By Wolf O'Donnell
Author's Note: I don't normally do Danny Phantom fanfics and am more of a Star Fox fanfic guy, despite the fact that the majority of my fanfics are Digimon fanfics. However, I am branching out and proving that I can do any type of fanfic once I'm familiar with the background of the genre I'm moving in to.
P.S. Streete Court High is based on an amalgamation of schools and Universities that I've been to. The cemetery in the middle of Streete Court High is based on the cemetery in the middle of University College London's Mile End Campus, the rest is based on an amalgamation of King's College London's Hodgkin Building and Great Hall, and the now defunct Streete Court School, which used to be located near Godstone (and was founded by J.V. Milne, Father of A.A. Milne, whom happened to be the author of Winnie the Pooh). Just thought you'd like to know.
Legal Blurb: Wolf O'Donnell is copyrighted to Nintendo Ltd. Danny Phantom and all related characters are copyrighted to Frederator Ltd and is the brainchild of Butch Hartman. All other characters are my ideas. Upon reading this story or this legal blurb, you hereby agree that I cannot be sued for anything whatsoever. This fanfic is merely meant for entertainment purposes and is in no way meant to profit off of the Danny Phantom series, and does in no way represent the Official Stance of Butch Hartman. Also, in no way is Streete Court High meant to be a true indication of any of the institutions that it is an amalgamation of. (Yes I know that's bad grammar, but let's not go into that now, okay?)
Chapter One: Away
"Why can't I see it?" murmured the old man and his deep voice echoed around him as loud as Thunder. "Why can I not see the Image of Our Ideal Future?" wondered the old man out loud, as he looked up at the concave, circular mirror above him and the coloured mist that swirled on its surface or in its surface. "I wonder, what could be interfering with my reception, with our reception?"
The old man's beard was as long as the stereotypical, idealised image of God Himself, as was his grey hair. He looked old, with a frail and thin face, with a thin, aquiline nose, the only features that could be visible through all that hair.
"Why am I being denied the Image of Our Ideal Future?" he wondered out loud. "Why can't I see? Why am I not allowed to see it and who is preventing me from seeing it?"
Darkness was all that accompanied the old man, as he sat in his wheelchair, a huge monstrous machine with plastic tubes going in and out of him, but cleverly concealed by his hair and the great purple robe he wore like some patient's nightgown. The only light available was that from the large machine in front of him, to which the concave mirror was attached and framed with dried mandrake, and the light was an eerie purple that cast somehow managed to avoid casting its mauve hue on to the old man's face.
"If I may speak, sir; perhaps we have the wrong settings," piped up a voice from behind him. "It is entirely plausible that there is an error in the Spirit Algorithms. Perhaps we should recalculate them."
"No, there is nothing wrong with my Algorithms," protested another voice, a refined voice that had the same English accent that the old man did, but with less of the deep bass in it.
"Yet, your Algorithms were calculated, using Ideal Conditions," said the second voice, that seemed brusque and American compared to the other one. "In this world, there are rarely ideal conditions. Perhaps the interference is through the ghosts that inhabit the Spirit World itself."
"Too many Ghost Particles would interfere with our reception," agreed the third voice.
"Exactly!" exclaimed the American voice. "Sifu, I have a friend who works at Casper High, a Ghost Eater. He says he thinks he's found a half-boy, half-ghost studying there. If we could capture him and study him, we would be able to perfect the Spirit Algorithms our Dream Engine uses."
The old man's eyes widened at the mention of this anomaly.
"Half boy?" he exclaimed. "Half ghost?" He would have turned around, but the batteries in his wheelchair had died recently and were only just being recharged. "Impossible," he exclaimed in response to the notion. "Yet, if such a youth exists..."
"Of course, I will bring him here, Sifu," came the reply from the American voice.
It was encroaching on his very being, threaten to swallow his consciousness whole. It seemed like a terrible force that dwelt in the recesses of his mind, beckoning him towards it and making the world pale in its presence. Nothing seemed as if it could defeat it and stop him from slipping into its lightless embrace, as it seemed to drain the colour, the sound and the very life out of his surroundings.
Yes, and even as time passed, he grew weaker to this terrible force and the complex nature of his consciousness, of his being awake, began to slow and factor after factor kicked in, to shut his very system down. Whatever was left of his consciousness became dim electrical impulses of the neurons in his mind and his eyelids became heavy.
Fight it, you've got to fight it, he managed to think to himself.
"Mr. Fenton!" cried a voice and a great one-metre ruler slammed down on the table in front of him, jolting him back awake. "Mr. Fenton, would you please care to repeat what I just said?"
The black-haired youth blinked, as he looked up at the figure of his English teacher, Mr. Lancer.
"Er..." began Danny Fenton, only to trail off into awkward silence.
"I thought as much," said Mr. Lancer, as he scratched at his head. He turned to face the clock at the back of the classroom. "I'd like to see you in my office after class, Mr. Fenton."
Danny heard a laugh and turned round, to see the grinning face of Dash Baxter, the school bully and one of the football team's best players. That figured. Dash loved to see him in some trouble and if Danny wasn't in any, Dash always found some reason to torment him.
It was times like those that he just wished that he could disappear and slip away unnoticed from the rest of the class. It wasn't as if anybody in the class cared, with the possible exception of Tucker and Sam, his two best friends.
There were times when Danny just wanted to tell others about the reasons as to why he always seemed drained and tired in class. He wanted to tell them how it was him that had saved them from the enraged ghost of a cafeteria woman and how it was him that had saved them countless times from the ghosts that somehow managed to find their way into the world of the living. He wanted to tell them about how he had ended up with ghostly superpowers thanks to his parents' invention...
Yet what would be the point?
No one would believe him and even if they did and even if he did prove his powers in front of them, what then? Would he be celebrated as a hero? Would he be shunned as a freak?
In this day and age, it seemed as if the latter were more likely and every day he lived with the fear of being found out for what he really was, some half-boy, half-ghost hybrid. He was already unpopular, amongst the bottom rung of the social ladder, and what he didn't need was another excuse for them to shun him. No, if he was to be even accepted, he had to keep his true capabilities a secret from the others. He could never truly be himself, or all that he could truly be, for he lived in a society where it doesn't matter who you are but whether you conform.
The bell suddenly rang.
Danny gritted his teeth. Ever since the accident that had turned him into a half-boy, half-ghost hybrid, bells had always given him a slight headache. It wasn't too painful, yet every time that infernal bell rang, it bit into his mind as if it were a dentist's drill.
"Class dismissed!" called out Lancer, before he turned to the desk and began packing his materials up.
The entire class got up and started pupils started chatting to each other now that the school day was over. It was during these times, that he truly realised how much of a social reject he was. All of the others seemed to have friends, and there he was, all alone and in trouble with the teacher. He felt as if Life was laughing at him, like he always did whenever he was a dealt a bum hand by Life.
Everyone and everything seemed against him. Life was not a journey for him. It was a relentless uphill struggle for survival with bullies and teachers that seemed to have it in for him. What was their problem with him? Did his very presence offend them and if so, why?
A hand suddenly rested on Danny's shoulder.
"Sorry, man," apologised Tucker, one of his best friends. "We'll wait for you outside, if you want," he said, referring to him and Sam next to him.
"Yeah," said Sam quietly with a nod of her head.
"That's okay," said Danny quietly. "You guys don't need to stay behind."
"Really?" exclaimed Tucker suddenly, as his face brightened up. "Cool, man." And he received a kick in the shins. "Ow, what was that for?" he asked, as he turned to Sam and received one of the coldest glares he had ever seen in his entire life. "Oh... er... yeah, no, we'll wait for you, Danny."
"Okay, Fenton," said Lancer, as he had finished packing his teaching materials into his briefcase. "Follow me." He picked up his briefcase and walked towards the classroom door, holding it open, as it one of those strange doors that automatically shut thanks to the chain built into it, and as a result, he looked as if he was a Porter, holding the Door open to Danny's Purgatory. "Hurry up, Fenton."
"Yes, Mr. Lancer," said Danny quietly, as he slung his backpack over his shoulder.
Sam and Tucker watched Danny walk past the rows of desks and chairs towards the doorway, solemn expressions on his face and their faces. It felt like watching a man on Death Row making his way to the venue of his execution. The silence that surrounded them, suffocated them, was every bit as thick as it would have been on Death Row and it was so potent that it nearly choked out tears from Sam and Tucker.
Yes, Danny had gotten into trouble with Lancer many times before, but this time round...
Yet there was something about this time that seemed more final than the other times. What would Danny's punishment be?
And the journey to Lancer's office seemed longer than most journeys. Every single metre turned into a thousand metres and the corridor seemed to stretch out towards Infinity before him. An endless row of lockers seemed to line the route, as if a Procession towards the chopping block where his Fate and Punishment awaited him.
"Mom? Dad?" exclaimed Danny, upon entering Mr. Lancer's Office. "What's going on here?" And his question was met with silence, as Mr. Lancer walked behind his desk and sat down.
"I asked your Parents to come," said Mr. Lancer.
Danny frowned. How did he get his parents in school so quickly? It didn't make sense, and the only way he could have... Suddenly, Danny realised the truth. This had been planned long before today.
"We've been talking with Mr. Lancer for quite some time now," said Maddie Fenton, Danny's mother. "He says you've been sleeping in class and have been getting in trouble quite a lot."
"That's not true," protested Danny abruptly. "Mom, you've got to believe me. I haven't been deliberately getting into trouble. Most of the time, it's Dash's..."
"Danny," interrupted Danny's father, Jack Fenton, "it doesn't matter. You just haven't been paying attention in any classes and your grades have been very disappointing."
Since when had his Father been interested in his life? Danny couldn't understand. Most of the time, his father had been too occupied with his hobby of ghost-catching to even notice that he existed. What could have changed to make his Father so concerned in his grades?
"That's why we've decided to send you to a Boarding School," suggested his Mother.
"We've been going through all the options with Mr. Lancer," continued his Mother, "and we decided this to be the best."
Mr. Lancer nodded, with a slight smile on his lips.
"Yes, we've discussed this thoroughly," agreed Mr. Lancer with a nod of his head. "We went through all the options and decided a strict Boarding School would be best. A friend of mine works in Streete Court High, outside the city, and I'm sure Streete Court High would be perfect for you."
"But, Mom, Dad, you can't afford to send me off to a Boarding School!" protested Danny.
"It would have made more sense to send you off to a Military School," agreed Jack Fenton, "but Streete Court High is one of the best schools in this state."
"And sending off one of our pupils to Streete Court High looks good for this school," added Mr. Lancer, only to correct himself. "Uh... I mean, it's one of the strictest Boarding Schools in the State, with one of the highest pass rates you'll ever find."
Danny thought of all his friends... Well, both of his only two friends, anyway. How would he see them, if he was locked up in a Boarding School on the outskirts of the city?
"But Dad, Mom, I can't," he protested, as he shook his head. "Please, what about my friends?"
"They're a bad influence on you," was his Mother's reply.
"Bad influence?" exclaimed Danny in disbelief. "No way!" He shook his head. "They're not a bad influence, I swear."
"Swear?" exclaimed Mr. Fenton in disbelief. "I didn't raise my Son to swear! This is worse than I thought. I never thought that my own flesh and blood would ever use foul language! That's it! The final straw! You're going to Streete Court, whether you like it or not!"
And no matter what Danny said, he couldn't change their mind. He pleaded with them and cajoled them, but nothing could change their minds. They seemed resolute about their decision.
"Please, you just can't split us up," protested Danny. "You can't split a friendship apart just like that. Sam and Tucker are about the only friends I have, left. You can't just take me away from them just like that."
"Oh, you'll make new friends, honey," said his Mother, "and there's no reason why your friends can't see you every now and then."
"This is for the best, son," said his Father.
And on Sunday, Sam and Tucker were waiting on the street outside Danny's place.
"Danny," called out Sam, upon seeing the black-haired youth step out of the apartment block carrying a large bag in one hand. Then she remained silent. Sam didn't know what else to say.
"Danny!" called out a voice from behind him.
The black-haired youth turned round, just in time to see his older sister rush up straight to him and grab him in such a ferocious hug that he dropped his luggage.
"Jazz!" he protested at his older sister's embrace. "Oh, come on, Jazz. This is getting old. I'll only be a few miles away. You can come visit me whenever you want, say, every weekend."
"Are you kidding me?" protested Jazz, as she let go of her brother and shoved him away to arm's length. "I don't miss you that much."
"But..." protested Danny.
"I... I just..." stuttered Jazz, but she didn't know how to finish, such was the grip of her own secret sorrow. So she turned round and ran back in, past her Father, whom was carrying a suitcase underneath each arm.
"What's eating her?" asked Mr. Fenton.
For a while, Danny didn't reply. It was as if he was weighing up his own options.
"Nothing, Dad," was his reply, as he reached down to pick up his own large duffel bag. He turned round and then saw Sam and Tucker in front of him. "Hey, guys," he said quietly, their very presence reminding him why he hadn't wanted to go in the first place.
"We're going to miss you, man," said Tucker quietly, almost as if the words were being choked by his own grief. "I mean, really miss you. Sam too, what with you two being..."
"What?" exclaimed Sam angrily. "We're not an item, Tucker! How many times do I have to tell you people that?" She crossed her arms, turning her back and her face away from Tucker. "I don't believe you."
"Come on, Sam," sighed Tucker. "Don't fight. Not today. I bet you're going to miss Danny the most."
Sam laughed short and sharply in response to Tucker's comment.
"You must be kidding me," was her all too familiar reply. "It'd be a welcome change. No one's going to say that Danny and I am a couple once he's gone."
At first, Danny felt a bit hurt by Sam's comment, but as it turned in his mind, he soon realised the under text. A smile slowly spread across his lips.
"Yeah, I'll miss you too, Sam," he said, as if she had just poured out grief-stricken words of farewell. "You too, Tucker." He then made his way towards the car that waited on the curb and threw his duffel bag into the back. "Look on the bright side. We can always see each other again. The School ain't that far away and I hear it's got a bus route in to town."
Tucker burst out into tears and rushed Danny, embracing him tightly.
"I'll miss ya', man," he cried through his tears.
"Urgh, don't make me hurl," sighed Sam, as she kept her back to Danny and Tucker.
"Come on, Danny," called out his Father from the car, as he buckled himself in. "Let's get going! We don't want to be late for your new school, huh?"
"Coming, Dad," said Danny slowly, yet deliberately loudly. "Okay, Tucker, would you mind letting go of me now?"
"Huh?" exclaimed Tucker, and then he suddenly realised exactly what he was doing. "Oh, sorry, dude," he apologised, as he let go of Danny quickly and shirked away. "Sorry, man," he said, as he wiped the tears from his eyes with his hand. "I don't know what came over me."
"That's okay," said Danny reassuringly and then said nothing for a moment more, until his Father started honking the man. "Well," he said slowly and then paused to think up of what to say, before he finally plumped with the words, "I guess this is it."
"Yeah," said Sam dismissively.
"Well... uh... bye then," said Danny awkwardly.
"Bye, man," sniffled Tucker.
"Yeah, bye," replied Sam, "Danny."
Danny nodded, as he made his way to the car. He stopped though and placed a hand on Sam's shoulder.
"Don't worry, Sam," he said quietly, so only she could hear. "Everything'll be okay." He then let go and made his way to the car, getting in on the passenger's side and shutting the door behind him.
For a while, the car didn't move, as Danny buckled himself in, but then it screeched off unsafely, speeding into the traffic and nearly causing an accident, before it careered off down the road.
"Let's get going," said Sam, as she discreetly wiped the last tear from her eyes.
Streete Court High was a great big countryside manor that had been bought out from a wealthy man after he had gone bankrupt. There was a copse directly to the south of the Manor, a small woodland, that occupied the same sized-area that the main Manor's building also occupied. To the north-east was a lake surrounded by trees on all but one of its sides, and a small bridge to the west of it where the water drained from the lake through a small stream.
Directly to the west of the Manor was a gym and south of that, surrounded by stone walls, was a small square with a tarmac ground and with basketball hoops on either side.
A small archway was placed in the east-wall, which led out to the main courtyard in front of the Manor. Opposite it was another wall, with an archway that led out into a vast lawn, with a wall to the south with an archway that led out on to the road that ran past the Manor, and opposite that particular archway, a great beech tree with purple leaves growing from a flight of four stone steps.
Directly to the east of this lawn were two gardens, parallel to each other that led straight to a corridor made out of hedges that intersected the path towards an outdoor swimming pool that looked as if it had been built by Romans. The northern garden, was in actual fact, a small cemetery plot and was much smaller than the southern garden, hence its border did not even reach the swimming pool.
To the east of the southern copse were two soccer pitches and a football pitch. There was also a netted area for cricket practice, a strange thing for an American school. There was also an Atheletic field to the east of the swimming pool, which lay on the other side of a row of tall cedar trees that guarded the way to a slope that led down into a ditch that separated the field off from the rest of the school grounds.
The Manor itself had a brown facade with green shutters on the outside of every window, which had white frames. On the front was a couple of marble stairs that went underneath a white, marble portico underneath which was a grand oak door with Lion's Head knockers.
Danny's father had parked out what once had been a white, marble birdbath in the courtyard in front of the Manor, but had been filled with soil and flowers and clover allowed to grow in it.
Danny took one look at it and couldn't help but feel a sense of awe at it. There was some kind of magical quality to it that he had never thought possible in such a building like it. The grounds around it seemed almost quaint in a strange manner and served to ease his tensions slightly, as opposed to the man that stood on the steps outside the Manor.
This man had hair as black as his Father's and stared at them from underneath cross-looking eyebrows and through clear, spotless spectacle lenses. Upon seeing them, he made his way down the steps and walked straight over towards them.
"I am Dr. Wolf O'Donnell," greeted the man, in a refined, British accent, "Vice Principal of Streete Court High." He extended a hand out towards them, as he said, "Are you the Fentons?"
"That I am," replied Fenton brashly, as he grabbed Dr. O'Donnell's hand and shook it heartily, almost too much for O'Donnell's taste, if the expression on his face was anything to go by. "And this is my son, Danny Fenton."
"Danny?" exclaimed O'Donnell with his left eyebrow raised. It soon lowered though, as a smile spread across his lips. "It is a pleasure to meet you. I must apologise for the Principal's inability to meet you right now, but I'm afraid that he is not as sprightly as he used to be." He turned round and saw a figure silhouetted against one of the windows. O'Donnell smiled, then said, "Please, allow me to take you to meet the Principal and young Daniel's Matron. You can take Daniel's luggage up to his room later."
He turned round abruptly and made his way across the stone tiles of the courtyard, before ascending the marble stairs until he reached the top underneath the shelter of the white portico that stood guard in front of the front door. There, O'Donnell stopped and only until he heard Danny and his Father catch up to him did he continue.
O'Donnell lead them through the double doors and into a great marble hallway with a black and white tiled floor. There was a wooden booth in front of them, standing next to a grand concrete pillar. There was a security guard asleep inside the wooden booth within this grand hall of marble with staircases on the wall to the left and the wall to the right. They both went up, round to the wall behind them, where they joined and then back up again to the floor above and near the base of each staircase was a large marble statue of someone looking like a Greek or Roman statesman, staring emotionlessly and passively out at no one and nothing in particular.
The Vice Principal led them up the right set of staircases up to the floor above, before turning left and walking down a wooden corridor with trophy cases lining the walls and a chequered linoleum floor. He turned left and led them into a dark office lit only by the green desk lamp sitting on a large oak desk near the window.
"Daniel Fenton, Mr. Jack Fenton, please allow me to introduce you to the Principal of Streete Court High, Professor Duncan Zeross," announced O'Donnell.
There was a cough from the great massive structure behind the chair, before it turned round.
Seated inside the chair was an old man, a very old man, with hair so long that it reached down past his shoulders. His beard was as long, flowing over the purple robe he wore over his body. And though the robe covered most of his body, it was evident that the tubes that sprouted out from the plastic IV bags snaked underneath the purple cloth and perhaps into the anaemic-looking old man in the highly mechanised wheelchair.
"Ah, Master Daniel Fenton," exclaimed the old man in a deep, booming voice that didn't sound natural from such a frail-looking old man. "It is a pleasure to meet you and your Father. I hope, Master Fenton, that you will find your stay here at Streete Court a pleasant one."
Silence followed soon after. It was an awkward silence, punctuated only by the lack of ticking from the Grandfather clock that stood to the side.
"Er... thank you," said Danny awkwardly, upon realising that he had to reply to Prof. Zeross' comment. "It's... nice to meet you."
"Ahem, sir," coughed O'Donnell quietly, before giving Danny a very cold glare.
"Sir," finished Danny quickly.
Prof. Zeross laughed and it was a deep laugh minus coughing.
"Yes, well, that I'm not sure if you are used to calling us that in your school," commented Zeross with a slow smile spreading across his lips. "However, here, our students should always refer to the teachers as 'Sir'." He looked side to side and then said to Dr. O'Donnell, "Dr. O'Donnell, where is the Harestone House Matron?"
"Hmm, I would have thought she would be here by now," said O'Donnell coldly.
"I'm sorry, I'm late, Sirs," apologised a feminine voice from the doorway.
The voice belonged to a woman about the age of Danny's mother, but she had blonde hair instead of his mother's fiery red hair. She was also dressed in clothes that made her look almost like a Victorian woman.
"I'm sorry for being late, but I had to see to a sick child," she explained.
"Sick?" exclaimed Zeross with concern. "Oh dear. I hope he's okay, Ms. Richmond."
"Yes, he's fine now," was the woman's reply. "Oh, is this the new student?"
"Yes, he is," replied O'Donnell sternly. "Master Fenton, this is Ms. Alethea Richmond, the Matron for Harestone House."
"You see, our students are divided into different Dormitories, each called Houses," explained Zeross calmly. "It makes for some friendly little competitions between the Four Houses." He smiled and his smile was nothing more than a line on his face. "Do not worry, Mr. Fenton," said Zeross without much prompt from Danny's father. "I'm sure your son will fit in quite well here."
At that point, Zeross started coughing and it was a hacking cough that made it sound as if he was coughing up his own lungs.
"You must excuse me," when Prof. Zeross had recovered, thanks to some attention from both Ms. Richmond and Dr. O'Donnell. "I'm afraid that I've not been in good health as of late. Perhaps you would like to go and start unpacking your belongings, Master Fenton?"
"Uh, yeah," replied Danny with an awkward nod of his head.
"Good, good," said Zeross with a slow, rhythmic nodding of his head. "Just be sure that the next time I see you, it is because you have achieved well and beyond the call of your duty as a student... and not because you have misbehaved." He coughed again, but then managed to recover. "Alethea, please show young Daniel to his room."
"Of course, Professor," was Alethea's reply.
And of course, that was what she did. Alethea escorted them back to their car and helped Danny with a few of the lighter bags, before escorting him back into the Manor and back up the staircase. This time, however, she led them right down a corridor that looked as if it would look more at home inside an airport than a psychiatric ward, with a huge LED announcement board hanging above them that announced the time but was one hour slow.
Ms. Richmond then lead them up a flight of stairs until they reached a corridor with a wooden floor and white-washed walls, with wooden doors set into it at intervals.
"This is your room," announced Ms. Richmond, as she opened the door and stepped aside to let Danny and his Father in. "You'll be getting you very own room, with a wardrobe, your own sink and mirror, two chairs, a desk for your homework and some shelves for your books." She smiled. "And of course, a bed all to yourself."
"Finally," exclaimed Danny's Father, as he dumped the suitcases to the floor. "I thought my back would give out any moment there... er... I mean, it's about time Danny got unpacked and settled in. I've got lots of work to do, you know."
"I guess we should let Danny get settled in," suggested Ms. Richmond.
"Good idea!" exclaimed Mr. Fenton. "Well, bye, Danny!" He then ducked back out, before Ms. Richmond closed the door slowly behind them, leaving Danny all alone in his new room.
It seemed very quiet and very sparse and empty. Danny looked around him. It could do with some posters to liven the place up. Yet, where would he start? He didn't know what to unpack first and there were still other things on his mind, memories of his own home and his family and friends.
A knock suddenly came from the door.
Danny turned round to face it. He didn't say a thing for a while, wondering who it could have been on the other side. Something deep inside hoped that it was a familiar face, yet he severely doubted it.
"Come in," he called out after much deliberation, hoping that it was at least his Father.
The door opened slowly and almost awkwardly to reveal another student, wearing the uniform of Streete Court High, a black blazer with black trousers, black shoes and white shirt and a black, yellow-striped tie. And within the yellow stripe was a blue stripe, denoting that the student belonged to Harestone House.
"Hi," greeted the youth in a slight British accent that certainly wasn't as pronounced as that of Zeross or O'Donnell. "May I come in?"
There was something about the way that Alex talked that Danny found rather familiar. He had the same accent as O'Donnell, although it was less pronounced, and the way he acted was very much like the way Dr. O'Donnell had done.
"Uh... sure, why not?" was Danny's reply.
The youth on the other side was shaped much like Danny, yet he had silvery grey hair as opposed to Danny's black and his irises were of such a dark brown that they almost looked black.
"Hi, my name's Alex," greeted the silvery-haired youth. "I thought I'd welcome you to Streete Court on behalf of all the others."
"Thanks," said Danny with a slight smile on his lips. "My name's Danny."
A small smile spread across Alex's face, but then disappeared.
"Nice to meet you," replied Alex and then he frowned. "You haven't unpacked yet?"
"Uh, no... I haven't," replied Danny with a shake of his head.
"Here, let me help you," offered Alex.
"No, I couldn't," protested Danny.
"I insist," stressed Alex.
And between the two of them, Danny's stuff was unpacked. Comics piled up on to the shelf, as did a few of Danny's books. Posters ended up slapped on to the wall at angles and Danny's clothes ended up in the wardrobe, as Alex had told Danny about the school's strict rules concerning clothes and the way they should be stored.
"Man, that was quick," commented Danny, as he looked around him.
"Wow, so you play the guitar, eh?" exclaimed Alex, upon producing a guitar out of apparently nowhere.
Danny scratched his head. He had never seen that guitar before and it certainly wasn't his. Where did it come from?
"Uh... no, I don't," he told Alex truthfully. "That's not mine."
"Oh," exclaimed Alex, as he looked at it, holding in his hand like was he holding a dead rat. "Hmm, I guess the last guy who lived here must have left it behind." He looked towards Danny. "Perhaps you should take up the guitar. Who knows? Maybe you could form a band."
"I'd be terrible," retorted Danny.
"Not with practice, you wouldn't be," was Alex's reply.
There was suddenly a screeching of tires outside, which made Danny dash to the window. He peered out through the clear glass and saw his Dad's car speeding off, leaving a trail of dust in its wake.
"No!" he cried out in disbelief, though he should have been used to it by now. "I don't believe it! How could he just leave like that?"
"Yeah," sighed Danny heavily, before he collapsed on to his bed. "I should have known though," he said with another heavy sigh. "Dad was almost never there for me when I was younger. He was always too obsessed with his ghost catching inventions."
"Ghost Catching?" exclaimed Alex in surprise. "You're not a Ghost Eater, are you?"
"What?" exclaimed Danny.
"You're not a big eater, are you?" asked Alex quickly. "It's nearly time for Supper."
Danny's brows furrowed together, as he thought about it. Nearly time for supper? Now that he thought about it, he was quite hungry. He wondered what the food in a Boarding School was like and whether it was anything like cafeteria food at Casper High.
"What's the food like here?" asked Danny curiously, as he sat up.
"Not very good," was Alex's reply, "that's why I asked whether you were a big eater. If you are, you'd probably waste away." He then turned round abruptly, as if he had heard something. "Erm... I'd better get going," he said. "I've got to see Dr. O'Donnell. Perhaps we'll see each other at Supper?" And he said the last bit, as he made his way to the door and then disappeared round the corner of the doorframe upon uttering the last word.
It seemed that everyone wanted to leave him alone that day, from his friends to his own family and now to complete strangers.
"Knock, knock," said Ms. Richmond, as she knocked on his door. "Are you all done?"
"Yes, Ms. Richmond," replied Danny.
"Please, call me, Alethea," she said with a gentle smile on her face. It was then that she noticed what Danny was wearing. "Oh, you can't wear that to Supper tonight! School uniforms only, especially seeing as you'll be sitting at the Head Table tonight."
"Head Table?" exclaimed Danny in surprise.
"Well, you are the new student," explained Alethea. "Come, you must get washed." She then opened his wardrobe without his permission, looked around and rooted around for his blazer, white shirt, tie and trousers and grey socks, that he had been fitted out with before arriving. "I'll leave you to get washed and dressed," she said, as she gave him the necessary components of his uniform, "but you must be ready in ten minutes. I'll wait at the end of the corridor." She then quickly dashed out, leaving Danny to his own devices.
Danny glanced towards the uniform and at the black blazer with Streete Court's insignia on the breast pocket. On it was a phoenix with a key in its mouth within a shield, all of it done in yellow brocade. This was above the school's insignia that was marked out in golden brocade underneath the shield and read, 'Veritas sine timore'. He had no idea what it meant and no idea what language it was in, but that didn't matter.
In ten minutes, he wore the uniform and did up the tie as best as he could, which was to say, not very well. The knot was too big and the tie too short and it didn't even cover the top button of his white shirt. Still, it was the best that he could do, and so he quickly rushed out, closing his room's door behind him.
"Oh, that won't do!" exclaimed Alethea, upon seeing him. She then undid his tie and redid it for him, making it perfect, nearly strangling him when she tightened it for him. "There! Perfect! Come now. You must be early for Supper." Alethea then grabbed his hand and led him back the way she had first led him, down the stairs and then through the empty corridor and down the flight of marble steps in the Main Hall.
Danny was dragged past the wooden booth and towards a set of double doors that looked identical to another set to the left. He was led through these doors and into a great dining room with oblong tables set out all in a meaningful and ordered pattern.
On the far side was a smaller oblong table of a darker mahogany than the other tables. Arranged around it were nine chairs, two of which were very grand chairs and Danny guessed those were the chairs that the Principal and Vice-Principal were to take. But how was the Principal supposed to sit in one of those chairs?
"Perfect timing, Ms. Richmond," said O'Donnell, as he stood behind them in his best dinner jacket. "Wouldn't you agree, Reverend Fordyce?"
Next to O'Donnell was a Reverend dressed all in black, with the white clerical collar. His hair was an unnatural blonde on top, whilst a greying blonde on the sides, indicative of one of the worst toupees Danny had ever seen. The Reverend also seemed to wear mirrored sunglasses that masked his eyes.
"Yeah, pretty good timin' if I say so myself," agreed the Reverend in the most brash-sounding voice Danny had ever heard. It was a voice with an all-American accent, unlike those of Zeross and O'Donnell and Alex, which finally reassured Danny that he hadn't left the United States. "So, is this the young Mr. Fenton, I've been hearing 'bout?"
"It certainly is," replied O'Donnell calmly.
"Nice to meet ya'," was the Reverend's greeting, as he scratched at his head. "Put 'er there." He extended a hand out towards Danny, which the youth shook nervously. Still, that didn't stop the Reverend from nearly shaking Danny's arm off his shoulder. "I sure do hope you'll enjoy yer time here." He then noticed O'Donnell glaring at him coldly and a frown appeared on his face, before it lapsed into an expression of momentary realisation. "Ah, yeah... I'm awfully sorry I weren't there to meet you today, but I was... consummating a marriage a ways down the road."
"Uh, that's okay," was Danny's reply.
"Now Danny, we have a strict little tradition around here," said Alethea with a small smile on her face. "The different Houses file in by year, starting with the younger years and ending with the older years, each year accompanied by the Head of their Table, who's usually a teacher here. Then in come the last year and Dr. O'Donnell and Reverend Fordyce. No one's allowed to sit until they sit, but on this occasion, you may sit down at the Head Table before everyone else."
The explanation made Danny wonder what kind of archaic institution he had been enrolled into. He didn't even notice Reverend Fordyce reaching underneath his toupee with one hand and scratching underneath it.
Danny was led across to the table and was seated to the left of the chair that was meant for Dr. O'Donnell and Alethea sat beside him. There they waited, as every single last pupil filed in to stand beside their tables behind their chairs.
The very last people to come in were Dr. O'Donnell and Reverend Fordyce, having left the room soon after Danny and Alethea had taken their places. They were accompanied by the school's remaining teachers, whom were all lucky enough to not have been assigned to be the Heads of any Tables.
Dr. O'Donnell sat to Danny's right and the Reverend to his right. And when O'Donnell and the Reverend sat down, everyone else did.
Supper, to say the least, was nothing special. It started off with soup that had obviously come out of cans and was then followed by generic cafeteria chicken pie with roast potatoes and peas so hard they could have been used as the bullets for a firing squad. The students all washed this down with water, unlike the teachers at the Head Table and Danny himself, as he was seated there.
What they drank appeared to be wine, but Alethea assured him that it was anything but.
"It's actually purple grape juice," Alethea had told him. "Dr. O'Donnell is a complete teetotal."
After everyone had had their fill, the plates were cleared away by some students, each chosen from each table, and taken out of the Dining Room. Moments later, the same students came back each armed with a tray full of peach cobbler. This they placed at the Head of each table.
Suddenly, O'Donnell took his spoon and then hit it sternly against his wine glass, as he rose up from his seat.
"Attention please," he called out and the Dining Hall immediately went silent. "Tonight, we have a new pupil amongst our midst, recently transferred from Casper High."
Danny now felt some red creeping across his cheeks. He had never experienced a public introduction on this scale before and he could feel his cheeks becoming as hot as fried bacon, and was sure he was beginning to look like a tomato with a face and hair.
"Allow me to introduce you to Master Daniel Fenton," announced O'Donnell, as he gestured for Danny to stand up, which he did. He turned round to face Danny. "As Vice Principal of Streete Court High, I now formally welcome you to our Community on behalf of Principal Zeross." He then reached for his wine glass, which had been topped up with more grape juice by one of the teachers. "Now, as is tradition, I must ask you all to raise your glasses and drink to young Mr. Fenton's health!"
Well, this was certainly unexpected. Danny never though he'd have an entire school drink to his health, even if it was forced upon the students by the Vice Principal.
"To Daniel Fenton," called out O'Donnell. "May his Studies here be fruitful and may his time here be pleasant. To Daniel Fenton!"
"To Daniel Fenton!" chanted back the rest of the students and teachers.
Darkness was all that accompanied Professor Zeross, as he sat in his wheelchair, a huge monstrous machine with plastic tubes going in and out of him, but cleverly concealed by his hair and the great purple robe he wore like some patient's nightgown. The only light available was that from a large machine in front of him, to which as concave mirror was attached and framed with dried mandrake, and the light was an eerie purple that cast somehow managed to avoid casting its mauve hue on to the old man's face.
"Why can't I still see the Image of the Dragon King?" he wondered out loud. "Could Fordyce be wrong about this Daniel Fenton? Or is it that someone is shielding young Fenton's true power and keeping it from me? And if so, who? Who could it be?"
Zeross inhaled sharply, his bony, skeletal hand rising upwards as if to touch the concave mirror high above his head.
"Why?" he exclaimed. "Why? I want to know! Why can't I harness the Power of the Spirit World? Why?"