Marvel Phantom Chapter 6
A Danny Phantom/Marvel 'Verse Crossover
05/20/2013 (Large-scale Edit 7/20/2013)
Chapter VI – Stay Calm and Don't Panic!
"And we're back with an impromptu 'council' of religious officials: Archbishop Giuseppe Montesi of the Catholic Church, a member of the Buddhist Sangha, Shi Chongli, an Islamic Scholar Muhammad Rashad, Rabbi Dominic Goodman, and Pastor Isabella Rodkins are ready to give us their take on the so-called 'Fenton Revelation.' For those of you just tuning in, well, I personally have to wonder if you've been living under a rock for the past week-"
Polite laughter erupted from the studio audience.
"-But seriously, people, we've heard everything on the subject by now; from phenomenal frauds to ingenious geniuses, the Fentons have been called it all. That said, we've only really been hearing opinions up till now. We've heard little from scientific and spiritual experts on the matter of the Fenton Revelation, until now."
Panning out, the camera lost focus on the single reporter and the panel of religious experts sitting on her right, moving towards the group on her left.
"We have Dr. Howard Stark, the only man here to have actually met with Mr. & Mrs. Professor Fenton. We also have Dr. Norman Osborn and Dr. Katshuhito Stingray. All three men are distinguished figures in the fields of energy application and transference, quantum physics, and advanced technology. A round of applause for all of our guests, please."
More polite applause as each of the figures traded glances with each other, sizing up their opposition as the audience settled. Interestingly enough, Norman Osborn was the first of the combined group to speak, spreading a self-confident smirk across his face; it was the look of a man who had spent the better part of half his life in front of television.
"Well, I have to say Lauren," he interjected, "I almost feel as though our side is under-represented in this little debate."
A few faces frowned at that.
"I was under the impression that our gathering was less of a debate and more of a public forum to exchange in formation and educate individuals," Shi Congli smiled disarmingly, his English picture-perfect even as it was subtitled around the world for an audience of millions. "I'm not sure if the concept of a 'side' has any place here, Dr. Osborn."
"I can agree with that sentiment," Giuseppe Montesi nodded, his own English slightly accented with an Italian flair. "I also think you're overestimating our ability to argue as a cohesive 'religious block' as it were, Dr. Osborn."
Here, the Catholic Priest and Islamic Scholar shared an amused, self-deprecating glance.
The scientist, business tycoon, and corporate juggernaut frowned slightly, though it quickly cleared as he rebounded. "I suppose I stand, or sit as it were, corrected. Although I've always found it difficult to reconcile scientific fact with unsupported faith."
Like dominoes, small irritated tells began appearing on the faces of the assembled clergy and scholars of the represented religions. Surprisingly, support came from perhaps the last individual anyone at the table had expected.
"And if I were to offer that I am both a practicing member of the Shinto faith and a Nobel laureate in the field of Robotics, Dr. Osborn?" Katsuhito Stingray asked, his voice tinged with irony as his lip twitched upwards.
Howard Stark, as well as other assorted members of their group, had to work hard to smother a smile as Osborn's expression soured. "Then I would have to presume that it is possible to reconcile fact and faith, merely unlikely."
"Well, I think Dr. Osborn's stance on this matter is fairly clear. Now, Dr. Stark, what about you? We've heard from both your colleagues on the matter of religion; do you ascribe to a personal faith?" Lauren Bastle asked, her eyes reflecting a reporter's curiosity as she looked towards the man.
Howard shifted slightly as a measure of the room's attention turned to him. Smiling slightly-sickly, he shrugged. "Well, I've always considered matters of faith and science to be two separate spheres of influence and for a matter of record I've never actually compartmentalized myself into a given denomination, but I do consider myself Christian."
"A very political answer, Dr. Stark," Lauren replied, her smile as wide as Howard's own. "Although, I think we've lost sight of our original objective here: Dr. Stark, I hope you don't consider two questions in a row rude, but as the only person who has actually examined the Fentons' 'dimensional doorway' do you believe their outrageous claims?"
Howard Stark's second question seemed to put him much more at ease with the situation. "Well, Lauren, I can't say that I believe the Fentons, no, because their claims are fairly unbelievable in the strictest sense. I can say without hesitation, though, that I know the Fentons achieved what they've reported. I would stake my career on the fact that Jack and Maddie Fenton successfully stabilized the event horizon of an inter-dimensional wormhole. Their math is sound, their design flawless, and while their results are unbelievable, they are also undeniable."
Stark's words hung in the air, numerous faces reflecting their shock at such a renowned figure putting his word behind 'crackpots.'
"And I never thought I'd seriously consider saying this," Norman Osborn interjected, "But I have to agree with Howard. I've looked over several of the equations he's provided and many of the Fentons' papers and I concur that his assessment is accurate."
"And though my word holds comparatively little weight to that of my Western colleagues, I agree as well. The Fentons' approach to their chosen field of specialization has revolutionized our view of countless fields of scientific research. I actually find myself reconsidering that Nobel I mentioned earlier; if the Fentons don't have one presented to them, I will probably donate mine to them as befits a more deserving party."
Lauren's jaw dropped slightly at the admission.
Shi Chongli chuckled from across the space between the 'science' and 'religion' tables, his older face contorting in laughter. "I think Dr. Stingray is selling himself short too. He's neglected to mention the leaps he's made in quantum intelligence housing and I believe he's on the cusp of realizing true artificial intelligence."
Vacant looks turned on the Chinese man as he laughed anew.
"You don't need to act so surprised," Chongli smiled kindly. "We have all lived many different lives before we come to our current circumstances; the masters degrees I earned in mechanical engineering and computer sciences during my youth are just a bit more metaphorical than the typical, literal, cycle of Samsara."
A beat of silence before Lauren found her voice. "I apologize, sir, you just caught us all a little bit flat-footed there. I suppose this is as opportune a time as any to ask a Buddhist's perspective on this matter."
"I suppose," the older man agreed, scratching at his bald chin before nodding thoughtfully. "It is the view of Buddhism that Samsara, or the eternal cycling of the soul, is that which governs the movement between our lives. Taken in context with karma and dharma, an individual my be incarnated as a ghost to cleanse a sin or grudge in an effort to attain Nirvana."
"So it is possible to have a, for lack of a better phrase, life as a ghost?" Lauren replied curiously.
"Indeed," the elder nodded. "Although it my seem oxymoronic to many, many spiritual entities in the Buddhist worldview cohabit in this existence, whether they are seen as ghosts, gods, or demons in other worldviews."
"Interesting," Lauren noted, "Then you find it completely possible to reconcile the Fentons' claims, made during their press conference, that some of these 'entities' may in fact, be or have souls."
"Absolutely," Chongli nodded, smiling. "Honestly, I would be more worried if they had projected differently. I've restrained my opinion on the matter of only 'some' of these beings which the Fentons have contacted having souls, though as long they are treated with the proper respect befitting an intelligent, or alternatively, a living being, I can hardly object too much. Ultimately, though, I can merely theorize the possible right now, as we have very little information regarding the nature of these beings...I cannot specifically say that these are, in fact, the part of Samsara which I have postulated, rather than something else."
"A very interesting insight," Lauren revised her earlier assessment. "Though I think your Rabbinic counterpart has a bone to pick with your explanation."
The young, though balding man, smiled slightly, "I should be worried if I'm that transparent."
A polite round of laughter echoed his statement.
"Though I can hardly speak for the whole of my faith, scripture is more than clear on the matter. First Samuel 28, among other verses, direct the faithful to stay away from individuals who would summon the dead back to the world of the living, or mediums. It is my opinion that, if the Fentons are truly interfering with the deserved rest of the departed, that they are transgressing against divine authority most severely, a point which I believe many of my...colleagues would agree on."
Several hesitant and tentative nods emerged from around the table.
"I will hasten to add, though, that the soul in Hebrew tradition, has multiple parts, not all of which move on from the physical world after death, any of which would not be a true 'summoning' of the dead, as it were...and though ill advised, I do not believe they would be considered true sins. If the Fentons are contacting Dybbuk or the Lilin, however, I truly worry for the repercussions."
The correspondent cleared her throat here, drawing the attention of both the camera's and her interviewees. "And for those of our viewers who aren't familiar with the terminology used, Dybbuk is a human spirit who has refused to move on or been trapped in this world and possesses living beings. Lilin, however, are demonic in nature and their origin stems from Kabbalah, or Jewish mystical religions. These are the spawn of Adam's first wife, Lilith, and often associated with demons, evil spirits, and the like." Lauren's lengthy explanation through, she smiled as she turned form the cameras and back to the resident expert on the material, "Did I get that right Rabbi?"
Chuckling, he nodded, "Quite right, I doubt I have much to add on the matter, actually. Although, I suppose I should tack on the note that the Kabbalah is a rather esoteric branch of Judaism and not observed by much of our congregations. But, really, I'd say that whatever, exactly, these entities that the Fentons have contacted actually turn out to be, it really is just confirmation on what the Jewish people have already known to be true."
"Fascinating, so you would merely advise caution in continued research regarding this subject?" Lauren asked curiously.
"I think we would all take that stance," Katsuhito Stingray interjected calmly. "I apologize for interrupting, but I think this is something else that men of science and faith can agree on. Although each of us, in their own way and according to their own outlooks, strives toward the pursuit of 'truth,' we each acknowledge the inherent danger therein."
"I concur," Archbishop Giuseppe Montesi nodded. "While the official position of the Catholic Church is undecided at this point whether to encourage further examination of this new branch of science or not, I have been authorized by the Vatican to explain certain truths which the church feels will calm our congregations."
"And what might those be, Archbishop?" Lauren asked, turning towards the robed man.
"Merely that the Fentons may be under the misguided belief that such investigation and experimentation is harmless and, as such, should not be condemned by their actions thusfar. However, although the Catholic church does not strictly acknowledge the possibility of the entities popular culture calls 'ghosts,' that is the souls of the departed left to wander the Earth after departing the mortal coil, the church does acknowledge the fact that the dead do appear to the living."
"And how do you reconcile these two, seemingly opposed ideas?" Lauren asked, her tone intent.
"By the will of God," Archbishop Giuseppe Montesi explained with an easy smile on his face. "For you see, scripture relates to us that Moses appeared to Jesus and the Apostles during their lifetime, many years after his death. Also, I believe the good Rabbi has already pointed out the importance of the Book of Samuel in this discussion, wherein the soul of Samuel appears and speaks to Saul."
"Your point being that the appearance of what we call 'ghosts' is in fact divine will?" Lauren asked.
"Or the will of the Enemy," Guiseppe intoned gravely, his face serious. "For, although the departed souls of man do not wander aimlessly, the Fallen and lesser demons may appear in their guise to tempt and torment the faithful and faithless alike. The final note I would like to relate is the probability that, if this 'portal' the Fentons have constructed truly does have any religious significance, then it would not be Heaven or Hell which it would connect to, but Purgatory."
"Which some people refer to as 'Limbo,' correct?" The interviewer pressed.
"True, though the term is inaccurate when used in such a fashion in the context of the Catholic faith," the archbishop explained. "If the Fentons are truly contacting the departed souls of individuals, then the only true possibility divine will allows for is contact with Purgatory. It has been postulated that God, in his wisdom, allows some souls to unburden and cleanse themselves before entering Heaven. The Fentons could be acting as His agents in facilitating this, although the church and the Holy Father has yet to examine the fullness of the evidence."
"I find it especially important that you note the possibility that the Fentons' invention and discovery may not hold any significance for religious communities," Lauren noted aloud, inviting further comment.
"Actually," Normand Osborn stated, drawing attention towards himself. "That is something the scientific community has been postulating. Although we concede," here his face soured, "the physical similarity of some of these...entities makes them comparable to 'departed human souls,' but it is far more likely, in my book at least, that the Fentons have punched a hole into an alternate dimension."
"So...you believe that the...beings that populate this 'Ghost Zone' as the Fentons have dubbed it, are in fact 'aliens' in a sense, rather than supernatural entities?" Lauren clarified.
"Indeed," Archbishop Giuseppe Montesi stated, looking slightly miffed at having been interrupted. "Which is one of the reasons the Catholic Church has not given an opinion on the matter as of yet. The, rather large, possibility exists that these things are not, or have ever been, human; this should, in my opinion, be explored before we commit to any concrete determination of the Fentons' invention or discovery."
"Fascinating," Lauren stated, considering her next question. "And on the note of non-human entities, I believe our Islamic Scholar has something to contribute?"
"Certainly," the tanned individual smiled, his accent slight, but distinctive, "The Quran teaches that human souls, upon the death of the body, are immediately brought forth before Allah, or God. The encounters which many people have reported, and indeed the 'spirits' that the Fentons have 'discovered,' I postulate to be Jinn, or Djinn. These are creatures which, along with angels and humans, make up the intelligent and morally capable creations of Allah and are made of 'smokeless fire.'"
"So Islam would posit that these creatures, if they are Jinn, are intelligent?" Lauren asked.
"Oh yes," Muhammad Rashad nodded, "In fact, there are numerous accounts of discourse between these beings within Islamic holy texts and humanity. They, like man, are possessed of free will and vary between good, evil, and neutral in nature. Much like what western culture calls 'ghosts,' jinn exist is a world which is invisible to humans and may take many forms in order to interact with the physical realm."
"Is this a solid interpretation of the Fentons' discovery?" Lauren pressed, interested in the sage's words.
He smiled, "Somewhat. I believe that if there is any connection between the Fenton's discovery and the phenomena known as phantoms or ghosts, then this is the interpretation that the people of Islam will understand as their truth."
Lauren grinned, "But you're not willing to declare it as such."
"No," Muhammad shook his head, "Not yet, at least. As my counterparts have discussed, what we need now is more information, something which cannot be gained by merely arguing or attacking the reputations of otherwise imminent scientists. I also believe I am not alone in imploring people around the world to consider this matter peacefully and not act in haste or violence."
The Catholic archbishop nodded. "Regardless of your personal feelings on this matter, the world which we live in today is not one in which violence will aid the cause of faith, nor has such ever truly benefited the will of God, no matter your interpretation of who or what that figure is."
"Thank you, although I believe we have one last individual to hear from, Pastor Isabella Rodkins, who is from the Lutheran faith," Lauren said, smiling as she gestured to the final person at the table. "I'm sorry it's taken us so long to get to you, Pastor Rodkins."
The other woman smiled, "Perfectly okay, Lauren, it's been an interesting conversation to observe, in any case, though I suppose it is my turn to be interrogated now."
The interviewer smirked, "I promise to be on my best behavior. Now, what is the position of the Lutheran church on ghosts?"
Pastor Rodkins chuckled lightly, "I'm afraid I can't speak for my entire faith, unlike my Catholic counterpart. Lutheranism is a much less structured religion, with no true 'hierarchy' beyond the organization of national churches. Still, our various churches hold a commonality of beliefs, wherein the popular concept of 'ghost' is a fiction perpetuated by Satan and evil spirits under his command to deceive and torment the peoples of Earth. If these are, truly, human spirits which have been loosed, they are almost certainly malicious in nature."
"A wide ranging series of beliefs, certainly," Lauren nodded, looking about her guests. "And I notice once again we arrive at the possibility that these beings-if you'd show the clip again, please-may or may not be 'ghosts.'"
Television audiences around the world watched, enthralled, as one of the most-viewed video clips (currently nearly several hundred-million on youtube in its various postings) was shown again. The green background was wholly alien to the humans watching it, chunks of land floating through a spectral ether as spectral figures darted to and fro quickly.
"Once again," Lauren stated, "I remind our audience that, for the purposes of this newscast, we are currently working with the following definition of 'ghost': "the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined, usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons." Now, overlooking momentarily whether or not this is possible within certain religious beliefs, we're going to hear from Howard Stark on possible the least likely topic he's likely ever considered giving a talk upon: the human soul. Howard?"
The esteemed figure smiled self-deprecatingly and nodded, "I suppose it is a little odd to hear from a scientist on the matter of the soul, but these are...odd times we're living in. Besides, I think any scientist trying to refute the possibility of a human soul has a difficult and uphill battle ahead of them anyway."
"Granted," the Catholic archbishop said, raising an eyebrow, "that the soul is invisible, immaterial, and not quantifiable by any known means, I'd have thought you would come down on the other side of this, Dr. Stark."
Howard shook his head. "I've always abstained from the argument, truthfully, seeing as how I've believed the matter to be...outside of my expertise, as it were. Although...I have to say that your statement of the soul being 'unquantifiable' would have caused a significant problem for working with the subject in any case...until last week, of course."
Guiseppe frowned, "I'm afraid I don't follow."
Around the table, though, eyes began to slowly widen even as Norman Osborn's narrowed in suspicion.
Howard Stark grinned somewhat and touched a small device on the table before him, causing it to project a series of mathematical equations strewn with variables and odd looking symbols. Osborn and Stingray cocked their heads thoughtfully, studying the projection.
"Now," Stark began, taking a sip from the glass of water in front of him, "This is the operative equation the Fentons have created for studying and predicting the behavior of the substance they have dubbed 'ectoplasm.'"
"And I'm sorry to interrupt again, Dr. Stark," Lauren smiled, "But just to clarify for our audience...the word 'ectoplasm' is used in traditional science to refer to the outer portion of cytoplasm within a cell, as opposed to endoplasm. The way in which Dr. Stark is using the word denotes it's connection to the Spiritualism movement of the latter half of the nineteenth century. Used in this way, 'ectoplasm' denotes a material which was ejected from the bodies of mediums, those who contacted 'ghosts' or the 'afterlife.' There are numerous early photographs documenting this, though many of them remained highly suspect due to their inability to be reproduced under laboratory conditions. Attempts to explain what 'ectoplasm' truly was, if the phenomena in question was real at all, are ongoing."
"Very true," Howard Stark nodded. "Although we may never know whether or not the 'mediums' during the nineteenth century were truly manifesting the same substance which the Fentons have studied, we're speaking more on the latter than the former today. Now, as I said, the equation behind me postulates the behavior of what is known as 'ectoplasm' currently, although Jack Fenton referred to it many times as 'ghost goo.'"
The audience gave a series of laughs, as the previously grim faces around the table lightened.
"Now, for those who can't decipher the abstract math behind me, I wouldn't worry. It took me quite quite a bit of work to fully understand them, because they are, to use a scientific term, 'weird.'"
Another round of polite laughter.
"These equations use variables to represent the average and specific neural activity of human brains, specific gravity, entropy, strong and weak nuclear forces, the laws of thermodynamics, and a dozen other things which I, genius or not, had to look up. Honestly, each of these new behavior 'laws' for ectoplasm touches on so many disciplines I have to wonder how the Fentons ever managed to construct them."
"Then this would be the foundation of a new discipline of science, is what you are saying, Dr. Stark?" Shi Chongli asked, curious, as he tried to decipher the 'math' on the wall.
"Essentially," Howard Stark agreed. "I've taken to referring to this branch of research as Metaphysics, which is historically a field of philosophy rather than science, but the Fentons' work breaks the mold of what can be accepted as 'science' in nearly every way, though it remains so."
Archbishop Montesi frowned, "I believe we've gotten off topic a bit. What, exactly, does this have to do with the...quantifiability of the human soul?"
He blinked, his own eyes widening.
"Although the Fentons did not work towards 'proving' the human soul," Howard Stark explained, "their equations presuppose it's existence. They haven't been able to mathematically quantify the soul...as we've said, it has no weight, mass, or any other traditional measurement, but the Fentons accounted for every other interaction which the human body has with the substance ectoplasm. They have studied how it interacts with the neurochemicals of the brain, the blood, bone, and muscles of the body, how it is effected by gravity, the stages of the moon and the zodiac, a thousand other things, but they were left with a certain effect which humans had on ectoplasm which could not be accounted for. The soul was...as they said, conspicuous by it's absence in a quantifiable equation."
There was a long beat of stunned silence.
"Remarkable," Katsuhito Stingray whispered, rubbing at his jawline.
"Impossible," Norman Osborn grunted, stupified.
"And..." Lauren coughed, trying to subdue her sense of wonder, "And, you've said that they took into account everything else? That this could not be anything but evidence for the human soul?"
Howard gave a self-deprecating laugh, "Lauren, they've taken into account measurements and concepts I'd never even heard of. Things like, multiverse constants, a 'life-force quotient,' and still more that I'd never have expected to have any sizable effect on their experiments like radiological data from local and distant stars, the newly published dark matter equations. These equations are the strangest things I've ever seen in my entire career, but they work. Even if they're complex beyond all reason, there is a kind of beautiful simplicity to them once you understand everything. It's like a work of art."
"Amazing," Lauren managed around her dry throat. "Well, I think that more than covers the goals of this newscast in providing information regarding the Fenton Revelation. I think the underlying message that has recurred throughout our talks has been, 'Don't Panic, Stay Calm, and Understand the Situation Before Acting.'"
Sam Manson sat, blinking, as she considered the program she'd just watched. Before her, lay the now-silent television, a bed strewn with her belongings, and half-packed suitcases. The Mansons had been slightly less assaulted by the press corps than the Foleys or the Fentons, but throughout the past week news had slowly trickled down regarding the only other family in Amity Park that would have anything to do with the 'Mad Scientist Spiritualists.' As a result, her parents had hastened their plans to, as her father stated, 'Get the hell out of Dodge.'
Sam had almost choked on her breakfast; her father never cursed.
After her release from the hospital, things had been strained with her mother and father, though the house was admittedly quieter than usual. Between her own nervous anxiety and the fact that her parents were walking on eggshells, everyone tried to be as silent as possible going about their daily business.
The goth shook her head, dismissing those thoughts as she pondered the program she'd just finished.
"This has to be the weirdest dream I've ever had," Sam muttered, despite the fact she knew it was real. Every day, things seemed to take a more surreal turn as she tried to come to grips with the fact that she'd-
A lance of pain shot through her head and she whimpered softly. Every now and then, but getting less and less so, a blinding headache would burst into existence when she tried to recall the prior week...
She remembered getting the tickets and telling the boys.
She remembered something about making costumes...
And that was it.
"I never thought amnesia would be so annoying," Sam groaned, massaging her temples. "It's like I went to sleep, had a bad dream, and when I woke up Danny's famous and the world's gone crazy."
It felt like a dream...
...but it wasn't.
"Samantha?" Pamela Manson called, knocking on her bedroom door.
"Yeah?" Sam called, blinking in surprise as she sat up.
There was a beat of silence, then her father's voice, "Would you mind if we came in, Sam?"
Sam swallowed, 'So much for 'ignoring each other'...it was going so well too...' "Sure, come in."
"Thank you," Jeremy Mason replied, trying to put on a smile as he stepped into his daughter's gothic cave of a room. "I'm glad to see you're packing."
Sam hummed a noncommittal reply, swallowing a biting rebuttal that would make the coming conversation much more difficult than it needed to be.
There was an awkward silence as the three Mansons tried to look anywhere but at each other.
"So...what's up?" Sam asked finally, wanting the meeting to be over already.
"Well...it's about your school," her father said uncomfortably. "Your new school, I mean."
"Oh," Sam stated, her hands tightening into fists. "So...where am I going?"
"Well, that's just it Sam, honey, we'd like your input before we...decide anything," Pam explained hesitantly.
Sam's tensed body relaxed a bit.
"Yes," Jeremy nodded, taking a hand-full of papers from his wife and placing them on the bed, a foot away from his daughter, but within easy reach. "Your mother and I accrued a few...options, that we'd like you to look over and tell us what you think. After that, we'll talk it over and see where you're going to spend the next school years."
"...okay," Sam sighed, picking up the bundle of papers, but pausing as her parents moved to leave her room.
"Wait," the teen called, just as the adults passed the threshold of her doorway.
Pamela and Jeremy turned, expectant and hopeful.
Sam blushed slightly. "I...I thought you wanted to go over these together." Her voice small, her eyes flickering anywhere but her parents, she nevertheless couldn't missed the intense burst of happiness on their faces.
"Thank you," Pamela said quietly, sitting on the bed and hugging her daughter to her body dearly.
Sam shrugged, embarrassed, as she flipped through the various documents on her lap.
A few were high-quality brochures from boarding schools. Others were fliers from tutoring agencies and upper-class public schools. Finally, there were a few printed sets of information from online websites and online academies. Sam bit her lip as she looked them over.
"What do you think?" Jeremy asked, expectantly.
"I...don't know," Sam admitted, her eyes narrowing in thought. "You'd still let me go to a public school after all this mess?"
Pam sighed, "If that's what you want, sweetie. We've already called a few schools." She picked up a brochure, "like this one. Midtown High. It's the neighborhood school you'd be enrolled in by default and they've assured me they don't tolerate bullying like you and your friends had to deal with during middle school."
Sam's mouth twisted, imagining high school without her best friends as she put that one to the side.
"The Tomorrow Academy," Sam read dubiously examining another set of documents.
"A magnet school," Jeremy explained. "It's within commuting distance, but they have a stated goal of focusing more on the sciences than liberal arts. You might find it challenging, but you might also enjoy it."
Sam hummed in thought, shuffling the papers more thoroughly.
"These," Pamela explained, pointing to a few pages, "are if you'd like to explore less...traditional options. We could hire private tutors, or you could take online lessons, you wouldn't even have to leave the house."
Admirably, Sam refrained from cringing at the thought of having to live with her parents day-in, day-out for four years. Although they might not be as bad as she'd have said a month prior, they were also very 'bright, sunshiny people' that she could only tolerate so much of.
"And these," her father pointed out, "are private schools. They wouldn't be what you're used to, most of them wear uniforms, and tend to be more...structured. They also have beautiful campuses. I attended one out in Colorado when I was younger and, I won't say it was all peaches and cream, but it wasn't all that bad either."
Sam looked over the pictures in the brochures, silently conceding that her father was right. The campuses were beautiful. It might actually be a good change after the brick-and-mortar Amity Park Middle School and the dull cement-covered cities. Some of these schools looked as if they were far removed from cities and the noise of society.
"A few of them are boarding schools," Pamela cautioned, smiling at the consideration on her daughter's face. "Like this one, Snow Valley School for Girls. I believe it's out in the Berkshire Mountains, in Massachusetts. You'd only be able to come home for holidays and breaks."
Jeremy grinned slightly, seeing his opening. "They're more focused on the arts, rather than the sciences...they do have a rather good economics and business class, though. It would also be a good place to meet some new people who might have...connections that you could use, later in life."
"I'll have to think about it..." Sam stated, looking over the various brochures before raising her gaze to her parents. "Thanks. I mean...you could have just...sent me somewhere. Thank you mom, dad."
Pamela's eyes glistened as she wiped at the furiously, "Quite alright, dear. You just tell us when you think you know where you want to go and we'll have another talk."
"Just, don't take too long," Jeremy cautioned. "We've got about a week before everything involving the move is settled and some of those schools are going to begin classes soon."
"I got it," Sam shrugged, already looking back to the pictures of the vast stretches of rolling, tree-covered hills around Snow Valley Academy.
'It might be fun,' she considered silently, pondering.
Daniel James Fenton rolled over in bed.
It took him a moment to understand why the bed felt so strange and truly wake up from his extended sleep. Outside, the sky had turned a steely gray, thunderous clouds darkening the sun and sky alike, leaving his room cast in a state of nearly-night darkness. Of course, 'his room' wasn't really 'his room,' given that they were...
"I guess we really are kinda' home," Danny muttered, leaning up and out of bed to stretch, wincing as the chill air of the late morning caught him unawares. "Geez, did someone forget to turn the heat-oh."
Resisting the urge to facepalm, the youngest Fenton shivered his way into the closest bathroom, grabbing a change of clothes on his way out as he-
"Gah!" Danny cried, throwing his arms up.
"Eep!" Jazz shrieked, wrapping her robe closed around herself as fast as possible.
There was a beat of silence.
"Sorry!" The two, blushing, Fenton siblings cried out in unison, refusing to face each other.
They both cringed, even as Jazz gathered her clothes and quickly moved through the doorway, "There should still be enough hot water, little bro."
"Thanks," Danny managed, cringing as he noticed his own state of boxers...and 'morning condition.' "Great. Just great, this morning's started off fantastic." The half-ghost huffed and detoured to the shower.
Stepping out ten minutes later, the teen had to gratefully acknowledge the ingenious planning which had gone into Bloodblossom Court. Even if they didn't have electricity, the elaborate boiler-and-furnace system which served the property more than made up for the lack of a modern hot water heater. Grabbing one of the robes on the rack, Danny wrapped it about himself to get away from the still-chilled air. Returning to his room and dressing quickly, the youngest Fenton was suddenly met with quite a quandary.
"What do I do now?" He asked, toying with the edge of his shirt. He'd foregone the jumpsuit today, in favor of a long-sleeved version of his normal white tee and a pair of blue jeans.
The jumpsuits were all well and good for family time, and actually ideal for travel, given that they were stain and tear-resistant, breathed fairly well, and were comfortable on long drives...but, he just couldn't get used to wearing them around the house. Biting his lip, Danny chanced another look out in the hall. He could either take the opportunity to explore a bit...or catch up on his handheld games.
For once, the games lost out.
Standing in the hallway of the east wing of Bloodblossom Court, Danny turned left and right, shrugged, and began walking. He passed aimlessly by a large room filled to the brim with dusty books and ancient dark-wooden shelves, then another set of bedrooms, before finding anything 'interesting.'
Stepping into a massive ballroom, Danny's mouth dropped open as he took in the high vaulted ceiling and the ornate glass fixtures. Each one of the intricate pieces looked to have an oil lamp wick, which meant they would have to be lit manually.
'Glad that's not my job,' the teen thought glibly, stepping back out and wandering again. Paying only minor attention, he passed sitting rooms and reading rooms, then rooms which were more obscure in their purpose...or completely free of furniture altogether. The last of these caused temptation to rise within him, wondering at the possibility of using his 'powers' within the massive manse.
Somewhat regretfully, he turned away from such opportunities, trying to focus on either getting outside or finding his parents...who had been given rooms near his own...which he had no idea where that was now. Pressing his palm to his face, he groaned.
"Great...now I'm lost," he huffed.
Turning about at a four-way intersection, Danny frowned before choose a short hallway which ended...in a dead end. Danny scowled, releasing a frustrated growl before his eyes locked onto a seam that didn't...quite belong. Narrowing his gaze, the youngest Fenton slid a digit along the crease, frowning thoughtfully as he touched a carved wooden flower on the wall...
Something vaguely like static electricity snapped between him and the wood, his eyes widening as...well, he didn't know quite 'what' it was, but it was deeper than words, flowing, communicating along that 'spark' of...somethng he'd felt. It hadn't been visual, or auditory, or anything else that the teen would call a 'sense' in the traditional value of the word, but...
Well, if he didn't know any better, he'd say the wall, which was actually a door, had been trying to tell him how to open it. Swallowing, he turned the not-decorative flower like a doorknob and felt his eyebrows raise as the panel in the wall swung outward.
"Servant's passage," Danny hummed under his breath, unable to explain how he knew what he knew, but knowing it was true. Turning, he threw a cautious look around behind him before stepping into the much more dusty hidden space. Biting his lip, Danny fought down a thrill of excitement as he ventured into the dim area beyond the walls.
They were something akin to hallways and, though the walls...within the walls, weren't exactly bear, they was much less gilt and decoration to them.
"Which makes sense if these were used by servants," Danny thought aloud, not stopping as the light from the open panel cut off.
In truth, he barely even noticed he was walking around in perfect darkness, so keen had his vision become.
His eyes widened as Danny realized exactly how immense the 'house-within-a-house' was when he met up at an intersection of secret hallways. Frowning at the lack of footprints in the dust, Danny sighed, "I guess they don't use these much anymore...well, since it's only one guy I guess he don't need a lot of people taking care of the place."
Turning in place, Danny considered his options.
"Go back and try and find that...door," he muttered, "or keep looking around and see if I can find another way out closer to mom and dad."
If he was honest with himself (and he was trying not to be at this particular junction), Danny was really looking for an excuse to continue wandering around in a hidden space between the walls of an ancient manor-house. It was far, far too cool for him to opt out of, showing that however immune the Fenton children would claim to be towards the weird and exciting, there was still a bit of childhood wonder and curiosity in them.
Danny took a left, doubtless getting himself more lost, but not particularly bringing himself to care about it.
"Stairs," Danny noted, raising his eyebrows. "I could have sworn I...no, maybe that was a left?" Shaking his head, the teen dutifully trod up the stairs, moving to the second floor.
...where he heard voices.
His eyebrows rose again as the soft echoing of his father's deep tones rang through the hollow walls. Quietly and cautiously, the teen turned to the right and began tracing the noise...
"...I don't know," Jack Fenton rumbled.
Danny opened his mouth and raised his hand, ready to call out and reveal himself.
"Jack...is this really our decision to make? Think of Jazz and Danny," Maddie entreated gently.
"I am," Jack replied grimly.
Danny let his hand slowly drop, his eyes locking on the wall intently as he heard his (and his sister's) name. 'Are they talking about us? Or...arguing?'
"I'd just like to see them occasionally," William Fenton's voice explained. "I know you don't trust me, son, but they're my grandchildren just as much as they are your children."
There was a beat of silence.
Danny inched forward expectantly, pressing his ear to the wall.
"...how do I know you won't fill their heads with that hocus-pocus garbage?" Jack pressed, his voice tight. "Or teach them some of your bad habits?"
"I suppose I could swear an oath, though that wouldn't matter much if you don't take me at my word," William replied shortly, his own words slightly curt now.
Danny's eyes narrowed as darkness crept over his eyes, his new-found sense perceiving the intense light of his father's unsure emotions and irritability. His mother was...concerned? Yes, and his grandfather was-
Danny's eyes snapped shut, the glare of the man's-
-stunning him momentarily as he forced his 'other sight' away for them moment. 'Okay, what the hell was that? I mean, I just looked at him and suddenly it's like my eyeballs are burning out of my skull. Ugh, think about it later, just-wait, they're still talking.'
"-and Jack," Maddie was saying, "If you really intend to limit your children's educational opportunities, then aren't you just as bad as you always said your father was? While I don't necessarily support Jazz or Danny taking up an interest in the...occult from a non-scientific viewpoint, I also don't believe we have much room to take the moral high ground on this. Still, your father could impart important life lessons on manners, high society, politics..."
Jack Fenton grunted loudly.
"Son, remember that I'm not explicitly asking to teach your children anything at all. All I'd really like is for you to give them your blessing to spend a few holidays here, at the Court. You and Maddie are, of course, welcome to come along...or you could take a vacation and let me watch them for a week or two." William stated reasonably.
"...and if I refuse," Jack replied, "then you won't give us the money we need to refinance and expand Fenton Works."
The statement, not question, hung in the air heavily.
William sighed, the noise raspy and aged. "I wouldn't deny my son and his family financial assistance, Jack. If you want to do this strictly by the books, I can have the firm draw up a loan...very low interest and we can do it that way."
Another long silence.
"I'll let the kids decide," Jack said, the weight of a decision behind his words. "If they want to spend a few holidays here every year, that'll be the way it is. If they say no...then that's the way that is too."
"Thank you, son," William sighed, his voice suddenly lighter, less...pained.
"Should I go get the kids?" Maddie asked hesitantly.
"I don't think there's any need," William chuckled, "After all, Jazz is listening outside the door."
Danny blinked, his sister's startled gasp sounding in twain with the noise of a door opening. 'Oooh, Jazz, got bust-' Suddenly, the wall he'd been leaning on gave way, leaving the youngest Fenton to tumble into the room in a dusty heap.
"...and it appears Danny has found the servant's passages," William commented from his position next to an open panel even as Maddie and Jazz gave a strangled, but startled cry.
"Danny! You're absolutely filthy!" Maddie scolded even as the teen's eyes began to readjust to the brighter light. Looking down, he grimaced as he realized his previously pristine white tee and jeans were now almost caked in gray dust and cobwebs. "I'm so sorry William, I don't know-"
"Madeline," William said quietly, holding up a hand to stall the matriarch. "Jack loved to play around in there with Roy at Danny's age, too. We haven't had enough people at the Court to use those in years. I think the last time we had a good crowd of Fentons was before...World War One? During my father's time, at least. As long as the sprats get themselves cleaned up, they can make all the ruckus they want in there."
Maddie blinked, shaking her head as she pulled a handkerchief out and began to attempt to get the worst of the dust free from Danny's face. Jack, on the other hand, had an amused half-grin on his face, doubtless remembering the few good days of his childhood.
"Excuse me," Jazz said hesitantly, looking curiously over to the open panel in the wall and visibly restraining herself from sticking her head in. "What is that? Did you say something about a servants' passage?"
Jack grinned widely. "You betcha' Jazzy-pants. 'Bout a hundred years ago, when this old place was really moving and shaking, the Court needed a full-service wait staff, maid service, and all the extras. Still, people didn't want to see the help crawling around the hallways and everything, so really big and fancy places back then had a second set of...pretty much everything, but hidden in plain sight. Roy and I used to see who could get from one end of the house to the other without coming out of the passages."
Jazz's expression intensified and hardened into a deep curiosity.
"...and I think Danny just broke your record, Jack. It took you, what? Two weeks to find an entrance after you overheard Roy's dad and I talking? Danny didn't even have that advantage and it took him, what? Sixteen hours?" William grinned at his son, then turned back to the teens with a secretive smirk. "There's even an old family legend that there's a third set of passage ways about the house, leading to hidden rooms and the great treasures of Bloodblossom Court and the Fenton Family," William enticed.
"Which is hogwash," Jack snorted. "Roy and I went up and down this old place when we were kids, never found anything like that."
"Men," Maddie snorted quietly, "anyway kids, since you obviously heard our conversation-" here her eyes narrowed "-what do you think about spending Thanksgiving with your grandfather? At least on a trial basis. If it works out, Jack and I might leave you here for Christmas...I did like William's suggestion of a vacation."
Jazz and Danny blinked, turning to lock eyes with each other.
'Bloodblossom Court does not have an ecto-oven.'
Their thoughts weren't identical, but covered roughly the same subjects.
'If no one brings the turkey dinner back to life as an undead abomination, we might actually get to eat a peaceful holiday meal.'
After living with their parents and the requisite Fenton kookiness for their entire lives, the decision was easy.
'If we don't have to spend Christmas with them, we might actually get through the New Year without smelling like singed pine trees, burnt wrapping paper, and the ashes of Yule-tide dreams.'
"Yes!" Jazz and Danny cried, simultaneously.
All three adults blinked at the enthusiasm. In quick succession, though, Jack's face soured slightly, though it was tinged with defeat and resignation. Maddie's face merely showed a kind of confused happiness. William's visage was a mixture of shrewd curiosity and bald delight, an awkward and unused smile adorning his face.
Danny and Jazz blushed.
"I mean," Jazz coughed, "I...it might be fun. I think I saw a horse stable outside my window...I'd never thought I would get the chance to ride."
William nodded. "We don't have as many steeds as we used to, but I'm pretty sure a half-dozen are in riding condition. I'll let Roy know to expect company sometime before you leave."
"And I," Danny floundered. "I mean, I think it would be good for you and dad to have some time away. Besides, this place is pretty cool and...Gramps? Well, he seems alright."
Jack sighed running a gloved hand through his salt-and-pepper hair and pointedly ignoring the suspicious shine to his father's eyes. "Okay, okay Old Man, you win. We'll have Thanksgiving over here and, if it works out, the kids might stay for Christmas while Mads and I...well, there's that haunted prison in Bolivia we've wanted to check out for years..."
With the temptation plain on his face, Jack resolved that he would let the situation lie. The kids wouldn't be in any 'danger' from his father, not really. For all that the man could be mean-spirited and foul when he wanted to, William Fenton had a very strong sense of family. It wasn't as though a few weeks every year with the old man would do any damage to Jazz or Danny. Besides, he'd be on the lookout during Thanksgiving and if the old man put one toe out of line, the deal would be off.
...and that's why this chapter took so long to edit and re-edit and re-re-edit. I've looked it over a few times now since I turned in the latest part of my thesis and I think it's ready to go to the presses now. In large part, the delay was due to the fact that this chapter deals heavily with both religion and the intricacies of "how" the Fenton (Mad) Science works. In addition to exploring a detailed view of world religions and offering realistic (if somewhat liberal and optimistic) reactions from the various corners of the world, I wanted to make this chapter informative to the reader as well. I did not mean any offense to anyone of any faith mentioned in this story, nor did I intentionally distort any of the information I presented.
IF I GOT SOMETHING WRONG - TELL ME!
I also tried to represent a diverse gathering of religions, which is why I chose the ones I did. Off the top of my head, I could have added Orthodox Christianity, Shinto, Wicca, Baptist, Mormons, Voodoo, etc...but the chapter was already getting a little out of hand in terms of length and I wanted to have some actual 'story' rather than a televised debate during the entire update. I am terribly sorry if you feel offended that I didn't include your faith of choice or if you feel I misrepresented so aspect of your religion that you hold dear. If it makes you feel any better, I didn't even include my own faith (Southern Baptist, for those of you who are curious...yes cue jokes, haha) for the sake of removing bias on my part. If you'd like to file a legitimate complaint against some content of this chapter, either put it in a review or a PM and we'll talk it out like sane, rational people...which is kind of what this chapter was arguing for, really.
Otherwise, I'm not sure when the next chapter is going to come out, but for those of you who enjoy this story, I have another Danny Phantom crossover with DC comics, appropriately enough titled DC Phantom. On the other hand, if you just like to read anything I write (I don't think any such person exists), I have a Harry Potter self-insert called In Bad Faith which is going to get a new chapter right after I finish uploading this. I don't think there's anything else pressing so...
Read & Review, Plz...