Chapter 2.39

Derek stopped dead in his tracks upon a sudden chill surging through him. He turned, looking back toward Prelude—anxiety taking over. The trees in Daybreak Forest swayed with a slight gust of wind passing through. 

“I… I’m almost there,” Derek looked down at Lucy, still unconscious in his arms. “Chris, hang in there…” He took a few cautious steps—the soft soil underneath his feet sinking slightly. “Once I hand this girl over to him… it’ll all be over.”

Derek focused his Ability into his legs, kicking off the ground—dust scattering about as he dashed forward, almost near Minuet.

Several yards behind him, the ghastly glow of Adam’s Outline filled the dark, cloud-covered woods as the boy was honing in on Derek.

“I’ve almost got it down…” Adam examined his body as he evaded tree after tree. “Using Redirection around my body while Outline is active, I can manipulate the force of the air going against my body.” 

Wind formed around the boy as his speed began to accelerate. Bushes and branches were torn to shreds as Adam soared ahead. It would not be long now until Derek noticed Adam’s presence closing in behind him. 

“I need to save Lucy… no matter what.” He held his head, experiencing a slight pain. “That’s all that matters right now.”


Emma’s roars shook the area, ripping apart the remains of the police station. Brandon held his position, being pushed back by the tremendous force. Pam and Charlotte moved up next to him as the dragon-possessed girl started to calm down.

“Brandon, you’re okay!” Charlotte sighed in relief. “Thanks for the save. You’ve gotten pretty fast.”

“Heh… I wouldn’t thank me. I’m pretty worn out right now. I’m not sure I can be much help with… whatever’s happening to Emma.” Brandon clenched his hand while glaring ahead.

“I need to get serious…” Pam stepped forward. “I need to go at her like… like I’m going in for the kill. It’s the only way to hold off that kind of power that she can easily generate.”

“Y-You can’t…!” Brandon pleaded. “There’s gotta be something we can do to save her!”

Pam smiled. “You and Charlotte need a breather. Talk with Jerry while I hold her off for a bit. I’m sure the three of you can come up with something.” She looked ahead toward her daughter, who started to slowly creep in their direction. “I… I’d rather die myself than let something happen to her. At the same time, if it’ll put everyone in danger, I can’t die… I have to fight for as long as I can. For everyone—including Emma.”

Steam erupted from Pam’s body, causing Brandon and Charlotte to move back from her. Charlotte shook her head.

“She can still generate some substantial power with her steam, but it’s not enough to counter the kind of strength Emma’s been creating!”

“You’re right…” Pam nodded—a cocky smile forming on her face. “I guess I’ll have to step it up a notch, huh?”


“Your flames are so strong, Becca!” A Pam in her early twenties cheered in admiration upon seeing her best friend slice the boulder in front of them with ease. 

Rebecca turned to her—her gray eyes glowing with the azure flame emitting from her black blade. “Thanks!” She smiled, brushing her long, curly black hair out of her face. “Pam! You should totally do what I do!”

“What you do…?” Pam questioned, staring at the blade Rebecca was tapping lightly on with her finger.

“We both have a chokutō for a weapon—mine’s black with your’s is white. It’s totally symbolic! We should learn some similar skills!”

“I-I still don’t understand what you’re getting at!” Pam brought out her weapon from it’s Core, analyzing it. “My blade, Aeolus, stores up the steam I emit, while your blade, Hestia, stores up flames you create. How—”

“See, they’re totally similar—in a way—aren’t they?” Rebecca snickered. “But, no. Want me to teach you a little trick I’ve created? It’s totally difficult to do, but I know you can figure it out!”

“I’m… nowhere near as strong as you…” Pam sighed. “How can you think I—”

“You stop with that.” Rebecca wagged her finger in Pam’s face. “Guess what? You can totally do anything that I can do! You just have to apply yourself!”

“I…” Pam could not figure out what to say in response to her friend’s words.

Rebecca’s sword lit up with fierce flames. Although, to Pam’s surprise, they were orange instead of their usual shade of blue. “These are what my flames are supposed to look like.”

“Do… Do you just heat them up enough to where they become blue?” Pam asked. “I can see you being able to do that.”

Rebecca shook her head. “I mean, I could. But what I do gives me a lot more power.” With a tiny twitch of her hand, the flames ignited, forming into their usual azure splendor. 

“What do you do…?” Pam was curious as she stared in awe at the flames she both loved and envied.

“I call it ‘Azure Layer,’” Rebecca answered. “You use phantons when you use your Ability—that’s obvious. But what about the other phantons you have? You should have some leftover, right?”

“I’m not sure about that…” Pam chuckled awkwardly. “Using Steam Engine tires me right out.”

“You do—I know you do.” Rebecca giggled. She swung Hesita around a few times, taking care of keeping the flames on the blade. “I picture myself as a fireplace. That totally sounds weird, but stay with me. The logs in the fireplace—we can consider those the leftover phantons. Using my flames I’m already generating with my Ability, I ‘ignite’ those phantons, which fuel my flames and create the power I use.”

“I… guess I get it?” Pam shrugged. “I’m not sure exactly how to go about doing something like that.”

“No matter what’s on the outside, your mind and your heart are your most powerful weapons. Never forget that.” Rebecca grinned. “Take what I just explained to you and figure it out. It seriously would be totally cool if we could have matching powers!” 

Although Pam smiled in return, nodding at Rebecca’s words, her doubt still plagued her. After all, her best friend, Rebecca Grayson, was one of the world’s strongest.


“It’s time, Becca…!” Pam tossed her blade to the side. “I need to focus…” She closed her eyes. “It’s in my Ability’s name—Steam Engine. My phantons—the coals—will aid in powering myself up!”

The steam emitting from her body began to change—the ferocious white shifting into a wispy blue. Her skin began to form a slight light-blue tint. Charlotte was amazed at the sight in front of her.

“Th-That’s more like it…” She took a step back. “What is she doing? This concentration of energy is like—”

“Azure Layer: Steam Engine!” Pam roared at the energy exploded out of her—the sheer force pushing everyone back. “Are you ready, Emma? This is gonna hurt a bit—bear with it for now!”

Energy began to form in between Emma’s horns once more. Despite how swiftly the power could be concentrated, it did not matter. In an instant—as if she teleported—Pam dashed directly at Emma, smashing her into the ground with a mighty punch to the face.

“D-Damn! I couldn’t even see that!” Brandon yelled, astonished. 

Emma, using some sort of mysterious force, pushed herself back up, standing like she was moments before. She began to slash at her mother with her claws, which Pam was able to almost effortlessly avoid. With a sudden kick to the chest, Emma was sent skyrocketing out of the area.

“I’ll buy some time fighting her away from here! Time to think of a strategy, guys!” Pam yelled back as she shot off toward her daughter. The two were now out of sight—the trees surrounding the ruined station blocking their view. They quickly heard the sound of continuous clashing in the distance—gales rattling the area.

“I can’t think of anything with our current situation.” Jerry cautiously stepped forward with the danger temporarily out of the way. “If we had the power to do so, we could potentially… No, no. That wouldn’t work… would it?”

“Tell us,” Brandon demanded bluntly. “We can work off of it.”

“W-Well…” Jerry scratched his head. “Block was the program keeping that energy in check this whole time. Now that the system running the program is gone, the energy is running rampant. If we could restore the system, then it could stop it again, yes? Problem with that, though—I’m not sure how to reverse that transformation that’s going on… If we had absolute control over everything—meaning no risk of the energy going crazy—then we can deal with that.”

“So, the main thing is to get Block up and running again, yeah?” Brandon nodded, turning his attention to the sound of combat. “We lack power? Do we need some kind of supercomputer to run it?”

Jerry tilted his head at the oddity of Brandon following along with what he was discussing. “Well, not a supercomputer. We managed to build a good enough system in Twine’s basement. The only other place that could come close to it—that’s around here—would be at my house. Block is backed up there, after all. But it wouldn’t be enough to get it running—we’ve tried it before.”

“This is gonna be a weird question to ask—” Brandon held his head. Jerry swore he saw tiny sparks fly out of it. “Can you get Block onto your phone? Like, can you download it wirelessly from your house to your phone?”

“Y-Yeah, I can. There’s no way in hell I can run the thing off of it, though—”

“That’s fine!” Brandon smirked. “If you can get it here, I’ll take care of the rest.”

“You’ll take care of…?” Jerry’s eyes widened. “Your Ability…?”

“You can do something like that?” Charlotte asked, keeping her attention toward the battle near them. “Amplify that thing using your electricity?”

“I was going to do that, but nah. I’ve got to do something far beyond that.”

“What the hell do you have in mind?” Jerry questioned skeptically. “To manipulate your Ability to that degree—”

“Emma’s spine is like its own computer—or whatever—right? Well then, it’s simple…” Brandon chuckled, tapping the back of his neck. “I’ll just take Block off of your phone and install it into her spine!”

Jerry was bewildered at Brandon’s plan. “…t-to manipulate your Ability to that degree…” He shook his head. Besides, you’re in no condition to try something with that many precise calculations.”

“I’ve got to do it, no matter what.” Brandon cracked his knuckles. “It’s simple.”

“It’s not simple, Brandon!” Jerry yelled. “Do you even realize how—”

Charlotte grabbed Jerry’s hand, turning toward Brandon. “We’ll have to try it. I have an idea of my own that can help out.”

“You do?” Brandon asked. Charlotte walked over to him and glanced back at Jerry. 

“I’d get that thing onto your phone. We don’t have much time.”

Jerry sighed, beginning to tap away at the device. “I’ll trust you guys…”

Brandon was flustered, Charlotte now holding both of his shoulders. “W-What’s your plan…?”

“Phantons are capable of resonating with each other. It’s been pretty obvious to me for a while now, but—”

“She’s right,” Jerry butted in. “Even if they’re from different sources, they can still resonate, and generate a varying amount of power in that act alone based on—”

Charlotte was glaring at Jerry, motioning to him that he needed to focus on getting the app onto his phone.

“My bad, my bad…”

“Anyway, I notice that whenever I possess people, this happens with my phantons and their own. My idea is to have zero resistance in a possession… A consensual possession, if you will. Using my Ouderkirk powers, I can take advantage of that boost and—without the resistance I usually feel when I do it—we can generate some good power, despite our current state!”

Jerry once again turned his attention away from his device. “My god… I would have never thought to try something like that. You’d be combining both your talents as a spirit and as an Ouderkirk! That’s…” He began to mumble upon receiving cold stares from his friends, returning to his task once more. 

“So… I have to give you consent to be… possessed? Is that all it takes, on my end?” Brandon asked anxiously.

“Well, that and…” Charlotte paused. “Listen… Brandon. This is going to be sensitive stuff for me to deal with—I barely have any strength left. But it should work as our last resort. It’s… a last resort for a good reason.”

“W-Well, just tell me! What’s the catch!?”

“You won’t resist this, which means I’ll have easy access to everything inside you. Memories, feelings, all of that. That alone might be too much, but…”

“T-That’s fine…! I don’t care! See all my weird shit! If we can get the strength to finish this, then—”

“…To make the power resonate properly… I have to do the same.” Charlotte took a long, deep breath. “…You’ll be the first person to ever see the outside perspective…”

“Of… Of what?” Brandon chuckled awkwardly, rubbing the back of his head. 

“Of something nobody should ever see, or… experience…”

Next: Chapter 2.40

Previous: Chapter 2.38

Table of Contents



Chapter 2.38

NOTE: It’s been a while since a new chapter. I apologize for coming off of a month-long hiatus only to return to one only two weeks later haha. I happened to get a new job, and with school at the same time, I was flooded with work. The semester has ended, so it’s time to get back to writing. For now, I’ll keep the usual schedule of a weekly release on Tuesdays at 2 PM Eastern, although I might try stepping it up a notch. I originally wanted to get Volume 2 done by the end of the year, but I’m not sure that’s happening at this point. Who knows, though. If I can crank out the chapters, I might do a special release schedule. Stay tuned for updates, which will be posted here on!

Chris’ body rose into the air, now above the stone statue that Travis had become. Thomas looked in dismay at the state his comrade and friend was now in.

“His body… Did it really turn into stone…!?”

“Thomas, don’t look at his eyes!” Faith yelled while trying to sit up. “That demon… When its gaze met Charlotte’s and my own… we were unable to move. This guy mentioned something about Medusa… Is it following a Concept, and has it really become this powerful?”

“A Concept… giving something power based around a powerful figure, whether real or mythological. To actually gain similar powers, though… that means…!” Thomas raised his weapon, Phoebe, as Chris slowly landed on his feet.

His eyes opened—the demonic orange focused on the people in front of him. Thomas had no clue what color Chris’ eyes had become as he had followed Faith’s advice, not risking himself turning into stone.

“Kekekekeke…” Chris’ mouth unleashed an eerie laugh that was clearly not his own. He began to limp his way over toward Thomas’ location.

“Medusa must have taken control once Chris was taken down. It’s gaining power through using his body, much like he did from its own body when he used Chaonic Assimilation.” 

 Thomas focused on the movement of Chris’ legs, although he was having difficulty figuring out how to fight an opponent while avoiding looking into their eyes. Instead of attacking, Chris stopped in place.


His body burst apart—glowing red blood flying all over the place. 

Thomas, Faith, and Winona looked on in horror as the blood sunk into the earth the moment it made contact. It did not vanish, however. The moment they believed the blood disappeared, it erupted from the ground—the chaotic geyser transforming into the silhouette of someone unknown to them.

“I… I’ve never seen this before…” Thomas almost dropped his weapon in shock at the phenomenon before him.

The figure started to come into view. With her head facing the ground, a female stood when Chris previously was. She wore a long dress that seemed composed of crimson scales, much like the ones who were on Chris’ body during the Chaonic Assimilation. Her glowing red hair split into several lengthy parts that resembled snakes. She held her eyes in agony.

“Dammit… Dammit, dammit…!” The woman swore in a somewhat fruity voice. “Heh… I guess this is okay, though…”

“Who… the hell are you supposed to be?” Thomas asked, cautiously approaching her.

“Huh? I’m Medusa, of course!” She chuckled, looking in Thomas’ direction without opening her eyes. 

“T-That’s… impossible…” Thomas stared in utter disbelief. The demon’s name was Medusa… Now, you’re human… How…!?”

“It kinda sucks. I seem to have inherited Chris’ intelligence and personality… Ah, shit. Oh well. I can use them better than he can!” Medusa giggled, moving her fingers—which had long crimson nails—gently across her face. “These eyes are a problem… I just gained this form. Their power could only be used for a moment before the transformation began. Damn, this is a tough spot. I can’t fight like this!”

“T-Then surrender,” Thomas demanded, showing his apparent nervousness in his shaking voice. “And return Travis back to normal!”

“Hmph…” Medusa folded her arms together. “A scientist on the battlefield… Unless you’re as good as Carl, my creator, and modify your body—then you don’t belong here! This guy, as well…” She chuckled, glancing at Travis.

“I’ll be wherever I have to be!” Thomas declared, beginning to regain his posture. “Same goes for Travis! Wherever the action is happening, we’ll be there, learning and learning, so eventually, one day… we can put an end to all of this!”

“For someone who’s got the brains… you’re really not using them, are you?” Medusa sighed. “The center of the battlefield is where the strong should be, not shards of a scientist.”

“Shards? What are—”

The snakes in Medusa’s hair came to life, expanding with incredible speed behind her.

Before anyone could react, their sharp fangs were unleashed, slashing the stone known as Travis Robinson apart. 

“Wh…” Thomas dropped to his knees. “Wha… what…? What the hell…?”

Medusa laughed maniacally, flinging her arms around as her snakes danced around her. Faith and Winona could only watch, unable to move or conjure up any kind of power.

“Hah! Good shit! Now, not to sound cliché, but…” Medusa continued to speak, holding herself back from laughter. “No need to worry! You’ll soon join him!”

Instead of falling into despair, Thomas grinned, glancing up at Medusa.

“I can’t do that. Sorry. Do you know who I am?” He stood, pointing his weapon in her direction. “With so many intriguing things happening around me, I must learn more. Not even death can stop me. Travis—I won’t give up. I’m a scientist, just like you. You’d understand… I can’t sulk right now and let this stop me!”

Medusa cackled—her hair snakes now aiming at Thomas. Dawning a fierce blue glow, Phoebe managed to knock away the oncoming attacks, fueled by Thomas’ strength and resolve.

“Oh, not bad. But you won’t last!” Medusa continued her onslaught of attacks—Thomas managing to defend and evade them quite well. She was right. However—this did not last. Thomas began to slow down a few moments later.

Faith realized this, attempting to get up. This was a futile effort in her current state. “Win… he’s…!”

“I know…” Winona slowly moved her hand on the ground next to her. “But it’s okay…”

From a few feet behind them, Muraco took a mighty leap off the ground, soaring straight at Medusa. He calculated the jump to the degree where he managed to avoid the snakes focused on Thomas. 

“The Hero of Requiem…”

With a powerful kick, Muraco smashed Medusa on the side of the head, knocking her back.

“…is here!”

Medusa tried to regain her composure, attempting to process what just occurred. 

“What… That creature…?”

Muraco landed in front of Thomas, panting heavily. “Heh. Sorry I’m late! I got pretty messed up keeping Brandon safe from an enemy’s attack earlier, so I had to rest for a few!”

“That so…?” Thomas sighed. “You know, I was this close to unlocking an Ability. I could feel it in my bones. No matter what Ability it was, the awakened phantons would have helped me fight much better.”

“You were?” Muraco asked, proceeding to shake his head. “Anyway, I’m here now! Who is this freaky snake lady?”

“I’m Medusa,” The demon calmly walked forward, her snakes now surrounding her body. “You’re an interesting little fella, aren’t you? I couldn’t even sense your attack—it was that fast.”

“She’ll probably be able to now, though,” Thomas assumed. “The element of surprise is gone, after all. And you’re not doing too well.”

“I’ll be fine,” Muraco assured him. “She’s not doing too well, either.”

“Oh? You can tell?” Medusa chuckled. “It’s true. This body’s quite worn out right now. It’s transformed quite a lot today.”

“Then let’s get this over with!” Muraco’s scarf formed into multiple appendages as they did not waste any time in attacking Medusa. In return, Medusa’s hair struck the scarf—the snakes ripping the fabric apart.

The thread immediately reformed, whacking at Medusa’s snakes with vicious ferocity—the density of them being capable of competing with the sharp fangs.

There was no telling who would emerge victorious from this clash. Both sides seemed to be evenly matched. Muraco realized this, yet pressed on with his attacks.

Faith and Winona continued to make an attempt in moving but were clearly still weak from the usage of the pills Thomas gave them. Winona, however, started to feel strange. Initially, her body felt numb after over-using her power. 

Taking in continuous, constant breaths gave her a peculiar surge of strength. It was due to her reaching her limit—the full use of her phantonic power—that the special traits that circulated in her very blood began to awaken.

“Breathe… Breathe…” Winona, to her utter bewilderment, began to stand. 

“W-Win!?” Faith was stunned to her core. “How are you…!? Don’t push yourself!”

“I’m not…” Winona continued to breathe in and out—the sharpness of each breath seemingly fueling her cells. “I’m… okay.” 

She turned her attention in front of her, watching Muraco and Medusa duel it out. As someone who can naturally fight, she was able to see the majority of attacks being thrown around—they weren’t too fast for her. 

Winona, somehow, was predicting a few of the attacks and where they would land before they actually happened. 

“This feeling… It’s just like earlier, when Adam and I simultaneously blocked your mom’s sphere.” Winona turned to Faith. “What’s happening…?”

“How are you up!?” Thomas asked, utterly perplexed. “You definitely used up all of your strength—” He paused, his eyes widening as he stared at the ground for a moment in thought. The scientist slowly looked up. “Could it be…?”

Winona walked up to Thomas, opening her hand. “Can I use that?”

“What!? Why would you—you’re in no condition to fight!”

“I can stand. I can fight.” Winona assured him, slowly taking Phoebe into her possession. Without hesitation, she dashed forward.

Muraco sensed Winona’s presence as she bolted by, entering the war zone Medusa and himself were creating. “What are you doing!?”

“Keep it up, Muraco!” Winona shouted, ducking from the attacks being thrown all around.

“Idiot! I can’t protect you while—”

Muraco was stunned upon witnessing Winona’s movements. Despite the speed the clash was occurring at, she somehow—in her condition no less—evaded both the scarf and the snakes.

“I can see… no—I can feel the battlefield. It’s like how I sense things through the ground with my Ability… Yet, I can sense everywhere. Just what’s happening…? Dad…? Would you have known about this? Maybe…” Winona, in both sadness and rage, gritted her teeth as thoughts of her father flooded her mind. 

“I can figure out the details after this…”

Winona leaped toward Medusa, as the stray phantons struggling inside her body aided in fueling the rapier she held. The demon, in retaliation, focused her attacks all on Winona. 

“Right now…”

This was not the right move. Muraco took advantage of this and managed to grab hold of the snakes for a brief moment, altering their path just enough so Winona could get up close and personal.  

“I simply have to…”

Medusa held her arm in front of herself as a desperate attempt at defense. Winona was simply too fast. The blue-lit sword pierced straight through her arm and chest, striking at her heart.

“This…!” Medusa stood there—not in agony—but in sheer bewilderment. “Heh…” 

Winona, upon landing the blow, found herself unable to move. She was frozen in place, standing right in front of Medusa.

“My… body…”

“Your body…?” Medusa snickered. “I see… The human body has incredible potential. Yet, it has limits, it seems. Yes—the heart. You just struck me in the heart? How… human. How… weak.”

Muraco grabbed Winona with his scarf, carefully moving her away from the demon. He moved in front of her. “You attached yourself to that body, it seems. The human body… You needed it to get to this phase. Am I right, demon?”

“Rabbit catches on quick for one that just got here…” Thomas commented.

“Of course. Don’t get me wrong—I did say the human body has incredible potential. It helped me gain this form… this intelligence.” Medusa’s body began to bubble, leaking a crimson ooze from its pores.

“But, I think that’s all I’ll need it for. Our good pal, Chris, can take this blow for me, can’t he?”

“What are you…?” Winona began to ask as the body in front of them started to melt. They soon realized that its shape was once again transforming.

As the liquid fell to the ground, Chris’ appearance returned once more—the blade that pierced through Medusa’s heart now lodged in his own. 

“I…” Chris could barely speak. The light in his eyes was quickly vanishing as he gazed at Winona. “Sis…? No… You’re…”

“How is he still alive like that!?” Muraco asked as the red slime surrounding Chris’ feet began to move off to the side, taking the rabbit’s attention.

“Heh. I have to shed off quite a bit of power to escape like this. I’m sure he has some residual strength that’s keeping him up and running. It’ll fade out rather quickly, however. Damn… It’s gonna take me quite a while to recover from this, huh? No matter—if I take my time, I can even make my appearance like that again—”

Muraco smacked the substance with his scarf, attempting to stop its movement as it crawled around the ground. “I’m not letting you get away!”

“Ah, whatever. I’m leaving, then. It was fun. Thanks so much, everyone, for attending my birth! We’ll have another party soon enough…”

Before Muraco could continue to attack, the sludge sank into the very earth itself, vanishing from sight. He put Winona down and ran over to the spot, which he analyzed.

“Damn… It got away. I can’t sense it. That creature’s fast…”

Chris fell to his knees, still not wholly comprehending what was happening to him. Winona watched as she sat a few feet away, still unable to move by herself. 

“I… I’m sorry. You… were. And…” Winona was also struggling to comprehend the feeling welling up within her. They realized around the same time.

Chris was losing life, while Winona had just destroyed it.

Laughing softly, Chris shook his head. “Don’t… sweat it. I started this shit… This is only fair.”

Winona tried to respond but found that she had lost the capability to even move her mouth.

With a faint smile, Chris’ focus turned above him. He stared in wonder at the scene filling the sky—light delicately piercing through the thick dark clouds, falling onto the ruined town. 

“Yeah… I get it now. Even when the sky’s filled with nothing but darkness, light can still get through. You just gotta wait for it… Sometimes it comes quick, other times… not so quick. What… kind of cheesy shit am I even saying? I’ve been all over the place today… I guess… today is the day for me… huh?”

Christopher Serpenti took one last glance at the sky above before lowering his head, closing his eyes, and delicately placing his hand on the spot where Phoebe had stabbed into him. He took his last breath.     

“Ah, damn…”

Next: Chapter 2.39

Previous: Chapter 2.37

Table of Contents



Chapter 2.37

Faith and Winona shot forward like arrows of flame and sand. Chris could feel the immense force rocketing right toward him.

“Let’s do this!” Chris snapped his fingers, unleashing multiple mighty sparks of crimson energy which flew at his opponents.

“He’s combined his Ability with the chaons, huh? I figured…” Winona raised her hand as a floating wall of solid stone formed in front of herself and Faith, blocking the attacks as they exploded with tremendous force.

Through the dust, Faith shot out, releasing a powerful flame from her hand. Chris, as if it was on instinct, ascended, flying high above to evade the raging fire.

“He can fly now!?” Faith questioned, pursuing Chris with multiple bursts of flames coming from the soles of her feet. 

“You know Medusa can be depicted as having wings, right? I’m guessing that’s why I can!” Chris laughed maniacally, snapping a powerful beam of energy down toward Faith. 

She countered the energy by forming a Roswell Sphere in her hand, smashing it against Chris’ attack. For a few feet upward, Faith managed to successfully make her way toward Chris. But her sphere could not last long, as the beam seemed to continue to emit from where Chris originally snapped his fingers. 

Sand formed in front of Faith, Winona aiding in Faith’s defense as she rose next to her.

“We have to finish this quickly…” Winona commented while concentrating on bringing massive amounts of sand together. “Faith, think we can make an opening?”

“Yeah, we can!” Faith nodded, rocketing around the air with her flames. Chris had now given up on the beam, keeping an eye on Faith. Winona attempted to move sand toward Chris to capture him, but he was far too swift.

“I’ve gotten good at this,” Faith noted as she continued to propel herself around in random directions. “Liz, thank you. You thought it could work for me, and it really can.”

“Trying to make me waste my shots while trying to hit you down?” Chris asked as he flicked a few sparks at Faith, all missing their mark. “That would work normally, but how much energy do you really have left at this point!?”

“I have as much as it takes to survive this!” Faith shouted, now directing herself in Chris’ direction. 

“Geez…” Chris sighed, maneuvering around plumes of sand Winona now threw at him. “Come on, let’s see what you can pull off!”

Chris formed a whip, now made out of chaons, and swung it at Faith. Faith formed flames around her hands, creating something along the lines of gloves., and managed to grab a hold of the whip. Chris did not let up—his weapon now carrying Faith around the sky above Prelude as she held on, as letting go would mean an instant hit from the whip.

“What a moron!” Chris chuckled as he flung Faith hard into the earth below. The dust that formed quickly settled, revealing that she did not take hardly any damage. 

“Thanks, Win,” Faith smirked seeing that Winona had used her Ability to make the ground soft enough for landing without issue. “Although, I can’t seem to figure out how to land a good blow on him…”

“That’s okay—” Winona quickly manipulated the sand around the area to grab Chris’ whip, which he attempted to swing down at Faith. “Save your energy for the decisive blow. I’ll get us to that point!”

“You have an idea!?” Faith asked as Winona shook her head.

“Nope. We’re just going to have to wing this.”

“Yeah, that’s… not really a good idea at all.” Faith chuckled anxiously. 

“Heh…” Chris looked down as his whip faded away. “I think it’s time to see just how much power I can really use! You ladies ready?”

The two did not respond. They simply looked up at Chris with cold, yet determined eyes.

With a mighty flick of his fingers, a crimson spark unleashed, spiraling around Chris’ body multiple times. It continued to grow in size until it dwarfed the man, transforming into a red-scaled serpent. Its eyes flashed the original yellow color Chris’ Spark Blast gave off as it glared down below. 

“Spark Blast: Serpent Swallow!”

The massive beast descended, baring its destructive fangs, ready to consume anything that entered its path. Winona slammed her foot into the ground causing an eruption of sand that surrounded her and her friend. Within a mere moment, the mass of dirt transformed into the shape of a giant hawk and ascended without delay.

The monsters clashed—the serpent grabbing the head of the hawk with its fangs, attempting to tear it apart. At ground level, the force of this duel was strong enough to knock Thomas and Travis off of their feet, scrambling to get somewhere safe.

Sand began to spiral around the beak of the hawk, creating a mighty vortex inside the serpent’s mouth. 

“Huh? What’s it trying to do…?” Chris asked himself, keeping focus on his power so it wouldn’t go out of control.

The hawk resumed its ascent, now drilling its way right through the inside of the serpent, tearing the chaonic energy to shreds. It broke through—the spiraling mass of earth now directed at Chris himself.

“Shit! It was that easy to break through!? Shit shit shit!” Chris prepared his body to evade the attack. He noticed, however, that the sand could barely rise, losing most of its power from breaking through his Serpent Swallow. 

“Heh… That’s fine!” Chris channeled chaons throughout his body to control his Ability, just as if they were his phantons. He quickly prepared more energy to unleash a powerful attack that would rip through the sand.

Before he could do so, Faith popped out of the sand, a blazing ball of fire concentrated into her right hand.

“Got you!” Faith roared as she chucked the Roswell Sphere up toward Chris. 

Chris, however, easily avoided the attack.

“Are… Are you serious…!? You’re wide open now!” Chris cackled, unleashing a burst of crimson energy from a flick of his fingers. Faith responded by releasing a blast of flames out of her hands—the orange now clashing with the red.

“Not good enough! Not good enough! You’ll start to descend in a second! Not a good counter against someone who can easily fly!” 

“Y-You do realize…” Faith snickered—her voice barely audible to Chris. However, he heard her words.

“…when I said ‘Got you!’ I meant it, right…?”

Being able to sense his surroundings, Chris picked up on what Faith was talking about. He glanced behind him toward the sky above, as if he could now see what was happening. A gigantic mass of light was now hovering over Prelude.  

“The… sun? No… What is…!?”

“Solar Fall!”

The Roswell Sphere that Faith had thrown had grown in size and power—still perfectly capable of being used. Upon Faith’s words, the mass descended at the speed of a meteor, as if someone had a hold on it and simply let go. 

Chris was too focused on the flames coming directly from Faith herself. He had no time to move out of the way as the attack slammed into his back.

“Gah! Son of a…!”

The flames exploded in the fashion of a bomb going off in the air—the force knocking both Chris and Faith down toward the earth below. For Faith, Winona helped break her fall by once again softening the ground beneath her. Chris never reached the ground—Winona managed to grab him with her sand, now holding him a few feet above her. 

“Now I’ll finish this…!” Winona began to gather sand around her arm. It quickly began to swirl around, much like her hawk’s beak did moments prior. 

Chris slowly descended to the ground, attempting to process the pain he had just received from Faith’s attack. Due to this, he was unable to bust his way out of the sand wrapped around him.

“Come… Come on…!” Chris groaned as he squirmed around. “I… I have to…”

The sand around Winona’s arm was now formed into the shape of a spiraling drill—the sheer force moving the air around it.

“Gaia’s Spear!”

Winona did not hesitate with her strike. The attack’s mighty strength smashed Chris into the earth below—dirt erupting from the ground, spinning around the area like a dust devil. 

Due to the recoil of her attack, Winona was knocked back, landing next to Faith on the soft sand. They had both unleashed their final attacks—their bodies finally catching up with them, as blood started to spew from both of their mouths.

“T-This is…!” Faith coughed, trying to wipe the blood off of her face—having difficulty due to the pain now surging through her body.

Thomas ran up to the two, leaning next to them. “This is what happens when you use those pills and go past your limits…” He gritted his teeth. “Damn, hang in there you two…!”

“I-Is he down, though…?” Winona asked as she struggled to sit up. Thomas kept her down, not wanting her to strain her body any more.

Thomas glared into the dust as Chris’ figure came into view. The Chaonic Assimilation that had been active had faded away as he lay in the rubble, barely conscious.

“D-Damn… That would have fucked me up if it wasn’t for those chaons…” Chris chuckled. “Damn… What am I doing…?”

“Let’s get him restrained so he won’t cause any more trouble…” Thomas sighed, standing up. Travis walked over to him, placing his hand on the man’s shoulder.

“You need to stay with Faith and Winona right now. I’m sure you’ve got more stuff that can help them out, right?” Travis smiled. “I’ve got a Core that turns into binding—I can use that on him.”

“I-I guess, yeah…” Thomas pulled out a tiny black briefcase, seemingly out of nowhere. Opening it revealed four syringes with a light-gray liquid inside. “This stuff should stabilize them. Can’t use anything too phantonic at the moment, as their phantonic networks are probably all kinds of messed up.”  

Travis nodded as he walked over to Chris. Thomas, taking a second quick glance at Travis, leaned back down. He injected the mysterious fluid into the arms of the two battle-worn girls. They did not seem to flinch at all from this act.

“I figured you’d have something… to help us…” Faith giggled. “You wouldn’t have given us those pills if you didn’t, right?”

“We didn’t have much of a choice, but… yeah,” Thomas sighed with a smile on his face. “Those pills use concentrated liquid phantonium, you know. That’s the key to unlocking the massive surge of phantons.”

“Phantonium…?” Faith seemed curious. “A-Aren’t the obelisks in Nexus City made of solid phantonium…? You gave us something like that!?

Thomas chuckled. “Well, it worked out, didn’t it? You sure are chatty for someone who’s just gone through a hell of a fight.”

“Sounds like Faith…” Winona whispered, giggling softly. 

“Well, I’m hoping that’s the end of things over here,” Thomas said while stretching his arms. “Once Travis gets that guy bundled up, we can—”

Upon turning his attention toward Travis’ direction, Thomas froze in horror. Faith and Winona looked up and managed to view the event as well. What they saw was Travis, standing next to Chris. 

Completely turned to stone.  

Next: Chapter 2.38

Previous: Chapter 2.36

Table of Contents




Chapter 2.36

Faith and Winona watched in dismay as the blue and green exploded above Prelude.

“T-They’re really going at it over there…” Faith said while shaking. “I hope Charlotte and Jerry can help… and nobody ends up getting killed over this.”

Winona did not respond as she looked over at a spot on the ground. “You should be safe there, for now, Dad…”

“You buried his ashes?” Faith asked. “Good… We can do things properly once all of this ends.”

Winona glanced at Medusa’s burning body. “It’s really not resisting? You can’t burn it completely, though?”

“Yeah. I haven’t had the need to use my power to strengthen the flame, which is good, especially in our state.”

Thomas and Travis had also observed the battle going on a short distance away. However, Thomas seemed furious at Travis.

“You… really didn’t say anything until now!?” He asked his fellow scientist in anger. “Why did you and Cody—and Pam keep this from us!?”

“Cause it was something they would not allow us to talk about!” Travis responded, seemingly quite upset. “Now that this has happened…”

“What’s going on?” Faith questioned as she approached the two.

“It’s… nothing.” Thomas answered, staring off into space. Eventually, he turned to Faith. “Actually, you should know. Travis, I’m gonna tell them.”

“That’s… fine, at this point.” Travis sighed. “Do what you want.”

“Tell us what?” Winona had joined in on the conversation. Both of the girls made sure to keep a wary eye on Medusa.

“About… who Lucy is.” Thomas took a deep breath.

As the body of the demon crackled to the flames nearby, Thomas explained what Travis had just told him. Faith and Winona’s hearts dropped upon hearing the truth.

“N-No way…” Faith put her hands over her mouth. “Why is she… How…?”

“Things just keep piling up today, don’t they…?” Winona clenched her fist, turning to Travis. “Why was it kept a secret…? Shouldn’t—”

“Unity,” Travis stated bluntly. “It’s… all cause of Unity’s damned restrictions. To be honest, we’re not sure what value in keeping it a secret was, but Rizzo threatened anyone who spilled the beans.”

Faith began to pace around the ruins surrounding them. She sighed multiple times, frustrated at the information processing inside of her head. 

“I can’t believe this… What is up with today!?”

Winona looked down, suddenly sensing something with her feet.

“Guys! Someone’s coming from that direction!” Winona pointed toward the gas station. Faith immediately focused her attention toward the area, seeing a figure approach.


Chris was limping as he made his way toward them. He was now missing his pilot hat, revealing his jet-black hair. His body was covered in a multitude of scratches and bruises from head to toe.

“Man, I finally woke up!” Chris groaned. “Fire Girl, you can deal a shit ton of damage, can’t you?” 

“I can deal even more than that! Wanna continue?” Faith raised her fists in an attempt to intimidate her opponent. Chris put up his hands in front of his face.

“Woah woah! No need for that! Don’t you see the shape I’m in? I couldn’t fight like this… For real though, you continued fighting after you knocked me out. You…” Chris glanced at the burning body of Medusa. “…took that thing down, and you’re still up for a fight!?”

“Well, not really, no…” Faith did not respond to Chris. “Most of us have hit our limit…”

“Derek seems to have kidnapped that girl? At least, I hope he has—I assume he has, he’s quite capable of doing so. Hmm…” Chris looked at the ground, not caring for Faith’s presence, as well as Winona’s, who was now right next to her teammate.

“No matter how capable he is, Adam went after him. He’ll save Lucy—I know he will!” Faith declared, pointing her finger at Chris with ferocity. 

Chris chuckled. “You have lots of faith in that guy, huh? Man… My sister had a lot of faith in Derek as well. Even when things fell to shit… When… I lost my niece… Sam still believed in him. Even though… she still went through with that…” 

“Loss…” Winona sighed. “We all share that in common, don’t we? Then…” She paused for a moment. “Then… why do we have to keep going at each other’s throats like this!? Why are we causing even more loss!?”

“I mean, I was all for just kidnapping the ghost girl. The others wanted to blow up half the town…” Chris sighed. “She’s dead, after all. No harm done, right? That’s how it should be… Even that’s pushing it though, I think… huh?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Winona asked Chris bluntly. “What the hell is wrong… with everyone? What the hell is wrong with this world!?” Tears began to pour out of her eyes.

Chris took a step back. “Hey, what’s—”

“Why did my dad have to die!? Just out of nowhere!? Why is… Why is everything so fucked up—I just don’t get what’s happening anymore!” Winona fell to her knees, sobbing horrendously.

“Win…” Faith leaned down and held her friend’s shoulder. “Along with her physical condition, she’s not emotionally able to be here on the battlefield right now…”

Chris sighed. “This just happened, I’m guessing…?”

“It did.” Faith responded. “It didn’t seem like it was related to anything your group was doing. Something else is going on… Something much greater than all of this.”

“Is that right…” Chris fell silent for a moment. His eyes slowly drifted up toward the sky. “You know… ever since my sister was corrupted by chaons, I always wondered how and where everything originates from, you know? My dad, my grandfather… they all loved to fly. That’s where I got my hat from that—” He finally noticed that his hat was missing. “Ah… whatever. In the end, it’s just a hat. Anyway—”

“Why are you trying to chat with us?” Thomas asked, approaching with his weapon at the ready. 

“Cause she tried to chat with me. Isn’t that right?” Chris glanced at Faith.

“Is that so…?” Faith questioned nervously.

“Listen. I think they loved to fly, cause… I don’t know… The sky’s just so big, you know? And there’s so much information we don’t have, we just think the sky can hold all the answers for us…”

“That… what?” Faith was perplexed at Chris’ words—her face clearly showed how lost she was. 

“I don’t know how to put it into words!” Chris shook his head. “Look—I…” Chris paused, slowly turning to Medusa, as if he suddenly had an epiphany. “Chaons…”

“This guy sure is something…” Thomas sighed. “Let’s just capture him and take him into custody, for now. After all of this settles, maybe we can figure out just what he’s—”

“My phantons are awakened… Awakened phantons don’t get corrupted like normal ones do. Yeah… It’ll still hurt like hell and be shit to adjust, but…” Chris snickered. 

“What’s so funny?” Faith asked, growing cautious.

“Carl was supposed to absorb this thing to gain some boost, and to further his goal to unleashing his body’s true capabilities…” It was clear now that Chris was merely talking to himself. “Carl’s a smart guy, I’m sure he can figure out another way to get to that point. Why don’t I just…”

Chris raised his hand toward the direction of Medusa. His body was shaking—not due to its current fatigue, but due to Chris’ anxiety welling up within him. 

“What’s he going to do…?” Faith stepped forward.

“I’m not risking anything,” Thomas stated. “Let’s knock him out right now!”

“Hold it.” Chris glared at the group. “Let’s make a deal, shall we?”

“We’re not doing anything of the sort!” Thomas leaped at Chris, effortlessly jabbing at his right arm—blood splattering onto the ground below.

“Well, shit!” Chris yelled in agony. “T-That’s okay, that helps, actually. I don’t really have too much blood outside of my body right now…”

“What are you—” Thomas paused. “You’re… not going to try something like that, are you?” 

“Yeah. Don’t get in my way!” Chris flicked his finger—a spark erupting right in front of Thomas. Using Phoebe, Thomas managed to block the sudden attack but was pushed back near Faith and Winona.

“Thomas!” Travis yelled while keeping his distance from the action.

“Listen to my deal,” Chris demanded. “It’s based around what that girl mentioned before. The world is fucked up, ain’t it? I certainly don’t care too much about it anymore. I just want to save my sister. If you guys defect from Unity, then I’ll join up with you. We’ll form a new group with the goal of fixing everything that’s wrong with this world! That includes saving my sister, and then doing whatever you guys want to do! You clearly can’t be down for how Unity operates things, based on what I’ve been gathering from you?”

“You’re right,” Faith admitted. “Unity is… trash. But… people I love and care for have already been dragged deep into Unity. If I were to leave… I’m not sure what would happen to them. That’s why…” She took a deep breath. “That’s why I want to save it from the inside out! And make Unity truly a place where we can all join as one!”

“She’s right…” Winona stood, finally calming down. “I can’t leave my sister alone… much like Faith can’t leave her mother. They have a hold on them—one you can’t understand. We’ll fight there, by our side, and save them that way.”

Chris exploded into laughter. “What the… hell is wrong with you people!? I mean, I’m fucked up too. The world being fucked up certainly includes us… Nothing makes sense anymore. Actually, did it ever?” He once again raised his hand toward Medusa. “There’s no guarantee that Fangless’ plans will benefit Derek and me—we’re just henchmen, after all. If I take this thing’s power, then I can at least say we’ll have this!”

“You’re crazy!” Thomas shouted. “Do you know the ratio of how often this kind of thing can work—”

“I sure am crazy! Do you think I care anymore!? Do you really think I care!?” Chris snapped his finger as a spark was unleashed. “Spark Blast: Lagging Flash!”

Instead of the usual explosive firepower with his Ability, the attack lit up in a blinding burst of light. The few moments this provided Chris were more than enough. He did not need to see—he knew what he had to do.

“I can never forget this incantation… Derek, you were there, too. You… didn’t stop her, did you? You… didn’t protect her. I resent you for that. If… If this ends up separating us, then so be it. I’ll try my best to still fight for you… you’re my brother-in-law, after all. But if I can’t, then… so be it. I don’t care anymore.”

With his corrupted thoughts running through his head, Chris began to speak.

“When two becomes one, power awakenss. I take in all of you, you give me everything. Sssee to it that my ssssoul asssssends to newer heightssssss…

Chris’ blood lit up in a mighty crimson light. The flames surrounding Medusa vanished as it rose off of the ground. It floated toward Chris, moving around with such fierce, ragdoll-like violence that it looked like a glitch straight out of a video game.           

“…Let the twilight cast over the world known as me.”    

Medusa’s body exploded, turning into a massive mass of black blood. It ran down the air itself, as if it were a physical object, slowly merging with the blood on Chris’ arm. Immediately, pain surged through his entire body.

“Gah!” Chris fell to the ground, the earth shattering apart as his mass increased dramatically due to the chaons’ power. 

The others were finally able to see the event occurring, but could do nothing at that point. Electrical crimson energy radiated out of Chris, ascending upwards, trying to climb into the sky. 

“This is…!” Faith took a step back, shielding Winona, who was having difficulty standing.

“Yeah…” Thomas chuckled in dismay. “Chaonic Assimilation.”

Through the chaotic energy, Chris’ now crimson-red hair could be seen extending several feet above his head, swirling toward the tip which was lit up with a similar crimson-red flame. A few red scales could now be seen around various parts of his body, most noticeably covering his face. As his wounds seemed to heal themselves, Chris opened his pitch-black eyes, grinning sadistically. 

“Well, dammit…” Chris spoke in an echoey voice. “I can’t see right now… Oh well. This is… wow. This power… I can feel everything around me. Did it seriously go this smoothly?” He began to cackle. 

“He’s good…” Thomas noted. “If he has an Ability, that sure makes things easier on him. But to pull off the assimilation that easily…?”

“His wounds are healed up…” Faith commented. “The human body is complex, yet chaons with their chaotic behavior are somehow able to adapt to that fact, which can cause regeneration-like acts to occur. Much like Adam’s power…”

“Jordan’s Ability can heal as well,” Travis stepped forward. “You’re right though. We’ve always wondered how it all works, cause the human body’s so dang complicated.”

“This means I’ve surpassed the human body?” Chris asked, smirking. “That’s what I’m getting at? Sounds good to me!” 

“What do we do…?” Winona asked while attempting to form sand around herself. “We’re in no condition to handle something like this…”

“You’re right…” Thomas sighed. “Geez, this isn’t looking good, huh? Maybe—”

“I’ll handle this.” Faith declared, moving in front of the group. 

“You’re in no condition to fight, Faith!” Winona yelled at her friend. “You can’t do this on your own!”

“I’ll… I’ll have to,” Faith clenched her fist. “I’m going to have to go past my limits.”

Chris chuckled. “Damn, I was hoping you would surrender upon seeing this power. You’re still gonna try to fight? Damn, that’s impressive. I might be falling for you.”

“Sorry, I’ll have to turn you down,” Faith snickered. “Your eyes aren’t that pretty, right now.”

“Oh, harsh!” Chris yelled while laughing. “What kind of eyes do you like, then?” His expression slowly turned serious.


“Huh…?” Faith seemed stunned at the mere mention of the color.

“That Adam kid sure is impressive, from what I’ve seen of him. I had to sit around and watch my sister’s entire relationship with Derek develop. It was gross and annoying as hell, but I do know how it plays out.”

“W-What are you even going on about?” Faith asked nervously. “Are the chaons getting to your head?”        

“That could be! But…” Chris sighed, seemingly losing focus for a moment before returning his attention to her.

“Do you love him?” 

Faith could not say a word to that question. Her eyes merely widened in response to what just exited Chris’ mouth.

“Derek loves the shit out of my sister,” Chris stated. “He’s gone above and beyond when it comes to her. Even though he couldn’t protect her then… he still tries to this day. Man…” He shook his head. “That kind of power can certainly help you surpass your limits. Let’s see you try it!”

“Even after the Chaonic Assimilation, his true feelings are still being expressed…” Thomas noted. “He really doesn’t want to fight… does he? He’s giving Faith advice to help her out. The madness of this world is clouding his mind… He’s fallen far, especially with this new power. But… still. Does he want to be saved?”

“I…” Faith gained her composure. “It’s none of your business on what drives me. Protecting everyone dear to me is what makes me fight! You don’t need to know the details!”

“Don’t let him rile you up, Faith…” Winona patted her shoulder. “Let’s do this.”

“Huh?” Faith turned to her. “You still wanna fight? I thought you said we—”

“We’re in no condition to fight, yes. But if you’re going to still do it, then I will too.” Winona smiled gently. “We’re teammates, after all. No… We’re best friends.”

Faith slowly nodded, smiling at Winona’s words. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“I can’t do any fighting at this point,” Thomas stated. “But, if you two want to go past your limits, then there may be a way.”

“What way?” Faith asked while staring ahead at Chris, who seemed to be standing there waiting for them.

“Here—” Thomas pulled out a tiny clear case with a few navy-blue pills inside. He popped it open, taking two of them out. “If you guys take these, then your inner phantons will erupt, giving you a massive boost.”

“Wha…!?” Faith looked at Thomas in disbelief. “T-Then why didn’t you give them to us earlier?”

“Cause they’re dangerous to use,” Thomas said bluntly. “Even at full power, these things can still take a toll on the user. In fact, only people with awakened phantons can use them. If a normal person were to take these… they’d die.”  

“W… What would happen if we were to use them at our current strength?” Winona asked.

“Well, your limits could certainly be passed…” Thomas sighed. “But… I’m not sure how you guys will be afterward. Are you sure you want to—”

Faith snatched a pill from Thomas’ hand, looking at it with confidence. “It seems like we’re gonna have to fight this guy anyway. I’m willing to take the risk…”

Winona took the second pill from Thomas’ hand. “She’s right… We have to try.”

“You two…” Travis shook his head. “If something were to happen to you guys, then your future—”

“Everyone’s future is at risk right now.” Faith said, moving the pill closer to her mouth. “We need to save as much of it as possible.”

“For my dad’s sake… I’ll protect as much as I can.” Winona declared. 

With those words, Thomas and Travis could no longer stop the two. Chris snickered at the girls as they swallowed the pills.

They felt it immediately—the surge of phantons through their bodies. With their stamina at the level it currently was, it felt as though the phantons were tearing right through them. However, both of them felt a strength boiling up toward the surface.

Chris grinned, preparing his fingers for the battle. “You ladies finally ready!?”

An eruption of flames exited Faith, surrounding her while spiraling plumes of sand formed around Winona. The two matched Chris’ grin, drunk on the power they now possessed. In unison, Faith and Winona made their declaration.

“You’re going down!”

 Next: Chapter 2.37

Previous: Chapter 2.35

Table of Contents




Chapter 2.35

Pam managed to enter the station after finding an opportunity to dash inside once the mass of green energy weakened. In that short amount of time, the power released from Emma reduced the interior of the building to a mess of rubble—the walls themselves barely standing.

“No way is this happening… This is what’s been inside her this whole time…?”

Pam cautiously moved forward—her hand on the hilt of her blade, ready for the worst. 

She looked down and indeed found the worst thing possible.

Two severed legs laid on the floor, cut just above the knees. 

“Hang in there, Roy!”

Pam turned to Roger’s shout. He held onto the now legless boy as blood spewed from his wounds. It seemed as though, for some odd reason, that Roy did not feel the pain to the extent that he would scream.

“W-What happened here…?” Pam shook her head. “I’ve got to stop the bleeding!” 

She rushed to Roy’s side, inspecting the injuries he had sustained. Even with the first aid equipment stored in the building, it would not be enough to help Roy at this stage. Pam had to think fast, or Roy would die to blood loss.

“I… All right.” Pam tore off a portion of her shirt and handed it to Roger. “Have him bite down on this.”

“W-What for…?” Roger asked, although he immediately did as he was told. Roy could barely keep consciousness as Roger stuffed the cloth into Roy’s mouth. “Sorry, Roy!”

“I’m sorry, too… But we need to seal those wounds…” Pam pointed her finger toward Roy’s legs. A moment later, steam began to form around his wounds. The heat seared Roy’s skin, which started to crudely stop the bleeding, as well as cover up the damage he had received.

“Guh!” Roy now screamed at the top of his lungs, muffled by the cloth. He bit down in an attempt to ease the pain Pam’s “first aid” was giving him. 

“I’m sorry, Roy… I’m sorry…” Pam repeated. “I swear, we’ll fix you up once this is all over. Just hang in there…”

“Ah, Pam! It’s Emma! She’s gone berserk again!” Roger pointed to the central room, which they were right outside of.

“Emma…” Pam glanced inside to see her daughter covered in distorted green energy—the same energy that erupted from the building moments prior. She seemed to be in a trance-like state—slowly stumbling around the torn floorboards. 

“She created those wings again… and slashed at Roy. I tried to drag him away as best I could. The wings then disappeared, and now she just covered in that stuff…”

Pam looked at the floor surrounding them. The only real sign of blood was around the two legs and near where Roy currently was located. 

“Wings…? And—you dragged him away…? There’s no blood to indicate that, though? What’s going on here…?” 

“I-I don’t know…” Roger held onto Roy, who had now lost consciousness. “I thought we saved her before… Why is this happening again!?”

“It must be due to Twine’s base being destroyed, I’d assume. The servers were shut down as well, meaning Block was terminated—letting this energy run free again.” Pam began to approach her daughter. “Stay there and keep an eye on Roy. I’ll handle this.”

Roger nodded as tears began to well up in his eyes.

“Am I this useless…?”

Pam stood near Emma, who finally decided to turn toward her. Instead of her daughter’s usual, warming gaze, Pam was met by horrendous eyes that she could only describe as being filled with a nasty emerald slime.

“Emma… This is what’s been inside you all along…?” Pam’s hand trembled on the hilt of her blade. 

Emma said nothing—simply staring at Pam with an animal-like curiosity. 

“How did I not know they were using you for something like this…!? I’m your mother, and I knew nothing! That bastard Rizzo used something that saved your life for…” Pam slowly shook her head, feeling tears flow from her eyes.

“I’m not just a horrible mother, I’m a horrible person. My life’s been filled with nothing but lies, as I continued to chase a dream that was impossible for me…” Pam recalled back when she fought alongside Rebecca. “I could never be that strong…”

She breathed in, and exhaled slowly.

“Despite all of my mistakes… I have you and Faith. You two give me a reason to fight—so!

Pam started to draw her sword—steam erupting from the scabbard. 

“I’ll become as strong as I need to be to protect you guys!”

The energy around Emma shifted, forming into the dragon-like wings once again. Without hesitation, one of the wings extended, soaring in Pam’s direction.

She unleashed her steam-covered blade, striking the wing with tremendous force. The impact knocked her back slightly but was able to completely counter Emma’s attack.

“What is this energy…? It’s strong!” Pam swung her sword repeatedly, knocking back Emma’s wings that attempted to stab her. 

“I’ve got to try knocking her out…” Taking a giant leap fueled by her steam, Pam ascended into the air, tearing through the ceiling that was about to tumble down anyway. The debris fell onto Emma, who blew it away with her wings.

“There!” Pam saw an opening and went for it. Creating several Roswell Spheres, she used her steam to launch herself down at Emma. The possessed girl attempted to retaliate at her mother, as the spheres surrounding Pam protected her from the green wings.

Creating a path directly toward Emma, Pam prepared to strike her daughter with the hilt of her sword, hoping that enough force would render her unconscious and stop the rampaging energy.

“Sorry, Emma! It’s just like training—only far worse!”

As Pam landed a blow, she became horrified at what she witnessed. Emma managed to block the attack with her arm.

An arm that was now covered in green scales.

“What is—” Pam was knocked away with a casual fling of Emma’s arm. The mother landed on her feet, staring in complete terror as her daughter began to transform.

“What is this… What is this—What is this!?

The scales proceeded to cover Emma’s entire body as two dark green horns grew from her temples. Her wings became even more distorted, barely resembling the shape of wings at all.

“Nothing like this happened the previous time… Jerry was able to stop it before it got too bad. Emma…” Pam took a stance, bending one knee and pointing her blade at her daughter. “I’ll save you… I swear it—”

The wings flew at Pam, catching her completely off guard, despite the fact she kept an eye on them the entire time.

“I couldn’t see them for a second… What just—”

Before the wings could slice her in half, a huge spark of blue flashed, knocking the attack back. Charlotte had appeared in front of Pam in her white-haired form, wielding a blade.

Pam’s eyes widened, staring in complete awe at what she had witnessed. She did not believe, at first, that it was Charlotte who had saved her.

She recalled the past once again, remembering a third friend that would join herself and Rebecca on the battlefield—one that shared Charlotte’s appearance. 


“Pam, are you okay!?” Charlotte asked, turning to the woman. I sensed something changed, so I flew in her as fast as possible!”

“Changed…? Yeah, Emma’s appearance… She’s…”

“She’s starting to look like an actual dragon… Is this the Nexus’ doing?” Charlotte gritted her teeth. “And, that’s not what I meant. I still can’t understand this green energy, but I felt a strong phantonic shift occur.”

“Huh? Phantonic?” Pam walked up next to Charlotte. “I guess you would be able to sense something like that, huh?”

Emma continued to attack, interrupting Pam and Charlotte’s conversation. Both of the women slash their blades, repelling the wings that were attempting to destroy them. Charlotte then noticed something.

“Is this—” She whacked her blade on one of the wings that seemed to approach her faster than the average attack. “I see! I get it now!”

“What do you get?” Pam asked, blocking a wing with her blade. The second wing attacked her in the same fashion—Pam being unable to detect it. Charlotte managed to strike just in time, rescuing her.

“There’s a slight ‘time-skip’ happening with her attacks. It’s just enough so that you lose track of her movements!”

“What the!? How is that happening? Did Emma awaken an Ability throughout all of this?” Pam questioned as she continued to dodge the onslaught of attacks.

“No, nothing like that. It’s probably the Nexus Network. This power originates from it, after all. All of those concentrated phantons… If they share their power with this green energy, something time-related could occur.”

“Just plain old phantons can do that? Even if they’re all jumbled up together, they still wouldn’t share the properties of awakened phantons!”

“No. You see, Pam…” Charlotte slashed at a wing, hitting it with enough force to send it back next to Emma.

“The thing you call ‘phantonic energy’ was initially meant to control the flow of time.” Charlotte held her head. “Wait… I-I know that…?”

“I mean, it makes sense,” Pam knocked back a wing with a Roswell Sphere. “It could explain how ghosts work. Strange… If we can get your memories back completely, it could really change things!”

“Yeah… That’s not what we should focus on right now, however.” Charlotte suggested, reforming her blade that had begun to crack. 

“I know we have to save my daughter. I’ve gotten used to how these wings normally attack. Do you have the time-skip thing down?”

“I do. It doesn’t happen too often, and when it does, it’s quite obvious.”

“I wonder if that had an effect on Roy when his legs got sliced off… Did it delay the blood loss or something?” Pam pondered.

“Jerry!” Charlotte turned back, where Jerry had met up with Roger and Roy. “Do you think you can come up with something?”

“W-With what I’ve been seeing…” Jerry sighed. “It’s not going to be easy. Although I have Block backed up at my house, we don’t have the server strength that Twine had. I also backed up that strange data Adam gave to me, but it would be impossible to decode this quickly.”

“So what you’re saying is we need a source with enough power for the signal to work…?” Charlotte asked, flying around while evading attacks. 

“I’m not sure if that would work at this point. Too much energy has been unleashed—I mean, look at her! She’s starting to transform into an actual freaking dragon!”

“Dammit…” Charlotte began to pant. “I’m reaching my limit here… We’ve gotta do something quick!”

A shriek suddenly erupted from Emma, startling everyone.

“Emma!? Sweetie!?” Pam almost ran up to her, yet calmed herself before her guard was dropped.

The wings around Emma vanished. She had stopped moving completely at this point.

“W-Well let’s try restraining her!” Charlotte yelled, preparing to fly up to the girl. 

She halted immediately upon seeing a sphere of corrupt green energy form from the horns on Emma’s head.

“T-This is…!” Charlotte landed on the ground, wielding her sword at her side. She began charging energy directly into the blade, which shifted from a long sword to a great sword.

“Charlotte!?” Pam yelled in a panic.

“Energy’s gathering quickly—I have to deflect it!” 

The sphere exploded into an enormous blast of energy, rocketing at Charlotte. At the same moment, she swung her sword upward, unleashing tremendous power of her own.

“Royal Ascent!” 

With her Ouderkirk power at full throttle, Charlotte whacked the attack up into the sky—the blue energy lifting the green energy. Both powers erupted in the atmosphere with almighty force, which could have easily leveled the town in an instant.

As the dust began to settle, Charlotte reverted back into her black-haired form, collapsing onto her knees. 

“D-Damn… That’s all I can do…”

Pam placed her hand on Charlotte’s shoulder. The ghost girl noticed the woman was trembling.

“You really are an Ouderkirk, huh? Amazing. Don’t worry—I’ll handle it from here.”

“B-But unleashing that much power didn’t exhaust her. In fact, I can still sense she’s—”

Both of them went silent as the possessed Emma leaped through the remainder of the dust toward them—her hands now formed into razor-sharp claws. Pam was unable to counter fast enough while Charlotte could not move at all.

They were certain one of them was about to be slashed to ribbons.

A powerful strike of lightning removed their fear, knocking Emma away from them.

Pam and Charlotte watched as Brandon landed in front of them, panting heavily.

“That’s… not a good look, Emma…”

Next: Chapter 2.36

Previous: Chapter 2.34

Table of Contents




Chapter 2.34

“Dad… No…” Winona fell to her knees, watching the phantons that were once within her father ascend, taking the dust that remained with them. 

Jerry and Travis stood there in silence. Eventually, the red-haired boy sat down, punching the ground below him. “God… dammit! What were we supposed to do!?”

“Cody…” Travis was shaking. “Why did this happen to you… Just, what…” His voice trailed off.

Thomas managed to take his eyes off of the battle, glancing over where his friend had just perished. “What… happened? Cody…”

“This is the way the world works,” Derek stated. “You can lose someone precious to you at any time. I’m not sure what just happened, personally, but it does not matter to me. What does matter—”

Unleashing phantons from the soles of his feet, Derek leaped toward Jerry and Travis.

“—is succeeding in my mission!”

Jerry realized that Lucy was currently on the floor next to him. Nobody was holding her—leaving her wide open. “Dammit…!”

Lucy was grabbed by Derek before Jerry could even move. Thomas had attempted to attack the man in the process, but could not, as Derek had picked the absolute perfect moment to make his move—one where all present were distracted enough.

“He’s going to get away…” Thomas started to chase after him, proceeding to trip and fall down. “My body’s at its limit…!”

Winona was the only one close enough to potentially save Lucy. Of course, there was no way she was in a state where she could react in time. With tears running down her face, she attempted to use her own dust in the air to bring back the ashes of her father.

“Dad… I wanted all of us… together again. I wanted Cynthia to come back and… and then we could have been a real family again…” Winona collected the ash into the palms of her hands, while tears soaked into them.

Charlotte and Faith were well aware of the current situation, although they could not do anything to help. Medusa started stomping on the ground repeatedly, seeming to prepare for another attack.

“…Faith, let’s do this. We’ll take this thing down, and we’ll save Lucy. We won’t lose anything else.”

“Yeah…” Faith took a deep breath, forming a veil of flames around her. “Once Adam gets up, the three of us will work together and win!”

“He should be getting back up in a minute. The World Mirror works wonders like that…” Charlotte looked over at the boy on the ground, feeling an odd sensation come from the white energy emitting from him. “Adam…?”

Adam managed to regenerate his esophagus, while the rest of what was lost was not that far behind. 

“I see… I see…” Adam managed to whisper. He sat up—the World Mirror finishing up its handiwork. “I see…”

“Are you okay, Adam?” Faith asked him.

“Derek took Lucy, huh? All right, then. I should go and stop him… But first, let me make it clear to all of you, inside my head and out—”

Adam ran forward with blinding speed, jabbing Overlay-covered fingers into Medusa’s eyes.

“I’m no goddamn hero. Never expect me to do anything even close to what a hero does.”

Medusa wailed in pain, ripping itself away from Adam. He proceeded to kick the beast away from him, sending it a few feet away. 

“I…” Winona silenced her sobs, which Adam noticed.

“I’m not speaking to you specifically, Winona. I would have saved your dad if I was able to. There’s some extra bullshit that’s happening on top of everything. It was annoying as shit, but now that it’s claimed an innocent life, I’m done.

“Adam, what are you—” Faith was interrupted by a glare from Adam.

“I believe in you and Charlotte. Finish this thing off while I go take care of Derek. We’re going to tear everything down until we get our peaceful town back.”

“We… We got it,” Charlotte nodded. “We’ll handle things here. How did you know to strike at its eyes?”

“I can see it focusing all of its chaons toward its eyes. I figured it did something with that to keep you guys from moving. You’re not two that just sit there and let something attack you.”

Charlotte sighed. “Well, actually, I just stood there and let that Miles kid grab me…”

“Well, whatever happened, don’t beat yourself up over it. Mistakes can be made…” Adam looked at Medusa, who was attempting to regenerate its eyes. “I’ve made plenty of them, and I’ll probably make many more from this point forward.”

Faith approached Adam, gently placing her hand on his arm. “Listen, Adam—”

“I’m your hero, right?” Adam asked her. 

Faith’s eyes widened. Before she could respond, Adam continued.

“I don’t consider myself one. Nobody should. The idea of a true hero just… isn’t plausible.”

While Adam and Faith had their discussion, Charlotte managed to form a sword and begin swiping at Medusa. The demon managed to stumble out of the way, evading multiple attacks that she attempted.

“What do you mean by that?” Faith questioned, staring down at the arm she still held.

“It’s actually pretty obvious, and I don’t see why the world just… doesn’t seem to understand it.” Adam took a long, deep breath, exhaling slowly. 

“This world isn’t black and white. It’s entirely filled with gray.”

With those words, Adam leaped off in the direction that Derek had gone. Faith watched in silence as the boy cloaked in white disappeared from her vision within seconds.

“Gray, huh…?” Faith looked at the ground, shaking her head. “That… does make sense, though. Of course, not everything’s in black and white. Is that why we can’t understand anything? Do we just not look at the world the way we’re supposed to?”

“Of course not!” Charlotte yelled at her, landing next to her. “I know we have a lot to process right now, but we don’t have the time to talk about it! Help me finish this thing off before its eyes heal up!”

“R-Right!” Faith stepped forward, strengthening her flames once more. Charlotte stood next to her.

“Timelines, huh? It seems like they very well could be real… I didn’t really have any doubt though, after what I’ve seen.”

“Huh? What have you seen? Wait—didn’t you say we shouldn’t talk!?” Faith asked, scratching her head in confusion.

Charlotte smiled, wielding her blade in front of her. “I’ve seen something certainly worth fighting for. If you knew what it was, you would agree with me…”

“Y-You can’t tell me?”

“I don’t want something to happen, causing more damage,” Charlotte breathed in, accessing her white-haired form. “Just trust me when I say: we need to keep fighting!”

“Well, I wasn’t gonna disagree with that!” Faith smirked, readying herself for combat. The quick bout Charlotte had with Medusa was capable of preventing the beast from healing its eyes. 

If they were to defeat it, they would have to act right at that moment.

Charlotte was the first to move, thrusting her sword at the beast. Unlike her previous attempt, she managed to slash the side of the Medusa, successfully tearing away a good chunk of flesh. 

“I figured this form would work a lot better. I can’t stay in it for too much longer!” 

“I’ve got your back!” Faith shouted at Charlotte, managing to strike Medusa with a fierce flaming fist.

Charlotte followed up immediately, slashing at the back of the demon’s neck. Her sword had already begun to grow brittle, only managing to give Medusa a good whack. 

“Damn!” Charlotte cursed. “I can’t finish it off like this!”

“Keep hitting it, Charlotte! I’ll do the finishing blow!”

Charlotte did not doubt Faith, following along with her plan. She struck at Medusa several times, causing massive blunt damage. The beast attempted to slash in retaliation while Charlotte blocked the blows with her blade.

Her sword shattered—leaving Charlotte wide-open for an attack. Medusa, sensing the opportunity, manipulated the tendrils on top of its head to strike down at the ghost. At the last moment, Charlotte leaped backward, using a small amount of flight to move out of the way.   

This pattern continued—Medusa now focusing entirely on expanding its tendrils to attack. Charlotte, at this point, could only evade. She managed to keep her white-haired form active, which most likely saved her from getting struck.

In the meantime, Faith had formed a flaming Roswell Sphere in her hand.

“I can’t attack while they’re moving around like that… I’ve gotta…!”

With determination boiling up inside of her, Faith ran into the fray. Charlotte noticed this, attempting to completely garner Medusa’s attention. 

“Adam… I don’t care what you say. Heroes can exist. I’ll show you, you stubborn idiot…”

Faith chucked the sphere at Medusa, which rocketed directly at the beast.

However, Medusa noticed this, moving out of the way at the last second. Faith’s attack was now heading in Charlotte’s direction.

This did not matter. Faith and Charlotte grinned as the Ouderkirk caught the sphere, not causing damage whatsoever simply due to Faith’s desire for it not to hurt her.

“We’ll see ya later, demon!”

Charlotte smashed the flaming sphere into Medusa’s back, causing a massive explosion the second it made an impact. The entire area was covered in raging flames, which only burned the beast that had been struck. 

Faith manipulated the flames to surround Medusa, trapping it inside. Although, both of the girls were certain that they were successful in their attack.

“Just in case—” Faith looked at Charlotte. “I’m going to stay here. Charlotte, please go save my sister!”

“A-Are you sure?” Charlotte asked her worriedly. “Shouldn’t you be—”

“I need to be here right now.” Faith glanced over at Winona, who was staring off into space. Jerry was next to her while Travis had met back up with Thomas.

“Right… You can count on me.” Charlotte assured her. Fading back to her black-haired form, she ran over to Jerry. “Can you come with me? I need your help at the station.”

“I-I mean, I can see why, since I’m the one who originally stopped that energy from going out of control. But in this situation… And right now—” He looked at Winona.

Charlotte leaned on her knee in front of Winona, grabbing her shoulders. Winona managed to look at her.

“Winona. I’ll help you in any way possible to deal with this… I’m so sorry…” She quickly embraced the gloomy girl. “B-But right now…”

“I know… I shouldn’t grief. We’re in the middle of a battle…” Winona nodded, weakly returning the hug. “I just want to know… How? Why?

“We’re going to find those answers—I promise you,” Charlotte affirmed, placing her hand on Winona’s head. “We’ll start the search right here, right now. Through this battle… Through all the battles in the future—we’ll search for the truth to this world!”

“Yeah… We will…” Winona nodded, slowly standing up. “I won’t leave Faith’s side, don’t worry.”

“I’ll stay here too.” Thomas barged in, stretching out his now sore body. “I can trust Jerry to handle things back at the station, right?” He playfully nudged his son’s arm.

“Do you really think I can…?” Jerry asked, now having doubts about himself.

“Of course you can. You’re better than me, you know?”

“Huh? How!?” Jerry asked, quite surprised.

“You’ve got both things down—a head and a heart. With both of those, you can figure a way out of anything.” Thomas gave him a thumbs up.

“Dad…” Jerry slowly nodded. “I’ll do my best.”

“Come on, fake boyfriend,” Charlotte grabbed Jerry. “We’ve gotta get over there. We’re running—I want to conserve my energy.”

“Wait, we’re running!?” Jerry whined. “Sure, you may conserve energy, but what about me!?”

“Just grin and bear it for now!” Charlotte yelled, dragging the boy away.

“Should I go there too?” Travis asked the man.

“Nah, stay here with us.” Thomas leaned in, whispering into Travis’ ear. “I need to discuss what just happened with you.”

“Huh?” Travis attempted to question Thomas, only to be silenced by the man’s hand over his mouth.

Winona walked over to Faith, who was now focused entirely on the fire encapsulating Medusa.

“So this is a chaonic entity, huh?” Winona asked in a melancholic tone.

“This is what Unity’s originally made to fight. Creatures created from chaons, such as this one… Of course, who knows what—”

Winona buried her face into Faith’s shoulder, not making a sound.

Faith simply held her friend in her arm, as gentle and comforting as possible.

“Who knows what we’re really supposed to fight…”

“…This entire world, I think.” Winona responded softly.

“Yeah…” Faith nodded. “That sounds about right.”   

Next: Chapter 2.35

Previous: Chapter 2.33

Table of Contents




Chapter 2.33

“W-What do you mean…?” Winona was baffled at what her father had just said.

“The timeline is finally going to adjust for there being a soul that shouldn’t belong. I happen to be the unfortunate soul that must be sacrificed, it seems…” Cody held his head. “H-How do I know that…? What am I even talking about!?”

“You’re not dying!” Winona declared. “I refuse! Whatever’s going on, I’m going to stop it!”

“I…” Cody grew silent. Travis walked over to him, placing his hand on his shoulder.

“You seem fine to me? As usual, you can take a hit pretty well. So that’s clearly not a problem… What are you talking about with this ‘timeline’ nonsense?”

Jerry stared at Cody, going deep in thought. “He doesn’t look like he’s joking… He’s dead serious. Timelines…? Is something that big actually real!? If that’s the case…” He approached the man. “Cody, is there anything else you can tell us!? Anything that can help us figure out what we can do to help!”

Cody snickered—his body shaking rapidly at this point. “Although you do genuinely want to help, you’re seeking out information as well, correct? That’s just like your father… gathering information while simultaneously trying to make things better. It’s tough to do both earnestly.”

“Of… Of course, I want to learn more. I want to learn the truth behind Phantonics—which I assume you know is being kept from us?”

“I-It absolutely is,” Cody agreed. “Those bastards make it pretty obvious they’re covering up things. Ain’t that right, Travis?”

“Yeah…” Travis nervously nodded. “Without that actual data, I’ve… barely been able to do anything of significance with my career…”

“Don’t worry—we’ll get to the truth,” Jerry stated. “But first, we need to learn more specifically to help Cody out!”

“Heh—I honestly used to think you brainiacs were incapable of emotions. Turns out, I-I was surrounded by a bunch of softies, huh?” Cody chuckled.

“Well, what can you tell us, Dad!? Anything else!?” Winona asked in a panic.

“It’s like… information from another timeline is connecting with me. D-Does that make sense? The information is talking about how there’s been some kind of ‘delay’ in correcting some kind of balance issue. Now that certain values have started acting up, it’s time to make the correction before something terrible happens.”

“Just what in the hell… You know that much about it?” Jerry asked completely perplexed.

“Y-Yeah…” Cody paused for a moment. “At the same time… I-I-I feel tons of power flowing through me. Not in a good way, however. I-I feel… like I’m about to overload—” Cody collapsed onto his knees, about to vomit.

“Dad!” Winona grabbed him. 

“You… You need to get Adam. He’s the only one who can stop this…”

“Is it cause of the World Mirror…?” Jerry pondered. “Just… What is Adam’s Ability all about, anyway? What is… any of this about? Phantonics, the thing I’ve been passionate about my entire life, the thing that I’ve always believed held the secrets of the world… It can’t explain this, can it…?”

Before Winona could respond to her father, Cody’s skin began to crack, small amounts of blue emitting from them.

“N-No! Dad!” Winona hugged Cody out of desperation. “D-Don’t! Don’t die!” She began to sob. “You can’t go…!”

“We’ve got to think of something!” Travis yelled, rustling his hair—close to ripping it out. He looked over at Thomas and Derek who were still battling. “At a time like this…!?”

Derek noticed the unusual activity going on off to the side. “Hey, don’t you think you have more important things to deal with right now?”

“I’m not giving you any opportunity to take Lucy!” Thomas proclaimed. Inside his head, he was not as courageous.

“What the hell is happening to Cody!? Is it something these guys did!?” 

“Well, that’s fair. I didn’t expect to be sneaky about it. I’ll just have to take her using brute force,” Derek jumped away from Thomas, wiping the blood off of his body from the wounds he had received. 

“I can read your movements using my eyes!” Thomas pointed out. “Your Ability gives away quite a lot of information regarding how and where you’re going to attack.”

“You know…” Derek sighed, cracking his neck. “My Ability is called ‘Inner Force,’ since the phantons stay inside me while operating how I move on the outside. You’re the second person recently who seems to be able to see how it works.”

“Don’t underestimate how far phantonic technology can go!” Thomas chuckled. “It can be very dangerous… It can also be quite helpful.”

“Yeah, I can’t really let Unity get away with using stuff like this regularly, huh?” Derek placed his hand on his chin. “Hmm… All right. Since you can see my phantonic activity on the inside, why keep it there?”

“Huh? What do you mean?” Thomas asked, pointing his weapon at Derek.

A thin blue line formed around Derek’s body. As Thomas reacted to the phenomenon, the energy erupted outward, pushing him back.

“What is this!?” Thomas jabbed the ground to stop himself from moving.

“I usually fling my phantons around inside of me, causing my physical body to be flung in conjunction with the force I apply. This trick allows me to just straight up fling the phantons around, like so—”

Derek punched the air in front of him, unleashing a beam of energy from his fist. Thomas blocked the azure attack, yet was still sent flying back into the ruined walls of Ann’s.

“That’s quite a change,” Thomas leaped back into the fray immediately. He held Phoebe back, preparing to jab. “I can’t hold back now, it seems?”

He thrust his rapier forward, unleashing a phantonic beam of his own—although it was thinner than Derek’s. Seeing the attack coming, Derek retaliated by swinging his fist at it—the blue radiating out of him easily knocking away the blue from Thomas. 

“The difference between our phantons is becoming more apparent…” Thomas sighed, dashing forward. “I’ve got to end this quickly!”

“We’re both in a rush—let’s finish this up!” Derek smashed his fist into Thomas’ blade, the eruption of phantons blanketing what was left of the store. Winona shifted her foot, erecting a small stone barrier to protect the group from the impact. She kept her eyes on her father the entire time.

“What do we do…!?”


Outside, Faith and Charlotte were well aware of the strange activity happening off in the distance.

“We need to get over there!” Faith begged, trying to pull Charlotte in the store’s direction.

“Faith—we need to be careful—you should know this. With our current strength, we have to find a practical way to help.”

“We will!” Faith said with strong determination. “Regardless of how we do it, I’m going to fight! We’ll see this through to the end!”

“Good resolve…” Charlotte smiled softly. “Let’s—” Her eyes widened upon feeling a strange sensation.

“What’s up Char—” Faith went silent. She pointed over toward the police station. “What is…?”

Charlotte turned—the green light confirming her suspicion. “Again!? Emma!”

“Wait, this is what happened before!?” Faith asked, prepared to blitz over to help her sister.

“Should we split up…?” Charlotte questioned, holding Faith’s arm while trying to contemplate. “You want to go help out Emma, but I may be more effective against that strange power of her’s…”

“W-Whatever you think…!” Faith began to panic. “We just need to come up with a decision, and fast!”

Out of the corner of their eyes, the two noticed black energy suddenly surround Miles’ unconscious body.

“What the—” Charlotte formed a tiny knife, flinging it at the mass. It did nothing—Miles quickly vanishing. “Dammit…! They must be rescuing their fallen comrades!”

“…Let’s leave it alone for now. We’ve already got enough on our plate!” Faith yelled, still trying to think while also waiting for Charlotte’s input on their current situation.

“All right. Why don’t we—” Charlotte gasped.

“What is it now!?” Faith was hysterical at so much happening at once.

Charlotte simply pointed her trembling finger to their east. Faith turned, swallowed by the same terror that had struck her friend.

Limping toward them was Medusa. The demon’s appearance was enough to shock anyone who witnessed it. However, it was not the most horrific feature this beast brought. 

Medusa was holding a blood-soaked severed head—torn right off the unknown individual. 


In the woods, Muraco suddenly jumped up in surprise. Brandon noticed this, drearily looking at the rabbit.

“Hey, what’s your problem!”

“Idiot, look!” Muraco pointed over toward Ivan, where another black mass had formed.

“Gah! What the—”

Before the two could move in, their enemy had already disappeared.

“H-He’s gone! Dammit! What just happened!?” Brandon shouted while surveying the ground where Ivan lied moments prior.

“It was the same energy that warped us here. They used it to save their ally, it seems.” Muraco explained. His expression grew solemn. 

“Now that I got a good feel on it, it does feel exactly like the same kind of power that Brandon used…”


Faith formed a flame in her hand while Charlotte formed a sword in her own. The two prepared for Medusa to charge directly at them. 

They immediately froze upon staring into the demon’s hellish eyes.

“W-What is this power…? I can’t move…!” Charlotte’s sword fell, smashing apart on the ground.

“This thing is… stopping us from moving with a mere glance?” Faith’s flame vanished—the embers blown away by a slight breeze.

The head that Medusa held in its hand began to disintegrate into black ash, merging with the beast’s body.

“I-It assimilated that person’s head…” Charlotte struggled to speak. “Has it been killing people to stock up on power!?”

“Is that what’s it’s doing…?” Faith couldn’t help but feel queasy. “What a monster…!”

In the next moment, Medusa leaped at the two girls without warning. It did not matter at this point if they were ready—they were restricted by the demon’s strange power.

Faith and Charlotte fell into despair, accepting that they could do nothing to prevent Medusa from ripping them to shreds.

A bright light flew between the two—Adam striking Medusa with an Overlay-covered kick. The force knocked the beast away, saving the girls just in time.

“Adam…!” Faith’s eyes filled with joy.

“I… thought I sensed you coming. Couldn’t be sure, though.” Charlotte sighed in relief.      

“We do have a lot going on over here as well. Geez…” Adam glanced back at the station, blanketed in green light. “It’s that bastard’s power again…”

“A-Adam!” Winona noticed his arrival and sprinted over. “You need to help us!”

“What’s going on over—” Adam paused, grimacing at the swelling energy off in the distance. “This is…!”

“I don’t know what’s happening! My dad is talking about some other timeline—or whatever—and this overwhelming power is going to tear his body apart!”

“Timeline? So is this for real…?” Adam held his chest. “I’m not going crazy…?”

“So, she was right…” The inner voice sighed. “I didn’t want to believe it. I did all of this to help you against the trials you face, but it seems to be causing unnecessary dread, huh…?” 

“Well, what do I do?” Adam asked himself. The three surrounding him looked curiously at his actions.

“Should I tell you…? Will it affect this timeline in another way…? It… It’s my fault that aiaara was thrown into this timeline… by herself. For so many years, she was alone. And now this is happening…”

“Hey—I asked you what the hell do I do!?” Adam roared, holding his head from a sudden sharp pain. Faith held out her hands, wanting to reach out to him.

“Adam, what are you—”

“Dammit! If you’re not going to help out, then why did you show up in the first place!?” Adam groaned, stepping toward Ann’s. “I’ll have to use Reflection… I let the World Mirror study the properties of the phenomenon, then proceed to deal with it based on I learned! It’s worked so far… somehow! Freaking—don’t worry, Win! I’ll help him!”

Adam started to run toward Cody, who was already covered head to toe with blue phantonic cracks. 

“Adam, look out—”

Adam turned to Faith’s voice, which was yelling out to him. Before he could see her, Medusa struck him with its hand, smashing his throat. This blow would have easily torn Adam’s head off if it was not for his quick thinking—gathering energy in his neck at that moment.

Medusa knocked Adam back, falling to the ground—blood splattering everywhere from his fresh wound.

“Guh!” Adam held his throat in absolute agony, attempting to channel more of the World Mirror’s energy to restore it. 

“Adam!” Faith and Charlotte yelled simultaneously, still taking care of focusing on Medusa’s movements. The demon made a high raucous noise, licking Adam’s blood off of its hand.

Winona stared at Adam in despair, as the only possible way in saving her father had just been temporarily taken out of commission. She slowly turned, knowing time was up.

Cody saw Winona and was able to give her one last smile before the phantons disintegrated his body. 

Next: Chapter 2.34

Previous: Chapter 2.32

Table of Contents




Chapter 2.32

“What did you do!? What did you do!?” Miles roared, swinging his fist at Charlotte. Despite her successful block using her arm, phantonic energy burst out of her, quickly absorbed by the boy.

“Dammit…” Charlotte jumped away, almost tripping on her own feet. From that one punch, she began to feel woozy. 

“You’re just a mass on energy! I’ll use my hands to rip you to pieces! Damn ghost—how could you do this to her!?”

Miles swung violently, attempting to grab hold of Charlotte at any opportunity he could get. She could not build up the strength to fly away in time, causing her to become locked into a close-quarters evasion game.

“Listen… This is war. This is what happens we two sides go at each other with the intent to kill. To no one’s surprise, people die!” Charlotte shouted right into Miles’ face. “Your friend intended to…” She paused. “Kill… me?”

“You’re already dead! You don’t have the right to mess with the living! I’ll make it so you no longer exist!”

Despite his pure rage, Miles’ statement was still accurate. In Charlotte’s eyes, at least. 


Her guard fell. Miles took this opportunity to grab Charlotte by the throat using both of his hands. She immediately felt the phantonic energy discharge out of her—Miles squeezing it out.

“What am I even doing? What am I fighting for…? This feeling… I can’t breathe. I’ve… I’ve felt this pain before…” Charlotte gazed into Miles’ eyes. 

“It certainly wasn’t him… That glare, however. I’ve seen it. Fury. Fury, for no particular reason, taken out on me… There is a reason this time, though. I took a life. When I’m no longer among the living. Even if you’re alive, taking a life is… wrong. It’s wrong. So… What grounds do I even have to do it…?” 

Charlotte did not even make an attempt to struggle her way out. If she had the strength to do so, she still would not bother.

“Yeah… It figures. I never mustered up the energy—that I certainly had—to get those fiends off of me. If I’m going to disappear, this is certainly the way to go. Not fighting—even if I could. Besides, if these memories are the only thing I can remember… Please, just end it. Let me be at peace…”

Charlotte’s vision was blurred. The little that remained visible to her suddenly lit up in vibrant orange light. A few moments passed before Miles slowly released his grasp on her. The next thing Charlotte saw was the boy collapsed onto the ground—his back badly burned.


She fell to her knees, reverting to her black-haired form. Charlotte did not bother catching her breath—not needing to breathe—yet held her throat from the agony she had just received. Looking up, she saw Faith rush toward her.

“Charlotte, are you okay!?” She leaned down, grabbing Charlotte’s shoulders.

“Faith… I… I’m okay…” Charlotte replied—her voice hoarse. 

“Thank goodness… Man, I’m exhausted!” Faith slowly rested her head on Charlotte. “Using my flames like this… I wasn’t ready!” 

“Were you the one fighting in the gas station…? I deflected an attack toward there on accident… How foolish of me…”

“So that’s how that happened!” Faith laughed rather boisterously. “I thought I kept the structure of the building in check during the fight. I see… Yeah, I had to use my flames to guard myself. After that, I had to put out the fire before it spread to the pumps. That obviously wouldn’t be good if they went up in flames.” She folded her arms, nodding to herself. “Yep, yep. I’m really getting this Ability down, aren’t I?” 

Charlotte started to giggle—wrapping her arm around Faith. “What am I honestly doing…? I can’t let you guys face all of this alone, now can I?”

“Hm?” Faith looked at her curiously. 

“I need to stabilize my body—you need to take a breather. Let’s do that. But…” Charlotte glared over toward Ann’s. “We need to get over there as soon as possible.”

“Right…” Faith agreed. “If Win’s in there, I know things will be all right. But… like you said, I can’t let any of you face this alone.” 

“That’s right… I’m not alone in any of this.” Charlotte glanced up at the cloudy sky, which revealed a small speck of blue.

“I may not be alive… I do, however, exist. And it’s worth ‘living’ this existence, isn’t it?”


“Muraco!” Brandon attempted to rescue the rabbit lying motionless on the forest floor. A sizeable metallic beast stood in his way—glaring at the boy with literally empty eyes—the eyeballs missing from their dark sockets. The mouth, now filled with razor-sharp fangs, emitted an eerie screeching noise.

“This is… that Ivan guy…? This dude grew twice his size. He’s a huge hunk of demonic phantonite now! He’s pure silver and terror!”

“Brandon…” Muraco slowly raised his head. “Stop analyzing his appearance… You need to get out of here…!” 

“I’m sorry—I pay attention to the finer details when I’m in a panic!” Brandon shouted. “And… hell no! I’m not leaving you here!”

“It caught me off guard… It’s too tough for you to deal with! Get out of here, moron!”

Ivan took a swing at Brandon, who rolled out of the way, preventing his body from being sliced apart by the beast’s sharp claws. 

“Being entirely made of metal now, I can sense his movements pretty easily with my Ability. Still—that doesn’t compensate for the hella power gap I now have with this dude… thing… Okay—just what is he!?”

Ivan roared, continuing to strike at Brandon—hitting the ground each time as the boy continuously jumped to evade the attacks. The air crackled with electricity while Brandon maneuvered around the trees at a swift pace.

He knew he was only delaying the inevitable.

“What do I do…? What do I do…!?” His breathing began to pick up—now composed of shorter, quicker breaths. “If I don’t do something… I’m gonna die. There’s no help—I’m seriously gonna die…!”

Brandon started to feel odd. He felt an overwhelming amount of calmness consume his body. Yet, he could also feel an inner rage swell up within him. It did not make sense to him—it was such a mysterious feeling that it distracted him from the horror currently attacking him.

He did not need to worry, as his body began to move for him. Brandon launched backward off the ground using his leg, moving a significant distance away from Ivan. His Shepherd Surge had faded away at this point—no longer active. 

Muraco struggled to stand. “He’s out of energy…? Dammit! Gotta move!”

Brandon looked at the ground, unable to move his own head up to face the beast that had started to charge after him. Like a puppet, Brandon moved his legs, casually walking forward. Electricity slowly surrounded his body once more.

The blue had now become pitch-black.

Brandon casually waved his hand, touching Ivan’s side. The contact caused an explosion of black lightning, ripping his metal body to shreds—bits and pieces scattering about on the forest floor.

“Guh…!” Ivan coughed up blood as he collapsed. In a panic, he tried to stand back up immediately, struggling as over half of his body was now destroyed. The phantonite attempted to reform his lost limbs, but could not. Overwhelming exhaustion struck Ivan, rendering anything he tried useless.

As the strange black electricity vanished as quickly as it had arrived, Brandon and Muraco’s enemy had been defeated.

“That… electricity…” Muraco stared at the motionless Brandon. “It felt similar to that energy that warped us here…” The rabbit carefully hopped over to the boy, taking precaution near Ivan’s now unconscious body. “Hey… Brandon. What the hell was that?”

“I… need to save her… That’s my role…” Brandon mumbled.

“Huh? Save who? Brandon?” Muraco waved his arms in an attempt to get the boy’s attention. 

Brandon finally gazed up, looking at Muraco. For a moment, Muraco swore he saw Brandon’s eyes glow. “Muraco…? What-What happened?”

“You… defeated this guy? Look—” Muraco pointed at Ivan, who was no longer moving. “I don’t feel like he’s gonna try to get up again after that attack.”

“What attack?” Brandon asked—his enthusiastic personality beginning to return. “W-What!? What did I do!?”

“Good grief…” Muraco sighed. “Is this what I get for getting involved with you guys? I have to deal with all of this weird shit?”

“W-What weird shit!? What happened!? For real! I’m freaking out, man!” Brandon began scratching his hair in a frenzied panic. 

“Well, you’ve still got energy, surprisingly.” Muraco shrugged his shoulders, turning toward Ivan. “And, well… This guy—” He proceeded to stomp on Ivan’s head with his right foot. “You tried, didn’t you? You almost got me, but in the end, you were, in fact, a boring villain. Get comfy—this is where you’ll rust away.”

“Muraco, geez. That’s not how a hero should act!” Brandon yelled, baffled at the rabbit’s behavior.

“That again…” Muraco shook his head. “Well, are you good enough to head back? I’ve been hearing all kinds of noises coming from town. We should hurry!” 

“Yeah, let’s—” Brandon attempted to move, falling flat on his face instead.

“…You don’t have as much energy as I thought.” Muraco sighed. “Need a few minutes?”

Ys plse…” Brandon spoke—his words muffled in the dirt.


Adam shook his hand, which was in tremendous pain after striking Carl. He glanced behind him, viewing the damage he had caused. The entire upper half of Carl’s head had been smashed to pieces—black blood oozing from it.

“He’s not dead…” Adam groaned. “Chaonic energy is still dancing around like crazy inside of him.”

“Adam…” Pam slowly approached him. “Seriously… How are you this strong?”

“I… don’t think it’s just me right now…” Adam shook his head. “I know you probably don’t understand what I mean—at all—but I don’t have time to explain. I’ve gotta go stop something from happening.”

“Stop what from happening?” Pam asked.

“Stay here and finish this guy off. He’s a problem, after all.”

“And you’re giving me orders!? Adam, just what are you—”

“You need to trust me right now,” Adam stated firmly. “Besides…” He sighed. “Even if I explain, none of it will make sense.”

“How can you be sure about—”

Before Pam could finish speaking, Adam dashed off toward the center of town.

“…I can understand more than you think…” Pam sadly murmured to herself. “I wish you guys would trust me…” She snickered. “What I’m hiding from you, though… Yeah—you’re probably right in not wanting to trust me.”

Pam raised her guard at a sudden chuckle. Looking down, she was stunned to see it originating from Carl’s body.

“There’s no shame in keeping secrets, you know.” He sat up—the black blood bubbling from where Adam had crushed him. His mouth spoke regardless. “Sometimes, there are things people don’t have the right to know.”

“They have the right to know this secret…” Pam gathered steam around her blade. “You can still talk like that!?”

“Yeah, I can. Man—that kid can heal a hell of a blow. His power intrigues me… Could it possibly be the push I’ve been looking for…?”

“What are you saying!? Don’t even think about messing with Adam!” Pam slashed down at Carl, only to be intercepted by Jason’s phantom energy, suddenly appearing out of nowhere.

“Thanks, Jason! You recover some of your strength?” Carl asked as the portion of his head that he lost started growing back, surrounded by blood-like crimson energy.

“I think I’m good enough for a tactical retreat. You need a break after regenerating something like your head, correct?”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Carl smirked—his newly formed eyes glaring at Pam. “I guess that’s it for round two. I’ll see you again, Pamela!”

“Wait—” Pam jabbed the ground with her blade, cracking the earth below her with a wave of steam in an attempt to stop Carl. This ended in vain as Jason successfully warped the man away—the shadows fading away. 

“Dammit…!” Pam threw her sword in frustration—the steel striking the rocky terrain, causing a loud metallic bang. “Come on, Pam! You need to step up your game!” 

She sighed while reaching down for her weapon. As she grabbed it, Pam turned around at the sound of a massive crash.


A dark green mass of energy rocketed out of the front doors, tearing the front of the building to shreds.


Jerry had joined Winona and her father, who was still attempting to recover from the strike Derek dealt on him. Travis had finally awoken, yet was unable to fully register the situation around him.

“T-This is what happens when you don’t sleep, kids…” Travis murmured, almost passing back out on the spot. Jerry was able to keep him standing, although almost fell himself keeping the man propped up.

“Anyway, you got Lucy, Win? Let’s take her and your dad and get out of here while my dad’s fighting!” Jerry declared.

“Y-You’re leaving him to fight that guy by himself!?” Winona asked with hesitation in her voice. “But he isn’t—”

Jerry pointed at the fight. Thomas had been tactfully evading all of the blows Derek had attempted on him. The majority of the jabs Thomas countered with also missed their mark, yet a select few were able to create minor scratches.

“My dad messed with his own eyes. There’s technology in them that allows him to track phantonic activity. However this guy plans on using his Ability, he’ll be able to react in time.”    

“A-Amazing…” Winona was stunned. She took a look at Lucy, who was still being held by her. “Jerry, what is this thing on her neck? It caused her to pass out once he placed it on her. Something about suppressing phantonic activity…”

“Huh? Let me see—” Jerry analyzed the strange black device. “I… Uh… Don’t know! Suppressing phantonic activity… Yeah, that makes sense. This might be difficult to remove—we don’t want to hurt her in the process.”  

Cody slowly stood, gaining the attention of the others.

“Hey, Dad!? Are you okay? You shouldn’t push yourself too hard! Thomas has this!”

“Heh…” Cody chuckled, staring at the floor. “That guy’s always full of surprises…” He shook his head. “You all need to get out of here, though…”

“There’s no way I’m letting you continue to fight!” Winona yelled, getting up in her father’s face. “What will Mom say if you come home all messed up!?”

“Mom… Claire, heh…” Cody laughed. “I’ll miss her… I’ll miss you and Cynthia, so much…”

“Huh…? Dad…? W-What are you talking about…?”

Tears rolled down Cody’s face—a bittersweet smile forming.

“I’m going to die, Winona.”

Next: Chapter 2.33

Previous: Chapter 2.31

Table of Contents




Chapter 2.31

Adam collapsed to his knees, shaking and breathing violently. 

“Adam, what’s wrong—” Pam attempted to ask. Carl interrupted her with another wave of black petals. She responded just in time—slashing them apart with a flurry of sword slices.

“Good—you didn’t drop your guard. I would have been upset if I was able to take you down that easily.” Carl chuckled, creating more petals surrounding him. 

“I don’t have time to check on him… I need to finish this quickly! Hang on, Adam…” Pam leaped forward, striking at the barrage of attacks Carl unleashed. As she dealt with the tiny waves, Carl created a gigantic one, ready to crash down on her like a black tsunami.

“Hey, Pam! Can your sword slice through all of this!?” Carl beckoned her to attack the structure about to crash down upon her.

“I won’t use my sword for this…” Pam sheathed her blade, placing her hands in front of herself. Steam began to form rapidly around her body, forming itself into multiple spheres of steam.

“Roswell Repeating Sphere—go!

Pam let loose, sending the spheres directly into the enormous wave. At first, they seemed to be easily lost in the darkness. From the inside, they ruptured, tearing the black petals to pieces—the massive amounts of steam filling the area, mixing with the fog.

Adam attempted to look up at the action unfolding. He could not, as his vision has become distorted. Similar to a glitch in a video game, the area surrounding him was incredibly pixelated. The lack of white he observed in the pixels made him question exactly what he was looking at.

“This is…?”

It took him a moment, but Adam soon discovered that this scene was in fact Prelude, minus the fog. He compared it to a map with layers—this glitched layer being the standard layer, while the foggy layer was removed entirely.

“What’s… happening here…?”

His voice once again spoke inside of him.

“Dread is fast approaching… Through your keen eyes, you can see how the very concept of despair warps the world around you.”


“The bonds you’ve forged… They’re about to be affected drastically. Being linked to yourself—the one with the World Mirror—things… will start to not make sense.”

“Heh… start to not make sense…?” Adam chuckled. “Nothing‘s made sense for a while now. Even if things weren’t thrown completely out of whack… I still can’t seem to get a grasp on it all.”

His inner voice laughed. “Can anyone really get a grasp on life in general? Maybe. I don’t think it matters. Whatever’s happening—”

“You use my voice… Yet, you’re not me. Just what are you…?”

“…You’ll come to learn that time is a complicated thing, Adam. I’m not sure what else I can say without disrupting things right now, but…”

The pixels lit up in bright white light, blinding Adam. As he held his hands in front of him, another hand reached out for him, lightly grabbing his wrist.

“It’s been hard… hasn’t it? What you did to yourself, for example…”

Adam looked up, unable to make out the tall silhouette towering over him.

“Whatever pain comes your way… Whatever obstacles throw you off the main track… Please, keep running forward. It’s the only way you’ll make it to the end. The true, happy end…”

Adam felt something wet land on his face.

“Please… There can’t be another bad ending. Please…”

Wiping the tears off of him, the white surroundings shifted back to the foggy setting. Adam slowly stood, focusing his attention on Pam and Carl, who were exchanging blows using their sword and spear.

“Keep running forward, huh…?” Adam stabilized his Outline while forming Overlay over his arms and legs. “That sounds like winging it to me… Like running through traffic, hoping you don’t get hit. Oh well…” He arched his back, bending his knees. 

“This body can handle it. I’m the one with the World Mirror, after all.”

He took a giant leap toward the action, shattering the ground below. Pam had just been knocked back as he flew at them. 

“Adam!? You’re—”

Carl grinned, turning his attention to the boy soaring in his direction. “You’re back in the fight, huh!? Let’s do this!” He jabbed directly at Adam with a mighty thrust of his spear.

Adam blocked the blow with his left hand.

“What…?” Carl was shocked. “I… put all of my strength into that…”

Adam crushed the tip of the spear—whacking the remainder off to the side with the back of his hand. This caused Carl, who still held the weapon, to lose his balance.


In the next moment, Adam’s right fist smashed into Carl’s head, slamming the man into the ground with enough force to cause a fierce gale to erupt into the sky as the earth below tore apart.  


Winona and Miles had a staredown—trying their hardest to muster up the energy for another round of attacks. Miles has the entire fog to back him up, while Winona was on her own defending the others, as Cody could not do what she could.

I need to strike fast and hard. His body’s got to be wearing down, even if he’s using all of those phantons to support it…”

Cody stared down at the rifle in his hands. His hands were still trembling while contemplating what was going on within his body.

“This… isn’t natural exhaustion. Is my age finally getting to me…? Winona’s right, something feels off… Incredibly off.”

Cody was so lost in his own thoughts, that he did not even notice the man silently approaching from behind. He finally turned around upon hearing Derek grab Lucy.

“Hey! Let go of me!” Lucy shrieked. “I swear, I’ll beat you up—”

Derek did not hesitate to place a device that resembled a black suction cup on the back of her neck, causing her to immediately pass out.

“I’m sorry about this…” Derek sighed. He turned his attention to the man in front of him who had his weapon aimed in his direction.

“Let go of her!” Cody demanded. Winona turned her head toward the commotion while trying to keep her focus on Miles.


“This device Carl created suppresses phantonic activity. It’s the perfect way to knock a ghost out since our signal seems to not work on them alongside us Ability-wielders…” Derek clenched his fist. “Hopefully she won’t have to suffer now…”

“You sound like you don’t want to capture her…?” Cody asked him. “I sense hesitation in not only your words—but your body.”

Derek shook his head. “I’ve never wanted to do any of this. However, I have to—it’s that simple.”

Miles began to jump around. “Oh—Derek! Get that girl and move! I wanna kill these guys!”

“You probably should back off, Miles,” Derek suggested. “Your body’s taken enough damage as is. I should have moved in sooner. I apologize…”

“Nah, it’s okay!” Miles affirmed. “I’m having loads of fun fighting! I just gotta change the nature of the phantons inside of me to heal, and I’m good!”

“It’s not that simple…” Derek sighed. “Well, all right. I’m not one to give you orders. Do what you want.” 

Cody inched closer. “You gonna let Lucy go?”

“You probably think I’m at a disadvantage with you having a ranged weapon?” Derek questioned. “Cody Collins, you should know based on your experience…”

Derek flung himself at Cody with no hesitation, striking the rifle—shattering it in a single blow.

“Range doesn’t matter if you’re fast enough.”

Cody attempted to retaliate with a punch. Due to his back, he had trouble twisting around to the proper position in time. Derek quickly whacked Cody in the head with the side of his hand, sending him rocketing into the damaged walls, causing them to finally collapse.

“Dad!” Winona turned around, ready to strike Derek with a stone she formed in her hand. Instead—following her instincts—she spun around, chucking it at a small blast of phantonic energy that Miles had shot at her.

“Don’t think you can ignore me!” Miles began focusing more energy around his body. “Derek, I’m gonna destroy everything. Take the girl and leave!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Derek sighed. “That’s what I’m here for.”

“Nobody’s going anywhere.” Winona declared. Slamming her foot into the floor, a giant dome formed above Derek, encapsulating him within. Turning her attention to Miles for the brief moment now available, she created a drill-like structure from the ground, sending the spiraling mass at the boy. Even with the built-up phantons protecting him, the strike sent him flying out into the fog.

Derek proceeded to smash out of the stone that had trapped him with a single punch. Winona adjusted her focus back to him—the strain beginning to build up within her body.

“I won’t let you take Lucy!” Winona manifested more sand, surrounding herself in it—ready for Derek’s attack.

Derek prepared to face Winona using the only hand available to him—the other currently holding Lucy.

It was at this point where the sky above them—now clearly visible from inside the building due to it’s ruined state—lit up in a fierce blue aura. Winona gazed up at the phenomenon, seeming to know the origin.


Derek was also glaring at the light above. “It’s that Ouderkirk girl, isn’t it? This isn’t Miles, that’s for sure…”

At the energy faded, there was silence. Winona and Derek awkwardly turned back toward each other, ready to resume their fight. Noticing the fog starting to fade, Derek began to grow anxious.

“Dammit… Haley was taken out already…!? Without the fog, the signal—”

Winona shot a burst of sand at Derek, who managed to whack it away rather easily, despite his current emotional state.

“I don’t know what you guys thought you could get away with, but we have power on our side! You shouldn’t mess with Prelude!”

Derek shook his head. “If the fog’s gone, then that also means any protection has been lifted. Is Unity waiting outside, ready to make their move…?”

“You shouldn’t worry about Unity right now,” Winona commented. “You should worry about me!” A smile slowly formed on her face. “Not only me—but…”

Without warning, Thomas had stood up. As Derek became aware of his presence, the scientist jabbed at him with a blue rapier. Thomas had attacked at the perfect angle for Derek to take his grip off of Lucy. Winona noticed this and used her sand to catch the unconscious girl before Derek could grab her once more.

“I got her!” Winona brought her sand back to herself, placing Lucy in her arms. “Thomas, are you guys all right!?”

“I’m disappointed in myself, to be honest.” Thomas sighed.

“Huh? What for? You just helped me save Lucy!”

“Nah, not that. See—” He pointed at the side of his head. “Knowing of Oberon, I took precautions just in case I had to deal with it directly someday. Whatever signal these guys were just using, it was similar, but not exactly like Oberon. There’s a chip inside of my head that can process this kind of data. It wasn’t quick enough for me to wake up, though…”

Jerry opened his eyes, trying his best to stand. “That’s Dad for ya—always doing weird stuff…”

“Jerry, are you okay?” Winona asked him.

“Yep. That was a nice nap…” Jerry looked over, shaking Travis who still seemed to be out of it. “This guy’s still sleeping soundly, despite the situation we’re in…” He looked around his surroundings. “This is…!”

“Give her to me!” Derek roared, smashing his foot into the ground. “She’s already dead—why do you care so much!? Let her be of use to people who are still living! We can still save… her…” He looked at the ground—his fists trembling. 

“Save who?” Thomas asked, pointing his rapier at Derek.

“My wife… Please…” Derek glared at Thomas with tears almost forming in his eyes. “I just want her to be okay…”

“Still…” Winona spoke. “Lucy’s important to us. We want to know her origins, and we…” She paused. “Do we… want her to be able to rest in peace…?”

“I think that’s what a ghost should be able to do—rest,” Jerry commented.

“Does that mean, Charlotte…?” Winona fell silent.

“Let’s not worry about that right now,” Thomas insisted. “Anyway—listen, pal. I know exactly what it’s like to lose a wife. If there’s a chance that she can still be saved from whatever’s going on with her, then… that’s great. I would have loved to save my wife from her disease…”

“If you understand, then let me have the girl! Hurry!” Derek begged.

“I can’t allow you to go through with it in this way, however,” Thomas stated. “With the damage your group has caused, we have no choice but to stop you.” Thomas jabbed his rapier into the ground. “See this? It’s the custom weapon that my little brother got from Unity. It’s now mine, while he uses a basic weapon with his Ability. It’s illegal as hell for me to own this, but—”

“Why are you rambling at a time like this!?” Derek asked, furiously.

“…I named this weapon Phoebe. After my wife. Also apparently after some Titan from Greek Mythology—where most weapons’ names originate. But, that’s beside the point. I know Phoebe wouldn’t be happy with me going through some dastardly means to save her. Let me ask you—would your wife be happy with what you’re doing?”

Derek started to chuckle, shaking his head violently.

“She’s the dastardly one, for what she tried to do… I know she’s paying the price for committing such a grave sin. But as the man who loves her more than anything in this universe, I still want to save her!”

“I see…” Thomas sighed. “And how would taking Lucy save her, exactly?”

“That’s enough.” Derek declared. “I’ll be taking her now. I’m out of time, you see.”

“Is that so…?” Thomas raised his weapon. “You know, I don’t just have this for the hell of it. I taught myself how to fight. Ability or not, I’ll stop you.” He turned toward Winona. “Keep her safe, all right? Same with your dad.”

“Right…” Winona looked back anxiously, expecting to see Miles pop up once again. After not seeing him, she slowly inched her way toward her father, who was still recovering from his recent hit.

“Give her to me—” As Derek reached out to snag Lucy from Winona’s arms, Thomas once again jabbed at him. With this thrust, Phoebe lit up in a blue aura, increasing the potency of the attack.

Derek blocked the blow by whacking it away from him. “You can charge your own phantons through that, huh? Your phantons aren’t awakened—how long do you expect to last?”

Thomas glared at Derek—his irises flaring up in a light blue while his pupils adjusted exactly like a camera lens.

“Long enough.”

“What did this man do to his body…?” Derek dashed at Thomas, sending a flurry of punches toward him. Thomas used the side of his rapier to parry and evade each strike—keeping a keen focus on every single move.

“Take him down, Dad…” Jerry said, pulling at Travis’ hair still attempting to wake him.


Miles stood up after the attack Winona used on him. He started to giggle—almost uncontrollably. 

“All right! I’m really gonna kill her now!” Miles declared, beginning to focus on creating another attack.


He quickly realized that the fog that was supplying him with energy had now vanished.

“Huh…? What…?” Miles surveyed his surroundings like a lost puppy. “Haley… W-What happened? Where are you…?!?”

He found the answer to his question—lying motionless on the ground a small distance away.


As Charlotte stood next to Haley’s body, she sensed an ominous force blitz toward her, ready to tear the Ouderkirk apart. 

 Next: Chapter 2.32

Previous: Chapter 2.30

Table of Contents



Chapter 2.30

Several minutes earlier, with the fog still plaguing the town, Miles crept close to the front door of Ann’s. He began to giggle to himself.

“They went in here, huh? After all that trouble I went through to create that bomb. Oh well…” He opened his hands, forming multiple miniature spheres of phantonic energy in each palm. “It doesn’t matter where you are. I’ll kill you all.”

Before he could shatter the glass doors in front of him, a giant wave of sand came crashing down upon him. Winona had arrived just in time. She glared at the pile of dirt she had created.

“I won’t let you kill anyone, even if you are some kid!”

The sandy tomb suddenly turned blue, erupting into a plume of phantonic energy. Quickly fading away, Miles stepped out, completely unharmed.

“You’re one of the Ability-users, huh? It’s too bad—nothing like that will work on me!”

Winona quickly summoned dirt around her, preparing her defense. “What the…? What kind of Ability does he have!?”

Miles’ fingers began to twitch. The fog seemed to slowly gather, morphing into more phantonic energy. “Thank you, Haley!” He cheered, whipping his hands at Winona, sending sharp waves of blue toward her.

Winona instinctively blocked with her sand. She retaliated by sending a similar form of attack at Miles, only hers was composed of dirt. He quickly moved his hands, coming into contact with each individual attack. This action once again turned Winona’s power into pure phantonic energy, gathering into Miles’ hands in the form of two spiraling spheres.

“You’re just feeding me, you know!” Miles mocked. “You can’t do anything against me!”

“Is that so?” Winona started to chuckle.

“Huh? What’s so funny!?” Miles asked, flinging the spheres at Winona, who whacked them away with a knife made of stone she forged in her hand.

“Between the fog and my Ability, it’s obvious what you’re doing. You’re returning structures composed of phantons back into their original form, which you manipulate. Odd, as I mix actual earth into my Stone Rose, yet you still completely change it… That’s quite the Ability you have.”

“You’re good!” Miles grinned rather sadistically. “I’m actually sort of interested in you now! What are you going to do? Huh? Huh!? I wanna see!”

Winona gathered sand around her arm. “It’s quite simple, actually.” With a flick of her wrist, she sent a small burst of the earth at Miles. He moved his hand in the attack’s path, ready to counter with his Ability.

With a motion barely noticeable, Winona changed the trajectory of her sand, causing it to go around Miles. She snapped her fingers, reforming the sand into a sharp stone spike.

This new object buried itself in Miles’ temple, faster than he could react to.


Blood spewed out of his head, as he collapsed to Winona’s one simple move.

“You don’t have much battle experience, do you? Maneuvering my sand in multiple different directions is something I’ve grown good at. So, of course, I can move around your slow, flailing arms. Sorry—I couldn’t hold back…”

Winona seemed upset at what she had just done. However, she didn’t hesitate. Ignoring Miles, she quickly ran through the front doors of Ann’s.


Muraco dashed around the foggy forest, blocking multiple gunshots using his scarf. Ivan pursued closely, now shooting from barrels formed on both of his arms. The man seemed perfectly capable of maneuvering through the treetops with keen precision, not missing a single step while continuing the fight.

Brandon stood off in the distance, observing the two—Shepherd Surge at the ready. He was impressed that Muraco could keep deflecting the bullets raining down upon him.

“Muraco’s… good at this. What kinda experience does he have…?” 

“Dammit…” Muraco cursed. “I have to try something else. I can’t get an opportunity to whack him with my scarf with all the shit he’s firing!”

Muraco retracted the scarf’s extensions. Ivan took this opportunity to attempt a fatal strike on the rabbit. However, he failed to make any mark. Muraco suddenly sank into the shadows, entirely out of sight.

“Where did you go?” Ivan asked himself nonchalantly. He landed on the ground, swiftly shifting his eyes around the woods.

“He really can use more than one Ability…” Brandon noted.

Fabric shot out from the base of a nearby tree, barely missing Ivan as he casually moved to the side. It latched itself onto a tree nearby as another scarf formed from the shadows. This process continued—long scarves manifesting in an attempt to capture Ivan, yet were unable to do so. 

Eventually, Muraco ceased his attack—the woods now covered in a blanket of blue. Ivan stood in the center, completely unfazed. He adjusted the barrels on his arms.

“It does not matter if you created more shadows with these. Wherever you pop out, I’ll fire at you.”

With the combination of fog and fabric, Brandon could no longer see the enemy.

“Muraco… Whatever you’re planning, I hope it works. Cause I won’t be much use right here—”

With a powerful flash, the scarves exploded. Tiny blue threads scattered throughout the area surrounding Ivan, slashing at his body like an infinite number of blades. Within the shadows, Muraco’s voice roared.

“Finishing Move—Thread Shredder!” 

The attack tore through Ivan’s phantonite body like it was paper. Brandon stood back in awe and horror while being glad that Muraco could control the threads to only strike inward. He would be a goner if they ended up scattering everywhere.

As the activity ceased, Ivan collapsed—with a small portion of his lower head left along with his torso.

Brandon ran over to him while Muraco hopped out of the shadows. The two stood over their fallen enemy.

“Did… Did you kill him…?” Brandon anxiously asked.

“I would say yes, except… no. He’s still alive, somehow.” Muraco leaned over in caution. “I can feel his energy… It’s still inside.”

Brandon stared in terror as blood seeped from the wound on Ivan’s head. “How…?”

“How is he alive? Beats me. He’s a tough cookie. That’s fine—he won’t be doing much anymore—”

“No.” Brandon shook his head. “How… can you gather up the courage to kill someone…?”

Muraco was silent at first. Eventually, he responded. “It’s not like we can talk these guys out of it. Their minds were set the moment they began all of this. We can’t afford to let them… live.” He sighed. “Man, I don’t sound like much of a hero, do I?”

“I… get the ‘why’ part of it. I think. But… I asked, ‘how’ you can gather that courage?”

“I’m not sure I would call it ‘courage,’ Brandon. I don’t know what I’d call it, but we, as humans, need a firm resolve to—”

“Muraco… What… do you mean by that?”

“Freaking—I don’t know how to explain this process to you, but—”

“No… not that.” Brandon placed his hand on Muraco’s head. “You said ‘we, as humans’… Are you considering yourself a human…?”

“Huh? I-I mean, I might as well be human! I…” Muraco lowered his head. “I’m not too sure about my origins. I’m aware that I was tortured by the Ouderkirks, but how I gained this form… What I was before… I don’t know.”

“Well, let’s not worry about that! Right now, we gotta get back to the others!” Brandon shouted. “Come on!”

“Wait a minute, Brandon,” Muraco stopped Brandon by grabbing him with his scarf. “This guy right here… I told you he’s still alive.”

“Yeah? I doubt he’s going to do much in that state, dude.”

Muraco shook his head. “No… Something doesn’t feel right.”

“Hmm…” Brandon scratched his head, staring down at Ivan. “I’m not sure—”

In the next moment, the boy and the rabbit were engulfed in a sudden fiery explosion of blue, expelling from Ivan.


“Dad!” Winona ran up and embraced her father, who almost fell over from the impact.

“Woah, take it easy, Winona! It’s okay. We’re okay…”

Winona let go of Cody, looking down at the three who had fallen unconscious. “So, it happened here as well…”

“Winona, is everyone okay over there!?” Lucy asked, rushing up to her and grabbing her leg.

“People without Abilities passed out as well… But, they’ll be all right. Pam, Faith, and Adam are there, after all.” She gave a comforting smile to the girl.

“What are we gonna do with all of these sleepyheads?” Lucy questioned the father and daughter, pulling at Jerry’s hair, making it even more spiky than usual.

“If we can carefully move them back toward the station, we can rejoin the others,” Cody answered, scratching his chin. “Now that the base is demolished… we might as well.”

“I can use my sand to transport these guys. It shouldn’t be too difficult.” Winona stated, beginning to form her sand around them.

“Do you hear that…?” Cody asked, pointing toward the ceiling. “Sounds like there’s quite a fight going on above us… It must be Charlotte dealing with the enemy.”

“I just fought someone as well. Managed to take them out quite easily.” Winona glanced up. “I hope Charlotte can handle whoever she’s fighting…”

“Let’s hope that’s the only other enemy nearby. We can make a break toward the station. Er… Winona?” Cody began to chuckle. “Can you… use your sand on me as well? You know I can move around that well.”

Winona sighed with a smile on her face. “Yeah, yeah. Of course, I can. Make sure you keep an eye out for any enemies. I-I mean, as much as you can in the fog… I can handle people who move on the ground thanks to my Ability, but flying enemies… I don’t think so.”

“This is gonna be difficult, and extremely risky…” Cody said, adjusting his grip on his rifle. “But, it’s even riskier just staying here. We need to all group up, I think…”

“You think?”

“It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to come up with these kinds of decisions on the battlefield. I fear your old man’s brain is starting to wear…”

“Oh, come on. You’re not that old, Dad.” Winona giggled.

“So I am old, is what you’re saying?”

Lucy lowered her head. “I wonder how old I am… I’m seven—I know my age when I was alive. How long has it been since…?”

Cody, without thinking, answered.

“Well, you’re in your mid-twenties, of course—” He hushed himself immediately.

“Dad…” Winona’s eyes widened. “How… do you know that?”

“My brain… really is starting to wear…” He let out a long sigh. “I’ve been able to keep it a secret for this long since you don’t seem to recognize me, Lucy. And I figured Pam should be the one to let you guys know. But… I should say it, shouldn’t I…?”

“Do you know who I am!?” Lucy’s eyes lit up. “Tell me, tell me!”

“Yeah… Tell us, Dad.” Winona requested, holding back her anger.

“Right…” Cody carefully leaned down on his knee, grabbing Lucy’s shoulders.”

“Listen, Lucy. You’re actually—”

The reveal was interrupted by the front door of the store shattering apart. Winona and Cody quickly turned toward the action, ready to fight whatever was about to enter.

Winona was petrified at the sight of Miles stumbling inside. A tiny amount of blue oozed from the wound on his head, while his left hand seemed to be quivering.

“Ah… You left before we could finish our fight…” Miles started to giggle with his head facing the floor. 

“Dammit! He survived that!?” Winona motioned the sand around the others in front of herself.

“Round 2…” Miles waved his right hand forward. From the outside fog, a giant sphere of blue shot into the store, tearing through every obstacle in front of it to reach Winona.


Aisles were toppled over as the attack exploded, ripping apart the very foundation of Ann’s. Winona struggled but was able to successfully keep her sand sturdy enough to prevent the attack from connecting with her and the others.

The dust settled, and Miles’ laughter grew even louder upon seeing Winona standing. “Yes! Yes! That’s it! Let’s have some fun and tear everything apart—”

He was interrupted by Cody, who had shot at him. The projectile entered his right shoulder, almost knocking him off his feet. Yet, he remained standing and did not find the bullet to be much of an issue.

“You’ll have to shoot to kill, you know!” Miles snickered as blue ooze slowly crept from his fresh wound.

“I refuse to kill a child,” Cody stated. “However…”

The debris around the store began to move. As if it was being pulled by a magnet, it flew—striking Miles in a fierce barrage.

“I have nothing against punishing one.”

Miles was knocked out of the store, back into the fog. Cody walked up and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Are you able to keep going? He’ll probably retaliate pretty quickly.”

“Yeah… Wait, Dad?”

“What is it, Winona?” Cody asked his daughter.

“You’re shaking… Is this too much for your body?”

“Huh…?” Cody looked down at himself. “I-I should be fine! I still do things for Unity, and that stuff is a lot more strenuous on me. ”

The area outside of the shop lit up. The two returned their attention to the battle as Miles began to shift the fog into phantonic energy.

“Winona! This is gonna be a big one!” Cody yelled.

“I-I know! I got it! Don’t worry!” Winona slammed her hands onto the ruined floor. A wall of blue paved its way inside—Winona counterattacking by creating dozens of large spikes from the earth, aiming and striking away at the sizeable phantonic structure.

In the clash, Winona could not ease her mind. Not from the enemy that she was currently facing, but from her father next to her.

“Is he okay…? No, am I okay? What is this awful feeling welling up inside of me…?”


With a fist of white energy and a fist of steam, Adam and Pam struck at the wall of black petals before them. The force tore through the obstacle, having enough strength to spare—pushing Carl several feet away.

“Nice… nice nice!” Carl caught his breath. “You two are nearly impossible to overcome working together!”

“Adam… are you doing okay?” Pam asked the boy next to her. 

“I’m fine. Using Overlay for my punches works much better than how I was going about it before. It’s not perfect, but I’ve still got my hand in one piece, for now.”

“Good to hear. Let’s finish this guy off before he tries anything fishy! Be careful that other Jason guy doesn’t interrupt either.”

“I’ve been keeping an eye on him…” Adam glared at the mask floating off to the side. “He’s been keeping his distance. I’d say he’s definitely drained at the moment.”

“Well, even better. Come on, Adam! Follow my lead!”

“Will do—” Adam froze. 

“Adam…?” Pam turned back to him before she charged ahead.

“No…” Adam shook his head in dismay. “What is this…?”

He felt a chill run through his body as if it was piercing him from multiple directions. Before he had time to process it, Adam heard his own voice echo in his head.

“It’s beginning…”

He, however, was not the one that used his voice.

Next: Chapter 2.31

Previous: Chapter 2.29

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