The problem– The main problem– The– Okay, the problem that was pertinent at the moment was that the hunters, cryptid and otherwise, had to leave having seen nothing even remotely interesting, nothing that could be a draw for tourists.

That meant that, whatever else they did, they could not be seen being anything other than unbelievably lame by the general population. Of course, the best way to do that would be to keep them from seeing anything.

The very first piece of prep work Danny and Tucker had done was getting into Jack's YouTube account and setting it to private. That was, however, a temporary measure, and in addition to not wanting tourists flooding into Amity Park, Danny didn't want his parents in hot water with the GIW. Again.

Once they filmed, Jack or Maddie could upload videos at any time, so something that would have to be done afterward was getting back into the account, deleting the videos, and corrupting the original files. Not too difficult, considering that Danny lived with them, had a hacker friend, and could possess technology.

But for the other groups? Especially the ones that were filming live? Not so much.

They could not see. Any measures Danny and the others took to stop them had to look either like local kids playing pranks, incompetence, or nothing at all. Luckily, they were local kids playing pranks, and there was a lot of incompetence going around, lately.

Danny and Tucker ran through eerily empty streets, listening for the GAV. They paused, seeing the GAV hurtle past the mouth of an alleyway.

"Okay, well," said Tucker, "there it is. You sure you want to do this?"

"Yeah," said Danny. "Who else is going to?" He went ghost. "Show me again where the GGBE are."

Tucker held up the PDA and pointed.

"Okay, yeah, I can do that," said Danny. "I can do that. Sam, you still managing?"

"Haven't made contact yet," admitted Sam, over the Fenton Phones. "This wig is surprisingly high quality, by the way."

"Cool," said Danny. "Remember, call us if you need help."

"I'm dealing with two completely normal YouTubers who think you're some kind of endangered species, not ex-military super-spies."

"He kind of is an endangered species, though. Even Skulker says so."

Danny shook his head and pushed off from the ground. "Can hybrids even be considered a species?" he asked.

"The New Mexico Whiptail–"

"It was a rhetorical question!"

.

William Monroe Delaney Montrose Woods the Fourth, generally known as Bill, was remarkable for three reasons beyond his name. The first was that he absolutely and entirely believed in the existence of cryptids and loved helping Crawly, who he'd met in college, with their YouTube channel.

The second was that he was a former Navy Seal, discharged due to an elbow injury that had never healed right.

The third was that his last job was in data analytics… for the CIA. Nothing special. He just collated data in a nice, boring, quiet room. He'd hardly call himself a super-spy. And he'd quit. Too stressful.

But… All his training did have the side effect of giving him a very good sense for when he was being followed.

He tried to watch the figure out of the corner of his eyes, excited. Finally, he was going to see a real life cryptid. He'd just have to be careful… it was clearly trying to stay out of direct view… he didn't want to spook it. Crawly hadn't noticed yet, either. He'd have to figure out some way to let them know. Maybe he could angle the camera towards the cryptid…

"Oh my gosh, Bill, look!" Crawly jabbed a finger at the space behind his shoulder, and Bill quickly turned to see something black and white skittering around a corner. "Quick! Chase it! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!"

Bill needed no further encouragement. Camera in hand, he ran.

.

Danny flickered ever so briefly into view in front of the GAV, and to the right. He probably would be picked up on the cameras like this, but, again, his parents' videos were the only ones he could afford to be caught in. As expected, Jack turned the wheel so hard the GAV rocked up on one set of wheels before slamming back down. Danny reappeared further down the street, at the mouth of another road.

"STOP MOVING, GHOST!" roared Maddie over the intercom.

"YEAH! WE'RE FILMING YOU FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION!" added Jack. "THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO KNOW HOW TO BLAST GHOSTS LIKE YOU TO SHREDS!"

"NOT TO SHREDS, JACK. WE NEED HIM INTACT FOR OUR RESEARCH!"

"OH, YEAH!"

"Wow," muttered Danny under his breath. "That really makes me want to stop, guys." He could, just barely, understand them thinking ghosts were evil. He didn't understand how they were still under the impression that Phantom, specifically, was that unbelievably stupid. "Tuck, am I still on track?"

"Man, I don't know why you're asking, you know Amity Park better than I–"

"Why… parkour… expert… how?"

"Uh, Sam?" said Danny. "I think you're breaking up."

"I'm being… chased!"

"Maybe I should–"

"Just a few more roads! At the rate your Dad drives, that shouldn't be any time at all!"

"Sam, can you hold out that long?"

There was no response for a long moment, during which Danny almost lost his lead on the GAV.

"Managed to hide," said Sam, audibly panting. "Where did that camera guy come from? He's built like a tank and he can move."

Danny let out a sigh of relief. "I'll be there in just a minute." He let himself fade into view again, luring his parents down a blind alley. He phased easily through the brick, turning invisible again. He did a quick check to make sure none of the people on the other side were too close to the wall - they weren't - and that no one saw him - the tiger might have - and then the GAV plowed through the brick wall, sirens blazing and PA system blasting.

"YOU WON'T GET AWAY THIS TIME, GHOST BOY!"

Danny flared his aura, well aware of how that would show up on the GAV's sensors at this point, and snickered as the GAV crunched over the Groovy Ghost Blasters Extreme's illegally parked ATVs and dirt bikes in an attempt to get to Danny.

"My bike!" shrieked Brenner.

"Dude, not cool! Dude!" repeated Sullivan as Jack hit reverse and rolled over the bikes again.

"Okay," said Vid, pulling out her blaster (a Dalvco ripoff). "We already knew these guys sucked, but this means war."

She took aim at the GAV. Of course, according to his parents, anything attacking the GAV had to be a–

"GHOOOOOOOOOOOST!" hollered his parents in unison. And then the shooting started in earnest.

Danny didn't stick around. Unlike all the humans here, he actually could be hurt by most of the weaponry going off.

Besides, Sam needed him.

.

"Hey," said Az, falling back slightly as Ned expounded on some made up personal story that had only tangential interest to the actual investigation. "Jimmy. Do you hear that?"

"Hnh," said Jimmy.

"Like, a sort of electric sound. Like the world's biggest bug za–" For the fourth time that day, Az tripped over his shoelaces.

"Oh, I know what's really haunted now. Az's shoes!"

"Screw you, too," said Az.

"Yeah, yeah, they're haunted by the ghost of his coordination."

Az climbed to his feet and angrily redid his laces. "If you're doing this somehow–" he started, threateningly.

"No, no," said Ned, "I don't need to make this look any more ridiculous than it already is. Are you sure you researched this place?"

"I'm sure," said Az, gritting his teeth as yet another crepe-paper and balloon ghost drifted down into the camera's view from who-knew-where. "I researched. Extensively."

"Because as fun as these are, I don't think they're actual ghosts." He grabbed the balloon and waved it at Az. "Fun times with local pranksters who are really into the whole Halloween aesthetic? Yes. Haunted? No. The way things are looking, Amity Park falls squarely into the hoax category." He gestured broadly, exaggerating his mannerisms for the camera.

"At least let us get to the next location before you say that, Ned." He got back to his feet and smiled at the camera. "Locals aside, this place is spooky. An old observatory that was damaged and shut down under mysterious circumstances, it has had numerous reports of lights moving inside, strange sounds, and even the dome opening and the telescope inside moving. Is this the ghost of an astronomer? Or, like certain others believe, something else?"

"Ugh, don't remind me of the cryptid YouTubers. Those lights, though, I'm going to bet they're kids smoking on the sly, or someone squatting."

"And on the way there, we'll drive by a few other points of local interest, such as–"

.

"They're going to the observatory?" hissed Dani. "They can't go to the observatory, Danny will flip!"

Valerie looked at her sideways. "Which Danny? Your cousin, or Fenton?"

"Does it matter? Both of them love that place."

"Didn't it get shot up by the GIW?"

"Yeah, and that's why you don't mention those guys to him. He hates them."

"He's… a ghost."

"Yeah, and the observatory is why human Danny hates them. Keep up." Dani leaned forward, careful to keep both her feet on Val's hoverboard. She was the one providing invisibility, after all. "We need to stop them. We need to get… more drastic."

Valerie made a face and waved a crepe paper ghost at Dani. "I'm not sure how much more drastic we can get without advertising that Amity's got something to hide."

Dani scrunched her nose in thought. "Then we don't do it while hiding anything. We do it while showing off things."

"Not my hoverboard or your ghostly face, I hope."

"No. We're going to take a page from my cousin's book."

"We're going to chase a dog into all their equipment and ruin them financially?"

"I mean, that sounds like a good plan 'B' if you've got a dog we can use. But, no. How do you feel about fake-out make-outs?"

.

"Uh, Sam? I'm looking for you, but–"

"Running… again… swear… last time… I dress up as you."

"Okay, okay, but where are you?" There was a sort of scraping sound from the Fenton Phones. "Sam?"

"I'm okay! Nasty Burger."

"Gotcha."

Danny changed direction and arrowed down to a very familiar alleyway, where Sam was stripping off her costume. She threw the wig at Danny as soon as she saw him.

"Get ready to run," she said breathlessly as Danny transformed. "Those weirdos are fast."

"I don't know if we have any room to call other people weirdos," said Danny. He pulled the wig over his hair, then phased the rest of the suit off of Sam, who was struggling with the zipper. He didn't like his chances of fasting the suit on, though, and phased off his shoes before starting to pull the costume on. The material was much thinner and filmier than his own hazmat suit, and wouldn't be much protection against, well, anything. "How'd you get away if they were so fast?"

"Cut through Amity Antiques," said Sam. "Ms. Larson made them go around. No cameras in the store."

"Smart." Danny phased his feet back into his shoes.

"Thanks. Contacts."

"Right, right," said Danny. He phased his hand through his suit and into his pocket. "Contacts."

He hated this part. Putting stuff like this in his eyes felt wrong. Worse than swallowing sporks. But, the 'Amity Park Phantom' had super noticeable glowing green eyes, so the 'fake' Phantom had to as well, and for Danny's sake, those glowing eyes had to be caused by contacts.

These ones had been produced by his parents after Walker's invasion. The idea was that a human could use them to walk unmolested among the overshadowed, but when no testing opportunities came up, the concept was abandoned.

Danny opened the case, and already regretting every life choice that had led him to this moment, stuck one in his eye. "That hurts. I don't know how people do this."

"You get thrown through buildings daily."

"That's different," whined Danny.

"I'm getting pings from Cryptid Crawl's phone, moving to your location," said Tucker. "Better get a move on."

"Heck," said Danny, squeezing in the other contact. "Go rest in the Nasty Burger, I've got this."

"I'll try to shadow you after you leave," said Sam, "but don't expect anything fancy."

"I'll zig-zag," said Danny.

Sam patted him on the back and moved past him. Time to do this.

Danny ran back out into the street, but stuck to the shadows, scanning everything. He had no idea how cryptids were supposed to behave, but he figured–

Holy moly, Sam was not kidding when she said that guy was fast! He wasted a disbelieving second staring at the sheer speed at which that absolute tank of a man approached him, but he was too used to being chased by unreasonably huge and fast guys to hesitate any longer. He bolted, using every piece of cover and concealment he could.

He glanced over his shoulder. The guy was actually gaining on him. After chasing Sam on and off for at least ten minutes. What was this guy made of?

Danny tapped into his ghostly strength and put on a burst of speed.

… The guy also put on a burst of speed.

That was scary.

"Tucker," said Danny, "which way am I going?"

"Give me a second."

"They're hanging out in front of the Skulk'n'Lurk," said Sam. "They're posting live, Tucker."

"I'm just trying to find the best route!"

"A better one than he can find on his own?"

Danny looked back again. What was this guy made of?

.

Valerie and Dani stepped onto the street just within view of the cameras. They were both wearing glasses, to protect their identities, and had swapped headgear - Valerie's headband for Dani's beanie.

"Are you sure about this?" asked Valerie.

"Absolutely!" chirped Dani.

"I don't think this is actually going to stop them from going to the observatory."

"But it might make them stop and think, right?"

"... You know, I saw the post about this on the forums, right? And the whole thread?"

"Shush. Threads don't matter, now," said Dani as they crept deeper into the camera's field of view. "I think this is good. You ready?"

Valerie rolled her eyes. "Ready when you are."

This had the side effect of making Dani freeze for a solid minute. "Uh," said Dani.

"You can back out if you–"

Dani rammed her face into Val's, probably way too fast, because kissing didn't seem like the kind of thing that was supposed to hurt. They did various things with their lips for a few seconds, and then pulled apart.

"Uh," said Dani, eloquently.

"Yeah," said Val.

They both looked towards the 'Investigation,' the members of which were, in fact, staring at them.

Val pumped her fist in the air. "The only ghost here is Sappho of Lesbos!" she said, her voice wobbling. "Yeah! Girl power!"

"Girl power!" repeated Dani. She hadn't heard of any ghost going by that name, but she supposed that Danny couldn't keep her one hundred percent up to date on his rogues gallery. There were just a lot of them.

At that moment, Dani was slammed into from behind by none other than her beloved cousin-clone, who was dressed as a bad caricature of himself and running at what had to be something approaching a world-record pace. Danny, who didn't have the worst set of reflexes in the world, but did have the most ridiculous set of reflexes, picked Dani up, threw her over his shoulder, and kept running.

"Is he still following me?" asked Danny.

"Wh- Who?" asked Dani, lifting her head to see that Danny was being chased by either a red-faced fridge or an extremely buff dude who was pushing himself so hard all the blood in his body had gathered in his skin in preparation for exploding (if that was a thing humans did; Dani was a bit uncertain on the finer points of anatomy). "Oh my gosh, that's scary."

Meanwhile, Valerie had recovered from her surprise. She started running after them. "Hey!" she shouted. "Bring back my girlfriend!"

"Oh," said Dani, pleased that Valerie was getting so into the act.

"What are you doing standing there?!" shouted a man wearing a hat that said 'DIRECTOR,' his voice starting to go tiny from distance. "Wasn't that one of the ghosts?"

"Ahhh!" said Danny. "Why is that guy so scary?!"

"Why are you scared?" demanded Dani, who had already forgotten that she, too, had been scared. "You're a ghost!"

"He's just scary!"

"Bet I'm scarier!"

Danny's fingers clenched tightly on her hoodie. "No. Are they following us? All of them?"

"Not yet?"

"Rrrrrrgh," said Danny, rounding a corner and doubling back down the other road. "I hate this!"

.

Ned had never thought any of their 'investigations,' not even the Investigation, would ever lead to something real. The image of that thing chasing that boy and grabbing that girl… It filled him with equal parts wonder and fear.

This special was going to make them. They'd be famous forever as the ghost hunters that proved the existence of the supernatural.

Jimmy put a hand on his shoulder.

"Not now, bud," said Ned. "We've got a chase."

Jimmy did not let go. Not even when Az and the rest of the crew packed up and took off after the ghost.

"Edward, dearest," said Jimmy. "My heart has been uplifted by the actions of those two young women, and I should like us to express ourselves as they did."

"Aw, come on, Jimmy. That's sweet, but the network would kick us both out in minutes. Not to mention we'd pasted across every TV in America as the latest scandal. The shame would kill me."

"You said it yourself, my love. What paranormal investigator has self respect? Let us throw it all to the winds of chance, and let them carry us away."

Ned blushed. "You make these things sound so nice. But… maybe after we get the ghost. You know how much this means to me."

"Hng," said Jimmy.

.

Danny re-emerged on the original street, which still held some of the crew and cast from the TV show. "Help me find somewhere to crash believably."

"There!" said Dani, pointing at a small lot with some abandoned construction in it.

"Perfect!" said Danny, throwing himself in that direction. Time to absolutely eat it on live TV. He cast himself on the mercy of the lot, and wiped out spectacularly, coming to rest against the fence at the back of the lot.

The buff guy just… Stopped. Then very slowly sat down.

"Hi," said Danny.

"Ow," said the guy, which was fair, actually.

The guy from the Investigation got there next, and spent the next thirty seconds staring reverently at the buff guy while the camera people set up. "Incredible," he whispered.

"Oi!" shouted Crawly, clambering over a stack of pipes. "Back away from the cryptid! We've got evidence to film!"

"You step away from the ghost!" countered Az. "Our evidence is more relevant to the human condition!"

"The Amity Park Phantom is not a ghost!" Crawly countered in return, stabbing a finger at Danny.

"What are you talking about, that's a kid in a costume!"

"No it–! Wait, who are you talking about, then? What ghost?"

"The one standing next to you!"

"Wh– This is Bill. My cameraman. Is this because he gets flushed when he exercises really hard? That happens to everyone!"

"No, actually, it–"

Danny shifted, which was enough for Crawly to zero in on him, only to recoil. "What," they said.

"Well," said Danny, coughing only a little bit as he got to his feet and pulled off the wig. "I am just a kid in a costume."