Adam and Charlotte were waiting outside the police station. They figured that they would be the ones to greet the others upon returning from Unity. Charlotte was currently staring at the ground, deep in thought.
“What that girl mentioned… with the timeline’s values being messed up… Could she be referring to the same sort of thing we’ve been talking about? What do I do..? I shouldn’t mention anything involving what I discussed with her to these guys. That… yellow power though. What was that…?”
“Something wrong, Charlotte?” Adam asked, noticing her behavior.
“I-It’s nothing!” Charlotte laughed awkwardly. “They should be here pretty soon, I would think. It’s going to be dark in a bit.”
“Yeah…” Adam sighed, taking a look upward. The sunset cast beautiful golden hues, enveloping the few fluffy clouds that currently took residence in the sky. “Charlotte, do you recall ever hearing about the twilight here in Requiem?”
“Huh? I don’t think so? What about it?”
Adam smirked. “They say during this time of day, souls are able to merge together and become one. It’s always been one of my favorites, for some reason. Pretty sure nobody knows how far back that myth goes.”
“I see…” Charlotte attempted to recall any memory that seemed familiar to it, but was unsuccessful.
“It would be quite convenient right about now. Even if everyone could only join souls for a short amount of time, I’d bet we could come to understand one another a lot better.”
“To be honest… as long as everyone’s unique, I doubt we’ll ever come to a mutual understanding. Not that I want people to be the same—that would make the world a boring place.” Charlotte said while glancing around.
Adam continued to stare at the sky. “I told Muraco this—I’m not sure if I ran it by you before. But… even if we can’t make that happen, even if it seems impossible, I want to get the ball rolling in that direction, through my actions. Somehow…”
Charlotte looked at Adam, smiling at him. “I think trying is the best anyone can do. One should be proud of themselves if they even attempt something of that scale.” She looked at the ground, her smile dwindling away. “Yeah… That’s the kind of person you are, isn’t it? Of course it is. It’s starting to make sense…”
“Huh? What makes sense?” Adam asked her.
“Why…” She shook her head. “It’s nothing. Nothing to be concerned about right now.”
“Well, whatever it is, you can talk to me about it when you’re ready to, like I’ve said before. That’s the case for anything.” Adam stretched his arm, taking a glance toward the road.
“Thank you…” Charlotte took a step forward. “Here they come.”
The silver van that brought the group away from Prelude had now returned from Unity. Pulling into the police station’s parking lot, Adam could tell that Pam was the one driving, with Faith in the front seat.
As soon as the vehicle came to a stop, Brandon swung the back right door open, dashing toward Adam. “No way—he was telling the truth!?” He grabbed Adam’s shoulders. “Y-You guys are here…!?”
“Yeah…” Adam chuckled. “Long time no see.”
“Heh… I was prepared for not seeing ya for a while. But you’re actually back!” He turned to Charlotte. “You both are!”
The other three exited the van—Pam and Winona approached them next while Faith stood back.
“It wasn’t some sick lie… What in the world…?” Despite the questions running through Pam’s head, she embraced Adam as Brandon stepped to the side. “You’re okay…”
“Yeah, I’m all right,” Adam responded, glancing back at Faith. Noticing this, Faith gave him an awkward smile. Obviously, Adam could tell something was wrong.
Winona walked up to Charlotte, giving her a hug as well—startling her.
“I’m so glad…” Winona paused. “You’re still cold…”
Charlotte giggled. “Sorry about that. I wish I could be warm…”
“Oh no! It’s okay! I just… might fall asleep here on your shoulder…”
Charlotte patted her head. “Was the orientation tough…?”
Brandon ran up to the two. “It was exhausting! After the day we fought Charlie and Liz, we kept doing random-ass exercises!”
“Oh?” Charlotte grabbed Brandon’s ear. “You still seem to be energetic enough.”
“Ow—Well, yeah! You guys are all right! Of course I would be!” Brandon looked over at Adam. “So… all we were told is that you were allowed back here, and Rizzo wouldn’t do anything to you. The guy just said it at the last second. Just… what the hell happened?”
“That’s… all you know?” Adam shook his head. “Well, then you guys are in for quite the story.”
Faith finally decided to walk over, carrying a gloomy expression with her. “I knew there would be something off about all of this…”
“Well, I’m here. So for right now, you don’t have to worry.” Adam poked Faith’s forehead, snapping her out of her mood.
“R-Right.” She smiled. “I guess I can breathe for the first time in a few weeks, huh?”
“Better take a deep, refreshing breath. As I said, I have a lot to tell you guys.” Adam decided to follow his own suggestion, breathing in and exhaling slowly.
Pam took a look at the building, then glance around the parking lot. “They haven’t even re-assigned normal officers… That’s troubling. What if that group decides to attack?”
“We’ve got people watching over things, so hopefully it won’t be too much of a surprise,” Adam commented.
“W-Wait, what do you mean? What people?” Pam asked him.
“Oh boy…” Adam sighed. “Let’s head inside. Charlotte can go get the others—Charlotte.” He turned to her. “Maybe bring a few people at a time. We don’t want to overload them with info all at once.”
Charlotte nodded. “Y-Yeah… That would probably be for the best.”
In the main area of the police station, Adam sat with the others while waiting for Charlotte. They were sitting at a large table in the center of the large room, with office desks surrounding them. Each desk was littered with various documents, and a few even had cups of coffee that were unfinished.
“They really forced the officers out of here in a hurry… I didn’t see how it went down, but I doubt the Brown Suits were friendly to them.” Pam said, somewhat upset.
“The damn Brown Suits…” Adam clenched his fist.
“I assume they’re involved in all of this…?” Faith asked him.
“Of course. Just one piece of the big ass puzzle…” He groaned.
“Why are they called the Brown Suits anyway?” Brandon questioned. “I-I know they wear them! But couldn’t they have a cooler name? They’re… not that cool, though…”
“I’d say they wear brown cause they’re shitty people.” Adam nodded at his hypothesis. “Yep. That’s what I’m going with.”
Brandon snickered. “Definitely gonna go with that.”
Pam shrugged her shoulder, smirking. “I don’t know, but I think you’re onto something, Adam.”
“All joking aside… they are foul people. Well, technically they’re—gah!” Adam sighed heavily. “I’ll just let them explain this stuff.”
Right on cue, Charlotte phased up through the floor, with Thomas and Jerry on each side.
“I still can’t believe you’re a ghost, Charlotte…” Pam was astonished at her power. “And an Ouderkirk on top of it? What the hell…”
Thomas chuckled. “I hope that’s not the biggest thing bothering you, Pammy.”
“I-It doesn’t bother me! I’m glad she’s on our side!” Pam shouted.
“Anyway—” Charlotte glanced at the father and son. “I figured I’d start with these two. Wanna explain things?”
“Is it really safe to do that…” Jerry questioned concerningly. “I know it’s you guys, but being in Unity and all…”
“Don’t worry—Rizzo shouldn’t do anything as long as they don’t take action against him,” Adam assured him.
“I sure hope so… Dad, do you wanna do the honors?”
“I…” Thomas sighed. “Yeah. Sit down, everybody. I’ll be the one to explain most of it…”
Several minutes later, the four Unity members sat in silence, stunned at all the information they just took in.
“I… Emma!” Faith sprung up from her seat. “I need to make sure she’s okay!”
“He said she was, Faith…” Pam responded. “Although… I’d like to see for myself.”
“On it.” Charlotte hopped backward, falling right through the floor. After a few moments of silence, she returned, bringing Emma with her.
“Hey, Faith… Mom… see? I’m—”
Faith and Pam ran up to Emma, embracing her.
“I-I’m so sorry, sweetie…” Pam’s voice began to shake. “If only I knew, I could have…”
“Relax, Mom. It’s okay. I’m okay now.” Emma assured her. She turned her attention to Faith, who was struggling to hold back tears. “Hey, cheer up, okay?”
“I… I…” Faith couldn’t figure out what words to say. Emma pushed the two of them slightly away from her with a smile on her face.
“I’m too tough to have something like that ruin me!” Emma snickered—her smile turning into a huge grin.
Brandon walked up with his hands casually behind his head. “She’s her usual cocky self, so she seemed good to me.”
Emma grabbed hold of Brandon’s ear, beginning to pull on it. “I see you’re your usual idiotic self.”
“Ow! Hey! Watch it!” Brandon whined, trying to push the smirking girl away from him.
Pam sat back down, staring at the floor. “Aside from Emma… the manager of Ann’s… This thing in the Nexus Network has been the cause of all of this!? Even giving Rizzo the power he has… Just what is it!?”
“It’s horrible…” Winona’s body tensed up. “He was… such an innocent man. Is this thing a monster…? It controlled the Brown Suits into doing that?”
“The Brown Suits are freaking clones!? Let’s not forget that!” Brandon yelled. “And… Jerry… you and your dad have been working on this super-secret group this whole time!?”
“Not to mention my dad has been helping out…” Winona said, upset at not knowing what her dad had been dealing with.
“And Travis of all people has been involved as well…” Pam shook his head.
Adam sighed. “Yep. You guys are jumping all over the place now. I figured it would be tough for you to zone in on one topic at a time.”
“You’re right,” Pam nodded. “You said there was… even more you guys wanted to share with us?”
“There is…” Jerry sighed. “Charlotte—why don’t we go get the others? I think once everything is introduced, we’ll have a huge talk about it all at once.”
“You’re right…” Charlotte pondered. “Hmm… How about I bring him first, and then her…?”
“Yeah, that should work.” Jerry gave her a thumbs up. With a simple nod, Charlotte phased through the floor once again.
“Him and her…? There are others mixed up in this?” Faith asked.
“They’re more like key players as opposed to outsiders being thrown in,” Adam answered. “Well, the ‘her’ certainly is, at least.”
“Although…” Emma laughed awkwardly. “We did get some legitimate outsiders mixed up in this… didn’t we?”
“Roy and Roger?” Thomas chuckled. “I told the two of them they don’t have to involve themselves any further. Roger’s been a good help, though. And Roy’s, well…”
“He’s something…” Emma sighed.
“Huh? Roy?” Brandon looked concerned. “Who’s that?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Emma stated. “Just another idiot, like you.”
“Hey, I’m the idiot around here! Nobody else gets that title except for me!”
Emma shook her head. “Do you ever think before you speak?”
Charlotte emerged from the floor, this time holding Muraco in her arms. She held him up to be on full display for everyone.
“Wh-What the hell is that thing!?” Brandon shouted, jumping back in shock.
Muraco jumped onto the floor in rage. “I’m honestly getting tired of how humans react to my appearance! I am Muraco! Hero of Requiem!”
“Hero!? A-And it talks!?” Brandon cautiously approached the rabbit, kneeling down. “Just what in the…?”
“You got a problem, punk!?” Muraco stomped toward Brandon, getting right up in his face. “I’ll destroy you, you know!”
Winona walked up to Muraco, taking his attention away from Brandon. “He’s…” She suddenly embraced the rabbit with a swift and mighty hug. “He’s so cute!!!”
“Hey—What do you think you’re doi—a-actually… This isn’t so bad. You’re kinda warm…” Muraco grew comfortable and began to snuggle up with Winona.
“C-Can I hold him too…?” Faith asked, approaching with her eyes lit up.
“You can pet him, but right now he’s with me!” Winona giggled. Faith nodded, slowly stroking Muraco’s fluffy ears.
“H-Hey, you’re warm too… All right—I can work with this!” Muraco chuckled conceitedly
“Did… some kind of magic spell turn this guy into a rabbit? Is that what this is…?” Brandon asked, running up to Adam quickly. “Cause… I’m gonna need that spell.”
“Huh? No—we’re not sure why exactly he’s like that. Experiments the Ourderkirks did ages ago gave him that form somehow. He originally was after Charlotte and me, but we ended up having him join us.” Adam explained, glaring at his friend.
“Interesting… So, there’s a chance it could be a spell? And we could learn it? And I could turn into that? And I could get hugged by girls?”
Adam responded simply by flicking Brandon’s forehead.
“Anyway—Charlotte,” Adam looked at her. “Wanna go get her now?”
“Sure… Travis and Cody are keeping an eye on things so I won’t be able to bring them anyway.”
“That’s fine. I figured they’d need to stay near the computers.”
As Charlotte disappeared, Faith approached Adam. She nervously looked around the room. Mostly everyone had shifted their attention to Muraco, including Brandon, who was ready to face off against his new rival.
“What’s up, Fai—”
Faith hugged Adam swiftly, catching him off guard. “I’m glad you’re okay… I was certain I wouldn’t see you for quite a while… Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to believe when I heard that the exile was off…”
“I still don’t know what to believe…” Adam sighed, resting his head on her shoulder. “Even with all the crazy information we’re currently trying to figure out, there’s a lot of unknown things we haven’t even touched yet.”
“It’s been tiring, huh?” Faith patted Adam’s head. “I’m hoping we can get through all of it…”
“Adam Grayson!” Brandon stormed over to the two—Faith stepping to the side in confusion.
“What is the World Mirror!? What kind of almighty powers do you get with that thing!?”
“Oh—That does remind me. I’ve learned some new tricks with it.”
“You have huh!? Do tell!” Brandon’s jealousy was being too obvious to Adam.
“You need to relax, you know that? And I’ll tell you about it later. Charlotte’s gonna be back here in a sec.” He pointed toward the floor.
“You can tell?” Jerry asked him, surprised.
“I could with my eyes, but I’m just assuming right now.”
Adam’s assumption was right. Charlotte ascended from the floor, this time with Lucy tightly wrapped in her arms.
“Woah! More people!” Lucy yelled excitedly.
Pam, who had been focused on Muraco’s cuteness along with the others, suddenly froze. She turned to the source of the new voice, horrified at what had appeared.
Next: Chapter 2.24
Previous: Chapter 2.22