About kyologist

I write that Phantonics thing.

“Quick” Update With Writing + Streams

Hi. I figured I’d make this in case people don’t follow my Twitter (which you should, btw).

I decided it wasn’t a good idea for me, mentally, to try NaNoWriMo this year. There has been a lot going on both personally and in general so I figured it would be a bit much to try to write daily to reach a huge 50,000 word goal. Nervertheless, Across the Land will still be developed behind the scenes, and I will plan on releasing it eventually. Still can’t decide if I want it to be a web novel or an actual novel. We’ll have to see. I’ll have more of an idea as we get into 2021.

My goal for this month is to try out a streaming schedule for Twitch. Starting today, I aim to have a stream every weekday. Mondays, I’ll do a playthrough of a brand new game/game I want to beat (for example, I’ll try to finally beat the Ender Dragon today on Minecraft), Tuesdays and Thursday will be reserved for Fate/Grand Order-related shenanigans, Wednesdays I’ll dedicate to Wind Waker randomizers, my usual go-to for streams, and Fridays will be a free day where I choose what I’d like to play. I’d like to start these streams around 12 PM EST (although maybe a bit before or a bit after) and go for about four hours or so. Make sure you follow me on Twitch if this entices you. Streaming is my main goal alongside writing, so (assumingly you’re here because of my writing) just be aware that I do want to have time to work on it as well.

I released Chapter 27 of Phantonics last night after I got a huge surge of inspiration and finished it up. Due to how I’m feeling at the moment, I’m just going to allow Phantonics to have an unrestricted release schedule for a week or two while I work on streams. As I have ideas flowing through me, I may just decide to work on and post chapters on a whim. Or I could work on them and get a schedule going again; the obviously better idea. I’m taking the chapter ahead benefit off of Patreon for the moment, as I do not want to promise them when I have such a flimsy schedule. If I can get well enough ahead, I’ll make that a thing again.

I mentioned before that Chapter 26 was the end of the Crimson Mine Arc. Ehhhhh, sort of. Chapter 27 still branches off of it, and the events of the next chapter or two would probably be a better way to end it. There will be a huge time skip of… a week, so I can use that as the cutoff point between arcs. This is similar to the previous version after Adam’s fight with Derek where he was out of commission for a bit. We still have an entire arc before we get to where the previous version’s first book ended, and we almost have as many words. I certainly put much more content in this version, and the next arc will be similar. Hope you look forward to it/look forward to the story getting back on a regular schedule eventually.

I think that’s enough for now. Just wanted to let everyone know what’s going on/gather my thoughts. Thank you for reading, as always!

-Kyle

Chapter 27

“So that’s how it’s going to be…?”

The leader of the group stood up from his chair, beginning to walk toward a room off to the side.

“W-What now?” Chris asked while looking frantically at the other members.

“Well…” Jason sighed. “I’ve officially lost any way of spying on the place. They’ve legitimately taken over all the Authority we had. With the Ouderkirk girl beginning to change the bull’s body into fuel for her power, it’s safe to assume we won’t have any way to get back in.”

“The girl…” Derek hesitated. “The one who’s supposedly kept down there. What will become of her?”

“He already took care of that,” Jason assured. “She’s ‘safe’ for the time being.”

“Hehehe…” Carl let out a creepy giggle. “That was rather bold of you to bust open the coffin at the last moment. Are you sure it’ll stay in place until we can retrieve it?”

The leader stopped, not turning back to look them in the eye. “Yes. What’s left of that thing is merely a shell. It won’t shift onto our layer until we provoke it. We’ll need a few weeks to prepare. Carl—I leave you to get things situated.” 

“Right right right…” Carl grinned, glancing at the monitor next to him. “I sure wish we could have retrieved the Blood Bull to confirm your theory. If what you say is true, then I have an idea. If we can summon one of them into the world, then our power will surely…

“Unity…” The man clenched his fist. “It shouldn’t have fallen into his hands. If she had the opportunity to lead it, this country—this world would be in much better shape. If she…”

“Get ahold of yourself,” Jason suggested, floating over next to him. “It’s been a while since you even mentioned her. Is what happened tonight the reason? Are you sure she would have agreed to the actions that were taken? I assume she wouldn’t be.”

“Of course not,” The leader shook his head. “The heroes were able to win this time without losing anything precious. It’s possible for that to happen. However, when faced with something that they cannot overcome—”

“Yeah, yeah. I get it, I get it. You want this to be a lesson for him? Is killing him a form of teaching?” Jason questioned in irritation. 

“Man, glad Jason doesn’t have a body. I’m sure he would be dead talking like that to him…” Chris commented anxiously. 

“No, Jason’s right,” The man responded, startling Chris. “In any case… once Carl gets everything ready, we’ll retrieve the remnants. If we encounter the Ouderkirk, we’ll still attempt to capture her—”

“Actually,” Carl chuckled while rubbing his hands together. “I have an idea for that as well. One where we wouldn’t be placed in danger. If you allow me to handle that matter personally, then we’ll succeed.”

“Oh? Very well,” The leader nodded. “I’ll leave you to that. Also, when it comes to Adam Grayson’s peculiar power… there is one thing that comes to mind. Especially if he’s happened to side with an Ouderkirk. It was mentioned by Winifred once before. It sounded as though it was nothing more than a myth, however. I’ll keep it in the back of my head. For now, let’s try to not kill anyone if we can help it.”

“Pretty sure they’re more than capable of killing us, ya know?” Chris flinched as pain surged through his body.

“Oh, yes. Good work, you two,” The man finally turned toward them. “Jason was able to relay what he witnessed to me. My suggestions… Derek—refine how your Full Abstraction works. You have a lot of potential there, especially if you can successfully replicate the rings’ true power. Chris—finish developing your Full Abstraction. From what I’ve seen, it could help tremendously with faster foes that like to move around.”

“Woah, you can actually be a leader…” Chris was astonished. Derek lightly smacked him on the side of the head while approaching the man.

“This girl… is she who I think she is?”

“Yeah…” The leader answered. “I said when I recruited you that I knew what you had been dealing with. I went through the same thing, after all.”

“Even down to the same relation to a Chaonic Entity, huh?” Derek sighed. “Man, what the hell…?”

“The Chaonic Entity in your case is an issue that we surely need to deal with. However, with mine…”

“It’s much bigger,” Jason continued. “It took the sacrifices of the world’s strongest Conceptor and the last full-blooded Ouderkirk to contain—”

“Are we sure we should be messing with shit like that!?” Chris asked abruptly.

“…Our group is called Fangless,” The leader began explaining. “We’re weak. However, we strive to obtain strength that can protect all of the weak. My power happens to be a good match with what we’re aiming for, so it’s worth the risk if we can take everything that we’ve lost back while aiming for that goal.”

“Pretty sure you’re not getting what you’ve lost back, especially at this rate…” Jason commented. 

“…At least they still have a shot.” The man said before opening the door he was in front of, closing it behind him.

Derek glanced down at his finger where his wedding ring was once worn.

“If it’s all for your sake, then…”

Inside the dimly lit room, the man walked up to an old rusty refrigerator taking out a few ice cubes from the freezer at the bottom. He threw them into a whiskey glass that sat on a counter next to the fridge, proceeding to pour the drink from its bottle.

“This is something you don’t do at home, huh?” Jason’s shadow asked as it formed next to the man. 

“I made a promise to never do this in front of anyone,” He sat down in a creaky red recliner while taking a sip. “Not that it does anything for me anymore…”

“…Is this the right thing to do?” Jason questioned. “Ever since I appeared that day and you named me, I’ve just been following whatever you decide. I scout all over the place and see all sorts of things, and I’m just wondering… Have you seen enough of the world to know if your world-changing view is right?” 

“If I’m reaching for a reality in where they could have genuinely smiled, then—”

“You’re rejecting the reality that’s here now. There are pieces left over that I’m sure you’d love to see prosper as well?”

“It’s easier for them if I cut those connections.” The man rattled the glass around in his hand.

“…Well, aside from handling Unity, there’s the matter of that other guy. How do you propose we deal with him?”

“If I’m still around by that point, then I’m sure I’ll know the answer…”

Jason sighed. “There’s a sliver of hope that’s appeared today. You should consider that a part of your answer. Due to the results of this incident, one of your goals has already failed, so you might as well—”

With a tap of his finger on the recliner’s arm, a faint red wave of energy shot out. This seemingly caused a reaction of sorts, as a crimson portal formed next to Jason. It began to suck him in like a whirlpool.

“Ah—okay, okay! I’ll leave you aloooooo—”

His voice faded while the portal vanished. The man rubbed his head in frustration while taking another sip of whiskey.

“Aside from your voice, you really are just like him when it comes to being annoying as hell…”

“All right. Adam’s resting now.” Jerry walked into the living room where Winona sat in the chair while Brandon was propped on the couch—taking care to not cause further harm to his leg.

“Is he gonna be good?” He asked in concern.

“It’s remarkable how his body heals…” Jerry noted. “I got all the blood off of him and it’s like he… never even fought to begin with.”

“I sure can use that power right now…” Brandon groaned. “What are we gonna do about my leg, man?”

“From what my dad’s told me, they scan your phantonic activity either by taking your temperature, obtaining a blood sample—that sort of thing. Unity legitimately paid hundreds of thousands—most likely in the millions—to distribute phantonic technology disguised as mere medical equipment. He even uses that stuff. It would be near impossible to avoid some way of them finding out.”

“Well, there is another option…” Winona spoke up. “If you join Unity, you won’t have to worry about getting in trouble. They pay for everything medically-related, so that would—”

“Ain’t they making doctor and hospital stuff cheaper anyway? They’re finally trying to do that, yeah? I’m sure I wouldn’t have to pay too much…?”

“The laws haven’t gone through for that yet,” Jerry commented, shaking his head. “I’m sure it won’t for quite a while. Anyway, moving away from politics… that would be the safest option, at the current moment. I’m confident in saying that Winona would agree on you not joining, however.”

“…How they’ve made my dad continue to work even after his injury, and everything that’s happened to my sister… no. Do not, Brandon. It’s unforgiving. If our bodies didn’t obtain large amounts of durability from our awakened phantons, we wouldn’t last. We’d literally be worked to death.”

“…I made my decision,” Brandon sat up. “We’re gonna go kick Unity’s ass! Between me now having this power, Charlotte being a super OP-magic-ghost-person, and Adam’s OP-magic-god-energy, we can fight back!”

“You’re gonna kick it with your broken leg?” Jerry snickered. “Let’s focus on one problem at a time, preferably the immediate ones right in front of us.”

“I mean…” Brandon began to ponder Jerry’s question. “…So, if I balance on my non-broken leg I could electrify the broken one and like… whip it around or something—”

“Another issue is your soccer practice, Brandon,” Jerry interrupted while taking a seat at the end of the sofa. “A broken leg means that’s a no-go. Which begins a domino effect… You wouldn’t be able to join the college’s team if you don’t complete the practice and you’d lose your scholarship money, which means no school for you.”

“Fine by me!” Brandon cheered. “I finally have something I want to genuinely put my heart into! Being a badass and saving the world…!”

“Although with a different type of energy, you’re just like Adam…” Jerry sighed, proceeding to let out a tiny chuckle. “Listen, Brandon. I assume you can connect the rest of the dots in your head. Basically, you’re in deep trouble. I suggest we find some way of healing your leg fast if you want to successfully take on any of your options.”

“Do you think Adam can learn how to control that power of his and have it heal me too? That could work perfectly, and—”

“We can’t count on Adam right now,” Jerry stated. “Besides, we’re not sure if that would even be possible for him to accomplish.”

“Unity has a way to heal up pretty fast…” Winona suggested. “A Concept that can heal all sorts of injuries a person can sustain. The catch is that it only works with the person’s own phantons, and they pretty much need to be awakened for the process to be effective. Also, if that person’s low on energy reserves or they wait too long, it won’t work. We would probably have to get Brandon to him tonight if we want to do that.”

Jerry nodded. “But obviously—”

“Yeah, I know. We’d basically be handing Brandon to Unity with that method.” Winona sighed, holding her head in frustration. “Man, I’m exhausted…”

“Are you okay, Winona?” Brandon asked. “You fought like hell as well!”

“Tired… but I didn’t take too many injuries, so my body should be okay. Awakened phantons do actually help accelerate our individual recovery, although it still takes time.”

“Let’s say, for example, your leg would heal in eight weeks—normally,” Jerry explained. “You might be able to get it working again in like… two weeks, maybe? That’s still too much time. We need an option on par with Unity’s Healing Concept—”

Charlotte suddenly sprang up from the floor, causing the three to almost jump out of their seats.

“Guys! Something’s happened!”

In the basement, the group was baffled at the sight before them.

The basement had returned to its original state, everything neat and orderly once more. Everything that was broken, such as the washer and dryer, had seemingly fixed themselves.

“What…? How?” Brandon asked while leaning on Jerry’s shoulder for support as his friend held onto him. 

“The forest Adam and I fought in had the same thing happen—it was like our confrontation never occurred. I let it be since we had no way of investigating properly with my power messed up.” Charlotte shifted back to her black-haired form while standing next to Winona.

“Some kind of Concept, obviously. But…” Jerry pondered. “W-Wait a second… Charlotte. Can I ask you something?”

“Yeah. I hope you ask me a lot of things,” Charlotte said. “Now that I can stay awake—hopefully—we can discuss what we know.”

“Right, yeah. Not right now. There’s an important detail that somehow just crossed my mind.”

“What is it?”

“How the—recently named—Azurasphere works. Even if it was a perfect sphere situated underneath Prelude, the size of the town… Adam’s right near the northeastern edge of the place. If this basement leads inside the barrier, going horizontally, it would take quite a few steps to reach the top of the thing. We’re nowhere deep enough as to where we could instantly be in there once we go through that wall.”

Charlotte rushed over to the cabinet without responding. Tossing aside the structure like it was weightless, even in her normal state, she placed her hand firmly on the wall. Winona was seemingly quite impressed with the feat while Brandon and Jerry were borderline terrified.

“…I see now! I… I think. It must be working kind of like the maze was. Once you pass this threshold, you’re automatically shifted to a section that’s within the barrier. The tunnel that we could see when there was a hole here, however…”

Winona placed her palm on a portion next to where Charlotte was touching. “…I get it. It’s meant to fake you out. It goes far enough to where you can’t see the end with the naked eye, but it’s there. Why is that even necessary? I don’t get it…?”

“You guys don’t see the problem here?” Jerry asked them. The girls looked back in curiosity while Brandon seemed completely oblivious. 

“W-What’s the problem? This place fixing itself up?”

“No, not that. Although that’s a huge concern, too…” Jerry took a deep breath. “Guys, why is this entrance even here inside Adam’s basement?”

As Jerry posed the question, the four did not notice that there was now a fifth person that had joined them. 


Next: Chapter 28

Previous: Chapter 26

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

My First Year Doing NaNoWriMo + Introduction of the Story!

Happy Halloween! Tomorrow, it’ll be November. Which means NaNoWriMo begins; my first year making an attempt at it. Feel free to add me on NaNoWriMo if you’re also participating!

The story will be called Across the Land. Set in the world of Aeteal (I’m gonna say right now that name is a pun, and you can already figure out how so by the first sentence. You can get it, I believe in you) and stars Colos, an elf who lives in the small village of Slathorne, part of the country of Ultiria. Colos seeks adventure, and would love to go on one. The issue is that he was born with a defect that causes mana within him to build up in his mana network (think of it like a bloodstream of mana) and unable to release magic effectively. His brothers, Igna and Uya, do not have this issue and are able to successfully do what they want. The three were found as babies by their adopted mother, Verrona, in the forest after mysterious lights appeared before her. The green revealed Colos, the red revealed Igna, and the blue revealed Uya. Verrona raised the three like her own children and made sure to keep them safe, as the encounter in the forest was, without a doubt, incredibly mysterious.

Luckily for Colos, his family is kind; the entire village is kind to him. They attempt to help Colos solve these issues to the best of their ability. In Aeteal, you need to have a competent grasp of magic to safely travel the lands; a license is typically granted to allow one to officially take on quests. With his weakened wind magic, Colos—at best—can maybe move a glass on the table closer to him or knock it over.

Everything changes one day. Igna and Uya visit home, returning from their classes at Five Elements Academy located in the capital of Ultiria, Nexen. Uya wishes to conduct an experiment in the old well of the town’s school using his water magic, and he needs Igna’s fire magic to assist. They have no issue inviting Colos to tag along, which he happily does. Wielding a mere Goat Steel Sword (forged from the metal horns goats continuously grow in Ultiria) he travels down below with his brothers. However, what the three discover will change everything; not only for them, but the entire world of Aeteal.

Aaaand that’s all I’ll say, for now. I’ll admit that, currently, 90% of this story is in my head, with nothing written aside from the notes. In order to complete this challenge, 50000 words are going to have to be written by the end of the month. Each day will need around 1500-2000 words if I want to keep on track. Since writing large amounts of words in a short time is my biggest issue in general, it’s going to be tough.

I’ll actually be streaming MORE on Twitch in order to help me take breaks/keep myself sane. Perhaps I may even do chill streams where I write (if that’s allowed, I’m not sure)? So be sure to follow me on there if you want. Aside from the potential writing, I play Wind Waker Randomizers, Fate/Grand Order, sometimes Pokemon, sometimes Minecraft, and other things.

This will act as a prologue to the overall series of Across the Land, which will continue either as a book series or a web novel; I have to see what would work the best, as I obviously still plan on continuing Phantonics. THAT, by the way, will have a very loose schedule this month. I may or may not post chapters at random times, so I apologize in advance for that.

Anyway, wish me luck with my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and good luck to everyone else who is participating!

Chapter 26

That night… was cold.

There was some light snowfall, but nothing too serious.

I had just gotten home after the walk I took after school.

Of course, nobody was there.

I went to lie down on my bed, checking my phone in the process.

Nothing, just like usual.

For about an hour or so, I stared at the ceiling.

That was all.

Eventually, I had enough.

I admitted to myself that the loneliness was too much.

Picking up my phone, I decided to text Faith.

It was just a simple hello, checking on how she was.

She had been busy practicing for the school musical that was in a few months.

It turned out that she got one of the main roles.

To be honest, it didn’t surprise me.

She was so charismatic, cheerful, and had a wonderful singing voice.

I was so happy she had risen so far above that scared little girl who sat alone on the swing set many years prior.

I was also envious.

There was no point in hiding it.

I felt as though I had nothing.

A few minutes passed, and she texted me back.

She seemed ecstatic to hear from me, giving me all kinds of details about how things were going.

The message ended with her asking how I had been.

That hit me.

It was the first time in a while that someone had asked me that.

I began to tear up, to be honest.

While that happened, another feeling welled up inside of me.

I felt like I was bothering her.

On one side, I was genuinely curious as to how she was.

But on the other… I really wanted someone to help me.

And I felt as though it would be a bother to her.

Yet, I pressed the keys on my screen, opening up to her.

The words that were formed were ones I would only let Faith read.

However, I regretted them as soon as I hit send, fearing what she would say in response.

It didn’t take too long for her to message me.

She showed great concern, as I expected her too.

Faith was too kind, after all.

It turned out she was already done with practice for the evening, and wanted to see me.

I figured she was tired, so I declined.

At that moment, something happened in my head.

To this day, I can’t quite figure out what exactly triggered it.

I simply wanted to die.

Before she could reply, I sent one last text.

I told her I was going to disappear.

So I did.

Throwing my phone in the trash, I walked out of my house.

Entering the woods, I began to pick up speed.

By the time I was enveloped in the shadows, I was sprinting.

It was time to get away from there.

To get away from life.

The snow had picked up at that point, making it harder to run as the ground was blanketed rather quickly.

I ended up tripping and falling.

It was cold, especially since I didn’t bother to put on a coat, or anything like that.

Yet, it felt nice.

It was here that I decided I would meet my fate.

I would let the bitter cold take me.

For some reason, however, I was in a rush.

Moving my arm, I noticed there was a thin sheet of ice beneath the snow.

Due to my fall, some of it had cracked apart.

A rather… sharp piece had caught my eye…

I felt it—there was no doubt about that.

But I didn’t care at that point.

I lay there as the blood rushed out of me, making the white snow underneath me turn red.

It was warm.

It felt nice.

Then, it started to get cold again.

I could feel it this time.

I could feel that the cold was going to get me.

It was so… calming…

Just a beautiful sleep in a beautiful void. That’s all I wanted.

And I was going to get it.

Somehow, someway, she found me.

Through the void, I could hear her voice screaming out to me.

It was… agonizing, to hear her sound like that.

I decided to curse whatever god led her to me. Cause she did not deserve to see this.

My hope was for the snow to cover me up.

That didn’t happen in time.

I had gained the energy to see her.

The tears falling from her face was a hell I never wanted to see.

Yet, I looked into her eyes.

I did not listen to whatever she was saying—I simply focused on her eyes.

They do say that the eyes are the gateway to the soul, or some crap like that, right?

Well, that may be correct.

I felt her entire being cast into me.

It revived the memories I had forgotten.

We had always been so close to each other, Faith and I.

Our adventures as kids were incredibly fun, despite how nonsensical they were.

Many times, we searched these very trees to find treasure.

What treasure? Beats me.

Yet, we searched for hours, knowing in our hearts that it was here.

Many of these quests Faith had apparently “learned” from fairies—that was the story we were following.

She was a big fan of fairies and believed that they existed to give us joy and wonder.

Joy and wonder…

What happened to those?

If fairies do exist, and for that purpose, why was it that they were no longer around?

I wasn’t mad about it—in fact, I was more curious.

Curiosity…

Yeah, I was curious.

That’s why I went on those adventures when I was young.

I was curious as to what would happen.

The joy and wonder part ended up being the adventure itself, and despite never finding anything too exciting, those times were so precious to me.

Yeah. Now, when I look back at that moment in the forest, things make sense.

For example, Faith had successfully gotten me out of there and gotten me help.

When I reached the hospital, my cut was long gone.

Not even a scar remained.

Everyone was baffled, as signs did indicate I suffered from major blood loss.

Along with the fact that I was soaked with my own blood.

I had recently figured it out.

Charlotte did not help me awaken the World Mirror.

It had already awakened inside of me.

Although incredibly subtle, it responded to my curiosity that had come back to life at that moment.

It did more than that, however.

Faith’s desire for me to survive…

The World Mirror reflected that as well.

I myself… also reflected it.

I did want to survive.

I desired to go on adventures again.

Everything… is just beginning.

I can’t let my body give up now…!

How… How do I get out of this?

I’m falling…?

Wait. I’m slowing down…?

Something… something’s touching my back.

Who is it…? I can’t turn around.

Everything’s pitch black anyway—I doubt I could see who it is.

Gentle hands… yet they fill me up with anxiety.

Does that make any sense…? No. Regardless of who or what it was, they’re pushing me—I’m now ascending.

As I soar further away from whatever had helped me, I swear I can hear a voice.

“Re… fuse…”

Refuse? Refuse what?

Whatever. At this point, nothing made sense. It’s like I just talked about with Charlotte. If things didn’t make sense… it didn’t matter.

We would get through it anyway.

…That’s right. I told Charlotte to trust me. And… I promised Brandon I wouldn’t die. 

So, as I fly closer toward the surface of whatever this “place” is, I prepare a question for myself.

With light entering my vision, I ask it.

“Body—physically, mentally, and emotionally… can you keep up with me?”

Adam’s unconscious body lit up in a white light—the World Mirror’s second wind kicking in at last. This startled Brandon, who was close to using his brand new Concept as a means to shock life back into his friend. With the ghostly aura came a deep breath as life slowly returned. 

“T-Thank god…” Brandon took a deep breath himself. “Is… Is he going to be okay now…!? Is everything good? He’s still out cold…”

Charlotte walked over and placed her hand over Adam’s forehead. “Hmm… I see.” She nodded. “Yeah, he should be out of danger. The World Mirror is prioritizing his life force as opposed to his body. As long as that remains, it can take its time restoring him physically.”

“How can you tell…?” Brandon asked anxiously. “D-Did the mirror talk to you or something?”

“No,” Charlotte chuckled. “It’s not like that. Instead, it… well, it can’t be put into words. That’s why…”

As they spoke, Jerry had finally caught up to the action—the mine now allowing a straightforward path. Feeling like his lungs were close to collapsing, he removed his goggles as Type:Roswell floating next to him tumbled onto the ground.

“W-What… in the… g-goddamn… h—” He could not help but cough violently. “Br-Brandon…! Concept…!? How!? Adam… I-Is he…?”

“H-He’s fine!” Brandon exhaled in relief. “It’s all fine now…”

Charlotte returned her gaze toward Adam while Winona walked up to Jerry to make sure he was okay. As her hair returned to back and her clothes reverted to normal attire, she was incredibly puzzled.

“Phantonics… As a science, I don’t think it’s possible to define the things that are happening. It shouldn’t center around the phanton—there’s a much broader scope that we need to look at.”

“Jerry,” Charlotte followed Winona’s footsteps over to the sweaty, exhausted young man. “I need you to work with me from now on. There are things we need to work toward. My ancient knowledge and your modern knowledge need to merge as one.”

“Huh…?” Jerry attempted to stand up straight. “I-I couldn’t agree more. But are you sure? Right now, I mean… aren’t you gonna pass out again. From the looks of this place… you had quite the battle, yeah?”

“That won’t be a problem,” Charlotte assured him. “This mine is now—”

She froze. Turning her head toward the end of the cavern, she could sense movement. By the time she registered the action, it was too late.

There was no immediate danger to the group. Instead, she felt a “snap” occur, followed by a surge of energy rush outside of the barrier. Charlotte understood that whatever was kept securely inside the mine had escaped. 

“…I’ll be right back!” 

Changing back into her spirit form, Charlotte soared through the stone ceiling, phasing through and reaching the surface within a second.

For the next hour, she would scout the entire area around Prelude—energy she took from the mine, allowing her to expand her search range around Nexus City. As the night took over Requiem, the ghost continued to survey any possible route the energy took, attempting to find any trace toward its new location.

Eventually, Charlotte accepted the fact that the strange power had vanished. However, this had a silver lining—she could be sure that her friends and the surrounding community would be safe for the time being. 

Returning to the mine, she recalled the peculiar shadow that had been with the enemy during their battle. Being able to sense the entirety of the spherical “barrier” that remained, Charlotte would be able to know if it was observing them—preventing it from obtaining any sort of information. 

“Damn, you were gone for a while!” Brandon yelled, attempting to stand—failing as his leg would not allow him to. He sat on the ground with Jerry by his side and Adam in front of them, seemingly sleeping peacefully. Energy continued to emit from his body, now with a more calming aura. 

“…It’s gone,” Charlotte said bluntly. “Whatever it is that Adam wished to rescue… it’s gone. I can’t even trace where it went. How did it—”

“That’s fine,” Jerry interrupted. “We can deal with that at another time. For now, the chaos that happened today has concluded. I heard everything from Brandon and Winona’s point of view. Let’s chill here while you tell me yours. It’s safe in here now, isn’t it?”

“It is, and I’ll make sure it stays that way!” Charlotte returned, once again, to her casual form. Sitting down, she took a quick glance around. “Where is Winona, actually?”

“Digging around the cave with her Concept,” Jerry shrugged. “She says there’s a method to her madness. I’m not gonna argue, especially with someone who still has that much energy after a huge fight.”

“She’s not inside of the mine right now… Oh—there she is. Nearby.” Charlotte sensed her friend’s location while her eyes were shut. “Okay… anyway. Let’s talk. While I was searching for that thing, I was brainstorming a bunch of stuff…” She paused. “Brainstorming…? Didn’t think I’d pick up a word like that.”

“Can you guys figure out what to do with my leg…?” Brandon hesitantly asked. “I-I need my leg to work so I can, you know… walk. That would be cool—walking.”

“I have a solution for that!” Charlotte’s eyes lit up. “I think it’ll work! You won’t have to go to one of those hospitals either!”

“T-That’s good,” Jerry nodded. “Normally, we’d get him to one. If they figure out what he’s been involved with, however…”

“Can’t we just lie?” Brandon questioned. “I could say a bear attacked me or… something?”

“You have an awakened Concept now, Brandon,” Jerry explained. “As long as you’re in Requiem, any hospital has the means to detect that.”

Charlotte nodded. “I figured. Well, want to hear my idea? Not just for Brandon’s leg—we’re gonna branch far past that!”

“Oh?” Jerry was growing curious. 

Raising her arms, Charlotte smirked. “I’m taking the spherical shape these guys had for their barrier and recreating it from scratch with my own Authority. We’ll develop our own base of operations and begin our pursuit of the truth! I…” She paused. “I don’t know whether I was a good person or a bad person… Right now, that doesn’t matter. I want to take back Requiem and make it a better place. We’ll start right here…!”

She pictured the structure of the area in her head as it lit up in a vibrant blue. Phantonic energy began to scatter and dance around the cavern walls—each particle seemingly having a life of its own. This calmed the young men who watched the phenomenon while simultaneously taken aback by the magic-like event unfolding.

“The crimson mine is no more…” Charlotte declared—a name forming in her mind. Although a peculiar one, the requian royal found it oddly fitting.

“Welcome to the Azurasphere!”


Next: Chapter 27

Previous: Chapter 25

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Phantonics’ 2nd Anniversary! Another Ramble About What I Think

(This is a few days early, but I can’t sleep right now. So, here you go.)

On October 27, 2018 I began posting my story, Phantonics, online. With weekly chapters (sometimes two a week), a few hiatuses, a renewed version that began this January, it’s been a bumpy ride. I’ve learned quite a lot from this experience.

I started writing this story in 2010, where I took a shot every few years or so at working at a brand new version. With a plot that’s been developing for over a decade and characters that I’ve had since I was little, I’ve really grown attached to this story. At one point, I added and removed so many details to the story that I legitimately thought “This is confusing. Maybe that’s the point?” Since then, I centered around the idea that the story was meant to take place in a unpredictable, chaotic world, and it was up to the cast to unravel all of the secrets it held. Although I still stick by this, it has led to a few issues, and mixing in other outside elements has caused chaos for me.

I love my characters. I love them to the point where I allow them to tell the story themselves. Although this is a lot of fun, and it leads to good dialogue, it can derail the story quite easily. Add this to the already confusing world, and you have a lot of situations unfold that are either tangents or completely unnecessary.

I’m pretty sure I discussed briefly in the last rant about the new plot surrounding Brandon and his “alter ego.” It was an idea I’ve had for a long time, and it leads into a lot of good things later on in the story, but I honestly believe working around that in this version messed me up. In the last version, I felt that him awakening to his Concept (Ability back then) was rather lackluster, and wanted to build it up this time. I think I dropped the ball with having all of this alter ego stuff be the thing that leads into it. The last version’s first glimpse of it was at the conclusion of the fight with him and Muraco versus Ivan, where he temporarily awakened it and one-shot the guy. Again, that was also lackluster in my eyes. Brandon is legitimately the oldest character I conceived along with Paul and Charlie, so I want to make sure I write him correctly. He also shows my own growth as a person and writer, as he was rather simple and kind of scummy back in the day. I don’t know, I think I need to take a step back and look at his character some more.

I’ve discussed before my conflict of wanting to continue the story as a web novel. This (along with other issues) has been a leading cause in the several hiatuses that have occurred. As I’m reviewing the last two years, I’m starting to see how the series works overall, and how the concept of a “schedule” for each chapter goes. I think releasing the story less frequently and in bigger “chunks” could be the best route. It gives me more time to plan out what I’m actually writing and allows for more flexibility in my schedule, especially since I’m considering streaming more seriously again.

I’m going to try and get this next chapter done for Tuesday (maybe the Patreon chapter as well), and then I may take another breather in November to decide on how I want to proceed. HOWEVER:

I’ll still be writing. This year, I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time with a brand new story. It’ll be a breath of fresh air, as I’ve only focused on Phantonics-related content at this point, and it may give me more of an idea on what I want to do with my writing overall when it comes to online content. I want to have the story be a huge prologue, which could lead into it becoming a web novel of its own; it all depends on how it goes. I’ll be posting more as we get into November, so stay tuned.

All I can say is don’t feel bad if you’re someone who can’t decide on what they want to do with their life. I’m twenty-six and am still trying to figure things out. Well, I’m decently confident in believing that writing/streaming is what I want to do, it’s just going about those that’s the conflict. I need time to plan everything more carefully.

Anyway, happy two years to Phantonics. Despite how hellish it is to write you, I still love ya. At this point, it’s guaranteed that the series will continue in some kind of form, so if you—the reader—enjoy the series, don’t worry. I’ll figure out a way to control the chaos. There’s a reason why Chaos Energy is one of the three great World Powers of the universe. What the hell does that mean? That was an out-of-context spoiler, so I hope you enjoyed that. (Hmm… World Powers… World Mirror… Hmm…)

Thanks for reading, as always.

-Kyle

Chapter 25

At the end of the mine lay a tiny room—light seemingly unable to enter. Within these shadows, a coffin was placed in the center. If one could view it, they would see that it was made of some sort of metal that had begun to rust. From the cracks that could be seen along its design, chaonic energy started to leak out.

“…What are you doing?” Jason asked, staring at the group’s leader, who had taken a seat in a chair next to Carl’s. “You’re using power directly from that?

“If Authority is lost over the mine, then this is the only way we can do so,” The man explained. 

Jason’s shadow let out a sigh. “What exactly do you plan on doing with said energy?”

“…Oh!” Carl’s face lit up as he peered through the mine with another shadow—they could only watch over what was currently happening. “You’re… gonna make one!? Yeah? Yeah? Yeah!?”

“That’s right,” The man leaned back in his chair, holding his head to concentrate. “This should be a good test.”

Inside the cavern, the energy formed into a giant red mass as it exited the room and into the wide-open area. Black hooves dug into the ground as four muscular and hairy legs emerged—the transformation beginning.

“…Does everyone here know the tale of the Blood Bull?” The man asked.

“Huh? Blood Bull?” Chris was confused at the name.

“I do,” Derek responded. “Wait… that’s what you’re trying to make?”

“Not ‘trying.’ I’m going to make it.” The man stated firmly as he sat up—eyes closed. “The Blood Bull… After witnessing its mate killed by humans, it lost its sanity. It, in turn, began to kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. That’s all the beast’s existence centered around. The tale goes that its own horns developed a dark, sinister power as they absorbed all of its victims’ blood. You could not escape it—the curse drew in people despite their fear. You could not fight it—the thing seemed immortal. It only died from its own exhaustion, so they say.”

“Why…!?” Jason questioned. “Just why are you going to throw that thing at them!?”

“Cause the good guy always wins.” The man responded. “Well, they always have the capability to as long as they are willing to make sacrifices to do so. That is the test I’m giving. Let’s see what they come up with.”

The Blood Bull walked at a brisk pace while it’s upper body continued to manifest. Sharp, crimson fur covered its enormous frame while its head began to emerge. The bull’s horns formed, completely drenched in a substance identical to blood. 

Just when the process seemed to be complete, something occurred, much like a glitch in a video game, the Blood Bull’s body to shift and distort in a red pixelated fashion.

“Interference…?” The man shook his head—the strain increasing in intensity.

“It’s because of their Authority, isn’t it?” Jason asked. “Even if you still have control over the coffin’s power, that cave is now—”

“No…” The man’s crimson eyes opened. “This is something else. Carl—” He glanced over to the man in the chair next to him. “Bring up the data in File IV for me, would you?”

“…Wait, wait, wait!” Carl shot up from his seat—a mixture of excitement and concern controlling his body. “If you’re asking about that file, then do you mean…!?”

“Yes, I do. Get to it.”

“Right, right… right.” Carl sat back down, typing furiously on the keyboard. 

Derek stared at the two men anxiously. “File IV…? What could that be?”

Despite the error, the Blood Bull—for the most part—had indeed appeared. Regardless of it being a creature of myth or reality, it was a fact that the man—the apparent “leader” of the group—had created a living, breathing monster.

Composed of chaons, it was naturally known as a “Chaonic Entity.”

And it had one goal: Kill.

Beginning to charge ahead, the Blood Bull was rather swift even with its massive size. The entire cave shook as its hooves continuously made contact with the ground. 

It was at this point where Charlotte, Winona, and Brandon could see the beast approaching them.

“W-W-What is that thing!?” Brandon asked in an immense panic.

“It came from the end of the mine… A place our Authority couldn’t seem to touch.” Charlotte explained, changing the sword in her hand into a bow. Creating an arrow, she quickly fired at the monster—the projectile making contact in less than a second. This did nothing, however.

“Winona! Move those two to safety!” Charlotte ordered, creating more arrows and firing them with more power. Just like the first one, these too proved ineffective. 

The Blood Bull prepared to charge at Charlotte while Winona used her sand to move Adam and Brandon away from the battle zone.

“Charlotte…!”

Charlotte intercepted the strike by changing to a gigantic axe—a crimson horn clashing against the sharp and bulky weapon. The force caused the earth surrounding her to shatter to pieces.

“This thing… What the hell is it?”

Charlotte noticed a peculiar sensation as she stared at the bull’s horns. It was a malice of some kind, one that neither human nor beast could generate normally. While she struggled, the ghost girl realized another oddity.

“It’s chaonic… but my power isn’t purifying it?”

Her axe began to crack as the Blood Bull swung its head toward the side, obliterating the weapon—the energy behind the impact launching Charlotte toward a large stalagmite.

Instead of phasing through, she maneuvered around the obstacle, regaining control over the direction she flew in. A moment later, the monster smashed through the stone, continuing its pursuit of her.

“It’s focused on me. Good! As long as I can keep it away from them!”

A ball and chain appeared in Charlotte’s hand. She swung the rattling weapon around a few times, building up momentum. Despite how heavy the object was, she still managed to fly with ease, evading the Blood Bull’s rampage.

While the already torn up cavern was ravaged, a storm of stone scattered around the area. A good distance away, Winona used her Concept to prevent the wild projectiles from causing further harm to the boys behind her. 

Brandon was speechless at the sight. Even if his leg happened to recover through some miracle, he lacked any sort of courage to face a demon of that caliber. 

From the dust, Charlotte launched the ball at the beast. The contact made with its left horn created a gale which blew the stone and sand around them away instantly. Even though she swung with all of her might, her weapon could not dent the creature.

With a roar, the Blood Bull whacked the ball off to the side, prepared to continue its rampage. As it did this, Charlotte motioned the chain in her hand upward.

“How about this!?”

The action caused the ball to swing around the creature as the chain wrapped around its neck in an attempt to strangle it.

At least, that’s what it seemed like Charlotte was plotting. As an Ouderkirk, she could take this “ordinary” ball and chain and cause much more damage. When the weapon had fully constricted the beast—the sphere resting on its horn—she clenched her fist.

The ball became a bomb—phantonic energy stored within was unleashed, producing a devastating blast, point-blank on the Blood Bull’s head.

“Wow…” Winona watched in wonderment at the power Charlotte held. 

“Holy shit…” Brandon said, completely astonished. “Did… that do it?”

A burst of crimson energy answered that question for him. The Blood Bull’s horns radiated magnificent power, which knocked the sky-blue explosion away. 

“What the—” Charlotte could feel the intensity of the beast’s power as it surged through her and the entire mine. She was certain now that this demon had the capability to take back the Authority that the enemy had lost. She could not allow that—the Authority had helped her keep her body stabilized without having to worry about absorbing phantons in the surrounding area, focusing all of them toward the battle. Without it, the fight would be nearly impossible for her to win.

Along with that, she was well aware of the Authority keeping Adam alive.

“I can’t let it fall back into their hands… If that happens, Adam will—”

“Charlotte.”

“Huh? Adam?”

She glanced in the direction the group had moved. Adam was quite the distance away, yet was somehow speaking to her. Even stranger, he was entirely unconscious at this point, with the World Mirror struggling to heal him in time.

“I guess Authority lets me speak to you like this,” Adam’s voice noted. “We both share it here, after all.”

“W-What’s up? I’m kind of busy here—” Charlotte—terrified—evaded the Blood Bull just in time, as it had crazily decided to leap up into the air and smash its head into the ceiling above in an attempt to strike her. The resulting avalanche of stone was nothing to the beast, shaking it off as it came back down. 

“I can still tell what’s going on… Damn, this stuff is freaky. I can’t even explain how this is happening, but it just is.”

“Heh…” Charlotte created several javelins, launching them one-by-one at the Blood Bull from varying directions to see if she could find a weak point. “These powers sure are strange, aren’t they?”

“Yeah. And I don’t think you can defeat that thing with your current strength,” Adam stated. “That thing’s a Chaonic Entity, I’m guessing. It looks like the Blood Bull from the requian myth titled—naturally—The Blood Bull.”

“Is it something similar to how that man was using his powers, based around stories of Requiem? I assume—Authority and all—you saw what happened there?”

“Sort of. Although… it’s sort of hazy since I was unconscious. I’m guessing?”

“You’re guessing a lot, aren’t you?” Charlotte couldn’t help but smirk in response.

“Yeah, remember my whole heroic speech a few minutes ago? With not knowing anything—anyway, back on topic. The Blood Bull is resilient, desiring to kill anything in its way to avenge its mate’s death. I figure that fact is transforming into power for this thing. In which case, you need to unleash everything on it if we have any hope of winning.”

“That… seems like a really nonsensical strategy,” Charlotte admitted. “Besides, my power right now… I’m not sure what the limit is.”

“…I think I have an idea. You’ll probably hate this one even more, but…”

Charlotte managed to catch her breath while the dust gave her temporary cover from the Blood Bull’s constant attacks. “What is it…?”

“You take all of the Authority—one hundred percent of it. The mine will be all yours. Use the power it has and destroy the hell out of this thing.”

“You’re right… That plan is horrible.” Charlotte shook her head. “You need Authority right now! If you lose it, then you’ll—”

“I’m gonna be honest with you…” Adam interrupted. Charlotte flew around close enough to where she could see the three clearly. He had regained consciousness—Brandon and Winona were unaware of this—and looked at her with only his right eye open. “Right now, even after everything that I said… I still feel like I wouldn’t mind dying. Especially if it was to make sure you guys were safe… I-It sucks—feeling this way… However, knowing how much everyone would suffer if I were gone… I-I won’t. I can’t… put them through that experience again…”

It seemed as though Adam was about to cry. As she noticed this, Charlotte began soaring around in random directions while the beast continued its desire to kill, smashing multiple projectiles that she threw at it.  

“Adam…”

“So, I have to ask… Do you trust me?”

“Huh? Trust?”

“Yeah. Do you trust that I’ll survive, even without Authority?”

“I-I mean… the World Mirror is restoring your body as we speak. But I’m not sure if the speed of the process is—”

The Blood Bull managed to close the distance between itself and Charlotte. As it prepared to smash its head into her, multiple stone spikes ascended from the ground below, piercing the beast multiple times.

“This is…!?” Charlotte looked over—Winona with her hand planted firmly on the ground.

“I… I said I’d be back up, remember…?” 

Even though Winona had managed to break through the demon’s fur, the Blood Bull thrashed around, breaking free with ease. The small wounds received lit up with chaonic energy as they closed swiftly. 

“Heh… I prepared them to be wicked sharp, but I also took into account the vibrations it caused while stomping around. I got a basic timing down on how it moves its legs, and at what point the belly is most exposed.” Winona’s body began to shake. “I-Is this my limit…?”

“…You’ll just have to trust me,” Adam said. “We can’t let anything happen to them, yeah?”

“I…” Charlotte hesitated in her response. At this moment, the Blood Bull changed targets, now aiming for Winona and—in turn—Adam and Brandon.

Whether she used a projectile or simply blitzed the beast with her speed, Charlotte knew she was not fast enough. Her mind, thankfully, was now quick to make a decision. 

“I trust you!”

The Authority was transferred to her without delay—Adam had no clue how he did it, yet it happened. As pain overtook him, the last thing that reflected in his eye was nothing but a vibrant azure.

Charlotte had created chains—not from her person but directly from the cavern’s floor and walls. They quickly grabbed onto the Blood Bull, stopping its mighty charge a few feet from Winona. 

The demon roared in frustration as the chains were firmly constricting its movement. Winona felt like she was about to pass out—however, she managed to avoid collapsing.

Charlotte landed in front of her, becoming a wall that divided Winona and the Blood Bull. With a tiny motion of her finger, Charlotte caused the chains to pull the demon upward toward the stone ceiling.

“The stomach, huh?” Forming a bow and a single arrow, Charlotte aimed upward as massive amounts of energy concentrated around the tip. She looked back toward Winona and gave a warm smile. “Giving me advice just like then, I see.”

Charlotte groaned as she stared at the assignment on the desk in front of her. It was a large study hall where kids were either working on homework, reading, or even talking amongst themselves—the teacher appointed to watch over the room did not seem to care what they did. 

“I don’t get this geometry stuff… Why did I bother going undercover here, again…?” She mumbled softly to herself. 

Although sitting a distance away from other students, one girl decided to walk up toward her, sitting in the seat in front of her. 

“Shapes can be complicated, can’t they?”

“Huh?” Charlotte glanced up at her. “Y-Yeah, I guess they can be…”

“I hope I’m not bothering you… I saw you struggling and thought you could use some help?”

“I… suppose. It’s not that big of a deal, though.”

“Well, I’m pretty good at geometry—had to study up on it quite a bit for my own… stuff, so…”

“…Do you know which side of this thing I’m supposed to measure first? And what is the point in doing these ‘proof’ things to begin with?”

“Ah, yeah. Those are silly. But I can help you—wait. I know you just moved here, but we only have a few months left before the end of the year. You don’t know about proofs yet!? Ya didn’t learn them at your old place!?”

“Eh… n-no, not really,” Charlotte chuckled. “I guess my old school wasn’t caught up with the times, or something?” 

“Well, that’s fine,” Winona assured. “You’re Charlotte, right?”

“Yeah…” Charlotte nodded. “You’re… Winona, if I remember correctly?”

“Mhmm!” Winona replied cheerfully. “Now, let’s take on these shapes, shall we?”

“You were one of the first people to speak to me on their own volition…” Charlotte noted. “Wish I could have told you all that geometry help was pointless, but—”

“It wasn’t pointless!” Winona interrupted. “I had fun teaching you! I-I…” She took a deep breath to calm herself. “…Now that I know the truth, y-you’re not going to leave us, are you…?”

With a smirk, Charlotte casually released the arrow from her grasp as it ascended directly into the Blood Bull’s gut. An explosive force began tearing through the creature—the entry point the epicenter of the energy. With the help of the chains, the beast was being ripped apart, piece by piece. 

“There. It seems like I can purify it now. Had to peel the fella’ open to get to all of the good stuff.” Charlotte paused, shaking her head. “That was a weird way of speaking… Anyway, I’ll absorb it into the mine so I can use it as a power source—should help us quite a bit. And as for your question…” She walked over and leaned in front of Winona.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

Winona could not help but stare into Charlotte’s eyes—their usual nonchalant energy was masked by a more firm and powerful glimmer. Although the young ghost woman was willing to return the gaze, another matter at hand interrupted the moment.

“Adam! Hey, Adam! Charlotte did it! We… did…” Brandon’s cheer faded quickly upon realizing the current situation. 

Adam was no longer breathing.


Next: Chapter 26

Previous: Chapter 24

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 24

“So that’s what’s going on…” Winona stared at the blue beast in front of her, which had remained stationary for a few minutes as Adam had explained the situation to her. “W-What should we do…? We’ve gotta change Charlotte back!”

“I’d love to,” Adam sighed as his body continued in its attempt to heal. “But I can’t snap my fingers and make things like that happen. At least, I don’t… think so? Charlotte—return to normal!” 

His fingers would not allow this simple action. The flick Adam wanted to do failed as blood spewed from the contact point, flying all over the place. 

“Gah! Wh-What the—”

Blood also began to gush out of his mouth as he started to shake, collapsing onto the ground in a violent convulsion filled with a mix of heavy coughing and agonizing screams. 

“A-Adam…?” Winona was panicking at this point. She tried to reach down toward him but could not, as Charlotte had started to thrash around once more. Her focus had to remain on the sand within the bestial body if she hoped to keep her friend in place. This caused Winona to remain practically frozen in place except for her hands, struggling to maintain the situation.

“What am I going to do…? I’m going to lose both Adam and Charlotte if I don’t think of something! I’m… I’m at my limit right now. I…”

To Winona’s complete dismay, Charlotte began preparing a new method of attack. The slime that had surrounded her ascended, detaching itself from her body. It began to light up as it shifted from the gelatinous substance to pure phantonic energy. A humongous sphere had taken shape, and it was obvious what was going to happen next.

“If she launches that thing at us… we’re done for!” Winona motioned her left arm to the best of her ability, causing tiny amounts of sand to rise toward the sphere. “Even if I release the sand weighing her down, it won’t be enough…!”

Winona also had to consider the possibility of Charlotte retaliating the moment focus was taken off of her body. In her current state, it seemed like there were no options left for her.

“I’ve got to get Adam out of the way, at least!” She waved her arm, directing the sand in a new direction back down toward the bloody young man. “Can I get him out of the way fast enough…?”

Brandon, clad in fierce electricity, dashed through the cavern at remarkable speed. Although the mine was no longer swapping sections around, he would be quick enough to avoid getting caught in an endless loop.

“This is… a Concept, yeah!? This feeling is… freaking awesome!”

Brandon was going so fast, in fact, that he was soon to reach a wall where the path takes a sharp turn to the left. Normally, one would not encounter a turn in these caverns. However, he would—the obstacle being his first challenge as a Conceptor.

Brandon could see the stone coming toward him fast with the light from his electricity and the torches. What would occur next would all happen within a single moment. 

“Crap, crap, crap!”

Brandon could feel the surge of electricity running through his entire body. This included his brain and nerves, as they began responding even before he was fully aware of what he was about to run into. His feet planted into the ground as lightning tore through the hard stone—Brandon shifting his body toward the left in an attempt to turn in time.

He slowed down, but could not stop in time. His body slammed against the wall, smashing it to pieces. 

However, Brandon barely felt anything.

“What the…?” 

Adjusting his footing, Brandon took off once more, quickly regaining his speed as he continued to dash forward.

“If I remember correctly, awakened phantons help keep your body more durable, or something. Man, this shit’s cool!”

Shaking his head, Brandon returned his concentration to the matter at hand— lightning scattering and dancing throughout the cave with each step he took. 

“I’ve gotta save him…! For sure, this time!”

The mine began to open up around him as Brandon entered a new section away from the torch-filled passage. Far off in the distance, he noticed a bright light that seemed to be growing in intensity. 

“That’s…!” 

Gritting his teeth, Brandon picked up the pace as electricity crackled around him. He soared through the rocky terrain like an actual lightning bolt, aiming directly where Adam and the others were located. 

The massive azure sphere was in plain view now as it began to descend toward Winona and his blood-soaked friend. In a split second, he understood what he had to do.

“I’m not letting that thing go off!”

Leaping into the air, he instinctively wound his leg around his body. Like kicking a soccer ball, he struck the side of the sphere in an instant—a frenzy of blue scattering at the source of impact.

“Wha—” By the time Winona reacted, the force of the collision knocked her off her feet, quickly spinning her body around to land back on them safely. “What is—”

She could not see what was interrupting Charlotte’s attack—the scene was far too bright. Adam, who had managed to calm himself down, glanced upward as his right eye viewed the phenomenon. Through his silvery-white eyes, he managed to make out a person’s silhouette, whom he recognized easily.

“B-Brandon…?”

“Get this shit…” Brandon buckled his knees, building up enough force to knock the sphere off of its projected path and toward the right of its targets. “OUTTA HERE…!

The attack collided with the ground and began to skid through the cave, shredding the solid stone to pieces as its energy dispersed—an explosion releasing its remaining power hundreds of meters away from them. In the same moment, Brandon landed much like a superhero would—something he managed to calculate doing.

“Heh…” Knowing what he had just accomplished, Brandon stood up with an incredibly conceited expression on his face. “It’s gonna be okay. Cause the Shepherd has arri—”

He collapsed onto the ground, unaware that he had broken his leg upon kicking the sphere away. “Guh!” 

“Brandon…!? What are you doing here—are you okay!?” Winona rushed to his side, seemingly unaffected by the small amounts of electricity emitting from him.

“Gah… N-No, I’m not okay! M-My leg…!”

“You managed to knock Charlotte’s attack away… But going up against pure phantons like that was stupid! You’re lucky you hit it from the side, or else that wouldn’t have worked!”

“B-But I did knock it out of the way… Ain’t that impressive? Please…?” It looked as though Brandon was about to cry. “Please, don’t tell me I broke my leg for noth—” His eyes slowly widened. “Wait… did you say ‘Charlotte’!?”

He glanced to his right, quickly analyzing the now idle creature.

“…W-What the fuck is that—that’s not Charlotte!?” Brandon began crawling frantically away from the beast as he slipped on Adam’s blood, almost causing him to land on top of his friend. “…Huh…? Adam…?”

“I guess I have to be the one to thank you…” Adam chuckled, painfully shuffling his body so he could talk to Brandon directly. “For once, you were pretty cool… even if you did bust a leg to accomplish it…”

“D-Dude…” Brandon shook his head, violently. “Forget my leg! What happened!? You kept pushing yourself, didn’t you!?”

“I sure did—” Adam coughed—it took him a second to resume speaking. “We’re… both not cool, to be honest. So, we have to make sacrifices to pull off shit like this.” 

“…That p-power’s gonna heal you, yeah…?” Brandon questioned, terrified of the state Adam was in. 

“I’m not sure at this point…” The bloody young man started to sit up.

“Hey! You can’t move in your condition!” Brandon attempted to keep Adam in place. Winona, glancing back at Charlotte, leaned down next to the two.

“Adam, there’s nothing you can do right now. While she’s not moving, I need to get you two out of here! I…” She took another look at the beast, now beginning to whimper. “I can’t save all of us…”

“That’s okay, Win…” Adam patted her on the back as he sprung to his feet. “You did plenty. Let me finish this…”

“H-How…” Brandon was in disbelief at what he was witnessing. “How are you able to move, dude!?”

Adam, stop! You—” Winona attempted to grab Adam’s arm, only for her grip to slip off due to the blood that coated him. 

“My World Mirror can’t do much right now… The Authority I somehow have over this place is the only thing helping me move…” Adam began to explain. “She shares the same Authority with me. I’m the only one who can reach her.”

“Does…” Brandon slammed his hands on the ground in frustration. “Does that even make sense!? Winona, does that make any sense!?”

“I’ll leave Charlotte to you…” Winona said—the words leaving her mouth against her will. 

These words cause both herself and Adam to flinch upon hearing them.

“W-What…?” Winona’s body began to shake. “I… I didn’t…”

“No need to worry, Win. I’ve got this.” Adam began to step forward. Brandon attempted to stop him but could not, as he was incredibly confused.

“…What just happened? That wasn’t a natural exchange. At all.”

“W-What do you mean?” Winona asked him.

“You went from a hundred to zero! Ya can’t be all ‘No, don’t, stay!’ to ‘Alright, go.’ just like that! Freaking ‘Oh, I’m the only one who can reach her, let me handle this.’ isn’t a good response to have your whole attitude take a one-eighty—you’re too smart for that shit!”

 “I-I…”

Before Winona could respond, a burst of blue energy erupted in front of them—the force knocking them onto their backs. Mysteriously, Adam—who was closer to the event—remained in place.

Winona swiftly regained her composure while Brandon began to whine in response to everything occurring. 

“My sand…!?”

The earth that Winona had manipulated and transferred directly inside Charlotte’s body had been torn apart—a sandstorm now engulfing their vision. Adam, using his eyes, managed to keep his sight, not even flinching. 

He could see Charlotte’s body begin to transform, decreasing in size. It was evident that she was returning to her normal, human-shaped self. However, with the dust beginning to clear, Adam could see what her new form looked like.

Although she was a white-haired human once more—rather, a ghost—Charlotte was now clad in several dark-blue scales that formed randomly on her skin. They covered her enough that she would not be nude, something Adam was thankful for, as he could not be sure how Brandon would respond to seeing his first naked woman in this situation.

Charlotte was leaning down, growling like a wild animal. Her teeth appeared razor-sharp like one would have, as well. Adam shook his head at the sight before him.

“Even without the Authority, it’s pretty damn easy to tell now…” He let out a small sigh. “You’re afraid, aren’t you?”

She had her attention entirely on Adam now, remaining in place as she hissed at him. 

“This appearance…” Adam shook his head. “Charlotte. Are you able to talk in that state? If you can, then I want you to tell me how you’re feeling…”

Charlotte responded with a sudden, sharp, and agonizing shriek—one that shook the very souls of Adam, Brandon, and Winona. Thankfully, in this form, eardrums remained intact. Even if Adam could regenerate them, his friends behind him would not be as lucky.

“Gah…!” Winona held her head, trying to shake away the pain surging through her body. “C-Charlotte…!?”

“This…” Brandon was unsure of how to process how he felt as he heard Charlotte’s screams. “I…” He backed up, still crawling around on the ground.

Adam came to the realization. Whatever Charlotte was experiencing was something they currently could not deal with. They had no answers to what was causing her such grief. He knew that it was even worse, as she did not know why she experienced such anguish herself.

“Well, if that’s the case, then…”

He leaned down so he could be at eye-level with her as he began to speak.

“You listening to me? I’m not one to walk on eggshells—not anymore. If I think something or feel a certain way, I speak up. If… If everyone was honest with each other—didn’t hesitate or hold back on how they’re feeling, I feel like the world would be a much better place. Granted, it’s tough. Overcoming that barrier… Especially when you know you’re gonna have to deal with shit once you open your mouth. But… it’ll be done and over with. By not getting it out of the way—letting it muster up inside you… it just ruins you. I never said anything, and I just kept my opinion to myself as I watched everything crumble around me. That’s how I got to that point… Anyway. I would tell you to vent all of your frustrations right here and now, but there are two problems with that. One: You don’t even know what the problem is, yeah? That hole in your memory is gonna be a hassle to deal with… Two: There… are things that are really, really difficult to open up about. With how you’re reacting to pure emotions of whatever it is… I can tell. If you do figure it out, it’ll be hard to talk about…”

Charlotte had been staring at Adam in silence as he spoke. Her eyes slowly had vitality return to them, and she began to look more aware of what was happening. The scales were starting to crumble away, causing Adam to motion back at Winona.

“H-Hey! Help me out here!”

“…O-Oh! Okay!” Winona noticed the panic in Adam’s voice as she stood up, rushing over to him. “What… do you ne—”

“Cover her. With something.” Adam was incredibly blunt in his request.

Winona immediately motioned sand around her, forming a cloak-like object. Adam grabbed onto it—noting that it actually seemed quite soft—and wrapped it around Charlotte’s body.   

Brandon attempted to chuckle lightheartedly. “S-Such a gentleman…” He said in a sarcastic tone. 

“You’re lucky I know how you operate, or I’d slug you for that remark.” Adam sighed while keeping his focus on the girl in front of him.

“Charlotte… are you okay?” Winona asked, now sitting next to her.

The ghost girl had grabbed firmly onto the cloak—the comfort helping her regain composure. “Y-Yeah… I… I’m so—”

“Don’t apologize for something that’s not your fault.” Adam glanced downward. “It’s my bad… I rushed in here in the first place, and look at what happened.” He glanced at Winona. “Sorry. Looks like I needed your help, after all. I can’t create stuff out of nowhere—at least I think I can’t. And I wanted to make sure that Charlotte…”

“I don’t even know why I let you go like that…” Winona remarked. “It’s not like me to let something like that happen. You’re injured, and I let you walk right up to her while she was like that…”

“W-Why did I lash out…?” Charlotte began to raise her voice. Although not in tears, she sounded quite pained toward the circumstances. “I-I don’t even know—”

“Man!” Brandon was on his foot now as he skipped over toward the others. “Confusing stuff keeps on adding up, doesn’t it! I had a lot go down before I came in here and saved the day, and now—” He tripped—his face planting right into the stone ground. “GHH…!”

“I think he was trying to add himself into the convo so he could help us help you out…?” Adam shrugged. “And then he fell—good thing you have a Concept now, or else that could have really messed up your face…” He pulled on Brandon’s head, raising it to confirm its condition. “Yeah, it’s fine. As fine as you can be, at least.”

“Y-You guys are all over the place, aren’t you…?” Charlotte questioned, beginning to calm down. 

“We sure are—that actually helps lead to the conclusion of what I wanted to say. Ahem…” Adam cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and closed his eyes. Opening them a moment later, a gentle smile formed on his face.

“The world is confusing. It can be so goddamn random at times, and usually not for the best. So, you’re lucky you associated with me—with us. We can handle that kind of thing. Even if it seems like we can’t… we’ll flip everything upside down until we’re able to. Whatever happens in the future, we’ll be there to solve it together.”

Charlotte was taken aback by Adam’s words. While investigating him and learning about his circumstance before confronting him, she certainly never expected such an attitude to be a part of who he was.

“Mhmm, mhmm!” Winona nodded her head, grinning from ear to ear.

“So freaking cheesy…” Brandon snickered. “But… good. You finally understand, don’t ya? We’ve gotta stick together—that’s the most important part. When dealing with anything.”

Charlotte giggled. “Well, you guys are the ones who live in this era. If that’s how we do things nowadays, then I’ll just have to trust you.”

Winona’s smile quickly faded. “Right… what Adam talked about. Not only is she an Ouderkirk, she’s…”

“…W-Wait a minute!” Charlotte sprang up, taking care of keeping herself covered. “Winona!? H-How are—how did you…!?”

“You’re just now reacting to her…?” Adam shook his head. “Well, you’re going through a lot, so I guess it’s natural.”

Winona placed her hands on Charlotte’s shoulders. “It’s okay. Adam told me. I-If there’s anything I can do to help out… then I will!”

“I don’t want you getting in danger, though!” Charlotte exclaimed. “I’m aware of how Unity operates, and—”

“Don’t worry,” Winona’s face was stern. “I won’t let anything happen to me. Or you. I swear…!”

“W-Well… all right.” Charlotte was hesitant in agreeing, yet managed to do so.

“I didn’t know they knew each other…?” Brandon bumped Adam with his elbow. “How long has that been a th—”

“GAH!” An astronomical amount of pain suddenly tore through Adam’s body, knocking him over onto his side. 

“A-Adam!?” Brandon crawled over and grabbed onto his friend. “That pain’s catching up to you, isn’t it!?”

“No…” Charlotte shook her head, walking past Winona and glaring down toward the end of the mine. “It’s a reaction from our Authority being meddled with! Something’s coming… from that area…!?”

“I’m… gonna assume that the reaction hurts like hell for him cause his body’s all messed up? Wait, what’s this ‘Authority’ thing you mentioned?” Brandon looked nervously up at the two women.

“I’ll tell you later, Brandon,” Winona tapped her foot on the ground. “I can feel it too… What is that…?”

Charlotte grabbed hold of her cloak. “Winona, thank you for making this for me. I’m okay now, so if you don’t mind, I’m gonna use the phantons you put into this thing…!”

“Huh? H-How?” Winona turned to see the sand cloak light up, transforming swiftly into her blue armor. 

“Well, like that. Cool…! I can change the structure of something phantonic, even if you used actual earth to create it?”

“I-I don’t know if that’s what just happened…?” Winona grew flustered. “I-I’m not sure if Ouderkirks are capable of something of that nature, although I can’t be sure—and not to undermine you, o-of course!”

“Winona…” Charlotte glanced at her. “Are you able to fight in your condition? Adam can’t, and Brandon’s leg—along with his inexperience with his Concept—make it difficult for him to help.”

“You know I have a Concept now!? How the hell do you know—did you see me pull off that cool move!?”

“This Authority…” Charlotte looked down at Adam. “It’s… interesting, to say the least. I want to learn more about it. But, for now…!” She returned focus to Winona, waiting for an answer.

“I’ll… I’ll still fight!” Winona assured her, swinging her arms around excitedly. “Even if it’s support, I’ll help you out!”

“Good…” Charlotte breathed in slowly, exhaling as she formed a blade in her hand. “Cause after everything that’s happened down here, I have no clue what’s going to happen next!”


Next: Chapter 25

Previous: Chapter 23

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 23


“…What the hell was that about?”

Brandon sat motionless on the couch. His head had begun to feel better, yet he now felt somewhat exhausted.

“Why… did I forget about that memory with Emma…? Wait. Why did I even recall it in the first place?” He rubbed his left temple while pondering the situation. “Was someone talking to me before I remembered it…? Wait, did Emma talk to me?” 

Brandon glanced around Adam’s living room. Not a soul was around, and the entire house was silent. He could not hear anything occurring inside the mine—at least nearby.

“Emma’s not around… But wait. Okay—” His brain started to scramble, having a hard time processing what had just occurred. “Okay… Okay! I remembered a memory recently, where I was talking to Emma. In said memory, we learned that I seem to forget each instance when we’re alone! Okay! Then… Why did I suddenly recall that one? When we happened to discuss the memory issue? Seems like someone planned it out…”

Brandon shook his head in frustration. “I was for sure talking to someone… I can’t remember who! Based on the info learned in the memory, you would think Emma was the one talking to me!” He took out his phone and glanced at his call history. “Nope… nothing. I wonder if that could do it?”

Standing up—grabbing his now empty carton of apple juice—Brandon walked into the kitchen. He tossed it in the nearby trash bin and began to pace around. 

“Nope… Nope… Nope… Nope! I can’t figure it out!”

Brandon jumped as the front door swung wide open. A few seconds later, a giant metal object appeared as it was pushed inside. It seemed to be a treasure chest of some kind, decorated with an array of blue jewels. Jerry leaned on it, panting uncontrollably. 

“I-I got it in here…! Finally…! Th-This is the heaviest thing I’ve ever…” 

He looked over at Brandon, who was leaning up against the kitchen counter.

“Y-You’re okay…? Are you…? F-For real…!?”

“I’m…” Brandon shook his head. “What is that thing?”

“It has a bunch of good stuff in it! We’re gonna turn this whole situation around with the power of Phantonics!”

“Meaning…?” Brandon walked over and leaned over, analyzing the chest. 

“I’ll show you…” Jerry pressed his finger against the lock of the chest, which was a black circular shape. 

“PRINT RECOGNIZED. UNLOCKING CONTENTS…”

“It spoke!?” Brandon leaped back in terror at the high-pitched robotic voice that exited the chest. 

“You know technology can do that… right? I-It’s 2012, we have the means to make things talk, even outside of Phantonics… You know that, right, Brandon?”

“S-Shut up! It scared me!”

The jewels lit up in a bright light, while the crack that divided the chest also began to glow. A second later, it opened automatically—navy-colored steam exited as it did. Brandon choked, holding his breath as it filled the room.

“Gah! It smells like ass!”

“That’s the smell of science,” Jerry grinned. “And the smell of victory, which will soon be in our grasps!”

“Aren’t science and victory good things? Shouldn’t they smell like nice ass instead!?”

“What… does nice ass smell like…?” Jerry asked, incredibly curious.

“Well, let’s see…” Brandon began pondering. “Okay. Most ass, normally, would not smell nice. The only time it would probably fall under the ‘nice’ category would be after a shower or something. Then once we’re in that territory, we’d—”

“I didn’t think you’d take that question seriously…” Jerry sighed. “On a serious note, are you okay?”

“…Well, not really,” Brandon admitted. “I remembered something, and I can’t figure out the details behind it.”

“Remembered? What do you mean?” Jerry asked while looking inside the chest.

“A memory that happened to tell me about my lack of memories. Uh…” Brandon began to fidget. “I… seem to forget any instance when Emma and I are alone. She seemed to figure it out and talked to me about it—recently. Just now, I recalled that memory. But… I don’t get it. I don’t get how I can figure this shit out.”

“Hmm…” Jerry picked up a remote-like device, pressing a few of the buttons. “That’s intriguing… Sucky, but intriguing.”

“Do you have any ideas?”

“I could easily come up with several hypotheses right now if I wanted to,” Jerry responded. “But, there’s no need to.”

“I… I guess we do have more important things to focus on, don’t we?” Brandon chuckled, yet stopped as Jerry glared at him.

“That’s not what I meant. Although, yes, we need to get down there A.S.A.P., I merely meant that you don’t need to rush thinking about it.”

“…You’re gonna have to be more specific.” Brandon scratched his head.

“Well,” Jerry pulled out a tablet and began to boot it up as he continued to speak. “I’ve helped you study for years, and what I’ve learned is… you’re not stupid. At all. You just need time to think things over, and you can figure it out.”

“Uh…” Brandon struggled to respond to Jerry’s sudden honesty.

“That’s part of it. The other part—one I apply to the rest of the world, is… why rush it? The world itself is the definition of confusing. It’s hell not to know all the answers. Yet, it would be rather boring if everything was uncovered right away. Science, in fact, would be useless. There would be no thrill in trying to solve all the mysteries the universe has to offer.”

“But, what does—”

“I’m getting to it, Brandon. You have to let me ramble first.” Jerry cleared his throat. “When we focus on your predicament, your ‘hell’ is the pain and emotion you feel. Not being able to recall memories of a loved one, and how that in itself hurts them as well.”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Brandon began to shout. “There’s a certain word you used that is totally—”

“You always try to finish things as quickly as possible,” Jerry continued, interrupting him. “Which causes you to short circuit and stress out. For this matter, at the current time, you’re way in over your head. Trying to solve this would wear you down. Much like an experiment that takes time to complete, you need to give yourself time.”

“…It’s so frustrating, though.”

“Exactly. Not knowing something can be agonizing. That’s why you keep going so that one day, you’ll figure it out. With what we’re about to do, we quite literally need to survive. For the sake of solving this mystery of yours, we must live to see another day. We’ll help you figure it out. Right now, hold that desire in your heart while we push forward.”

“Yeah…” Brandon clenched his fist. “What are we doing…!? We’ve gotta get down there and help Adam! For sure, this time!”

“Right. Well, as long as you’re okay…” Jerry moved his hands around inside the chest—Brandon could not see what he was grabbing. “I’m sure we can use this to help out!”

Jerry revealed that his fingers now had strange metal clips latched onto them. It seemed as though they were too solid for them to bend, yet they still could. Using his palms, he picked up large rectangular goggles and attached them to his head. They had earpieces that helped them fit perfectly.

“W-What the hell is that going to do?” Brandon stared in confusion. 

“This is some equipment my dad has. It’s rather outdated, believe it or not. But, it gives us—ones without Concepts—a chance.”

Tapping the side of the goggles, a low buzzing noise was emitted. The lens flared up with blue light, while Brandon swore he saw azure sparks from Jerry’s fingertips.

“There. Puppetmaster Mark II is good to go!” He waved his hand toward the chest, which began to shake violently.

“Is… Is a puppet gonna come out of there…? They freak me the hell out, dude!” Brandon raised his guard, preparing for the worst.

“That’s an option. But, luckily for you, we’re not exactly using anything like that. The program behind this tech is named ‘Puppetmaster.’ It allows one to sync up with various devices. Many of the earlier Marks were only used for simple tasks, such as reconnaissance. However, we can use it for combat if we activate this…!

What emerged from the chest was a saucer-shaped object, floating around like an alien was piloting—a shining silver in color with a black center on each side. 

Although Brandon questioned how something that looked like a toy could be used to fight, he started to feel a particular feeling well up inside of him. Gazing at the device hovering above him, for a reason completely unknown to him, he felt calm. It was another thing he added to the rapidly growing list of things he could not understand.

“Brandon?” Jerry poked his friend, snapping him back to reality.

“Oh! Uh…” Brandon chuckled, shaking his body to pump himself up. “Nothing! What are you gonna do with this thing? I’m ready to go!”

“Let’s get downstairs, and I’ll show you.” Jerry motioned Brandon to follow him. With the same gesture, the saucer began to do the same.

“This is strange…” Jerry tapped on his goggles. “These things let me see the flow of phantons, chaons—much like the app I was using on my phone. The barrier is… fading?” 

Brandon’s eyes lit up—almost dashing forward a second time, but stopped himself before the same incident occurred. “W-Well, why? Are Adam and Charlotte, okay? Did they… destroy it, or something?”

“I have no clue whatsoever, Brandon,” Jerry sighed. “This tech doesn’t make me clairvoyant. I can’t see what’s happening in there. We’ve gotta bust in, first.”

“It’s still up, huh?” Brandon looked in front of him. The barrier could no longer be seen—much as it was before the entire event beginning. Yet, occasionally, tiny crimson sparks were visible to the naked eye. 

“We’re still going to need a decent amount of power to bust through,” Jerry stated. “I can’t duplicate Charlotte’s power and slash the thing apart. However…” His hand ascended—the saucer following his movements. Brandon stood back, knowing that his friend was about to perform a ridiculously dangerous act.

“Type:Roswell, adjust ninety degrees!”

The device changed the angle it was facing—one of the sides with the black center now facing directly toward the barrier.

“Roswell, huh…?” Brandon sighed. “I had a feeling it was based on alien shit. But, you know, we know people named Roswell, too! Did you ask them if you could use their name! Roswell—the alien stuff—is from America, yeah? Requiem has the Roswells—the family. I’d like to think that—”

“Brandon…” Jerry smirked. “There’s a lot I could tell you about this topic, actually. But, not right now. We’ve got a job to do.”

“A job… huh?” 

Brandon went silent as Jerry continued to prepare the device.

“Phantonic output charge set—one hundred percent! Preparing charge…!”

Azure-colored energy began gathering near the black circle on the side facing the barrier—a sound akin to a cricket chirping could be heard echoing from it.

“H-Hey…” Brandon’s voice cracked. “What… is my job, in this situation? What should I do here? What can I do here?”

Jerry turned toward him and spoke with a gentle smile.

“Whatever you want to do. Anything I say is merely advice. You get to decide how to live your life. The Brandon Shepherd I know has the potential not to get weighed down by anything. You just have to combat your indecisiveness, follow the path you choose with absolute determination, and you’ll be unstoppable.”

Jerry’s words shot deep into Brandon’s mind. As he glanced down, he began to contemplate everything.

“Everything… makes no goddamn sense. That’s how it’s always been. I try and try and try to think of answers, but I get nowhere. If I weren’t friends with Jerry, I wouldn’t have graduated freaking high school… I’m an idiot. Indecisiveness—yeah, that’s part of it. I… can’t…”

He grimaced at the thoughts running through his head. 

“Mom and Dad… always watched my games when I was younger. They’d both go ‘I’m so proud of you!’ and buy me whatever video game I’d want. Mom would even play them with me. It was fun… After she left, did… did I just keep playing something I grew tired of because of those memories…? Is that why Dad urged me to keep playing, as well? We were all so happy back then. What… happened, Mom? Why did you turn out the way you did…? Have I been doing something I dislike just to somehow claw at the satisfaction of mere memories…? Ones I know wouldn’t even reward me, cause—you know—they’re memories?”

He sighed, taking a few steps back and leaning against the basement’s ruined wall. 

“Memories… Why have I forgotten the ones with Emma? What is that all about? What the honest hell is that all about…!? I don’t get it… I don’t get it, I don’t get it, I don’t get it…!

He didn’t realize that the back of his head was repeatedly bashing against the stone behind him. If not for Type:Roswell’s sound—growing much louder—Jerry would have noticed.

“And the situation at hand… Adam. How did we get into this predicament!? I… I’m tired. I’m tired of this—I…”

Brandon chuckled as his body began to shake.

“Whenever I asked Adam if he was okay… that’s exactly what he would respond with. ‘I’m tired.’ I would take that as a legit excuse for why he looked so down all the time. If only I pressed him more about it… he wouldn’t have—”

His hands clenched—fists smacking against the wall.

“I… I need to…!”

A sound akin to glass shattering rang through Brandon’s head. Unknown to him, electric sparks began to shoot out of him, dancing along the wall—searing the ruined stone.

Jerry raised his hand in front of him, waving it to the side with a powerful motion. “Type:Roswall—FIRE!”

A gigantic blue beam of concentrated phantonic energy erupted from the disk, making contact with the barrier in an instant—the fading crimson breaking apart with ease. The impact had formed a safe path for the two to enter the mine.

“That should do it!” Jerry cheered while panting heavily. “Man! Glad this thing’s pre-charged, or else that would have drained my entire soul! All right, Brandon, let’s—”

Before he could turn back to his friend, a swift flash of lighting soared past Jerry, entering into the shadows of the mine.


Next: Chapter 24

Previous: Chapter 22

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 22

“Terra… Bombardment!”

The hovering stones shot toward Charlotte’s best form with incredible speed—each one making contact in less than a second. Unfortunately, the blue gel-like substance surrounding her buffeted the blows, causing the attack to do nothing.

“Shock absorption, huh?” Winona gritted her teeth. “I can feel vibrations through any earth I take control of, even things that become projectiles. That substance has to be absorbing all the impact…”

“T-That wasn’t your Full Abstraction, was it?” Adam asked. “You gave it a name… We’re in trouble if she just shrugged that off.”

“Huh…?” Winona was rather confused. “…O-Oh! Nah, I name a bunch of my attacks. A Full Abstraction would be a sort of super move or technique—you put your heart and soul into it. I have created one, recently, but—”

The weapons stuck within the ground burst out—now entirely visible while ascending into the air. Winona had sensed their initial movement and prepared to counter.

Adam, as well, realized what was about to happen as the sharp weapons pointed toward them. “These things pack a punch…! You’d better—”

“No problem!” Winona waved her arm, giving a signal to the rocks under her control.

“Terra Scattering!”

As the weapons descended toward them, the stones flew around in multiple directions. The myriad paths they took ended up successfully colliding with the azure projectiles, knocking them off their intended path. Many of them shattered upon impact, some broke as they whacked against the ground, and a few managed to remain in one piece.

These weapons shifted their trajectory, and from new angles, they attempted to strike once more.

“Again…!”

Winona’s arms motioned around her—it almost looked as though she was hugging herself. Rocks from all around once again flew, colliding with the projectiles and stopping them. One blade, however, managed to bypass the stones and aimed right at her.

“Gotta move…!”

With a stone of his own in his hand, Adam whacked the blade just in time, throwing it off its course—shattering as it bounced off the ground.

“Woah…! Nice one, Adam!”

“It’s not all that impressive,” Adam admitted. “I just happened to gain Authority in this place, somehow. I can sense all kinds of shit that’s going on…” He winced, trying his best to stay on his feet. Miraculously, his control has even kept his eyes from showing signs of the World Mirror.

Whatever kind of “control” Adam had would soon be lost, however. It was inevitable, at this point, that Winona will learn of his power. 

Especially considering that they both could be flattened by Charlotte’s next attack, as her gigantic claw descended toward them. 

“Terra… Surf!”

A massive heap of sand swept the two up from the side, carrying them out of harm’s way as the impact shattered the earth where they were a moment prior. The dust kicked up, enveloping the entire area.

Winona took advantage of this. While they were blanketed, she used her Concept on the dirt surrounding them. The sand that had been used for her Terra Surf came to a halt, while her power was channeled elsewhere. 

With visibility returning to the area, there was no time to spare—the sharp needle-shaped rocks were ready to launch.

“Terra… Thorn!” 

The stones shot forward, penetrating the blue gel seemingly with ease as the tips managed to dig partially into the creature’s actual body.  

“Terra, terra, terra… Anyway,” Adam smirked. “You got through that layer! Piercing, as opposed to blunt force, seemed to be the trick.”

“But it didn’t even flinch…” Winona raised her hand in front of herself. “So, we’ll do this…!” Sand began to float around the two—Adam curious as to what she could potentially do next. 

“Terra…?”

“Go get ‘em, sand!”

“No terra…”

All of the dirt flung toward the needles—collecting at the tips that barely stook out of the gel. Charlotte seemed to be rather lackadaisical with her current body’s movement, so this task was much more straightforward than it could have been. 

“Are you making those things longer, so they can dig deeper…?” Adam asked. He began to show concern, knowing who the creature really was.

“I’m…” Winona had trouble breathing for a moment. “I’m sending the sand directly into its body…! I’m not sure how we can return this person to normal, but…”

“You’re gonna try to weigh it down?” Adam seemed to understand Winona’s plan. “Sending dirt into a human’s body would obviously be pretty damn bad for that person. With the way things are right now, though…”

Charlotte began to whimper—her bestial tone sending a chill down Adam and Winona’s spines. 

“…Who is this, Adam?” Winona questioned bluntly. “It is someone… I know?”

Adam chose to remain silent.

“…That blood on you… and your clothes are torn up like they are… What has been happening down here?”

Adam slowly exhaled. Winona glanced back at him—flabbergasted to see the white aura begin to emit from his body. His eyes, as well, had lit up once more.

“Well, shit. I guess I have to explain…”

 

Chris pouted as he sat on the floor of the hideout—Jason’s shadows around his body fading away. “I can’t believe you guys almost forgot me!”

“Sorry,” Derek sighed. “We had to rush out of there. Good thing I remembered.”

“And we got nothing out of it!?” Chris questioned while groaning, lying down on his back. 

“I guess it’s my bad!” Carl cackled. “I had no idea the Ouderkirk girl would actually be a threat! I just assumed—”

“You shouldn’t assume shit!” Chris shot back up into the position he was just in. “You’re a scientist! You’re supposed to do research and logically approach things—ow, ow, ow!” His body suddenly twitched from the pain.

“Careful. She did knock you out pretty hard…” Jason stated.

“It was a hypothesis!” Carl responded to Chris’ rant. “You guys went in and did the test to see if my hypothesis was correct! It… wasn’t.” He shrugged. “That’s science for ya.”

“Derek, hold him down. I’m gonna flick a spark into his face.” Chris prepared to snap his fingers. In response, Derek simply shook his head.

“That won’t do much to him. He’d probably like it.”

“Yeah…!” Chris agreed. “I could see that as a fetish for you, Carl.”

“Heh… hahahaha!” Carl began to laugh loudly. “With this body, I can’t do anything even remotely sexual, so things such as fetishes are something I’d rather not bother with.”

“I feel like we could get deep into this topic, so I’d rather we not,” Derek suggested.

“Plus, we got a kid here,” Chris pointed toward Jason’s shadow. “We can’t talk about this—”

“I only have the voice of a kid!” Jason yelled abruptly. “I’m an adult, just like you bastards!”

“Are you…?” Chris asked. “You don’t even have a body. How do you know?”

“I feel like we could get deep into this topic, so I’d rather we not,” Derek repeated his previous line.

“Anyway. Jason,” Carl turned toward the hovering shadow. “What’s the current situation there?”

“Well…” Jason was silent while analyzing the other side. “Okay… so. We’ve got someone else in the mine now. She’s got a Concept…! Oh! That girl who can manipulate the earth!”

“Oh?” Carl chuckled. “Yes, that makes sense. If the barrier’s beginning to fade away, then she certainly could get in there, now could she?” 

“Yeah… Seems like she’s helping the kid out against… whatever the hell the Ouderkirk girl turned into! Carl, look at this shit!” 

A shadow formed around Carl’s left eye, seemingly granting him vision of the activity in the mine. “Oh… oh! Oh, oh, oh! What is that magnificent specimen!? It’s most definitely something that a Chaonic Entity could become, yet it’s phantonic in nature! Amazing! Amazing, amazing, amazing! This is the power of the royal family!? Astonishing—”

“Okay, stop.” Derek sighed. “You sure you can’t do anything sexual? You’re for sure getting off on this crap.”

“Forgive me…” Carl continued to giggle.

“You know…” Jason paused. “When is his session going to be over with? It’s been a while, and we could really use—”

Suddenly, a large crimson portal appeared next to the group—its mere presence causing the room to shake. 

“Well, speak of the devil…” Jason chuckled. “Hey, took you long enough.”

The outline of a figure could be seen exiting the crimson mass. It stopped as it seemingly brushed something off of its shoulder.

“I took my time with this one. Pretty sure I’ve created a new kind of ability, actually. It could help us—” The calm, stoic voice paused as the man glanced around at the people in front of him, still not entirely visible. 

“Has something happened…?”

Jason floated in front of him, laughing awkwardly. “You’re gonna want to sit down for all of this, my friend.”

 

“Stay here, Brandon.” Jerry requested, heading for the door while Brandon remained on the couch. “I’m gonna go get some stuff from my house. Don’t try going down there again while I’m gone. Wait for me. Or, wait for Charlotte to return.”

“I’m… having trouble seeing right now, anyway.” Brandon said. “It won’t be easy for me to. I’d trip and fall down those stairs, probably.”

“Try to relax if you can. You have that carton of apple juice—keep drinking that. It’ll help flush out your system.”

Brandon took a tiny sip as his hands were shaking. “Adam’s gonna kill me for having this without his permission…”

“You know he actually wouldn’t care, right?” Jerry paused, waiting for Brandon to respond. “…Right?”

“…That was hours ago…” Brandon said to himself nervously, lying motionless on the couch. “Wait… no. It’s only been a few minutes, I think…? I don’t know.”

He held his head—still very much in pain.

“What is time, anyway? What is… space? What is… wrong with me!? I’m acting all… loopy.”

“It’s pretty much how you act normally, anyway.”

Brandon leaped up at the sound of his own voice. “Wha…!? What the!?”

“Oh… you’re reacting to me. This is a first. It’s like we’re actually separated.”

“Are you a demon!? Did you possess me, after all!? Get out of my head!” Brandon began running around Adam’s living room, nearly tumbling over the furniture. 

“Sit down.”

Seemingly like magic, Brandon was flung back onto the couch, where he sat—just as the voice had ordered.

“What in the…!?”

“It can work on us, huh…? Cool, I suppose.”

“Wha… What did you do?” Brandon questioned, frightened to move. 

“Nevermind that. Anyway, to answer your questions from before… no. I am not a demon. You and I are the same person. A certain event occurred where everything would have changed for you. Your mind would have been messed up beyond belief. Yet, you were split off for the sake of living a normal life.”

“What…? What event?”

“I can’t tell you that. You see, the moment you realize the truth, we will once again merge. Keep being the same old dumbass, in the meantime…”

Brandon had no idea what to say. There were way too many questions—ones that he assumed the voice inside his head was aware of. 

“Well… we have an issue with you doing that, however,” The voice continued. “Adam’s still down there… You got teleported away before you could be sure he was safe. I desire to take over once more, but…”

“So you’re the reason I went in there? Yeah, I want to save Adam, but Jerry—”

“You can rely on Jerry like you always have. He helped you get through school, didn’t he? You couldn’t even comprehend your classes, which is why I have doubts about your understanding of what you’re getting into. But… I want to rely on you in the same manner.”

“What do you mean…?”

“If I continue to take over, I risk us blending into one. I learned that down in that mine. If Adam didn’t show up…” His inner voice sighed. “You have the power to fight on your own, you know? Just telling you about it is risky enough.”

“I do…?” Brandon shook his head. “Wait a minute. You’re the reason why I’ve had all those issues over the years? I tend to blackout for a moment or forget things. Is that—”

“Yeah,” The voice responded. “My—Our emotions tend to get the best of us. If something bothers you, it bothers me. It’s another way we could merge. So… I tend to wipe your memory. I’m going to do so with portions of this conversation, by the way, but it’s pretty… therapeutic to talk about this stuff, even to myself.”

“What the hell…?” Brandon felt like he was about to cry over the sheer stress of the situation.

“If I am to rely on you… I need to take a risk. For you to unlock the power that you have access to. So… allow me to show you something. A memory—rather recent—that should help you out.”

“Wait—”

Before Brandon could say anything, his consciousness faded.

The memory seemed hazy, yet Brandon picked up on his location quickly.

The heat paired up with a long day of practice was something he could never forget. He was leaning on the fence of the tennis court, which was the closest to their school. His red soccer uniform was drenched in sweat, so he figured he was trying to cool off.

Although he knew there were several other athletic fields off to the left, he could not view them. Looking toward the right, he could not even see the school. Light seemed to only focus on the area where he was currently standing.

What little control Brandon had on his body had left him—the memory now ready to play out.

“…Hey, idiot.”

He turned to the familiar voice. Emma walked up to him, wearing her white volleyball uniform. “You look miserable.”

“I have to do all kinds of practice before college. They want me to make sure I’m in tip-top shape so that they can feel comfortable giving me all the scholarship money.” He chuckled, wiping his brow. “Sorry if I’m a mess.”

“…That’s not what I meant.”

“Huh?”

“Nevermind,” Emma sighed, standing up against the fence next to him. “Anyway. Do you have anything to say to me…?”

“Anything to say…?” Brandon was utterly puzzled.

“…I see. I guess it is true, huh?” Emma looked down.

“Wha…? What’s wrong!?”

“Well, since you won’t remember, it won’t hurt telling you how I feel, for once.”

“How you… f-feel…!?” Brandon was taken aback by those words.

“Settle down,” Emma groaned. “Sheesh… at least you seem to be able to act like this, despite…”

“Despite…?”

Emma took a deep breath. “…I don’t know why it happens, but whenever you and I are by ourselves… you forget everything. It doesn’t happen when we’re with others, but… if we have a quick chat about a game, or whatever, you never remember. At first, I figured you were just messing with me.”

“I would mess with you much differently than that,” Brandon smirked. It faded as he noticed how pained Emma’s expression seemed.

“With all of the connections I have, I could get you to see someone about it. You never know, it could be something Phantonics could solve. But I don’t want that. I would never lead you into anything that dangerous…”

“Dangerous?”

“Ever since Adam… you know, he’s been tested several times. I have to thank Jerry’s dad for making sure he’s okay. The same for me. If it wasn’t for him volunteering to do my checkups, I’d be…”

“It’s a scary world, isn’t it…?” Brandon shrugged. “Well… why don’t we just hang out with others from now on, if you’re so worried I’d forget something? If what you say is true, then I’m going to forget this whole convo too, yeah? If you’re gonna tell me important shit, then wouldn’t it be—”

“The fact you forget is the reason why I’m confident in telling you this stuff right now…” Emma began tapping her foot on the ground. “And…”

Brandon waited nervously for her to continue.

“…I don’t want that.”

“Huh? Don’t want what?” Brandon asked innocently. 

“Why can’t we hang out… just the two of us? Why can’t it be like when we were younger…?”

“I… u-uh…” Brandon was growing flustered at how open Emma was being.

“We’ve known each other since we were kids. We grew up together… Ever since Adam introduced you to me. And… you spent time with me. I was in that hospital, all alone. Mom was busy with work and stressed about Dad dying. Faith was dealing with a lot of it too, and she shut herself out from everyone. You, however, took the time to visit me…”

“…I annoyed my dad to the point where he would drive me there almost every day. Yeah, of course… I remember that.” 

“Then why don’t you remember anything after that? What… happened?” Emma’s voice sounded pained—Brandon took notice of this.

“I know! I can get Jerry’s dad to—”

“No…” Emma shook her head. “Unity takes tabs on every patient he has. They’d know. If something really off was discovered, they’d find out. It’s frustrating… how goddamn stupid it all is!” 

Brandon instinctively placed his hand on Emma’s shoulder. He grit his teeth in anticipation of her swatting it off. To his surprise, she did not.

“Look… Emma. Let’s talk about this when someone else is around. Maybe we can figure something out! And I’d be able to—”

“Listen…” She glanced up at Brandon—the smile on her face was agonizing to him. “All I want… is for you to live a normal life. Not get caught up in the bizarre world that I live in. Make it big with soccer—or whatever—and retire early. Settle down somewhere far away from here with some girl—hopefully, you’ll be smart enough to find someone halfway decent. And… just live in peace.”

Brandon had no time to even consider a response, as Emma began to walk off—his hand finally falling off of her shoulder. Attempting to reach her, no words could come out. She vanished as the memory faded to white. 


Next: Chapter 23

Previous: Chapter 21

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 21

Charlotte’s blades crumbled away as her grip on them was lost. She could not tell what side hurt the most—both the entry and exit wounds were in astronomical pain. Her breathing picked up—hyperventilating while her body attempted to process what just occurred.

Derek did not expect the assist from Carl and Jason. However, it saved him from defeat. In Charlotte’s current state, she could easily be captured, and their goals would grow close to fruition.

The three had no idea what they had just caused.

No one—Charlotte included—would understand precisely how the events unfolded for quite some time. The technicalities did not matter, as the following was simply the release of raw, powerful emotions. 

If the bullet had aimed for any other section of Charlotte’s body—one that did not involve the specific organs that it had pierced through, her reaction would have been different.

While she felt agony inside of her that began to pick at familiar memories from long ago, Jason’s shadow appeared around the injured girl.

“Well, let’s get back to the base. You’ll be fine—you’re already dead, after all… Huh?”

The swirling black vortex of Jason’s struggled to form around Charlotte. If he could not submerge her entirely in the darkness, she would be unable to teleport. 

“Jason!” Carl yelled! “Come on! I know you feel exhaustion, but the reality is that you don’t have a freaking body to strain! Fight through it! Grab her before she heals!”

“T-That’s not it…” Jason moved the shadows away from her, appearing next to Jason. “She’s…!”

Even Derek felt the sudden surge of energy around the Ouderkirk. They all noticed the tiny veins of crimson that were in the ground had started to shift to the phantonic azure. 

“Is she turning the chaons into phantons, like she’s been doing?” Derek asked, stepping back as the air itself began to vibrate.

“…I believe this is a side effect,” Carl responded seriously. “That wouldn’t stop Jason from grabbing her—his shadows can tear right through energy if he so desired.”

“Then… what’s going on?” Derek almost toppled over as Charlotte’s power expanded. She had remained silent—eyes toward the ground the entire time. He still saw her shaking and felt as though he could literally feel the emotion radiating from the ghost girl.

“It’s Authority…” Carl sighed. “It seems like she’s now taking it from the other guy. Unlike how he took it from us, she’s doing so with sheer force. He can’t really do anything about it in his state.”

“So under her Authority, Jason can’t use his shadow?”

Before Carl answered, they were shocked as blades suddenly shot up from the earth—Derek jumping away quick enough to avoid being skewered.

“This is too dangerous…!” Carl cursed at himself. “Screw it! Jason—grab Derek while you still can! Derek, you stay out of her Authority’s expanding range while he does so!”

Derek did so as blades continued to rise from the ground. Jason’s shadow followed as it covered the man, preparing his escape.

Charlotte finally glanced up. Although she was not looking at anything in particular. Derek looked into her teary eyes and realized something immediately.

The despair she displayed was something he had seen before. There was no mistake—he knew exactly what that look indicated. However, he could not deduce how she felt that way. It did not make sense to him.

While the shadow consumed Derek, warping him to safety, he recalled the obvious. Charlotte was a ghost. One that had issues regarding her past memories. It’s entirely possible that, upon becoming injured, those memories had shot to the surface.

While Derek’s hypothesis—one he did not share with the others—was mostly accurate, it was merely the emotions of Charlotte’s past that had awakened. With no actual memories of any event, she was a mere pawn to her past sorrow.

Holding the lower section of her abdomen, Charlotte released an agonizing scream—one that would be torturous for any sane person to hear. 

Adam was still unconscious. However, that did not stop his body from resonating with the anguish his friend was in.

He began to speak in his mind, in a dream-like state. His voice echoed throughout the inner void—the words muttered were ones he did not control.

“…We’ll get through this…”

“…We have to keep on fighting…”

“…Thank you for helping me take care of…”

“…We’ve both lost so much…”

“…But knowing you’re there for us…”

“…Like we are for you…”

“…Don’t suffer alone…”

“…We can do this, Char…”

Adam awoke several minutes later.

Teardrops had fallen from his glowing eyes, partially cleaning his bloody face. 

“Huh…?” 

He used his right arm to brush away the tears, which had managed to grow back. His body was in immense pain, however, and he could barely move. 

“What… happened here?”

Adam looked around the area he was in. It took him a moment to recall that he was in the mine, especially considering how different it looked. Blades, spears, arrowheads. These, along with many other forms of weaponry, sprung from the ground all around him. Fortunately, they did not seem to reach his location.

“These are… Charlotte’s, yeah?” Adam struggled to stand. Leaning back against the wall, he used the stone surface to wiggle his way onto his feet. “The entire cave is… brighter. All of her weapons are lighting up the place.”

Attempting to step forward, Adam tripped almost immediately, using his hand to stop himself from planting his face directly into the stone ground. 

“Dizzy… so dizzy…” He looked at his bloody body and realized the issue. “Right… that takes longer to regenerate. Even back then, when the cut healed quickly, I still suffered from blood loss.”

Adam continued to stare at the red he was soaked in. “The sight of it doesn’t… seem to bother me? Do I still… not care?”

He grew silent.

“…Do I still want to die?”

A loud crash in front of him snapped Adam out of his stupor. He glanced up to see several shattered blades fly his way—one slashing at the side of his face before crashing into the wall behind him. 

“What…?”

What Adam saw a few meters ahead both baffled and frightened him. A giant blue fetus—the basic description of the creature. The main body was glowing while a cerulean slime coated its outsides. Upon closer inspection, Adam noticed that the beast had qualities of a lizard as opposed to a human.

“What the… what the hell!?

The creature bellowed, unleashing a devastating sound that—quite literally—made Adam’s eardrums burst. 

“Gah…!”

The World Mirror took no time in beginning its healing process—just finishing the restoration of the cut on Adam’s face. As the ghastly aura leaked from his ears, the boy would not be able to hear for now. He felt the surge of energy that was erupting from the beast—not only physically, but on another scale as well.

“Authority… was it? I somehow picked up on what they were saying when I was going crazy. Probably from the World Mirror’s bullshittery—anyway. I took this ‘Authority’ over the mine from those guys. I can tell… right now, this thing’s the one trying to take over. We’re about fifty-fifty right now. Me and…”

Adam stood, struggling against the force radiating from the beast.

“Charlotte… is that you? Wait—hang on, don’t answer yet.” He rubbed the inside of his ears, collecting blood and flicking it onto the ground—the silvery-white energy fading. “O-Okay… I think I can hear now. Charlotte! Is that you!? Please don’t scream again!”

The creature Adam deduced to be Charlotte was motionless—not counting the slime churning around its body. As sound was returning to him, he could hear a low weeping noise coming from her.

“…What happened? How did you end up in that state? You’re suffering… aren’t you?” He slowly shook his head. “Geez… I’m pretty sure I figured out where the other ghost girl is being held, yet here you are… making me help you too.”

Adam limped forward—his entire body shouting at him to stop and rest.

“I’m really gonna die at this rate…! So, before I go, let me at least…” His eyes widened. “Let me at least save you… then save her… then save everyone else. Is that what I want…? It’s a never-ending chain, isn’t it?”

As Adam looked to the ground, giant arms grew from Charlotte—their claws cutting into the earth as she began its crawl toward him.

She did not reach him. From the ceiling above, an avalanche of stone descended. It was so swift that the sound of rock shattering was not heard until it collided with Charlotte’s body—the massive force knocking Adam into the wall his back was becoming accustomed to. 

“Wha—”

A figure emerged from the ceiling, landing on top of the massive pile of rubble. Adam attempted to make out who had appeared while waiting for the dust to settle.

“Adam…!?”

He recognized the voice immediately. Winona jumped out of the sandy mess and onto the ground in front of him. “What…? What!? What are you doing down here!? What happened to you!? Are you okay!?”

“How did you…?” Adam laughed lightly. “Right. Your Concept is Earth. I guess you would be able to figure out something was going on down here. Can’t you feel vibrations, and whatnot?”

“Y-Yeah!” Winona took a quick glance around. “The mine down here… I could always feel some sort of activity down here. Today, there was too much happening, so I figured I’d dig down. It was like… a sphere, of sorts, was emitting the vibrations. I could never tell—no—I never bothered to tell, until today. It was some kind of chaonic barrier, wasn’t it? Took me a bit of effort to bust through.”

“A sphere…?” Adam nodded. “Yeah… you’re right. It seems to be weakening a lot right now, probably since we’ve taken the Authority from those guys.”

“…Authority!? Wait, wait, wait!” Winona shook her hands violently. “You still haven’t answered why you’re down here! And now you’re saying something about Authority!? If you’re legit talking about the Phantonic terminology, then… how? That’s classified stuff that Unity keeps from everyone else!”

“Unity… that’s right.” Adam sighed. “You’re going into Unity soon, aren’t you? You’ve already learned things that are ‘classified,’ huh?”

Winona understood the tone that Adam was talking in. It happened to be one that she had used before. “…I know it’s probably hard to do so, but… I want you to trust me. You can tell me what’s happening. Clearly, you’re hurt, and I won’t let that slide!”

Adam knew this, of course. He knew that Winona, the Roswells, and Thomas would all prioritize his safety over anything to do with Unity.

There lies the problem. Disregarding his own well-being, they would all be putting themselves at risk. Winona merely showing up is already a huge issue. If Unity caught wind of what was occurring here, they would seek out answers. And they could track her down as a suspect—they had the means to deduce that sort of thing. Even if she kept this a secret, there were ways to get her to speak.

That was the kind of power the organization known as “Unity” held.

As the stones began to move behind them—garnering Winona’s swift attention—Adam realized that he had to worry about all of that later.

“…I mentioned ‘we’ took Authority from the people who had control over this place. The ‘person’ you just crushed with all of that rubble is the other one who currently has Authority here…”

“B-But…” Winona took a step back. “I figured it was some massive Chaonic Entity, which is why I opened up the ceiling on top of it. It’s a… person?”

Charlotte smashed through the stone—her bestial form shaking off the rocks as if it were nothing. Winona was utterly horrified at what she saw.

“What… What the…!?” 

Adam stood up and limped over next to Winona. “Somehow, they turned into that. We’ve got to help them. Any… ideas?”

Using her power, Winona manipulated the stones flying around the area, forming a circular band in the air above her. “I-I’m not sure… We have to fight—that much is certain. Or it’ll kill us…” She looked back at Adam, smiling despite the situation. “Helping someone, huh? That sounds just like you…”

Winona took a deep breath, readying herself for battle.

“All right! Leave it to me!”  


Next: Chapter 22

Previous: Chapter 20

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93