Yes, unbelievably, there is a sequel to MIR2. Welcome to 'Melody in Black: Espirt de Corps'. (That's Latin for 'Spirit of the Group') Get ready for a bucket-load of angst and trauma.

One: Better or Worse?

"Each of us is born to follow a star, be it bright and shining or dark and fated. Sometimes the paths of these stars will cross, bringing love or hatred. However, if you look up at the skies on a clear night, out of all the countless lights that twinkle and shine, there will come one. That star will be seen in a blaze, burning a path of light across the roof of the earth, a great comet. Think these words as my tale unfolds. Mayhap you will learn something valuable, not about stars, but of the value friendship brings." –Rillbrook the Wanderer, 'The Outcast of Redwall' by Brian Jacques

"The Observant High Court will now commence." Said one Observer, raising his hands for silence and, when the other Observers had quieted, he turned to face one of the cylindrical containment units used to hold ghosts being judged by the High Court, "On trial, Daniel Fenton; aka Danny Phantom; for causing mass amounts of damage to the human world, avoiding death, forcefully altering your own future, and endangering the order of the Ghost Zone."

In the containment unit, his hands pressed against the glass even though is wrists were bound together, stood a very scared looking fifteen year old boy with shockingly white hair and wide, terrified, brilliant green eyes. Danny had been snatched up by the Observers right in front of Sam and Tucker while they'd been 'hanging out' and dragged off to the Ghost Zone where he now stood amongst the Observers who were against him living anyway.

"Daniel Fenton, do you deny these charges?" The same Observer asked, leering at the boy through the glass. Danny squeaked and fell back against the opposite wall, sliding to the floor with an empty groan. He didn't feel like talking to these ghosts; they didn't understand what it was like to lose the only foot hold you had on life, to watch it crumble away beneath you, to fail on such an exponentially high level, threatening the world.

"Answer, halfa, do you deny these charges!?" An electrical charge shot down from the top of the containment unit and Danny screamed in agony as the electricity tore at his body before slumping to the floor again, gasping.

"I…I…" He wheezed, his voice hoarse, "I didn't…do…anything…you just…want me out of…the picture! I'm not…going to turn…evil anymore!"

"Your actions in the earlier months prove otherwise!" Snapped another Observer, "You have let the darkness inside you boil in your heart and it is on the verge of consuming you!"

"Shut…up…!" Danny pushed himself to his feet again, with some difficulty as his wrists were still bound, "I don't have to…take this sort of crap…from you people!" Another blast of electricity set him to the floor of the containment unit again.

"That's enough." Hissed a familiar voice and Clockwork swirled into view, fingers tight on his staff and red eyes glowing fiercely. This intimidating appearance was lost as he shifted forms into a toddler.

A hush fell over the Observers and Danny managed to get himself into a more upright position, his forehead resting against the glass, heavy-eyed. Clockwork shot a sympathetic look his way, one that clearly read: 'I am sorry about your situation but don't say I didn't warn you.' Danny scowled weakly at him and glared at the floor. Of course, the Ghost of Time was right. Had he, Danny, not been so arrogant and paid a little more attention…so many things could have been better.

"Clockwork," The first Observer growled, "Though you are responsible for the future of the halfa, you have no jurisdiction when we take matters into our own hands!"

"He's fifteen!" Clockwork snarled; Danny had never seen the Master of Time this angry before, "He knew nothing about it! He could do nothing to stop it! He's only a teenager! How could he possibly cope with tremendous amount of problems life has just thrown at him!"

"What life gives him is not yours or our problem!" The Observer replied in a clipped voice and this sentence was met with a short roar of approval from the other Observers, "It is our problem, however, when the darkness inside him threatens the well-being of both worlds!"

"Teenagers…!" Clockwork seethed, grinding out every word, his young man form pulsing with rage, "Should not…! Have to deal…! With…! Death…!"

Shouts of rage echoed through the High Court as Observers shook their fists in the Ghost of Time's general direction, cursing him for his interference. Clockwork ignored them and turned his attention to Danny. It looked as though the boy had simply shut down; his green eyes had filmed over and he was drooping against the glass of the containment unit in such a pathetic sort of way that, for a moment, Clockwork wished he was able to reverse what had happened. But he could not. Such a colossal U-turn of time could easily destroy the delicate threads of time and that was something Clockwork was not going to risk for anything.

"Silence!" Shouted the first Observer and then trained his gaze on Clockwork who seemed to be ignoring him for the most part, "The Observant High Court will retreat into council for the time as we discus what to do with the halfa know as Danny Phantom. And when we return…he had better be right where we've left him."

And they were gone. All of them. Just like that. Clockwork was glad for their absence, it gave him the chance to speak to Danny alone. The Ghost of Time dropped to the floor in front of the containment unit, leaning against his staff and rapping his knuckles on the glass. Danny blinked, the glaze over his green eyes vanishing, and glared daggers at Clockwork.

"What do you want?" He snapped, curling his knees up to his chin and cupping his bound wrists over his ankles, "Come to tell me how much I've failed?"

Clockwork shook his head, "You are a stubborn one, Danny, more so even than Plasmius."

"I try." The boy spat though it didn't have as much heart in it as it usually would have. Then again, Danny seemed to have lost a lot of heart since the incident.

"You know, they could very well take away your ghost powers for this."

"I could care less," Danny muttered, hiding his face in his knees, "It'd be a blessing compared to living in the constant state of regret all the time."

"And if you didn't have your ghost powers, how would you protect your remaining friends?"

"Shut up, just shut up!" Danny screamed, jerking upright so he could look Clockwork right in the eye, "You have no idea what it's like to be me! You have no idea how hard it is to keep a secret like this from my family! To have to come up with lies for every scrape and bruise! To hide the fact that my dad's best friend is my mortal enemy! To try and convince them that everything's fine and I'm not skipping school and I'm not hiding things and I'm not thinking about suicide and-!"

He stopped, tears rolling down his face, realizing what he'd just admitted to himself. After everything that had happened he'd thought about trying to take the easy way out. Like a coward.

"I'm such an idiot…" He moaned and Clockwork sighed, pressing a hand, fingers splayed, on the glass of the containment unit, "I try and protect everyone and I fail…I try to set things right and I fail…I try and do the right thing and I'm accused of doing wrong…" He looked sadly up at the Ghost of Time, a small, sad smile on his pale lips, "Geez, Clockwork, looks like I'm always gonna need you there to shove me in the right direction…"

"Danny, Danny, Danny," Clockwork sought his words for a moment, "Before you go getting angry at me for what I'm about to say I just want you to know that no matter what the Observants do I'm not going to let them kill you or harm anyone you care for." Danny nodded slowly in response, "Now, this is all your fault you know." Danny's green eyes glowed with anger, "Ah, see, what did I tell you. You never listen to me, Phantom, and you never did."

"And even if I wanted to I wouldn't do it! I won't mess up the time stream for a selfish brat like you! Selfish, selfish Phantom…"

Danny bit back his rage.

"And you're still not listening." Clockwork smiled, his form an old man's now, the words seeming to hold much more wisdom and meaning, "Teenagers, they never can get anything to stick in their heads. Danny, I can't watch your back continually; I have to maintain the time stream and watch people's lives; and I can't make all your choices for you. You're not going to become Dan Phantom, that alone I can promise…" Danny's green eyes met with Clockwork's warm, vivid red ones, "But your future from now is in your own hands. What you do with it is your choice and no one else's. Do you understand me, Danny? No one else can tell you who you are…!"

Danny blinked at him for a moment or two and then grinned, but it was empty.

"Morbid old man…" He muttered and then turned his attention to the Observer who had appeared through a doorway, "Guess our little party is over…" He kept watching the Observer, now followed by many others, move closer and closer, still talking to the Master of Time but not looking at him, "See you on the other side, Clockwork."

The Ghost of Time did not respond but backed away from the containment unit as the Observers approached. He sensed a storm a on the horizon. Several of those blasted Observers, circled around behind him to get a bet view of what was going to happen to Danny. Apparently, it was something they were going to enjoy and it sent a raw churning through Clockwork's gut. Well, metaphorically speaking.

"Daniel Fenton," An Observer stepped forward, "The High Court has reached a decision on your case." A second containment unit dropped down the shadows of the vaulted ceiling though it was empty, "Is there anything that should be said in your defense?"

Clockwork knew they were playing up the rules. And he also knew what it was they were planning to do and he hadn't even looked into the future. He merely put two and two together. And he couldn't let it happen.

"What do you think you're doing!?" The Ghost of Time lunged forward, staff in hand, ready to freeze time, when several armed guards grabbed his arms and pulled him back, stopping him, "Let…go of me! Danny, get out of there!"

"Clockwork!" Danny was on his feet in an instant but he wasn't quite fast enough.

"Commence the separation!" The Observer shouted, raising a hand as a signal, and the containment units both lit up with blinding flares of green-white light.

"Stop!" Clockwork shouted but it was of little use. It had already started and to try and stop it now could be dangerous. Clockwork slumped, toddler formed, in the tight grasps of the guards,

"Good-bye…Danny Phantom…"

If I screwed some stuff up in here, sue me. I hate the Observers, they should all freaking die…! Poor Clockwork, he tries to help and BOOM it blows up in his face. Didn't see it coming, huh? Guess he got a little preoccupied with some other business; probably being pissed at Danny for being a moron.

And, yeah, that last line…it'll mean something big in the next chapter. Also, the line that's italicized, 'cause it's a flashback, is from a one shot idea I had but will probably never post.

But you're gonna have to wait for me to continue this because first I must finish 'Shadows Are Supposed to Stay Sleeping'. I have many a people waiting for it. I think. Ah well, I'll leave you with this teaser for a while and then maybe sometime or another get back to it.

Please don't kill me.