Charlotte arrived in Prelude, hovering cautiously behind a building nearby the police station. She instantly noticed the street and parking lot were completely torn to shreds, and that the Brown Suits were currently surveying the damage.
“What the hell happened here…?” Charlotte glanced toward the right, her eyes widening in horror. The woods north of town had been completely wiped out, appearing as though a giant crater had swallowed the trees whole.
Before she could conjure a plan on how to approach the situation, a blinding flash of blue came from in front of her. It completely enveloped her vision—covering the entire area in a calming blanket of light.
“Thi-This feels familiar!” Charlotte attempted to sense for an active Ability, coming across one where she figured—directly ahead. “There!” She flew through the light—keeping her focus on her target without relying on her vision.
Charlotte’s sight came back to her as the anomaly faded—almost causing her to crash right into a tree that had blocked her path. She phased through it and landed on the ground. Taking a look around, her surroundings had been restored to their previous state.
“Rewrite Phenomenon…? So that means—”
The clock mask-wearing stranger stood before her, seemingly having difficulty remaining on their feet.
“It’s you! You’re the one who fixes things… The one who helped us that night.”
The figure adjusted themselves, staring at Charlotte for a few moments. Then, the girl behind the mask spoke.
“That’s right… that’s… that’s right…! That’s right that’s right that’s right—”
“Uh, what are you doing?” Charlotte asked her, astonished that she actually spoke.
“It’s just… I haven’t talked out-loud in so long… The people who I’ve interacted with—well… I can’t really risk doing that. Although, it seems I can speak to you without messing with any values. That surprises me, Charlotte.”
“You… You know my name?” Charlotte questioned nervously. “Was my name mentioned that night…?”
“I absolutely do know you. I’m surprised—it seems you’re still the same even in this—” The girl stopped herself. “Sorry… It’s really complicated for me to speak, as I could completely mess with the time-time… timeline?” She glanced around quickly—sighing in relief. “Good—I can say that much.”
“Timeline…? So—when you go to restore things to their previous state… can I assume you’re using some method of time travel?”
“I suppose you can say that.” The girl nodded. “I’m not sure at this point how familiar you are with Phantonics, but it’s not as big of a deal as one would think. Phantons record data on areas they encounter. The particular skill I use merely uses that data to bring things back together. It’s… honestly, all I can do at the moment.”
Charlotte gazed back toward Prelude, then returned her attention to the girl. “I see you have to be careful—yet I need to know—may I ask you a few things?”
The girl stared down at her right hand, taking a deep breath. “It seems I should be able to before I have to fade away for a while. However—I currently cannot tell you my origin—only how I got to this point.”
“I understand.” Charlotte scratched her head. “You said, ‘fade away’… are you a spirit… like me?”
“Nah, I’m very much alive.” The girl flexed her arms in a comedic manner, almost causing Charlotte to laugh. “Yet… in a way… I guess I might as well be considered dead.”
Charlotte’s eyes widened. “What do you mean by that?”
“Well… look at it this way. If an entire timeline ceased to exist, then would one thing that managed to escape truly be alive… after losing everything…?”
Charlotte was petrified. “What… What are you talking about? An entire timeline?”
The girl sighed. “I can already feel my head spinning simply thinking about it… I cannot say what happened, currently. However—it’s as I said. The timeline I existed in was completely destroyed—and I ended up in this one. It seems extremely similar to mine… yet… there are a lot of differences as well.”
“How did you escape?”
“It was all thanks to my afetraha—”
The girl began to cough violently, collapsing onto her knees.
“Are you okay!?” Charlotte rushed over to her side.
“D-Dammit… I can’t even say that, huh?”
“Wh-What was that noise—” Charlotte’s head began to feel funny. She held it as a sharp pain started to form.
“I’m sorry… Hearing that probably hurt you too, didn’t it?” The girl held Charlotte’s head gently. “Well… this person who I can’t even seem to mention saved me. Along with that, I have been blessed with quite a few handy powers to aid me in… well… I’m not even sure anymore.”
Charlotte looked at the girl in concern.
“Hey, Charlotte. It seems like you don’t remember much, do you? You’re not quite sure what to do… right? Although I do have my memories, I can really share in that pain of uncertainty in taking the next step.”
Charlotte looked down. “Yeah… Adam and I are attempting to uncover the truth of my past, yet… I’m not sure how to do that. There’s something in Minuet that we think may lead to somewhere, but—” She paused. Slowly, she began to giggle.
“What’s up?” The girl asked curiously.
“I can talk to you like I completely trust you. It’s strange… I feel like I’ve met you before.”
“Well, I can say that I’m not from the past, and I’m not an Ouderkirk, in case you were wondering that.”
“So, in this alternate timeline that you came from, you’d be from the future, correct?”
“Yes. It’s funny though… in a way, you kind have already met me… The pieces of me—that is…” The girl held her hand up, prepared for distorted words to come out of her mouth. Nothing of the sort occurred. “Wow—I’m actually surprised that got through.”
Charlotte began to feel a strange feeling in her chest. “D-Do you currently exist? I-I mean, uh… in your timeline, at this point, would you have existed?”
The girl shook her head. “Nope. Not for a few more years.”
There were several pieces to the puzzle that Charlotte did not have. Despite this, she was still putting it together in her head.
“Is… Is it all right if I… see what’s behind that mask of yours? I-I’m sorry if that’s too upfront, but I—”
“I feel like… I can show you, yes. I still will not say anything—and anything you figure out you must keep to yourself. I do not want anything to happen to your timeline…”
“How can you be so sure this wouldn’t ruin it!? It’s okay—you shouldn’t—”
“I can feel it. It’s you, Charlotte—” The girl raised her right hand in front of her. On the back, a glowing blue mark formed in the shape of an arrowhead.
“What is that…?” Charlotte asked, despite the nostalgic feeling welling up inside her.
“All I’ll say is this: Thank you, Charlotte.”
“For… For what—”
“Now then—this mask… remember, please keep this between us.”
Before Charlotte could protest, the girl slowly removed the mask from her face. As she wore a hood, she had been able to completely conceal her look. Now, Charlotte was able to see her. First the hair, then the eyes, and finally, the face.
This is what the girl gave to Charlotte—something only she could witness.
Charlotte was in awe, completely speechless. Her hand covered her mouth, unable to handle the puzzle that had been thrown together in an instant.
“Y-You’re… You have to be…”
“Yeah, probably who you’re thinking.” The girl smirked, placing the mask back on, concealing her appearance to the world once more. “Man, nothing happened by doing that. Thank goodness…”
“Why did you want to reveal that to me…?” Charlotte questioned concerningly.
“Just to give you something else worth fighting for, I guess?” The girl chuckled. “Listen… Right now, I’m lost. I have no clue what to do now that my timeline no longer exists. My body does not seem to age for whatever reason. I’ve been around… quite a long time.”
“Just like me… it seems.” Charlotte sighed. “It strange—you did not end up where I’d figure you’d be—since you’re from the future.”
“Huh? Oh… Like, I wouldn’t be in this timeline’s future? I honestly expected myself to end up there, but… certain factors threw me back a few hundred years.”
“A few hundred…? Were you around when my family—”
“I certainly cannot say anything regarding your family. I would love to fill in the holes in your memory, but I can tell the universe won’t allow it, unfortunately.”
“B-But you were able to reveal your face! You might be able to—”
The girl started to giggle. “This is the kind of attitude that I would give you. Don’t worry, Charlotte. You’ll figure things out when the time comes.” She sighed. “Although… who knows? I’ve seen plenty of differences. Anything can happen in this timeline, I suppose.”
A sudden spark flew out of the girl’s body, causing her to wince in pain.
“What was that? Are you okay!?” Charlotte grabbed hold of her.
“Even though I’m still alive, the laws of this world treat me as if I am a spirit. As in, I temporarily have to fade away and rest when I use up my energy. This usually happens whenever I use—what do you call it? Rewrite Phenomenon? That. I had to fix a lot more this time, considering how much damage Mr. Str—Alexander, dished out.”
“Right! I came here to see what was happening!” Charlotte stood up. “Is everyone all right?”
“The conflict is resolved. Well, that one is.” The girl glanced at her left hand, where a similar pattern to her right hand formed, although this one was yellow. Before she could move, black electricity formed around her arm, numbing her.
“Gah!” Charlotte did not get touched, although she felt immense pressure from the strange energy, causing her to jump back.
“Right… This timeline’s values are all messed up at the moment when it comes to using this power…” The girl sighed heavily. “I could have fixed the problem with ease using this, but I guess we’ll have to do it the hard way.” The yellow arrowhead vanished from her hand—the black electricity soon following.
“What are we doing?” Charlotte asked, preparing herself for the worst.
“Sorry—I didn’t really mean we. My time’s up, so you’ll have to handle it on your own. Listen—go into the basement of the police station. You need to save them!”
“Huh? Save who? Who’s down there!?”
“That doesn’t matter—you’ll save them regardless, right? I know that’s how you are.” She chuckled. “And… Charlotte. Are you aware of the Brown Suits?”
“I am… Are they involved?”
“Yeah, it feels that way. Don’t hold back on them, okay? They’re not actual people.”
The girl’s body began to glow a faint blue color, slowly fading away.
“Just make sure you don’t get caught. And… hopefully… I’ll see you later…”
“Wait!” Charlotte reached out her hand, attempting to catch the girl before she vanished.
“I… hope… I can figure out how to help you all… so it doesn’t happen again…”
The girl had disappeared, fading into the breeze of the forest. Charlotte felt as though she was about to cry.
“…the police station—right! I need to focus on that. Save the other stuff for later!”
Emma swung the door to the interrogation room wide open. There were no guards keeping watch, and she was confident that the Brown Suits had all been distracted by the events outside.
However, this was not the case. Two Brown Suits turned toward her—their hands reaching for the guns concealed in their coats. They stopped after noticing it was her.
“Emma Roswell? You should not be here! What business do you have?”
Emma did not bother to respond. She lost focus of the two, in fact. Her attention was shifted entirely to the man who sat in the chair behind them. Roy and Roger walked up behind Emma, quickly seeing the same horror site that she did.
With a gunshot wound to the head, Brian’s lifeless eyes stared back at them.
“W-What… the… hell…?” Emma could not comprehend the scene in front of her.
“B-Boss…” Before tears could fall from his eyes, Roy turned around and vomited on the hallway floor.
Roger did not speak. He merely fell to his knees, unable to stand from the pure shock radiating throughout his body.
“Do not concern yourself with this, Miss Roswell. The man would not speak. Unity does not value people who do not consider the value of information that he was disclosing from us—”
“You… shut up… how could you do something like this…!?” Emma stomped toward the Brown Suits.
“Stay back, Emma Roswell!” The Brown Suits once again reached for their weapons, yet hesitated.
“Do you not shoot cause of my goddamn spine!? Who cares! You’re going to have to shoot me! If you don’t, I will destroy you two!”
“We are forbidden to harm you, Miss Roswell. However—” The Brown Suits finally pulled out their weapons.
They aimed at Roy and Roger.
“Those two behind you mean nothing to us.”
Emma watched in horror as the Brown Suits began to pull the triggers to their guns. She attempted to move her arms in the way to block, yet she knew she was not fast enough.
Before the bullets shot out, a flash of light blinded the room. With a wild slash of her blade, Charlotte tore the Brown Suits to pieces.
Next: Chapter 2.10
Previous: Chapter 2.8