Disclaimer: Sorry. Clockwork says not yet. Emphasis on the yet.
Hey, punks! Number of reviews are pretty good, so I'm updating, and a few chapters (I'd like to call them episodes…. .) are going to be filler, like I said, to get to know the characters, then starts the real plot. Which I am VERY excited about! Why else would I sacrifice a chapter of The Rift (which has about 170 reviews) to write more for this?
When Danny told me how horrible school was, I took it as a hyperbole. He over exaggerated everything in the most sappy, melodramatic voice I thought could never even be possible for a post-pubescent male. I just quirked an eyebrow, downplayed some of his "life or death" high school moments, and maintained a positive attitude.
But that only lasted so long. And, oh, I couldn't even begin to describe the shock when I found out his words were pure, devastating fact. The optimism soon contorted to pessimism as the day trolled on. The kid Danny was telling me about, Dash? Apparently he didn't get enough out of terrorizing two Fentons, Jazz from tutoring, Danny from physical harassment, so he had to go after all three. And of course I couldn't work myself in to any social group. I, like Danny, stretched across several stereotypes, making it hard to be contained or accepted into any one group. So when lunch reared its ugly head, I decided to sit with the cross-contaminated stereotype table. Also known as, the Hoodlum and the Prep.
My tray ungracefully slid in next to the Hoodlum, meat sloshing around the sectioned off dish, threatening to overflow and perturb the cookie in its private quarters.
"Hey. I'm Danille." I muttered, ducking my head, half expecting the hoodlum to flash a knife at me or the prep to tell me to talk to the hand.
"Hey." Was the unexpectedly warm greeting from the preppy blonde.
"Hi." The raven-haired boy nodded in acknowledgement, and, albeit his greeting wasn't cheery as the other boy's, the aloofness in his appearance had lightened up a little.
"New girl, hmm? You didn't fit in with anyone else on your first day, so you thought you'd come to the table with the least amount of people and hope that they'd fall over themselves trying to get another member?" he surmised, looking me up and down. Finally his eyes stopped traveling and his face hardened, "You're sadly mistaken."
Upon seeing my palpable unease and disgruntled expression, the blonde stepped in.
"Oh, lay off, Gray. She's fine where she is. And we really could use one more person." He gave a smirk very similar to Gray's default expression, "Besides, I'm tired of looking at your ugly face."
"Don't start with me, Peter."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever, Princey."
"I told you never to call me that."
"Sorry, Princey, must've slipped."
As I was told later, they fought on a weekly basis. Their fights were normally just a callous tease that spread like wild fire, causing big, dragged out debates that illuminated their differences. But they were more like brothers than anything else. And brothers often times did have their differences. Despite their bickering, they were close. Believe it or not.
"Not in front of the new girl!"
"She's going to find out about it sooner or later, Princey," he gave a raucous glare in my direction "that is, if she lasts."
"What are you talking about?"
Before Peter could protest, he began,
"Princey over here used to be Mr. Popular. But then his parents were kicked out of power, and the popular crowd dropped him just like that," he snapped to emphasis his point, "After being deposed, we started to hang out, and a couple months later, his parents were put back into power again. The Pops were all over him, drawn like flies to honey. Especially those gold-digging bimbos. But Princey had learned his lesson and stayed here with me. After a few weeks, the message finally got through those thick skulls of theirs, and they slowly lost interest. Moral of the story: never get distracted by my story telling, because I will 99.99% of the time be stealing something off your tray." He held up the cookie from my platter in triumph. I waved it off dismissively, indicating he could have it. With a wolfish grin, he devoured it.
"But, wait, how was his parents kicked in and out of power? Were they, like, fired and then hired?"
Peter crossed his arms morosely as we talked about him as if he wasn't even there. He was a little surprised when Gray turned to him, including him in the conversation now, and stared at him smugly.
"Yeah, something like that, you see, his parents…"
"Gray…" Peter stared at him with patience, his voice curving like a warning.
"What I meant to say before I was so rudely interrupted…"
"She doesn't need to know…"
"She's going to find out sooner or later…"
"I'd rather it be later rather than sooner." He explained matter-of-factly.
"What is it?" I inquired.
Despite, or rather, in spite, of Peter's protests, Gray explained,
"See, Princey here? He's an actual prince. Right now, you're looking at Prince Peter the IV."
As my eyes sparked with recognition, Peter's sparked with disappointment,
"Oh! You're the prince of Colepurn! I've heard about you."
"Of course you have." His tone was dead as he stared daggers into Gray's emerald eyes. Gray simply folded his arms with a satisfied smirk.
"Well, I don't even really know where Colepurn is. I'm not going to make a big deal out of it if you don't want me to." He smiled at me warmly, perceptibly a thanks. But he then turned to Gray and all the warmth was gone from his gaze.
"What if I tell Danille here what your background story is?" Gray's eyes bulged for a spilt second before he regained composure.
"Go ahead." He sighed indifferently, but Peter could tell he was a lot less apathetic about his past than he let on.
"I don't think you want that."
"Hmm? And what would make you think that?" he tilted his head to the side with a cocky grin. They stared at each other with varying expressions and I felt as if I was being excommunicated out of some clandestine conversation. Their eyes trailed to me a few times, but other than that, it was like I wasn't even there. A few minutes past until one of them actually spoke.
"I think we've reached an understanding." Peter smiled graciously, then uncharacteristically blurted out, "Gray's real name is Gabriel."
I tried to suppress my laughter. And, unlike Danny, I managed to with a polite smile before asking,
"Gray's not your last name, is it?"
"Good. Because, you know, Gabriel Gray…" here I let an unwarranted chuckle loose.
"Yeah, yeah I get it. I go by Gray. It's not my name in any law, but it's better than being nicknamed Gabe." He made a tart face at the word.
"Understandable." I nodded.
"So what about you?" he inquired, "What's the mystery behind Danille Fenton?"
"Well, I — wait. I never told you my last name."
He shrugged, "I just kind of figured you and Danny looked alike. You his sister?"
"Cousin." I replied, "But I might as well be. My parents died in a car accident, and I've been living with the Fenton's ever since."
"No blood siblings, I take it? Where did you live before here?" Gray questioned.
"Here, there, hither, thither, you know how it is."
"I mean, where were you living right before your parents died in a car accident?"
"Let me guess, they were truck drivers or something? That explains why you moved around so much and the car accident." the raven-haired boy guessed.
"You took the words right out my mouth." I sighed with relief on the inside, "Don't think I can't see that intuitive aptitude manifesting itself. Maybe you really are Gabriel Gray." He turned to Peter.
"I really never should have let you open your big mouth."
"I could say the same thing about you." Peter smirked. But it was shortly lived. His eyes floated away from our table and towards the lunch line, where late students were getting the absolutely last minute meal. I traced his gaze to a red headed girl, whose bobby-pinned bangs were fixed at stylish angles and the ends of her straight hair twisted into one giant swirl. She wore a frilly pink skirt over a floral-patterned tank top and pink flats with fabric flowers sewn on to the toe. She sat down over at the popular table and began chatting voraciously with other nicely dressed girls. He watched her laugh intently and I looked inquisitively towards Gray.
"That's Cynthia, his crush. She was the new girl last year at the end of the year. She wasn't here when Peter denounced the populars, so to him, she doesn't count. You know, if he would stop staring at her with that stupid grin on his face, and go and talk to her, she would be all his. The populars are still trying to get a piece of him, so she'd fall for the simplest romantic get up." He caught my eyes trailing over to Peter and replied,
"Oh, don't worry. He can't hear us when he's like that. We could talk about anything we please and he'd be none the wiser." He smiled reflectively, "He doesn't use his head much, but he's a cool guy." It was at that moment that a gasp and a strip of azure decided to escape my lips.
"No. No, I'm fine. But now that you mention it…" Man, how did Danny get out of situations like these? "I think I have to use the bathroom." I scurried away from the table and out of view of anyone. Twin incandescent rings circumnavigate my height and the transformation was complete. I survey my surroundings and look for any signs of aberrant activity, but the only thing I can see is Danny, in ghost form, having his own little go at reconnaissance.
"Hey, Danny!" I call, now floating above his shoulder.
"Hey yourself." He smiles up at me, but his face quickly becomes serious.
"You sensed the ghost, too?"
"Normally, it just kind of jumps into the cafeteria, which is a little more than convenient, but — I don't know, maybe we're just a little late?"
A high-pitched frequency cuts me off before I can reply. We both clutch our heads as the cacophony vehemently throws us to the floor. Suddenly, my ears have a heart beat of their own, speedily crashing in on itself while the thumping bangs against my ear drums, as if they were actual drums. No, scratch that, as if they were pots and pans that some three-year-old was thrashing against with kitchen utensils. I could feel the life-sustaining ectoplasm ooze out of the point of injury, and knew it must be more serious than I thought, for if I was in human from, that would've been blood. Building up the strength to open my eyes, I saw that everyone eating and talking in the cafeteria was not affected by the malevolent noise.
"Danny! It only affects ghosts!" But all the warning succeeds at is jumbling my senses further. With a groan, I try to convert back to my human form, but something in the frequency is prohibiting that, and the two circles don't make it past my abdomen. It's all I can do not to shriek with pain as I struggle into a sitting position and despite my efforts to keep myself together, I can see the world around me getting further and further as my grip on reality loosens. There's one last hazy image that filters into my torpid mind before the world fades to back. Flashing lights and a crooked smile.
"Wake up, Dani." My shoulder received a few amiable shoves before I found myself conscious, next to Danny in a dark place. Onyx shadows covered everything and the surplus oozed from the walls, threatened to overflow. The only reason I could see Danny was because of the iridescent ectoplasm conjured in his hand.
"Where are we?"
"Doesn't matter. We're not going to be here long. Come on." He grabs my hand and begins flying. As we lift off, and some of the pale green light dusts across the floor, I can see we're inside a tight stairwell structure, racing past an endless row of stairs. There's a hissing sound that rises from the bottom of the stair well and flickers of crimson light run across my field of vision.
"Danny, there's something down there!"
All it takes is a moment's hesitation, and the electrifying, red light shoots him right out of the air, as if he had flown to close to the sun and his wax wings were melting. I hold onto his hand and manage to drag him up a couple more steps before he regains his momentum and start's flying again. But this time, it's in the opposite direction.
"What are you doing?" I whisper-shout at him before he can get more than a few feet away from me. He stops and whips his head back around to face me.
"Taking the fight to it."
"What if it just knocks us out again? What about that terrible noise?"
"It'll be alright. Come on, Dani, you're not afraid of the dark, are you?" And with that he turned invisible. But it's not necessarily hard to find him when he does that, you just have to follow the trail of witty banter and there he'll be. Except, this time, he was staying especially quiet. I followed suit, turning invisible and snooping down the stairs for any sign of the light. I heard a grunt and the sound of hissing behind me. Turning around, I found a ghost woman with swirling onyx hair, a gold band with green jewels encasing her forehead, vibrant green-yellow eyes, and a torn gold dress lowering herself to the floor, as did Danny, as if mocking her motions. Danny's eyes stayed trained on hers as the interaction happened. In a moment, the hissing returned and a snake seemingly materialized out of thin air; its first action was to bite him. It succeeded in causing two pink fang-marks on his shoulder and he had an involuntary muscle spasm, which landed him on the floor, curling in towards the dark mortar-and-cinderblock wall.
"W-w-who are you?" I stuttered, trying to mask my initial panic. It wasn't working.
"Me? I'm glad you asked, Sweetie. My name's Evangeline." Her eyes flashed a brighter emerald-gold, "The Reptile Queen."
"What's going on?"
"Oh, what indeed." She smiled cruelly. She looked me up and down, and her smile became a little more amiable. Wicked, but still amiable.
"What are you, girl? Ten? Nine? They never told me you were so young."
"I'm fourteen, and what do you mean 'they?'" I glared at her. "And what did you do to Danny?"
"Nothing, nothing, that was just a sedative. Sure, it doesn't really make you sleep, but by tomorrow, this whole day will be a blur for him." Her flippant veneer vanished for a moment, "But it's important that this day is crystal clear for you."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, they did say a message." She flashed another grin as her eyes brightened even more. "And since you keep asking questions and refuse to listen to teacher…I guess I'll teach you a lesson the corporal way." The ground shook, the walls vibrating with anticipation, as a large lizard, around the size of a small bear, burst through the floor, coming up under Evangeline in just the right way, so that the queen would be riding the beast. A snake-skinned whip appeared in her hand and she made a figure eight with the spiked tip, signifying that she was done talking. That's okay with me. I was done with talking anyways. I charged toward her with an ectoblast, but the lizard was too voluminous and would've ran me over with the thoroughness of a steamroller if I hadn't gone intangible just in the nick of time. Okay. So the head-on tactic wasn't going to work on this thing. I needed to try a more elusive strategy like…
…like a snake!
With the consistency of water, I zipped past all of the enlarged reptile's slashes, flying around like a pin ball whizzing through obstacles. But I was going to fast, and I knew I had to slow down or else I'd run straight into the Reptile Queen, but still, the acceleration continued. I couldn't stop myself from running into her. We both went flying, and the gold band on her forehead went flying off, clattering down the stairs haplessly.
"Oh, no…" she murmured, "…oh, no…" Both her and the lizard began to gravitate towards where it had fallen. Suddenly, the pull got stronger and it was as if the two ghouls were being sucked into some sort of invisible vortex. The band, I realized, and all of the jewels! There was something special about them, because when I picked it up, it was clear that there was a ghost hiding in each jewel. Evangeline banged against the emerald, yelling to be let free, but the shouts were muted by her small vocal chords.
"And that's what I call, being cut down to size." I laughed slowly and half-heartedly at my banter that wasn't exactly necessary at the moment. Oh, well. With Danny as my teacher, I was sure to get better at it.
Speaking of Danny…
"Danny!" I shrieked, rushing over to his side, the gold bangle in hand. He was still unconscious, but at least the spasms had stopped. I did my best to lift him, despite his heavier weight, and carried him back home.
A pale hand reached down to feel the rubble of the broken parts of the stair case. Shock illuminated his features as he turned to his companion, worried etched in his eyes and evident in his tone, "She's gone." The worry soon smoldered into animosity, "What have they done to her? The two of them are so dead!"
"Please." His partner smiled an ethereal smile, "They were already dead." She shrugged, "Well, at least I'm hoping our boss will take care of that."
"But what about Evangeline?"
"Oh, don't worry, we'll find her. We always do."
"And if we find her…"
"Then we'll find those two insufferable imposters and put an end to their half-life."
Look at that sexy button right below this. Just look at it.