The Witch Doctor Incident
By Sqweakie the Wonder Mouse

AN: This is a companion piece to Orbits of Glass. This can be considered to be a stand alone fic...you do not need to read Orbits to understand this one. All you need to know is that a group of eight human hunters and Danny Phantom watch over the city and protect it from ghost attacks. If you're interested in more of the history you can hop over and read Orbits but that is the key thing you need to know right now.


"To all those who wish to become Ghost Hunters…

"This video portrays the darkest days of the Patrol. The Witch Doctor, a ghost previously unheard of in Amity, revealed herself to the city and committed one of the worst crimes in the city's history. She kidnapped children right out their homes and attacked their families with her dark arts. Her Voo Doo protected 'her' children when the city's hunters tried to stop her. She fled to the Ghost Zone, leaving behind broken families and the fear of her return.

"On January 12th, 2006 five humans and their ghost guide entered the Ghost Zone to rescue the fifteen missing children. They traveled alone without the hope of rescue if catastrophe fell on their mission. With no way of knowing the events that would follow, the hunters and ghost all wore mikes and cameras to record their entire journey. What follows is the only visual record of the Ghost Zone and the most complete footage of Ghost Fighting.

"If you have any illusions about the glory life of a ghost hunter, you'd better reconsider your reasons for joining.

"This isn't a joyride, People…This is hell."

Introduction to Video 1-12-2006
aka The Witch Doctor Incident


Chapter One

Day 1 – Thursday January 12th, 2006

Danny adjusted the earpiece for the twelfth time. He could admit to himself that he was nervous. He had every right to be nervous. All around him Hunters packed supplies and Hunters checked equipment one last time. Hunters spread out across the basement, blocking all conventional exits from the room. Five of them wore matching headsets and cameras. Danny Phantom wore the sixth set.

He asked if they needed help but they declined. He sat out of the way on top of the cabinet, his perch giving him a view of the entire basement. Closest to him, the married couple Brian and Janet Smith calibrated trackers. Thorton, an older man with brown eyes, closed a box of medical supplies. Next to the Specter Speeder XL his mom had a map out and pointed to different locations. Behind her stood Townsend (a man rivaling Jack Fenton in height) and Anderson, the leader of the exhibition. The last member of the expedition, Jacobs, sat in the cockpit of the speeder. His dad sat in the seat next to him, pointing out the different controls of the Speeder.

While his gaze wandered the basement the Red Hunter appeared on the steps leading upstairs. She stood only for the briefest of seconds before heading back up. Danny caught the motion but no one else in the lab noticed. He floated off the cabinet and rose through the ceiling. Becoming tangible, he landed next to the stove where Valerie stood. She had pulled off her helmet so her hair could fall freely around her face. He eyes flickered to the left and Dan followed her line of vision. Standing in the kitchen doorway were his two best friends.

Sam and Tucker stood bundled in winter coats, hats and boots. Sam wiped sweat off her forehead and Tucker was practically weezing. Today was a school day and Danny didn't expect them to be there. He talked to them the night before during a couple stolen minutes in between offers to help pack and the mini-briefing on their trip.

"We ran all the way here. We were afraid we'd miss you," Sam told him while catching her breath. She leaned against a counter and shed her hat and mittens.

"I'm still here," he said, "but how are you two here? What about class?"

"It's lunch time now…" Sam started.

"And we have Miss Riasser for study hall," Tuck finished. "She already OKed us being late. We wanted to see you before you left." A nervous silence hung in the air. His friends looked like they wanted to say more but unable to find the words. The techno-geek finally made a move. Tucker surprised him by pulling him into a hug. Danny stood frozen. Finally he returned the hug.

"Be careful, man," Tuck managed to choke out. He stepped away and Sam took his place. Danny returned her hug a lot quicker.

"You'd better come back in one piece. I don't want to have to steal the extra speeder to track you down." She sounded brave and sarcastic but her eyes shimmered with tears. Quickly she kissed his cheek before pulling out of his grasp. She stepped out of the way and Valerie replaced her.

The Red Hunter bit her lip and rubbed her arm subconsciously, helmet conspicuously missing. She did not say a word or made a motion to hug him like Tuck and Sam. Danny wished her to stay safe and turned towards the stairs.

"Danny!"

He turned around just as Val hit him full force. Instinctively he caught her while she wrapped her arms around his neck. Finally he let go, sensing it was time. He only caught a glimpse of Valerie's tear-stained face before pulling on her helmet, back to business.

"I'll wait a couple of minutes before coming down," she said, calm and collected. Danny nodded before she left out of the back door of the kitchen. He assumed the hunter headed out to make sure no ghosts were hanging around before the expedition entered the Ghost Zone. It gave him a couple of minutes alone with his best friends.

Sam and Tuck remained in the kitchen trying to find a way to say goodbye. Danny pulled them into a group hug, soaking in their warmth. Tuck and Sam wouldn't be there to support him this time. Through everything they had been next to him. Now they had to stay behind to help Valerie.

"I'm coming back, I promise," he whispered to them. "Take care of each other."

"We will," Sam told him just as quietly.

Stomach twisted in a knot, he pulled away. He dove through the floor and returned to the cabinet. He didn't tell Sam or Tuck goodbye. If he did, he would be admitting that there was a chance he wouldn't come back. He couldn't put his friends thru that. No one in the lab acknowledged his return as he settled to his perch.

True to her word, Valerie marched down the stairs not five minutes later. This time everyone noticed her approach. Anderson greeted her when she reached the bottom before launching into a set of questions. She nodded at his inquiries, remaining silent. She was there at the insistence of Phantom. No one besides the halfa knew who was under the helmet. Whatever Valerie answered must have met his approval because Anders led her to the table with the map.

"Every one, gather round," Anderson called. The last minute projects abandoned, nine ghost hunters and one ghost met in the center. They circled around the table and the crude map held down by an assortment of beakers. Everyone gathered looked grim. Any other time joy and curiosity would have beamed out at the thought of exploring the Ghost Zone but now the situation was grim.

Anderson stood across from Danny. The man stood just above average in height, his brown hair cropped short and blue eyes, a couple shades darker than Danny's human eyes, pierced anyone he looked at. The man wore a tight jumpsuit, black accented with crimson red. His personal weapons (the same as his cousin Jacobs) were silver with gray inserts. Danny knew from experience that the gray glowed bright red when the weapons was powered up and fired.

To the left stood Townsend. The man could look Danny's father in the eye without effort. Dark eyes peered out from underneath heavy eyebrows and a mop of dark brown hair. He was a muscular man with tanned skin. Resting at his side was a ecto-equivalent of an Uzi. His dark pants and padded brown leather jacket clashed with Dad's orange jumpsuit who stood next to him. His and his partner's black and blue ectoguns sat packed in the speeder. He worked with the heavy artillery comparable to bazookas and machine guns.

Next came Jacobs. A head shorter than Towns and Danny's father, he seemed diminutive next to the other men. His black hair spiked out a little and complimented the trimmed goatee surrounding the whitest teeth Danny witnessed. The docile look deceived the real Jacobs, ex-Army who served his four years and returned stateside just before he joined Anderson in Amity. In the army he drove humvees and transport trucks until released from his contract, an honorable discharge. His dull green eyes sparked with determination at the upcoming mission.

To the driver-turned-pilot's left stood the Smiths. The husband, Brian, was the epitome of NASA nerd. He dressed in khakis and a dress shirt (pocket protector sold separately) with wire-rimmed glasses completing the look. His dirty blond hair was combed neatly and framed a pale face with watery-blue eyes. His arm hooked with his wife's…a woman the polar opposite of her husband.

Janet Smith was a certified army brat, having lived in nine different states and four different countries. While her husband looked pale and washed out, her reddish-brown hair and bright green eyes highlighted by her freckles. Instead of a high-tech jumpsuit she chose black fatigue pants, gray shirt covered by a black flack jacket and a pair of black combat boots. To add to the surreal image she strapped several ecto-handguns on her hips and under her arms, small knives infused with ectoplasm lay hidden in her clothes. It seemed odd that with a martial image portrayed, the mother of two and weapons expert wore purple nail polish.

Danny stood between Janet and Valerie, in his ghost form he fit in with the odd group. Janet's shoulder bumped against his. When he turned towards her, she gave him a small, confident smile making him smile in return. Having worked with Janet and her husband in the past, he felt the most comfortable with the hunter. Val stayed motionless next to him but he could swear he could feel her gaze when he glanced at her. Unfortunately, the mirrored faceplate hid her expression and face, a better disguise than the green plate that originally appeared a year before.

Last in the circle was Danny's mother, Maddie Fenton and Thorton (Townsend's partner). His mom crossed and uncrossed her arms in a nervous gesture while Anderson talked. Thorton, more commonly called Thor, stood silent next to her. Born in Britain and transplanted to the states when he was a teenager, the man's quiet and patient demeanor made him a very effective hunter. The oldest out of the group, his gray hair turned green in the open portal's light. At his waist he coiled a whip stained with ectoplasm and the man specialized in tranqs and stunners that knocked out ghost instead of harming them.

As everyone stood around the table Anderson used the Phantom's hand drawn map to point out the rough path to their destination: Pariah Dark's Castle. The night before a ghost gave them a tip: the Witch Doctor set up shop in the Ghost King's home. It wasn't much of a lead but it was the only thing they could go on. The hunters planned to go into the Ghost Zone, check out the castle and start their search from there.

With everyone around him, their leader gave them a long stare. Five humans and one ghost searching the entire Ghost Zone for fifteen missing children. Everyone assembled was good. Years of experience circled the table. All pitted that knowledge against a ghost who showed no mercy and a creature that passed off herself as a human easily. The Witch Doctor could be the most dangerous ghost that the human hunters had ever faced.

"Before the cameras are turned on I have one last question," Anderson finally asked. "Are you ready to go through that portal? This is no joy ride, people. Lives are at stake, children's lives and our own. If you are not sure you can do this, now is the time to back out. No one will blame you. Hell, even I'm nervous. We can't have anyone freak out and we are not turning around until we find every last child. If you want to get out, leave."

Silence met the speech. The hunters looked at their peers seeing if any would break ranks and leave the basement. It was the only ghost in the group that finally spoke. "If we don't go, who will? I'm in." The others nodded, encouraged by Danny's statement. There was no one else…literally. The only hunters left in Amity were the Fentons, Smith's husband and Valerie (if you didn't count Sam or Tucker). They stayed behind to protect the city. If the expedition failed to stop the Witch Doctor the four became the last defense in Amity Park. If they failed, The Witch Doctor won, completely and totally.

With a deep breath Anders triggered the six headsets, small red lights blinking to life as the identical cameras began to record six different views of the lab. Microphones picked up the individual noises of the hunters and the breathless sigh of a ghost. Anderson put on a brave face spouting out a practiced, inspirational speech. Smith looked confident. Thor's attention turned to the Specter Speeder XL as Jack Fenton loaded and sealed the last external compartment. Every ones else's attention was on the lab.

"Its ready to go Anders," Jack said. The leader of the expedition nodded and led the way into the speeder. Danny followed the brunette man but he paused just inside the craft while Anders checked the loaded supplies. The main hatch opened into the cargo/passenger area. Right now individual seats filled the front half. The back half held pop-up benches or beds that pulled out of the wall. Right now they were stowed away to make room for the supplies.

Jacobs passed around him and entered the cockpit. Curious, Danny followed him. Up here four jump seats replaced the single bench of the original speeder. Jacobs settled in the pilot's seat, strapping in as he started the preflight checklist Danny and his friends ignored.

"Phantom." He jumped and spun around. Anderson stood right behind him, startling him because he didn't hear the man come thru the door.

"Why don't you take shotgun," he motioned to the front passenger seat.

Nervously Danny sat down and strapped himself in. Anderson sat behind the pilot and the only female hunter on the trip, Janet Smith, took the last open seat. Smith would pilot the SSXL while Jacobs slept. They were going into this with few illusions. The Box Ghost insisted that the Witch Doctor set up her lair in the abandoned castle. The hunters took the tip but were prepared to find nothing. It could be days before they found the actual lair or the children. Jacobs would have to sleep some time during the hunt. Smith would fly the speeder when he slept so they could continue their search around the clock. Danny volunteered to pilot the Speeder but Anderson refused, only trusting him so far. Still, he was their guide in the Ghost Zone since no one else on the expedition had entered it, much less travel to Dark's castle.

As Jacobs counted down their takeoff and the engines whined to life, Danny watched the people left in the lab. His parents stood together with disappointment on their faces. With Jazz back in the hospital with pneumonia, they volunteered to stay behind. His dad wrapped an arm around his mom's shoulder as the speeder lifted off the ground, another opportunity to explore the Ghost Zone lost to them.

Not far from the couple, Brian Smith stood alone. A researcher at heart, his more-active wife took the spot on the expedition. They had two children around Danny's age that were attending school at the moment. Janet Smith looked just as nervous as her husband. She mouthed an 'I love you' that Danny caught when he turned in his seat to look at her.

As the speeder inched towards the Portal Danny turned forward to study the last hunter in the basement. The Red Huntress stood motionless at her post next to the open Portal. Posture unreadable, her face and expression hid under her mirrored faceplate. Danny could see the Speeder and the lab reflected in her visor but he couldn't see her, not knowing how his friend felt about staying behind.

The engines roared and the speeder shot forward leaving Valerie behind and throwing them into a maze of green and black. Danny closed his eyes for a brief second to fight the nervous fear and dread. When his green eyes opened he pushed the negative feelings to the dark corner of his mind where he left those types of thoughts.

Eyes open, he could see the depths of the Ghost Zone. Doors made a crooked path to their right, slowly shifting like constellations in the night sky. A gasp came from behind him. Seatbelts unclipped and Smithy appeared in his peripheral vision. "This is the ghost zone?" she asked, astonished. Anderson humphed and disappeared into the cargo area unimpressed.

"Most of these doors lead to ghost lairs," Danny explained. "Occasionally they lead to the real world."

"So which one is yours?" Jacobs inquired as he piloted them along the path of doors and deeper into the Ghost Zone.

"Huh?" Phantom responded eloquently.

"Your lair?" the man asked again.

"None of them. I don't live in the Ghost Zone," he answered honestly.

"Why?" This time the question came from Smith as she flopped back into the seat behind Jacobs and stared out the windows.

Danny flipped a switch that Jacobs couldn't reach. "I'm not like most ghosts. I don't belong here," he motioned to the green expanse. "I belong in Amity Park."

"How do you know that?" Smithy asked. "I mean, how do you know that you belong there and not anywhere else in the real world?"

Danny shrugged, unable to verbalize the feeling. Amity was home, whether he was in ghost form or human. "I just know."

"Which way to the castle?" Jacobs interrupted, eyes searching the sky.

Danny studied the doors and broken pieces of earth. A year ago he followed the path left by thousands of skeleton ghosts. The trail long disappeared but the landmarks remained…sort of. Nothing stayed stationary in the ghost zone but the larger the object the less it drifted. In the distance he could see the first landmark on the trail to Pariah Dark's castle.

Out of habit he grabbed the controls and directed the speeder towards a chunk of rock in the shape of a head. Smith swore and slid out of her seat when the speeder dove and swung to the left. With the new direction the head seemed to turn and took on the profile of a famous singer.

"It looks like Elvis," Jacobs said in awe, surprise fighting with laughter.

"Just keep flying to Elvis Rock," Danny instructed with a chuckle. "We should get there in a couple of hours." He flipped switches, turning on the exterior lights and setting the real world detector to automatic. With practiced ease Jacobs and Phantom coaxed the speeder along the alien landscape.

Someone kicked a lever under Danny's seat. Controls disappeared from under his hands as the chair spun around to face Anderson. He slammed his hands on the armrests, trapping Danny with his presence. His eyes widened at the sight of Anders' bright red face.

"What the hell were you thinking?" Anders yelled right into Danny's face. "Did I give you permission to even touch the controls?"

"Leave him alone Anders," a male voice commanded. Smith appeared at Anders' side, physically pulling at his arm and telling him to leave Phantom alone. The hunter glared at him before pulling away. Seeing an exit, Danny released his restraints and flew to the cargo area. He dropped to the deck, wincing when he heard footsteps from the cockpit. Expecting Round Two with Anderson, he was relieved to see Townsend step through the opening.

"Don't take anything he says personally. He doesn't care for ghosts. Smithy's gonna keep him in the cockpit until he cools off," the large man told him after he closed the cockpit door. Danny didn't respond.

"What was he doing?" Thorton asked curiously from the back of the speeder. Towns threw an arm around the ghost's shoulders and led him towards his partner. Thor had one of the boxes open, counting the sealed food packages and checking it against his clipboard.

"Anders was just bothering the kid," the hunter said crossly once they were close enough. The two men worked a couple times with Danny in Amity to catch a couple of rogue ghosts. The only hunters the half ghost didn't work with were Jacobs and Anderson, something he was grateful for after the last ten minutes.

"Are you ok?" the Englishman asked Danny in concern.

"Yeah, I'll survive. I don't know how someone like him gets to be in charge," Danny muttered as he flopped into a seat. He thought he said it quiet enough but the other two hunters still heard him.

"If you ignore the bias against ghosts, he is a good leader." Thor's soothing tone drew Danny's eyes to the British hunter.

"Why does he hate ghosts so much?" he couldn't help but ask. Thor and Towns looked at each other. After a couple of beats and raised eyebrows Townsend sat next to him.

"When Anders was a kid," the man said, "his parents moved to a house in Waukesha. Nice house, nice neighborhood but no one lived in the place for more than a couple of months. His parents assumed it was a lemon. Maybe the roof leaked or heating bills were outrageous. They bought the house super cheap. Well, not a week goes by and accidents started happening. People kept tripping and objects fell off shelves when no one was in the room. Then the scratching starts and nightmares kept the three kids awake and things kept getting worse."

"A poltergeist," Danny breathed out. "I ran into one months ago. They don't stay in Amity because there are so many other ghosts. They're weak but they can do a lot of damage to humans."

"You know that and I know that," Towns said as he pointed to his chest. "But his parents didn't."

"Ander's father didn't believe the wild stories that something was scratching and hurting them. The father and mother thought the kids hurt each other and then tried to blame an imaginary ghost. Well," Townsend said after a pause, "on Anders' ninth birthday he went upstairs to put his presents in his bedroom. His family was downstairs in the living room. All of a sudden they heard him scream. They ran into the hallway to see him falling down the stairs. At the top of the staircase was a little purple blob and it was laughing.

"Everyone could see the poltergeist, including his Dad's brother (a cop) and his cousins. His uncle grabbed him and they all rushed out of the house to get to safety. At the hospital they found out he had a broken ankle and a concussion. The doctor looked straight at the family and told them to burn down the house and leave the city.

"His parents returned to the house once to pack up all their possessions and the house was bulldozed in. When he was old enough, Anderson started tracking and trapping ghosts. It became an obsession."

Thor took over. "So when he looks at you he doesn't see Danny Phantom. He sees the creature that tortured him for months and pushed him down the stairs. The only reason you are here instead of a Thermos is because Smithy wanted you. We needed a guide and she trusts you. Her opinion matters to Anders but he hates having you here."

"Just try and stay out of his way," Townsend advised. Danny nodded.

"Thanks for telling me. I'm gonna fly around for a while," he said as he floated into the air. "I want to take a look around. Something doesn't feel right."

"That's a good idea," Thor agreed. "Call us if you see anything."

Danny rose right through the roof into the green emptiness of the Ghost Zone. Everything looked normal but it was too quiet. He circled to the underside of the speeder. Doors hovered in abstract patterns but no ghost appeared. This worried Danny as he drifted farther from the others.

"Phantom, what are you doing out there?" Anderson's voice came over his headset. He sighed for his lost peace before responding.

"I just needed some fresh air," he stated as he looped farther away.

"Very cute," the leader growled. "Now tell me the real reason you're out there."

"I haven't sensed or seen any ghosts since we got here," Danny explained. "Normally I've been confronted at least twice by now."

"Are you sure?" the human asked, disbelief coming across clear on the comm.

"Yes," Danny said, the words coming out stiffly. "But I haven't seen anyone. Not even in the distance."

"Sounds like we're on the right track," Smith piped in. "If I were a ghost I wouldn't stay within ten miles of that psychopath."

"Bitter?" Jacobs asked over the comm. Danny had to smile at that.

"I took Jason and Ann to her when they had strep throat. She acted sweet as puddin'. I actually thought she was a good doctor. She could have taken the twins instead of one of the other kids. Makes me sick."

"Is it alright if I drift around," Danny interrupted. "I want to see if any ghosts are hiding nearby."

"Don't go too far," Anderson ordered. "I want you stay in contact range at all times."

"Yes, sir," Danny said sarcastically.

"Don't push it. We have Thermoses for a reason. I wouldn't feel too bad using it to keep you in one place."

"I'll behave," Phantom's voice sounded resigned.

"Just be careful," Smithy said over the comm.

"I will."


R&R

AN: I know I said Sunday but I'm still waiting for my beta to get back to me so there might be some small edits after this. This'll probably by a seven to nine chapter story. I'm trying to limit myself on this one.

Disclaimer: Roses are red, violets are blue, I don't own so you don't sue. (I don't own the poem either, ;)

Edited March 21st, 2007

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