Summary on the story so far...
With the Disasteroid Anniversary celebration now over, Danny pushed Niane's sudden appearance and their unpleasant conversation past him. Aside from dealing with his increasing ghost energy and his popularity, Danny was feeling a lot better. However, Skulker, with Ember's help, carried out a trap to get Danny alone to fulfill Vlad's plans of getting the 'sign of order' on Danny. They succeeded. Now it seems Vlad will at last get to use the Order's Crystal; but more is at stake than he or anyone realizes. For now, Danny's loved ones are unaware of what has happened to Danny since they are dealing with all the ghosts Skulker let loose in Amity Park…
Chapter 6: The Test of Order
Unaware of the trap Skulker and Ember had set up for Danny, Sam and Tucker continued towards Casper High. Last they had heard of Danielle and Jazz, the two were dealing with four ghost griffin cubs. And they knew close to nothing about what was happening with the two eldest Fentons…
With a swarm of butterfly fairies tailing Sam and Tucker and with the chance of the Guys-in-White catching up to them, the duo felt as if their fifteen minute ride on their mopeds seemed like forever.
But when Tucker and Sam finally reached the school, they were greeted by a surprising sight.
They had expected the same chaos the fairies and the Guys-in-White had caused at the downtown area. Instead, they were greeted with the opposite. The area around Casper High was bright and sunny. There were birds twittering and flying around. There was even a rainbow spread across the high school. And, in front of it was a mass of people taking pictures!
"Uh, okay," Tucker said; but he was unable to think of anything else to say by the strange sight before him.
"Do you see Danielle and Jazz anywhere?" Sam asked with a frown. She was trying to ignore her disdain for the cliché fairytale setting and focused on the matter at hand.
But before Tucker could answer, the ghost fairies that had been fluttering just behind them abruptly dispersed and zoomed passed Sam and Tucker.
The two teens gasped in surprise at the hundreds of wings that fluttered in their ears. It was like being surrounded by a swarm of bats!
But as quickly as it came, the fairies were gone and had now converged in front of them. The crowd, whom heard the incoming sound of hundred of flapping wings, also gasped and parted like the biblical opening of the Red Sea as the fairies flew right through them.
However, once the large mass of people had moved out of their way, Sam and Tucker finally saw what the crowd had been taking pictures of.
Right in front of the school, Danielle was throwing energy disks at two little ghost griffins; however, it wasn't in an attack, but in a playful manner. Danielle was throwing the energy disks as if they were Frisbees, and the little griffins would fly up to catch them. Then, the griffins would throw the disks back to her; or, rather, fire them back at her.
But if that wasn't weird enough, Jazz was also in the center of it. However, she was occupied with two other ghost griffins. One was napping on her lap, and the other was enjoying getting its neck scratched.
"There really are no words for this, are there?" Tucker said with a small chuckle.
"Oh, there are words, Tucker," Sam answered sardonically. "I'm just not saying them out loud."
Right then, the griffins noticed the arrival of the butterfly fairies and all four of them, even the one that had been asleep, jumped up and excitedly went to greet them. Somehow, their surroundings became even cheerier as the ghost cubs and the ghost fairies began to play or cuddle with each other.
"AWW!" the crowd suddenly chorused before they went back to taking pictures and videos.
Sam rolled her eyes before she and Tucker went over to Danielle and Jazz.
"Seems like you girls had your hands full," Tucker teased.
Danielle and Jazz instantly glared lightly at him.
"You have no idea!" Danielle answered as she slumped tiredly on ground. "I thought I was going to have to do that forever!"
Jazz walked closer to her brother's friends as she added, "Yeah, we've been trying to keep those four ghosts happy for almost an hour now! Ugh! Those things slobber more than TJ!"
"What's with the mass of ghost fairies?" Danielle abruptly asked, jabbing her thumb in the direction of the creatures.
"Danny's new friends apparently," Sam replied with a small smirk. She would be teasing her boyfriend about this later. But she sobered up and answered, "We have to get all these ghosts back into the Ghost Zone before the Guys-in-White find them again."
"Yeah, I'm surprised those guys haven't shown up around here," Danielle muttered as she finally got to her feet again.
"They are probably occupied with all the craziness elsewhere. My parents are still at the pier dealing with more of these moody ghosts." Jazz added. She then glanced at the content ghosts and asked, "How are we going to get all these ghosts back into the Ghost Zone?"
"Yeah, the thermos is out of the question," Danielle added with a frown. "First, I don't think they would all fit in it; and more importantly, I already tried to capture one of those griffin cubs in it and everything went downhill fast! It's a good thing Uncle Jack added an 'eject' button on the thermoses now in case Danny or me get accidently captured, or there would have been no way to make these ghosts happy again."
"It's actually amazing how these ghosts can affect their surroundings through their feelings," Jazz said with awe and intrigue.
"Yeah, well, we can contemplate the awesomeness of that later," Sam replied sarcastically. "We have to get these ghosts through the Fenton portal and then we need to go help your parents and Danny."
"Easier said than done," Tucker replied. "How are we going to get their attention now? They seem too distracted with each other."
All four teens stared at the ghost fairies and griffins with a thoughtful frowned. The creatures were so focused on each other that they seemed to have forgotten where they were.
Right then, Jazz's phone went off. She quickly answered it, "Hello? Mom?"
"Jazz! Your brother just called me! And something happened! He was talking to me one second and the next I heard him scream and the line went dead! Something has happened to Danny, Jazz! And your father and I cannot leave the pier! These ghosts are endangering everyone here!"
Hearing how panicked her mother sounded, Jazz quickly said, "Mom, calm down. We'll find him, okay? I'm sure he's fine. Maybe he ran into another ghost. But we'll find him."
"Jazz, he mentioned something about these ghost griffins at the pier looking for their cubs. Do you know anything about that?" her mother asked
"Ghost Griffins? There are adult ghost griffins at the pier?" Jazz quickly asked.
Also listening to the conversation, Sam, Tucker, and Danielle's eyes widened with realization.
"Yes, and they are monstrous! Danny said not to hurt them; but, Jazz, they are destroying everything and putting everyone's lives in danger!"
"Alright, look. You and Dad hold them off for as long as possible. We have what they want. We'll find a way to get their cubs to you, okay?"
"Alright…And Jazz? Find your brother.
Jazz swallowed at how worried her mother sounded, but she nodded and assured her, "I will."
"Jazz? What happened? What's wrong with Danny?" Sam urgently asked when the girl hung up the phone.
The older girl's eyebrows creased. "I don't know. My mom thinks he's in trouble."
"But he said he was going over to the pier to help them!" Tucker exclaimed.
"It looks like he never made it," Jazz replied worriedly.
"Then, we better go find him," Danielle said with determination.
"No," Jazz said right away. "My parents need help. We need to find a way to get these ghost griffin cubs to the pier. Their parents are on a rampage and they won't stop until they get what they came for!"
"But what about Danny?" Sam asked with a frown.
"I'll go find him. I have my car nearby and the boomerang. I'll find him. You guys help my parents. The Guys-in-White are over there, which means you'll have to protect these ghost cubs from them long enough to get them to their parents," Jazz replied.
Sam was reluctant to agree with the plan, but she knew that getting all these ghosts back into the Ghost Zone was critical.
"Alright, but call us if you find him, okay?" Sam replied.
"I will," Jazz assured the girl before she ran off towards were she parked her car.
"Alright, how are we going to do this?" Danielle asked as she floated up a bit to get a better look at the griffin cubs and fairies. The people were surrounding them again, so it was harder to see them.
"I have an idea," Tucker replied suddenly as he pulled out his PDA and began to type on it. "If those ghosts at the pier are really these kids' parents, then, I know just how to get their attention."
Sam and Danielle raised a questioning eyebrow at the boy as he pulled up a live news feed of the chaos happening at the pier.
"What gets a kid's attention more than angry parents?" Tucker asked with a smirk as he increased the volume on his PDA.
The instant the distracted griffin cubs heard the angry shrieks of their parents on Tucker's PDA, they stopped all play. They seemed to shrink on themselves as they began to look around and caw back softly.
But the butterfly fairies also took notice of the sound; only they quickly turned their eyes towards Tucker.
"Uhh… You got their attention, Tucker. Now what?" Danielle questioned nervously. The area around them was slowly beginning to darken as the creatures' mood changed. However, it was hard to tell if they were angry or troubled by the sounds of the angry griffin parents.
However, right then, Lu flew out of the mass of fairies and fluttered right in front of Tucker's PDA. She tilted her head at the device, as if trying to determine how the strange device could sound like a ghost griffin.
"Lu," Sam suddenly called as she moved closer to the fairy. And seeing the small ghost's eyes lock onto hers, she added, "I don't know if you can understand me, but Danny is in trouble. And we cannot help him until we get those cubs—" Sam pointed at the confused little griffin cubs. "—back to their parents." She then pointed in the direction of the pier.
Lu stared at her for a moment before turning her eyes back to Tucker's PDA. It seemed at first like she had not understood, but then, her eyes traveled towards where Sam had pointed last.
Lu abruptly flew up high and looked over Amity. But her search halted as she finally saw the dark area she had been seeking.
Finally understanding, Lu zoomed over to her clan and began to flap her wings rapidly. Whatever she was saying, they seemed to understand because they then became excited and quickly flew over to the distressed griffin cubs.
The young ghosts quickly turned their attention to them and they then seemed to be communicating with the fairies.
In a matter of seconds, the fairies swarmed and once more the crowd parted as they flew away from them with the griffin cubs tailing behind.
"Sorry, folks! Shows over!" Tucker said with a grin, and everyone groaned in disappointment.
Sam and Tucker got on their mopeds, while Danielle took to the sky.
"Come on, we gotta make sure they make it!" Danielle said.
"Let's hope they're going where we think they're going," Sam added.
Reaching for the glove compartment of her car, Jazz quickly pulled out the Fenton Boo-merang. She had long since made it a part of her daily routine to take the tracking device everywhere she went while she was in Amity. After all, she never knew when it would come in handy—like now.
Quickly activating it, she then leaned out of her window and commanded the device, "Find Danny!" She hurled the device, and it quickly took off as it caught a trace of her brother's ecto-signature.
"This is probably the best invention my parents ever made…" Jazz said with a small smile before she floored the gas pedal and her car zoomed off. When she wanted, Jazz could drive as 'well' as her father.
She kept her eye on the sky, following the tracking device as it went through Amity's streets. It was hard to keep up because the device seemed to randomly hesitate as it attempted to detect the faint ecto-signature left behind by Danny amongst the other 'fresh' signatures that were in the air. It was like watching a hound dog tracking a lost person's scent.
Eventually, the device seemed to grow in confidence as it got closer and closer to City Hall. But what Jazz saw made her heart stop.
Ember was floating high up in the air as she watched Danny from a distance. Her brother seemed confused about something, but suddenly his body rapidly began to glow a bright green and then he let out a scream of agony.
Jazz slammed the brakes, and jumped out of the car as she watched the waves of energy coming out of her brother. In fact, the boomerang never even made it him. It was sent hurling in the other direction by one of the energy waves.
Jazz didn't even see Ember disappear since her eyes were locked on her brother as she mentally cried, "DANNY!"
But the mental cry turned into an actual cry of alarm when her brother began to descend at a rapid and uncontrolled speed.
As her brother's body slammed into the top of City Hall, Jazz took off towards said building. She didn't even hesitate to pull out a mini ecto-gun and shoot the lock doors, which flung open with the force. She ran through the building climbing stair after stair to get to the very top.
By the time she found an access door to the roof of the building, Skulker and Ember were gone, and no one even knew the hunter had been involved in all this.
"Danny!" Jazz gasped out when she found her brother's unconscious form sprawled out on the roof. She quickly ran over to him and fell to her knees.
"Danny? Danny?!" she called out desperately as she shook him by the shoulders. But her brother was completely out.
But then Jazz froze as she realized something:
How was her brother still in ghost form when he was unconscious? The only time he could sustain his ghost half like this was in the Ghost Zone. He had once explained to her that, for the most part, his body instinctively clung to the form most natural to his surroundings when he was unconscious.
"Danny? Please wake up? What's wrong?" she whispered anxiously as she checked him over.
She didn't understand what had happened to him. She had come too late to really see anything. But what she saw had made no sense! It seemed her brother had been fighting Ember; but she had been so far away from him when he had suddenly started screaming!
Jazz was at a lost at what to do. She couldn't see any real physical damage on her brother's body. She quickly reached for his hand which happened to be his left hand and placed her other on his forehead.
"Danny," she called again. She paused when she realized how cold her brother felt. But he was also glowing so brightly that she had to squint her eyes.
But, suddenly, something caught her attention, and her eyes slowly locked on a green glow coming from her brother's inner wrist.
She carefully turned his hand so she could see the inside of his wrist, and her eyes widened at finding a glowing green symbol pulsing just below his skin.
"What is…?" she began as she reached with her fingertips to touch the flame-like green symbol. However, her words melded into a scream of pain the instant she brushed her fingers against it; the symbol was so cold that it had burned her!
She let go of her brother all together to cradle her throbbing fingers. But the look of alarm in her eyes said it all.
Panicked, she reached for her cell phone in her pocket and quickly dialed her mother's cell.
Her brother needed help, and unfortunately, she would not be able to carry her brother back home, so she needed her parents or someone to come to them!
But much to her dismay, her mother didn't answer.
Trying Sam's cell, Jazz turned her worried eyes back to her unconscious brother. "Come on. Pick up, please!" she whispered.
Danielle was the first of the three teens to reach the pier. The ghost girl had slowed to a halt behind the fairies as they, too, stopped to stare at the darkness and chaos in front of them.
The bay was actually frozen over. And although it was only January and the weather was still cold enough to freeze the smaller lakes, it was unheard of for the bay's massive body of water to freeze! So, Danielle knew it was the ghostly influence causing the phenomena.
Not only that, but the trees and other natural flora were dead and it was as dark as night with only the automatic light posts providing a view of the pier.
Danielle shivered from how cold and desolate the place felt. But she then looked over at Lu, who warily watched the large ghost griffins continue their rampage.
Although Lu and her clan were clearly nervous, their emotions were drowned out by the anger of the ghost griffins; so their presence had no effect on their surrounding area.
Meanwhile, the Guys-in-White were too busy dodging red ecto-blasts and avoiding being trampled by the large ghosts to notice the arrival of the ghost fairies and Danielle. As for the eldest Fentons, they were nowhere to be seen.
"Oh, man," Tucker said from below as they finally made it to the pier along with the ghost cubs. "This is worse than what we saw on the news; and that's sayin' something considering that the media usually exaggerates things!"
"We've got to get the griffin cubs to their parents; or at least have the parents notice their ghost kids!" Sam said hurriedly as she looked between the Guys-in-White and the Ghost Griffins.
"And how do we do that?" Danielle asked as she flew down to the pair of friends. "There is a wall of 'Guys-in-White and their ghost weapons' between us and the adult Ghost Griffins. We'll never get the cubs to the parents without risking the cubs and our own skin!"
But Tucker readily added, "And I doubt we'll be able to get those angry ghost parents' attention when they are so set on destroying everything and everyone in their way!"
Sam bit her lip in thought, but then she suddenly realized something and she quickly voiced it.
"Hey, where are Mr. and Mrs. Fenton?"
The three teens looked around; but then Danielle flew up a bit and she quickly spotted them. "Hey! I see them! They're coming this way!"
As Danielle pointed towards the eldest Fentons, Sam and Tucker quickly looked in that direction, and they soon also spotted them.
"Sam! Tucker! Squirt!" Jack exclaimed in surprise when he also spotted them.
The adults and teens met half way, and Maddie quickly said, "Are you kids alright?"
"Yeah, we're okay, Mrs. F!" Tucker replied.
"Just trying to figure out what to do now," Sam added with frown as she waved over to the griffin cubs which were now hiding behind a small bush.
The fairies, though not hiding, were staying away from the present fight.
"We just finished getting the last bystander to safety," Maddie said, before she added with more annoyance, "I don't know who is more dangerous. Those monstrous angry ghosts or the Guys-in-White! We had no choice but to leave the ghosts to those creeps while we made sure everyone got away from this place before someone got hurt!"
"Hey… aren't we missing someone?" Jack suddenly wondered, rubbing his chin.
"Our kids, Jack," Maddie answered dryly.
"Oh, right! I knew that!" he said with a chuckle. But then he frowned. "I hope Danny's okay. We still haven't heard from him…"
"Do you kids know anything?" Maddie fretfully asked. "He was talking to me, and then he cut off. I think I heard him scream! I'm very worried for him!"
"Jazz said she would find him," Sam said with her own troubled look. But then she sighed and said with determination, "But I'm sure he's fine. We have to get this mess cleaned up here before we can do anything about it. I just… I don't know how we're going to get those griffin cubs past the Guys-in-White!"
"Yeah, if the ghost parents are angry now, imagine what would happen if those jerks hurt their kids!" Danielle added.
"Well, we only need to get them to notice one of their cubs…" Maddie said thoughtfully. But looking at Danielle, she added, "Honey? Do you think you can grab one of those little ghosts and get it close enough for the parents to notice it. We'll cover you."
"No problem!" Danielle said before she zoomed over to the ghost griffin cubs.
Maddie, Jack, Sam and Tucker quickly ran after her. As they did, they prepared their weapons, sure they would be needing them.
"Hey, what's with all the bugs?" Jack blurted out as he stared at the swarm of butterfly-fairies.
"Long story, Mr. F," Tucker answered.
"Hey, maybe they can help," Sam added with a smirk as she came up with an idea.
The girl didn't say anything and quickly got closer to Lu before she waved her hands to try to get her attention. The creature was currently very distracted by the fight going on.
Meanwhile, Danielle grabbed one of the ghost cubs, but it immediately began to squirm and whine. It clearly did not want to be separated from its siblings or be removed from its hiding place.
"Sorry, kid. You're coming with me!" Danielle said with determination and she quickly lifted it into the air in spite of its protests.
Danielle hurriedly turned herself and the griffin cub intangible and took off towards the angry griffin parents. She knew she still had to be careful even when intangible because most of the Guys-in-Whites' weapons could still harm her or the griffin cub.
Just then, a blast came at Danielle and she wasn't quick enough to dodge it. Luckily, a second blast came in at an angle and pushed the first energy blast away from the ghost girl.
She continued forward amidst the crisscrossing blasts coming either from the Guys-in-White or those trying to cover her approach. But as she got closer to the fray, it got harder for Tucker, Jack, and Maddie to protect the girl from the barrage.
Luckily, Sam had finally been able to communicate with the fairy leader. And just as Danielle thought she would not be able to get closer, the ghost fairies suddenly flew right past her in a swarm; but then, they dispersed as each targeted a Guy-in-White hunter.
At first, everyone paused, unsure of what the fairies would do when on their own they were hardly a challenge to a ghost hunter. But it soon became apparent.
The little butterfly fairies suddenly turned intangible and phased into the Guys-in-White's clothing. Moments later, the hunters gasped and stopped firing before they all began to contort awkwardly from trying to get the creatures inside of their clothing out.
Tucker and Jack broke out into laughter while Sam and Maddie smirked at the sight of the Guys-in-white doing a horrible imitation of the salsa dance.
Danielle giggled. "Good one, Sam!" she said out loud.
Even the adult griffins stopped in their rampage and stared at how the creatures that had just been attacking them suddenly began to spin around. The male and female looked at each other before they grunted and shook their heads.
But the humorous sight was cut short when the adult griffins suddenly heard one of their cub's cry of anguish.
Danielle cringed as the griffin cub that had been struggling in her hold suddenly had enough and began to screech and cry for help.
Two deep growls got Danielle's attention and she gulped as she stared back at the now furious ghost parents.
"Uh-oh," she said before two monstrous ghosts came charging at her, ready to waste the creature who was daring to upset one of their cubs.
"Danielle!" Maddie exclaimed as she and Jack bolted towards her.
The ghost girl yelped in fear as she flew for her life with the griffin cub in hand.
Maddie and Jack reflexively aimed and fired two blasts at the creatures trying to harm their adopted daughter.
But the griffins must have sensed the rays coming because a red barrier suddenly formed around them.
Right after that, the male griffin teleported and appeared right in front of Jack and Maddie, while the female ghost continued to chase after Danielle.
Jack and Maddie gasped. They knew that the creature would fire at them before they could even aim their weapons.
"Hey!" Sam and Tucker shouted at the male griffin just as he was about to fire an energy ball from out of its mouth and incinerate Danny's parents.
The male ghost turned his eyes to the two teens and its eyes widened when he saw its other three cubs whining in the humans' arms.
"You want them? Come get them!" Sam taunted as she raised up the lion-cub-sized ghost just enough for the father to see it.
Tucker, however, had a cub under each arm so all he could do was keep the creatures from squirming out of his hold.
"No!" Maddie cried in fear as the griffin male instantly charged at the two unmoving teens. But before she and Jack could do anything, they turned towards Danielle who had suddenly screamed.
The ghost girl had finally been captured by the female griffin and was now trapped in one of the ghost's talons.
"Get ready, Tucker," Sam said as she held the little ghost cub tight against her and watched as the large ghost came closer and closer to them.
Tucker quickly let go of the two cubs and instead got the thermos ready. They had not wanted to use the thermos against the ghosts, but the ghost parents were just too dangerous.
"However, just as the male griffin got close enough to impale Sam and Tucker with its monstrous front claws, Lu abruptly appeared in front of the two teens and let out a bright flash of light.
The male hissed as it was briefly blinded by the light, but so were Sam and Tucker.
But once the teens had blinked back their sight, the friends' eyes widened when they saw Lu talking to the Griffin male in Esperanto.
The ghost griffin seemed irritated at best, but it still listened to the smaller creature. Finally, the monstrous ghost turned its cold eyes at Sam and Tucker, clearly trying to decide whether to kill them or not.
Lu then turned to face Sam and pointed at her to put down the cub. Sam did so and the little cub quickly cheered up.
But seeing its father near, the little ghost chirped and ran over to him. His other two siblings quickly followed and they began to run around their father's large claws and paws.
The male griffin briefly greeted them before it turned its eagle eyes to its mate and cawed at her.
The female ghost, which had been about to eat Danielle, paused and looked down at its mate. But then she just as quickly teleported next to the male griffin with Danielle still in one of its talons.
"Uh, a little help here?" Danielle squeaked in fear.
"Put the cub down," Tucker and Sam said together.
Danielle released the cub which quickly joined its three siblings. And they were soon all greeting their mother.
In turn, the female griffin let go of the ghost girl and focused on her cubs.
Danielle quickly flew behind Sam and Tucker before the griffin ghost could change its mind about not eating her.
Maddie and Jack carefully made their way over to the teens and group of ghosts; but they didn't fully lower their weapons. They were still wary of the dangerous ghosts too close to the teens for comfort.
The male griffin seemed to notice their distrust, but it didn't care because he also clearly did not trust the humans.
He seemed to almost glare at the humans in front of him before it turned its eyes to Lu.
The male griffin screeched softly at the ghost fairy. In turn, she nodded and then flew up into the sky. She began to rapidly flap her wings, which in turn flickered in different colors.
Her clan noticed because they suddenly stopped harassing the Guys-in-White. They quickly flew away from the humans to re-group with their leader.
Meanwhile, what was left of the Guys-in-White after the fairies' attack was downright embarrassing. Most of them had holes in their clothing while others had somehow lost their pants in the process. The rest were shivering from the cold after being reduced to their underwear.
Sure that the Guys-in-White wouldn't dare to bother anyone anytime soon, everyone turned their attention away from them.
The adult griffins stared one last time at the small group of humans they had been about to kill before the female ghost cawed and turned away from them. The four cubs followed after and then soon the fairies. The last to leave was the male griffin. He took up the rear while never once taking his eyes off Jack, Maddie and the teens, except to glance at the Guys-in-White.
Meanwhile, the female ghost stopped at the edge of the pier, extended one of her large claws, and ripped an opening back into the Ghost Zone. Making sure her cubs followed her, she wasted no time and flew into the portal. The fairies excitedly followed, but Lu lingered behind. She stared back at the group of humans who helped her and her clan and smiled.
She waved at them; and Danielle, Sam and Tucker waved back.
But their good-bye was cut short when the male griffin snorted to get Lu's attention. He walked over to her and cawed. The little fairy grinned sheepishly before flying down and sitting on top of the male griffin's head. She patted him as he finally walked over to the portal. Lu waved one last time before the two disappeared into the portal, which closed right after them.
The moment that the creatures were gone, the darkness vanished, the ice receded, and the plants came back to life. Except for the destruction on the pier and buildings nearby, everything returned to normal.
"Well, that is something I hope we will not be doing any time soon," Maddie said.
"How about never again?" Danielle replied. "I almost got eaten by a half-bird, half lion ghost!"
"I'd say you got off easy. You could have been the Guys-in-White and ended up with ghost bugs in your pants!" Tucker said with a laugh.
"Ha! Yeah! You got off easy, squirt!" Jack agreed with his own laugh.
"Speaking of the Guys-in-White, looks like we got trouble," Sam suddenly said with a glare.
Right then, Agent C came storming towards the group. There were holes all over his clothing and he was so angry it looked like his veins were going to pop out of his forehead.
"Fentons! This is all your fault!"
Maddie frowned, but before she could say anything Jack replied, "Now, wait a minute. It's not our fault you all couldn't do your jobs right!"
"At least we kept everyone safe," Maddie added. "What did you do, Agent C, besides cause more destruction?"
The Guys-in-White leader yanked off his sunglasses and narrowed his eyes at the eldest Fentons. "This is the last time I warn you; keep your group of brats away from the Guys-in-White's affairs, or I'll have you all arrested!"
"Hey! Who you calling brats?" Tucker protested. "I'd watch my tone, dude, or I'll make the Guys-in-White's affairs my affairs!"
"Oh, don't make me laugh, boy," Agent C snapped. "You might be playing mayor in this town, but my agency is part of the government. Don't try to measure up to me, boy, because you don't come close."
"Speaking of 'measuring'," Danielle cut in. "I think you might be late for your appointment with the nearest seamstress. If you haven't noticed, you need new clothes, pal. You look worse than Swiss-cheese!" she added with a giggle.
Agent C turned his eyes to the ghost girl, and the dark look in his eyes was enough to silence her. "Laugh now, ghost brat… because you won't be laughing soon enough."
Jack quickly grabbed Danielle and moved her behind him as he said angrily, "You got somethin' to say, Chrome?" he asked threateningly.
But Agent C just smirked before he turned and walked off.
"Okay, that dude seriously gives me the creeps," Tucker muttered.
However, before anyone else could say anything, Sam jolted in surprise when she felt her phone vibrating in her pocket.
Maddie gasped as she remembered her own phone and pulled it out, only to see several missed calls from her daughter.
"Hello? Jazz?" Sam asked. But when the girl began to scream her ear off, she pulled the phone away a bit. "Jazz! Stop! I can't understand what you're saying! What do you mean why we haven't picked up our phones…? No, we've been busy with two angry ghost griffins! We— What? Danny? What do you mean…?"
Everyone froze as Sam's face turned paler and paler. By the time Jazz told her about Danny, Maddie was all but yanking the phone from Sam.
"Sam! What is happening?" Maddie asked in fear.
Sam lowered the phone from her ear as she barely was able to reply, "Something… Something's wrong with Danny… Jazz thinks he's really hurt because he… won't wake up."
Needless to say, Maddie completely panicked with the news.
Currently in her Ancient appearance, Serenity floated down a hallway made completely of glass. Aside from the ghostly red glow emanating from the glass floor, the passageway was cloaked in darkness and seemed to have no end.
It really did almost go on forever; but then, even though there was no indication of a door or a turn, Serenity suddenly pivoted to her left and vanished into the darkness. But she was immediately in a purple circular room with only seven chairs in it, which were arranged in a semicircular pattern. One chair was at the center of the room and then three chairs curved on the left and right of that middle chair.
The center chair was currently occupied by the Ancient Leader. The rest of the chairs were also occupied by Ancients, save for the closest one on the right of the spirit leader. That empty chair belonged to the Spirit of Order.
"Greetings, Serenity….," the fully-cloaked spirit leader said with a deep male voice.
The female Ancient for once showed humility as she bowed her head before her leader. "Greetings, Horris… And my fellow kin…"
"You have taken us away from our individual duties and have brought us together in our gathering circle… I presume, then, this is of most importance?" Horris asked patiently.
"Yes… I am in need of… the clan's approval."
"Approval?" the Ancient Leader questioned. "We only seek the clan's approval over matters outside of our given duties. What could be so important to you outside of your responsibilities as the Spirit of Order?"
Serenity hesitated, and though she did not sound unsure of her words, they were carefully measured.
"Allow me to clarify. That of which I seek approval does relate to my duties as the Spirit of Order," she answered finally looking up. And yet all that could be seen—like with the rest of the Ancients present—were her glowing red eyes deep within her purple hood.
"Then, why would you need the clan in this matter?" Horris still questioned.
"It is a difficult matter. Although it pertains to my cause, my request would mean intruding on another spirit's responsibilities. Clockwork's to be specific."
Horris didn't reply; and by his pause, he was either surprised or intrigued. The other Ancients briefly glanced at one another but said nothing.
Serenity lowered her gaze. It was true that the Ancients shared an internal connection that allowed them to communicate without words when necessary. However, they only tapped into this link when dealing with Ancient matters or when they were not alone. Still, the Ancient Clan knew one another well. So, Serenity could imagine well what they were thinking without the need of using telepathy…
"Is this another dispute between you both?" Horris finally asked.
Serenity smirked within her hood, but her tone of voice was calm as she replied, "There is no dispute. I am actually wishing to avoid one." She looked up at the clan and explained, "I have come to believe that Clockwork is no longer qualified to carry out a duty given to him by the Observants."
"Clockwork is under the Observants' authority. You know we do not dictate their decisions, let alone overthrow their judgment, Serenity. We all serve the same Power; we have been created to work together—and not against each other—to protect all Existence."
"Yes, but we are superior to the Observants; and therefore, superior to those that work under them as well," Serenity didn't hesitate to respond.
"That may be true, but I will not allow you and your circumstances with Clockwork to disrupt the harmony between all spirits anymore than you and he already have," Horris said firmly. "We do not interfere in the Observants' decisions!"
"Unless in dire circumstances. And I assure you, this is most dire," Serenity insisted. "There is a being that Clockwork has been assigned to guard by the Observants…"
Horris stood and the room turned cold with his sudden anger. "Is this about Vivianne, Serenity? Because if so, we have discussed the matter…"
"No," Serenity interrupted. But then she paused and frowned at her own disorder. "Forgive me, but, no…. At least not entirely. I speak of a half-human, half-ghost creature. A crossbreed. Danny Phantom."
"The hybrid child?" Horris questioned in confusion as the room returned to normal. "Why is he relevant to our cause? How is he relevant to yours, Serenity?"
The Sprit of Order didn't hesitate to answer, "The young creature and his older counterpart have taken something of great importance to me… Not only taken, but they have awakened its power… The Order's Crystal, Horris. Danny Phantom and Vlad Plasmius have my most powerful possession at their disposal."
"How can this be?" Horris asked, his voice growing louder and troubled.
"Why would you allow them to possess such a dangerous relic? This is most upsetting, Serenity!"
Bowing her head, she explained, "The crossbreeds are strong, Horris. I had taken great measures to assure the Order's Crystal remained protected. You know of this. And yet, these creatures somehow bypassed all my safeguards and have taken the Order's Crystal. They have the potential to wield it completely if they discover how."
She paused for effect before adding, "I believe, then, that the Ancient Clan can now understand my reasoning for requesting to relieve Clockwork of his responsibility towards the crossbreed child. Danny Phantom is the key to assuring the Natural Order is not disturbed. He needs to be shown a true order so that…"
"Have you spoken to Clockwork?" Horris interrupted.
"Have you spoken to him of your intentions?" he questioned more soberly.
Serenity looked away. "No. He would not understand."
For a moment, Serenity unexpectedly lost some of her focus as she unwillingly thought about her relationship with Clockwork. She had meant what she said to Clockwork some time ago: they both affected each other greatly—and not always in the best ways.
"After an eternity, I am still hearing those same words from you and him," Horris said with a sigh and a shake of his head. But then he looked at Serenity again and said soberly, "What you are asking involves more than just Clockwork. We would have to denounce the Observants' authority, declare Clockwork incompetent of his task with the young half-ghost, and further take away Vivianne's purpose of being brought back as a spirit. After all, I highly doubt you would want control over one hybrid's fate and not the other."
Serenity did not respond.
Horris looked at the female Ancient for a moment. By her silence, he knew he had guessed right. He considered reprimanding her for not being clear with him and the rest of the clan. However, as he glanced at the other Ancients beside him who had all been quiet all this time, he decided on another approach.
"As we all know, I am only your leader because everything needs order," Horris calmly said, "In this clan, we are all kin. We are equal. That is why we hide our appearance to show others we are the same. For that reason, we do not dispute in front of others and we rarely speak outside of these walls. Instead, we use our connection to speak when we are not alone. In this way, we are always seen as one. Therefore, my opinion alone does not matter. So, although, I am inclined to deny your request, Serenity, I will ask the rest of the Ancient Clan. And then we will decide as one. My kin? What are your thoughts on this request Serenity has brought to our attention?"
One of the Ancients on Horris' left lifted a hand.
"Reaper?" Horris addressed the male ghost.
"As the Spirit of Life and Death, I feel Serenity has a sound argument. No one wants to intrude on another spirit's duty; however, we must take into account how much more dangerous either of these half-breeds can be with the Order's Crystal in their possession. It could mean the loss of many lives… Perhaps it would be wise to control the key, that is, the younger crossbreed, as Serenity desires."
"Well, as the Keeper of Fate, I say this argument is meaningless," a female Ancient added right after. "It does not matter what Clockwork or Serenity do, Fate will not change its design."
"But as the Spirit of Love," another Ancient said in a warm male voice. "I find this quite significant." The male Ancient then looked at the Spirit of Order and added, "Perhaps, Serenity... Instead of choosing who should control the young hybrid's fate, you and Clockwork should work together as it has been intended, and then, together you two could guide this hectic creature—and perhaps even his older counterpart—to a peaceful existence…"
"I believe that Existence has shown it is impossible for Clockwork and I to see eye-to-eye, Amoris," Serenity answered coolly. "It is simply against our nature."
"I would know of nature, Spirit of Order," another female added in a calm voice. "As the Keeper of the Elements, I can assure you that as different as fire and ice are to each other or as far as the earth is from the heavens, they still come together to create harmony and support all creation."
"You all speak true," the last of the seven Ancients said in a deep male voice. "However, as the Spirit of Truth, I must agree with Serenity. Some creatures are not meant to live in harmony. Sometimes conflict is needed to create balance. Clockwork is a passive spirit. Serenity has a stronger hand, which is what these two crossbreed creatures need at the moment. After all, you might not want to verbally admit it, but I think we all know that Horris spoke true. Your interest is not just in the young creature, but in the older one as well. However, I think the more pertinent question is, what is the true reason you, Serenity, are wishing to relieve Clockwork of his duties of the hybrid child—and indirectly, of his responsibility for the older one?"
Serenity did not reply at first. She had forgotten that no one could keep the truth from Virtru.
"It is simply necessary," she answered at last.
Virtru chuckled knowingly. "You only hurt your cause by keeping the truth from the Ancient Clan."
Serenity sighed softly before replying, "I sense a great disturbance to the Natural Order. I have reason to believe Clockwork is at the root of it. He knows something we do not—not even the Observants seem aware of it."
"Clockwork is the Keeper of Time," Horris answered. "As such, there are many things he knows and does not reveal to others. However, he has never failed to come to us or the Observants when he finds it necessary. Are we to distrust him now without reason?"
The Ancients continued voicing their opinion and discussing the matter until most Ancients agreed with Horris.
"Things will remains as they are," Horris finally said. "Serenity, you will simply have to trust Clockwork and Vivianne to do their duties correctly with these half-ghosts. If something is about to cause a problem to the Natural Order, then we will handle it when it comes to light. For now, your only importance should be protecting the Order's Crystal. If the crossbreeds truly abuse its power, then it will be in your duty to do what you must to stop them. However, if this is not so, then you will leave Clockwork and Vivianne to their duties. This is the Ancient Clan's decision."
"And I respect the clan," Serenity replied with a small bow. "Thank you for helping me to decide on this matter."
The Spirit of Order turned and exited the room before heading down the never-ending hallway.
As she left the Ancient Haven, Serenity morphed into her more humanoid appearance.
"It seems there will have to be chaos before there can be order…" she said to herself in a calm voice.
Danny frowned with uncertainty when he found himself walking up a long set of stone steps. Mirrors on either side of him reflected his image.
He had been here before. It felt like it had been a long time ago when in reality it had been just over a year-and-a-half.
He was inside the temple ruins where the Order's Crystal rested. And that meant that he was in the Spirit of Order's vanishing isle.
The question was: why was he here? And yet, as if overshadowed by an unknown entity, his feet continued to move forward—ever closer to where Danny had last found the Order's Crystal.
"For the light that will guide, I tell you this… Be sure of who you lead, for you will find it is you who will follow."
The words were like a whisper from the wind. And Danny struggled to remember where he had heard the words. He took a deep breath as he stepped into the cavern. And as he looked up, he saw the never ending abyss above him; and then as he looked forward, he saw the well surrounded by lava.
"Remember, there must be balance in one before there can be balance in two. But if you are certain of both, then I will guide you to that you wish to keep…"
"The Ancient Scroll," Danny muttered as he finally remembered where he had heard, or rather, read the words. Words meant for him when he and Vlad had gone in search of the Order's Crystal.
Danny stopped in front of the moat of lava; but the moment he did, his left hand suddenly burned, and he gasped in pain.
He gripped his wrist and stared down at his hand; but there was no hand. He had no hand! All he saw was bone!
"The Spirit of Order, I am. And what you seek belongs to me."
"No, I don't want it," Danny whispered as panic curled in his chest. But yet again, his body moved on its own accord, and he tensed as his skeletal hand stretched forward and the lava in front of him turned into misty blue energy.
His feet then moved onward again and the blue energy felt like cold mist at his feet.
"When your shadow is blind, you will see. Yet his steps are the ones that count. You are the light, therefore the guide. But follow your shadow or you will surely die."
Danny stopped and looked around just as something stronger than fear gripped his heart:
"Vlad?" he called; but the name simply echoed back to him, reminding him he was alone in this empty cavern.
"If you triumph to see the opposing pit of your core, you might want to turn back, for you must go on now parted and alone…."
He turned his eyes to the well and reached into it. But instead of pulling out an egg-shaped crystal relic being gripped by a bird-claw-shaped stand, he pulled out a broken piece of the Order's Crystal. Half of it to be exact.
The swirling gold energy once within it was gone. It was now just glowing with green energy as he gripped it in his skeletal hand.
"Each of your steps I will test, until you find me."
Danny stared unblinking at the piece of the Order's Crystal in his hand. He didn't know how, but he knew exactly what he needed to do.
He had to find the other piece to the crystal; so he could then use it.
"Use it?" he whispered to himself as he blinked his eyes and realized there was this unrelenting urge in him to use the crystal.
But what for?
"Surely you know…"
Danny gasped at suddenly hearing a feminine voice and he looked up. There attached to the stone wall by its talons was the monstrous phoenix he had encountered in this very cavern when he had found the Order's Crystal the first time.
Danny took a step back, more terrified than awed by the creature's beauty and size.
"Have you forgotten, Young Light? What you want?"
It was clear the phoenix was speaking but its mouth was not moving.
Danny opened his mouth to speak, but fearing what he might say, he stopped himself.
"Do not be afraid to speak, Young Light. It is the only way to use the Order's Crystal. Speak what you want… Speak what your shadow wants… We both know you both desire the same thing."
"No," Danny said as he took another step away. But he jolted when the phoenix suddenly morphed into a stream of fire and then landed on the ground behind him.
As her form melded back into the firebird, Danny whirled around and tensed even more upon knowing he had no escape.
"You only delay the inevitable," the phoenix said; and this time, her voice was sharp and cold. "But if anything, I am patient. You will both come to me. From the moment you both pronounced the words from my scroll, it was destined so."
Danny's eyes widened, but then he glared and yelled, "I'm not interested in you, your scroll, or your creepy crystal. In fact, here! Take it back!"
But when he tried to toss it at the firebird, the piece of the Order's Crystal remained in his hand as if it was glued on.
If birds could smile, this one would surely be. Instead, she stared at him with amused eyes.
"It is too late now. A light cannot toss away its shadow, crossbreed. You might not want what I have, but he does. And so you cannot escape. The test has begun…."
The phoenix suddenly spread its wings and began to burn with gold and red fire. As she did, she finished reciting the words on the Ancient Scroll…
"Once last caution… My wings are swift and my power's strong. Yet, you may escape me once; but help sow chaos with what I have given to keep, and through order your days, too, I will reap..."
Danny cried in pain and alarm as a wall of fire came at him, and all he could do was cover his face. He screamed louder as he felt like he was being burned alive; yet what was hurting most was his arm. His left arm was pulsing with agony!
Danny? Danny! Wake up!
Danny shot up in bed with a scream; but he then instantly rocked forward and gripped his left wrist against his body.
"Danny!" he heard familiar voices cry in alarm.
But all the boy could do was squeeze his eyes close and grip his burning wrist. It felt like forever, but the pain finally ebbed just as his dream sank into the recess of his mind.
Taking even breaths, Danny finally came to and realized there were hands on his back and shoulders.
He slowly unfurled his right hand from his left wrist and looked at the people around him. He blinked at the worried faces of his family and friends.
"Danny? Sweetie?" Maddie whispered in fear.
Danny passed a hand through his hair and muttered, "What happened?"
"That's what we want to know!" Danielle answered nervously.
"Dude! You have been out for hours!" Tucker blurted out.
"Danny, what happened?" Sam questioned as she placed a hand on his shoulder. "Jazz said you were fighting Ember, and then you just… crashed out of the sky!"
"And why were you screaming just now? Is… is it your wrist?" Jazz asked nervously.
Danny froze as he remembered what had happened.
"I was fighting Ember, but… she then disappeared," he said quietly, his eyes darting from side-to-side as he tried to make sense of everything. "I felt something hit me. I… I don't remember what it was, but it caused this… pain in my core. No, it was a cold flash, but nothing like I had felt before. I couldn't breathe. I had so much energy inside my core that I couldn't even push it out… I passed out."
"So, you had another power spike?" Jack asked with a troubled frown. "Maybe that explains why you're still in ghost form."
"What?" Danny asked and instantly looked down at himself. The boy's eyes widened when he realized that he was indeed in ghost form… But he had blacked out! And he had been out for hours according to Tucker! So, how was this possible? He always changed back when he lost consciousness in the Real-World!
Though she continued to look at her son with great distress, she still addressed her husband, "Sweetheart, I think this is more than just a simple power spike."
"I think your mom's right, Danny," Sam added. "What Jazz told us…"
"What do you mean?" Danny looked at his sister. But the moment he did, he remembered one other vital thing before he had dropped out of the sky.
He had heard her voice. But in his mind! He had telepathically heard Jazz's cry for him!
And he knew it was true; because as he stared at her now, he could hear her present thoughts. Danny would have said something, if what she was thinking, did not alarm him more…
"What's wrong with my arm?" he voiced out loud and quickly pulled back his ghost suit from his left wrist. At first, he saw nothing there, but he felt this tingling. A dull reminder of the pain he had endured.
He hovered his fingers over his exposed wrist; but as he reached down to touch it, everyone cried out, "Don't!"
Danny jolted, but it was too late because he had already touched his wrist.
Everyone gasped as the green flame symbol instantly appeared on his wrist. But unlike with anyone else who had tried to touch it, Danny was not burned by the ghostly mark.
"What… is…? What….?" Danny whispered as he touched the symbol. It felt cold to the touch; yet he could feel a foreign energy swirling just under his skin.
It was creepy.
"It doesn't burn you," Jazz said, confused. "You're the only one that can touch it; but why?"
"And more importantly, what the heck is it?" Danielle said.
"It's gotta be one of Ember's spell," Sam said angrily. "It's the only logical explanation. She was fighting him and she did something to Danny again with her weird guitar and her powers!"
Danny's eyebrows creased as he continued to stare at the symbol inside his wrist. Could that be it? Did Ember do something to him? It seemed to be the only logical explanation. After all, he was sure that what happened to him before he passed out wasn't just a cold flash.
He had been shot with something and it had caused his core to become overwhelmed to the point he lost consciousness.
But… he didn't feel like he was under any spell. This was just too weird to be Ember's doing. And that was saying something.
"We need to get to the bottom of this, Danny. There's no telling what that… thing could be doing to you!" Sam said seriously.
Danny nodded before finally turning his gaze away from his wrist. He closed his eyes and attempted to turn human. But he instantly hit a barrier.
"But first, I need to get rid of all this accumulated energy," Danny said and attempted to get up. But the moment he got on his feet, he gasped and stumbled back from how weak he suddenly felt.
"Son!" Jack exclaimed and quickly grabbed the teen to keep him from falling on the ground.
Danny felt the symbol on his wrist tingle even more and at seeing it was his father who was holding him, a surge of hate abruptly shot through his system; and before he even realized what he was doing, he yanked his arm from his father and hissed, "Don't touch me!"
Jack and everyone else froze is surprise; but at realizing what he had just done, Danny's eyes widened in horror.
"I-I didn't…. I… Dad, I'm sorry," Danny stuttered out before he gripped his suddenly throbbing head and sat back down on the bed.
"Danny? Why don't you stay in bed, sweetie?" Maddie spoke up, breaking the silence. "This is upsetting to all of us; but we will make sense of it all together. But, first, let's make sure you get your strength up, then we'll help you get rid of your excess ghost energy; and then we'll figure out what that symbol is and how to get rid of it… okay?"
But not waiting for Danny to reply, Maddie placed a hand on her husband's shoulder and asked, "Jack, can you help me fix something up for Danny… and all of us, really. I'm sure we are all hungry since none of us have eaten anything in several hours. Come on."
Jack stared with uncertainty at his son before he nodded and muttered, "Sure, Maddie…"
The moment the two left, Sam moved to sit beside her boyfriend and grabbed his right hand. "Hey… What's wrong, Danny?"
They were all concerned because it made no sense why Danny was feeling weak yet he had so much accumulated ghost energy that he could not turn human.
"Yeah, dude, you just blew your dad off!" Tucker said in surprise.
But Sam shot him a glare for being so direct.
"What Tucker means," Danielle intervened, "Did Uncle Jack do something to make you upset with him, Danny?"
Danny looked up at his cousin and felt a surge of resentment for her. But this time, he controlled the unexplained emotion and forced it down.
"No… I don't know where that came from. Maybe I'm just stressed," Danny muttered as guilt, confusion, and something else battled inside his heart.
But wanting to not think about how he felt, he looked at Sam. He smiled weakly at her when he saw how troubled she looked.
"I'm fine, Sam," Danny assured her as he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. But he then suddenly felt a yearning for just being with her and he added, "We really need to go on a date… Just us… I miss you so much, Sam."
The girl instantly blushed and answered with embarrassment and confusion, "You know I feel the same, Danny, but how about we talk about that later?"
Danny frowned but still nodded. "Yeah, I guess that makes sense."
But suddenly hearing his sister's thoughts, he looked at her and said carefully, "You're being surprisingly quiet, Jazz…"
The older girl shook her head. "I just can't make sense of all this, Danny. You're acting really strange… Maybe Ember did do something to you."
"I guess it's possible… I do feel… strange," Danny admitted; but his thoughts were mostly focused on the fact that he kept hearing his sister's thoughts and she didn't even seem to realize it…
"Maybe we need to go after Ember and force her to undo whatever it is that she did to Danny," Danielle suggested.
Danny suddenly glared at the girl. "As if you'd ever find her. And even if you did, do you really think she is just going to 'undo' her spell or whatever? Don't be ridiculous, Danielle!"
The ghost girl scowled and snapped, "I'm just trying to help! And it's Dani, remember?"
Danny looked away from the girl and attempted to concentrate on something else. Why was he being so short-tempered with everyone?
It had to be because of all the accumulated energy inside him. It was making him testy. Not to mention anxious. He needed something. It was like he had an itch he couldn't scratch and it was all but driving him insane.
"Sorry, Dani," the teen finally said before sighing and asking pleadingly, "Hey, would you guys mind if we talked about this tomorrow? I'm just really tired."
Danielle, Tucker, Sam, and Jazz all looked at each other. Danny's request clearly made them even more concerned. But they didn't want to say 'no' if he was really feeling this tired.
Truth was, however, he wasn't tired. Far from it. But he didn't want to risk blowing up on anyone else.
"Sure, Danny. I guess it is pretty late now," Sam said reluctantly.
Danny almost said right then and there that he had changed his mind. He didn't want Sam to leave. He missed her too much! He wanted her close. He didn't want to lose her! He wanted to just hold her and never let her go again!
"Um, alright; so, we'll see you tomorrow, dude," Tucker said awkwardly as he and everyone else noticed the intensity in which Danny was staring at Sam.
"There is something definitely wrong with Danny."
Danny snapped out of it with the echo of his sister's thought in his mind. He frowned over at his sibling. Okay, the telepathic bond with his sister was definitely back. He needed to talk to her about it, and now!
But at feeling Sam get off the bed, Danny turned his attention to her and grabbed her hand.
"I'll be back, okay, Danny?" Jazz said before walking out.
"I'll meet you outside, Sam," Tucker said, and Danielle followed him out.
Danny didn't even hear a word of what anyone said to him or the fact that they were now gone. He was just too content to have Sam sitting next to him.
"I guess I better go, too," Sam said with hesitation. But the moment she tried to get off the bed, Danny slightly tightened his hold on her wrist and stopped her.
Sam frowned with worry. "What's going on, Danny?"
But the boy shook his head and smiled. "I just didn't want you to leave without us really saying good-bye…"
Sam blushed but still allowed her boyfriend to pull her in and kiss her. But his kiss wasn't like anything she felt before. Not only was his ghost energy so strong it was giving her chills, but he was kissing her with something she could only describe as desperation… and longing.
It scared her.
Sam pulled away quickly, and Danny noticed it. And seeing the uncertainty in her eyes, he said, "Sorry. I… I'm sorry, Sam." He chuckled awkwardly as he added, "Maybe it's those hormones our parents keep warning us about."
Sam blushed even more before she coughed. "Don't worry about it. Just get some rest, okay? We have to make sure we figure this out tomorrow, though."
Danny nodded and waved her goodbye.
Alone, Danny turned his attention to his wrist; and touching it, he saw how the green flame symbol appeared on his wrist.
"What is this thing?" he asked himself fearfully.
Taking a stroll around Skulker's Island, Vlad walked towards a terrace at the innermost part of the island. It was created naturally by the trees, vines and ghost plants around it. The only thing that had been hand-crafted was a cobblestone bridge with lattice-adorn handrails.
The half-ghost walked towards the bridge. When he reached the top of it, he stopped and leaned against its side. He looked out at Skulker's terrain and half-smiled when he saw that from this point, he could see Skulker's ghost collection not too far in the distance.
Sometimes the older hybrid forgot how obsessive his alley—his friend—could be. The hunter had many of his captured ghosts in large cages, but each cage connected to an enclosure where the ghosts could stretch their legs and get some fresh air. It was almost like going to a natural zoo. And by the sight of most of the captured ghosts just sleeping the day away or leisurely sitting against a tree, it was obvious they were used to living in this place.
Too bad he was not.
Vlad sighed before he lowered his gaze. He had only been here a week and he already felt trapped; and worse, the fact that he had not turned human in that long made him feel as if he was losing his humanity. He was sure that wasn't truly the case, but the urge to change back was gnawing at him. He had never realized that just like his body could not go without switching into his ghost form for long, his body also could not go without changing into his human self for long without it giving him problems.
It was all the more reason why he could not give up on his plans and just live in the Ghost Zone for the rest of his life. He just didn't belong here.
Vlad frowned as a strange thought passed through his mind. Was it possible that the reason Skulker insisted that he live with him was because in some way it would make the hunter's collection complete? After all, Skulker had always wanted a half-ghost in his collection. Is that what he had become here? One of Skulker's tamed prey?
Plasmius closed his eyes and shook his head. No. That was absurd. He would always be stronger than Skulker. Besides, they were allies and… friends. Not to mention, he could leave whenever he wanted!
Vlad suddenly chuckled bitterly as he realized why he was having these thoughts. They had begun since yesterday when Skulker had managed to get the Sign of Order on the young hybrid's wrist. Vlad had not needed to be told by Skulker that he and Ember had succeeded in that.
Vlad felt when they had. He could feel the connection with Daniel again; but it was forced. Unnatural. Even overwhelming.
With their 'wills' connected, Vlad didn't feel like himself. His emotions were more unstable. And… he had this strange fear of Skulker.
That, he could not even begin to explain.
There was a battle in his mind and heart. For the first time, he was questioning his idea of using the Order's Crystal to reclaim his life. Something in him was now against it. But maybe what was against it, was not his own.
Now that he was bound with the boy through the Sign of Order, he also had Daniel's desires and thoughts surging within him. The fact that he was still new to it did not allow him to distinguish between the thoughts and feelings that were his own and the thoughts and feelings he was getting from the teen.
"Stay focus, Masters," Vlad spoke to himself.
He had known this would be hard from the moment the Spirit Book had told him of this 'spell'. So, he just needed to keep his eye on the ball. He knew what he wanted. And not even the boy's own desires or will was going to make him lose sight of it!
"I must use the Order's Crystal. It is the only way," Plasmius said seriously. But as his thoughts went to the two people he lost, his gaze saddened. "Even if I lost my chance to be with Stephanie and Annabelle, at least this way, I would get the chance to apologize for being such a fool…"
How he longed to be at their side again. He had been so focused on revenge and gaining what he lost over twenty years ago, that he never saw what he already had was better. All he had wanted was love; but his obsession with the past and with having the perfect half-ghost son did not allow him to see he already had love.
Stephanie and Annabelle had loved him. They had never thought less of him. In fact, they had thought more of him than he ever thought of himself!
Perhaps… if he would have seen it sooner, he would have also realized he had never stopped loving Stephanie. Instead of dedicating his efforts to gaining the love of a woman who would never love him back, he should have focused on re-gaining the love of a woman who at least already loved him like a friend. She had loved him when they were young, maybe he could have won her love again…
Now, it was too late. And Vlad did not want to torment himself with what could have been.
Yes, his plan was to use the Order's Crystal to erase the Disasteroid incident; or at least change the order of the happenings so it would not lead to his being a fugitive.
But for once, he was not thinking of just himself. All he wanted out of this was to be able to walk among people again and not worry about being taken in by the Guys-in-White or some other warped ghost hunters. But he wanted to come out of hiding for one single purpose:
He just wanted the chance to apologize to the two people he loved. He wanted to thank them—as he never did—for caring for him as they had.
That was all he wanted. He would then leave them alone. The best thing he could do for them was to just let them find someone else who could give them the love he never gave them.
After all, Daniel was right about one thing he had said to him in one of their fights:
He destroyed everything that he touched.
Vlad didn't want to be responsible for the destruction of the last two people his selfish heart still cared about.
But that thought stirred another emotion in him that he had already decided to bury: his care for the younger hybrid.
He knew it was still there. Deep down. But he would no longer acknowledge it. It was his parental love for the boy that had ended him up where he was now. It was his obsession with having him at his side that had destroyed him.
Besides, the boy was a Fenton. And he wanted nothing to do with anyone who bore that last name ever again.
He had suffered enough in their hands. He was done with it.
Once he accomplished his goal of apologizing and seeing Stephanie and Annabelle one more time, Vlad honestly did not know what he would do. Perhaps he would continue with his other quest of dominating the entire Ghost Zone. Or, maybe he would just focus on his scientific research. He had always been a scientist at heart, and if it was one thing he loved, it was spending time in his labs inventing and developing new things.
He honestly did not know what he would do once he regained his life. The truth was that he would never be able to get back everything that made his life worthwhile no matter how many powerful relics he had at his disposal. And maybe part of that reason he couldn't get it back was because he no longer wanted it back. He didn't deserve it.
Vlad gazed back at the scenery in front of him, but when he did, he was surprised to see a thick fog which was rapidly consuming everything. The man tensed, but he found himself unable to move when he was quickly engulfed in the thick fog as well.
Plasmius closed his eyes when the thick mist briefly caressed his cheek, sending an unpleasant chill down his spine; but the feeling was replaced by a hot tingle that started at his core and left him exhaling a red vapor from his mouth.
The older hybrid snapped his eyes open and gasped as he found himself on the Spirit of Order's vanishing isle. But he was deep within, staring at the boiling lake of lava right in front of him…
A female voice whispered in his ear and the man quickly turned his head in its direction; but there was nothing there.
Vlad tensed even more and he let energy pour into his right hand.
"If what you seek is order, then my Order's Crystal will guide your endeavor…"
"The Spirit of Order…" Vlad said and continued to look around; but all he saw was the all too familiar cavern in which he and Daniel had found the Order's Crystal.
"The Spirit of Order, I am… And what you seek belongs to me."
Vlad frowned. He knew those words. He had read them from the Spirit Scroll Fright Knight had found for him a while back…
"What do you want? I figured out your little riddle and I passed your death trap on that wretched isle you call 'home'. The Order's Crystal is now rightfully mine!" Vlad said sharply as he continued to look around for the spirit.
"Remember, there is no light without its shadow; no life without its death; no destiny without sacrifice; and no truth without faith."
The man's face melded into a confused frown. Why was this creature reminding him of the words on that scroll? And… why was she not attacking him for taking the crystal? Or for trying to use it in the future?
What was she doing?
Vlad's eyes suddenly darted towards the lava as it began to bubble and rise. His breath hitched as the lava threatened to spill out of its barriers and consume the ground on which he stood.
"But be forewarned… If the success of your endeavor only reaps my enemies, chaos and disorder, then I will return to reclaim from you that which is mine—and which you have stolen."
"I will come swiftly to the worlds of time, restoring order and punishing my enemies—and your crimes."
Vlad gasped as the lava began to come at him but he could not move. Then, as if the spirit was standing right next to him, he heard the next words in his ear sound both soft and foreboding.
"Your test begins now, Beautiful Shadow…"
Vlad let out a cry of alarm as the river of lava suddenly rose up in a wave and enveloped him. He could feel it burning him, but the worst of it was searing his left wrist.
The sudden shout of his name was followed by someone grabbing him by the shoulder and whirling him around.
Vlad startled when the vision in front of him was gone in a second, and in the next, he was back on the cobblestone bridge; but Skulker was now present and the ghost was shaking him by the shoulders to make him snap out of it.
Inexplicably panicked by the sight of the hunter, Vlad jerked himself away from him and his back hit the bridge's wall.
Skulker just stared at the man in disbelief. When he found him, he had just been standing there staring out in a daze at nothing. The hunter had called him several times without answer, and then suddenly, Plasmius started screaming.
Feeling his wrist burning, Vlad gripped it with his other hand before taking a steadying breath.
"Forgive me, Skulker…," he muttered before he looked around to make sure he was indeed at Skulker's Island and not at the vanishing isle with the Spirit of Order.
Skulker said nothing at first. Though he had pretended not to notice, he knew that the man had been acting skittish lately, especially whenever he came too close to the older hybrid. The hunter didn't understand why Vlad would tense up in those instances, but he didn't want to push the issue. Instead, Skulker moved to stand beside the man. The ghost placed a hand against the bridge's edge and looked out at his collection.
Vlad watched the hunter with a distrust he could not understand himself, but the hybrid forced himself to get a grip on the illogical emotion and he relaxed a bit. He turned around and also looked out at the scenery.
There was a long silence before Skulker asked soberly, "Are you certain of this?"
Vlad knew the hunter referred to his plan to use the Order's Crystal. But the man chuckled lightly as he pulled back his ghost suit to expose his inner left wrist.
"I think it is a little too late to turn back now, Skulker," he replied as he touched his wrist and watched the red flame symbol appear.
Skulker glanced at the symbol before he looked away. "It is never too late to turn back, Plasmius. Regardless, you know I will see this through the end with you. I only hope you do not lose more than what you will gain out of this."
"I have nothing more to lose, Skulker," Vlad answered seriously as he lowered his arm. "However…." He looked at the hunter and added, "You do… I am sorry about Ember."
Skulker frowned, but didn't look at Vlad. "It is natural that she would be… disconcerted about what she saw. But I am who I am, Plasmius. She knows with whom she chose to have a relationship. I am a hunter and an honorable ghost foremost; therefore, I am loyal to those who win my loyalty. As I said, I will see this with you until the end."
Vlad nodded. "And I thank you for that. And I am also certain Ember will return to you."
Skulker finally looked at the man and placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled; but whatever he was going to say was forgotten when he felt Vlad tense with his touch.
The hunter's smile fell and he lowered his arm. "You know…" he began seriously. But as if thinking better of it, he stopped and said instead, "So, now what?"
Vlad mentally fought with the illogical wariness he kept feeling for Skulker. He forced it down and said confidently, "Now, I get what I want."
Vlad smiled evilly as he answered, "I just have to convince Daniel that he wants to use the crystal as much as I do. It will not be long now. I can already feel his will succumbing to my own."
Skulker wasn't sure how Vlad knew that or how this whole connection with the crystal worked, but he could see how certain the man was.
"Is he resisting?" the hunter asked.
Vlad smirked. "It wouldn't be Daniel if he did not. However, he does not know to what he is resisting. So, it is futile, especially when I will attack his will when he least expects it: while he sleeps."
Vlad nodded to himself as he added, "Give it a few days, Skulker. You will see I am right." But the man suddenly turned and began to walk off the bridge, but he still said, "Meanwhile, I have a few things to look after in the real-world."
Skulker frowned and quickly followed after the man. "What is there for you to look after?"
"They are personal matters," Vlad answered without glancing back.
"Wait. Plasmius," Skulker called out a bit forcibly. "We had an agreement. You would remain here and regain your strength and I would help you with this whole plan of yours! You cannot leave!"
Plasmius suddenly whirled around and growled, "I can go where I please! I am not one of your pets!"
Skulker just stared at him in surprise. But then his eyebrows drew in with confusion. "No, you are not… And I never knew I ever gave you that impression, Vlad."
Plasmius' anger instantly deflated at hearing the ghost call him by his first name. He looked away and scowled when he realized that all of those strange feelings he had been experiencing towards Skulker wasn't of his doing. He silently cursed what had actually been the boy's feelings for affecting him so.
"I have not turned human in a week," Vlad suddenly told him as he looked back at the hunter. "My body needs to strengthen my human half as much as my ghost half, Skulker. And I can only do that in the human realm. I will be fine. I have a subterranean lab in Wisconsin that will prevent anyone from detecting my strengthening ghost signature. I will not be gone for more than a few days."
"Very well," Skulker replied. "But if you need me…"
Plasmius smirked and tapped his communicator on his wrist. "I know, Skulker." He turned back around, but then paused and called back to the hunter as he walked away, "Oh, and a little advice, Skulker…. You would do good to seek out that girlfriend of yours while I am away. Spend some time with her. Only fools let a good opportunity pass them by…"
It was late at night when Jazz woke up to use the restroom. However, she quickly forgot about her destination when she noticed her brother's light was still on.
"Why is he up? Was there a ghost attack?" she wondered.
The girl decided her trip to the bathroom could wait and she went to her brother's room instead. She slowly cracked the door open and noticed her brother was standing at his opened window, looking out.
"Danny?" she asked.
The teen slowly turned to look at her. "Hey, Jazz," he said quietly.
"Hey… Are you okay? Why are you up? You have school tomorrow," she told him as she walked in further.
Danny sighed before turning to look back out the window."I know, Jazz… I just can't sleep."
"Danny, I know you're worried about the strange symbol on your wrist, but we'll get to the bottom of it. Our parents will figure it out. You'll see. In the meantime, look at the positive. You were able to get your ghost energy down enough to change back, right?"
Danny frowned at the thought. It had taken him another two hours to get his body out of bed. It was so strange how he had been feeling so weak when his energy had been so elevated. But he supposed it was his stressed core that got him past his odd weakness. He had forced himself to head down to the lab and release the pent-up energy within him. It had been painful, but he eventually got it down enough to where he was able to turn human again.
Now, his energy was still elevated, but it wasn't bothering him anymore. The weakness had also gone away for the most part. There was still something within him that was making him feel bad. It was like that sensation of feeling sick before you actually got a cold or the flu.
But that wasn't even the worst of it. There was something else upsetting him more than the unknown sensation in his body or his elevated energy…
Danny looked down at his right wrist and touched it. "Something isn't right, Jazz. Our parents ran every test possible while I was down in the lab, and they weren't able to pick up any kind of ghostly residue or energy—well, aside from my own, of course. It makes no sense… And for Ember to be behind this… It just doesn't seem like something she would—or, could—do, Jazz."
"Danny," Jazz said, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I know things don't add up, but we have to go by what we know. And we know the last ghost you were fighting was Ember. Besides, she might have never done something like this before to you, but you told us yourself that she has the ability to cast spells with that guitar of hers."
"I do feel strange, Jazz," Danny admitted as he turned to look at his sister. "I feel like there's something I need, but I don't know what it is!" He moved away from her and began to pace slightly. "Yes, I'm worried about what this weird symbol is, but the reason I can't sleep isn't because of it. I just… I feel so anxious… And…"
He stopped and looked at his sister.
"And I don't think all this started with Ember," he finally revealed.
Jazz's eyes widened. "What are you talking about, Danny?"
Danny sighed again as he ran a hand through his hair. He then moved to sit down on his bed; and taking that as a sign that this was going to be a long conversation, Jazz also moved to sit down beside her brother.
"Before I tell you this, Jazz, you have to promise not to tell our parents or Danielle…," he began.
Jazz frowned. "Little brother, you said you were done with the secrets…"
"I know, Jazz!" he said a bit forcibly. "Sam's given me the same lecture already! I just…" he trailed off. "I don't want them to worry. And I… I don't want to start unburying painful memories for them."
"What do you mean?" she replied.
Danny bit his lip with indecision before he asked instead, "Have you been feeling strange at all? Headaches? Seeing things? Er, hearing things?"
Jazz raised an eyebrow.
Danny blushed. "I'll take that as a 'no'. Um… Do you remember the ghost I told you about that helped me save you from the bloodstream nanobots Vlad inserted into your body? Her name is Niane."
Jazz slowly nodded. "Yes… It was how you were able to find me fast enough to save me. And it gave us that strange, but temporary telepathic bond. But why did you ask me if I was having headaches and…"
She trailed off as she got a sudden notion on why Danny had asked her such an odd thing. But that couldn't be, could it?
"Danny… why did you ask me if I've been having headaches or feeling strange…" she asked again more seriously. Then she dared to ask, "… Are you?"
Danny lowered his gaze and nodded.
"Oh my gosh…" Jazz whispered. "Are you telling me…?"
"I've been hearing your thoughts, Jazz," Danny said quietly as he looked back at his shocked sister. "I wasn't sure at first, but then after what happened yesterday with Ember. Before I passed out, I heard you in my head! And then when I woke up I was hearing you again!"
Jazz stayed quiet for a moment as she thought of what this all could mean. But then she suddenly looked back at her brother and asked, "So, can you hear me now? My thoughts, I mean."
Danny shook his head. "No, actually. It's random. I mean, I think it is. Sometimes I'll hear your thoughts; but… not just yours. I… I think I might be hearing Sam's and Tucker's too. But I'm not sure. It isn't as clear as with you."
Jazz's eyes widened. "This makes no sense, Danny! Why would you suddenly start hearing other people's thoughts after a year-and-a-half? That temporary telepathic ability went away after you saved me; so why would it come back so randomly? And now you are hearing everyone's voices?"
"Not everyone's… Just people I share a bond with," Danny explained. "At least I think so. Like I said, I've only been able to hear your thoughts clearly so far. Niane said she had the ability to manipulate bonds. I'm guessing she can only do that with bonds that are already there…"
"Danny," Jazz interrupted. "This still does not make any sense. Why now?"
"Because I saw Niane just over a week ago. During the Disasteroid anniversary," Danny answered soberly.
Jazz's eyebrows dipped inward as she replied, "Why didn't you say anything?"
But Danny stood up as he angrily replied, "Because I didn't want to think about it! I just wanted to forget everything she came to tell me!" The boy began to pace as he continued, "Do you know what she wanted, Jazz? She wanted me to help Vlad! After everything! She wanted me to forget about everyone else for that jerk!"
"Vlad's alive?" Jazz whispered.
"Well, I told her I wasn't interested," Danny continued his angry rant as if his sister had said nothing. "I told her that if Vlad even thinks about causing trouble, then he's going to be dealing with me! And this time, I'm not going to have any consideration for him! He deserves nothing from me! He dug his own hole; so he can wallow in it for all I care!"
Jazz gasped as the room's temperature abruptly plummeted.
"Danny!" Jazz exclaimed as she stood and grabbed her brother by the shoulders. She swallowed a gasp at how vivid his angry green eyes looked. Not to mention, he was super cold and he was in human form, too!
Jazz watched as the anger faded from her brother's eyes and for the first time in a while, she saw the sadness she had seen when her brother returned home after several months with his arch-enemy.
She could still remember how her brother wept for losing whatever bond he had with Vlad. And she was probably the only one that knew how devastating it was to Danny to watch the person he had wanted to save destroy himself in a single instant.
But Jazz knew better than to talk about that now. She wanted her brother to move past that—though it seemed at the moment that he still had a long way to go.
"So, is that it, Danny? You think Niane is behind all this? The return of those telepathic powers? The increase in your ghost half's energy? That… symbol on your wrist?"
But Danny shook his head and just slumped back down on his bed. He was quiet for a moment before he answered, "Everything points at that, Jazz; but… I can't… I can't believe that the person who helped me save your life is behind all the things happening to me now. I can't believe she's… evil, Jazz…"
"She worked for Vlad. And by what you just said, she is concerned about him… Maybe since you refused to help her, she is trying to force you to," Jazz carefully answered.
"But how is all this forcing me to help Vlad, Jazz? It makes no sense!" Danny replied worriedly.
Jazz frowned. Now she understood why her brother did not want their parents or Danielle to know. Not only would they be upset at knowing that Vlad was alive, but they would also all become furious at the idea of some ghost related to Vlad coming back to hurt Danny because Danny wouldn't help the evil half-ghost.
"What if Vlad sent her? What if he's behind this?" Jazz suggested instead; though the thought sent a chill up her spine.
But Danny shook his head. "No, Jazz. I can be sure of one thing. Vlad didn't send her."
"How can you be so sure?" Jazz asked skeptically.
Danny hesitated. Should he tell Jazz Niane's secret? But it wasn't his to tell…
"Trust me, Jazz. I just know."
Jazz didn't look completely convinced; but she slightly changed topics. "Have you told Tucker and Sam about this?"
Danny shook his head again. "I wanted to wait until I was sure about the whole 'telepathic-bond power' thing before I said anything. But… I guess I'm as sure as I'll get. Maybe they can help us figure this out."
Jazz smiled and placed a hand on her brother's shoulder, "I think so, too, little brother. And the sooner the better. No offense, but I don't want you in my head permanently."
Danny looked up and smiled. "Don't worry. I'm not interested, either. I'm already scarred enough by what I've seen in there!"
"Hey!" Jazz protested and swatted her bother in the head.
"Ow! What? It's true!" he laughed.
Jazz glared mockingly at him. "Okay, wise guy. You better get in bed or else you'll have me in here early in the morning scarring you some more!"
Danny chuckled and raised his hands up in surrender. "No need for that. I know better than to incur the wrath of my know-it-all sister!"
"That's 'strike two', little brother," she said with mocking sweetness.
But then the two siblings just looked at each other and laughed.
Danny smiled and said, "Thanks, Jazz."
Jazz smiled back before replying, "Good night, Danny."
Danny also bid her a good night and watched her walk out of the room. He sighed but feeling more relieved after talking about all that was on his mind, he felt his tiredness finally encouraging him to go to bed.
Getting in bed, he closed his eyes and forced himself to focus on the good things in his life—namely his family and friends. His mind was now so tired that he had forgotten to close his window.
Not too soon after, the boy was in deep slumber. He never noticed the cool breeze filtering through the window which was slowly swaying the curtains and gently playing with his locks.
All seemed peaceful at last when suddenly, Danny sat up.
His posture was rigid and though his eyes were open, they were glowing such a fierce green that his pupils had been drowned under the ghost energy.
Completely in a trance, the boy got out of bed and then dropped onto his hands and knees. He reached under his bed and pulled out the water globe that Vlad had gotten him long ago.
Sitting crossed leg on his carpet floor, Danny put the globe in the space between his legs. He then reached for the globe with his left hand. The moment he did, the symbol on his wrist flared.
But it didn't stop there.
Energy began to seep out of the boy through the Sign of Order on his wrist and began to incase the globe with the ghostly energy.
All the while, Danny caressed the globe lovingly before whispering to it, "The Order of the World… now in my hand…"
Creepy much? Haha!
Anyways, I know there wasn't development in this; and while some of you are asking what's all the fuss with the Order's Crystal, others are asking 'where is The Ultimate Enemy'? Well… I promise it is all relative and we will be getting to that angle soon. Pretty soon, actually. Next chapter should be interesting because things will really begin to pick up after it…. In fact, just so I can have both this story and DoaS at a turning point—DoaS is already there—I'm going to be updating this story again. So, sorry to the DoaS fans, but you will have to wait longer. I haven't given up on the story, I just don't have much time to write now-a-days, but I will get to DoaS once I post one more chapter from this story. Plus, next DoaS chapter is quite a doozy so I need a bit more time to get it all pretty for you guys!
Well, thanks for your patience and for your support! Vlad muse and I totally appreciate it! Until next time, my pretties! Er, wrong story? Yeah… I meant… Ta!