Jerry watched the screen of his laptop display a jumbled mess of numbers as it was attempting to process the information he was looking into. Currently, he and Brandon were at Adam’s house—Jerry relaxing in the cozy navy-blue recliner that was bought the day prior. As you walk into the home, the living room is directly ahead with the kitchen off to the right. To the left of that is the hallway that leads to the remaining rooms.
“So, you actually bought this thing…” Jerry leaned back. “You really can’t stand sleeping on that couch?”
“Have you felt this thing?” Adam slapped the tan cushions repeatedly—the sound nearly identical to hitting a stone. “I can’t sleep on this. I won’t allow it.”
Jerry leaned forward and placed his laptop on the glass coffee table in front of him, glaring at Adam to his left. “Well, what you choose to do with the money that Charlotte gave you is none of my business. Although with the situation we’re in, you should be somewhat wise with it.”
“Sleeping well is always a priority,” Adam looked at his brand new smartphone, which was in a case that had a space-like design. “As well as having communication that won’t break… You sure this thing is sturdy enough?”
“Best one on the market right now,” Jerry answered.
“Well, that’s good,” Adam raised his arm and patted Brandon on the back, who was sitting next to him. “Aren’t you glad I bought ya a new one as well?”
Brandon was looking down at his phone with the same case Adam’s had—his with an electrical design. “Yeah, I do appreciate it a lot…”
“And like I told you, don’t think me getting that for you is a persuasion to help me out…” Adam paused. “It’s been two days since I told you everything. How are you processing it?”
“Huh?” Brandon looked up, quite confused at Adam’s question. “How are you processing it—that’s the better question. You’re right in the center of all of this shit.”
“I’m taking it one day at a time, I’d say,” Adam answered. “I can’t really figure out this World Mirror thing while Charlotte’s sleeping. I’m hoping she can wake up soon.”
Jerry tapped his laptop in frustration. “I’m trying to come up with code so I can begin my hacking process. It’s all flimsy crap so far—I’d get caught the moment I even tried. So, while I wait for the rest of this to process, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking now.”
“What you’re thinking…?” Adam leaned forward, ready to listen.
“Brandon—” Jerry pointed at him. “It’s like Adam said. We’re not going to try to drag you into this. You were told cause you’re our friend. If you do get involved, just realize… your life probably won’t be normal from that point onward.”
That was a fact which Adam himself had not adequately taken into consideration. A Concept alone would be an obvious game-changer for someone if they were to obtain one, leading them into an abnormal life. Adam had something else going on entirely—something that set him outside the known realms of possibility.
Despite that, two of his closest friends—ones not even classified in an abnormal realm, were here with him. One had already agreed to assist in this situation, striving to achieve their own goals while doing so.
The second one—Brandon Shepherd—did not hesitate with his response to Jerry.
“Of course I’m gonna help. Even if I’m completely useless, I’ll find a way! A normal life…?” Brandon chuckled as he shook his head. “I could probably have a fancy one becoming a professional soccer player if I gave it my all. But honestly… why the hell should I do something that I hate!?”
Jerry was shocked to hear those words, while Adam could not help but burst into laughter.
“You finally said it, god damn I’ve been waiting for that.”
“You don’t want to do soccer…?” Jerry began to chuckle. “When did that happen?”
“I’ve always hated it! My parents made me do it when I was younger. I didn’t enjoy it, but I was really good. Baseball and lacrosse too—I was good, but… not my thing. Eventually, I took my main sport, soccer, and tried to roll with that. There was nothing else I wanted to do, so I figured I could at least go somewhere with it.”
“I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard you say a single positive thing about it,” Adam added.
“Yeah, now that you mention it… you really do hate it, huh?” Jerry nodded. “I see. Even if you have talent, you still don’t want to pursue that… It’s strange. I have talent with technology, yet I love it. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.”
“We humans are complicated creatures,” Adam shrugged. “It’s just the way it is.”
“Well, back to the topic at hand,” Jerry cleared his throat. “Since you seem to want to help, Brandon, I’ll keep my explanations simple enough so that you can understand them.”
“H-Hey, what’s that supposed to mean—”
“I’m going to get straight to the point. Adam, I assume you’re aware of this, but no matter how we proceed with everything… Unity will become our enemy.”
“Yeah, no shit,” Adam sighed loudly, leaning back on the rock-solid cushions. “There would be little to no pressure if it wasn’t for them.”
“My dad has never been an official member, he only does work involving the technical field. ‘Medically,’ watching over you and Emma would be his only assignments. What I’m getting at is… well, he’s important, but not vital. I’m sure things could still turn south for him if he didn’t comply with the rules. So, we might very well be on a timer for this stuff…”
“I’m well aware… And if the others, who are actual members, get involved, I’m sure they could be forced to fight like puppets.”
“I’ve got a question!” Brandon raised his hand like he was in a classroom but proceeded to ask regardless. “Just what makes Unity this dangerous-ass thing to deal with?”
“Two major things-” Jerry put up two of his fingers. “One: Their leader. His Concept is… well, unknown. But it holds great power and makes him practically unbeatable. I can detail what’s known about it, however…”
“Let’s just hope we don’t have to face him any time soon,” Adam said while tapping the side of the couch. “At least let me unlock my super-secret OP ancient powers, first.”
“Right. Fighting an unknown with another unknown. That always makes for an interesting event.” Jerry nodded while folding his arms.
“The second thing is pretty obvious—to me—so I’ll explain…” Adam paused, gritting his teeth.
“Clover, right?” Jerry asked.
“Huh? Like the plant-thing?” Brandon also asked.
“Yeah… The plant thing. They’re a special group within Unity themselves that work under the leader directly. Named ‘Clover’ cause they wear green-colored suits, I guess?”
“I-I think I’ve seen those guys before!” Brandon stood up. “Those creepy dudes with the weird goggles?”
“Yep…” Adam groaned. “They’re like some cult-like police force. So many bastards walking around enforcing dumbass rules. Usually, they only get involved with Unity business, but they could easily, easily get tyrannical if they desired to. I’m surprised the government hasn’t been taken over by them yet.”
“Maybe they already took over…?” Brandon suggested with a horrified look on his face. “Maybe they wear green to symbolize the fact that they’re secretly lizard people!“
Adam, with no force or malice behind it whatsoever, reached upward and smacked Brandon in the face. “Okay, Mr. Conspiracy Theory. I mean, who knows? With Concepts, I guess anything could be possible…? His eyes widened. “Shit, maybe they could be lizards!”
Jerry slowly shook his head. “I’m surprised Brandon can sometimes swallow you up in his nonsense. Anyway, I think you get the picture. Not easy to move around when you’ve got guys like that all over the place, hiding in the shadows.”
“Well, at least we don’t have some super high-tech surveillance watching us 24/7.” Brandon chuckled, sitting back down as the smile slowly faded from his face. “…R-Right?”
“There are ways to, easily,” Jerry responded while rubbing the back of his head. “It’s nothing, at the moment, that I couldn’t handle. However, it could become a third thing we’d have to deal with if Unity steps it up.”
“With all the phantonic technology there is, I am surprised they don’t use much of it outside of combat and research…” Adam commented. “Actually, I’m not surprised. It fits them. Increasing their own strength instead of helping people better their lives.”
“Definitely one thing I’d like to do after I’m done studying…” Jerry sighed. “If we get to the point where that’s allowed. Oh! Yeah, that reminds me. Adam, what are you going to do about school?”
“Huh? School?” Adam chuckled. “I thought that was obvious. I’ve awakened to an awesome magical power. Screw school, I’m saving the world!” A mere chuckle turned into almost villainous laughter.
“Your words and your actions contradict one another…” Jerry smiled. “That’s what you want to do? Save the world?”
“…Well, this thing is called the ‘World Mirror,’ after all. I think it’s a given I’ve got to do something like that. The size of that ‘world’ I would want to save in the end…”
The ones Adam considered his family, regardless of blood relations, flashed in Adam’s mind. He did not say anything else, he merely glanced toward the floor with a gentle smile on his face.
“I guess I can continue with school bullshit, for the time being…” Brandon shook his head in disgust. “Until I have to leap in and save the day.”
“You, saving the day? Yeah, sure.” Adam snickered as he rose from the sofa. “It’s starting to get late. You guys staying?”
“I suppose,” Jerry answered. “I can work on everything right here, after all.”
“We should stay together anyway, in case the lizards try to attack us!” Brandon yelled, punching the air a few times.
“Right, yeah… the lizards.” Adam began to walk toward the hallway. “In that case, I’ll get you guys some sleeping bags. I get the chair, no questions asked. I don’t suggest sleeping on the stone structure right there.”
“You know, I totally get why you hate this thing! My ass hasn’t hurt this much in a long time!” Brandon whined.
“I would respond with a remark that’s on your level of ‘humor’ but, nah. I’ll leave it at that.” Adam entered the dark corridor, opening a door that was on his left. He proceeded to walk down the creaky wooden stairs that appeared.
At the bottom, Adam’s mold-infested basement greeted him. He only came down here to do laundry, the washer and dryer on his left. The right was a small section with loads of cardboard boxes—Adam assumed many of them had gotten damp just by looking at them. He didn’t really care to salvage what was inside.
He turned left and then left again. This side of the basement was larger and had a bench with tools off to the right. Directly in front of him were a few more boxes and a metallic red cabinet up against the stone wall.
“Think the sleeping bags are in one of these…” Adam glanced back at the washer, which had a white basket filled with his clothes. “Eh, guess I should do that while I’m down here…”
As Adam turned back toward the cabinet, someone was there. Someone who was not there a moment prior. At the sight of the little girl that appeared out of nowhere, Adam leaped back in horror.
Adam stumbled, knocking the basket over. Articles of clothing tumbled to the floor while he tried to regain his composure. Upon looking up, the girl was still there. He then recognized her.
“Y-You’re from the store… That night—right! I saw you right before Charlotte walked up to me—”
Tears were falling from her face as she looked at Adam. For some reason, it felt like Adam’s chest was ripping apart. He could feel the emotion radiating from her.
No. It was not an odd source of energy, causing Adam to feel this way. He himself was about to cry, no supernatural phenomenon involved. The girl was upset—he tended not to care if a random child started crying. It annoyed him, in fact. Why was this one, in particular, however, tugging at his heart?
“Who… are you?”
The girl, who had remained there made no sound. She slowly began to fade away—tiny blue spheres flowing from her.
As she vanished, a thin glowing thread appeared. It began to move through the air like a fish swimming in water, going inside the cabinet. While this occurred, Adam’s head had started to ache. He recognized this feeling—the same feeling when Charlotte used her power. The World Mirror was active.
His eyes—irises ghostly white—watched as the wall behind started to light up. A fierce crimson color appeared, expanding all the way to each side of the basement. No, it stretched far beyond that. Adam could not tell in his current position, but the red barrier surrounded the entire area underneath Prelude.
Strange symbols began to appear—scarlet as opposed to crimson. They were odd shapes—Adam compared them to squiggles that a child would draw. These had covered the wall, moving from right to left like a roll of film.
“I-I gotta go get those guys. Screw it, I gotta wake Charlotte the hell up!”
Adam attempted to run yet only took a few steps. A voice echoed from within the wall. It was clearly a child’s voice, which he assumed belonged to the young girl. A simple word was heard. It was enough. Enough to make Adam forget about going to get his friends. He had to do something now for her.
Next: Chapter 13
Previous: Chapter 11
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON: