Edited: April 17, 2011. Yes, I finally got around to editing, as I said I would. Then again, I have been editing little by little for several months now. But, at last, I am done editing the prologue. It is still the same. I just cleaned up grammar and sentence flow, because every time I read this chapter, I cringed at how horribly it was written—I know what you loyal readers want to say, but I am allowed to be hard on myself because I'm the author! Heh-heh. Anyways, expect editing for chapter 1 and 2—eventually—for those who like to re-read stuff. And hopefully for those who are just getting on board, this will be more pleasant to read. Ta for now!

Edited Summary:

Chess is one of the most entrancing and complex games that exist. A great chess player is patient; they don't rush to defeat or win a step ahead of their opponent. They wait till the moment is right.

A great chess player also strategizes. They watch their opponent's moves and exploits them to his advantage, while in turn, making his own moves accordingly. It takes years of practice and intelligence to master such crafts, but in the end, the player obtains what they want: victory over their opponent.

With two words the wiser player marks his hold on his rival; a hold that can't be broken by any move, because in truth, the captive has none left, except to give in to defeat.

Checkmate. The word that defines the whole game; a word that only the better player is honored to say…..

Danny's fifteenth birthday is coming up, so his friends and family plan a surprise party for him. However, his fun, ghost-free birthday comes to a halt when Jazz mysteriously collapses during his party. Now Danny has to cope with his sister's sickness, while dealing with the stress of a starnge increase in ghost attacks. But Danny is faced with an even greater problem when Vlad comes to vist. What will Danny do when his sister's life depends on one choice from him? And what will happen when his choice leads to something completely unexpected?

Author's Notes: Hello everyone! This is my first DP story and the first story I write in about nine years. I have always enjoyed writing but school has cut that pass time. I got this idea as I watched "Secret weapons" and "Kindred Spirits." This story plot has been nagging at me for a while and until now I decided to listen to it. I'm not sure how long this will be but I got most of the plot figured out, so I know were its going for the most part. The story won't have any pairings and will not contain any OCs. There might be some hinting on pairs but nothing that the show doesn't show. Spoilers for the show will be mentioned every so often in the story. I'm hoping to finish this story in about a month which is what I have before I get back to school. Since this is my finals week I'm probably not going to update until next week. With that said, I welcome any kind of comments and advice. Please let me know what you think; you know, likes, dislikes, and most importantly if the characters are "in character" Like I said I am really rusty at writing so it might not be all that great, but if I didn't get this story plot out of my head I was going to go Crazy! Thanks for Reading

Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom; Butch Hartman is the sole owner of the show and therefore of all its characters.



The sun began to set over the town of Amity Park. So, for the citizens, that meant the end of a busy day and the time to unwind from the day's activities.

But for Danny Fenton, the day's activities were far from over.

The fourteen-year old freshman was no ordinary student of Casper High School. An accident a year ago had taken away all normality from his life. Well... perhaps not all his normality. Like all boys his age, he was going through puberty. And although, he was going through the whole 'voice changing' and 'raging hormones', his body wasn't exactly developed or muscular. Quite the opposite, really. In fact, to many, he looked a lot younger than fourteen. And his baggy blue jeans and white-and-red T-shirt made him seem even slimmer.

But what Danny lacked in body, he made up in face. One look at his large, ice-blue eyes and one couldn't help but be mesmerized by their depths. His wavy jet-black hair that every-so-often fell against his face only made those eyes the more alluring. Overall, the young teenager portrayed an air of innocence and boyish charm.

Too bad that his looks did very little to help his status in high school.

Being that he was a shy and clumsy teenager, Danny was considered an outcast—or in his peers' words, 'a loser'. His only friends were Tucker Foley and Samantha Manson—though she was better known as Sam Manson. But they were the most loyal and supporting friends anyone could ever wish for. And Danny was not the exception. He was quite happy with having his two friends.

But it was in the presence of Sam and Tucker that Danny's life had changed forever. It had happened about a month after his fourteenth birthday...

Being professional ghost hunters, Danny's parents made it their life's work to capture and study ghostly organisms. Their 'career' actually dated back to their college days. But over the years, they had built weapons and other technological equipment for the sole purpose of ghost hunting.

However, none of their inventions compared to one: the ghost portal.

Its purpose was to provide a door into the ghost realm. But still unknown to his parents, it was with the birth of the ghost portal that Danny's many hardship and trials began.

At first, Maddie and Jack had been unable to make the ghost portal work. And Danny's parents had been so disappointed that they had considered giving up on the idea all together.

But it had been later on that same day that Danny and his friends decided to investigate the strange contraption that his parents had spent years making. And with a little encouragement from Sam, Danny's curiosity was instantly peaked.

Deciding to take a closer look, Danny had geared up and walked into the portal. It was then that the teen's clumsiness had proven to be his worst enemy.

As Danny had walked into the portal on that fateful day, he unknowingly had placed his hand on a button inside the portal. And also unknown to him, the portal had been left plugged into the electrical outlet...

Everything had happened so fast that to this day Danny still couldn't remember everything that happened next. But he did vividly recall how he had been instantly bombarded with ectoplasmic energy. And most of all, he still recalled the indescribable pain and then... the darkness.

Although his accident, miracoulsy, had not proven fatal, it had changed him permanently. The barrage of so much ghostly energy restructured every molecule in his body. From then on, Danny had stopped being an ordinary teenager.

Danny had become a human-ghost hybrid. It was on that day that he gained every power a ghost possessed. But he had also developed a ghostly side, which he could turn on and off at will and in a matter of seconds.

So, while his human side appeared unchanged, the moment he transformed to his ghost half, his changes were obvious. As a ghost, his hair was as white as fresh snow and his eyes became Fluorescent green. The suit he had put on for protection when he had first stepped into the portal had become permanently attached to his ghost side. And while his ghost body had forever developed a chilling white aura, an eerie echo was also forever eched into his voice.

After his accident, the portal became operational, allowing ghosts to cross over to the human plane. As time passed, Danny learned how to control and use his powers—though, still not completely. But even so, the boy had made a decision—one that changed his life as much as his accident had:

He had chosen to use his powers for the greater good. He chose to protect his town against evil ghosts.

And it was with that decision that Danny began to face many powerful adversaries and untold danger. But none of it impacted him more than the day he discovered he was not the only ghost-hybrid. And nothing had been harder than learning that the only one like him would be his most dangerous foe—his arch-enemy

But even with a much more powerful ghost hybrid out to destroy him and his family, Danny kept his ghost identity a secret from his parents and sister. Only his two friends knew of the weight Danny carried. But as the true friends they were, Sam and Tucker were also always there to help their half-ghost friend through his battles and troubles the best they could.

However, one of his more recent and fiercest battles, Danny had been forced to face on his own. His fight with an evil, future version of himself had forever been engraved in his mind, and had affected the teen more than his friends knew—or ever would know.

But it was that confrontation with his evil self that had left Danny with another helping hand in the form of his only sibling;

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Fenton.

And it was with his older sister finally in on his secret that the boy's life became even more different...

And more dangerous...

Danny Phantom was just starting his evening patrol over the skies of Amity Park. And as he kept an eye out for any ghost trying to cause trouble, he also couldn't help but admire the breathtaking view around him.

The orange-red sun was barely visible on the horizon as it said 'good-bye' to Amity Park. And yet, the sun's last rays were just strong enough to give Danny's ghostly aura and his snow-white hair a yellow tinge. Their beaming warmth, however, couldn't overcome the ghost boy's natural cool body temperature.

The quarter moon was also visible as it waited for its turn to own the darkening sky. But for Danny's glowing, ghostly green eyes, the approching night-time was hardly of any hinderance.

The teen briefly turned his gaze to the sparkling lake below him as he flew over it. The water's gleam and depth almost seemed to reflect the boy's soul that burned with a strong fire through those same piercing green orbs.

"Danny, how are you holding up? Any sign of activity yet?"

Danny's attention quickly went to the Fenton Phone in his ear upon hearing Sam's voice from it.

He pressed on the 'talk' button as he answered, "In order: I'm doing just fine. And, no. It's still real quiet out here." He paused at the fact before adding in a mixture of sarcasm and amusement, "I don't know if I should panic or jump for joy at how quiet it is tonight..."

"I''ve been debating that myself. I'm currently searching the park, but there's not even a 'beware' from the Box Ghost," Sam said dryly.

Danny chuckled and replied, "Maybe we should be worried, then."

"Or maybe, since tomorrow's your birthday, we should take it as a good thing..." She answered with mirth.

Danny's eyebrows heightened in surprise. Wait. Tomorrow was his birthday? ...How could he have forgotten that?

"Wow, I forgot my own birthday... That can't be right," he thought to himself.

Well, the truth was he had not forgotten his birthday exactly... just what day it was today... And perhaps the month, too.

"I guess that's what happens when you have a town to protect," Danny added wryly.

Have you heard from Tucker yet?" his friend suddenly asked.

Danny blinked at the sudden sound of Sam's voice, but remembering he had been talking to her, he pushed his own musings away and answered, "No, he hasn't called me yet. But now that you mention it, let me see if I can get him on. Hold on."

Danny pressed the talk button again, and once he was sure he had linked to Tucker's PDA, while keeping Sam connected, too, he called to his other friend.

"Hey, Tuck? Can you hear me?"

"Yeah. What's up, dude?" Danny soon heard Tucker reply.

"Where you at?" the half-ghost questioned. "So far, me and Sam have come up empty."

"Yeah, I just finished checking the pier and there isn't even a blip on the ghost radar out here... I say we call it a night."

"I agree with him, Danny. I think it's time to head home," Danny heard Sam add over the Fenton Phone.

"Yeah... I guess we should," Danny mumbled, turning over in mid air and putting his hands behind his head. He thoughtlyfully stared at the vast darkness above him. But then he closed his eyes and sighed blissfully. It was so peaceful up here... Shame he had a curfew to keep…

"Hey, man, you still there?"

"Yeah, Tuck," he answered, opening his eyes.

"Wanna meet at the park, then?" Tucker asked before adding to his other friend, "Sam, you're still there, right?"

"Yes, Tucker. I'll wait for you two here," Sam replied.

"I'm on my way, then," Danny said, turning back around and picking up speed.

But as the young half-ghost headed towards his friends, Sam spoke up again,"Hey, Danny? Do you know if your parents are doing anything special tomorrow?"

"Uh…I don't know, Sam. They haven't said anything and I haven't noticed anything," Danny replied, though he did slow down a bit and thoughtfully tap his lip.

But right then, Tucker added via his PDA, "Sam, you should know better than to ask Danny something like that. You know he doesn't notice things unless you wave them in front of him!"

"Hey!" Danny yelled as he heard Tucker laugh through the Fenton Phone. "I so notice stuff!"

"Sure you do, dude!" Tucker continued to tease.

Finally arriving at the park's vacinity, Danny scowled at his friend even though he couldn't see him.

But Sam quickly jumped to his rescue.

"Stop it, Tucker. At least he bothers to try."

"Thanks, Sam. That makes me feel so much better," Danny said sarcastically. But right then, the hybrid spotted his female friend below and flew down, landing right in front of her.

Sam smirked at him and lightly shrugged as she answered, "What are friends for, Danny?"

But before Danny could reply, Tucker ran up to them from behind, soon getting his friends' attention. "You know, Sam, if you don't stop sticking up for Danny like that, people will never stop calling you guys lovebirds," he teased.

"Tucker!" Danny and Sam simultaneously yelled, a blush working up their faces.

"Okay, okay," Tucker replied, raising his hands up in pasifying gesture and backing up a few steps. And fearing his embaressed friends were going to strangle him, Tucker quickly changed subjects. "So, what do you wanna do tomorrow, dude?" he asked his half-ghost friend.

Danny rolled his eyes at his friend's not-so-subtle actions. But then he lightly shrugged at his question.

Tucker frowned. But before he could further question the other boy, Sam raised an eyebrow and said, "Well, someone doesn't seem too happy that it's his birthday tomorrow..."

"What? ...No…. It's just that..." Danny trailed off. But then stuffing his hands in his pockets, he sighed and began to walk through the park towards his home.

Danny's friends looked at each other before following after him.

As they fell in step with him, the hybrid explained helplessly, "It's just that whatever we plan will most likely be interrupted by ghosts," He shrugged again and added indifferently, "So, why bother? Besides, it's not that big a deal."

"Not a big deal? Dude, you're turning fifteen!" Tucker quickly said. "Not to mention, it will be a month short of you becoming Danny Phantom. And it's Saturday! Do you know how lucky you are to have your birthday fall on a weekend? You're gonna have the whole day to celebrate! What's not to love?"

"Tucker's right, Danny," Sam spoke up. "You're being pessimistic. And that's my job. Plus, we've never let ghosts stop us from hanging out before. So tomorrow shouldn't be any different, okay?"

A smile returned to Danny's face with the looks of encouragement on Sam and Tucker's faces.

"You're right, guys!" he said with his own sudden excitement. "I just have to make the most of what little free time I get and not worry about the 'what ifs' for once." Danny grinned wider and quickly turned into Phantom as he brightly added, "You know what? I'm gonna give the town a one last final quick sweep before heading home. That way, there is less of a chance of running into any ghost tomorrow!"

"Do you want us to come with you?" Sam asked as she looked up to her now floating friend, smiling herself with how happier her friend was.

Before Danny could answer, Tucker quickly turned to face Sam with a significant smirk. "Sam, you gotta pick up that poetry book you left at my house, remember?"

Sam briefly looked confused, but then she caught on and quickly replied, "Oh! Uh, right! I have to return it tonight by... ten?" She squeaked out, only to slightly cringe at the sound of her voice and how lame her cover was.

"So, uh… Do you mind, Danny...?" she asked with a convincing smile.

Danny looked at them as if they had just duplicated as 'well' as he could.

"O….Kay... What's up with them? And… I thought the library closed at seven?" he thought, confused. But then he shrugged it off and replied, "It's no big deal, guys. I was going to say that I would be fine on my own, anyways. It's pretty quiet; so, it shouldn't take me long."

"Thanks, Danny. Give us a call if anything comes up, okay?" Sam replied.

"Yeah, man. And be careful," Tucker added a bit more seriously.

"Don't worry. I'll be fine," he assured them. And then with a parting wave, he added, "See you guys tomorrow!"

"Bye!" Tucker and Sam replied as they watched their friend fly off in the direction of the clock tower.

Sam was quiet for a moment, a worried frown clearly on her face. "Hey, Tucker?" she suddenly called. And getting his attention, she continued, "Maybe we should have first helped Danny before making sure everything is set for tomorrow."

"Come on, Sam. Danny can hold his own," Tucker replied with a small smile. "Plus, this is probably the best chance we're gonna get to go to Danny's house without him being there. Otherwise, how else are we gonna help Danny's family throw him a surprise birthday party? So, come on. We're wasting time," Tucker said with an encouraging pat on his female friend's shoulder.

Sam sighed warily; but then with a small smile she nodded and said, "You're right, Tucker. Let's get going."

The two teens quickly picked up their pace; and as they headed in the direction of Fenton Works, they conversed about their plans tomorrow for Danny and about the things they needed to do to give their half-ghost friend the best birthday ever.

Danny flew by the clock tower just as it began to chime. In response, he briefly paused to look at the time.

"It's nine," he said, glad that it was Friday, which meant his curfew was extended for an extra hour. But then glancing around his quiet surroundings, he added in thought, "And if I'm lucky, tomorrow will be as dead as it is tonight and I can spend that extra hour tomorrow night with my friends..."

But then Danny blinked and replayed his thought before suddenly rolling his eyes at himself and drlyly saying, "Great, now I'm saying puns in my head. I really need a vaca..."

A fine blue mist unexpecedly escaped out of his mouth, cutting off his musing.

"I guess tonight isn't as dead as I thought," Danny muttered, annoyed.

Focusing on the matter at hand, he took off through the sky, following his ghost sense. But it soon led him to a very unexpected place...

"Axion Lab?" he questioned.

The vast building's perimeter was illuminated by spotlights, yet by how dark it was inside, it was obvious everyone was long gone.

Danny flew down for closer inspection, though still remained wary of possibly triggering the place's ghost security system.

"After all the break-ins this place has had in the past, I know there's some form of ghost alarm installed," he thought.

Danny landed in front of the building and eyed every corner of the place as if something was going to jump out and attack him—which wasn't all that unlikely.

It was then that a faint buzzing caught his attention.

"What was that?" Danny thought, only to startle more when he heard the noise again, only louder. But as a result, he realized that the buzzing was coming from inside Axion.

Deciding to chance the ghost security, Danny phased into the building. But when nothing tried to blast his head off, he sighed in relief.

"I guess they forgot to turn it on," Danny concluded.

What he didn't know was that someone had already disabled it...

However, his attention went immedietly to the odd buzzing noise, which was even louder now that he was inside.

As he flew towards the sound, he soon found out that it was coming from behind a thick metal door. Suddenly, he gasped when the chilling sensation of his ghost sense filled his every fiber once more.

Danny narrowed his eyes, and all trace of wariness was scorched by the sudden fire of determination in his green gaze, which only intensified under the evident threat. He phased invisibly through the metal doors, and his breath fogged again. But it wasn't his ghost sense, this time. It was the fact that he had entered a giant fridge.

This cooler, however, didn't contain anything edible. In fact, most of the things around him had warning signs, like 'poison' or 'corrosive'.

Still, the teen was sure his ghost sense had been pointing him in this direction, so continued forward. He briefly noticed the many glass cases that protected different liquid vials suspended in what looked like green jelly. But what really got his attention was how these glass protecting-domes had strange green and red pulsating shields covering them...

He definitely would be staying away from them.

He was almost to the other side of the fridge when he spotted who his ghost sense had detected...

"Skulker," he growled quietly and quickly turned invisible before he then further ducked behind a metal cabinet.

He noticed the huge robotic ghost was typing at a key pad in front of one of the glass cases, which had a red barrier protecting it. But inside was a small vile with a purplish metallic liquid and it was frozen inside light blue ice.

What was it?

And better yet, what did Skulker want with it...?

"Ugh! Do I look like Technus to him?" Skulker suddenly grumbled.

"Password and eye-scan do not match. Please enter matching password and eye-scan to deactivate alarm and sheild," the computer said in a feminine voice.

"Agghh! That's it! I'm going to blast this thing to dust!" the hunter shouted.

"I don't get it," Danny thought. "What is Skulker doing here? And why is he trying to steal whatever is inside that glass case? It doesn't seem like something Skulker would use... Unless... Is Plasmius up to something again?"

Danny frowned with the very likely possibility. But then he shook his head and added, "Whatever. I better just stop him before he gets away with what he's doing."

He quickly charged an ecto-blast in his hand; but just before he could make his move, a sudden voice coming from the hunter's communicator on his arm, froze the boy in place.

"Blasted, Skulker! CALM DOWN!" the older hybrid exclaimed at the hunter.

"So Plasmius is behind this!" Danny thought as a low growl resonated from his throat.

Danny could faintly hear Plasmius yelling instructions at Skulker, but it was no longer loud enough to be discernible. Still, it seemed to help Skulker do what he came to do when the machine suddenly annouced, "Password accepted. Please confirm identity with eye-scan."

Skulker removed a blue metallic orb from one of his compartments and placed it in front of the eye scanner.

"Entry confirmed. Welcome, Mr. Dalv. Security and ghost shield shut-down for component NBN 3501 completed. Defrosting Initiated. Please wait..."

Danny had heard enough. Turning visible, he flew at his enemy at a heart-stopping speed. And before Skulker could even blink, he delivered a powerful blow to the ghost's chin.

Skulker went flying back, only managing a gasp of alarm as his metallic body screeched across the floor before finally slamming into a cabinet a couple of feet away with a loud bang.

Danny cringed at the previous noise before quipping with a smirk, "I can't really say that was music to my ears, but that punch was sure therapeutic," he added as he lightly rubbed his sore knuckles.

Skulker slowly pulled himself back to his feet and glared at the boy. But instead of addressing him, the hunter brought up his arm and said with annoyance into his communicator, "I will call you back. We have trouble—though nothing I can't handle..."

Danny just raised an eyebrow and asked in challenge, "You sure 'bout that, Skulker?"

The hunter quickly lowered his arm and pulled out a gun before growling a response. "I've been giving you some time off, whelp. I suggest you leave and continue to enjoy it while it lasts."

"Oh, how considerate of you. But I don't recall making you my time manager," Danny answered sarcastically and then shot an ecto-blast.

But Skulker was ready and quickly went intangible. As a result, the attack went harmlessly through him and slammed into the already damaged cabinet behind the hunter, effectively destroying what was left of it.

Skulker's metallic suit quickly opened at the shoulders to reveal two large silver guns, and he fired both simulantesly and followed it by a third blast from a weapon in his hand.

Not having expected Skulker to retaliate with such force, Danny barely dodged the first two attacks. But the third hit him dead on and it hurled him backwards into one of the many glass cases... protected by ghost shields...

"Ahhh!" Danny screamed as hot pain coursed through his body. He didn't know what was worse: the blast from Skulker's gun drilling into his chest; or, the electricity that tore at his back the instant he hit the case's ghost shield.

Stunned, the ghost boy slid down and hit the ground with a thud. And for a moment, all he could do was clench his teeth, while he desperately tried to blink away the black spots dancing in his vision. But when his swimming head finally cleared enough for him to remember what was going on, the teen suddenly gasped and jumped to his feet.

His eyes readily widened when he noticed the room was now flashing with red light and a loud alarm was also going off throughout the facility.

"Ghost intruder alert! Ghost intruder alert!" the intercoms then abruptly blared around him. "Ghost defense initiating in ten, nine, eight..."

Darn it!" Danny exclaimed angrily. And when he quickly looked around and realized Skulker was nowhere to be seen, he added, "I am so not sticking around to find out what improvements they made to their ghost defense system here!"

With a frustrated growl, Danny turned intangible and shot through the roof just as several weapons appeared in the freezer and fired at him.

Luckily, he made it out without problem; but as he now hovered above Axion, he scanned the dark sky for any sign of Skulker. But all the boy spotted and heard was the police cars making their way towards Axion, thanks to the alarms.

"Just great!" Danny grumbled. "Skulker got away, and with what he came for nonetheless."

He sighed. But knowing he needed to get out of here before he got anymore bad rep, the teen quickly turned invisible and sped away, hoping that he wouldn't have the further bad luck of running into Valerie. That would not bode well at all.

Luckily, he made it home without further problem...

"Bye, kids!" Maddie and Jack yelled from the living room.

"See you tomorrow!" Sam and Tucker called back as Jazz walked them to the door.

"Where's Danny?" Jazz asked with a worried frown once she and her brother's friends were alone outside. And scanning the sky in hopes of seeing Danny, she added, "It's past ten and he's still not home; I've called his cell several times, but he won't answer it."

"I'm sure he'll be home soon, Jazz," Sam reassured the older girl. "He said he was going to give the town one last quick check."

"Yeah," Tucker added. "And he told us he would call if he ran into trouble anyways. I doubt he found anything since it was quiet while we were out there with him…"

Jazz gave him an incredulous look. They all knew that Danny was the type of person that would try to take on the world single handedly. He would never hesitate to jump in the line of fire for any of his fellow humans, even when said people hated or humiliated him. And his hero streak tended to make him avoid his friends and sister's help, unless he absolutely needed it, in fear of their getting hurt…

"Look Jazz, we worry about him too, but you know how hard-headed he is," Sam said.

Jazz smiled knowingly at the younger girl and gave her a look that said, 'tell me about it.'

"Let's give him fifteen more minutes I'll call you if I see him and you do the same, okay?" Sam suggested.

"Okay, but if he's not back by then I'm going to go look for him," Jazz decided with a small frown.

"If he's not back by then, then both of us will be out there with you." Sam replied with a small, comforting smile.

Tucker nodded his head in agreement, an assuring look on his back, too.

Jazz smiled back at them, while thinking to herself, "I'm glad Danny has such great friends—even if it's just two." But out loud, she replied, "Okay, you two, I'll see both of you tomorrow, and don't forget: be here early!"

"Of course, we wouldn't miss Danny's big day for the world!" Tucker replied with a grin before he and Sam waved their goodbyes and headed off to their homes.

Several minutes later, Danny landed in an ally close to his house and transformed back into his human form. He picked up his scooter, which he had hid in the bushes earlier and sped off to his house.

"Skulker might have gotten away but at least I'll be home before curfew," he said with a small smile.

Upon arriving home, Danny dropped his scooter to the side and went up the stairs. Before he could twist the knob to open the door, the door quickly opened for him. He was surprised when his sister just as suddenly stepped out and ran right into him.

"Oof!" the two grunted, though only Danny fell down on his butt from the impact.

But when Jazz saw who she ran into, she gasped and exclaimed in relief, "Danny! There you are! I was about to go look for you; I've been calling you and you haven't picked up!"

Danny blinked by the array of emotions that passed through his sister's face in the seconds it had taken her to say all that. She had gone from surprised, to happy and relieved at seeing him home, and finally, to irritated from keeping her worried.

But as he got to his feet again and rubbed his sore bottom, he thought with his own annoyance, "Gee thanks, Jazz. Now I have another bruise to add to my collection." But knowing she was just worried, he sighed away his irritation and said with an apologetic look, "Sorry, Jazz. I must have forgotten to turn my phone back on."

Jazz smiled, too happy to stay upset with him. After all, she knew how forgetful her brother could be sometimes. Then again, he did have more things on his mind than any normal teenager his age should have.

She suddenly ruffled his hair and said with a wider smile, "It's okay, little brother. Now, come on. I saved some of Mom's cookies for you before Dad could eat them all. Go clean up while I give your friends a quick call to tell them you're home."

"Thanks, Jazz" Danny replied as he went in.

Jazz watched as he stretched his sore muscles as he made his way up to his room…

After a quick shower Danny came down stairs in his pajamas. He sat down at the table where a glass of milk and two large, warm chocolate chip cookies were waiting for him. Danny smiled to himself at Jazz's attention. "She's annoying and overprotective; but she's great …..Of course I would never admit that to her," he added with a secretive smirk to himself before taking a bite of one of his cookies.

"Son! You're home!"

Danny turned slightly in his chair and found his father grinning down at him from behind. However, his dad's happy expression melded into a pleading look when he noticed what his son was eating.

Danny smiled and sighed before grabbing his second cookie and giving it to his father.

Jack lit up like a kid at Christmas as he accepted the treat and took a hearty bite. But he readily ruffled his son's hair, mumbling a 'thank you' as he then moved past him to get some milk from the fridge.

Having stepped into the kitchen themselves, Maddie and Jazz saw Jack's actions, and they both rolled his eyes at him; though the large man remained oblivious to it as he poured himself a glass of milk.

"Hi, Mom," Danny greeted her when he finally noticed his mother's presence.

"Hi, sweetie!" she beamed; and moving over to him, he hugged him from behind as she cooed, "Oh, my little boy is going to be one year older tomorrow!"

Danny just smiled shyly back at her as he secretly enjoyed his mother's affection.

"Yeah, Son! You're growing quicker than ghost weed!" Jack exclaimed as he turned to face his son, just as Maddie released him. But then the man paused and added more thoughtfully, "You know... we've had a lot of father-son talks over the years, but... I think it's time we had our first man-to-man talk."

Danny, who had just taken a sip of milk, choked on his drink upon hearing his father's last comment, and began to cough in both mortification and from the milk having gone down his windpipe.

"Well, look at the time! I better get ready for bed!" Jazz nervously said. "Good night!" she quickly added as she none-too-subtly retreated out of the kitchen.

"You boys enjoy your chat!" Maddie then said, deciding it was time for her to leave herself. She gave her husband a quick kiss; and before Danny could even protest against her retreat, she kissed him as well and bid him good night.

Danny dropped his head on the table with a loud thump, barely missing the plate on his right. "Where's a ghost when you need it?" he mumbled quietly, already grimacing with the impending 'talk' with his father.

Being Jack, he totally missed Danny's annoyance and discomfort of what was going to happen next. And the man didn't hesitate in the least as he began quite forwardly, "Well, Son; there comes a time in a every man's life where he begins to…"

Danny shut the door to his room with an exasperated sigh. His father's explanation about the 'ghost birds and the ghost bees' and 'why finding the right person is important', still made him shudder.

"I think it's safe to say I can officially explain how Lunchbox came to be." Danny shuddered again, his insides giving a jolt at the mental images his father's chat had given him.

However, with a deep sigh, the teen's mind drifted to his recent battle with Skulker….

"What could Vlad possibly be up to now?" Danny thought worriedly as he turned off his light and walked over to his bed. "After the whole cloning thing, I'm gonna have to be extra careful… It's hard to forget how ticked off the guy was with me for destroying his 'perfect clone'—not that I'm sorry for it. Sick fruit loop…But… I am worried. If Vlad was capable of all that, there's no telling what else he might be capable of… Whatever it is, it's never anything good…"

Danny got into bed and rested his head back on his hands as he stared at the glowing stars decorating his ceiling. For several moments, he just turned over what had just happened at Axion in an attempt to figure out what his arch-enemy was planning. If only he had any idea what it was Skulker had stolen for Vlad. All the teen knew was that it was called, 'NBN 3501'. But… he had no clue what it could be.

Danny finally sighed in defeat as he thought reluctantly, "I guess I shouldn't worry about it now. It's not like I can do anything about it when I have no idea what Vlad is planning…And besides…" The teen smiled. "Like Sam and Tucker said, tomorrow's my birthday and I want to spend it with my friends and family—not worrying about that crazy fruit loop who need a cat… I just hope Vlad and all my other enemies leave me alone tomorrow, so can I have a normal birthday as regular Danny Fenton..."

With that thought and a hopeful smile, Danny drifted off into a blissful sleep.

Deep in an uninhabited area of Wisconsin, stood a lone castle. The castle was so immense that it would take at least an hour to circle its perimeter. The castle's size, however, was nothing compared to its height, for the castle stood so tall that it stole the pale moon's view of the world below. The white walls and decor were accented with a green and gold color scheme. But like most castles, this one also gave off that air of elegance and wonder. But… unlike most, this one caressed the senses with an ominous feeing.

And yet, inside this castle made for at least a hundred people, lived only one man.

Vlad Masters was one of the most revered men of his time. The mid-forties aged billionaire had a thick air of superiority and finesse. To the world, the bachelor was untainted—perfect. Men envied him and wished for even half of his good fortune, while women desired him and dreamed of gaining his prized last name.

Yes, Vlad knew who he was. But… none of it mattered to him when he didn't have what he truly wanted in his life. To him, Jack Fenton had taken away everything that was rightfully his. Maddie Fenton would have been Maddie Masters and he would have been the father of her children if Jack hadn't betrayed him and destroyed his life.

An accident in Vlad's college days, caused by Jack with a prototype ghost portal, had left him disfigured and in a hospital for years, fighting death itself. And yet, that same accident also made him who he was today.

Only a handful of people knew that Vlad Masters was also Vlad Plasmius—the first ghost hybrid to ever exist.

It had now been over twenty years since that tragic event both blessed and cursed him with his ghost half. Like Danny his powers had come with a price. And while the younger hybrid willingly traded his carefree days for his powers, Vlad had been forced to trade the most important years of his life for his own. In the billionaire's eyes that wouldn't have meant too much of a sacrifice if he had not lost the love of his life as well.

Since then, he had vowed to take revenge on his once-best-friend and obtain the love of Maddie, which was rightfully his.

But one sole person stood in his way…..

"Daniel, you are going to regret crossing my path," Vlad said darkly as flashbacks of his destroyed clone—his perfect son—passed through his mind. "You have taken away from me what I want for the last time," he vowed, his eyes flashing red.

The tall, slim-yet-muscular man was in his usual black suit as he walked over to his private study's fireplace. He then leaned towards the fireplace with one hand against the mantle as support, while in his other hand moved up to grab the framed picture of the Fenton Family that adorned the top of the beautifully crafted chimney mantle.

As he silently studied the picture, the man's dull, ice blue eyes showed sadness and longing for the older woman in the picture. But next, his eyes fell upon the man next to her, and his eyes changed so radically that one would think that it wasn't the same man staring at the picture. Vlad's eyes glowed a blood red and his once small pupils were lost to the infinite red sea. But the infinite depth of his eyes could not compete with the infinite hatred they expressed as he stared at the picture of his former best friend.

Finally, his eyes drifted towards the two children in front of the couple. His eyes regained their natural blue hue as a mixture of sadness and happiness melded into his expression. But as he focused his gaze specifically on the young boy, his eyes abruptly flooded with an unreadable array of emotions. Both hate and love were evident in his gaze, but which one dominated?

Even Vlad didn't know the answer to that.

"Of course you wouldn't understand. You have everything you could possibly hope for, dear boy," he thought bitterly. The older hybrid's eyes further filled with pain as he thought about how Daniel should have been his son.

But the emotion just as quickly left him as he remembered all the brat had done to him in the past year—especially very recently.

However, before Vlad could dwell on his young nemesis, a familiar warming sensation washed through him, like burst of liquid fire. The feeling would have certainly been overwhelming if he had not learned to tame and control it in all his years with ghost powers. That, and…. he was very use to his hot core's internal ghost sense alerting him of a ghostly presence by now

"Did he find anything out?" Vlad asked calmly without facing the entity now in the room with him.

"The whelp probably suspects you are planning something; but I doubt he knows what exactly," Skulker replied.

Vlad finally turned around just as his ally pulled out the stolen Axion vial filled with a purplish liquid from a compartment in his arm.

"Excellent," Vlad replied with a small smirk as he accepted the mystery vial Skulker had retrieved for him. Still, it was hard to tell if his comment and smug look was because he now had the final piece of his plan or because Daniel was still completely oblivious to it.

It was probably both.

However, the man suddenly turned back around and morphed into Plasmius as he commanded in his usual smooth and confident voice, "Come. This must be put into cold storage. Not to mention… there is still much to be done."

Without even a glance this time at the picture-frame still in his hand, Plasmius placed it back in its rightful place before he then placed his gloved hand on one of the two golden footballs that decorated his fireplace. The moment he tilted it towards him, the elegant fireplace split apart, revealing a long dim flight of stairs leading down into a vast laboratory.

But even then, a green hue could be seen coming from somewhere deep inside the lab. And as Vlad and Skulker floated down those long stairs, it became clear that the source of the ghostly light was a ghost portal located at the far end of the room.

However, Vlad moved to the opposite side towards a large storage fridge. He then silently opened it, further revealing the fridge contained several small vault-like storage areas on the top right side. He quickly spun a memorized combination on the lock and opened its small door with a hiss of cold air.

He carefully set the vial with the purplish-liquid on a test tube holder inside before closing and locking the small cold storage vault. As Skulker waited for his next orders, Vlad glanced at a large mainframe near him… He couldn't help the wicked little smirk that quirked his lips as one thought rant through his evil mind.

"If I cannot have love, Daniel, neither will you."

Edit complete:

Vlad muse grins wickedly. Heh. And Pearl thought she would be done with this story in a mere month... Silly child...