Chapter Four - Familial Faces
Nestled on the outskirts of Amity Park, Axion Labs provided the technological careers of the surrounding area. Under normal condition, the teal Axion logo would be proudly displayed, but today was not a normal occasion. A news crew had taken positions around the facility's main entrance. A temporary stage and podium was setup in front of the doors with a large banner reading "Vlad Co." A man in his mid-forties with pre-maturely grayed hair
"I am so glad you joined me this morning," Vlad Masters stated from the podium. "I first want say how I proud I am to be part of the Amity Park community."
Vlad smiled at the cameras as he straightened his notes. After years of acquiring various enterprises, these little displays had become somewhat routine. In a few minutes, he would have these imbeciles eating out of the palm of his hand.
"Now, for the true reason I called this press conference," Vlad beamed. "My friend, Jack Fenton recently returned to Amity Park with his family. As I have not been as bless with a family of mine own, the Fentons have graciously accepted my into their own. The Fentons have given so much and asked for nothing in return. Now I feel obligated to return all the love and affection they have given to me. I would like to announce my intent to start a write-in campaign for mayor of Amity Park."
A collective gasp could be heard among the newscasters. It was true many had tried write-in campaigns in the past, but few had ever been successful. Masters also had the obstacle of being of a nonnative and being relatively unknown to the majority of the populace. He may be a rising star among the rich and famous having acquired his wealth through a few rapid business deals in his late twenties, but his fame was regional to Madison not Amity Park. With only days before the election, the incumbent Ernesto Montez would run practically unopposed.
"Mr. Masters, don't you feel that stating a campaign at this stage in the election would simply be a waste of resources?" Lance Thunder questioned.
"With the number of ghosts running rampage under the watch of Montez, I fear for the safety of my beloved godchildren," Vlad chided the reporter. "While Montez may be a fine mayor dealing with human issues, can he properly deal with these supernatural threats?"
"And you believe that you can?"
"Why of course," Vlad said as he motioned to two men in white suits at the base of the stairs leading up to the stage. The men nodded in recognition and joined Vlad at the podium. With one on either side of him, the reporters noted the larger otherworldly weapons strapped to their backs. Aside from their luminous blue glow, they appeared similar to the typical neon green Fenton ecto-charged weaponry.
"May I present Operatives O and K of the Guys in White, the government's elite anti-ghost agency," Vlad smiled. "They have gladly offered services in eliminating the ethereal threat present in your, I'm sorry, our fair city."
As the camera zoomed tighter into Vlad's smiling face, Maddie Fenton frowned at her television. Vlad was a close friend of Jack, but after the incident, Jack refused to admit Vlad had changed. Ecto-acne was not the only infection Vlad encountered.
"Maddie, did you hear the good news?" Jack shouted as he skidded into the kitchen.
"I sure did," Maddie sighed as she turned off the television. "Sweetie, are you sure Vlad can handle the rigors of public service?"
"Nonsense," Jack beamed. "Why, Vladdy can handle anything life throws at him?"
Maddie closed her eyes and smiled. While she did not share her husband's optimism of their old college friend, his attitude was infectious. She felt his arms wrap around her, encasing her in both warmth and love.
"Isn't it a little early for that kind of stuff?" Jazz asked as she grabbed a bowl out of the cabinet.
"Careful, Jazz," Danny laughed as he phased down through the ceiling, "we might end up with another little Fenton running around here."
Maddie rolled her eyes as she listened to her children continue to bicker. She only had another year before Jazz left for college, and then another three until her little Danny left her. Maybe it was bit early to suffer from empty nest, but time had a way of disappearing.
"I better head out," Danny said as he grabbed some Fenton toast out of the toaster. "I said I would met Sam before class to work on this civics project."
"You two are really getting serious," Jack smiled. "Why not give her that ring I gave you?"
"Dad, I'm not going to give her some dumb ring," Danny groaned.
"You're right son," Jack nodded.
"I am," Danny said puzzled, as he looked to his sister for support. Jazz just shrugged.
"You couldn't just give it to her like it was," Jack explained. "That's why I went and had it engraved."
"You didn't," Danny's eyes grew wide as Jack handed him the now engraved class ring. In stylized script, the word "SAM" now boldly pronounced its intended owner. "You did."
"Nothing says 'I love you' like a class ring," Jack stated as he rested a hand on Danny's shoulder. "Even that punk Johnny knew that fact."
"Don't remind me," Jazz groaned from the table. "The fact the ring was possessed by the spirit of his dead girlfriend did not make it any less creepy."
"As much fun as this little family talk can be I really need to go," Danny said as he ran out the door.
"They grow up so fast," Maddie sighed.
"Don't worry, Mom," Jazz smiled. "You'll always have Dad."
Maddie could not help but smile at her daughters quip.
The lowly construction workers of Axion Labs quickly disassembled the podium and stage following the press conference. The change in management was of little concern to them so long as their pay was not affected. The switch to Vlad Co did not bring the usual rumors of cut backs, lay-offs, or reorganizations. It was if Masters was attempting to maintain the status quo, at least for the time being.
"And remember to vote for Citizen Masters," Vlad beamed to the final reporters as they climbed into the news van and drove away.
When he was the final being left at the front of his new enterprise, Vlad drew in a deep breath. He could smell the hint of chemical fumes the lingered in the air that the air filters failed to remove from the exhaust vents. While he did enjoy the peace and seclusion of his Wisconsin mansion or Colorado chalet, there was something to be said about urban living. After the euphoria had passed, he pulled out his cell phone and made a quick call.
He entered the laboratory and was quickly met by his new head of security of Dr. Damon Gray. The African-American man was competent in his field of security and electronics and clearly an asset to the company.
"I must say it is quite an honor to meet you, Mr. Masters," Dr. Gray greeted with a firm handshake.
"Yes, quite," Vlad smiled, "but please call me Vlad. I trust you have maintained the highest levels of security."
"Oh, yes. This lab is the most secure facility in the nation. We even installed the ghost shield you provided to us."
"What is the approximate area of coverage?" Vlad casually looked at a wall schematic of the plant layout.
"Using the labs own power generators, we can cover the laboratory plus an additional five acres," Dr. Gray explained. "If I was to tap into the city power grid, I expand it another twenty or thirty acres, but I must admit, I really do not understand this technology."
"Then I would suggest you become a quick study," Vlad smiled. "Axion Labs is going to be leader in anti-ghost technology. As my head of security, you may have to deal all sorts of threats to our research."
"Ghosts, to be blunt. I rather doubt ghosts would like seeing the playing field leveled by humans armed with anti-ghost weapons."
"I see what you mean, Mr. Masters." Dr. Gray received a callous glare from Vlad. "I mean, Vlad."
"I knew you would see it my way," Vlad smiled. "Now, I am expecting a few deliveries shortly. Could you escort me to the loading bay?"
"Sure, Mr. ..., uh, Vlad," Dr. Gray smiled and led Vlad through the meandering corridors of the Axion Labs to the back loading bays. During the walk, the two conversed in a bit small talk about site security where Dr. Gray revealed that he would often bring his daughter, Valerie, on site during his overnight stays so they could have spend some time together. It was at these moments Vlad would hide his face from Damon and remained silent.
"You mentioned the Fentons during the press conference," Dr. Gray said as they arrived at the loading dock. "I hear they are ghost experts themselves. Perhaps you should hire them?"
"I doubt Professor Maddie Fenton would ever leave her precious students," Vlad laughed. "And as for Jack. Well, Jack is simply Jack."
Damon did not know what to make of that last statement but decided to leave it at that when he saw a twelve-year-old girl wearing blue hoodie and orange short. She reach into the pocket of her hoodie pulled out a red cap and stretched it over her raven black hair.
"Excuse me, miss?" Damon asked as he approached the girl. "I'm going to need to see some id."
"Dude, I'm twelve?" she rolled her eyes as large metal boxes began to roll out of the truck containers. "I'm just here with my dad."
"Then I would suggest stay in the truck cabin," Damon sternly told the girl. "This is a secure site, even to a little girl."
"Whatever, old man."
As the veins on the side of Damon's head began to throb, Vlad coolly approached the two.
"Now, Damon, I'm sure the child is just joshing you," Vlad jovially said as he placed his hand on the girl's head, "but you are quite correct. She should remain in the truck cabin until all of the cargo has been unloaded."
The shook off Vlad's hand and stuck her tongue out at the two older men. She ran off the loading dock and climbed into the cabin of the trucks.
Shaking his head, Vlad offered his apologies to Damon as it had been a Vlad Co employee not an Axion Lab child. Damon understood as his own daughter had gone through her own bratty stage when dealing with strangers.
"What are in all these boxes?" Damon asked as they disappeared down the corridors.
"Just various unfinished projects from my other research labs," Vlad explained. "Quite unstable really. I brought several here for disposal."
"I doubt illegal dumping will win points with the electorate," Damon commented.
"I can assure that everything is on the up and up," Vlad smiled. "Trust me."
Vlad held his hand out to Damon. Somehow, Damon Gray did not feel at ease with this man.
Vlad Masters examined the monitors before him in the darkened room. Drumming his left hand fingers on the console, he ensured the Damon had isolated the lower level laboratories security monitors from rest of the facility. He only barely trusted the man with the task, but he worked with what he had.
Once he ensured that the laboratory was completely secured, he sealed himself inside. Walking to the first of the large metal containers, he typed the security code into the pad on the side of the box. One side of the box fell to the floor revealing several large cylinders. Inside each of the cylinders, a young white-haired boy floated in green fluid. Vlad smiled as he placed a hand on the outer cylinder.
"Soon, my children," Vlad whispered. "Very soon."
"Like they will turn out any better than the last batch," a snide voice said from the shadows.
"No one likes a disagreeable child, Danielle," Vlad chided. "You made a very poor impression on Dr. Gray this morning."
"I'm sorry, but considering my life expectancy I doubt will regret it for very long."
"You have last longer than clone," Vlad reassured her by placing his hand on her shoulder. "And so long as you remain in your human form, you do not degenerate any further."
Danielle just stared at the clones still incubating in cloning chambers. Unlike her, they were the pure clones. The mutations would not happen until the seals were broken and they were exposed to oxygen. She had been among the early trails that resulted with the imperfect clones. Of the first batch, she was only survivor. To be fair, she outlived several generations of clones.
"I am missing only one piece to stabilize the clone DNA," Vlad commented. "I need only a sample of his mid-morph DNA to finish the cloning process."
Vlad continued to unlock all the shipping containers of clones until twelve cloning chambers lined against the far wall. Vlad took a step back to admire his work while Danielle continued monitor security screens. Switching to the upper levels, she watched as Operative O was inspecting a more mundane laboratory. He was hassling a scientist about the nature of his research. Even Danielle could see he was developing rocket engines.
"Perhaps I should pay the Fentons a visit," Vlad said as he straightened his coat lapels. "Have fun while I'm away."
Danielle looked around the gloomy laboratory and scowled at the closing doors. "And how am I supposed to do that?"
Maddie set a kettle of water to boil after returning home from another grueling day at the university. She adored her students, but there were times she wondered if she should retire from academia and dedicate her time wholly to ghost hunting like her husband. After hearing the whistle of the kettle, she began brewing a pot of tea.
Before she could enjoy her warming respite of tea, the doorbell alerted her to a visitor at the front door. Sighing, she left the kitchen table and walked through the living room to the front door. Upon opening the portal, she was greeted by the smiling face of her college friend, Vlad Masters.
"Maddie, my dear," Vlad beamed as he rubbed his hands together. "How are you?"
"Vlad," Maddie smiled. "Fine. Why don't you come in?"
Vlad entered the Fenton household and took a seat on the sofa. "Is Jack about per chance?"
"I'm afraid Jack is away assignment," Maddie replied. "Someone saw a ghost at the mall."
"Still chasing spooks I see," Vlad laughed. "The man is surely a fountain of youthful enthusiasm."
Maddie frowned at Vlad offhanded insult of Jack but allowed Vlad his little merriment. She offered Vlad a cup of tea, which he graciously accepted. Bringing a simple tea service, Maddie forced a smile as she poured a cup of tea for Vlad.
"So, Vlad, why did you decide to enter politics in Amity Park?" Maddie asked. "You showed little interest back in Wisconsin beyond the local zoning laws."
"I must admit when you left I was greatly hurt, but I understood Jack wanting to return to hometown," Vlad said as he added sugar and milk to the cup. "I see Amity Park agrees with you."
"It has been a bit of an adjustment," Maddie admitted. "Jazz is looking forward to college next year, but I think Danny has found Amity Park very exciting."
"Yes, I heard about the incident at the Ember concert," Vlad sighed. "I do apologize such a sordid encounter occurred due to my attempted benevolence."
"Vlad, how could you be aware that Ember McLain was freakish poltergeist determined to control the youthful minds of Amity Park?"
"Still, she only came to your humble burg at my request," Vlad sipped his tea. Placing the cup down, he looked into Maddie's eyes and smiled. "I trust you have heard about my recent political declaration?"
Glad for the change in topic, Maddie smiled and eagerly discussed the local political climate of the town. Until the recent ghost attacks, the major issues had been the waning jobs market. They talked for several hours until they heard back door open and close.
"Mom, Uncle Vlad," Danny greeted with a big smile. "I knew you were in town, but I thought you would be too busy with this campaign to come by for a visit."
"I'm never too busy my favorite nephew," Vlad said as he rose from the coach and shook Danny's hand. "Your mother was saying how much you have grown to love your new home."
"I would say it's more like someone," Danny blushed.
"Really," Vlad grinned. "What's the lucky girl's name?"
"Sam," Danny answered, "and, Mom, I was going to ask if it was okay meet up with at the library to work on our civics project?"
"Danny, not that I doubt you, but I would feel much better if this little study session was chaperoned."
"Maddie, perhaps I can be of assistance," Vlad suggested. "Danny my boy, what exactly is this civics projects?"
"We're having a mock election in class," Danny replied. "It's supposed to mirror the mayoral elections but with more than one candidate. Sam and I are researching some the past elections."
"I believe you should leave the past in the past, my boy," Vlad smiled, "and look to the future. I plan turning this city around by protecting from its ghostly invaders."
"Yeah, uh, campaign promises was Tucker's group project," Danny replied as he tried to back away. While he loved his uncle, the guy did disturb him at times.
"Why not invite Sam here?" Maddie compromised. "You can use my access to the universities' databases."
"Really? I'll go call her," Danny said as he left for a bit of privacy.
Maddie smiled after her son and turned back to Vlad. "You're welcome to stay for dinner as well."
"Thank you, my dear, but I must decline," Vlad said. "I can stay but few more moments then I must return to Axion Labs. So much paperwork to finish with new acquisition, and then I have a campaign to get under way with only days until the election. You understand I hope."
"I do, Vlad," Maddie nodded. "Can you stay until Jack comes home? He will be so sore to have missed you."
"Oh, I trust you will be seeing a lot more me in the days to come."
Danielle bounced a ball off the wall of the dark grey wall of the laboratory where she had been confined. Vlad had given her access to all forms of entertainment, but she had found this game the most amusing after being trapped for nearly twenty-four hours. She hated the solitude and was tempted to release one of the clones for their company.
Unfortunately, they were the perfect children that Vlad had waited so long to unleash. He only need the final piece of the original to complete the clones, and it was her job to retrieve it. The odds were not entirely in her favor either. She could already feel the strain of remaining in her ghost form for too long but forcing the Phantom give his mid-morph DNA could prove too much for her. Vlad may have to sacrifice one of his perfect little clone to finish the job.
"I trust you are having a pleasant time," Vlad said as the lab doors closed behind him.
"It is so boring down here," Danielle whined. "Can't I go out, just for a little while?"
"Not until I say so," Vlad snapped. "The election is in a mere fifteen hours, and once I have finished that little detail, we will begin phase two."
"Yes, sir," Danielle continued to bounced against the wall. "Can we go home now?"
"Home?" Vlad questioned. "My dear, you are to remain here and guard your sleeping brothers."
"You mean I have to stay in the dark hole until you get the rest of Phantom's DNA?"
"No, you will also be helping me further my plans," Vlad grinned. "Now if you will excuse me, I need to make an appearance at City Hall."
"Fine," Danielle grumbled.
Vlad grinned as he left the irritated girl behind. All the pieces were falling perfectly into place.
"This is Shelly Makamoto, covering the Amity Park mayoral election," the female reporter smiled for the camera. "Early results do not look good for latecomer Vlad Masters as incumbent Mayor Ernesto Montez is leading by a sizeable margin."
Vlad smiled as stood at the top of the steps of City Hall. An ominous thundercloud hovered over the city and threatened to cause a downpour at any moment. He stared up at the civic center where the polling was occurring. What none noticed that the cloud was made of numerous shadowy figures, and they began to rain down upon the voters. One by one, the voters were overshadowed by the spectral fiends.
"Hanging chads, in all my days of reporting I've never seen such a turn around," Shelly reported as the day progressed. "Dark horse Vlad Masters has just won by a landslide."
Turning away from the civics center, she saw Vlad had already set up a podium atop the stairs of City Hall. She did not know much about the man, but he was definitely a cocky one. Even Montez was not arrogant to assume victory and make an acceptance speech here.
"Mayor-elect Masters, at Axion Labs you made several campaign promises concerning the recent ghost activity?" Shelly Makamoto asked.
"Yes, Miss Makamoto," Vlad smiled. "I first need to consult my new Spectral Security Consultant, Jack Fenton."
Jack nervously paced around the antechamber of the chairman's office of Axion Lab. After hearing Vlad's acceptance speech, Jack had immediately accepted the position of Spectral Security Consultant.
"Relax, Dad," Danny comforted his father from the confines of the nearby couch. "It's just Uncle Vlad."
"I know, but this is such an honor," Jack hysterically whizzed. "The Fenton will be rubbing elbows with the mayor."
"I would not consider that great an honor, Dad," Jazz sighed as she examined the wall art which mostly consisted of Packers memorabilia. "The guy is still just a big Cheesehead."
"Jasmine Fenton, that is no way to talk about your godfather!" Maddie frown at her daughter while she was inwardly put off by Vlad but not for interior decorating. His visit the other day had reminder her of some his dark day following the accident toward their senior of undergraduate studies at Madison. Jack had reassured her it was Vlad's assertive nature, but his words did not console as he had hoped.
"I still can't believe Uncle Vlad won by so much." Danny stretched his arms back and produced a large yawn. After long week of library trips, digging through the archives, and a few not-so-veiled threats from Sam, they had manages to complete their project. Sam had promised him an award for all his hard work after their civics class was over, but when his father jumped him once school ended, he never found out how he was to be compensated for all his efforts. Still, the knowledge was still relatively fresh in his memory. "No one has ever won like before."
Maddie frowned even more at Danny's admission and looked up Jack. "You don't think he's having a relapse?"
"Maddie, that was over twenty years ago," Jack waved off. "He just has the kind of charisma."
"I don't know, Dad." Jazz walked joined Danny on the couch. "I love Uncle Vlad, but he is really creepy at times."
"He's just a bit cynical."
Now Maddie looked over at Jack with a strange look. When she had first met the two boys in college, she had at first felt Vlad flirting with her, but he seem to bowed out when Jack had taken notice of her. After they began dating in earnest, Vlad seemed to drift further away from the usual camaraderie he once shared. If anything good could be said about the accident senior year, it had restored their friendship.
"Jack, my dear friend."
Maddie's reflection was broken as she heard Vlad's voice boom across the chamber. Always making an entrance, Vlad entered the antechamber tailed by flash photography and his two GiW bodyguards.
"How's it going, V-man." Jack greeted Vlad with a high-5 that knocked the mayor-elect to his knees. "Oh, sorry about that Vlad."
"Oh, don't worry about that, Jack." Vlad groaned as he stretched out his back and brushed off his suit. He had become accustomed to Jack's antics over the years even if his joints still suffered under their abuse. "It is always to good to see a friendly face in a new city."
"I'll say," Jack agreed. "After being gone for so long, I hardly recognized anyone here anymore."
"Quite," Vlad nodded. Turning to Maddie, he gave a devilish grin. "Why, Maddie, you look lovely as ever."
"Thank you, Vlad," Maddie returned, noting she was only wearing her typical teal jumpsuit.
"And you brought the whole family too," Vlad grinned. "This is so unexpected."
"I thought he invited us all?" Danny whispered to Jazz.
"That's politician talk for 'photo opportunity'," Jazz whispered back while trying to shield her eyes. "Uncle Vlad, we thought we could lend Dad a hand." Jazz gave the cameras a sweet schoolgirl smile. Danny was not really in the mood to play nice for the reporters, even for his godfather. While Jack was jovial and the Fenton females were endearing, Danny appeared thorny and reclusive.
After nearly a half hour, the reporters exited the chairman's office, leaving behind Vlad with his spectral advisors. Nodding to Operatives K and O, Vlad told them he would be fine with Fentons. At first Operative O protested, but Vlad waved him off. After all, he had known the Fentons for over twenty years.
"If I can't trust family, who can I trust?" Vlad told the government officials as they exited his office. "You mustn't mind their possessiveness. I'm afraid the Guys in White do tend to be a bit single minded in their pursuits."
"How did you get a government agency to act as your personal bodyguards?" Maddie asked.
"Oh, I just promised them top of the line anti-ghost technology." Vlad gestured to the four chairs before his desk. Once each Fenton had seated, he began to pace behind his desk. "I must admit, I did not expect things to run so smoothly once I came to Amity Park."
"What do you mean, Vlad?" Jack asked. "You almost make this sound like some sinister plot?"
Vlad quickly turn them and gave a sinister smile. "That's because it is." Pressing a button under his desk, metal manacles extended from behind each chair and surrounded the arms and chests of the Fentons.
"What is the meaning of this?" Maddie demanded.
"Silence, tramp!" Vlad demanded as he lifted his phone. "Grab three and come up here."
Looking up at the Fentons, Vlad almost sneered. "Twenty years, woman. You stole twenty years away from me."
"Vlad are you talking about?" Maddie tried wiggle her fingers into one of her pockets hoping to find something to cut her bonds. Meanwhile, Jack was still shocked that his best friend for almost twenty-five years could do this to his family.
"Danny, go ghost," Jazz hissed to her brother while the adults were lost in their own conversation.
"You think I haven't been trying?" Danny replied. "Every time I try, all I get is a nasty jolt. Just like it's a..."
"Yes, Daniel. I borrowed your father's Specter Deflector." Vlad had left the struggling parents to now taunt exasperated children. "It was difficult to procure four working units, but I cannot have a certain Inviso-Bill showing up. Or perhaps I should use your more preferred pseudonym, Danny Phantom."
A collective gasp escape the Fentons lips. They had been so careful to hide Danny's true nature for so long. They could not fathom how Vlad could have discovered their secret.
"Who do you think sent all those ghost to challenge you child? Why would so many powerful ghost like Skulker, Technus, and Ember just appear before you?" Vlad said as he bent down to Danny's eye level.
"How could you Vlad?" Jack asked. "He was you godson. We trusted you with our lives."
"For you dear Jack, I would have give anything," Vlad said sweetly. His expression turned sour as he glared at Maddie. "We never should have allowed this woman, this strumpet, to join all those years ago. It should have been only us in the throes of fraternal ecstasy."
"Man, he is one seriously crazed-up fruit loop." Danny paused in his struggles to gape at his captor's ranting. He did not have long to wander what was to occur next as four ghost phased through the floor. Three of the ghosts appeared to be dripping ectoplasm as they approached his parents and sister. A large, grey ghost took his father while a ghost in a bed sheet grabbed Danny's mother. A small sprite-like ghost buzzed circles around Jazz while a ghost that looked like a twelve-year-old girl approach him.
"Take them to the lab," Vlad commanded. "I will be down their shortly."
The girl ghost nodded as she took hold of the chair and phased through the floor.
Danny stared at the cylinders in the lab. Floating inside each one was another Danny Phantom. He had was dumbfounded as the sight of all the clones.
"Still don't think he's having a relapse?"
"I'll admit Vlad is acting a bit strange," Jack sighed, "but this may not be a full blown relapse."
"Do you guys mind filling us in on what's going on?" Jazz asked as the sprite ghost continued to buzz around her head.
"You kids now about the proto-portal accident," Jack sighed.
"The one were you miscalculated and gave Uncle Vlad ecto-acne," Danny replied. "Yeah, but you and mom cured him six months later."
"That's not entirely true," Jack explained. "I had just gotten rejected from graduate school, but Maddie was allow to continue. So, I was able to help nurse Vlad back to health while she worked on her thesis. Unfortunately, Vlad had change more than just more from ecto-acne."
"Oh, Jack, do let me tell the rest."
Danny and Jazz turned to see Vlad stepping out of the shadows. "You see, along with the blemished face, my DNA was not contaminated with ectoplasm. My transformation was not as sudden as dear Daniel's, but it was as complete. I am half ghost as well."
Two dark rings bisected his body and traversed separately from head to toe. Unlike Danny photo negative image, Vlad's appearance was a much more ominous nature. His grin ensured his observers notices his sparkling, pointed fangs. The blood red lining of his cape also hinted to the vampire heritage his ghost form was meant to conjure.
"Plasmius," Jack snarled. "I destroyed you. Vlad and I destroyed you twenty years ago."
"Jack, you wound me," Vlad said as he ran a finger down his check. "You speak as if Vlad and I were two different people. I always loved you. We were meant to be together. I was such a fool to allow that woman into our circle. We had such fun together. Remember all those night, tinkering on your little gadgets, trying to make them work. Or the time we accidently we blow up the deans car because we thought it was possessed. I still can't believe they never expelled us."
Vlad took a step a way from Jack and closed his eyes. He continued to relive several of his cherished memories. When he opened his eyes again, they burned bright red with hatred as the bared down on Maddie. "Then this lady of the night came and stole poor Jack's heart away from me. At first, it was just a mild flirtation. Then he finally succumbed to her feminine wiles. And lastly the greatest sin of all, matrimony." Vlad growled in bestial rage as he stalked near Maddie. "It took everything with mine my power not to lash out at the farce of a wedding. Blushing bride, indeed. And to add insult to injury, her first born was female. She could have at least born Jack a son."
Jazz glared Vlad. He had always been a bit stand-offish around her, but she wound have never though him to be so sexist.
Then Vlad turn to Danny with loving eyes. "I had all but lost hope, then Jack provide me with the prefect son. Bless you, Jack. A true half-ghost heir to my wealth and fortune."
"Uh, stay away," Danny said as tried to use his legs to knock over his chair. "You have officially creeped me out, dude, and I date a Goth."
"These clones were mere distraction," Vlad continued. "Once I have both you and your father, my family will complete."
"Not going to happen," Danny replied as he finally tipped over his chair to the floor. Maddie, who had managed to free one of her wrist ecto lasers, pointed at Danny's chair and cut through back supports. With the frame now weakened, Danny was able to break out of the chair. "Going ghost."
The hulking grey ghost and the bed sheet ghost immediately attacked Danny was he had freed himself. He dodge the grey ghost and laughed as he grabbed the bed sheet. Danny was shocked once he saw the skeletal ghost beneath it.
"Should have stuck with the sheet, pal." Danny punched the skeletal clone as he quipped. The sprite clone flew into his face and tried to blind his eyes with ectoplasm blasts. Swatting away the annoying pest, Danny did not see the grey clone until he felt its fists slam into his back. Danny shot forward into one of the cloning cylinders. Once the cylinder was shattered, the clone inside began to dissolve into ectoplasm.
"What in the world?" Jack asked when he saw the other three clones slowly began to dissolve into ectoplasm. "Vlad, what is wrong with your clones?"
"Oh, Jack, ever the tender heart," Vlad happily sighed. "There was a slight problem with the clones. Without Danny's mid-morph DNA, they are a tad unstable. A shame really. I so hoped to have a large family."
Jazz gave a slight shudder shutter until she noticed the female clone who was leaning against the wall behind Vlad. "What about her? She didn't turn to goo."
"Danielle? Well, she was a bit of an anomaly." Vlad shrugged. "Unlike her brothers, she has proven to be more stable, but it has required a bit more willpower on her part."
Danny looked at the girl as she glared at Vlad. It was obvious she did not care for the man, but she probably felt she had no other alternatives. While Vlad was distracted flirting with his father, Danny invisibly floated over to the girl. He reappeared next her, giving her a bit of a start.
"Look, I'm not going to hurt you," he assured her. "I just want to talk."
Danielle eyed Danny suspiciously but did not change into her own ghost form. "Talk."
"Why are with this fruit loop? You obviously have free will, unlike all these other clones." Danny looked at the girl hopefully. He thought he was getting through to her until she began to shake her head.
"I'm just another unstable clone," she admitted. "Even if I last another six months, I will eventually turn into ectoplasm too. Why don't you give you Vlad your mid-morph DNA? Then he could stabilize me."
"I don't think Vlad has any intention of stabilizing you," Danny said as he looked over at Vlad and his father. "That guy seems to be a be a few bricks short of a load."
Danielle narrowed her eyes at Danny. "And what about you, oh so noble one? I did just help kidnap your family?"
"The way I see it, you are family," Danny smiled. "Will any of the clones help us?"
Danielle sadly shook her head. "Some of the first generation might have, but most of this lot were meant to be mindless soldiers in an army to take over the Ghost Zone."
"Then I guess, we should probably destroy them before Uncle Vlad can activate the rest." Danny frowned as Vlad had finally noticed Danny's missing opponents. "And we need to do it fast."
"That's easy," Danielle smirk. She quickly ran over to a computer console and pressed a large red button labeled Dispose. One by one, the cylinders began to empty their contents into the drains below. The hapless clones instantly reverted back into ectoplasm without receiving the activation commands the cloning chambers.
"No!" Vlad screamed once he realized the betrayal of Danielle. "I knew I should have melted you down for your genetic secrets weeks ago, you vile little traitor."
With a sneer, he shot a fuchsia ectoplasm blast at the young girl. She barely dodged the blast, but the computer exploded and sent shrapnel into her leg. She yelped in pain but still did not turn into her ghost form.
"Hands off!" Danny shouted as he flew up to ceiling building up speed then slammed into Vlad. With the wind knock out of him, Vlad stumbled back a few steps then glared back at Danny.
"Why are you challenging me?" Vlad asked. "We are the same, you and I. Twenty years ago, I altered your father's designs to give me these powers. True, I had a slight set back, but your father made every better in the end."
"You altered the design?" Jack said as Maddie cut him free from his restraints. "You mean, it was not an accident?"
"The ecto acne portion was unintentional, but you discovered the diet cola impurities," Vlad commented. "It was probably more of Maddie's attempts to separate us, no doubt."
"I'd never!" Maddie exclaimed.
Jack glared daggers at Vlad. It had taken him weeks to find the diet cola impurities, and it had only been an accident when he knock over his drink on his test samples. While Danny and Vlad continued to trade blows and Maddie struggled to free Jazz, he found an ecto blaster. It only had a partial, perhaps two or three shots, but it was sufficient for what he need.
"Hey, V-man!" he shouted as he aimed for his best friends head. Pulling the trigger, he fired the ectoplasm blast at Vlad who created a fuchsia ectoplasm shield to block the attack.
"You threatened my family, and gravely insulted the woman I love," Jack growled back. "Then you tell me that for twenty years I have carried the guilt of infecting my best friend with ghost DNA was he own doing, and when I try to fix my mistake to finally cure him once and for all, I infect my son!"
"Dad," Danny whisper.
"If you ever show yourself again, Masters," Jack continued, "I will hunt you down with all my strength."
Vlad just hovered in the air for a moment before landing on the ground and returning to his human form. "I am greatly disappointed in you, Jack. You could have ruled both this world and the Ghost Zone together." He turned to look at Danny and grimaced. "I suppose you wish to continue this struggle as well?"
"Just talk the girl with you," Vlad said rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I doubt she'll last a month, but she'll only serve as a reminder of what I have lost tonight."
Maddie went and scooped up Danielle in her arms. Her leg was already beginning to heal from the injury, but Maddie would rather get her back to Fenton Works.
"You are just letting us go?" Jack asked.
"No, I will continue convincing you of the error of the decision, but tonight I will the mourn lose of my best friend."
Jack kept the ecto blaster pointed at Vlad as the rest of his family backed out the exit of the laboratory. Once they were past the doors, Jack turned and followed after them. Vlad then surveyed the damage to his surrounding and decided it paled to what had been to his heart.
Technus enjoyed sneaking technology past Walker's patrols. It was a bit of cat and mouse game, but lately the good sheriff was bit obsessed with a certain ghost boy. He was hardly alone in that malady, but it did provide many fewer visits to lock-up.
"Oh, my electronic goodies," he cooed as he rubbed his face against the latest Pear products. "I just love these improved graphics."
Suddenly, his ecstasy was ruined by a knocking on his lair's door. A bit puzzled by the intrusion, he flew over to answer the door. To say he was surprised to see a grinning ghost child holding a basket of electronic gadgets.
"This is unexpected," Technus blinked. "Can I help you, ghost child?"
"Actually, I was wondering if you could do a little favor for me?" Danny said through his grin.
Danielle stared out the RV window at the school ground before her. Thanks to Danny's ghost friend, though he used the term loosely, they were able to create an identity for Danielle Fenton, their cousin who's parents recently perished in a car accident. It had taken all night keeping Technus on task, but they managed to keep it relatively simple.
"Muddlemore Middle School," Maddie cheerfully said. "Are you sure you'll be okay?"
"Vlad tried to give us all of Danny's memories," Danielle explained, "but they are a bit hazy at times."
"Hopefully you have a better time than he did," Maddie smiled. "Now go on in."
Danielle nodded and hopped of the RV. She slowly made her way up the walk to the school entrance. After getting her locker assignment and schedule, she went to her homeroom class. Only a few other students were in the room, but they were either busily finishing homework assignments or talking with friends.
Feeling a bit alone in the world, Danielle took a desk next to the window and stared outside. The Fentons were nice people, but she was not very optimistic on her chances. Jack had confirmed her only suspension. Danny's mid-morph DNA could only stabilize a new clone, not an existing one. For now, Jack would try to find other way to help her, from temporary aids to a permanent cure.
"You must be our new student," a friendly voice greeted. "I am Mrs. Daphne Jones, your History and homeroom teacher."
Danielle turned away from the window and saw the woman behind the teacher's desk. With shoulder length red hair, she sported a dark purple pants suit. Danielle also saw she had numerous bandages on her fingers.
"Oh, never mind those," Mrs. Jones laughed. "Just a bit of a mishap in the kitchen this morning."
Danielle's expressionless stare gave way to a little giggle to Mrs. Jones to attempt to flippantly wave off her accident.
"That's better," Mrs. Jones smiled. "Now, your name is Danielle, right?"
"Yes," Danielle replied, "but, please call me Dani, with an i.
A have a poll in my profile underway right now for the next chapter. All choices in the poll will be written at some point, this is mostly to determine what is written next.