Pam managed to enter the station after finding an opportunity to dash inside once the mass of green energy weakened. In that short amount of time, the power released from Emma reduced the interior of the building to a mess of rubble—the walls themselves barely standing.
“No way is this happening… This is what’s been inside her this whole time…?”
Pam cautiously moved forward—her hand on the hilt of her blade, ready for the worst.
She looked down and indeed found the worst thing possible.
Two severed legs laid on the floor, cut just above the knees.
“Hang in there, Roy!”
Pam turned to Roger’s shout. He held onto the now legless boy as blood spewed from his wounds. It seemed as though, for some odd reason, that Roy did not feel the pain to the extent that he would scream.
“W-What happened here…?” Pam shook her head. “I’ve got to stop the bleeding!”
She rushed to Roy’s side, inspecting the injuries he had sustained. Even with the first aid equipment stored in the building, it would not be enough to help Roy at this stage. Pam had to think fast, or Roy would die to blood loss.
“I… All right.” Pam tore off a portion of her shirt and handed it to Roger. “Have him bite down on this.”
“W-What for…?” Roger asked, although he immediately did as he was told. Roy could barely keep consciousness as Roger stuffed the cloth into Roy’s mouth. “Sorry, Roy!”
“I’m sorry, too… But we need to seal those wounds…” Pam pointed her finger toward Roy’s legs. A moment later, steam began to form around his wounds. The heat seared Roy’s skin, which started to crudely stop the bleeding, as well as cover up the damage he had received.
“Guh!” Roy now screamed at the top of his lungs, muffled by the cloth. He bit down in an attempt to ease the pain Pam’s “first aid” was giving him.
“I’m sorry, Roy… I’m sorry…” Pam repeated. “I swear, we’ll fix you up once this is all over. Just hang in there…”
“Ah, Pam! It’s Emma! She’s gone berserk again!” Roger pointed to the central room, which they were right outside of.
“Emma…” Pam glanced inside to see her daughter covered in distorted green energy—the same energy that erupted from the building moments prior. She seemed to be in a trance-like state—slowly stumbling around the torn floorboards.
“She created those wings again… and slashed at Roy. I tried to drag him away as best I could. The wings then disappeared, and now she just covered in that stuff…”
Pam looked at the floor surrounding them. The only real sign of blood was around the two legs and near where Roy currently was located.
“Wings…? And—you dragged him away…? There’s no blood to indicate that, though? What’s going on here…?”
“I-I don’t know…” Roger held onto Roy, who had now lost consciousness. “I thought we saved her before… Why is this happening again!?”
“It must be due to Twine’s base being destroyed, I’d assume. The servers were shut down as well, meaning Block was terminated—letting this energy run free again.” Pam began to approach her daughter. “Stay there and keep an eye on Roy. I’ll handle this.”
Roger nodded as tears began to well up in his eyes.
“Am I this useless…?”
Pam stood near Emma, who finally decided to turn toward her. Instead of her daughter’s usual, warming gaze, Pam was met by horrendous eyes that she could only describe as being filled with a nasty emerald slime.
“Emma… This is what’s been inside you all along…?” Pam’s hand trembled on the hilt of her blade.
Emma said nothing—simply staring at Pam with an animal-like curiosity.
“How did I not know they were using you for something like this…!? I’m your mother, and I knew nothing! That bastard Rizzo used something that saved your life for…” Pam slowly shook her head, feeling tears flow from her eyes.
“I’m not just a horrible mother, I’m a horrible person. My life’s been filled with nothing but lies, as I continued to chase a dream that was impossible for me…” Pam recalled back when she fought alongside Rebecca. “I could never be that strong…”
She breathed in, and exhaled slowly.
“Despite all of my mistakes… I have you and Faith. You two give me a reason to fight—so!”
Pam started to draw her sword—steam erupting from the scabbard.
“I’ll become as strong as I need to be to protect you guys!”
The energy around Emma shifted, forming into the dragon-like wings once again. Without hesitation, one of the wings extended, soaring in Pam’s direction.
She unleashed her steam-covered blade, striking the wing with tremendous force. The impact knocked her back slightly but was able to completely counter Emma’s attack.
“What is this energy…? It’s strong!” Pam swung her sword repeatedly, knocking back Emma’s wings that attempted to stab her.
“I’ve got to try knocking her out…” Taking a giant leap fueled by her steam, Pam ascended into the air, tearing through the ceiling that was about to tumble down anyway. The debris fell onto Emma, who blew it away with her wings.
“There!” Pam saw an opening and went for it. Creating several Roswell Spheres, she used her steam to launch herself down at Emma. The possessed girl attempted to retaliate at her mother, as the spheres surrounding Pam protected her from the green wings.
Creating a path directly toward Emma, Pam prepared to strike her daughter with the hilt of her sword, hoping that enough force would render her unconscious and stop the rampaging energy.
“Sorry, Emma! It’s just like training—only far worse!”
As Pam landed a blow, she became horrified at what she witnessed. Emma managed to block the attack with her arm.
An arm that was now covered in green scales.
“What is—” Pam was knocked away with a casual fling of Emma’s arm. The mother landed on her feet, staring in complete terror as her daughter began to transform.
“What is this… What is this—What is this!?”
The scales proceeded to cover Emma’s entire body as two dark green horns grew from her temples. Her wings became even more distorted, barely resembling the shape of wings at all.
“Nothing like this happened the previous time… Jerry was able to stop it before it got too bad. Emma…” Pam took a stance, bending one knee and pointing her blade at her daughter. “I’ll save you… I swear it—”
The wings flew at Pam, catching her completely off guard, despite the fact she kept an eye on them the entire time.
“I couldn’t see them for a second… What just—”
Before the wings could slice her in half, a huge spark of blue flashed, knocking the attack back. Charlotte had appeared in front of Pam in her white-haired form, wielding a blade.
Pam’s eyes widened, staring in complete awe at what she had witnessed. She did not believe, at first, that it was Charlotte who had saved her.
She recalled the past once again, remembering a third friend that would join herself and Rebecca on the battlefield—one that shared Charlotte’s appearance.
“Pam, are you okay!?” Charlotte asked, turning to the woman. I sensed something changed, so I flew in her as fast as possible!”
“Changed…? Yeah, Emma’s appearance… She’s…”
“She’s starting to look like an actual dragon… Is this the Nexus’ doing?” Charlotte gritted her teeth. “And, that’s not what I meant. I still can’t understand this green energy, but I felt a strong phantonic shift occur.”
“Huh? Phantonic?” Pam walked up next to Charlotte. “I guess you would be able to sense something like that, huh?”
Emma continued to attack, interrupting Pam and Charlotte’s conversation. Both of the women slash their blades, repelling the wings that were attempting to destroy them. Charlotte then noticed something.
“Is this—” She whacked her blade on one of the wings that seemed to approach her faster than the average attack. “I see! I get it now!”
“What do you get?” Pam asked, blocking a wing with her blade. The second wing attacked her in the same fashion—Pam being unable to detect it. Charlotte managed to strike just in time, rescuing her.
“There’s a slight ‘time-skip’ happening with her attacks. It’s just enough so that you lose track of her movements!”
“What the!? How is that happening? Did Emma awaken an Ability throughout all of this?” Pam questioned as she continued to dodge the onslaught of attacks.
“No, nothing like that. It’s probably the Nexus Network. This power originates from it, after all. All of those concentrated phantons… If they share their power with this green energy, something time-related could occur.”
“Just plain old phantons can do that? Even if they’re all jumbled up together, they still wouldn’t share the properties of awakened phantons!”
“No. You see, Pam…” Charlotte slashed at a wing, hitting it with enough force to send it back next to Emma.
“The thing you call ‘phantonic energy’ was initially meant to control the flow of time.” Charlotte held her head. “Wait… I-I know that…?”
“I mean, it makes sense,” Pam knocked back a wing with a Roswell Sphere. “It could explain how ghosts work. Strange… If we can get your memories back completely, it could really change things!”
“Yeah… That’s not what we should focus on right now, however.” Charlotte suggested, reforming her blade that had begun to crack.
“I know we have to save my daughter. I’ve gotten used to how these wings normally attack. Do you have the time-skip thing down?”
“I do. It doesn’t happen too often, and when it does, it’s quite obvious.”
“I wonder if that had an effect on Roy when his legs got sliced off… Did it delay the blood loss or something?” Pam pondered.
“Jerry!” Charlotte turned back, where Jerry had met up with Roger and Roy. “Do you think you can come up with something?”
“W-With what I’ve been seeing…” Jerry sighed. “It’s not going to be easy. Although I have Block backed up at my house, we don’t have the server strength that Twine had. I also backed up that strange data Adam gave to me, but it would be impossible to decode this quickly.”
“So what you’re saying is we need a source with enough power for the signal to work…?” Charlotte asked, flying around while evading attacks.
“I’m not sure if that would work at this point. Too much energy has been unleashed—I mean, look at her! She’s starting to transform into an actual freaking dragon!”
“Dammit…” Charlotte began to pant. “I’m reaching my limit here… We’ve gotta do something quick!”
A shriek suddenly erupted from Emma, startling everyone.
“Emma!? Sweetie!?” Pam almost ran up to her, yet calmed herself before her guard was dropped.
The wings around Emma vanished. She had stopped moving completely at this point.
“W-Well let’s try restraining her!” Charlotte yelled, preparing to fly up to the girl.
She halted immediately upon seeing a sphere of corrupt green energy form from the horns on Emma’s head.
“T-This is…!” Charlotte landed on the ground, wielding her sword at her side. She began charging energy directly into the blade, which shifted from a long sword to a great sword.
“Charlotte!?” Pam yelled in a panic.
“Energy’s gathering quickly—I have to deflect it!”
The sphere exploded into an enormous blast of energy, rocketing at Charlotte. At the same moment, she swung her sword upward, unleashing tremendous power of her own.
With her Ouderkirk power at full throttle, Charlotte whacked the attack up into the sky—the blue energy lifting the green energy. Both powers erupted in the atmosphere with almighty force, which could have easily leveled the town in an instant.
As the dust began to settle, Charlotte reverted back into her black-haired form, collapsing onto her knees.
“D-Damn… That’s all I can do…”
Pam placed her hand on Charlotte’s shoulder. The ghost girl noticed the woman was trembling.
“You really are an Ouderkirk, huh? Amazing. Don’t worry—I’ll handle it from here.”
“B-But unleashing that much power didn’t exhaust her. In fact, I can still sense she’s—”
Both of them went silent as the possessed Emma leaped through the remainder of the dust toward them—her hands now formed into razor-sharp claws. Pam was unable to counter fast enough while Charlotte could not move at all.
They were certain one of them was about to be slashed to ribbons.
A powerful strike of lightning removed their fear, knocking Emma away from them.
Pam and Charlotte watched as Brandon landed in front of them, panting heavily.
“That’s… not a good look, Emma…”
Next: Chapter 2.36
Previous: Chapter 2.34
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON: