AN: Believe it or not, I still don't have Internet access at my new home. However now that certain sites are no longer blocked at the library, I can resume posting!
The Impossible Aquittal: Chapter 20
Despite what action movies depict, hiding around a corner doesn't really provide good cover. Especially when you're in the bad guy's territory and and reinforcements could come barreling up from behind you at any moment.
Still, Shiratori supposed it was as good a place to die as any. Sato hadn't been too far off the mark when she had said he was trying to absolve himself by dieing a hero's death. It seemed rather petty in retrospect, saving a life wouldn't make up for the one he took. Of course a lot of what I used to think seems petty in retrospect. And would that life even be saved? Who's to say Valerie hasn't been recaptured already?
"I think that we've bought her as much time as we can," Sato observed. "It's time to get out of here." She grabbed something small out of her pocket and squeezed it tightly in her hand. She looked at Shiratori, as if considering something, then grabbed his elbow. In a burst of green the room vanished.
It was interesting. Danny Fenton and Danny Phantom never seemed to show the same range of emotions, at least not while she was near. Danny Fenton was normally laid back or worried, and had a smile that lit up his whole face when he was happy. Phantom was usually angry, frustrated (frequently when dealing directly with her), or seeming to project an iron will that seemed like it could stop a planet. So seeing the anger usually Phantom usually directed at invading ghosts aimed at their captors by Danny Fenton (when he wasn't shooting concerned glancing at his unconcious sister) was fascinating. She was watching him quietly, because if she spoke she'd have to ask. And if she asked then she'd know.
She wasn't blind enough that she wouldn't notice that no one had commented on Fenton taking Phantom's place. That in retrospect they had never been seen together. Not to mention how much they looked, and now acted alike. Any logical person would conclude that they were in fact the same person.
But what did logic have to do with this anyway?
Alive was alive, and dead was dead. It was only logical.
But what did logic have to do with this?
Danny's eyes slid from his captors to Valerie's and his glare was replaces by a look that was almost...remorseful? His eyes quickly slid from hers and found a place on the floor. "I guess I have some explaining to do?"
A thousand and one questions ran through Valerie's head. "Who," not what, what wasn't as important, "Who are you?"
"A little of both, I guess."
At least she didn't ask what.
After a quick mental glare Danny continued. "I mean both are me, but not completely. I guess I compartmentalized myself into two personas, but neither is real or fake." Well, technically there were three personas, but he didn't really want to talk about that just yet.
"Lab accident." The answer came quickly, Danny still refusing to make eye contact.
That made sense, at least as much sense as any of this could. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"For the same reason I never told Mom or Dad. You hate ghosts, especially me. You trust Vlad," The glare resumed full force at their captor, who only smirked, "And I couldn't take it if you decided to hate all of me instead of just half."
Now Danny wasn't the only one adverting his eyes. "Who knew?"
"Sam and Tucker." Figured. "Jazz figured it. So did some people in Japan. Well Conan figured it out. He told Ran and Agasa. And, thanks to the fruitloop, two of the local police also found out, Miwako Sato and Wataru Takagi. Then we had this thief-" Danny cut off as he saw Valerie's skin pale, a haunted look suddenly in her eyes. "Valerie, What's wrong?"
"Oh Dear," Vlad's voice cause both of them to wince. "In all this confusion I do believe Miss Grey has forgotten what she was running from. DO share with the rest of us."
"Leave her alone Vlad!" Danny snapped.
Valerie felt as if her heart had fallen out. She had forgotten. And Danny had to know. Vlad would just keep hinting at it mercilessly until he figured it out. "Danny. One of the cops, the last one you mentioned. He's...he's... Danny, he's dead."
The halfa was silent for moment. "It's a trick," he finally declared, "Vlad tricked you."
"It wasn't. He saved me from that nightmare. He helped me believe in myself- and in you- and he was shot by that Rees guy. I tried to help, but by the time I got to him-" Valerie broke off in a sob.
No you're not! You can't be! A strangled cry shot from Danny's throat as his knees buckled. His captors didn't even seem to notice and just dragged him along.
That's what happened earlier. That weird feeling like we were being ripped apart.
No it wasn't! Like I told Jazz, I probably got to near to a ghost hunting device or something.
Danny, I'm dead. The pvoice was firm though still shakey. And we both know it.
"Why are you doing this Vlad? Why kidnap Valerie? Why kill my friends?" Danny wished he could summon some of his power, a few seconds of intangibility, a single ectoblast, anything!
"Because I needed you to call your little Japanese friends for help. " Vlad explained. "I had to be in America for my project, but I want them to be here too. If it wasn't for their help, Jack would have been rotting in jail like he was supposed to, and you and Maddie would be mine."
Maddie? Where have I heard that name before? Valerie wondered. Wait isn't Maddie the name of... She looked at Danny, who actually responded with a conspiratorial grin. For a split second she could have sworn it was Phantom grinning at her. It took her another moment to realize that technically, it was.
"Yah, old 'V-man' here never had the hudspa for world domination or anything like that," Danny explained, purposly using his father's nickname for his arch-foe. "Even all the unspeakable things he did to earn his fortune was for one goal- my Mom." Danny threw back his head and laughed like it was the world's funniest joke. "One of the most powerful beings in existence and the only thing he could think of was luring a happily married woman away from her husband. Oh, he also wants the Packers, but like Mom, they have standards."
A small growl emered from Vlad's throat, but was outwardly the only sign of his annoyance. "Actually Daniel, I have finally moved past my infatuation with Maddie. It will probably please you to note that you were the catalyst for that desiscion."
"No, don't tell me that after all these years you finally listened and got a cat!" Danny exclaimed in mock shock.
Valerie couldn't stop herself from giggling.
Vlad's whole body tensed up. "Actually it was the realization that she would never let me have my revenge on you. You robbed me of my revenge against Jack, my social standing, and, worst of all, my power. That at least, I can get back. I've found a way to reverse the effects of the Plasmius Maximus you put me under. It's highly experimental though, and after a lot of messy deaths I discovered that not everyone is suited to becoming a halfa."
"Halfa?" Valerie asked.
"Half-a-ghost," Danny explained, his eyes at his feet again. "Not really dead, but not really not dead either. Sort of caught in the middle."
Well that answered the 'what'. And judging by the conversation... "You're half ghost too!" Valerie accused. "And you fed me all that anti-ghost propaganda-"
"I only told you what you wanted to here. And you made an excellent distraction for young Daniel. I knew your drive would make you an excellent combatent, though I never dreamed he would actually fall in love-" Vlad chuckled. "Well back to the point at hand. Very few people can actually become a halfa. As Danny is in the exact same boat as me, someone who has already ascended and now has his powers cut off, he is an ideal test subject. His sister may also carry whatever trait allows the change. You too, while alive, must have by now already realize you carry at least a trace of the dead. Therefore, if Daniel becomes too problematic, I have two more ready test subjects at hand."
"You...unbelieveable...BASTARD!" Danny managed to break free for just a moment. "It isn't enough that you hurt my friends, KILL one of them, you think you're going to do one of your whack-job experiments on my sister or Val!" He launched himself at Vlad, but was quickly subdued by the man's body guards.
"Not if you cooperate Daniel, so their fate lies in your hands. If you want them spared from my little invention, you will do what I say, when I say."
"You're a monster Vlad," There was no anger in Valerie's voice. In fact she felt calmer than she had since this whole mess started, possibly since she first became the huntress. It was as if everything had become clear to her. "You're a monster and I'm going to destroy you."
Vlad only grinned and brushed imaginary dust off his impecable black suit. "The name is Absinthe, my dear. And as for killing me, we shall see."
"Is this a dream?" Shiratori asked. It was the only possible conclusion. Walking through walls, evil organizations, Takagi dead...this was a nightmare, plain and simple.
His answer was a right hook to his face.
"That feel like a dream?" Sato all but snarled.
He shook his head. "What's going on?"
She took several deep breaths. "Things I can't even begin to explain. Just accept them and move on."
"Why are you helping me?" That was the one thing Shiratori couldn't even begin to understand. Fighting the criminal organization along side him yes, they both had ample reason for wanting to see it go down, but why would she help him escape from the fire fight?
Sato glared at him again, but the look was as sad as it was angry. "I loved him. He didn't die to save Valerie. He would have, mind you, but he didn't. He died to save you. So you are going to live through this, even if it kills me."
"Don't." Shiratori said quietly, "Don't let it kill you. I don't want anyone else to die." He then looked at her with a grim smile."You know I never hit anything I shoot at? Not a damn thing; I have the single lowest record at the shooting range. I..."
"And you think that makes it okay!" Sato exploded at his words, her eyes as hard as diamonds. "You want to know the truth about the Impossible Murder. Yes, we omitted certain details to protect innocent people from persecution, but the only person we lied to protect was you! Masters set you up to take the fall for his escape! That police issue bullet that shattered our windshield came from your gun. Your keys opened Masters' cell! Sure the jury might have been able to be convinced the evidence was faked, but he didn't want to take the chance that you'd lose your career or worse because of this."
"Then why didn't you just tell me!" If he had just known, all this...
"We shouldn't have had to. You knew, but you chose to block out your memories of Plasmius-"
Plasmius! It was like tha name opened up a floodgate in Shiratori's mind. He had been going to check on the prisoners after the explosions had rocked the precinct. Most of the cells were still occupied, but when he got to Masters' cell, it was apparently empty.
Before he could alert anyone he felt cold hands grip his neck as those he were being strangled. Then everything went red. He felt like he was drowning in waves of hate and malevolence. He had struggled, but all his efforts had gotten him was a short message: "I am Plasmius, nothing as weak and pathetic as you could hope to best me!"
It was the first time in Shiratori's life he had been totally helpless.
"Wh-What was he?" His memeories didn't make sense, nothing did.
"Plasmius?" Sato tried to think of how to answer the question. Just saying 'a ghost' didn't seem to cover it. "He's obsession and cruelty manifest. He's also a part of Vlad Masters. Don't ask me to explain that, because I won't."
More secrets. Everyone was keeping secrets from him, even himself. Shiratori took a deep breath. He knew he was starting to get hysterical. "What now?"
"We find the others and get out. We're seriously out of our league here. If we can we should recover the b-body. They won't leave any traces and at least-at least we can give him a proper funeral." The anger seemed to drain out of Sato at those words. She slumped to the floor, eyes wet with unshed tears.
"Impressive," Jazz commented, waking up in captivity had not sweetened her mood. "Of course most of the things you rip off Mom and Dad are."
Vlad gave the young woman a mild glare. "If you care to remember, I did help invent the original."
"What is it?" Valerie asked.
"A ghost portal." Danny answered, a fierce determination in his voice.
"Not exactly. You see, this model won't actualy open a permanent passageway, merely channel the same energies the portal uses."
"You want to recreate the accidents to give yourself back your powers." Danny concluded.
"It seems you've some of your Mother's intellect after all. Unfortuantly a degree of precision is required. Too little energy and nothing happens. Too much and the subject dies. I need to know where the threashhold is. And unless you want something unpleasnt to happen to these two ladies you shall do exactly as I say."
The tough holding Danny released him. The moment he was free, Danny turned and punched him directly in the solar plexus. Twin screams coming from Jazz and Valerie halted any further attack.
"I warned you." Vlad reminded him. "Even with your powers are you sure you could beat my men before they would kill one or both of them? Now be a good little boy and walk inside the ring."
Sparing a worried glance towards Valerie and Jazz, both of whom had guns pointed at thier heads, Danny walked towards the portal look-alike.
You know Vlad isn't going to let you and the girls just walk away from this.
I know. But with those guns aimed at ther heads there's not much I can do. I need a plan.
Well Vlad actually has a vested interest in making this work, right? That means you'll probably get your powers back. We won't have much time, but if we strike quickly...
Almost imperceptivly Danny nodded. At the center of the portal-thingy was a pair of shackles chained to the floor. Danny remembered what Vlad had said about his previous test subjects and shuddered.
Vlad moved over to a control panel. "Now I want you to stay in the center of the Ecto-generator and not move until I say so. And don't worry, this won't hurt a bit."
Vlad turned a dial on the panel slightly. Danny began to sweat as he heard the machine begin to whir to life. As tiny green sparks began to form along the center he couldn't help but remember his parents portal. The felling of horror as he noticed the word "On" on the button he had just pressed. The feeling of impending doom as he heard the same sounds he was heards now.
Focus Danny, you're having a flashback
The sparks were jumping now; this one started slower than his parents device. If the portal were this slow he would have been able to escape, not face certain undeath at the hands that damn machine.
We need to be ready to take out Vlad's goons. Are you with me? Danny answer-
Once again the world exploded in emerald. An almost unbearable pain flooded Danny as ectoplasm was forced into his body along with several volts of electricity. He held his position out of an inablitly to move, not even able to think of the two hostages.
"Of dear me. I lied," Vlad grinned as his hated enemy screamed to the heavens, his hand inching the dial higher and higher.
In that moment Valerie hated Vlad more than she ever thought possible. Jazz's eyes had gone blank and Val was pretty sure she had withdrawn with herself, blocking out the images of her brother being tortured.
A flash of light, white not green, caught her eye. A ring had formed around Danny's waist. It fizzled out a few times before solidifying. As it rose Danny's outfit changed to one she was familiar with. Very familiar with. Honestly she'd recognized that outfit from the waist line, the logo wasn't even nessecary. The hardest part though, was the face. She couldn't see his eyes too clearly, but that shock of white hair was almost s recognizable as his emblem.
Danny Fenton was Danny Phantom. Suposition, evidence, and even his confession aside, this was the single erevocable proof. She had seen it and could never un-see it. The boy she loved was the person she had tried so hard to kill. And despite that he had come all this way to save her because he still loved her. And all it resulted in was that he had taked her place in the torture chamber.
Not even Midori could come up with something this cruel.
As Danny's screams subsided. Vlaerie noticed his muscles tensing. It didn't look like a pain contraction, almost like...
Oh come on girl, since when would Phantom take something like this lying down. You should have known from the start he had a plan. Odd's are Masters hasn't noticed. He probably never seriously watched Danny fight, just counted on me to do it for him. Sucks for him.
An instant was all they need. An instant for Danny to lauch himself at the men hold the girls at gunpoint. An instant for Valerie to summon up her own guns. The ectoplasm wouldn't harm a human as easily as a ghost but at point blank ranged the heat would do some serious damage. All they needed was an instant.
It was in the instant before that instant that Vlad, having got the data he needed, turned the dial to maxium output.
Tai Haibara: Glad to hear you're enjoying my story. Don't worry, the one guarentee I give is Happy Endings (Except for the Raven)
llamaglamasama: Danny Phantom is a fun little series that runs/was running on Nick (haven't watched TV in a year, don't know if it's still on). You can probably find it on a flv site like live video. My fave episode is D-Stabilzed.
The Absent Halfa: Only two chapters left after this one.
Irezel: I have access to the internet via library, so posting will resume
ruthc93: Poor Paulina, no one cares that she's dead :P. Takagi-kun's fate will be revealed next chapter.
Eventraren: I'm not stopping this one till it's done. I'm sorry it took so long to post, but no internet.
Wolf Daughter: Words do not express how sorry I a that this took so long.
Kmd13: You can't keep a good Halfa down. Or a bad one...
inumaru12: You know I really didn't realize the emotinal backlash I was going to get from takgi dying. He was always one of my favorites, but I'm surprised everyone got so attached to him.
Em Phantom: This may sound geeky of me, but it really warms my heart to know I've gotten people interested in the series. Good stories have always been important to me and I like knowing I helped intorduce someone else to one.
A Bibliophile: Because it means you'll come back for the next chapter. Reviews are the source of our self esteem you know (or maybe that's just me);).
Firebullet19: Next part is out!