I've been looking forward to this chapter for a while. There's a little more action in this one. Hopefully you'll like what I have planned.
The entire school building was covered by the glowing green Ghost Shield, trapping them outside and cutting him off from most of Casper High. Some people would consider this an oversight since that severely limited his usefulness. But he knew it was more important to protect all the children inside and Sidney could work around his limits.
The two ghosts stood on the front lawn of Casper High, their backs to the impenetrable shield. They watched the shadows lengthen and darken. Neither of them were particularly aggressive or violent specters normally. But they would defend the students and teachers of Casper High from what was coming.
"Sidney," said Dora quietly, causing him to stiffen. "I know not everyone will survive this day unscathed. The danger is too great. My brother will not be the only loss. But if I have to face Ammit, then I am glad to have you by my side."
Sidney ducked his head briefly, trying to hide how his face darkened in response. He silently begged Dora not to ask why his cheeks were a darker shade of grey now. He desperately hoped she wouldn't realize he was blushing. Once again, Sidney felt thankful he couldn't turn a more distinctive red.
"Th-thank you, Dora. I'm happy to have you too. To help me, I mean. It'll be easier to protect the school if I'm not alone," he managed to stammer. "I'd rather be with you than alone."
Before Sidney could say something completely foolish with his stumbling tongue, another explosive loud sound rang out. This time, something shifted. Shadows lengthened further and darkened to something almost unnatural for daytime. The very atmosphere grew more oppressive.
"It is time," said Dora, her eyes widening. She glanced back briefly at the Ghost Shield and asked, "Will you be all right? The building is beyond your reach."
Pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, Sidney said, "I'll manage. You better get changed."
She reached up and touched her amulet lightly. Dora closed her eyes. Then her expression shifted. All the pain and fury of a bullied, repressed, and frustrated young woman flooded forth. Sidney could recognize those emotions anywhere. And the power of her amulet tapped into the power of those more aggressive and painful emotions.
The beautiful and elegant princess shifted and morphed before his eyes. She grew quickly, blue scales replacing her dress and skin while wings emerged. Her hair was replaced by horns and her face elongated into a muzzle filled with fangs. Within seconds, the ghost girl was replaced by the large and powerful dragon.
But even as a dragon, Dora was one swell doll.
With an echoing roar, she released a stream of ghostly flames that burned away at the strange shadows. Then, glancing at where further tendril-like shadows were forming, she spread her wings and took to the air. She started circling the glowing green dome, ready to defend it.
Sidney stared at the strange darkness as it recovered from Dora's initial attack. She was right about the Ghost Shield limiting his options. The school and everything inside it was beyond his reach. And outside the school grounds, he could do almost nothing against the shadows that writhed and lengthend.
The key phrase was school grounds.
Standing on the front lawn of Casper High, the Ghost Shield glowing at his back, Sidney reached down with his power. He reached down until he found what he needed. He waited motionless, watching the malevolent darkness. Only when the shadowy tendrils shot towards him did Sidney throw his hands up.
Pipes burst out of the ground and speared them before they could harm the teenage ghost. All the plumbing and the sprinkler system ripped their way upwards like aggressive snakes. While certainly different than controlling lockers and textbooks, Sidney sent the metal pipes stabbing and attacking the threat to the school.
He wasn't the strongest ghost, but never let it be said that Sidney couldn't be clever or creative.
Jason quietly cursed as he pressed harder on the accelerator. He drove down the streets of Amity Park, trying to reach the mall. He'd heard the orders to head for the security of the Ghost Shield, but he'd delayed. Ghosts attacks weren't uncommon. He hadn't worried. Not until the more detailed warning came over the radio and television stations from their teenage mayor and the growing darkness. And now it was probably too late to make it to safety.
The wheels of his car squealed as he made a sharp turn. Jason yelped in terror as he caught sight of some shadowy thing sprouting sharp tendrils directly in front of him. The man slammed on the brakes even as the dark shapes lunged at his vehicle.
A loud guitar chord rang out and a large fist-shaped mass of ecto-energy slammed down on the shadows. Missiles soared overhead and struck the remaining tendrils, exploding like something from an action movie.
Jason stared in slack-jawed shock for a few moments. He couldn't bring himself to move until a shape flew down beside the window of his car. He jumped as he recognized the robotic ghost before he remembered Mayor Foley's words.
"Get moving," snapped Skulker sharply. "The Whelp said to protect the humans. That doesn't mean you should linger."
He didn't need to be asked twice. Jason's car squealed back into motion. He raced down the familiar streets as ecto-blasts of various types continued to clear a path and drive back the darkness. The man didn't dare look closer at the unexpected allies or the strange shadows. All he focused on was heading towards the mall and the safety of the Ghost Shield.
Unsurprisingly, there wasn't much parking left by the time he got there. At some point, the vast crowds just started leaving their cards haphazardly wherever there was space. Jason knew he'd be towed immediately if there were any cops left around. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
But while the number of cars stuffed into the parking lot wasn't surprising, the welcoming party nearly made him pause. Jason saw an army of large, white-furred creatures that looked like they belonged in the Himalayas. As far as Jason could see, they appeared to creating a wall of ice around the Ghost Shield alongside a ghost wearing red-and-white pajamas.
And yet this still wasn't the weirdest day in Amity Park. But it was close.
The largest of the ghostly yetis spotted Jason and gestured towards him with an ice hand, saying firmly, "Come this way. We left a doorway for the humans to enter. You'll be quite safe inside."
The voice of a large ghost monster should not be as reassuring as it was. Of course, the fact that he apparently wanted to help and wasn't as creepy as the shadows may have had something to do with it. And getting inside was Jason's goal anyway. He was perfectly willing to run towards the only secure place in the city.
As Jason sprinted, he caught sight of another ghost flying overhead. He recognized the blue-skinned, cape-wearing ghost from months ago as the former mayor. Even if he didn't even slow down or hesitate, Jason's thoughts started whirling. Why in the world would Vlad Masters, Vlad Plasmius, or whatever he called himself be flying around in this chaos? When did he get back? What was going on?
But the moment Jason ran through the frozen archway and crossed the Ghost Shield, he decided he didn't care. He didn't care what new chaos had descended on Amity Park. As long as he'd made it somewhere safe, he wasn't going to question it. He was just going to hide in the mall with the rest of the town's population and wait until it was over.
After all, that's what you do when you live in the most haunted town in the world.
Paulina didn't know what she expected to find when she and Star snuck into the gymnasium. The giant television screen on the wall and the sound system were definitely new additions. All the bleachers and most of the floor space was packed with students ranging from Kindergarteners all the way to Seniors. Teachers and faculty tried to keep the smaller kids calm, but the majority of the people were chanting "ember" as her song filled the air and made their efforts difficult. And on the screen, she could see ghosts fighting some kind of creepy shadow. The channel kept seeming to change at random, showing different scenes, but they all showed them fighting.
"Was that Ember on screen just now?" asked Star quietly, the pair of them hiding behind the bleachers to avoid attention. "That is so cool."
As the scene changed again, Paulina frowned. There was a dragon flying around outside the school. The television was showing an actual dragon ghost circling the place, breathing fire like out of a fairy tale. But that's not what made the teenage girl frown.
"I remember that," Paulina said. "That dragon is wearing the same necklace I used to have."
"Really? Wouldn't it be a little big on you?" asked Star.
"It didn't look that big at the time. But I do think it looks better on the dragon. It's a very flattering color on her."
"Definitely. It really matches her horns."
"Would you dearies like a cookie?"
The unexpected voice made the girls yelp. Fortunately, the loud music and chanting audience covered it up. The two spun around to find a green-skinned ghost dressed like a lunch lady with a tray of cookies and a friendly smile.
"Wh-what are you doing here?" Paulina asked.
"Well, I intended to help protect the children of this school, said the ghost in a motherly voice. "But the Ghost Shield went up before I could step outside. So I'm going to keep an eye and make sure things stay settled in here."
"Oh, so you're a nice ghost like Tucker said," Star remarked cheerfully. Picking up a cookie, she asked, "Are these fat-free, sugar-free, carb-free, and gluten-free?"
Blinking briefly, the ghost said, "They're baked with love and create smiles."
"So is that a 'yes'?"
When the lunch lady ghost just stared at her, Star shrugged and took a bite. Paulina took a cookie for herself. The ghost seemed rather pleased by that.
"So if something bad happens to the Ghost Shield, you're going to help protect everyone?" asked Paulina. "Great. We're trying to help too. Star and I are supposed to see what's happening while Dash, Kwan, and the nerds to other stuff. What to help?"
"I already promised young Sidney Poindexter and his nice young lady friend. The students of this school will remain safe and well-fed while I remain."
Paulina ignored the familiar name of the school legend and the implications that the famous loser might have a girlfriend. Juicy gossip could wait. She focused on the important part.
"So you'll do it? This is great. Now we have something interesting to report to the boys," said Paulina cheerfully. "Look at us doing stuff. This hero thing is easy. Everyone is going to be so impressed."
Staring at her suspiciously, Star said dryly, "You know this won't give you Danny, right? He has a girlfriend."
"You're ruining my moment. And you never know."
So far, they were keeping on top of things. The creepy solid shadows would break apart when hit by a powerful attack, though they would reform afterwards. And while the number of people clearly unable to understand get to a secure location now didn't make things easier, Danny and the ghosts somehow prevented any fatal accidents as everyone scrambled towards shelter.
Honestly, Danny was impressed by how well the various ghosts were at protecting the citizens of Amity Park for once rather than terrorizing it. Ember's guitar possessed numerous settings, letting her create everything from flames to ecto-blasts in various shapes to pure ecto-energy waves. Skulker's arsenal included almost every weapon imaginable, close-range and distant. And even Vlad's fighting style could be easily adapted to protect someone. Danny certainly preferred fighting alongside them rather than being hit by them.
"You guys are doing great," said Tucker over the Fenton Phones, one of his flying cameras keeping pace with Danny. "I'm broadcasting this so everyone can see. It's helping Ember almost as much as the song and keeps moral up at the same time."
Watching her strike another power chord that became a skull-shaped mass of ecto-energy, he said, "I guess that's a good thing then. We've got these shadow things under control."
"The mall is now protected by both the Ghost Shield and a thick wall of ice, Great One," announced Frostbit over the line. "Now even if this city's defenders should fall, the people will be protected."
As Danny fired at a reforming tendril of darkness, Valerie's voice chimed in, "Me, Danielle, and the canines are holding our own near the lab." The sounds of weapon fire followed immediately. "Take that. Think you're so tough? I'll show you tough."
A few explosions to the left indicated Skulker had opened fire again. Automatic weapon aiming systems and a lot of ammunition certainly had their advantages.
"Don't get overconfident," Vlad warned. "We're not even facing Ammit yet. This is just a fraction of his power leaking through. It's only going to grow worse."
"Thanks for that cheery reminder," said Danny.
Almost as if responding to their words, another echoing crash rang out all around them. The shadows managed to grow darker, thicker, and sharper. They lashed out viciously, trying to spear the halfa. Danny barely managed to twist out of the way while firing an ecto-blast at it. The shadows were definitely growing faster.
A few more green streaks of light hit as Danny fired rapidly, but the darkness seemed more resistant than before. Frowning in concentration, this time he let the ecto-energy gather into a large orb before throwing it into the mass. The shadows exploded on impact and vanished temporarily.
He landed lightly on the closest roof. He could see it. The shadows were seeping into every street, growing visibly before his eyes. The darkness was spreading all across the city. They weren't going to be enough. If the shadows continued to worsen, it wouldn't take long for the ghosts, halfas, and ghost-hunters to be overwhelmed.
Playing Ember's song and Vlad multiplying himself gave them a slight advantage he hadn't planned on, but it wasn't enough. They needed something more.
Technological multi-tasking was one of Tucker's best skills. That and hacking into the school's systems to change his grades. He could watch multiple screens while still noticing key details. He also kept switching between the various cameras flying around the city, never focusing one place for very long. He kept Ember's song playing on a loop. And he regularly checked in on everyone in the field. Within his specially-built mission control, Tucker as the master of his domain.
But there was a clock counting down. It was a clock that he wished they could ignore, but was far too important for that. Thanks to Danny's visit to Clockwork, they knew exactly when Ammit would officially appear in Amity Park. They knew exactly when everything would go horribly wrong.
It was a race to the finish. Would the Fentons and Technus finish before the countdown hit zero? Or would they have to face the powerful ghost who terrified everyone? Even as Tucker tried to main control over countless elements, he kept that worry in the back of his mind.
Movement in the corner of one screen caught his attention. Tucker instantly grabbed a joystick and directed one of his flying cameras to follow. It took a moment to find it again, but he eventually managed to get the contraption at the right angle.
He looked again. He was right the first time. And there was more than one. A lot more than one.
He blinked again, trying to wrap his mind around it.
They needed to know. He needed to tell the others. This was too insane to ignore.
"Uh, guys…? We might… We have incoming."
Jazz, demonstrating quite clearly that she was her mother's daughter, rolled out of the way of another shadow trying to skewer her. As she shifted straight back to her feet, she fired her chosen weapon at the dark force. The Portable Fenton Ghost Peeler always did work well for her. The weapon blast was quickly joined by a pink ecto-ray that destroyed the shadows. She glanced up and gave a thankful nod to Vlad as he flew overhead, firing at every threat that formed.
Since almost everyone was at school or work by the time Tucker announced the evacuation, none of the neighbors tried to take shelter under the Fenton home's Ghost Shield. The only ones on the street outside were Jazz, Sam, and Vlad. While the rest of the team protected the city, the three of them just needed to guard the house. And so far, it wasn't too hard.
"What do you mean 'incoming'?" asked Sam, firing both of her Fenton Wrist Rays. "Good incoming or bad incoming?"
"I… I honestly don't know what to call it," Tucker's voice replied over the line. "But I don't think it's bad. It isn't Ammit at least."
"Then what's coming?" asked Danielle, sounded winded through the Fenton Phones.
Something flew overhead, the quick movement catching her eye. Jazz didn't see the first one clearly enough to identify it, but she saw the second one just fine. And the third. And the fourth.
A smile spread across Jazz's face.
Danny saw what Tucker meant by incoming. There couldn't really be any doubt in his mind since the approach quickly became obvious. And he could see why his best friend couldn't easily describe it.
They darkened the already-shadowy horizon. He could see hundreds of them in a variety of sizes, some of them clearly huge. He saw them race through the air, a slight glow around each one demonstrating the power suspending them clearly belonged to a ghost. The objects that flew over the city remained above the attacking shadows so far, meaning they traveled unhindered. They reminded Danny of a swarm of insects descending on a target.
At least they would if insects were mostly cubes.
As they drew nearer, Danny could make out the logo of the Guys In White on the larger ones. Hundreds of crates, metal containers, and storage boxes that clearly belonged to the best-funded ghost-hunters in the country now filled the air over Amity Park. And at the front of the swarm of boxes, his hands glowing, was the blue figure controlling them.
This wasn't what Danny normally associated with the annoying and harmless Box Ghost. His face was tense and strained, the sheer amount of concentration and focus impossible to miss. He was maintaining control of more boxes than Danny could count. He was even holding up metal shipping containers large enough to hold cars and at least two that could be used as small houses. The scale seemed unnerving as he flew towards Danny.
The Box Ghost stopped a short distance from him, floating above the rooftops. Danny saw him twist his right hand slightly and all the containers opened. Ecto-based guns, missiles, bazookas, motorcycles armed with strange attached weapons, and even what appeared to be a high-tech tank and a small fighter jet floated out of the boxes with the same glow surrounding them.
"Behold my container-based power," said the Box Ghost, his voice showing the same strain as his expression.
His right hand closed in a fist and every single weapon opened fire. Within seconds, an entire block-worth of the shadows were vaporized. And large chunks of the surrounding buildings. And they continued to fire, picking out dozens of the dark tendrils without missing a shot.
When the shadows finally tried to strike back, he jerked his left hand and a few empty boxes moved to block the attacks. Even as he defended himself from retaliation with the boxes, the weapons never stopped the assault.
The floating objects swirled around him like a deadly storm with the ghost in the center. Stolen high-tech weapons blasted and containers blocked. The coordination was perfect. He kept a solid attack and defense going without letting either suffer.
Somehow, the Box Ghost had become a real and actual threat. It was like that horrible future without the hook. With his stolen weaponry and amassed collection of boxes, he'd transformed into a force of nature. And he was blasting his way through the growing darkness like a man on a mission. There was nothing funny or pathetic about what was happening.
"Wow," muttered Skulker, floating over to Danny. "What happened to him?"
"Jazz, you are never allowed to give any of my enemies a pep talk ever again," he said.
"As impressive as it might be, we can't stop and gawk," reminded Vlad. "There's still a lot of the city to cover."
Right. They needed to stop floating around and staring. No matter how much the scene deserved to be stared at since this was the Box Ghost. Danny managed to shake off the worst of the shock and tear his eyes away.
"Spread out. Cover as much area as possible," Danny said. "Keep attacking and keep the shadows at bay. Don't give them a chance to reform. We don't have as many people left outside to protect, so don't worry about holding back."
"That I can handle," announced Ember over the Fenton Phones, the musician having resisted the urge to approach the spectacle.
Another power chord, louder than before and empowered by the chanting support of the population of Amity Park, rang out. A wave of ecto-energy formed a few streets away. Like a tsunami, it swept across her section of the neighborhood as she worked her way up the musical scale. It washed over the thick shadows and left empty streets behind.
Between her renewed musical assault and the Box Ghost's heavy battery from his stolen weaponry (because of course the Guys In White would store things like a tank and a small fighter jet in giant boxes for convenience), they cleared vast swatches of the area. Vlad couldn't do the same levels of wide-spread destruction, but his more-intense pink ecto-rays provided surgical strikes as he flew in a different direction.
"Try not to die, Whelp," said Skulker gruffly. "It would be a shame to never hunt you again."
With what was clearly the equivalent of a wish for good luck, the hunter ghost switched to yet another of his built-in weapons and turned his jetpack towards new targets. Danny couldn't help noticing that he chose a direction that would take him near where Ember flew. He just refrained from commenting on it where Skulker would hear.
Yet another loud crash rang out and the shadowy tendrils grew thicker and longer. They started reaching above the buildings, forcing Danny to dodge or be skewered by the sharp spike-like shapes. He considered using his Ghostly wail to destroy a whole chunk of the thick darkness. But this was a fight of endurance and that power left him to drained. He couldn't risk it.
So as an electric guitar played in the background and the explosions from an ecto-energy-powered tank (a tank… the Guys In White had a tank, of all things), Danny fired an ecto-ray from both hands into the thickest mass of darkness. As he poured power into his attack, the light burned away the shadows.
At least for a while.
So… Yeah, I've been looking forward to giving the Box Ghost a cool moment. I mean, most characters will get something semi-cool in this story. But the Box Ghost doesn't get a lot of cool moments in the cartoon or most stories. So I've been looking forward to writing this chapter for quite some time. And Sidney gets to be really creative with his abilities too. Can you honestly say you were expecting him to start yanking the pipes out of the ground below the school grounds?
Yep. I had fun with this chapter.
Once again, go and buy my book. There's a link on my profile. You can buy it for the Kindle or download the Kindle app thing for your smartphone. You can probably even download it on your iPad or other computer things. Just go out and support my original piece of fiction, please. Reviews are nice (and I always appreciate them), but fanfiction doesn't pay the bills.