Author's Note: I meant to see School's Out, Ghoul's Out, but didn't. Normally, I wouldn't mention this, but Freakshow does come up in this fic. I suppose that I could wait until I see it and then fix anything that's wrong, but 1) that would mean waiting god knows how long to publish this, and 2) this story is more than 13,000 words long! (I say 12,500 in the Author's Commentary because I wasn't counting the Author's Commentary; likewise, I'm not counting the Author's Note in this estimation.) I do not feel like going through and fixing that! Anyway, the point is, that if anything here is inconsistent with the canon, well, it's because I didn't see it.
Most kids had a celebration of some sort when they turned fourteen. Alex Gentry had a rite of passage. He looked through the world's largest and most secret ghost database when other kids his age would be having cake.
"Tecnis…no. Skulker…just doesn't feel right. Ah, ha!"
"You found one you like, little bro?" his older brother, Andy, asked.
"Look at this," he flipped the screen around. "His name is Plasmius, and he is perfect."
Andy looked at the profile. "He seems pretty powerful. You think you can take him?"
"He's relatively new, just appeared on the scene twenty years ago out of nowhere and quickly made a name for himself," Alex said. "He's big in the ghost community, and considering how little we know about him, it's a good bet that he doesn't know anything about us. I'll take him completely by surprise."
"I see. Quickly made a name for himself, did he? Just like somebody I know wants to do?" Andy asked.
Alex smiled. "Tell me it doesn't smack of prophesy, I dare you. A ghost on the fast track to dominance tagged and bagged by a necromancer on the fast track to dominance."
Andy laughed. "You're full of yourself, little brother. Take Beau; you'll need someone to phase you through walls and other ghost stuff."
"If you insist," Alex said.
"So haughty you are. If you fumble this, I am going to laugh in your face so hard…"
Vlad's mischief for the night was done, and he was returning home to turn human and go to bed. Still in ghost form, he opened the door to his lobby, old habits dying hard and all. There was a boy in there, a boy with long blonde hair tied back in a ponytail dressed in black. He jumped and looked at Vlad. He had thick black lines under his eyes, like a football player, but everything else about him screamed "Goth."
"Thank the gods it's you," the boy said. "For a second, I thought the owner came home. Imagine me explaining to Mr. Masters why I was in his house."
Vlad was temporarily taken aback by this: few people weren't in some way afraid of ghosts; very, very few people would be relieved to see one instead of a living human, especially this ghost.
"What are you doing at my computer?" Vlad demanded.
"Your computer?" the boy raised an eyebrow. "Oh, I get it. You have some sort of 'living' arrangement with Mr. Masters, don't you? Don't worry, Plasmius; when you belong to me, I'll let you move your stuff in. Oh, and I saw your little screensaver; she's cute, by the way."
"You think you can capture and own Plasmius? What are you thinking, kid?" Vlad asked.
The boy chanted: "By the strength of my will, I bind you/By the strength of my blood, I bind you/B the strength of my faith, I bind you/By the strength of my words, I bind you/By the rhythm of Earth, I bind you/By the rhythm of Life, I bind you/By the rhythm of Death, I bind you/By the rhythm of Time, I bind you/As a Lord of the Dead, I bind you."
"Was that supposed to do something?" Vlad asked impatiently.
The boy stared. "Impossible! How can you resist a necromancer's spell so…so easily?" he demanded.
"A necromancer, you say? Fascinating. I didn't believe your kind even existed. I must dissect you," Vlad said. If he was telling the truth, this could give Vlad incalculable power. If he were lying…well, that's what he got for breaking into Vlad's house.
Vlad attacked, the boy dodged. He attacked again, the boy dodged again. He was quick and agile, but he was only human. Attack, dodge, attack, dodge, attack, dodge, attack, dodge, attack, dodge, attack, dodge, attack, dodge. The boy was now back where he started. Was he going to keep going in a big circle? Vlad attacked again, the boy backed up, grinning. What the…? Vlad hit an invisible wall. The floor began to glow under him; he looked down, and saw some sort of pattern on the ground.
"What is that?" Vlad demanded.
"That is an octogram," the boy said. "You know, like a pentagram, but octo instead of penta? You're trapped inside of it, Plasmius; no ghost can escape. I don't know how you resisted my binding spell, but now I have the leisure to try something else."
"No ghost can escape this trap of yours, eh?" Vlad asked.
The boy smiled arrogantly. "That's right, Plasmius baby. You're trapped, and soon you will be mine to command."
Vlad grinned. "I fear you may have underestimated me, my boy. You see, I am not only a ghost," he said.
"Oh? That would explain why your energy is so weird--" his jaw dropped and his eyes widened as Vlad changed into his human form, then calmly walked out of the octogram, which faded into nothing. He trembled with fright. Odd, that a human could scare him when a ghost could not. "N-no. It can't be. You…you're extinct. We killed off the last of your kind centuries ago."
So there were once humans who could turn into ghosts, the way Vlad could? "Is that so? Interesting." He stayed in human form as he approached the boy; this seemed to disturb him more, anyway.
The boy, panicked, waved his arms in the air. Not sure what this would do, assuming it wasn't sheer terror, Vlad hesitated. A rift to the Ghost Zone opened, ant the boy jumped inside. It closed before Vlad could follow.
Ah, well. There was no hurry. Now that Vlad knew that these necromancers existed, he could take advantage of their existence, but that required a plan. First, though, he needed to go to bed. He doubted that the boy would be back this night, but he turned on all the ghost alarms, just to be safe.
"And you are sure of this, Alex?" the old woman asked.
"Yes, Grandmother. Vlad Masters, alias Vlad Plasmius, is a hellion," Alex said. Hellions got their name from the Norse goddess Hel, who was said to be half-living, half-dead. Christians thought hellions were a kind of demon, and they were closer to the truth than they realized. The hellions served Pariah Dark, the Ghost King, ancient enemy of the necromancers. When Dark was defeated, the necromancer clans hunted and killed every last one of them…or so they thought.
"This is grim news indeed," the iron-fisted matriarch of the Gentry clan said. She sighed. "Plasmius/Masters has made lots of trips to a California town named Amity Park in recent months. I order you and your family to go there and pose as a normal family while you dig up anything you can about this hellion and whatever he is doing out there."
Alex felt his heart sank, knowing that his family was going to hate him for this, but he knew better than to try to argue with Grandmother.
Alex had been home schooled his entire life, and on his first day at Amity Park, he realized that he didn't particularly like high school. People stared and whispered. At first he wondered if they sensed something about him, but then he realized that he just had horrid fashion sense. Well, sue him for not caring enough to see if his clothes matched. He could piece together outfits when he wanted to, but those outfits were meant to shock and awe, to convey a sense of nobility, to say "I am a Lord of the Dead; worship me," which was exactly what he didn't want here. Besides, they were also pretty much monochromatic black. He was supposed to be undercover. Don't pay attention to me, I'm just an average ordinary high-school student. I don't raise zombies or trap ghosts, and I've certainly never consorted with any vampires.
He decided he would not ever wear black to this school. He didn't want his cover to slip. A bit paranoid, maybe, but there was something at Casper High. Something similar to Vlad, Alex could sense it. They had the same essence, Vlad and whatever it was. Not whatever; whoever, he corrected himself with a chill. Dear gods. More hellions? How may of the vile creatures hid, waiting, plotting their revenge on necromancer kind?
Alex walked into the cafeteria, and froze. There he was. The hellion. He could practically see the power that engulfed him. What's more, Alex recognized this boy. Before coming to California on assignment, Alex did as much research into Vlad's associates as he could. Top of that list was Jack Fenton, Maddie Fenton (the woman from the screensaver, as well as pictures all over Vlad's house), and their children, Jasmine and Danny Fenton. I'm an idiot! Danny Fenton, Danny Phantom--how did I not see this before! Danny Phantom was a ghost that popped up a lot in Amity Park (which makes sense since he lives here), sometimes doing good, sometimes doing bad. It was hard to say which one was intentional, but since he was a hellion, Alex could venture a guess and say it was the latter.
I will not be afraid. So what if this seemingly-average kid was in actuality a bloodthirsty monster, the world of necromancy's equivalent of a boogieman? I will not run. Not like I did when I faced Vlad. Just to prove he wasn't afraid, he decided to sit with Danny and friends. His female friend was cute, and Gothic. The black clothes, pale skin, and makeup reminded him of home. He could pretend that this was just another necromancer court function (necromancers called themselves the Lords of the Dead, and considered themselves to be a sort of nobility--it's not surprising that they would act the part). He schooled his face, so that he would only show what emotions he wanted to show.
He approached the table. This was stupid, he knew. The safe thing to do would have been to go to his parents with this information before confronting the new hellion. He didn't want to do the safe thing, though. Ever since running from Vlad, he felt like a total loser. A voice inside of his head kept calling him a coward, kept saying that he should have stayed and fought. In order to prove to himself that he wasn't a coward, he was doing something incredibly foolish. He was going to sup with the enemy. Uh, lunch. Whatever!
He sat down next to the girl, and smiled. "Hi, my name is Alex Gentry. We haven't met because I'm new; I just started today, in fact. What's your name?"
"Uh, Sam Manson," the girl said. "These are my friends, Danny Fenton and Tucker Foley."
"Nice to meet you," Alex said. "Say, Sam, you want to go out sometime?"
Danny nearly spit up the milk he was drinking; Tucker stared at Alex.
"Wow, you're abrupt," Sam said.
Alex shrugged. "What can I say? I do things my own way."
"Sorry, but I just met you," Sam said.
"It's alright. I didn't really expect a 'yes,' anyway…yet," Alex said. "So, what's there to do around here?" He drew an octogram on the underside of the table with a pencil as he spoke.
"Well, there's the movie theater, the mall, the arcade in the mall, and, uh…well, that's about it. Normally, we just hang out by the Nasty Burger," Tucker said.
"Uh-uh," Alex said. He finished the octogram and willed it hear. "I've got to go the bathroom." Even when he was out of earshot, the charm allowed him to hear what was being said.
"Quick, while he's in the bathroom, how did it go last night?" Tuck asked as soon as the new kid was in the bathroom.
"It was just the Box Ghost," Danny said quickly.
"Is something bothering you?" Sam asked, reading him like a book.
"I sense something," Danny said.
"A ghost?" Tuck asked.
"Maybe, but something is wrong about it. At first I thought it was that new kid, but Alex is gone and it's still here," Danny said.
"Well, if it's not a ghost, what else could it be?" Sam asked.
Danny shook his head. "I don't know. Maybe my ghost sense is just acting up?"
"Probably just a kind of ghost that we haven't encountered yet," Tuck said. "I mean, they seem to have an alarming amount of variety: ghost dragons, ghost genies, ghosts that can only be seen by children, ghosts that can control people through music--"
"I get the idea," Danny said.
"Whatever this ghost is, it doesn't seem to be causing any harm," Sam said. "I mean, usually when a ghost shows up, people start running and screaming. Maybe it's friendly?"
Danny shrugged. "I suppose I could give it the benefit of a doubt, but I'm keeping my guard up, just in case."
Alex returned from the bathroom, smiling. "Hey, guys. Did I miss anything?"
"Some associates of Vlad Masters live around here," Ann Gentry, Alex's mother, said. Aaron nodded. "Now, keep your eyes open so that we can find their address…"
Fenton Works came into sight. "Or it may stand out like a slap in the face," her husband said.
"Ye gods," Ann breathed. "Well, lets go."
Aaron got out of the car and followed his wife to the Fenton's front door. They shivered simultaneously and looked at each other. "A ghost shield?" he asked.
"Weird," Ann said. "Well, only one way to find out what's going on here," she knocked on the door.
Jack Fenton came to the door.
"Hi," Ann said. "We're new in town, and when we heard that some ghost hunters lived in town, we thought it was a good opportunity to talk shop."
"You two are ghost hunters?" Jack asked. "Where are your hazmat suits?"
"Uh, most professional ghost hunters don't wear hazmat suits," Aaron said.
"We're not really normal," Maddie Fenton said, coming to the door.
Aaron smiled, "You should see our family."
"So, what tricks do you use to find ghosts?" Jack asked.
"Oh, the usual," Ann lied. "Thermal imaging, cameras, tape recorders, that sort of thing."
"Tape recorders? EVP, I trust?" Maddie asked.
"Naturally," Aaron said.
"Not that Electronic Voice Phenomenon is very reliable," Ann added. "Too much static, and it relies too much on interpretations. What sounds like 'get out' to one person sounds like white noise to another."
"So, how do you go about it?" Aaron asked.
"We're a little more high-tech," Maddie said. They talked about many of the devices that they had invented.
"Ghost Portal, you say?" Ann asked.
"It's supposed to open a hole into the dimension where ghosts live, what we call the Ghost Zone," Jack said. "But it doesn't work."
Aaron and Ann traded a look. "I think we would like to see it," Ann said.
"Well, normally we don't just show it to anyone," Jack said. "But what the hey. We don't have fellow ghost hunters in town every day, after all."
They went down into the basement, where Jack showed the two necromancers the setup of his ghost portal. "It only opens if someone with DNA matching that in the database presses their palm here, like this," he showed them, and the ghost portal opened, allowing a specter into the world of the living.
Aaron and Ann traded another look. How could they have missed that? "Um, you said that this thing doesn't work?" Aaron asked.
"Just a tube to nowhere. With the word 'Fenton' on it," Jack said.
These people were obviously not in the least bit psychic.
"Let's talk ghost shield," Ann said.
"Uh, did we tell you about the ghost shield?" Jack asked.
"Yeah, upstairs," Aaron lied.
"Obviously. How else would we have known about it?" Ann added.
So they went upstairs and talked about the ghost shield, which was located in the attic. The Fentons showed them around, showed them how various inventions worked, and then the Gentrys had to leave.
"Nice people," Aaron commented.
"Yeah," Ann said. "You really have to wonder what they would be doing being associated with the likes of Vlad Masters/Plasmius."
Not only was he a hellion, but he had a ghost sense! It just wasn't fair! Alex did his best to suppress his power levels, to stay below Danny's ghost sense radar, the rest of the day. Luckily, he didn't realize what Alex was. Luckier still, he had picked up on Alex's charm and thought that it meant that meant that what he sensed wasn't Alex. Luckiest of all, he had said as much before Alex had a chance to do something really stupid and blow his cover to the enemy. Thinking of how narrowly he had escaped exposure, Alex shuddered.
"The hellions have ghost sense now?" Ann Gentry demanded.
"So it would appear, Mother," Alex said.
"That would explain how they have been escaping detection for all these centuries," Aaron Gentry said. "But where did Danny Phantom come from? Your mother and I were just over at the Fenton's house, and both of his parents are just normal people. Nothing preternatural about either of them."
"There are only two creatures like him in the world that we have found so far, and the other one is hopelessly in love with this one's mother. It doesn't take a genius to figure this equation out," Alex said.
"You think that Vlad is Danny's dad?" Aaron asked.
"It's the only thing that makes sense," Alex said.
"Maybe not," Andy said. "Jack and Maddie Fenton are brilliant scientists, right? Maybe they got their hands on some hellion DNA--"
"--and used their best friend and son as human guinea pigs?" Anita, Alex's little sister, piped in. "What are you, stupid?"
"Danny did not recognize Alex for what he was," Andy said. "Don't you think, if these people have been hiding from us for centuries, that someone would have taught the boy to recognize his natural enemy? What if the reason we never ran into them before is because there are only two of them -- Vlad and Danny?"
"Hey, yeah," Aaron said. "Jack seems like a total idiot, but if Vlad is really in love with Mrs. Fenton, he may well do anything she asked of him, and Danny wouldn't have much of a say in the matter, especially if the gene therapy happened when he was young or still in the womb."
"Maddie Fenton isn't known to be a geneticist, though," Ann said. "Neither is her husband, for that matter."
"So we're back to my theory," Alex said. "Vlad is Danny's father."
"Doesn't seem to be a very devoted father," Aaron said.
"Perhaps we can use that to our advantage," Ann said. "Pit them against each other, you know? If we're lucky, they'll kill each other off."
"What, and lose our only lead?" Andy asked.
"Good point," Aaron said.
"We will send the news to Mother, and await orders," Ann said. "Until then, I want everyone to keep a low profile. Alex, since you have already made contact with the enemy, I want you to keep tabs on him--but make sure to suppress your power."
"How am I supposed to keep tabs on him while keeping my powers in check? I doubt that he'll just tell me his secrets," Alex said.
Ann smiled at her son, "Be creative."
Be creative, she says! Alex thought. The first idea he had was to use electronic surveillance equipment, but he didn't want to do anything that could be believed and then, you know, proven in court. Why, Your Honor, the reason I was stalking Daniel Fenton is actually very simple; he is a hellion, an evil creature that can change from human to ghost and back at will. Will you please let me go free so that I can destroy him now?
He was hit with inspiration in gym class. "May I use the bathroom?" he asked. The gym teacher waved him out. He went into the locker room and found Danny's locker. He opened a hole to the Ghost Zone and summoned Beau into the world of the living. "Phase through that locker and give me Danny Fenton's history book," he ordered.
The ghost did as he was bid. Alex ripped the endpaper from the cover and drew an octogram on the inside of it, writing a complicated spell into it. "Pin," Alex ordered. Beau, like any good servant, had anticipated his master's needs, and handed the pin to Alex without a second's hesitation. Alex pricked his finger and squeezed until a drop of blood fell into the octogram. "Glue stick." Beau handed him a glue stick, which Alex used to glue the endpaper back to the cover. "There. Good as new." He slammed the book shut. "Put it back where you found it, and then go home." Alex returned to gym class.
"Where did this guy come from?" Tuck asked. Alex had run seven touchdowns, virtually all from the opposite end of the field. They were playing flag football in the gym. The fact that they were in the gym and hence on a hard wood floor was part of the reason it was flag football, the other part was that some of the people playing were on the school team.
"What took you so long?" the gym teacher asked when Alex returned from the bathroom.
Alex smiled sheepishly. "Washing my hands. Hygiene, you know?" he jogged out to where Danny and Tuck were. "Hey, guys, we still winning?"
"We were four touchdowns up when you left--what do you think?" Danny asked.
"Are we still four up?" Alex asked.
"Three," Danny said.
The teacher blew his whistle. The teams went into formation. Danny's team's quarterback gave the ball to Alex, who ran directly at two big football players. He nimbly dodged between them, only to be tackled by Dash. The teacher blew his whistle. "Dash, we're playing flag football!"
"Sorry, coach. Instinct, you know?" Dash said.
"I'm alright," Alex said emotionlessly. "Nothing hurt but my pride."
"You sure?" the teacher asked.
Alex nodded. "Seriously. No need to punish…Dash, was it?"
The teacher nodded. "If you say so." He blew his whistle. With anyone but a football player, he wouldn't have looked the other way like that.
Alex got up and walked to their side of the field, his expression cold.
"Hey, are you sure you're alright, man?" Danny asked.
Alex looked at him, and something in his expression made Danny shiver. "There's something I haven't told you about myself…I don't like to lose."
"We're still three up," Danny said.
"He humiliated me," Alex insisted.
"Alex, he's the quarterback of the school team. Of course he's better than you; they don't give that position to just anyone," Danny said.
Alex glared at Danny. "He is not better than I am," he said. "I am faster, smarter, more agile, and stronger--"
Danny raised an eyebrow. "Stronger?"
"--of will than he is. I will get even," Alex said.
"Um, you do that," Danny said. Okay, that was kind of freaky.
They got back on sides and into position. "Hut…hut…hike."
Alex spoke loudly and quickly: "One Apple Two Apple Three Apple Four Apple Five Apple," and then he charged. There was a surge of that strange energy as he dodged around the guards, stole the ball right out of Dash's hands, and ran for a touchdown.
"That boy ain't human," Tuck said.
"You ever thought about joining the football team?" Dash asked.
"Sorry, I have a job after school." Alex smiled, his usual friendly self, all traces of the dark, cold side of himself that he had shown to Danny was gone. It made Danny wonder if it wasn't always hidden just under the surface.
"What is it, Danny?" Sam asked.
"That ghost, or whatever it is, it's back. I can feel it, but I can't see it or anything. It seems to be following me around," Danny shook his head.
"A fan, maybe?" Sam asked.
"Then why hasn't it shown itself?" Danny asked. "I think it might have some sort of connection with Alex."
"What makes you say that?" Sam asked.
Danny told her about what he saw and sensed. "Even if he's not connected with the ghost, there is something wrong with him."