The teenagers kept their gazes locked on the distant space of the city where the Dark Spire once stood. Smoke billowed out and away from the fallen tower, the black mist at the base of a poisonous waterfall whose source had been cut abruptly. For the longest time, no one moved, no one looked away. It had just been there, and then it wasn't.
The Spire had been destroyed.
But the heroes had not appeared at their sides.
Tootie blinked, once, twice, then sank to her knees, heartbroken sobs pouring from her body as she trembled violently, arms crossed over herself as she rocked back and forth.
"No, no, no... Not again... please...! Not again...!" she moaned. Elmer clutched the pink hat in his hands, eyes staring in utter disbelief at the rubble piled almost too neatly in a heap in that huge square of nothing.
"Dude..." Chester whispered, complete shock on his face, "Wh-where are they? They made it out, right?" He shook his head. "Come on! We gotta go check it out! Make sure they're still in one piece!" He raced past Cosmo and Wanda, the pink-haired fairy still struggling to get free, screaming intelligibly as she waved one arm at the absent Spire. Even though the tears that ran down his face were the same as his wife's, a second emotion shone in Cosmo's narrowed eyes. No one bothered to check on them, bothered to think about it.
"It came down just like we predicted." A.J. murmured evenly, peering through a pair of binoculars, adjusting the lenses with high-tech accuracy, "The placement of the bombs brought it down upon itself; there's no damage to any of the other buildings." Sanjay nodded slowly.
"Yes. If they were outside the building when it collapsed, they should be perfectly safe. They must have had enough time to escape the implosion." he agreed carefully. He looked aside at the dark-skinned boy. "But to be certain, let us follow Chester and examine the area." A.J. agreed silently and both boys turned to race for the fire escape, clambering down stairs as quickly as they could.
"Oh, bad, bad!" Elmer whined and turned, hurrying to catch up with the others. As soon as they left, Romi poofed into view, sobbing as hard as her godchild.
"Tootie, I'm sorry! I wanted to help, but I couldn't! I can't use magic on Timothy, and I couldn't grant wishes as long as those other boys were around!" she wailed, her hair a mess as she pulled at the pigtails, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"
"I... I wish... we were... at the tower..." the young Goth stammered out, still rocking back and forth in misery. The fairy couple watched her poof away with Andromeda, then lifted their own wands in unison, following them to ground zero.
By the time the boys arrived, Tootie, Cosmo and Wanda were already racing through debris, the girl clawing past chunks of black granite that she could manage, Wanda poofing large slabs into dozens of butterflies, and Cosmo merely pointing the wand at other sections, shattering each chunk of rubble into a shower of pebbles. Chester scanned the area visually, not bothering to question how the young Goth got there so fast. Fairies, magic, what's to shock him now?
"I don't see anything, guys. A.J., what's the four-one-one from your goggles?" he asked, starting the trek over the broken remains of the tower. The super-genius peered through the binoculars again, scanning the rubble.
"Debris everywhere, it's like a war-zone here and... hang on..." he remarked and walked forward, the other boys already picking their ways across the granite and steel, "There's a small flicker of something over there." A.J. pointed ahead. They raced towards the shimmer, catching Wanda's attention as she continued waving her wand at the debris. She blinked, unsure as to what they were up to, then...
Timmy's voice came over the Fenton Phone in her ear, broken, weakened. Her eyes lit up with hope and she called out to her husband joyfully. Tootie and Cosmo turned to her, startled, then ecstatic.
"Timmy! It's Wanda! Can you hear me?!" the fairy blurted out, happy tears blurring her vision, "Are you okay?! Where are you?!"
"...help me... field... weakening... please... Mom..."
"It's Wanda! Wanda!" she corrected out of habit, "Where are you?!"
"Hey! There they are!" Chester yelled, "Guys! Over here!" Tootie gasped and raced for the four boys standing at the lip of a small crater, Romi squealing happily as she dangled at her godchild's ear. Cosmo and Wanda flew after her, zipping ahead to peer down the hole the boys had found. Chester grinned up at them, unshed tears of relief shining in his eyes. "Is that the coolest thing you ever saw or what?! Just like on Crash Nebula!" he exclaimed, pointing into the crater.
A small dome spread out within it, completely covering the three figures that had entered the Spire. Caleb was frozen in a half-crouch, body covering Danny Phantom protectively as one hand held out the giant metal and wood fork he carried with him into battle. The ghost was hidden under the mass of green and red, shaking almost violently. The experience of having a building fall on top of him was enough to render him near senseless; he couldn't even move to see what had happened!
And Timmy stood by them, one arm stretched up with a shimmering diamond prism floating over it, its translucent blue crystal catching the morning light as the dome of similar hue flowed out from it to completely surround them. Tootie could only think of it as shining water that continuously spread from the crystal in a beautiful shield. Timmy's other hand stretched out to the android, a stream of glittering mist rising from the angel's body to wrap around and disappear into the boy's arm. The brunet's head hung down, face hidden by shadows and hair as he remained perfectly still.
"...Wanda... help... is it... safe...?" his voice called again, so faint in the fairy's ears she had to strain to hear it.
The rubble formed a perfect crater around the dome. The teens slid down into it to examine the dome for themselves. A.J. peered at it closely, picked up a stone, then tossed it at the shield. The chunk of granite coasted up the side for a brief moment, then swerved off back into the pile of rubble surrounding them.
"It's a reflector shield. He generated a dome of energy that bounced away anything that came near it." the boy finally deduced, "When the Spire fell, it was forced to fall around them, leaving them perfectly untouched." He rubbed his head thoughtfully. "It wouldn't take much energy to start it, but to maintain it throughout the entire collapse would probably take a huge amount. He must be drawing power from the android to support the shield."
"It's safe, Timmy. Drop the spell." Wanda whispered into the Fenton Phone. The dome flickered as the crystal spun slowly in place over the boy's open hand, then fell when the prism shattered into dust. Timmy stood still for a moment, the feed of mana from the android to him ending. Then, like a marionette whose strings were abruptly cut, he simply collapsed in a heap. Tootie uttered a cry and darted forward to hug him, Wanda flew in to check on him as well, her husband hanging back and clutching his wand closely as he bit his lip.
"Close... so very close..." he murmured to himself, "Thank goodness."
The angel slowly sat up, dazed as he set the fork down and Danny pulled away, uncurling to blink around at the suddenly too bright surroundings. Both looked confused as the group gathered around the young immortal that lay unresponsive on the ground, head held up in Tootie's lap.
"Wake up. Please, wake up!" she whispered.
"Wh-what happened?" the halfa murmured, holding up a hand to block the sun as he gawked at the crater, "We actually survived being inside this thing?!"
"I remembered too late that I could have just teleported us out." Caleb whispered, puzzled as he picked up the fork again and studied it for damage, "I guess I'm not as immune to stressful emotions as I thought I was." He looked aside at Timmy, baffled. "But as to what spell he used to save us... that's the greatest mystery to me. He used curative mana, the same mana for healing wounds, to generate a force field. And he tapped into my Tri-Crystal System directly to create a constant stream of mana with which to fuel the spell!"
"That's not possible?" Danny asked softly as Timmy coughed and slowly opened his eyes to the world. The android shook his head.
"Beyond not possible. It's mana manipulation of a degree no wizard or sorcerer could ever dream to match. Not even I can do something like that, and I've practiced magic far longer than even those fairies of his." he murmured and folded his arms over his chest, head tilted in a slightly baffled manner, "Yet he just did it in a split-second. I don't know whether to be proud of how well he's using mana, or frightened by the possibilities this presents him. Should I be jealous instead? What an enigma..."
"I feel like a building fell on me." Timmy complained, sitting up and rubbing his head, "Gah, I'm so worn out!"
"Dude, a building did fall on you!" Chester laughed, "Well, sort of anyway. Man, that shield thing you did was so totally awesome! And check it out; you guys took out the Spire!" Timmy blinked up at him, then stood uneasily with the help of his friends. With Wanda and Cosmo fluttering nearby happily, he climbed out of the crater with the group and looked out at the mound of black and gray, dust still settling even now.
"Wow." he breathed, one hand raised to shield his eyes from the sun. He turned his back to it and gazed out at the rest of the lot, "Hey! The traps! They're all dead!" He pointed and the group registered the lumps of metal they had raced by in their dash to reach the rubble. Devices of all kinds lay scattered across the ground, some smashed from the impact of having been airborne when the system failed, some crushed by rubble that fell on them during the collapse.
"The Dark Spire is destroyed, so all the traps under its control have been shut down!" Tootie exclaimed happily.
"We did it!" Timmy cheered, thrusting a fist into the air, "We took out one of Crocker's Dark Spires!" The group lifted fists with him, whooping and cheering as they jumped in celebration. Both Danny and Caleb flew out to join them, looking out at the chaos that was finally settling back into order. Wanda and Cosmo linked hands and spun in the air, laughing as the stress and fear melted away. An entire section of Dimmsdale, freed of the influence of the nullification field! This was a major step towards taking back the city and restoring its flow of magic!
Timmy closed his eyes with a smile, breathing deeply, then slowly exhaling. This was definitely a good step down the path he chose. He could feel life returning to the area; the scent of magic in the wind was weak, but soon it would grow and flourish. This whole sector, one-eighth of the city, was officially a safe zone. He lifted his exposed arm, tapped on the keys of the Adventurer's Map, and smiled brightly at the shining gold that curved along the south-western edge of Dimmsdale and pressed inward for several city blocks. Seven black spots remained, but there was hope now, instead of the despair he felt when he first saw them.
One by one they would fall; his death, and his life, would not be wasted.
"You know what?" Timmy remarked casually as the virtual map closed and the dust began settling on the group, giving them all a faintly gray tint, "I just realized that it's morning. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm starving!"
"Hey, yeah! We're gonna miss breakfast!" Chester realized with alarm and looked around, "And there aren't any dumpsters here!" A.J. looked down at his watch.
"It's only four-thirty. School won't start for another few hours and none of us have the rest to go through the day." he remarked.
"Leave it to me!" Timmy laughed, "Cosmo, Wanda! I wish the schools in Dimmsdale closed for the whole day so that everyone can take a break!"
"That's just vague enough to let us play with it!" Cosmo cheered and the couple lifted their shining wands, dropping mounds of snow on every school in the city, creating the first autumn Snow Day in Dimmsdale history.
"So, who's up for breakfast at the local Denny's?" Timmy asked, grinning at his dust-covered team, "My treat, of course!"
Chanting his name in celebration, the group of teens and heroes headed off the lot towards the inner workings of the city, leaving only the dull remains of a tower and a few dozen mechanical shells to tell the tale of the night magic began to make a stand in Dimmsdale.
Episode 1: Act 1