Vlad Plasmius slowly opened his eyes. He stood with a box of weapons for Valerie in his hands, in the centre of his laboratory. It was the present-day, he was about to leave, and according to the digital clock resting on his lab table, only five minutes had passed since he looked at his old college photo.
In five short minutes, he had gone over twenty years.
From Jack's bumbling with the Proto-Portal to the first time he sent a ghost to Amity Park.
And that last chapter of his life was still being written.
The ecto-pusses were supposed to test Jack's ghost-hunting skills. He found out later that they had decided to satisfy their appetites by attacking two fourteen-year old children. The ecto-pusses hadn't gotten their meal, however. They were quickly beaten back into The Ghost Zone by what was said to be a "ghost-boy."
Vlad had quickly moved to send in a more competent agent – Skulker. The hunter was supposed to confront Jack, not worry about the ghost-boy. But, true to his nature, once he found the child, he decided to make him his prey. That little endeavour had ended with Skulker coming back to Vlad through the Ghost Zone without his armour. It ended up taking no small amount of money and time meant for other project to re-assemble him.
After those failures, Vlad had decided to take matters into his own hands. The twentieth anniversary for his college class was upon him. Offering to host it at his castle, he welcomed Maddie and Jack with a special invitation. He arranged a perfect plan. He would overshadow Jack, turn him into a monster in the eyes of Maddie and their old classmates, and then dispose of him later. Maddie would join him, he would find a way to buy the Packers, he would get the Crown of Fire and the Ring of Rage, and he would have all that he wanted.
There was one thing that he didn't count on – Danny.
Danny Fenton. A fourteen-year old freshman with a shy demeanour, two best friends, a kind heart, and poor math grades.
That boy was also Danny Phantom, the misguided ghost-boy who could only think to use his powers to defend people who didn't know he existed rather than obtain what was denied him.
Maddie's son. The only other natural half-ghost in existence. The son that should have been his. The perfect apprentice.
Vlad's worst enemy.
The boy lacked experience and power. He also lacked the courage to do all that was necessary. But Vlad knew that Daniel could be made just like him. He knew it! He only needed to create the right tragedy to turn the boy from the path he had foolishly chosen.
Vlad had tried to orchestrate such tragedies from the beginning. Once he had found out that ghosts had ruined Valerie Grey's life, he had turned her into a ghost hunter right in Danny's own backyard. He had trapped young Daniel and Maddie at his Colorado retreat while he tried to have Jack killed. He had tried to turn his sister against him. And he had forced Daniel to work for him by endangering his friends with lethal ecto-acne once it came back to haunt Vlad himself.
But alas, his efforts had thus far proven to be in vain. Money, power, and tragedy had not yet persuaded young Daniel to stand by Vlad's side. And so, from his first refusal back at the anniversary, Vlad had sought out alternatives.
In the equipment he provided Valerie, he had monitoring devices installed into it to record Daniel's fights. He had used that data, DNA samples, and the machines he employed for his experiments in Colorado to attempt to clone the perfect son. Someone born to Vlad whom he could raise to be free of the notions that cluttered Daniel's mind. Someone who could take Daniel's place in Maddie's heart once she decided to join him. But the clone had been destroyed by the only half-decent try he had come up with – Danielle, a silly little girl.
So Vlad continued to plot and scheme and wait. He would have Maddie. He would have Daniel – the real one or a perfect clone. He would have the Packers.
He had all the tools he needed. He had the money. He had the equipment. He had finally gotten the Crown of Fire and, at the sacrifice of a chance for the Ring of Rage, the Fright Knight.
All he needed was the opportune moment.
Vlad's eyes drifted again to a newspaper article from The Milwaukee Journal. The writing discussed the need to arm Wisconsin against ghost-invasion, citing an incident in Amity Park. Danny was mentioned by name as the one ghost who fought to defend the city.
"That's my boy," Vlad chuckled. "Enjoy your time on the stage as a superhero. I'll close the curtain on that act of yours soon enough."