I had the idea in my head for a while and it turned into this kind-of-sucky two shot. The first part is okay, but I'm not sure about the ending, kind of left it for you guys to imagine it, but it's not a cliffy or anything. Let me know what you guys think!
"Oh what now?" the bald teacher moaned as the constant noises outside his classroom window over- rid his voice.
All of the students had taken up to looking out the windows rather than listening to their teacher anyway. It was a bright day outside, the sun showing on the snow that had recently fallen on their town, covering sidewalks and lawns in a perfectly white blanket. Currently in that snow, were a collection of news vans, T.V. crews, and ghost hunters who were dressed in a very business-like fashion instead of their eccentric jumpsuits. Unfortunately, one of these ghost hunters was local.
A large man, in an orange jumpsuit with a horrid striped tie hanging loosely from his broad neck looked up and was waving with much enthusiasm up at his son. Danny only moaned and sank in his seat, wishing he could just phase out of the room, as some of the students started to snicker at him.
"What's with the party out there?" Tucker asked, one of Danny's best friends, as he watched the people from his PDA (via hacked satellite footage) rather than peer outside the window only three feet away.
"I don't know," Danny groaned, knowing it had to be something ghost-related with his parents here. "I think they tried to tell me about it this morning, but I was running late and ran out before they could tell me."
"You know Danny, it's actually a good idea to listen to your parents before they go and do stunts like this," Sam told him, scowling slightly in her Goth way of saying he had been stupid for not finding this out earlier.
"Says the girl who had social services on speed dial," Danny shot back. "You won't let your parents get in two sentences when they try to talk to you."
"Because every sentence they speak includes the words 'pink' and 'hot pink'," the girl argued back, pulling her long hair back behind her shoulder.
Danny watched her, finding that he liked Sam's hair long and down. It showed off her face better then pulling it back in her normal pig tail behind her head.
"What are you staring at?" she asked, arching a smooth black eyebrow.
Danny realized he had been staring for too long and fixed his eyes forward, blushing slightly at being caught doing something he had no control over.
"Nothing," he said, a slight rise in his voice from the nervousness.
"Oh boy, we're in deep trouble," Tucker got between his two friends and put the volume on his PDA up to max so they all could hear. "Watch this you guys."
"Amity Park has been nationally known as the most haunted town in America," said the petite little Asian woman who was speaking into a channel 7 microphone. "With the title has come a great deal of business with tourism and site seers, wishing to catch a glimpse of these odd spectators from a different dimension."
"Stupid people," Danny muttered, remembering the countless times he had to save a mindless tourist because they were too busy snapping pictures to run out of the way when a car or building came crashing down on them.
"However, one ghost stands out in popularity compared to all of the rest, a ghost known only as Phantom," the lady continued. "Not much is known about this ghost and not many know what he fully looks like. Here is the best picture of him, the image taken by an armature with his cell phone."
A clip of a black and white blur was shown up in the corner of the screen. The face was hardly visible, but the stock of white atop it was obvious and the blazing green light in a sketchy-looking fist was bright and threw the picture off in resolution. The picture left and the woman was back with Jack and Maddie Fenton at her side in the background.
"I'm here with local ghost experts, Jack and Maddie Fenton of FentonWorks, to ask about this ghost," the reporter turned to Maddie and stuck the microphone in her face. "Tell me Mrs. Fenton, do you see this Phantom as a threat to society?"
"Well, any ghost is a threat to society," Maddie said as if it should be common knowledge. "They are nothing but mindless forms of ectoplasm, much like an animal."
"Except they can turn invisible and intangible!" Jack added loudly into the mike.
"Yes dear," Maddie smiled up at him, but pushed him back and continued with the reporter's question. "As to the question of Phantom, I'm afraid it's a bit of a mystery. For the three years that he's been around, we haven't been able to gather much information about him."
"Do you know what he looks like?" the reporter asked.
"The only thing we can be certain on is that he is humanoid."
"What about his powers? How strong is Phantom exactly?"
"That, again, is unknown. Phantom seems to do a great amount of property damage, but then again, many ghosts do."
"What about his obsession?"
"That is unknown as well, Phantom never shows himself unless another ghost is around. We theorize that it has to do with territory."
"So, Phantom might have died around here and considers this 'his'?" the reporter tried to clarify for the people watching at home.
"That is one of the many working theories," Maddie nodded. "It is uncertain how exactly Phantom died and why he is still here, but we're hoping to find more information about him very soon."
"Uh oh," Sam said quietly, eyes going wide at those words.
Danny agreed with her, something akin to fear started to spread through his chest, but, at the same time, excitement as something in him reveled in the challenge of dodging this new threat. Over the years, Danny had gotten considerably stronger and grew to be a master at keeping his secret from everyone, and some of his deeper secrets from his friends as well. He was a good liar, wearing the appropriate mask when needed, and it seemed to become mundane as of late. This new change to break the routine somehow got him excited.
"And just how do you plan on doing this?" the reporter asked Maddie again.
"Well, we're going to be combining forces with some well recognized ghost communicators," Maddie said, gesturing to the team behind her. "Dr. Dorr is going to help us try and communicate with Phantom. Since weapons don't seem to work on him, perhaps a different approach is needed."
"You're not afraid that he will attack you?"
"Oh no, we will be armed, but we have faith in Dr. Dorr and her tactics. She has caught and released ghosts many times and successfully with her methods."
"What exactly are her tactics?"
"I'm afraid I can't answer that. Dr. Dorr likes to keep her methods secret."
"You heard it here first: the Fentons are partnering with Dr. Dorr to capture Phantom and finally end the ghost invasions forever in Amity Park."
Danny turned the PDA off and sat back in his chair, closing his eyes and thinking.
"What's the plan?" Tucker asked.
"Lay low, for now," Danny answered, not looking at them. "Try and get some information on this Dr. Dorr. I'm sure I'm going to hear all about it at home, maybe I can wheedle out some answers about her tactics from my folks, or even the good Doctor herself. I want to talk to Clockwork too, see what's up."
"He's not going to tell you anything," Sam told him.
"Still worth a shot," Danny said stubbornly, even though she was probably 98% right.
Even though he was sixteen, Danny didn't have a car. Sam's parents bought her a decked up Mercedes, but of course she didn't ever drive it, and even Tucker's parents managed to scrape up enough to get him a fixer-upper, but Danny didn't have one, and he didn't really need one when he didn't even have to touch the ground or obey traffic and speed laws.
He told Sam and Tucker he was going home, he told his parents that he was going to hang out with Sam and Tucker. Telling both to call him on his cell phone, he waited until the place was deserted to go ghost.
The cold twin rings traveled over his form slowly. He felt everything about him change, his body, his mind, his lease on life. As Fenton, he was bound by rules and laws that made him feel restricted. As Phantom, nothing could weigh him down; he was free in a way that he couldn't express; free to truly be himself. As the transformation ended, he opened his eyes and looked around in the sky to see if anything was up there, mainly Valerie or the GIW. With the skies clear, he took to the air and traveled out of town.
In the Ghost Zone, ghosts had lairs: a place completely made by them and for them, a type of home for them when they weren't in the human world causing Danny trouble. A ghost's lair was special to them; it's like a human building their own house, so much of themselves went into it that it felt sacred. Danny had such a place as well; it only seemed natural since he was part ghost, certainly he would want a place to just be.
He didn't make it himself in a sense; years ago, before Danny received his powers, there was a large forest fire in the outskirts of Amity Park. A great deal of the wooded area was burned down. The damage had been massive, acres of land burned into nothing but ash and dust. Many experts deduced that it would be slow in recovering, if ever; the area was so damaged that they thought it would never become what it once was.
Danny had been fleeing from Valerie, who had seemed to be dead set on destroying him that evening for some reason, and had crashed here out of pure exhaustion. Luckily, he had lost Valerie, but this new place he had landed in was making a hole in his heart known that he didn't know he had. He felt the burning as if he himself was on fire, but he could feel the life of the place, buried deep in the ground. He didn't know how he did it, but he somehow reached down and brought the life back up to the surface. He didn't remember clearly what had happened that night, but when he woke up, there was a nice small start to new grass and baby trees littered the land like little toothpicks. Since then, he had been returning to this place, cultivating it, making it new and stronger with each visit. He didn't know how he did this, but it seemed his mere presence made the trees grow to new heights and the trickling river run faster in excitement. When the wildlife had returned, they accepted him, not in the least bit scared of him. They walked around him as if he was as natural as a tree or bush growing in the ground, or they would come up to him, wanting companionship or to show him something. Danny was able to understand the wildlife without talking to them, it was as if they simply needed to think it and he knew what they wanted or needed, no words or even coherent thoughts were needed; he always knew what was going on in his haunt, his lair, his 'being' place.
The second he touched ground in his place, he heard a padding of small paws and soon his feet were assaulted by small, wiggling bodies. Danny laughed and bent down to pet the wolf cubs that had come to greet him. There were five, all grey in color and about the size of a house cat. Their mother, a large grey wolf that was nearly half his own height, was laying down close by the opening of the den, sunning herself. She saw Danny and barked at him in greeting.
"Good to see you too," Danny said to her.
He never needed names with them; he always knew who was who even without a designated name.
"They've gotten bigger."
Danny stood up and turned around. Clockwork was there, shifting forms between his old man and young self. Danny walked up to him, feeling annoyed that Clockwork was here without a warning, but he let it go, he did want to talk to the time ghost after all.
"What are they doing Clockwork?" he asked the elder.
"Just what you think they're doing," Clockwork said cryptically.
"Trouble is going to come out of it," Danny said, picking up one of the pups as it began to chew on his boot. "Lots of trouble."
"Yes, but all things will right themselves, you know that better than anyone."
"Right, but still, I don't like it to happen."
Clockwork said nothing to this as Danny scratched the cub behind the ears.
"Can any of this be avoided?" Danny asked.
"I'm afraid not, but there is a right way and a wrong way to handle it," Clockwork answered half-coherently for once. "I must also say that it will bring the attention of some of the other ghosts. They will pull in other ghosts with their methods, though you won't be effected since you have a human half."
"That's good to know, but you won't tell me their methods will you?"
"No, that's for you to learn."
"Of course it is."
"I am not your guardian for nothing. Half of my job is to protect you, and the other half is to teach you. I simply know the opportune times when I can do that."
"I call that cheating," Danny teased, bending down to let the cub go play with the others. "Will there be a day when you won't be my guardian anymore?"
"You'll have to see now won't you?" Clockwork smiled, which was rare for him, but Danny always seemed to amuse him with the questions the young hybrid knew he wouldn't answer. "Oh, before I forget, I have something for you."
Clockwork reached down into the folds of his cloak and brought out a small little white ball in his gloved hand. Danny knew at once that it was alive, the energies it gave off were clearly that of a small new-born, thing. He watched as the ball slowly unbound itself and fall onto its side, peeping miserably and flailing in the time ghost's hand.
"A white owl?" Danny asked amazed, taking the baby hatchling in his hands gently.
"This area was once populated with such creatures," Clockwork said, brandishing his staff around the trees. "Though not really indigenes to this area, for some reason, the snowy owl seemed to thrive here, but when the fire happened, it killed them off. I think it's time to start it again."
"Thank you, but why a baby? Surely an adult would do just as well?"
"This was the only one I could pull out of the time line without causing the time stream to collapse. I'm afraid you'll have your hands full for a while."
"Not really," Danny looked up and Clockwork did as well.
The shadow of the red hawk coming in to sit upon a branch just above their heads circled them before the bird itself perched in the tree. She squawked at them, wondering why she had been called.
"Your nest, could it take one more?" Danny asked the hawk as he held up the baby owl in his hands up to the young mother bird.
The hawk came down to perch on Danny's shoulder and he brought the bird back to his chest for the hawk to inspect. She sniffed the little naked ball and pushed it gently with her beak. She cawed in Danny's ear then gently picked the owl up in her claws to take back to her nest.
"I'll be by soon to see how things are!" Danny called back up to her as she rushed back to her nest, then turned back to Clockwork. "She's a good mother, she'll make sure to feed him and everything."
Clockwork only nodded and looked at the vast expanse of Danny's lair.
"It is beautiful Danny, you've done a good job."
Danny looked down and mumbled a thank you.
"Yes, it is quite obvious how you affect the things around you. All of this would be dead for decades without your help, and now you've made it into your own place. This is quite amazing."
"Yeah, for a ghost who can level a city without really trying," Danny mumbled. "Sometimes I don't know why I feel connected to this place, but when I'm here, I feel everything, gain strength from it. I don't know why, but I just do."
"It is often that way with ghosts and their lairs. I don't know why mine appeals to me, but it just does," Clockwork looked around the area one more time before saying his good-byes fading away back into his own lair.
Dinner was 'fend for yourself' night at the Fenton household. You normally had your pick between the contaminated leftovers or whatever was in the freezer. Luckily for Danny, he had already eaten and didn't need to go digging through the fridge like his dad was doing right now. Danny heard Jack mumbling to himself as he came into the house and threw his bag and keys on the table beside the door.
"That you Dan-O?" Jack asked when he heard the door shut.
"Yeah, what are you doing?"
"Just trying to find the ham."
Danny scrunched up his face in disgust, that ham had spoiled nearly three years ago; if it wasn't for the contaminates in the fridge keeping it smelling at least half-way decent, Danny was sure it would have been thrown out long ago.
"Hey, why didn't you tell me you were going to be at my school today?" Danny asked.
"Well, we tried, but you ran out in such a hurry that your mother and I didn't have a chance," Jack explained, finally pulling his bulk out of the fridge, thankfully, empty handed.
"What were you doing there in the first place? Wouldn't a better place for an interview be here at the house?" Danny asked, though he knew full well why they were at the school.
"Because, Dr. Dorr was setting up her equipment around the campus," Jack's big smile was back in place as he sat down at the table. "That ghost kid is always showing up around the high school so she set up some stuff there and all of the other places that he's been sighted at."
"That's like the whole town!" Danny raised his hands up in the air, not believing this.
"I know! Your mother is still out there with Dr. Dorr setting stuff up. That ghost kid won't know what hit him."
"Oh, I'm sure he'll have some idea," Danny muttered into his breath. "So, how exactly are you going to catch him?"
"Oh son, now that's a secret," Jack admonished him with a waving finger.
"But, if I'm going to be hunting ghosts some day, shouldn't I be in on it?" he asked. "After all, how can I learn if I don't know what's going on?"
Jack pondered this for a moment.
"You're right Danny, ghost hunting is important, almost as important your school work! I guess it's okay to tell you; it's not like you're going to go run off telling the media, or that ghost kid."
"Nope, not at all," Jack missed the sly smile on his son's face at the irony of it all. "So, how are you going to do it?"
"Well, Doc Dorr says that a ghost always returns to its lair to regenerate itself, which goes with what your mother and I theorize," Jack said proudly. "We set up all sorts of spectral cameras to see if we can catch that ghost kid and where he goes to all of the time when he's not bothering us."
"So, you're going to try and get Phantom in his lair?" Danny tried to keep the fear out of his voice. "But, doesn't a ghost have its lair in the Ghost Zone? Shouldn't you be looking there?"
"No evidence of Phantom ever going into the Ghost Zone. He seems to want to stay on this side of reality bad enough to fight for it. Dorr thinks that he found some source of ghost energy to thrive on that leaks from a weakness in the barrier between here and the Ghost Zone. When we find that leak, we find Phantom's lair, and then we find Phantom."
"Then what?" Danny gulped, not liking this idea of at all, scared that his secret place would be revealed, than everything within it would get hurt.
"Don't right know. We could just study him for a while, see his behavior tactics and stuff," Jack pondered to himself, obviously not thinking that far ahead. "Phantom is so different, and no one has seen his face before, so we might just do some studies before we capture him and do some tests in the lab. Since he acts differently, there must be a reason."
"Yeah, I guess. Um, what do these cameras look like, just so I know."
"Oh, they look like normal security cameras, only with green lenses to detect ecto-plasma."
"Thanks Dad, I'm going to my room to do homework."
Danny was out of the room before Jack could say anything else about their plan. Danny spent a few minutes worrying in his room. He couldn't let them find his place, not even his best friends knew about it! If they found it, they might destroy the forest again to weaken him, then many of the animals would lose their homes and the beauty would be gone for good.
"Those cameras need to go," he mumbled to himself, transforming once again when it had become dark out.
He took the Blue-tooth out of his pocket that Sam had gotten him and turned it on so that it would dial his friends' phones.
"Hello?" Sam answered first.
"What's up dude?" Tucker asked a second later.
"Hey guys, I put you on three-way," Danny said as he landed on a roof so that he could concentrate on the conversation. "Listen, I got the plan out of my dad. Apparently, they're trying to find my haunt."
"You're what?" Tucker asked, confused.
"His lair," Sam clarified and Danny could imagine her rolling her eyes. "You know, that place he always goes to that he thinks we don't know about."
Danny's eyes went wide before they narrowed at Sam's words.
"Oh, right," Tucker said, but it sounded like he was still a little in the dark.
"How did you know about that?" Danny asked a little sharply.
"Danny, you can't keep much from us. You knew we would find out sooner or later," Sam said, sounding smug. "We don't know where exactly it is, but we guessed that it's kind of like your hideaway now, like my room is for me from my parents."
"And how the attic is mine when I just need to think," Tucker put in his two cents. "I know it drives me nuts if I hang around people all of the time."
"Plus with ghosts having lairs in the Ghost Zone and you being half ghost, we figured you could use the space," Sam added.
"Well, thanks for the privacy," Danny said, smiling at them and thinking himself stupid for trying to hide such a thing from them.
"Can we see it sometime?" Tucker jumped in, sounding excited. "Is it filled with games dude, oh you gotta have a giant screen TV in there right?"
"Tucker, hush!"Sam yelled at him. "Why did you call? You said something about getting the plan from your Dad?"
"Yeah, they set up cameras all over town to try and catch me. Ecto-seeking cameras, with green lenses. Think you can help me out in dismantling them?" Danny asked, already knowing the answer though.
"No prob!" Tucker said with enthusiasm. "Just let me grab Helen and Jacie and I'm good to go."
"You know that's why you never get a date right?" Sam commented dryly at the tech-geek over the line.
"Hey! How many times has my tech gotten Danny's butt out of trouble?" Tucker argued.
"And how many times did it get him in trouble?" Sam argued back. "Remember when Technus almost got control of the internet because somebody showed him how the game worked?"
"And how about when you got kidnapped by Arragon?"
"I was doing just fine without you guys! I was this close to getting that crown removed when you guys barged in and grabbed me."
"Uh, what about Skulker? He got a hold of the PDA and it messed with his systems."
"Yeah, until you fooled around with it and didn't power him down when you should have. A gorilla had to do your job!"
"Guys enough!" Danny interrupted. "Sam, play nice with Tucker for a few hours please. It would be hard explaining how a boot got shoved up his butt. Tucker, just do what you do best and scramble the cameras. I'm in the town square now so I'll take downtown, you two can take uptown with the mall and stuff."
"Alright, I'll give those cameras the worst virus ever!"
"And I'll make sure he stays quiet, good luck Danny, and try to stay low."
"I'll do my best Sam, call if you have trouble."
"Same with you."
Tucker and Sam hung up while Danny flew over to the town clock, spying a camera right away. He stayed out of its sight and blasted it with an ecto ball, the bits shattering and smoking as they hit the ground stories below him.
"One down, about a hundred to go," Danny turned to see downtown and saw cameras everywhere and set to work blasting them.
"I don't believe this!"
Danny woke up to someone screaming angrily downstairs. It had been a long night making sure those cameras disappeared. When he had finished with his half of Amity, he went to help Sam and Tucker speed up the process. Even with their help, there had been an enormous amount of cameras to destroy. Danny had been surprised that his parents and Dr. Dorr could put all of those up in one day, and by the screaming, he knew they weren't happy about it. He smiled to himself in satisfaction before getting up and going downstairs to see what the matter was, though he already had some idea.
His parents were in the kitchen with a small brown haired woman with glasses that he guessed was Dr. Dorr. The table was covered in the smoking remains of the cameras. He saw from the windows that outside, Dr. Dorr's team was trying to do some repairs and whatnot on the front lawn, but he wanted to see this Dr. Dorr for himself so he came into the kitchen, rubbing his eyes free of grain in the corners of his eyes.
"What's with the screaming?" he asked, sounding irritated, and he was, he was tired from last night's escapades.
"Well, it seems that Phantom doesn't like being watched," Maddie said, sounding upset as she picked up a melted lens then let it fall into the pile on the table.
"I bet the spook had been watching us all day yesterday," his father banged his large fist on the table, making debris fly into the air and land on the counters and floor. "When I get my hands on that ghost kid I'm going to wring his crummy little neck."
"Well, I should say I'm not surprised," Dorr said, rubbing her eyes then putting her glasses back on her face. "It bugs me that they're destroyed because they cost a pretty penny, but Phantom seems to be extremely territorial. Still, the fact that he knows we're here and hasn't come to blast us is confusing."
"Right, most ghosts would just fight off whatever is invading their space," Maddie said, catching on to Dorr's thoughts. "Come to think of it, no one has seen him during the day unless a ghost is around, so he isn't sensitive to light. And he is seen at night sometimes, but mostly when a ghost is around, he must use the darkness as cover when he comes out just to roam around. He's never bothered a human, well, it's never been reported anyway."
"It seems Phantom dislikes conflict, at least with humans, his own kind might be a different story," Dorr agreed.
Danny only switched his head back and forth from his mother to Dorr as they theorized out loud. He was amazed that they got most of it right, but it was kind of obvious for those who were professionals in this field of ghostly study. He shouldn't have been that freaked out because they didn't know his big secret or where his haunt was, but he was. If they were this focused on the whole thing, then they might find him out eventually.
"Then, how do we lure him out?" Maddie asked herself.
"We could release a harmless ghost to grab his attention," Dorr said. "If his pattern of behavior is constant, then he would show up to get rid of the ghost and we can catch him then."
"Perfect!" Jack said, fist in the air and the other smashed into the table top again.
Danny only shook his head and was glad that he was hearing this plan come out first hand; he wouldn't have to drag it out of his father again.
"Yeah, you do that," he said as he turned around. "I'm going back to bed to sleep in. It is Saturday after all."
"Alright sweety, don't sleep in too late!" Maddie called after him as he walked up the stairs.
He transformed in his room and snuck out invisibly. He flew to Tucker's first, finding the tech-geek snoozing in bed still at nine in the morning.
"Waky waky!" Danny poked Tucker in the face and the other boy only slapped it out of the way and turned over. "Oh I have so wanted to do this again."
Danny phased into Tucker's dream and a second later, Tucker was screaming and Danny was flipping in the air only to land gracefully on his feet before his friend.
"Seriously, I was demoted to pool boy?" Danny asked him angrily.
"It's not like I have a choice in subject matter when I dream," Tucker groused, picking up his hat from the bed post and slapping it on his head. "And don't do that again!"
"No problem here," Danny rolled his eyes. "Come on, they have another plan to take Phantom down. Let's get over to Sam's."
"Uh, are you sure that's a good idea?" Tucker seemed frightened as he got up and grabbed a pair of pants to put on. "Sam's Goth and you don't disturb a Goth lady when she's had a late night."
"Trust me, she'll forgive us."
A few screaming fits and a black eye later, they were all in Sam's car and driving off to the outer part of Amity towards the forested area that was Danny's haunt. He figured that it was time to show his friends were he went all of the time and it would be safest to talk there without being overheard by nosy parents or whatever was set up to catch Phantom again.
"Why are we doing this again?" Tucker moaned as he nursed the black eye that Sam had given him when she woke up, surprised to see them in her room.
Sam winced as she watched him rub the eye, feeling guilty for doing it, but she had been startled.
"I told you Tuck, it's safer to talk there," Danny said yet again.
"But it's freezing out!" Tucker complained.
"Don't worry about it, you guys will see what I mean later."
Sam followed Danny's directions, but found that the road they took lead to a dead end. Danny got out, not seeming disturbed that they were out in the middle of nowhere with nowhere else to go.
"Uh Danny, are you sure you know where you're going?" she asked him, stepping out of the car, staring at her friend as he stared into the distance ahead of them.
"Yeah, we just got to follow the trail from here," Danny smiled, his mood seeming to improve greatly as they got closer to his haunt.
"Oh great, walking," Tucker groused as he followed the other two into the woods.
The trail Danny had been talking about was a well-worn deer trail. Sam could smell the mustiness of the forest as they continued to travel deep into a more wild area. Tucker constantly flinched at the nature around them, not liking dirt, bugs, or anything that had to take a leak outdoors.
"What was that?" Tucker shrieked, jumping into the air and looking over his shoulder.
"Relax, it was just a hawk," Danny told him as he stopped walking. "Now, you gotta promise not to tell anyone about this place."
"We won't Danny," Sam reassured him.
"I'm serious," Danny insinuated. "If someone finds this place, it will be scientific central for years to come."
Sam could only nod her head, feeling that Tucker did the same since he was so close to them. Danny took a deep breath and walked forward, disappearing for a moment around a tree. Sam and Tucker followed him and then had to stop and gasp at what they saw. A large valley lay before them, trees were thick around the edges and beyond near what looked to be a mountain range, or some really big hills. There was no snow here and the weather was perfect. Both Sam and Tucker had to take off their coats, Danny didn't have to wear one since the weather didn't affect him anymore like it did humans. Tucker and Sam saw their friend sit down near an outcropping of rocks oddly shaped like a den and whistle lightly into the hole. A second later, they heard little whimpering sounds and five fat puppies ran out and tackled the hybrid to the ground.
"Oh my gosh," Sam said delightedly as she came up and helped pick the puppies off of Danny with a smile. "Grey wolf pups, oh wow, I never thought I would see them in the wild, much less hold one."
"They're pretty wild alright," Danny chuckled as he pushed one off of him.
Sam picked one up and it started to lick her face eagerly.
"Ah! Down you hairy heathen!"
Danny and Sam stopped playing with the pups to see one of them chasing Tucker around with bounding enthusiasm, tail high and wagging, but the tech-geek didn't seem to find the fun in it.
"Danny, tell him to stop!" Tucker whined as he ran past them.
Unfortunately, with puppies, it's often 'monkey see, monkey do'. The other four joined their sibling in chasing the human as if he was a deer in need of being killed. One of them managed to catch up with Tucker's shoes and clamp down on the laces, tripping the tech-geek. Once down, he had no chance; the pups pounced on him, giving playful nips and happy barks as Tucker struggled to get away.
"Alright guys," Danny said, struggling to keep his laughter under control. "That's enough, Tucker isn't a toy."
They pups whined but obeyed. They climbed off of Tucker and Sam helped the boy back to his feet.
"So, this is the place?" Sam asked once the excitement had left them.
"Yeah," Danny sighed happily, shoving his hands in his pockets and looking out at the valley.
"Dude, it's just a bunch of grass," Tucker said, frowning. "You seriously picked this as your haunt?"
"I think it's beautiful," Sam commented when she saw the hurt look on Danny's face.
"Of course you would," Tucker muttered, but Sam stomped on his foot before he could say anything else.
"When did you start coming here?" Sam asked, sitting down on the ground.
"About a year ago, maybe a year and a half," Danny said, joining her on the grass. "This whole place use to be ash because of the big fire years ago."
"Oh yeah," Sam said, but looked around her in confusion. "But, they said it would never grow back. It was too burned."
"Well, it just needed a little ghostly help," Danny smirked at her. "I don't know why, but I feel stronger here, more content. Like when Clockwork is messing with his element, time. Or Frostbite in his realm, with ice; it holds something of me in here."
"So, this has to do with your powers? The place you pick to be your haunt?" Tucker asked, sounding intrigued for the first time that day. "So you're like what, connected to nature?"
"I'm not sure, but whatever it is, I like it," Danny sighed, then looked up.
Sam and Tucker did as well and saw the black shadow of the hawk spiraling down to them. Danny put out his arm and the red-feathered beauty perched on his proffered forearm. Sam only stared at her as Danny ran a hand over her head and down her back.
"Wow, she's beautiful," Sam gasped in awe. "Can I?"
Danny looked at the bird and the hawk back at him before she suddenly jumped off of his arm and onto the ground. The hawk jumped on the ground to Sam and lay gently in the human's lap, careful of her sharp claws not causing harm to Sam's legs and clothing. Sam smiled delightedly as she brushed a hand over the hawk's back.
"She's so soft," Sam whispered.
"Dude, how did you do that?" Tucker asked, having seen the exchange. "Did you use your mind to tell her something?"
"It's not that complex," Danny seemed to laugh and shrug it off. "All I got to do is feel it and the animals respond. Sometimes I use words from my mouth, but what I feel is what they respond too. They really hone in on it, like when I'm upset, they know it; when I want something, they know sometimes before I even feel it. I just simply put down the feeling of sharing with Sam and she responded, knowing what I wanted."
"That's weird," Tucker muttered. "But kind of cool. Can you do that with people?"
"No, humans aren't as simple," Danny blinked up into the sunlight, seeming to look for something.
"You okay?" Sam asked him when he didn't speak for a while.
"Thought I felt something disturbing," he seemed confused and worried, getting slowly to his feet and looking in all directions.
His friends felt a tense moment pass before Danny relaxed and plopped back on the ground.
"A hunting party," he said, shaking his head with distaste. "They were close by, but they've gone."
Sam and Tucker looked at each other before looking back at their friend.
"How could you tell?" Tucker asked.
"I know everything that goes on here," Danny shrugged. "But that's not the reason why we are here."
"Right," Sam nodded. "We need to make sure those hunters don't catch you."
"So what's their new plan?" Tucker asked, whipping out his PDA.
"They plan on releasing a non-threatening ghost, thinking that I'll come and catch it," Danny explained.
"Then don't go," Tucker said as if it was obvious. "What harm could the Box Ghost do to them anyway?"
"But if I don't come, then they'll just stick around longer and might try something more daring."
"Why?" Sam asked.
"Apparently, it's my 'pattern of behavior'," Danny said using air quotes. "If I do something out of the norm, then they're going to wonder why."
"Oh, I see what you mean," Sam seemed to think about this problem while Tucker fiddled with his machinery. "Maybe you can just show up?"
"And why would I do that?" Danny asked sarcastically.
"Well, they won't recognize you, and don't you think it's about time people saw what Phantom looked like?"
"Please Sam, my mom isn't that stupid. She'll be bound to figure things out, and Dr. Dorr is pretty sharp herself. I don't want to risk getting too close."
"Maybe you don't have to get close," Tucker said, smirking at the idea that just came into his head.
Maddie Fenton was tapping her foot on the pavement from standing point by the RV. Jack was underneath said vehicle, hooking up the new ecto-containment unit underneath the large lug of a car—since that was the only place they could put it at the moment. Maddie turned her head to see Dr. Dorr and her team set up the small ghost shield around the troublesome, but harmless Box Ghost in the abandoned parking lot. Dr. Dorr waved her over, having obvious difficulty with one of the generators.
Jack heard her walk off and continued to talk with himself as he hooked up the container. He reached for a tool but it was out of his reach, just within sight but so far away. Suddenly, a pair of white boots came into view. Thinking it was one of Dr. Dorr's assistants in one of their goofy outfits, Jack spoke up.
"Hey bud! Can you hand me that?"
The boots turned to him, then he saw a white glove wrap around the tool and hand it to him.
"Thanks a lot!" Jack praised as he grabbed it. "Oh boy, I can't wait to see the look on that ghost kid's face when he's sucked into this baby."
There was no reply from the assistant that stuck around, so Jack continued to rant.
"This containment unit will allow us to carry Phantom from here to the lab without any difficulties. Then we can hook it up to a different containment unit in the lab and start the tests. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, I just can't wait to see what this ghost kid looks like! Maybe he's got three eyes, or flaming hair. You never know since we can't see the spook's face. But with the power he's built up over the years, chances are he's going to be big, ugly, and mad as hell when he's caught."
Jack squirmed out from under the RV and stood up, rubbing the grease on his hands onto his pants. He turned around to thank the assistant, but paused. The kid had to be no more then 16, hair stark white like bleach and eyes glowing a bright neon green. He was certainly out of the norm for Jack.
"What kind of convention are you going to?" Jack asked him puzzled.
The kid only tipped his head to the side in confusion.
"Any who, you better run for it kid. Phantom's going to show up soon and I don't want to be responsible for yah when he turns you into a puddle of goo."
"Jack!" Maddie yelled at him. "Get away from him!"
"Huh?" Jack turned to see that everyone was starting at him with shocked faces and wide open mouths.
He turned back to the kid, confused, only to see that he wasn't there anymore.
"GHOST!" he yelled, pulling out his gun but failing to see anything to shoot.
A second later, a muffled yelp came from behind them and all of the hunters turned to see the ghost shield generators smoking and the Box Ghost painfully absent from his captivity. The next second a gust of wind nearly had them knocked off of their feet as a black and white blur raced by and disappeared just as suddenly as it had appeared.
"Well, he's a smart one," Dr. Dorr said. "It was almost as if he knew exactly how to avoid us and get the ghost."
"You're right," Maddie said, frowning at the generators on the ground, each one nicely preserved but smoking from where they had been shot with an ecto-beam. "He knew exactly where to disable them."
The beeping of the Fenton Portal sucking up yet another ghost sounded in the quiet lab of the Fenton household. Danny chuckled to himself as he capped the thermos and floated close the ceiling, getting ready to phase into his room just two floors above.
"Man that was great," he reminisced. "Of course Dad saw me which wasn't planned, but I don't think I'm in any real trouble with him making connections."
The sounds of hurried footsteps upstairs made him jump and turn invisible out of the instinct of preservation. He floated up into a corner of the ceiling for good measure as his parents and Dr. Dorr came rushing into the lab. His mom had something in her hands and she was hurrying to get it hooked up to the computer. Danny had been planning to slip out, but when he noticed what they were doing, stopped to see if it involved him. He was glad he stayed.
"There, now maybe we can get a face for this spook," Maddie said as she pressed a button on the camcorder.
Danny gulped. They had been recording the whole time!
"Wait, right there," Dorr pointed to the screen and Maddie pressed a button to pause the video.
The screen was too small for Danny to see, but he knew that they were interested by the way they leaned in to get a better look.
"Oh wow," Dorr gasped, interested and seemed taken aback by something. "He's just a kid, nothing like what we thought."
"Oh, he's actually kind of cute," Maddie said in a baby-talk voice.
Cute? Danny thought to himself and frowned.
"He is something to look at," Jack nodded his head, his normal bounding enthusiasm subdued as he thought. "You know, he never made a move to attack me."
"Yes, play the video again Maddie," Dorr said and Maddie did as she said. "Yes, look here. That's where you asked for the tool Jack and he just bent down and gave it to you. Now why he would do such a thing is baffling."
"He also knew how to disarm the generators in order to get to the ghost," Maddie pointed out. "This ghost is smart, methodical, a schemer; it's obvious he's capable of strategic thought, far more complex than other ghosts are able to do."
"Yes, he would have to be smart in order to keep himself hidden for this long," Dorr conquered. "Perhaps we can reason with this one. It obvious a trap isn't going to work. He now knows we're after him and isn't likely to fall for it again."
"Unless he walked deliberately into that trap," Jack said. "He got in and out fast, almost as if he knew we were setting up a trap for him, and the fact that I was able to see him face-to-face and he wasn't hostile . . . this just doesn't add up."
"Yes, he didn't want to harm anybody, I'm positive of that," Dorr said. "He's been around for three years, and despite what happened in the beginning, he hasn't posed a threat to humans. In fact, I bet removing him from the city would cause more pandemonium than anything else."
"What makes you say that?" Maddie asked.
"Well, it's obvious Phantom doesn't like other ghosts around his territory. That might include the people of Amity Park. Despite hiding from them, I think he wants to protect what he thinks is his."
"So you're saying that Phantom will protect humans?" Jack asked, shaking his head. "That's ridiculous."
"But think about it," Dorr countered. "Ghosts are bound to their obsessions, protecting what is 'theirs'. Phantom seems to be connected somehow to the town, and whatever is in the town he sees as his. Not just the buildings, but the people too. Furthermore, it seems that he knows people can hurt him, but he doesn't want to be hurt, so he hides and fights when he needs too."
"Avoiding human conflict," Maddie said, as if it just occurred to her. "But, how do we get a hold of him if he wants to avoid humans?"
"If we find his main haunt, then we might get a chance," Dorr said, starting to look at the map of Amity Park that was pinned to the wall. "With how quiet Phantom is, I'm betting he has a quiet place for his haunt. I would check peaceful areas, places that would give off a relaxing aura and maybe even one of protection, but, something natural and effortless looking as well."
"Why would you say that?" Jack asked. "He's hardly effortless looking."
"No, but his human characteristics are. He looks human, is quiet in the sky, and is obviously shy around people. Find a place that's secluded and out of human reach, a place that's probably forgotten about, that might be Phantom's haunt, something to fit his behavior."