Chapter 6

Adam walked in the twilight. He always felt a rather strange sensation around this time of day. There were some ancient myths in his country of Requiem which related to the twilight, such as the famous one about souls having the ability to join together as one—a favorite of Adam’s.

“I should look into that stuff… I wonder how those stories came to be? Heh—” Adam chuckled. “Geez, I really could go to school for history. I certainly have the desire to learn more about it. But…” His expression turned somber.

“Just what do I do right now…?” 

As Adam passed the scenery around him, he began to space out—the troubles slowly leaving his mind. It was as though Adam was rooted in his own world. A world where there were no thoughts or feelings, only existence. He only snapped back into reality by a pain suddenly surging through his head.

“What the f—” He shook his head rather violently. “Where the hell did this come from!?”

Glancing around, Adam was glad to see nobody was currently nearby. He was relieved, as he made quite the scene. The headache subsided as swiftly as it had appeared.

“Should I get home and sleep it off?” Adam pondered for a moment. “…Could be the fact that I haven’t really eaten. Yeah—I should still go get something at the store.”

 

The shopping district of the town was centrally located right between Adam’s house and the Roswell house. There was a slight increase in people around, but nothing too drastic that would make Adam uncomfortable. A few miscellaneous stores, including a general goods store, a pharmacy, and a gas station, were a few things people could go to.

Adam walked into the store, named Ann’s. The store was rather small, with a few aisles filled with your everyday goods.

A girl who was sitting in a chair behind the counter waved to Adam. He knew her as an acquaintance from school, Charlotte Smith, who had just moved to Prelude his senior year of high school. She played around with her black hair while her blue eyes were glued right to a book in her hands.

Deciding to do something out of the ordinary, Adam walked up to her and initiated small talk. “Yo, how’s it going?”

“Fine,” Charlotte responded, eyes still focused on the book. “What are you up to?”

“Just getting some food, nothing too special,” Adam responded.

“Cool.”

“Damn, this isn’t good. Maybe the fact that she doesn’t seem so interested in talking is a good thing, I can get out of this quicker.”

“Oh, Adam!”

Adam turned to the left of him, a wave a relief passing through him as the focus shifted away from the attempted conversation. Walking up the aisle to the register was Winona Collins, Faith’s best friend. She smiled at Adam, fidgeting with one of the pins in her lengthy, curly black hair. They were like jewels—Adam noting the red, orange, and yellow pins on her right side while green, blue, and violet ones were on her left.

“How nice to see you! Are you doing well?” Winona was holding a blue basket filled with various goods from the store. “I heard you and Brandon hung out at Faith’s? I wish I could have made it. I’ve been doing work in the garden with my father all day.”

“Yeah, I’m all right.” Adam’s tension from the talk with Charlotte was gone now. “You two love working in that garden, don’t ya?”

“Mhmm!” Winona nodded her head. “I always love having a wide variety of flowers to look at.” She shuffled her hand through her basket. “Now, I’m getting some things to help Mom cook a late dinner.”

“You enjoy that. I gotta get some things myself.” He waved at both Winona and Charlotte and headed into the aisle nearest to them.

“I’m all set, Charlotte!” Winona put her basket on the counter and took her items out of it.

Charlotte had a smile on her face as she rang up Winona’s items.

 

As Adam walked down the aisle, he looked back and forth between each side. A sharp pain started to form in his head again, and this time it was as if he felt dizzy.

“I… I’ve eaten recently, right…? This has happened before… but I swore I at least ate an apple this morning. I always remember eating those!” 

Almost losing his balance, Adam was able to regain his posture and focus ahead of him.

There stood someone who was not there a moment prior.

A little girl, about six or seven years old, wearing suspenders and a pink backpack. She had brown eyes and brown hair wrapped up in pigtails using pink braids. Adam was trying his best to analyze her appearance, as something was off about it. Horribly off. 

Adam swore he could see right through her.

Before Adam could conjure up another thought, the girl had disappeared. It seemed as though time stood still. It wasn’t until he felt a hand on his shoulder that he snapped back to reality.

“Hey, how long are you gonna just stand there?” Charlotte was now behind him, seemingly more weirded out than concerned.

Adam turned toward her. What met her blue eyes were not Adam’s usual gray ones. 

His irises now glowed an eerie white. 

The wide-eyed look he had on his face was copied by Charlotte.

“I was right…”

“Huh?” Adam had no clue what Charlotte was talking about. His head seemed to calm down now, as the glow slowly left his eyes, returning them to their natural gray color.

“Just when I thought I could relax here at work after a long day of investigating… Oh well. This is good.”

“…Huh?” 

“You seem to not know, do you? Well, it makes sense, after all the testing you’ve done.”

Charlotte leaned in, placing her hands on Adam’s face. As she got closer, the young man tried processing the situation, coming to a conclusion, and accepting his fate.

“Well, I never assumed my first kiss would occur in the unfortunate non-romantic location of a grocery store. But… sure, why not? Let’s go, Adam Grayson.”

The girl’s forehead touched his own, confusing Adam even more.

“W-What are you—”

Eyes now glowing a vibrant azure stared into Adam’s. Once again, the white glow returned to his eyes in response to this phenomenon.  

“…Who the hell are you, Charlotte?”

“It seems like nobody’s here in the store. Boss has the night off, no customers… and I can always erase the surveillance footage.”

“…Huh!?” Adam was astounded at what Charlotte was saying, making him forget about the mystical eyes glaring right into his soul for a moment. He then noticed something odd about the young woman holding him.

“…She’s freezing?”

“Well, I think it’s safer if we move locations. This could get messy.”

Adam nonchalantly placed his hands on Charlotte’s shoulders, moving her slowly away from him. “…Okay. You need to choose your words better. And—seriously—tell me what’s going on. Do you have some sort of Concept? Is this where this power’s coming from?”

“Concept…” Charlotte lowered her head. “That’s what people nowadays call it. No matter how hard I try, I can’t remember what it used to be referred to.”

“It’s… been a thing long before we were born? It was a term coined in the sixties around the time when phantons were discovered. Why… are you talking like you’ve been around longer?” 

Charlotte looked back up. What appeared to be an innocent smile sent shivers down Adam’s spine, akin to how she physically felt to him. The words that then exited her mouth completely froze him in place.

“Because I have been.”

The inside of Adam’s head was screaming in agony—quite literally—as if someone was shrieking in horror in between his ears. Before being able to completely process the existence of the specter before him, his consciousness faded, unable to withstand the pain. 


Next: Chapter 7

Previous: Chapter 5

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 5

Adam and Brandon were sitting on the couch in the living room. To the side of them, there was a chair that Emma was sitting in. The television a few feet across from the couch was currently on, playing the news. Adam and Emma were busy on their phones while Brandon seemed to be having some sort of crisis.

“What’s your issue?” Emma asked him, irritated at his behavior. Brandon didn’t respond. “Is it because my sister is in the other room, showering? It makes sense since you’re a pervert.”

“It does, doesn’t it?” Adam agreed in passing with Emma. Brandon got angry.

“Hey! Who’s side are you on?”

“I’m on everyone’s side.”

Emma nodded. “Yeah. If you try to sneak a peek on me when I go in there next, I really will kill you.”

Brandon raised an eyebrow, getting a cocky smirk on his face. “Now, why would I wanna sneak a peek of you, you—” Adam interrupted Brandon by clasping his hand over his friend’s mouth, not even looking up from his phone, “You just want to die today, don’t you?”

Emma shook her head. “Whatever. Honestly, I don’t care what you think of me.”

Adam let go of Brandon’s face, wiping his hand on the couch. Brandon didn’t say anything; He just let out a small sigh.

Faith entered the room, wiping her hair with an orange towel. She was now wearing a black t-shirt and brown shorts.

“All right, Em. Your turn.” Faith walked up to her sister, who stood up from her chair. “About time! What took you so long? Actually, don’t answer that.”

Emma walked into the other room while Faith took her seat. She began to sniff the air. “Dang, I don’t think dinner’s ready yet!”

“Well, if that’s the case—” Adam leaned back, shutting his eyes. “I’m gonna nap.”

“You sure?” Brandon asked. “It’s tough to get you to wake up, ya know.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it…” A few moments later, Adam was sound asleep.

“That was fast.” Brandon sighed. He looked at Faith, flustered, unsure of what to do now. He turned to Adam upon hearing him begin to snore. “Oh! We were just talking about this!”

“Huh?” Faith was confused about what Brandon meant.

“Adam—he snores weirdly! He breathes through his nose, wicked hard!”

“And he doesn’t breathe through his mouth at all… But—” Faith placed her hand on her chin. “Is it really that weird? Could just be a funny quirk.”

“I dunno…” Brandon shrugged. “Something about it just gives me the heebie-jeebies.”

Pam was about to enter the living room to tell them that dinner had begun to cook. She stopped upon hearing the conversation Brandon and Faith were having.

“There… There’s no way that Adam knows how to do that, does he…? Who the hell taught him?” She shook her head. “Brandon, you’re the one giving out the heebie-jeebies…”

 

 

Adam eventually awoke from his nap, confused for a moment as to where he was. Quickly figuring it out, he glanced around the living room. Faith, now sitting next to him, smiled.

“Good morning.”

“Morning…? I didn’t sleep for that long, did I?”

“Well, you slept through dinner…” Faith chuckled. “We tried to wake you.”

“Figures,” Adam rubbed his eyes. “I’m quite a heavy sleeper.”

“Brandon already left. He told me to tell you: ‘Don’t even think about it.’ What does he mean by that?”

“I… don’t know. I wouldn’t worry too much about him.”

Faith nodded in understanding. Her face suddenly lit up.

“Oh! This is perfect timing! I wanna show you something.”

“Oh? Sure.” 

Faith reached under the couch and pulled out a small cardboard box. Adam had no idea what could be in it.

“I was cleaning the other day, getting some stuff prepared early for the move. I came across… this stuff.”

Opening the box revealed several photos. They were all pictures of Adam, Faith, and Emma as kids. One was of the three trying to fish at the local creek. Adam almost got pulled in by a gigantic fish while Faith and Emma held onto him for dear life. Another was of Faith and Emma having a tea party with all of their stuffed animals. Adam seemed to be an unhappy guest of the party but still participated.

“Wow… can’t believe you found this.” Adam was amazed at the pure nostalgia these pictures held. They each sat down on the couch. “We were always together when we were younger, weren’t we?”

Faith began giggling almost uncontrollably. “I almost forgot about this one!”

She held up a picture of Adam pretending to be a brave knight who was rescuing the princess, Faith, from a dragon, which was portrayed by Emma.

“You always played the hero role, didn’t you? Well, not always. I played the hero sometimes.” Faith smirked. “You even played the princess that one time. That was hilarious.”

Adam said nothing, merely sighing. “Yeah, that was fun. I liked playing the dragon, as well.”

“Yeah, the hero and dragon roles are always the best, since those are the two who fight each other.” Faith nodded at her own statement.

“So, yeah. I didn’t always play the hero.” Adam started to pick up random photos and go through them. There was silence for a few moments.

“Well, I think you have.”

“Huh?” Adam turned toward Faith, confused at what she meant.

“The hero. You’ve always been like one…”

Adam rustled his hair a little bit. “I mean, I’m not too sure about that.” Adam set the pictures down and looked ahead toward the floor.

“I know you’ve been afraid of using your power,” Adam said bluntly. Faith seemed startled at this topic being brought up.

“I get why, after what happened all those years ago.” Adam put his hands together, just as Faith does when trying to create her flame. “Well, when it comes down to it, those flames that you’re afraid of… well, they saved me. So I guess that makes you a hero too. I can’t be the only one, okay?”

Faith stared at Adam, seemingly wanting to say a million things, but could not get any of them to come out.

“Don’t be afraid of something that can save someone.” Adam stood up from the couch. “I know you can do it.”

“Adam…” Faith stood up as well. “See, this is what I mean by the hero thing. You always know great things to say like that!”

Adam chuckled. “I mean, I guess. If it helps you out, that’s all that mat—”

He was met with a firm embrace. Adam could barely move his arms as Faith held him.

“Thank you… for everything. Just know… I’ve got your back, all right?”

“Well, I mean, sure you do. Your hands are on my back at the moment.” Adam returned the hug, although it was done somewhat awkwardly.

Faith slowly let go of Adam, giggling. “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah.” Adam formed a smile and nodded. “I’ve got yours too.”

The two stared at each other, not noticing the presence standing at the entryway to the living room.

“Am I interrupting something?” The two turned to see Pam smirking at them.

“M-Mom!” Faith jumped back. Adam seemed unfazed.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.” Pam laughed.

“Well, I should be going. I might head to the store real quick.” Adam gave a wave to Faith, who waved back.

“I’ll see you later, Adam. You sure you don’t want some of the leftovers? It’s chicken!”

You’re offering me food?” Adam looked back and smirked. “Nah, I’m okay.” As he walked toward the door, Pam followed behind.

“I gotta get something out of the car, I’ll be right back Faith!”

“Kaaaaay!” Faith yelled back to her mom, as she went out the door with Adam.

Outside, Adam turned toward Pam, knowing well that “getting something out of the car” was a filthy lie.

“What’s up?” Adam asked her.

“You’re sharp. I’m happy you got that from your mother…” Pam reached into her pocket and pulled out a plain white envelope. “I was helping Faith out with cleaning, and I found this along with the pictures you guys were looking at.” She handed the envelope to Adam.

“What’s in it?” Adam started to open it, only to be stopped by Pam.

“I had to read it to see what it was, of course. So I know what it is. I want you to promise me you’ll only open it when you’re feeling your lowest, all right?”

“Hm?” Adam tilted his head in confusion. Now he was even more curious. Holding out the envelope in front of him, he eventually decided to put it in his pocket. “All right, sure. I can do that.”

“Well, I hope you don’t get to your lowest again. But if it ever happens… hopefully, that’ll help.” Pam placed her hand on Adam’s shoulder and looked him directly in the eye. “You have a family here, don’t forget that.”

Those words caught him off guard. He did not expect Pam to say something like that. It meant a lot more to Adam than one would think.

“Yeah… thanks.” Adam said his goodbyes to Pam and headed off.


Next: Chapter 6

Previous: Chapter 4

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 4

The town Adam and Brandon lived in was known as Prelude, which was twenty miles southwest of Nexus City. It was a tiny, quiet place to live, with only around a thousand residents—about seventy percent of which were senior citizens who tended to stay indoors. The majority of the houses were designed using Victorian architecture as inspiration.

The two friends got off the train and exited the station on the west side of town. Although it was a calm, tranquil day, it had grown slightly muggy, making the heat annoying to deal with, especially in Adam’s case.

“Geh…” Adam looked as though he was about to pass out.

“Hey, man. Embrace the heat. Sometimes summer days are like this.” Brandon patted Adam on the shoulder.

“I usually stay inside with the air conditioner on. It didn’t cross my mind to check the weather.”

“Do you still want to walk?” Brandon asked while chuckling. 

“Well, my house is on the other side of town, so I’m going to have to walk anyway.” Adam was pouting like a child. 

“Hmm…” Brandon pondered.

“What is it?”

“You know, no matter how often I see you tired—which is a lot—I never see you breathing heavily, like back in gym class. You do exercise a decent amount with all the walks you take, but even still…”

“I think you told me once when we were younger that I snore funny. You and Jerry both mentioned whenever we had sleepovers that I do it. Maybe I have strange, magic lungs?”

“Well, in this world, who knows?” Brandon smirked. 

“Yeah… This world can be interesting. It’s filled with interesting people… that’s for sure.”

 

Two sisters stood shoulder to shoulder: Faith and Emma Roswell. The sun shimmered off their light brown hair; their eyes, matching the very same color, were focused ahead.

The person that stood opposite of them was their mother, Pamela Roswell. Her hands were placed firmly on her hips with a huge grin on her face.

The sisters were panting heavily, sweat dripping down their faces. Emma, having long hair as opposed to Faith’s bob cut, had to move her ponytail out of her face. It was clear that they were going through some rough training, and the heat did not help them. Pam, on the other hand, did not seem exhausted at all.

“All right, you two. You’re doing great. One more round before I start getting an early dinner ready.” Pam raised her hands up in the air and motioned for the two to come at her.

“We’re almost there… I’m so hungry.” Faith complained. She began to take a few steps toward her mother.

Emma sighed. “Sis, you’re always hungry.” She slowly followed Faith’s motions.

Faith let out a small chuckle. “But training…”

She dashed at her mother with almost inhuman speed, fist clenched.

“Makes me even more hungry!”

Pam blocked the punch with ease. “Your speed is good, but you’re attacking in very obvious—” Before Pam could finish, Faith grabbed hold of her mother’s arm.

Emma appeared behind Pam with the same speed Faith used. Emma started to swing a kick toward her mother. With tremendous force, however, Pam was able to throw Faith behind her, intercepting the kick and sending both of the sisters flying.

“That was a pretty basic combo. Yet, I’m impressed at how you two were able to coordinate that without speaking to each other.”

The sisters stood up in pain. Without a doubt, if the two tried to take on their mother in a serious fight, they would lose with ease. It was a glaring gap that was created with years of her experience.

Pam raised her arm slowly into the air. With the movement of her fingers, steam began to emit from her body. Faith looked down at her hands. Her expression turned into a somber one.

Emma stared in awe at her mother. “It’s always amazing, no matter how many times I see it.”

“My good old Concept: Steam.” Pam noticed her eldest daughter’s behavior. “Faith, honey?”

“I want to get to the point where I can use my Concept as easily as you can, but…” Faith’s body seemed to be shaking now. “It… It’s all right. This was something I’ve wanted to get over for a long time now. I think it was sort of a blessing that it ended up being this.”

Pam nodded. “That way of thinking works. Always turn the tables on things like this.”

Faith took a deep breath and slowly let the air out. “Can… Can I try it out, Mom?”

“Absolutely you can. Just take your time.” Pam breathed in as well, raising her arms up into the air; A lot more steam was now coming out of her body. “It’s a part of you, remember that.”

Faith put her hands together as if she was holding something within them. Closing her eyes, she continued to breathe in and breathe out. It was easy to tell that her breathing was unsteady, yet she continued to persist. A few moments later, a small flame began to form within her hands.

“There you go, sis! You’re doing—”

Pam hushed Emma, preventing Faith from losing too much focus.

“Open your eyes, sweetie. Look at how beautiful your flame is.”

Faith did as she was told, opening her eyes gently. It was true, the small orange flame that she created was so calming and warm to simply look at. Faith was pleased with what she accomplished.

However, that did not last long: Staring into the flame for too long caused her breathing to suddenly pick up. Thoughts came rushing through her head almost instantly. She panicked and threw the fire out of her hands, which fell onto the ground. The flame quickly dissipated. Faith sat down, seemingly unable to stay standing up due to her shaking.

“Hey! Hey, Sis, it’s okay!” Emma grabbed her sister’s arm, trying to calm her down. Pam let out a small sigh, the steam coming out of her body disappearing.

“I… I know. It just sucks that I can’t help… that from coming into my mind.” Faith was able to calm down just as quickly as the event began. Pam walked over to her daughter and leaned over, placing her hand on her shoulder.

“We’ll get there. No need to feel rushed, okay?”

“Yeah, I haven’t even awakened my own Concept yet!” Emma gave Faith a thumbs up, “We’ve got time.”

“Thanks… I guess you’re right.” Faith let out a rather loud sigh. “I really need to turn the tables on this, though, don’t I?”

Unknown to the family, Adam and Brandon had noticed their training session from the road as they were walking by. They decided to walk into the yard to check it out.

“Yo, Adam.” Emma completely ignored Brandon, who immediately became pissed off at her.

“Is… Is everything all right?” Adam asked her. Emma nodded.

“Yeah, just testing some stuff out.”

“Hey, Adam!” Pam greeted him. “We’re just testing out Faith’s power, nothing to be concerned about!”

Faith slowly looked up at him. “Yeah… The flame has grown to be really pretty.” She smiled at him, giving the impression that she was okay. Adam saw through it with ease.

Nevertheless, Adam smiled back at her. He held out his hand. “Here. I’ll help you up.”

Faith noticed his hand. This act triggered a sense of nostalgia within her. She quickly stood up on her own, seemingly flustered.

“I-It’s okay! I’m good! Thank you, though.” Faith calmed down quickly and smiled back at him, this time sincerely. “Thank you.”

Adam was confused but didn’t think much of it. “Yeah, no prob.”

“How did your appointment go today?” Pam asked him.

“It went okay. Nothing too unusual to talk about. We’re just getting back from the city.”

“You guys still haven’t figured much out, huh?” Faith asked in a concerned tone.

Adam placed his hand on Faith’s shoulder. “Hey, don’t worry. We’ll get it figured out. Focus on what you’ve gotta focus on for the time being.”

Faith nodded slowly. “Right…”

Brandon was glancing over at Adam, stomping his foot, riled up about something. Emma turned toward him, “What’s your problem, idiot?”

He looked at Emma, turning his irritation toward her. “Hey, don’t call me an idiot. I’ll fight you.”

“And I’d kill you, idiot,” Emma responded. Brandon wanted to continue arguing, but he stopped. He knew she was right.

“Oh, well, you two are welcome to stay for dinner!” Pam suggested. 

“Well, if you’re offering, then I don’t see why not?” Adam responded rather nonchalantly. “We’d love to.” He looked in Brandon’s direction. “Hey, we’re gonna have dinner here.”

“Oh, great. Now I have to be near you with forks and knives.” Brandon sighed, glancing nervously at Emma.

Emma snickered. “Good, you’ll stay well-behaved then.”


Next: Chapter 5

Previous: Chapter 3

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 3

Pine trees began to surround Adam as he walked on a dirt path—the city fading behind him. He was headed for the designated meetup spot, which was the best area he and his friends could rendezvous.

“Let’s see…”

The shimmering waters of Lake Ouderkirk came into view. The massive body of water was about two miles across in each direction, with the vast peaks of the Requiem Mountains towering on the opposite side. 

Adam was currently surveying the stone beach he had stepped foot on. Once in a while, there would be other people who would come to hang out in this location. Luckily, for Adam, there was nobody around.

“Good, good. I can be at peace for a few minutes…” Adam took out his silver smartphone, tapping at its screen. “Yeah—they’ll probably both be here relatively soon.”

Putting his phone back into his pocket, Adam walked up to the edge of the water, feeling the calm breeze on his skin.

“Hmm…”

It was difficult for him to put his thoughts together. There was far too much to ponder. 

“It’s… interesting. How, despite surviving that ordeal, I have to deal with so much now. It’s funny, actually. From an outside perspective, I wasn’t really dealing with anything too significant before. These issues the present me is facing are certainly ones that would make someone say: ‘Yeah, I can see you’re going through a lot of shit.’”

Adam sighed heavily, staring at his reflection in the water.

“Problems others can’t see are still problems. It doesn’t matter if they’re invisible to others. If they affect you, it matters.”

He nervously glanced down at his right hand.

“It… matters.”

“What matters?”

A hand lightly tapped Adam’s shoulder, startling him to the point where he almost fell into the water. The young man that had approached jumped back, laughing at his success in scaring his friend.

“Dammit, Brandon!” Adam yelled, trying to grab the black-haired boy. “What do you think you’re doing!?”

“Scaring you, obviously.” Brandon grinned, moving away rather swiftly. He had an athletic build to him, as he played a few sports throughout his life. Adam noticed that he always stayed somewhat slender, though. This made him incredibly nimble and impossible for Adam to catch. 

“Gah… anyway—” Adam glanced to his left. “Where’s Jerry?”

“He’s gonna stay on campus, I guess?” Brandon shrugged. “He’s not even an official student yet, but he’s using those labs for a ton of personal research. Think he was looking into something strange that caught his eye. I tried to ask him about it, but…”

“Yeah, you didn’t get a response.” Adam chuckled.

Brandon took out his own cell phone—his light-blue eyes staring at the screen, waiting for it to turn on. “Damn thing… Whacked it hard during practice the other day. Looks okay on the outside but won’t load up easily. Might have to get a new one. Dammit!”

“How’s that going, by the way? Practice was today, too, yeah?”

“It’s exhausting,” Brandon responded, putting his phone away in defeat. “I’m glad I got a scholarship to this place thanks to soccer, but man, we’ve got to practice a ton. It’s not even the right season!”

“Well, New Age University is a pretty high-class school. It’s no surprise Jerry’s going there, but you’re lucky. You’ll have to keep up with the standards.” Adam shook his head. “I’m getting tired just thinking about it.”

“You got accepted too, ya know.” Brandon smiled. “I know you’re really not up for it at the moment, but I could always use a roommate. Spot will stay open for you.”

“Thanks, Brandon. I appreciate that…”

“But freaking Jerry, dude! I could have roomed with him, but he chose to stay in a fancier dorm!” Brandon shook his head in frustration. “Well, whatever. For the time being, having a room to myself has its benefits…”

Adam grimaced, knowing exactly the kind of thoughts that were running through his friend’s head. Brandon began to rub his hands together with a twisted look on his face.

“I’ll have plenty of alone time, which means I can invite girls over whenever I want! And we can—”

“Study?” Adam interrupted. “Good idea! Jerry might be too busy to help you, and you really need to keep those grades up if you want to stay there, regardless of a soccer scholarship.”

Brandon stared at Adam with a blank expression. “Sex, Adam. I want to have sex.”

“I’m flattered, but no thanks.”

“Not with you!” Brandon jumped back, moving his arms in front of him as if he wanted to fight Adam.

“Anyway, all jokes aside—” Adam began to walk away from the lake. “We might as well get on a train and head back.”

Brandon followed Adam, placing his hands behind his head. “Wanna hang when we get back?” 

“Maybe,” Adam responded. “I was planning on just going for a walk, but we might as well do something.”

“That’s fine! We can just walk if you want!”

“You aren’t tired from practice?” Adam asked. “Besides, isn’t that boring to you?”

“Nah, I’m good. And…” Brandon paused for a moment. “I want to learn more about you…”

“Huh…?” Adam stared at his friend, perplexed.

“Like, how your mind operates, I guess…?” Brandon rubbed his temples in frustration. “Like, how exactly you… got to that point.”

“I… think I get it.” Adam sighed. “Well, you don’t have to worry about any of that.”

“Sorry, but… I am going to worry.” Brandon admitted. “It hasn’t been that long since it happened…”

As the two took a step on the trail Adam arrived from, he stopped, staring at the ground in front of him. Brandon waited for his friend to speak. 

“…You guys all taught me that where I was… wasn’t a good place to be. I want to be back where everyone else is, and not in my own lonely world. Even if some things aren’t for me, this is the place where you guys are. After all, you’ve done for me… I just don’t want to be a burden.”

Brandon let out a small laugh. “Well, this ‘place’ that you’re talking about… the one where we are now. It’s not all that great. I can see why you ‘left’ it. But I think the fact is that all of us are here together. I mean, look at all the cool things in this world! We just gotta stick together and enjoy all the good we have!”

Adam smirked. “Not sure you’re too good at the sentimental talk.”

“I don’t even know what ‘sememental’ means.” Brandon shook his head. 

“It’s ‘sentimental.’” Adam sighed. 

“…Well, better than ‘semen mental.’” 

“W-Why in the hell—I’m leaving you here.” Adam shook his head and began to walk again, this time at a brisk pace.

“What?” Brandon ran after him. “You’re not used to me saying weird shit by now?”


Next: Chapter 4

Previous: Chapter 2

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 2

Adam sat patiently in the tiny gray waiting room, consisting of a few wooden chairs, a rectangular fish tank with a few goldfish swimming about, and—what Adam had his focus on—a blue vending machine.

“T-They’re all out of it…” Adam was staring in dismay at the item slot labeled “B3”, as it was currently empty. Although the majority of the other beverages had plenty in stock, this drink was the only one he desired. “My apple soda…”

A door across from him suddenly swung wide open—a spiky-red haired man entering the room. Gazing through the sunglasses that he wore indoors—something Adam always questioned—he read something on a clipboard in his hand.  

“Let’s see… Adam Grayson? You here, whoever you are?”

“You know who I am…” Adam sighed. “Listen, who do you think you are?”

“Thomas Peck…? Father to one of your best friends? Sounds like you don’t know who I am—”

“I’m talking about the apple soda here in the vending machine. I’m one of the only people you have as a patient, and you didn’t think to stock up on apple soda?”

“Right, right… Forgive me. I’ve been quite busy, you see.”

“And why is that a thing you’re doing now?” Adam pointed at Thomas’ bare chest as he merely wore an open white lab coat. 

“Cause I’ve been able to work out a lot more recently, and I want to show off these abs I’ve been working on. Anyway, enough about me…” Thomas’ expression grew serious. “Ready for another checkup, Adam?”

Adam did not respond. He simply stood up and walked into the room with Thomas.

 

A few minutes later, Adam was putting his shirt back on—the examination already complete. He sat on the exam table while Thomas rolled around the white office in his black computer chair. The man brushed a few pieces of metallic junk off to the side at his desk as he began writing down a few notes. 

“Well, physically, you’re fine. That’s usual.” 

Adam sat in silence—the scribble of the pen on paper, the only thing audible in the room.

“Have you had any injuries since your last visit? You know, the kind that is enough to leave a mark?”

“Nothing I can remember…”

“I don’t see anything, so if you did, it would have healed. I assume by now I don’t have to explain why I ask you about that?”

Adam took a deep breath. “…If I have awakened to a Concept, your best guess is that it can heal any injuries I take, based upon how I…” He trailed off, glancing at the ground.

Thomas nodded his head while turning toward Adam. “But we can’t be sure about a Concept, based upon the true reason why you come here. You don’t have phantons, Adam. At least, they’re somehow undetected by our equipment. However, based on the tests I’ve done… I truly believe you don’t possess them, somehow.”

Adam was silent. Thomas scratched his head, leaning back in his chair.

“Let’s review a few things. Looking at the basics is always a great step into solving a mystery.”

“I don’t need a review—we’ve talked about this stuff before…”

“I think the review will be good, though?”

“I think you should have been a teacher!” Adam yelled, although clearly in the form of harmless banter.

“I’m an engineer, doctor—teacher would be adding too much onto my plate…” Thomas chuckled.

“Well, go on. Let’s get this over with.” Adam sighed in frustration.

“All right,” Thomas cleared his throat. “First of all, phantons. The things you don’t possess. Every single person should have them, as we’ve determined they help fuel the energy of life, so to speak.”

“That is correct, yes.” Adam nodded.

“We first stumbled upon this strange issue with you earlier this year, after you… well, got injured. Despite clearly having your own blood all over you, there was no wound. It had healed. How did this happen? The obvious answer would be the phantons within you went through a process known as ‘awakening,’ and you obtained a Concept.”

“Mr. Peck, what is this ‘Concept’ you speak of?” Adam asked sarcastically.

“Great question!” Thomas played around with Adam’s act. “When phantons awaken, they strengthen to an enormous degree. Doing so, a person can obtain a superpower, in a nutshell. For example, your friend that night happened to actually awaken a Concept. Faith became able to generate and control flames, didn’t she?”

“Yeah…” 

“So, basically, you’re in quite the tough spot right now.” Thomas sighed, tapping on his desk. “All because of Unity.”

“You would think a group that uses Concepts to fight off evil would not be scummy. But, it’s all due to that damn executive running things…” Adam clenched his fist.

“Right…” Thomas scratched his head. “You’re lucky, you know me. I can keep on doing these ‘experiments’ on you to keep them away. If you had a legitimate Concept, the golden rule is that one has to join Unity and fight for their cause, else you be labeled as a criminal. You not having phantons is a whole other issue. They want to know how this phenomenon is happening.”

“As long as we keep up these appointments, I’ll be okay. But…” Adam paused—his words having difficulty in coming out. “What… will happen when you find out the truth? Cause I know you are actually researching it. You’re not just making up random nonsense that will appease them.”

“Well…” Thomas pondered. “Depending on the results, you’d be sent to an actual lab for further testing, or used as if you had a Concept. The later completely depending on if we can figure out how to tap into that power.”

“I mean, I’ve gotten the occasional bruise or scratch since then, and that power hasn’t worked on any of them,” Adam explained. “It certainly isn’t automatic, at least currently.”

Thomas leaned in and placed his hand on Adam’s shoulder—a serious expression on his face. “Whatever you do, don’t do anything drastic. We can figure all of this out. Between myself and Pam… we’ve got your back.”

“Worried, are we?” Adam chuckled. 

“We all are. Your whole situation has… made us worry nonstop.”

“…I’m sorry about that.” Adam stood up, stretching out his body.

“You don’t need to be.” Thomas sighed, turning back toward his desk. “Like I said, don’t do anything drastic. However, if you have any ideas, feel free to explore them. I’ll keep researching the matter until our next appointment.”

“All right…” Adam began to walk toward the door.

“You’re meeting up with Brandon and Jerry before you leave the city, right?” Thomas asked him. Adam turned around, nodding at the scientist’s question.

“Remember, they’re there for you, as well.”

“I know…” Adam sighed. “Thanks, Thomas. I’ll see you later.”

With a small wave, Thomas watched as Adam left his office. He brought his attention to the notes he had been taking on his desk. “Now, let’s see… If I can gain additional access to the network, then maybe I can—”

Thomas paused. Out of the corner of his eye, he swore he saw something.

“…!?”

A quick glance to his left revealed nothing—merely the room in its natural state. Thomas shook his head rapidly.

“…I really need to get more rest, don’t I…?”

 

At the top of a skyscraper that stood tall in Nexus City, there was a young woman with short hair—jet-black that matched the building. Her sapphire eyes peered down upon the city as she reviewed the information she had just obtained.

“He’s been one I’ve been keeping an eye on… I’ve really narrowed down my list at this point. And I think, maybe—just—maybe…”

Her navy-blue sweater and black pants—clothes one would not be caught wearing in the summertime—rustled in the strong gales blowing around her. 

“I should make a move… before it’s too late.”

The girl’s body began to turn transparent. A moment later, she had vanished into the wind.


Next: Chapter 3

Previous: Chapter 1

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 1

“What would you do at the end of the world?”

“When black and white merge—forming incomprehensible gray.”

“It does not matter how bleak things may seem.”

“You have the means to stand on your own two feet and fight, yes?”

“Then, struggle.”

“Struggle and struggle until you reach the end.”

“It does not have to be a masterpiece of a life.”

“I’m sure it hasn’t been… right?”

“That’s okay. You’re still here.”

“Whatever hell is unleashed that threatens you—threatens this world…”

“Reflect it right back.”

 

“…Huh?”

A certain young man’s eyes shot wide open as he almost fell out of his leather seat. The train’s whistle roared at the right time, helping him confirm where he was.

“Damn, I fell asleep? I know it’s early, but the ride’s only twenty minutes.” He yawned, staring out the window with his silver-gray eyes at the scenery his country of Requiem had to offer. At the moment, all he could see were vast fields of green.

“I still don’t see any flowers out there… It’s just grass, grass, grass.” He scratched his dark-brown hair while twiddling with the few streaks of hair that were a lighter-brown.   

“Quite an interesting thing to comment on.” An old, raspy voice told him. He looked off to the right to see an elderly lady standing in the aisle.

“What’s with that getup…?” He asked himself, observing the dark-brown coat the woman wore. That would be odd enough to wear in the summertime, but the thing that perplexed him the most was the matching dark-brown hat that was shaped like a witch’s hat the covered her gray hair.

“Mind if I sit across from you?” She questioned, adjusting her round glasses while peering into the young man’s eyes.

“I don’t mind…” He responded, beckoning the woman to sit down.

“Thank you,” The old lady quickly sat down, stretching her body out as she slouched in the seat. “My name’s Robin. What’s yours?”

“I’m Adam. Adam Grayson,” He answered. “Nice to meet you.”

Robin seemed to pause for a moment but continued to speak. “Adam, another thing I overheard you say concerns me…”

“Huh? What did I say?”

“You said ‘I know it’s early’… Sweetie, it’s one in the afternoon.”

“I would normally be just getting up around this time. It’s summer, so I don’t have to worry about school. Actually, I just graduated, so I really don’t have to worry about that.”

“What about college? That something you’re doing off the bat, or?”

“Well…” Adam sighed. “Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even know what to go for as a major. I have…quite the abnormal circumstances…”

“Is that right?” Robin asked. She decided to drop the topic upon seeing Adam shifting nervously in his seat. “Anyway, aren’t we about to reach our destination?” 

As if the train had traveled through time, it entered the outskirts of the titan known as Nexus City. Skyscrapers, mainly black in color, filled the horizon. That was not the most prominent thing one would notice, however. Scattered across the city were dozens of gigantic azure-colored obelisks radiating a mystical glow. At nighttime, these were a beauty to gaze at. Overall, Nexus City was a sleek, technological wonder. 

“Phantonic technology is growing at quite a pace, recently…” Robin commented. “Next year’s the fiftieth anniversary of this place. 1963—boy howdy do I remember that year. The year the phanton itself was discovered—”

“Yeah, I know. I’m quite good at history.” Adam interrupted. “Sorry, I… just don’t like it when people ramble.”

“Oh my,” Robin giggled. “You sure don’t hesitate to speak your mind, young man.”

“Not anymore…” Adam looked down at his hand. “I don’t want to bottle things up. It’s not good for me…”

“Hmm…” Robin’s face lit up. “You’re quite good at history, you say? Why don’t you try that out—”

“Oh, I hate history,” Adam smirked. “Just because I’m good at it, doesn’t mean I like it. I’d be much more interested in—” Adam pointed toward the city, which was now starting to surround them. “…in studying Phantonics…”

“What’s wrong?” Robin noticed Adam’s hesitation in his words.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Adam assured her.

 

The two exited the train, taking a step onto the shiny granite ground that the station was composed of. People all around them were in a rush to get to their destination. Despite Adam having an appointment, he was in no hurry.

“I know I’m just some random old woman who decided to chat with you, but let me give you some advice…” Robin turned to Adam’s, who gave her an annoyed expression in return. She could see, however, that he was willing to listen.

“Breathe.”

“Huh?” Adam was puzzled. “I sure hope I’m breathing. If not, wouldn’t that make me a… ghost?” He sighed, glancing off to the side. “I could have turned into one, who knows, with the way this world works…”

“Just because Phantonics proves the existence of ghosts, doesn’t mean you could be one.” Robin chuckled. “I remember when they confirmed that—I was so scared to go to the cemetery to see my husband. I thought he—or some other dead person—would just show up out of nowhere and scare little ol’ me!”

A small laugh escaped Adam’s mouth, catching Robin’s attention. “Despite your rambling, you’re not a bad speaker, Robin. People who talk too much—yet are a pleasure to listen to—are rare.”

“Well, aren’t you a charmer?” Robin giggled, beginning to walk off into the bustling city. “Remember that one, simple word I told you. Take care, Adam Grayson. You’ll be all right.”

Adam smiled, waving to her. “Thank you. Take care of yourself.”

With the station now behind her, Robin turned her attention to the errands she needed to take care of. The young man remained on her mind.

“Good luck, Adam…”

Adam adjusted his dark-gray t-shirt and placed his hands into the pockets of his cargo shorts of identical color. Before he set off, the thought of phantons crossed his mind once more.

“Phantons… the particles that make up the energy of life. They make up the very soul of a person. Then, why…” He shook his head as he took his first steps toward his destination.

Adam Grayson, a young man without a soul, began his journey. 


Next: Chapter 2

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

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

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

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 kyologist.com!


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.

“Keeeeeeeeeeeee…!”

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

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

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

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

StKa4mainies

Novagirl93

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.

“That’s…!”

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.

“Gray?”

“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

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