This is the second chapter I've posted this week. If you haven't read Chapter 15, please read it first.
Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom.
Warning: This story contains references of rape, male sex, and pedophilia. Sexual content, MPreg and language are a factor in this story. If any of this disturbs you, please do not read.
Chapter 16: Facing Facts
The next few days were spent trying to get a grip on the way things were now. Tuesday was the opening of the Division's headquarters so now I had a major job alongside my real job. Samuels wanted me to quit patrolling but it became clear that was not an option. While most ghosts reacted subtly to the changes, some were like a bull in a china shop. I waited for nearly a week before Vlad got back to me. The party would take place on next Saturday. The big surprise was Vlad wasn't holding it at his mansion. He's kept his word he said. The party will be held at C.J.'s, where the kids get their alcohol anyway.
I had several dreams recorded in the week of recording but only a couple were about the ghost invasion. I couldn't use one at all because it had too many opportunities for exposure and the other one had to be censored and cut off after a certain point. Tuck and I managed to keep Sammy's identity out of the spotlight and no one else knew Sam and I lost a daughter. They got the picture on this tape. It was after Sammy's funeral and I had went out of Amity Park to get a good look. We understood a lot more about the situation in Amity Park.
Sometime in the near future, the natural portals were going to open permanently. It would be like our portal except you couldn't shut these off and there were thousands. I would walk the streets of an ordinary town like Chicago and a large green hole sat in the sky. My future self was completely shaken by the latest developments. He walked down Chicago's streets in broad daylight and there wasn't a soul on the streets. Blood spatters could be seen everywhere where they hadn't cleaned it up yet. It was horrible.
I worked closely with Sidney and Dora so that we could make this go without a hitch. I got them some new clothes and thanked my lucky stars Sidney wasn't black and white anymore. The last time I saw him, before we met Frostbite, he was still trapped in his own personal hell. Now, he has moved on from that torture and is learning to move on with his life. So many of the kids killed in the fire in the fifties hadn't come to terms with their deaths. Sidney was the key that held them in that state of limbo, though. It's what made Amity Park the largest natural portal in the world.
The Friday before the party, another episode aired. I talked Sam and Tucker into just watching both of the episodes the next day with the kids. Somehow, I got my way. The first episode we missed was the week that Val and I had dated. The episode that aired that Friday was when Dash and I were shrunk. I have to admit, even I laughed through that one frequently. Dash still had the best line in the world. 'I'm puny. I don't do puny!' However, after we watched the two episodes, we knew what was on the horizon.
As evening set in, we prayed we were ready.
Vlad had C.J.'s set up. It must have been the fanciest bar in the world. We had the place bright and colorful, hoping to discourage the ghosts' glows from being spotted. Everyone had been invited but that didn't mean that we were free to drink. Mom and Dad put an end to that. No one in this town doesn't understand the power of the Division now. All it took was a threat from my parents to shut him down to get C.J. to put a ban on underage drinking.
I have to say it felt good. To have Mom and Dad put an end to Vlad's rouse. When Sidney and Dora walked in the door in their human clothes, we tried not to look at them. We were supposed to be surprised.
Very quietly, I heard the beginning of the performance. "You promised us we could see her," Dora said in a very quiet voice. No one would be able to hear her but those looking could confirm that Vlad and the two mystery guests talked for a few minutes.
"Just be patient," Vlad declared, holding up his hands. "I haven't talked to Daniel yet. You know it isn't safe."
"I just want to see my baby," Dora said urgently, the tears looking very convincing. Of course, Dora could produce tears but she couldn't produce heavy breathing or whimpers. Any vocalization that required breathing to release was impossible for a ghost. How ghosts talked is still a mystery because even talking requires breathing. I believe air does go inside the body. I release the ghostly wail somehow.
"You want Lilly safe, don't you," Vlad said, feigning an attempt to get them to be patient.
"Of course," Sidney said softly. "That's all we want."
"Then be patient," Vlad said urgently.
"Can you point to her," Dora asked, anticipation on the surface. This was going better than I had hoped.
Vlad turned Dora in our direction and I heard the closest thing Dora could do to a gasp. Now the performance really begins. Dora made a be-line to us.
"Wait," Vlad called out loud, catching everyone's attention. We turned as planned.
"Dora," I cried.
"Give me Lilly," Tucker cried. Jazz passed Lilly to Tucker as we all became the focus of attention.
"Look, I'm sorry," Dora said. Her voice choked up and her eyes clouded in tears. "I just couldn't take another day."
"You could have been followed," I said in disappointment. "We can't protect Lilly if you come around uninvited." I looked to Vlad, "Did you tell them we'd be here?"
"They sounded desperate," Vlad said, feigning guilt. "I'm sorry. I was wrong."
"What did you think was going to happen," Sam declared.
"I thought I could get you guys alone. I didn't know she'd react that way."
"Please," Dora cried. "Just one time. Let me hold my daughter."
The gasps sounded as predicted.
"I have to make sure we're not being ambushed," I said softly. "Give me a moment," I replied. "Tucker. Sam. Keep her safe."
"You got it, boss," Tucker replied. I walked off in a stride, pulling out a walkie-talkie. When I got out of sight, I stopped and waited for my time to walk back in. I didn't really need to do the parameter check. If anyone was here, I'd already known it by now.
"This is Dora and Sidney," Mom's voice declared in surprise.
"Yeah," Sam replied. "This is Lilly's parents."
"You have a very beautiful daughter," Dad replied. I was listening, waiting for the right moment to come in.
"Thank you," Sidney replied. We were most worried about Sidney because of his habit of quoting hot phrases from the fifties that are all but extinct now. Sidney still looked like a young man. He had fully grown up from where he died before maturity. It's been fifty years since the fire and he was a freshman. Dora and Sidney looked about the same age and while they looked young, they could pull off being adults.
"Can't I hold her," Dora begged.
"Not until Danny gets back," Sam said apologetically.
"Who are they? What's going on," Dash asked. I was wondering when he'd come in.
"We've been on assignment since September," Tucker said softly. "Dora's brother has been trying to kidnap this little girl right here. Her name is Lilly. After they put private protection on her, Dora's brother got around it. He kidnapped the baby and they didn't know what to do. Dora and Sidney knew Vlad and asked him if he knew of anyone who could protect their infant. Vlad recommended us."
"We got the baby back but her brother escaped. He's still trying to kidnap her so we suggested for Sidney and Dora to stay away, afraid that he would find us through them. Danny's checking the boundaries right now and checking with our backup."
"Are there more on your team," Paulina declared.
"No," Tucker replied. "These are extras we bring on when we go out. We can't just leave her with any old person and we were all invited to the party. Danny's parents take care of her when we are at school."
"We also have backup in the area," Sam added. "When we aren't there, backup is never far away."
"I'm sorry," Dora said in a way to mimic breathlessness. "I just couldn't stay away any more. It's been four months! You just don't know how hard it is!"
"We understand," Tucker said softly. "I just hope you understand that in order to give your daughter the best protection, you need to contact us first and not go behind our backs." Tucker was supposed to look to Vlad at that point.
"I made a miscalculation," Vlad admitted softly. "That's why I picked the bar and why I picked a Saturday. I made it as far in the future as I could that they'd allow me."
"You should have let us know," Sam retorted.
"We were afraid you'd say no," Sidney said. He was supposed to put his head down, making it look like he was taking the blame on himself.
"So, hold up," another voice called up. I think this was Chris but I wasn't for sure. "You guys are on protection detail for a baby! And we're just now figuring this out!"
"You're the A-List," Sam scoffed. "That's all."
I'd bet that was Chris now. Time to go back in.
"Okay," I said, returning the walkie-talkie. "I think the area is clear. I've put the sentries on alert. You do not leave our sights. No food or drink you brought in is given to her. No toys either. If we say hand her over, do so without objections. Be prepared to say goodbye in a moment's notice."
We went over the part a million times. It had to be very precise. I remembered this moment when it happened to me and so did Lilly and we had to make sure the right emotion came through. Even though Sidney and Dora would be acting like I did when I got her back, Lilly couldn't act the way she did. To everyone else here, she was a normal baby. She wasn't allowed to talk or show anything exemplary. By far, Lilly had the most challenging part of this act. She had to act childlike.
Tucker passed her gently to Dora like instructed. I held my breath. We practiced this part a thousand times and Lilly still couldn't get it right. "Uh. Uh," she started out, speaking the words. Come on, baby. You can do this. I was worried. Lilly couldn't get this right on the practices and Jazz stood in for Vlad on those. Here, she's not five foot from him. Finally, the fussing started to resemble a real child's. I released my breath.
I think everyone here was encouraging Lilly along. I had sent Lilly those two lines of encouragement and I'm sure Tucker was talking her through it. Sam had her eyes trained on Lilly and Jazz had walked behind Vlad and stood there. Lilly had her eyes on Jazz and not Vlad. I'm even sure Mom and Dad were sending her good thoughts although their's would be about not being afraid and praying she could act childlike.
"My baby girl," Dora began her part of the act. She cradled Lilly in her arms, holding her close to her heart. Covered by Lilly, Dora began to fake crying. Here, she didn't need to put the real effort into it. "I missed you so much," Dora professed in a broken voice. Or she could be really crying.
"She's grown so much," Sidney said, choking up. I was very impressed with their acting skills. Sam, Tuck and I could act on Broadway sometimes. I think Dora and Sidney were doing excellent. "She's so-so big."
"She's a very bright child," Jazz said softly. "Very advanced for her age. We have been contributing to her developmental growth."
Lilly continued to fuss and wiggle. You're doing great, baby. I'm proud of you. Start to reach for Tucker…
Sidney started to stroke her hair.
Lilly reached her hand out, increasing the fussing to sound like begging. She threw her other hand and they both stretched for Tucker. Sidney took one of her hands but she kept moving it out of his grasp. They both released sad laughs.
My walkie-talkie cracked to life. "We have an unidentified man, mid-to-late forties, approaching the establishment. I repeat, we have an unidentified man approaching the establishment."
"Give her to me," I called, going for the family reuniting. Dora choked, passing Lilly to me. Lilly attached. "You two need to get out of here! Sam, Tucker, lead them out. Jazz, you come with me! Mom, Dad, try to keep these guys calm. I'm going to check out that claim."
"Are you sure," Mom asked, fearful.
"Yeah," I nodded. "I don't think it's her uncle but it might be someone he's hired. I'll get rid of him."
We took out of there and met up in the back room. "Good job," Tucker called, holding out his hands.
"Thank you so much, Dora. Sidney. I could never thank you enough," I said, handing Lilly to Tucker. Vlad should be telling his man he can leave now. The 'unidentified' man called in the report to begin with. My guys and I communicate in an unconventional method.
"It was our pleasure, Sir Phantom," Dora said, bowing. She bowed in Lilly and Tucker's direction. "Duke Tucker. Princess Lilly." She turned to Sam at last. "Duchess Sam," she added. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Jazz. Good day." And they were off after a wave from Sidney.
"You guys head out to the RV," I replied. "I'm going to get Mom and Dad and we'll be going home. Excellent work, everyone. Especially you, my little Lilly-Bear."
"Thanks, Daddy," Lilly giggled. Sam, Tucker and Jazz walked out while I went back inside. This was my turn to act without any guidance. Sam, Tucker, Jazz and Lilly had to do it when I went out to check the parameter but now it was my turn.
"Mom. Dad," I said, jogging up to them. "I don't feel comfortable with Lilly exposed like this. Can we go?"
"I agree with you," Mom nodded somberly. "Jack."
"Let's go," Dad said. We exited the bar, Mom and Dad barely acknowledging Vlad. That was the only benefit I've seen come of this. At least Vlad has to take some heat for getting this together without our approval. That's how we came up with taking control from Vlad.
When I came in from my late night shift that night, Mom was waiting up for me. Instantly, my mind came up with a million worst-case scenarios. "No," Mom said softly. "Lilly's fine. Everyone's fine. I just wanted to talk to you alone."
"Is something wrong," I asked, taking a seat on the couch. By this point in time, I've given up coming through my window. It's took me this long to become okay with that idea. I even leave through the door upon occasion. Not too often, though, I'm afraid. The last thing I want is for my parents to know which direction I'm heading in.
"Not really," Mom said softly. "I just wanted to talk to you about earlier today." My throat constricted and I began to doubt how effective our rouse had been. We had deemed it a complete success. Were we wrong?
"What about this evening," I asked softly.
"What are the chances of Dora's brother, Aaragon you said his name was, coming back," Mom asked me seriously.
"Well, we don't have a definite number," I said softly. "We know that he is unaccounted for and that's why we have Lilly. Aaragon got her for a period of time but we're not entirely sure how long that was. Lilly escaped on her own and stayed in hiding for a while. That's how she's so good at caring for herself."
Mom's look turned to horror. "Oh, my goodness! That's why she can care for herself?"
"See, most ghost children are just like human children. That's why she sleeps so much and she eats. She's still a child but she had to learn to live on her own while she tried to find a way home. We found her and placed her under our protection detail. We don't know if Aaragon will ever attack her."
"What about Dora becoming queen," Mom said softly. "Are there any plans to for Sidney and Dora to becoming the royalty?
"Not that I know," I said softly. "They haven't told us of any plans if they have. I think they're scared right now. Lilly means more to them than ruling the kingdom. In my opinion, they won't make that move until Aaragon is accounted for."
"You said this wasn't permanent," Mom said softly. "I got the feeling you knew something was up."
"Well," I took a breath. "Lilly isn't ours. This was never meant to be a permanent set up. I was afraid you were thinking like that. It's going to kill us all when that moment comes but we all know it can happen. I wanted to make sure you knew that."
"You're right," Mom laughed bashfully, putting her head down. "She's grown on me. I always knew I could never be the type of person to be a foster parent." She released a breath. "Lilly seems to have the same attachments. What are you going to do about her?"
"Do it day to day," I said softly. "If or when that day comes, we will be honest with her and we will help her transition. She doesn't even know Dora and Sidney. I know that if I was in their shoes, I'd do the same thing but I can't help but be a little bitter. It makes me consider telling them to let her go but I know that's selfish. All I can do is keep her safe and happy."
"You're scared, aren't you," Mom said softly. "It's okay to feel something."
"I can't look at this as a temporary job," I said, looking to her. "That is unfair to Lilly. I have to raise her like she was my own. I will fall apart if this job does fulfill my duties but I owe it to Lilly to be the best parent I can be."
"That's a very grown-up perceptive," Mom said, smiling slightly.
"That's how I've been for a while now," I smiled softly. "We've all been grown up for a while."
"I've noticed," Mom sighed. "You're only fifteen and you have more responsibility than most adults I know. And the worst part is you've handled it almost flawlessly. If you do have trouble with these responsibilities, you hide it well."
"I have problems just like everyone else," I said softly. "But I can't ignore my responsibilities so what am I going to do?"
"I'd say you are going to turn into a fine man when you grow up," Mom said, with a pain filled smile, "but you're already one."
"I may act grown up, but I still need my mom," I added with a sly smile. "It's the only reason I haven't left. I've considered it so many times. I know, though, that I would regret it and come back. I won't put you through that." I laughed softly, "I wouldn't put myself through having to hide from you when all I wanted to do was come back."
"You'd better never leave home," Mom declared, giving me a hard look. "I would scour the world looking for you and when I found you, you'd have more than regret to worry about."
"I know," I laughed softly. "It's just tempting sometimes. Not to have to worry about the little things. And I believe it would be better on you if I didn't come home one night." I released a breath. "I think it would be better on you if you thought I was okay."
"You obviously don't think like a parent," Mom sighed. "Losing a child is the same no matter in what form. If you are missing because you left of your own free will or because you are dead doesn't matter. I will be hurt no matter what."
I let out a sigh. "I've got this problem," I said softly. "I can't stand the thought of my family watching me die. I know you will never watch me die because if you're there, I'll pull out of it." I released a pain filled laugh. "But every day, you watch a piece of me die. I guess that's the big issue I have. And it's only going to get worse."
"What do you mean," Mom asked me, confused.
"Well, who I was isn't who I am anymore," I began.
"Not that," Mom cut me off. "I know what you meant there. What do you mean it will get worse? What evidence do you have?"
"How many hunters have been hurt since the headquarters opened," I asked seriously.
"Minor injuries," Mom brushed it off.
"I'm glad you're not concerned even though the camp was opened not even two weeks ago," I said, raising my eyebrow. "The ghosts are kind of angry, don't you think?"
Mom looked to the left for a moment and I waited patiently for her to figure it out. No one had saw the connection yet but Team Phantom have saw it from a mile away. The injuries have appeared to be insignificant but we know this is only the tip of the iceberg.
"Hudd was shot when he showed up on the scene. That was three days after the headquarters opened. The perpetrator had been captured before. It was the same thing with Collins. She had avoided the ghost's attacks because the ghost wasn't that powerful. He backhanded her, giving her a cold rash on her cheek. That ghost had been captured before too. Even Evans's motor accident was caused by a ghost who had been captured before. It's a pattern."
"I warned Samuels," I said softly. "This is only the beginning. Right now, only hunters are being harmed. Soon, the ghosts won't want to risk exposure so they will do it either quickly or in a fashion that the civilian will not know if what they are seeing is real or a figment of their imagination. With people with medical conditions or who scare easily, the consequences could be great. We're even concerned about the ghosts pushing the boundaries, trying to put enough distance between agents and their meals that they can feed and escape before detection."
"Meaning they'll get messy," Mom said, horrified.
"Meaning, they will start to kill without even wanting to," I said softly. "That's what's got me so confused about this attack that will happen in thirty years. These ghosts don't want to feed. They want to do what they did in life. The fear their victims give them must be like the most powerful drug ever cooked. It must give them a high we can't even begin to understand. Because they would kill the source of their drug just to experience it once."
"There's more to it," Mom said softly. "I mean, this attack begins soon. The Division keeps it contained for more than twenty years before it breaks out. They don't care to destroy the source of their drug. Even when it was in a small town, they still tried to kill the people."
"What are we going to do, Mom," I asked, hanging my head. "This is so much bigger than I can handle. I have a hard enough time keeping a few thousand safe. How can I possibly keep a few hundred thousand safe?"
"You can't," Mom said grimly. "You're just human, Danny. There are things that are out of your control."
"But because I'm human, I can't just sit here and watch innocents die," I declared. "That's why I put my life on the line. One person is one too many. This is still my fault but I know now that my involvement hasn't created this new problem that's on the horizon. The only thing I can do is try to prevent anyone from getting hurt for my mess."
"Sweetheart, this isn't your fault," Mom sighed. She knew how I blamed myself but I haven't brought it up in a long time. This was my fault. If I hadn't opened the portal, the ghosts would have never got out this soon. Now, because I didn't pay attention to Samuels, I've allowed him to push the ghosts into a corner. "You are not responsible for the ghosts."
"But I am," I said softly. "The portal didn't work. I'm almost certain it would have never came on if I hadn't done what I did. Without the portal, the ghosts would have never got out."
"We're the ones who built it," Mom declared. "If anyone is to blame, it would be your father and I. That's not true, though, because there have been portals probably for millennia. Danny, this is not your fault."
"You guys built it," I said softly. "I opened it. What you did would have never had a chance to do this if I hadn't opened it. You built one twenty years ago, too. That one didn't work."
"It hurt Vlad," Mom said softly. "That's the only reason we gave up on it. We had to work out what caused Vlad's accident and find a way to protect against it. By the time we knew what we thought was everything about the portal and the doorway, we began to build it in its full size. Honestly, we messed with something that was more complex than we ever imagined. I never dreamed it was a realm for all spirits to rest. We practically found the waiting room for heaven. Sometimes I wonder if we did go too far."
"I know what you mean," I sighed. "We all have stumbled upon a world we can't possibly wrap our mind around. There are millions of ghosts in the Ghost Zone and then we have the Forbidden Zone. I have only heard stories about it and now Sam has been reading into it. It's a place that the ghosts fear and the ghosts there are truly the things of nightmares. I mean… could you imagine what the World Wars would have looked like if Hitler had powers?"
"The powers that he had were enough," Mom sighed, fearfully. "I couldn't imagine being able to shoot beams from his hands or to be able to vanish from sight."
"All ghosts have that," I said softly. "I'm more worried he's a mind control ghost. He practically had mind control when he was a human."
"Do you think powers like that can develop from personalities," Mom asked, frightened.
"I don't know," I said softly. "Some ghosts can develop a new line of powers. Ghost powers are hereditary. However, a ghost can develop mind control when it learns it and that power is passed down the line. It could become a hereditary power or it might not. With as good at persuasion as Hitler was, you have to wonder if he could have taught it to himself."
"That's a really scary thought," Mom said, a look of horror on her face. "It's scary enough to know some humans can get into your mind. It's terrifying to know some ghosts can control minds. It's horrifying to think a human who can get in your head can learn mind control as a ghost and control every aspect of your life and you not even know it."
"The mind control ghosts are the most dangerous," I said, shaking my head. "They know things you don't know about yourself and the defenses they can come up with can blow you away. It's the most terrifying experience you can face."
"And imagine if they led a war," Mom shuddered.
"What," I asked, snapping my head to her.
"Well, they could lead campaigns," Mom said softly. "Hitler wanted a new world order. All of the psychopaths did. I couldn't imagine a world if they would start a war."
"I think we already have," I said, horrified. "You get some sleep and I'll see you in the morning," I declared. I jumped off the couch and ran up the stairs. Mom was left confused but I was going over something in my head. I called Sam and Tucker, almost on autopilot. I checked on Lilly, locked my door and put the helmet on. I've been seeing this as an attack. I have been only imagining that world with that one attack. What if it's more?
Your future with Sam is still secure. It has to be. The war would be altered greatly without it.
I couldn't figure out what Clockwork meant by that. I was with Vlad at that point and I wanted our relationship to work but Clockwork was insistent that I belonged with Sam.
What war, I even asked him.
You'll see, was the only response I had got. I thought I'd see that night but I was wrong. Clockwork wasn't talking about in a dream. I would see the war coming when Samuels completed that camp. Only then would I be able to slightly imagine a world that the war existed in. The attack was only the beginning.
I shot awake. It was worse than I thought. I couldn't breathe. This couldn't wait. I grabbed my team phone and called Mom's cell phone. I hated I was calling her at such a late hour but I needed to talk to her immediately.
"Hello," Mom's groggy voice came over the line.
"I am so sorry to call you this late," I began.
"What are you doing calling me," Mom asked, still groggy. "Why don't you come into my room, honey." I refrained from laughing. She knew it was me but her sleepy head wouldn't let her put the pieces together. She gasped. "This is Phantom, isn't it?"
"Yeah," I said, smiling. "I had a dream and I really need you to see this. It's very important."
"It can't wait 'til morning," Mom asked, confused.
"It shouldn't," I said softly. "If you need me to wait, I can write down everything I found out but I really need to discuss this with you in person."
"You want to watch this with me in person," Mom asked in shock. I heard the bed squeak, both over the phone and in person.
"Yeah," I said softly. "This is a lot worse than I thought it was. You need to see what we're up against. Maybe you can make a difference."
"What did you dream about," Mom asked.
"It's not an attack," I declared. "It's the first battle of the war. I don't know how long this is going to last but I dreamed of an attack… that nearly makes humans extinct."
I had her attention. "What?!"
"Amity Park was the only place safe," I added, reliving the dream. "You guys had installed some kind of protection and it safeguarded the town. The rest of the planet wasn't so lucky. It didn't kill thousands. It killed millions. Hundreds of millions. You have to see it to understand it.
"Meet me in my lab," Mom replied. "I'll be there in two minutes."
"I'll see you there," I said softly. I hung up the phone, triggering my rings. I retrieved the tape and sunk to the basement. True to her word, Mom arrived in two minutes.
"What do you have," Mom asked. I had the tape ready to go.
"See for yourself," I said softly. "I just have to warn you. This is very graphic and highly disturbing."
"There was a genocide attack on the entire human race," Mom said grimly. "Of course it's disturbing."
"It was an orchestrated attack," I added softly, pushing play. "I wasn't there because I was at the right place at the right time. I was just one of the few who survived the attack."
On the screen, I was fighting this ghost but he didn't seem too concerned about me. I would send attacks his way but he stayed grounded, laughing that cocky, sadistic laugh that I could hear in my head before I pushed play. I tried everything but he stayed rooted, putting more energy into the blast. I never even imagined the attack wasn't meant for me. I certainly didn't imagine the attack was only one of thousands.
The ball of ectoplasm was huge. It grew from the size of a medium sized boulder when I first got there to the size of a large house. "Boom," he said, laughing at me with that same laugh. I closed my eyes in reality as the thing exploded. The screen became chaotic as the force threw me back. I didn't get away unscathed but I was very lucky for having been so close. Mom watched in horror as the ecto-bomb, or as I think is more appropriate ectomic bomb, blew away layers of earth just like it really was an atomic bomb. Even the mushroom cloud formed. Debris fell from the sky as it was clouded in debris and clouds. The sound was unforgettable.
My future self came to his feet, staring at the area in shock. He stood in the back of an alleyway before the attack. Nothing remained now. Entire buildings, city streets and even the earth itself was gone. The only thing left of the large city was me. "W-What happened?"
My cell phone rang and I pulled it out. "Danny," Sam's voice came over the line in a panic. "Danny, I don't understand." She was hysterical.
"Sam, calm down. I'm okay." I chocked. "I can't say the same for Saint Louis."
"Saint Louis," Sam asked, confused. "What are you talking about? The bomb went off in Nashville!"
"Nashville," I declared. That's where she was. "Are you okay?"
"I'm the only thing here," Sam replied. Her voice broke. "Danny, everything's gone! There's nothing for miles!"
"The same thing here," I added, my throat clogging up. "Call the boys and the house. Make sure they didn't get Amity!"
"I will," Sam said, her tears choking on the line. "Be careful."
"I will," I said. I hung up the phone. My future self cursed not saying he loved her but I was grateful. There was a lot of close calls but no exposures. I prayed just to be sure.
I dialed Tucker's number. It rang for a long time but finally he picked up. He didn't say anything though. "Tuck! Tuck! Talk to me," I begged.
"It's gone," he said, horrified. "It's all gone." I choked.
"Tucker," I said, trying to get his attention. "This was an orchestrated attack. I've talked to Sam and she said Nashville's gone too. Saint Louis doesn't exist anymore."
"Danny," Tucker said, his voice breaking, "Washington, D.C. has fallen."
I choked but held it together. "You need to call Dani. That's New York." I choked. "Oh, God, if it's happened there, too, we are looking at not just nine thousand people, Tuck."
"We're looking at ten million in New York alone," Tucker snapped out of it. Mom had gasped when I said Dani and I knew she thought I meant Danny with a y. That's how I wanted her to imagine it. She wouldn't think I died. She knows Tucker and Sam are okay and they were there. She's just scared for me, that's all.
I called Lilly, Pammy, D.J. and Jazz in the next little bit. Denver, Oklahoma City, Chicago and Phoenix had all been hit. Jazz told me the worst news yet, though.
"It's worldwide," she said softly. "We have reports from London to Sidney. From Johannesburg to Hong Kong. Images from space are confirming it, Danny. The death toll," her voice broke, "is unimaginable."
My future self sunk to his knees. "What about Amity," I asked, my mind on nothing more than my parents. Dad was dead in this time but Mom was still alive. The Foleys were both gone but Mom and Dad Number Three were both alive. They were defenseless.
"We haven't had anything confirmed," Jazz choked. Joseph was home because Jazz's daughter, Teressa, was pregnant. All of Jazz's grandchildren were in Amity. Our entire lives were in Amity and there was no word.
"I've got Sam checking," I said, my voice breaking. "I'll call you as soon as I get the news."
Jazz broke down. "I can't lose them, Danny. Teressa is pregnant. My husband is there! They're not strong enough."
"Jazz," I tried to get through to her even though my tears threatened to debilitate me. Dad's death was so hard on him and the thought of losing Mom just killed him. The non-conquering ghosts couldn't come out of the Ghost Zone. Sammy did it every day but she risked oblivion. So many average ghosts were obliterated because they got in the way. Many of them didn't even try to get in the way. Sammy was an exception. She was a very high leveled ghost; much higher than I was. Dad was only a seven. He wouldn't stand a chance against these ghosts.
"I just don't know what I'm going to do," Jazz cried.
"Do you want me to be with you," I asked.
"Could you," Jazz asked softly.
"I'll be there in a moment," I replied. I opened a portal and stepped through, arriving in Phoenix in a moment's notice. I have to admit, that power was cool. The first experience with it wasn't too cool but I know where Dan got it from now. Jazz collapsed in my arms. She was in human form so there was no risk of exposure. She couldn't stand the pressure of half ghost.
"I can't lose Joseph," Jazz cried into my shoulder. "I-I don't know what I would do."
"It's okay," I said softly. I closed my phone and then closed Jazz's, all the while soothing her. "There's nothing we can do about this now. All we can do is wait for the call back from Sam."
Jazz cried in my arms until I got the call. She stopped breathing as I talked to Sam. "The boys are okay," Sam began. "Amity Park was attacked," she began. Jazz screamed out, nearly collapsing. "No," Sam called to Jazz. "It's okay. The shield protected it. The bomb was let off in Jefferson. Everything else is gone but Amity Park still exits."
"They're okay," Jazz cried.
"I talked to Joseph myself," Sam said softly. "Teressa and the baby are okay. Everyone is okay. The Calloways and Mrs. Fenton are fine too." I released a breath.
"Only me," Mom asked. A look of understanding came to her face. She gasped, starting to cry.
"This is years in the future," I said softly. "You're ninety-five years old. Jack's been gone for two years."
"So this is much farther in the future than thirty years," Mom asked.
"Yeah," I said softly. "The highest death toll so far has been that first day. Nine thousand people. This is about fifty years in the future."
"Amity Park survived a direct attack," Mom said, gaining composure. "That means we can protect the big cities, which is obviously what they're after."
On the screen, my future self opened a portal once again and stepped through. Joseph took Jazz in his arms and she clung to him like a lifeline. The mood in the room was so cold. I didn't say a word, just went after the rest of my family. My twin boys were the first on my mind. They were the youngest. After picking up the twins, I went after D.J. Pammy was the last one I picked up. The images coming from the screens were horrible. Nothing but barren land for as far as the eye could see. Even the eye of a halfa. I brought my children home to be met with Sam, Tucker and Lilly. They all had transport powers.
"Where's Dani," I asked softly.
"Headquarters," Tucker replied softly. "We thought that was best." I can't tell you how lucky I was. Mom would still think Dani was me. Everything was working so perfectly, it should be considered a crime.
"Has anyone heard from Jacky and Jamie," I asked.
"Dani said they didn't make it to the ghost in time," Tucker replied. "They're trying to find any survivors."
"There won't be any," Mom replied. Mom from the present gasped. Mom was in her late nineties and the years showed in every angle. "Call the boys here," Mom instructed. "I agree Dani should be there. They will need someone who is in charge."
"I'll call them," Joey replied. He walked out of the room.
"I'm so glad you're okay," Jazz said softly, stroking Teressa's face gently. "Is my grandbaby okay?"
"She's fine, Mom," Teressa replied. She was surrounded by her other children.
"Are those all my family or are they some of yours, too," Mom asked me in shock.
I froze. How do I answer that? Technically, my family and her family is the same. Okay. Time to walk around the truth. "The kids surrounding the pregnant woman are your great-grandkids. Lilly is the woman with the streak of white hair. The woman under Lilly is Pammy. She is your granddaughter and the three boys I brought back with me are your grandsons. Jacky and Jamie are a touchy subject. The boy who went to call them is Jazz's eldest son. Teressa has a twin brother. He lives in Clearmont which has been transformed into a residence area and included under the shield. Amity Park is a giant headquarters now. No one lives here anymore. Fentonworks has pretty much become a central hub for Team Phantom."
"Danny said you were married to a ghost. Where is your family," Mom asked me.
"I think we have more pressing issues," I said, trying to throw her off. I hate lying anymore and these questions are making it impossible to tell the truth.
"Right," Mom sighed. "It's just that this is confusing. I'm trying to keep track of everyone."
"I know," I said softly. "I'm sorry that you can't know the inside information that I have. I don't know what I would do if I was forced to watch the tape like you."
Mom looked at me out of the corner of her eye. Her breathing stopped shortly. I became confused and a little worried. "How did Jack die?"
"Mrs. Fenton," I sighed, understanding her reaction now.
"Please," she begged me. "I just want to know. How did he die? I won't ask anything else. Just tell me that."
"Heart failure," I said softly. "I don't know the details just that he had a heart attack when Danny's daughter was a few months old and the kids were in college. Since then, his health started to deteriorate but you guys kept him alive with the secrets you learned with Marcie's cancer. He lived much longer than anyone else could have in his condition. You both were incredibly lucky."
"Did he suffer," Mom asked, her throat constricting. My heart constricted as well.
"I don't know," I said honestly. "The details are sketchy. Things are hard to understand at this point in time."
"If I'm ninety-five," Mom said softly, "that makes my children sixty-seven and sixty-five. Jazz looks good for being in her late sixties."
"Yeah," I said, slightly concerned. I overlooked that. Half-ghosts age slowly, maintain their hair sheen and remain in good health for a long time. I was concerned about Mom seeing Jazz with purple hair but considering the advanced years that have passed, it might look more natural. Maybe Mom would think Jazz was having a mid-life crisis.
The front door swung open. The dream was progressing slowly but it would boom in a little while. "Teressa! Dad," a boy called.
"We're here, Philip," Joseph said calmly. Philip hugged his father, his sister and finally his mother.
"I heard what happened on the news," he said, grief-stricken. "Is it true?"
"Yeah," Sam said softly. "There are thousands of cities that have been blown up. I'm really worried about the after-effects, though."
"I am too," I added. "The direct impacts destroyed everything for tens of miles but the cloud cover can really endanger us for an extinction. The consequences of this attack are still coming."
Joey, Jacky and Jamie walked in from the kitchen. "I want the bastards dead, Uncle Danny," Jacky declared. He was so much like Dad. He was hot headed and tended to go off on random sprees without thinking. Actually, he was a lot like me now.
"Calm down," I instructed. "The ghosts orchestrated this very carefully. They're not stupid. If you go shooting off again, I'm not certain I can save you."
"I don't need your protection," Jacky grumbled.
"Please," Jamie snorted. He wasn't exactly the cool headed one but his hot head was a few degrees cooler than his brother's. "What are we going to do, though? They've taken out dozens of big cities just in the mid-west. Did they continue that pattern all across the globe?"
"Pretty much," Jazz sighed. She stood up, flipping on a monitor. The technology couldn't touch the stuff we have now. It was mind-blowing. She showed satellite footage on the screen. "New York, Washington, Charleston, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, Phoenix, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Bismarck, Chicago, Erie, Denver, Saint Louis, Oklahoma City, and Nashville have been hit in the US alone at least. We have confirmed hits in London, Hong Kong, Sidney, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, and Singapore worldwide. More are expected."
Mom's eyes were wide. "That's billions of people," Mom declared in shock.
"Like I said," I said softly. "They nearly wipe the human race to extinction."
My cell phone rang on the screen and I closed my eyes. This was the worst yet. "Yeah," I answered in an instant.
"Turn on the television," Dani screamed in a panic. There was no greeting. There was no patients. That time had gone. I fumbled for the remote and turned on the television. I was confused for a moment as I saw a swell of water.
"Researchers are saying the wave in the Indian Ocean has reached thirty miles. The one on the East coast has reached a record of forty miles. Water will reach from the West Coast all the way inland to the Death Vally. If you can reach high ground, please seek safety but they are saying there is little anyone can do. This just may be humanity's last days."
"What," I screamed. Mom in the present clasped her mouth with her hand. "God help us," I said softly, sinking to my knees. The wave washed over the helpless city on the East coast. The film stopped.
Mom was silent. There was nothing to say. I looked at her gently. "See why I called you this late," I asked gently.
"I'm not sure fifty years is enough," Mom said softly and slowly. "What do we do? Put everyone in the middle of the country? What could withstand that?"
"I don't know," I said softly. "I just know we have to do something. There won't be a future if I don't do something."
"You got that right," Mom said softly. "Where was Danny? Is the headquarters still in Amity?"
"Yeah," I replied softly. "The same place it is now."
"Thank God," Mom said softly. She looked at me gently. "I wonder where our family from Willard is? Forty mile swells would hit Ohio."
"Most moved to Amity," I said softly. "Others were relocated. I don't know if any of them died or not."
"I appreciate these glimpses into your mind, Phantom," Mom said softly. "You have no idea what kind of information this is providing."
"I would do anything to protect this planet," I said softly. "It's not right what the ghosts have done to this town. It is a sin what the Forbidden Zone will do to the planet."
"It's certainly something," Mom said softly. "You wanna stick around?"
"I really should be going," I said softly. "Thanks for listening to me."
"Anytime, Phantom," Mom smiled softly. I floated out of the lab and back into my room. I powered down, laying across my bed. It was after five in the morning. I didn't want to go back to sleep. I didn't want to see any more destruction, either images from my dreams or from my dreams themselves.
I was rocking Lilly when Sam and Tucker came over. It was early, just after seven, when they came over and they were surprised to find me awake. "I had a dream last night," I said softly. "I showed it to Mom as Phantom. I thought it was too important to ignore for any amount of time."
"Why didn't you call us," Sam asked, walking over to me. I gently stood up and placed Lilly back in her crib.
"Because we'll see this tape a million times as we try to figure out what to do," I said softly. I turned around and we went downstairs. The house was vacant of any smells. The lights were still off except for a few lights Mom would turn on as she traveled downstairs. I entered the lab to smell coffee. "Wow," I said quietly. "She brought out the coffee pot downstairs!"
"This must be bad," Tucker said, slightly frightened.
"Can't you read his mind," Sam asked Tucker.
"There's nothing to read," Tucker said, somewhat apologetic. "Whatever it was, Danny doesn't want to see it anymore." I looked at him in aggravation. "You're not trying to deny or run from anything but you are tired. You're tired of the death and destruction."
"Thank you, Dr. Obvious," I declared. "You know your powers just make you an even more annoying Jazz, right?"
"Yeah," Tucker grumbled, "except I don't need anyone telling me anything."
"Hence more annoying," we both declared. I chuckled despite myself.
"Kids," Mom called out. "What are you kids doing up this early?"
"We're always up around this time," Sam replied. "What are you working on, Mrs. Fenton?"
Mom had a ton of documents and recordings on the work station. "Phantom called last night," Mom said softly. She released a breath. "He had a dream and he thought it was paramount that I saw it right away. After watching it, I know he was right."
"Is he still here," Tucker asked. I refrained from laughing.
"No," Mom replied. "He was really shaken up last night. I think he just went to clear his head."
"What was the dream about," Sam asked.
"Nothing good," Mom replied. "It's a long way away but I don't see how I can prevent the large scale loss of life. Fifty years doesn't seem like enough time."
"Fifty years," Tucker cried. "It was farther in the future than the exposure?"
"Yeah," Mom said softly. I sat down first, pulling a book towards me. "His dream gave us an important piece of information. We have more to worry about than just a single attack that takes the lives of thousands of people. It's only just the beginning. They wage war on us."
"A war," Sam asked. I opened the book and read data on it.
"What's this," I asked. It listed countless numbers and temperatures.
"A recorded collection on tsunamis," Mom replied softly. "The dream started off with these huge explosions. However, that was only a distraction. The ghosts didn't want anyone knowing they were setting off explosions out in the ocean and it created huge waves. Millions of people were killed and I don't know how to protect people from both attacks."
Sam and Tucker's looks held one of absolute horror. I put my head down, trying to stop those images from reoccurring. I really think I beat that power last night when that wave washed over that Eastern city. I didn't want to see anymore and my dream failed. It probably would have gone on longer but I'm glad it didn't. It's got me to a point I'm afraid to sleep.
"I think we need to build bunkers," Mom replied softly. "There's nothing I can think of to defend the cities they blew up. Considering the unpredictability of the future, I'd say those cities may not be the ones attacked this time around. Just because I know which cities are bombed doesn't mean they're destined to be bombed. It just means they were the ones bombed in that reality."
"Do you know which ones were destroyed," Sam asked.
"Some of them," Mom replied. Mom looked to the left, thinking. "You know, it's strange. So many of my grandchildren were present at the bombings. With what I saw from Phantom, it's hard to imagine how they survived."
"How do you know they were your grandchildren," Sam asked. I felt sorry for Sam. Tuck and I had the answers to everything. Sam was the only one truly in the dark.
"Phantom showed them to me," Mom smiled softly. "Wait until you see Lilly. She is a beautiful woman. My granddaughter was expecting. She was Jazz's girl."
"I can't believe we can finally see all the family," Tucker sighed happily. "I've been wanting to see my daughter for a long time."
Uh, I thought. Courtney wasn't there. I didn't see her or Val.
Great, Tucker groaned.
"I didn't see any of your family," Mom said, thinking back. "I saw you but that was it. Your parents or your family wasn't there."
"Fifty years in the future," Sam chuckled. "Was it weird seeing you and Mr. Fenton?"
Mom put her head down. "Jack had been gone two years according to Phantom," Mom said sadly.
Sam and Tucker covered their mouths, surprised. I lowered my head. "Are you okay," I asked Mom.
"I have so much going on right now," Mom sighed. "I haven't really thought about it."
"You were okay, weren't you, Mom," Tucker asked fearfully.
"I was ninty-five," Mom smiled softly. "I was there. I saw you two and Jazz. A bunch of my grandkids. Two boys who Phantom wouldn't tell me who they were. Jazz's husband was there. I swear. You kids were in your sixties but you didn't look over forty. You hold your age well."
"We do," Sam said, smiling brightly.
"You looked radiant, Sam," Mom smiled. "Long black hair. No wrinkles. You didn't smile a whole lot, though. I don't know if that was just because of the attack or something else."
"What kind of clothes did I wear," Sam asked Mom.
I laughed. "I'm sure you can look for yourself when we all watch," I chuckled. "Since when are you concerned with clothing?"
"I just want to know if I still wear black. Do I wear skirts? I'm curious."
I chuckled, shaking my head. Sam didn't care who she wore or anything shallow like that. She just wanted to know if her taste had changed any.
After breakfast, we all gathered to watch it again. Mom took notes this time while the rest of my family watched intently. Jazz was the first person to see herself in the future besides Mom. Jazz tried to remain serious through the film but her looks stunned her for a few moments. Dad did bring up how everyone seemed to generate back to Fentonworks so quickly. Sam got to see herself fifty years from now. She still wore sleeveless shirts but she had on a pair of pants. Tucker wore a pair of trousers and a black long sleeved button-up shirt. Most of us wore black now.
"Well, the first thing we've got to do is find a way to make waterproof bunkers," Dad said softly. He had distanced himself from everything. No one needed to tell him where his future self was. He knew. "I wished I could ask Phantom something, though," Dad said, releasing a breath. "Sam said the Calloway's. Didn't Brit get married? Is Wayne still alive?"
I chuckled, holding my head down. "That's kind of a difficult thing to explain. I had a hard time understanding it."
"What do you know," Dad asked urgently.
"Mom survives cancer according to Phantom," I said softly. "Sam was talking about Mom and Dad both. Brit is a Baker at that point in time."
"Marcie is alive in fifty years," Mom declared in shock.
"Yeah," I said softly. "Like you said earlier, things change all the time but that's what he said."
"Phantom did mention something about Marcie's cancer," Mom said softly. "Said we learned secrets from her illness that helped us keep Jack alive as long as we have." Mom looked at Dad softly. "It had been two years."
"You're alive," Dad smiled softly. "That's all that matters to me."
"I didn't mention the Foley's," Sam said softly. She glanced at Tucker softly. "Does that mean…"
"African Americans have a lower life expectancy," Tucker said softly. "Mom and Dad have probably been dead for years."
"I wonder about my parents," Sam said softly. "I know Granny has been dead for years. I was almost her age now."
"Younger," I nodded softly. "Ida probably lived a full live," I said softly.
"So Danny was at headquarters," Dad said softly. "We had ten grandchildren in that room. I know that the twins belonged to Jazz."
"There were three sets of twins," I said softly. "There's Jacky and Jamie, Teressa and Philip and Donnie and Jay." I shook my head. A set of twins from each child.
"How do you know their names," Mom asked me, confused.
I chuckled nervously. "They mentioned the first four I mentioned and I guessed on Donnie and Jay. They are my youngest."
"The boys Phantom went after first are your kids," Mom declared in shock. "Where in the world did the white hair come from?!"
We four chuckled softly. "It's a long story, Mom," I said softly. "One you will understand one day."
"Everyone looked so young," Dad replied. "Joseph, Jazz's kids and Maddie were the only ones who looked to be aging any. And what about Lilly? She was a woman. Lilly is a ghost!"
I sighed. Maybe I did have more possibilities for exposure that I hadn't identified. "There's a lot that you guys don't understand," I said softly. "I think we should focus on the attack, though, don't you?"
"We will," Dad nodded. "But we are seeing the future! Don't you have questions, Danny? Who is the mother of your children? Which children were Sam's and which ones were yours?" Dad gave me a knowing smile. "If there is any difference."
"The future changes all the time, Dad," I said softly. "If you spend your time in the future, you'll miss the present."
"Danny's right," Mom said softly. "I know it's exciting to see the future but we will have the chance to see it all when it's in the present. We've got to make the future better for our great-grandkids, though. Jazz's granddaughter is being born into that world. That's not a world I want her to grow up in."
"Agreed," I said softly. My children had to have had families of their own. I want my descendants to have a future to grow up in.
Mom and Dad started studying statistics. Jazz, Sam, Tucker, Lilly and I went to headquarters.
We were all doing some kind of work. Tucker was doing figures, Jazz was studying the psychology of the attack (don't ask me why) and I was trying to figure out what the cloud cover could do to our planet. The only thing I couldn't figure out was what Sam was doing. She was sitting at the work station with a pad of paper.
"What's going on," I asked, taking a break.
"I was going over the family in the room," Sam said softly. "I think I know who died."
"Sam," I said softly.
"It was our eldest child, wasn't it," Sam asked me. "You said we had three children. When you were with Vlad, you said your children changed variably from three, five and one. I saw Pammy, D.J., Donnie and Jay but that's only four. Where was Sammy?"
"Sam," I said, my heart breaking.
"It was, wasn't it," Sam asked, her eyes welling with tears. "We lost our daughter."
"I didn't want you to know," I said softly.
"The future always changes," Sam said, wiping her eyes. I took her in my arms and she leaned into me. "You should have told me."
"I'm sorry," I said softly. I kissed her hair and rubbed her back. "I was hoping to spare you this grief. We haven't even had her yet."
"We can get through this," Sam said softly, looking up at me. She stroked my face. "Sammy doesn't have to die."
"You're right," I said, smiling softly. "The future is always changing. None of that has to happen."
Sam kissed me gently. "So, the boys were much younger than the first three. What caused the changes in their ages?"
I chuckled, holding my head down. "Three teenaged children and an evening of slow patrol." I chuckled. "Phantom and Gothica got wild on a cloud—hence the white hair of Donnie and the orange eyes of Jay."
Sam laughed, "Oh, man!"
I smiled, hoping to take her mind off Sammy. "Pammy was fourteen years old when you got pregnant with the twins. This turned her world upside down. I was trying to help her cope with it and she said," I laughed, "you just don't know what it feels like to have your entire world change when you're fourteen." I laughed some more, Sam's mouth dropping open.
"No, you sure don't, do you," Sam asked seriously. She started laughing.
"Our children don't understand that we didn't always have these powers," I said, ceasing my laughter. "To them, having ghost powers is as natural as having arms or legs. Our children are something else. We had them young so our lives are never boring."
"What about Tucker? Does he have a family," Sam asked.
"Yeah," I said, nodding. "Tuck marries Val and they have a daughter. They wait a long time to get married, though. You and I get married right away." I looked at her seriously. "That doesn't mean it has to be that way but in my dreams, we marry right after high school."
"I can't wait to be Mrs. Fenton," Sam smiled at me softly. She kissed me again.
Tucker coughed. We stopped our kissing to look at him. "We do have pressing issues here, guys."
"Right," I smiled. "I'll be right there." Tucker went back to work as I turned to Sam. "Did you get the impression that Dad really thought someone else could have been my wife?"
"Yeah," Sam said softly. "Did you not let them remember we were a couple?"
"Not that I know," I said. "I had no intentions of not telling them." I released a breath. "But my second dream was our wedding and I had told Mom and Dad so much in so little time, they were overloaded. I guess I know why now."
"They don't know we're a couple," Sam said in surprise. "We can tell them if you want."
"Did you tell your parents," I asked.
"Heck no," Sam declared. "They didn't know when they knew your secret and they won't know now. I don't know if I'll ever tell them. I can't wait until I turn eighteen. I'm getting out and never looking back."
"You know we are your family," I said, hugging her to my chest.
"You always have been," Sam said. She kissed me quickly and pulled out of my arms. We went back to work.
After some studying, we went on patrol while Jazz took Lilly home. Patrol means heightened awareness. I've been watching out for Sam and Tucker and so far, we've managed to avoid catastrophe. I've heard of several accidents since the camp opened but I'm not stupid enough to believe every accident has been reported. We stepped onto the city streets and prepared for the night of hard work.
At this stage, the streets aren't crawling with ghosts. The majority of ghosts don't want anything to do with this new way of dealing with things. However, there is a small minority that have decided to stay put. These ghosts are where the problems are coming from. It takes us forty minutes for a ghost to stand its ground but we have come across at least three by now. The others flee upon being spotted. Most ghost hunters give chase while we have decided to not pursue the ghosts. If they're not looking for trouble, why should we?
A quarter until seven, we get our first taker. The ghost reacts to being attacked and I know this is not his first time out since the opening of headquarters. The longer it's been since the cutting of the ribbon, the higher chance of a repeated offender. I watch the ghost's movements with more attention to detail.
The ghost sinks through the ground and we take formation. A blast of energy comes from behind me but Sam and Tucker are behind me. Before I can turn around, the energy thrusts me in the opposite direction. I hear Sam and Tucker grunt as well. I spin around in shock, bringing energy in my hand. The ghost lets out a long beam of energy, holding its form. It hits me, sending me flying back. The energy stays energized.
After rolling a meter away, I come to my hands and knees wobbly. The energy cracks like a whip, sending me flying again. I use my hands to spring me back up and I land on my feet. I form ectoplasm in my hands shaped like blades. "Go Ghost Stinger," I call. When the energy strikes again, I sever it partially. It cracks again, the string exposing itself. I send one last cut through the energy.
The partial piece, about six inches long and three inches in diameter, evaporates from the lack of sustainable energy. The remaining energy, about six feet long, charges at my feet. I jump over the energy, using my foot to kick it into the air. The contact burns but its only momentary. I use both blades to cut through the energy, careful to only take so much. I don't want two of these things.
Ten inches proved to be in the safe zone and it evaporated. The energy coiled in on itself, becoming like a spring. It leapt at me, going for my chest. I exclaimed as I moved out of the way. I twirled the blades in my hand, ready to go on the offensive. I swung the blade in my left hand out, followed closely by my right hand blade. Another piece evaporated.
Time to up the ante. I added more ectoplasm to my blades, turning them into swords. I twirled them in my hands, taking the first swipe at the energy. One blade cut through it like it was cardboard. I smiled brightly as I reared the blades back in unison, cutting from the left and from the right at the same time. The energy completely vaporized. I ceased the ghost stinger, flying back to Sam and Tucker.
Tucker hit the ground, rolling out of the way of a blast. When he came back to his feet, he was firing at the ghost. Sam exclaimed frighteningly as she handsprung across the docks. She added momentum to her handspring, rectifying herself expertly and pulling a baton that was already extended from her pack. Sam was facing an energy beam like I was so she swatted a few times at the beam but nothing seemed to work. She started to back away, exclaiming fearfully.
I blasted towards her, catching Sam as she stepped off the dock. She screamed as she felt her feet step off the boards but then she knew I was there. "Nice save," Sam said, breathless.
"Are you okay," I asked.
"Yeah," she added, shaken. "Are you?"
"Never better," I said softly. I formed the swords again, "Go Ghost Stinger!"
I made quick work of the energy beam now that I knew how to get rid of it. I looked back to Tucker to see him leaping over a blast, landing on his hands and springing back up, hitting the ghost. Tucker pulled out the fat sticks, jabbing the ecto-powered invention into the ghosts chest. "Gee, how I hate how much space has grown between Tuck and I. I used to be the better hunter."
"You still are," I smiled softly at her. "It's just Tucker can read the ghosts thoughts. It's like receiving the competitions playbook before the game. He knows what he's going to do before he does it."
The ghost raised his hand, preparing to fire a shot into Tucker's chest when Tuck hit his hand, sending the blast into the air. Being ever resourceful, Tucker pulled an energy collector out and captured the ascending blast. He sent it back to the ghost, forcing him into the water from the force. In a quick gesture, Tucker returned the energy collector and retrieved his thermos, capturing the ghost.
"You guys okay," Tuck asked.
"Well done, Tuck," I smiled at him.
"Sorry I couldn't help you, Sam. You didn't get hurt did you," he asked.
"No," Sam replied. "I nearly fell into the water had Danny not caught me. I need to watch my footing."
"No kidding," I scolded her. "You have a higher chance for pneumonia as it is."
"I'm fine," Sam retorted. She kissed my cheek. "But thank you. You're my hero!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," I grumbled, pouting. I still don't like being called that.
Sam and Tucker stayed the night again and after checking on Lilly, we were planning to hit the hay. Tucker removed his shirt, going to my closet and tossing his shirt along with the other countless disregarded clothing. Sam removed her shirt as well, only her bra protecting her. "Sam," I cried in shock. Below her bra cups, below her sternum, was a ugly looking welt mark. "I thought you said you didn't get hurt," I declared.
Sam looked down in shock, "I didn't! At least I didn't think I did. I swear I didn't feel that energy hit me!"
"Well, it did," I cried. I placed my hand just above it, turning it intangible. I eased my hand into her body. Strangely, the mark didn't heal up. "What in the world?"
"It didn't heal," Tucker called from my closet. "Why is that?"
"I don't know," I said as I went for my bed to grab my first aid kit. "I've never had any problems healing you two before."
"It doesn't hurt," Sam said softly. "It's okay."
I turned around to face Sam again but she had twisted in a matter that her back was facing me now. A long welt went completely across her back. "Another one," I cried. Sam turned to me as I placed my hand just below the burn.
"A second injury," Sam cried. "Is it a burn again?"
"Yeah," I cried. "This is getting weird, Sam. Are you sure you didn't feel these?"
"I'm sure," Sam declared. "I don't know when or how I got them!"
I cleaned her wounds and dressed them. "I'm so sorry. I don't know why I can't heal you."
"It doesn't hurt," Sam said puzzled. "Don't worry about it."
She unhooked her bra in a quick fashion, pulling her nightshirt over her body before Tuck could see. She pulled her skirt off and removed her stockings as I went to return the first aid kit. Sam gasped.
"Uh, Danny," Tucker said softly. "Her foot is burnt!"
"What," I asked as I turned around. Across her foot where the little bones are was a burn completely across. "And you don't remember this one either," I cried in surprise.
"No," Sam cried. "What the hell is going on?"
I led her to my bed, allowing her to have a seat by my pillows. I treated her foot. "Better?"
"No," Sam declared. "There was nothing wrong before to make it better now!"
"I'll try in the morning," I said softly. Sam stood up as Tucker sat down on his cot. Sam grabbed the lights as I returned the first aid kit to its place. I grabbed the helmet. "Sleep well, guys."
My cell phone brought me out of sleep. I shot up, going for the phone. "Hello," I called.
"Hey," Dani declared over the phone. I released a breath in relief. "Greetings, young traveler from the west," Dani spoke strangely.
"What," I asked, confused. "Where are you?"
"I'm in Hong Kong," Dani declared. "It's so weird over here! What time is it in Amity Park?"
"Three in the morning," I droned.
"Oops," Dani declared, stifling a laugh. "Sorry, it's after four over here. In the evening," she giggled on the last part. "So, what have you been up to?"
"A lot," I sighed. "You'd never guess the changes that's happened since you left."
"Did Mom and Dad get Lilly back," Dani asked me gently.
"They didn't but she's with us," I said softly. "I used the Gauntlet to transport me to Vlad. He wasn't on the island, Dani. He was hit by the Disasteroid and he was killed."
"Oh, my God," Dani declared. "Is Lilly okay?"
"Yeah. Thankfully, he had workers on the island that took care of her. He's not dead now, Dani, so don't think like that. I used the Gauntlet to revive him."
"Have you seen him a lot," Dani asked.
"More than I want," I sighed. "I've found out a lot lately. I don't know if I could explain it all."
"That's okay," Dani said softly. "Can you text me some pics of my niece? I'd love to see what she looks like."
"Sure," I smiled. "So, how has the traveling been going?"
"Great," Dani declared. "I've met so many people and experienced so many things. That's what I wanted, Danny. Life experience."
"I know," I smiled softly. "I miss you, though."
"And I miss everyone back home, too," Dani replied. "I've been meaning to call but I was a little concerned about the time difference. I just decided to call tonight. I hope I didn't wake you."
"Nah," I lied. It was great to hear from her so I'd let it slide by.
"Is Grandpa still living at the house," Dani asked.
"Yeah," I sighed. "Can't tell it, though. I guess him and Grandma had a lot to talk about. They've been in that room since the family left and he barely sneaks out. I wonder sometimes what they're doing in there," I chuckled, "then I decided I don't want to know that badly."
Dani laughed, "I don't blame you. How are Sam, Tuck and Jazz?"
"They're okay," I said softly. "Jazz babysits a lot for me. We got busted about Lilly living here but we covered it by saying she's Dora and Sidney's daughter and we're on a protection detail. Mom and Dad love Lilly."
"Are you okay with that," Dani asked me softly.
"Somewhat," I said softly. "I'm glad that Lilly has a chance with her grandparents but it hurts to know Mom and Dad can't know who she really is."
"Life is so unfair," Dani sighed. "I'm really homesick. I may not stay out much longer. The offer still stands, right? You'll put me in everyone's minds."
"Of course," I smiled. "I miss my little sister."
"I miss my big bro," Dani chuckled softly. "I think I can get a grip on time now. I'll call at a better hour next time."
"Don't hesitate to call no matter what time it is," I said softly. "I like talking with you."
"Okay," Dani replied softly. "Sleep well, Danny. Love you, cuz."
"Love you, too, cuz," I smiled. We said goodbye and hung up.
Monday came a new semester. We were separated for every class but second block which we had with Mr. Fuluka on the ninth grade floor. I had Computer Tech in first block which Tuck had already took. Sam and Tucker had first block together but that was the only one. The rest, we were all separated. Third block was one I wasn't too happy about. I had Creative Writing and I didn't know why. Fourth block was Spanish II and since Sam and Tucker took Spanish I this year, I was alone again.
Sam and Tucker had Spanish I in first block. Their third and fourth block classes were separated. Sam had Civics in third block and a communications class for the last block. Tucker had chemistry for third block and health for fourth. We had tried real hard to get into the school's drivers education class this year so we could get our learners but it was booked. We have promised spots next year but it will be with underclassmen and we'll be getting our licenses a year later than our peers. It should be criminal!
The Spanish teacher that Samuels hired was a problem. Last year, the teacher didn't know any Spanish. This year, the teacher's first language was Spanish and that caused problems. Too many times, I'd have the students staring at me like I'd grown a second head because I just started speaking fluent Spanish with her. It was so confusing because I didn't know I was doing it. My fears of speaking Spanish for the rest of the day were unfounded though, because once someone spoke to me in English, I switched back in English mode.
Dani called me every third day. She called back Thursday, February second. We were trying to deal with the heightened attacks, the new classes, getting new information about the future war and designing protection units. However, what we were dealing with personally was an invisible attacker on Sam. Nothing was wrong with my healing abilities. Tucker got his first injury a couple days later and I healed him fine. Sam kept getting injuries that she swore she didn't sustain.
I had a few major attacks and countless run-of-the-mill days. Vlad kept trying to get me to come back to him but I was strong enough to deny him. I went to therapy and we were working on issues, bringing Lilly along. Vlad attacked Sam and Tucker a few times but few indeed. He didn't want to mess with Tucker.
The day that things turned weird was towards the end of the month. I had talked to Dani that Monday, Presidents Day, and we had decided she would be home before school let out. Dani would come to live with us before our Junior year and Jazz's senior year. Tuesday started out like any normal day but it ended very strangely indeed.
One minute I was on my late-night patrol and the next minute I was waking up on my front porch still in ghost mode. I checked myself over but nothing seemed out of ordinary. There was no injuries, I didn't have any kind of bugs on me and my house or headquarters hadn't been fooled with. It was after five when I flew through Sam's window. I didn't want to call them and possibly wake them up. They had fell asleep but it was restlessly.
"Guys," I said softly. They stirred awake.
"Hey," Tucker said sleepily. He was lying across Sam's bed while Sam sat against the headboard. They both gasped when they saw the time.
"Something strange happened," I said softly. "I was flying through the park around two and then I woke up on my porch after four. Nothing is out of the ordinary. I don't know what happened."
"Are you okay," Tuck asked me.
"I think," I said, shaking my head. "I don't feel strange or anything. I just woke up on my porch. That's the only thing strange."
"Was anyone around," Sam asked me.
"Not that I knew of," I said, thinking back. I started remembering something but it was fuzzy. "Wait. I went into the park because I sensed something. I hadn't even reached where I sensed the thing yet. Just I was flying towards the mystery signature and then… nothing."
"I don't reckon you have any recordings or was around the water fountain, were you," Sam asked.
"No," I sighed. "I was on the back side of the park. Around the pond. What was that? Was it what attacked me? Was I even attacked?"
"You wanna stay here," Sam asked.
"I can't," I said softly. "Lilly's back home."
"Right," Sam said softly. "Well, if you remember anything else, call us. If not, we'll see you for school tomorrow."
"Okay," I sighed. I went home.
I checked Lilly one last time, making sure she was in fact okay. I double checked my room again but still nothing. I slipped the helmet on and climbed in bed but my eyes fell on my open window. For the first time, I didn't feel safe with it wide open. I got up and closed it securely. I've said a million times that I'd feel sorry for the person choosing to come in my window but tonight proved I'm not as invincible as I have believed myself to being. It wasn't a ghost, whatever it was. If it was a ghost, I would have sensed it.
Wednesday was proving to continue the weirdness. I had stomach cramps all day and I couldn't figure it out. It didn't really hurt, certainly nothing like with Lilly, but I could feel pressure and I felt bloated. I knew something was going off but I couldn't figure it out. The cramps were gone by Thursday but the weirdness was far from over. Dani hadn't called me like she normally does. I told myself to just be patient. Just because she had started making it a tradition doesn't mean it would always be like that. I decided to let my bad feeling slide.
We continued our routines like normal, the ghosts becoming even more desperate. The accident reports at the headquarters kept going up and all I had to say to Samuels was I told you so. Sunday, still no Dani. My upset feeling turned into a gut feeling. Something was wrong. Still, that voice said she could be distracted. I'd give her three more days.
When those three days came and went, I couldn't deny it anymore. Dani was unaccounted for. I wouldn't call her missing but she was not checking in with me and I didn't know why. I tried calling her cell phone but it went straight to voicemail. My heart constricted but I forced myself to breathe. This doesn't mean anything.
After school Thursday, I tried calling her cell again. I paid for the phone. She had unlimited data. It may not be one of Mom and Dad's phones but it was the best publicly available cellular phone. I was growing worried. No matter how many times I called that number, it would go straight to voicemail. I tried to tell myself that she may be in a no cell tower zone but I knew better. Dani didn't have her phone anymore.
Before patrol, I drug us to headquarters. "Do a search," I demanded of Tucker. "Find Dani!"
"Okay," Tucker said, knowing I wasn't in the mood. I was scared. She was just a little girl. So what if she had powers? She was just a kid for crying out loud.
Tucker expanded the search as far as it would go. "Why isn't it working," I asked panicked.
"I don't know," Tucker said, fearfully. "I got your signature and I got Vlad's signature but I can't pick up Dani's. This should be working."
"Oh, God," I said, taking my head in my hands. "She can't be," I trailed off. I wouldn't say it.
"I don't think so," Tucker declared. "She would tell us! I just can't get a reading."
"Why can't you," I demanded. Shouldn't he know this stuff?
"It could be a number of things," Tucker defended quickly. "She could be in the Ghost Zone. She could be shielded. She could be weakened. There are too many scenarios for me to pick one for sure!"
"Calm down, Danny," Sam said softly. "We'll find her. Can you use the Gauntlet?"
"Of course," I declared. "I didn't even think of that. Thanks, Sam." I twisted my left arm, bringing out the Gauntlet. I imagined myself where Dani was but I didn't go anywhere. "What in the world? Even when Vlad was dead, I went straight to him!"
"She's not dead," Tucker declared. "Her energy is being shielded. Now, if that is by a ghost shield like Mom and Dad make or by a larger power level, I don't know. Something is masking her power."
"Bigger power level," I cried. "She's a halfa! What could be more powerful than Dani?"
"While nothing is more powerful than an eleven, there are more ghosts out there that are stronger and you know it. It's just that she had the ability to push her energy further."
"Yeah," I sighed. "Where is she?"
"Could Vlad have her," Sam asked me softly.
"I swear to God if he does," I began.
"I don't think so," Tucker interrupted. "I see Vlad right here! He's in plain view. If she was with Vlad, I couldn't locate him."
"Not particularly so," I said, clenching my teeth. "When he had Lilly, he left her on the island and went about his business. She could be on the island." I held up my hand. "I'll be right back."
"Wait," Sam cried. "Let us go with you!"
I sighed. "Grab on."
I teleported to the island but no one had seen her. I was allowed to search the entire house but no sign of Dani showed up. I transported to Vlad's.
"Where is she," I demanded.
"Is Lilly missing," Vlad reacted in panic.
"No," I declared. "What have you done with Dani?"
"Danielle," Vlad asked in shock. "I haven't seen her since she was stabilized."
"Do not lie to me, Vlad," I declared. I held my hand in front of him. "I will use this if you don't cooperate with me!"
"Do you want a tour of the house," Vlad asked in a panic. "Of both houses! I swear I don't have her!"
"I've already checked the island," I said, sighing. "Vlad, so help me if I find out you've done something with her, I will kill you! You stay away from Dani!"
"I haven't touched her," Vlad declared. "Take a tour! You will see I speak the truth."
"If you hear anything, you let me know," I declared. I used the gauntlet to take us back to HQ. "Where is she if Vlad doesn't have her," I sighed.
"I don't know," Tucker said grimly. "I wished I did."
AN: This concludes Danny's Story, Part 3: Deliverance. Part 4: Life's Changes will be up Tuesday. I hope to see you then!