Chapter 1: A World Best Left Unseen
Danny struggled with every last bit of strength he had, trying desperately to break the iron grip on his wrist, but the metallic fingers didn't loosen so much as an inch. His green eyes flashed brightly as another wave of panic washed over him and he lashed out behind him with his foot. The attack was deflected by a second armored hand, the metal glowing with its own strange energy as it counteracted his ghost powers.
The Ghost Boy's legs became a spectral tail and thrashed frantically like a trapped snake as he fought to get away from this madman and his unnerving fanged grin. The madman in question watched the display with no little amount of amusement, the tenacity of his newest providing him with quite the show.
Eventually, Danny stopped squirming. He could feel his energy waning and just the thought of passing out, left at the mercy of this monster, was enough to make the ectoplasm run cold in his veins. He let his body go slack, focusing on regaining power in his ghostly core, making every second he rested before his next attempt matter. Slowly, he turned his gaze back to the one holding him captive, pushing back his fear. If it was going to end like this, he was not going to go out screaming and crying.
A man who looked an awful lot like Vlad Plasmius observed the change in behavior with interest. He didn't usually spend this much time playing with his food, but this particular treat was just too intriguing not to spend a few minutes savoring it.
"What's the matter, little ghost, given up already?" he mocked, receiving nothing more than a growl of frustration in return.
Danny was nearing the edge of his rope at this point. Not only was he stranded a whole reality away from home, but now he was face-to-face with an alternate version of Vlad that was even worse than the one he had to deal with in his reality. At least his Vlad had some fucking standards and wasn'ta freaking vampire.
It took every last bit of his willpower to stop himself from flipping out again. In his mind's eye he could see nothing but an endless replay of the moment Vladimir 'Dracula' Plasmius had decided to show off his power-stealing abilities. The look of fear on the shapeless specter's face flashed behind the boy's eyes. Danny could still hear the blood-curdling scream echoing in his ears and even worse...the dried up husk left behind after Vlad was finished.
Ectoplasm…he fed on ectoplasm...more powerful than human blood…It was something Danny never could have dreamt up in his worst nightmares. His whole essence when he was in ghost form was made of that stuff. He could imagine having it removed would feel like someone sucking out your insides through a straw.
The Vlad of this world was part ghost by design, not accident, his powers taken right from the life-force of his victims. Danny couldn't fathom where he had gained the vampirism, though. As far as he knew that didn't even exist in his realm. This whole dimension was so messed up...
"Pity..." Vlad mused, intruding on the whirlwind of thoughts in Danny's head. "I was hoping you would put up more of a fight..."
The green eyes of the ghost boy narrowed. 'You have no fucking idea what kind of fight I can put up…' his inner voice hissed, but Danny was able to hold his words back. No need to give away his plan.
This new Vlad had technology he had never seen before, but that little fact worked both ways. This wasn't his Vlad and therefore he knew absolutely nothing about the kind of power Danny was packing. He wasn't some shapeless blob one screwed-up vampire could boss around.
'Just relax, Fenton, you will have your moment. Getting out of this one just needs timing. You can do this..'.
One of the metal gloves Vlad wore—which Danny assumed must be similar in design to the Ghost Gauntlets back in his realm—gripped his waist. The field they emitted prevented Danny from breaking away or going intangible. Ecto rays were also out of the question, thanks to the odd metal amulet draped around Vlad's neck. Danny had learned the hard way that any blasts of ghost energy that got anywhere near were sucked inside before they could do any damage. Despite the dangerous situation, Danny made a note that he should totally get one of those if he ever made it out of this universe alive.
Ice powers might have worked if Danny had any point of contact that wasn't blocked by those damn gloves. Vlad must have dealt with elemental ghosts before since he was holding Danny in just the perfect way to prevent it. There was only one thing he had left, his last resort. If only Vlad was standing in front of him instead of holding him from behind...
One gloved hand managed to capture both wrists. Danny cried out as the collar of his suit was grabbed and yanked sharply, the material of his jumpsuit ripping cleanly and exposing his neck, much to the delight of Plasmius' hungry blood-red eyes.
"Don't worry," the vampire purred, "I'll put your power to expert use…" His fingers grabbed Danny's short white hair and tugged, painfully forcing the younger's head back. Danny's heart skipped a beat as the monster leaned in.
He could smell the rotten ectoplasm on his breath. His whole body spasmed involuntarily as fear overcame him again. Another yank on his hair forced him to lean all the way back, and then something wet and slimy ran up the side of his neck.
It took a second for Danny to realize it was Vlad's tongue and then something very important in his brain broke.
Sharp fangs pressed against his skin, lips creating a seal around the area so not a drop of power-rich ectoplasm would be wasted.
Fangs pierced the tender skin on the ghost boy's neck, the first drop of green liquid pooling around the small pinprick.
A wave of pure power emanated from Danny's mouth, turning that final word into a wall of pure force. A high-pitched resonance filled the room, bouncing off the stone castle walls and filling the master bedroom where Vlad preferred to take the more interesting meals. The echo redoubled the sound, raising it to ear-drum shattering volumes.
Vlad dropped Danny, presumably to cover his ears, and the reverberated shockwave slammed the two of them into the other wall, cutting the destructive wail short.
Vlad's head hit the wall with a visceral crack. Danny was spared the same fate only because the now unconscious body of his archenemy had softened the blow. The vampire slumped to the floor as the freed teen swooped into the air, not even giving the older man a second glace as he scanned the bedroom for the best means of escape. There was a slight pain in his arm from where Vlad had twisted it, but he wasn't going to hang around long enough to inspect it.
Danny spotted a window above the large bed, trying not to think about how many ghosts had lost their afterlives on the green and gold bedspread, he rushed towards it. A sharp shock when he touched the window informed him that it was ghost-proof and spurred Danny out of the bedroom and into the hall, entering the main body of Vlad's castle to look for another way out.
He had already learned that the layout of this castle was an exact replica of the one belonging to his universe's Vlad, the only difference was the contents of the secret lab hidden under it, which in this reality was much more like a kennel for ghosts than the weapons development area that Danny was used to seeing.
He would have gone back there to free the trapped ghosts had the last of Vlad's current prisoners not been the poor unfortunate soul who had been eaten just before his turn.
Memories of those horrid moments struck Danny and he suddenly felt sick all over again. He had banged with all his strength on the thick glass of the containment tube he had been trapped in, but in the end all his effort had been for not. He hadn't been able to help the other ghost.
He didn't even know his name, but the hero's heart still felt guilty over the failure. Still, there was nothing for it now, he had to focus...he needed out, and fast. Danny shot down the halls at full speed, heading for the one place he knew wasn't ghost proofed: the front door.
As he entered the grand hall, the wondrous entrance came into view. He had entered the castle through them in ghost mode so he must be able it exit that way too. Ecto-energy charged around his fingers and a green blast shot towards the doors, disintegrating the hardwood and melting the bronze doorknobs. Hunks of molten metal hit the doorstep as Danny blasted passed them.
The cool night air hit his face and Danny breathed deeply, enjoying the sweet taste of freedom, even if he had no idea what such freedom meant when he was still stranded in this Parallel Universe. The large castle grounds unfolded before him, but Danny didn't stop to admire the scenery.
Head down and eyes closed, Danny flew passed the thick line of bushes marking the property's edge and into the starry sky.
A blow like that to the back of the head might have killed a normal human, but thanks to the enhanced healing properties found in ectoplasm, the hit only knocked the vampire out for half an hour.
Plasmius awoke lying on the carpeted floor, surrounded by settled dust and stone chips from cracks his body had left in the castle wall. His head pounded with a force that would shame the thunder god Thor, and his body felt like he had taken a detour through a combine harvester. He forced himself to his feet, rubbing his temples with the palm of one hand, willing the pain to go away.
He would have to reevaluate what had just happened and come up with a new plan, but for now he just needed a bottle full of aspirin and some time for his stolen healing powers to finish the job. Glancing down, Vlad noticed that he was still in his vampire form. He relaxed his grip on his hidden strength and his bluish-green skin faded back into a human-like beige. His black hair turned to silvery white and fell around his shoulders, his stolen power the only thing that made it stand on end in those two demonic spikes.
The red glow of his eyes winked out and was replaced by dark blue irises. His fangs retracted slightly, becoming small enough that they could be mistaken as just overly large canines. Vlad brushed his hair back with a hand and tied it loosely behind his head with a ribbon he kept around his wrist, to keep it out if his eyes.
He drew his cape up around his shoulders, wondering how much time he had lost to his blackout. Perhaps he should draw the blinds while he went to get his medicine, a nice blast of morning sun to the face would add to his rotten mood nicely. It wasn't as deadly as the legends claimed, but the slight burning sensation was just unpleasant enough to make the daytime intolerable for Vlad.
He took one last look at the damage to the room caused by the young ghost. Vlad had known the boy was powerful, but he hadn't been expecting anything like that strange vocal attack the teenager had unleashed. When, not if, he got his hands on the teen, he would have to do a few more experiments to discover what had made this manifestation so strong. If he could recreate it, or if the boy could lead him to more like him…
A throb in the back of his head cut Vlad's planning short, reminding him to take it easy on his tactical-genius brain for a bit. He stalked out of the room, a purpose in his step. As soon as he could think straight he would come up with a plan.
Vlad was very pleased when he saw the night was still young, even after the hour he had spent recovering, (unconscious or otherwise) it was still barley past midnight.
He sat down heavily in front the supercomputer nestled safely in the belly of his hidden underground lab. A specially designed keyboard slid out when he pressed a button and Vlad logged into the system with a practiced ease.
"Good evening, Sweetie!" the inbuilt AI chimed, greeting its master with pre-programed enthusiasm.
"Evening Deloris." Vlad replied, and he opened a few choice programs with a click of a mouse. Briefly he wondered if he should get a new personality for his virtual companion. Originally, he had molded her after his old colleague crush, Maddie, but had decided to change it after the memories became too painful.
It wouldn't be too hard to put in some more alterations. Maybe now he should go for something more wild and carefree. Maybe with a predisposition for low-cut tops...
"Loading complete," Deloris piped up, cutting into Vlad's thoughts about the new AI. The self-made billionaire shook his head and turned back to the task at hand, his eyes scanning over the satellite map of the eastern United States.
A small grin passed the vampire's lips when he saw the large red dot making its way along interstate 39. Not that far away then. If he was lucky, this little escape could be sorted out tonight. Vlad picked up a headset microphone that was resting on the computer's attached desk and slid it over his head.
He clicked on the little icon that would patch him through, counting the rings until the line was picked up, fingers drumming a pattern on the desk. After about five more rings there was a click and he was greeted by an amiable "Hey V-man, something up?"
Vlad cringed. He hated that damn nickname. "Yes actually," he began, pausing when he noticed the revving sound in the background. "Please tell me you're not trying to drive your motorbike and use a cell phone..."
The man on the other end of the line snorted, no doubt amused by Vlad's attempt at playing legal guardian. "Pulling over takes time, and if you're calling, you obviously need me somewhere, preferably fast."
Vlad had to admit he was right. Still, he should be making some kind of effort into being a good role model. "I bet you're not wearing a helmet either, your mother would surely have something to say about this."
"Well feel free to tell her next time you see her," came the deadpan response. "What do you want anyway?"
Vlad considered insisting he pull over first, but every second his new prize got further away from the castle, and his need to possess that ghost's powers was a little more pressing. He would just buy a hands-free headset for him after he located the runaway.
"I have a target for you," Vlad began, flipping through the information he had gathered on the ghost-boy. "I think you will find it to your liking" he added with a slight grin, knowing just how to entice the other.
"Ohh, Vladdy has something to challenge me then? It's been too long. I'm getting tired of shooting fish in a barrel."
Vald could just imagine the smug grin on his face. The vampire would call him cocky if he didn't know the man could live up to his own boasts. "I do indeed," Vlad responded, moving into the details that would get his cohort as excited about this catch as he. "I have received readings of scale seven ectoplasmic power, but from what I've seen of his abilities, the true number could be much closer to nine."
A low whistle came from the other end of the line. "Impressive. You mentioned it's a 'he' so the ghost is human-like?"
Vlad nodded, flipping to the picture he had taken after locking the boy up in one of his ghost containment tubes. The look of anger and fear on the boy's face was priceless. "He looks just like a human teenager, around 16 or 17 years old from what I could see. He has white hair, green eyes, and wears a skin-tight black and white jumpsuit."
A soft chuckle reverberated in his ear as the man on the bike put that together. "Quite the picture. Shouldn't be too hard to spot, but it is a big country. I'm hoping you have more than just a description?"
Vlad pressed a few buttons on his keyboard, his fanged grin widening considerably. "I have his ecto-signature. Our network has already pinged him and I'm uploading his location to your GPS." Vlad waited until he said this to press send. The information uploaded to the on-board computer of the specially made sport bike Vlad had given to him for his eighteenth birthday.
"You always think of everything, don't you?" the man on the other end of the phone line said.
"Naturally," Vlad replied. He leaned back in his chair, listening to the faint sound of the GPS suggesting a U- turn and then the screeching of tires as the man on the bike performed it illegally and likely just avoided being hit by an oncoming car.
Vlad winced. He really would have to start being stricter with him. If he lost his best ghost hunter in a crash he would have to go back to capturing his prey himself, and that was simply unthinkable.
He may not have any sway as a legal guardian since the boy reached adulthood, but Vlad was still his employer and if anything he had a right to protect his investment. He would deal with it right after this assignment was through. He wanted that ghost boy just enough to risk it.
"Hunter?" Vlad added, repressing a need to roll his eyes at the horribly uncreative codename, and waited for the obligatory "Yes, Vladdy?" before making his point. "Do bring that ghost to me quickly. We definitely don't want something this powerful roaming free for long. It could do some real damage."
Silence came from the other end of the line, and when Hunter's voice came again it had lost the air of self-confident levity that it normally wore. "You don't need to remind me. I won't let it hurt anyone on my watch."
"That's my boy." Vlad smirked and terminated the call with a concluding 'click'.
Two things I want to mention real quick about this story, I've been working on it for about seven months and as of this moment it is almost completely written. So expect weekly updates to be prompt from this point onwards and don't worry about getting tied up in a story with no ending because this one already has it written.
Also I wanted to thank poltergeist for her lovely cover design for this fic and Dream Trance for Beta reading.