By: Firefury Amahira
Disclaimer: I still don't own Danny Phantom. Butch Hartman does, and I somehow doubt that will be changing any time soon. Since I'm not making any money from this, there is nothing for the law-ninjas to sue out of me.
Author's Note: I really shouldn't be starting this yet, since Anathema still has five more chapters to go. Eh, whatever. For those of you familiar with my other works, Jeremiad and Anathema (the story of what precisely happened in those ten years between the present day and the future in The Ultimate Enemy as told by Valerie and Dan respectively), you can consider this a sequel, the finale of a trilogy I honestly never expected to end up writing. For those who haven't read the previous two stories, you will be pleased to know that absolutely NO knowledge from them is required to understand this tale. The only pre-requisite is knowing the story of TUE. That said, I hope you enjoy this little sneak-peek at my next project!
Prologue: Ill Omen
"With the vision of a great divide
You turn towards the other side
You think you run but you can't hide
The dead can not ride"
-"Heart of the Dragon" - DragonForce
Soon, I'll be free.
That one thought had been the only thing keeping him remotely sane as he struggled against his bonds. It had been months, with no sight, no sound, no sensation beyond the claustrophobic black confines of his narrow prison. Was this what all his effort was to come to? Securing his past at the price of his freedom? Had he even achieved that goal, given he knew that Clockwork was involved?
Soon, I'll break through this stupid thing. Then I'll know.
He suspected that his existence was now the anomaly, that the past had been changed, and that he somehow existed beyond the simple confines of time and paradox. He wasn't given to much thought about such complicated matters however. His goals were quite simple. Destruction. Destruction and revenge for ten years of memories, ten years of those reminders of a time long since gone, a time of his weakness, his utter uselessness. In his weakness, he had been unable to save anyone, those memories had to die.
To the outside observer, it was merely a thermos. A thermos with the word "Fenton" on it. As such things go, this one was in bad shape; its silver surface caked with soot, marred with scratches, and battered with large dents. The careless or the curious might have been eager to unscrew the lid and discover the contents. But Clockwork was neither careless nor curious, the master of time already knew quite well the contents of the device.
As would be expected of a ghost-hunting device, a ghost was held securely within the small cylinder. Not any ghost, however. This wasn't anything as benign as the Box Ghost, or even Pariah Dark. No, the contents of this thermos were far more dangerous, this particular ghost could count the wholesale slaughter of thousands among his achievements. And slowly but surely he was battering his prison to bits from the inside.
Clockwork spared the thermos a brief glance, his attention more firmly fixed on the large round device that dominated his lair. The time-viewing device flashed through one scene after another, endless possibilities , endless scenarios. A fight lost, a city in ruins, corpses littering the streets. A city standing in daylight, unharmed, a young man wondering if he made the right choice and riddled with guilt. A battle raging, unlikely allies taking an unsavory chance, a risky gamble. A man brooding in some dark place, finally coming to terms with mistakes made.
"Soon." The timemaster murmured, an eerie parallel to the thoughts of his angry captive. "You have another difficult decision to make. Will you make the right one?"
The viewer faded to black and Clockwork turned his attention to the thermos, visibly rocking now with the struggles of the ghost inside it. The outer surface of the container was distorted badly from the force of the ghost's escape attempts. While effective at the time, sealing that particular ghost in the thermos could never have been a permanent solution. Ten years of hate and battle had honed Danny Phantom's power to a deadly edge, and Clockwork knew it wouldn't be long before the half-mad ghost burst free. Whether or not Phantom's present-day counterpart would be able to stop him a second time... well, only time would tell.
With a flick of his staff, Clockwork disappeared for parts unknown. No sooner did the master of time vanish than the thermos gave a particularly violent lurch, tumbling from its perch to fall to the floor. The clatter was all but lost in the explosion, the silver cylinder finally shattering into a dozen pieces upon impact, at long last releasing its contents. As the smoke cleared, he stood and stretched, for the moment merely savoring the feel of actual sensations again. After months of blackness, even the dim ambient light of the Ghost Zone was dazzling, the faint background noise nearly a roar.
"At last." He growled, running one black-gloved hand through his flaming white hair. The only thing his imprisonment had been good for was recovering his strength after his last battle. Everything was wrong now. The people who should have been dead weren't. He had worked for ten years to gain the terrible power of his Ghostly Wail, and yet in the past, his wrong self had gained it so rapidly.
His wrong self. The wise-cracking, do-goodie he had been ten years ago. The him that shouldn't still exist, the him that should have been nearly insane with grief and on his way to Wisconsin. The him that still had his family and friends. His weakness.
He wasn't certain what to do now, with the history he knew lost and replaced with an alien alternate reality. One option was clear however. This new timeline was inherently wrong, and he would have to set it right.