1/4/07 - Attention: This chapter has been more-or-less completely rewritten / tweaked since I first published it. You are welcome to reread it. Enjoy!
When only one word counts.
A Danny Phantom FanFiction by Cordria
Danny!" Jack bellowed as Danny sat on the bottom step of the basement stairs. He had long since decided it was safer to sit on the stairs than wander into the medieval torture chamber his parents called their workplace. "Look at our latest invention!"
Maddie beamed, patting the four-foot-high, glowing bubble maternally. It was carefully placed in the lab about half way between the interdimensional portal and the Fenton Stockades. "It's perfect for catching ghosts."
"It's intelligent." Jack added.
"Intelligent?" Danny wondered.
"Yup!" Jack grinned, "It learns as the ghost tries to escape. It foils all of their attempts automatically."
Maddie nodded. "It's going to give us all sorts of information. This machine will literally create new weapons and defensive tactics for us. It may come up with devices that no human would ever have thought up. Better ones, more efficient ones."
"Even better," Jack added, "this machine keys in to a ghost's biggest secret – we figure it'll usually be what their weakness is – and makes it tell us their secrets!"
Danny shivered. That wouldn't be fun to get caught in. Yet another invention to put on the "must avoid" list. "So…" he hesitated, "what if a ghost got in there that you wanted to get out?"
"Don't be silly, sweetie," Maddie answered. "Why would we want to get a ghost out?"
"Does it hurt the ghost?" Danny watched his father carefully plugging in a few more cables.
"Jack, dear, don't forget to unplug the generator before you wire in that new capacitor." She turned to Danny and pulled her blue hood off. She walked over to him and sat down on the seat next to him. "Danny, what's bringing on all the questions?"
She smiled. "Sweetie, don't worry about the ghosts. They can't feel." She wrapped an arm around his shoulders and squeezed him a bit. "Ghosts don't have emotions. They are just gobs of energy."
She thinks that I have a moral problem with the ghosts being in that torture cell. Danny was silent. That's completely wrong.
Danny sighed. "It's nothing, Mom."
She watched him for a second. "You know you can talk to me about anything, right sweetie? Anything?"
Danny blinked at her blankly. "Yeah…"
Suddenly Jack yelped, a sliver of smoke rising up from the computer tied to the glowing bubble. Maddie giggled slightly. She leaned in close and whispered, "Bet you dinner dishes that he forgot to unplug the generator."
Danny laughed. "No deal. It's Jazz's turn to do the dishes. I'll let her keep them."
Maddie grinned and stood up. "Jack, unplug the generator and I'll get the spare capacitor."
Jack poked his head up over the console. "There's the reason why I love you," he said. "You know me so well."
Danny rolled his eyes. "So… after you get that thing in, it's done?"
"Yup!" Jack said happily. "Almost done. This will get us on the cover of Ghost Hunters Monthly for sure."
"For sure," Danny muttered under his breath. He watched in silence as his parents put together the last few pieces of a device that could kill him. His gaze traveled around the lab. Strike that thought. They are finishing another device that could kill me.
"It's done!" Maddie shrieked excitedly. "JAZZ!"
"She's not here," Danny answered. He watched his parents' faces fall slightly. "She went to the library to some research or something."
"Oh…" his father rubbed his hands against his orange hazmat, "well, at least you're here to witness history in the making!"
"Exactly," Maddie agreed. "Jack, plug it in."
Danny leaned forwards slightly as Jack plugged the console in. A small screen flickered in to life and the small mass of machinery at the top of the bubble whirred slightly. Danny wrinkled his eyebrows slightly. That was it?
His parents raced over to the computer and started pressing buttons, murmuring softly under their breath. Danny waited quietly, tapping his fingers against his knee. Is it working?
He watched them carefully fine-tuning their machine. Minutes passed. Does it work? He tapped his foot loudly against the bottom step, half hoping to get their attention. He didn't want to actually ask – that would get him stuck in a three hour conversation on how it works and what it'll do.
Maddie strode over to the bubble and fiddled with some of the bits for a moment before heading back over to the console to whisper with Jack some more. This is killing me, Danny thought sarcastically. Does it actually work?
He cleared his thought. Nothing. He sighed loudly. Nothing. Finally, he decided to risk asking. "So? Does it work?"
Danny gritted his teeth. This leaves only one option. He pushed himself to his feet and started off across the room. Keeping carefully away from the cabinet that held the ghost detection devices and steering clear of the table full of who-knows-what, Danny made his way over to the glowing bubble.
An odd beeping filled the air as he got closer. Danny hesitated when his parents stiffened. "Um… Mom?"
Maddie turned around and smiled brilliantly. "Danny! Do you hear that?"
"Yes! That's the ghost tracker built into the Fenton Bubble." Her eyes seemed to shine with delight. "There's a ghost around."
He could feel his face going pale. "This thing can find ghosts on its own?"
Jack nodded. "And capture them too! I think…" He turned back to the computer and pushed a few keys.
"Great," Danny whispered. "I'm going to go upstairs for awhile." And wait for Jazz to come home and sabotage this thing…
He was about to turn around and leave, but the computer suddenly stopped beeping. The silver machine above the bubble whirred slightly, a long, snake-like appendage growing out of its mass and coiling into a circle. Danny watched it with apprehension. Maddie and Jack watched it with growing excitement.
Suddenly, the silver appendage raced through the air. It wrapped around Danny's wrist before he had time to react and yanked him off of his feet. Stumbling to his knees, the machine began to reel him in slowly and surely. "Mom!" he called.
"Hold on, sweetie – we'll stop it." Maddie was tapping away furiously at the computer.
Danny was pulled through the glowing bubble and released. He kept on his knees – the bubble was only four feet tall and not big enough for him to stand up in. Wonderful.
"Just relax, Danny," Jack called. "This thing can't hurt you."
Danny held perfectly still, his eyes crammed shut. Please, please, please, please, please…
Against his prayers, dozens of metallic ropes dropped out of the blob of machinery over his head and twitched to life, snaking forwards and wrapping around his arms and legs. Danny started to struggle against the cords, trying to get himself free.
"Danny, stop struggling."
"Yeah, right!" Danny snapped, his struggling taking itself up a notch as a rope coiled around his torso.
"You'll be fine."
Just as the words left Jack's mouth, the machine zapped Danny with electricity. Danny screamed, high and wild, as energy coursed through him, snapping his head back and making his hair sizzle.
"Danny!" Maddie yelled, leaving the computer and racing to her son's side. "Jack!"
"How…" Jack stared at the bubble, eyes wide. "Why…."
"Stop it!" Maddie ordered.
Jack started to quickly press buttons on the machine, and Maddie pressed her hands against the glowing bubble. She gazed into her son's eyes.
"Ectosignature detected," the machine pronounced happily. The electricity raging through Danny's body ceased. Danny slumped to the ground, or as far as he could while still tangled in the ropes, and gasped for air. "Analyzing…" Maddie left his side to stare at the screen with Jack in disbelief. "Ectosignature analyzed. Compensating… complete. Refining…"
Danny brought his head up to stare at his parents. "What does that mean?" he panted, his voice breaking.
"The machine…" Maddie hesitated. "If you were a ghost…" she hesitated again. The machine is able to set itself into specific frequency of the ghost we capture. That increases the level of pain…" She tapped the display, puzzled.
"Why would it find an ectosignature for you?" Jack wondered, shaking his head.
"Get me out," Danny whispered, not having heard anything since the increases the level of pain part. "Get me out, NOW!"
It was seconds later when the electricity flowed through him again. Set into the correct frequency, this time it didn't just hurt, it actually burned through his every molecule. Danny could feel his body fizzling and shrieking. He wasn't even sure if he was screaming – his ears were ringing and his throat was raw from the electricity flowing through him.
Suddenly, it stopped. "Refining complete," the machine proclaimed. "Secret keyed into system. Beginning phase one."
As the bonds released him, a whirling saw blade descended from the machine. It hung in the middle of the bubble above his head, and then suddenly started to move towards Danny.
"It's keyed in on a secret. Why would it think you have a secret?" Jack's forehead wrinkled as he stared at the screen. "It shouldn't be able to do that."
Maddie was anxiously tapping buttons. "Jack, we need to get him out of there, not ask questions."
"It can't hurt him, Maddie. It only hurts ghosts."
"Dad!" Danny called, pressing himself up against the floor of the bubble.
"Jack, get him out!" Maddie glared at him.
"I'm trying to turn it off, Mads. Hold on."
The saw plunged ever closer to him. Danny gulped, his eyes wide. The very deadly-looking saw was only a two feet away from him. I need to make it stop! Danny screamed in his head. It's looking for secrets…
"I'm the one who's always stealing your inventions!" Danny blurted, his face turned away from the descending saw blade. Incredibly, the saw hesitated. Danny opened his eyes, hopefully. Then, with a whir, it started up again, steadily coming closer.
"It's keying in an even bigger secret. But it shouldn't be able to. You're not a ghost." Jack frowned at his screen.
"Jack!" Maddie yelped, pushing him out of the way. "Get our son out of there!" She began to tap buttons frantically.
"It can't hurt him," Jack snapped back, but reached out to start working on the computer again.
Danny wracked his brain. "I'm the one that's always breaking the Ghost Gabber when you get it fixed." The saw stopped again.
"What?" Jack looked up from beside Maddie. "Why would you break that?"
"Jack!" Maddie snapped.
The saw whirred and snaked closer.
Danny pressed himself against the floor. There was no escape. "I sneak out at night, after curfew," he tried, but the saw wouldn't take that. It wanted bigger secrets.
The saw was only a foot from his face. Then a half-foot away. Maddie cried out, grabbing a heavy tool from her tool box and running towards the bubble, thinking to break into it.
The saw whirred closer. Inches. Half an inch. Quarter of an inch. The saw was a hair from touching him when Danny screamed. "I died in that lab accident!"
The saw stopped dead. It retreated back to the center of the bubble, hanging there, scanning him.
"Danny?" his mother whispered. She had come to a stop halfway across the lab.
Danny sobbed, "Please get me out. We can talk about it later. Please get me out."
"Why…" Jack trailed off, staring helplessly at his son.
"I didn't want to tell you. Please." The saw whirred back to life, quickly snaking towards him. Danny twisted his head around, "What the…" He collected a gob of ecto-energy in his fingers, forming it into a powerful blast. "Stupid machine! What more do you want!" he shrieked, slamming the blast into the saw, carrying with it all of his fear and hatred, shattering it into a million pieces. Then, he turned around to his parents, who had both become very pale.
"Please get me out!" Danny pleaded, his hand pressed against the glass, a glistening tear leaving a trail on his cheek. "Please."
Maddie and Jack stared at their son, tools falling out of nerveless fingers. "That's why everything goes off around you…"
Behind him, another tool – this one able to withstand ecto-blasts – descended from the ceiling. "Beginning phase two," the computer purred.
Maddie and Jack stood shock still. Neither made a move.
I do not own Danny Phantom.
It's up to you whether or not his parents rescue him. I'll never tell if they're supposed to. (smiles evilly) Welcome to my life.
I've had a frustrating day. This was a good stress reliever.
I need to stop writing depressing stories. It's making me wonder about my sanity.
Review please, and totally enjoy!