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A Matter of Trust (You Are So Grounded For Your Afterlife, Mister!)

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She and Jack had always known that their inventions had been disappearing ever since the ghost portal started working, just as how they had been aware from day one that that putrid piece of ectoplasm called Phantom had been using them in his so-called heroics—which were all a part of his evil scheming no doubt. Sure, she and Jack had tried finding out how the weapons began disappearing, who was taking them, and most importantly how Phantom was getting his filthy hands on them.


First, they had tried installing cameras in the lab, at the top of the stairs, and two angled directly at the ghost portal. They were sure that they would catch the thief. Every inch of the lab space was being filmed. Yet still, all of the cameras had shut down in unison, as if someone had switched them off from the source—which was impossible because they had made it so a five-digit-passcode and the finger print of the Fenton family was required to turn the cameras off and on. Any footage that had been sent over to the computers they had connected the cameras to was nothing but 10 minutes of static before the lab reappeared on screen. And the tapes in the cameras themselves had mysteriously vanished, though she suspected that those would look much like the digital snow that was already stored on the computers anyway.


Since then she and Jack had tried a number of things to get to the bottom of their missing equipment, including—though not limited to—ecto-laser beams that filled the entire room at night, regular laser beams, a plethora of ghost containment units, traps, and weapons which activated upon detecting an ecto-signature. Yet still, nothing seemed to work. Their inventions still vanished from the lab without a trace, and Phantom still, much to their disbelief, managed to turn up using them. It was baffling.


After nearly a year of this nonsense, Maddie Fenton had had more than enough of it. And if discovering how all of their inventions were disappearing and ending up in Phantoms hands every other day meant that she lost a night of sleep to stake out the lab, then she was willing to do it. She hadn't told anyone in her family what she was planning, not even her sweet, darling, ghost obsessed husband. She wasn’t sure why she had made the decision to keep her plan a secret, but she had, and now that she was crouching down behind one of the filthy cluttered shelves—which Danny was suppose to have cleaned last week—she had to wonder. Not only had she kept her plans secret, but she had lied about them, telling her husband that she would be going to bed late and rising early in order to work on a new device that she was excited about. Not that she didn’t have an idea for a new advice that she was excited about of course, but it was certainly not her reason for hiding out in their lab right now. Although, considering the reasons that she was down here, perhaps she was worried that a ghost might be invisibly eavesdropping—which would certainly account for how it got past their traps and cameras, if it had known about them in advance—and she hadn’t wanted it to know her true intentions.


Maddie had, of course, prepared herself for any ghost that came into that lab. She had blasters, a bazooka, ecto-guns, her Bo staff, and even a Fenton Thermos. She was prepared. What ever ghost dared to enter her home while her family slept and steal their inventions would pay for it.


What she was not prepared for, however, was for her 14 year old son to sneak into the lab.


Curiously, peeking though the clutter of old broken weapons and parts on the shelf, she watched as Danny walked across the lab to the weapons vault and typed in the pass-code, placed his thumb on the finger print scanner, and opened the door. He wasted no time in searching the shelves—apparently searching for something specific. Maddie had to cover her mouth with both hands to keep from gasping at what she was seeing. Was a ghost overshadowing her son in order to gain access to their weapons vault? She was going to destroy that putrid ectoplasmic scum! How dare it touch her sweet baby boy, Danny! She would make certain that ghost regretted it’s decision before she destroyed it, and she would take great pleasure in doing so.


Danny exited the weapons vault, closing and locking the door behind him. He was carrying what appeared to be the Fenton Tech-Scrambler—Guaranteed to scramble any ghost infected technology!—and a Fenton Thermos. Her son was in the midst of muttering something about long winded introductions when he was cut off by a sudden gasp, his breath becoming visible for just a brief moment, before his shoulders dropped.


“Stupid ghost.” He mumbled, seemingly annoyed. “Can’t I get just one night off?”


Maddie immediately began wondering if he was aware he was being overshadowed, and if he was why he’d never told them, when a strange bright white ring of light appeared around his waist. She froze in place, watching is both fascination and horror as the rings of light split and traveled over the form of her son.

When the rings of light vanished, however, it was no longer her son standing there, but Phantom himself. A moment later and the ghost—and apparently her son as well—was flying through the roof above them.


“Daniel James Fenton,” she said sternly. “You are so going to be grounded when you get back home.”