Full Summary: In a moment of frustration one author makes a fatal mistake that not only costs her author's protection, but her memory as well. Now a half-ghost exiled to the Phantom realm without a clue to her own past, she must take part in the very story she was studying. Can she survive being caught in the crossfire of Danny and Vlad's hatred? Will she decide to use her powers for good, evil, or mere gain? And what does all of this have to do with a shiny blue rock? Fellow AGO's, this is what you've been waiting for. The truth behind the 2008 Ego Incident.
A/N: Hey! My first Author's Guild fic! ^_^ If you don't know what that means, you may want to check out the blurb at the bottom of my profile, just real quick k? Although I should hope I give enough of a clue in this prologue for your basic understanding, it'll help.
Anyways, this story is set after the third season. Right smack in fall 2008 to be precise, but it does not appear to account for the events in Phantom Planet. You'll have to ask our good friend Rebecca about that one. o_- .
And speaking of Rebecca, you'll have to forgive me, this prologue actually contains very little of the DP world. It's a necessary set up chapter, but fear not! We will get right into Phantom's domain right after it! ^_^
Anywho! Do hope you enjoy! Now let's get to it!
Disclaimer: I do NOT own Danny Phantom
It was Tuesday, and I was at the assignment room waiting to put in a claim for what I was sure would be another dead-end run of interviews. I hadn't had much luck on the last several assignments, and I was running out of places to hunt. I could tell from the mild squabbling between other Author's and their muses that I wasn't the only one. We were having what we in the Author's Guild call a 'dry spell'. I looked at my own muse, Bandersnatch, who was tugging at his mane in a restless fashion. I couldn't say I blamed him.
"You're liable to go hairless that way you know," I told him, smirking. He glared, but said nothing.
I sighed and began looking around the room again. That's when I spotted her. A young woman about my age, sitting on the ground nearby, looking rather intently at her laptop. She tiredly ran a hand through her short brown hair, her grey eyes wearily examining whatever was on the screen. She held a long white feather between the thumb and forefinger of her left hand, which she occasionally pressed against her cheek with a sad shake of her head.
I patted Bandersnatch's neck.
"Do you know her?" I asked.
"I'm a muse, not a directory," he replied, looking at the girl. "If you're so curious, go talk to her."
"Alright," I said, "Let's go."
"Yes you," I replied, tapping his nose playfully. "Who knows? Maybe she's got some useful gossip for our next assignment."
Bandersnatch rolled his eyes, but followed as I made my way over to the other author. I approached from the rear so I could see what it was she was so interested in before she noticed me. What can I say? I'm nosy. I was surprised to find her reading a Danny Phantom fanfic. Reading another authors fanfic, in the assignment room, during a dry spell? Whatever she was reading, it had to be good.
She didn't look up as I sat down next to her and began reading over her shoulder. I cringed as I read the text before me. Every character was terribly out of character, the action was shoddy at best, and the dialogue had fared no better. Obviously whoever had written this fic had done a terrible job at translating their interviews.
"You're enjoying this?" I asked.
"Not really," the author replied, not looking up from her screen.
"Then why read it?"
She smiled a bit.
"I like to keep an eye on him."
"No," she shook her head and pointed to one of the badly written bits of dialogue. "Him."
"Him?" I echoed, staring incredulously at where she had pointed. "Why him?"
The woman regarded me a long moment, then looked up at my muse studying him as well.
"Tell me," she said in almost a whisper, "have you ever gotten into trouble with the council?"
"Have you heard of the "Stalker Situation of August 2007"?
The woman smirked.
"Rebecca Anne Bennett," she said, holding out her hand in greeting. "Or Fable Tailor if you prefer to go by pen name. Anyway, that story was, well-"
"Not entirely true," I admitted, accepting the handshake. "I never sent that letter. I met Nando after the contest and convinced him to help me play a prank on the council."
"So it was all a set up," Rebecca surmised, grinning.
"Yep," I replied. "I mean, he's a nice guy, but hardly my type. Still, the council wasn't too happy with me. I lost my author's protection and spent the next twelve hours in an oubliette. Thankfully the council member who caught me wasn't very creative."
"You were lucky," Rebecca agreed.
"But what does the council have to do with your interest in him?" I pressed.
The author's smile faded a bit.
"What do you know about the 2008 Ego Incident?" she inquired.
"Only that it was one of the biggest things to go down in DP realm," I replied, "and that they didn't allow even one AGO down there to cover it. The DP writers were furious."
"Well, that's not entirely true," Rebecca confessed, "There was one AGO down there, although, I hardly think she was in a position to do any writing at the time."
"Wait, you were down there?"
"It was during a dry spell like this one," she explained. "I hadn't had much luck in my usual department, so I had decided to try my hand at a Danny Phantom fic. I filled out the paperwork like usual; Realm: Danny Phantom, Story type: Unfolding, Primary characters: Danny Fenton, Sam Manson, Tucker Foley-"
"And Vlad Masters?"
"Yes, Vlad Masters," the woman replied with a grin. "He was almost always up to something, so I figured if I was going to see a story play out, he would more than likely be at the center of it. I filed my paperwork and was accepted for assignment the very next day. They were giving me a whole week for my first run. I hoped it was all I would need."
"The next day is when the rumors started," she said quietly. "Something big was going down in the Phantom realm. An artifact that should never be found would soon be hunted, and the hunter was not Vlad Masters. I debated for two days on changing my antagonist. If the rumors were true it would be a really big break for me. If not, I was back to square one. I ran the possibilities in my mind time after time, thought about the risk I would be taking, but finally, the night before my departure, I decided to edit the paperwork."
I nodded. An AGO is allowed one character change per trip. It was a serious decision.
"That morning was awful," she continued, "I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, so I was already irritable. Then there were all the 'little things'."
"Yeah," she replied with a chuckle, "Like my sister Maggie finishing off the cereal, my parents griping about my staying out too late, missing the first bus and being late to my college class, realizing I had forgotten to do one out of five pieces of homework due that day." She grinned sardonically. "Little things." She leaned back a bit and sighed.
"Everything within me said not to go that evening," she said, "to request a delay. The next day was my day off, so it wouldn't have really been a problem for me, but I was so ready to leave my humdrum life behind, spend a week watching someone else's life, so I packed my bag and left.
It had been a while since I'd explored a two dimensional world, so it took a while for me to get my bearings. You know; stop expecting everything to be made of cardboard when I walked around it. I had planned the first day as just a simple survey day, mostly to find out where everything was. I got lost pretty quickly though. Took me an hour just to find the school. Then it took me another fifteen minutes to figure out where I needed to go from there.
Just as I rounded one corner, I ran straight in to Dash Baxter, or rather, his elbow. He had been swinging back for a knock out punch, and just happened to catch me right in the chest."
She looked at me pointedly.
"Of course I knew he couldn't really do any damage with my author's protection intact," she said, "but it still hurt like heck, and with everything else that had happened that day, well, I guess I just snapped."
"What is wrong with you?" Rebecca screeched, pushing Dash up against the locker. "You get some kind of weird fun out of knocking into other people?"
"N-no ma'am," Dash stammered, obviously not sure what to make of the insane shouting girl.
"I think you do," she spat, "and you know what else you- you hippopatamic landmass?"
"I was about to lay into him, give him a good piece of my mind when I happened to catch sight of just who it was Dash had been about to punch. None other than Tucker Foley." She sighed again. "As if I wasn't already in deep enough, I got this crazy, stupid idea."
"I think you need to apologize!" the author said, grinning wildly.
"A-apologize?" Dash stammered.
"Yes," Rebecca returned, arms crossed indignantly. "To them."
Dash looked over at the still gawking teenagers.
"But- but I didn't do nothin'!" he whined.
"That's a double negative you underdeveloped Goliath!" the girl exclaimed, "and do you really think I'm as stupid as you look?"
"He didn't get to hear the last part. I know because, as I said it the room… changed."
"And you were standing before the council," I surmised.
"Yes," the other writer confirmed, "I'd been caught by none other than Buchara."
"Buchara!" I exclaimed. "The executioner?"
"As I said, you were lucky."
Rebecca looked around the large semicircular room in terror. This was the council's reckoning room. She stood at the straight side of the semicircle on a small raised platform, surrounded on every side by brown cloaked council members.
"Author's Guild Operative 39752KLB," the council member directly in front of her began in a deep voice, "you are accused to the wanton disregard of the Author's Guild's only rule."
The girl gulped as she stared at the figure before her. The council obviously didn't mince words. She was in trouble.
"How do you plead?" the figure inquired. Rebecca heaved a strong sigh, knowing there would be no use in denying what they had undoubtedly witnessed.
"Guilty," she said softly.
"Wise answer," the figure replied, "We in the council do not take kindly to liars. However, even your honestly cannot retract what you have done. Punishment must still be handed down. In accordance with our laws, your punishment will be handed down by your witness. Buchara, please step forward and assign your penalty."
"Buchara?" the girl gasped. Now she knew she was in trouble.
"Operative 39752KLB," Buchara's dark, oily voice echoed throughout the council room, "You are hereby sentenced to a loss of your Author's Protection, and exiled to the realm in which you were conducting your last investigation-"
"Do not interrupt child," Buchara returned, irritably. "This is only temporary."
"How long?" the girl asked.
"I said do not interrupt!" the councilmember shouted. "Your insolence will cost you the details of your sentencing, am I clear?"
Rebecca bit her lip anxiously, but nodded.
"Goood," Buchara crooned, "As I said, this exile, as well as the loss of your author's protection will only be temporary. All sentencing for this particular case will hold until the current story is played out. You wanted to be a part of it," the councilmember sneered, "now you are."
The girl shuddered but said nothing.
"And to ensure you do take part," Buchara continued darkly, "we will be putting you right in the enemy's grasp."
Rebecca's eyes widened in terror as she suddenly recalled the direction of her story.
"No!" she exclaimed, "You can't! That's murder!"
"SILENCE!" Buchara screamed, "Insolent child! Do not worry, I am sure that given the further details of your sentencing, you will be able to handle Vlad Masters just fine!"
Rebecca blinked. Vlad Masters? Of course! Buchara hadn't seen the updated paperwork! They obviously weren't going to send her to Danny, and the only other person who could possibly help would be Vlad Masters. She only had to convince him that she knew what she was talking about. It was Br'er Rabbit and the Briar Patch, and like that cunning rabbit, Rebecca knew she had to object.
"Please," she muttered weakly, "don't do this. I- I'm only human."
"Not for long," the councilmember sneered.
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, I'm sorry Operative 39752KLB," Buchara replied with chuckle, "I'm afraid you've just exhausted my patience. As for the final details of your sentencing, well," the councilmember laughed, "I guess you'll just have to be surprised."
Rebecca hugged herself as if to keep out the chill of the man's tone. She thought of "The Snow Queen" and the splinters of mirror that would turn hearts to ice.
"Author's Guild Operative 39752KLB," the first councilmember proclaimed, "Let your sentencing be carried out just as Buchara has written it!"
"Hear, hear!" chimed the other council members.
"Council member Buchara," the head council member continued, "You may now begin to implement your punishment."
"As you have declared it," Buchara replied with sadistic glee. "Child!" he addressed Rebecca, "Your sentencing begins… Now!"
Suddenly, a pair of council members was at her side. One drew a large syringe out of his cloak while the other grabbed her from behind to restrain her. Rebecca gasped as she felt the large needle pierce her shoulder, an icy liquid, colder than Buchara's words, suddenly invading her body. She screamed as she felt every part of her begin to tear itself apart in its futile attempt to reject the foreign substance. She continued to scream and convulse as the pain shot through every inch of her being. Then, suddenly, it stopped. She gasped for air, supporting herself on her knees with her hands.
Her hands! They- they were… two dimensional? But… this was a three dimensional zone!
"WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME?" She screeched.
"More than you yet realize," Buchara sneered, lifting the girl back to a standing position. The councilmember leaned in close to her face, but Rebecca could not feel any warmth in the breath.
"I do hope you'll enjoy this," Buchara whispered, "because I know I'm going to enjoy every, single, minute of it."
"The next thing I knew," Rebecca told me, "I was back in the hallway. The utterly bewildered look on Dash's face was the last thing I saw before I just, lost consciousness."
We sat there for a long silent moment. Even my usually talkative muse had nothing to say. Finally Rebecca sighed, touching the feather to her lips.
"Do you want to hear the rest of the story?" She asked.
"You have to ask?" Bandersnatch snarked, finally finding his voice. I pulled an unused notebook out of my bag.
"Do you mind if I take notes?" I asked.
Rebecca smiled grimly.
"I suppose not," she replied, "It would probably please the council. They've been trying to get me to tell this story for two years now. It'll be nice to finally get them off my back."
I nodded. Among many other things, the council was irritatingly persistent.
"Well," she said, seeing I was ready, "Things got a great deal more complicated once I finally woke up. You see-"
And that, my friends, is how I discovered the truth behind the 2008 Ego Incident.
Phyllis: So, whaddya think? ^_^
Bandersnatch: I think you're crazy.
Phyllis: Nobody asked you fuzz brain!
Bandersnatch: The council's gonna kill us when they read what you said about Buchara!
Phyllis: C'mon, they don't read everystory we write!
Bandersnatch: yeah, that's what you said before we published My Letter to Nando. YOU WEREN'T THE ONLY ONE IN THAT OUBLIETTE!
Phyllis: -_- You might want to leave before his head explodes, though if you'd like to stop by the review button first, we'd sure appreciate it! ^_^
Additional Author's Note: Nearly forgot to add this. Just wanted to let you guys know that the ghost physics that will be used in this story are the same as the physics used by Pearl84 in her DP fics. (with her permission of course) Said fics are quite exceptional, so I suggest you check them out. ^_^