll miss our moments together.", said she as she closed her eyes.
-"Maybe you won't miss them for too long.", said Jake resting his head on hers, "Futura, would I be crazy in asking you to be selfish at least one more time?"
-"Yeah, you would.", said she looking up at him, "But I'd be just as crazy in saying 'yes'."
The two kissed tenderly as Jake transported her to the bedroom that was usually his whenever he stayed in the Realm. Easing her onto the bed, he slid a strap of her evening gown off her lavender shoulder and placed tender kisses. Futura, using her new powers, removed the jacket, vest and shirt Jake wore and caressed his shoulders and back. Jake, becoming a little daring, did likewise removing her evening gown, strapless bra and slip. Propping himself up on his elbow, Jake took a moment to gaze at her.
-"Beautiful.", was all Jake could say as he caressed her cheek.
-"Thank you.", whispered Futura as she stretched on the bed.
Kissing her again, Jake rolled Futura on top of him and savored her softness with his hands. Futura, enjoying his touch, raised herself allowing him to cup and caress her breasts. Unable to hold back any longer, Jake rolled Futura back onto the bed and magically removed her thong, his pants and boxers. Futura, receiving him, wrapped her long legs around him, and the two enjoyed their union to climatic ecstasy.
Back at the reception, Eddie noticed that Jake had been gone quite a while and voiced his concern to Monica.
-"Babe, have you seen Jake?"
-"I saw him go out to the garden a while ago."
-"Let's catch up with him a moment. I want to make sure he's all right."
The couple went to the garden only to find two glasses of half drunken wine, Futura's antennae and Jake's tie.
-"Dear Divine, I hope they're all right."
-"Yeah, it's not like Jake to go somewhere without telling me."
-"Let's use our powers to see if we can find them."
The two focused their energies on the items left behind in an effort to locate them. What they saw startled them to the point that the items fell from their hands.
-"Oh God!", said Eddie blushing, "Like I needed to see my partner in crime getting it on with our great, great, great, great, great granddaughter."
-"Tell me about it.", said Monica with face and ears red as well, "I'll never look at Jake the same way again."
-"What do you mean, Monica?"
Startled again, the two turned to see Futura and Jake right behind them.
-"Jacob Michael Kong Jr., I wish you'd make up your mind about which woman to be with! The last thing I want is for Futura to get hurt again!", said Monica smacking the bow tie into his chest and storming off.
-"You had us worried, young lady!", said Eddie shaking his finger at Futura, "Both of you! When we discovered you two were gone a long time, we used our powers to find you. Needless to say we got more than what we bargained for!"
-"A-a-abuelo, I-I'm sorry you had to see that.", stammered Futura, "You two were having such a good time, I didn't want to bother you."
-"Bother us, next time, Futura. Abuela and I almost thought the worst when we couldn't find you.", said Eddie resting his hand on her shoulder.
-"Sorry.", replied Futura with head lowered.
-"Better think about what Monica said, Jake. Now that we know she's our 'nieta', damn straight we're going to look out for her well being.", said Eddie using the Spanish word for 'granddaughter'.
After watching Eddie walk off, Jake in disbelief sat down on the bench he occupied before.
-"Damn! 37 years old, and we get busted like teenagers."
-"I'm sure they're only looking out for us, Jake. We WERE gone quite a while. They probably thought Prime Evil attacked us or something. Besides, maybe it WOULD be wise if you took time to think things over."
-"Maybe, but I got a feeling this is going to change things a little between me and Eddie."
-"Only a little, Jake. Only a little."
Eight months later, Monica gave birth to a beautiful baby girl just like the spirits told Tara. Eddie couldn't be any happier or prouder of that moment. As she grew, Idalia Laura Spenser began to look like her father except for her skin tone, button nose and wavy hair which were all from her mom. When she turned 2, she began to manifest her powers which surprised everyone including the Council. Never to their knowledge had there been such a frequent occurence of Golden Witches like in these two generations.
Jake eventually decided to stay friends with Futura realizing for sure that Alana was the one who won his heart. Two years into her sentence, Jake married Alana with Tara's blessing. Although her powers were still reduced, the Council had decided to lift her confinement in the Northern Quadrant due to good behavior. Jake made sure she received all the help she needed with physical therapy and psychiatric counseling to help her deal with the loss of her hand. As difficult as it was, Alana eventually found forgiveness in her heart for Futura for the gun accident
The happy couple later gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who, like Idalia, manifested her powers early on. Sadly, unlike Idalia, Jacqueline Michelle Kong became a wild child like her mother was growing up. The couple kept wondering whether or not Mysteria actually did put a curse on Alana prior to her "death".
Jake and Eddie still had a successful run as ghost busters with no signs of slowing down. In fact, they learned to incorporate their powers with their other skills and weapons to thwart Prime Evil's plans at every turn. At times, they even made it a family affair with either or both wives getting involved. With Monica's powers maintaining their youth and strength, you can surely bet that Prime Evil wil have formidable foes for decades to come.