oh for the love of Odin they’re getting longer why are they doing that
and now I can read my ghostspeak gibberish. I can freaking read it. that… that shouldn’t be happening oh man.
I Can’t Hear You, You’re Drowning Me Out
Usually, Sam still hated being rich. Usually, she was still embarrassed to have her friends over at all, much less for extended periods of time.
Right now, she was thankful as hell, because the sheer size of her house meant hiding Danny and Tucker took next to no effort. Tucker’s parents thought he was at Danny’s, so did Danny’s, and if Danny’s parents actually got around to checking (unlikely) Jazz knew enough to cover for them.
“All right, the coast is clear,” Sam said out loud, cueing both boys to phase out of the closet. She rolled her eyes and hopped out of bed, still fully dressed, as Tucker landed on Danny and Danny phased through his friend and brushed himself off.
“Hglxaas,” he muttered in a tone she was familiar with.
Sam frowned in concentration, then said, “Finally?”
She was rewarded with a brilliant smile as Tucker dove for her journal and wrote that down. It was a little heartbreaking to see Danny so happy that she understood a single word, but at least he was smiling again.
“Okay,” Sam swiftly rearranged her bedding with the ease of long practice, creating the illusion of her sleeping form. “Let’s not stay in here, we’re too easy to find. Danny, can you phase us down to the sub-basement?”
“Sci,” Danny said happily. He’d been taking any excuse he could find to use the word as often as possible on the way over, still giddy his friends understood something he was saying. He pointed at the floor and said, “Buzl?”
“Down?” Tucker said, already writing furiously as Danny nodded and dropped them several floors.
“So then what’s the word for up?” Sam asked as Danny landed them gently and let go of his friend’s shoulders.
“On,” Danny said, making Tucker wince a little.
“That’s gonna be confusing,” he muttered.
Danny’s brow furrowed. “On? Zfs gi’on jmldoilk?”
“Because it sounds identical to the word ‘on’ to us,” Sam sighed, perching on a nearby shelf and digging through boxes.
“You know, not to change the subject or anything, but,” Tucker looked around. “Sam, you said sub-basement, but… are we in a bomb shelter?”
“Ghost shelter,” Sam said. She found what she was looking for and hopped down, handing Danny a beat-up Pictionary box. “Although it’s never stopped Danny.”
“You’re not gonna elaborate, are you.”
“Nope.” She blew dust off the game. “The important thing is this is the most privacy we can get short of the Ghost Zone, and I dunno about you but I don’t actually want help from the likes of Skulker or Ember.”
“G’ycv rfcs’b irgaa yc empc fcandoa rfxl Taxb,” Danny muttered, taking a seat cross-legged on the ground. Sam and Tucker joined him, sitting in a circle around the Pictionary game.
“Well, at least empec, refexel, and taxib are all starting to sound familiar,” Sam said.
“Yeah, but I dunno about you, I still have no idea what any of them mean.” Tucker grabbed a sheet of paper and a pencil and thrust them at Danny. “So… empec?”
Danny started sketching furiously, drawing a circle and pointing at it, then drawing several more.
“Circle?” Tucker said skeptically, earning a headshake.
Sam studied the drawing intensely. “Tuck, it’s got to be a common word, he’s said it enough for us to recognize it. How often do you think Danny’d be saying ‘circle?’”
“Zfs zmoab G’yc ixsglf jgpjac?” Danny said crossly, drawing yet another circle and adding a plus sign.
“Not helping. Although, zemoab sounds familiar too.” Sam took the sheet of paper from him before he could press any harder and break the pencil. “Plus? That’s not right… more?”
“Sci, empc,” Danny agreed.
“Okay, so empec’s more. What’s refexel, then?”
Danny shook his head as Sam handed back the paper and pencil. Staring down at it, he shrugged helplessly. “G’blm’r qlmz fmz rm’bpxz ‘rfxl.’”
“Okay, guessing he can’t draw that, then. We need a better approach than this, we’re only getting a handful of words at a time and nothing we can string into an actual sentence.” Tucker frowned down at their journal. Up, down, two years, yes, no, their own names, left, right, stop, home, and the word finally. Nowhere near enough, especially after they’d been trying to do this all day.
“Impps,” Danny whispered, drawing his knees up to his chest and ducking his head. “Ge’impps. Ge’repglk, ge’impps.”
“It’s all right, dude,” Tucker said, reaching out to put a hand on Danny’s shoulder. “We know you’re not doing it on purpose, and we’ve gotten through a hell of a lot worse than a language barrier together.”
“Rfxlqi, smo’kosi,” Danny said softly.
“You’re welcome,” Sam replied, but when Danny’s gaze shot to her hopefully she shook her head. “Context clues. Sorry, Danny.”
“We could get a book or a dictionary or something and point to words for him to translate,” Tucker suggested.
Sam put her hand on Danny’s other shoulder, drawing her friends closer. “That would be faster, yeah, but it still isn’t going to help us understand full sentences.”
“Even a few words here and there is better than nothing,” Tucker argued. “I’ve got some audio from our last fights with both Youngblood and Johnny 13. I don’t know how much the Youngblood audio would help us, but Johnny talks pretty normally. I think I can cobble together an algorithm that’ll pick out our most common phrases and words. That way, we can concentrate on translating what we use most often first.”
“You’re a genius, Tucker,” Sam enthused, not letting go of either of her friends. She leaned closer to Danny instead. “How much audio do you have to work with?”
“Not much,” Tucker admitted. “I only usually record the ghost fights to go over later to see if we missed any important information, and I wipe everything pretty quickly so we don’t end up with audio of us chatting with Danny Phantom.”
“Jmoab smo’oic rm’exqc x’lcz Kfmir Kxyycp?” Danny asked.
“Well, something about Ghost in there,” Sam sighed.
“Jemo ab and smo are both familiar too,” Tucker noted, fingers already flying over his PDA. “I’ll set up a separate program to track what Ghost words and phrases come up the most often.”
“Kfmir Kxyycp,” Danny repeated, flapping one hand in a mockery of speech. “Jxl smo’dgd gr? Mp exqc x’lcz mpc?”
“Ghost Gabber?” Sam hazarded, and looked to Tucker at a nod from their friend. “I think he’s asking if you could repair the Ghost Gabber.”
At another nod, Tucker shook his head, then winced as Danny’s face fell. “No, I- sorry dude. It’s kinda- I can repair it, actually, or make a new one or both, but it isn’t gonna help in the end.”
That was easy to work out from the frantic, angry tone to Danny’s voice. “Because it’ll break again,” Tucker said with a sigh, “And then we’ll be right back to where we are now.” He looked around. “Okay, hopefully not physically. Sam, have I mentioned this is creepy?”
“Yep.” At Tucker’s glare, she rolled her eyes. “Okay, they had it built after the thing with Pariah Dark. Then they kind of forgot about it, so I stash all of my ghost-hunting gear in here.”
“And board games.”
“And board- no, those were here, don’t ask, I don’t know. Can we get back on topic?”
“Jxl’r Rojqcp onkpxbc gr?” Danny asked, a little desperately.
“On?” Sam muttered. “Up? Tucker?” She thought about that. “Upgrade it? Are you asking if Tucker can upgrade the Ghost Gabber?”
“Sci!” Danny covered her hand with his own. “Onkpxbc.”
“Dude, I didn’t wanna tell you before, but I’ve been upgrading it. That one we wore out on the way to Vlad’s? That was the third model.”
Now Danny shrugged out from under their hands, scrabbling to his feet to pace the small room, talking so quickly under his breath that there was no hope of understanding him.
“Danny!” his friends exclaimed in unison, getting up as well.
“Look, that’s why we wanna learn Ghost,” Sam said, snagging his sleeve. “We’ll translate for you, okay?”
“Dmp rxn sczpi?” Danny demanded.
“If that’s how long it takes, then yeah, dude.” Tucker shrugged. “But I doubt it’ll really be that long. You’ve got something Vlad didn’t.”
“Scxj? Zfxr?” Danny muttered.
Sam tugged him into a loose hug; Tucker stepped in to throw an arm across his shoulders. “Friends.”
Translation, which is at least easier now that I can… read… this oh man that’s disturbing. (I tried reading it out loud you guys, it’s just… it kind of sounds like a snake in a garbage disposal? There’s a lot of hissing and growling.)
“How is up confusing?”
“I bet they’d still be more helpful than Vlad.”
“Why would I be saying circle?”
“I don’t know how to draw ‘than.’”
“Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m trying, I’m sorry.”
“Thanks, you guys.”
“Could you use it to make a new Ghost Gabber?”
“Ghost Gabber. Can you fix it? Or make a new one?”
“Can’t Tucker upgrade it?”
“For two years?”
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