Prequel

Ghost Zone, Clockwork's Tower

Clockwork stared at the Infinity screen watching the same images playing in sequence, repeatedly. Danny, strapped to a steel table, his parents cutting into him. Danny holding the broken body of a girl with red hair. Jazz lying in a pool of blood. Danny, looking up through one eye, broken and beaten in the shadow of someone.

He turned the thermos in his hand slowly thinking. Slowly the thermos started to glow and lift from Clockworks hand. He smiled and placed his other hand above the thermos. This would take a lot of his power and almost all his magic to do. The room filled with a blinding white light as the thermos returned to his hand and he uncapped it. Dan Phantom shot out of the thermos and landed on the floor in a hunch. Quickly turning he jumped at Clockwork who froze him mid-air.

"Hello Dan, long time no see. How have you been?"

"Clockwork what's the meaning of this?" Dan asked the anger slowly draining from his face. He knew full well he could not stand up to clockwork.

"I've decided to let you go Dan." Clockwork said. Dan's face dropped in shock, but he quickly recovered.

"That doesn't sound like you. Not after everything you did to get me in here." He shot him a dirty glance.

"Oh, come now Dan let's not get caught up in the past." Clockwork said waving his hand dismissively. "I have decided to let you go, send you to a place where you could be very useful." Clockwork lowered Dan to the floor and dropped the stasis around his body. Dan moved his arms and rubbed his wrists.

"What's the catch?" Dan asked.

"You only have to survive the trip there." Clockwork said opening a portal next to him. Dan eyed the portal sceptically.

"Do I actually have a chance?"

"But of course, why would I bring you out only to kill you in such a boring way?" Dan seemed to think about it for a while but coming up empty he only nodded stepping towards the portal.

"Don't you want to know where it leads?" Clockwork asked.

"Any place has to be better than spending it here and I'm assuming you won't let me leave this tower except by going through this portal." Clockwork nodded, smiling coldly.

"I will raise this place to the ground Clockwork, mark my words." Dan said stepping through the portal.

"We shall see." Clockwork said, with a smile closing the portal.

Clockwork played with the empty thermos looking at the infinity screen as a smile stretched across his face. Turning away from the screen he faced the door. Seconds later the door was thrown open and an observer walked in.

"Clockwork! What the hell is the meaning of this?" He yelled coming to a stop right in front of him.

"It's good to see you to High Observer." Clockwork said casually.

"I don't have time for this Clockwork. Why did you free Dan Phantom?" The Observer asked. Clockwork signed turning back to the screen.

"I deemed it necessary to do so." Clockwork said without looking at the Observer who was fuming at Clockwork.

"He'll destroy this world, this time-stream." He said waving his hands.

"Dan isn't in this universe." Clockwork said lazily. The Observer's spine snapped straight, arms falling limply at his side.

"What?" Was all he manages to say. Clockwork chuckled humorlessly as he turned towards the Observer and floated to him.

"You come here, to my realm to accuse me of putting the Universe in Danger without even understanding the situation." Clockwork had made his way over to the Observer and was inches away from him leaning over the Observer threatening. Which was hard to do being in his baby form currently.

"Well um… we …"

"Yes, I know you saw me releasing Dan and flipped out, lost your proverbial shit and rushed right over here. Neglecting to do the one thing you were created to do. Watch." Clockworks eyes narrowed at him.

"Yes, well naturally, having witness what he had done to his own universe, we feared …"

"Enough, he's none of your concern." Clockwork made it clear that the Observer was dismissed. The Observer turned to leave but stopped at the door and looked at Clockwork.

"Where did you send him?" He asked. Clockwork was silent for a while. Clockwork slowly turned, and the Observer only saw half of his face pulled into a sinister smile.

"The Nexus." He said and the observer nodded before he disappeared. "You can come out now, Danny." Clockwork said and a figure materialised out of the shadows. A tattered black and red cape fluttered around him. Clockwork turned to look at his now older apprentice, it had been quite a long time since Danny had saved the world from the Desasteriod. He had aged into a very powerful ghost, proof of this was that he now possessed the Crown of Fire and Ring of Rage. The battle against Dark had been fifteen years ago now. A small smile crossed his lips as he recalled that day, ah but now wasn't the time to reminisce. The cape had been a gift from Clockwork himself at Danny's coronation, it wasn't anything fancy but Clockwork believed it would suit him. His arms were crossed and he had a scowl on his face.

"Come now Danny, you aren't going to question me now too, are you?" Clockwork said with that knowing smile on his face.

"No, I know better I'm just ... disappointed that you didn't tell me of your plan." Danny said in a gruff voice.

"How could I when I was being watched so closely, to tell you would have informed them of my plans before I was certain." He said shifting into his baby form. Danny nodded as he stroked his white beard, he fixed his eyes on Clockwork. "Is this why you called me here?"

"Dan was a big part of you, I needed you to know what happened to him." Danny nodded and turned to leave, but stopped short of the portal he had opened before him. "What did you do to him, before you sent him through?" Danny asked without looking at Clockwork. Clockwork knew he didn't hide it well enough for Danny, his training was indeed paying off.

"I brought Vlad's humanity back and placed it in him." At this, Danny did turn an amazed look on his face, his jaw a little slack. "I ... I thought you said it was impossible." Danny couldn't keep his emotion from his voice.

"What I said was it was impossible with the power I had, but I've been storing some away for years now." He said locking eyes with Danny. "Vlad will live on in Dan, that is the best I could do." Danny smile was one of gratitude and joy. Clockwork knew it was coming but it still amazed him with wich Danny moved to hug him, thanking him over and over again.

"Yes well, Vlad's sacrifice was to be rewarded in some way." He said patting Danny's back awkwardly. Danny felt it and back away saying sorry.

"Well, I better get back before my wife gets home, it's my turn to cook." He said sheepishly before heading to the portal as Clockwork chuckled amusedly.

"Strongest ghost in the entire Ghost Zone and he's afraid of his wife. If only your enemies knew." Danny laughed before he said. "They know it but they are too afraid to approach her." He said before stepping into the portal. Clockwork was still smiling as he turned and opened a window to where he had sent Dan, all be it a couple of months before he would show up.

Vlad was driving to his friends, the Fenton's house. They had called him a little while ago and told him that they had caught a ghost. They had worked towards this for so long, the portal they had made in college was nothing compared to what they had in their basements. The accident that was caused by it had put a huge strain on them and it had been hard to keep their friendship together but Jack had been unrelenting and Vlad had finally given in. A pleasant surprise was the powers he had gotten from it. The first few months had been hard and difficult to keep from them. He was looking forward to seeing how much different his powers were from real ghosts. As Vlad was driving in his very expensive car, he put it on auto-pilot as he pulled out a screen.

He had installed his own surveillance cameras, he started the footage from the morning. He saw Maddie enter the basement, his feelings for her hadn't changed a lot since their college days. He still loved her and he knew he always would. Next came Danny, a small smile crept onto his face. The little bagger as he called him affectionately. He was a smart kid even if he didn't know it himself. Vlad had grown to think of him as a son. Jack was the last one to come down the stairs, a bowl of fudge in his arms. Vlad groaned, Jack might be his best friend but the man needed to take a good look at himself.

Vlad sped the footage up, he saw Danny standing with his parents when a spark went off in the portal Maddie and Jack walked away from the portal to the benches. Danny walked over to the closet and pulled out a hazmat suit. He looked at it then took out one Vlad had made. A little different than the other, his had a hoody that could be sealed and a utility belt. A flaming D in the middle that Danny had designed himself. It had been a gift from Vlad and he smiled as Danny had picked it out.

Vlad slowed it down as Danny made his way towards the portal. Danny walked into it the portal and not a second later it turned on and Vlad heard a scream that chilled his blood. Maddie and Jack came running and screaming Danny's name as he had been caught in the blast of ecto-energy. Vlad's blood ran cold, they wouldn't have … They couldn't have meant that the ghost they had found was Danny… Sure enough not long after the screaming stopped Danny came stumbling out of the portal. His features may have changed, but it was still Danny. His hair was snow white now and the hazmat suit had reverted in colour changing the white to black and the black to white. Jack and Maddie took some steps back. Jack took up one of the weapons on the table.

When Danny opened his eyes, Vlad saw that they were glowing green. That was all the proof Jack needed. Lifting the Jack-o-Lantern and screamed. "Where is our son, you filthy ghost!" Jack was ready to attack. Danny looked confused at his parents. "Dad what are you talking about, it is me." He said. Vlad turned off the auto-pilot and took the wheel, he needed to get there as soon as possible.

"You're not my son, you are a ghost. Now tell me where is my son?" Vlad heard Jack yell. "Mom, you have to believe me. It's me, Danny." Vlad could hear the pleading in young Daniels voice, he firmly believed that Maddie would understand or at least hear him out. "You're a monster, you are not my son!" She yelled and not a second later he heard a shot go off, followed by a grunt of pain from Danny.

Stealing a quick look at the screen he saw that Maddie had a smouldering ecto-bazooka in her hands. Danny was lying near the wall face down. Vlad put his foot down ignoring the screen completely. He was close to Fenton Works and he hoped that he would be in time.

He came to a screeching stop outside the big brick building throwing his door open and almost breaking down the front door of their house. Running to the basement door he threw it open and took the steps three at a time. When he reached the basement he nearly threw up. He was too late.

Danny was strapped to the table, his left arm had been cut off just under the elbow. Maddie had started the Y incision on his chest while Jack had a bone saw in his hands, standing close to Danny's head. Vlad heard the bone saw coming on.

"STOP!" He screamed, Maddie stopped her cutting and looked up at him, she smiled as she saw him. Jack didn't seem to hear him and lowered the saw, cutting into Danny's head. "Hey Vlad!" Maddie said waving at him. Jack lifted the saw and looked over to Vlad. A big smile spread across his face, as he turned off the saw. "Vladdie, finally made it I see. Don't worry we were just getting to the good part." Jack said placing the saw on the table before making his way over to Vlad.

Vlad was fuming but Jack had never been able to read him very well, and he was never sure if it was because Jack was a complete bumbling fool or if he was just not that good at reading people. Maddie, on the other hand, saw the change in him and was a bit more cautious.

As Jack was about to put his arm around him, Vlad slapped it away before grabbing Jack by his collar. "What the fuck are you doing to Danny?" Vlad shouted at them. A look of realisation crossed Jack and Maddie's face.

"Ah Vladdie this isn't Danny it's a ghost that took him. After we have studied it and pulled it apart molecule by molecule, we'll go into the Ghost Zone and find Danny." Jack said with a slightly crazed look in his eyes.

"No, Jack he is your son. He's a hybrid now, half ghost and half human." Vlad said taking a step back. Jack looked shocked but soon a smile burst onto his face and he laughed. "Good one Vladdie, but that's not possible you can't be half dead." Jack said wiping a tear from his eye.

"Yes, you can I know this because … Because I am one too." Vlad said as he transformed into his ghost form. Jack and Maddie gasped and took a step back each. "Danny is like me now." Vlad said as he turned back to his human form. Jack and Maddie were shocked, to say the least. Jack looked at Vlad and then to Danny. Shaking his head in disbelief, tears so close to spilling from his eyes.

"No, no that's not true … That can't be true." Jack said grabbing at his hair. Maddie was slowly sinking to the ground, tears making their way down her cheeks. Vlad was happy that they had stopped and listened to him, but he did feel sorry for them. They had hurt their own son, Jack was also crying now and he leaned heavily on the one table.

Vlad walked over to his friend wanting to comfort him a bit. As he got closer, Jack swiped at him with a scalpel. Luckily Vlad was faster and stronger than Jack. His eyes flashed red before he threw Jack across the room. "Are you listening to me you bumbling buffoon? I am Vlad that is Danny!" He shouted as an aura of power released from him. "Your lying, Danny … Danny is dead and that monster tried to take his place just like you took Vladdie's place."

Vlad was about to say that they were wrong but he never got the chance as he was blasted with an ecto-blast. The blast burnt his suit and sent him staggering backwards. Vlad's eyes turned blood red as he looked over to Maddie, she was holding the bazooka.

A red light was flashing on it and when she looked at it, she pulled a sticky note from the bazooka, looked at it for a few seconds and then threw both to the side, grabbing a knife off the nearby table. "Maddie, Jack please listen that is your son."

"He is not, he is a monster that took our son from us." Maddie screamed before she launched herself at him….

That had been hours ago and they were safe in his home. Vlad now sat in a comfortable chair facing a fire that was slowly taking the cold from his bones and easing his shaking hands. His mansion was equipped with everything they had needed to stitch Danny back together. Though he feared that some of the wounds would never fully heal, all ghosts were by nature, emotional creatures and this event would surely leave a mark on the young man.

The fire was the only company he and the still unconscious Danny, Jazz had left a while ago to go fetch the few things they might need. She hadn't believed what he had told her about Maddie and Jack but after she had seen the video … it was like she settled into an older version of herself. Vlad felt sorry for her and Danny. Having to grow up so fast was never a good thing.

He looked over to the bed where Danny was lying. Ectoplasm-infused nylon held his arm together, they were also used to close the Y-incision, of course, he would have no idea if Danny's body would react the same as his body does. Danny had been hit with a lot more energy than he had. That alone would cause a huge difference between them. There were other things to take into consideration too, but he can't think of them now.

Danny stirred, and he appeared next to his bed, Danny moaned and moved some more before he shot up.

"Clam down Danny, everything is fine, you're safe." Vlad said standing a bit away from him. Danny looked around, seeming to not hear him. Vlad gave him his space not wanting to be seen as a treat. Danny had been cradling his arm in his lap, his left arm supported his weight. Danny's eyes were dazed when he finally looked over to Vlad.

"They – they didn't be -believe me. Thought I was … an evil monster… How could – how could they do – do this to me." Vlad could only see the broken boy in front of him, even though the dull haze he could see the sad and hurt look in his eyes.

Words failed him at that moment how could he say yes? How could he confirm what Danny had lost in a few hours and try to make it sound comforting? How could he do anything that would not push Danny into despair more?

At that moment Jazz came into the room holding two bags, her hair wild and a sweat clear on her face, her breathing was also irregular. All signs that she had been running and her eyes immediately settled on Danny. Her hands moved to cover her heart, almost like she was trying to stop her heart. She took small steps towards Danny never taking her eyes from him.

Danny did the same he looked at her and he tried to cover his wounds with the blanket, when she saw this she quickly closed the distance between them and stopped him. She pulled the blanket away to look at the stitches on his chest and arm. Her hand floated over the cuts, twitching ever so often as her eyes welled up with tears.

She closed her eyes allowing the tears to spill forward, running down her cheeks and making soft thuds onto the bed. Being very careful she pulled him into a hug and stroked his head.

"I'm so sorry Danny. I should have been there for you." Jazz almost whispered to him. Vlad saw how Danny's uninjured arm moved up hesitantly to hug his sister back. "It's not your fault, Danny … They are m-monster for what they did... Don't you ever b-blame yourself." She whispered to him her voice breaking every now and again with tears.

A small smile spread across his face, he didn't think he would have been able to reach Danny like that. Vlad was sure that with Jazz here, he would be fine. After all, it had always been Jazz that had looked after Danny.