I always seem to be running late, but as I said last chapter part of when this update's release depended on reviews. So blame yourselves! I'm so close to 500! I just wanted to make 475 before I updated but you guys hit 469 and stuck there. Shame!
lol Sorry, just kidding. I did want to hit 475 but I did leave you all hanging again and I have no real excuse. My bad... Okay, let's get to it!
Oh, anyone who doesn't love me by now is going to by the end of this chapter. Hehehehe Enjoy...
"So...you were controlling boys with your 'charm' and making them your slaves?"
"That's right," Kurumu nodded to the woman in front of her.
She was a tall, shapely woman with fiery red hair that put her red suit to shame. She was clearly proud of her figure as the jacket and white blouse hugged her body tightly and the red miniskirt she wore showed off her long legs. The woman's hair fell down to her shoulders, though it was raised high at the top, like a pair of horns. Her bright green eyes watched Kurumu intently over a pair of black shades.
"What's wrong?" the woman asked, instantly recognizing the girl's depressed tone of voice. "You sound upset. Most girls would kill to have that kind of power over men."
"It was cool, sure," the succubus sighed. "But in all that time I never had any real friends. They were like mindless drones, and I didn't realize how conceited I was being, how empty it made me feel not having anything real in my life…"
"Delicious…" the woman smirked. It was pouring off the girl in tremendous waves, so tantalizing and flavorful. That wonderful feeling that fed and sustained her. That sweet misery…
Suddenly it vanished, swept away by those disgusting feelings of hope and joy. It was all the woman could do not to sneer at Kurumu as the girl's face brightened ever so slightly. She knew what was coming. It was the same thing that happened every time that girl got cheery in their sessions.
"Until I met Danny," Kurumu smiled, confirming the woman's suspicion. "He was the first real thing I had. The first person I ever cared about."
"Ah, young love. So rare and so sweet," the woman said happily, while inside she was fighting the urge to gag. "Too bad he so obviously not interested in you."
"Much better," the redhead grinned sadistically as the rush of despair instantly burst forth stronger than ever. This one was so easy.
"Well it's obvious, isn't it?" the woman continued in false sweetness. "Every boy in school is gaga over Moka. And Danny is the girl magnet in the academy. They're both A-list. You think he's actually interested in a runner up when he's got the most popular and beautiful girl in school on his arm? Face it honey, you're just second place."
"No..." Kurumu whispered to herself, trying to ignore the sting of the woman's words.
"Actually, you're probably not even second," the green eyed lady smirked, relishing the feelings of sorrow radiating from the bluenette. "You told me he's been spending a lot of time with that Mizore girl lately. They must be really close after all that. Do you spend a lot of time alone with him?"
"Well…" Kurumu struggled to think of a time she'd had alone with Danny. A truly romantic moment like all the others seemed to have. The only memory she could come up with was their flight together after Danny had beaten Kuyou. It had been perfect, just like she had always dreamed. But Danny had gone to each of them, all the girls, and they had all had their own perfect moments with him. She wasn't special, not in the least.
"See?" the redhead finished, her victory clear by the dark cloud of misery swirling over the bluenette's head. "To him, the only thing you're good for is having a pair of boobs to squeeze."
Kurumu hung her head in defeat as the woman's words tore at her heart. She hated the thoughts, but she could not deny that they held a hint of truth. It was what made this woman so dangerous. Coupled with her sincere sounding voice it was enough to shatter Kurumu's resolve. The succubus was on the verge of tears, but she wouldn't cry. Such was the spell cast by this woman. Enough to break, but always leaving more to savor.
"So, while we're on the subject, why don't you tell me more about Danny," the woman smiled as she leaned back in her chair.
Kurumu sniffled a bit before she looked back at the woman's haunting green eyes. "What would you like to know Ms. Spectra?"
"So you and Mizore are going to stop your ice power training?" Moka asked as she and Danny made their morning walk toward the school. She tried to hide it but there was a hint of hopefulness in her voice. She was glad Danny was learning control of his power. But nearly a month of Mizore having him all to herself for a few hours a day? Moka was way past jealousy, she was flat out pissed. She knew Kurumu and Yukari were the same.
"Yep," Danny nodded, not noticing the sigh of relief that came from the pink haired girl. "We think I've learned everything I can from her, considering the difference in our powers."
"That's great," Moka smiled. "It will be good having you back."
"So you can suck my blood?" Danny asked slyly.
"Really? Thanks!" the vampire exclaimed going for the boy's neck.
"Moka wait! I didn't mean-!" He was cut off as something whizzed between the students heads and imbedded itself in a tree.
"Don't even think about it," Mizore glared at Moka, another ice dart hanging from her fingers. The vampire blushed at having been caught in the act.
"Hurry up you three! I've been waiting forever," Yukari called from the gate. The three friends all grinned and rushed over to join the impatient young witch.
As they did, the group couldn't help but feel as if something was missing. Normally as soon as the group approached there would be commotion. Boys would be gawking at Moka and girls would swoon over Danny. Mizore was no stranger to admirers either, though she normally kept hidden as she stalked Danny. Even Yukari had a loyal group of fanboys (which Danny had learned were called 'lolicons'). But despite the large number of students at the entrance, not a single eye turned to the Newspaper Club. If anything, many people seemed even more depressed, their heads hanging in sorrow like their dreams had been crushed.
"Is it just me, or is everyone really run down around here?" Mizore asked. The irony of the statement coming from the most withdrawn member of the group was not lost on the others.
"Now that you mention it," Danny replied looking around the less than enthusiastic schoolyard, "I've noticed the same thing. The academy's never this quiet. I'm especially curious about-"
"Kurumu!" Moka waved as the bluenette came into view. On instinct Danny braced himself for the familiar crash of the succubus crushing her breasts to his face. His eye opened slowly when the soft pillows never came.
Kurumu approached slowly, her eyes barely registering the others. The girl's usual high energy was significantly absent as her head hung low. Her four friends looked at her curiously as she came closer. As soon as she had joined them Mizore gave the succubus a sharp pinch, earning a loud yelp from the bluenette.
"What was that for?" Kurumu hissed angrily.
"Making sure you're not an ice clone," Mizore shrugged.
"Good idea," Yukari nodded matter-o-factly. "First we have a giddy Mizore, and now a depressed Kurumu. Last thing we need is Retsu making a return appearance after getting expelled."
"Well I'm me, you happy?" Kurumu nearly screamed.
"Kurumu calm down," Moka said, surprised at the girl's attitude.
"What's wrong?" Danny asked her, his voice clearly concerned.
Kurumu sighed sympathetically. "I'm sorry. It's been a rough week. I'm not really myself lately."
"No kidding," Danny smiled trying to lighten the mood. "You haven't tried to smother me for days. Frankly, I think you've made me develop a fetish."
Spectra's words rang through Kurumu's head again. "You bastard! I'm not just a pair of boobs you can squeeze whenever you feel horny!"
The succubus turned and stormed off. "Kurumu, I was joking," Danny called after her. The other girls gave the halfa a harsh glare before Moka and Mizore chased after her. "I was joking!"
"Real mature Danny," Yukari rolled her eyes.
"C'mon I was just trying to cheer her up," the hybrid protested. "Any other time Kurumu would have cracked up at that."
"Maybe," Yukari admitted. "I guess that school counselor isn't doing so well."
"Yeah, you haven't heard?" the small witch quirked. "There's this 'teen therapist' from America, she's supposed to be fairly well known. The administration brought her here to go through all the classes and inspire the students this semester. She's having sessions with Kurumu's class this week."
"And she's a monster too?" Danny asked. He was surprised that the academy would fly in some random person from the US. This woman had to be something big.
"You'd assume," Yukari nodded. "One of the issues is supposed to be how the students will fit into the human world after all. I think Kurumu is supposed to meet her again later today."
"Well let's hope she helps her out," Danny sighed looking in the direction the other three had gone.
"Oh, and Danny?" Yukari added.
"Yeah-?" No sooner had the halfa turned back to her than the little witch had jumped up and completely covered his face with her body.
"If you really want to be smothered I'm happy to oblige…" she cooed, trying to sound seductive.
Danny quickly phased out of her grip and jumped back a few feet. "No! Bad Yukari!" Danny barked waving a finger at the girl.
"Oh come on, please?" Yukari pouted as she prepared to leap at him again.
"Get away-!" Danny yelped before making a break for it, Yukari right on his heels.
"Hyakken Uchida is a famous author who loved cats…" Ms. Nekonome carried on, though almost no one was paying attention to her lesson. She started writing off different types of cats that Uchida had had since he was a kid and the names of each one.
"Where she gets this info I'll never know," Danny thought. He knew she'd be off on this rant for awhile before she got to any actual lesson so Danny turned in his chair to talk to Moka. No sooner had he done so then the vampire turned up her nose in contempt.
"Oh come on Moka," Danny whispered to the girl. "I was just trying to make Kurumu laugh. She seemed so down."
"You didn't have to be such a perv about it," Moka shot back.
"Look I'm sorry. You know I don't think before I speak," he pleaded. "It is a genetic abnormality in Fenton males that we will often open our mouths for the sole purpose of inserting our foots. I have undisputable evidence that I can show you if you're not fully convinced already."
Moka tried to hide her amusement, but the halfa would have none of it. He slowly opened his mouth while lifting his foot off the floor, inching them ever closer to each other. Finally the pink haired girl broke down in suppressed giggles. "You jerk," she smiled at him.
"Well I do my darndest," he grinned back. "So am I forgiven?"
"I guess," the vampire nodded. "But Kurumu is the one you really need to apologize to."
"I'd be more than happy too," Danny sighed. "Hey, when you talked to her, did you find out what was wrong? Other than my complete display of idiocy."
"Well other than you're a jerk for talking about her like a sex toy," Moka said with just a hint of disdain, "she said that her sessions with Dr. Spectra weren't going that well. She wouldn't say anymore."
"The guest counselor?"
Moka nodded. "You know, I don't get it. Teen's in America must be way different then us because her sessions seem to make everyone else feel worse."
"Yeah, even Mizore seemed like an icy ray of sunshine," Danny agreed.
"I swear it's like she's sucking the happiness out of everyone."
Danny froze. "What...?"
"Well we're just about the only class that hasn't had sessions with her yet and everyone here seems the same as always," Moka simply shrugged as the bell rang. Danny hesitated for a moment, his mind racing. In an instant he'd turned, grabbed his things, and was out the door before the bell had finished ringing.
Danny rushed through the sea of students already in the halls. Most seemed too lost in their own self pity to even notice him, not bothering to move out of his way. The halfa weaved his way between the mob of depressed faces, the sight of them spurring him to move all the faster. Finally after what felt like hours he saw his destination and dashed through the open door.
"Ms. Ririko, is Kurumu here?" Danny nbarked at the girl's homeroom teacher.
"Danny…" the busty, brunette cooed at the sight of him. "How is my favorite naughty boy?"
"Ms. Ririko please, this is important. Do you know where she is," Danny practically demanded. The woman paused for a moment, slightly taken aback by the carefree boy's sudden urgency.
"She went to her meeting with the guest counselor," Ririko simply shrugged. "She should be there right now."
"Shit," he muttered under his breath. He uttered a quick thanks before running off again, nearly knocking down Moka and Mizore in the process.
"What's the rush?" Mizore asked before the halfa could take off again.
"I gotta find Kurumu, I think she's in trouble," Danny said.
"What? Danny you can't honestly think Ms. Spectra is causing trouble. I wasn't serious you know," Moka replied.
"But I think you were right!" Danny insisted. "It's like you said, everyone else seems miserable after talking to her. And if she is a monster, there's a chance she could do it, isn't there?"
"But why would the school bring in someone who does that? It doesn't make sense," Moka offered. Mizore nodded her head in agreement.
"Are you kidding me?" the halfa exclaimed. "Who am I talking to? Can't either of you think of any time the faculty did something unethical?"
Both girls paused in thought, though neither one had to think for long. Moka remembered a seemingly nice art teacher who had wanted to turn the vampire into a work of art…literally. She could almost feel the bites from the woman's snake-like hair again, and the cold sensation of turning to stone. Mizore thought of the first time she had felt like she was in love at the school, and cringed as she remembered the coach's slimy tentacles coiling around her and dragging her over the edge of a cliff.
"They don't exactly have a clean track record…" Danny finished.
Moka looked back at him, her face deadly serious. "Ms. Spectra's office is this way," she nodded before bolting toward the stairs, Danny and Mizore close behind.
"So any idea what type of monster she might be?" Danny asked as the three raced through the hallways.
"I've heard of monsters who mess with people's emotions before but I don't know any of them well enough to guess," Moka replied with increasing worry.
"I'm all for capital punishment, but are we sure we want to go busting in there and accusing her when all we have is a hunch?" Mizore asked. No sooner had the words passed her lips than a puff of blue mist passed Danny's. "Nevermind."
"There it is!" Moka cried, pointing to a door at the end of the empty hallway. The trio increased their pace to a full sprint, the concern for their friend trumping all other thoughts. Danny arrived first and reached for the doorknob.
"Can I help you?" a voice asked as a hand appeared from nowhere, catching Danny firmly by the wrist. The three friends jumped at the sudden appearance. They looked down in surprise at the hand's owner, a very short man with a dark grey head of hair and mustache. The stubby little man wore an ugly suit with a red sweater vest and black bow tie. The students didn't understand how they'd missed seeing him.
"Who are you?" Moka gasped.
"Bertrand, Penelope Spectra's personal assistant," the man grumbled in a whiny voice. "What do you kids want?"
"Sorry, we're looking for our friend Kurumu," Moka replied. In the meantime Danny tried to pull his hand back but the man was surprisingly strong, the grip almost painfully tight. Bertrand's eyes were cold and emotionless, so much so that Danny felt a chill throughout his body. He finally yanked his hand free and rubbed his sore wrist.
"She's in a session with Dr. Spectra and can't be disturbed," Bertrand growled, clearly annoyed. "Now get to class, you're going to be late anyway."
"Wouldn't be the first time," Mizore rolled her eyes. "We're not interested in her schedule Stumpy."
"What she means," Moka chuckled nervously, "is that we need to see Kurumu right away. It's really important."
"Fascinating…" Bertrand said, his voice thick with sarcasm. "And I'm not interested in your needs."
"Look, we won't be long, we just need-" Danny trailed off. As he spoke, more blue mist accompanied his words. He didn't understand why that would happen. Normally, once he had detected the primary release of supernatural energy, Danny's ghost sense would stop producing the mist, though the chill he felt would linger. But now it was still pouring out of him in warning, almost like his powers knew something his mind didn't.
Until his mind caught up.
"You're a ghost!"
Bertrand's eyes widened in shock. He reacted quickly, his body flared green and released a surge of energy that threw the trio back down the hall. They looked back at him in surprise and were met with a disgusting sight as Bertrand melted into a mass of green ooze that slathered itself over the floor.
"I don't know how you figured that out kid," Bertrand's voice bubbled out of the puddle. "But I can't have you ruining things when we're this far along. Spectra would have my head."
The goo inched closer to them, rising up from the floor as it moved. A pair of pure red eyes wormed to the surface, their glow casting an eerie light over Moka, the closest of the three. Two disgusting clawed hands formed and reached out at her from the muck, and an enormous mouth with dripping fangs opened wide to swallow her whole.
Suddenly the ghost's advance was halted as he collided with an emerald dome that separated him from the pink haired girl. Again his eyes grew in wonder as he recognized the familiar energy of the ectoplasmic shield. He saw the look of relief on Moka's face, and looked up to see the black haired young man, hands against the construct he'd made to protect her.
"Have your head, huh?" Danny grinned. "Let me save her the trouble."
The ghost shield shrank at Danny's words, narrowing down from a dome to a long green disk. The ghost boy gripped the circle of energy like a Frisbee and swung his arm. The razor thin edge ripped through the blob-like ghost, separating his upper body in a clean slice. Both halves of Bertrand's body dropped to the ground with a loud and nasty splat.
"You two okay?" Danny asked offering a hand to each of the girls which they gratefully accepted.
"Yeah, thanks," Moka breathed in relief, Mizore also nodding her appreciation. "That was scary. I've never seen a real ghost before, present company excluded of course."
"I know what you mean. Freaked me out seeing one here, too. Especially after the headmaster told me I was the only one," Danny agreed.
"Is every ghost this gross?" Mizore asked, cautiously poking a blob of Bertrand's remains.
"No, some of them look normal enough. I mean he looked human a second ago. I figure Spectra does, too," Danny shrugged. "Guess you don't have to be half ghost to pass as human."
"Half ghost?" the ooze said, making everyone jump back in surprise. "So you're the halfa that stupid Box Ghost is always going on about? I thought he made you up…" The two puddles began moving again, merging back into one. And once again, Bertrand's body rose up from the floor.
"You know the Box Ghost?" Danny exclaimed overcoming his shock at the ghost's rapid recovery. Running into another ghost was unexpected enough, but running into another ghost with a common acquaintance? That was too strange to be coincidence.
"Unfortunately," Bertrand sighed as he became complete once more. "Guess this explains why we thought you were just a rumor, hiding here of all places."
"Student transfer, what are you gonna do?" Danny shrugged, though his voice held a no lack of sternness. "You realize of course that you're still in our way."
Bertrand cocked an eyebrow at the halfa. "And just what are you gonna do about it?"
Danny sighed in annoyance. "Well I guess we'll start with the usual."
With a flash the familiar white rings appeared, turning Danny from Fenton to Phantom. The two ghosts stared each other down before a thin smile spread over Bertrand's lips. He leaned forward, the thick goo of his body becoming softer and smoother. It turned black in places, covering his back in stripes as the gel turned to fur. The ghost's hands turned to paws and he fell forward onto them as a pair of legs grew from the ooze at his base, complete with swishing tail. He licked the chops of his fang filled mouth as it popped forward on his face and became a cat-like snout.
Danny and the girls looked in surprise at the tiger that growled menacingly at them. Without warning the beast sprang forward, claws reaching out for the halfa. Danny met him head on, slipping by the claws and catching Bertrand under the neck with his forearm. The two pushed against each other, both trying to force the other to the ground.
"Danny!" Moka and Mizore cried in alarm.
"I'm fine," the halfa growled as he and the beast matched their strength. "You guys get to Kurumu, I'll take the cat out." With that he and Bertrand turned a light blue and flew up through the roof and out of the building.
"You think he'll be okay?" Moka asked in concern.
"Danny can take that walking lugie," Mizore said turning back down the hall. "Come on, we've got to save that stupid succubus."
The two rushed the office. Mizore wasted no time opening the door, choosing instead to shatter it as her icy claws burst forth. They burst in, not sure of what to make of the scene that met them. Kurumu sat in a chair in the center of the room, her head hanging as she stared at the floor. She didn't even acknowledge their sudden appearance. Nor the strange green cloud that was swirling above her, fed by smoke that was radiating off the girl. It was so large it nearly filled the room.
Penelope Spectra was leaning against her desk, a mischievous grin on her face. She stared at the bluenette from behind her black shades. She turned casually to the two intruders, ignoring the cold glares they gave her.
"I'm sorry, can I help you?"
As soon as they were out of the building Danny pushed Bertrand away with a blast of energy. The tiger twisted as he flew backward and landed safely on the roof. He rushed Danny again, moving far faster than a creature his size should be able to. The halfa was leveled as the shapeshifter tackled him. Bertrand's claws sank deep into Danny's chest, earning a satisfying cry of pain.
Danny fought back, planting his feet into the green cat's stomach and throwing him off. He struggled to his feet, but the shapeshifter gave him no time to catch his breath, slamming him hard against the roof's guardrail. The iron bent under the weight of the two clashing specters.
"And here I heard you were supposed to be some big tough guy around here," Bertrand grinned as his claws once again sank deep into Danny. "Yet here you are, with a power most ghosts would kill for, and this is the best you can do?"
"What are you talking about?" Danny groaned in pain.
"That aura!" the tiger spat in frustration. "Almost no one has that kind of power anymore, at least not naturally. The only ones I know who can mimic that trick have to feed off something, like Spectra does with misery. Me? The best I get is her scraps. Though it does make me tough enough to handle some amateur like you."
"Keep telling yourself that Tony," Danny growled placing a hand in Bertrand's chest. It glowed bright green as Danny filtered his energy to his palm. "Cause me, I'm grrrrrreat!"
Danny's ghost ray slammed point blank into the shapeshifter, driving him all the way to the other end of the roof. Bertrand turned back into his blob-like form and clutched the smoking wound in his chest. Danny walked toward him slowly, giving himself a moment to recover while the ghost was trying to do the same.
"Don't forget pal, normally the toughest ghost I take on is your box loving buddy," Danny shot with a crack of his knuckles. "You just caught me off guard, that's all. I didn't think you'd be this strong. Especially since you look like something another ghost puked up."
"My, you are clever, aren't you?" Bertrand sneered at the halfa. "I wonder if your pretty friend will be as clever now that Spectra's drained her dry…"
"What?" Danny gasped in worry, turning back the way they came. It would cost him, as the moment he looked away Bertrand charged, his body already morphing.
"You're Moka and Mizore, right?" Spectra smiled sweetly at the two intruders. "Kurumu's told me so much about you."
"What did you do to her?" Moka cried in worry. She had run over to check on Kurumu, but even face to face the succubus didn't seem to notice her existence. Her eyes simply stared straight ahead, completely void of expression.
Spectra simply continued as though nothing was wrong. "I didn't do anything. We were just talking and she went all zombie on me. I think she might have dozed off or something."
"Bullshit," Mizore spat. "We don't know what you've been doing, but your slimeball assistant pretty much told us that you were the one causing the students to act so sick. So spill it ghost."
"My, my, you know about that? I'm really going to have to punish Bertrand for running that fat mouth of his," Spectra said with an amused sigh. "Or from that aura I just felt, it seems you've got a ghostly friend of your own who's doing that for me."
"Just tell us what happened to Kurumu!" Moka screamed.
"Fine, if you insist," the woman in red replied nonchalantly. "It's quite simple really, I feed on misery. It's what keeps me looking so fabulous. There are many different ghosts that draw power from objects or people to increase their own. It will only be a temporary fix, but it beats being a nothing in the Ghost Zone." Spectra's lip curled in a snarl when she mentioned being a nothing. It was likely she had experienced that once before, and wasn't about to return to that feeling willingly.
"Anyway," she continued pleasantly. "Teenagers are always so full of angst, it's so easy to draw the misery from them. So I go to different schools as the 'caring' counselor and find the students 'Achilles heel', if you will. Then I just enjoy the sweet flavor as they break down around me."
"Then why is Kurumu like this?" Moka asked.
"Well, I might have gotten a little carried away on her," Spectra giggled. "She's one of my personal favorites. A girl who keeps all her sorrow locked away while showing the world that joyful mask of hers. And so much sorrow. I just couldn't get enough of her delicious pain…"
"What? Sorrow...?" Moka was stunned. How could Kurumu; bubbly, excited, always cheery Kurumu, be this miserable and depressed girl that Spectra spoke of?
"I think you've had enough, you pig," Mizore spat, having heard enough. She threw out her arms and fired a swarm of ice shards at the woman. Spectra merely grinned. With a quick wave of her hand the icicles were shattered midflight.
"Weren't you paying attention?" Spectra chuckled, her voice becoming a deep hiss. "I gain power from misery. I just emptied your friend of everything she had. I've been at this school over a month, gaining more and more power. What do you think you're gonna do against me now?"
The woman's body was engulfed by shadow that flickered like a black flame over her form. All three girls were thrown hard against the back wall as the room filled with Spectra's cold energy and laughter.
Danny grunted in pain as he somersaulted through the air, trying to tear off the ghostly anaconda that was coiled around him. The massive green snake Bertrand had turned into was furiously crushing the halfa. Danny was having a difficult time staying in the sky as the air was forced from his lungs and his bones and muscles strained in effort.
"What did you mean 'drained her dry'?" Danny managed to ask, concern for Kurumu still fueling him.
Bertrand hissed in laughter. "Your little friend Kurumu was practically an empty shell when you kids showed up."
"Empty shell?" Danny panted. "Stop talking in riddles, what is she doing to Kurumu?"
"Jeez, you're thick kid! Here, I'll make it nice and simple. Push someone hard enough and they'll have a total mental breakdown. It happens sometimes when Spectra finds someone she really likes," Bertrand hissed as he twisted tighter. He leaned in closer, his scaled lips an inch from Danny's ear. "I can see why she's so addicted to your girl. I've sampled some of her misery myself and it's just so damn yummy. And that body? I'd love to get my coils around that. It's just so sssssssweet…"
Danny's eyes flashed blue at the ghost's words. "You're not gonna touch her!"
Bertrand felt a shiver as the ghost boy's body began to shine with blue light. He looked down in horror as his reptilian form started to freeze. He tried to release the halfa and escape but his muscles were already frozen in place. He let out a pained scream just before his head was encased in ice. With a strained roar Danny broke free, sending chunks of the shapeshifter in all directions. He paused for just a moment to catch his breath before he rocketed back toward Spectra's office.
"So delicious," Spectra thought as she drank in the girls' misery. Her fiery black form stood over them as her violet ghost ray washed over their bodies. Kurumu was still oblivious to the world around her, only knowing that her body was tingling with pain from the purple light, and Moka and Mizore were clearly overpowered by the shadowy ghost. This only increased the anguish in their hearts, making Spectra all the stronger.
"It's so good!" the ghost moaned. "You three don't even realize how much anguish you keep locked away! I want more sorrow. I need more pain!"
"Coming right up!"
Danny burst into the room, slamming both his fists into Spectra at high velocity. She was thrown to the other side of the room and hit the wall so hard she nearly shattered it. Danny stopped to check on the girls. They all appeared injured from Spectra's ghost rays, but Moka and Mizore were already getting up. Kurumu was another story. She lay there, eyes open and emotionless, the only indication she was alive was the rise and fall of her chest.
With a roar of anger Danny's energy spiked again. He rushed Spectra full speed, his body crackling with electricity like a green lightning bolt. He tackled her through the wall, carrying her into the air as he shocked her. Moka and Mizore rushed to the broken wall, hoping to see what was happening but powerless to help as the two ghostly form's rose higher into the air. They were so concerned with the spectre's that they failed to notice the bluenette's hand twitch.
Danny fed all the strength he could into his ghost stinger. He wanted to make this woman suffer for what she'd done to the school. To his friends. But most of all, for what she'd done to Kurumu.
"You're going to fix everything you've done, starting with Kurumu," Danny shouted with a punch to her stomach to emphasize his point.
"Yes…" Spectra whispered, much to Danny's surprise. He hadn't expected it to be so easy. "Yes…" she whispered again. "Yes! That's! IT!"
Spectra let out a scream of ecstasy. Her ghostly tail coiled around Danny's torso like Bertrand had minutes before. Her body felt like a burning snake and it snuffed out his electric attack as his body was tormented by pain. The black flames crushed and squeezed him all at once and Danny cried out in agony from her onslaught.
"Oh there is truly nothing better than a hero's misery," Spectra moaned in bliss. "The doubts in yourself. The fear that you won't be able to save anyone. It's so strong and intoxicating. Nothing like it in the world!"
"Shut up you-ugh!" Danny groaned as he tried to break free, but the shadowy specter held him all the tighter.
"You're the halfa, aren't you?" the woman smirked. "I knew it! That annoying little succubus wouldn't spill but I figured it out."
"What are you- talking about-?" Danny panted. He was getting real tired of asking that question. Almost as much as getting squeezed like a lemon.
"Well you are Kurumu's favorite subject," Spectra giggled darkly. "I tried so hard to learn about you so I could take you apart at the seams when you walked into my office. But no, no matter how miserable I made her she wouldn't tell me your secrets. But she slipped up enough that I figured it out for myself…"
"You're gonna regret using her like this," Danny growled through clenched teeth. He tried to freeze her like he had her henchman, but the black flames just burned all the hotter, making Danny's suffering that much worse.
"Oh she wasn't nearly as useful as you…" the misery eater chuckled.
"You've become quite popular in this school, little ghost boy," she smiled sweetly. "Do you know how many girls want you, but are too scared to approach? How many boys envy you, but can't hope to measure up? All because you had a lucky twist of fate. You were my most valuable tool in feasting on this academy's sorrow!"
Spectra cackled in mad glee as Danny's horror increased at the thought of what he might have caused. The waves of misery were so strong they were visible as green smoke burned off of him and into her. She had never felt this strong or this incredible since she'd tasted her first sweet sample of the delicious emotion. It was so wonderful she'd thought she might actually become full. But no, she'd never be sated. She needed more, and she knew just how to get it.
"Your little succubus friend was especially fun to toy with," she smiled. "Every time she mentioned you she got a little spark of hope. It was so much fun to smash it to pieces. And easy, too, I just had to mention something as simple as her being second place in your heart and she was crushed."
"But that's not-" Danny tried to say but Spectra squeezed him all the tighter, killing the words in his throat.
"Whatever," the woman said simply. "It is your fault, and now there's nothing left of your little blue haired friend."
Both ghosts turned in surprise at the shout. Kurumu was charging through the air faster then she'd ever flown, certainly faster than she should be able to, her wings pumping with everything she had. Her nails were growing in length as they sharpened into her deadly weapons. With a last furious effort she swung her hand…
Spectra didn't know how it was possible. She'd been doing her little draining game for decades and Kurumu wasn't the first to be reduced to a catatonic state. She also wasn't the first to recover. A few others people had managed to snap out of their depression. But it had taken years! This girl had somehow pulled herself back in minutes! By the time Spectra had pulled herself together she'd lost precious time to dodge or counter. No matter, she thought. Her color shifted to a luminescent blue as she went intangible so the attack would pass right through her…
Spectra screamed as Kurumu's nails slashed away at her face. "You bitch! How did-? When-? What's-?" The misery eater roared in confusion and hate. She was oblivious to the world around her, save for the weary succubus that seemed to be struggling just to hover now. The annoying demon had dared to assault her beauty and her red eyes were burning with malice. "I'll kill you, you little-"
She fell silent as a chilling feeling washed over her. Spectra was an old ghost. One of the reasons she used misery was to maintain her youth. And she was old enough to remember the chill of a ghost with real power, not some pitiful imitation like what she stole to obtain. That's why when she looked at Danny, whose aura was the genuine article, she was stunned beyond words. Especially since it was rising to a terrifying level. The halfa's glowing green eyes stared through her with nothing less than pure hatred.
If ghost's would have had the ability, Spectra would have shit herself.
"You like negative emotions so much?" Danny seethed as his entire aura collected in his hands. "Well here's a heapin' helpin' of PISSED OFF!"
Danny fired off the brilliant and powerful ghost ray that had felled nearly every member of the Public Safety Commission so many months ago. The attack, that the girls had lovingly dubbed his 'Aura Strike', completely engulfed the misery eater in green light. She screamed in agony as the beam tore away at her, the flames of her body flickering and fading under its intensity. Her helpless cry echoed through the air until the last when Danny's attack finally faded away, and the ghost was gone.
Danny let out a tired sigh. "Now who's miserable? Right-"
He gasped as Kurumu fell from the sky, all her strength exhausted to give him the precious moments he needed. Danny shot to her like a bullet, catching her gently in his arms.
"Haven't we been here before?" Danny joked only to be surprised by the tears streaming down her face.
"Danny, I'm so sorry," Kurumu sobbed. "You all got hurt because I wasn't strong enough- I wasn't smart enough to figure it out- I-"
"Hey!" Danny snapped, much to the girl's alarm. "I think we've all had enough misery for one day. Keep talking like that and I'm gonna drop you," he said firmly before holding her tighter against his chest. "And for the record," he whispered to her softly. "You have never been second place to me."
Kurumu's eyes widened in shock at his words. He smiled at her, a smile she gratefully returned before exhaustion overcame her. The succubus nuzzled her blue hair into his shoulder and fell asleep.
"Oh my gosh, it's Danny!"
"There's Moka! Oh she's so gorgeous!"
"Yukari, my cute little blossom!"
"Mizore, is with them! My beloved ice queen…"
"Great," the snow woman rolled her eyes. "Now I'm gonna have to start sneaking in here again."
"At least everyone seems to be back to their old selves," Moka giggled at the blushing snow woman.
"I can't believe I missed it!" Yukari whined for about the eighth time that morning. "Not only did I not get to help, but I missed seeing a real ghost! No offense Danny."
"None taken," the ghost boy grinned. "But you didn't miss much. One looked like snot, and the other looked like a shadow, that's pretty much it. I've seen a lot of ghosts with cooler forms then that. Though I'll admit, they were definitely the toughest ones I ever took on."
"I would hope so. That energy was really scary. And the feeling when she was using our misery to drain us…" Moka shivered in disgust at the memory.
"Yeah," Mizore nodded in agreement. "I don't know how bazooka girl was able to put up with that for so long."
"Speaking of, where is-" Danny began before a soft and familiar embrace muffled his sentence, "-Mururmur…"
"Danny, I'm so sorry," Kurumu cooed playfully as she engulfed his face with her breasts. "I've been neglecting you lately. Here now, let me make it up to you…"
"Kurumu, do you have to do that every day?" Moka barked in annoyance.
"No kidding, some of us were actually enjoying the less-ditzy you," Yukari added, not noticing the halfa's hand already going lax.
"You're all just jealous because you know how much Danny likes it," the bluenette snapped back. She hugged Danny tighter and ran her fingers through his dark hair. "Don't you Danny? After all, I believe you said something about a fetish? Danny…?"
She pulled his head back with a look of curiosity. Danny was passed out, blood running from his nose and a wide smile on his face.
Mizore rolled her eyes. "Damn it, Kurumu, again?"
Up above them, a man clad in a white robe watched the group of friends from his office. He looked down through the window, his ever present grin stretching wide beneath his hood. His gold eyes glanced toward the corner of the room, where a pair of red eyes floated in the dark shadow.
"Are you sure you don't want to take a look? It's always an amusing show in my opinion," the headmaster chuckled as the girls tried to revive the unconscious halfa.
"I've seen it before," the darkened figure replied simply.
"Yes, I suppose you would have," the robed man nodded. "By the way, thank you for recommending Spectra. I already sent her and her lackey back to the Ghost Zone. She made for an excellent way to test the girls' strength of will in addition to Danny."
"I knew she would. The woman has a way with words."
"I'll say. Danny hit her so hard he nearly killed her. In a manner of speaking, that is," the man in white smirked. "He seems to have become a bit more ruthless in battle. Reminds me of that 'story' you told me about him."
The shadow let out a single note of amusement. "That's to be expected. He seems to understand less and less about his powers the more they grow. The whole 'superhero' business was just an attempt to comprehend what they were for. After all, what teenage boy wants the responsability of protecting an entire city. But here, he actually knows what is impotant to him, so it's only natural he would fight with everything he has to protect it. It's not his fault that he doesn't know the limits of his strength."
"Fair enough. We're just as unsure, after all. That's one of the reasons we decided to have this little test," the headmaster shrugged. "So you're not having second thoughts?"
"No, I still think that Danny is the best choice," the shadow said firmly. "And if you're not already convinced, you will be soon. Besides, it's too late to change things now. It has been since the moment he was hit by that bike."
The headmaster raised a suspicious eyebrow. "Even for you?"
There was a long, drawn out pause. The shadow didn't answer, the glowing red eyes simply faded from sight, a few last words accompanying their departure.
"There is someone here for a job as your assistant. I highly recommend her."
As if on cue, there was a knock at the door. The headmaster uttered a low laugh at his old friend before going to answer.
Was I right? Do you love me?
Well love me or hate me, you have to admit, I can write a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more.
Well, we finally got one of Danny's enemies to visit Youkai Academy. So stop bugging me about it! Ahem, sorry. Anyway, Spectra and Bertrand made an appearance, but what's this? It was a setup! Who could this mysterious shadow be that was secretly working with the headmaster? If you're as big a Danny Phantom fan as I am, you already know. Go ahead and ask, but I'm not telling. Yes I know there will be begging and pleading and all sorts of threats, but you will just have to wait. All will be revealed in the passage of time.
Thanks again to all my reviewers!
FlaraShadowora: Man, I wish I could write something about Kurumu's past like I did Mizore's. Sadly, it's the fact that I know so much about Mizore's past that let me use it. As it is now, the only other girl I can do that for is Moka. I'm glad you liked Retsu, I intend a few other OCs down the line and I hope they go as well. I might have an answer for the 'air extraction' but I dunno yet. As for Dani and Dark Dan, all I can say is I hope I gave you a little hope today.
Raidentensho: Let's just say Danny learned a few tricks with his ice powers. They still function differently then Mizore's but she still had some influence on his learning curve. Don't know about the mini reference's you mentioned or how close the cloning power is. All I can say is Danny has gotten more badass (God help us).
Zenith010: Don't beat yourself up, we all make mistakes. And that is an easy one to miss if you're not paying close attention. I hope everyone busted a gut when they read the 'make a baby' line. My beta did and I think it's safe to say that is the funniest line I've written thusfar. Now the school festival is still a little ways off. About two months story time, but no telling writing time.
Phantomdemom2: Good work soldier! All ideas noted and filed away for future use! Carry on! Oh, and Danny's powers are all ghost. The vampire blood basically supercharges his own abilities. At least for now, hehehehe...
Assault Godzilla: *loads revolver* I'm good, thanks to a few modifications by S. Knightshade, this baby works just fine. Who needs a BFG? Hehehehe. Anyway this chapter already answered a few of your questions. In case you missed Phantomdemon2's review, I am a guy. I'm guessing the rest were rhetorical since you know how I am.
Roziaiss Sang: Well Mr. Sang, nice to have a review from you. I follow the manga mostly, but tie into the anime at certain points.
Aryashi: Yeah, it's great when life works out that way. Okay, I admit I've made it hard to find fault in Danny. But there is reason for that. Let's not forget that Danny has screwed up, namely when he and Moka nearly joined the Swim Club. He has been controled by his emotions, but that normally ends bad for his opponent. You see, ever since Danny got his first blood injection from Moka, he's been worlds beyond what he was in the tv series, in power, skill, and attitude. I think of him as kind of a Dante (from Devil May Cry) in training. And his challenges will keep getting harder, so there will be plenty more chances to 'humanize' him. As for Gin, he always disappears in the manga. Awesome as he is, he's still not a major player so he will come when his part comes to play. And his part will be good...
Truth Squad: Kokoa and Dani, both characters that I love. Still, they have to wait their turns. Kokoa in particular, since she doesn't show up til Season II.
Negima Uzumaki: No. Idea.
S. Knightshade: Glad you enjoyed the last chapter. I have the same pet peeve as you about the other girl's, and I hope to fix that in this story. Sorry I confused you with the girl's reactions to the fake Mizore, but you have to keep in mind, Danny may have lectured them about trusting one another, but that doesn't mean it took. After all, if you look at that chapter again the girl's started arguing not 30 seconds after they thought Danny was gone. Besides, even if they have a deeper trust for one another than in the manga (which I believe they due thanks to the change in circumstances) if Danny seems to be favoring one more than the others, then of course they'll get jealous. Retsu was just lucky they didn't attack her ice doll out of spite! They were too busy trying to figure out Danny's reaction to the 'new Mizore'. Yes, I am loving my new toy, thanks again. And in response to your PPS, can you send me that proposition again, I accidentaly deleted it. Hehehe, sorry. Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
darkhero what must be done: Sadly no. You will have to wait for season 2. Sorry...
Storylover213: Ghostly wail is coming. As for who Danny will date, that's anyone's guess right now (including mine).
The Kyudaime Kitsukage: Thank you Kitsukage, I hope this story continues to impress.
Well that does it for Kurumu's chapter. It's time to get back to the main story. That doesn't necessarily mean that I won't write more of Danny's foes into the mix, I just can't get off track for too long. Let's face it, I'm not moving as fast as any of us would like and I've got a lot of ground to cover. And I think that just about wraps things up so I guess I'd better get to it. Later!