Family Issues

Moving Forward

Chapter 8 – Moving Forward

A television screen came to life. It displayed a red head female news caster. “This is Tiffany Snow reporting,” she said. “Amity Park continues its search for answers about yesterday’s events. Mayor Masters’ location is still unknown since the destruction of his home and the Fentons have yet to give statements on what happen.”

Two smaller screens appeared to the left side of the screen. The top screen had an aerial view showing the Fentons and a female Dany Phantom fighting the Wisconsin Ghost. The bottom screen showed Danny Phantom and the teens against a flaming hair Danny Phantom with inverted colors.

“These video footage captured at the time of the incident is the only information we have at the moment to try and understand the incident. They were taken at two different locations shortly after the explosion that destroyed the Mayor’s home.” The top screen enlarged. It played an aerial view of the fight against Plasmius. “This footage was taken a few blocks away from the Mayor’s home,” the reporter’s voice said.

The video was currently showing Jack dodging Plasmius’ attacks before the ghost was interrupted by Maddie. “As you can see, Jack and Maddie Fenton and what appears to be Danny Phantom’s twin sister seem to be working together to fight the Wisconsin Ghost; a ghost associated with the town’s worst ghost incidents.”

The camera appeared to take distance as a pink tornado came into existence. A moment later there was a blue comet circling it, then after a few moments both vanished, leaving snow in its wake. The chopper seemed to make the movement that it wanted to get closer when suddenly the image got distorted and replaced by static. The static froze and the screen shrunk back to its initial place.

“The conclusion could not be captured on film due to technical difficulties since shortly after the tornado vanished, the area was affected by that strange sound and tremor from yesterday.”

The bottom screen took priority. This one was about Team Phantom versus his evil twin.

“This footage brings the most questions as it shows town hero Danny Phantom fight his evil twin with the help of Jazz Fenton and teen residents Tucker Foley and Sam Manson.”

The video showed how the teens gave the evil twin a run for his money. They appeared to have the upper hand until the evil twin began to abuse his Invisibility and Intangibility. The teens had a tougher time then. The twin’s attacks came from nowhere while their attacks did nothing. At one point in the fight, Jazz was blasted away and she landed behind a car. Shortly after, the twin blasted Sam and Tucker on top of Danny and their Specter Deflectors shocked the hero; they separated but were then blasted into unconsciousness. A furious Danny then charged to pummel his evil twin, but he was at a disadvantage.

“Just when it looked dire for our hero,” the reporter’s voice said as the twin prepared to blast Danny. Just then the twin was blown away by a green blast. “Help arrived in the form of yet another Phantom.”

The video froze on Dan Phantom standing protectively over Danny Phantom. It then shrunk to its original place and faded from view. “The new Phantom looks like an adult version of the evil twin, but judging from what the footage would’ve shown, they don’t get along at all. As for the rest of said footage, its content was not something we could air, however even if we could, it appeared to have been damaged somehow and couldn’t be shown anyway.”

She kept talking. “What we do know however is that Danny Phantom and his relative, as we in the studio are referring to him as at the moment, were victorious in the fight against the evil twin.”

The screen pan to her left and the empty side of the screen was filled with face shots of the Fentons, the Phantoms, and Sam and Tucker.

“Where did the new Phantoms come from, and why do they appear now? Are the Fentons forming a truce with them, and have they been secretly training the town’s youth in ghost fighting? The answers to these questions and more are hard to come by as the Fentons continue to refuse interviews and the Phantoms are nowhere in to be found.”

The television screen was turned off, its reflection showed the very people that were reported on. The Fentons, Sam and Tucker, and the Weskers. They were in the large living room of the Wesker Mansion, which to the surprise of the Fentons is the same mansion they had lived in back when they sold Fentonworks to the Guys in White. From what the guest had seen in the main hall and this room, Neil Wesker, the human identity for Dan Phantom, and his benefactor, known simply as Rex, had apparently been planning on moving here for some time.

“What are we going to do?” Maddie asked out loud. “We can’t hide in here forever.”

“Why not?” Elle asked from a chair next to the couch. “We have plenty of room and our chef will make sure there’s always food around.”

Elle turned sheepish. “As long as she doesn’t send it after us anyway.”

“Why would she do that?” Jack asked, annoyed and curious that someone would waste food like that.

“Our chef is a bit... eccentric.”

“I would say insane,” Neil said, “but that comes standard in ghosts.”

“Your chef’s a ghost?” Jazz asked.

“I’m not insane,” Danny clarified.

“Considering you risk life and limb,” Neil said to Danny, “for people that would worship or crucify you in equal measure from one second to the next...”

“I’ll be quiet.”

“Shouldn’t have been talking in the first place.”

“Now see here young man,” Maddie told Neil.

“Um, Aunt Maddie,” Elle hesitantly said, “I don’t think you should get involved in this.”

“Especially since you were part of the second group until yesterday,” Neil said without remorse or hesitation.

Elle deflated. She tried to stop it.

Maddie clenched her fists as if she were wringing Neil’s neck. Understandable really, considering the man wasn’t the best host. Taking a deep breath, Maddie calmed herself. “So,” she started, “how exactly are we going to clear up everything?”

“Well,” Jazz spoke, “we’re obviously going with Rex's plans right?”

“We call a press conference,” Danny said. “Blame Plasmius for everything. It’s true for the most part anyway.”

“What if they ask about Elle or Neil- I mean, Danielle and… Dan.” Sam asked.

“That’s easy.” Elle grinned. “They already have the siblings’ angle for us, so all we have to say is that we’re from a part of the Ghost Zone that’s far from the Fenton Portal.”

“They’ll probably ask if you’re going to protect the town like Danny’s doing,” Jack said while still working on the Ghost Gabber.

Neil shrugged. “Elle will probably join; she seemed to have fun helping out idiots while we were being nomadic.”

“What can I say, I like helping people,” Elle defended.

“Which is more that can be said for some people,” Sam said with a glare at Neil.

“I got better things to do than waste my time with ignorant people,” Neil said. “If I was allowed I’d have blown this town up already and kept going on until everything looked like my past.”

“Hopefully you won’t be allowed since you seem quite eager for that to happen,” Maddie said. “Anyway, everything sounds good so far, plus we can announce that the Phantoms will be working with Fentonworks to keep the town safe. They’ll feel more trusting towards Danny’s ghost form then.”

“If they don’t, we’ll just throw them in the Fenton Stockades,” Jack absently said.

“Sound like a plan.” Neil smirked.

“Maybe we should put you in there,” Sam spat.

“You can try,” he challenged with a grin.

“Guys, stop fighting,” Elle said.

“We have other things to worry about,” Danny said.

“Everything seems to be in order for what we’re going to do,” Jazz said as she looked at a note pad outlining everything.

“Did we miss anything?” Tucker asked.

“Didn’t the guy say we should invite V- the Red Huntress to our group?” Danny asked.

“I can’t wait to see her again,” Elle said. “Every time we saw each other there’s always trouble somewhere.”

“What are we going to say about Vlad?” Sam asked. “We still have no idea how he escaped or where he went.”

“We could say he’s in a private hospital,” Jazz suggested. “The rich and powerful hate being seen by the public when they’re not at their best.”

“That could work,” Maddie said. “But what if he shows up again?”

“Wouldn’t matter,” Neil informed. “Without his powers or his money, he’s useless and worthless.”

“Tell us how you really feel,” Danny said.

“Kidding!” Elle quickly said. “He’s just kidding - please don’t say anything.”

Neil shrugged which made Elle breathe in relief.

“We need to stop fighting each other,” Elle said to no one in particular. “That’s the whole reason we were gathered and why we’re doing the conference; to show people we’re a team.”

Everyone absorbed her words.

“When should we do the conference?” Maddie said.

“The sooner, the better,” Neil said. “There’s no telling when the enemy will strike, so it’s best the town knows about our arrangement by the time they do.”

Sitting in front of a large stage in front of City Hall were dozens of reporters and citizens as they awaited answers. The givers of which were currently sitting on a corner of the stage, away from the audience.

The Fentons, the Foleys, the Mansons, and a bit off to the side of the families were the Phantom twins.

Danny Phantom drummed his fingers against his thigh while rubbing his bicep with the other. His eyes darted to every direction, whether searching for danger or an exit was anyone’s guess. His sister on the other hand was the picture of calm as she apparently napped in mid-air at chair level.

“I still can’t believe all this,” Pamela Manson said in a low tone to her daughter. “As if your constant protests and desire to expose yourself with horrendous clothing wasn’t bad enough, now I find out you’ve been fraternizing with dead people.”

“Just because he’s a ghost doesn’t mean he doesn’t have feelings you know,” Sam replied. “Besides, other than being a ghost he’s just like any other teenager.”

Jeremy took a look at the object of topic. “He certainly seems antsy. I think he’d go flying if I popped by and said hi. Not what I expected from the boy, as a hero or a criminal.”

“He looks embarrassed by the attention,” Maurice Foley said. “Shouldn’t he be used to this by now?”

“I don’t see how,” Tucker said. “There usually aren’t many people around when he fights ghosts, and even after he’s done, there’s only a handful left since everyone was focused on getting to safety.”

“Except for Paulina,” Danny said. “She’s going to get seriously hurt one of these days.”

“You won’t hear me complaining,” Sam said with a grin.

“I’d be more worried if you were.”

The reply made Sam blush.

“I’ve never thought of him as evil,” Angela Foley said, joining the topic. “Sure he’s cause trouble a few times, but unlike most criminals he actually tries to make up for it.”

The three teens smile at that.

“Looks like its starting,” Jazz said as the Deputy Mayor step up to the podium.

“Thank you all for waiting,” he said. “As most of us, myself included, desire answers, I won’t take too long. I would like to remind you to keep your questions on the subject at hand and only when chosen,” he stressed. “I will now give the floor to the Fentons.”

There was some light clapping as they took the podium.

“Hello everyone,” Maddie said into the microphones. “So who would like to go first?”

This turned out to be the wrong thing to say as cameras flashed and the questions came flying. Maddie and the others shielded their eyes from the lights. Her attempts for order fell on deaf ear, at least until a sharp whistle cut through the noise, almost making deafness a reality.

“Be quiet!” Danielle Phantom shouted. “We’re here for your benefit. If you keep acting like this, we’ll simply leave and leave you in the dark. We have zero obligations to actually answer these questions.” She pounded her fist on the podium. “So you had better follow instructions or risk alienating the only ghost hunters you can actually approach and get in contact with.”

Danielle snapped her fingers. “That reminds me. Red Huntress; the Fentons and the Phantoms would be grateful if you could join us on stage if possible. We have a proposition for you.” She turned to Maddie. “All yours.”

Maddie smiled nervously. She still wasn’t sure what to make of the young girl, especially with her father figure as influence.

The crowd was quiet as Maddie took the podium while the Phantom girl went back to her seat next to Danny Phantom.

“Right then,” Maddie said into the microphone. “Let’s try this again shall we, who has a question for us?”

Hands were raised everywhere.

Maddie picked a blond reporter.

“Do you have an explanation for what happened yesterday?” he asked.

As Maddie gave a modified tale of the events, Red Huntress had arrived on the stage. She immediately began a conversation with Danielle, trying to find out what the offer was; she even managed a non-violent talk with Phantom.

“And what do you intend to do now?” A female reporter asked.

Maddie waved the Phantoms and Huntress over.

“As a result of the events and the testimonies of our children,” Maddie started to say,” what we - Fentons and Fentonworks as a whole intend to do is extend our hand in gratitude and apology towards Phantom and his family. We also wish to work together in the future to protect Amity Park.”

“You’re forming a truce?” Someone asked.

“No,” Danny Phantom said. “A truce implies that each side goes their own way without bothering each other. What we have in mind is a partnership, one that involves all the ghost hunters in town,” he said with a smile to Huntress.

“The Fentons,” Phantom said gesturing at them. “Red Huntress, and of course myself; with the high possibility of my sister Danielle helping out as well.”

“I’m sure you’ll see me around,” she said to Phantom, and the audience.

“And there you have it!” Jack bellowed. He had run out of fudge so there was no reason for him to be quiet anymore. “With all of us working together, those ghosts won’t know what hit them.”

“Any other questions?” Maddie asked.

“Do you have any news as to Mayor Masters’ location or condition?”

“Yeah,” Danielle said. “He was rescued alongside the Fentons. My dad, Dan Phantom took him to a private hospital where he’ll make a full recovery.”

“We were under the impression the three of you were siblings,” a reporter told Danielle. “Is this Dan Phantom the ghost boy’s father as well?”

"Absolutely not!” Both Dannys shouted.

“The truth is,” Danielle said, stepping forward with a microphone, “we are siblings. It’s just that Danny and Dan don’t get along at all so they don’t see themselves as family; they’re aloof siblings that want nothing to do with each other at best. As for me calling him Dad, well, he raised me and is the most influential man in my life so it fits.”

“All right then,” Maddie jumped in. “I’m afraid that’s all for today, we have a lot of work to do. Thank you all for your patience. Have a nice day.”

Some of the reporters and civilians kept asking about stuff and taking pictures as the hunters and friends left the stage and eventually the area.

On paper, the three families, the Phantom twins and the Huntress had convened at Fentonworks. A safe assumption to make as their vehicles were parked near the building. They were in fact in Fentonworks, but the important discussion would take place somewhere else entirely. At the moment, everyone was assembled at the lab, ready to go.

“So where are we going again?” Valerie asked, still in her Red Huntress armor. She, Team Phantom, and the other parents waited on Jack, Maddie, and Danielle who were calibrating the Ghost Portal.

“We’re going somewhere where we can clear the air without anyone eavesdropping,” Danny Phantom said.

“And we can’t do that here why?” Valerie asked. “And what do you mean by really clear the air?”

“He means that every secret we have won’t remain secret for long among this group,” Danny Fenton said.

Red took a step back. “You can’t possibly mean…”

“Yep,” Tucker said with a pop. “Oh, don’t worry. We already know about you.”

"What?!” Valerie shouted.

“What did you expect?” Sam said. “We’ve been helping Danny since the beginning, and you weren’t that great at ghost fighting or secret identities back then.”

“Would you care letting concerned parents in on the gossip?” Pamela asked the group.

“Eventually,” Sam said, smirking. Pamela huffed at her rebel daughter.

Conversations halted when the portal slid opened.

“Finally,” Danielle exclaimed.

“We were trying to synchronize two portals,” Maddie said, “that open on different parts of the Ghost Zone. It’s understandable that it wouldn’t be easy.”

“So where are we going again?” Red repeated.

“To my house,” Danielle said, “in Amity Park that’ll double as a safe house. We thought about making it into an HQ, but Axion Labs will work out better for that.”

“Say what?” was the mass confused response.

“Everything will be clear on the other side,” Maddie said. In her mind she added, At least I hope it does.

“Come right this way everybody,” Danielle invited as she stood in front of the portal. “All it takes is a single step and you’ll find yourself on a different side of the town. Come on now, don’t be shy.”

No one volunteered.

The ghost girl pouted with crossed arms. “You guys are no fun,” Danielle said. She turned to the portal and walked through.

“She seems… excitable,” Maddie noted.

“Yeah,” Phantom agreed with a smile. “Come on. Let’s get this over with.” He entered the portal.

Slowly, but surely, everyone else passed through the threshold.

A wide room filled with consoles and gadgets greeted everyone’s sight.

“Impressive,” Maddie said.

Danny shrugged. “It’s all right.” He actually liked the room, but he didn’t want to compliment his worst enemy.

“Mr. Fenton, don’t touch that,” someone said.

"Dad?” Valerie asked as she saw Damon take something from the hands of Danny’s father.

The other adults looked at her in surprise.

"Dad?” they said in unison.

“Crap!” Valerie stressed as she realized she was still in her armor.

“That’s one secret down,” Elle said as she walked to them with Danielle in tow. “A bit anticlimactic though.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Neil said as he entered from the stairs. “The Phantom family secret will blow all other secrets out of the waters.”

The adults not in on the secret looked confused.

“So Dannys,” Danielle said with a grin. “You ready to kick us off?

Both Dannys scratched the back of their heads.

The uninitiated widened their eyes when Danny Phantom turned into green light and merged with Danny Fenton.

“You, you’re, you’re the ghost boy?” Valerie said, horrified.

Danny gave everyone – mainly Valerie – an awkward grin. “Yeah,” Danny said.

“You knew, all this time?” Valerie’s tone rose as she spoke. “About who I was, about Vlad using me, and you didn’t tell me?!”

A cannon formed on her shoulder. The humans ducked for cover. Danny cowered behind a hastily made shield. Danielle, Elle, and Neil simply looked surprised.

Had Danny been a less idealistic person he would have seen this reaction coming and would have been better prepared. However, Danny still saw the best in most people and had hoped for a better reaction – the same way he now hoped his shield didn’t break and get turned into a full ghost.

Fortunately for Danny and everyone else in the room, Neil did predict Valerie’s reaction – she had reacted the same way when he confided in her after the Nasty Burger explosion – which was why instead of the cannon discharging and cause damage to either someone or something, the Red Huntress Armor powered down and retracted - confirming that yes, Valerie Gray is the Red Huntress.

Valerie looked at her yellow and orange outfit. “What the heck?” she said in surprise.

“Valerie!” Damon yelled. “What is wrong with you?”

“With me?” Valerie said. “He knew about Masters manipulating me and didn’t say anything! Why didn’t you say anything?!” That last part was directed at Danny.

Only the sounds of machinery were heard as everyone tried to calm down.

“Val,” Danny started with a heavy sigh. “First of all, we didn’t know about Vlad until a few months in, and even if we wanted to tell you, we weren’t on the best terms. There wasn’t any way to tell you and even if we had, you probably wouldn’t have believed us anyway.”

Valerie close her eyes and took deep breath. Only the fact that she couldn’t recall her armor – no matter how much she wanted it to appear – allowed her temper to subside.

“I need some air,” Valerie said. She stomped her way up the stairs.

“Danielle,” Neil called. “Go with her. I’ll handle things here.”

Both Elle and Danielle nodded. As they headed out, the ghost girl turned into green light and fused the black haired teen.

The non–Fenton adults gaped.

Danny slumped into a nearby rolling chair.

“Well,” Maurice said, breaking the silence. “This explains a lot.” He smiled at Danny.

“I, on the other hand,” Pamela said, “wouldn’t mind a detailed explanation.”

Danny sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “I guess that’s fair,” he said as he prepared to give the edited version of his story that was worked out before the conference.

Elle found Valerie in one of the lounges; glaring at the unlit fireplace.

“Hey Val,” Elle said. “If you want to talk, I’m all ears.”

Valerie kept her gaze on the logs, trying to set them ablaze by will alone. The clocks ticked.

Valerie took a deep breath to calm down. Her issue was with Danny – both sides of him – not with Danielle.

“I just can’t believe he never told me,” Valerie said. She was still looking at the fireplace, only with softer eyes. “All this time… I’ve been trying to kill the only person that reached out to me when I wasn’t rich and popular anymore.”

Elle reached out and placed a hand on Valerie’s shoulder in support.

“I really liked him you know,” Valerie said, folding her arms around herself. “We dated for a while and I really thought we could be something.” She let out a bitter laugh. “But I broke it off because I thought the Ghost Boy was a problem I had to deal with before I could be with him. Funny how that worked out huh?”

Valerie gave Elle a smile – it didn’t feel like one to either of them. Elle simply listened as her friend vented. There wasn’t much she could say or do besides that.

“Feeling better?” Elle asked.

“A little,” Valerie said. “I still want to punch him though.”

“I can arrange that,” Elle said. Valerie looked at her in surprise. “We can use the Simulation Room in the basement.”

“I’m not going back down there,” Valerie said.

“Not that basement,” Elle said as she walked away. “The other one.”

“How many basements do you got?” Valerie asked as she followed.

The girls were now in one of the corridors.

“Suppose to be three,” Elle said. She glanced at the bare walls in dislike. She couldn’t wait to give it her personal touch. “But I have no idea where the third one is.”

“It’s a basement,” Valerie asked as they turn a corner. “Where else is it going to be except under the house?”

“Good question,” Elle said as she paused in front of a set of double doors. She placed her hand next to the doorframe, and the door slid open sideways.

“You… have an elevator,” Valerie said, blandly. ”Why do you have an elevator?!” she said with more spirit.

“Because the room is underground, duh,” Elle said as she went in. “Come on already.”

Valerie entered while shaking her head. Elle pressed a button on the panel.

“This is the weirdest day of my life,” Valerie said as they descended.

“The weirdest day of your life so far,” Elle corrected.

The elevator dinged.

“We’re here?” Valerie asked. “That was like five feet.”

“Five hundred actually,” Elle said as the doors opened.

“There is no way we travelled… five… hundred…” Valerie’s jaw went slack as she exited and saw the sights. Miles and miles of grass, trees, and rivers all around them. Valerie stared at the tree in the center on the forest. It looked to be a hundred stories high and just as wide. The other trees might be puny compared to that one, but they were still giants to her.

It was a jungle planet on steroids.

“Hey there,” a female voice said. “Didn’t expect company.”

Valerie looked to her left. Two people were standing in front of a bunch of oddly shaped boulders. A tall guy – Valerie figured – doing something to the boulder, and a short girl waving at them.

“Amy,” Elle said. She walked over. Valerie followed.

Amy was a tan girl, either late teens or young adult in age, with blonde hair that reached her shoulders, and blue eyes. She wore a simple blue knee length dress fastened with a black belt, and blue shoes.

Now that Valerie was closer, she realized that the weird boulders were actually monitors connected to a console. Different sections of the jungle were displayed.

Was that a giant tiger? Valerie thought when a tiger passed by on the screen.

“Amy, Nick,” Elle said. “This is Valerie. Valerie, this is Nick and Amy.”

“Hi,” Amy said with a smile.

Nick grunted in greeting. His attention was on the screens. Nick was a tall and lean man somewhere in his mid to late twenties. His black hair was tied into a ponytail, he had square glasses that highlighted his blue eyes, and he wore a white buttoned up doctor coat over black pants and shoes.

“So what are you guys doing here?” Amy asked.

“Valerie wants to blow off steam,” Elle said, pointing to said girl. “How much longer is the session?”

“We could end it now if you want,” Amy said. “Blake’s been at it for awhile now. He could use a break – not that he’ll admit it.”

“Who’s Blake?” Valerie asked Elle as Amy was at the console.

“Amy’s boyfriend,” Elle said.

Valerie nodded with a noise of understanding. “Who are these people? And do they know about… you know.”

Elle stretched her back as she spoke. “Well, Amy is a musical artist making her big debut soon. Blake is her boyfriend and bodyguard. Nick over there has diplomas on practically everything and anything involving electricity and machinery.” Elle put her hands in her pockets. She was the perfect image of relaxed. “As for how much do they know – well, everything. Probably more. They work for my dad, and benefactor.”

Valerie grit her teeth. It was bad enough when her dad was the one that knew her secret – Fenton and his friends don’t count as they can’t ground her for ghost hunting – now not only do most influential adults in her life know, so do people she has no idea who they are or trust.

A loud rumbling sound shook the earth. Valerie, Elle, and Amy looked towards the jungle where several trees were knocked to the side. An armored jeep burst out of the green and skidded to a stop ten feet away from the group. The door opened and the driver stepped out.

Blake was a tall, rugged, and muscled man with a mane of black hair passed his shoulders and a goatee. He wore a shirt with ripped sleeves that showed off his arms, forest camo cargo pants, and black combat boots.

“Whoa,” Valerie and Elle said.

“I know right?” Amy said to them before rushing to her boyfriend.

“So what parameters do you want?” Nick said.

Valerie snapped to attention. “Say what now?”

Nick stared at Valerie. She got the suspicion he was having rude thoughts about her.

“What parameters would you like to use?” Nick said slowly as if speaking to a child.

Valerie glared and balled her fists.

“She wants to punch my cousin Danny in the face a couple of times,” Elle said, wanting to defuse the situation.

“Oh,” Nick said, stretching the word with a grin. “Why didn’t you say so? We have tons of parameters for beating up the ghost child.” He started working on the console.

The world blurred, then focused into a room as wide as three football fields side by side, and the ceiling was five stories high.

Valerie stared at the top. She wondered how the trees fit in the room earlier.

“Why do you have that many options?” Valerie asked as she massaged the back of her neck.

“Dad really dislikes Danny,” Elle said sheepishly.

“Which is why we get along just fine,” Blake said as he reached them. He had an arm around Amy’s waist.

“You separated five–point–two seconds earlier than last time,” Nick said with his attention on the computer. “Losing your touch?”

Amy blushed. Blake glared and bared his teeth.

“I’ll gut you for that,” Blake shouted while brandishing a machete.

“These guys are friends?” Valerie asked Elle in horror.

A bright wave of light swept over the area. The group now stood at the top of the clock tower in Amity Park.

“One Ghost Child Battle Session as ordered,” Nick said as he turned to the group. He focused on Valerie, and gestured to the town. “The rules are simple. There are five Ghost Boys in the town. One of each can be found in or around Casper High, Nasty Burger, the mall, and Fentonworks. The fifth is constantly on patrol.”

“So I just have to find them and beat them up?” Valerie asked.

“Yes,” Nick said, “but they’re hostile so they will attack you – and remember, they are not the real ghost child; you won’t get any emotional resistance or hesitation from them.”

“So they’ll be the evil ghost I always thought Danny was huh?” Valerie said with a bitter smile.

“Pretty much. Ah, yes, another thing. Each remaining target will be stronger than the last one, so the final ghost child will be the toughest one to beat. According to our calculations, you should be able to come out on top with minimal injuries but high exhaustion.”

“I can get hurt in there?” Valerie asked.

“Yes and no,” Nick said. “While the simulation is active, all injuries will occur as they normally do – so try not to lose a limb or fall from high altitude. But once the session ends, the injuries will vanished, though the exhaustion and the phantom sensations will linger for some time; how long depends on what happened prior to shut down.”

“I’ll be honest,” Valerie said, “this all sound like a movie concept.”

“Minds such as your tend to have that defect,” Nick said.

That was an insult wasn’t it? Valerie thought.

“Come on Val,” Elle said, tossing her arms in the air. “Stop flirting already and go blast my cousin’s doppelgangers already.”

“Yes child,” Blake shouted. “Show us your battle prowess.”

“I wasn’t flirting,” Valerie said. Her face was red because of anger, not embarrassment. Anger. “Besides, my armor is still locked, remember?”

Elle snapped her fingers. “Oh yeah. Nick.”

“Not a problem,” Nick said. He pressed a button on the console. “Done.”

Valerie blinked. It was that easy? And how did he know how to unlock it? She gave Elle a questioning eyebrow. Elle gave a thumbs up.

Valerie was still apprehensive of calling her armor. Bad enough the parents now knew – however necessary that might have been – but these guys were strangers. Still… they were strangers that knew her secret, so no need for hesitation.

With a single thought, the high tech armor surged to life.

“Feels good to have this back,” Valerie said. She closed her eyes as she felt the hum of the suit, as the tech empowered her senses beyond normal levels.

Eyes still closed, oblivious to the world, Valerie jumped off the edge of the clock tower.

She fell for seconds before her glider appeared. “Oh yeah,” she said. “Its good to have this back.”

She looked back up to the others. They were in disbelief of her actions.

“I’ll see you guys in a few minutes,” she called out before taking off towards Casper High.

An hour had passed. The parents have digested the story of their children and Valerie had blasted her frustrations away.

The five families – Fentons, Mansons, Foleys, Grays, and Weskers – were now in one of the living room, one with multiple couches.

“So what’s next?” Pamela said. She, Jeremy, and Sam sat together at her insistence. “You expect us to just pick up a rifle and start blasting everything green?” She crossed her arms, waiting for an answer.

The Foleys were to the left of the Mansons while the Fentons were to the right. Across the room were the Grays, and the Weskers.

“Well,” Maddie said. “The plan was for all ghost hunters to work together.”

“I’m not too keen,” Jeremy said, “on having my little girl fight the undead.”

“I’ve been fighting ghosts for two years Dad,” Sam said. “We’ve been just fine.”

“And now,” Tucker said, “we’ll be even better since we don’t have to hide it from our folks.”

Maurice and Pamela exchanged concerned looks.

“Right?” Tucker asked. His parents’ reaction deflated his spirit. Were they going to ban him from ghost hunting?

“I’ll be honest,” Maurice said, “I’m not thrilled about the fact that you’ve been doing this without adult supervision. So I suppose the only thing to do is learn how to fight ghosts so we can defend ourselves.”

Tucker lit up. “You guys are awesome,” he said as he wrapped his arms around his parents.

“You could probably,” Neil said, “help out in Axion Labs. With the help of Fentonworks, we could supply the town with alarms and defenses. The Mansons have good standing in the higher circles, they could help convince City Hall. And the rest of you could help out somehow.”

“Sounds easy enough,” Angela said.

“I would prefer to wash my hands of all this madness,” Pamela said.

“Too bad,” Jack said. “We’re all in this together whether we like it or not. And trust me, there’s nothing I like less than working with people that hates jumpsuits.”

“What about running out of fudge?” Danny asked.

Jack pouted. “My point stands.”

“So we’re all in agreement then?” Maddie asked. “We’ll work together to keep our children and our town safe.”

“I’m in,” Maurice said.

“Me too,” said Angela.

Everyone stared at the Manson adults.

Pamela sighed in defeat. “Fine,” she said. “I suppose we’ll help too. But I better not get slimed or you’ll hear from my lawyers.”

“And we’re not wearing jumpsuits, either,” Jeremy said.

Jack stood from the couch with a Fenton Foamer that no one knew where it came from. “Why I oughta–”

A loud clap cut off the conflict. Everyone looked at Neil.

“So,” Neil said. “We have an agreement?”

Everyone looked to each other, then back at Neil. They nodded.

“Perfect,” Neil said. “In that case, Damon can stay – so can his daughter if she wants to. As for the rest of you, go down to the basement and go back where you came from.”

Silence. Confusion.

“Umm, what?” several people asked.

“Did I stutter?” Neil asked. “I said, get the hell out of my house!” he shouted.

The Fenton Portal illuminated its basement home with a green glow. Silence challenge the light for dominance as the residents and guests had disappeared into the light.

Silence died when shouts emerged from the portal as the Fentons, Mansons, and Foleys passed through the light as if pushed.

Once the last of them had passed, the safety doors slammed shut, bringing darkness into the room. It did not last long for the console connected to the portal lit up with lightning fast commands, and then turn inactive once more. The portal doors slid open, and returned to its bright vigil, as if nothing had happened.

The people on the floor stood up and dusted themselves off.

“That was most uncivilized,” Pamela said.

“Considering who we’re talking about here,” Danny said, “that was down right saintly.”

“If that how he treats his friends,” Maurice said. “I’d hate to see what he does to his enemies.”

Danny, Sam, Tucker, and Jazz shuddered in unison. Yes, you do, was their collective thought.

“Bah,” Danny said with a smile. “Don’t worry about that jerk. We probably won’t have to deal with him as much as we’re dreading.”

“Wow,” Tucker said.

“What?” Danny asked.

“Dude. Since when do you know the word dread?”

“Shut up Tucker,” Danny said with a grin.

“Well,” Pamela said, standing at the foot of the stairs. “We’ll be going home now. Have some semblance of normalcy again.”

“Since when have we been normal?” Sam asked.

Jeremy put his hands on Sam’s shoulders. “Yesterday,” he said, “when we didn’t know how weird your life truly was.”

Sam felt small all of a sudden. “Oh,” was all Sam could manage to say. She gave a small smile at her parents. “Thanks for mot freaking out and causing a scene,” she said.

Her parents flanked her with a hug.

“Come now Sammiekins,” Pamela said. “Give us some credit.”

“Yeah,” Jeremy said. “People of our status don’t publically freak out. It’s undignified. We’ll be waiting for you at curfew, and you better call if you’re going to be late. Hopefully we’ll have processed all this craziness and we can talk more about your plans.”

“Well, Maurice said as the Manson adults left, “we should be going to.”

“I’ll join you to the door,” Jack said.

The three adults left the room, leaving Maddie and Team Phantom behind.

“Okay Mom,” Danny said. “What do we have in our arsenal to use against my future self?”

Maddie stared at the intense look in her son’s eyes. It was the same look she observed many time on Danny’s ghost form as he fought ghosts.

Guilt bubbled in her heart; she forced it down so as to not let her son see it.

She succeeded.

“Well,” Maddie said. She walked to the wall opposite the portal. She placed a hand on it and it blurred like a hologram as it shifted into a vault.

The teens stared as Maddie went through the security process.

“Did you know that was there?” Tucker asked.

“No,” Danny said at the same time Jazz said, “Yes.

“You knew?” Danny asked.

“Yeah,” Jazz said. “Found out about it when you and Mom went to that convention and I got stuck with Dad.” Pause. “It was surprisingly fun and insightful.”

“These should help,” Maddie said.

The vault slid open, cold fog seeped out. Team Fenton’s eyes widened at the multitude of weapons.

“Wow, Mom,” Danny said as he stepped inside. “What are some of these?”

Maddie smiled. She began the tour. “You guys already know about the Specter Deflector and the Ghost Glove; these should give us an edge in close combat. Obviously the Fenton Thermos for containtment - though if he’s as strong as you say, we’ll have to upgrade his.”

Maddie stepped over to some gold lined rifles. “These are Fenton Zappers which discharge high voltage electricity to incapacitate ghosts.” Next came what looked like flamethrowers. “The Specter Burners will roast any ghost it touches.” Then were the blue lined rifles. “Our Fenton Freezers which blow out freezing clouds that’ll make ice sculptures of those ectoplsmic freaks.”

Maddie turned sheepish at that last part.

“It’s fine Mom,” Danny said. It was true for the most part. “But why haven’t I seen most of these before?” He was looking at a silver bracer of sorts. It looked familiar for some reason.

“They’re still in the prototype, just barely put together,” Maddie said. She was aware of Tucker scanning everything with his PDA. Maybe she should ask his opinion on some of the weapons. “They’re mostly just put together, and aren’t safe to use.”

“No offene, Mrs. Fenton,” Sam said, “but that hasn’t really stop you before.”

“A lot of the stuff in here needs testing,” Tucker said. He was looking at a bazooka. “There’s no clear idea if the power flows correctly or even if the plating can handle what it dishes out.”

Sam and Danny looked at each other with a raised eyebrow, then turned to Maddie, who looked impressed.

“That’s right, Tucker,” Maddie said. “Not bad.”

Tucker blushed in embarassment.

“We have to recreate the Ecto Skeleton,” Danny said.

“I highly doubt - ” Maddie started to say.

“Trust me, Mom,” Danny said. “We’ll need it for when he starts attacking. Plus it could also help with some of the recent ghosts that have shown up recently.”

“It’s gotta be more compact,” Sam said. “That way he won’t break it too easily. We gotta make it energy efficent too, so it doesn’t drain Danny too much.”

“I remember Vlad did it,” Jazz said, “using sort of scepter and the Ecto Converter to power it when he had me use it against Danny. Unfortunately, we blew it up.”

Maddie hummed in thought. She was very interested by the idea. And the challenge.

“Okay kids,” she said. “We have work to do.”

The Tower of Clockwork is never silent under the constant movements of the gears within and outside it.

Clockwork floated at a small distance from his Time Viewer with an impassive visage.

“Finally made time for me?” he asked.

A growl from the air itself.

“Shut it,” a dark voice said. “I haven’t forgotten how you sent Pariah Dark after me.”

Only Clockwork was visible in the room.

“You brought that on yourself,” Clockwork said, eyes on the screen. When his visitor didn’t show himself he said, “Getting shy are we? I thought you outgrew that already.”

Another growl - that of a savage beast eager to sink its fang into their prey.

Laughter imposed itself on reality. It was the light, joyful kind heard from those without a care in the world. A figure blurred into view. Tall and athletic with a black hazmat suit with white highlights. White hair and green eyes.

“Unstable Dimensional Integration,” Clockwork said. He turned to his second guest as the first had yet to show himself. “A clever ruse for being hands off to the upcoming events.”

Rex Phantom smiled. That was the reasoning he gave to explain his absences on other worlds as he stacked everything in his favor.

Assuming, of course, his status or activities were noticed in the first place, which wasn’t often.

“I have priorities in the east,” Rex said. “Besides, this place does not need my presence.” He smirked at an empty corner. “Its in very good hands. Isn’t that right my boy?”

Another figure appeared. Flaming white hair styled into a ponytail. Blue tinted skin and blood red eyes. A muscled frame covered by a sharp black and white caped suit.

"Don’t call me that,” Dan said. “The weakling might be needed alive but there is nothing stopping me from making his life miserable.”

“Going to take advantage of Phase Two then?” Rex asked. “Looking forward to that. Just make sure he remains of use. Last thing I need is for my investment to not pan out.”

“I’d prefer to just kill him and not be in your employment,” Dan said.

Clockwork observed silently as he shifted ages.

Rex shrugged. “It’s not the worst fate you’ve suffered. And you should be glad its me doing this, I’m one of the most honest of my people when it come to Existential Manipulation.”

“And one of the most involved,” Clockwork said. “Your kind is supposed to act from beyond the realms.”

“That is just a preference, not a law,” Rex said. “Besides, you still have your free will. Others change everything about you. I simply create situations and have you react to them.” Rex smiled. “Trust me, you could do so much worse.”

Clockwork gave no visible reaction. Dan bared his fangs.

Rex focused on Dan. “How goes recruitment?”

Dan eyed one of the windows as if thinking to fly out of it. Considering the life he led for the past decade and the fact that he couldn’t fight the other two without likely dying in the process, - a fact that made his ectoplasm boil - it was understandable that he hated being in their presence.

“Most of the rogues are under my command,” Dan said, looking at his benefactor. “The high value ghosts are in the wind. Walker’s prison is the next negotiation. The Dragon Kingdom is a work in progress but its in the right direction. Further research is needed before we move to other territories.”

“Good,” Rex said. “I hate to think everything would collapse so close to fruition.”

Dan gave Rex a questioning glare. Rex understood.

“I assure you,” Rex said. “The challenges I promised will arrive in due time.”

Dan narrowed his eyes.

“I cannot rush conflict at this time,” Rex said, “without heavy losses on my side. And that includes you.”

“I highly doubt-” Dan said.

“The Alliance has five realms to the Empire’s three,” Rex interrupted. “Maybe once my project in the east settles down we might be able to shift into offense, but until that time and perhaps even after, you’ll follow the instructions you were given. That should satisfy you until some other use for you comes to light.”

The desire for murder rolled of Dan like a tsunami. The Haunting Aura would’ve paralyzed its victims with terror as they hallucinated their gruesome deaths that would become reality moments later.

Only the fact that present company was equal or superior - not that Dan would ever admit either claim - to Dan allowed them to resist the effects.

“It would appear that you’ve angered him,” said Clockwork.

“He speaks,” Rex said in an exaggerated manner. He spoke calmly soon after. “Yeah well, I can’t have rumors of favoritism now can I?”

“Who is accusing you of favoritism?” Clockwork asked.

“No one. And I intend to keep it that way.”

Dan growled.

“Well, its been fun,” Rex said, “but I gotta get going. Lots of behind the scenes cloak and dagger stuff to deal with.” He grinned at Clockwork. “You know how it is.”

“Do try not to make a mess,” Clockwork said. “Even I do not have the time for that clean up.”

“I learn from my mistakes,” Rex said. He gave his back to the ghosts as a portal appear in front of him. They did not see his shattered expression. “I won’t fail. Never again.”

The clocks ticked as the ghosts observed the empty spot.

“I thought cryptic remarks were your shtick,” Dan said.

Clockwork shifted to child as he faced the screen. He turned elder.

“He has his reasons,” the Time Master said. “I simply hope I do not have to get involved in their affairs again.”

“Their?” Dan asked.

“This is not the first time the Empire and the Alliance have clashed,” Clockwork said. His Time Viewer showed images of battles long since past and of creatures unknown to their world. But not to Clockwork. He sees Past, Present, and Future at the same time. It was why he did not interfere in events others would want him to - at least not in the way they would do it. The events need to happen for the pieces to fall into place and complete the puzzle that is Existence. That was why - “And I fear,” Clockwork said, “it will not be the last.” - the war between the two powers needed a true end. For Clockwork could not bear to witness the end of Existence.

Not again.

An alarm beeped.

And beeped.

And beeped.

And then it exploded in a green flash.

There a loud pounding on a wooden door.

“Get up,” an adult male voice said. “You wanted to go to school, you’re going to school. So get up, get ready, and come down for breakfast.” Footfalls indicated departure.

Elle flipped off her covers. She sat up on the bed and stretched.

“First day of school huh,” Elle mused as she discarded her blue pajamas. “I hope I make a good first impression.”

At the same time as Elle’s alarm sounded, another went off on the other side of town. To the device’s relief, it was shut off in a manner that would allow it to beep again.

By Danny pressing its OFF button.

Once Danny showered and got dressed, he walked down for breakfast. As usual his dad, Jack was working on an invention. His mom was placing pancakes on Danny’s plate.

“So what you working on this time, Dad?” Danny asked. “And how painful is it going to be?”

Jack bellowed a laugh.

“That’s where you’re wrong Danny,” Jack said. “This is the first step of the modified Ecto Skeleton, or as we’ll call it the Fenton Heavy Combat Armor.”

There was a loud rumble outside the house followed by loud horn.

“What the heck?” Danny asked. His parents were equally confused.

“Come on out, Punk,” a voice shouted. “I’m here for my rematch.”

Danny lit up in realization. “That’s Johnny,” he said.

“Who’s Johnny?” Jack asked.

“Isn’t he that ruffian that dated Jazz some time ago?” Maddie asked.

"What?!” Jack shouted. He pulled out a bat with the word Fenton on it. “He’ll suffer the Fenton Anti Creep Stick if he gets near my little girl.”

“Jazz is back in college, remember?” Maddie told him.

“Besides,” Danny said, “he’s not here for Jazz, he’s here for me.”

“Oh,” Jack said, lowering the bat. “And here I thought you were just clueless. Turns out you simply have other interests.”

“Wait - What?” Danny said, turning around.

Maddie used her hand to hide a smile.

“You know,” Jack said. “We all thought you liked Sam but never realized it. Turns out you like your own gender.” He grinned at the end.

"What?!” Danny shouted with eyes that grew so wide they nearly merged.

It was at this point that Jack burst into laughter. Maddie joined a moment later.

Danny, realizing he’d been pranked, went pink in embarassment. He turned invisible and left his laughing parents. Once outside, Danny saw Johnny leaning on his bike and Kitty was checking her reflection on a compact mirror.

Danny looked around. Empty street. He summoned his rings and changed.

Johnny and Kitty jumped at the light.

Danny Phantom turned visible. “Hey guys,” he said.

Johnny blinked at Danny, then looked to Fentonworks, then back at Danny.

“You sure its a good idea to be this close?” Johnny asked.

“Its okay,” Danny said. “They know.”

Johnny and Kitty shared a look.

“Well,” Johnny said, turning to Danny. “Ready to lose round two?”

Danny grinned.

“Bring it.”

Just as Danny dealt with breakfast, Elle entered her dining room. It was an amazing room that could seat ten people. At the table there was a mouth watering breakfast buffet.

Neil was already at the head of the table eating. He stabbed and cut his food like it committed a crime against him.

“I think you’ve punished the pancakes enough,” Elle said as she filled her plate. She sat down and ate.

“I’m not sure how long I can keep myself from burning this town to the ground,” Neil said after long silence.

Elle looked at Neil as she ate. Finally she said, “You really hate this place don’t you?”

“I’ve spent the last ten years erasing every reminder of my past,” Neil said. The fork he was holding slowly bent as he said, “Now I’m living in it.”

“If you can’t deal with it, I’m sure-” Elle stopped talking as the temperature dropped and the illumination dimmed.

A heartbeat later, all was normal again.

“Any progress with Walker?” Elle calmly said. The girl felt proud that her nerves weren’t showing. Not even she was immune to punishment when challenging Neil’s pride.

“The Box Ghost got arrested,” Neil said.

Elle stifled the laughs that wanted out. The flat tone Neil used was just hilarious to her.

Elle turned to her food a moment later.

“You going to fly or drive?” Neil asked after a while.

The question surprised Elle and caused her juice to go down the wrong windpipe. She went into a coughing fit.

Neil waited for Elle to compose.

"What?!” Elle asked.

“Are you going to fly or drive to school?” Neil asked.

“How am I supposed to drive to school?” Elle asked, swinging her arms and accidentally sending her fork flying.

“You pick a car from the garage, and turn it on, then you put it in drive and hit the accelerator - make sure the garage door is open before you get in the car.”

“I know all that,” Elle said. “I meant, how am I supposed to drive without a license?”

Neil tossed something at Elle, who fumbled to catch it. Once in her hands, Elle inspected it and saw it was a driver’s license. Her driver’s license.

Elle looked at Neil in shock.

“You’re a smart girl,” Neil said. “I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

Elle beamed. “Thanks Dad,” she said as she hugged Neil. She then rushed out of the room.

Neil watched his daughter leave the room. He turned his attention to the handheld next to his plate. Turning it on, images started to appear.

Desiree. Walker. A red orb on top of a bat shaped staff. The Dragon Amulet. The Scarab Scepter. Blood Blossoms. The Reality Gems of Life, Form, and Fantasy. The Infimap. Vortex. Undergrowth. Nocturne. A giant, green glowing asteroid. Blueprints for buildings, vehicles, weapons, and armors. Headshots of Jack, Maddie, Jazz, Danny, Sam, Tucker, and Valerie.

“I will fulfill my ambition,” Neil said. “And no one is going to stop me.”

Casper High was a hive of youth and activity as students loitered around the front entrance.

“What’s Danny’s excuse this time?” Sam asked, staring at nothing from one of the tables with her arm propped on it. When no response came, she turned her attention to her techno geek best friend. Tucker was immersed in his PDA while using the Fenton Phones.

Sam idly wondered what was the PDA’s name and how many payments were left on it.

The roar of an engine sounded in the distance, followed by loud cheering that was quite closer. Sam bolted from her seat towards the mob. She made her way to the front with a lot of pushing, shoving, and stomping. She now had a clear view of Danny Phantom racing towards the school with Johnny 13 not far behind. Kitty was sitting behind Johnny, leaning forward like her boyfriend with her arms around his waist.

Just like last time, Danny reached the school first, though this time it was a close call.

“That’s two in a row, kid,” Johnny said.

“Looks like you’ll be getting those upgrades after all,” Kitty said.

“And it’ll only take me a hundred years to pay off,” Johnny said sarcastically. He looked at Danny and revved his bike. “Third round is mine, punk.” He drove off.

Sam kept her eyes on Danny as the mob of teens clamored for his attention. Someone tapped her shoulder. She started, and turned. And saw Danny Fenton.

Sam blinked at her best friend and oblivious crush. She looked back to see the retreating hero, then turned to her friend.

“Since when is this a thing?” Sam asked. Danny simply shrugged with that stupidly endearing grin of his.

“Wheres Tucker?” Danny asked.

“Tucker?” Sam repeated distractedly.

The ground trembled under the roar of an engine on steroids. A sleek, black sports car passed in front of the school. All the students had a slacked jaw as they stared at the car heading to the parking lot.

“Whats going on?” Tucker asked as he reached his friends.

“One of the populars is showing off,” Sam said with disgust.

“Paulina is the only one that could probably afford that,” Danny said, “and she’s over there with everyone else.”

The driver side door swung upwards. A blue sneaker stepped out, followed red jeans, a blue hoodie and a red beanie. The female driver had her back to the crowd as she closed the door.

When she turned, quite a few recognized her from Lancer’s class from a few days ago.

Elle blinked at the staring teens.

First impression, Elle thought. Positive. She grinned.

Elle headed for the entrance. The gawking teens parted for her like she was a celebrity on the red carpet.

Danny, Sam, and Tucker stared at Elle as she neared the front steps. When Elle noticed them, she blew a kiss their way and winked.

“What was that all about?” Sam asked with crossed arms. She disliked Elle even more now with her attempt to buy popularity.

“Hey Danny,” Tucker said, still staring where Elle used to be.

“Yeah?” Danny asked.

“You think she’ll say yes to a date?”


Sam dragged a hand down her face with a groan. “Life in Amity Park,” she said, “just got weirder.”

Danny shrugged. “We can handle it,” he said. He put his arms around his friends. “Now, come on. Just because our parents know our secrets now doesn’t mean we can skip class. Unfortunately,” he added sadly.

Sam wrapped her left arm around Danny while Tucker wrapped his right arm. Then the best friends went on their way the best way they knew how.


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