DC Phantom: Chapter II (1st revision)
A Danny Phantom/Teen Titans Crossover Fanfiction
Summary: Danny leaves for greener pastures and arrives at a school which isn't exactly what he imagined. Amazingly, nothing explodes...much.
A/N: Ah...as to the Justice League, it doesn't exist yet. Yes, it will probably exist before I actually get to the meat of the story and involve the Titans, so Danny will be peripherally aware of the social-political shift among heroes and villains with the creation of the JL and the JLU.
Chapter 2 – School Daze Haze
Danny shifted nervously, "Guys, you really didn't have to."
"Sure we didn't," Tucker grinned. "We're gonna' let our best friend go off to Super School without a party to see him off."
"Like that would ever happen," Sam snorted, dropping unceremoniously onto her couch.
"I still can't believe you live here, by the way," Danny added, looking around the fabulously adorned home.
"It's not that big of a deal," Sam reiterated for what felt like the umpteenth time that evening. "You know, keep it up and this might be the first and last time I invite you guys over."
"We'll behave!" Danny and Tucker chorused together.
Sam smirked and retrieved the remote to their home-entertainment system, which was really more of a home theater, complete with popcorn machine and concession stand. "Alright. I picked out all the classics and a few of the new ones. We've got the original '79 cut of Wicked Scary-"
Tucker frowned, "Aren't they remaking that?"
Danny rolled his eyes, "Yeah, that's the news on the net, but I doubt they'll get anyone good enough to replace Bruce Parkbell."
"I heard he was going to make a guest appearance," Sam added, then shook herself. "Anyway, I also got Monster from the Brown Lake, Manor on the Spooky Knoll, Night Terrors on Oak Drive, and the entire Chest-Bursters Quadrilogy."
"Can we skip the Manor on Spooky Knoll?" Danny asked plaintively, covering his eyes with an arm.
"It isn't really that scary anymore when you've seen the real, live thing," Tucker commented
"True," Sam shrugged, setting the movie aside. "I picked up a few of the current ones too: Possession one through 5 and the prequel...Aleister Crowley Vs. Jack the Ripper: Showdown in Hell...oh, and New Mexico Ice Pick Slaughter."
"Oh, come on!" Tucker gripped, "That one isn't even a horror flick, just a B-movie slasher that got top billing."
"Heresy!" Sam cried, "You can't say that about a Rob Ghoul movie!"
"Guys!" Danny yelled, eager to preempt another argument on a subject which had seen the best and worst of points from both parties. "We'll watch something else! How about Night Terrors? I mean, we haven't watched that since...last year?"
Sam and Tucker gave each other a bitter look that meant the argument was far from over, but an unspoken peace was declared between the two for Danny's last weekend in Amity. "Alright," Tucker sighed, "It has been a while since we saw that one...we're watching the original, right?"
"Sha!" Sam snorted, nodding. "We went to see the remake in theaters, remember? They butchered it."
"That's something we can all agree on," Danny grunted sourly from where he had stretched out across a large plush armchair.
As all three settled in to watch the movie playing on the screen, Tucker cocked his head. "Hey, is Jimmy Luger a ghost?"
Sam and Danny blinked, contemplating the question as the movie played. Sam shrugged, propping her feat up on the table in front of them, "Huh...I don't know, he might be. Care to weigh in, resident expert?"
Danny snorted, not having to turn to see the sly grin on his friends' faces. "Maybe...I mean, if we go by the original set before they started with that whole weirdness in number 5, I wouldn't think so. Some of the stuff he does is a little 'out there' even for ghosts, remember what he does in the end?"
"That's right," Tucker nodded, though he didn't sound convinced. "But he still overshadows people, doesn't he?"
"Technically," Danny admitted. "But overshadowing doesn't really work like that in real life. I've never heard of a ghost which can only jump you when you're asleep, that looses it's power when you wake up, and doesn't have a 'real' body. Jimmy Luger just jumps from one sleeping person's dreams to another...we never see him when they're awake."
"Unless you count number 7," Tucker reminded them.
"We're not!" Sam and Danny cried simultaneously as they groaned loudly.
"As far as I'm concerned, the franchise ended at movie 5," Sam stated bluntly.
"Ditto," Danny agreed, reaching to slap a high-five with his best female friend.
"I still don't get why you guys don't like 6 through 8," Tucker shook his head sadly. "They aren't that bad."
"Yes they are," Danny replied. "First off, my life is way scarier nowadays than any of those movies. Second, you can't just take established rules and throw them out the window."
"Third," Sam added, not willing to be left out, "They lost all of the old cast, the directors, and the producers; 6 through 8 were just milking a cash cow dry."
"Alright! Alright! Sorry I brought it up," Tucker conceded. "Still, you've got to admit you've got an unfair advantage on point number one Danny."
The youngest Fenton sighed. "Dodging ghosts left and right, watching my parents fight a miniature war and not being able to help for fear of being 'pulled apart molecule by molecule,' yeah...real unfair advantage there. At least, the 'unfair' part."
Tucker winced from both Danny's dark tone and Sam's dark glare. "Sorry dude, didn't mean it like that."
"I know," Danny shrugged bitterly. "I just...I'm gonna' miss you guys loads, but I can't wait to get out of here. Did you know I can't even Go Ghost in my own home anymore? My parents fine-tuned the sensors after that incident with the biker ghost."
This time both his friends winced.
"In his defense," Sam replied cautiously, "Your parents did happen to catch his girlfriend when they escaped the Ghost Portal."
"Kidnapping Jazz didn't help his case," Tucker argued.
"It wasn't like my parents were listening," Danny groused irritably. "'Evil Ghost' this and 'Dangerous Spook' that. If I hadn't-"
There was a sudden pause where the only sound in the room was a blonde teen's terrified scream on the silver screen.
Then Sam hit 'pause' and the silence was complete.
"-if you hadn't?" Sam repeated, pressing a hand to her face.
"Done absolutely nothing and sat quietly in a corner?" Danny asked hopefully, looking to the ceiling in a reasonable impersonation of innocence.
"Dude," Tucker groaned.
"Alright!" Danny cried, holding up his hands to forestall the chastisements about to rain from his friends already-open mouths. "I talked to Johnny and got him to agree to let Jazz go if I could get Kitty out."
"Johnny? Kitty?" Sam asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Johnny Thirteen," Danny replied, "The biker ghost. He's actually not a bad guy; he and his girlfriend, Kitty, just wanted to slum it in the human world for a while. They have no idea who I am, Jazz got home safe, and Mom and Dad think their equipment malfunctioned, happy?"
"Danny, you know what could have happened," Sam warned. "I thought we agreed to leave the ghost fighting to trained professionals?"
"Normal ghosts?" Danny asked rhetorically, "Sure, no problem. Ghosts that kidnap my sister that I can do something about?"
"Danny has a point, Sam," Tucker stated and Danny looked to him thankfully. "Jazz was being held hostage and she doesn't have anti-ghost training, gadgets, or powers."
"Okay," Sam relented, not seeing much ground to argue on given that the situation had resolved itself peacefully and Danny remained largely unknown. "Just be careful, if your parents think you're an easy mark, that could be trouble. If you were going to be hanging around long-term, I'd seriously suggest getting some self-defense tips or fighting experience with other ghosts so that you'd know how to defend yourself, but..."
Danny sighed again, "I'm not gonna' be around long-term, am I?"
Tucker plastered a smile, "Come on, dude, that doctor-guy gave you full scholarship, right? I bet his floaty-mind-powers were nuthin' against an ecto-beam."
The half-ghost mustered a smile at that, Dr. Sanguine had been impressed, almost amazed at the diversity and strength of his abilities.
"Anyway," Sam interrupted, "I guess that's why Jazz has been learning how to use an ecto-gun right?"
"Pretty much," Danny nodded. "Mom and Dad are insisting that we both learn how to at least aim one. I think they're going to put together a 'goodie bag' for my new school. Jazz getting grabbed really freaked them out."
"And that's enough of that," Tucker interjected. "We've got a slew of horror classics to make it through and we're going nowhere fast. On with the movie!"
"Fine, fine!" Sam cried with playful irritation.
The night fell silent save for the languid creation of happy memories over a night of scary features and impending separation of dear friends.
His parents had been strangely subdued when it came time for him to get on the plane, each of them getting slightly teary and attempting (on his father's part at least) to hide it as much as possible. His mother had no such concerns and spent a few minutes crying over him and subsequently cleaning out her goggles which had been filled to the brim with tears. Jazz had been mostly dry-eyed, but had also nearly hugged the life out of him three times. Sam and Tucker had already said most of their 'goodbyes,' but had come to see him off: Tucker giving him a brotherly half-hug and Sam lingering just a bit too long on her hug.
They both pretended not to notice each others' blushes.
Ultimately, the flight over had come as a true test of his patience and exactly how much he could second-guess himself. Despite the fact that he'd had plenty of time to think about what he was doing over the last few weeks, it was a wonder he didn't go made after several hours of being forced to sit and do absolutely nothing, but think. Unbidden, questions popped into his mind that he thought he'd long-since answered.
Was he doing the right thing?
Were his parents going to be okay ghost-hunting without him?
Was he abandoning Tucker and Sam by leaving?
Di he remember to pack Sam's going-away present of the latest Humpty Dumpty CDs?
Well, okay...except for that last one, the other questions had nearly driven him mad and stepping off the airplane would be the final chance to turn back.
Later, he would chalk it up to a combination of panic, home-sickness, and stress, but for a moment that step seemed to cement the reality that he had not only left home, but was entering a whole new world where he would, ultimately, be on his own. For a long moment, the urge to get back on the plane (or better yet, fly back to Amity Park) was almost suffocating, then the moment passed by like a cool gust of air and he was left standing alone among the throng of people moving about the Jump City Air Terminal building, melancholy stinging the back of his throat as he swallowed away the lingering sadness.
Danny started, almost leaping out of his skin as he turned to look at a man in a charcoal gray suit and sharp angular features. Between his graying hair and pronounced chin, Danny easily recognized him. "Dr. Sanguine, hi! I didn't know you were going to be meeting me...and you can call me Danny, you know?"
Sanguine smiled coolly and lied through his teeth, "I wasn't, but my schedule happened to clear up and I wanted to make sure you were settled. Besides, given that I was familiar with you, it seemed easier just to inform the Headmistress that I would be picking you up."
Danny nodded, clearly putting no more thought into the matter.
"Now, I think we've spent enough time lollygagging," Sanguine noted, casting a glance behind him to a pair of muscular men wearing black suits and sunglasses and gesturing with his right hand, "Take his things."
One of the men nodded and picked up the two large duffle bags with no apparent effort. Danny waved away the other man's grasping hand when it reached for his backpack, "That's okay, thanks, though."
"Come along, then," Dr. Sanguine beckoned. "We have a bit of a drive ahead of us, Danny."
"Sure," Danny nodded, following in the elder man's wake as they left the cleanly polished steel and glass of the ultramodern structure. "This place is so different from Amity Park...so much newer."
"Indeed," Sanguine murmured, "Jump City is quite modern by the standards of the American East coast's architecture. Although sightseeing is not one of the points of our journey, there are a few landmarks on the way I can point out."
"Cool," Danny nodded, almost blanching as they made their way outside and towards a sleek limousine. "This is what we're riding in?"
Sanguine snorted in amusement at his cohort's enthusiasm. "Quite. If one wishes to get anywhere in the world, one must always travel in style."
The teen blinked, the odd koan of knowledge resonating with him. A moment of silence passed awkwardly before Danny took the initiative to ask a question, after all, he had so many. "So...I don't actually know much about this school that I'm supposed to be going to. What can you tell me about it?"
"That was one of the things I had hoped to talk to you about, actually," Sanguine replied, "You see...whatever you've imagined of The H.I.V.E. Academy for Exceptional Young People, it probably falls quite short of reality."
Danny cocked his head in curiosity as he slid onto the leather seat of the limo. Blood ran a thumb under his chin, pondering once again the best way in which to broach this rather sensitive subject. Fenton was an undoubtedly powerful piece in the game he was playing: young enough to be underestimated, but utterly immune to mind control of any sort. The latter, of course, was a double-edged sword; it meant that while the Headmistress' Enforcers couldn't read or control the boy, neither could he do so himself. So, Danny Fenton was ultimately a gamble...though describing him as a 'sure bet' would be going a bit too far.
Still, for an extraordinarily green, no pun intended, metahuman, the boy was valuable. Care would have to be taken in the boy's...adjustment to the situation he found himself in. "For starters, I suppose, you should assume your other form."
Danny's eyes cut towards the front compartment and Blood had to applaud his caution once again. Daniel's reticence to display his true power was a good indicator, he knew at least something about the value of a secret well-kept. "Do not worry," Blood smiled in what he hoped was an encouraging manner, "This compartment is sealed, they can neither see nor hear us."
The teen hesitated another moment before nodding, inhaling deeply and reaching into that part of his mind that functioned as a switch or door, sealing his 'powers' away in his human body. "I'm going ghost!"
Blood narrowed his eyes, unwilling to pass up another chance to observe something so...enthralling as Fenton's form shifting to that of his alter-ego due to a mere flash of bright light. 'The boy's transformation is...fascinating, a complete alteration of physical features...even having seen it once before, I almost can't believe it. He's certainly one of the more fantastical individuals I've met,' Blood thought with interest, remembering Danny's original 'demonstration' after the boy had given his answer. 'Immunity to psychic powers, invisibility, intangibility, flight, offensive and, perhaps, defensive energy control...and that may be just the tip of the iceberg! For him to be so powerful after only a month...'
Then, recalling the cry that had preceded the transformation, Blood sighed. "Danny, I believe you should refrain from vocalizing your transformation."
Danny blinked, his green eyes flashing as he digested the thought, a red stain spreading as his embarrassment grew, "Oh, um...why not? I mean it helps me um...focus on my change."
Blood blinked as well, "Ah, a trigger phrase! Well, I only warn you because yelling something like that may alert people around you to your...uniqueness, in addition to the fact that it is quite silly. Instead, you might consider merely 'thinking' it loudly."
Danny paled dramatically before nodding. "I'll, uh...keep that in mind. Why did you want me to change, anyway?"
"Because it would behoove you to keep the fact that you have two different, separate, identities to as few people as possible, those that you trust implicitly. There are those in this world that would use Daniel Fenton's family against the super-powered individual you can become," Blood explained. "You should try and stay in that form as much as possible to give people the illusion that it is your only form."
"Phantom," Danny interrupted.
"Pardon?" Blood asked curiously.
"Well, that's what I've been calling...myself," he replied, gesturing to himself, "when I'm like this."
"Indeed," Blood snorted humorously. "As good a name as any I suppose. Others in the H.I.V.E. will be doing likewise so you should be wary of anyone attempting to ingratiate themselves into your good graces. For instance, the name I generally go by in the Academy and in the H.I.V.E. Organization in general is Brother Blood. I chose something intimidating and ominous to cow opponents before we even enter battle." The look of surprise on the teen's face faded as the elder man explained his nom de guerre.
Danny frowned. "Aren't there rules against that sort of thing? I mean, if you're running a school full of superheroes in training?"
"Ah," Blood sighed, shaking his head. "I fear there has been a slight miss-communication. While The H.I.V.E. does teach individuals how to control their powers, we do not teach morality or ethics. Ultimately, we rely on students to teach themselves those."
"What do you mean?" Danny asked, a sudden sinking feeling in his stomach, his spectral form tensing to flex into intangibility and make a run...fly for it.
"Hmm..." Blood rumbled, aware that he had alarmed the young metahuman, but it was necessary that they get through this little bump in the road. "Permit me to answer your question with another question, Danny; have you ever done something...childish, selfish, or well...mean with your powers?"
The tension that had been building in Danny suddenly stopped, embarrassment overriding any sense of anger or dread. "Um...why do you ask?" Danny replied, his face crimson.
Blood held up a hand, "No need to explain or even detail your adventures, Danny, I merely ask you keep them in mind while I explain. Now, with those experience in mind, do you feel that, by the traditional standards of morality or ethics they would be acceptable by the larger whole of society?"
Danny bit his lip, considering the complicated issue. He certainly didn't want anyone to know about his...visits to the girl's locker room, or his payback against Dash and the jocks last week before, or even his petty revenge on Mr. Lancer on his last day of school. but...if they did... "No," Danny answered slowly, "I don't think people would like it very much." 'Especially some people in particular,' Danny thought bleakly, 'if Paulina found out I'd seen that pair of pink-' Danny shook his head, banishing the thought.
"Exactly," Blood grinned, pleased that his little lesson in questionable morality was going so well. "The H.I.V.E. doesn't offer lessons on 'right' or 'wrong,' merely what is legal and illegal. The outside world, those who are not born with or develop powers and abilities do not understand us. If they knew what we were capable of, they would treat us with fear and resentment. But! Even among ourselves, we are nearly all unique in the manifestation of abilities; that is why the Academy encourages young people to find their own, unique, code of behavior that they can adhere to. Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law...outside the school rules, one may do what one wishes."
"Huh," Danny grunted, rolling over the idea in his mind. 'So, at the H.I.V.E. it wasn't against school rules to-' He cut himself off again, his blush lessened.
"I will caution you that all of the other students are bound only by that same restriction," Blood cautioned, seeing the intense...it wasn't quite curiosity on Danny's face, but something close.
"What about bullies?" Danny asked suddenly.
"If someone hits you, hit them back," Blood grinned widely, something of an animal predator in the expression. "No serious injuries and no killing, though."
"Of course not," Danny replied, stiffening at the thought. "I wouldn't-"
"-Not willingly," Blood soothed, cementing his image as the 'good guy,' "But when one gets caught up in the heat of the moment, accidents do happen. The Academy makes every effort to create a real-world environment for students, especially given the powers that some might employ. For example, although it is against the rules to cheat on exams, you may feel free to do so."
White brows furrowed in confusion, "But I thought you just said-"
"-just don't get caught," Blood finished, grinning again.
A bark of laughter caught in his throat before Danny could stop himself. Blood smiled again, "Good and Evil, Danny...these are too black and white for the real world. There is truly only power; power, and those too weak or too afraid to use it."
"This wasn't what I was expecting," Danny sighed deeply, leaning back into his seat after the elder man's words sank in.
"Reality seldom is," Blood commented.
"Hmm," Danny rumbled, nodding in agreement. His powers had, at least, taught him that much. 'When I was a kid, I dreamed about being able to fly and shoot laser beams out of my eyes just like Superman. Now that I actually have superpowers, I have to spend most of my time pretending I don't...when did superpowers get so troublesome?'
"Sir," an intercom buzzed at the front of the passenger compartment. "We've arrived."
"Ah," Blood sighed, reaching to tap a small concealed button. "Very well." Releasing the button he looked back at Danny, "I had hoped to give you a bit more...practical advice, not get involved in a philosophical discussion, but-"
"Sorry," Danny interrupted, ducking his head in embarrassment.
"Such is not your fault," Blood soothed as they exited the vehicle. "It is good that you asked your questions to someone capable of answering them rather than enter the Academy misunderstanding the principles it was founded upon." Blood stood at the door of the limo and extended his hand. "Sadly, I believe this is where I must take my leave, Danny. I hope you have a very...educational year."
"Thank you, Dr. Sa-I mean, Brother Blood," Danny nodded, shaking the offered hand.
As Danny's bags were unloaded from the trunk, he took them from the large, black-suited men nearly as effortlessly as they handed them to him. His ghost form was somewhat physically stronger than his human one, after all. "Where do I go from here, sir?"
"Through that door," Blood pointed as he got back into the limo. "It will take you to the Office of Inductions and they'll tell you where to go from there."
Danny nodded his thanks and set off, never catching Blood surreptitious gaze lingering on him, judging, calculating, evaluating...
The place he had stepped out from the car into resembled a fairly large, and empty, parking garage. The structure was a monument to undecorated asphalt and concrete, the only practical concession being the electric lights strewn about. Honestly, it felt a bit surreal to be standing, as Phantom rather than Fenton, in such a painfully normal place. Back in Amity, he confined his 'ghost-mode' to emergencies and the few times he managed to find a deserted park or part of town to 'practice' in. As the last echoes of Dr. San-Brother Blood's limo faded into the distance, Phantom turned towards the recessed door the older man had pointed out. Feeling a bit nervous, the half-ghost steeled himself and began walking towards the door.
"Okay," he said quietly to himself, "Your name is Phantom, you're a metahuman, and you're here to learn how to use your powers. No mentioning mom, or dad, or anyone from home; remember that Brother Blood said I might make some enemies here-"
Phantom stopped, sighed deeply, and continued on, "-and now you're talking to yourself. Great."
Shaking his head, Phantom stepped up to the door and, belatedly, realized there was no handle. Blinking, he looked the slab of inset metal over, searching for anything that resembled a doorknob, doorbell, or even a stupid intercom button...with no luck save for a small, ceiling-mounted security camera. Resisting the immediate urge to fade into nothingness-
If you're trying to keep a low profile, cameras of any kind = bad.
-Phantom raised his hand and waved, feeling somewhat silly and inane as he did so. "Uh hi? Is this-" he almost bit his tongue as he realized he was about to ask if this was a secret metahuman school, 'Yeah, way to go Fenton, blowing the school's cover would be a great way to make friends on day one.' Looking surreptitiously around for observers and quashing the uncertainty he felt welling up, he fixed the camera with a steady gaze, "Look, I'm supposed to be here, open up or I'm coming in anyway."
A moment passed by as panicked thoughts whirled inside his mind, 'What if I just pissed someone off? Am I even in the right place? What if Blood made a mistake, oh crap what am I going to do-' Thankfully, a short eternity later the door split along a nearly invisible seam and allowed Phantom entrance into a small room on the other side. Breathing a sigh of relief, the half-ghost stepped into the tiny space with his luggage.
Which turned out not to be a room, Phantom noted as he took to a brief hover when the elevator began to move out of sheer surprise. Releasing a stressed chuckle, the elevator dropped like a stone; seeing as he had been standing on the third floor of the extremely normal-looking parking garage, Phantom almost expected it when the device dropped far past where the ground would have been and deep into the earth below.
Flying had given the teen a whole new perspective on matters of a vertical nature.
With a mechanical whisper of movement, the doors swept apart and revealed a single empty hallway with a door at the far end. Raising a white eyebrow, the half-ghost cautiously stepped forward, squinting curiously as he felt a wave of...something wash over him. 'Whatever it is isn't painful...hmm, this feels like whenever one of mom or dad inventions 'locks on' to me. I wonder if they're scanning me with something? I really hope its not a weapon, blasting my way out of here wouldn't leave a good impression.'
Unknown the the new resident half-ghost of The H.I.V.E. Academy for Extraordinary Young People, several speculative and evaluating eyes were now fixed on him from a dark room secreted away from the rest of the facility. Crouched at an impressive array of computer monitors and a wall-mounted bank of security camera footage was a misshapen troll of a man garbed in a twisted mockery of a white space suit with a strange pseudo-helmet possessed of ominously glinting eyepieces.
"Interesting," Professor Chang noted with a calculating glaze, "I think he can feel the security scans, somehow." He pointed to a freeze-frame of Phantom's face and the narrowed eyes, then the time stamp beneath it, "This is just a moment after I initiated the process."
"That shouldn't be possible," The Headmistress announced from where she stood, cloaked in shadows behind Chang. "Blood indicated his powers were all on the high-end physical side."
"Yes," Chang muttered, "But! If Blood's evaluation is correct, the ghost boy has a talent for energy manipulation. That might indicate a certain level of awareness towards high-energy particle and wave functions. Very interesting."
"He's not blocking them, is he?" The Headmistress asked pointedly, her finger straying towards a remote grasped tightly in her hand. One push of the button and her Enforcers would rush the hall and put an end to whatever scheme Blood was working this time.
"No, no," Change grinned crookedly, "There is a little interference, but that seems to be from some passive effect of his physiology. Fascinating specimen, this ghost boy." As Chang tapped a few keys, another image popped up, this one in the stark black-and-white contrasts of hospital X-rays. "His luggage is an assortment of normal items: clothing, personal hygiene products, a CD player...ah, and a small assortment of energy weapons...very nice quality, too."
"No tracking or monitoring gear?" The Headmistress asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Hmm...no, I don't think so. If Blood is sponsoring a normal student, then he would have informed the ghost boy about the rules against bringing in outside electronics," Chang replied.
"But that would mean Blood was honest in his intentions," The Headmistress snorted in an unladylike fashion. "And we know the likelihood of that. No, Blood is up to something with this, he's never taken an interest in The Academy before and one of the Hierarchy for International Vengeance and Extermination's Board of Directors members doesn't involve himself in anything lightly."
A small beeping shifted the duo's attention to another set of monitors, Change rolling his chair towards the screens as The Headmistress kept her gaze fixed on Phantom as he slowly, cautiously, made his way through the first stage of Security Screening, besides, she wouldn't understand the techno-jargon, that's what she had Chang for. "What is it?"
"Oh, hmm...spectrographic analysis is done and our mystery guest is much more interesting than I first thought," Chang grinned fiendishly.
"How so?" The Headmistress asked archly, dangerously.
"Well..." Chang pondered momentarily, looking at the figures displayed on the screens, "He's not a normal ghost. I've read Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz, and Peter Venkman's papers on spectral and ectoplasmic makeup and this ghost boy is just a little...off."
"Don't make me ask again, Chang."
"Ah, hold your horses, hold your horses!" Chang scowled, "The truth is, I'm not exactly sure. It would probably take a detailed study to tell the cause, but our new student is, for lack of a better term, more solid than other ghosts."
"Solid." The Headmistress repeated dubiously.
"Indeed," Chang nodded. "Ghosts, again for lack of a better word, leak or emit a certain amount of ectoplasmic radiation - a mixture of harmless, but specific low-level alpha and beta waves and particles - but our ghost emits maybe half as much as normal, meaning that he is much more corporeal than other spirits."
"And what does all of this mean?" The Headmistress asked finally, tiring of Chang's spiel.
"Oh, I haven't the slightest clue!" Chang grinned, delighted as he looked over his array of computer monitors. "But he will make a fascinating subject for observation, wouldn't you agree?"
The asiatic-descended man turned at the abrupt silence, only to see the irritated form of the Headmistress vanish behind a slamming door. Wincing at the violent noise, Chang shrugged and turned back to his subject, shaking his head in confusion, "Women!"
Danny stepped through the open doorway, nearly sagging with relief as the weird vibes he'd been getting in that hall vanished as he was greeted with the first face (well, okay, not-quite 'face,' but he'd take what he could get at this point) he'd seen since he entered the building. The (probably) man wore a deep purple robe complete with a hood that obscured all of his face, save the mouth and chin, in darkness. A belt around the fabric showed off a golden-embossed and stylized 'H' on a hexagon-shaped buckle.
"Uh...hi, I'm Phantom. Brother Blood told me to come through here for registration," the teen tried optimistically, hoping that the stoic and silent figure would not remain so.
"Very good, this way, sir."
The half-ghost swallowed his sigh at the formal and strict tone. "So...this is the Academy, huh?"
"Yes sir," The purple-cloaked figure replied as he turned to lead Phantom down a hallway.
"It's very..." Phantom searched for the right word, "yellow."
"Indeed, sir, I'm lead to believe it's to fit with the H.I.V.E.'s thematic flair," The figure replied again, his voice just as dry and formal with a mocking hint of derision as he gestured to the walls.
Phantom managed to camouflage his sudden bark of laughter with a cough.
There was indeed a certain 'theme' to the construction, if one wanted to call it that. The entire corridor and, Danny guessed, structure in general, was plastered in yellow hexagons interlocking to form walls, ceilings, and floors. The overall effect was to create something like a gigantic bee hive, which obviously fit with the organization's name.
"So..." Phantom fumbled, feeling that the ice had been sufficiently broken between them, "What do I call you?"
The purple-garbed man seemed to shrug, "We aren't actually allowed to use names on duty, it makes business to personal...or something like that. I'm Enforcer 24 if you really need something to call me. We keep the law in the Academy and make sure everyone obeys the Headmistress."
"24, huh?" Phantom mumbled, shrugging off the oddity and reminding himself he needed to be more open-minded. Blood had said that things would be stranger than he had expected. "Um...how does this school work exactly? When do I sign up for classes and stuff?"
"I'm not supposed to explain anything to you," Enforcer 24 sighed. "Sorry, sir, but you'll have to wait until orientation. What I can tell you is that the Headmistress likes to keep everyone in the dark as much as possible, so its pretty useless to ask any of the Enforcers questions since we'll have to report back to her before we can answer you. If you get my drift."
Phantom blinked, processing the information in conjunction with Blood's remarks about trust before nodding warily, 'What have I gotten myself into?' Still, he couldn't help but ask, "Why are you telling me this?"
"Well, I've basically been assigned to watch you like a hawk to make sure you're not a danger to the Academy. The Headmistress doesn't really like Brother Blood so she doesn't really like you either, which means more work for me if you ask me a lot of questions that I have to include in a report to her. Mostly it comes down to the fact that I'm really lazy and would like to do as little real 'work' as possible," the Enforcer explained candidly. "Now, quiet, there's a couple of audio transmitters up ahead and then we'll hit the more heavily monitored areas."
There was a moment of stupified silence on Phantom's part as his guide's words sank in.
At least he was honest. 'Or is he?' The thought came unbidden to his mind. 'If Blood was right about not trusting people at the Academy with my secrets...is this guy just pretending to be nice so that I'll think he's a nice guy and confide in him anyway? But...ow, my head hurts! This whole 'secret identity' thing is a pain in the neck!'
Phantom opened his mouth, then thought better of it and simply grunted in a vaguely positive manner. The hallway they passed was just as bland and oddly formatted as the rest of the Academy to the teen, even as he tried to pick out the secreted listening devices or hidden cameras. Neither seemed to exist, though he trusted his guide to know a little more on the matter than he did. After another set of corridors were cleared the half-ghost was convinced this entire trip was little more than a massive entanglement in the maze of passages so as to confuse him of his location. Finally, just as he was about to burst in irritation, the guide halted so suddenly Phantom almost thought he was going to run into the other man.
"We're here, sir," Enforcer 24 stated blandly, gesturing to an out-of-place-rectangle amid the hexagons plastering the walls. Stepping towards the space, the half-ghost watched as the near-invisible seam parted with another mechanical whisper. "Good luck."
Danny blinked, turning to glance at the man. Even as his quiet words had sunk in, the Enforcer was already walking away, eyes resolutely fixed down the hall and away from him. Nodding to himself, Phantom turned towards the dimly-lit open space beyond the open doorway and passed through into a modest sized auditorium with high ceilings and a brightly-lit stage towards the front. Seeing the sparsely-populated area, natural reflexes kicked in from his time in high school and the teen slipped into a seat towards the back, morbidly wondering if he would ever learn to control the low-level glow which painted a spotlight on him in the near-dark room.
Dropping his luggage into seats next to him, the half-ghost relaxed as much as possible into the uncomfortable plastic chairs that seemed to be universally common to any high-school function. A few moments passed, thankfully uneventful in nature, as the Phantom contemplated reaching for his CD player. Sadly for his unplayed media, a cloaked purple figure appeared on stage, indistinguishable from the one who had led him to the auditorium in the first place.
"Welcome," he said solemnly, "to the H.I.V.E. Academy. May I present your Headmistress who will be briefing you on the classes, codes of behavior, and lifestyle of an Academy student."
A startlingly severe woman took the stage, her shoes click-clacking on the wooden floor as she marched up to the podium placed on the stage, her face seemingly permanently-pinched.
DC Phantom: After School Special
With Prof. Anderson -
"Hello class!" Prof Anderson cries, grinning unabashedly. "Yeah, I know I was trying to update in a week, but I had to trash three or four pages of the first write up cause it was, well, trash. Anyway, you may note that I'm going a little bit slower this time around. This will mean that we'll generally be spending more time in the H.I.V.E. Academy with students, teachers, and running a few low-profile missions. Unlike HIVE Minded, Danny isn't the star pupil with more experience than any other ten students. So, we'll be spending a lot more time in training as well."
"Hmm...as to what else will be different, a few reviewers have asked various questions about the plot; for instance, a few have asked about Sam/Tucker, but I'm afraid I still don't really like their characters over-much, so they'll be having minimal contact with Danny. There have also been questions about The Ultimate Enemy and other DP plot points, but you'll have to wait and see what I do about that."
"Beyond that news...the next update might be in a week or so, it's looking like that's how long it takes me to get a 'chapter-length' segment done, which dictates when I post. I don't require a total number of reviews before I post new material, but I do LIKE reviews, as most other authors do. Next chapter should be a detailed 'settling in' of the Phantom of H.I.V.E. Academy."
"Till next time, this is Prof. Anderson saying- School's Out."