Johnny opened the file that he sent to himself and started pouring over the information. Technically, what he had done was very illegal. However, he was not a cop, this would probably be stuff that would be subpoenaed if it got to court anyway, and if he had been a cop, there was no way that this would have surfaced right away. It would be in interstate thing to get these records, and despite a court order, that town would have thrown up so much red tape to protect the so-called reputation of the Brooks family that it would have been at least months, if not longer, before this information could have been gained. In the meantime, how many more dancers would have been killed? Doing the things may have been outside the “rulebook,” but this was the main reason why he did not become a cop. Sometimes, he felt that there was just too much on the side of the bad guys.
He opened the file, and it turned out that he had been hospitalized at age 15 for becoming a danger to himself. Although he kept his room immaculate, he had eventually become a recluse after the beating and gang rape. He became a hermit in his own room, and his parents just let it go. However, he snuck outside late at night, although for what reason was not known. “Yeah,” thought Johnny, “If they only knew why!”
He began to display the behaviors of someone who suffered from a disorder the Japanese had named when it started to become a prominent problem there—Hikikomori’s Disease. The sufferer normally spends more than six months in reclusion because they just cannot adjust to society, and feel they just cannot make it. Instead of killing one’s self, one of these people will just sit in their room and do nothing until they are helped or die. Many of them suffer from schizoid paranoia, which was the case of Gilbert Brooks. When he started to show violent behavior, he was discreetly put away. He was finally released when he was 26, and seemed to be doing well. “Doing well, eh?” thought Johnny, “Some of those magazines were dated about that time. He only disguised it. He had been planning this for some time, looking for the right time.”
Finally, in the file, he found the periods of psychoanalysis that he had gone through, and basically found Gilbert’s Mein Kamph. It was during that time he spelled out how he felt about dancers. He had already seen the advert that showed how he wanted to kill the dancers, and he knew that he still had this in him. During that time, he spelt out how dirty he had been about being a dancer, and how those boys taught him how dirty he was. He also knew that other dancers had to be this way, and they had to be stopped, lest more attacks happen. However, whenever he saw dancers, it reminded him of how dirty he had been, and that gave him the concept of eliminating the feelings he had had by eliminating the source of it—dancers. It was a waste of a good dancer, but here it was. He had been seeing counsel after his release, and it seemed that he had gotten over this mindset—at least outwardly. Then the report showed that he disappeared about seven months prior. He began to think about dates and times, and then realized that it coincided with the emergence of the Pas De Six! “Oh great!” thought Johnny, “He saw those kids and it must have set him off!”
What surprised him was the fact that he had gone to Fawcett and not to Kinkantown. The only thing he figured was that there were more dancers available in Fawcett, and it was easier to hide in a big city rather than a small town. He at least had enough sense to remember the life that small town he came from gave to him. He just hoped that he kept to Fawcett, because he did now fear for those kids, especially since three of the act lived there! He knew all he needed to know, and he decided to feed this to Oracle.
When he got on line with Oracle, he let her know that he was able to gather enough information to know it was this Gilbert Brooks behind the killings. He shot her the file, the article, the image of the magazine that had the marred dancer ad, and told her that the Secret Six needed desperately to know this information. “What about Fawcett Police?”
“We’re going to have to wait until he is caught before we give them all this,” said Johnny, “Because of the nature of the place where I got it, and the reluctance of the locals to tell me anything, I had to go a touch outside the law to get this. At least we can feed the name to them, and the fact that he had been institutionalized. That way, the legal wheels can get turning to get this information for themselves. However, I am sure that you can send the information in the news clip and the picture of the ad I sent you. That would give enough probable cause for them to act.”
“Good work,” said Oracle, “I’ll send this to them right away. What are you going to do?”
“I’m going Hikikomori hunting,” he said, thanked her, and hung up.
At the school, the atmosphere was excited, and almost festive. The first dance was planned, and the Pas De Six and Co. began to work on their act for the variety show. They were able to put together a great opening number depicting the streets of Paris, Rue having spent some time picking Nana’s brain about that. In fact, Nana became valuable to this phase of things, because she could really help to put that Parisian flavor to things. They wanted it as authentic as possible. Mr. Katt was on hand watching, and giving his input where he felt he should, but he wanted to leave it to Rue, because this was more the kids’ thing, and he did not want to interfere with Rue learning how to do this should something ever happen to him. He was the most helpful when it came time for the double pas de deux done to music from An American in Paris. This was where Rue, Mytho, Billy, and Ahiru had the chance to shine. The music was powerful and beautiful, and Ahiru really began to get lost in it. It was a romantic number, and because of their relationships, they were able to make it so convincing, that any couple watching began to cinch closer to each other. Mr. Katt thought to himself that, if this was their reactions in rehearsals, this had the potential to be the act of the night.
Another thing he liked was the fact that there was enough there that they did not need to worry about an encore. It would be like any of the shows they had done on tour with some more people to help. Then it came time for the danse a l’apache. Mary and Fakir were going to do this, and everyone was amazed at how rough the dance looked. However, Nana said that they were not convincing enough. “You may actually have to slap her a couple of times to send this out right,” said Nana.
Fakir was a tough man, but he was not going to smack a girl, much less his beau. “Then you are going to have to compensate somewhere,” said Nana in return. Mr. Katt then said, “Then what you might need to do is put more into the movements and facial expression.”
“Another thing to note is the nature of the relationship,” said Nana, “They are both city people from the rough part of town, and, oddly enough, they love each other. However, he is supposed to be one of those ‘you do as I say, I’m the man’ types, and she is supposed to be defiant, but a bit submissive, because she loves her man tough.”
They looked at each other, and tried to find some way of doing this in a convincing fashion. They knew that it would take some work.
Then it came time for the Can-Can. Nana jumped in on this one, and she explained that, though by today’s standards, what they would be doing would be considered tame. However, at that time, a lady showing off her legs, even when wearing pantaloons underneath, was very risqué. Therefore, despite the fact that they would be wearing outfits like that, they would have to keep that in mind. They had to dance with energy, but they had to sell it as being sexy, as if they were stripping in front of them. It was then that all the girls learned that there was more to the dance than just a kick line. There were cartwheels, flips, spins, and other group activity that made the dance what it was. It was going to take all their ballet ability, as well as athletic prowess, to get them through it. Ahiru and Yuma both knew that they were going to have to spend a bit extra time at the gym getting their endurance up, while Nana, Rue, and Mai seemed to be right into it. Overall, they knew it was going to be a spectacular act. While all that was going on, Elly was there, taking pictures, and getting and idea for the set, as well as having things that she could use for artwork later.
In addition for this, they were still working on the Fantasia Live for the fall festival that was to follow about a week later. The AP kids were not in this, because, again, their grade came another way, so that left Billy open for some theatrical work, and he loved the fact there was far less pressure than the year before the way it was. In all this, the Teen Titans were spread amongst the different disciplines. Tim Drake (Robin) and Cassie Sandsmark (Wonder Girl,) were in the ballet class, Jamie Reys and Rose Worth entered the theater courses with Megan Morse, (Blue Beetle, Ravager, and Miss Manhunter respectively.) However, Eddie Bloomberg (Red Devil,) opted out of the school, and just contented himself with patrolling, considering that his physical state made it impossible for him to associate with the student population.
Later on that day, the team was in the cave with Rachel, Miss Manhunter, and Elly, (since she knew everything by this point.) The team was trying to get Fakir, Rue, and Mytho settled into their new digs, while Rachel and Megan were trying to deal with Elly. “Look” she said, “You could help us on the weekends at least…once you get your homework done.”
“Sure,” said Megan, “Because you and cannot be seen, there is no way they could get us for being out, and we can report trouble.”
Rachel then added, “Plus, we can teach you how to hone your telepathic skills so that you can talk right into the enemy’s head and that way, they cannot even get a bead on you. You might as well be a ghost at that point.”
Elly was beginning to get fed up with the whole superhero thing, and she said, “Look, get this straight: I…don’t…want…that!”
Rachel said, “What is your problem?”
“Don’t you understand,” snapped Elly, “I just got back some normality in my life, which has been partially robbed from me just by meeting you! Now you want to upset the fruit cart for me? No thank you!”
Megan thought for a moment, and then Elly was looking at herself all of a sudden, and repeated back everything she had just said, even in her voice. Suddenly it was Megan again, and she said, “Don’t you see how you look when you say that? I don’t even believe that!”
Elly was about to storm out, when Rachel said, “I think there is something else, something deeper. You are scared of something.”
“Like, yeah I am!” responded Elly, “Death normally puts a damper on the day.”
“It’s something else,” said Rachel, “I think your ability to cloud minds to become invisible is rooted in a deep wish not to be seen at all. Why are you so insecure about yourself? Why do you want to be so isolated?”
She stopped, and hung her head. Megan said, “That is so Ausberger’s.”
“No,” said Elly, “It’s been…” but she could not finish.
Rachel decided to finish, and say, “…because you spent two years in isolation, and it is hard for you to associate with the outside world because of it. You were forced to be Hikikomori for two years, and when that happens, then dealing with the outside becomes harder and harder. Elly, you don’t have to be ashamed if you feel you can’t associate with the outside. Believe me; I know that isolation more than anyone else. I was an introvert for some time, and I still am, kind of. Yet, since I met this crew, they have helped me face the world. Being what I am, helping people has helped to bring me out. Thanks to Tutu, I feel a part of things again. Could you at least try?”
Elly was cornered. All of that was true, and she could not get away from it. She finally conceded, and said, “Okay, the voice throwing bit, but nothing else.”
“At least one patrol?” asked Megan, trying to be all girl-pal with her. Elly just rolled her eyes, and said, “You are just as bad as some of the acquaintances I had before I came here. All right, all right, I’ll do one patrol!”
Megan was all happy and hugged her. She was about to kiss her cheek, and Elly said, “That would be a bad idea.”
Megan collected herself and they went into the amphitheater to practice the trick.
After the older three had settled in, they went into the amphitheater and saw the three girls trying to teach Elly the mind trick. Suddenly, the six of them suddenly heard in their heads, “Hi gang: I learned a new trick today!”
“See, it’s that easy!” said Megan all happy. Elly just sighed, hoping that, when it came time to do the superhero thing, she would have more maturity than that. However, she had to remind herself that she was a teen like her. That was when they heard the signal in back.
Soon, everyone was in the secret area. It was a hailing signal, and Billy went over and flipped on the systems. Suddenly, the whole place filled with light, and they saw how elaborate that Oracle had made everything. It was the perfect place for six teenage supers to do their business, designed for business as much as it was for having a good time. There was the multi-screen system, the meeting table, training room for ballet, fighting, and fitness the same as the one in New York, a ready room to practice their hero skills, soda bar, kicking stereo system, and the best gaming system that could ever be produced. Billy then hit the respond button, and Oracle came up on the screen. “What’s up Barb?” asked Billy.
“I just received a communication from one Magpie,” responded Oracle, “He has a file on the man you guys have been chasing. I’m going to send it now.”
“Ready to receive,” said Billy. Then Oracle said, “Guys, you have a real sickie there!”
“Don’t we know it!” said Fakir, but Oracle then said, “You don’t know the half!”
At that, the file opened up, and each screen took on a different part of the file so they could see everything. Oracle then said, “I’ll leave it to you to go from there. If you need more help, Bruce said to give him a call.”
She hung up, and they all began to go over the information. They could not believe it, and it made them even sadder to see that this had been a dancer who grew up in the wrong place at the wrong time. “He could have been alumni here if he had met the right people,” said Elly, “Too bad: it’s such a waste of a handsome man.”
“The trick is to try to find out where he’s hiding,” said Billy.
Mytho then said, “I was able to get back with the police in Fawcett, and that razor yielded skin, but there was no DNA in any criminal files that would show who it was.”
“I don’t know who this Magpie is, but he did us a big favor,” said Fakir, “Let’s tell the police, and then they can do a match through this route. If it does, at the very least, we have the way to narrow down his hiding spots.”
As they transferred the information, they felt more confident that they could stop this man before he struck again.
That Saturday, Elly and Megan prepared for patrol. Elly did not have an elaborate uniform, nor did she desire one. In fact, because of what she was able to do, she really did not need one. However, she would have to figure out something, considering that, if she had to be seen, she did not want to be recognized. She finally decided on a long, black skirt with her customary boots, a black bandana to cover her face, and a black hoodie. When Megan first saw her, she said, “Girl, you look more like you’re getting ready to do graffiti art than you are to do a patrol.”
“I don’t go for the fancy deal you wear,” said Elly, “Besides; call it the artist in me!”
They both went out, and they rendered themselves invisible as they passed the front desk. They then started walk the campus. They walked for about an hour and a half, and there was nothing going on. Elly was becoming bored with the whole thing, wondering why she let them talk her into this. Miss Manhunter then said to Elly telepathically, “One more half hour and Red Devil will take over.”
“Thank goodness,” said Elly, “My feet are killing me.”
Just as she said that, she heard a twig crack. “Okay, we’re not alone now,” said Elly, and she headed towards the sound, knowing that she would not be seen. It was then that she saw three men moving in to one of the classroom buildings, and she shot out to Megan, “We have bogies!”
“What are they doing?” asked Megan as she moved in.
“They have a can of gasoline, if that means anything to you,” said Elly.
“Keep them busy until I get there,” said Megan, and that was that. Elly thought, “Great, what do I do now?”
She saw the man with the gasoline open the cap, and she did what she had been taught, saying, “You three better knock it off!”
“Who said that,” said the man, looking all around. He knew that there were no females in this trio, so that had to mean trouble. “Come out, you,” he said, not really sure what he could do with this voice that seemed to echo in his head. “What’s wrong?” asked Elly, “Are you boys not warm enough that you have to burn a building?”
“WHO IS THAT!” he shouted, and Elly said, “I am…uh…” and then she remembered who it was Rachel reminded her of, and she said, “The Shadow.”
The three men were spinning all around, looking for the source of the voice, but there was no way to pinpoint it. Elly then put her foot into the back of one of them and knocked him down. The other two turned around to strike, but Elly was long gone. The man with the gas went to the building, but Elly snatched the can and poured it on him. For the brief moment she was visible to do this, the other two tried to jump her. But just as quick, she seemed to vanish, and they dove into the spot where she had once stood, bonking their heads together. “Nice try, fellas,” she mocked, “but you cannot catch a ghost. Oh, I would not advise a lighter now.”
They all screamed and started to run…right into Miss Manhunter. Three quick blows and they were all out like lights.
As the police were hauling them off, the headmaster was thanking Miss Manhunter profusely for her help, and he was grateful for having gone with Wayne’s suggestion. Of course, Johansson had no clue about Elly, but there was no need for him to know. Brock said, “Once we get done interrogating them, we’ll let you know who they are.”
After everyone broke up, Red Devil came to take the patrol, and the other two returned to the dorm. “Well, what did you think?”
“You know, it almost seemed fun!” said Elly, “They were so helpless. They could do nothing.”
“Well, know that it isn’t always fun and games,” said Megan, “But let me ask you this: how do you feel about what you did?”
Elly thought for a moment, and said, “Well, considering what they tried, people could have been hurt. We stopped that. Kind of feels good!”
“Then always remember that, no matter how hard it gets,” responded Megan, “just remember that good feeling, and you can get through. It makes this worth it.”
“I guess,” said Elly.
“You’re sounding like a super already!” teased Megan.
“Please, I’m just Elly,” Elly said in response, to which Megan said, “Keep that attitude, and it will keep you from getting a swelled head.”
“Believe me,” said Elly, “Being on your back for two years is very humbling.”
“Then know it just gets better from here,” said Megan, and they went home, slipping past the front desk again, knowing that something great had just begun.