(Fanfiction doesn't have a Mystery Skulls archive, due to the fact that they'd have to add another category for it since it doesn't fit in any of the existing ones. SO I'M PUTTING IT HERE. DEAL WITH IT.)
"They're called what now?"
"The Mystery Skulls. Says here that they're paranormal investigators."
Danny Fenton and his two best friends sat huddled around a laptop in a secluded booth at the Nasty Burger. Tucker was typing away on his computer as he scrolled through a website detailing said paranormal investigator's credentials and contact info.
"They've got hardly any bad reviews. They're even licensed detectives. One of them is a master mechanic who made himself a fully functional prosthetic all on his own. The blue lady is a scientist, too. Who knows what kind of crazy gadgets they've made. They seem like the real deal, Danny. Better be careful." Tucker whispered.
Danny groaned and slumped against the worn cushions of his seat. "Great. Another team of ghost hunters. Just what I needed."
Danny had heard about the arrival of a group of fellow ghost 'enthusiasts' from his parents. They were extremely excited to meet them, and that alone made Danny wary. His parents seemed to idolize these guys, and that was a feat in and of itself. His parents may mess up sometimes, but they were geniuses and impressing them was hard. The Mystery Skulls have already caught their attention, even though they'd never met.
His mom told Danny that they were coming to Amity Park to study the ghosts and the Ghost Zone. He shuddered to think of what kind of experiments they'd run on any unfortunate ghost they got their hands on. He'd have to warn the other ghosts to stay in the Zone until he knew what they were up against.
"Huh. Says here that one of their members went missing for almost a year before showing back up." Tucker said, catching Danny's attention again.
He sat back up at peered at the computer screen. There was a news article from some small Texas town linked. In the article was a picture of a huge purple haired guy in a nice vest and a magenta ascot tied around his neck. He had a kind smile and bright eyes despite his intimidating figure.
"Who even wears ascots anymore?" Tucker scoffed as he scrolled through the article.
"They're saying he had amnesia? Sounds suspicious. Well, I guess things like that come with being involved with the supernatural." Sam remarked.
"You said they're gonna be here soon, right Danny? If you want, you can tell your parents you're sleeping over at my house so you can steer clear of them. It's starting to get late."
Danny glanced out a nearby window at the waning light and sighed. "That would be great, Tuck. I gotta go tell them in person though. My phone is still busted, remember?"
Tucker winced. "Oh yeah. Sorry it's taking me so long to fix it. Skulker really did a number on it."
Danny simply shook his head and nudged his friend. "Don't worry about it. The Mystery Skulls probably won't be here until later, anyways. I can go tell mom and dad I'm staying with you, and leave for patrol without seeing hide or hair of them." He said as he stood from the table and gathered his tray and wrappers from their meal. "I'm going to head over there, guys. I'll keep you posted."
Both of his friends bid Danny farewell, and with that, he left the building. He ducked out of sight as soon as he could, not that there were many people out at the time, and went ghost. It was a short flight to Fenton Works, but Danny had to stop a few blocks away to change back, lest he set off any ghost detectors.
As Danny walked the last stretch, he noticed an unfamiliar orange van parked on the curb near his house. Curious, he walked closer and found, much to his dismay, a large black, white and magenta logo that emblazoned the words "Mystery Skulls" on the side.
"Great. They're already here." He griped as he trudged up the steps to the front door. He'd have to make it quick. He didn't want them to get too good a look at him. It was one thing with his parents being oblivious to his ghost half, because they were close to him and believed without a doubt that he couldn't be Phantom. Outsiders were another story. Someone with a fresh view, who didn't know him could put two and two together.
Danny sighed and opened the door to let himself in. The first thing he saw was a girl clad in blue walk from the kitchen into the living room, arms laden with colorful packages. He recognized her as Vivi Yukino from the website. The leader of the Mystery Skulls. She looked unimposing, friendly, even, but Danny knew looks could be deceiving, especially when it came to ghost hunters.
"You sure you're okay with her having free reign over the snacks?" An unfamiliar male voice spoke from around the corner. Danny walked forward and peered into the living room. On one sofa sat his parents, on the other directly across from them sat another member of the Skulls. He was a bit lanky, with an angular face and spiky blond hair. Arthur Kingsmen, Danny recalled. He noted with some amusement that the man's hair color was at least somewhat natural-looking, unlike the other one. Speaking of the other one, she was seated in the armchair, digging into a pile of snack food with impressive ferocity. Danny wondered where the other one was, Lewis something, the one that went missing.
They looked and acted a lot younger than Danny expected, despite seeing their pictures. He somehow thought that they would be like the hardened detectives he'd seen on tv. They were likely in their early twenties, which meant they weren't hindered by age and would be formidable foes if he ever came face to face with them as a ghost.
"You're going to regret it. She could eat a horse." Arthur continued with a chuckle.
Vivi made an offended sound and quickly swallowed her mouthful of potato chips. "I would never eat a horse!" She squawked.
Danny chose to make his presence known before they started talking about ghosts, knowing he wouldn't be able to stomach it. He walked around the corner and into the living room.
"Hey mom, in gonna sleep over at Tucker's if that's ok."
The four people in the living room turned their attention to the teen, and he had to keep himself from fidgeting nervously when the Skulls looked at him. His nerves calmed when Vivi flashed him a big grin and leaped up to shake his hand.
"You must be Danny! Your parents were telling us all about you! It's great to meet the son of such renowned scientists." She said as she shook his hand vigorously.
Danny couldn't sense any ill intent from her, and knew right away that she didn't mean any of the living people of Amity Park any harm, at least. What she had planned for the ectoplasmic residents was yet to be seen, but Danny wouldn't get his hopes up.
"H-hi. It's nice to meet you, too." He managed to say, tugging slightly at his hand still in her grip.
Vivi noticed that she was still shaking his hand and let go. "I'm Vivi, and that," she turned so fast to point at the blond man sitting on the couch that Danny almost got slapped by the longer blue hair framing her face, "is Arthur! Lewis isn't with us right now. He wanted to set up some equipment before it got too dark. Last but not least is our faithful canine companion, Mystery!" Vivi gave a little whistle and Danny saw a dog with a very strange black and red hairdo stick his head out from where he was seated between the couch and the armchair, out of sight.
Mystery's gaze was unnerving as he seemed to scrutinize Danny. Those roaming red eyes shone with a strange intelligence that put the boy on edge. The feeling left as soon as the dog huffed and looked away, though, and left him feeling silly for feeling so nervous. Even so, the experience left him a little shaken.
"It's nice to meet you both. Sorry to leave so soon, but my friend's family offered to cook dinner for me, so I'd better not keep them waiting." Danny said in a rush before retreating from the room quickly.
"Sorry about him, he's shy." He heard his mother say from the living room as he rushed up the stairs.
Danny skidded to a stop outside his sister's room and knocked on her door. After a few beats of silence, Jazz opened it. She smiled sympathetically at his flustered appearance and waited patiently for him to speak.
"Jazz, I need you to listen in on Mom, Dad and the Mystery Skulls' conversation, ok? I have to go on patrol. Text me anything important. Try to change the subject if it gets too Phantom-centric." Danny asked breathlessly.
Jazz reached out and gave his shoulder a comforting squeeze. "Don't worry, I'll keep everything under control."
Danny shook his head and let out a shaky sigh. "I know you will, I'm just too tired to be dealing with another bunch of ghost hunters. These guys don't seem to be the usual jokers we deal with, Jazz."
The older Fenton sibling ruffled Danny's hair and pulled him in for a hug. "I'm sorry, little brother. If those Skulls harm a single hair on your ghostly little head, I'm going after them with the Fenton peeler and the anti-creep stick."
Danny chuckled a little and hugged his sister back. He was so grateful when Jazz told him that she knew about his secret. She was his rock, much like his friends were. She often kept him from breaking under the pressure of his responsibilities, and he would be eternally thankful for her.
"Thanks, Jazz." Danny murmured as he pulled away with a little smile.
"Any time." Jazz said, ruffling her little brother's already messy hair once more.
Danny laughed and batted her hands away. She gave him one last smile before she left, heading down the stairs to join their parents and the Mystery Skulls. Danny watched her go before heaving a weary sigh. He dreaded going on patrol, but he couldn't skip out on it. Who knew how much havoc the Box Ghost could wreak with a whole night at his disposal?
Danny trudged to his room and collected some supplies. His trusty thermos, his first aid kit, a change of clothes, and a Fenton wrist ray. Everything that he couldn't clip to his belt went into a backpack. With that, Danny phased out of the house through his window and floated down to the deserted street. If he used his powers in human form, he wouldn't set off any of the ghost detectors, so he simply walked out of range before transforming.
Once he was in ghost mode, Danny felt a little better. His ghost half didn't need as much energy to function as his human one, and it even unconsciously drew energy from the ambient ectoplasm that lingered in Amity Park. With no further delay, Danny took to the skies and began his rounds.
He encountered the Box Ghost first, like always. Danny made short work of the annoying specter, as he wasn't in the mood to deal with Boxy's shenanigans. After a while of flying, it was turning out to be a somewhat quiet night. After Boxy and a few blobs and a pack of semi-peaceful ghost wolves, Danny's ghost sense didn't go off again for another two hours.
That was, until he passed over the park.
He practically choked on the wisp of chilly air that was forced from his lungs by his core. Usually he could tell who he was up against just from his sense alone, but the presence that caused his core to react was unfamiliar. Danny was on guard as he tapped into his invisibility and descended into the trees of Amity Park Park.
It didn't take long to find the ghost, as it was making a bunch of noise. It was in the center of the park next to a pile of machinery and extension cords. He was cursing up a storm and thrashing in the air. Danny floated closer to see him better, and had to hold back a bark of laughter at what he saw. The ghost was bound head to toe in extension cords, completely immobilized by them, and trying to use his flight ability to try to untangle himself. Why he didn't just phase out was anyone's guess.
"G-goddamn stupid things. This wouldn't be a problem if we could just- ARGH!" The mysterious specter growled angrily as he tried spinning another direction.
Danny finally caught a glimpse of the ghost's front and felt his stomach fill with dread. It was a skeleton ghost. Spirits of rage, formed from the flames of betrayal and murder. They were rare, mostly because they eventually went mad and the Zone council would send them to oblivion before they could wreak too much havoc. Danny had met only two of his kind before. One was the Fright Knight, who found a way to redirect his rage toward serving the king in order to avoid oblivion, and the other was the amalgamation of said king's army.
Danny really didn't want to confront this guy. Fire ghosts always had an unfair advantage over him, being an ice spirit and all, but he knew that fire ghosts were one of the few spirits that were capable of causing serious harm to humans. They weren't bound by a specific obsession most of the time, and instead lashed out at everything. Danny just couldn't leave him to his own devices, but he needed backup for this fight.
Danny floated backward, away from the struggling ghost as silently as he could. If he just got away, he could call Dora, or maybe Frostbite to help him. He couldn't fight this guy on his own-