“Al, how are you feeling…?”
Laura stared at her brother, who was lying on the couch, facing away from her. He had not spoken a word to her ever since he returned from getting his injuries patched up at Unity.
“You know how it goes when you try beating up Rizzo… Why do you keep trying…?”
“Dumbass. Ya know why…”
Laura sighed. “I know, I know… You really shouldn’t put yourself in danger over me though.”
“The concept of ‘danger’ doesn’t apply to me. Until, well… I try and face him.” Alexander sat up, frustrated. “His Ability’s gotta have something fucking my scan up. I can tell it’s phantonic, which hasn’t been a problem for anyone else. Why the hell can’t I pick up on something…?”
“The problem is you think you’re at a level where you can just rush in and take care of things with your Psycho Matter. That may work with others, but with Rizzo—”
“Tsk! Stop sucking him off! I get it! I’m not strong enough…” Alexander stood up and walked toward the front door.
“Listen, Al! You just need to strategize more! Let me help you—”
“Shut it! I’m going for a walk! Leave me alone.”
Before Laura could say anything else, Alexander slipped on his shoes and stormed out of the apartment the two siblings shared.
Outside, Alexander took out a piece of butterscotch candy and tossed it into his mouth. Instead of burning the wrapper like he normally did, he simply put it into his pocket.
The sun was starting to set—the veins of the Nexus Network beginning to become more visible as nighttime approached. Alexander glared up at the ones decorating the face of Soul Tower, which was a few blocks away.
“There’s… so much damn potential for this thing… and it’s being put to waste. Why can’t I just kick that bastards ass…? What the hell do I do…?” There was a strain in Alexander’s voice as he softly asked himself these questions.
The first thing Adam noted as he awoke was his face hurting. He realized that he fell asleep with his head on the table. Groaning, he looked up to see Jerry sitting across from him, working on his laptop.
“There are like a dozen computers over there, and you’re still using that thing?”
“Of course I am. You think those crappy computers can do what this baby of mine can do!?”
“That’s fair. What are you working on at the mom—” Adam paused, glancing to his right. Muraco had passed out, using the table for his bed. He was currently curled up in a ball, lightly snoring with a smile on his face.
“Who allowed him on the table?”
“He’s not a cat, Adam. He’s fine.”
“He’s not even a rabbit, technically! He’s… He’s something.”
“I mean, he does look like something right out of a cartoon. I’m also interested in that scarf of his. He can manipulate its shape, correct?”
“Yeah, he called it the very creative ‘Scarf Manipulation’.”
Jerry chuckled. “That’s as creative as my uncle’s ‘Metal Manipulation’ Ability. Oh! Brandon texted me a little while ago! Uncle Charlie’s actually going to be the one teaching him!”
“Oh? That’s good… How are they doing there?”
“He apparently forgot that I’ve told him before my uncle is a Unity member, so after we had a huge argument over that, he told me things are… tiring. Tiring, but okay. They had quite the training exercise today, but they made it through.”
“That’s good… Hopefully, they’re getting stronger.”
“Yeah—I’m sure it’ll be worth it.”
“Everything…” Adam paused. “Everything… better be worth it.”
Before Jerry could say anything, Adam stood up from his chair, stretching out his body and yawning loudly.
“I gotta pee. Where do I go?”
“I would… just go upstairs. We didn’t build one down here. Just push the button on your right when you get to the top of the stairs, and the desk will move.”
“All right.” Adam glanced over toward the computers, seeing Thomas and Travis working just as hard as they were prior to him passing out. He turned his attention to the beds, where Emma was still sleeping. Charlotte and Lucy decided to join her, however. Lucy was in between them as all three occupied a single bed, dreaming peacefully.
“What the hell? There’s more than one bed there… Wait—wouldn’t Emma get really cold with those two next to her?”
Jerry shrugged. “Emma looks content. Guess it’s not too bad.”
“Oh well.” Adam sighed, heading up the stairs.
After he found the restroom in the doctor’s office and took care of his business, Adam returned to the desk, moving it out of the way so he could enter.
He immediately felt like something was off.
As he noticed his eyes light up, Adam crept down each step cautiously. A faint, red mist began to fill his vision, making him enter a slightly dazed state.
Reaching the bottom, Adam took a step into a pool of blood.
He felt something hit the side of his foot.
Looking down, Adam was horrified to see an arm floating in the scarlet sea beneath him.
He surveyed the room. Dozen of limbs were scattered about—on the floor, covering the table, drooped from the monitors, and—
The World Mirror’s aura erupted from Adam’s body—his eyes glaring directly at the hellscape in front of him.
“Muraco—this is the perfect opportunity. I’m ending this bullshit. Right here, right now!”
The white energy merged with the red mist, creating a light pink color. Adam—no longer rattled by the illusion—had a lot more to deal with. What he could only describe as “numbers” were filling his head. The World Mirror was processing through a seemingly limitless amount of data, much like it did with the barrier earlier that day.
Even without the World Mirror, Adam could easily classify the barrier as phantonic, while this anomaly originating from Muraco was chaonic.
The differences showed as Adam’s head felt like it was burning. In fact, he noticed that his eyes, ears, and mouth had begun to bleed from the strain of analyzing the values from Muraco’s strange “Ability”.
Adam then felt calm. He took notice of the color of the mist, believing that it seemed familiar to him. The next thing he noticed were cracks that seemed to appear within it, despite it not being solid.
With a final burst of energy, the World Mirror shattered the illusion apart.
Adam collapsed onto his knees, breathing heavily. His own blood dripped down, covering the floor that the fake blood was located moments prior.
“T-There… I know it usually wears off on its own, but this time… I forced it to disappear. I can feel it… I… think I can face the source now.” Adam looked up. “Muraco! Let me see if I can—”
Muraco was still sound asleep. Adam was certain that, despite being under the illusion, he would have made enough noise with his Ability to wake the rabbit up. However, looking around, Adam realized something.
Everyone was now asleep. Jerry remained in his chair—his head now resting on his laptop. Thomas and Travis were also passed out in their chairs, appearing to have fallen asleep suddenly.
“W-What the…? Did I do something…? No—what’s causing this!?”
Thin crimson strings of energy began to flow out of Muraco’s body. Adam wiped the blood away from his eyes, focusing on the phenomenon in front of him.
“You…” A deep voice began to echo from the energy, now concentrating into a tiny sphere floating above Muraco. “You were able to detect my existence for some time… and now you can break through…?”
“So I was right. The freaky-ass visions were coming from him. More specifically, whatever the hell you’re supposed to be.”
“Heh… I am but an insignificant little being, forged from the hell that this one suffered all those years ago. You humans sure love to cause pain and suffering for everything, don’t you?”
“I can agree with you on that. The opposite can also be true, however.”
“Oh? For the few hundred years I’ve existed, I haven’t seen anything to prove that.”
“Well, you need to open your eyes, then. If you have any, that is.” Adam smirked.
“Cocky little brat… aren’t you? Your name is Adam, correct? My name… well, there’s a name I would like to call myself, but it’s going to take me several millennia for me to achieve that level.”
“Huh? What level would that be?”
“The level of a god, of course. Based on what I am able to do with my powers, I figured I’d call myself ‘Phobos’.”
“Really? I mean, I guess I’ve been afraid of what I’ve seen. Why were you targeting me, specifically?”
“I wasn’t. Your mysterious power seemed to hone in on my own, and it automatically triggered those visions. Unbelievable. I was hoping once this one perished one day, I’d crawl off and go into hiding until I built my strength up. Now that you know of my existence… I have no choice but to fight.”
Adam sighed. “You noticed I was about to use my Ability on Muraco. The plan was to use these values I just obtained to scan for you, and drag you out. Yet, who said anything about fighting?”
“I won’t let any human get in my way… I will survive until I obtain the power necessary to rid this planet of you foul beasts!”
“Could Muraco’s resentment of humans originate from this thing…? Adam scratched his head. “Listen, it doesn’t have to be like that. As I said, open your eyes. This world may be filled with shit, but you simply have to surround yourself with things that aren’t shit. Trust me, there are things you wouldn’t want to destroy if you just take a second to look!”
“Heh… Logic states that I, the weaker one, should listen to you, the stronger one. Yet, my very existence originates from the destruction humans cause. My task is clear.”
“Taking you’re some kind of chaonic entity, I’m not blaming you for your lack of education. So, let me spell it out for you—” Adam took a step forward, stomping the ground. “Your origin doesn’t mean shit! Do what you want to do with the existence you have!”
Phobos cackled. “You’re still trying to persuade me, despite knowing exactly what I am? What an interesting creature you are.” The red energy expanded, increasing in ferocity.
“So you’re just going to fight back?” Adam clenched his fist, building up power in his right arm. “Oh well. I gave you the option to reconsider.”
“I thank you for that. But I’ve made my decision. Whether it’s the correct choice or not, I will follow my nature till the end.”
“It’s building up a decent amount of strength. I can tell though… One quick strike to the center, and it should fall apart.”
“Let’s see if I’m worthy enough to become a god!” Phobos moved forward. Adam wound up his arm, ready to smash it to pieces.
As quickly as it had formed, Phobos was destroyed.
This was not done by Adam.
A mysterious force seemed to erase Phobos from existence, occurring before Adam could come close to making contact himself.
It was then Adam realized that Jerry and the other members of Twine were not knocked out by Phobos’ presence. There were phantons that had become visible to him, which were simply masked by the chaonic energy from the being.
Trying to locate the source, Adam kept his guard raised, unsure if the unknown power would strike again.
“Was it these phantons that caused it…? No, I would have noticed them if they were the ones to do it in. Where did…”
The room began to glow an eerie green color. Adam, having terror running through him, finally turned toward the stairs.
An emerald figure with blue vein-like structures glowing within it stood before him. The featureless clapped its hands together, giving off a sense of glee that Adam could somehow pick up.
“Oh—I’ve been waiting to meet you, Adam Grayson.”
“Who… What…” Adam took a step back, unable to comprehend the appearance of another new being. “What are you…?”
“Oh—Questions right off the bat? That’s to be expected. I think you’ve earned a few answers, from what I’ve seen recently.”
Adam leaned forward. “First, before you say anything else. Are you good, or are you evil?”
“Oh—Concerned are we? That’s also to be expected. Don’t worry—as I am right now—I am but a simple spectator. Although, a spectator wouldn’t jump onto the field and destroy one of the players like I just did.” The being shrugged. “Oh—It doesn’t matter. That thing wasn’t special—although it did bring up some interesting things when you spoke to it.”
“You know—if you’re the one who knocked out my friends, I can easily classify you as an enemy. Why should I listen to what you have to say, if that’s the case?”
“Oh—You make quite a lot of good points. Although, the answer to that is quite simple—” The being rose its arms.
“I’m a treasure chest filled with not only answers, but the power the change the course of this story you’ve embarked on. How about it—want to get to know me, Adam Grayson?”
Next: Chapter 2.21
Previous: Chapter 2.19