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A Ghost in the System

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Hello everybody! I'm here with another chapter! I'm sorry for such a long wait, life has been crazy on my end here with a big move across a whole province and a new job that takes all my energy. But I was finally able to write again after so long! Thank you to everyone who has stayed with me for this long, I'm happy to say there's only like TWO more chapters left MAX. I might be able to wrap it up in the next chapter!

Please enjoy the new chapter!!


 The last chunk of concrete holding the ceiling up above the young boy gave way and crumbled towards the two humans below.

Before he could think, Dan's body was moving on its own.

Shielding young Danny—and by extension, Dash—Dan's body took most of the impact from the falling debris. He grunted with the pain of the impact.. Even as the heavy soil and foundations of the underground facility continued to fall onto his back and the weight increased tenfold, he would not fall. He was Dan Phantom. The Earth would bend to his will—not the other way around.

As he exerted his power, his red irises burned into hot orange and illuminated the teary face of Danny and the horrified and panic-stricken expression of Dash. Growling with effort, Dan refused to kneel, and sure enough as the debris and rock settled around them, it stabilized enough to warrant the ghost to release the roof of their new haven.

"We do not have much time. This will not hold for long," Dan stated frankly, and even as he spoke, the make-shift ceiling shifted slightly as pebbles slipped through the numerous cracks.

"I knew you were a good guy!" Danny cried happily and attached himself to Dan's leg.

The ghost's lip curled in slight disgust, but it was more of an instinctual reaction than a true indication of his feelings towards the young boy's actions. Especially in how he didn't try to remove the child from his person. Moving towards the human adult, Dan reached for the edge of the concrete slab crushing Dash's legs. With a grunt of effort, he lifted it from the man's crushed appendages with one hand while he grasped the man's arm with the other and pulled him from his crushing prison.

Much to his credit as once he was out from underneath the rock, it was very clear that Dash's legs were indeed broken, but the man did not make hardly a sound of pain.

Unfortunately, moving the rubble to free Dash destabilized the rest of the earth and debris precariously balanced around them. More pebbles and dirt showered through the cracks and peppered the three inhabitants of the space.

"Why are you helping us?" Dash asked, the pain of his injury clear in his voice as Danny finally released Dan to hug his newly rescued—semi-rescued—father.

The ghost could only stare in stony, tense silence at the person who in Fenton's childhood had caused so much pain and stress for no other reason than he could. The one person he had sworn to never forgive no matter what. But he found it harder and harder to hate the pathetic being that stared up at him in fear and confusion. Now, all Dan could feel towards the man was pity.

"Because Dan doesn't want to be the bad guy anymore, right?" Danny supplied, and having no answer of his own, Dan merely nodded.

"Yeah, something like that."

Dash raised an eyebrow in disbelief and skepticism but otherwise did not raise any protest. "Alright then, Mr. Hero, how are we getting out of here?" The derision was clear in Dash's voice.

Dan grinned sinisterly, revealing both sets of fangs. Combined with the only light source of his hair, it created a horrifying image. "I'm going to blow a hole through the ceiling to the surface, and then you're going to hang on to me for dear life while I fly you out before it collapses back in on itself. How does that sound?" There was an evil enjoyment plainly evident in his tone.

The human male didn't appreciate the amount of amusement the ghost was taking at his expense as his eyebrows lowered over blue eyes into a distrustful glare. The young boy, however, missed it entirely and upon hearing the news of Dan destroying things with his powers became excited, his purple eyes shining with eagerness. "You're gonna blow a hole to the surface! That's so cool! Isn't that cool, dad? See I told you he's good now!" The child began to jump up and down, unable to contain his newfound energy.

Clenching his fist, Dan collected his power around his hand. It glowed red, into orange and then past yellow straight into white, and with all his strength, he released it into one solid beam that cleared through everything in a three-foot diameter all the way to the surface nearly a quarter mile above them. Light shone weakly down the hole, the blue of the Ghost Shield nowhere to be seen.

Unsure of the stability of the passageway he'd created, the ghost turned back to the injured human, quickly offering him a hand up, which was accepted without hesitation. Dash had also a firm hold of young Danny, and once he was securely between both adults, Dan pushed off the ground and flew as fast as he dared up the narrow passage.

He could feel Dash tense in agony as the motion roughly jostled his heavily injured legs. There was no time to be delicate. The integrity of the hole was deteriorating even as they flew through it. The exit was even beginning to crumble inwards, and it was with a great shower of debris that the three unlikely companions burst through to the surface.

The sight that Dan beheld before him was like nothing he'd ever seen and yet was all he'd even known.

In the distance, Amity Park was on fire. Buildings were only scaffolding, and smoke was everywhere, darkening the already cloudy and smoggy air. He could hear the screams of the towns people as they ran from ghosts.

In the past, that would have brought him joy, but now all he could see were his mistakes being thrown mockingly in his face.

"Maybe we could land somewhere? I don't like the feeling of depending on a mass murderer for my life," Dash quipped tensely, agony clear in his strained voice.

Dan grunted a non-committal noise and looked around the destroyed open plains surrounding them. There was a small group of humans behind an outcropping, firing upon a group of ghosts that sought to destroy them. His violent entrance caught the attention of most of the ones hiding behind the debris as they turned to see the cause of the commotion.

"DANNY! DASH!" Screamed the shrill and panicked voice of Paulina, who immediately detached herself from the group to run towards them. Even though his lip curled in disgust, Dan lowered to an acceptable height from which to drop Danny and his nuisance father.

"MOM!" the young boy cried in return upon being released and began to rush towards his mother. Dash unfortunately instinctively clung to Dan to keep himself upright.

"Paulina, no! Don't!" the rough voice of Damon called out only moments before Dan had to dodge a blaster shot aimed directly at his head. Scowling, the ghost raised a glowing palm and returned the blast towards the Resistance leader.

One blue eye widened in fear and realization as the red beam flashed towards him.

The sound of bones clattering to the ground seemed to echo over the space.

Damon turned in disbelief to find a skeleton ghost completely shattered behind him, the beam having gone directly over his shoulder to hit it instead of him.

'Then SHOW people you can be good!... People will believe that!' Danny's voice echoed in Dan's head.

"Dan saved us! If he hadn't blasted us a way out of that room, me and daddy would have been crushed," the little boy explained amongst the chaos of the rapid fire of blaster fire, and the clatter of skeleton bones as minions fell left and right under fire of the humans' weapons.

"Phantom… saved you?" Damon spoke brokenly, obviously still in shock from being saved himself, Dan allowed himself a small smirk.

"Yeah! He saved both me and daddy! He's a good guy now, and he's going to help Auntie Val!" Danny exclaimed excitedly as his mother held him close.

"'Saved' is a strong word. 'Helped' would be better, but even then, it might be a bit of a stretch." Dash gasped as others rushed from their outcropping to help him off Dan's side. Or they were attempting to, but each of them were too afraid to approach Phantom so closely.

"Take him now, or I'll drop him," Dan ordered, fed up with their inability to accomplish such a simple task as taking one of their own from him. Immediately, two people, a man and a woman rushed in to take the incapacitated Dash. The human male in question chuckled sardonically as he was pulled away to a safe distance.

"Do you truly intend to help my daughter?" Damon leveled his blaster at him once more. "If not, I will end you here and now."

The ghost glanced down to Danny, who gave him a big toothy grin and an enthusiastic thumbs up. Dan smiled slightly. "You're just going to have to find out," he answered cryptically before he launched himself into the sky, breaching the sound barrier within only a second and sped towards the heart of the fight.


 "Wake up, Phantom."

The familiar voice jolted him into awareness. Glancing up, he spotted Valerie. She stood defensively with her arms crossed tightly over her chest. Battle armor encased her fully except her helmet.

"Valerie," he breathed, voice rough from disuse and the poison he was forced to inhale.

"I'm not here to chat. I'm here to get information." She desperately tried to be intimidating, but he could hear the waver on her voice and see the dark circles underneath her eyes. He didn't know how long he'd been there, but it must have been at least a full twenty-four hours now.

She swallowed hard and sniffled before regaining her composure. Dan spoke again before she had the chance. "You've been crying. Why?"

A fire ignited in her eyes, and a blush appeared on her cheeks. "It's none of your concern, Phantom!"

"You're lying," he responded easily, the mask muffling and distorting his voice ever so slightly.

"What does it matter to you?" Her eyes narrowed dangerously, but her lips quivered with barely concealed emotion.

"Because everything I did, I did for you. Why do you think that is?" He held her gaze determinedly. "I stand by what I said the last time we were together."

Valerie swallowed thickly and turned away for a moment. There was a small snuffle, and she daintily wiped her nose. "I don't."

Dan felt his stomach drop into his knees as he flexed, straining his bonds. His eyebrows lowered over his crimson eyes. "Don't lie to me Valerie! You said you loved me!"

"I said I loved JAKE!" The fire returned to her body as she whipped around towards him, fists clenched and stance solid. "I think you'll find there is a huge difference between Dan Phantom and Jake Rainier!"

"HOW? Jake would not exist without me!"

There was a beat of tense silence between them before Valerie spoke once more.

"Everything would just be better if you died and stayed dead this time."

The conviction in her sentence severed through his entire being. Dan could feel the strength drain from his limbs. The wires chaining him in place groaned in relief as he fell limp into their support.

"Could you ever love me?"

"No."

"So, everything I did, everything I said, it all means nothing to you."

"A few good deeds don't absolve you of a lifetime of wickedness."

Dan flexed once again. "I don't care about absolution. I just want to know if you were ever happy with me, even if just for a moment."

Valerie hesitated ever so slightly for the ghost to raise his hopes. "No, never."

The Ravager of Worlds knew her answer to be a lie, but it was clear she would never admit to anything. She didn't want to be with him, that much was clear, and he no longer desired world dominion like he once did. The only purpose he had left in this world was Valerie, and she clearly did not want anything more to do with him.

"Then clearly I've lost. You win, Huntress, now do with me what you would do with any other ghost you captured."

Out of the corner of his eye, he watched her bring up a remote and with a finalized 'beep,' she pressed the button. Almost immediately, the pain of blood blossom gas filled his lungs, but he welcomed the pain. After all, it would be the last thing he ever felt.

How fitting.


 Dan flew through the remains of the city. Valerie would obviously be right in the thick of the fight, most likely fighting the Fright Knight himself. That would be good. Dan had a few bones to pick with the Halloween ghost, and not even Valerie would get in his way.

Skeletons and low-level minions roamed the streets terrorizing the citizens of Amity Park. Some of them had weapons to defend themselves but most did not. Struck with a new desire for altruism, Dan did them a favor and vaporised any undead pursuers of the public. Danny's statement about being good still echoing in his head. He smirked slightly—that damn kid.

The sound equivalent to a sonic boom echoed through the streets, a shockwave clearing away dust and shattering all the windows of several nearby skyscrapers to the calamity. Without a doubt, that would be Valerie. Without any hesitation, Dan made a beeline straight for the cause of the incident.

The first thing he noticed upon entering the scene was the giant crater that had been indented into the central plaza.

The second was that it was not a ghost in the crater. As Fright Knight floated above the center of the depression, he realized there could only be one person in that fissure.

Valerie.

"The era of Mortals has ended; the era of Ghosts has just begun." The Halloween ghost's words resonated with a dark promise.

Time seemed to slow for a moment as the purple ghost readied his broadsword which began to glow with an ethereal light. The flame-haired ghost knew he had only a few split seconds to act. For the second time in less than an hour, his body was moving before he could think as he bolted down towards the crater, his only instinct, to protect Valerie.

Dan dove forward. The Fright Knight plunged his sword downwards. Dirt exploded upwards several hundred feet from the force of impact obscuring everything in a shower of earth.


Yes another cliffhanger! No I'm not sorry! Thank you for reading! Please drop me a review if you'd like! I'd love to hear your thoughts!!