This idea was formed from a "conversation" with The Bushranger. More A/N to follow. And well…if this idea has been done before, well… I guess that's tough, FFN will have another story like this.
Disclaimer: I still don't own Danny Phantom or any of the related characters, despite my pleading with God, and never will, and yet, hope still springs eternal.
Summary: One night, while out ghost hunting, Valerie's life is forever changed. Now she has a secret, and the only person who can possibly understand is her worst enemy.
Big thank you to Nom de Plume for being so kind as to consent being my beta reader.
The Huntress's Secret
It was a clear and crisp Sunday evening which found Valerie Grey, the huntress, chasing the Box Ghost through Amity Park. She was doing pretty well; he was the fourth ghost she'd confronted that evening, and she was hoping that, since she had the practice in, she's be able to confront the ghost kid today. She was in fine form and feeling great.
Her new ghost hunting suit was better than the first. It just seemed to move easier, flow easier, and follow her commands so much better; it was also much less constricting. She loved it, and she couldn't wait to confront that darned ghost kid for the first time in it. She was absolutely positive that the next time they met, he would meet his end.
She had just blasted the silly Box Ghost in the behind when her suit began to shake and shudder. The Box Ghost took the pause in action as an opportunity to hit her with half a dozen boxes, sending her flying into the wall. Her sled slid from beneath her feet and the next thing she knew she was sprawled out on the ground, feeling disoriented.
The Box Ghost, surprisingly enough, had grown marginally smarter in his fights with Danny and Valerie, and he knew when he had the advantage—and the advantage was for escape. He threw a few boxes at the disabled huntress then took off as quickly as possible. He eventually ran into Danny Phantom and was sucked into a Fenton Thermos, as was typical when he was out on one of his terrors.
Valerie lay on the ground groaning in pain. Her back was aching from the impact of the wall. She cursed the limitations of the suit—the ghost boy would have been able to phase himself through the wall…though she did note that most of the time, he hit, too.
She stood, dusted herself off, and was about to deactivate the suit when she felt a faint electrical sizzle dust across her skin. She frowned and looked at her hands. They were glowing with a slightly green light.
"That's weird," she said to herself. All her weapons gave off a pinkish-red glow, not green.
Suddenly a voice, sounding oddly familiar and nasal, sounded in her ear. "Ghost Suit version 2.0 off-line. Breech of ecto-containment will occur in three minutes. Commence emergency exit procedures now."
Valerie felt a sense of panic welling up through her body, causing her to chill. Emergency exit procedures? What were they?
"Suit," she said, hoping it would answer, "please define 'emergency exit procedures'." The recorded voice started to answer but was cut off.
"Ghost Suit version 2.0 off-line. Breech of ecto-containment will occur in two minutes. Commence emergency exit procedures now."
Valerie took a deep, calming breath. Everything was going to be all right. She was going to figure this out. She attempted to remove one of the gloves, but it wouldn't budge. She then tried to remove her mask, but it was firmly attached as well.
"Commence exit procedures," she ordered, but nothing happened.
"Ghost Suit version 2.0 off-line. Breech of ecto-containment will occur in one minute. Commence emergency exit procedures now," the suit intoned.
"Ah, hell!" Valerie growled as she looked around frantically. She tried several times to disable the suit but met with failure each time.
"Ghost Suit version 2.0 off-line. Breech of ecto-containment will occur in thirty seconds. Commence emergency exit procedures now," the suit told her calmly.
"No! No! No!" Valerie cried. "This can't be happening!" She frantically tried to remove the suit, but nothing she tried worked. She searched for buttons or a zipper or any type of closure which would help her. There was nothing.
"Ghost Suit version 2.0 off-line," the voice from the suit informed her. "Breach of ecto-containment in ten, nine, eight, seven..." the suit intoned.
"Oh man, no!" Valerie cried as she crouched down and waited. She figured this was the end.
"Six, five, four, three," the suit continued.
"I'm sorry, Daddy," Valerie cried as she covered her face.
"Two, one," the suit finished. Valerie screamed as a bright green light—flickering from stop-light red, then back to green, as if it were a traffic signal not knowing if it should tell people to stop or go—encompassed her vision. An electrical current rushed through her, starting at her waist, then moving down her legs and up to her head. She felt a rush of dizziness as her body began to shake and twitch from the buzz of the electric current coursing through her.
The huntress lay on the ground in the quiet back alley convulsing with pain as the suit's ecto breech soaked into her body. She screamed at first, but then lost consciousness.
When she woke up, she had no idea what had happened after that—she just knew she was happy to be alive.
The suit was gone. Whether it had burnt itself out, or simply retracted into its hidden state, she wasn't sure—and she wasn't about to check. She sat up and put her hand to her head.
She was back in her normal clothes. Orange skirt, yellow shirt…all in order. They were a bit singed, but she was okay. Her skin felt sensitive and strange, but it showed no signs of burns.
Valerie wasn't sure what to do next. She stood shakily and looked around the alley. She couldn't stay here, that's for sure. An alley wasn't the safest place in the world for a fourteen-year-old girl to hang out in, even if she could defend herself better than most adults.
She looked back briefly at where she'd been laying and frowned to see her outline burnt into the ground. It looked as if the broken pavement had endured a long concentrated blast of intense heat. She blinked in shock then walked home, feeling weak and shaky. Her biggest hope now was that she wouldn't run into the ghost kid—that was the last thing she needed tonight.
"You're late," Valerie's father, Damon Grey, said angrily as his daughter walked through the door.
"I'm sorry, Daddy," she apologized. "I just lost all track of time." She looked at him sweetly and he sighed.
"I expect you to be more responsible, Val," he said. "You've been so good lately, keeping up your grades, working your job as well as helping me keep the house. I'm disappointed."
"I'm sorry, Daddy," Valerie repeated, then looked down at her feet. She knew her father had every right to be angry; she just wished that he wasn't so overprotective—it not only made her life difficult, it made ghost hunting difficult. She looked at the clock and closed her eyes in defeat. It was eight forty-five; he was going to ground her.
"You leave me no choice, Val," Damon said. "You're grounded for two weeks. I hope that will teach you to respect your responsibilities."
Valerie closed her eyes and sighed. Two weeks! Two weeks was two weeks too long. She let her shoulders drop in defeat. What did it matter now? Her ghost hunting suit was fried.
She put her hand to her aching head. Her suit was ruined! What was she going to do now? Call Mr. Masters and beg for a new one? She already suspected that her suit had been a costly piece of equipment—besides, there is no way a replacement would be as good as her new, unexplained suit.
"You missed dinner," Damon said as he warily watched his daughter. "I saved a plate for you. It's in the oven."
"Thanks, Daddy," Valerie replied. "But I'm not really feeling too hungry. Do you mind if I just…go to bed?" Damon stood and put his hand on his daughter's forehead. She didn't feel warm, but he could tell something was wrong.
"Do you want to talk about it?" he asked tenderly.
Valerie looked up at her father in surprise. "N-no," she answered. "Not really. I-I just want to go to bed." Damon sighed; he suspected her defeated demeanor and her lateness had something to do with ghost hunting. He wished he could stop her, but short of moving from Amity Park (which wasn't an option until Axion Labs was secure and his reputation and business was restored), he couldn't stop her.
"Okay," Damon told his daughter gently. "How about we talk about it tomorrow?" Valerie nodded her head and he kissed her cheek.
"Goodnight, Daddy," she said as she hugged him tightly, then ran to her room. Damon watched her go sadly. He played clueless, but he was very aware of her life. From the old ghost hunting suit to the new one. From her vendetta against Danny Phantom to her failed relationship with Danny Fenton. He sighed deeply, wishing he could help his daughter; but the best he could do was just try to be there to try and catch her when she fell. He just wished that he could keep her from falling.
Valerie took a quick cool shower. She had to adjust the water temperature. The hot water from the shower made her skin burn. She checked herself over in the mirror. She didn't look like she'd been burnt. Her skin looked completely normal. She looked completely normal.
She lay in bed and looked up at the ceiling, trying to figure out what had happened. Maybe there were protections built into the suit, shielding her from whatever an ecto-containment breech was; maybe she was dead and her consciousness just imagined she was still alive.
Maybe she was a ghost. She shuddered at the thought. She hated ghosts; she was completely and utterly repulsed by them. Ghosts needed to be destroyed, and the thought of becoming one filled her with terror.
Valerie closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. She'd already assessed her situation to the best of her abilities. She would go back to the alley tomorrow and see what she could figure out, then she'd call Mr. Masters and see what he had to say.
She forced herself to drift off to sleep. It wasn't easy, but Valerie was extremely disciplined, and she made her restless body and mind adhere to her will. It wasn't easy, but she did it.
Strange dreams filled her mind as she drifted in sleep. Dreams of flying without the ghost suit. Dreams of her legs disappearing and forming a ghostly tail. Dreams of pain so intense that if she hadn't been dreaming, she would have passed out.
When she woke up it was to find that her right arm was gone. She almost screamed as she held it in front of her. She blinked in shock as she wiggled her fingers. She could feel her arm? Why couldn't she see it?
She concentrated hard on her arm and it slowly faded back into sight. She opened her mouth in shock then jumped as her father knocked on her door.
"Wake up, Sweetie," he said. "It's time to get ready for school."
"Okay, Daddy," she answered as she looked at her arm. "I'm up. I'll be out in a minute." She wiggled her fingers then pinched her arm.
"Maybe I just imagined that," she said to herself as she climbed out of bed. She dressed quickly, forced down breakfast and headed to school, and forgetting all about her mysteriously disappearing arm in the process, chalking it up to a hallucination from her sleeping mind as she awoke.
Valerie sighed as she stood at her locker. Star was leaning beside her complaining about her weekend.
"Every time I find a guy I like," Star moaned, "who possibly likes me back, Paulina walks in swinging her hips and batting her eyes. She swoops in and takes off with him. It's not like she wants him in the first place. She just likes the power. I'm getting sick of it."
Valerie closed her locker and looked at Star sadly. "Why don't you just stop hanging out with her, then? Why do you even put yourself in that situation?"
"I don't know," Star sighed. "I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment. Besides, if it wasn't for Paulina I wouldn't get invited to any of the great parties and…"
"Oh, come off it, Star," Valerie said in irritation. "Why do you have such a low opinion of yourself and how other people view you?"
Star shook her head. "Because believe it or not, Val, we're not all smart, confident and pretty like you. Some of us only have our looks to get us by, and we all know what happens when we get old. We turn into ugly old hags by twenty-five."
"It's your heart that matters," Valerie said. "You've got a good heart, Star, I just wish you'd see that!" Star simply shook her head sadly as they walked down the hall. Valerie could see Danny, Sam and Tucker standing together talking as they walked by. Danny noticed her and waved happily as Sam looked up and narrowed her eyes. Valerie waved back at Danny, tried to ignore Sam and turned back to Star.
"Are you going to give me that inner beauty speech again?" Star asked as she looked toward Danny and shook her head. "Because, you know, that didn't help last time."
Valerie smiled slightly at Star. "Why would you want a guy who's going to be lured away by Paulina, anyway?" she asked. "A guy like that is only after one thing."
"Because he's cute," Star answered. "I mean, why do you like Danny Fenton?"
"'Cause he's cute," Valerie said as she smiled at her friend.
"Exactly!" Star said as if she had just proven her point.
"But that's not the only reason," Valerie continued as she put her books down at her desk. "Just the initial one." Star said nothing, just smiled and nodded her head. Valerie rolled her eyes and smiled back.
Listening to Lancer drone on and on about Charles Dickens had put many people to sleep in his history at Casper High. It was hard to keep your eyes open as his monotone voice went on and on about the most boring aspects of a book. Valerie was no exception to this phenomenon.
She looked briefly at Star who was staring at Lancer with glazed eyes. Valerie smiled slightly then put her elbow on her desk, leaned on her hand and closed her eyes, only for a second. Suddenly, she felt as though the desk disappeared from beneath her elbow. She caught herself before she fell to the floor then looked at the desk in bewilderment. She looked at her elbow and frowned.
Something strange was happening to her. Her elbow was tingling strangely. She looked up at Lancer then back down at her desk. Did her elbow just slide off of it? Or did it actually go through it? How in the world did that happen?
Valerie looked back up at Lancer and frowned as she made eye contact with the teacher, who was giving her a warning look. Whatever it was, she'd have to deal with it later, either that or risk detention, and she was already in enough trouble as it was.
So there it is, another story. You can probably guess what happened to Valerie. I KNOW I said that I wouldn't do this to any characters, but this idea was just too good to pass up. This is not a romance, there may be a little implied DxV, but don't go looking for a DxV fic here. This is all about Valerie…and likely it will be short, under 20,000 words (I hope).