Welp: Hello. It's me again, updating trolololol~ This story is still drawing to a close. Just...don't kill me after this, aight? Please. Don't do it. I like living.
I stopped speaking to Vlad after that.
We fought as though we were enemies, myself channeling all of my pent of emotions into my fists. I still had to struggle against the elder halfa, but I was growing stronger. He wouldn't best me for long.
Soon, I went back in for a few tests. My fitness was returning...I could run on the treadmill for hours and not even work up a sweat. Tearle assured me that that was normal-halfas didn't really sweat because of our lower body temperature. When I was younger...before the facility...and before I'd known about my powers, I had been normal, just like all the other kids. I can remember sitting in the bright sun on a hot day, watching over the streets from my perch on the fire escape, my sweat-soaked hair sticking to my forehead. No more. Those days were gone. My skin was always cold and clammy, as white as a sheet.
My body had begun to produce its own ectoplasm, so there were no more injections. No more wasting away in a hospital bed. I was moving forward in a new direction, learning to embrace the ghostly part of my nature that had so long been repressed.
I always felt starved, hungry. The need for emotion was growing stronger...and I was becoming more dependent on it.
Before I knew it, a year crept up on me.
A lot can happen in a year. I'd been separated from my family for twelve months, forced to subject myself to countless experiments and tortures.
I had changed...and inside I knew that I could never go back to what I'd been. I could never be fully human again.
It had been a year, and my powers still hadn't progressed any further. Tearle and Mr. V became even more impatient with me, resorting to harsh violence as my abilities failed me again and again. I found myself quickly turning into a terrified and skittish soul, who flinched whenever someone moved too quickly or shouted. Tearle began to starve me of emotion again, reducing me to a quivering emaciated mess. I tried my hardest to please her, but nothing worked. I simply couldn't do what she wanted me to.
That was when I was introduced to the tank.
The tank was a tube filled with raw ectoplasm, located in a lab off of the training rooms. I had no warning when the white coats came dragging me out of my bed, and into the harsh light. I screamed, but found a hand clamped over my mouth, stifling my protests. Soon, we were in the lab, and the tank was there, emptied of all ectoplasm, its front panel opened wide.
Before I could even take it all in, the hand covering my mouth was roughly replaced by a strange breathing apparatus...at least that was what I thought it was. Air rushed towards me, and my lungs sucked it in greedily. The guards maneuvered me up a small ramp, and into the tank itself. I tried to struggle against them, but their grip on my arms held firm.
I felt the prick of a needle in my arm, and the sickening feeling of liquid oozing into my veins. They'd drugged me...with what, I didn't know, but a strange sensation was racing through me...and I didn't like it at all.
I was left alone in the tube after that; the door shut on me, and vacuum sealed. I stood in the dark for a few moments, before something cold and wet started sloshing around my feet, rapidly rising up over my knees. It wasn't long until I was fully submerged, my body held fast in the thick substance, and, as I hung in its cold embrace, I realized what it had to be.
I didn't understand what was happening. Everything was moving too fast...One moment I was sleeping in my bed, the next, I was trapped in a strange tube. My mind couldn't keep up with everything...
It wasn't long before I realized that I couldn't move. My muscles were lax, trapped in the green goo. My eyes slipped closed, and I began falling in and out of sleep.
What came after was a whirl of confusion. Time passed by, wrong and distorted. Eventually, I couldn't feel anything. It was like I was floating in space, lost among the black. There were colors dancing in front of my eyes. I couldn't see my surroundings through the ectoplasm. It was a just a wall of solid liquid, holding me, trapping me in its embrace. I could hear voices, but I didn't know where they were coming from. The words seemed mumbled, and I almost drove myself crazy trying to hear. Trying to understand why they seemed to be talking about me, saying my name over an over again.
When the liquid finally began to drain, I could only slump bonelessly against the side of the chamber, body coated in slime. I was numb. I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't think or speak. I simply let a man remove the breathing mask from my face, and drag me out of the chamber. In the background, I could hear Tearle's voice, but I couldn't comprehend what she was saying. She asked me a question, and I nodded blindly, my bangs clinging to my face.
"Are you sure?" She asked me.
I nodded again, not really sure what I was agreeing to. I was tired, and a feeling of cold was settling over me. The ectoplasm had been warm...and being without that warmth felt strange to me. I didn't like the feeling. There was a breeze in the room, and I began to shake.
"Can you show me your ectoplasm?" Tearle asked. The room was growing clearer. I could hear her voice, and weakly raised my hand, forming the familiar substance in my hand.
"Good Halfa." she said, praising me.
"Can you fly?"
Fly? I couldn't fly. They'd tried in the gym before, but I'd never been able to. My dad could fly...but not me. Not at all.
"Good halfa." I heard Tearle say, and for a moment I wondered why I wasn't being punished...
And then I realized that I was hovering a few inches above the ground...
I could fly.
I landed with a thud.
"Can you show me your ghost half?"
That was something I knew I couldn't do. That part of me was still curled up, not yet ready to come out. I shook my head, resting a hand on my diaphragm. That's where it was. The power, waiting...waiting. It wasn't ready, and I couldn't force it.
That was when Tearle hit me, knocking me to the floor. My reflexes were too sluggish. I couldn't defend myself as her boot made contact with my ribs. I cried out, staring up at her through bleary eyes.
"You worthless beast!" She shrieked, leaning down to grab the front of my shirt. "You're really trying my patience. You can't even transform! Worthless! Worthless!"
I started crying.
"Put him back in." Tearle growled. I whimpered as I was seized and dragged backwards into the tube once more, injected with the same drug, and fitted with the breathing mask. When they closed the door, I began to scream until the ectoplasm swallowed me whole and the numbness set in.
..."We need results."...
That was the first thing I heard when I awoke the second time, still covered in ectoplasm, and spread out on a metal table. There were bright lights in my eyes, sending stabs of pain through my mind. I tried to look away, but my body wouldn't listen. A whimper rumbled deep in my throat.
"The point wasn't to kill him. You kill him, and that's it. No more research."
Tearle was angry at someone...she wasn't happy at all...
"My superiors have changed their minds. They don't need anymore information. They want a halfa."
"I'm doing the best I can! He's been exposed to so much ectoplasmic radiation in the past week, he should be dead. There's nothing else I can do to make this happen."
And I began to sob, loudly, like a child. It was all I could do. Everyone in the room turned to me, and just stared, unsure of what to do. In that time, I begged for my family. I wanted to see them again. I wanted to see my dad and my mom. I wanted to see the girl I had hoped would be mine. I didn't want to see anymore ghosts, or the color green. I didn't want to eat emotion, or feel helpless and trapped. I wanted to be free.
"Shut him up!" Tearle snapped. A man approached, and clamped his hand over my mouth.
"We can try the tank one more time, but after that, we can't risk it. We can't lose his blood."
And then the torture began anew.
The next time they pulled me out, I was once more thrown onto a table beneath harsh lights. I looked around, seeing only a few faceless figures dressed in white. I saw Tearle, and her assistant with the clipboard, who was clearly afraid of me. I mentally reached out, trying to force the emotion from him, but Tearle yanked the boy aside, glaring at me with her cold eyes.
"You're going to have to get over this." She hissed to the boy, shoving him away from the table. "You're no use if you're afraid."
"I'm sorry." The boy whimpered, and I heard him walking away.
They did a few x-rays, took some more blood. Someone pulled up my shirt, and checked my heartbeat.
"It's slowed." The person, a man, told Tearle, drawing away. Tearle took the device, listening for herself.
"That's normal." She said. "Help me strap it down, and we'll leave it for the night. This whole thing was useless."
Then, they left, and I was all alone.
Or so I thought.
The young man with the clipboard was still there, standing a few feet away, staring at me. I returned his gaze, aware that my eyes were glowing green in the darkness.
"I'm going to try not to be afraid of you." The boy said.
I shook my head weakly.
"Don't know what there is to be afraid of now."
The young man took a few cautious steps forward, his shoes making loud sounds in the quiet lab.
"Most people are afraid of ghosts" He said, his voice timid and soft. "...but...I got a phone call from my dad yesterday...and he told me some things. Things that made me think."
The boy shrugged stiffly, sliding the clipboard beneath his arm.
"He said that not all ghosts were evil. They're just driven to do bad things by their obsessions. It sounded like he'd been wanting to tell me that for a while, but he didn't have the courage. He was afraid to."
I could feel tears welling in my eyes again, but I held them back. I couldn't be weak again.
"Who are you?" I asked, tipping my head to the side.
"My name is Jung." The young man replied, holding one hand to his chest. "I'm an intern here. My father works...worked here in one of the labs."
His slip-up was impossible to miss, even for my addled mind.
"He's been missing for about two months." The boy murmured, hanging his head. "One night, he didn't come home, and despite our best efforts, he couldn't be found. About a week after that, Mr. V called my mother and told her to stop searching for him. I thought...I thought that maybe he'd stolen company secrets, or tried to smuggle out a ghost. Sometimes workers do that...but then he called me." The boy shook his head, a small smile curling over his thin lips. "I was mad at him at first, that he would jeopardize everything we'd worked for, but then he told me about you, and your father-"
"Your dad knows my father?"
Jung nodded once more.
"They went to high school together. And, in the end, it was my father that helped yours escape."
He clenched his fists at his sides.
"I've been blind all these years, thinking that ghosts were just spectral echoes and monsters that needed to be eradicated. I now know that my father was ashamed of me...and I'm ashamed of myself...I want to make this right."
The boy turned to me, his dark eyes filled with sadness.
"Something's going to happen tonight. Be ready. Don't worry about anyone else. Just get out of here."
"I can't tell you any more." Jung said, holding up his hand to silence me. "Good luck."
And with that, he was gone.
Confused and scared, I lay on the metal table, staring at the ceiling until my eyes flickered shut, and sleep overcame me.
It happened during the night.
There were suddenly arms holding me, forcing me to keep still. There must have been at least five men around me, all of them trying to push me to my feet. I screamed, but a hand quickly clapped over my mouth, effectively silencing my protests.
"If you try to run, we'll shoot you." A guard hissed in my ear. "You need to cooperate if you want to live through tonight."
I glared at him, but allowed two of the men to hoist me up, and carry my body uncomfortably between them. The others pulled blasters from their holsters, flanking us on three sides as I was forced from the lab.
I instantly knew that something was terribly wrong.
There was a loud screeching echoing through the halls, mingled with the sounds of groaning metal and breaking tile. I could hear blasters firing, hear the screams of men cut abruptly silent. There was a battle going on. The facility was under attack.
Fear raced through me, and I braced my feet on the ground, refusing to go any further. There was a voice shouting over the intercom, but I couldn't make out what it was saying. There were so many sounds...so many emotions.
"What's going on?" I demanded, overwhelmed by all the lights and the noise.
The guards refused to answer, instead roughly kicking my feet out from under me, and pulling me along faster though winding corridors.
Suddenly, a piercing wail ripped into my ears, followed by a flash of green, and the heat of an explosion. The guards and I were thrown by the force of the blast, debris raining down on us. I instinctively covered my head with my arms, waiting for the assault to end, my heart beating rapidly in my chest.
A quiet lull descended over the area, and I scrambled through the mess of broken cinderblocks and metal, trying to pull myself to my feet. Dust filled my lungs and I coughed, pain flaring in my side. With a groan, I clamped a hand over the area, almost recoiling as I felt something wet and warm beneath my fingertips. Red and green blood blossomed over my white shirt. I flinched, stifling a scream.
I turned, seeing one of the guards pulling himself from the mess, his white suit covered in dust and specks of blood. Swallowing my pain, I staggered to my feet, only to slip on a loose bit of tile, and fall to the glass covered floor. In seconds, the guard was grabbing my arms, dragging me through the fallen debris, his face wild. I screamed, flailing against his hold, trying to find my ghost powers. But they weren't responding. They weren't listening to me.
"When I find my gun, I'm going to shoot you, brat." The man said, sneering at me. "I'm going to shoot you in the head, and then all of this damn mess will be over."
"Let go!" I cried, kicking out with my legs, making it as hard for him as I could.
"I'm not going to let go. I'm not going to let go until-"
Another flash of green light ran across my vision, and I heard the guard cry out, before his body slumped to the floor, his grip on my arms going lax. I spun around, my stomach churning when I saw that his chest was nothing more than a smoking crater.
I backpedalled away from the body, a whimper tearing from my throat as a shadowy figure appeared behind it, hands glowing an unnatural bright green...the color of my eyes, and the explosions. The color of ectoplasm...
It was a ghost.
The specter studied me for a moment, before it began to approach, thick boots crunching over glass and stone.
"Get away from me!" I shouted, my hand reaching for a chunk of broken cinderblock. I hefted it in my palm, the weight feeling reassuring. I had to defend myself. Whatever this thing was, I knew that it had destroyed the compound and killed all those people... and I knew that I couldn't hold it off forever.
But I had to try.
The ghost stopped, staring at me with its glowing green eyes, tilting its head curiously. I found myself looking back, my body tensed, ready for an attack that never came. However, the more I stared, the more familiar its face became, and my gut clenched.
"Jake?" The specter called.
The stone fell from my hand.
"Dad?" I whimpered, my own voice suddenly gone.
And the ghost nodded, a smile forming on his lips.
I couldn't believe it. His hair was stark white, and his eyes an unnatural green. He was dressed in white and black, his clothing singed in places, and splattered with blood. But I didn't care. It was him. He'd come for me...he hadn't forgotten me.
He'd come to rescue me.
"Dad!" I cried, pushing myself to my feet. I found myself wrapped in my father's arms, his hands grasping at my shirt, his face buried in my shoulder.
"Jake. It's really you." He whimpered, sobs suddenly tearing through his body. "I thought I wouldn't find you. I was afraid they'd taken you away."
"I'm here, Dad." I said, tears spilling down my own cheeks. "I can't believe...I thought..."
"We can talk later." My father said, gently pushing me away. "We have to get out of here before-"
He yelped as something green hit him head-on, knocking him to the floor. I shouted and tried to run to his aid, but strong arms wrenched me back, and roughly forced my wrists into handcuffs. I kicked and flailed, until I felt something jab into my side, and a shock tore through my body. I slumped in my captor's hold, my legs suddenly useless.
"This was a gutsy move, even for you, Phantom." A voice spat. I tensed. I knew that voice...I could hear it yelling at me, pushing me through my tests even as my body faltered. I could hear it, on the first day I came to the compound, telling me I worthless. His face often filled my nightmares...
Struggling to lift my head, I saw him, hefting a huge weapon over his shoulder, his mouth curled into a vicious smirk. He was joined by a dozen others, all dressed in full battle gear. Then...my gaze turned to my father, hunched up on the debris-ridden floor, trapped by a glowing net that constricted his body. His eyes were blazing, and he shrieked as the net sparked with static. I knew it was hurting him, but there was nothing I could do. My limbs were jelly...and I wasn't as powerful as he was. I couldn't single-handedly break into a GIW facility. Hell, I couldn't even find my ghost half.
I wasn't strong enough to help him.
"Dad!" I shouted, only to have a GIW agent strike me in the back of the head with the butt of his gun.
"I can't believe that Tearle's plan actually worked." Mr. V laughed, taking a few steps closer to my dad's prone form. "She said your pup would draw you back to us, and look. It did. So predictable."
My father screamed as Mr. V pressed his boot into his ribs, pushing down down, threatening to snap them in two.
"Sure, you tore down half the facility in the process, but we can rebuild. We can do anything now that we've got three hyrbids."
"Y-you have me." Daniel coughed, breath coming in ragged gasps. "Let Jake go."
Mr. V only laughed.
"Why should we, Mr. Phantom?" He said, releasing the pressure. "He might not be like you, but he has his uses."
At that, my father screamed, his legs bucking and kicking, fingers grasping at the rope's strands. Mr. V only laughed at him, snapping his fingers at his men.
"Make sure to put a muzzle on him the moment he's free. We won't be surprised by his secret weapon next time, will we?"
Spy Guy: Hallo. I once was the queen of DP angst on this site, donchaknow? This is kind of sadistic, even for me. WELP. Can't help it now. The next chapter is another interruption, and if you guess who it focuses on, you get a cookie. The cookie may or may not be laced with poison, but you will get one. AND YOU WILL LIKE IT.