Writer's Note: To new readers and old...
This story began to be written in the time between the Danny Phantom episodes "13" and "Public Enemies", said time being a few months, during which over 2/3 of the story was written before Public Enemies was finally aired. As a result, while a few details were gleaned about future episodes from web sites about these yet unaired future episodes (such as Paulina's crush on Danny Phantom), certain other details were not, such as Danny becoming a Spider-Man like pariah in his town, his parents (especially his mother) becoming his enemies because of said pariah state, and his aquiring of the name "Inviso-Bill". As a result, said things are not referenced in the story, which makes a few things sound odd or strange or out of character. I have attempted to make a few changes and done a little retconning in the course of the plot to more fit the show's first season, but in the end I must plead off on the fact that if you see something a little strange, it is the three month gap to blame rather then my lack of research. In the end though, I don't feel this takes away from my epic tale. So why don't we begin...
Some say it is about the tale, and some say it is he who tells it. Some say that it is the journey that matters, others the destination. And some say one should merely begin to speak and others will follow, and others say that one should wait until one is in step with his fellows before he begins. Whatever may be true, there is a background to this story, and to save some the trouble of reading a book to understand a beginning, I will tell you where this tale begins.
Here, it may begin with one extraordinary boy. But the very beginning involved another extraordinary boy, and a girl…and a man, who was also extraordinary…for all the wrong reasons.
The boy was named Noel Collins, and in the canon I created, he was the newest member of the Teen Titans, specifically the group whose have debuted in their anime-themed cartoon and become very popular. He called himself Savior, a young man blessed with a great power and no path to take. In the process of finding one, he met Raven, child of a human mother and a nigh-omnipotent demon lord. The two eventually discovered a great passion between them, but the journey to that passion was hard and wrought with deadly obstacles and danger. And perhaps no greater danger came from the third part of this triangle, a blade-wielding, philosophy-spouting homicidal psychopath called the Lord of the Night. The Lord desired to save the world by destroying it, wiping out virtually the whole human race because he could not stand the imperfections of the human animal. Savior and Raven opposed him: he attempted to murder them as well. He failed, and seemed to die in the process. But he did not.
And this time he had brought allies, though how he had met them or how he had managed to recruit them was never revealed. Their pasts were clouded in shadow, though they proved to be deadly dangerous. There were three: two were Murdercrow, a blind warrioress with great combat ability and a terrible past that had left her with a tormented soul, and who loved the Lord, and Shadowmaster, a quiet man whose namesake said it all when it came to powers, and who secretly loved Murdercrow. But they are only mentioned in order to compare them to the last ally the Lord had brought with him. Indeed, ally is perhaps the wrong word.
Her name was Sizzle, and little was learned about her except for the fact that she was a pyrokinetic, able to start fires with her mind…and that she had been horrifically abused, much like Murdercrow, but while Murdercrow had internalized her pain, Sizzle's had driven her mad, a madness that focused around one thing: a furious hatred of men.
How the Lord, a male, managed to convince her to work with him was lost to time. Perhaps she had, somehow, put aside her terrible rage for what the Lord had planned at the time: a ritual to gain godlike power, a ritual he perhaps promised to share with his allies. But it was all a lie. The Lord only wanted his allies to set up the ritual…and for Murdercrow, for her to be a critical part in it. For that, he betrayed and murdered her, and when Shadowmaster attempted to avenge her, he murdered him as well. The only one who escaped his treachery was Sizzle, who had been given the beaten Titan males to "play" with. What she might have done to them was also lost to time, as the Titans combined their efforts to break free…efforts that resulted in Sizzle's accidental death. The Titans were spared from feeling her psychotic wrath, and it seemed that Sizzle had found peace in death…
But looks can be deceiving…
What happened between the Titans and the Lord afterward is a great tale, but it is for another time. But before we move on to this tale, we must speak of one more…
For the Lord's evil lived on beyond him, as the Titans, nearly a year after the events that resulted in the deaths of the Lord's three minions, found that there were serious consequences. Murdercrow, whose hellish life had only been referred to obliquely, had remained in the Tower, her tortured spirit unable to find peace, and her agony slowly becoming a fury as powerful as anything Sizzle had ever hinted at, as the T-Tower reverated with her pain and became a gigantic power battery, an extension of her rage, as one night of passionate love between the Titans Robin and Starfire became more then she could bear and she lashed out, attempting to repay the world for all the pain it had made her endure by making others suffer in her stead. In the end, it almost resulted in the deaths of Robin and Starfire, as well as the prisoner the Titans had been holding, the impish bad luck sorceress Jinx, if not for Raven, who stepped in and showed Murdercrow the truth behind her fury. With that, Murdercrow's anger faded, and her spirit moved on from the Tower, perhaps finally finding the peace it craved and deserved…
But Murdercrow was, in the end, just a poor girl who wanted her pain to end…
The same could not be said of Sizzle.
For some people, pain is a burden they yearn to throw off. And for some…pain is a definition of who, of what they are, a ugliness seeded by others whose rot seeps in so deep it becomes what the person is, what the person always will be, what the person desires, the sickening vitriol that takes a suffering soul and makes it a monster.
And such things…do not always disappear with death…
Sometimes…they're too strong for that. They live on…in the area…or…in a similar form…
(The events spoken of here can be explored in greater depth in my Teen Titans fanfics Black and White and Wings of the Eagles, in the "Lover's Walk", "Justice", and "Restless" arcs respectively).
Rene Descartes said "I think, therefore I am."
For some…it must be said differently.
Therefore I EXIST.
"Terrible experiences make one wonder whether he who experiences them is not something terrible."
-Nietzsche, Good and Evil, Maxims and Interludes, 89
Chapter 1: Seed of Destruction
If Danny Fenton had to put a beginning on when the whole mess started, he would have said it literally began with a sign.
Specifically, a sign on paper, sketched in charcoal, provided to him by his best friend Sam Manson.
"Where did you say this came from again?" Danny asked. The gothic lovely shrugged, her ponytail doing a slight little bop with the motion. Why Danny noticed that, he didn't know.
"My parents bought it. It looks like an amulet, except there's no place where a chain or a cord or a thread or anything could be inserted. Instead, it has ridges on its side, like it was supposed to be gripped. It rather reminded me of those small hand mirrors Native Americans used to flash sunlight with before the Europeans came in and destroyed…"
"Right, moving on…" Tucker Foley said. Sam looked annoyed, but you can't really blame the black teen: he was curious about what Sam had given Danny and didn't want to get distracted by one of Sam's speeches. "Why did they buy it?"
"Who knows? Someone recommended it. Someone else wanted it. Maybe it was an impulse buy. Money does strange things to people's heads." Sam said, with a tone that was both annoyed and resigned. "But I recalled that someone was saying there was some kind of power around it. I figured it could possibly supernatural, and if it is, that probably means it will cause trouble soon, so I figured that if I gave you a heads up, maybe this time we could head whatever nastiness is coming next off at the pass."
"If it does mean something." Danny said, looking at the sketch. Maybe whatever had carved it had meant for the design to be seen as lovely or terrible or humorous or who knew what else, but all Danny could make out was a bunch of squiggly lines crossing over and interlacing with each other.
"This the whole thing? It looks cut off here." Danny said, pointing to a corner, where a series of lines formed a pattern that seemed to be missing a section.
"It's the whole thing: I was careful with my sketch. I would have brought the amulet myself, but my parents wouldn't let me. I don't see why not: I figure if you're going to spent the budget of a third world country on a…"
"Right…" Tucker said, interrupting Sam again. "Can I see?"
Danny handed over the paper. Tucker studied it intently.
"Acklar acklar, mokukkk mokukkk…" He suddenly said. Danny raised his eyebrows.
"You can read it?"
"No, I'm just clearing my throat."
Had Danny been in an anime-inspired cartoon, at this point he would have facevaulted.
"Ha ha Mr. Brooks. Give that back." Danny said, as he retrieved the sketch. "Well it's all Greek to me…maybe literally….but who knows, maybe my parents…"
Danny really shouldn't have been moving when he was talking: it made him step out into the hallway and hence his sentence was interrupted when a large form suddenly loomed up and slammed into Danny, knocked him down with a short yelp of surprise.
"Oh no! I accidentally knocked a loser down! What's the fine for that these days?" Came a voice that grated on Danny's nerves far more then the fact that he had been knocked down. He glanced at the broad-shouldered form of Dash Baxter, who had most likely seen Danny coming a mile away, but he'd taken the path of more resistance, so to speak.
"I think it just makes you fine, man." One of Dash's cronies chuckled. Danny was by now ignoring Dash: in ten seconds and one overshadow later, Dash would be getting intimately familiar with the contents of the nearest trash can. Instead, he realized the bump had made him drop the sketch, which had fluttered a few feet away. Danny reached over for it.
Dash's foot came down on his hand, squashing it between the floor and the sole of his shoe. Danny yelled in pain and jerked his hand away, dragging the sketch along the ground.
"Oops! Sorry Fenton! I hope I didn't hurt that hand, you'll probably need a lot in your life!" Dash laughed, and along he went down the hallway, his cronies chortling with him. Danny growled low in his throat, grinding his teeth as he picked up the sketch and got to his feet. His intense distaste for what had happened was mirrored in the face of his two friends.
"Jerk." Sam said.
"Wait, need the hand…was he saying…?" Tucker said, suddenly getting a pondering look in his eye. "Oh, owtch! Danny, put him in TWO trash cans."
"I think I'll try and break my record…" Danny said, as he began to concentrate.
"Whoa, hold it there boy." Sam said, lightly grabbing Danny's shoulder. "You forget where we are."
"We're in the school hall, I've transformed here before!"
"With this many people?" Sam pointed out. Danny glanced around, and then realized Sam was right. When the halls were relatively empty he could get away with Sam and Tucker providing all the cover he needed to change, but at the moment the hallway was packed. Danny's aggravation greatly increased: no revenge, and with the time it had taken to make the realization Dash and his friends had disappeared around the corner. And Danny wasn't going to go chasing after Dash for the sake of an eye for an eye: going to that much trouble for such a inane reason was something that Dash would do, not Danny. Well, definitely not after Sidney Poindexter…but Danny liked to think it was more him being the bigger man and walking away from the fight.
"You're right. Next time. This will give me time to think of something special." Danny said, a hint of wickedness in his gaze.
"Would that something special be A) Luring Dash with weird noises near a trash can, and B) Inserting his body into said trashcan?" Tucker asked.
"You know me too well." Danny replied good-naturedly.
But then the bell rang, and the three had to go their separate ways. In the end, Danny never got his own back: he didn't see Dash for the rest of the day. By the time school was over his head had cooled, and upon meeting his friends outside the school, he returned the sketch to Sam and the three set off for the Fenton house.
"What if it's just an old doohickey from an ancient civilization?" Tucker inquired after they had gone about a block.
"Then no harm, no foul." Danny said. "If it's nothing we've lost nothing. And if it is something…"
And then a wisp of blue smoke flowed out of Danny's mouth. But even that warning didn't really prepare him for what happened.
"RAHHHHHHHHHH!" Came a sudden yell, and poor Danny, already half dead in some senses, nearly went all the way to that state as he nearly had a heart attack.
Then the form popped up from the street, and Danny's start quickly turned to annoyance.
"I AM THE BOX GHOST! FEAR ME!" Yelled the journeyman spirit, clad as always in the working attire he may have worn when he was alive/human/physical/in some other state then the one he was in at the moment.
"Oh joy." Danny said.
"So scary." Tucker added.
"Yes, for all the wrong reasons." Sam remarked.
The Box Ghost looked annoyed.
"I SAID FEAR ME!" he bellowed.
"Oh god no. Please no. Oh the humanity." Danny said in a bored tone.
"DANNY PHANTOM!" The Box Ghost said, pointing accusingly at the three: fortunately there was no one around…and even if there was, they probably wouldn't have believed what they were seeing. "I do not know how you found out about my plan, but you will not interfere! Now flee, or face my corrugated cardboard wrath!"
"Ugh, bad box puns are one thing, but that was just plain TERRIBLE." Danny said.
"Ohhhhh, you think you're so clever! Why don't you just put the entire form of comedy in a box?" The Box Ghost said. Danny would have smacked his forehead, if he'd been more inclined to get ready for a fight.
"Look buddy, I don't know what kind of plan you have…"
"Liar! Your falsehoods are as fragile as a wet box! But you will not stop me from claiming my precious pulp treasures!" The Box Ghost said.
"No, I'll stop you just because you're giving me a migraine."
It was roughly that time when the small U-Haul drove by. Danny only noticed it for the movement, and he briefly read what was on the side: Salvation Army.
The Box Ghost certainly took more then a passing notice for it.
"Hark, my treasures are here! Now I will claim them! They will not be using those boxes for their old moldy clothes and broken down devices any more! They will not defile my precious packages!" The Box Ghost said.
"What? Dude, they're taking those for the less fortunate! If you wait they'll unload them and you can have the boxes! We won't even care!" Sam said.
"……….IAMTHEBOXGHOSTFEARME!" The Box Ghost yelled, and then flew off after the truck.
"Superman gets Lex Luthor, Batman gets the Joker, The Teen Titans get Deathstroke the Terminator…I get the Box Ghost." Danny said, sighing.
"And you're complaining your arch-nemesis isn't a megalomaniac genius, a king amoung lunatics, or a walking, talking death sentence?" Tucker inquired.
"Nah, not really." Danny said. "Stand back! I'm goin' ghost!"
And Danny reached deep down into himself, as he felt the change wash over his body, as he left his flesh and blood behind and became something much more then that, even as twin circles appeared at his waist and passed up and down over his body, changing his jeans and t-shirt into a black suit with white trim. His black hair went white, and his blue eyes went green. Exit Danny Fenton, high school student. Enter Danny Phantom, ghost battler extraordinaire.
"Hit me!" He said as he rose off the ground, as Sam tossed him the Fenton Thermos, Danny grabbing it and slipping it on his back in one smooth motion as he took off after the Box Ghost.
"You know, technically Danny's arch nemesis would be Plasmius." Sam pointed out to Tucker as Danny flew off.
"Yeah, but why ruin the moment?" Tucker replied.
"MWA HA HA!" The Box Ghost laughed, as he landed on a car that was a few dozen feet away from the U-Haul. Why, I don't know. Maybe he wanted to rest his feet…or use his feet…or something. "Soon, those precious boxes will be mine! My precioussss…"
"CAN IT GOLLUM!" Danny yelled as he dove down with a kick, knocking the Box Ghost through the air, the bulky spirit doing a few twirls in the air before he stopped.
"I TOLD YOU NOT TO INTERFERE, DANNY PHANTOM!" He yelled. "Now I will teach you to think INSIDE THE BOX!"
And the Box Ghost raised his hands, and from the sidewalks and garbage bins discarded boxes of cardboard and balsa wood flew up and barraged Danny. They were too soft to hurt, but they were filthy, and Danny yelled and made the spluttering noise disgusted people make as he raised his arms and tried to keep the mucky packages away from him.
And though you probably can't blame him, he probably should have paid more attention to the Box Ghost, as the commander of all things container raised his arms and seized control of a mailbox, yanking the much heavier metal construct from the ground and hurling it at Danny.
"YOU'VE GOT MAIL!"
"Yuck, I just…YIKE!" Danny said as he saw the red projectile fly at him, and he zipped down to the street as the mailbox flew over his head. He sighed with relief, then jumped as a scream got his attention, and he turned to see that the mailbox, having missed him, was apparently going to settle for another target: an approaching car. With a yelp, Danny fired a blast of ectoplasmic energy at the mailbox, knocking it aside and sending it crashing onto the street, a storm of letters erupting from the damaged container and flying around in a dervish of white paper.
"Well, no one can say…" Danny said as he turned back around to face the Box Ghost.
And realized two things.
One, the Box Ghost was no longer there: he was instead leaping across car rooftops towards the U-Haul filled with the precious boxes he wanted so much.
And two, and the honking horn was a big tipoff, the driver of the car he had saved from being mailboxed hadn't thought to hit the brakes. So now it would hit Danny…
If he wasn't a Phantom, as he panicked and did the only thing he could think of: turn intangible. However, his "turn intangible" command was panicked and jumbled, so in the end, Danny only did it for about a second.
The end result was him phasing through the front of the car and ending up in the shotgun seat before he stopped, his back slamming into the chair, which wouldn't have been so bad…if he hadn't had the Fenton Thermos attached to his back. A bolt of pain shot through his body, the kind that drives the air from your lungs before you can make any noise to indicate your dislike of it.
"Ohhhhhhhh…." Danny finally groaned after a few seconds. "That's going to leave a mark."
Then he recalled he was in a car, and he looked to his side to see a very freaked soccer mom. If he'd looked in the back, he would have seen some very freaked soccer kids.
"Heh, hi." Danny said, waving, and then his mind returned to business as he flew up, phasing through the car roof and returning to normal so he was standing on the car. He saw the Box Ghost in the distance, leaping towards his prize. His eyes narrowed, and he backed up and ran a few steps before he leapt off the roof of the car and forward to the roof of the car in front of him. He hit the roof running and leapt off the end, leaping onto the back of a SUV. He started sprinting down the roof of that…
"Wait, what am I doing?" He said, and then flew up and took off after the Box Ghost.
"All mine! All mine!" The Box Ghost said, as the car he was on, which was about a car away from the U-Haul, went through an orange traffic light which turned red half a second later. The traffic stream began to slow down and stop, as an 18-wheeler drove through the intersection…
Danny flew in, not slowing in the slightest, as with a whirling spin he flew through the small space between the truck and the trailer, the daredevil maneuver giving him a burst of adrenaline, and he whooped with joy. It was times like this that he loved who he was.
The Box Ghost, with one final leap, flew up and landed near the front of the U-Haul's square trailer. Though we really must wonder why he didn't just fly himself. Maybe he wanted some exercise…or a challenge…or maybe he's just an idiot. Probably the last one.
And Danny landed on the back of the truck.
"Ok Box Ghost, end of the line!" He said.
"Never! You have failed to heed my warnings! Now I will peel you from my life like a piece of tape off a box!" The Box Ghost said, and raised his arms. "Come my treasures! Show that you are deadly weapons as well!"
And though it was hard to hear over the noise of the traffic, Danny could make out faint thuds beneath him. He smiled, as the Box Ghost looked astounded, as if he couldn't comprehend what was happening.
"Guess it's hard for cardboard to go through a few inches of solid steel." He said. "Hey, if you give up now, you can probably get caught by Walker in the Ghost Zone in time for the Prison's supper."
"Never! I may be the Box Ghost, FEARME, but I do not need boxes to fight my battles!" The Box Ghost said, as he put up his dukes. Danny smirked.
"Lemme guess…" Danny said as he walked forward, confident he could dodge any punch the Box Ghost threw at him. "Boxing?"
And the Box Ghost's leg suddenly snapped up, in a move that was a lot quicker then Danny had thought the Box Ghost could move. He yelled as the limb slammed into his chest and sent him flying back, his feet leaving the truck top and the slipstream catching him and carrying him towards the back even as he started to spin backwards from the force of the kick.
"KICKboxing!" The Box Ghost said, and chortled, as Danny approached the end, even as he fell towards the truck again.
He thrust out his arms.
And found himself balancing on the very edge of the truck in a precarious handstand, swaying slightly as he realized what kind of position he was in…and that if he fell off, he'd be turned to hamburger if he stayed solid and wind up in the sewer if he went intangible.
"Ah! Mustn't fall mustn't slip mustn't mustn't mustn't…" Danny chanted to himself as he tried to lean forward, and he felt sweet relief as his legs and trunk tipped towards the truck and he landed on his back at the end. He got up as the Box Ghost laughed and assumed a combat pose again.
"You see? I am not like before, Danny Phantom! I have learned from my past defeats! Now you will never be able to beat me! I am glorious! I am invincible! I am the Box Ghost! Fear me!" The Box Ghost gloated. "Now what do you have to say to that?"
Danny Phantom watched, and then another smile slipped onto his features as he suddenly knelt down, placing one hand contently on his right cheek.
"Low bridge." Danny said.
And the stone embankment slammed into the back of the Box Ghost's head, as he learned the hard way it's not a good idea to be standing up on top of a truck when it is going under a low overpass. The Box Ghost, sent into an uncontrollable tumble by the impact, flew past Danny as the teenager stepped aside, and then fell off the end, falling down to the road. As the end of the truck went under the bridge as well, Danny did a lazy backflip off the end himself and landed, the impact driving him to his knees. Fortunately, they must have passed another traffic light that had turned red just after the truck had passed, because there was no traffic in the street.
"Man, dontcha wish that intangibility was a reflexive thing, like breathing?" Danny said as he approached the Box Ghost, slipping the Thermos off his back. "Oh wait, you don't do breathing either. My mistake!"
"Iam da Gox Boast! Feeermi!" The Box Ghost mumbled, as Danny opened the Thermos and sucked in the wayward spirit, slipping the cap on and giving it a spin.
"Well, he might not be a glorious recurring enemy, but at least he sparks my creativity." Danny said, and flew off into the air to meet up with Tucker and Sam again.
"Hey Danny." Jazz said as Danny and his friends entered the Fenton House. Danny instinctively tensed up. He loved his sister, but he still felt uneasy around her, though he could never put his finger on why. "How was school?"
"Oh…the same! Yeah, same stuff different day! Ha! I need to see Mom now." Danny said, and quickly ducked into the kitchen, Tucker and Sam at his heels. Jazz smiled slightly: she'd seen the Thermos sticking out of the back of Danny's backpack.
"Hope it was a happy hunt." She said, and returned her attention to her psychology book.
Danny and Co found his mother in the kitchen, in full costume as always. Danny couldn't remember the last time he had seen his mother in normal clothes rather then the blue jumpsuit with pull-up goggled hood she wore.
"Just a second Danny…" Maddie Fenton said as she finished welding a small circuit in the device she was fiddling with: its parts were strewn around the table and Danny couldn't tell what exactly what it was. Though it would probably have the words Fenton Ghost in front of it. "Yes son?"
"Sam's parents bought this amulet, it had weird markings on it, and some people said there might be some connection with the supernatural." Danny said.
"With ghosts?" Maddie replied, taking her hood down.
"Well, it said supernatural Mrs. Fenton, I don't know specifically…" Sam said, as she pulled her backpack in front of her, opened it and retrieved the rolled up sketch. "Here, take a look."
Maddie Fenton took the sketch and looked at it. Her lips pursed, and then she turned towards the table, shoving the parts aside gently as she laid the sketch down and retrieved a small magnifying glass. She passed it over the sketch, as the three teens looked on.
"Hmmmmmmm…" She said after about twenty seconds. "I can't exactly give a professional opinion…but I think it's Sumerian."
"Sumerian?" Danny said.
"You mean the people who most historians consider to be the very first civilization?" Tucker said.
Danny and Sam stared at Tucker.
"What? I can't know stuff?" He protested.
"You're right Tucker…Sumerians are a bit of a thorny issue, as in terms of history they literally seemed to spring up overnight…and their history makes vague references to "higher beings" that helped them do this. Then again, anything that happened before the 19th century, when record keeping really started to be professional is heavily open to interpretation." Maddie said, as she leaned up from her close examination. "I think this is something in the Sumerian's language."
"Can you read it?" Sam asked.
"Well…I took a smattering of language courses when I first met Danny's father, at the time I thought that a lot of the ghosts would be tied to old things and you never know when you might need to dust out a so called dead language…but my ancient Sumerian is very rusty."
"The fact that you know Ancient Sumerian at ALL is pretty darn impressive." Came a voice from the doorway, Jazz's specifically, which made everyone except Maddie start. She just gave her daughter a look of warm humor.
"Well my dear, you may think so…but if you do I don't recommend you go into academia. They're more vicious then a pack of blood-crazed sharks…" Maddie said as she examined the sketch again. "Ok…now don't quote me on this…but I think the top line here says "Willing and unwilling unite."
The teens look at each other in the way of people who don't understand something and are checking to see if anyone else did.
"The bottom line I'm really not sure about…though I don't know if it's from the drawing or the fact that it seemed to be smeared a bit…" Maddie said. Danny felt a brief flash of the old rage ignite: he knew where that smear had come from. Dash's foot grinding on Danny's hand. Jerk.
"Also, I think that part of whatever this is was lost…" Maddie said, pointing to the same broken looking bit Danny had noticed. "But if you really want an answer…I would venture… 'For true…something, can't figure that word out…look.' I think there's another word after that, but I have no idea what it is."
"So it says 'Willing and unwilling unite, for true something look lost word'?" Sam said.
"That's all I can tell. You might want to consult an expert on languages. I specialize in…"
"GHOSTS!" Came a sudden bellow, as Jack Fenton seemed to suddenly come out of nowhere, making everyone jump this time. For such a huge man, Danny's father could certainly move quietly at times…and the results were usually like this. "Hey kids! Glad to see you! Now I can show you my latest invention!"
"Uh no Mr. Fenton, that's ok, gee, look at the time, must get started on homework…" Tucker said, as he started to edge away.
"Oh, so you want to see my latest improvement first them? Ok!" Jack Fenton said, totally oblivious to the fact that the only one who shared his fanatical interest was his wife, as he pulled out a small device. "I improved the Fenton Ghost Finder! Now it can tell you how strong a ghost is! Which will be helpful when we need to kick their butts!" Jack said, and in his enthusiasm, which had made him start waving the device around, his finger slipped and he hit the button while pointing the device at Danny.
"This ghost is not very powerful. Fear him anyway." The device said. Jack's enthusiasm faded.
"Ah nuggets! It's STILL reading Danny as a ghost! Why do ALL my inventions have this glitch?" Jack cursed. It was a good thing Jack was looking at his device and everyone else was looking at Jack: it kept them from seeing Jazz frantically repress a furious case of the giggles.
"Well, that's great Mr. Fenton, but like Tucker said, we have homework to do! You can keep the sketch Mrs. Fenton!" Sam said as she grabbed Tucker and pulled him from the room. Danny turned and looked pleadingly after them, his eyes begging them to not leave him alone with his father, but all he got in returned was the good natured maliciousness of friends leaving another friend in a situation they know he will find uncomfortable but not harm him in any way.
"Actually Dad, I need to use the washroom!" Danny said, and also skedaddled. Well, at least his lie was a white one: he really needed to empty something. But it wasn't his bladder, it was the Thermos into the portal.
Jazz's eyes looked like a deer caught in the headlights as Jack fixed his attention on his daughter.
"Oh don't worry dearie, it will be short!" Jack said as he reached into a pocket. Jazz sighed inwardly. She loved her mom and dad, but her dad was always like this, and worse, his personality seemed to rub off on her mother whenever he was around and turned her into a clone of him, which was fine…except Jazz preferred the intellectual she had seen just a minute ago when her mom was looking at the sketch, not the woman with the wide eyed expression like a child seeing Christmas presents under the tree.
"Behold!" Jack said as he pulled out his newest device. "The Fenton Ghost Incapacitator! It isolates certain electrical frequencies in the ghost's brain and knocks the ghost out immediately!"
The Fenton Ghost Incapacitator looked like a pair of brass knuckles: it was a small device that went around the fingers on a hand, the actual device emerging from the knuckles as the hand gripped the handle…and it was also one of the stupidest devices she had ever seen, as Jazz's logic immediately came to bear on what her dad said the device would do.
"Marvelous, isn't it? But just wait until you see what we're building in the back yard! Now that…"
"Of course I wonder if it's illegal to have that much incinerary…"
"Yes dear?" Jack said, as if he had never been ignoring her.
"Dad…that…Incapacitator…you say it knocks ghosts out."
"I told you, it isolates…"
"Dad…hang on a second…ok, let's assume for a second that ghosts really DO exist, and I'm not saying they do…" Jazz said half-heartedly, as the sentence was not so much her opinion as her attempt to keep her dad from thinking she had changed her minds on ghosts, which would most likely result in some kind of information blitzkrieg, she was sure. "But if they do…spirits don't have physical bodies like us. They're made of a lot more immaterial stuff…do ghosts even HAVE brains?"
"Well, I don't know, but hey, Einstein turned himself all kind of colors before he invented the light bulb! You need to experiment! It's just a prototype at the moment, but believe me, when I am done, there isn't a ghost this device won't knock out!" Jack said, thumping his chest to emphasize his point.
And accidentally setting off the Incapacitator, which fired a small blue beam that struck Maddie Fenton in the head. She looked confused for a second, and then tumbled to the ground, knocked out. Jazz's eyes widened.
"Maddie!" Jack said, as he looked at his fallen wife, then at the device on his hand, and then he pulled it off and tossed it on the table as he started to head for her…
The device bounced on the table…and fired again, striking Jack in the back. He went down like a felled tree, as Jazz stood, frozen in shock at these sudden events.
Then her dad began to snore, and her shock and worry faded, replaced by aggravation.
"All kinds of colors, indeed." Jazz said, and went over to her mother. She was fine, just knocked out. Jazz was about to check her father when Danny ran into the kitchen.
"I heard two thuds. That's usually bad." Danny said as he ran in, seeing his parents lying on the ground. "Oh god, what happened?"
"Dad's latest pet bit the hand that fed him. We may need to chalk up the Fenton Ghost Incapacitator as a working product with the wrong name. " Jazz said, as she strained herself rolling over her dad's huge form. She checked his pulse and found it strong, and then she checked his nose, as he had fallen on his face and she didn't want blood to pour down his throat and suffocate him because they were unaware of the damage.
But there was no nasal damage. What there was was a lot of drool, as Jack Fenton snored loudly. Pulling her hand away in disgust, Jazz pulled away, letting her Dad's head thunk lightly on the ground. The ghost hunter didn't seem to notice.
"You watch them, I'll get the smelling salts." Jazz said as she left the room. Not knowing what else to do, Danny headed over to his parent's prone forms and knelt between them.
"Hmmmmm….pony…" Jack muttered in his sleep. Danny couldn't help but smile at that.
"….Mmmmm..ahh…no pony…don't go to the slaughterhouse…" Jack said in his sleep.
Danny was suddenly very afraid.
The ammonia needed to wake up her parents wasn't in the medicine cabinet. And if it wasn't there, Jazz knew, it could only be one other place: the basement where her dad did all his weirdness…and where the portal that had changed her brother into whatever he was was.
Because that was the way her dad was: he'd go on thinking jags that were akin to the ramblings of madmen at times and grab random things to bring down there because he thought he might need them. In the past Jazz had found oven mitts, her toothbrush, the air pump to her old bicycle, the paintings in their house, the front door mat, and even her bedspread down in the basement. One time, after watching Poltergeist, Jack had taken all the TV's downstairs to see if he could get anything to happen. The only thing it got was the fact that the Fentons only had one TV to watch now.
So Jazz headed down there.
The portal was open, glowing green energy swirling around, but Jazz barely noticed: she was used to it. Instead, she focused on the mess of workbenches, hoping she could find the small vial she needed.
But if it was down there (and Jazz was pretty sure it was), it proved perilously elusive. After hunting for four minutes, Jazz was highly frustrated. She glanced over to the Ghost Portal, and feeling the need to vent, she turned towards it.
"You think you're so funny, don't you?" She addressed the portal. "Sitting there all smug. You drive my dad to distraction, and drag my mom along with him, and do whatever the heck you did to my brother…..ohhhhh, you make me so mad!" Jazz snapped, and then she turned away from the portal, planning her next sweep.
She never saw the willowy figure slip from within the green swirling energy…but she felt it.
Because she was suddenly aware of heat behind her. A great deal of heat, as if someone had just focused the sun through a magnifying glass on her back…or started a fire behind her. And she was just about to speak…when IT spoke.
"We all go a little mad sometimes…"
The figure was right up close to her. Jazz's eyes went as wide as saucers. Its form was wavery and shifting…but she could make out the vague pattern that might have once been a one-piece bathing suit outfit, of hair once tied back in a high ponytail, of a face that might have been lovely once.
But such details were hard to be certain, because the figure was on fire. Like a human completely awash in flames, the figure…the woman floated there, a few inches off the ground…ground that was hissing and actually starting to redden, which in the back of her head scared Jazz even more because such heat required to do that would burn her to ash yet she was right up close and how what how where how WHAT…?
"…Who are you?" Jazz stammered. The woman, her face composed of burning flame, her features all blurring together in the shifting blaze…smiled a bit.
"They called me Sizzle." She said. "And they will again."
Jazz's scream rang through the entire household.
And far far away, on the coast of Florida, past a city and to an island, on which rested a building shaped like a huge T, into a dark room…another female floated, a female with pale skin and lovely dark features, with purple-black hair and a dark purple cloak, sat in mid-air, floating off the ground, her legs crossed, her arms out, and her mind in deep meditation as she reached out and connected with the universe.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos. Azarath, Metrion…" Raven chanted.
And then it hit her like a bolt of lightning. Her eyes snapped open.
"Oh no." She whispered. "Not again. Not HER."