"Gotta…Get… this…. Stupid…. Thing…. Off! Aaaargh!"

Danny was probably making bad decisions. But the Plasmius Maximus attached to his wrist just kept shocking him at completely random intervals. The machine had become a dumb torture device all on its own. At this rate, he couldn't even sleep without being zapped awake at least once.

And okay, they weren't exactly the same excruciating shocks that Vlad himself could deliver – they were more annoying than anything – but that didn't mean Danny wanted them gone any less.

At this point, he was convinced Vlad had intended this from the start. The fruitloop wasn't content with just keeping Danny stuck in human form: nope, he also wanted to torture Danny with tiny little shocks every several hours.

So Danny needed it off. Preferably by yesterday.

He had tried banging it against the bathroom floor – that didn't do anything except exacerbate the bruises around his wrist. He had tried sticking it under bath water and slipping it off, but no luck there either; it was too tightly secured. He'd attacked it with the shaving razor that Vlad had provided, but that route was quickly deemed way too unsafe.

Danny thumped his forehead against the bathroom wall in exasperation.

"This is useless…" the stupid thing was virtually indestructible. Nothing he had done had even dented it.

"Danny?"

"Ahh!" Danny scrambled away from the wall and hurriedly opened the bathroom door.

Mom looked tired again. So Vlad was probably being a grade A jerk to her; great. "H-Hi mom."

"What were you doing in there?" Maddie asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Trying to get this thing off my arm," Danny admitted; after all, whether his mom knew its actual purpose or not, she would definitely understand the desire to remove it.

Maddie frowned. "Again, Danny? Honey, I told you it would be better to wait until we had the right tools…"

Danny scowled. "I know, but it's really annoying."

Maddie made a sympathetic noise. "Maybe I can study it a bit tonight, Danny, and see if we can't get it off. It's strange; I swear it just looks so much like something your father and I would use for restraining ghosts."

"It's not!" Danny yelled. Then as an afterthought, "I mean, why would Vlad stick one of those on me? It's probably just – a way of keeping me in the mansion! Or – or a tracking device or something."

"Hmmm…" Maddie tapped her lips. "I'm not so sure, Danny. But I also don't know why Vlad would put an ecto-weapon on you…"

"No idea," Danny squeaked. "A-anyway, what's up? Was there something you had to tell me?"

"Unfortunately, yes. Vlad has another dinner planned for us."

"Oh, great, so is he gonna chain me up again?"

For a fraction of a second, pain crossed Maddie's face, and Danny regretted the remark. "Oh Danny, I'm so sorry all this has happened."

"It's not your fault," Danny said rapidly. "Really, mom, we couldn't have done anything."

"Even so… All I wanted was the best future for you possible. I never imagined we'd end up in a situation like this."

"Mom, it's okay… we're gonna make it out, between you and me."

Maddie offered a watery smile. "Of course we will, Danny."

"I mean, weren't you working on some escape plan thing? What exactly was that about?" Danny's eyes flicked to all corners of the room. He hadn't ever seen a camera in the bathroom or bedroom, which was relieving, but you could never be too sure… the last thing he wanted was for Vlad to catch wind of whatever plot Maddie had.

Maddie chewed her lip thoughtfully. "When Vlad captured us, I did manage to sneak in a tiny ghost-deflection device."

"Ghost deflection?" Danny pretended that his voice hadn't gone up an octave. "Uhh, wh-why would you need anything that deflects ghosts?"

Maddie evidently noticed nothing odd about his behavior. "You never know what you might have to be prepared for, Danny. The important thing is - the device is reprogrammable. If I can hack into Vlad's security system, we could get the cameras down for long enough to slip out of the mansion."

"Whoa. That's genius, mom! I didn't even know you were that good with computers."

"Well, that is the problem," Maddie admitted. "My expertise is in ecto-signitures, and the device is primarily designed to lock onto any ectoplasmic entities within range. It was malfunctioning to begin with, and now I'm having extra difficulty reprogramming it to recognize Vlad's security system." She shook her head. "I just don't know if it will be as useful as I was hoping, Danny."

"Hey, you'll get it worked out, mom. If any- OW!" Danny jumped nearly a foot in the air and his hand clamped down on the Plasmius Maximus, which had delivered yet another unnecessary shock.

"Danny? Is everything all right?"

"Fine," he grumbled. "Just this stupid-" And his entire arm went intangible. Danny choked.

Before Maddie noticed, the arm popped back into tangibility.

Danny yelled out, "Just – I'm stressed! Because Vlad! I-I'll be back!"

He shot into the bathroom and slammed the door.

Not good not good not good.

Danny rubbed his arm nervously. He hadn't even intended it to go intangible – crap, this wasn't going to be like when he first got his powers, was it? Because as a whole, he was trapped in pretty close quarters with his mom, and if he went intangible, or transformed…. it would make this whole terrible situation so much worse.

Not even Vlad would want Maddie to find out his secret. So… Maybe Vlad hadn't intended these shocks…. Maybe the Plasmius Maximus really was malfunctioning. And… screwing with his powers, too.

"All right," Danny muttered to himself. "So maybe it's not inhibiting my transformations anymore, either. Going ghost!"

….

Aaaaand nothing happened.

"Ughh, just my luck…" So the device was malfunctioning, but evidently not enough to enable him to get his powers back. At least… not under his free will. Danny chewed his lips thoughtfully.

His arm had gone intangible shortly after the device had sparked and shocked him…. And those sparks had started after Vlad used his powers against him in the hallway.

Maybe… Vlad's powers were interfering with the device?

"Meaning he might be able to break it more…"

Danny wasn't exactly itching for a repeat of the events in the hallway, but if Plasmius' attacks on Danny were damaging the Plasmius Maximus…

"Might just be worth it," Danny muttered.