Author's Notes: Well, it seems that the internet on campus is once again down. Damn you Sprint! So I have nothing to do today but write. And seeing as my thoughts are a jumbled mess, I'm putting onto paper anything I can think of, which is quite a lot let me tell you. I think my block is just about gone, and the ideas are pouring out to make up for lost time. I'll probably have carpal tunnel by the time the weekend is over.

I can't believe I'm bitching about a creativity spike...

A Musical Interlude

Chapter 1- We Rock

Samantha Manson was a sophomore at Sleepy Hollow College, which wasn't actually in the town of Sleepy Hollow where she lived. It was actually about an hour's drive away, and it was also equidistant from her old hometown of Amity Park. But that's neither here nor there. Sam was what you would call a Goth. She was a loner with an artistic, sarcastic, and brutally honest personality. But that wasn't to say she didn't have friends or a life. Speaking of which...

"Hey, Sam," her roommate Monica greeted as she walked into the room. They were an odd pair of friends, really. Monica was very outgoing, cheerful, and preferred logic to aesthetics. But the two of them got along fine anyway.

Sam glanced up from her sketchbook and tossed off a mumbled, "Hey," in response. She had to have this drawing completed and inked by the end of the week, and she absolutely hated procrastinating her work.

Monica smirked and tucked a lock of her blonde hair behind one ear. "You think I can tear you away from that sketchbook long enough to tell you what I found by the mailroom today?"

Sam smirked back and arched an eyebrow before putting on a fake thoughtful look and a sarcastic tone. "Oh gee, let me think..."

Monica didn't wait any longer; she just pulled out a small, folded up green leaflet from her pocket and tossed it into Sam's lap. "Here, just check it out."

Sam rolled her eyes once and set her sketchbook and pencil back down on the desk, which was covered in artistic supplies and Nightmare Before Christmas memorabilia, all neatly organized beside her laptop. She unfolded the leaflet and turned it right side up. Most of it was dominated by a black-and-white picture of five young men who looked about her age, all huddled toward the camera in dramatic poses. On the back left was a tall, skinny guy holding a pair of drumsticks in one hand and waving his fist at the camera with his eyes half-lidded. Beside him was another tall guy, this one with long dark hair to his elbows. He smirked at the camera with his arms folded over his chest and his hands formed into rock fists.

In the front left, kneeling down were two of the others. The one on the left was black and wore glasses and a beret. He had a Cheshire cat-worthy grin on his face and was winking at the camera. The other guy looked like he could have been European and had dark long hair down to his shoulders and a goatee. He wore a maniacal, toothy smile on his face as he pointed the headstock of his electric guitar at the camera.

Finally, in the center of the group, was the boy who stood out the most. He had pure white hair, except for his eyebrows, which were dark. He grinned confidently and pointed straight ahead at the camera with both hands, one extended out and the other further back, as if trying to connect with whoever might happen to be looking at the photo and make them join in on the fun he and the other four were having.

Sam studied the picture a moment before her eyes drifted down to the text below.

Danny Phantom and the Phantasmic Four
Classic/Power Metal Covers Concert
Friday, April 15 in Englund Lounge
Featuring:
Danny Phantom- Lead Vocals, Guitar
Technomancer- Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
Jack the Ripper- Lead Guitar, Vocals
Bram Van Helsing- Bass, Vocals
Poltergeist- Drums, Vocals
Songs from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Edguy, Children of Bodom, Savatage, Dio,
Iced Earth, Lost Horizon, The Michael Schenker Group, and more...

"What do you think?" Monica asked. "You want to go? C'mon, you know you want to."

Sam normally wasn't a big fan of heavy metal. She usually preferred stuff more like The Cure and Blue Oyster Cult. But then again, the only bands she knew of on that list were Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Maybe there would be something good in the set list. Besides, judging by the look and stage names of the band, they might at least turn out to be a fun bunch to hang out with. Real metalheads were typically a pretty wild crowd, and had a hell of a lot more personality than the mainstream sheep whom Sam felt she crusaded against every day of her life. But that wasn't really important at the time. "Oh... why not?" Sam finally answered as she slouched into her chair. "Not like I'm doing anything else Friday."

"Sweet," Monica replied before heading to her own desk and setting her backpack down. "So, did you recognize any of the bands on that list?"

"Two," Sam answered as she went back to her sketchbook. "Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. They're okay."

Monica giggled slightly as she checked her e-mail. "My brother would have a shit-fit if he heard you say that. Bruce Dickinson is his hero."

Sam rolled her eyes and scoffed lightly. "I think Tim Burton is awesome, but that doesn't mean I'd call him my hero. I never understood why people do that."

Monica just shrugged, her eyes never leaving the computer screen. This was how most of their conversations went. They talked back and forth, but seldom made eye contact. It was as if they each carried on two trains of thought at once. To most observers, it would have looked very interesting. Their responses were the only things that showed that two girls were conversing, let alone aware of each other's existence. "I guess it's only natural. People need role models. Someone to look up to as an example. Heroes are how they find some kind of ideal to shoot for. It's why Batman's totally bad-ass, Superman's invincible, Elektra kicks ass, and Wonder Woman has a pair of back-breaking tits but can stand up straight."

Sam couldn't help but chuckle at that. "Never thought of it that way."

"It's nothing new under the sun," Monica commented with a shrug. "People always feel insecure in their identities to some extent. So they take the A-types and the individualists, put them up on a pedestal, and try to emulate them. It's what separates the leaders from the followers."

"True." Sam answered off-handedly. "Now I hope you see why I categorically disdain all things mainstream and popular."

"It's too bad I'm not an anthropology major" Monica remarked, the smirk on her face practically audible.

"Why's that?"

"I could do a whole case study on you. 'The Tribe Called Goth' by Monica O'Shaughnessy."

Sam chuckled again at that. "Be sure to insert the little blurb, 'Truth is Stranger than Fiction.'"

"Then it sounds like a movie."

"Yeah... We could make it the next Trekkies."

"Okay, I'm not sure if you were serious or if that was a joke."

"Pick one."

It was like a game of verbal Pong at this point. They both had the same off-hand tone as they exchanged back and forth with an uncanny rhythm.

"You're the anti-Christ of drama, you know that?"

"Kinda hard to be an anti-Christ of anything when you're not Christian."

"What would you prefer? The Antithesis of the Abstract Concept of Mental and Emotional Conflict Made Manifest?"

"It's got a nice ring to it."

And so it went on and on, back and forth for about a half-hour. The topics seemed to randomly shift on the most irrelevant tangents, to the point where it would be impossible for a latecomer to guess how the whole thing started. Most of Sam's conversations ended up that way, though. The only reason this one ended was because she had to get to her 4:00 photography class. The great thing about being a fine arts major was getting to pass college for doing exactly what your teachers in high school told you not to do in class.

Photography class was held in the basement of Ward Hall, and it wasn't really a classroom in the traditional sense. It was more of a common room with a bunch of old sofas with patches of duct tape on them here and there, little knick knacks scattered on various surfaces, past students' photography projects framed on the walls, and a single desk where the teacher sat. If only more classrooms could be like this. Sam took her usual seat on the brown couch beside her friend, Dave Hammond. "Hey, Dave," she greeted him in much the same manner as she did Monica.

"Hey," Dave responded back. "You hear about the band playing on Friday?"

News travels fast. Sam nodded and crossed her legs, causing her skirt to ride up a little higher. She didn't really mind, though. It wasn't as if Dave was about to put the moves on her anytime soon. Partly because she knew he thought of her as a little sister, but mostly because he was as gay as springtime. "Yeah. Monica showed me the leaflet by the mailroom."

"They made leaflets?" Dave asked in mild surprise. "Huh. I thought they were going to have the Activities Board send out an e-mail."

"You know them?" Sam asked curiously.

"Yup. I met them through Bram, their bassist. Nice guy. Too bad he's straight." Dave absently fiddled with his camera for a moment as Sam turned this information over in her head.

"Who's the one with the white hair?" Sam asked as a few more students began filing in.

"That's the eponymous Danny Phantom," Dave answered. "Real name's Danny Fenton. You'd like him. Kind of a klutz, but he means well."

"Sounds like a real show-stopper," Sam muttered with the sarcasm piled on thick.

"Don't count him short just yet," Dave replied with a knowing grin. "Guy's got a great voice. Good stage presence, too."

Sam lifted her brows and looked down at her camera in thought. Now her curiosity was starting to get the better of her. "Really? What about all these bands they're going to be covering? What kind of music is it?"

"Classic and power metal." Dave had a rather self-satisfied grin, knowing full well that he had her attention now. "They're all big fans of Edguy. Kind of a mixture of 80's metal with occult lyrics and symphonic music. Let's see... They're doing Children of Bodom, too. Jack's doing lead vocals for that. It's basically really aggressive Baroque music on keyboards and electric guitars with raspy, growled vocals."

Sam was hooked. She would have loved to hear more, but the teacher chose that moment to walk in and start class. Even though she was paying attention as usual, Sam was eagerly awaiting the end of the week. Friday couldn't come soon enough now.

Of course, universal law states that the more eagerly you await something, the more time seems to stretch out until it gets there. The week went by in a crawl, and Sam tried to pass the time by focusing on her projects and trying to learn more about this band. For some reason, she felt particularly curious about the lead singer. Maybe it was because he seemed to be individualistic, the way he died his hair white. How did she even know it was white, anyway? The photo didn't show color, so it could have been a really pale blonde. And why was she agonizing over something so irrelevant? It was difficult to explain, but Sam felt the strangest desire to want to meet this guy. And it wasn't just because he was fairly easy on the eyes, either. No, she had the weirdest feeling that she had to meet him. There was no other way to say it.

Fortunately, time continued its linear movement and Friday at last arrived. Sam was feeling surprisingly excited about this as she and Monica made their way toward Englund Lounge in the College Center. "So, how long are they going to be playing again?" Monica asked.

"I think Dave said they would be up for two hours," Sam replied.

"Impressive." Monica checked her watch quickly. "We've got a few more minutes before the show starts. They're probably finishing up a sound check right now."

Sam pushed open the doors to Englund Lounge and sure enough, the small stage was set up and there was the band behind a slowly growing crowd of students. At the back, on a slightly raised platform, was the drum kit that had a pentagram emblazoned on the double bass drum. The drummer looked even skinnier than in the picture and had his blonde hair in a mullet.

On the right side of the stage were four keyboards, all neatly arranged, one on either side of the keyboardist and two in front of him stacked on top of each other. The musician himself was the black guy from the picture with the glasses and the beret.

The bassist stood on the opposite side of the stage. Holy shit, that guy had to be at least six-and-a-half feet tall. His bass looked like a regular guitar in comparison to his size. Speaking of his bass, it was one of the weirdest designs Sam had ever seen. There was no headstock, and the black body was a weird trapezoid shape.

Next to him was the lead guitarist. Upon closer inspection, he looked like he might be related to the bassist. They both had the same Eastern/Middle European features. The guitar he was currently tuning was silver and had the image of a black serpentine dragon winding across it.

Finally, there was Danny Phantom. Sam took a moment to study him more carefully than she had the others. He was about six feet tall and his hair was in fact dyed pure white. His bangs fell in front of his eyes, which to Sam's surprise were a luminous green. Probably contacts. He wore a black A-shirt and blue jeans, which partially covered black combat boots with silver ghost flames painted on the sides. He was tuning a white Les Paul; seemingly oblivious to some of the catcalls a few girls in the small crowd were giving him and the other band members.

As Sam and Monica joined the crowd, Danny looked up from his instrument and his eyes immediately locked with Sam's. It was a fairly unreal moment as she felt a shock go through her system. She felt as if something pivotal in her life had just happened. Something of extreme importance. But the feeling was so fleeting, that it was there and gone before she had a chance to concentrate on it. Instead, she merely stared into Danny's eyes a moment as he watched her with his lips slightly parted and the most curious expression on his face.

After a moment, Danny shook his head to clear it, and walked up to the microphone. "Good evening, Sleepy Hollow," he called out, eliciting cheers from the crowd. "We are Danny Phantom and the Phantasmic Four. And in the words of the legendary Ronnie James Dio... we rock!"

-x-

Author's Notes: Well, there you go. About the only thing I got done of all the projects I started this weekend. Just gotta take what you can get sometimes.

Those of you who have read my bio will probably think that the "Jack the Ripper" character described in this chapter looks kind of like me. Well you're right. However, I really hate self-insertion, so when the band members start showing their personalities, you'll see that this character is nothing like the real me. I just wanted to use the look because... well, let's face it, I'm so metal that my balls clang together when I walk.

And in case any of you are worried about these new guys being featured too prominently, don't sweat it. I'm not a huge fan of fics where original characters start stealing the spotlight. Mostly because there aren't many authors who can pull them off very well. So the three original characters of the Phantasmic Four will be merely supporting cast who get a few minutes each in the sun where they get to show off a bit. Danny and Sam will remain the stars of the show, though, so no need to worry.