This is an AU where ghosts rule Amity Park: Pariah Dark is the King of All, the Fright Knight is his right-hand man, and Walker runs the prisons. This was, obviously, highly inspired by the episode 'Reign Storm'. But I don't know if I'll finish it or not, honestly … it's really long and involved, so we'll have to see.

Coming Home

It was after curfew.

Samantha Manson (or 'Sam' as she preferred to be called) snuck from street to street, building to building. She hid from the man on the other side of the street – he looked human, yes, but anyone could be overshadowed.

"Stop! Human!"

Oh great.

Sam stiffened at the voice behind her, and looked over her shoulder to see one of Walker's goons waving a nightstick at her. She stuck out her tongue at it and fled.

"We have a curfew violation on 22nd!" The ghost made chase.

Walker was known for his unreasonable punishments for minor crimes. If Sam was caught, she'd spend as much as a year in jail (he hadn't quite gotten hang of the idea that humans couldn't last one thousand years, so luckily he had appointed humans to help him tone it down). "Can't you let it go just this once?" Sam called back. The ghost ignored her.

She turned to look forward again – and ran straight into a spectral chest. "Ow!" She bounced off the thing in front of her and fell on her butt. She looked up.

It was a ghost – a boy with white hair and green, glowing eyes, his white-booted feet about half a foot off the ground and his arms crossed in front of him. Sam gasped audibly – she was so dead.

"Get behind me," the ghost said, before advancing in front of her. "Hey!"

The goon following her screeched to a halt, blinking. "I haven't seen you before," it said.

"Well, I, uh … I'm kind of new around here." The ghost sounded uncertain. "I heard Pariah Dark's realm was a safe haven for ghosts who pledge allegiance to him."

"That's right," the goon said slowly. "Why?"

"Well, I'm here to do that. But first, uh … let me take this girl home. She's not worth the trouble," he declared.

"She's not?"

"Nope." The ghost shook his head. "Besides, I heard there was a meeting being held by some humans three streets over. You'll want to be in on that bust, right?"

The goon's eyes widened. "Oh, yeah!" He shot off down the street.

Sam gaped, and began to sneak off. A ghost of any kind was bad news; anyone who had lived in Amity Park in the last ten years knew that.

No one knew exactly how Pariah Dark had come out of his thousand-year slumber and emerged from the Ghost Zone, but he was gradually taking over Amity and the surrounding area. The Guys in White had tried to contain him, but the sheer numbers of his force had overwhelmed them. The United States had declared open war on the ghost, but they could hardly do a thing; large chunks of Oregon were gradually disappearing into the Ghost Zone, utterly ruled by the ruthless ghost lord.

Sam Manson and her family had the unfortunate luck to be living in Amity when this had occurred. She had grown up under ghost law, aware that rebellion had dire consequences. Still, like most humans, she resented it. Her parents tried to be perky and happy anyway, and Sam hated how they pandered to the ghosts, as if any amount of groveling would actually make them see the Mansons as their equals.

She wanted to help stop them.

She had heard of a small pocket of resistance recently, just a whispered word here and there, and she was trying to find them. However, instead she'd had the rotten luck of being caught by not one, but two ghosts!

"Hey, wait up!"

Sam froze, turning nervously towards the ghost that had thrown the goon off her trail. "Get away from me," she hissed as he approached.

The ghost cringed a little, floating back several feet. "Sorry," he said, sounding hurt. "I was only trying to--"

"What? You showed up to help out Pariah Dark? Then I don't want to have anything to do with you," Sam shot back. "Leave me alone."

"Hey! I just helped you out!"

"Great. Get lost."

The ghost stared at her, apparently shocked by her behavior. "Well … if you want."

And with that, he disappeared into the building next to her.

Sam stared after him, then hightailed it back home.

&

The schools were taught by a mixture of ghosts and humans. Pariah Dark himself saw no point in the education of humans, but apparently someone had convinced him that it was necessary to keep some semblance of normalcy to keep his human subjects subdued; however, certain subjects had experienced … changes. American History had been replaced with the history of Pariah Dark's conquests. Science revolved around ectoplasm. And English was littered with the works of long-dead poets, who taught the classes themselves.

It was in English, the first class Sam had, that a new face appeared.

There was whispering and shocked silence. No one new had come to Casper High for as long as any of the students could remember, because the only population that could possibly attend the high school was in Amity – which was utterly cut off from the rest of the world.

"Well, everyone …" the teacher (Ernest Hemingway) seemed rather nonplussed. "This is … what was your name, boy?"

"Danny Fenton," the boy answered dutifully. Sam blinked at him; he was a shockingly tanned boy, thin and not particularly tall, with black hair and strikingly blue eyes. "Er … hi." He shuffled past the teacher and slid into an empty seat in the back, apparently sensing the teacher's total disinterest in him.

Sam looked back at him, as did most of the class, and the boy looked up – right at Sam.

Sam hastily turned around, blinking.

"Well, then, let's get down to business," the ghost declared, and class resumed as usual.

Of course, right after class, the new boy was mobbed.

"Where are you from?"

"How did you get here?"

"Wow, who would want to come to Amity, anyway?"

The boy, Danny, deferred most of the questions with nervous laughter and attempts to walk out of the crowd. Sam was intrigued as well, but she wasn't about to try to talk to him now. I'll find out about him later.

'Later', as it turned out, was at lunch. Despite calls for him to join tables all over the lunchroom, Danny walked up to Sam. "Hi," he said, sounding a bit abashed. "Um, can I sit with you?"

Sam raised her eyebrows. "Sit wherever you want," she said, trying to sound disinterested.

Danny sat opposite her and eyed the food. "Wow, who makes this?"

"The Lunch Lady," Sam groaned, poking her own mystery meat. "We don't even know where they get the food from, since there's no way into or out of Amity. Speaking of which … how did you get in here?"

"Oh, uh … well, don't tell anyone," Danny answered nervously, "but my parents are ghost—uh … ghost-seekers." The way he said it, Sam suspected he meant something else. "So, uh … well, it's a long story. Never mind."

"Oh, no, go on," Sam grinned. "It's very interesting, and we have all of lunch."

Danny shook his head. "Nah, I'll tell you later." He looked up at her. "I guess you know my name, since you were in English with me. Er … I didn't catch yours."

"Oh, duh. Sam Manson." Sam smirked. "Not that it matters, but I'm kind of a loser around here. You could have your pick of friends, it looks like, so you'd better go find some friends to make."

Danny took a bite of his mystery meat and made a face. "I'm fine here. It's nice to meet you, anyway. Uh, why wouldn't it matter?"

"Well, everyone who lives in Amity just ends up working for Pariah Dark anyway. Grades don't matter, really; there's no place to go. I guess if you study hard, you can go to the college, but it just means you get to, oh, I dunno, design weapons or something. We're just being made into one big war machine," Sam sighed.

"Yeah, uh … the outside world kind of noticed. He's … uh … waging war on Seattle."

"Really? Didn't know he'd gotten that far." Sam blinked. "We don't really hear these things. You might've guessed."

"A little." Danny smiled thinly.

Sam pushed her plate aside; she didn't eat meat anyway, so since her salad was finished, she was done eating. "So, why would you come to Amity? Your hometown get sucked into Pariah's little domain or what?"

Danny swallowed hard and looked up at her. "What? Oh, uh … actually, this is my hometown."

Sam stared at him. "What?"

"I'm adopted." Danny licked his lips. "I was born here, or so I'm told. Right around the time Pariah Dark started making moves to take over Amity, I guess."

Yeah, uh, we apparently started getting regular ghost attacks right around the time I was born, so I guess that would be when you were born, too. I mean, since we're in the same grade." Sam raised her eyebrows. "You came here looking for your birth parents or something?"

"No, not exactly." Danny looked nervous for some reason, glancing up at the clock. "Hey, look, I have to go do some registration stuff … uh … they said they didn't have any transfer papers and had to go print some up when I came, so they said to come during lunch."

"Duh they don't have registration papers." Sam rolled her eyes. "Pariah acts like we humans barely exist, unless someone's, you know, actually stepping out of line. Not that anyone ever does that, of course," she added sarcastically. "No one new has come to Amity Park in ten years! We don't need transfer papers."

Danny stared at her. "Well … I guess that explains a few things," he said in a low voice. "Heh. Well … I gotta run. I'll see you after class, right?"

Sam cocked her head. "Why do you want to spend all your time with me, anyway?"

Danny's eyes widened. "Uh … well … you're nice," he said. "Can't I just want to?"

Before Sam could say another word, he'd disappeared.

&

But Sam didn't see him after class. No one did; in fact, no one had seen him in any of the afternoon classes. Sam was mystified. Where could he have gone …?

"Hey, Manson."

Sam was just throwing her backpack over her shoulder when her name was thrown at her like a sword. She turned around to find herself facing Dash Baxter. "Oh, it's you," she said disdainfully. Dash was another one of the people whose parents seemed determined to make best friends with the ghosts, and nothing she'd seen of Dash convinced her he was smart enough to think they were wrong. "What do you want?"

The tall, tough-looking boy lowered his face towards hers. "I heard you were sneaking around last night. Almost got busted for breaking curfew, huh?"

Sam glared at him. "How is that any of your business?" she demanded.

Dash's face turned up a twisted smile. "Relax, Manson. I think it's cool. Heard you were looking for something … right?"

Sam didn't say anything. How did Dash know all of this? Was he overshadowed? What was going on?

"Look, Manson, I don't like you and you don't like me, but if you're gonna break curfew, you might as well break it with a reason." He leaned forward. "Password's 'Fright Knight'. My place. Be there. If you don't show up, we'll think you're not worth the trouble."

Sam opened her mouth to reply, but Dash was walking away.

What?

&

Sam called her parents to say she was staying after school, but instead she wandered in the direction of Dash Baxter's house. How was it that he hadn't given her a time to show up? There was no way to know when to come, and lacking much else to do, she decided she'd come over before curfew. No need to get in trouble twice in two nights …

The Amity Park was still standing, albeit a shadow of its former self. Most of the park had been transformed into a huge factory, where Valerie Gray's father worked. The only thing the factory churned out was ghost weapons. The park itself was a block wide now, with a dilapidated little playground that the few children played at. It was here that Sam sat down on a park bench and began her homework – pointless though it was. If she flunked out of school, she could only be sent to work for Pariah Dark early.

She was startled by a scream, followed by a fleet of Walker's goons racing by her seat. Sam grabbed her homework and held down her skirt in the sudden wind of rushing ghosts. "Get that ghost!"

The fleet of goons passed, and there was abrupt silence before Sam heard a sigh right next to her. She jumped, letting out a little shriek that was quickly muffled by a hand on her mouth.

She looked over to see the ghost boy from the night before.

"Shhh! Don't give me away," the ghost whispered. "You won't scream?"

Sam shook her head.

"Good." The ghost took his hand away slowly. "Hi again."

"What are you doing? Why are Walker's goons chasing you?" Sam demanded in a harsh whisper.

The ghost boy grinned at her. "Oh, I was just stirring up some havoc to distract them," he said airily.

"Distract them from what?"

"Don't worry about it," the ghost said, shrugging. "Didn't mean to startle you. I just wanted to see you again."

Sam gave him an incredulous look. What was up with this ghost? "You're really strange for a ghost," she said slowly. "And I would know."

"You would, wouldn't you?" The ghost sighed again, his face falling.

"I told you to get lost last night," Sam added. "My sentiments haven't exactly changed. I thought you were gonna go ally with Pariah Dark."

"Well, I lied," the ghost answered.

Sam stared at him. "Are you planning on taking over Pariah's realm or something?"

"No … not really …" the ghost hesitated. "More like … I want to take it back."

"Huh?"

But she had no time to get an answer. There was a shout from across the park. "There he is!"

"Oops! Gotta run!" The specter rose off the park bench and made a face at the goons. "Nyah nyah! You couldn't catch me if you tried!" he called before shooting off across the sky.

The goons made chase, and Sam was left with questions – again.

&

Two hours later found Sam on Dash Baxter's front steps. She stared at the door, finding it oddly daunting, before she knocked.

The door opened a crack. "Sam Manson, right?"

Sam couldn't see the person beyond the door, but it sounded like Dash's father. "Yeah. Uh … Fright Knight?" she said questioningly.

The door opened wider. "Get in, quickly."

Sam slipped in the door, and it slammed shut behind her. It was, in fact, Mr. Baxter. "Hello, Sam. We heard you were wandering around last night after curfew."

"How is it that everyone knows this?" Sam asked. "Geez!"

"We have our ways. Now – hang on for a moment." Mr. Baxter reached into his pocket and produced a ring. "Put this on."

"Okay …" Sam did so, and Mr. Baxter suddenly wore a relieved look.

"Thanks," he said, slipping the ring back off her finger. "It's an interesting little device that electrocutes ghosts. If you were overshadowed, you'd have been a bit 'shocked', if you'll pardon the pun." Mr. Baxter smirked slightly, just like the way his son did. "Welcome to the resistance, Samantha."

&

Sam sat down among a varied group of people – around thirty in all. The Baxters were there, of course, along with their son; Valerie Gray (that wasn't too much of a surprise) and her father (that was a surprise); Mr. Lancer, who was no longer Vice Principal of Casper High, but still taught twelfth grade English; and a variety of others, some whom Sam recognized and others she didn't. "This is it?" she asked softly of the young man sitting next to her.

"Well, no, not really," the man answered. "We're just a few. If everyone met all at once, Pariah Dark might take notice, you know?"

Sam immediately saw the logic in that. "Good point."

"All right, everyone, let's get started," called Mr. Gray, standing up and clapping his hands twice. "We've called this emergency meeting for a reason, and we want everyone to get home before curfew.

"First of all, we'd like to welcome Miss Manson." All eyes turned towards Sam, who blushed slightly in reaction. "Dash tells us she's very intelligent, and of course with her parents being a sponsor of our esteemed ruler, we're hoping she can give us a hand."

"My parents are actually sponsors?" Sam asked, surprised. "I knew they were rich, but I didn't know they were giving money to Pariah. Wait. Ghosts need money?"

"Know your enemy," Valerie intoned. "Pariah's buying people on the outside to help him out. Apparently a certain ghost knows his way around the human world enough to know money can get you anywhere," she said darkly. There were grave nods from around the room.

A certain ghost? Sam wanted to ask who that was, but she figured she could inquire about that later.

"All right, all right, back on track," Mr. Gray said. "Tonight we've got guests of honor, who we're happy to have in town. George?"

"They're here," Mr. Baxter said. "Come on in."

Four people walked into the room.

Sam stared. So did everyone else. In the lead was a petite woman dressed in a blue hazmat suit; she had orange hair and dark blue eyes, and she waved pleasantly as if it were a housewarming party. "Hello, everyone!"

The person behind her was massive. Sam wondered if he had to shuffle into rooms sideways with his bulk. He wore an orange hazmat suit, had thinning gray hair and dark eyes. "Name's Jack Fenton, and this is my wife, Maddie! And here are my kids, Jazzypants and Danny!"

'Jazzypants' was a petite girl with long orange hair. She elbowed her father as she walked past him. "Dad! It's 'Jazz', everyone," she said, exasperated.

And the last one, Sam was not entirely surprised to see, was Danny Fenton. He looked a little roughed up, a bruise on one cheek, but otherwise exactly the same as when he'd sat with her at lunch. "Hi," he said shortly, and half-hid behind Jack's sizable body.

"The Fentons are ghost hunters," Mr. Gray said. "From the outside."

Immediately there was a flurry of movement. "How did you get in?"

"Does this mean there's a way out?"

"Are the Guys in White hoping to infiltrate and destroy from within?"

"Okay, okay, everybody!" Maddie Fenton's voice was rather nasally, but surprisingly piercing. "We're here to help! Let me explain a little bit.

"My husband and I are experienced Ghost Hunters! We've been doing this job for the past twenty years, and we know what we're up against! Our kids are trained in every weapon we have, and we'll train as many of you as possible.

We had to get here by traveling through the Ghost Zone. Most of Oregon has been separated into little chunks spread throughout the Ghost Zone, but we know that Amity is the seat of Pariah Dark's power. It took us a long while to build a portal that would take us into the Ghost Zone without killing us, and that's why no one has come to the rescue. We were under constant assault for our entire trip here; it's a miracle we made it." Inexplicably she looked at Danny, who colored slightly. "Getting in and out is almost impossible, unfortunately. We had heard there was a resistance thanks to two of your members who escaped—"

"The Sanchez's!" someone called.

"Yes, the Sanchez's," Maddie confirmed. "So with that in mind, we thought we should come in and strengthen you in any way we can. We hope to build a ferry line between the outside world and the Ghost Zone to get you more supplies, and we're working with the Guys in White to build a stable Portal large enough to let through a large force all at once. Then we can coordinate an attack from within and without!"

"Finally, a plan!" cheered Mrs. Baxter. "There's hope after all!"

"Three cheers for the Fentons!"

"Uh, maybe we shouldn't cheer. The walls aren't soundproof, you know."

"Good point."

While there was general hubbub and murmuring, Danny broke away from his family and took a seat next to Sam. "Hi," he said quietly. "Sorry I missed you after class."

Sam tried to look reassuring, but she was curious. "Yeah, about that – where did you go? No one saw you in school for the rest of the day."

"Well, I—"

"All right!" Mr. Gray interrupted Danny, and the Fentons started to find seats. "We're all thrilled, of course, but remember, this doesn't change anything – for now. Continue as usual. Now, before we break up – Mrs. Fenton?"

Maddie didn't get up from her seat. "Well, we had some … gifts … for all of you, but they're not ready yet," she confessed. "We need to make them a bit more unobtrusive before they're ready. But I promise we'll have them by next week. Yes, sweetie, here you are." She handed her husband a cookie.

Sam blinked. Danny smacked his face into his palm.

"Well, then, I guess that brings this meeting to a close," Mr. Gray said uncertainly. "We'll be meeting at my place next week, unless something happens. The usual chain will notify you. Mr. Baxter will let each of you know when you can leave," he added, apparently unnecessarily.

The congregation all began murmuring, most of the members crowding around Danny's parents. Danny looked in their direction, but his eyes were unfocused.

"Danny?"

Danny blinked out of his reverie, looking at Sam. "Yeah?"

"So where were you? And how did you get that bruise?"

Danny touched his cheek, looking a little surprised at the question. "W-well, like my parents said, it was hard to get in. I, uh, got bounced around a little in the Specter Speeder."

"The what?"

"It's an invention my parents made to travel through the Ghost Zone. Humans can phase right through most everything, but gravity's a problem for them. Thing is, human stuff can phase through everything too. So my mom and dad made a floating … er, car … to take them through the Ghost Zone." He grinned ruefully. "I wish humans could phase right through ectoplasmic rays, too."

"Oh," Sam said uncertainly. She had known that her family had grown up the Ghost Zone, but she'd become accustomed to the green sky and the darkening to black at 'sundown'. She hardly knew anything about the very place she lived – but it seemed like no one knew anything about the Ghost Zone in Amity. "But how did you get that between the time I saw you this morning and tonight?"

Danny's look was so startled that Sam sensed a lie coming on. "Never mind. I guess you don't really want to tell me."

"No! I mean, uh, I did get it this morning! It just took a while to show up. I mean, it's not like you guys would know – no offense. How long has it been since anyone's skin here has seen the sun?"

Sam stared at him. "Wow … I never thought about that. Are you really as tanned as you all look to me?" She pointed to Danny's family. Now that she thought about it, Danny was the palest among them.

Danny smiled a little. "No, not really."

The conversation seemed to drag to a halt. Sam licked her lips. "Uh, do you all have a place to live?"

Danny's gaze slid away from Sam. "We, uh, we found this place. Um. It's perfect for what Mom and Dad need, so I guess we're gonna move in there. It was … kind of abandoned."

"That's great," Sam said, trying to sound more enthusiastic than she felt. Danny seemed like he wanted to talk to her, but he also seemed inexplicably secretive. "So … that's why you came, then, huh. Because your family wanted to stop Pariah Dark."

Danny smiled at that, a cute, hopeful look on his face. "Yeah, exactly. I guess you see why I couldn't talk about it in the lunch room at school now," he added. "But I'm glad you're here! I wasn't sure if you were, you know, part of the whole resistance thing."

"Well, I kind of just got recruited tonight," Sam confessed.

"Cool," Danny said, seeming to gloss over the subject. "So, uh … what do you like to do? I'll bet you'll get along with my sister – everyone here says you're really smart. So is Jazz."

"Well, I don't know that I'm that smart." Sam blushed. "Classes here are totally pointless, and it's easy to get good grades since the teacher's don't care much either. But I guess I'm good at figuring things out."

"You sound like you have a lot of common sense," Danny said before blushing slightly. Sam laughed a little.

"I guess, compared to most of the people here. But everyone who lives in Amity is a little crazy. I don't think anyone could cope if they weren't."

"Oh, you haven't seen crazy," Danny said in a low voice.

"Danny! It's time to leave!" Jack's voice boomed over the slowly thinning crowd. Danny cringed.

"I guess I have to leave …"

"Well, I'll see you tomorrow, right?" Sam asked. "English class?"

"Yeah." Danny stood up. "See you tomorrow, Sam."

"See you then," Sam answered, waving.

tbc