The year is 2008. For the last fifteen years, humans have been terrorized by creatures from another dimension. Nobody knows how these monsters travel from their realm to ours. Conventional weapons do not harm them. They are savage, brutal, mindless beasts. Rewind to 1988. The first attempt to access this dimension from the human side is met with failure, but a brief glimpse into this alien realm proves its existence. It is dubbed the Ghost Zone. Back in the present, the discoverers of this Ghost Zone have created a new breed of ghost hunters. Using high-tech weaponry, the advance of these ectoplasmic abominations has halted and the human race is finally beating back the ghostly invasion. Some cities are more prone to attacks than others, and these hotspots still house many bloodthirsty ghosts.
One such hotspot is where Jack and Madeline Fenton, the discoverers of the Ghost Zone and the first professional ghost hunters, have settled. Despite the fact that the location is ripe with extra-dimensional activity, and it also happens to make a great place to raise a family. Jasmine "Jazz" Fenton, the eldest child, is off attending college. A genius in her own right, Jazz has made ground-breaking discoveries in her research of the ghostly malefactors. Daniel, the youngest child, is still in high school. Whether he will carry on his family's ghost-involved practices remains to be seen.
"Excellent work, Mr. Fenton. Keep this up for the rest of your high school career and you can expect a very bright future."
Danny Fenton smiled as his eight-page essay on the spectral world was handed back to him with a bright red A scribbled at the top. The paper had been the only assignment given to the freshmen class at Casper High during their first quarter of American Literature. It had been assigned at the beginning of the school year; on the first day to be accurate, much to the dismay of most of the class. Fortunately, Danny Fenton wasn't preoccupied with some extracurricular activity or a job. His other teachers had been lenient with homework and tests as well, which gave him even more time to write his paper. He might not have gotten an A+ like his friend Tucker Foley, but a solid grade was enough to make him and his parents happy.
Mr. Lancer, a man whose heart seemed to be as big as his biceps, was quickly becoming his favorite teacher, if only a single semester into the freshmen year.
"Well," said Tucker Foley, Danny's techno-geek brainiac friend, "I guess I should be happy with this."
"Dude, an A+ is the highest grade you can get," Danny whispered. "What's not to be happy about?"
"I just think I could have done better," Tucker replied with a smirk.
Tucker was the kind of guy who didn't rub his academic superiority in other people's faces. If anything, Tucker had helped in securing Danny's grade by providing him with several fascinating sources to use for his paper.
"I just wonder how Sam did. She kept complaining about how hard it was to find information about that Showenhower guy and his books about Gothic artifacts."
Tucker slid his paper into his notebook, not giving it another look. "I'm worried that this Goth thing is becoming an obsession. I mean changing her clothes, hair, and outlook on life is fine. But now it's starting to interfere with other facets of her daily routine. Writing an essay about some obscure Gothic antique collector? It would have been much easier to use one of the ideas I thought of. At least I already had access to sources for them."
"Still, Sam's our friend. Whether she's feminist, individualist, gothicist or extremist, we're supposed to stick by her side."
Tucker mulled that over in his mind. "You're absolutely right. However, as your friend I am obliged to inform you that gothicist is not a word."
"Mr. Foley, Mr. Fenton? Is there a problem?" Lancer asked.
Although Danny's favorite teacher, Lancer could be very strict. He chose to be a disciplinarian when Danny and Tucker were discussing something important.
"Uh, no, Mr. Lancer," Danny responded.
"Good. Then perhaps you'd like to pay attention to this introduction to poetry. It might not be an eight page assignment, but I can guarantee it won't be any easier."
Danny and Tucker slid back in their seats, as if to apologize and attempt to avoid further scolding. Lancer accepted this resignation of guilt returned to his lecture.
"I don't want to say I told you so . . ." Tucker said.
"Then don't say it, Tucker," Sam replied bitterly.
Sam had met up with Danny and Tucker after their English Literature class had let out. The girl had been in a particularly bad mood, the reason being a large C+ sprawled in red ink at the top of her essay.
"Sam, look, just don't worry about it," Danny tried comforting. His efforts were in vain.
"How am I supposed to not worry about it?" Sam growled. "My mother is an English professor at Amity Park University and happens to think that every letter after B is F."
Danny cringed. Her parents would most likely ground her from doing any sort of fun stuff, which meant that her stereo system would be gone, her basement/movie theatre would be chained offand locked and she wouldn't be allowed to do anything with her friends.
"Look, before you have to face the firing squad, why don't we go to the Nasty Burger?" Tucker suggested."I'll treat."
"I think I'd just throw up before I got home."
Sam was not known as a drama queen. Her posture and facial expression revealed she was genuinely upset. "Well," Danny started, "I don't know if you guys really care or not, but my parents said they were going to have the Ghost Portal ready for launch after school today-"
"Not care?" Tucker asked incredulously. "Your parents have access to technology that is so advanced it shouldn't exist yet! And to think I wouldn't care about a trans-dimensional portal . . . the nerve of some people!"
Sam appeared to perk up at the news. She might not have been a science buff like Tucker, but Sam had always loved the unexplainable. A portal into another dimension certainly fit the bill. "You sure your parents won't mind us being there?"
"Please!" Danny grinned and rolled his eyes. "You guys are like family, of course they won't care!"
The walk from Casper High to the Fenton household was barely fiveminutes. Danny hadn't even finished his sentence before the trio arrived on his block. The thing about Danny's house was that it was not just a house, because the top of the building supported a mess of metal and LEDs twisted to form the words FENTON WORKS which Danny's father claimed one could see the sign from orbit around the planet. Several of the Fenton's earth-bound neighbors had complained about the sign, claiming it was a violation of light-pollution laws, but the Fentons were nice enough people and their work had never hurt anyone, unless you count the Dinkleburg's dog…
"Well, here we are!" Danny looked from his friends to his front door, gesturing to the building in front of them.
"Yeah, thanks for the introduction." Sam crossed her arms. "You gonna let us in or are we supposed to teleport into the basement from here?"
"Oh, I just thought, you know," Danny rubbed the back of his neck, "ladies first?"
"After what happened with that crazy vacuum cleaner last week? I don't think so." Sam stroked her hair, recalling the horrifying experience with the Fenton VacOOm cleaner – cleverly named by Danny's father – which had coated her hair in a thick layer of green slime. While non-toxic, it had taken hours of scrubbing to get it all out. "Besides, it's your house."
Hopefully, Danny turned his attention to Tucker.
"Don't even think about it, dude," Tucker said curtly.
With a sigh of resignation, Danny plodded up the steps to his front door. He cautiously cracked it open and poked his head in, searching for any rampaging equipment intent on showering them in slime. Assured that no mechanical monsters awaited them in the foyer, Danny waved his friends in after him.
"Mom? Dad? I'm home!" Danny called through the house.
"Danny, my boy!" came the faint voice of Jack Fenton, Danny's father. "We're in the basement, son! Come on down!"
The three teenagers passed through the family room and kitchen and headed down the stairs to the lab, Danny leading the way. The massive Ghost Portal that dominated an entire side of the lab immediately demanded the attention of the three teenagers. His parents were working fervently on it, Madeline looking over papers on a clipboard while Jack welded the casing onto a grouping of wires.
"Danny! How was school?" Jack boomed. His orange jumpsuit made him stick out like a sore thumb in crowds. His immense size helped with that as well.
"It was good, Dad. I got an A on that paper I had to do for English."
"Great!" Jack said enthusiastically. "You hear that, Maddie? Danny got an A!"
"Oh, our little boy!" Madeline, or Maddie, Fenton squealed with delight. "We're both very proud of you." She wore a teal jumpsuit similar to Jack's, but was nowhere near as large.
Danny sighed and absently looked around the rest of the lab. The conversation, if could be called one, felt like a recording that he had heard time and time again. His parents hadn't even looked up from their work. He knew this project was of particular importance, but he was still their son. Didn't that make him more important?
"I hope you don't mind, I brought Sam and Tucker over. I figured this would be a once in a lifetime chance, to see the Ghost Portal activate."
Again, without even glancing up, Jack's voiced his approval. "That's great! Go ahead and take a seat; we'll be done in a moment." To their credit, his parents certainly vocalized their emotions well.
Always the same with them, Danny thought. It's like this ghost stuff is the son they always wanted. I'm competing for my parents' affection with dead people and machines.
One of Jack's large fingers pointed to a locker containing hazardous material suits. Whenever dealing with ectoplasm, Jack and Maddie had one chief rule above all others:always wear hazmat suits. Danny and his friends suited up as they had done many times before. His parents had even ordered custom suits for Tucker and Sam because of the frequency of their visits to the lab.
Danny's suit was primarily white. The collar, gloves, belt and boots were all black. Of all the hazmat suits, his was arguably the most boring. At first, he was disappointed. But in light of the coloration of his friends' suits, he quickly came to enjoy the simplicity of his own.
"Tucker, if you keep laughing, I swear to God I will bury you alive."
Despite Sam's threat, Tucker could not help himself. Danny watched as his best friend's giggle fit grew in intensity. "I'm sorry, Sam, but look at you!" He leaned on the suit locker for support as his laughter grew even more. "It's pink! Solid pink!
As if on cue, Sam grabbed the nearest blunt object – a cylindrical device Jack Fenton had been working on – and hurled it at Tucker. The device hit the boy square in the shoulder. "Shut up. At least my suit doesn't look like yours, Captain Barf."
"Touché, Miss Manson." The remark had cut short Tucker's fun. He was very displeased to find that his own suit did not have the flame patterns he requested. Instead, his suit was green where Danny's was white and yellow where Danny's was black. "But at least they didn't buy my suit at Claire's!"
As far as uncanny abilities go, Captain Barf's superpower was making Sam very, very angry. Danny crossed his arms and gave Sam a disapproving stare as she reached for the Fenton Anti-Creep Stick.
"This is it," Jack proclaimed with a winning smile, interrupting the three teenagers from their squabble. He knelt down and picked up one end of a rather large cable. "This portal is bound to break the dimensional barrier that separates us from the Ghost Zone!"
Maddie picked up anothercord of the same thickness lying on the ground. "Our life's work finally comes to fruition."
The two held hands as they connected the two cables, allowing the Ghost Portal to get the large amounts of power it needed to run. Everyone looked into the portal. A wave of green electricity began to spiral around the portal, stopping halfway through and fizzling out of existence.
Danny, Sam, and Tucker exchanged confused looks.
"Did it work?"
It was an uncomfortable silence that hung in the air following what appeared to be the most anticlimactic activation of a machine in the history of machines. Jack slowly lowered his gaze from the inactive portal. His face told the answer to Danny's question clearly enough.
"No," he said softly. "It didn't."
Maddie looked at her husband with sympathy. "Don't worry honey," she said optimistically. "We did have some problems computing the ectoplasmic energy feed; maybe we made a mistake in the calculations?" Jack seemed to perk up at the idea. He was never the brightest when it came to math, although he wasn't aware of it. A smile spread across his once sobered face.
"Maybe you're right. Hmm! Maybe you made a miscalculation! Come on, let's go check." Maddie scowled at the accusation, but followed Jack as he bounded up the steps three at a time.
After the adults had left, Tucker walked over to the portal, inspecting it closely despite the warnings. Of course, the portal didn't work anyway. "I know I'm no expert in this sort of thing," he said after examining the device. "But everything looks like it's configured properly."
"You said yourself that this stuff isn't supposed to exist yet," Sam commented. She had practically torn off her hazmat suit the moment Danny's parents had gone upstairs. "How would you know if something wasn't configured properly?"
Tucker sent Sam an angry scowl before removing his own suit. "Maybe you're right. This tech is way over my head. Even if there is a mistake somewhere, I wouldn't know where to look."
"What's this? The great Tucker Foley admitting defeat?"
"Admitting one's own shortcomings is what makes the greatest geniuses so great."
Sam rolled her eyes and blew a strand of hair out of her face. She looked at Danny to see what he was thinking, but saw his arms crossed across his chest and his brow furrowed. "You ok, Danny?" she asked.
His features returned to normal and he looked at his best friend with a grin. "Yeah, everything's fine. I just feel bad it didn't work." Kind of. Not really. "They've spent their entire lives working towards making the thing work, and all of it was for nothing."
"Maybe you should go in and check it out," Sam suggested. "Maybe there's something inside that's broken that you can fix."
"What?" Danny asked in surprise. "Why do I have to go inside the Ghost Portal?"
"Yeah, Sam, why does he have to go into the Ghost Portal?" Tucker was fiddling with the device that Sam had thrown at him earlier. "What is this thing, anyway?"
"It's a Fenton Thermos," Danny explained. "When you're not using it to store soup, my dad claims it can capture any ghost without fail. I've never actually seen it in action, so I don't know if it works."
"Oh good, I was worried it might spray goo at Sam's hair."
"Shut up, Tucker. Danny, you should totally go check out the portal. What's the worst that could happen?" Sam added.
Danny looked from his friends to the Ghost Portal. "You're joking, right? The worst that could happen could be death! It's a Ghost Portal and ghosts are dead!"
"Technically, it's a portal into a parallel dimension comprised mostly of ectoplasm," Tucker began to explain as he removed his hazmat suit, "your dad just calls it the Ghost Zone. There's no proof that there are ghosts-"
"Tucker, we have a lot more fun when you're not around."
"I bet you do. But in any case, Danny has a point. This thing uses more energy than Casper High uses in a month, if your dad's calculations are right. I don't know about you, Sam, but I don't want to turn Danny into a stick of beef jerky."
"Because I do, right?" Sam sighed. "Whatever, but you might be missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime."
"At least I'll have the rest of my lifetime to regret it. Now, I believe Tucker offered to treat us to an after-school snack and I am not about to pass up this opportunity of a lifetime."
"Not dressed like that you aren't," Sam pulled at Danny's hazmat suit and let it snap back on his chest.
Now dressed in their usual getup, the three kids exited the household and made their way to the burger joint for what was expected to be an average, normal after-school day. Of course, what is expected to happen doesn't always happen.
"So you understand what you are to do?" asked a voice.
A large creature that resembled a squid nodded the top of its head in acknowledgement. A single, large eye sat in right above its arms and glowed with a vibrant purple color in contrast to its dark blue form.
"Good. I will expect a full report upon your return."
The ecto-squid watched as the shadow disappeared in a wisp of pink smoke. The squid then focused on its secondary target. The boy with the disheveled raven hair had just entered an eating establishment where he would be relaxed and calm; the perfect time to attack.
Danny sat at his usual table with his burger, waiting for his friends. Tucker followed carrying his tray of chili cheese fries and double stacker Nasty Burger, being a self-proclaimed meat connoisseur. Sam made her way over to the table with her salad in hand. She was experimenting with a vegetarian diet and seemed to be doing well.
"So, did anyone else notice they way our chemistry teacher didn't seem to know what he was talking about again?"
"Oh yeah Tuck, that was messed up," Danny said. "Oh wait, Sam and I don't take chemistry."
"Right," Tucker muttered to himself.
"I did notice how Dash and his lackeys seem to be shoving me into lockers less. Maybe he grew out of it."
"Or maybe they were just waiting to catch you where there are no teachers around," Sam offered.
Danny scowled before being pulled out of his chair by the back of his shirt.
"Dash, I hope you know that most school-related acts of violence are almost always caused by bullying." Tucker explained. "So you can either let Danny go now and apologize, or answer to the barrel of a crazy laser gun when he snaps and decides to -"
"Can it, Foley," Dash growled. "So, I got a D- on my essay. You know what that means, right?"
"Uh, you passed?" Danny asked.
"No, that means I'm grounded," Dash sneered. "And I thought to myself, what would make me feel better? Then I saw you and, well the math did itself."
"Gee, if only that could happen on all of your tests, maybe you wouldn't have to worry about looking stupid."
While Danny found himself on the receiving end of the bullying system, he was unique among his compatriots in that Danny never kept quiet. Even after getting wailed on, like how Dash's fist just rammed into his gut, he never learned the golden rule: it hurts more if they're mad. Fortunately, Danny didn't have to experience his first swirlie in a public restroom. The temperature in the room suddenly plummeted and the odor of rotting fish filled the Nasty Burger.
Before Sam could make the obligatory fart joke at Tucker, before Dash could ask what was going on, even before Danny could prepare his next snappy comeback, a giant blue tentacle exploded from the floor and smacked Danny away from Dash's iron grip. Dash was sent crashing into Danny's old seat. He groaned before passing out, and Danny was briefly able to see why. His head had smacked into the windowsill. But Danny was unable to see if his friends were still conscious because the blue tentacle had wrapped itself around his midsection and had begun to squeeze with a strength that surpassed one of Jack Fenton's famous bear hugs.
"Sam-ah-Tuck-er, get-parents! Can't-ehh-breathe!"
While the rest of the Nasty Burger patrons had fled in terror, Sam and Tucker were rooted to their seats out of shock. Danny's cry for help snapped them back to reality and they both scrambled for their cell phones.
"Tucker, what are you doing?"
"Calling Danny's house, Sam, is that alright with you?"
"Idiot, I'm trying to call his house! You're going to tie up the line!"
"So what do you want me to do then, just sit around and look pretty?"
"Call the police!"
Danny's vision began to fade, and his head started feeling floaty. Maybe he should have ignored Tucker and ventured into the unknown. Sure it was a risk, but would it not have been worth it if his life was to be cut short so soon? Consciousness had almost left Danny as well before he heard a faint crash. All sounds around him sounded faint. The muffled shouting from his parents kept him awake. Suddenly, air rushed into his lungs right before he hit the floor. The tentacle had released him! His joy was cut short as the appendage rose further out of the ground, pulling behind it the body it belonged to.
The squid paid no more attention to Danny. Its plan had been successful. Its large eye focused in on the woman standing before it, Madeline Fenton. It had located its primary target.
As the giant, floating squid waged battle against his parents in the Nasty Burger, Danny struggled to return his breathing to normal. The tentacle had really done a number on his chest.
"Thanks guys," Danny managed to say between ragged breaths.
"No problem," Tucker replied.
"Tucker called your parents while we were running to your house," Sam explained. "They passed us before we even made it half way."
Danny tried to laugh at what had to be his dad's classic driving, but the pain in his chest turned it into a garbled chuckle/cough. His friends propped him up in a booth, doing their best to ignore the constant laser flak and inhuman wailing that shook the entire establishment. The squid shrieked as Maddie landed a blow that sliced off the tip of the squid's tentacle. Green blood sprayed everywhere, somehow missing Danny's parents, Danny, Tucker and the unconscious Dash. Sam's hair was not as lucky.
The squid, now missing the tip of its murderous tentacle and spurting green blood everywhere, shot into the air, smashing through the roof of the fast food joint. It spurted a black blob of ink down onto the building before flying away. This time, Danny's parents were subjected to the slimy, otherworldly goo. Jack and Maddie hurried over to Danny, mostly ignoring the black ink except to wipe it from their eyes.
"Are you ok, Danny?" Jack asked. "Sam and Tucker nearly scared us half to death when they told us what happened!"
"I'm fine. My chest is a little sore, but if it wasn't for you guys I think I'd be a lot thinner." His voice was regaining its strength and his lungs didn't protest to his use of them.
Maddie looked around the Nasty Burger and frowned. "I can't wait to explain this one to the owner. Or the police. Or the mayor, for that matter."
"Oh come now, sure we have to pay a little fine, and maybe we have to sit through one or . . . four or five hours of questioning, but think of what this will do for the tourism industry! More people will get to hear about how I, the great Jack Fenton, defeated another evil ghost and saved his son from certain doom!"
When Jack Fenton was in a sour mood, he had a tendency to drag those around him into a similar mood. Fortunately, Maddie knew just how to keep him in good spirits. It wasn't long before the familiar red and blue flashing lights from the police cars shone in through the windows. Danny and his friends were used to seeing the police, even in large numbers and accompanied by SWAT teams. Dash, who had just crawled out from under the table he had been lying under, was not used to such sights.
"What's going on? Why are the cops here, Fenton?"
"Long story, you probably wouldn't believe me anyway. But you might definitely want to go get your head checked out."
Dash looked as though he had found his misplaced aggression from before the attack, but the pain in his head demanded his attention. Dash felt the back of his head. His fingers came away red with blood. "Oh man..."
Danny left Dash to find his way to one of several ambulances on the scene. After seeing how many law enforcement officers were present, not to mention the terrified witnesses and employees, Danny sought out his parents to get their permission to go home. He was never required to give a statement or undergo questioning when these things happened. Tucker and Sam trailed along behind him.
"I wish I had one of those laser guns," Tucker said, attempting to strike up a conversation. "I could've wasted that squid thing myself!"
"Yeah, or us," Sam mumbled.
"Hey, I'm not that bad! My aim is improving!"
"Remember your blue hat?"
Danny grinned at the incident, where Tucker's old blue beret was blasted off his head by his own lousy shot. His parents had since made sure to keep all weapons in a locker sealed behind voice and fingerprint recognition systems.
It was surprisingly difficult to find Jack Fenton's distinct, orange form, which usually stuck out like a sore thumb in crowds. The maze of police officers and vehicles did not make the task any easier. Finally they found him shaking hands with the mayor, who excitedly quoted figures regarding the expected spike in the tourism industry while Maddie spoke to the police commissioner and the manager of the Nasty Burger who was on duty during the attack about the damages to the building. Danny approached his father, who looked to be in a better mood than his mother.
"Danny Fenton! The hero of the day! You saw this ghost monster up close, didn't you?" Danny nodded at the mayor with significantly less enthusiasm. "Fantastic! Amazing! If only I had been there myself! It would have been an amazing experience!"
"I doubt that very much, Dad," Tucker said matter-of-factly.
Mayor Foley, Tucker's father, grinned. "I suppose you're right. Wait, Tucker, don't tell me you got mixed up in all this too! Son, what have I told you about ghost atta- er, appearances?"
"To run the other way, which is what I did. I ran to call for help for Danny."
Mayor Foley beamed at his son. "Spectacular! But I'm sure your mother is worried sick about you, so why don't you run on home? Better yet, take the limo. I'll call for it later after I'm done here."
Tucker nodded and waved goodbye to his friends as he headed for his ride. Mr. Foley turned his attention back to the Nasty Burger. "Think of it. Average, everyday citizens have out-of-this-world adventures on a daily basis! Maybe we'll see a spike in our housing industry as well! Like another gold rush, but with ghosts!"
Danny shifted his weight uncomfortably. His father had been overjoyed to find someone else as enthusiastic about the paranormal as he was, but Mayor Foley often overlooked the very real danger that these paranormal appearances presented. To him, these ghosts were vote magnets. A mayor presiding over a term that brings in massive amounts of revenue in a shaky economy is sure to get reelected. Danny had to wonder if Tucker's father was even the least bit concerned for public safety. He could practically see the cartoonish dollar signs in the mayor's eyes as he looked at the Nasty Burger.
"Well this has been a long day for all of us, Mr. Mayor, so if you don't mind, I'd like to get Danny home and away from all this…" Jack waved his arm at the burger joint and swarm of police cars to finish his sentence.
"Certainly, certainly, it's no problem and please, call me Maurice. Oh, one more thing, Jack, don't worry about footing the bill on the expenses; I'll take care of it. Lord knows we have enough to cover it and with the projected influx of funds from tourism, future ghost atta- uh, appearances won't even make a dent in the city's budget!"
Jack ushered Danny and Sam away quietly just as Mayor Foley found someone else to quote projections to. "What a guy, huh? He's really getting people interested in our field of work. He sure has my vote!"
Even though it had only been roughly two hours since school ended, Danny felt exhausted. He did not share his father's enthusiasm, but decided he could worry about it later. The ride to Sam's house was quiet. Danny was worn out and couldn't think of anything to say. He knew Sam was silently fuming about the condition of her hair, but she was probably dreading the conversation with her parents more. She still hadn't had a chance to tell them about her lackluster grade on her paper, and coupled with her recent ghost escapade, Danny feared his friend would be in a heap of trouble.
Nevertheless, Sam was dropped off at her house and into the waiting embrace of Pamela, her mother and Jeremy, her father. From the few times he had been to Sam's house, Danny knew that her mother would not be angry that Sam's friends had gotten her into another slimy mess. Pamela seemed to approve of Danny, not so much Sam's budding interest in Gothic fashion. Jeremy was a different story entirely. He held Danny in very low esteem because of his parents' profession, and because he hoped that Sam would be making more girl friends. Strangely enough he encouraged his daughter's curiosity and most of Sam's Gothic wardrobe had been paid for by her father. Danny had never known two more opposite people to be married to each other.
Danny's father drove away after dropping Sam off, not wanting to get into an argument with Jeremy Manson. Sam and Danny's fathers never saw eye-to-eye, putting it lightly.
"Still holding up ok, Son?"
"Yeah, I think so. My chest is still sore, but I'm breathing a lot better now."
"Good, good. And good job on your paper! I was worried you might have lost some points for not going into detail about the Masters Theory on spectral anomalies, but I guess Mr. Lancer isn't as well versed in the topic as your mother and I."
Danny turned in his seat to face his dad. "You actually read my paper?"
"The morning you were going to bring it in, you left it on the kitchen table. I read it before you woke up. And you got an A! I'm so proud!"
See? I knew it! I knew they really cared! … Sometimes I wish I had someone to talk to in here. Hello? Echo, echo, echo! Danny sighed and thought about what he was going to do when he got home. Should he take Tucker and Sam's suggestion and try to see what was going on inside the Ghost Portal? He made the quick decision not to. Last time I listened to Sam, I got punched in the face by Dash. I'm not going to make that mistake again... I really need to stop talking to myself. Danny thought about what sort of strange things could exist in another dimension before his eyes flickered shut. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Sam might have a point, what's the worst that could happen? And with that, he fell asleep.
"Dash, come on!" Danny said tiredly. "Give it back!"
"You gotta jump for it, Fen-toad!" the blonde teen said while laughing.
Danny made another desperate attempt to grab his book bag away from his daily tormentor, but he couldn't jump to save his life. "This is really funny, Dash. Now please just give me my book bag back."
While he might not have known when to keep quiet, Danny was not particularly gifted at coming up with threats.
"That's what I thought, wimp." Dash tossed Danny's book bag on top of his locker; a height that would be physically impossible for him to get to. Dash paused as the bell rung out, signaling that everyone should have been out of the halls and in their classrooms. "Have fun in detention, Danielle!"
"Well, crap," the boy mumbled under his breath. "This is just fantastic!"
"Danny!" called a familiar voice.
Danny turned to see his muscular English teacher, Mr. Lancer, stride down the hallway toward him. "Mr. Lancer! Uh, How's it going?"
"Shouldn't you be in my class right now, young man?"
"I would be in your class right now, but I'm having a bit of a problem getting my book bag."
"How did that get up there?" the teacher asked as he grabbed the bag and handed it to the student.
Danny hesitated, not wanting to start his reputation as a snitch.
"Did your esteemed colleague Mr. Baxter do this?" Danny grinned and nodded. "How unsurprising. Now, I do believe you have my class to attend?"
"Right," Danny muttered embarrassed. "Sorry."
"You don't have to be sorry, Daniel," Lancer said. "If Dash persistently bothers you, please don't hesitate to see me or anyone else about it. Believe it or not, we are here to help."
Danny didn't reveal to Mr. Lancer that Dash would probably go out of his way to wail more than usual on him if he knew Danny was buddy-buddy with the teachers. The two made their way to the room they both were supposed to be in.
"So, Fen-turd finally decided to join us?" Dash asked loudly.
The kids who sat closest to Dash laughed at Danny until Lancer trailed into the room behind him. Any laughter ceased immediately.
"Mr. Baxter! So glad you'll be joining your other friends in detention today."
Dash muttered under his breath what Danny could only think to be death threats and promises of beatings. Danny shuddered.
"Now, if you would kindly take out your homework from last night."
Danny already had his out on his desk. He wasn't worried about anything more Lancer had to say, since he was positive all his answers were right. Tucker cast him a worried look, but Danny waved it off, trying to focus on the class he lucky to be in without a tardy. It didn't matter if he, or anyone else for that matter, had gotten to class on time; nobody was going to learn much.
Gliding through the air as if it was water, the ghost squid swiftly and invisibly made its way to Casper High School. After phasing through the roof, it began to search for its secondary target again. Its mysterious, shadowy "employer" had been pleased with the results of the previous day and desired another test. The squid wasn't sure why itcouldn't simply eat the secondary target, but it did not want to chance angering the shadowy ghost. The fleshy humans were plentiful in this dimension; it would be easy to find another one to devour once its mission was complete. Setting thoughts of food aside, the squid continued its hunt.
Mr. Lancer waited for his students to finish taking notes with patience. He was about ready to move onto the second part of his lecture when he felt the temperature in the room drop dramatically. The teacher looked around; trying to find what could have caused the temperature change when a horrible smell hit his nostrils. It was like dead, rotten fish and salt water.
"Who did that?" a student asked, prompting the subtle laughter of his fellow classmates.
Had Mr. Lancer been paying attention to Danny Fenton and Tucker Foley, he would have noticed that neither of them was laughing. They had both turned several shades paler and their eyes might as well have rolled out of their sockets. "GHOS-" before Danny could finish shouting the word; he was grabbed by a familiar tentacle appendage and thrown across the room, slamming into the chalkboard.
The squid ascended through the floor and shrieked loudly. Everyone covered their ears and screamed, trying to get out of the room. The class was in panic, screaming and shouting and fighting their way to the door. He raced to get there before everyone and kicked it open, breaking the locking mechanism and leaving an indent on the wall where the doorknob crashed into the drywall. He stumbled out of the room, followed by the stampede of students who were running for their lives. Lancer stepped back into the room to find Tucker fighting off tentacles while trying to reach an unconscious Danny.
"Tucker!" the teacher called out to the boy.
"What!" Tucker shouted back as his hat was smacked of his head.
"What's Danny's phone number?"
Tucker looked at the man in confusion before his face lit up. Apparently he wasn't very quick under pressure."555-1221!"
Lancer whipped out his cell phone and quickly dialed the number; thankful he got it right on the first try. The phone rang several times before someone picked up the on the other end.
"Hello?" askedMaddie Fenton in a cheerful tone.
"Mrs. Fenton? This is Mr. Lancer, Danny's English teacher." Mr. Lancer tried to sound as calm as possible, given the situation. He made several attempts to go back into the room to save his students, but each time he was swatted away by a tentacle.
"Oh, hello! What can I do for you?"
"A large ghost is attacking the school! AHH!" Lancer ducked out of the way as a stray tentacle smacked into the wall not two inches away from his head. "It's in the building and Danny's been injured!"
"We're on our way-" Danny's mother was cut off when a tentacle smacked into Lancer's hand, sending the phone into a locker.
"Webster's Dictionary! I still had two payments left on that thing!" he roared. He was about to charge into the room when he saw Sam running down the hall towards him.
"Mr. Lancer!" Sam called out. "What's going on?"
"Danny and Tucker are in there," Lancer pointed into his classroom. "The Fentons are on the way and I'm trying to help until they show up."
Sam looked into the room and stepped away when she saw the squid, thrashing about like the monster it was. She opened her mouth to speak, but a tentacle darted out of the room, wrapped itself around her long hair and yanked her into the room as well.
Lancer looked down the hall to his left and right, making sure nobody was going to run up to him and start yelling. He took a deep breath and leapt into the room. Or he would have, if the Fentons didn't beat him to it.
"Looks like we're having calamari tonight, Maddie!" Jack Fenton shouted as he fired his laser rifle at the cephalopod. Most of his shots went wide and caused more damage to the chalkboard than to the squid. Maddie held her hand out and Jack, with a disgruntled look on his face, handed her the weapon. She took aim and fired, doing much more damage to the squid than Jack.
Lancer, not wanting to look like a dumbfounded observant, pulled a pocketknife out of his pocket and leapt into the room. While he was sure the students would object to his carrying the thing, Lancer used it exclusively to help the cafeteria ladies open cans of food whenever they needed help. Making his way past thrashing arms and tentacles, the teacher finally reached Sam, whose eyes were watering badly.
"Get this #$%ing squid &*#%!^ off of my hair!" she cried. Lancer was taken aback by her language. She was always such a quiet and polite girl in class.
Making a mental not to give Sam detention for foul language, Lancer knelt down next to Sam and extended the blade. He knew full well that the tiny blade wouldn't do much more than anger the squid, so Lancer instead cut Sam's hair off just above the tentacle's reach. It was a surprisingly even cut, but the rampaging ghost in the classroom left little time for either human to admire the handiwork. Sam managed to get out of the class, dodging the squid's thrashing appendages as she went. Once he knew she was safely out of harm's way, Lancer maneuvered over to Tucker's location. "Are you alright, Tucker?"
"I'm fine!" Tucker shouted. It was hard to hear over the Fentons' screaming, the squid's howling and the constant discharge of laser weaponry. "This desk isn't going to hold out much longer, though!" Tucker had been fending off one of the fiendish appendages with a broken-off seat of a desk. At the same time, he had been inching closer and closer to his beret, trying to reclaim it.
Spying a splintered desk leg, Lancer thought of a plan. "Tucker, are you on the track and field team?"
"Pity," Lancer grabbed the makeshift spear and flung it at the squid's eye like a javelin. Lancer himself was no track and field star, but the splintered end of the desk leg stabbed into the blue flesh of the ghost just below its eye. Close enough. The squid roared in pain and its tentacles thrashed wildly without direction. "Come on," Lancer grabbed Tucker's beret and slapped it on the boy's head, "let's get out of here!"
The two leapt over and ducked under the enraged squid's appendages and finally made it out of the room. Lancer, Sam, and Tucker anxiously waited for the Fentons in the hall. Jack, wielding what looked like an axe with a glowing green blade, stormed through the mess of tentacles. His axe sliced through any that got in his way. Lancer could see Danny slung unceremoniously over his father's shoulder. Maddie followed close behind, firing her laser weapons into the beast.
Once everyone was safely out of the room, Jack pulled out a spherical device from one of the pouches on his belt. It was silver with green stripes and had a pin at the top. Jack's large finger pulled the pin out and he tossed it into the room, closing the door after it.
Everyone was sent crashing into the lockers when the anti-ghost grenade exploded. The squid howled in pain as it was blasted through the ceiling and into the sky.
"HA!" Jack shouted after the dust had settled. "I knew those grenades would come in handy!"
"Well, I, for one am grateful for your timely arrival. The principal might not be as enthusiastic, about the damages, though." Lancer kicked a piece of drywall away from him. "How did you get here so fast?"
"We were actually trailing that very same ghost," Maddie explained. "After it attacked Danny, we thought it might try again. Looks like we were right." She rested her hand on her son's face. He was still unconscious. "If only we'd gotten here sooner…"
"Nonsense, you got here just in time! I hate to think what could have happened if you had arrived any later than you did," Lancer offered. "Although I can imagine you'll have some serious explaining to do. The government doesn't exactly condone weapons being used in its schools."
"I wouldn't worry about that, I'm sure this will become just another tourist attraction," Maddie mumbled. She suddenly noticed Tucker. "Oh, I'm sorry, Tucker, I-"
"No, it's fine. He's probably on his way here right now with more projections and whatnot." Even though the mayor was his father, Tucker held similar views to the Fentons. His father'sdesire for votes often overrode his common sense.
"You all better get to the gym or wherever they have you go during one of these attacks," Jack said soberly. "We'll go meet the police."
Nobody had any complaints. Lancer led Sam and Tucker down one hall while the Fentons went the other way. He stopped to scoop up his phone, which was indeed broken. The other students had already gathered in the gym. Lancer noticed some of them were being attended to by paramedics.
"What happened here?" Lancer asked one of the men.
"Kids say some kind of monster showed up and started trashing the place-"
"No, I meant what happened to these students?"
"The monster thing, I think it shot up through one of the classroom floors. Some of the kids were knocked around, nothing serious."
So it wasn't Jack Fenton's grenade that hurt these other students. Lancer breathed a sigh of relief. They already had enough on their plate. Sam and Tucker and the rest of the students were soon released from the building for the remainder of the day. Mr. Lancer hoped Danny was doing better. He would have hated to see anything worse happen to one of his most promising students.
"Did you see when he threw that desk leg?! That was insane!"
"I know, right? And when he was dodging those tentacles and doing all sorts of crazy kung fu moves, I think he kicked one of the arms off!"
Sam sat on one arm of the L-shaped couch in the Fenton living room while Danny and Tucker sat on the other. Once the students of Casper High had been dismissed, Sam and Tucker insisted on visiting Danny. He was conscious, but still a little woozy from the incident. Despite his condition, Sam and Tucker couldn't help but regale him with their stories about seeing Mr. Lancer in action against the ghost. He was like one of the characters from an action movie. Tucker insisted Mr. Lancer actually starred in one of those movies, although he conveniently forgot the name of the film.
"You know, Lancer could have gotten a job as hair stylist; he did this in one swipe. With a pocket knife!" Sam played with her hair, which was now shoulder length. The swipe was mostly even, but her parents would insist on having her go to a stylist to make sure it was perfect.
"I'm gonna have to make a note to never tick him off," Tucker said. "If he carries a knife with him, you know."
"I don't think Lancer's gonna stab you if you're late for class, Tucker," Sam said patronizingly. "And he won't get the chance for another week while they're assessing the damage done to the school anyway. In the meantime," Sam said while her gaze settled on the kitchen. Danny and Tucker knew what she really meant though. She was thinking about the portal.
Danny sighed. "They redid every calculation at least three times," he began. "They even sent the math to college professors all over the country. Every reply they've gotten so far says that the calculations are correct."
"So what does that mean?" Sam asked.
"If the calculations are right, but the machine doesn't work, that means the other dimension – the Ghost Zone – doesn't exist, which means that their lives' work was all for nothing." Neither of Danny's friends knew what to say, so they didn't say anything. Danny had only regained consciousness several hours ago. Having to deal with that trauma on top of this newest depressing development was a lot to take. "And I really hate to see them like this," Danny continued. "So Sam, Tucker," Danny stood from his seat. Crumbs fell from his shirt onto the floor, adding to the mess. "Prepare for Operation: Turn On."
Tucker elbowed him. "Mmhmm?"
"No, not like that, I mean turn on like activate. Operation: Activate!" He was met with blank stares. Danny frowned. "I'm going to see if I can't turn on the portal."
Now he had their attention. The two raced down into the lab ahead of Danny, Tucker heading for the locker with the lab coats and Sam for the hazmat suit locker. In all the excitement, Tucker wound up tripping over Sam's shoe on the way down the last few stairs. Both teens cried out either in surprise or pain and fell, tumbling down the last few steps. Danny hopped over them and grabbed his suit for himself. "Stop fooling around, guys. Let's get serious."
Tucker limped over to the locker with the lab coats and threw one on. Sam handed him a datapad that was linked into the Fenton's wireless mainframe. It showed the readings for the machine. Everything looked to be in order. That meaning nothing was happening. Danny, sporting the appropriate safety gear, took a deep breath.
"Alright, here goes everything," Danny stepped into the portal . . . and started convulsing.
"Oh my GOD! DANNY!" Sam shrieked.
"DUDE!" Tucker lunged for the power cables, thinking that he could save his friend if the power was stopped.
Practical jokes were never Danny's forte. His usually wound up being unimpressive. Judging by the looks on his friends' faces, he knew he had got them this time. "Oh, you guys should've seen the looks on your faces!" Danny laughed. While he was reveling in his victory, he failed to notice Sam as she picked up something that looked like an ordinary hammer. It was an ordinary hammer. Being hit in the face by an ordinary hammer hurts extraordinarily. Danny yelped in pain as the cold metal head of the tool grazed his head. "What the heck is wrong with you? You could've killed me! And I was just knocked unconscious earlier today!"
"Oh, so if I throw a hammer at you, it's wrong, but if you pretend to die in a horrible electrical accident in some crazy extra-dimensional portal, it's fine?"
"Ok, I'm sorry, but a fricking hammer? What if the spiky part hit me in the face and killed me?"
"Don't be a baby. And you might want to go get that thing, it landed in the portal."
Danny looked into the cavernous device. Sure enough, he could see light reflecting off the hammer's metal head. "Why me? You threw it!"
"And you scared me half to death! You know what that's like, being half dead?"
Danny rolled his eyes and cautiously stepped back into the portal. He did not pretend to convulse this time. Instead, he carefully stepped over wires and support beams until he found the tool lying on the ground. "Found it. Oh no! The hammer is haunted! Beware the haunted hammer of the Fenton Manor! OOOoooh!" He tossed the hammer out of the portal, but received no reaction from his friends.
"You ever hear the story about the boy who cried wolf?" Tucker shouted into the portal.
"I heard the story of the boy who cried ghost. My parents kinda twisted all the normal childhood stories."
"Still, the same principles apply. You get hurt for real, we might not believe ya."
"Yeah, whatever." Danny mumbled. His eyes followed a winding collection of wires that lay on the floor like a sleeping snake. The thought brought up memories of the squid tentacle and Danny shuddered. But his eyes continued to follow the cables until they stopped. The wires led into a box located on the inside of the portal. The box had the usual yellow and black diagonally striped sticker to alert viewers of its dangerousness. Dead in the center was a shiny red button. "You have got to be kidding me. This is . . . totally not surprising."
"What did you find? A manual on how not to be a complete ass?"
"Ha ha, no, Sam. I think I found the activation button. My dad must've put it on the inside of the portal and forgot about it."
"He did what?"
"I know; it's ridiculous. Let me just hit this thing and-"
"Dude, wait! Don't touch it!"
"…Uh, too late?"
"Get out of there now!" Tucker bellowed. "You didn't disconnect the power source before you turned the machine on!"
"I don't know, Tuck, I don't see any- wait, what the heck is- AHHHHHHHHHH!"
A dull green light illuminated the furthest recesses of the portal. It suddenly expanded, growing brighter and larger until it had filled the entire expanse of the archway. Raw ectoplasm oozed out from the sides and floor of the portal, dripping down to the floor. Danny's silhouette could be seen inside, grabbing at his head as his hair was blown wildly about by the now swirling vortex. He fell to his knees and let loose an earsplitting howl of pain as raw ectoplasm charged with thousands of volts of electricity surged over and through his body. The strange green substance fused with his hazmat suit, inverting the color. Danny's hair changed from a shade that could rival a starless night sky to a color that would make even the purest snow seem tainted. His eyes slowly turned from their oceanic deep blue to bright, piercing neon green. Danny felt as if his insides were moving about and experienced a strong sense of vertigo.
The blast from the Ghost Portal activating slowly subsided and Danny stumbled out of it. Green ectoplasm dripped off of him as though it was water. He looked at his friends and saw their worried faces before everything went black.
The boy turned in the direction of the familiar voice, but couldn't see it. He couldn't see anything. The voice called his name again, but he still was in total darkness.
"Sam! Tucker! Where are you?" Danny looked around in the darkness. "Where am I?"
"You're safe, Daniel," said a new, unfamiliar voice.
Danny spun about and came face-to-facewith what looked like a man no older than his mid-twenties. Save for the dark grey hood, the gear clip that held it together and the deep blue skin, he wouldn't have worried. And there was that scar . . .
"Wh-who are you?" Danny asked nervously.
"A friend, Daniel. You're safe, and that is what matters."
"Am I dead?"
"No, but I'm sure you'll come up with an amusing explanation on your own time."
"What happened to me?"
"You'll find out. And don't worry, everything's fine. Everything's the way it's supposed to be."
The face faded from existence and Danny frantically looked around. Despite its mysteriousness and unfamiliarity, the figure had presented a sense of calm. Now it was gone, and Danny didn't know what to do.
"Danny, wake up!"
Danny's eyes snapped open. He looked into the startled faces of Sam and Tucker.
"Holy crap, dude, you scared us!"
"Again?" Danny asked tiredly with a half smile.
Sam wound up her arm as if to slug him in the shoulder, but slowly lowered it. "Again implies you actually scared me the first time." Danny saw the corner of her mouth turn up into a half-grin, but the rest of her face betrayed her concern.
"Sam, you might want to step back," Tucker warned. "I'm not sure it's entirely safe."
"What are you talking about, Tucker?" Danny asked worriedly as Sam backed away. "What's not entirely safe?"
"I think it's best if you saw for yourself," Tucker said solemnly, motioning to the mirror on the wall.
Danny shot up and nearly flew over to the mirror. He would discover later that he had, indeed, flown. Danny pressed his hands on either side of the glass and looked at the boy staring back at him. It couldn't have been his reflection. Danny knew what he looked like; suffice to say he was pleased with his features. The person staring back at him wasn't him. The white hair was not his own. The glowing green eyes were out of place, and the hazmat suit he had put on was almost the opposite of the one the person in the mirror was wearing.
It wasn't until Danny finally looked at his own hand pressed against the wall did he realize that the person in the mirror might actually be him. The gloves on his hands were white instead of black. The rest of his hazmat suit seemed to have switched colors as well. It was almost completely black. The boots, waist strap, collar and gloves were now white.
He looked in the mirror again. Could it be? Danny brought a hand to his forehead, trying to clear his mind when he saw an eerie glow settle on the white material. He pulled his hand away from his face and the glow faded. He brought it back and it appeared again. The glow was coming from his eyes. The person in the mirror was Daniel James Fenton, or some horrible, twisted, ghostly version of him.
"Guys . . . what the heck…?"
"We were gonna ask you the same thing."
Danny looked down at himself. "I . . . I'm a ghost?"
"I don't know, dude," Tucker said. Tucker's lack of jokes and Sam's lack of hostility made Danny even more worried. If his friends weren't acting like their usual selves, something really was wrong.
Danny didn't want to be a ghost. He wanted to be normal. How could his parents love him if he was a ghost? They couldn't. Danny knew that. He'd be torn apart molecule by molecule and disowned, maybe even in that order. He wanted his parents to be proud that he activated the Ghost Portal, not repulsed by the price he had paid. Tears began to form in his eyes. Danny would give anything to be human.
As if responding to his desperate emotions, a glowing silver ring with a bright green tint appeared at his waist. It split in two and each one sped away from the other, passing over Danny's body vertically. Danny looked down in horror as they appeared, but watched with fascination as they transformed him back into his human self. Danny was relieved by the transformation, and the rings dissipated above his head and at his feet once they were finished. He felt normal again. He was human again.
"Whoa! Danny, that was… awesome!" Sam exclaimed. "Do it again!"
"Are you serious? Did you see what just happened to me? I was a… ghost!" Danny leaned back against the wall and slid down into a sitting position. "Does that mean I'm dead? Am I some kind of zombie or… what happened to me?!"
Tucker took a seat next to his friend. "Calm down, dude. Do you feel dead?"
"What?" Danny looked at his friend in confusion. "No, how would I-"
"Well you don't look dead. You look exactly the same. Tell him, Sam."
"Hmm?" Sam had been staring at Danny, for what reason the boy couldn't tell. "Oh yeah, he looks fine. Nothing out of place. Er, wait. Where'd the hazmat suit go?"
Danny looked down at his body. Sure enough, the hazmat suit was gone. Fortunately the same couldn't be said for his regular clothes. "Oh man, oh man, this is not good."
"We can worry about that later," Tucker stated. "Listen, you're going to be fine. You know what that was? It was a fluke, a freak occurrence. You got zapped by supercharged energy from another dimension, and when you stepped out of the portal, it dissipated. That's why you changed back to normal, the energy dispersed or something."
"And," Sam added, "since you were wearing the hazmat suit on the outside, it got charged up too. Once the energy dislocated-"
"Bite me. Once it dissipated, your suit just faded away."
"Come on, dude," Tucker lightly punched Danny's knee. "Tell me that doesn't make perfect sense. Go ahead, lie."
Truth be told, it did make perfect sense. "I just hope you guys are right. I never want to go through that again."
"Well now that Casper the Fumbling Doofus is back to normal, check out the portal!" Tucker pointed to the machine. Instead of an empty space in the wall, there was now a swirling mass of green ectoplasm. Beyond the veil, Danny could just make out movement and shapes. "You did it, dude! You actually busted open a door into another dimension!"
"I did? I did! Me, Danny Fenton! ... Oh man, I'm becoming my dad."
"Speaking of which, you better go call them and let them know what's up."
The Fentons were out grocery shopping. Jack only went along to read the comics. Danny rushed upstairs to make the call, leaving Sam and Tucker alone in the basement.
"You think we should tell his parents?" Sam asked. "I know he's not going to do it."
"Are you kidding? You know what they do to the things they capture! They might hurt Danny, or worse. No, we don't tell anyone under any circumstances. If Danny wants to tell his parents what happened then that's his decision to make."
"Alright." Sam leaned against the table and looked down at the hammer she had thrown at Danny. It was lying on the floor, forgotten in all the commotion. "I can't help but shake this feeling that we just got in way over our heads in something… big."
Tucker's eyes were wider than they'd ever been. Sam followed his gaze to the portal. Just on the other side, a massive creature was slowly floating past the doorway. Its shadow plunged the lab into darkness. "I think you're right," Tucker whispered.
ONE WEEK LATER…
Danny looked to his left and then to his right before pressing his hand up against his locker. He focused on reaching the other side and, sure enough, his hand passed right through the locker door. He felt around and managed to grab the book he needed and recalled his handalong with his English book.
The night after the accident, Danny had fallen through his bed, his bedroom floor, the first story of his house, and wound up in the lab. There was no denying it then. Tucker and Sam's assumptions about his accident in the portal were wrong. He was able to turn intangible and pass through solid objects. Danny was quite sure he wasn't able to do that before the accident. From what he could figure, he had some kind of ghostly superpower. It was exciting, but it was also terrifying. They boy decided that night that he would master this new power of intangibility if only to prevent him from losing control and revealing his inhuman powers in public.
His tests had varying levels of success. For example, his attempt to grab his book through his locker was successful, but his hand was still in its luminescent intangible state. Danny stifled a nervous cry and willed his hand to become tangible, which it did. The boy sighed and made his way to Mr. Lancer's class, the last one of the day.
He managed to get into the room just before the bell rang. Mr. Lancer gave him a nod of acknowledgement before standing from his chair. "Everyone, please take out your books and turn to page one hundred and sixty three," he instructed.
Danny paid attention to the lecture, writing down pivotal parts in the lesson and mentally taking note of the lesser aspects. Danny felt a chill run up his spine and nearly sneezed as a stream of green mist emerged from his nostrils. Another power? The thought did not make Danny any calmer. He covered his nose and tried to pretend that nothing was wrong. Unfortunately, the stream of green mist escaped his nostrils every twenty seconds. He wouldn't be able to keep it under cover for much longer.
Danny waited until the next stream of green mist exited his nose and hurried for the front of the class. He grabbed several Kleenexes and held them over his face.
"Is there a problem, Mr. Fenton?" Mr. Lancer asked.
"Uh, I have a nosebleed," Danny lied. "Can I go to the bathroom?"
Danny rushed out of the classroom just as another stream of the green mist escaped his nose. "Alright," he said to himself after he reached the bathroom. "What's going on?"
Suddenly, the temperature in the restroom dropped. The all too familiar stench of rotting fish and seawater assaulted his nose, which spewed more of the green mist.
"Crap," Danny muttered as the ecto-squid rose up through the floor.
It was still the same dark blue color with the glowing eye. It still was missing the tip off of one of its tentacles. It was still only seven feet tall from its beak to the tip of its head. It still had thirteen feet of deadly accurate and powerful tentacles and arms. Danny was still frightened, even in this third encounter.
The squid blinked at Danny, not moving a single noodly appendage. Danny didn't dare move any of his appendages, which coincidentally felt like noodles as well. The two stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. Danny was no expert on squids or ghosts or any combination thereof, but the way the creature looked at him, it was as though the squid was sizing him up. Could it sense Danny's powers? Before Danny could carry that line of thought any further the squid fell through the floor and disappeared into the ground.
"What was that all about?" Danny whispered.
"Why don't you tell me?" asked someone from his class, standing in the doorway and pinching his nose shut. "What is your mother feeding you?" he asked, laughing before walking away.
Danny turned his attention to the floor where the squid had vanished. It hadn't attacked him, so he was glad for that. The urge to sneeze up green mist was gone, so that made him happy as well. He didn't have to use his powers, so his mood improved again. Maybe the squid was trying to tell Danny goodbye. He knew it was unlikely, but the thought amused him. The boy made his way back to the English room and resumed taking notes. Much to his enjoyment, the rest of the day passed by without incident. The next day, however, would not be nearly as boring.
Danny entered the building the day following his encounter with the squid in the bathroom to find Tucker in a particularly bad mood. Before Danny could even ask what was wrong, Tucker pointed to a sign on the bulletin board.
Student Notice: For the remainder of the month, Casper High School will be serving a vegetarian menu designed to maximize student health.
The rest of the notice talked about the advantages of eating a vegetarian diet as opposed to meat. Someone had scribbled beneath the note.
PLEASE REMAIN CALM, THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY.
The message written beneath the notice looked suspiciously like Mr. Lancer's handwriting.
"Wow, how about that. When did they decide this was a good idea?"
"Oh, about the same time Sam brought it up to the school board."
"Brought what up, Tuck?" Sam had just rounded the corner and joined her friends outside their homeroom. "Oh, the new menu! Nice, huh? I can't believe they took my suggestion!"
"Of course they took your suggestion; your parents give this school more money than every other donor combined. Why else would they listen to such a half-baked idea?"
"Oh stop, Tucker" Sam rolled her eyes. "They're just trying something new."
"Sam, if I wanted to eat grass, I would have been born a cow. Do I look like a cow to you?"
"Ok, first of all, it isn't grass; it's an ultra-recyclo vegetarian blend of various plants and other vegetarian options. Secondly, if you don't like it, then pack your lunch! Bring meat to school; nobody's stopping you from doing that!"
Tucker was about to retort, but Sam actually made sense. "Alright, maybe I will! And you won't get any of it!"
"Yeah, as if!"
The bell rang, and the dueling duo dropped their disagreement for the moment and hurried off to their homeroom. Danny shook his head and followed Tucker. Today was going to be a long day.
Jack Fenton stood from his foldout chair that was placed directly in front of the Ghost Portal. He stretched his back and yawned, tired from a long day of fishing for ghosts. He headed up the stairs with the intention of beating his wife . . . in a game of checkers.
Had Jack Fenton remained in the Ghost Portal, he would have discovered that it, indeed, did more than just swirl about all day. A green-skinned head poked through the swirling vortex, taking in its immediate surroundings. The top of the head was covered by a hairnet and was attached to a short, stout body of a middle-aged woman. The ghost hovered over the floor, dressed in a bright pink sweater, green pants and a faded white apron. She looked like she had once worked in a hospital kitchen, not at a school. Attached to her belt were a wide variety of knives, each one dimly glowing. The ghost brought her yellow-gloved hand up to her chin and scratched the green skin.
"Somebody changed the menu . . ." The Lunch Lady said in an interested voice. "Now why would they do that?"
She floated up through the building and flew off towards the source of her frustration.
Danny entered the cafeteria during the lunch period with a distracted look on his face. His pants had turned intangible and had almost fallen down in the hallway on his way to the lunch room. The thought of lunch reminded him of the situation with his friends. He didn't know what to expect, but now that Tucker had time to focus on being angry, he was likely in the same irritable mood that he had been in earlier that morning. He finally spied his friends and breathed a sigh of relief. Tucker sat with his head in his arms while Sam happily ate her salad. Danny made his way over to the table and sat down opposite Tucker.
"Hi Danny!" Sam said cheerily.
"Hey Sam. How's Tucker doing?"
"Don't talk about me like I'm not here!" Tucker groaned. He stood from the table and lazily plodded out of the cafeteria.
"Well he's in a better mood than I thought. I was worried, for a second I thought he might fly off in a homicidal rage and try to kill you."
"Not that I care or anything, but this menu change is totally your fault. And now he's suffering from meat withdrawal. Why do you do these things to him?"
His response was a swift elbow to the shoulder. Sam was either unaware or did not care that she was actually quite strong. Danny rubbed the afflicted area tenderly. "So how does your ultra-recycled-last-week's-salad taste?"
"It's weird, it tastes just like the regular stuff. Not better, not worse, just the same."
"Maybe that's because it's garbage! And garbage, no matter what dumpster you eat it from, is still garbage!" Dash's shrill complaining voice was very, very irritating. It was also startling, seeing as how the large young man had somehow stormed over to his smaller classmates without any of them knowing.
"It's not garbage, it's-"
"Whatever! Since this is your girlfriend's fault, Fentonowski, I want you to eat it!"
"She's not my- look, I just- I don't understand, you see something wrong with the world… and I'm the only one that should be punished because of it!" Danny protested.
"Punished?" Sam looked at Danny with a raised eyebrow. "What's so bad about eating this stuff?"
"Yeah, Fen-toe-nail, and why didn't you get any of it when you got here? Something the matter with it?"
"Mr. Baxter, is there something the matter with you?" Dash looked over his shoulder and saw Mr. Lancer as the man headed for the door. "Have a seat before I get Principal Ishiyama in here."
Dash scowled at Danny before heading off for his own table. Danny was trying to conjure up some kind of defense against what would be Sam's barrage of questions, but something stopped him. A sneeze forced its way out of Danny's nose and sprayed Sam's lunch with a green mist.
She was ready to slug her friend again, but stopped once she realized the mist was faintly glowing. "What is that?"
"I don't know, it went off before when that squid was in the bathroom earlier, but it hasn't gone off since then."
"Maybe it's a sign that there are ghosts around?" Sam guessed.
"Maybe," Danny replied.
He looked around the large room trying to see if there was a visible source. There was no temperature drop and no rotting fish smell, so he was pretty sure that the squid wasn't in the area, but as the mist emerged from his nostrils again, he was sure that there was some other ghost involved.
"If you're right, then this is a way for me to sense ghosts in the area," Danny whispered. "I think there might be one somewhere around here. Sit tight; I'm gonna go check it out. And if you see anything, get out of here as fast as you can."
The Lunch Lady phased through the wall of the Casper High kitchen. She looked around at the still-living lunch ladies that were busy passing salads out to distraught students, and then looked through boxes of food, only to find more salads and vegetarian related food items. "Where's all the meat?" she asked.
One of the lunch ladies, who assumed she was new, didn't even glance back at her as she replied, "Took meat off the menu."
The Lunch Lady froze. No meat? How would the poor children get their protein? Meat is, without a doubt, the healthiest and tastiest food group. Why remove it?
"When is it coming back?" the Lunch Lady asked.
"End of the month," replied the same old lady who had answered her the first time.
The Lunch Lady hovered off the ground. A month? The children would have starved to death by then! Her hairnet was blown off her head by a spectral breeze. Her white hair flowed around her in a circular motion.
"No MEAT?" Her voice was now deep and thundered with hatred.
Everyone in the kitchen screamed and fled as the students stood, rooted to the spot as the ghost rose higher into the air.
"WHERE IS THE MEAT?" she demanded.
The students failed to respond, so they were knocked to the floor by gusts of wind.
"THERE MUST BE MEAT! MEAT IS ESSENTIAL!"
By now the cafeteria was in chaos. Students were panicking, scrambling over one another trying to get to the doors while others were paralyzed in their seats, too stupefied to move.
It took a larger gust of wind – one that knocked down part of the kitchen wall – to get the other students moving. The ghost floated out of the kitchen. She used her powers to send titanium tray racks flying from the wall. Silverware flew in all directions, bouncing off of or sticking into students. One student hadn't dashed out of the cafeteria with the rest of the mob. The Lunch Lady, in her infinite rage, telekinetically sent an array of knives flying from her belt and straight for the girl's neck.
Danny was busy searching the halls for the ghost that was supposedly in the area when he heard what sounded like an explosion. He sprinted back to the cafeteria just in time to see the Lunch Lady's glowing knives dart through the air as if they were alive. Their target was Sam, the only person left in the cafeteria. Go figure.
"NO!" Danny cried out. He shot forward, thinking he could push Sam out of the way. His intense emotional feelings might have caused it. His adrenaline might have caused it. Whatever the reason, Danny Fenton felt the familiar silver, green-tinted rings form around his waist and travel up and down his body. The black and white jumpsuit replaced his wrinkled T-shirt and baggy blue jeans. Black hair and blue eyes were transformed to white and glowing green respectively. Danny's legs became a ghostly tail as he flew through the air.
Thanks to his timely transformation, Danny Fenton got in front of Sam before the knives did. Each one stabbed into Danny's stomach. Pain rippled through his midsection, causing Danny to fall to the ground. A bright green liquid seeped from the wounds. He pulled each individual knife from his abdomen and threw them to the floor, causing them to shatter.
"Sam, are you ok?" he asked.
The girl shook her head, like she was jostled out of a trance. "Danny? Is that you? What's-"
"No time, get out of here! I'll deal with this thing!"
"I SINCERELY DOUBT THAT, BOY"
Danny spun around in time to see the Lunch Lady's fist jab forward. The impact with his jaw sent him flying into the wall on the other side of the room just above the doors where the other students had fled through. Danny dropped from the indent he made in the wall and fell to the floor. He grimaced and struggled to get to his feet. Sam ran past him, having taken his advice.
Whatever this thing was, it was strong. Danny didn't have any experience fighting. Sure, he might have been able to taunt the ghost, but that wouldn't help him. This thing clearly wasn't Dash. The Lunch Lady swooped in for another attack, but Danny raised his hands in defeat. "Don't hurt me! I wasn't trying to hurt you! I was trying to save my friend!"
"YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN IN MY WAY."
"Fine, be a bully then! You already stabbed me in . . . the stomach?" Danny had forgotten all about the knife wounds in his abdomen. They were gone and not even scars remained.
"Bully? I'm not a bully!" The Lunch Lady's voice had lost its intimidating echo and overall ferocity. She looked like a simple, little old woman with no remarkable features. Of course, there was the whole green skin and levitation thing, which certainly wasn't normal."I just want to bring meat back to the menu!"
"Well I don't know where any meat is. You shouldn't try to kill kids because someone changed the menu."
"They didn't take meat off the menu?"
"No, well, not all of them. Sam did."
"The girl who just escaped through the door?"
"Yeah? Wait," Danny realized his mistake too late. Wind started blowing through the cafeteria again. Kitchen appliances began to float and crash into walls. "Oh man."
"THEN THE GIRL SHALL DIE FOR HER TRANSGRESSION!"
"Geeze, lady, it's only one cafeteria, there are like, millions of other ones out there, why don't you go to one of them if you want meat so bad?"
"AND I SHALL KILL YOU AS WELL, VEGAN COLLABORATOR!"
Danny looked up where all the appliances were gathering. This really was shaping up to be a really bad day.
"A ghost child?" asked the mysterious shadowed ghost. "It saved that Manson girl, you say? Interesting."
The squiduttered a series of incomprehensible noises and squishing noises. The shadowy ghost understood whatever the squid had just said. "That is an interesting observation. This ghost obviously cares about the Fenton child's friends enough to put his afterlife on the line for them."
The squid made more noises, followed by an eerily long silence.
"That ghost might be a useful tool I can use to protect the Fenton child. If he is injured or killed it would have dire consequences on his family. Since that means his entire family, his death could interfere with my plans."
The squid remained quiet, following the shadowy silhouette with its large purple eye.
"That irritable Lunch Lady might injure him. You must assist the child. Go now, time is of the essence!"
The shadow disappeared in a wisp of smoke as the squid took off, headed straight for the cafeteria of Casper High. It was anxious to attack the Lunch Lady. It still hadn't gotten over her calamari craze several years ago and was eager for some payback.
Danny was frantically searching for an escape when he sneezed. The green mist was sucked into the vortex of swirling appliances and quickly dissipated. He would have thought it was the Lunch Lady if it weren't for the temperature dropping lower than it was. The thought of a second ghost enemy horrified Danny. His fears were realized as the stench of rotten fish and seawaterassaulted his nose.
He whirled about and came face-to-eye with the squid. He heard a guttural screech emerge from the squid's beak as its arms shot out right into the Vortex of Doom as Danny referred to it in his mind. Arms and tentacles began batting away tables, trays and other appliances faster than what Danny though was physically possible. Within seconds, the vortex was reduced to a weak, indoor tornado.
The Lunch Lady stopped as she saw the ecto-squid floating next to the ghost child.
"So, you've returned for revenge? Very well. The menu today is NOT MEAT! WITH A SIDE OF DOOM!"
Danny dashed to his right as several knives sailed through the air and stabbed into the floor where he had been standing. He noticed that he was faster than before. More pointy-ended silverware flew at Danny, who dodged every successive utensil easily. This is awesome! And to think I'm always picked last in dodgeball! While he reveled in his newfound speed Danny failed to notice the Lunch Lady, who had gotten close enough to land a punch to the back of the boy's head. He saw stars the moment her fist connected with the back of his skull and was sent sprawling on the ground.
Danny rolled over on his back and prepared to counter, but saw that would not be necessary. The squid darted into the fray and squirted ink at the Lunch Lady, who wasn't fast enough to dodge it. She twitched in fury and humiliation as the thick black liquid dripped off of her. While she tried to clear the gunk from her eyes, the squid grabbed the Lunch Lady with two of its tentacles and slammed her through the floor. Danny marveled at the squids combat abilities, but was careful not to forget that his new ally had tried to kill him on two previous occasions.
Danny looked up at the squid. "Uh, thanks?" The squid made an exasperated huffing noise and flew down through the floor. "Hey, wait for me!"
Danny jumped into the air and found that he was floating. Normally, he would have been overjoyed but he was more focused on getting through the floor. He rushed at it- and smacked into the floor face first. "OW! That HURT!"
Danny rubbed his nose and concentrated harder, but to no avail. "Crud. Guess I'll use the hole then."
Before he could take one step, a tentacle sprung up from the ground and wrapped around his waist. Danny yelped in surprise as it made him intangible and yanked him through the floor and into the basement. Danny didn't even notice the boxes upon boxes of meat that were stored in this room. He also didn't notice the freezing temperature of this underground meat locker.
"You could've warned me you were going to do that," Danny complained, rubbing the back of his neck.
The squid huffed.
"Right. You can't talk. Ok then, I'm a ghost kid in a meat locker with a giant ghost squid looking for a crazy ghost lady who loves meat and can make tables move with her mind. Outrageous."
"NO, THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!"
Danny spun around, expecting to see the Lunch Lady floating there with a table or a knife ready to send at him. He wasn't expecting a large, reddish brown ogre.
"What the- what did you do?"
"I control meat, you fool! Why else would I be so hell-bent on finding it?"
"I don't know! I'm fourteen for crying out loud!"
The squid made an annoyed noise and sped towards the Lunch Lady. Danny decided to save flying for later and sprinted forward. His ally was already hacking at the meat ogre, but the Lunch Lady was adding more meat to her form faster than the squid could hack it away. Danny ran in close and punched the ogre in the stomach. He had no way to tell if he had enhanced strength to go along with his other ghostly abilities. When his punch sent the ogre stumbling back into a wall, he decided to add super strength to his impressive list of powers.
However, while his punch was much stronger than the average teenager, The Lunch Lady had durability to match. She regained her balance and grabbed one of the crates that lined the walls around her and threw it at Danny, who tried to catch it. Unfortunately, he overestimated his strength and the box took him down.
During this brief scuffle, the squid had turned invisible and disappeared from the fight. Just as the Lunch Lady was about to grab another crate to throw, the squid latched onto her back and began sending electrically charged ectoplasm through the suction cups on its arms and tentacles. The meat ogre flew up through the roof, bringing the squid with her. Danny, after several attempts, managed to follow the two outside. Danny saw the squid sail through the air and crash into the side of the school. The boy looked back at the ogre, who had its arm stretched out over the ground.
"YOU WILL ALL TASTE OBLIVION!"
"The only thing I taste is boredom," Danny taunted. "Seriously, is this the best you can do?"
The ogre smiled as meat began to shoot up from the ground and swirl around the Lunch Lady's meat ogre form. When the vortex subsided, the ogre was at least two stories tall. Danny could only watch as a massive fist slammed into his body and sent him flying.
The Fenton Family Assault Vehicle rounded a final corner, tilting the vehicle up on one side. The other wheels had barely made contact with the ground before Jack burst out of the driver's sidedoor.
"Let's MOVE!" The burly man shouted as he grabbed a bazooka, a pair of rifles, and a strange cylindrical device.
The burlesque man pouted and handed over the bazooka and rifles. Maddie locked the RV and the two hurried towards the sounds of the ghost fight. Sam and Tucker sat forgotten in the back of the vehicle.
Sam tried to remember how she and Tucker had wound up in this crazy situation. They had been hurrying away from the school with the rest of the students when they ran into the Fentons, or rather, the Fentons almost ran over them. They were still trailing the ghost squid and when Sam and Tucker did not know where Danny was, Jack and Maddie thought it must have been after their son again. The two teenagers were dragged into the RV and found themselves driving back into the deathtrap that was their school.
"We've known these people for years and their driving still scares the crap out of me," Sam said as she struggled to get his heart rate under control.
"Yeah," said Tucker between deep breaths. "We should probably go see how Danny's holding up."
"Right, let's go."
Neither of the teenagers moved from their seats.
"We're not moving, are we?"
Sam looked at Tucker, at his seat and then at her own seat. "I guess not. Ok, now we're going to help Danny."
Again, neither of the teens moved.
"We're still not mov-"
"I know we're still not moving!" Sam interrupted. "Ok, for real this time!"
Sam slowly stood from his seat, shaking mildly, and moved over to the door. She unlocked the RV from the inside and opened it slowly beforefinally stepping down from the vehicle. Sam turned back to the RV. Tucker was watching her sadly.
". . . I still can't move."
"You're so scrawny! You need more meat on your bones!"
Danny separated his top half from his bottom half. A ghostly stream connected his torso to his waist as ghost-controlled meat sailed through it.
"I'm fine, thanks!" Danny called. "You could afford to lose a few pounds, though."
He flew down to the ground and, testing out the limits of his physical strength, attempted to pick up a car. It didn't work. "Alright, fine, Plan B, or whatever plan I'm on now." Danny flew over next to the squid andwas about to suggest a new strategy whena green laser blast soared up between them.
"That's just a warning shot, spooks!" Jack Fenton called out, not wanting to reveal that he had actually tried to hit one of them. Below them, Maddie snatched the laser pistol away from her husband. She then took careful aim with her rocket launcher. She wouldn't miss. Danny turned invisible and flew down into the earth. The squid flew down into the cover of the trees.
Danny came up behind his father and saw what he was looking for:the Fenton Thermos. He snatched it off his father's belt and flew up into the air.
"Sorry," he called while regaining visibility. "I'll give it back when I'm done!"
"You're done now!" Jack called. "And we'll take that back with you inside it!"
Danny shuddered at the thought. He flew towards the meat ogre, but found to his horror that it had disappeared. Danny looked around frantically, trying to find a clue as to where it went and cursing himself for losing track of a five-story-tallgiant ghost made of meat. Suddenly green mist shot out from his nostrils. He thought it might be his ghost sense telling him the squid was nearby, but that didn't explain the large shadow that darkened the sky. Danny turned around and saw the large ogre he had been looking for. It was smiling at him evilly.
"Let me guess, 'prepare to face my doom'?" he said sarcastically.
The ogre lifted an arm and Danny barely managed to fly out of the way of theblast of meat that shot out from the appendage.
"I think I've had enough meat for a day, thank you very much! Now it's time to wash it down. Good thing I brought my thermos!"
Danny uncapped the device and aimed it at the ogre's head. Nothing happened.
"FOOLISH BOY! YOUR EFFORTS ARE WASTED! AND YOUR SOUP PUN WAS POORLY DELIVERED!"
The ogre smacked Danny to the ground. A decent-sized crater appeared in the soft earth. Danny slowly opened his eyes in time to see a giant foot descend upon him.
Thankfully, the squid hadn't fled. It shot up through the ground where it had been waiting. The squid flattened its arms into a blade and easily sliced through the leg. The two tentacles stabbed into the hunk of meat and towed it away from the boy's prone figure.
He lifted off of the ground and ascended into the air. Why didn't the stupid thermos work? It was supposed to trap ghosts, plain and simple. At least that's what his dad said it was supposed to do. Danny landed on the roof of the school while the ogre was hopping up and down on one foot, roaring in rage.
Would the thermos work in human form? After some difficulty, he managed to transform into his human form and aimed the thermos again. Nothing happened. Again, struggling to focus on his elusive new energies, he finally transformed back into his ghostly form and flew away from the roof. So, ghost or human, it didn't work. What was wrong?
Nothing seemed to be going right today. First the menu change, which Danny had kept quiet about to prevent getting Sam angry at him, then the ghost attack, and now the only thing that might stop the monster turned out to be just another defunct machine. Angrily, Danny flew up to the ghost and kicked it in the head. The cranium of meat splattered in all directions, sending the giant stumbling back a few paces. Its head regenerated quickly, adding to the boy's anger, and it took several steps forward with its old and reformed leg.
Danny could feel anxiety swell up inside him. Wasn't there any way to stop the ghost? He looked at the thermos in disappointment. "Stupid thing! Work! You hear me? WORK! WORK!"
Danny felt something go out from his hands. It flowed into the thermos and Danny watched in frustration as the power gauge filled up on a display. The words BATTERIES FULLY CHARGED flashed on the small digital screen.
"Of course. My dad actually invents something that works, but forgets to power it up. When have I been in this exact situation before?"
Danny pointed the thermos at the ogre a second time and uncapped it. A bright, silver light shot out from the tip and plunged into the beast. It roared in agony as the Lunch Lady was separated from her meat body molecule by molecule. Danny could see a blurry image of the ghost being pulled into the thermos via the silver energy stream. He smiled as she got closer to the tip. Her rage was visible despite her contorted form.
"I'LL BE BACK, CHILD AND WHEN I DO, YOU'LL BE DOOMED!"
Danny rolled his eyes and slammed the lid back on the thermos as the Lunch Lady disappeared inside it. He clipped the device to his waist strap and began to fly off when he heard the sounds of heavy laser weapons being fired. Curious, Danny flew around to the other side of the building, where shock prevented him from doing anything more.
Danny looked down at the scene unfolding below his hovering form in disbelief; the squid, which had been quite an agreeable ally in fighting the Lunch Lady, was now attacking his parents. A long tentacle had wrapped itself around Maddie's neck and was slowly suffocating her. Jack had tried to free his wife from the murderous cephalopod, but was entrapped by several arms that suspended him in the air, rendering him useless. Danny saw that his friends were standing off to the side, well within range to be snatched up by a deadly appendage. The ghost boy watched in horror as the squid did just that. Sam and Tucker were hoisted into the air and were swung about madly.
Anger quickly replaced Danny's disbelief. His eyes glowed with such intensity that they were completely green. Finding new control in his emotional state, he floated a few feet higher into the air and rocketed down towards the ecto-squid, holding his arms above his head with the fingertips connected. Any onlooker would have completely lost sight of him if it weren't for the green glow that surrounded his body. Danny hoped his incredible speed would knock the ghost away from his parents and friends.
What he hadn't intended to was spear directly through the creature, which is exactly what happened; Danny's speed had turned him into a ghostly lance. It was an unexpected development, but Danny managed to phase into the ground to avoid crashing into it.
The squid didn't have time to react as it was lanced through. Its body was sent sprawling to the ground. It immediately released its captives, who scrambled a fair distance away before turning to face their attacker. The squid thrashed about on the ground in pain. A large hole was present just above its lone eye and bright green liquid was pouring out of it. Slowly, the creature stopped thrashing as violently. Its tentacles waved about with less viciousness before collapsing to the ground and twitching mildly. The squid's eye rolled into the back of its head and all movement ceased altogether.
Danny floated up through the ground invisibly to make sure everyone was ok. The squid was now lying in a pool of green blood. His father was helping his mother stay upright as she recovered and Tucker and Sam were searching the sky for their friend. Danny flew around behind a garbage dumpster and reverted to his human form after he knew nobody was looking. He stepped out from his changing spot and double-checked to make sure nobody had seen him. Clipping the thermos that had the Lunch Lady inside to his pants, Danny jogged over to his friends.
"Tuck! Sam! You guys ok?" he asked.
"Danny!" they both shouted.
Danny was almost knocked to the ground by their embrace. His two friends released him and stared at him with awe.
"Dude, you totally wasted that squid! It didn't even see you coming!" Tucker exclaimed.
"And you did?" Sam asked jokingly. Neither of the two had a very good vantage point from the grasp of a tentacle. "Still though, that was awesome! You totally saved our lives!"
"SHH! Not so loud!" Danny whispered for emphasis while jerking a thumb in his parents' direction. "They're not allowed to know!"
"Right," Tucker said. "Sorry, but still, you gotta admit that was pretty sweet!"
"Yeah Danny, you were a natural!"
"Ok guys, really," Danny said. He cast his parents a furtive glance. "That's great and all, but can we please talk about this somewhere else? Like maybe a place where I don't have to worry about being dissected?"
"Hey, I'm not grounded anymore from that stupid essay," Sam said, reminded of the week and a half she was left to do nothing but sulk."You guys wanna come over for movies for the night?"
"Sure!" Tucker responded. "You have Ninja Zombie Cyborg Snake Parasites on a Plane, right?"
"Tucker, of course I do. Any sane, filthy rich person with an uncle working in Hollywood has it," Sam said condescendingly. "Duh?"
Tucker scowled at his friend before walking off to call his parents.
"I need to make sure my folks are ok," Danny gestured to Jack and Maddie. "Give me a minute."
Danny hurried over to his parents. His mother had recovered from her bout with the squid and was now kneeling down alongside Jack next to the ghost.
"Uh, you guys ok?" Danny asked cautiously.
"We're fine, sweetie," Maddie said, although her voice was a little raspy. "Your father and I were just looking over the remains of the ghost."
Danny cocked an eyebrow. "Is it dead? I mean, it's already dead, but is it dead again?"
Jack turned to his son. "We're not sure what to call this situation. I guess you could kill a ghost. This one sure isn't afteralive!"
Danny chuckled at the remark. "Oh yeah, uh, Sam wanted to know if I could go back to her place to watch movies and stuff. Is that ok?"
Maddie removed her red goggles and slid back her hood from her head, letting shoulder length auburn hair tumble loose. She looked at her son with a stern look.
"Mom! It's Sam! Samantha? Sammikins?" Danny gasped and looked over his shoulder. Sam would have punched him in the head if she heard him call her that name, the presence of his parents notwithstanding. "Besides, Tucker's going too. I'll call you before I come home."
Maddie nodded her approval as she stood up. "I'm glad you're safe. We were worried it was coming after you again." She pulled her son into a gentle hug which, while embarrassing to her son, was much more preferable than being snapped in two by Jack. "Have fun, sweetie."
Jack and Maddie watched their son walk away from the scene of the most recent ghost battle. Meat littered the schoolyard. Without the ghost controlling it, the meat had nothing to keep it together. A rather large mound of meat remained where the ogre last stood. Onlookers who were beginning to cautiously arrive on the scene were more puzzled by the sight than frightened. They hardly paid the Fentons any attention.
"Well this is fantastic," Jack mumbled. "Police will be here soon. At least this time we have a body for them. I was starting to think they might suspect us of staging these attacks."
Maddie patted her husband's shoulder and continued to examine the ghost.
"I still don't understand," Jack continued, scratching his chin. "The ghost kid and this squid thing were fighting that giant ghost together! Why didn't the ghost kid attack us too?"
"I'd rather not think about what would've happened if he decided to jump in, honey."
Jack fell silent for a moment, examining the hole in the dead squid's head while wordlessly agreeing. "I'd like to know why he took our thermos," he said at last. "I mean, the way he used it, it was like he already knew how."
"He never did give it back, did he?" Maddie joked.
Jack gave a slight chuckle before something sprung into his mind. "You're right . . . he didn't give it back," Jack said quietly. "Maddie, did you send Danny to school with a thermos today?"
Maddie would have normally pointed out how proud she was of her husband's unexpected perceptiveness. She was too stunned to form a congratulatory statement, however. Where did Danny get his thermos from?
I have been meaning to edit Ultimate Danny Phantom for a long time now. I decided the sooner I got around to it, the better. So here it is. I'll be combining all the chapters from previous segments together like this for the duration, so there will be less chapters, but much more content in them. Also, major props to Cordria, my beta reader. Without her none of this would make any sense whatsoever and I owe her big time. Since I won't be doing anymore Author's Notes like I did in the old file, I want to thank everyone who reads and reviews this story. I really do appreciate it.