Title: Danny Phantom: Hunting in the Night.
Disclaimer: I don't own Danny Phantom. This awesome show and all of its characters are property of Butch Hartman.
Rating: Rating: T
Spoilers: The story could take place somewhere after "Frightmare" but before "Phantom Planet."
Pairings: No Pairings
Main characters: Danny Phantom/Fenton, Vlad Plasmius/Masters, Skulker.
Outside characters: Jacqueline (human, limited role), Juukka (animal ghost, important role) and several citizens of Amity Park.
Bluemoonalto and Pearl84, I want to thank you both from the bottom of my heart for all your beta-reading, help, advice, support and patience. Without you both I would never have been able to post this fanfic or even finish it. I'm really grateful for your help. Thank you for everything!
Danny Phantom fanfic: Hunting in the Night
Chapter 1: The Hunt
"Target locked. Firing now!"
The panicked creature looked up and saw that two missiles were coming straight at him. Not hesitating for a moment the being jumped high into the air. He watched the missiles go straight underneath him; with a relieved sigh he made himself into a ball and spun several times before landing on all fours.
However, his relief didn't last long as he heard the sound of the missiles becoming louder. He turned around and discovered that the projectiles had changed their course, coming for him again. His eyes widening in panic, he darted forward and started running as quickly as he could, the missiles hot on his tail. He headed across a large empty parking lot belonging to an office complex.
Just before reaching the exit of the open lot, he dashed towards the right, running for a few more seconds and then jumping over a high, chain link fence separating the company parking area from a thicket.
Illuminated by a full moon, two figures were standing on the top of a nearby office-building, observing the events taking place.
"Skulker, he's hiding himself in those bushes over there."
"Not a problem," the hunter grinned, "just watch."
At the last moment, just when it appeared that the missiles would hit the fence, they changed their direction and went straight into the air, going over the obstacle and once again moving directly toward their target.
"Let's just say I've made a few changes." Skulker was still grinning.
The creature let out a small scream in panic and jumped out of the vegetation; he now found himself on a four-lane road, looking around desperately for a new hiding place. He quickly realized he didn't have enough time to find a safe place to seek shelter in. Trying to keep enough distance between himself and his pursuers, he decided to follow the road for now, running as hard as his body would allow.
"Skulker, Juukka is approaching a few cars, is it still safe to...?"
"Don't worry, Plasmius," the hunter said in a reassuring tone. "I have everything under control."
Exactly at that moment, the creature began to close on two cars directly in front of him. Without effort, he jumped on the roof of the car that was closest to him.
"What was that, Eric? It sounds like something heavy landed on our roof," a young woman in the passenger seat said worriedly.
"I don't know, honey, but—"
The young man couldn't finish his sentence as his wife started to scream. "Eric! There's a large tail on our back window, a devil's tail! There's a monster on our roof! Do something!"
"I'm driving, I can't just— MELISSA!?" the man yelled, upon discovering his wife had just fainted in her seat.
Making sure there were no other drivers behind them, he slammed on the brakes. So far Juukka had been holding steadily to the roof of the vehicle, but the force caused from the car's sudden halt made him lose his grip. He was thrown off the roof, landed with a hard thud face-down on the hood of the car and then slid forwards onto the road.
"What was that? What in the world was that?" the young man stammered, while trying to keep his breathing under control.
The creature, who was lying on his belly on the cold road, quickly came to his senses and immediately jumped into the air again. The two projectiles that had been following him flew over the car he had just fallen from, still hot on his tail. He made a second, even larger leap into the air. This time, while still in mid-air, he turned around and fired a large, green ecto-blast from his right hand directly into the sky. The two projectiles changed their course and went after the just released ecto-energy. Their diversion gave the creature a few valuable seconds.
"Skulker, those missiles..."
Plasmius turned around to watch again, even though he was getting tired of this game. It was around 11:00 PM and they had been chasing this 'Juukka' for hours already.
Just before impact, the projectiles diverted their course again, avoiding the energy-blast at the last moment. For a few seconds the missiles made several small circles, as if confused; after that, the two weapons went after their original target once more.
"You see, Plasmius," Skulker said confidently, "the ecto-seeking missiles you've supplied me with were already advanced, but not entirely suitable for use in crowded areas. They now have been equipped with an intelligent AI chip. They won't fall for that trick again."
"I see. May I ask where you got those chips and why you did not share this information with me before?"
"Let's just say that Technus owed me a few favors and I wanted to surprise you. These chips will prove a major breakthrough for your future cloning projects. And I have many more of them."
That's all well a—" Vlad abruptly halted his response. He frowned as he observed where Juukka was heading. "Skulker, he's running towards that crossing. I don't want him causing any accidents!"
At this point Juukka made a jump over the second car, which was now waiting for a traffic light. He dashed forward, running through the intersection on all fours as fast as he possibly could. It wasn't fast enough. A car approached from the right; The creature became blinded by the headlights and used his right hand to shield his eyes. But he couldn't run as fast on only two legs, and that proved to be his undoing.
"What is that thing!?"
"DAD, STOP! You're going to hit it!"
"I'm trying! Hang on!"
With a heavy sound the car collided with Juukka at full force. The creature let out an agonizing scream as the impact threw him backwards.
"What was that? Who is...?" The man stammered from behind the steering wheel while looking at the strange thing, beast, or whatever it was, lying motionlessly in front of the headlights. His face was pale and his body was trembling. "Jacqueline, are you alright?"
"I-I'm f-fine. You?"
"Thank goodness you're okay." He let out a sigh of relief. "I'm alright as well."
She smiled at hearing her father's reassuring words, but that smile quickly disappeared when she realized what had just happened. "Dad, I think we've just hit an animal." She opened the door and raced outside towards the creature.
"Jacqueline, come back to the car this instant!" He then stepped out of the vehicle and ran toward his daughter. "We don't even know what it is, but -that's definitely not a normal animal."
Jacqueline had sat down next to the creature, slowly stretching her hand towards it.
"Keep your hands away from that, that, whatever that is, and get back into the car! I'm not going to s..." her father didn't finish his sentence as he got a good view of the creature that was lying there. "A-amazing," he whispered. "I've never seen something like that before. What is it?"
"Skulker, the missiles," Plasmius said, defeated, while pinching the bridge of his nose. Could this get any worse?
"Oh, right," Skulker answered. He pushed a button on the small remote he was holding in his right hand, both missiles flew higher into the air.
"Good, they're programmed to follow a pre-programmed pattern until I order them to do otherwise."
Plasmius didn't reply, as his attention was drawn to the accident that had just taken place in the intersection. At this point more people were stepping out of their cars, gathering around the motionless creature, although keeping a safe distance.
Jacqueline was still sitting beside it. What is it? Is it an animal? A ghost? Although she couldn't prove it, she couldn't get rid of the feeling she was looking at a male creature of, well, of whatever species he was from.
The being was not very tall, she estimated that he was about five feet in length, not including his long tail. His skin was covered with a black fur, grizzled with grey and patches of green, and he had powerful claws on both his feet and hands. His chest, as well as the end of his legs and arms was covered with dark green armor parts outlined with a blood-red edge. The creature's head intrigued her the most. He was wearing a dark green helmet that seemed to resemble a wolf of some sort, with a mask attached to it covering his snout except for the eyes and lower jaw. Also, there seemed to be four grey spikes attached on top of the helmet. They were flat, had a wide base at the bottom, were long, pointed, sharp and jagged along their length. Furry, pointy ears were visible at both sides of his head, sticking out of his helmet through two holes.
There was a strange symbol in the centre of the chest plate, reminding her of a capital 'J,' giving off an eerie golden glow. She also noticed a pulsating red line that was visible between the small openings of his light grey, bony tail.
"Who are you?" She stretched out her hand and carefully clasped his left hand.
Jacqueline's father, who had been staring at the beast up until now, came to his senses again. "What do you think you're doing? Let go, don't touch—" His sentence was once again interrupted as the creature began to moan weakly.
"Dad, he's waking up!" she said, her voice filled with excitement.
"Alright, enough of this! You're coming with me right now!"
"Dad, look! He's opening his eyes!"
The man, who was now holding the arm of his daughter, began to tremble. The creature had indeed opened his eyes, and was now looking directly at his daughter, who was still holding its hand. He wanted to pull her away but felt himself unable to do so as his legs started to feel weak.
"Hi," Jacqueline softly spoke. "Don't be afraid, we're trying to help you." She noticed that the creature's eyes were light green, giving of a weak glow. She felt her father trembling in fear. Strangely enough, she wasn't afraid. On the contrary, looking into the creature's eyes she felt her body relax. She was now certain of it, he was definitely not evil. The only things she could find in his eyes were uncertainty and curiosity.
Meanwhile, on the roof of the office building, Plasmius became visibly frustrated. "What an utter disaster. It's a good thing I am now the mayor of this city so I can handle the Public Relations nightmare myself, but this is getting way too much attention. I wanted to handle this discreetly." He sighed irritably. "Maybe using those missiles wasn't such a good idea af— Skulker, what's the meaning of this?" He pointed at the two projectiles, which had left their holding pattern and had begun flying towards the intersection.
"I have no idea," Skulker answered in surprise. He pushed several buttons on the remote but the missiles didn't change course. "They're not responding to my commands. I don't understand why."
"Then override the controls! Initiate self-destruct!"
"I'm trying, but it will take a moment. It'll be too late."
"What? No!" Plasmius turned in the direction of the intersection again, seeing how a disaster unfolded.
"Can you hear me? Can you understand me?" He still hadn't moved since the accident. The creature seemed to look at her hand, which was still holding his left hand. Suddenly his eyes shot wide open as he turned his head to look forward, lifting himself up a bit from the ground.
A young man from the crowd began to yell, "Something is coming this way! Run everyone, RUN!" Panic erupted.
Jacqueline and her father looked up as well and saw two green objects in the distance, leaving a green trail of smoke, coming their way. Before they could react, the creature stood up, grabbed the girl around the waist with his left arm and her father with his right and jumped away just before the missiles would have hit. Losing their target, the missiles swerved around the few people who hadn't been able to flee, then zoomed away. Juukka then dropped the girl and her father safely on the ground. After that, he dropped down on all fours and turned right from the crossing, getting out of sight into the industrial area of Amity Park.
"Jackie," her father said while still lying on the ground, "please tell me you're alright?"
"I'm okay, Dad," she answered while rolling onto her back, trying to make sense of what just happened.
Her father managed to get up first and then carefully tried to help his daughter stand by taking her hand.
"You know, Dad," she softly spoke to him while putting her hand on his shoulder, "I think that creature, whoever it was, just saved our life."
"Alright, self-destruct sequence initiated. I've got manual control."
"Sending the missiles into the air, ordering self-destruct, three... two... one... now!"
In a bright green flash of light, the two missiles self-destructed harmlessly in the sky. However, the glow of the explosion illuminated a large area of Amity Park.
"Isn't this great?" Vlad grumbled sarcastically, "more witnesses; now everyone knows that something happened here. This place will soon be swarming with those annoying tv crews and reporters." He glared at Skulker, "we need to take a good look at those AI chips when this is over."
"I understand," the hunter said before he looked back at his employer with a frown.
Plasmius raised an eyebrow. "Is something on your mind?"
"Well, it's none of my business," Skulker began. "But you are the mayor of this city now. I'm sure you'll be called soon about what just happened, and I don't think it will help your ratings if the mayor was nowhere to be found during an emergency."
Vlad sighed. "I'm aware of that, Skulker, and you do make a good point. But I've already taken care of that. Before I left I made a duplicate of myself in human form, he'll take care of any calls and emergency meetings when necessary. Unfortunately, this has been putting a strain on me."
"I can see that. Are you sure it's wise to continue? We already found out that this Juukka is pretty strong and with your powers gradually weakening I don't know..."
"There's no need to concern yourself, Skulker. I can assure you I'm still strong enough to tear this ghost apart piece by piece if the need arises. I've learned from experience to keep a few reserves aside for every situation; you never know when it will come in handy." A confident grin appeared on his face.
Skulker, not looking entirely convinced, decided to change the subject. He looked at the tracking device on his left wrist. "Juukka has fled into the industrial district, we can catch up with him quickly if we leave now."
"Excellent, let's g—"
BEEP BEEP BEEP
"Oh, what now?" the half-ghost said irritably, looking at the noisy device on Skulker's arm.
"The tracker has detected another ghost, approaching fast, a half-ghost to be exact."
"Daniel," Plasmius muttered almost inaudibly. "Of course, just when you think things couldn't get any worse."
"You aren't actually worried about him, are you?" Skulker asked with some surprise.
"I'm not," Plasmius replied wearily, "it's just that I have enough on my hands already, but I guess this was to be expected. Is the Ecto-Jammer working? He can't sense us right now, can he?"
"He should not be able to detect us. But in any case, shouldn't we deal with the whelp first?" His expression lit up with a small grin of anticipation.
"No, Juukka is our first priority. If Daniel decides to interfere, and we know he will..." Plasmius clenched his fists in annoyance, "...we'll just have to deal with him then."
The half-ghost turned to the hunter with a serious expression. "Skulker, although normally I would have no trouble dealing with Daniel, considering the current state of my powers he and Juukka together could give me some problems. I'm counting on you to back me up if the need should arise."
"Not a problem, you can count on me."
"Excellent." Plasmius smiled. "I don't have to remind you how much depends on this mission, Skulker."
The hunter nodded.
"We must succeed in capturing this ghost. If what we learned about him is correct, then..." An evil grin appeared on his features. "I must have him."
With those words both the hunter and the older half-ghost turned invisible, jumped from the building and then flew at full speed towards the industrial area, locking in on their prey.