"This is not fun! I've had fun before, and this is DEFINITELY not it!" Peter Venkman declared, ducking behind a crate. From his hiding place behind one of the other boxes, Egon Spengler couldn't help grinning. A Class Seven entity had been chasing them around the docks for half an hour, giving them little to no time to rest. All four men had been kept busy dodging the demon's fireballs and the shrapnel they caused. Yet somehow, Peter had found the breath to deliver that complaint in a loud, clear voice.
_Must be the effects of those Ranger powers,_ Egon mused. Over the past two weeks, he had noticed Peter's stamina increasing, although there had been little time to make a scientific analysis of the matter. Especially since Peter absolutely refused to act as guinea pig.
"Egon," the handset at his belt suddenly squawked. "This is Ray. I'm in position, and so is Winston. Are you guys ready?"
"As we'll ever be," the physicist replied, shooting Peter a look. The younger man nodded, hefting his proton thrower.
"Let's do it!" Ray cried. With that, the four Ghostbusters leaped out of their hiding places, surrounding the demon. "Power up!" yelled the occultist. Then he squawked as the demon flung a fireball directly at him. Backed up almost to the edge of the dock, Ray had nowhere left to give ground.
"NO!" A flash of green suddenly appeared between Ray and the fireball, taking the blow squarely in the chest. The force of the projectile sent Peter, now clad in his green Morphin Warrior jumpsuit, slamming back into a crate, and he crumpled to the ground.
"PETER!" three voices cried out in simultaneous horror.
Winston was the first to regain his composure. "Roast it!" he yelled, a proton beam snaking out from his thrower to strike the creature in the middle of the chest. Ray and Egon joined in simultaneously from where they stood flanking their fallen colleague.
"I'm not sure how long we can hold it with just three throwers," Ray puffed, shooting Egon a concerned glance. Suddenly a beam of powerful green energy sizzled up to encircle the struggling beast. Looking down, Egon saw that Peter was conscious, and from the sparkle in his green eyes, he was PISSED. Which, the physicist thought faintly, might account for the unusual strength of his energy stream. Magical weapons tended to vary in power with the wielder's moods.
"Get the trap, Ray!" Peter growled, still firing from a semi-prone position. "I'll help hold him!"
The occultist nodded. "Right! Trap out!" Stomping on the foot pedal, he opened the trap and watched as the demon was sucked inside. The doors clicked shut, and everything on the pier was silent. Peter levered himself to his feet, his jumpsuit fading back to brown as he did so.
"Are you all right, Peter?" Egon asked, helping the psychologist up. Once vertical, Peter brushed off his friends' helping hands.
"Sure, Spengs," Peter replied, in a tone that meant the exact opposite. "Let's just collect our fee for this sucker and get out of here." Grabbing the full trap from Ray, he strode off towards the pier offices, leaving three astonished men behind.
Winston Zeddemore sighed. He'd been staring at Ecto's engine for twenty minutes without doing much of anything. The old girl needed a tune-up, but for some reason, he couldn't concentrate on anything. Well, actually, he knew what the reason was. He was worried about Peter. They all were.
After returning from the bust, the psychologist had dressed in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and left to go running. Obviously something was bothering him that he didn't want to talk about, and he knew his friends weren't about to let him get away with something like that. So he was avoiding them.
Winston could understand why Peter might be feeling a bit confused. The past two weeks had been among the most hectic he'd ever endured. As a Ghostbuster, he'd seen a lot of weird things, and after their first meeting with the Morphin Warriors, he'd thought things couldn't get any stranger. The Rangers had proved them wrong, though, first recruiting Peter for a defense of the city, and then- the whole Shadowborg crisis.
That had been a weird experience. Peter was now a full-fledged Morphin Warrior, and Winston could only be glad it wasn't him. After all, the last thing he wanted was to have to wear pink all the time. He could imagine the adjustments Peter would have to make, though, and he certainly hadn't had time for it yet.
Sighing, Winston picked up his wrench. Peter couldn't avoid them forever, and meanwhile, he was gonna get that tune-up done if it killed him.
Reclining on the couch in the TV room, Ray sighed. He was a little worried about Peter, but only a little. Peter got into moods every so often and when that happened, the only one who could talk to him was Egon. Sooner or later, Ray knew, Peter would have to come home, and when he did, Egon would pounce on him. NOTHING could keep the physicist from getting to the bottom of what was bothering Peter. It was one of the things that made the two of them so close.
So Ray wasn't all that worried about Peter. Besides, he had something else to think about- the one-of-a-kind comic that had arrived in the mail that morning, from Charterville. Ray grinned. He had always like the Beetleborgs comic books, although they weren't as good as Captain Steel. Nothing could compare to Captain Steel, in Ray's opinion. Still, Beetleborgs was right up there, and getting the chance to meet the man who created the comic had made Ray's day, despite the circumstances of that meeting.
Art Fortunes had been everything Ray had hoped he would be- nice, intelligent, and more than willing to discuss the scientific aspects of the comic world he had created. In fact, between the two of them, they had managed to clarify a number of principles that eventually went into making the new gestalt weapons for the Beetleborgs. And for that, Art had sent him a one-of-a-kind comic as a thank you.
"'Ghostbusters meet Beetleborgs,'" Ray chuckled. The comic had been autographed not only by Art, but also by all four of the Beetleborgs themselves. He grinned to himself, not opening the comic yet. The whole thing had been a blast, despite the moments of stark terror, and what had happened to poor Katie. Still, getting to spend two weeks in the company of Earth's premier superhero teams- that had been nearly a dream come true. Even Peter had enjoyed it- although he'd never admit it.
Thinking of his friends, Ray picked up the comic and began to leaf through it. Art's story used the comic book 'Borgs- "just in case," as the cartoonist had said. However, Ray definitely thought he could see the personalities of the REAL Beetleborgs in the comic ones, especially with the introduction of Electric Bronze. Reading through the comic, Ray was pleased to see that Art's characterization of all four Ghostbusters was accurate. Of course, after spending two weeks in close quarters, it would be hard not to get it right. And Art had, including Egon's sense of humor. Getting comfortable, Ray settled down to read the comic in depth. He'd have to show it to the rest of the guys later.
"Going somewhere?" Egon asked mildly, sticking his head out of his lab. Peter winced. He'd been hoping to sneak into the bedroom without being seen. He didn't want to have to discuss his new powers with anyone- he wasn't quite clear on his feelings yet himself. But he knew Egon would not be put off, and with a sigh, he decided to get it over with.
"What's up, Spengs?" he asked, assuming his usual air of innocence. "Did I forget to take out the garbage again?"
"No, Peter," Egon replied. "Well, actually, you did, but that's not what I want to talk to you about." The physicist stepped away from the door of his lab, and Peter, reacting to the unspoken invitation, followed.
"Okay, then, big guy, what's on your mind?" the psychologist sighed, flopping into a chair.
Sitting down in the other seat, Egon fixed his friend with an intense blue gaze. "I know that you aren't exactly thrilled about being a Morphin Warrior, Peter, but I hadn't noticed too much of a backlash against it over the past two weeks. Then all of a sudden, you've become quite withdrawn. What was it about this morning's bust that triggered your resentment again?"
Peter studied the older man for a long moment. "I thought _I_ was the psychologist around here," he joked weakly. Then he sighed. "It's just- I can't control it, Egon. Oh sure, I can morph if I WANT to- but I still wind up doing it even when I don't. Don't you get it? This is something completely alien, that's just been dumped on me, and I can't even control when it happens!"
"I see," Egon replied. And he did. Peter did not like being out of control, not in the slightest bit. After a childhood in which he had too often been the one being pushed around or shuffled from place to place, anything he couldn't control in his own life was disturbing. The idea of suddenly being a superhero was so unlike the life Peter had made for himself, he was instinctively rebelling against it. And to not even be able to dictate WHEN the transformation occurred, that was the worst. "But Peter, you have to understand- you ARE controlling the morphing. You're just doing so unconsciously. Facing Shadowborg, or today on the docks- that wasn't the Power taking command, that was your reflexes. It's just like raising your hands when somebody throws a ball at your face. It's YOUR instincts, not those of the Power."
Peter sighed, slumping a little in his chair. "That's not the worst part, though… I've seen what being a Ranger does, especially a Green Ranger. It's like walking around with a target on your back! And the trouble doesn't just stop with you. I'm just worried that sooner or later, you guys are going to be endangered because of me."
Egon smiled. "Peter, all four of us have been attracting trouble at LEAST since we formed the business, and in some cases, long before that. We've faced primal gods, angry elementals, and the Mayor on a bad day. Ranger powers or not, nothing is going to come after us that we can't handle- together."
"He's right, man," Winston's voice said quietly from the door. Turning, Peter saw his other two partners standing in the doorway. "We've been dealing with weird on a daily basis for years now. You being a Ranger isn't gonna change that."
Ray nodded, as the two men crossed the room to join their friends. "Besides, you've been a Green personality all your life, Peter. The Power won't up the ante much, anyway."
"What Ray means," Egon continued, standing, "is that we've already dealt with the worst your personality can throw at us, and we're all still here. And NOTHING is going to change that."
Slowly, Peter got to his feet. "Did I ever tell you guys how lucky I am to have you as friends?" he asked, his voice wavering slightly.
"Once or twice," Winston grinned. "And the feeling is definitely mutual." With that, the four men moved into a group hug, holding onto each other tightly. After a long moment, Peter pulled away, a mischievous grin lighting his green eyes.
"So- since I'm such a joy to have around- does this mean I get out of trash duty?"
Three voices groaned in unison. "PETER!" Ray laughed, shaking his head.
"Superpowers or not- you won't ever change."
"Which," Egon rumbled, "is just the way we like it."
And that pretty much said it all.