DC Phantom Chapter 6
A Danny Phantom/Teen Titans Crossover
Chapter VI – Combative Behavior
...which brought him to now.
Combat Practice, to Danny Fenton a.k.a. Phantom, could have meant half a dozen things. He had been imagining a classroom filled with punching bags and diagrams of famous battles, taught by a person that looked like a composite of Mr. Lancer and a Drill Sergeant. Possibly even a track of tires to run through like in the old war movies his father liked to watch every now-and-then. Sadly, his school experiences so far had led him to assume that any expectations he had would be utterly and incontrovertibly wrong.
There was a sinking suspicion in his gut that this would follow true to form.
As something exploded near him, Phantom phased through the nearest obstacle and dodged the ensuing shrapnel. Reflexes honed by years of bullying and a well-trained hind-brain kicked in as the ghost-teen ran for his life.
Thwack! Thwack-thwackthwackthwackthwackthwackthwackthwackt hwack!
'Oh, great,' Danny thought, torn between sarcasm and terror, 'someone's shooting arrows at us now!'
For he wasn't in this mess alone.
Oh no, not by a long shot.
His entire class, some thirty-odd students, were, even now, running frantically about, dodging and ducking, dipping and weaving as they weathered the assault by an unknown party. The unknown party, Danny would place money on at this point, was likely a group of their teachers. It was at this point that the teen realized something truly and absolutely depressing:
He missed his ole grumpy, pot-bellied, title-spouting English teacher.
And wasn't that sad?
Because evidently, 'Combat Practice' involved inviting a group of naïve and unthinking students into a Colosseum-sized room, killing the lights unexpectedly, and then shooting at them with various projectiles while detonating random obstacles which they had taken cover behind.
So, yeah, it was more heavy on the Combat...
...and light on the Practice.
Phantom had to admit, he'd been somewhat luckier than his cohorts. With the room now pitch black, he had proven to be one of the few in their motley crew that possessed the ability to see in the dark. Those that didn't? Several of them had been knocked out in the first few seconds, before their eyes could adjust. There had been a horrifying moment when one of his classmate's limp forms was thrown from a laser volley onto him and Phantom had thought the teen was dead.
A second later, he'd let out a deep breath, relieved to find the other student merely stunned.
Of course, things had degenerated from there.
'Fighting' in the dark, among a group of super-powered teens much like himself had been a startling wake-up call. Numerous students had begun attacking each other, any concept of 'friendly fire' had been thrown out the window fairly quickly.
Phantom himself had only been able to last as long as he did because of his rudimentary understanding of his own abilities and his quick reaction times, honed by years of being chased by bullies. In another situation, he might have even taken some small measure of satisfaction in seeing Mammoth being taken down by a massive electrical shock that left him a twitching heap of unconscious muscle.
As it was, Phantom was too concerned with rolling out of the way of another volley of arrows, though a few came disconcertingly close to piercing him. Panic flowed through his veins as the ghost-teen phased through an obstacle, coming out on the other side breathing hard, even though he hardly needed to breathe.
Cursing, Phantom ducked underneath a way of red energy shot by one of his classmates.
'Seeing in the dark? Great,' Danny thought as he swept himself into invisibility, 'Being seen in the dark because you glow like neon? Not so great!'
Invisibility took concentration, something which was wearing thin as the noise and chaos of the battlefield took its toll. Time seemed to slow down as the miniature war raged around him, making a minute into an hour. As an errant laser scythed through the space he occupied, a corresponding pain seared into existence, Phantom throwing himself to the ground even as his form faded back into visibility.
'Note to self: just because overgrown lunks can't punch me, doesn't mean lasers don't hurt,' Phantom thought through the pain, forcing his body to move in his desperation.
A hand suddenly caught his wrist, pulling him out of line of fire and into a tiny space between to large block-like structures. Green light flared into existence around his hand, instinctual ready to defend himself where his mind was still stalled out. The only thing that stopped him were a set of vertical-slit pink eyes, wherein he could see his own dim glow reflected within them.
His own eyes widened as he took in her soot-blackened form.
"Nice job, target," Jinx commented just above the noise of their surroundings.
Dimly, Danny was intimately aware of exactly how close their bodies had been pressed against each other, but pushed it to the back of his mind. "What?"
Pink eyes rolled at him, the orbs spinning in their sockets, "You're glowing like a nightlight in the middle of a dark stadium, would you like me to paint a bulls-eye on you? Is there any reason you're still running around like that?"
Danny scowled, his green eyes positively sparking with irritation. "I'm working on it. I'm relatively new at this whole ghost thing, you know?"
Jinx snorted, pulling them deeper into the small crevice as a laser slid by, followed by three arrows that dinged off the sides of their fortification. "I'll give you this much," Jinx practically shouted in his ear as an explosion nearly deafened the entire room. "You managed to survive five minutes out there."
'Five minutes?' Danny thought with something like shock, amazed at the condensed time, then taking another look at Jinx's form. Gratified, he realized she hadn't escaped unscathed either. She was covered in scratches and smudges, even bleeding slightly, but far from Danny's own fear, the pinkette seemed enthused. With a shock he realized he had far more important questions to be asking, "What the hell is going on, anyway?"
"Combat Practice!" Jinx grinned, her expression suddenly feral. "Now, let's get busy, I checked and Wykkyd doesn't have this session, so we're going it alone. Since you're doing a light bulb impersonation, you're going to be the distraction."
"Great," Phantom growled, but made no move to object. The panic which had been welling up inside him now seemed so distant, like a fading memory. Darker emotions swirled within him, yearning for release as he stared down at his right hand, still glowing with venomous green energy.
'What the hell is going on with me?' Phantom asked himself, though for some reason the question seemed not to matter as much as it had the morning prior.
He didn't feel his lips twist into a grin at the thought of unleashing his anger, his resentment at being attacked, onto those who deserved it.
"Get their attention," Jinx encouraged. "Throw a couple of volleys of ectoplasm beams and get everyone's eyes on you."
Suddenly, a cacophonous buzz filled the space, Danny throwing himself through the air and onto the ground before he realized this new occurrence was not an attack, merely a buzzer. As the lights came back up, and his eyes adjusted to the brightness, relief that the exercise seemed to be over swept through him.
...and a strange, creeping sense of disappointment about the same.
"Alright you weakling punks!" A deep, gravelly voice rang out as the assembled students looked up towards a balcony. A massive bulk of a man stood on the overhang, clad piecemeal red and gray armor, visibly scowling at the worn and tattered of teens below him.
"Play Time's Over!"
The ragtag group who'd just been put through the wringer wore a range of expressions, ranging from merely irritated to positively murderous...at least, those who were still conscious. Many of the students had been completely incapacitated by the explosions, laser fire, arrows, and other hazards which they had been exposed to. There were numerous injuries, though none looked to be immediately lethal and a few medical personnel were moving into the Colosseum.
"The name's Hellhound," He grinned fiendishly, "and I'm going to tear you pieces of shit a new one! That was a piss poor performance!"
A chorus of disagreement rose up from below him, the words 'weren't ready' and 'not fair' were common complaints.
Hellhound snarled and his students cringed into silence. "Combat isn't fair! Your enemy won't wait for you to be ready! I'm not here to be nice and hold your hand; I'm here to make sure you're ready for the battlefield!"
Any further complaints withered under Hellhound's stare.
"Anyone up, mobile, and in fighting form gets a pass for this session," he scowled. "Barely. Survive a dozen sessions in a row without being carted off to the infirmary and I'll think about passing you to the advanced group. Class dismissed."
Everyone was still, wary and uncertain whether or not to move.
"Get lost!" Hellhound roared.
They scattered like rats.
"Was that really necessary?" A voice asked from the shadows, tinged with an eastern accent.
"Brats are lucky they got off that easy," Hellhound growled, spitting into the debris field filled with unconscious bodies. "They'd get eaten alive out on the streets. Sides, if what I'm hearing about those heroes teaming up is true, it's better if they bleed here than out there."
"Hellhound is correct, in his own way," a third voice spoke up from the doorway. "He is right to be concerned, Shado," David Cane stated grimly. "This will be the first generation of villains to face a united front of 'heroes' crippling themselves by shielding the weak populace of our rotting cities. They will need to be ready."
"What the hell was that?" Phantom asked, shaking his head as a turbulent storm of emotions raged within him.
"One class down, eleven to go," Jinx grinned, straying down another hallway as Danny moved to catch up.
"No, I mean-" Phantom started, then cut himself off, unsure what to say.
Jinx flicked a looked backwards, eying him oddly. "Geez, you really are green, aren't you? What's not to understand, Spooky?"
Danny rolled his eyes at the nickname, "How 'bout everything?"
Jinx snorted, "Okay, noobie...I guess I'm stuck wising you up. What part of 'everything' do you wanna' know first?"
Danny considered the question, and his own, carefully before he spoke.
"Why did they just...open fire on us like that? I mean, aren't they supposed to be our teachers? How is that teaching us...anything? Couldn't someone have died or something?" The questions came out quickly, desperation clear in his tone.
"What would you want to do instead?" Jinx asked sarcastically.
"Like...martial arts classes or something?" Phantom asked, shrugging his shoulders.
The pinkette actually laughed openly at this, "Do you think we're living in a kung-fu movie? Phantom...learning how to punch someone comes naturally. If you're doing it wrong, you'll wind up getting hurt and you'll know better next time."
Danny's brows furrowed as he thought about that. It made some sense, but...
"All anyone really needs to learn is how to handle themselves in a fight. Don't freeze up, keep moving, lines of fire, don't put yourself between two groups with guns or lasers or whatever. It's stupid, common sense stuff, but most people are idiots," Jinx continued. "Besides that, punching and kicking and actually fighting is simple."
"But shouldn't they have at least warned us? Or cut us some slack so we don't get killed?" Phantom pressed, acknowledging Jinx's previous point by omission of an argument.
"They did," Jinx stated pointedly, stopping to look Phantom in the eyes. "Look, I don't know what your problem is, but this? This is serious. If you want some half-baked old Chinese guy to teach you 'wax on – wax off' so you can play with the big kids, you don't belong here."
Phantom swallowed dryly, unable to look away from the bright pink orbs.
"When I graduate, I'm on my own. Sink or swim, this is it. This is the way it was at Dark Way Prep, this is the way it is out in the real world. You wanna' work together?" Jinx asked rhetorically, "Then put up or shut up, 'cause next Combat Practice? You're either with me or an obstacle."
She shot him a final look of contempt, then slid her ID card into a reader and stepped into what was obviously her room.
Then the door shut and she was gone.
Leaving Phantom standing in the hallway with his choice.
A ponderous expression on his face, he turned to walk down the hallway.
'It looks like I've finally found out what makes Jinx so much like Sam. Sam cares about the environment, about people, about things she considers important. Jinx cares about important things too, but for her, that boils down to winning...to being the best.' Danny thought despondently.
Nights were long, when your thoughts were heavy and you couldn't sleep.
Kyd Wykkyd helped, kept him busy enough to sometimes even forget the conversation with Jinx the day prior. Of course, 'conversation' didn't quite mean the same thing in this context, but it passed time all the same. They 'talked' about everything from classes to friends, keeping the information vague, but slowly opening up to each other.
The dawning of the next day (even in an underground shelter) came as a relief.
Even if their Technology teacher was a whole new level of creepy.
"Hello all you adorable young people," the voice at the head of the class said, its (his?) perpetually grinning face shining with the strange brightness common to newly polished plastic. "You can call me Toyman."
The entire class struggled with an instinctive fear rising in their hind-brain as she unblinking eyes swept over the student body, his cheerful grin vacuous and terrifying.
"I'm sorry to say today won't be much...fun," Toyman said airily. "I've taken the liberty of placing your books on your desks...and assigning chapters one through five for the next time we meet. The only other thing we have planned for today is a little...demonstration."
Somehow, Danny though, even that small laugh he gave sounded...plastic, synthetic to his ears.
Then the desks began to sink into the floor and students began to stumble away from them in alarm. As the final piece of furniture in the room disappeared, Toyman's grin seemed to widen impossibly, the fixed plastic of his face nearly stretching as he attempted to emote beyond his normal limits.
Or maybe it was just Danny's imagination.
He hoped so.
"Now, I know some of you have just gotten finished with combat practice yesterday, but the Headmistress felt that some of the students' performance was so...lacking, she wanted to give you a change to make up for it."
As the plastic-coated villain spoke, panels on the sides of the wall slid open and an assortment of six-foot-tall machine men stepped into the room, only to have the entrances close behind them.
When the class turned back to face their erst-while teacher, they discovered his desk, and indeed, the Toyman himself vanished, a trapdoor closing where he once stood.
"This is your first assignment class. It appears I've been a naughty boy and left my action figures out after playing with them. Do be good little students and put them up for me, please?" The Toyman's voice asked from well-hidden speakers around the room.
Danny's green eyes widened.
The whine of electronics powering up filled the room.
The classroom, which had seemed so spacious when they first walked in, now seemed uncomfortably cramped and tight.
Danny swallowed as arm joints pivoted and lit up with painful-looking yellow energy.
Then, at some invisible signal, the assemblage surged into chaotic motion.
Danny's second involvement with violence, even simulated violence, was as world-shaking as his last. There was no time for thought, no time for plans, just-
Ionized air singeing the space he'd been a moment before.
A miniature explosive going off and throwing a classmate's unconscious bulk onto him.
Desperation forcing vicious green energy into his palms, loosing a stream of destruction.
There wasn't time for him to think.
There wasn't time for him to plan.
His survival instinct, the part of his still-living mind that screamed 'I don't want to die' surged to the fore, pushing his arms and legs into motion where his rational mind would have stalled and failed.
The moments blurred together, a cacophonous din of violence and unleashed power.
Sometime during the staged combat, he felt Wykkyd at his back, a dark presence that pushed up fields of shadow and black energy to cut down oncoming bolts of yellow pain.
It was clumsy, at first, moving with someone at your back, but in the indeterminable chaos of the scene around them, it gradually became easier. They switched at the slightest urging, Danny moving in to throw green death at the stocky and thickly-built tin men while Kyd pulled them out of the way of another assault or friendly fire.
The words hadn't meant anything to Danny, to Phantom, before the H.I.V.E. Academy, merely a hazard of his video game experience. It hadn't meant screaming death, pain, or the cursed clumsy destruction being thrown around carelessly by idiots who didn't know how their own powers worked.
Now...now it meant all of those things and more.
His mind upshifted, forcing him to move faster even as Kyd Wykkyd moved to compensate.
And then it was over.
The giant from lunch, Mammoth, was still beating one of the robots with a disconnected set of arms and torso he'd obviously ripped free from one of the others, but the noise of the impacts was alone in the now-destroyed room.
Phantom's wide green eyes took in the carnage of the last few-minutes?seconds?hours?-and struggled to come to terms with the random, meaningless violence he'd just been exposed to.
Students were bleeding (though again, no injuries seemed to be life-threatening) all over the floor, some struck by debris, some by energy, and some by their own classmates in the hurry to-
Danny...Phantom...whoever he was, shivered with the numb emptiness of a terrible trauma.
"Good job students!" Toyman's cheerful voice echoed out over the sound of sparking circuits and cracking, melting plastic. "Excellent work. Now, as the medic tend to the incapacitated, remember to read chapters one through five for Monday. I don't think I need to tell you that they'll be important!"
The plastic voice was mocking, irritatingly disregarding the scene of pain he'd just caused.
Danny shivered again, partly in shock and partly in anger.
He and Wykkyd, who looked to be in just as dire straits as Danny, moved through the doorway and back into the relative sanity of the clean, antiseptic yellow halls.
'It's like it never happened,' Danny thought, his mind still reeling, 'I just...we just fought for our lives or something and now...'
Mechanically, he looked down at his slightly singed schedule.
'Now I've got lunch.'
Was this what life with powers like his would be like?
Jinx's words from the day prior echoed in his mind...the images of clumsy, ineffective fighters flashing by in tandem with them. They hadn't been 'with him.' They'd turned themselves into obstacles...obstacles that randomly lashed out with destruction and violence without meaning or aim.
'With her or an obstacle, huh?' Phantom thought, the words suddenly meaning more to him than an hour ago.
The choice was bitter, and felt wrong.
But it was also easy.
Mr. Anderson walks onto the stage, a happy grin on his face as he seats himself.
"Damn, I'm on a roll today," He says grandly, throwing his arms behind his head as he talks. "I just got chapter ten of In Bad Faith up and now, I've got chapter six of DC Phantom out. Today's a good day. Oh, and I also finished the first chapter of my Thesis! This week sucked donkey but, but now its over. To make a long story short, one of my best friend's apartment burned down and a friend of his, the guy upstairs, didn't make it out. Compounding this if the fact that my father is the landlord for both places, so sorting through the ashes of a place like that has been...the kind of fun I never want to experience ever again, which is to say no 'fun' at all. For those of you who are interested, my friend is okay, though a good bit of his stuff is trashed."
Mr. Anderson shakes his head tiredly, "Anyway. Fanfiction. Now, this chapter is a bit shorter than I wanted it, but this was such a good place to stop, I couldn't really add more without throwing off the feel, if you know what I mean. Ah, I am sorry about how long this has taken to get out, but...well, real life and stuff, I can't really offer a better apology than that, sorry."
Propping his feet on the desk in front of him, the author hums thoughtfully. "I think that's it. Thanks for being patient with me (or not if you weren't). Feel free to drop a review in the bin for whatever reason or if you've got a question. For those of you who are interested in the Harry Potter fandom, I've got a self-insert which is out right now and sponging time, so drop by that for a read it you need to waste some time."
Standing up and stretching again, Mr. Anderson begins to walk off-stage.
"Well, I'll see you all later, hopefully soon! Ciao!"