"Sorry Sam, I'm just so go-"
"SORRY. I'm just so regular-damn ticked off right now. Better?"
"Hmph. I guess so."
"Why hasn't he tried to contact me? I mean, we saw the second movie, they can all swim. He's out there somewhere and he isn't even trying to let me know he's ok."
"Maybe he is, and something is jamming his message . . . or something."
"No, if he was trying to contact me he would have found a way by now. It's been over a day."
"Then maybe you should consider the possibility that he didn't make it."
Danny stopped pacing the floor in his room and looked at Sam with a weary expression. "That's all I've been thinking about since the ships blew up. I never actually saw Optimus fall in the water, so what if he was still fighting one of those f- uh, monsters when the bombs went off?"
"Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not saying he is gone, but you just gave the best explanation either of us has come up with since yesterday." Sam reached over from her seat on Danny's bed and took his hand, hoping to soothe him. "Maybe we should just try to accept it and move on?"
For a moment it looked like Danny was going to do just that. Suddenly, his eyes narrowed and his posture straightened. "No. He's out there somewhere. He's Optimus Prime, Sam. I don't know how he got here, but he wouldn't just go down like that. Not when there's still so much that hasn't happened yet."
"Then I guess," she let go of the boy's hand, "you need to keep looking. I'd offer to help, but unless your mom has a size zero jumpsuit and scuba gear to go with it, I doubt I would be much help."
Danny cocked an eyebrow as he began to transform. "You're a size zero?" The silver-green rings may have washed away his human appearance, but not his human intrigue. "They make a size zero?"
"They make an undetectable black hair dye that allowed me to hide my real hair color for years and that didn't seem to surprise you."
Phantom rolled his eyes. "And now that you brought it up, I'll never hear the end of it."
"Hey Sam," she started with a grin, doing her best impersonation of her boyfriend, "is that my shirt?"
"I've learned a lot since then," Phantom argued, placing his fists defiantly on his waist. "I've really tried to be more observant."
"Keep working at it," Sam laughed. She stood up and hugged him, resting her head on his shoulder. "Now get out of here. Your dad's gonna burst in any second now."
Almost as if acting out of instinct, Phantom turned intangible and flew up through the ceiling. Not five seconds later, Jack Fenton threw open the door and skidded into the room. "I thought I heard Danny go ghost! Where is he?!"
"I think he's going to look for Optimus."
Jack's expression fell. "Oh."
"What is it, sweetie?" Maddie called from the stairs.
"Oh nothing, Danny went off to find his robot pal. I have that gun ready that he asked for, but-"
"What gun?" Maddie hurried into the room, her face full of worry. "He didn't tell me anything about a gun!"
It was a rare opportunity when Jack found himself poised to impart parental knowledge to his wife. "Maddie, honey, guns are something fathers and sons are supposed to enjoy together! Don't feel too bad, I'm sure he'll come to you with something someday . . ."
Unfortunately, Jack's attempts to be knowledgeable in regards to all things parental were usually interpreted as patronizing by his wife, and his wife usually scowled at him. "I would think Danny would ask for a weapon from someone who actually knows how to use one." Jack hung his head in defeat at the remark. "Sam, what does Danny want with a gun?"
"Actually, Mrs. Fenton, it's for Tucker. See, Tucker thinks he found a way to make a weapon that's even more effective than the laser weapons the Guys in White use."
As if giving Tucker Foley a gun to tinker with wasn't already worrisome enough, the thought of him trying to make it into some kind of super-weapon bordered on terrifying. Unlike his wife, however, Jack looked as though he was going to burst into excited discussion on the matter, but his brow furrowed as the man began to ponder the implications of what Sam had just said. "More effective how?" Jack asked. "What can hurt ghosts more than lasers?"
"I'm sorry, but Danny and Tucker both want to keep it under the radar."
Jack pouted and sulked out of the room, mumbling things about kids and their rap music. Maddie shook her head. "I don't think you kids should be building a new kind of anti-ghost weapon without the help of an expert, especially if Danny wants to use one. What if something went wrong and it hurt Danny?"
Sam opened her mouth to reply, but Mrs. Fenton's words hit home. "I . . . we never really thought about it."
"I know you care about him, Sam. I know he cares about you too." The elder woman decided the awkward he's-my-baby talk could wait for another time. "I'll respect your privacy for keeping this weapon hush-hush, but please, if you think you might need help, come to me. I think I speak for both of us when I say I don't want him to get hurt. Ok?"
Sam nodded, and Maddie pulled her into a motherly embrace. "Good. Now then, let's see if we can't help Danny find his robot friend."
The Fentons had plenty of devices that could find a needle-sized ghost in a stack of hay-sized ghosts. But those were ghosts. "How are we going to help him find a giant robot?"
"The RV and the OP-Center both have advanced tracking equipment and we managed to record his energy signature when he first showed up. We can use it to triangulate this Opius person's -"
"Oh, right. Anyway, if we can triangulate the energy signature, we can point Danny right to his location."
The girl hurried after Mrs. Fenton. It looked like she wouldn't need that scuba suit after all.
A rare moment of sanity had come to Mr. Showenhower after the destruction of the advanced scouting party from the Ghost Zone. It was pretty impressive that the boy was able to destroy the ships all by smiled. He didn't count the robot as "help". The circumstances surrounding the famed Autobot commander were . . . suspect.
Phase One of his plan had gone off smoothly. Terror Tower had fallen and hundreds, maybe thousands, were dead. Frederick was never one to watch the news, so he didn't know the estimates. Phase Two, while massively successful, didn't feel like it had gone as smoothly as Phase One. In retrospect, it felt very rushed, like something out of a bad story. Still, it worked. Frederick watched Phantom's mental state weaken with each successive step of his plan.
And yet, that's where it had ended; at Phase Two. He had only planned that far before the madness took over. Now he needed to step up his game in order to keep Phantom on edge. He watched the Fenton RV peel out of the driveway of the Fenton residence – with the madman Jack Fenton behind the wheel, of course – and speed away.
While it was not one of its inherent powers, the Reality Gauntlet allowed Frederick to know virtually anything he wanted to know. Since it was the only reality-warping object on Earth, the fabric of reality was most strongly connected to the gauntlet. Everything that existed on Earth was tethered to this reality and thusly was able to be observed by the gauntlet, which also meant that it was able to be observed by Mr. Showenhower – the wearer of the gauntlet. What Mr. Showenhower wanted to know at that moment was simple; who was in the RV. He already knew Phantom's fat father was behind the wheel. He soon discovered that Phantom's mother and girlfriend were also in the RV.
That would have thrown a wrench in his plans, but someone very important wasn't in the vehicle. Jasmine Fenton, Phantom's sister, was still in the house: the Operations Center, to be precise. She was attempting to locate the energy signature of Optimus Prime on her own while her father attempted to wipe out any unfortunate pedestrian who happened to be on the road. Frederick chuckled and, looking both ways for oncoming traffic, hurried across the street and up to the Fenton residence. He saw his reflection in a window before he got to the door and realized just how shoddy he looked. His tattered rags that barely passed for clothes made him look like a bum, and the odor he was giving off was less than pleasant.
With that simple observation, the Reality Gauntlet worked its magic and gave Mr. Showenhower anextreme makeover. Perhaps it wasn't as 'extreme' as it was 'extremely fast'. In the blink of an eye, he became the most hygienic man in a twenty mile radius. His rags were replaced by a black beanie cap, a gray shirt and dark blue jeans. Shoes that were barely held together by the few remaining stitches became sturdy, steel-toed boots. He smiled a shiny, white-toothed smile at himself in the window and went on his way.
Of course, "on his way" was all of five more steps up to the door. He pressed the doorbell and waited patiently, checking to make sure his breath was fresh. It smelled of chocolate. Outrageous! It took a moment, but eventually Frederick heard the sound of dainty footsteps on the stairwell. Several more seconds and the door opened. Jazz poked her head out, sizing up the stranger
"Can I help you?"
"I think you can, yes. I just moved in next door, you see, and I was hoping you could maybe show me around town. I do hate learning my way around a city on my own."
Jazz pulled the door open all the way. Something about the way this guy talked was very disarming in a geeky sort of way. "I don't think you're going to want to tour the city right now. The place is bound to be crazy."
"And why would that be?"
The gauntlet did more meddling, probing into Jazz's mind and altering her perception. "I . . . I don't know. Rush hour? I'm sorry; I don't even remember why I thought that."
"Quite alright. So, what do you say? Fancy a stroll?"
Jazz squinted her eyes. It looked as though she was trying to remember where she had seen the man before. Another surge of energy from the gauntlet and any trace of suspicion vanished. "Yeah, sure, let me grab a jacket."
While Jazz retreated back into the house, Mr. Showenhower glanced down at his right arm. The Reality Gauntlet flickered into visibility for a moment before fading from view once again. He looked up just as Jazz reappeared in the doorway. "Something wrong, mister . . . ?"
"Oh, Fred, please. And nothing is wrong. Everything is just . . . fine."
"Let me try to understand this. You lost a giant robot from another planet?"
"I didn't lose anything! We were planting the explosives on the ships, but-"
"And that's another thing. Where do you get off building volatile explosives with that thing? We saw what those bombs did. We can't even fathom how he managed to make something like that. What's worse is that he did it with chemicals in your parents' lab! We have that same technology here, but somehow that walking scrap heap managed to vaporize two of the largest ships we've ever seen, and damaged the third badly enough to send it running home with its tail between its legs!"
Phantom and Agent X shared a moment of silence, trying to stare down each other. "He is not a walking scrap heap. And if you want him to tell you how to make those bombs, or anything else, you need to help me find him."
Agent X leaned back in his chair. "I'll admit, we do need him, but bomb building isn't our chief concern. We don't need to vaporize everything that looks at us funny. What we do need help with are those things," X jerked a thumb over his shoulder. Behind him was a several-feet-thick window. Beyond that was a massive, underground chamber. It was hard to make out through the condensation on the window, but Phantom already knew what was in there; the captured Transformers that were wished into existence during Desiree's last appearance. Everything else had been disposed of using the appropriate channels, meaning that the Guys in White killed everything else they could and they did it with fire.
"You want him back so he can tell you how to melt down the other Transformers, is that it?"
"Non-Biological Extraterrestrials, and yes, that's our primary concern. Do you have any idea how expensive it is to keep them all on ice? And our weapons hardly scratch their paint. We were hoping your pal would give us a solution to our problem."
"Why don't you just try using sabot rounds like they did in the movies?"
Agent X narrowed his eyes. "This isn't the movies, kid." Fortunately for Agent X, Phantom had turned around and began mumbling to himself. It gave the man a chance to scribble down "sabot rounds" on his notepad for future reference.
"Fine," Phantom swung back around. "I really don't care what you want him for, but we need him back if we're going to stop the fleet."
"I don't think you'd very much like the other reason we want him back."
It took Phantom all of three seconds to figure out why. He lunged forward and grabbed X by the collar of his spotless white suit jacket. "You want to kill him with the rest of those things?!"
"Think about it, Daniel. You have all those robots in there, and all of a sudden one just arrives on the scene a few months later. Are we really supposed to believe he's the Optimus Prime?"
Phantom released Agent X and floated back. "You're saying . . . he was wished up by someone?"
X straightened out his jacket and stood from his chair. "I've taken it upon myself to do some research. Every one of those Transformers in there is either a Decepticon or an Autobot too stupid to tell its head from its ass. We have three different versions of Megatron, a super-sized Grimlock and almost the entire Predacon cast from Beast Wars. In the weeks following the initial swarm, we located several more Transformers, only these ones were Autobots. They attacked us when we tried to talk them down."
"Why didn't you tell me about this? I could've helped with-"
"Relax, kid, nobody got hurt. Damn machines had the courtesy to use non-lethal ammunition. But that's when we got to thinking; we hadn't seen Optimus Prime anywhere. None of the rogue Autobots we found showed any signs of following orders from a higher-up, so we assumed nobody had wished for Optimus Prime."
"Until now," Phantom observed. "But then why do you want to capture him? He's helping us, isn't he?"
"For the moment, but ask yourself something; what happens if we somehow manage to pull a miracle out of our asses and beat back Walker's fleet? What if E.T. wants to phone home and finds out that there is no Cybertron? What then?"
"That didn't seem to bother him-"
"In the movie? Weren't you listening? This isn't the movies, damn it! He won't have any home to return to, not because it was destroyed by war, but because it never existed to begin with! He doesn't know he was conjured up by some genie ghost, how do you think he'd react to all of that?"
Phantom frowned, contemplating what was being discussed. It was ridiculous; inane, even. Here was a grown man using logic and a comprehensive understanding of Transformers to argue in favor of capturing the Autobot commander. The worst part? He was making perfect sense.
"So, let's say he survived somehow . . . how would you go about capturing him?"
"We'd use you as bait. Spring a trap. He might be a robot, but he can't read your mind."
Phantom scowled. "What if I don't want to go along with that plan?"
"You seem to think you'd have a choice in the matter."
"Oh? That sounds a lot like you think you're the boss of me."
Deliberate slowness is a fear tactic. It is only successfully employed by those who can use it properly. When Agent X turned to face anyone with deliberate slowness, they began to fear. Phantom was no exception. "Do you know what I wanted to do when we first found out about you? I wanted to have you brought in and taken apart molecule by molecule to find out how something like you could possibly exist. The boys in the lab couldn't figure out what happened to you to turn you into the freak you are now. Are you half dead? Is it just some over-stimulation of a certain gland? What makes you so different?"
The man grabbed a coffee mug from his desk and sipped some of it. Steam from the piping hot liquid fogged up Agent X's glasses. "Immediately following the Lunch Lady incident, I had a squad ready to knock down the door and haul you off to this dungeon," again, he gestured to the cave beyond the window, "where you'd be kept for the rest of your unnatural life. We didn't calculate that would last very long. Luckily for you, the Box Ghost suggested we bring you in. Train you to be a SPOOK, come work for us when you get older, pay beyond what most NFL players can imagine, that whole thing. Operatives K and O agreed. So I called off the squad, and here you are today."
Phantom sat down in the chair behind him, having opted to not use it to increase his confidence. That had been sapped away. "You . . . you couldn't have done that to me. I have rights, I'm a person!"
"We like to let you think that. Makes our job a lot easier. Truth is that you gave up all the perks of being a person when you upgraded to version 2.0. We have a very strict protocol for keeping the super-human community out of the way of the rest of the world."
Phantom sat in disbelief. He – "Wait . . . super-human community?"
"Of course!" X set his coffee mug on the table and smirked. "You think you're the only one flying around in tights, making a mess of things by playing vigilante?"
"There are others like me?"
"Like you? No. You're one of a kind. Nobody else is a half-dead tweenager. We know of plenty others though. Cities all over the world have their own super heroes."
"So how come I've never heard of them?"
"Media blackout," Agent X continued without skipping a beat. "We don't allow stories about Phantom to circulate outside of Amity Park."
Phantom cocked his head. "How is that possible? With Terror Tower and our tourism industry-"
"You think that was built because of you?" X laughed. "Sure, Amity Park is known for having the most paranormal activity on the planet, but the tourism isn't just based on you, kid. In case you haven't noticed, Amity Park is becoming one of the largest cities in the U.S. We're just as technologically advanced, if not more so than Tokyo, we have some of the cleanest beaches in California and future plans include a massive wildlife reservation and a NASA control center – all of these are things you could have picked up on while you were out playing super hero. But you had no idea. You thought that, by shoving a green octopus into your soup thermos every other night, the entire world wanted to come and see you. Sorry to burst your bubble, kid, but on the list of things to see in Amity Park, you're not even on the top 20."
So much information, so much disappointment.
Don't let him get to you, champ! Without you this city would be in shambles!
He is right, Daniel. This man is a fool. We should resume our search for Optimus Prime.
So much of what he says makes sense, though. How could I have been so stupid? Transformers being real? And Amity Park . . . this has never been about me, and yet I cause so many problems here.
So you just want to give up?
You cannot give them the satisfaction of having affected you. And what does it matter if the world doesn't know what you've done? You do, and that should be enough.
This guy . . . I haven't had a reason to really despise someone in a good long time.
He is quite irritable.
Irritable? He's downright RUDE. WE DON'T HAVE TO SIT HERE AND TAKE THAT, DO WE? WE'RE ALL DANNY PHANTOM IN HERE, AREN'T WE?!
Calm down, don't provoke him into doing something he will regret!
AGENT X IS THE ONLY ONE WHO'S GOING TO FEEL REGRET. DON'T SIT HERE LIKE A SAD LITTLE PUPPY ANY LONGER! TEAR OUT HIS THROAT WITH YOUR TEETH! PLAY THE HARP WITH HIS ENTRAILS! PLAY BEER PONG WITH HIS EYEBALLS! MURDER THIS MOTHERF-
NO, DANIEL, DON'T MURDER ANYONE! YOU'LL ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE!
-TEAR DOWN THE ORPHANAGE AND FORCE THE CHILDREN TO MINE URANIUM CRYSTALS TO FUEL OUR SPACE STATION!
WELL THAT JUST DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL!
LEVEL THIS PLACE WITH YOUR RAGE! LEAVE NONE STANDING!
Guys, please. I'm getting a headache.
DO YOU MEAN A RAGE-ACHE? OF MURDER?
No, just a regular headache.
Phantom finally found the strength to stand from his seat. "Say whatever you want, I'm not in this for the fame. I help people, and that's enough for me."
"Tell that to the families of those mercenaries you killed with your own hands." X didn't even look away from the window. "Tell that to Valerie Gray."
Phantom lunged forward, only this time his fist slammed into X's head. His sunglasses shattered and the man dropped to the floor, clutching his head. "Box Ghost, detain him!"
Before Phantom could turn around, he was encased in a glowing blue cube of energy. A surge of energy coursed through Phantom's body, forcing him to transform back into Danny Fenton. It was painless. Actually, it was rather relaxing. Danny felt his body go limp, and he collapsed inside the Box Ghost's make-shift prison.
"Goddamn kids," X spat as he pressed a strip of cloth to the side of his head. Phantom's punch had broken the skin, and a steady trickle of blood had been racing for the government agent's neck.
"With all due respect, sir, if you had provoked me like that . . . I would've socked you too."
Agent X glared at the Box Ghost. "Get him to a containment cell; a proper one."
"Why not just dump him outside?"
"I think he might be under Showenhower's influence."
"What makes you say that?"
A good Agent was always prepared and Agent X was no exception. He pulled out another pair of sunglasses from his desk and slid them on. "The man has a device that can control the very fabric of reality. For all I know, we're all being controlled by that . . . freak show."
"Even taking that into consideration, why only Phantom? He only hit you because you crossed the line."
"I have my suspicions, Box Ghost; please . . . just get him out of my sight."
The blue, overall-clad specter nodded and vanished, taking the unconscious Danny Fenton with him. Agent X sighed and hit a button on his watch. A projector lit up the far wall of the room and began to play back footage captured by one of the Guys in White's UAV reconnaissance drone. It had been following the three scout ships and tracking their movements shortly after they arrived in the human realm.
If someone was to ask Agent X if he was prejudiced against ghosts –or ectosapiens, as they liked to call themselves – he would answer yes. Ghost monsters had killed his family in one of the earliest recorded, directly physical confrontations with the creatures. At first, the man had only sought to learn more about them so as to better protect the rest of the human race. But encounter after encounter with the beasties didn't paint them in an objective way. Agent X saw malicious beings from another dimension willfully attempting toand often succeeding in the killing of innocent human beings. And while some ghosts had proven useful, there was just no escaping the stereotype.
Then along came Phantom; a potential champion for the human race, using the godless monsters' own powers against them. While Agent X wouldn't admit it, he was immensely proud of the boy. While other children might have used their powers for their own personal gain, Phantom put his life on the line constantly to save the people he loved. It was admirable, praiseworthy, but Agent X couldn't allow the boy to have the full emotional support of an entire branch of the government.
God forbid Phantom ever discovered that the Guys in White was established for the sole purpose of making sure he stayed on the side of homo sapiens.
Agent X needed to keep Phantom out of the picture for now to be absolutely sure the boy was, indeed, still on the side of humanity. As the footage played back, X feared that his mission had failed. He saw Phantom battling monsters on the first ship, and then he paused as he set one of the bombs and flew for the next ship and repeated the process. The bombs exploded just as Phantom returned to shore and, just as the ghost boy had said, Prime was nowhere to be seen. And, despite what Phantom attested to, Optimus Prime couldn't have been destroyed in the explosion.
He didn't appear in the footage at all.
Walker had never been so furious. He had seen his father brutally torture and slay his enemies – the feeble humans who could barely survive in the desolate wasteland Earth had been reduced to. But while those humans were weak and needed defending, he was not emotionally drawn to them. They were not family. He had been quite furious when his mother found herself on the receiving end of Lord Phantom's wrath. Indeed, that was the event that began his time-spanning quest to destroy his father. In hindsight, his mother had often provoked and criticized his father near the end. She hadn't been entirely undeserving of her punishment. And seeing the current Danny Phantom's ignorance had certainly enraged Walker. But ignorance could be overlooked, and Danny Phantom would die long before his atrocities could ever be committed.
Upon seeing the purity of the Oracle in jeopardy, Walker realized that there was no suitable outlet for his rage. The Oracle was revered in the future as the keeper of knowledge from the past, before the Reign of the Dead began. She often told stories of Lord Phantom as a boy and how he overcame impossible odds to make the world safe for those he could save. The Oracle loved Walker like her own son, and Walker often goneto her for comfort before he left the future. The Oracle also loved Lord Phantom, knowing the sacrifices and the impossible decisions he had been forced to make.
The Oracle was Jazz Fenton, Lord Phantom's sister and Walker's Aunt.
Walker bristled with silent fury, seeing her sit at a sleazy diner booth, directly across from the most vile, despicable excuse for a human being ever spawned: Frederick Issac Showenhower. They talked about Phantom openly, although the other diner patrons were oblivious to their presence just as Jazz was oblivious to the fact that she was betraying her brother's secret – his trust – to a villain. The Reality Gauntlet, even without being utilized to its full potential, was a sickeningly powerful device.
"He cares so much about everyone," Walker heard Jazz say, "it's no wonder why he keeps it bottled up inside. If one of us got hurt because we knew, he'd never forgive himself."
"So then," Showenhower's decidedly effeminate voice hissed, "would you say that his greatest fear . . . would be losing everyone he loves the most?"
"Well I think, deep down, that's everyone's greatest fear, Fred. Wouldn't you agree?"
Walker gritted his teeth. Such familiar empathy would only be used against her!
"I suppose so, although I can't help but dislike your brother. He does have the power to save you all. Should the need arrive, of course."
"Sounds like you have a case of Ghost Envy, hmm?"
"Oh dear child, I envy any ghost that gets to live with you."
That disgusting, perverted snake of a man! Walker stood from his seat – a new addition to the massive command chair, more suited to Walker's smaller size – and clenched his fists. He couldn't hear the rest of the conversation, and didn't need to. Showenhower had gotten what he needed; Daniel's greatest fear. It was information that . . . freak show was bound to use, but how? Walker floated down to the floor and began pacing back and forth. More importantly, why?
Several minutes of contemplation passed before the answer made itself clear. Showenhower wasn't trying to harm Daniel – that was just a convenient bonus. His real objective was to rob Walker of access to his father! Perhaps Plasmius as well; she also wanted the boy for her own twisted purposes. Walker could only guess Showenhower would get some sick sense of satisfaction of screwing over two of his employers and, with the Reality Gauntlet, could easily do away with both of them once the job was done. He was simply adding insult to injury, the cheeky bastard.
Walker looked back to the screen to observe the Oracle and her detestable date, only to find to his horror that they were no longer at the diner. They were at the Fenton residence, and Jazz was leading the man up the stairs by the hand.
"No," Walker whispered. They stopped at Jazz's doorway. Showenhower pressed his lips to hers. Slowly, they made their way into her room, and the door shut behind them. "NO!"
As if responding to his uncontrollable anger, the monitors shut down. Walker could only think of one thing to do; go to the human realm himself and stab the freak in the eyes with his own teeth.
But he . . . couldn't. So much depended on the success of his mission and disrupting anything could undo everything. He knew the Oracle might die during the invasion. He hoped it would be with some amount of dignity, but now . . .
"Wulf. Go to the human realm. Find Phantom, wherever he is, and make sure he finds out this happened. I don't care how you do it. My father will undoubtedly avenge the Oracle's honor and, in doing so, perform the only noble act of his wretched existence. If you happen to run into that freak show . . . do what you can, but don't place yourself in harm's way."
The massive canine, who had been watching uncomfortably from some distance away, nodded. A portal to the human realm was opened, and Wulf slipped through before it was closed.
Now alone, Walker pulled a small rectangle of paper from his pocket. It was a picture of his father, his mother, and the Oracle. Lord Phantom held a newborn Walker in his arms, and the two women were fawning over him. Walker rubbed his thumb over the image of Jazz. A drop of water fell on the old photograph. It was a tear. Walker sniffled and choked back a sob. "I'm sorry, Ora- . . . Aunt Jasmine," he whispered. Glowing tears streamed down his face. "I never wanted this to happen, but I swear to you, this won't go unpunished."
I hAvE nO dOuBt YoU wIlL sUcCeEd. ThE oRaClE wOuLd Be . . . PrOuD.
To Be Continued
A/N: I think I'm finally getting this thing back on track, thank God. Also, thank Cordria. While I think I'm regaining my grasp on how to write continuity that flows, I'm still a long way from being able to go it alone. By the way, I know we haven't seen the weird bold/italics, caps/uncaps stuff in a while. In case you forgot, that is the combined form of Tempest and Folium stuck in Walker's head.
Moving on, I have finished my outlines of the first half of the second season, including the Ultimate Enemy. I like the UE story because its ridiculously dark. Almost unnecessarily so. But there were some things I wanted to do with it that I wasn't able to work in during the outline. I'm sure I'll figure something out. Hopefully I wont have to up the rating to M, but we'll see what happens. I think I've gotten away with a lot so far and I've never gotten reprimanded for content. I mean, if I start writing smut fics and rate them K+, I might be in some trouble...
Almost to 200,000 hits! You're all crazy to have stuck with this for so long, and we're just now winding down the first third of the entire thing. Come September, this story will be 4 years old. I'll thank all of you for your patronage somehow. Multiple chapters per day for a week? No, I doubt I could do that. And even if I could, I doubt Cordria would be up for that much beta-ing, and that's assuming she's still putting up with my typos and continuity errors by that point. :)
One more thing. I decided to stop thanking you all individually for reviewing the previous chapter for the moment. Before I get into Reality Wars, I'm going through this whole thing and editing all the chapters myself. Grammar and spelling, possible continuity, whatever needs fixing. I won't be changing the story, just going back through and doing a fixer-upper to make it more readable. And then, once I start on Reality Wars, I'll pick back up on it. I know It's not a big deal, just letting you guys know what's going on.
I'M FEELING . . . INTERNATIONAL TODAY!