A/N: Well, here it is, the sequel to Adjustment. Sorry if chapter one is so short, but I promise the rest will be longer.
Disclaimer: Fairly Oddparents copyright Nickelodeon, Federator, and Viacom, created by Butch Hartman.
Not many beings ever had the chance to see Clockwork's lair. The eternal ghost never had many guests beyond the Observants and Death himself, at least, before Danny Phantom came into existence.
Those happened to be his guests at the moment. Death stood next to his old friend, occasionally tapping the bottom of his scythe against the floor, while the two Observant speakers floated in front of him.
"Surely you must be aware of what's happening," the first Observant said.
"You know, for a council of ghosts that supposedly see all, you're all remarkably slow at realizing what's going on," the lord of time commented as he shifted from his state as a young adult to one as an old man.
"You can't fault us," the second one defended. "You should know better than anyone that he can exist outside of time. That makes him difficult to track by our methods."
"Excuses, excuses," Clockwork muttered, becoming a child. "I realized he had escaped a week ago."
While the master of time had said this as casually as most people would mention getting a new haircut, but it brought about a predictable reaction from the pair of ancient ghosts. "And you did nothing? Surely you know how dire this situation is! He's even more dangerous than the Ghost King himself!"
"You're only telling me what I already know," Clockwork dismissed. "And I've told you nothing because, as I've apparently correctly predicted, you're going to do nothing. You've come here, as always, to get me to do the work you don't wish to soil your hands doing."
"And what exactly have you done?" the second Observant asked. "We've been noticing a severe lack of activity from you. If you had been dealing with this threat, we would have noticed something."
"You should know by now the way I do things," Clockwork reminded the pair, shifting into a young man as he gestured toward one of his time windows. On it was Danny Phantom, savior of the planet Earth, doing battle with Vortex.
"The boy?" the first Observant asked incredulously. "You must be joking."
"Have you ever heard me make a joke?" the master of time countered.
"The boy is powerful, but you know very well he's no match for him," the second one countered.
"Not yet," Clockwork admitted, shifting into an old man. "But I've kept an eye on him. His power and skill have been increasing steadily."
"But we don't have time to wait for him," the first Observant interrupted, "do you really think he'll just wait for the boy to become powerful enough to defeat him?"
"He has to," Clockwork reminded. "He's free, yes, but as long as my influence is in place, he's limited."
"Even so, do you believe the child will become powerful enough to face him?"
"He defeated Pariah Dark," the time ghost noted, becoming a child. "And Plasmius with the power of the Crown of Fire. And need I remind you of Vortex, Undergrowth and Nocturne? Three ghosts legendary for their power, and yet he defeated them all."
"And need we remind you that those ghosts pale compared to the one you must face," the second ghost reminded. "I know you have faith in the boy, but we must insist on another alternative."
At this point Death, previously silent, decided to speak. "I wouldn't advise that. Clockwork isn't the only one who has faith in the boy's…"
"You opinions don't matter to us, Death," the first cut him off. "You have no say in the Council's affairs."
"Maybe not, but need I remind you I take my orders from a higher power than you. Maybe you'd like to take things up with Him."
The Observants floated silently as they took in the reaper's words. As arrogant as they were of their ways, they knew better than to go against the power Death worked for.
"Very well, I suppose we will leave this in the hands of the boy," the second ghost resigned. Then he turned his eye toward the master of time. "But what exactly do you plan to do until he is powerful enough to face this threat?"
Clockwork looked back at the screen, where Danny was sucking the master of weather into the Fenton Thermos. "As long as my influence is in place, this threat you're so worried about won't be able to use the full extent of his powers. He'll try to build up an army to do things for him."
He watched Danny fly down to the rest of Team Phantom, all celebrating the capture.
"I simply need to build one of my own."
Just outside Amity Park, the alarms blazed at a maximum security prison, the same one that had once held Freakshow. Searchlights peered through the twilight, desperately trying to find the five figures that had escaped.
Just outside the stone walls were the very fugitives. The three former heroes of Amity Park, Masters's Blasters, ran alongside another disgraced figure, the former Operative K of the now disbarred Guys in White. His partner Operative O was escaping with much less dignity. Since Thrash had landed on him, the former agent had lost the ability to walk, and the prison doctors said it was likely permanent. Thus, he had to rely on the largest Blaster to carry him from his former cell. All were wearing orange prison uniforms in place of their usual clothes.
It had happened so quickly. They had been sitting in their cells when, out of nowhere, the electronic locks had opened, leaving them free to escape. The guards seemed to just doze off, letting them pretty much walk out. Still, it seemed whatever had paralyzed the guards had worn off because they were now on full alert.
"This is insane," K complained, looking back at the prison. "After all the good we did, we're being hunted like dogs! This is our thanks for serving our country?"
"Apparently someone still loves us," Vid pointed out, "if they went through all this trouble to bust us out."
Download struggled to keep his breath through the next sentence. "Yeah well, if they like us so much, why didn't they give us a quicker way out of here?"
By this time the group of fugitives had reached a highway about half a mile from the prison, and Download's question was answered. A white van drove down the road, stopping right in front of the ghost hunters. The doors opened with a quick command. "Get in."
The group needed no second bidding. They leapt inside, the doors closing and the vehicle speeding off.
There were three men inside. Two are of no consequence at the moment, but the third was familiar. He was an old man, in his fifties but still in good health. His aged face was covered with thick rimmed glasses. He wore a proper business suit, white with a black tie, with black slacks and dress shoes.
"Who are you?" Thrash demanded.
"You really need to learn some patience," the man noted, gesturing to a wheelchair. "You can put Operative O in that."
The largest Blaster did as was suggested. Once he had gotten his bearings straight, the former government agent got his first good look at their new ally. "Hey, I know you! You're that preacher that started the Order for Ghostly Suppression, aren't you?"
The man smiled. "Yes I am. Tom Jackson, at your service."
"But why'd your group bust us out?" Download demanded.
Thompson put on a serious expression. "Times are bleak, gentlemen. Our government is simply allowing ghosts to cross over into our world. These filthy creatures are embedding themselves into our society. We all know they're simply biding their time until they destroy us all."
"We're aware of the situation," K explained, "but what does it have to do with us?"
"Simply put, legal means aren't working. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We need to take matters into our own hands, and for that we're going to need some…muscle, so to speak. That's why we had members work their way into the prison. That's why we had them slip some sleeping pills into the guard's coffee and had them unlock your cells. We need you, your country needs you. Will you help us?"
The five ghost hunters glanced at each other. Then, they gave malicious smirks as they turned to their liberator. "Just tell us what to do," were the only words Vid said.
"Interesting, very interesting," the dark figure noted. The figure floated in front of a time window similar to the one Clockwork used.
Behind him, a larger figure stood. "Should we alter our plans, Master? They are planning to wipe out all ghosts, they could be a nuisance to us."
"You underestimate me. While they are trying to eliminate our kind, they can only be helpful to us. The boy will be distracted having to deal with them, leaving us time to build up our army. Speaking of which, I assumed you talked to the Sanchez girl?"
"The one that's smitten with Phantom? Yes, I did as you asked, though I don't understand why you would want to use her."
"You really have to learn to think of other means of defeating opponents than brute force. Someone close to the boy would provide more opportunities to destroy him from the inside out. Right now, though, we need to concentrate on the rest of our army. Tell Plasmius to prepare for tomorrow's mission. Once that's complete, we'll be ready to crush Phantom, then Clockwork. Then, finally, I'll be able to do what should have been done eons ago."