Dash liked power a lot. That didn't mean he knew how to use it.
Nerds feared his fists, his wedgies, his wrath whenever he did badly on the field. Jocks feared his influence in their sports of choice. Even the teachers stepped lightly around him, because if they drove Casper's best athlete, its most important student, to a private school, they'd be fired before the day was done.
Until Dash ruptured his ACL at the beginning of the football season and was force-fed his own medicine. He was an outcast, a pariah among his former friends.
"Well," Danny sighed, staring at the food-covered jock, "I do believe in second chances."
The thrall army of Pariah Dark, King of All Ghosts, was the most efficient military force in the two worlds. Or at least they were once they had their orders and if things went according to plan. Lacking minds of their own, the skeletal warriors couldn't improvise. That was left to their commander, usually the king himself but sometimes one of Pariah's retainers.
That was why the Ancients were told to attack Pariah himself, ignoring the army. If they got in close, the army couldn't shoot without risking their master. That way, the Ancients might stand a chance.
"Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Ghosts!"
"Dad, that's a bad thing."
"No it's not, Jazzypants! If there's a ghost, we get to hunt it. Ghosts!" Jack hefted his ecto-cannon.
His daughter gulped. "Um, Dad, that looks like more of an outdoor weapon"
"Banzai!" He fired. Green-white light scalded Jazz's eyes. The recoil knocked her and her father back.
Danny yelped. Jazz's heart froze. Was that pain in his voice?
No, she realized once her vision cleared. Just surprise and annoyance. Dad missed.
The redhead grinned. Good thing her father had more enthusiasm than skill.
Finally! Jazz had waited so long for this day, the day she could at long last step out of the shadows, stop merely covering for her baby brother, and join him and his friends in the field! She couldn't deny that she'd been curious about their methods, their strategies, about the amazing person that Danny really was. Especially the amazing person he hid behind his mask of normalcy. They could become close again, bond over hunting ghosts, and she'd get to protect him at the same time. It was perfect!
Or it would be, once it actually started. She hoped.
Desiree hated to admit it, but she'd reached her high point centuries ago. She'd been human then, bronze-skinned instead of green, the apple of her daddy's eye. Then that woman came along and everything was ruined. Ruined! She even died, things got so bad!
Since then, she'd tried desperately, ceaselessly, to claw her way to the top. She wanted her wish to come true, to go back to the height of her power and influence. She wanted what she'd lost so long ago.
Maybe this time, she'd actually get it.
He had no athletic skills to speak of, no preternatural intelligence like his elder sister—even like his parents, though their smarts were channeled into ghost-hunting tech—no all-consuming passion. He wasn't wealthy, wasn't even skilled at chess or debate or any other slightly more obscure, less cool talent. In a word, he was ordinary.
Well, maybe not ordinary, not with those parents, that sister. Definitely not ordinary, and not in a good way. The ghost hunters' geeky son was a freak, a loser, a nobody who would never amount to anything. They all thought he was nothing.
Oh, how wrong they were.
Everything was perfect. The lights, the décor, the music… all perfect, all wonderful.
Then a sour note rent the air.
Dora, newly crowned queen of Ynnis Drak, spun around, frowned at the unfortunate musician. The ghost blushed. "Apologies, Majesty. It won't happen again." To prove his point, he plucked the sour string again. It broke. The musician blanched. "I'm sorry! Now where's my spare string…?"
The dragoness could have wept. She had only a few minutes left before her first ball began. She wanted it to be perfect, and this threatened to ruin it.
Sweet song filled the air.
Danni much preferred fighting ghosts.
Well, okay, zombies kind of were ghosts. Kind of. They were just either really stupid or really desperate, so they went back and possessed their own corpses in a vain attempt to return to life. Sadly, corpses were not meant to house souls, so the attempt at overshadowing had some… interesting… effects on the corpse-ghost's neurological system. What little was left of the body's brain, that was.
"Oh, shut up," she growled, tearing the soul from the body.
"Brains!" cried another zombie, one of the many whose soul and body were still attached.
Danni groaned. She had a lot of work to do.
"This place is so cool," Sam enthused, pressing her face up against the glass of the Specter Speeder.
"It's creepy," Tucker argued.
"Well yeah. That's why it's so cool." Sam's purple lips quirked up in a smile.
A rock opened its… mouth? Since when did rocks have mouths? For that matter, how were these rocks floating? Was there some kind of gravitational center at the center of the Ghost Zone that kept them from flying off into who-knew-where? Was there—
The rock burped out a stream of green goo. Tucker dodged, a huge grin on his face.
They didn't know anything about the Ghost Zone, but they'd love to find out.
There were two rules to the bar: first, no fighting. Second, no former humans. Only animal ghosts (or sentients, as they called themselves in an attempt to differentiate their brethren from ordinary beasties) were allowed.
So when Skulker finally broke into the bar, he didn't find any foolish, frightened animals. He found dozens of angry, belligerent, and slightly drunken sentients who did not appreciate being interrupted.
"Attack!" shrieked an old Russian vulture, another of Plasmius's servants.
That vulture, its two comrades, a ten-foot bunny, a flock of starlings, and two dragons led the charge.
Skulker spent the rest of the night as a hunting trophy above the bar's fireplace.
Thank you, everybody, and especially to those who sent me Z prompts! I got about half of those from you guys.
MoM? is still fighting me *pauses to ward off attack from story* with everything it's got, but hopefully the next chapter will be up in 2ish weeks. Hopefully. It's not exactly a cooperative little bugger...
Happy new year!