NEW HERO SPOTTED! "PHANTOM" A GHOST IN THE RECORDS
The latest records of the superhero license registry is turning up no information on the hero "Phantom" after he rescued 13 people from the burning apartments on Skygrove Lane last week. City officials have issued a formal announcement to Phantom, asking him to turn himself in for proper licensing and registry.
"He seems to have his heart in the right place," said Mayor Jimothy Ley, "but we have these rules for a reason. If he continues to act as a vigilante, our Heroes will be asked to treat him as a criminal." As you may know, using your Quirk without authorization, and interfering with Hero or Police business both have steep penalties. If anyone knows the identity or location of "Phantom," please contact-'
Danny sighed, poking at his new phone and watching the gentle touches close the news application, opening up the weather to see if he'd need to find shelter that night.
The novelty of such a functional touchscreen still hadn't worn off. A hundred years of sleep, and suddenly walong up to a world full of Heroes and Villains, and what seemed like outdated views of good and Evil... It was really strange. Touch screens couldn't even begin to reach the levels of weirs he was dealing with right now.
He wondered for several days in this world, if he'd made a mistake in closing the stable portals. He couldn't find any news about ghosts invading earth again, but… this whole Hero thing reeked of ghostly intervention. Too much black and white wish fulfillment.
Really, it had to be ghostly, seeing as his ghost sense hadn't stopped itching since he pulled himself through the rough portal he opened up. The casual display of powers from various people had thrown him for a loop, but the dessicated look that the Ghost Zone had sported and the familiar buzz of ectoplasm in every breath in the Japanese city was clueing him in that things had…. not stayed entirely separate after he went to sleep. A few jumps back and forth had confirmed the Zone had... really broken down.
Familiar islands had had nearly complete dissolved, doors to lairs almost entirely absent. The ones he had found opened to nowhere, or to empty dens. The creep factor drove him back to the real world, despite the equally strange feeling of doing double-take every time he turned around. Physical mutations were, apparently, now quite common.
It was easy enough to throw himself into hero business, doing odd jobs on the side with the help of his own powers under the guise of a helpful "quirk." Earned enough money to buy a phone from a resale shop (marveling at the advanced tech at such an affordable price), hooking up to free wifi to browse the net for more information.
Still, for every news article he found, it seemed to make three more questions pop up, about how this had all changed so quickly. His ghost form hadn't been recognized, but when a hero asked his name he was quick to say 'phantom,' for fear of another inviso-bill incident.
Thank god it caught on, despite their nagging to license himself.
No thanks. He'd read enough Marvel back in the day to Avoid that civil war-ish bucket of worms
He'd been awake for all of three days, when the siren that called for hero intervention started making him perk up reflexively. It was nearby, this time, and it only took a breath to find a hidden spot to transform and blaze toward the smoke rising up a few blocks over.
Flames splashed across the front of a bank, sprinklers doing their best against a bright blaze. Glass shattered outward, and Danny yelped as what looked like a dragon barreled past him, duffle bags slung over her scaley shoulders,
The long neck turned, jaws opening as a bright gush of flame sprayed in his direction,
Danny ducked under it, easily keeping up with the heavy wingbeat to plunge his fist up into the creature's gut.
A breathy "grrk" whuffed out of the long snout, wings stuttering. Danny blinked, fist still held up in empty air while the dragonish woman flailed, plummeting downward.
She was still falling.
Danny dove, channeling his inner perigrine falcon to plunge into the dragon woman's body, halting them before the ground and slipping out of her body again.
Scales clicked and shifted as the woman fell back against the pavement, wings splayed awkwardly as she thrashed, mouth gaping and rasping as she tried to get her breath back.
"Shoot, I'm so sorry, try to take deep breaths. Slowly, slowly.. you got it, there we go."
The yellow eyes stopped rolling so frantically, closing as the woman started sucking in hungry breaths past sharp fangs.
"Soooo, yeah. Didn't mean to hit you that hard. What's your name?"
The ridged throat twitched as she swallowed, words lisping past a long tongue.
"My name is Emily."
Danny fought the urge to laugh at such a plain name for such a colorful body. Between the long tail, scales, spikes, and clawed hands and feet, he expected something like 'Draca' or 'kal'zanath'
"Right, Emily, We're you seriously trying to rob a bank in the middle of the day?"
He jumped when Emily suddenly thrashed again, phasing through the tail that whipped through his chest.
At least it wasn't his head.
"Dude, chill. I'm sure being evil can wait like, five minutes while I tie you up properly,"
"Fuck off, brat. Like someone with your Quirk could understand."
Danny felt like he'd stepped on a mine, so blindsided by the abrupt change of mood. The resigned frustration had flipped to rage faster than he could blink. Danny flicked his wrists, sidestepping the gout of flame as Emily crashed to the street again, wings and hands tied by sticky ectoplasm.
"What wouldn't I understand?"
"Damn your Quirks! Your stupid attitude! You think your 'hero' status gives you the right to pass judgement, but you're nothing but narcissistic bullies" She snarled, spitting flame impotently as her tail thrashed like a furious cat.
Danny scratched the back of his head, honestly a little surprised other heroes hadn't converged on their location yet. His suspicion that the ecto-contaminated people could sense each other was slowly dying. It was also becoming apparent with each new person he encountered that he… really didn't understand the social dynamics at work here, wasn't it obvious that someone robbing a bank was doing something wrong? He'd met criminals who were mad that they had been caught, but the self righteousness was new.
"Okay. I can see you're really passionate about this, but I'm not really getting it. Could you explain it to me like I'm a five-year-old who never heard of Quirks? Or Heroes?" Newspapers and Wikipedia didn't seem to be doing the trick. Maybe a person's opinion piece would help?
Emily stared at him, ferocious spiked eyebrows pulled into a bewildered look.
"You're not going to just turn me in?"
Danny shrugged a shoulder. "Humor me for a second."
Emily cleared her throat, glancing down at the glowing, writhing green blobs around her wrists in consideration. She sighed, sitting upright and criss-crossing her bound legs.
"Alright, so." She began, scaled features still drawn into a speculative expression. Did the kid really not know?
"It all started back in China, with a baby born that could emit light…"
The woman explained how the world's governments feared excessive retaliation if they used the newly powerful individuals in an attack, so they quickly tried to invite people to use their Quirks to fight crime - to become Heroes.
"That doesn't explain why you'd use them for evil." Danny interrupted, receiving a sharp glare in return.
"Is it evil to want to make money for my brother? Careless 'Heroes' caught him in the crossfire, and our insurance only barely covers his wheelchair and pain medication. I can't support both of us off a factory job, and no employer would hire a 'monsterous' quirk, since I'm not even allowed to use this without a license." She snorted a small lick of flame, rattling her leathery wings.
Danny crossed his arms, frowning at the heated glare from the dragonish lady, ignoring the smoke trickling from her snout.
"How do you get a license?"
"You can't," a tiny gout of flame licked between her teeth, "unless you want to use it for crime fighting. Hero agencies pay the popular heroes, and gather sidekicks and equipment manufacturers from hero-schools. A real circus. They even have Marketing budgets." She flashed her teeth in a sneer, but closed her mouth again when Danny sat down in front of her, scratching his cheek and muttering at the ground. The bindings around her wrists dissipated into green smoke.
"That's stupid. Crime fighting is dangerous, and shouldn't be handed over to inexperienced people just because they have power. People get hurt. People are selfish. Untrained people make mistakes and try to show off, or get a big ego, or decide they want to take over the world or some bogus thing."
She rubbed her wrists, considering him. "No kidding."
"And you said the whole world is like this?"
Emily watched the kid lean back, gusting a big sigh into the sky, his own breath billowing like cold steam.
"Man, this blows. Instead of flying cars, we get superhero drama."
Emily huffed in agreement, leaning back to stare up at the sky. Her claws rasped against scales as she scratched the side of her neck, a little surprised that she hadn't been turned in already.
"Well, can't help you with the flying cars, but if you don't want to go home, I'd be happy to have a partner in this."
She waved his hand at the small pile of duffle bags, expecting the disapproving look she received.
"Or not~ that's fine too."
Danny shook his head. The ghost zone wasn't going to last much longer. The ectoplasm was slowly, steadily leaching into the real world. This whole place reeked of its miasma, and it was only to be expected that everyone and their mother was infused with enough to manifest powers. Enough to be born looking like a monster. Long term exposure could do a lot to a person, after all. He couldn't stop thinking of the people here - how much it would suck if he wasn't allowed to use any of his powers. Even back when he first got them, refusing to use any one of them for too long would itch like crazy. Turning to crime, even just to be able to flex those 'muscles' had become attractive several times before he shut down the portals.
"Would you say most 'villians' were like you?"
"Humph. No way. There are some real nut cases out there, convinced they're superior or some shit. But…." Emily eyed the kid, wondering why he hadn't already known all of this. Had he been living under a rock or something?
"...why do you ask?"
Danny continued to tap his finger against his lips, looking down at the ground. It was... probably his fault that things had gotten this bad. Maybe he hadn't closed the portal well enough. Maybe his constant back and forth with it, ages ago, had weakened the barrier between their dimensions. Either way, he had a world full of ghostly people who were getting the shaft, as far as "fairness" went.
The itchy part of his core - the little voice that always urged him (protect! Protect!) was starting to grumble. Put on a pedestal or seen as a freak - neither were attractive options.
"Purely hypothetically, since you've probably thought about this. How do you think this problem could be solved?"
Emily flexed her wings, rolling muscular shoulders. She answered so quickly that his assumption was proven right - she clearly had thought about this question before.
"The Heroes think they're 'Justice' despite doing the most damage of all of us. Anything to stop 'evil'" she growled the word out, scales rippling in frustration. "But… if we had a way to use our powers - if we had a way to be useful, and not be a burden - to support our families and be proud of who we are, I think that would solve a lot of problems."
"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, huh?"
Emily just nodded, tucking her wings close. After being so thoroughly and quickly trounced by the glowing teen, she wasn't sure what all to expect. This kind of interrogation was far removed from the ancient presence that had enveloped her mind. She certainly didn't expect a green eye turned toward him, tiny fangs gleaming in a mischievous smile.
"Would you be interested in trying to create that Utopia?"