"At last, we're here." Jimmy said as they appeared in Danny's world. "From here, we can officially start hitting the Syndicate where it hurts."
"What was the plan for if you came here instead of Traverse Town?" Donald asked.
"To stop the Syndicate from draining the energy in each of our worlds. Whatever they're using it for clearly won't bode well for us if we let them continue, so we have to focus on disrupting Vlad's operation here." The boy genius explained. "I fear they may have gotten even further ahead with what happened, but the sooner we get this done, the better. We'll simply map out everything going on in Amity Park here in Danny's school and then work from there."
"That sounds like a swell plan, Jimmy!" Spongebob liked the idea. "Following your plan should make things go like the pickles in a perfect patty!"
Looking around at their surroundings, Goofy couldn't help but say, "Hey Danny, you never told us your school was all old-fashioned."
"Old fashioned?" Danny blinked at that description. "How?"
"Like the stone walls, the torches on the walls, the stained glass windows…" Goofy pointed out.
At that, everyone else looked at what the captain of the royal knights was talking about. Indeed, instead of a school building, they appeared to be in some kind of stone castle. Quite possibly a throne room as a matter of fact. There was a carpet along the floor, a large gate ahead of them, torches hanging on the wall, and to their sides, stained glass windows depicting…
"Yeah, this isn't my school." The ghost boy immediately confirmed, seeing Vlad Plasmius on those windows.
"But that can't be right!" The boy genius didn't get it. "I know for certain I got the coordinates in correctly. What mistake could I possibly have made?"
"Oh, you've made no mistake."
At that, all our heroes turned to see none other than Vlad Plasmius floating in the air with his arms crossed and a knowing smirk on his face. Floating down a staircase that would look as though they were steps towards a throne, the group saw not a royal throne, but in fact some kind of device where a green, swirling portal was formed within. It appeared to charge power through pipes. Not to mention, the very next moment, they were surrounded by Syndicate Grunts, new Heartless, and other enemies, forcing the group to ready their weapons for an incoming battle.
The Heartless were pale-skinned and possessed the classic ghost tail, donning purple tunics bearing the Heartless emblem. The sleeves ended in white cuffs with gold cufflinks, but the fashionable nature of the tunic was ruined a bit by the torn hemline and a rip on the left side that exposed the monster's rib cage. They also wore white cuffed gloves, but noticeably, there was no flesh or skin connecting the sleeves of the tunic to the ghosts' hands, only a disturbing empty gap. They also bore the traditional Heartless jagged jawline and yellow eyes; however, their wide yellow eyes had black angled spirals on them. In addition, the right eye had been pulled out of the socket, and was only held to the head by a length of silver chain.
Joining the Grunts and the ghost-like Heartless were green-skinned ghosts with broad, muscular torsos, ghost tails, and red eyes. Their uniforms consisted of a dark blue police jacket with green patches on the arms, gray-and-green shoulder guards and gloves, a metallic gray helmet with a green star on a blue visor, and a gray utility belt. In their hands were green batons and gray-and-green riot shields.
"Plasmius." Danny glared at his arch enemy. "Just what have you done?!"
"Oh, hardly anything worth worrying about, Danny." Vlad answered. "I've simply taken up residence at Casper High… or at least, where Casper High once stood. I'm glad you could finally make it. I've been waiting for you all to arrive. One might even say you've kept me waiting too long. Seriously, one thing to be average at school, but…"
"Yeah, yeah, average student at school, blah blah blah." The ghost boy rolled his eyes. "Seriously, the academic shots are getting old, even for you."
"Is this one of the Syndicate guys?" Sora asked, holding his Jungle King Keyblade.
"Yeah. Vlad Plasmius." Jimmy confirmed as he held his Tornado Blaster, Goddard growling at the enemies. "One of the founding members of the Syndicate."
"Oh look, even your new friends recognize greatness." Vlad took a look at his enemy's allies. "A boy genius, an average kid, a sea sponge, and a whole bunch of otherworlders from another universe entirely. And the one with the key must be Sora."
At that, all our heroes looked shocked. Vlad knew who Sora was? Could Skulker have informed him of their activities, or was the Syndicate already aware since Wonderland? Either way, Vlad knowing who Sora was no doubt meant nothing good. Danny knew that from experience. He was always hyper focused on knowing everything about the ghost boy to mess with his head.
"How do you know my name?" Sora asked.
"You'd be surprised by how I discovered that, and so much more about you, but why spoil it?" The ghost man asked back, a knowing smirk still plain as day on his face. "After all, we've yet to begin the main event."
"Well, sorry, we were tardy." Danny retorted, ready to crack some skulls. "Let's get the party started, then."
At that, his arch nemesis simply laughed and replied, "Oh, it's not that simple, Danny. I have the upper hand."
With a snap of his fingers, two ghosts rolled in a pair of ecto-cages with one person in each of them. Seeing who they were made Danny gasp. One of them was a large and bulky man, with black hair with some white in the back. He wore an orange jumpsuit with black gloves and boots. The other one was a beautiful woman with a curvy figure, wearing a blue rubber jumpsuit with long black gloves and boots. Her suit also had a black belt with one pouch. She was wearing her jumpsuit hood, along with a pair of black lab goggles with red lenses. The two of them appeared unconscious, with green, glowing handcuffs on their wrists.
Upon seeing the two hostages, Danny couldn't help but glare hard towards his enemy with a growl, his eyes even glowing a bit.
"Oh, no need to look like that." The evil ghost hybrid waved off the boy's animosity. "It's quite simple how this can be resolved. All you need to do is join me, and I will let them go."
"Don't give me that!" The young halfa retorted. "We both know that's a lie. You wouldn't let mo– er, that lady go just as much as you couldn't let go of d– uh, that guy I don't know. And I told you before, I only use my powers for good!"
Goofy was apparently the only one in the group to have managed to catch Danny's slips as he looked at him with a curious expression on his face. He also looked toward the people Plasmius was holding hostage. Perhaps the ghost boy was trying to hide some kind of connection he had to them? The captain of the royal knights could only ponder just what that might be from how he reacted. But at the same time, they were in a bit of a sticky situation right now.
"Come now, try to be reasonable." Vlad told him. "You cannot resist, Danny. The Syndicate cannot be defeated. With every passing moment, this ghost portal provides us with power for the Syndicate's ultimate plan, and provides me with unlimited ghost energy. I've already taken over the entirety of Amity Park and there's literally nothing stopping us from conquering other worlds as well. Think about it. You can pretend all you want, but all this power definitely sounds appealing, doesn't it?"
"Says you!" Sora told him off. "Do you honestly think Danny would join you when you're using hostages to get your way? No way we're letting you do as you please with the worlds!"
"He's right! I'll NEVER join you!" Danny told Vlad off.
The archvillain could only sigh as he seemed to shrug, as if saying 'he tried'.
"I'll admit that perhaps I came on a bit too strong. After all, you only just arrived to see your entire home changed and you were in shock over the situation at hand." He said. "You'll have plenty of time to consider my offer further…"
He then smirked as his hands glowed with purple energy.
"...as you rot for eternity in the Ghost Zone Prison!" And with that, he fired beams at our heroes!
Our heroes tried defending themselves as best they could against the attack, but unfortunately they ended up taking the brunt of it thanks to the enemies keeping them at bay. One by one, they were knocked out thanks to Vlad's powers or even the ghost guards taking out their batons and shocking them with them like highly energized tasers. Donald and Tarzan got knocked out by riot shields. Goofy, Goddard, and Spongebob got shocked by the batons. Danny, Jimmy and Timmy were held in tight grips. Sora, so far the only one left, held on his own, but then he felt himself get grabbed by the throat and held in the air. He stared right into the red eyes of Vlad Plasmius and his wide, smug smirk.
"Now, as for you, Sora, while you're going to the same place as your new friends," he told him, "I have a special cell in mind for you. Enjoy your first taste of the Ghost Zone."
And with that, the last thing Sora saw before consciousness left him was Vlad's glowing fist shooting right for his face.
Timmy Turner ended up waking up a while later. That honestly could have gone better in his honest opinion. But how were they supposed to expect they were going to drop in enemy territory the moment they disembarked? Not to mention being embarrassingly taken down after managing to succeed at almost everything else so far. What could possibly make this day get any worse?
"Guh, that guy's been drinking some ghost version of a super protein shake…" he groaned.
Looking around, he saw he was not the only one regaining his senses. There was Danny, Jimmy, Spongebob, Donald, Goofy, and Tarzan, but for some reason they were all wearing the black-and-white stripes of prison garbs, not to mention having similar cuffs to those the hostages had back in Vlad's throne room. He saw no sign of his fairy godparents, which was worrying in of itself, not even Goddard. He looked at himself, seeing he was in the same outfit and wearing the same cuffs. Even his hat was black and white!
"Where are we now?" Timmy asked. "Last I checked, we were all getting our butts kicked in Vlad's castle, and now we're… wherever this place is."
"Nowhere good, I can tell you that." Donald looked around, seeing they were trapped in a prison cell with bars glowing an ethereal blue.
"This… cage. Us, trapped." Tarzan tried to remove the bars, but he felt himself get shocked when his hands made contact. "Agh!"
"Easy there, Tarzan." Jimmy told him as he put a hand on the ape man's shoulder. "It looks like this 'cage' has a system installed to give anyone trying to escape a shock."
"Worse than that." Danny immediately knew what this place was. "Guys, we're not in the living world anymore."
"Well, well, well, so you finally decided to wake up, punk."
A southern accent got their attention as they looked to see someone approaching their cell. Danny immediately grimaced, recognizing another ghost he had to deal with. A towering man with pale white skin, green eyes, and a brawny face which resembled a skull to go with his broad frame. He wore a black trilby with a crooked top, black monochrome suit with a black pocket handkerchief, gray buttons, black tie, white undershirt, pointed shoulders, striped belt with a gray buckle, black pointed shoes, and striped pants. He seemed to have a white glow around his being matching his skin and attire.
"Walker?" Danny groaned.
"You know him? If so, can you tell me where he got that tie?" Spongebob gained a confused stare from the ghost hero, causing the fry cook to chuckle awkwardly. "Sorry, I am a sponge with high taste in ties."
"Good to know you boys have been getting nice and cozy in there. You should be." The ghost told them. "You're in my world now, and it's where you're going to stay."
Danny was not amused, "Should've figured even you would be on Plasmius' payroll."
"Hardly, ghost kid." The ghost, Walker, replied. "The two of us just have an understanding. With the new world order being placed on your world, a new system of rules is in place. Plasmius keeps trouble out of the Ghost Zone, and in return they send any criminals unwilling to seek reform by joining the Syndicate here under heavy lock and key. Criminals like you."
"Criminals get reformed by joining an evil organization here…?" Goofy couldn't help but note. "That doesn't make much sense."
"Who's the control freak over here?" Timmy asked Danny.
"The oversized ton of fun is Walker, warden of the Ghost Zone Prison." The ghost boy replied. "And despite all his talk of rules, he's usually just locking everybody who breaks his rules up in here." Then to the warden, Danny continued, "You also couldn't hold me last time I was here. What makes you think you can this time?"
"I've made some changes around here, boy!" Walker seemed to keep his composure. "This prison is now just as effective against you and your kind as it is against ghosts. Allow me to demonstrate."
Walker then took out a remote device and pressed the button towards Danny. In that same instant, Danny could feel his body getting shocked by several jolts of electricity before dropping to the ground. All his friends helped him get back up before giving the warden a shared glare. The ghost simply scoffed and put the device away. He made his point.
"Thanks to those cuffs," he explained, "you are no longer able to use your powers OR change back into your other form in order to escape. The same goes for your partners in crime. Plasmius told me about the kind of abilities they possessed, so I took the liberty of confiscating your weapons and having you in those cuffs so you couldn't use your powers either. Enjoy the rest of your eternity here, because it's the only place you'll spend it."
With that, Walker, ahem, walked off, and the group just heard the sound of his footsteps trailing away until they were too distant to be heard. Left by themselves, our heroes wondered just how they were going to get out of this situation. Their weapons confiscated and their abilities practically locked away, this was not exactly a great start. But still, they had to at least figure something out. But then they realized something incredibly crucial.
"Wait a roughhousing Texan minute!" Spongebob counted their numbers and found one was missing. "Where's Sora?"
"Sora, not here." Tarzan looked around at the outside of their cell. He didn't see any sign of the keybearer in the vicinity.
"If he's not in here with us, then Walker must have put him somewhere else in this place!" Danny realized. "That can only be bad news for him."
Indeed, in another block of the prison, Sora was just getting up with a sore face. He tried rubbing the spot where he'd get an ice pack on if he had one, but he also felt like something heavy was placed on his arms. The boy tried shaking his head to make his vision less blurry as reality set in. Sure enough, once it cleared, he saw that his wrists were held in high tech cuffs. Not to mention his clothes had been replaced with a black and white striped prison garb. He looked around and saw he was inside a large box-like containment unit made of green energy.
Outside of that, he could see more cells with closed bars, and other prisoners being held behind them. Not to mention the area was a heavy shade of purple. There appeared to be some form of generator attached to a console by several pipes that also connected to the barrier. The prisoners he could barely see had green skin and red eyes. And a lot of them looked miserable being in this place. His attention was then caught by a tired yawn.
Looking up to his hair, he saw Gadget, who apparently didn't get caught and was still in her mechanic's outfit, waking up.
"Ohhh… what happened?" Gadget asked. "Where are we?"
"Beats me, Gadget." Sora told her, holding his hands up so she could get onto them. "But it looks like we're stuck in… whatever this place is."
"You're in the Ghost Zone Prison, boy. Specifically, a cell meant to hold someone of your… unique powers."
Gadget immediately got back into Sora's hair as the keybearer looked to who addressed him. Outside of the barrier was a man with gray scaled skin, a black bandana on his head, camo-patterned pants, black combat boots, a black side pouch over his left hip, spiked bracers on the wrists, a plated arm bangle on his left arm, a bright red cape over his shirtless body, a black eye patch over his left eye, and possessing a lizard-like tail and spinal ridge. He also had black facial hair resembling shark gills on his chin. All in all, hardly a pleasant looking figure, and Sora knew it perfectly well.
"Who are you?" Sora asked.
"Vice-Warden Bullet." The ghost introduced himself. "And the guy who's going to make sure you stay put for the rest of your 5,000 year sentence."
"5,000 years?!" Sora exclaimed, incredulous at the large number. "What did I even do?"
Pulling out a book, Bullet listed from it, "Open rebellion and one count of assault against the current leader of the human world, multiple counts of interference in Syndicate affairs, aiding and abetting Public Enemy No. 1: Danny Phantom, using an unauthorized weapon, using a weapon without a license, illegally parking an unregistered spacecraft in Syndicate space, piloting an unregistered spacecraft, piloting a spacecraft without a license, need I say more?"
"Oh come on!" The keybearer complained. "A lot of those aren't even actual crimes!"
"Adding 'questioning of authority' to the list." The vice-warden noted before closing the book. "You can add as many misdemeanors as you want. After all, someone of your mortality is going to be a ghost before you reach adulthood. Even if you call your weapon back, without any door for you to open, escape is unlikely. And your cellmates are useless as they are in general."
With that, Bullet turned to walk off, ordering two guards, "Keep guard of this cell."
"Yes, sir." The guards saluted and of course stood in front of the barrier, turning their backs to it.
Bullet then walked out of the room, leaving Sora to his own devices. The wielder of the Keyblade couldn't help but groan as Gadget popped out once again.
"Great. Mom always told me that jails were a bad place to be." He said. "I didn't think I'd actually be in one in another world. I'd take arguing in space over this!"
"Sora, we should think about how we can get out of this cell." Gadget told him. "Right now, we're separated from our friends, and like that guy said, it doesn't look like there's any easy way out of this place."
"Hold on," Sora just remembered, "didn't he say something about cellmates?"
He looked around his prison, and indeed there were two other people in the cell with him. One was a short, somewhat round man with blue skin and short black hair. He too was wearing the striped prison wear on his being. The other one appeared black and white, like he came out of a 50s era movie or animation, with black hair in a fashion similar to a bowl or bob cut, three freckles above each cheek and gray eyes, most likely to play on his black-and-white themed image. He wore wire-framed glasses, completing his nerdy image. The two of them also had cuffs around their wrists. Sora had to wonder what was up with these.
"Uh, hey there," Sora greeted the pair, getting their attention, "my name's–"
"I AM THE BOX GHOOOST!"
Sora was NOT prepared for the round one's apparent lack of volume control.
"BEWARE, MISPLACED MORTAL!" He warned Sora. "YOU ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF HE WHO HAS CONTROL OVER ALL THINGS SQUARE AND CARDBOARD ALONG WITH ALL CONTAINED WITHIN! WHO ARE YOUUU?"
Or his bombastic manner of speech.
"Um…" The keybearer blinked as he didn't expect that. "My name's Sora. Nice to meet you?"
"Don't mind him. He usually talks like that." The other one spoke in a rather nasally voice. "I'm Sidney. Sidney Poindexter. I'd say it's nice to meet you… but current circumstances being what they are, this isn't really a great place to meet someone new."
"Yeah, shaking hands might be hard in these." Sora agreed, looking at the cuffs they all shared.
"That's one way of putting it." Sidney sniffed.
All in all, a pair of odd… ghosts, Sora supposed. Having hung around Danny long enough, not to mention dealing with two of Danny's enemies by now, kinda made it clear to him that ghosts were a normal thing in his world. These guys didn't look like they were all that bad, though. Eccentric, maybe, but probably not bad. Perhaps getting to know them would be a good thing.
"So, what are you guys in for?" Sora figured he'd start things off.
"Well, I–" Sidney was about to answer, but the Box Ghost cut him off.
"THE GHOST ZONE POLICE DEPARTMENT FEARED THAT I, THE BOX GHOOOST, WOULD BE TOO POWERFUL FOR EVEN THE SYNDICATE TO CONTROL, SO THEY PURSUED ME TO TRY AND IMPRISON ME IN THIS BOX OF IRON!" The Box Ghost spoke loudly, "BUT I, THE BOX GHOOOST, DID NOT GO DOWN WITHOUT AN IMMENSE CLASH OF WILLS! BUT EVEN THOUGH MY POWERS OVER ALL PACKAGING WERE GREAT, AS WELL AS MY BINDS OF EXTRA STRENGTH BUBBLE WRAP, THE GZPD, COWARDS THAT THEY WERE, TOOK ME, THE BOX GHOOOST, BY SURPRISE AND SO, HERE I AM, TEMPORARILY KEPT IN THIS BOX UNTIL I EVENTUALLY CAN MAKE MY ESCAPE. AND THEN, THE GZPD WILL RUE THE DAY THEY UNDERESTIMATED ME, THE BOX GHOOOST!"
As the Box Ghost told his story, he moved his arms, as much as he could in cuffs anyway, and floated about to paint an overly dramatic picture. Sora was in complete awe of this, his eyes practically sparkling in amazement. Sidney, and Gadget for that matter, did not really share Sora's enthusiasm.
"Wow…!" Sora looked at the Box Ghost in awe. "Did that all really happen?"
"No. He fled and the GZPD easily caught him before he could get far." The nerdy ghost deadpanned. "Again."
"HEY!" The Box Ghost took offense to that. "HE DIDN'T NEED TO KNOW THAT!"
"Anyway," the monochrome ghost began, "I got put in here because, unlike most other ghosts in the Ghost Zone, I didn't want to be part of what the Syndicate was doing."
"Really?" The keybearer was surprised, pleasantly so, to hear that.
"Yeah. I mean, bullying's one thing, and I protected nerds and special kids from that." Sidney explained. "But outright taking over the human world? That's going too far, don't you think?"
"Oh yeah, of course." Sora nodded, completely getting what Sidney meant. "So, they put you in here since you wouldn't cooperate."
"Well… that and I'm not exactly a fighter to begin with." The black-and-white ghost admitted sheepishly. "I was often a victim of bullying in my days in life. It got so bad that it practically became a graduation requirement to bully me once!"
"That sounds… stupidly abusive." The islander blinked.
"Yeah, welcome to my world." And Sidney knew it perfectly well.
"Alright…" The keybearer got to looking around their cell. "So, have you guys thought of any way out of this place?"
"OF COURSE WE HAVE, SPIKY-HEADED HUMAN!" The Box Ghost boomed. "BUT NOT EVEN MY, THE BOX GHOOOST'S, POWER COULD CREATE AN OPENING, DESPITE ITS OBVIOUSLY CUBICAL SHAPE! AND THESE CUFFS LIMIT THE FULL EXPANSE OF MY, THE BOX GHOOOST'S, GREAT POWER!"
"I… don't really have any powers that help with that." Sidney cleared his throat sheepishly.
"Ah, so we'll have to think of something else then." Sora could see. "Maybe if we put our heads together, we can figure something out!"
"ALRIGHT, THEN THE BOX GHOOOST SHALL USE HIS HEAD!" The Box Ghost agreed…
And then charged towards the barrier, trying to headbutt it. However, the moment he hit the wall, he got shocked by several volts of electricity. The guards, knowing full well there was no escape from inside the cell, didn't even budge. If anything, the two of them were busy just minding their own business with their own conversation. Not even bothering to look towards the Box Ghost suffering, as if it was a normal occurrence.
"So, you heard about Pariah's Keep disappearing a while ago?" The first guard asked.
"C'mon, you know just mentioning that place gives me the chills. And we're ghosts." The second guard told him. "Besides, you really expect me to believe something like that just vanishes from the Ghost Zone?"
"How else can it be said?" The first one replied. "For a while, Pariah's Keep was there, with everybody just keeping away from it so… he wouldn't be set free again. Then all of a sudden, it's gone. Into the dark void that is deeper into the Ghost Zone. Some people are freaking out. Me? I'm just glad we won't have to deal with that anytime soon."
"Yeah, when you put it that way," the second one shrugged, "our gigs are pretty cushy now."
Then at last, the Box Ghost was sent rolling back before coming to a stop in front of Sora and Sidney, his body sparking and covered in comical soot. The keybearer walked to the ghost's side, checking to see if he was alright. Sidney just fixed his glasses, having expected this. The boy looked to the ghost who was once his age and looked as though he was about to ask if the Box Ghost was okay, but the nerdy ghost simply held out his hand and pointed upward with one finger, telling him to just give it a minute. Sure enough, the bombastic ghost got right back up!
"MISERABLE SQUARE-SHAPED OBSTACLE!" The Box Ghost of course proclaimed loudly, "THOUGH YOU MAY HAVE BESTED THE BOX GHOOOST'S SKULL, I SHALL… oh, what's the use?"
All of a sudden, the Box Ghost lost all his bluster and looked depressed. He then floated past his cellmates and then just sat down right on the floor, legs crossed and wrists still in cuffs. Practically like a deflating balloon, all of the specter's energy just seemed to go out in an instant. It was a rather sad sight to see.
So, Sora went to try cheering the poor guy up.
"Is everything okay?" He asked. "If it's about the barrier, we could just think of something else."
"Like it's going to work." The once boisterous ghost replied. "You saw how well it went. No door to pick or break down, no way I can use my powers thanks to these cuffs…" he held up his wrists to emphasize them, "no way to force the barrier open without getting electrocuted– we're basically trapped with no way to escape."
"Hey now," Sora sat down next to him, "what happened to the all powerful Box Ghost, master of all things square and cardboard?"
"You see that poster over there?" The Box Ghost looked over to the back of the room.
Sora looked at that back wall and indeed there was a poster on it. Sora recognized those kinds of posters. Wanted posters. Basically posters with the faces of criminals on them along with a reward for whoever caught them. And on that one was none other than the Box Ghost.
"Hey, that's pretty neat!" The boy said. "You got your own wanted poster!"
Sora looked at the wanted poster… and then found there was a bit more to it. To the left of 'WANTED' was the word 'NOT'. And the reward for catching the Box Ghost? A measly $2.50. Apparently that was the best offer (it even said so on the poster). Sora, and even Gadget, couldn't help but wince at it.
"Wow… that's just mean…" The islander muttered.
"But not inaccurate." The Box Ghost said. "Compared to nearly any other ghost in the Ghost Zone, I'm a laughing stock AND a nobody. Some ghosts have living shadows, powers over meat, have all these gadgets, can grant wishes, feed off people's misery, get stronger from people's praise, and other neat stuff. What do I get? Powers over boxes and the dumb stuff others pack away in them only to forget about."
"For what it's worth, my powers are pretty lackluster too." Sidney tried cheering him up as well.
All it really accomplished was a moment of awkward silence, followed by an unfortunate realization, and then Poindexter ended up sitting right next to the Box Ghost, just as depressed. Sora just scratched his head as he stared at the two of them. Well this wasn't going to get them anywhere. The chosen wielder of the Keyblade couldn't stand just seeing these two like this. Seriously, the more he looked at them, the more he felt like he was going to get depressed!
"Well, I think you guys are cool." Sora told the two of them, sitting down by their side.
"You're just saying that." The normally boisterous ghost replied.
"No, really." He shook his head. "I mean, just look at you. You have the power to control boxes, right? Basically take whatever's in them and hurl them at people like they're weapons?"
"It's more like they just get sent flying at people and they just easily dodge–" The Box Ghost went to explain, but surprisingly to him, Sora kept going.
"You can probably just use your powers to seal people in boxes too." He said. "Seriously, with powers like that, there's actually a whole lot that you could do."
Now that first part actually made the Box Ghost think. Despite his depression, he was still interested in ways that he could improve his powers and standing in the Ghost Zone. Hearing a human, one of those he tries to scare, actually praising his work was pretty surprising. Not to mention the way he just offered help so readily. And with a new idea too!
"Seal people… in boxes?" He considered that train of thought. "Huh… I never thought of that."
"Well yeah, it's not like boxes are just meant to be opened, right?" The bearer of the key figured. "Why wouldn't they do the opposite?"
"Hm… makes sense…" He continued pondering on that.
"And you," Sora looked over to Sidney, "who said you needed interesting powers? Doesn't the fact that you refused to join with the others make you stand out more?"
"In a good and bad way, yes." The monochrome specter adjusted his glasses.
"It still takes a whole lot of guts to stand for what you believe is right." Sora told him. "I mean, anyone who takes a stand against bullying is someone decent in my book."
"Hey, yeah," Sidney stood back up, "I mean, if I don't do it, who will?"
"And hey, if you got powers over all boxes and all things like boxes," the keybearer told the Box Ghost, "who's to say that you can't handle this box-shaped force field, right?"
"Hey, yeah… you're right!" The Box Ghost smiled as he floated back up, regaining his, ahem, spirit. "I AM THE BOX GHOOOST! SO WHAT IF THE FIRST SEVERAL ATTEMPTS DIDN'T WORK? THE BOX GHOST WILL NOT BE CONQUERED BY ONE MERE BOX!"
Sora smiled as the two ghosts regained their confidence. Nothing made his day better than helping someone get a smile back on their face. And hey, if it worked to get them motivated to work together to break out, that was just as good too. It made him feel good. Not to mention the possibility of making new friends was good too.
"Nice work telling them what they wanted to hear, Sora." Gadget congratulated him. "This should make it a bit easier if they helped us with escaping this place."
"What?" He asked his mousey companion. "What do you mean? I meant what I said."
"Really?" Gadget was surprised to hear that, considering the whole box obsession one of them had.
"Yeah. Why would I lie about that?" Sora raised a brow at that.
"...You're a good person, Sora." She smiled fondly as she nestled into his hair.
Sora blinked, not quite getting what Gadget was talking about.
"But there's still one problem…" Sidney pointed out, taking Sora's mind off of it. "How do we get these cuffs off?"
"YES, THAT IS TRUE!" The Box Ghost said, holding up his wrists. "AS POWERFUL AS MY POWERS ARE, THESE HANDCUFFS PREVENT ME FROM USING THEM IN ANY USEFUL CAPACITY!"
"Hmmm… Let me see…" Sora then decided to concentrate.
He closed his eyes and held his arms forward, opening his right hand. The two ghosts watched him, wondering just what he was doing. Sora took a deep breath, and silently called for it, hoping that this gamble would pay off… and then, with a flash, the Keyblade appeared in his hand! Sora opened his eyes, happy to see it worked. The two ghosts, all the while, just gazed upon the Keyblade in awe.
"Woah, what is that?" Sidney asked. "It looks like some kind of giant key!"
"Well in a way, it basically is." Sora explained. "Now, let's see if my hunch is right…"
The boy then held his Keyblade up to the cuffs on both ghosts and tapped both twice each. Immediately after, the cuffs unlocked and fell to the floor, freeing them. They looked at their freed hands, amazed by what they had just seen. Looking to his own cuffs, Sora then began trying to adjust his weapon so it would tap them. Obviously, he had some trouble. Fortunately for him, the grateful ghosts helped him out by getting his hands to hold the Keyblade at just the right angle for it to tap the lock.
Sure enough, Sora too was free and the cuffs fell from his wrists.
"Alright!" Sora held his Keyblade properly while feeling up his wrists. "Thanks guys!"
"NO, THANK YOU, SPIKY ONE," the Box Ghost boomed, "FOR SHOWING US THAT CONSTANT PERSEVERANCE PREVAILS!"
"Well, that or a large key that has to be magic." The nerdy ghost shrugged.
"Hey, what's going on in there?" The guards finally noticed the scene going on the barrier. "How did you get those cuffs off?"
"Alright guys, it's time we get this breakout started!" Sora readied his Keyblade. "Hey, Box Ghost, think you could control this box-shaped barrier?"
"WITH ME, THE BOX GHOOOST, FREE OF THOSE WRIST-STRAINING HANDCUFFS," the Box Ghost smirked as his hands began to glow, "THIS SO-CALLED PRISON CELL IS NOW JUST ANOTHER TOOL IN MY GRASP!"
With that, the Box Ghost thrust his hands outward, and the barrier suddenly began to expand. When the guards tried breaking through, they only just realized that the barrier was moving towards them, so they tried getting away. However, the speed of the cell's expansion only increased, and soon the barrier smashed them into the wall, along with destroying the generator that was powering the barrier! With the guards unconscious, the generator destroyed, and the barrier destroyed, Sora and his newfound allies were free! Not just them either; the other prisoners, watching this, saw their cell bars basically fall apart from the pressure of the barrier's expansion, and saw fit to begin escaping in droves.
"Alright!" The keybearer pumped his fist. "Now, let's see if we can find a way out of here!"
"I actually recommend we get our outfits first." Poindexter pointed out. "They, and all our things, should be in the storage room."
"THE BOX GHOST TIRES OF BEING IN STRIPES!" The Box Ghost shouted. "LET US MAKE HASTE!"
Sora could see that was a good idea. As he ran along with his two new friends, he hoped he could find the others and free them as well.
All the while, back with Sora's friends, they were busy trying to formulate a plan to escape and find him. Of course, they had also felt a rumble shake through the prison, distracting them from their thoughts.
"Attention all personnel!" They could hear Walker's voice on the intercom. "Prisoners have begun causing a riot in L Block. Quell the riot and apprehend the prisoners at once!"
"A riot in the losers' quarters?" One of the guards in the room asked one of his fellow guards. "How did that happen?"
"Beats me, but whatever it is, it can't be that bad." The guard he asked replied. "We'll just be done there and be back here in a couple minutes."
With that, the guards left the area, leaving our heroes to themselves in their cells.
"I guess we have a hint about where Sora might be." Timmy said. "But at the same time, we might not have to worry about him right now."
"Still, we have to regroup with him as soon as possible." Jimmy said, inspecting the cell bars. "But first, how do we escape?"
"Oh, I think I can solve that issue!"
Just then, Jiminy Cricket popped out of Goofy's prison outfit, right before jumping towards the cell bars. Thanks to his small size, he could manage to fit through the gap and figure out a way to open the cell from there! …Or at least, that could've been the case. Instead, the cricket just phased through the bars like they weren't even there! Everyone save for Danny looked surprised by this.
"Wait, what?" Donald voiced it first. "How–?"
"That's one of the things the living have over ghosts. Everything may look and feel solid, but that's just thanks to the cuffs." Danny said. "Here, we're the ghosts. Without the cuffs, they can't do a thing to us."
"But then how did they not notice Jiminy?" Goofy asked.
"It appears that they hadn't noticed me due to my small size." The royal chronicler explained. "Guess it really pays to be a small guy, huh?"
"Ant small… but ant strong." Tarzan understood that line of thinking.
"But how do you expect to get us out?" Timmy asked. "It's not like these bars have locks."
"Yeah… that does kinda make it a little more difficult…" Spongebob admitted, scratching his head and stroking his chin in thought. Notably with ease. A whole lot of ease. So much ease that the fry cook ended up feeling like he was being watched. He looked and saw all of his friends were busy staring at him with wide eyes. "...What? Is there something on my face?"
"...Spongebob," Timmy began slowly, "how did you get your cuffs off?"
Spongebob looked at his arms, and indeed, they were free from the cuffs. He then realized the issue and basically laughed good-naturedly.
"Oh, that." He explained. "Well, since I'm a sea sponge, I could easily take off my limbs and they can just regrow back, good as new. The cuffs kinda made it hard to scratch an itch I was having, so I basically removed my arms, got new ones, and began scratching. Pretty funny, huh?"
Everyone looked to the ground. Indeed, there were Spongebob's old arms still in cuffs. They all gave him flat looks. The yellow sponge could tell the silence between them all was getting awkward. So, with a nervous chuckle, he walked out of the cage, phasing through the bars, joining Jiminy outside.
"Ok, moving on," Jimmy Neutron said, "there should be a device that opens this cell somewhere in this room. See if you guys can find it."
"That should be easy enough." Jiminy Cricket believed, jumping atop Spongebob's head. "Let's take a good look around, Spongebob."
"Aye-aye, Mr. Cricket!" The fry cook saluted and began to search.
The pair began exploring the area, looking for any sign of a device that could open the cell for their friends. They could see the guards erected a gate of electricity preventing them from exploring the prison in full, and no doubt even their current state of phasing through things in this prison were not going to help them with that. They came into another cell where seven sets of bunk beds were up against the walls. A green glow shining through a barred window to the outside world. Spongebob momentarily jumped when he saw a bunch of green rats with red eyes just rush by.
"Guess the warden doesn't care much for sanitation here…" The sea sponge muttered.
"Hm? Hold on there, Spongebob." The cricket got his attention. "It looks like those rats were chewing at something…"
The number one fry cook watched as Jiminy hopped from his head and headed to the north end of the cell. There, one of the bricks was missing from the wall, but there also appeared to be a red circuit with some teeth marks in the covering, revealing a slightly sparking wire within. Spongebob cautiously walked towards it and inspected the damage. He had seen this a couple times in the Krusty Krab. He figured Mr. Krabs would get that problem fixed one of these days. Maybe he was too busy with more important work.
…Though it was probably more likely he was busy being a cheapskate as per the norm, but Spongebob didn't think badly of his boss.
"If I were to make an educated guess," he heard Jiminy say, "this might be connected to that gate just outside this block. If we manage to cut off the power completely, we could take down that gate and potentially free our friends."
"But we'll probably need something to take all that electricity down." The fry cook said. "Where can we find something like that if we're basically going to phase through everything?"
Jiminy hopped back onto Spongebob's head and reminded him, "Spongebob, your old arms are still cuffed to high-tech handcuffs, remember? I don't normally advise it, but why not use that?"
The sea sponge, realizing Jiminy's logic, replied, "Hey, that's a great idea!"
With that, Spongebob quickly rushed back over to his friends and carefully reached for the cuffs through the gaps between the bars. Once he got them, he quickly ran back, telling the others, "We should have you out in just a second, guys! Hold tight!"
Rushing back into the cell with the bunk beds, the yellow sponge ran towards the wall with the sparking circuit and threw the cuffs at it. A direct hit! The cuffs, along with Spongebob's old set of arms, took the electricity and disrupted the flow of power. Sure enough, once the cuffs were finished being electrocuted, they dropped to the floor, steaming hot while his old arms turned to ash. Outside, the gate deactivated, and the cell holding his friends captive opened! The group all reunited in the center of the room, cheering about this.
"Alright, now that we're free, let's find Sora!" Goofy said, Jiminy hopping back onto Goofy's hat.
"Wait, but we still got these on!" Donald brought up the elephants in the room, the handcuffs and the prison suits. "How are we supposed to fight, especially without our weapons?"
"Oh yeah, that would make things hard…" Goofy recalled.
"Looks like we're doing this stealthily." Jimmy Neutron considered. "Be careful when going through the prison, guys. It will be difficult for us to fight like this."
"We should make our way to the storage room." Danny said. "That should be where they're keeping all our stuff."
"Hopefully we'll find Cosmo and Wanda around here too." The average kid brought up. "I haven't seen them with us since I got up…"
"Cosmo? Wanda?" Tarzan blinked, not recognizing the names.
"Long story." Jimmy told the jungle man. "Now, let's hurry to the storage room. But remember, don't get caught."
With that, the group began making their way out on the first step of their escape plan. As they sneaked along, those who were new to the prison made a few observations about the place. Circular vents with green slime leaking from them, barrels of hazardous waste, more cells with more despondent ghosts within them…. Why, even a laundry room they passed was hardly that comforting, seeing as the washing machines dripped with green goop as well. It didn't help that most of the clothes in the laundry bins were just more of the same black and white uniforms.
Eventually, they came towards the cafeteria, where even the slop served was green. Classical prison fare in every sense of the word. Although there also appeared to be a large chicken stick just embedded into the wall next to the gateway leading deeper into the prison… on the second level. But that wasn't the issue they had to currently face. Also in the cafeteria, forcing them to hide just outside the way in, were more guards, but also more of those ghost-like Heartless floating about. And from their open sockets, a yellow light shone from them. From the way they seemed to make a circle of light wherever they looked, there was no denying they acted as makeshift search lights.
"Be honest with me," one of the guards said as he narrowed his eyes at the Heartless, "do we really need these not-ghost-things hanging around? They're creeping me out, and I'm a ghost."
"Not much we can do about it." The other guard replied. "The Warden says these 'Search Ghosts' will keep a sharp eye out for anyone trying to sneak out of the prison. Just don't do anything that'll get 'em wanting to feast on your heart."
"You think they'd want to eat a heart that doesn't even beat?" The first guard asked.
"Eh, some human cultures do that."
"Search Ghosts?" Timmy whispered to his friends as the guards went on their patrol. "They've taken to naming the Heartless, too?"
"Not exactly the most creative of names, but it's the most apt in this situation." Jimmy observed. "Everyone, we have to keep out of their line of sight, so be extra careful."
"But how do we press on?" Jiminy asked. "There's no sign of stairs to get to the second floor."
Tarzan, keeping an eye on their surroundings, noted the ledge overseeing the cafeteria reached to the wall closest to them. He looked at the height of the ledge and couldn't help but notice that some of the bricks were protruding outward from it. He looked at his cuff hands, wondering if what he had in mind could be possible. Well, he wouldn't know unless he tried. So, discreetly, Tarzan managed to hold onto the protruding bricks and began steadily climbing up them with his feet and hands. It was difficult with how his hands were cuffed, but fortunately, the ape man managed to make it to the second level without any issues!
Once the others noticed, they began doing the same thing, though they had Tarzan helping them up. Fortunately managing to avoid being noticed by the guards and the Heartless, the group crept along the ledge, careful not to make any noise, and made it to the hallway moving forward. A hallway lined with locked glass doors with rooms full of those toxic barrels. Some of those very containers were even outside those glass doors! Spongebob had to click his tongue in disappointment and disgust.
"For someone who claims to cherish rules and order," the fry cook commented, "Walker doesn't seem to care much about keeping it cared for."
"Yeah, that guy just loves having his cushy job while bossing people around." The ghost boy said. "Why do you think he's mad at me for basically turning his world upside down and being the one to defy his precious rules?"
"Hey, there it is!" Donald exclaimed, pointing to the end of the hall.
Indeed, a door at the end of the hall awaited them. Above it was a sign labeled 'Storage'. Now, seeing that this was a prison, this probably should have been guarded. However, there didn't appear to be any guards standing before it. Considering the fact that they could hear the sounds of fighting further in the prison, it seemed all hands were on deck dealing with whatever trouble Sora was bringing to them.
Our heroes rushed over to the door and tried to open it. But of course… it was locked. Not that difficult to worry about, it appeared. Spongebob went to try and phase through the door… but ended up finding himself bumping into it!
"Huh? That's odd…" The sea sponge knocked on the door. "I can't go through this one."
"Great, Walker must have upgraded the tech with more than just the cuffs." Danny grunted. "How are we supposed to get our stuff back now?"
Hearing that familiar voice, our heroes quickly ran to the side just as the nearby wall broke apart! Several ghosts in prison garbs flew past them as they all laughed, eager to cause more damage to their captor's domain. Just coming up to them and leading the charge was none other than Sora holding his Keyblade. Everyone was of course happy to see him. Then Danny's eyes caught the keybearer's companions. One in particular.
"Oh. Box Ghost. It's you." Danny said with as much energy as a depressed donkey.
"I AM THE BOX GHOOOST!" The Box Ghost had energy to spare. "THOUGH YOU HAVE OBVIOUSLY COME TO SETTLE OUR FEUD, GHOST BOY…"
"It's not a feud. It's you being annoying."
"...FRET NOT, FOR WE ARE NOT ENEMIES THIS DAY!" The specter ignored that. "WE TOO SEEK TO ESCAPE THIS BOX OF IRON AS WE HAVE BEFORE!"
"Good, at least we're on the same page." Danny looked over to Sora. "How did you manage to make it here with this guy hanging around?"
"Hey, the Box Ghost is cool." Sora defended him. "Without him, we wouldn't have been able to get out of our cell in the first place."
"SEE?" The Box Ghost smiled and gave a thumbs up to Sora. "THIS GUY GETS IT! HE EVEN HAS GOOD IDEAS WHEN IT COMES TO PUTTING BOXES TO USE!"
"Wait, are you telling me you actually gave one of the ghosts I deal with on a regular basis ideas on how to use his powers better?" Danny looked incredulous towards the islander.
"Uh… maybe?" He awkwardly smiled in turn.
Danny groaned and facepalmed, even with the cuffs on. He forgot. Sora would be easily impressed.
"We really need to talk about giving my enemies ideas, dude." The ghost boy told him.
"Anyway, let me take care of those cuffs for you…" Sora then got to work with the Jungle King.
One by one, the cuffs all fell to the ground, and Sora's friends rubbed their wrists to ease the soreness away. That was one problem taken care of. Sora then aimed the key towards the door, and once more, a light shone from the tip and hit the door, with the sound of something unlocking ringing in their ears. The door then opened without any issue and the group of escapees went inside. The storage room was full of shelves with sealed boxes full of confiscated items.
The Box Ghost, knowing this was his time to shine once again, used his powers to take all the boxes and open them up, looking through the contents to find which ones belonged to them. In no time at all did he find his clothes and take them out, as did Sidney. As for our heroes, they managed to find their own clothes and weapons as well. Jimmy was glad to see Goddard was safe, no metal plate out of place as the robo-dog gave him licks. For Timmy, he was glad to see Cosmo and Wanda were alright… if a little frazzled.
"Cosmo! Wanda! You're okay!" The godchild said to his godparents. "What happened to you?"
"We're sorry we couldn't reach you, Timmy." Wanda apologized. "But since they confiscated us in our weapon forms, we were trapped in that box the whole time. For some reason, we couldn't get out."
"Yeah, it was like being stuck in a butterfly net!" Cosmo shivered. "Not to mention stuffy! Wanda took up most of the room there!"
"I beg your pardon?" The pink-haired fairy raised a brow at her husband.
"Uh, nothing, honey!" He quickly denied.
"It's so good to have these back!" Spongebob said as he got his karate gloves and his square pants. "But… how do we change back into these? There's no changing room around here…"
"Not to worry." Donald proudly waved the Warhammer. "I'll take care of this in a snap."
With that, Donald held his staff in the air and concentrated, calling upon his well of magic power to cast a spell he didn't usually cast. Then, with one more wave of his staff, the royal wizard worked his magic, and everyone's outfits began to sparkle. After the sparkles shone brightly in the room, they glowed brightly before immediately fading away. And just like that, everyone was back in their normal outfits, their ghostly temporary allies included.
"Fascinating! So your element manipulator can handle instant clothes-changing as well?" Jimmy was intrigued by this.
"Magic. Staff." Donald spoke slowly, eyes half-closed.
"Riiiiiight…" Jimmy replied back, seeing that this whole 'magic' thing wasn't going to be proven wrong easily. "Alright, now that we got all our items back, we just have to escape this place. Danny, you're the expert when it comes to this world. How can we do that?"
"We're not going to just fly back. This place is practically a floating island." The halfa explained. "Not to mention getting back the normal way would take hours. We're going to need some help. And fortunately, I know someone here who can get us back to the human world easily."
"INDEED, FOR I, THE BOX GHOOOST, HAVE ESCAPED INTO THE HUMAN WORLD MANY TIMES!" The Box Ghost boomed. "WITH MY POWERS, I CAN LEAD US TO–"
"Not you." Danny immediately cut him off. "I mean someone actually useful."
"HEY!" The perpetual joke of the Ghost Zone took offense. "I HAVE FEELINGS TOO, YOU KNOW!"
"It's okay, man." Sora comforted him. "I know you're cool."
"AND THAT'S WHY YOU'RE THE ONLY MORTAL WITH SENSE AROUND HERE!" The Box Ghost told the keybearer, then in a softer volume, he added, "Seriously though, man. I appreciate that. You're a real pal."
"No problem!" Sora gave him a thumbs up back.
Danny, properly facepalming himself again, continued, "There's an inmate called Wulf. He looks like a werewolf, but he's actually a pretty decent guy. We set him free, we get our way back."
"Where Wulf?" Tarzan asked, not knowing Cosmo was laughing at the unintentional pun.
"Walker has him trapped in a confined box in the prison yard." Poindexter explained. "Apparently it's so tight that it prevents him from moving his arms."
"Gee, no wonder ghosts want out of this place," Timmy thought out loud, his opinion of the ghost warden sinking lower than before.
"We better go help this Wulf fella out, quick!" Goofy said, pointing to the door. "It looks like the guards are finally after us!"
Just as Goofy warned, a few GZPD officers along with a bunch of Search Ghosts appeared before them, blocking the way out. The Heartless' eyelights turned red before they began floating towards them. But with the cuffs off and their weapons back in their hands, our heroes were back in fighting condition and began fighting through the Heartless and guards. The Search Ghosts were slow, but they made up for it with their detached hands lunging out to attack. They could even teleport in yellow portals before reappearing in another spot for a surprise attack. However, they were especially weak to physical blows, being taken down easily.
"Ok, with the real threat out of the way," the spectral superhero looked over to the ghost guards still in their way, "we'll just walk through these guys easily."
"Er, I wouldn't go that far, actually." Sidney warned him. "Apparently the guards have upgraded their armor and weapons so they can apprehend people from the living world as well."
"Wow, when Walker said this prison was effective against us, he wasn't kidding." Sora commented.
Even with that in mind, dealing with the guards was not as hard as they figured. Seeing as their main means of defense were their riot shields on top of their ability to go intangible, this was easily mitigated by Danny's own ability to do the same, and the Box Ghost also throwing boxes at them. There were also their stun batons, but Sora deflected them with his Keyblade and knocked them out with a hefty combo. When the enemies were defeated, they left the storage room and continued making their escape. Along the way, they passed by a solitary room with a single metal chair, locked behind a glass gateway with metal hinges and a metal lock. Danny gave that room a glare before they kept going.
They also went past the Warden's office, which consisted of a desk with some paperwork, a rule book, and a microphone on it, along with some shelves containing books and files. In a moment of petty revenge, Danny went ahead and fired some ecto-rays at them, destroying all of Walker's hard work.
"Was that really necessary?" Donald gave Danny a look.
"After everything that's happened today, he deserves it." The ghost boy shrugged back.
"Bullies reap what they sow, after all." Sidney agreed.
Heading down a stairway and moving past the reception area, the heroes saw the way out was open and they immediately rushed out. However, the moment they did, the stairway behind them raised up to reveal large speakers that immediately blared out a siren's wail. From there, the way to the prison yard got blocked by a metal wall and they were surrounded by more guards and Heartless. Not to mention the addition of Syndicate Grunts. Clearly the escape was not going to be easy in its last few stages.
But of course, they continued fighting on, breaking through their enemies and even breaking down the metal wall as well. However, as they found out, the way to directly enter the prison yard was sealed up by another large gate. Fortunately there was a ramp leading up to the prison's outer walls and they figured they could make it to the yard by heading up along there. As they made it up there, and moving past the prison's watchtowers, Danny's allies couldn't help but stare at the scenery outside.
"Gawrsh, look at all that black and green, not to mention all the doors just floatin' everywhere… sure is spooky." Goofy remarked with a shiver.
"Yep, that's this place in a nutshell." Danny confirmed. "Welcome to the Ghost Zone. Hopefully we won't be here longer than we have to. Er, no offense, Sidney."
"Some taken." The monochrome ghost adjusted his glasses.
"Hey, that must be the prison yard!" Spongebob pointed out the large area they were heading towards.
"And that must be Wulf's cage!" Sora noticed the cubical cell just sitting pretty against the wall they stood on. "Let's get him out!"
With that, the group found a gap in the wall's fencing and jumped down into the prison yard, heading towards the cell. Inside was, as Danny explained, a large, muscular ghost resembling a werewolf with black fur, green eyes, green claws on his hands, and large saber teeth. He wore a tattered green shirt and pants, not to mention there was a shackle on his left wrist and a shock collar around his neck. The wolf appeared to recognize Danny as they approached. But he also saw something else…
"Atentu! Estas kaptilo!" He spoke in a language most of the group didn't understand.
"Esperanto?" Jimmy chuckled. "Unusual, to say the least, to hear a lycanthrope speak such an unusual language."
"Is that what surprises you in a place plagued with ghosts who have supervillain gimmicks?" the buck-toothed boy deadpanned.
"Fair enough," the boy genius nodded.
Looking at the large werewolf, Tarzan spoke in a series of growls resembling those of canines, "We came to free you, Wulf. My friend Danny said you can aid us to get out of this place and find the men who imprisoned us."
Blinking in shock first, Wulf replied back in his own growling, but he was panicking, "A vicious man named Bullet has set a trap for you! He's right behind you!"
"Did… did you just talk wolf?" a shocked Danny asked the ape man.
"Trap! Bullet set trap!" he told them in his broken English.
Reacting quickly, the group turned in time to jump back as a pink, glowing stinger whipped the ground before them. They looked towards the source and saw none other than Bullet, holding a double-barreled ray gun emitting a pink ghost ray that took the form of the whip. Floating down next to him was none other than Walker himself, both of them smirking at the heroes.
"There they are, boss. Right on schedule." Bullet told the warden. "Told you they'd have no other recourse but to look for Wulf."
"Good work, Vice-Warden Bullet." Walker approved. "Now all that's left is restoring the order these criminals destroyed."
"Says the guys who are okay with using the Heartless and working for a fruit loop!" Danny shot at them, ready for a fight. "You guys are worse than the ghosts you put away here!"
Walker, frowning at the accusation, stepped forward while cracking the joints in his neck audibly.
"You'd best watch what you say, kid." The warden said. "This is my prison. I make the rules. And you boys are never getting out of here."
And thus, the fight began. Walker slammed a booted foot to the ground, sending a shockwave at our heroes and sending them flying back. This actually gave Bullet an opening to lash out his pink ecto-ray whip, aptly titled a Ghost Stinger, to take hold of Spongebob and give him a real nasty shock! This really did damage to the fry cook, but fortunately Donald cast a healing spell on him, helping mitigate a little bit of the damage. From there, Spongebob went to hit Bullet a few times, but the vice-warden just watched this with a blank expression before turning intangible and letting the sea sponge tumble through him.
But then Bullet got punched by the ghost boy, making him grit his teeth before trying to fire at him. Danny dodged all the shots, but then he suddenly got chained up when Walker fired a green beam from his hands, keeping him in place. The vice-warden smirked, ready to put the boy through the ringer. However, he shouted as something scratched through his cape and against his back! He turned around to see his attacker, only to get repeatedly smacked by a wooden spear by Tarzan. The ape man then swung one more time and then sent Bullet flying and crashing on the ground.
The vice-warden clicked his tongue at this and once more lashed out his Ghost Stinger on Tarzan's spear, letting it be a tug of war between the two fighters. He was momentarily confused as to why the stinger was not sending jolts through the human's being… and realized the spear was wood. Of course it wouldn't. This realization would end up causing Bullet to get smacked in the face by the ape man when he wasn't paying attention. Now he was getting more agitated.
Deciding to switch it up a bit, Bullet lashed out not with his Ghost Stinger, but with his tail. He grabbed the ape man's leg and then flung him towards the wall. But to his shock, Tarzan just landed with his hands and feet on the wall before hopping off of it and landing on the ground safely. After that, he growled at the ghost with an animalistic hiss while holding his spear. Bullet could tell Skulker no doubt had trouble against this one.
All the while, Walker was busy just dealing with most of the others. He wasn't going for Poindexter. The weak ghost of a bygone age was busy just running around and trying to avoid the battle as much as he could. He also didn't need to pay much heed to the Box Ghost either, seeing as chaining him up was easy. No, his issues were basically dealing with the ghost boy and his juvenile friends. He had enough power to send them flying back with a stomp and even chained some up for Bullet to follow up on. Problem was, it appeared these people were more skilled at fighting than he had first thought.
Especially that boy with that oversized key. Whenever he contained one of them, the boy just struck at the chains and broke them with ease. What kind of human was this boy? He looked scrawny in comparison to the halfa, but the fact he could wield that weapon with ease AND make it here alive raised too many questions the warden couldn't ignore. He was a threat to the order of his prison, and he HAD to be taken care of.
"You got power, boy." Walker told Sora after defending against some of the Keyblade's blows. "But you don't know how to use it like you should."
"Look who's talking!" Sora retorted, still pressing on the attack. "You want to keep order in the Ghost Zone? Actually do your job instead of putting people away for every minor offense!"
"Spoken like a boy barely passing middle school." The warden retorted, charging up a pink beam. "I'll just have to make sure you understand the hard way."
And with that, Walker fired an ecto-ray at Sora, forcing the keybearer to defend himself by putting up his Keyblade before him. This led to him being pushed back until he ended up hitting the wall. Sora groaned a bit before holding his Keyblade to the sky, calling out, 'heal!', and then recovered the damage he took. Another thing Walker took note of. This ability to recover from damage was troublesome.
Speaking of trouble, he felt something being pelted at him from behind, then turned to see one of those children shooting stars at him with his odd green weapon. He retaliated by shooting a green chain to keep him shackled, but the boy dodged it. Talk about annoying.
"Seriously, can't I just wish to deal more damage and that would be good?" Timmy asked as he kept firing.
"This is really the best we can do, Timmy!" Wanda told him. "Until we get our powers back, our ability to help is limited."
"Not that we don't care." Cosmo added. "Right now, we're just not capable."
Having to deal with this pest alongside a boy with some kind of wind gun, a mallard with a hammer and a dog with a shield was going to get tedious real fast, Walker could see. If he was going to put these criminals in their place, then he needed to call in some backup. With that, he put his fingers to his lips and gave a calling whistle. Sure enough, some of his officers came in to help… but so did some of those Search Ghosts.
"What, you have trouble beating up a bunch of kids?" Danny taunted.
"You're not one to talk when you have those friends of yours, punk." Walker retorted. "Guards! Get them!"
The guards obeyed and charged at the rioters, as did the Heartless that were also summoned. As they began splitting the group's efforts, Walker got to start charging towards Danny with a heavy rush and shoulder bash attack before sending more of his targets away with a focused stomp of his foot. He even got to repeat this maneuver a few times, getting others the same way. But sadly that stopped when Jimmy rolled out of the way and Walker was face to face with his robot dog. His pet who just fired lasers and burned Walker's hat when he ducked.
"Oh my gosh, you're bald!" Spongebob exclaimed in surprise as he karate chopped a guard's head. "And your head's twice as shiny as King Neptune's!"
"My hat!" Walker cried out. He then growled, "You boys just made this personal."
"What, like it wasn't already?" Danny rolled his eyes, blasting and destroying another Search Ghost as he did.
Back on Bullet's side of things, he was still dealing with the ape man who was proving to be more trouble than he was worth. It was like dealing with Wulf, only there was less bulk and fur to grab onto, not to mention the scratches he was getting from the spear were starting to pile up. He was getting really annoyed with being unable to get a good hold on him. But at the very least, the backup should get things on track. They were just surrounding him, leaving no room for Tarzan to escape. No way could Bullet lose to a mere man.
"So, any last words before you get put back in your cage, jungle man?" Bullet brought up his ray gun, charging his Ghost Stinger up.
"You not win." The lord of the apes replied.
"I'd say that was well said, but we both know that's a lie." Bullet expected as much anyhow. "Get 'em, boys!"
With that, the ghost guards charged all at once. But Tarzan jumped in the air, avoiding all of them. Bullet, however, expected this, and flew up to intercept Tarzan, firing his Ghost Stinger directly at his arms. Yet the ape man saw this coming and held his spear and thrust it into the air. Just then, a barrier of wind surrounded him, and Bullet's weapon just bounced off!
"What?!" Bullet exclaimed at that. "You got powers too?!"
"You not win!" Tarzan repeated himself.
He lunged forward with his spear, forcing the vice-warden to avoid him as he landed back to the ground. With a growl, he whipped his Ghost Stinger furiously at Tarzan's wind shield, but it just kept bouncing off and dealing no damage to him. The ghost guards tried their hand on it too, but any damage they tried to do got reduced to being minimal at best, and they were easily knocked out when Tarzan began swinging his spear. All the vice-warden had left to do was rely on the Heartless… and unfortunately their slow movements impeded their long reach and they were taken out with ease as well.
"Ugh, must I do everything myself?" He asked just as Tarzan's barrier vanished. "I can do this all day, you know. Now I just need to wear you down and–"
But just then, Bullet was cut off when Sidney suddenly phased into him! Immediately after, the vice-warden's eye changed to Sidney's eye color… and the vice-warden began hitting himself with his fist. Tarzan couldn't help but watch this with confusion and curiosity.
"Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!" Sidney's voice came out of Bullet's mouth, then between punches he told Tarzan, "Don't mind me! I'll keep Bullet busy! You just help your friends!"
"Thank you." The jungle man nodded and rushed to do just that.
Walker's attacks had gotten faster since the loss of his precious hat. Not to mention he had been using more of his strength. This could be proved by Goofy's defenses being pushed back with a single punch. However, this did not mean the fight got any more difficult than it had before. Danny still managed to get on even ground with the warden, the pair of them exchanging ecto-rays with each other and even having their fists collide and cause ripples in the air. More ghost guards and Heartless showed up to give aid to the Warden, but then Tarzan began aiding his friends, leading to them gradually getting the upper hand.
"Just how long do you think you can delay the inevitable, ghost boy?" He asked as he charged towards Danny with another shoulder bash. Danny of course dodged as he continued, "The power of the Syndicate cannot be toppled. And now that they discovered these Heartless, they already have more than an army at their beck and call. You're better off submitting to the new rule when you still have the chance!"
"How many times do I have to say it?" Danny asked as he began charging up a large ecto-ray. "Your rules don't apply to everyone!"
And thus, Danny fired the ecto-ray point blank at Walker's torso, pushing him back despite the force the warden held. Sidney, still in the vice-warden's body and making him hit his own face, noticed the coming ghost and quickly popped out of Bullet. Bullet barely regained awareness of his surroundings before Walker ended up crashing into him. After having tumbled to the ground, the two groaned as they got back up.
"They're doing better than we expected, boss." Bullet told his superior. "We're gonna need something big to deal with them."
"Or someone." Walker smirked, knowing he still had one power up his sleeve. "Best stay back, because I'm about to finish this in an– wait, why's it suddenly dark?"
Just then, the warden and vice-warden realized that the area they were in was looking rather dark in comparison to the rest of the yard. They looked down and saw that this wasn't just an odd phenomenon. They were underneath a shadow… and it was getting bigger! They looked up and saw, to their chagrin, a large glowing box falling down towards them. They could only think of one pest responsible.
"Awwwww ghost crud." Bullet cursed, knowing they were too late to react.
Walker and Bullet got crushed beneath a giant box. They figured they could easily just push the box off with their strength, but then the box began to unfold itself and refold with the pair of them inside, shrinking in size before binding the two together. And to top it all off, right after that the box was wrapped up with bubble wrap. The pair were lifted up and then rammed right into Wulf's cage, breaking the bars apart and busting the door open, letting the werewolf ghost escape. From there, the Box Ghost put Walker and Bullet into the cell and sealed that into yet another box!
"HA-HA!" The Box Ghost laughed triumphantly. "YOU HAVE UNDERESTIMATED THE BOX GHOST FOR SO LONG, BUT NOW YOU BOTH ARE IMPRISONED IN A BOX OF MY MAKING! WHO'S NOT WANTED NOW?!"
Both the warden and the vice-warden groaned, annoyed and humiliated over being beaten not by the ghost boy, but ultimately by the Box Ghost. At the same time, our heroes, having beaten all their enemies, were just getting acquainted with Wulf. He gave Danny a thankful smile and gave him a friendly lick like any dog would, letting the others laugh a bit, especially Sora since he knew how that was from experience. The boy then tapped on the shock collar with his Keyblade, and it unlatched itself from the ghost before falling to the floor.
"Dankon, amiko." Wulf said in an appreciative tone.
"What did he say?" Goofy asked, not understanding the language.
"He basically thanked us." Jimmy answered.
"Well, glad that we managed to free your friend," Timmy said to the ghost boy, "but how's he going to get us out of this Ghost Zone?"
"Wait a minute…" Spongebob blinked, considering something that he hadn't this entire time. "If this is a Ghost Zone… then those things before, t–t-they must have been… GHOSTS!"
"Spongebob, did you realize that only just now?" Gadget asked, perplexed by the yellow sponge only now freaking out. "It was mentioned that this was a Ghost Zone several times while we were here."
"Well, yeah," the fry cook admitted, though he was still looking around nervously, "but I was also in the heat of the moment the whole time. I never really processed it until now! I mean, the only ghosts we have back in Bikini Bottom are pirate ghosts."
"Listen, Wulf here has claws that can open portals from here in the Ghost Zone to the human world and vice-versa." Danny explained, gesturing to Wulf. "From there, we can basically take care of whatever might be happening at home before we get to Vlad. After all, he's not the only one with a ghost portal."
"Wait, you have access to another ghost portal?" Jimmy asked at this. "If that's the case, where is it?"
"I'd say it's nearby, but let's be honest, we have no easy way to get there right now. Hence, we're going to Wulf for help." The ghost boy explained before turning to Tarzan, "I'm not good with Esperanto, but do you think you can tell Wulf to please help us get back to my home?"
"Back, home," the ape man nodded and turned to the werewolf.
He spoke softly to the beast man, "I am sorry to say we rescued you because we needed your help, but there's a lot at stake. Could you help us return to Danny's home?"
Wulf nodded, extending his claws as he said, "You have nothing to apologize for. I owe you."
The wolf ghost then slashed at the air before them, and a portal was practically ripped into existence. The group looked on in amazement as the spectral superhero approved of this.
"Dankon." Danny said to Wulf.
Looking at his friends, Danny replied, "Okay, follow me!"
Danny went ahead into the portal first, followed one by one by the others. However, before Sora could go in, Sidney and the Box Ghost came up to him for one last conversation.
"Hey Sora? Thanks for helping us out." Sidney told him. "Around here, a lot of the ghosts just think only about themselves too much to really help out the little guys around here. Even Danny at times is guilty of this. But you went out of your way for us. That's more than what anybody around here can say they did."
"It's no problem. You guys are cool." Sora replied. "Just keep doing what you think is right, okay Sidney?"
"That's what I plan on." The nerdy ghost nodded before floating into the air. "Well, see you later!"
With the monochrome ghost gone, the Box Ghost spoke to Sora, oddly in a normal volume, "So, you actually meant what you said, right? That you think I'm cool?"
"Of course I do." The keybearer nodded. "Why wouldn't I? I mean, you can do a lot more with boxes than just opening and sealing them. You could go really far with powers like that."
"THEN AS YOU ARE THE ONE MORTAL WHO UNDERSTANDS THE GREATNESS OF BOXES," and the Box Ghost was back to being booming, "THE BOX GHOST SHALL GRANT YOU A GREAT POWER!"
The Box Ghost raised his hands, having them glow with his power, and then coated Sora with a similar glow. From there, Sora could actually feel something flowing through his being. Rather familiar, like he was back on his island. Swimming with his friends, having splash fights… Maybe water had something to do with it?
"NOW YOUR ELEMENTAL POWERS ARE ONE STEP CLOSER TO COMPLETION! FAREWELL, FOR I, THE BOX GHOOOST, SHALL RETURN TO MY LAIR!" The Box Ghost announced, then in a normal voice, he added, "With my renewed confidence, I can start preparing whatever I need to ask this woman I like out on a date! See you later, pal!"
With that, the Box Ghost flew off, with Sora waving goodbye after him. Then he heard Donald squawking at him from the portal to hurry up, so he turned around and went after his friends. Something told the boy that his experiences with ghosts weren't going to end just yet. Hopefully they would be just as cool as the Box Ghost.
Oh, how little he knew.
Valerie was steadily growing more impressed with Riku as she watched him really put the gym to use. He hardly broke a sweat when it came to doing sit-ups, push-ups, lifting weights, and so on. Clearly, that form of his was not just for show. He could fight on a decent level too, but it was pretty unrefined. He was improving with his skills at anti-ghost weaponry, but she knew it wasn't enough. If he had any chance of being a good ghost hunter, then he needed more finesse to what he already had. Good thing that was what she was here for.
"Hey Valerie, does Vlad have to put his logo on these, too?" She heard Riku's voice from one of the changing rooms. "They're just swimwear, aren't they?"
"Yeah, he's still a company man with his own brand." She answered, looking down at her own swimsuit. "Least they fit if you ask me."
"I guess." She could hear him shrugging before he came outside. "I just don't see the point of him just putting his brand on everythi– woah…"
"What, see something you lik–" Valerie turned to tease him, only to go wide-eyed herself, "Wow…"
The two teenagers couldn't help but stare at each other, too distracted by the full forms they didn't expect to see. Valerie was plenty surprised by the fact that Riku didn't just have muscles in his arms, but enough muscle in his body to show he had a regimen long before training to be a ghost hunter. Heck, his body wasn't overly brawny like the popular jocks at her school, but she could tell he had plenty of physical strength just by looking at him. That, combined with his handsome face… it had to be criminal, just how attractive he looked in only a pair of black and red swimming trunks.
As for Riku, this was really the first time he saw her outside of her ghost hunting suit. With her wearing a similar black and red one-piece swimsuit on her person, the islander could tell that her body wasn't as slim as her prior suit implied. If anything, she was actually quite curvy, and the swimsuit showed them off well. Not to mention her legs were very easy on the eyes. Riku honestly hadn't seen any girl with a form like Valerie's.
"You look good, Valerie…" Riku practically said automatically.
In turn, she unconsciously replied, "You look great too, Riku."
The moment they realized what they just told each other, they shook off their imminent blushes and looked away, trying to not look awkward. Valerie thus cleared her throat and turned towards the pool.
"So," she began, trying to change the topic, "you're clearly good with physical tests so far. Are you any good at swimming?"
"I'm from an island town." Riku replied, standing next to her as they got ready for their next exercise. "Swimming has been natural to me for years."
"We'll see about that then." The ghost huntress smirked at that.
Yes, a good bit of competition to get the blood pumping between the two of them and get their minds off of each other's looks. Hopefully, they both thought. So, they dove into the pool and began swimming, racing each other towards the other end. Valerie, as she swam, watched as Riku put those arms and legs to work as he moved on par with her… if not get a little ahead. Well, she was impressed (if a little attracted), but she wasn't going to lose to the new boy.
The pair raced to the end of the pool, both grabbing the edge and coming up for air. As Riku shook some water off of his head, he looked towards Valerie and got the fantastic sight of her swinging her long, wet hair back and out of her face. As if in slow motion, Riku could just see it flowing in the non-existent wind before her hair came back down. He could see her hunter green eyes sparkling as she looked towards him. Riku had to admit, she was… more than pretty.
"Hey, Riku, are you still with me here?" Her voice reached his ears, and he ended up snapping out of it.
"Uh, yeah, yeah, totally!" He nodded, hoping he didn't look stupid in front of her. "Definitely a good race there, Valerie."
"Well, you certainly weren't joking about being experienced in swimming." Valerie said as she turned around. "But that's just the first run. Then you can handle nine more?"
"Just nine?" Riku chuckled at that. "Child's play."
With that, the pair continued swimming in that pool, testing their skills against each other and, in all honesty, having a pretty good time. The pair were enjoying each other's company and competition, having never gotten someone close to their level to work with up until now. Riku especially felt like he was testing himself for real. After all, back home he could easily beat Sora to the point of getting him to keep score and even beat Selphie, Wakka, and Tidus all at the same time. But with Valerie…
She was something else.
They eventually did ten whole laps in the pool. After getting out of the water to dry off, the ghost huntress said to the islander, "Nice work, Riku. You almost won there."
"What do you mean 'almost'?" Riku asked back with a smirk as he dried off as well. "I won that easily."
"Keep telling yourself that, man." She chuckled back.
But then the pair heard something ringing, and Valerie looked to where her suit was placed. Walking towards it, smiling a bit since she saw Riku was checking her out as she went, she picked up a communicator. She had only one guess as to who was calling, and she privately wished he could have called at a better time. But it would be bad to just leave her boss hanging, so she answered anyway.
"What's up, Mr. Masters?" She answered.
"Ah, Valerie, I trust you and the new recruit have been getting along well?" Vlad's voice came from it, even being heard by Riku. "My apologies for basically surprising you with this, but I just couldn't help but see potential in Riku. Not to mention, with you basically being his senior in the occupation of ghost hunting, I believed you could show him how it was done."
"He's actually better than expected." She said, giving Riku a smile as she said that. After he smiled back at her, she continued speaking to her boss, "He just needs to get better acquainted with fighting as a ghost hunter and refine how he fights at the moment."
"I thought the exact same thing." Vlad chuckled. "But that's not all I'm calling about. You're aware of Amity Park being haunted by waves of ghosts recently."
"Yeah, and more just seem to keep popping up." The ghost huntress groaned. "Not to mention these new ones that just look creepy, even in comparison to the ghosts we already deal with. People have even started disappearing because of this new breed."
"Yes, but it's about to get worse, I'm afraid." Her boss was heard sighing. "Aside from these new brands of ghosts, the ghost boy himself is just about to join in the chaos. What I need you to do is head out and get to handling the anarchy currently plaguing Amity Park. Of course, I already trust that you can handle it, but to better your chances, bring Riku with you."
"You sure? He only started getting a handle on the tech." She asked, concerned about bringing the new guy along.
"You said yourself that he needs to get better acquainted with fighting as a ghost hunter and refine how he currently fights, correct?" Vlad asked. "Then why not help him learn through experience? Don't worry, I think we both can trust he'll be just fine."
"Well sure, but won't he need a suit and tech of his own? My hoverboard is practically a one-woman ride."
"Oh don't worry. We made sure he'll have what he needs. Just take a look outside. Vlad, out."
With that, Vlad hung up. Valerie and Riku, who had heard the conversation, looked at each other with expressions of confusion, and then looked out the nearby window. To their surprise, they saw, floating in the air, just what Vlad had delivered. Riku, being a young man, couldn't help but gaze at it with somewhat undisguised awe at how awesome the 'ride' looked, even with a box no doubt containing a ghost hunting suit just sitting pretty in the seat. Valerie, however, only had one thing on her mind…
"So… you know how to ride a vehicle?" She asked.
"Oh, I think I can get the gist out of riding that." He answered with some enthusiasm. "You think it plays music?"
Some things were just a constant for boys, apparently.
"...Well," Valerie supposed, "hopefully it'll be easier than riding a hoverboard."
Thanks to The Lord Of Pages for helping with the descriptions of Bullet and Walker, and also thanks again to The Swordslinger for beta-ing this chapter. See you next time!