Vlad was in his ghost form as he paced angrily across his lab, trailed by an orange cat. "Doesn't anyone know why those ghost shields are so effective? Or why they don't affect Daniel?" he demanded.
"Only the Box Ghost and Klemper have been willing to face the ghost child in the shielded areas." Said Fright Knight.
"Do you mean to tell me that no one will face a boy, just because of a few shields?"
The child defeated Rage," said Fright Knight, "defeated him and sent him back to the Ghost zone as a wasted shadow."
"He had help!" Vlad snapped as he untangled the cat from his cape
"Yes, he had help, a handful of humans. Pariah Dark led an army of ghosts against Rage."
"Daniel is not that strong, he can't be that strong!"
"I do not think he is, Pariah took the ring from Rage when they fought. But weakened or not Rage is dangerous, he feeds off your will to fight, he drains even the strongest ghosts, and grows only more powerful. The ghost child's deeds are most impressive."
There wasn't much Vlad could say to that, so floating a little farther out of the cat's reach, he turned to Skulker. "You were captured and held in their lab for days. Surely you learned something about the new ghost shield."
Skulker looked very annoyed as he said, "It's something called a Fenton neutralizer, it doesn't stop ghosts, but weakens them instead. And the whelp seems immune. He was in and out of there in both forms, but he hasn't told his parents that he's half ghost."
"He'd be an idiot if he did, he can't possibly believe they'd accept him." Vlad muttered, then he continued louder, "I want one of these ghost neutralizers to examine. Just one!They're in buildings all over Amity Park, so even you should be able to handle getting one."
His tirade at Skulker was interrupted when the cat leaped off a shelf and landed on Skulkers head. There was a moment of utter silence before the cat screeched and tore across the room, her fur smoking. Vlad was never able to explain why he reacted the way he did. He never stopped to think, he just yanked off his cape and pounced on the cat, wrapping her tightly to smother any flames. Then holding her securely, even as she yowled and struggled, he turned intangible and phased them both through the wall and out of his castle.
Dr Smith had seen some weird patients and weirder clients in his years as a veterinarian, and this one rated an 'interesting' at the very least. A silver haired man, wearing a very expensive suit, was trying to intimidate the receptionist (After eighteen years in this office not much bothered her, although the twelve foot python on her desk had come close) The man was clutching a wiggling bundle wrapped in cloth. And from the noises it made, there was a cat inside who was either in pain, extremely unhappy, or both. There were no patients waiting, and this seemed urgent, so Dr. Smith quickly showed him into an exam room. Once the cat was unwrapped, it clung to its owner and yowled. This made the examination difficult, but not impossible, though he had rarely seen a client as touchy about personal space as this one.
In most places, the burns had not reached the cats skin, her fur had protected her. But she had some small first-degree burns on her chest, and her fur had been singed down to a fraction of an inch all along her chest and belly. She was a very lucky cat; all she really needed was something to soothe the tender skin and keep her from licking it raw.
"Now I want you to make an appointment with your usual vet for a checkup, to make sure she is healing properly, with no signs of infection."
"I don't have a 'usual vet'."
"Okay then, do you live around here?"
"Then make an appointment with the receptionist before you leave."
Although his manner seemed cold and abrupt, he carefully and neatly wrapped the cat up in the cloth again. Refusing the offer of a carrier as unnecessary, he cradled her securely in one arm as she purred. Dr Smith didn't think he had ever heard a cat purr quite that loudly before.
The receptionist looked up and sighed, 'Here comes the slime ball' she thought, 'I bet he's a lawyer.'
"I need to make an appointment for this cat," he said.
"Very well sir, I need you to fill out these forms."
After a bit, he handed her the forms. As she looked them over she felt her eyebrows rise in disbelief. He didn't know the cat's age, he hadn't named her, and under breed he put 'orange' half the answers were blank!
"Sir, has this cat had any vaccinations?"
"Not that I know of."
"Has she ever seen a vet before?"
"I don't know."
"Well I don't know what you think you're doing, but you have a responsibility as a pet owner. You say you have had this cat for several months, and you haven't even named her! Let alone provided the most basic preventative care!"
"Fine! If she needs a name then call her Penny!"
"You need to bring her back for a checkup, we have an opening next Thursday. We'll start her vaccinations then, also you should make an appointment to have her spayed. Unless you want to deal with litter after litter of kittens?"
He took the papers she handed him, and a tube of ointment and left. Once outside and out of sight he transformed. He was surprised to find he was wearing his cape, even though the cat was still wrapped in the one from before, but he decided to investigate after he got home. He turned himself, and his purring bundle invisible and flew home. Although he was angry at how that woman talked to him, Penny's purr relaxed him almost against his will. By the time he reached his castle, he was no longer planning on sending Fright Knight after her. But he was considering arranging for Technus to scramble all the electronics in her home.
Over the next few days Vlad dutifully cared for Penny. There was no way he'd ever admit that he cared about her, but he did find her presence soothing. She quickly healed, and was soon back to normal except for a nearly bald patch on her underside. It was clear that she adored Vlad; she still followed him everywhere, though she stayed away from open flames now. Penny had no fear whatsoever of Vlad in either form, and often crept into his lap, or snuggled in the folds of his cape while he was distracted. And being abruptly dumped from his lap when he noticed never seemed to discourage her at all.
She also liked to fish crumpled pieces of paper out of the trash, and after noisily 'killing' it she'd present Vlad with the shredded remains. One day she dropped a well-chewed wad of paper in the middle of a lab table in front of Vlad. With an exasperated growl, he knocked the paper ball off the table. Penny gleefully pounced on it and brought it back to drop in front of Vlad again. He looked at her curiously, and then flicked the paper off the table once more; Penny bounded after it and brought it back again. This soon became a game of fetch. Vlad had never heard of a cat playing fetch before, but he decided it was a sign of unusual intelligence, for a cat. Penny had also developed a fondness for lying on Vlad's shoes, whether he was wearing them or not.
One morning, after shooing Penny off his shoes, he stuck his foot in and felt something cold, clammy, and moving in his shoe! "Gah! What is that!?" he yelled as he yanked his foot out. He held the shoe upside down and at arm's length and shook it until something fell out. Vlad stared at the tiny, and barely conscious Skulker. He looked at Penny who seemed rather smug, then at Skulker, then back to Penny.
"Next time, find somewhere more appropriate to leave that." He muttered before ordering one of the vultures to put Skulker somewhere out of the way until he woke up. Then Vlad walked away, smirking, his fluffy, orange, cat bouncing along behind him.