Danny Phantom: Facing the Future
It was an ordinary building. An ordinary building on an ordinary street in an ordinary city. There was absolutely nothing in the world that would make anyone suspect that anything unusual could be going on inside. Nothing except for the fact that everyone who walked in or out of the building seemed to have a penchant for wearing white suits.
"So, where are we on this Ghost Portal development?" asked the hulking Commissioner of the infamous "Guys in White".
"Still working on it," one agent replied, walking close behind with a handful of others, "That business with the Fenton family a few months back put a real crimp in our development plans. None of their data was useful. If anything, it actually put us back in development."
"What about that Masters guy who turned out to be a ghost? Intelligence reports that he worked with the Fentons years ago. Anything on him?" the commissioner asked as they entered the building. As soon as they entered the door, the floor lowered into a wide elevator shaft leading underground.
"Gone with the wind after that whole ecto-asteroid fiasco. We raided his home and found an underground lab, but it was completely gutted. Either he or someone else got to it before we did and cleaned it out. Nothing even remotely salvageable."
"Speaking of which, where are we on this Danny Phantom kid?" the commissioner continued to ask, "Are we any closer to finding anything on him?"
"Well, making headway on that front has been…difficult of late," another agent replied, "After he and that ghost army saved the world from that asteroid, he's…well, he's become something of a hero as far as a most of the people are concerned."
"Which doesn't change our job in the least," the commissioner replied, "If he's a ghost and he's running loose out there, it's our job to make sure he's…WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?!?!"
The commissioner and the other Guys in White agents could only look on in disbelief at the sight before them. Their entire headquarters had been completely disabled! Every one of their defensive weapons and surveillance cameras had been completely obliterated! Every computer crashed, every weapon had its wiring pulled! Even their every mode of transportation had been sabotaged!
"This is impossible!" the Commissioner yelled, running up a nearby flight of stairs as the other agents hit the main floor to assess the total damage. Running into a darkened Surveillance Room, he immediately headed for a monitor to see if the cameras picked up anything before they were destroyed. Looking at the tapes, what he saw next lasted only a few seconds, but it seemed to say everything as two ghostly figures, a man and a woman, rose up through the floor. The man was dressed in black pants, a black leather motocross jacket, white boots and gloves, with sunglasses and a white hood covering his face and white flame designs around the shoulders, the bottom sleeves of his jacket and the lower legs of his pants. The woman was equally concealed behind a red motorcycle helmet with a black visor and a skull face painted on it. She was dressed in a long black leather skirt with a split up the side, along with fishnet stockings and knee-high stiletto boots, fingerless gloves and a white leather trench coat with a black flame design on the lower half, a skull with black flames on the back and a barbed wire design running up both sleeves, all stitched in red. The commissioner was able to take the sight in just long enough before the man raised his fist to the camera and after a green flash of light, the image exploded into static.
"Infiltrated," he said under his breath in disbelief, "But how…?"
"Sir!" one of the agents called up from the main floor, "You'd better take a look at this!"
Running back down the stairs, the Commissioner joined his fellow agents in shock to see a curious message had been burned into the far wall of their headquarters. It was a single word, but instead of providing any answers, it simply posed more questions.
The agents could only stare at each other, each one just as perplexed as the others. Little did they know that there was another witness to the crippled mass of technology that had once been their headquarters. As he beheld the carnage from the safety of the Ghost Zone, the face of Clockwork, the Ghost of Time, held a grim expression.
"So…they've finally arrived…," he thought out loud, pausing a moment to look over his shoulder. In a far corner of Clockwork's lair, obscured by darkness, a tiny rattling noise could be heard.
"…and not a moment too soon."
Clockwork's gaze became even more serious as a second faint noise penetrated the darkness. A noise that sounded almost like…muffled laughter.
Hours later and miles away from the Guys in White, without a care in the world, Danny Fenton and Sam Manson sat on the edge of the roof of Fenton Works. The night was perfectly clear, not a cloud in the sky, making it ideal for a little stargazing. Of course for Sam, feeling Danny's arm around her, she would be lying if she said she was thinking of stars at that moment.
"Danny, this really is a great night," she noted, smiling as she leaned her head on his shoulder.
"Yeah, it's okay, I guess," Danny replied with a simple shrug.
"'Okay?'" Sam shot back, Danny's indifference immediately getting a rise out of her, "And what's that supposed to mean?"
"Hey, don't get me wrong. You know I'm an all-around stargazer," Danny said before putting his arm around Sam a little tighter and tossing her an affectionate smile, "It's just…maybe right now, I've got something a little better to look at."
Sam merely replied with a smirk and a hollow chuckle.
"Oh, that was TOTALLY a line," she said cynically.
"Well…" Danny rolled his eyes with an amused smile, "…maybe a little one."
Just then, he felt Sam's hand gently run down his cheek as he turned back and looked into her eyes to see her smiling at him warmly.
"Well…," she stated softly, shrugging her shoulders, "I guess I can let it slide…this time."
Danny simply returned her gaze with a warm smile of his own as the two of them slowly inched closer, their lips passing within just millimeters of each other. But just at that moment, an icy breath escaped Danny's lips as an all-too familiar cold sensation gripped his spine.
"Oh no, no, no, no," he whined, pressing his forehead against Sam's, "Not now."
"It's a ghost, isn't it?" Sam sighed, trying hard to disguise her disappointment, but without much success.
"Danny, don't," Sam cut him off, folding her hands over his, "Don't ignore it because of me. Just go."
Danny could only give a disappointed sigh himself before standing up and transforming into the unmistakable form of Danny Phantom. But even though she wasn't looking at him, Sam could feel him looking down at her and knew he would never leave if she gave even the slightest sign of being rejected. So she managed to paste a weak smile on her face as she looked up into his eyes, hoping it would be enough to encourage him to do what she knew he needed to do.
"I'll be back as soon as I can," Danny said, trying to reassure her, "I promise,"
With that, Danny leaped off the roof and burst off into the night sky, leaving Sam on the roof, with only the stars to keep her company. Just then, a familiar metallic clang caught her ears as the door to the roof opened and Danny's big sister, Jazz poked her head out the door, her hand over her eyes.
"Sorry guys. I'm not interrupting anything private, am I?" she announced to anyone who might be outside. Sam, meanwhile, could only sigh in response as she lifted her legs and hugged her knees against her chest.
"I wish," she replied solemnly.
Before long, Sam was sitting with Jazz in the Fenton's kitchen. Sam had already downed her fourth soda and was already working on her fifth as Jazz tried to calm her down. She wanted so badly to wait for Danny to come back, but it had already been almost an hour and she knew she'd have to be heading home soon.
"Do you know how many dates we've been on?!" Sam raged after a quick belch, "Twenty three! Twenty three dates! Do you know how many dates we've actually finished?! Huh?! ZERO!! That's how many!"
"Sam, you guys knew what you were in for," Jazz replied, trying to sound soothing, "Believe me, I know how you feel because Danny says the exact same thing every time he comes home. I've seen how much it's tearing him up that he can't spend as much time with you as he wants. But all he can do is the best he can."
"Jazz, I'm not blaming him," Sam said, her voice now sounding more saddened than angry, "I know it's not his fault. But do they have to keep coming ALL THE TIME? Why can't my boyfriend have one night off? Is that really so wrong?"
Just then, Sam paused as she felt herself suddenly become flushed.
"Heh, 'boyfriend'," she said with a warm smile, staring out into space as she put her elbows on the table to prop her head up in her hands, "It still feels really cool to say that."
With that, Sam threw back the last of the fifth soda as she looked up at the clock on the wall. 9:45…she knew what that meant. Sighing heavily, she picked herself up and headed for the front door.
"Well, I'd better get going," she said, "If I'm not home in the next 15 minutes, my parents are going to have the police department, the Texas Rangers, the coast guard, the national guard and the Navy SEALS all on high alert. Just…tell Danny I'm sorry I couldn't stay."
Sam turned and reached for the door as Jazz could only stand a few feet away and sigh herself. As Danny's sister, it wasn't easy for her to see either of them so unhappy. But Sam opened the door just in time for see Danny on the front steps reaching for the knob.
"Sam…" it was then that Danny realized just what time it was and he immediately felt guilty for being away so long.
"…you've got to get home know, don't you?" he concluded, unable to look her in the face.
"Yeah," Sam replied, unable to look up at him either.
"Well…" Danny wasn't quite sure what to say at first until he caught a glimpse over Sam's shoulder to see Jazz waving him on encouragingly, unable to understand what he was holding back for, "…can I…walk you home, at least?"
Sam simply looked into his eyes and gave a faint smile.
"Hey, you have to ask?"
The first few minutes were spent in complete silence as Danny and Sam walked down the street, hand in hand. Both of them seemed completely unsure of what to say. But it wasn't long before Danny broke the silence.
"Sam, I'm really sorry. I…"
"Danny, don't apologize," Sam cut him off immediately, "You didn't do anything wrong."
"It's just…I really didn't think it was going to be like this. I thought we could…"
"Danny…I know," Sam said, stopping and looking into his eyes as she held his hands and tried to offer as much reassurance as she could, "Look, I knew this was going to be hard from Day One. And…to be honest…I kind of like that it's hard. Because I need you to believe me, you are totally worth it…"
Sam paused for a moment as she looked away, not wanting Danny to see her disappointment as she finished her thought.
"…I just wish…it was a LITTLE easier…you know?"
Just then, she felt one of Danny's hands pull away from hers to nestle against her cheek, guiding her face back to look at him.
"Yeah," he said, nodding his head and looking at her affectionately, "I do."
Just then, that same feeling crept up inside them from when they were stargazing up on the roof. They even found themselves smiling the exact same smiles. And for that moment, it was as if they had never been interrupted as they slowly moved closer once again. But this time there was nothing to get in their way and they both felt their hearts skip as their lips softly pressed against each other. It was just for a brief moment, followed by another soft peck, but the impact of it was more than apparent as they looked into each others' eyes.
"Well…" Danny stated, shrugging slightly with a slight grin, "…on the up side…that was pretty easy."
"Mm…Yeah," Sam sighed as she wrapped her arms around his neck, smiling warmly. Danny needed no further encouragement as he held her close and their lips met once more in a long, soft kiss. At that moment, all doubts and insecurities vanished. All they knew at that moment was if time stopped and the night never ended, that would be just fine with them.
The next morning seemed to start out normally enough as Danny was getting dressed to face the day. Just then, the sharp drone of his bedroom phone caught his attention, although it was completely beyond him who would be calling first thing in the morning.
"Hello?" he asked curiously as he picked up the phone.
"Hello," a seductive, young voice replied on the other end, "This is Mayor Foley's personal secretary, just calling as a reminder that he has an appointment to visit a Mr. Danny Fenton at 8:00 this morning."
"Gee, you don't say," Danny replied sarcastically as he rolled his eyes.
"Do you need to reschedule?"
"No, I think I'm good."
"Very good. Mayor Foley should be arriving in the next five seconds. Have a nice day sir."
No sooner said than done. As soon as Danny hung up the phone, a huge stretch limo pulled up outside. A moment later, the front doorbell sounded.
"I've got it!" Danny called downstairs to anyone who might be listening before phasing through his upstairs floor to the main hallway of the house. Gently landing just a few steps away, Danny reached over and opened the front door only to see a red carpet come rolling in and down the hallway. Following close behind, decked out in his new look of a top hat and tuxedo jacket and followed by an enormous looking chauffeur was Tucker Foley. The once normal Tucker Foley.
"Mayor Foley…" he announced, with a grin that looked more than a little smug, "…has arrived."
"No kidding," Danny replied as Tucker strode into the house.
"That will be all for now, Hanson," Tucker stated to the giant chauffeur, "Leave the motor running. I'll only be a few minutes."
The chauffeur simply nodded once and closed the door with a thunderous slam, leaving Danny and Tucker to talk privately.
"You're reeeeally milking this whole 'mayor' thing, aren't you?" Danny noted cynically.
"I like to think of it as a fringe benefit," Tucker replied, still unable to disguise that he was truly enjoying the perks of being Amity Park's new mayor, "Seriously though, I wanted to talk to you. Have you read the paper this morning?"
"'Read the paper'? Tucker, who are you talking to?" Danny replied with a shrug as Tucker pulled a cut out article from his pocket. Danny took the article and scanned it briefly.
"'Plain, Ordinary, Nondescript Office Building Reports Sabotage'," Danny read the headline aloud, his monotone voice indicating that he really couldn't have cared less, "Tuck, you lost me here. What's so important about…?"
"Check the photo," Tucker cut him off, pointing at the grainy, black and white photograph, showing a small army of men in white suits, "Notice anything familiar?"
"The Guys in White?!" Danny blurted out in surprise.
"Guys in White?! Where?!" Jack Fenton's voice echoed down the hallway as his grinning face poked out from the kitchen.
"False alarm, Dad. No Guys in White today," Danny replied, quickly diffusing the situation.
"Ooookay!" Jack replied with his usual cheerful enthusiasm, his voice still able to be heard as he whisked back into the kitchen and headed for the basement, "MAN, those guys are cool!"
Danny merely rolled his eyes as he went back to scanning the article.
"'…unknown assailants…', '…destruction of equipment…', '…SORRY…'?" Danny murmured aloud before turning back to Tucker, "Tucker, why should I care about this? I mean, let's face it, those guys are idiots. Why should I worry about what happens to them?"
"I'm not saying you should," Tucker replied as Danny continued to look at the article, "But whoever this was just knocked out their entire operation. No offense dude, but not even YOU can do that. I'm just saying that anyone powerful enough to pull this off might be someone you WOULD want to worry about."
"He's got a point, Danny," Sam noted later that day as she walked with Danny down the street, her arm around his waist, "I mean, sure those guys might be losers, but crippling their whole operation is no small thing."
"I know, you guys are right," Danny replied, putting his arm around Sam's shoulder, "But let's say that whoever did this WAS a ghost of some kind. Where would I even BEGIN to start looking for someone like that?"
What Danny didn't realize was that he wouldn't have had to look far at all. Floating over the city, just out of range of his Ghost Sense, was the same female ghost who had attacked the Guys in White headquarters. Looking down at Danny and Sam, she didn't seem to have plans to do anything. Or if she did, she was certainly in no hurry to carry them out. But any plans she may or may not have had were quickly cut short and as a high pitched buzz caught her attention, giving her just enough time to dodge a pair of laser blasts that were headed right for her!
"Maybe you didn't get the memo!" a female voice caught the ghost's attention as she turned to see the armored form of Valerie Gray hovering on her rocket sled just a few feet away, "There's only ONE ghost welcome here in Amity Park! And lady, you ain't him!"
"Interesting technique," the strange ghost's muffled voice replied simply through her helmet, seemingly without any concern at all, "Is that really all you're good at? Backbiting?"
Valerie scowled in response as her armor and rocket sled sprang to life, unfolding a small arsenal of lasers and missiles all trained on this strange new intruder!
"Care to try me?" Valerie challenged, completely confident in her armor's ability to stand up to any threat. The ghost, meanwhile, simply crossed her arms and shook her head.
"This is a really bad idea, kid," she stated, again seeming to have no concern at all.
Valerie only responded with a yell as she charged forward, all her weapons firing at once! But all the ghost seemed to do was shrug as her hands flashed with green ecto-energy.
"Don't say I didn't warn you," she sighed as the energy in her hands burst forth into dozens of Ghost Rays, looking almost like ribbons of energy! Already in mid-attack, Valerie could do nothing to defend herself! All she could do was gasp in shock at the attack that was bearing down on her!
"Look Danny, all I'm saying is…" Sam started to say until an explosion in the sky cut off her words, instantly diverting their attention! Up until that point, she had still been walking with Danny, both of them oblivious to what was happening above them. But looking upward, both of them had just enough time to see Valerie plummeting to earth like a meteor!
"VALERIE!!!" Danny cried out! But before he could transform, a black and white blur flashed past, snatching Valerie from what would have been certain death! Landing just a few feet away was the same female ghost Valerie had been fighting, holding her in her arms before lighting lobbing her into the air, sending her rolling along the ground at the feet of a perplexed Danny and Sam. Valerie, meanwhile, could only let out a dazed groan as her damaged armor folded away.
"What did you do to her?!" Danny shouted in anger. But he was so focused on the ghost that he didn't notice a shocked expression forming on Sam's face.
"Well, at the risk of sounding like some elementary school tattletale, she took a shot at me first," she replied, crossing her arms, "Gotta tell ya, she REALLY needs to do something about that whole obsessive/compulsive thing."
Danny could only glare at the intruder in rage as he transformed, ready to charge right into battle! Sam, meanwhile, ran over to tend to Valerie, but at the same time, she still couldn't take her eyes of this strange new ghost.
"Use your head. Do I really look like I'm itching for a fight?" the ghost asked simply.
"Maybe not…" Danny replied, feeling his anger building inside, "But when you hurt one of my friends, YOU'D BETTER BELIEVE THAT I AM!!!"
Without a second thought, Danny burst forward, charging through the air at the new ghost with all the speed he could muster! But just then, another new player entered the game as the same male ghost who attacked the Guys in White headquarters landed just behind the female. His hand glowing blue, the male ghost's fist smashed into the ground, sending a pulse of blue ecto-energy along the street! Already moving at top speed, Danny was unable to stop himself as the pulse struck him hard, encasing him from the shoulders down in what appeared to be a miniature glacier.
"Danny!" Sam could only cry out in shock, knowing she was completely powerless to help him!
"Just chill, you," the male ghost spoke grimly, "We're not your problem…yet."
"Yet…?" Danny grunted as he strained to free himself from the ice that encased him, "Are you the ones who attacked the Guys in White?"
"Hmm, he found out about that faster than I thought," the female ghost noted to her male counterpart, "Not bad for someone who never reads the papers."
"Never reads the…how do you…?" Danny's could only blurt out as his anger slightly gave way to confusion, "Who ARE you?"
The female ghost paused before replying as she lifted her hand, now glowing with an orange ecto-energy.
"Aww, sorry cutie, but that's for us to know. And you…NOT," she replied as she snapped her fingers, creating a searing wall of fire around Danny! Instantly, Danny's icy restraint melted away, but the fire vanished just quickly enough to avoid him getting barbecued! Falling to the ground, he instantly picked himself up to look for the mysterious pair, only to see that they were long gone.
"Danny, are you okay?!" Sam yelled, running over to him.
"Well, I guess a bruised ego isn't going to kill me," Danny replied, transforming out of his ghost form, "How's Valerie?"
Realizing the fight was pretty much over, at least for the time being, Danny and Sam immediately rushed back over to Valerie. But floating over the city the sky, the ghost pair watched intently to the events below.
"Excuse me…'cutie'? You really do like to live dangerously, don't you?" the male ghost stated with a smirk.
"I think you already know the answer to that," the female replied, "Still, she DID come at me first. Not my fault. How's everything coming along?"
"Right on schedule. We're almost ready."
"Find anything on Vlad, if he's even still around at this point?"
"The lab was already picked clean by the time I got there. I wish I could say that made me feel better."
"I guess we'll just have to keep our eyes open then."
"I guess. Well, next up is Fenton Works."
"Are you really sure you want to do this?"
"To be honest, no. But we can't take any chances. We don't need ANY of them getting involved," the male ghost paused as he looked back down at Danny and Sam tending to a recovering Valerie, "Still, I'm more worried about THEM. Those are the ones we're going to have a hard time keeping under wraps."
"Don't I know it," the female ghost sighed as the pair turned invisible and flew off into the sky.
"Valerie, are you okay" Danny asked as Valerie gradually came to.
"Uunnh, I think so," Valerie groaned, "Did you see who it was?"
"Yeah, there were two of them," Danny replied, "Couldn't see their faces, though. Can you get up?"
"Yeah, I'm okay now," Valerie said as Danny and Sam helped her to her feet, "My armor took the worst of it. Just got the wind knocked out of me."
"Good," Danny stated, "I think we need to go see Tucker."
"Danny, what's going on?" Valerie asked, completely perplexed.
"I don't know," Danny answered grimly, "But I think we've got big trouble coming."
With no further encouragement, Danny, Sam and Valerie broke off into a mad dash for City Hall to find Tucker. But none of them noticed a familiar pair of blood red eyes staring at the events from a dark alley.
"Well, well, Daniel…" a voice stated as the smirking face of Vlad Plasmius emerged from the darkness, "What HAVE you gotten yourself into now?"