Chapter 11

Winona took a stroll around the garden in her backyard. Daisies, daffodils, peonies, tulips, pansies, and petunias were a few flowers out of the enormous variety that the vibrant garden held. 

She had put a lot of effort into growing everything over the last six years with her father. It was an important place for her, and she took extra care to make sure it wasn’t ruined.

Winona leaned over a spot where a few sunflowers were growing. They seemed to be one of the only plants that were struggling. She put her hand on the ground in front of the flowers, as she closed her eyes.

“The soil seems… yeah—the soil is fine. It must be something else.” She stood up and gazed around at the colorful display surrounding her.

“My Concept involves the earth itself… I’ve done so much to this soil to help everything grow, but…” She played with one of the gemstones in her hair—this time, choosing the blue jewel. “Maybe it’s too much?”

Winona then lay down on the soil, placing her ear against it. “The plants help each other grow, and at the same time, do not hinder each other. That’s the network I’ve been working on for years now. I’ll have to think of what could be causing this.” She could feel the vibrations of the earth—something she had begun to learn recently. Using this power, she senses an area below the garden.

“I wonder if it has anything to do with that…

She felt footsteps approach her—familiar ones that did not alarm her whatsoever. With the tapping of a cane as it made contact with the ground, Winona’s father—Jericho Collins—approached her.

“The earth talking to ya? What’s it saying, honey?” He chuckled as his dark brown eyes peered through the lens of his black-rimmed glasses at his daughter’s antics.

“You know I like to focus on everything, Dad,” Winona pouted. “I can’t miss a single detail…”

Jericho’s cane—silver in color with a dark blue handle and tip at the end—struck the soil next to Winona. She slowly began to levitate off the ground, waving her arms frantically as her father used his Concept of gravity to lift her up onto her feet.

“You’ll get dirty down there. Wait…” Jericho scratched his chin. “You could just control the dirt and get it off of you that way… Huh. I’m not used to you having a Concept.”

“It’s been a few years now, Dad,” Winona sighed. “How are you not used to it by now? I’m always using it out here.”

Jericho chuckled, glancing around at all the hard work Winona had put into the garden. “In an odd way, I guess forgetting you have these powers helps me remind me of raising you. Like your sister, once you awakened your Concept, you gained an understanding of the real world. You—in a sense—grew up…”

“Dad…” Winona shook her head with a bittersweet smile. “I’m just getting started. My work with Unity begins soon… I’ll be closer to Cynthia again. And once we settle things, we can all return here… as a family.”

“Settle things…” Jericho looked up toward the sky. “I truly hope you, Faith, and the others can finally do something about the mess Unity is. Going into it with the intentions the organization is supposed to have—protecting the people—will certainly be a good starting point. Cynthia couldn’t do that… my generation couldn’t do that. Truth be told, I would love to kick the crap out of that man for what he’s done, but…”

“Yeah, your back…” Winona peered off to the side, looking at a red rose that gently blew in the breeze. 

“I’ve had to walk around like an old man for years now! I’m not that old! I’m the same age as Pam, and she’s still active.” 

“Pam… Cynthia… and—you, to be honest. How bad has it been? For real? You never go into detail…”

Jericho tried to think of what to say, with a sigh involuntarily coming out in response. “W-Well… I still have to go on missions, even with my back the way it is. Even with my Concept helping me, I still can’t draw out my full potential. And it sucks. It really does.”

“I… feel like ‘it sucks’ doesn’t do it justice.” Winona paused. “Cynthia… hasn’t been the same. Ever since they took her by force… She refused—she wanted to stay, but…”

“Yeah, it doesn’t work that way, at the moment…” Jericho shook his head. “You have no idea how much I curse my own weakness, sweetie… I want to keep you two safe, but—”

“It’s okay, Dad,” Winona assured him as she clenched her fist. “You stay here and relax with Mom. You’ve done enough. It’s my turn. I’ll do my best—I’ll get Cynthia to help as well!”

Jericho could not help but smile at the courage his daughter possessed. “Heh… I’m not sure if I can relax, exactly. I’ll try. And in any way possible, I’ll help you two.”

Winona embraced her father, snuggling up close to him. “Thank you… I know how hard it is for you.”

“Heh… I’m glad I raised you right. If only…”

She looked up at him—an earnest expression on her face. “You raised Cynthia right, as well. Don’t you worry.”

Jericho sighed, patting his daughter on the back. “I sure hope so, kiddo…”

“Oh!” Winona jumped up. “I wanted to ask something!”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“The abandoned mine below the town… how much do you know about it?”

 

Emma sat in the waiting room at Thomas’ office. She furiously mashed buttons on her handheld gaming console, humming to the chiptune of the game she was playing.

“Is that Shadow Sea Adventures? Man, that’s an old game.”

Roger Oaks was a friend of Emma’s who was here for an appointment as well. He looked over and adjusted his glasses to try to see her progress in the game. 

“Wow, that’s gotta be one of those hidden bonus levels. I’ve never seen that one before.” Roger rustled his curly black hair as he attempted to remember the specifics of each level.

“Yeah, it took me a while to finally unlock it.” Emma sighed. “Now I can’t even beat it! That’s stupid eye thing keeps getting in my way!” 

The door leading into the exam room opened up, as Thomas entered—yawning loudly.

“Roswell. Emma Roswell. You’re up next, whoever you are.”

“Haha, very funny.” Emma sat up from her chair. “I really hope you know who I am at this point.”

“Yeah… It’s just not a good joke. Didn’t work with Adam, either.” Thomas sighed. “Well, head on in whenever you’re ready.”

“Good luck, Emma! I know this is serious stuff for you.” 

Emma turned to Roger and smiled. “Thanks. I know I do.” She held up the game she was playing in front of Roger. “Here, wanna try the level out while I’m in there?”

“Huh?” Roger was surprised. “But if you’re having trouble, I doubt I can do anything!”

Handing Roger the game, Emma walked over to the door. She looked back and grinned.

“It’s your turn now. You got this!”

 

Emma sat in the office with Thomas. She had her shirt removed so that her front was covered, yet her back was bare, showing a massive scar that went from the top to the bottom of her spine. 

Thomas held a handheld device capable of scanning the inside of a person, almost like an x-ray. Yet this device was made using phantonic technology and could get a reading of how things looked based on the phantons within a person, and how they circulated around the body.

Thomas pressed the scanner up to Emma’s back, starting to carefully move it around. He had a laptop off to the side, which monitored the process.

“Hurt anywhere?”

“No.”

“That’s good. I know we had that issue for a while where it hurt whenever it was touched.”

Emma remained silent throughout the process. After a few minutes, Thomas was already finished with the scan.

“All right, very good. No issues. That’s the Miracle Girl for you.”

Emma sighed as she got herself dressed. “Seriously, what a stupid nickname.”

Thomas chuckled. “Well, nobody ever expected a spine to be completely rebuilt like that. Even with the advances in the last decade, it’s still nearly impossible.” 

“Well, they should seriously work on that. I know there’s a lot of people out there who could use this kind of thing.”

Thomas began writing notes on a piece of paper—smirking as his mind immediately thought of Jericho. “Well, that whole incident involving that fire was bizarre. If only…” He shook his head. “Nah, nevermind.”

Emma stood up, thinking of the events that led her to obtain her scar.

“I know the exact part of the house that fell on me. It hurt so much. I thought my fragile little body was gonna be split in half. Somehow, the house got fixed. My body didn’t. I thought I wouldn’t be able to have a normal life. Yet somehow, here I am.”

Thomas tapped his pen on the desk. “Well, if you are gonna go into Unity, there is the obvious problem that remains.” He turned toward Emma. “If you end up awakening to a Concept someday, it might affect how your artificial spine works. I’m sure your mother has talked to you about it.”

Emma nodded. Thomas got another piece of paper and began to draw on it. 

“The artificial metal created known as phantonite. It was named that due to how it interacts with phantons, and can even change its shape. I’m sure you not only learned that in school but with your Unity training as well. As you know, most weapons used are created with phantonite.”

Thomas has drawn a sword on the left side of the paper, while he worked on a spine on the right side.

“With your spine, we did some tweaking with phantonite to reform it. A lot went into its design, and miraculously it worked out. We ran into an issue pretty quickly, however.”

Emma stretched her body. “My own phantons interfering with it.”

“Yeah. We had to come up with a little shell around your spine that would prevent interference. It was… very tricky. But we managed. Now, the only issue you seem to have at this point is a little discomfort during thunderstorms, right?”

“Freaking hate electricity,” Emma stated. Thomas chuckled at her response.

“So, if you go without unlocking a Concept, you’ll probably be fine. However, if that happens, we’ll have to re-examine that shell and do some major modifications, since obtaining a Concept makes a drastic change in phantonic activity.” Thomas was stern in his expression.

“I can’t promise you that things will go as well this time around. It’s very sensitive stuff to deal with.”

Emma smiled. “Well, if it ever happens—” She flexed her arm as the smile turned into a huge grin. “I’ll just face whatever becomes of it!”

Thomas seemed content with Emma’s response. “You definitely have optimism. You get that from your mother—actually, no. More so from your father.” 

“Well, I remember him being so charismatic. I can’t believe my mom married a guy like that. But still, I miss him…” Emma walked over toward the exit and leaned her back against it.

“Faith and I know how Unity is. Our mom has shared all of that with us. But still, it’s an opportunity to make things right at the same time. We both want to go through with it and protect everything special to us.” She nodded.

That’s why I’ll face whatever happens—like I said. Even if I lose any means of mobility, I still won’t give up!”

Initially, Thomas smiled at her. Upon turning to write down a few more notes, his expression grew incredibly somber.

“Losing your mobility is one thing… I’m not sure you understand how deep this goes. It’s just another reason as to why I…” He clenched his fist around the pen, almost snapping it in two.


Next: Chapter 12

Previous: Chapter 10

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 10

Adam and Charlotte left Jerry’s house, now standing outside near the road—his back to her.

“So… your dad. I kind of know a little based on what I learned in my investigation.” Charlotte sighed, walking around Adam to face him directly. “You up for telling me more?”

Adam did not answer directly, yet nodded slowly as he began to head back toward his house. Charlotte was still for a moment before swiftly catching up—her pace matching his.

“My dad, huh…? Well, he works for some company—I don’t even know what it’s called. He’s always gone—is rarely home. When he is, we barely say a word to each other.”

“Hmm… So you’ve never had a close relationship?” Charlotte rubbed the side of her neck anxiously. 

Adam nodded. “Recently, ever since… well, earlier this year, it’s like he vanished. Money’s still sent to me, and the bills are paid, but…” He shook his head, cursing at himself.

“I think I get it. You don’t have to say anything else right now, that’s fine.” Charlotte patted Adam’s shoulder, causing him to flinch. “I’m sorry, should I have not…?”

“Oh, you’re fine. You hand’s cold as hell, though. Even with my shirt on, it’s like you placed an ice cube on me.”

“Right…” Charlotte looked down at her palm. “I’m a ghost… Listen, Adam. There’s something you need to know going forward.”

“What now?”

“When I need to sleep to recharge my energy… I need to really sleep. I’ve been doing a lot ever since yesterday—transforming into my true self twice, and fighting you. I’ll probably be completely out of it for… a day or two? At least that…” 

Adam noticed Charlotte had already begun to get groggy—almost tripping on her own feet. “Well, I guess you can stay at my place and rest. You don’t have an actual place to go, right?”

“I… I usually fade away to rest. When I ‘wake up,’ I’m usually in the spot where I vanished. So… I often hide in the woods or something.”

“But you were sleeping like a normal human being earlier?”

“Yeah… I seemed to keep my form stable enough to remain in this world. Is it the World Mirror’s doing…? That was rhetorical—I know you wouldn’t know.”

“In any case, just stay with me. Like I said, my dad’s never there, so we shouldn’t have to worry about that. I doubt you’d want to sleep in his bed, and the couch sucks, so… “ Adam took a deep breath. “Listen, this is hard to say… I’m allowing you t-to use my bed.”

“…I know I lied in it earlier, but I sort of… passed out on the spot last night once I brought you home. Sharing a bed is—”

“No… I’m relinquishing m-my bed completely. It’s yours. I’ll… use the shitty couch, I guess…”

Charlotte stared at Adam in concern. “…This really is hard for you. It looks like you’re about to cry.”

“I’m already crying on the inside, don’t you worry.” 

“But…” Charlotte stopped. Adam turned to her as her gaze lowered toward the ground. “Thank you… I…” She stuttered, growing much more bashful. “I-I-I’m sorry about attacking you… seriously.”

Adam waved the check she had given him in her face. “Don’t worry, apology accepted.”

Charlotte stomped her right foot hard, switching rapidly to an angry mood. “Is money really all it takes for you!? I did something inexcusable! I-I know it was to get your power out, but—”

“Relax,” Adam said bluntly. He looked around them—a cool summer breeze rustling the leaves of the trees next to them—the same trees that belonged to the forest they quarreled in, north of the town. 

“I understand why you did what you did. I try to look deeper into the meaning of things, cause most of the world is too lazy to even try.”

Charlotte could only stare at Adam as the wind blew right through her. She looked down at her body—although mostly solid, she sometimes had things like this happen. Unable to feel its temperature, the gales left a peculiar feeling in her—one that could not be described to a living being. 

“If you can understand an unorthodox being such as myself… then…” Charlotte sighed, walking right through Adam—spooking the hell out of him.

“H-Hey, careful!” Adam looked around frantically to make sure nobody had noticed what she had done. His teeth began to chatter while his eyes glowed for a brief moment.

“We’re fine, don’t worry,” Charlotte assured him. “Anyway, let’s get back. I’m exhausted.”

 

Later on that day, Adam had messaged Brandon to meet up with him. He was sitting at a booth inside a diner, known as Mona’s Quality Burgers. Being close to his house, Adam usually frequented the place. He shuffled through the songs that were listed on the tabletop jukebox—all of which were too old for his tastes. 

Taking a sip of apple soda—gleefully grinning at the taste—Adam stared inside his wallet. After cashing the check Charlotte gave him, he could not believe how fat it had become. He had left the majority of the money at his house, yet he kept a few hundred requid on his person.

Adam noticed that Brandon had walked in. He was walking over to Adam’s table at a slow pace, seemingly exhausted. 

“Oh, I forgot. You had practice today, didn’t you?”

Brandon sat opposite of Adam, head hitting the table. “Yeah, after my freaking dad kept me up half the night making me help him out with some car.” Brandon let out a tremendous sigh, echoing off the table. “Honestly, kicking that stupid black and white ball around is therapeutic.”

“Therapeutic, huh?” Adam paused. “Oh, wait! That reminds me, I should schedule another appointment with Jerry’s dad. Although… I gotta proceed carefully.” 

“You’ve gotta frequent that place, don’t ya? Cause of your situation?” Brandon mumbled.

“Yeah… They won’t let me speak to an actual therapist, which is scummy, but at least it’s Thomas. He helps… I think?”

Adam took out his phone to check the date, only to be reminded that his screen was cracked.

“Dude, what happened to your phone!?” Brandon asked. Adam looked at him, nervously. He wanted to tell his friend what had happened the night before, yet he was waiting for an opportunity after they ate—a non-public location preferable.

“I, uh… dropped it. On the…” Adam looked to his side toward the floor. “On the floor!” He pointed at the red tiles that were shiny enough to see one’s own reflection.

“Did you drop it off a freaking skyscraper? I didn’t think that kind of phone you have would break that easily!”

“It was… a very powerful floor.” Adam put his damaged phone back in his pocket. “Anyway, I have to go get another one. Probably going to head to Nexus City, seeing as though no stores in town really sell them. Jerry mentioned you should probably get a new one, as well?”

“Right… I would love to.” Brandon sighed, leaning back in his seat. “Money’s not looking too hot at the moment.”

“Well, as your friend—” Adam pulled out his wallet, showing Brandon the cash inside. “I think we can both afford a nice one with this much.”

“Woah!” Brandon almost jumped into the ceiling. “Where did you get that much cash out of the blue!?”

“Well, you see…” Adam pondered what excuse he could say to Brandon for the time being. He figured out that, in a way, he could be truthful here. But more importantly, he could mess with Brandon.

“I got it from a girl I slept with last night.”

Brandon did not say a thing. His face was frozen, no ounce of emotion able to rise to the surface. Adam waited, slowly taking a sip of his soda. Several moments passed before words were finally able to escape from Brandon’s mouth.

“You. Tell. Me. All. The. Details. Now.”

Adam sat his glass down on the table. “Obviously, I was joking. Sort of. Eh, anyway—”

Sort of!? What the hell is that supposed to mean!?”

Adam raised his hand in front of Brandon’s face, trying to get him to calm down. Brandon did, noticing that Adam’s expression grew serious.

“We can’t talk about it here, but… a lot happened last night. I went to Jerry’s earlier to talk to him about it a bit. And I want to tell you too, of course.”

Brandon let out a sigh. “Well, it’s absolutely out of character for you to do something like that in the first place. Now, something you went to Jerry to talk about… something with a girl… and money… hmm…” He was trying his best to connect the dots in his head, but there was no way he would be able to do it. 

“Let’s go for a walk, Brandon. I’ll tell you about everything.”

Brandon could not help but feel nervous toward what Adam was going to say.

“…Y-You’re not part of a gang now, are you…?”

Adam’s glare—one that tended to appear when Brandon said stupid things—answered the question for him.


Next: Chapter 11

Previous: Chapter 9

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 9

Adam and Charlotte were outside walking within Prelude. His house was on the east side of town, while their destination was on the west. For the time being, both of them decided to leave the situation with the woods alone. Charlotte managed to check and confirm that everything was, in fact, mysteriously restored, like their fight never occurred.

“I would investigate it further, but my energy right now… There’s no way I could fight back if some conflict arose.” Charlotte cursed at herself. 

“It’s cooled down a lot since yesterday. You don’t seem as crazy wearing a sweater. Still a bit, but not as bad.” Adam commented, obviously steering the subject away from the matter.

“I can’t feel temperature, so it doesn’t really matter to me either way…” Charlotte was examining her clothing. “I could always steal something else to wear.”

“Steal…?” Adam asked under his breath. “Anyway, we have to do something about these memories you’ve lost.”

“And you think Jerry would help? I know he was the valedictorian of our class, but I’m not sure if that means much.”

“He’ll get us on the right track, at least. He can explain everything about ghosts much better than I can. Explaining… It’s in their damn blood after all…” Adam muttered the last sentence. He seemed to begin pondering something. “The Ouderkirk family. It was for sure in our curriculum, but nothing aside from the basics. I tried to do a report on them once, but there wasn’t enough info to make anything good.”

“Probably more than I know. I genuinely don’t remember much of anything. Aside from knowing about my powers and the World Mirror. Everything else feels like it was lost somehow…”

“How long… have you been around, exactly? And what have you been doing all of these years?”

“I can’t really give you a precise amount of time… it’s as if I was a newborn. You hardly remember your earlier memories but begin to become more aware of your existence as you grow up. About a hundred and twenty years ago, I’d say I started to notice things around me.”

Charlotte stopped walking. Adam could hear the strain forming in her voice.

“Still… I just stood there. I couldn’t interact with anything around me. It was as if I was frozen in place. Anywhere my body decided to appear. Countless locations all over Requiem. I’ve seen so much.” Charlotte paused and started to look around.

“It was only a few years ago when I was finally able to move on my own… and I’ve been attempting to figure out what I can, with the power I have. I recalled memories of the World Mirror… and how it’s supposed to—somehow—help me… So, I put my time and effort into searching for it.” 

Adam sighed. “Well, we have a lot to figure out, it seems. Let’s take it one step at a time. We don’t need to wear ourselves out too quickly.” 

“You’re right,” Charlotte agreed. “Although it is frustrating.”

“That’s life for you. It’s frustrating.” Adam stated bluntly. 

 

A few minutes later, the two had entered a large two-story yellow house—the home of Adam’s friend, Jerry Peck. They met him in his room, where the spiky red-haired boy was working at his desk. There were five large monitors on the surface, which took up about half the room. The actual computer was massive, lit up in bright blue light, and took residence underneath the desk.

Adam took a seat on Jerry’s bed, which was difficult to do. The rest of the room was cluttered with many electronic devices and chunks of metal—bed included. Charlotte remained at the door, unable to figure out how to walk inside in the first place.

“No need to be shy,” Adam beckoned. “Nothing in here will hurt you… I think.”

Charlotte slowly nodded, walking carefully around a red toolbox on the ground. Adam moved a laptop-looking device over so she could sit down next to him.

“So, what can I do for you guys?” Jerry turned around—his hazel eyes now focused on them. “I didn’t know you two were friends?”

Adam rubbed the side of his neck. “Well, let’s see. How to explain this? There were some… events that transpired last night. And, we need to figure some things out.”

“By… ‘events,’ what do you mean, exactly…?” Jerry narrowed his eyes.

“Not what you’re thinking.” Adam sighed. “Look, I don’t know how to explain this that well. So, just… Charlotte, do something to show him?”

“I can do that,” Charlotte responded. She took a look around Jerry’s room, figuring out what to do. After a moment, she looked to the side of Adam’s head. Shrugging, the ghost girl put her arm right through it. 

Jerry’s eyes lit up immediately. As Adam jumped back from the awkward sensation going through his temple, Jerry shot up and grabbed Charlotte’s arm.

“NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY! DID YOU JUST DO WHAT I THINK YOU JUST DID!?”

Charlotte answered the question by pulling her arm away, phasing right out of Jerry’s hands. 

“This… this sensation!” Jerry curled his fingers, putting great focus into the coldness he now felt. “After all these years, I’ve finally met a ghost! And it was you, Charlotte!? How? How?”

“Well, she’s not an ordinary ghost, to begin with,” Adam stated.

“Well, obviously! There’s no natural way your average ghost could completely act like how she’s acted.” Jerry raised his finger as if he was a teacher. Adam could tell the beast was about to be unleashed.

“Ah, shit. Well, this is what we came here for…”

“Ghosts were confirmed to be entirely possible, but there are limits…” Jerry started giggling, almost uncontrollably. Adam believed that his friend was perfectly capable of becoming a mad scientist.

“What would those limits be?” Charlotte asked, somewhat concerned about who they decided to come to for information.

“Where do we begin…” Jerry rubbed his hands together. “Let’s see… when it comes to the phantons within us, they don’t necessarily disappear after one dies.” Jerry pointed toward his window, which Charlotte just took notice of, considering it was hiding behind the computer monitors. “They can do certain things. The event that happens most of the time is that they rise and head upward toward the sky.”

“To… to heaven?” Charlotte was intrigued that such a thing could have been discovered to exist.

“Well, we’re not sure what it does exactly. We do know that in between the exosphere and thermosphere, the phantons form a sort of barrier referred to as Xavier’s Ceiling.”

“—Named after the guy who discovered the phanton, Xavier Ouderkirk, in 1959,” Adam added nonchalantly, glancing at Charlotte. “I’m gonna assume he’s related to you.”

“Precisely!” Jerry gave Adam a thumbs up. “What happens within this barrier is totally up for debate, however. It does not seem to affect technology at all, as we’ve been able to launch rockets successfully. It’s peculiar, as normally there can certainly be disruptions due to phantonic interference.” Jerry sighed. “Technology also cannot get any specific readings on the dang thing, unfortunately. We can just detect where it is, as we can track the phantons that leave the Earth’s surface.” 

Charlotte was entirely focused on Jerry’s explanation, becoming enthralled in learning about what he was discussing. 

“Well, I’m sure that is informative for her. But how about what happens with those phantons that don’t leave?” Adam asked.

“Yeah… those phantons still need a lot of research. But what we do know is that they like to—well—create ghosts. The phantons can travel to anywhere the deceased person had been in their lifetime. They then proceed to sort of ‘re-create’ events of that person’s life; that’s the most common thing to happen. It’s referred to as a ‘residual occurrence.’” 

Jerry pointed at Charlotte. “Now, with you…” Jerry paused for a moment and let out a sudden squeal. “I can’t believe I’m actually conversing with a ghost, this is the greatest day of my life!”

“Well, I’m glad you are enjoying your first encounter with a ghost,” Adam stated sarcastically. Jerry looked at him in a questioning matter, but he shook his head. “I’ll get to that part soon.”

“Anyway, continuing on. Charlotte—in your case, you would, for sure, be at least considered something known as an ‘intelligent occurrence.’ This is when the phantons can create an entity that is able to do whatever it wants. There is also a massive increase in phantonic power compared to a residual occurrence.”

“She’s plenty powerful, that’s for sure.” Adam winced in remembrance of the pain. “That freaking hurt a lot.”

“What? Did she attack you or something?” Jerry seemed concerned. 

“Yep, right after she kidnapped me,” Adam stated, rather bluntly.

Jerry stared at his friend. “What the hell happened last night!?” 

Charlotte stood up, stretching her body. “He’s right, regarding the power thing. I think it would be simpler to show you.”

Realizing what Charlotte was about to do, Adam grabbed a pillow off of Jerry’s bed and held it up for protection. The azure aura lit up around her body, although nowhere near as powerful as the night prior. Jerry was staring in complete awe as Charlotte revealed her true form to him. 

He fell to his knees, taking hold of Charlotte’s hands. She looked down at him in confusion while Adam lowered the pillow he was holding up.

“My god, you’re an Ouderkirk!? Absolutely amazing! This day…” Tears had begun to fall down Jerry’s face.

“All right, buddy. Easy now.” Adam stood up and got Jerry back on his feet. He turned around and looked at his desk. All of the monitors were glitching out; the images unrecognizable. 

Wiping his tears, Jerry picked up a device that looked like a tablet. He tapped it furiously, wanting to get something to work.

“Thank goodness this is still operational… here we go!” Jerry analyzed the tablet in silence; his mouth slowly opening. “My god… these readings! Adam, if she has this much power and she attacked you, how did—”

Jerry looked up at Adam and stopped talking when he noticed his friend’s eyes. They were glowing precisely as they did the night prior.

“Adam? What… what is that?” Jerry pointed at Adam’s face.

“What are you talking about?” Adam was confused. Jerry tapped the tablet a few more times and showed the screen to him. It was a camera, pointed in his direction. Adam was able to see his own eyes glowing for the very first time.

“What the… hell? Is-Is this the—”

“That is a sign that the World Mirror is active, yes,” Charlotte answered Adam’s question before he could finish it.

“What’s a ‘World Mirror’?” Jerry asked.

“It’s why she freaking attacked me last night…” Adam responded, still staring at his eyes. “Apparently, I have some weird-ass power. Not sure if it can be considered a Concept or not…” He let out a loud sigh. “And this kidnapper right here has been waiting around to find it.”

Charlotte nodded. “Yes. Most of my memories seem to be missing. All I’m aware of is my Ouderkirk heritage and the fact that the World Mirror can help me.”

“Adam… World Mirror…” Jerry seemed to be rooted in thought. “Your memories missing… something doesn’t seem right. My dad’s been working with you for a while now, Adam, to figure out just what the issue was with you not having phantons.” He folded his arms. “Is this why…?”

“We have no idea… It’s why we wanted to see what you thought. If I’m gonna be honest with you—”

“You don’t really want my dad to know, right?” Jerry smirked at him. Adam nodded in confirmation.

“I don’t really care if it just involved me. But Charlotte’s mixed in, as well. With Unity, and how they are… I don’t know how they’d respond to an Ouderkirk who’s a ghost.” 

Charlotte was surprised at Adam’s concern about her safety. Logically, however, it did make sense. She held her tongue for a moment while Jerry nodded, clearly brainstorming something serious.

“…Hey, can I ask something?”

“No shit. We’re here to ask and learn, after all.” Adam answered.

“…My family. Are any of them around still?”

Jerry shook his head. “Well, no, technically…”

“Technically?” Adam raised an eyebrow. “I thought there weren’t any left?”

“T-There aren’t…” Jerry scratched his head. Adam knew something was up with how Jerry answered. He decided he would pester him about it later on.

“Anyway—Charlotte. Are you able to get out of that form for me? I need to use the computer.”

“Sure…” Charlotte, somewhat upset by the answer she obtained, breathed in slowly. In a flash, her body reverted back to her previous state. Almost immediately, Jerry’s computers were back to normal. He sat down and began typing away. 

Adam’s eyes also returned to normal, having been active the entire time, as well. He noted that he seemed to feel a strange sensation—the center of his head and the nape of his neck simultaneously felt like they were being tickled. Looking at the tablet with the camera, he realized the change. Charlotte took note of this as well.

“You noticed that, huh? That should be the first sign that you feel the World Mirror’s power. And the fact that it’s not causing you severe headaches anymore is great as well.” 

Adam held his head. “You may not know what the World Mirror is for, but you do seem to know some details surrounding its power?”

Charlotte pondered for a moment. “Yes… I-I can really understand why I know certain things, yet I am in the complete dark about the rest.” Charlotte sat back down on the bed. “I knew how to get the World Mirror to work. I’m also aware of the great power it holds, along with the fact that the power seems capable of healing wounds you receive.” 

Jerry chimed in. “It seems that the memories you do have hold importance. Not substantial importance, but enough to get you on the right track.” Jerry turned around. “I’ve got a lot to think about and research. Also…” Jerry pondered something.

“I think it’s worth it to finally do that.”

Adam and Charlotte looked at Jerry questionably. He raised his fists up into the air, getting himself pumped up.

“I’m going to hack into the Requiem government’s servers!”

“Woah woah woah, cool it.” Adam went up and held Jerry’s shoulders. “I don’t want you getting in trouble and throwing your life away over some simple information!”

“Relax, you know who you’re talking to, right?” Jerry smirked. “Besides, I’ve always wanted to do this. Not necessarily for information on the Ouderkirk’s, but for other things.” Jerry sat back down at his computer.

“As I’ve studied Phantonics growing up, there have been quite a few holes I’ve noticed in certain areas. We’ll be here for another five hours if I were to explain it to you guys, but… just…” He paused.

“It’s important we find breakthroughs in the field. I want to help others, and I don’t want anything or anyone getting in the way of that.”

Adam smiled softly. “Right, that makes sense. Just be careful, all right?”

“Don’t worry about it. It takes some time anyway. You two look into what you can in the meantime, and let me know if you figure anything out.”

“Well, will do—” Adam pulled out his phone, remembering the screen was busted. “Ah, crap. Can’t really do much with this in its current state.”

“You too? I had to fix up Brandon’s phone this morning. It’s not gonna last much longer, though, so I told him he should probably just get a new one.”

“I think I should, as well…” Adam poked at the screen. “Even you probably could do much with a shattered screen.”

“It would be kind of annoying, but I could probably figure something out.” Jerry grinned at his own confidence.

“Nah, I needed a new one anyway.” Adam shrugged, putting the phone back in his pocket. “I just gotta dip into the funds and see if—”

Charlotte pulled out a slip of paper and held it in front of Adam’s face. “Here, I think you should have this.”

She gave the paper to Adam. He looked at it, realized quickly that it was a check, and had his jaw almost drop to the floor.

“Wh-Wh-What is this!?”

Jerry stood up and looked as well, instantly forming the exact same expression. “W-Why are you giving Adam a check for six thousand requid!?”

“I’m a ghost. I don’t need a home or anything that people living really need. I figured I owe it to Adam anyway, after last night.”

“S-So, you really only had that job for surveillance purposes, I’m guessing?” Adam asked. “And… you don’t have a home?”

“I should probably quit that job… Although, I can’t really disappear out of the blue, especially after the manager has been so kind to me.” Charlotte looked down at the floor. “Even though I used such means to obtain the job in the first place…”

“Ignoring how you worded that—” Adam began to walk toward the door. “Thanks, Jerry. I gotta figure out how I’m gonna tell Brandon about all of this. I figured I’d tell him, but probably just him…”

“That’s… probably a good idea.” Jerry nodded. “Since everyone else has ties with Unity. Even if they purposefully didn’t mention anything, who knows… There are always ways to extract information.”

Adam glanced nervously around the room. “I just hope your dad isn’t too deep, either. If anyone can secretly gain info, it’s him. I can see him placing hidden cameras, mics—all of that…”

“I know he wouldn’t do that.” Jerry chuckled.

“…You really trust your dad, huh?” Adam asked as he walked out, waving back at Jerry. Charlotte slowly followed behind, feeling the uneasiness radiate out of Adam.

“Must be nice…”


Next: Chapter 10

Previous: Chapter 8

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 8

Adam awoke, as he usually would. He found that he lied in his exact bed as well. It took him a few seconds before everything flooded into his mind. 

Jumping onto the floor beside the bed, pain rocketed through Adam’s body. It was strong enough to cause him to fall right back down. He lied there with his feet dangling over the edge.

Taking a glance to his left, he noticed Charlotte had been lying there this entire time, eyes shut. She had returned to her original appearance and seemed to be wearing a navy blue sweater and black pants.

“Why… what the hell?” Adam stood up a second time, this time with his weakened body in mind. He still had to hold onto his nightstand next to his bed to keep his balance. “Why are you sleeping in my bed!?”

“I must recharge my energy, especially after that act I was doing last night.” Charlotte’s eyes opened, and she rose up from the bed in a robotic-like fashion. “I have to make sure my body doesn’t fade away, so moments of rest are required to stay existing.”

“Uh… whatever. ANYWAY! What was all of that!? What happened last night?” Adam looked down at his hand. “I think… Yeah—I used some crazy power? World Mirror… right?” He held his head. “It’s kinda fuzzy… although I DO remember you attacked me.”

“Correct. I couldn’t be nice. You didn’t know how to use the power, so I had to physically and emotionally beat it out of you.”

“T-That’s messed up…”

“But now that you have accessed that power, I’m going to help you figure it out.”

“…It sounded like you needed this power for yourself, though. I wanted you to tell me about it.”

“You collapsed before I could.” Charlotte shrugged. “But… I have to apologize…” She fidgeted around, clearly distraught. “I’ve had my memories altered with, it seems. While helping you, I hope to uncover the things that I have forgotten.” 

“Are you serious…? Of course, your memories were messed with…” Adam had the energy to start walking around his room. “If that’s the case, then how can we be sure this World Mirror stuff is accu—”

Adam stopped walking just in time. Pieces of glass were scattered all over his wooden floor. A glance up revealed that an old, small television that he barely even used was broken. Someone had thrown a remote directly into it—the device still lodged inside.

“I have to apologize…” Charlotte began. Adam turned around and noticed she was facing away from him. “I didn’t know how to get the television to work so I could see that news thing…”

“So, you threw the remote into it?” Adam seemed more disappointed than angry. He carefully walked along his floor so he could reach behind the television. Picking up a cord, he waved it at Charlotte. “You could have just plugged it in. I’m pretty sure it still works decently enough.”

Charlotte turned slowly back toward Adam, seemingly glaring at the cord to the television. She turned back around a few moments later.

“I have to apologize—”

“Enough apologizing.” Adam sighed. “Now, here’s a question. How did you manage to get all of that information on me if you barely know how to work a simple TV? I assume you would have to look up things on a computer and whatnot.”

Charlotte lied back down on the bed. “Since I’m a spirit, I can do things such as pass through objects, as you saw last night. Or possess people.”

“Possess? You can do that too?” Adam was puzzled. “How did you manage to use that to get info?”

“Well, it’s quite simple, really…” Charlotte began an explanation but paused. The next thing Adam noticed, she was fast asleep.

“Uh, hey? Wake up?”

“Must… recharge… energy…” Charlotte was able to mumble those words before the walls started to echo her loud snores.

“What the hell is even happening at this point?” Adam glanced over at his nightstand and noticed his cell phone and the envelope Pam gave to him were there. 

“Damn… this envelope is covered in my blood.” Adam looked down at his clothing. It was torn to shreds, covered with dirt and his blood. “I need a shower.”

Adam opened up the envelope to check the damage done inside. There was a note folded up but was miraculously not covered in blood like the outside was.

“I could open it now… I figure almost dying last night was considered a low point. But…” After hesitating for a few moments, Adam put the note back inside the envelope. “Not yet.”

Setting the envelope down, he picked up his cell phone. Cracked, but seemingly still functional. Although it was difficult for Adam to read what was on the screen. He sighed, putting it down as well.

 

A few minutes later, Adam was in the shower. He had his head lowered, the water flowing through his hair. The dirt and blood on his body were starting to come off, but he figured some extra scrubbing was necessary.

“I don’t feel that pain I felt when I woke up.” Adam looked around on his body. There did not seem to be a scratch on him. “That… World Mirror power. Did it heal me?”

Adam raised his hand, almost touching the showerhead. “I guess I can consider this something along the lines of a Concept…? How do I even use it?”

Adam peeked outside of the shower at the bathroom door. He had locked it, yet knew that Charlotte could just phase through it if she wanted. Or bust it down simply with her strength.

“I’m not sure if I can trust her. She did beat the hell out of me last night, after all. If I do have some incredible power, I need to figure out how to use it. Just in case…”

Adam closed his eyes and held his hand in front of him.

“World Mirror, ACTIVATE!”

Nothing happened.

“Well, that’s all I can think of.” Adam was calm on the outside but was dying of self-embarrassment on the inside.

Adam turned off the shower and got out. After drying off with a towel, he put on clothes that matched the ones he wore the day prior.

Walking out of the bathroom, he was met with Charlotte standing right in front of him—her eyes seemingly empty.

“Uh, hey. Did you enjoy your nap?”

“I have to apologize…”

Adam sighed. “Not this again.”

“When I woke up, I used my phasing ability to pass through the walls to look for you. I ended up in the restroom for a brief moment…” Charlotte bowed. “Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to look!”

“Huh? I don’t care. It’s fine. You’ve been acting really freaking meek ever since I woke up.” Adam lightly patted Charlotte’s shoulder. The cold that he felt jogged his memory swiftly on something he had seemed to lose focus of.

Charlotte was, in fact, a ghost. A spirit—Adam was interacting so casually with someone who was no longer considered alive.

“Hey, so… How much do you know about ghosts?” He asked her.

“I know Phantonics has rounded up quite a bit of detail on them. I was much more focused on trying to search for the World Mirror, however. So… I didn’t have much time to look into it.”

“Right… Okay…” Adam scratched his head. “Well, why not start there? If you learn more about ghosts, you’ll learn more about yourself. Maybe how and why you ended up as one?”

“That could be…” Charlotte nodded—a tiny smile forming. “Let’s start with that, then!”

“All right. I have an idea as to how we can teach you all of that stuff. I’ll have to see if he’s available.” Adam walked back into his room—Charlotte following closely behind. He picked up his phone and sat on his bed, staring intensely at the screen as he pressed it.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to see what these texts I’ve got say. Kinda hard to, since someone smashed up the screen.”

“I ap—”

“Stop,” Adam stated bluntly. “Okay… They’re from Faith and Brandon. Both of them are talking about the same thing, actually…” He glanced up at her. “About the noise in the woods last night…”

“That was definitely our little bout, wouldn’t you say?” Charlotte giggled. 

Adam seemingly became unnerved—Charlotte noticing his body tense up.

“What? You don’t have to worry, I made sure nobody was around. There’s no trace of my energy there, as well—and they don’t have the means to detect your power.”

“…How exactly did you remove all traces of your power?” 

“Huh? I’m an Ouderkirk. I have complete control over phantonic energy. So making sure I didn’t leave any behind was easy. I just… absorbed it back into my body. Pretty simple.”

“…We were in the woods north of town—literally behind my house,” Adam began to explain. “After hearing the strange noises, Faith said people went to investigate it.”

“Yeah…?” Charlotte was puzzled as to what was upsetting him.

“You would think they’d find obvious evidence that there was a fight…” Adam paused, looking intensely at Charlotte.

“They found nothing.” 


Next: Chapter 9

Previous: Chapter 7

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 7

Adam felt a cool breeze upon his skin. He seemed to quickly remember what had occurred before passing out. Vision returning to his eyes, consciousness was coming back. The next moment Adam was on his feet. It was only then he took in where he was.

It seemed to be a clearing of some kind in the middle of the woods. Knowing the layout of Prelude his entire life, Adam could tell that he was still near the town based on a simple observation of his surroundings. He was certain he had walked in this area before—surrounded by pine and apple trees.  All Adam had to help him see was the light of the full moon above him.

“How… long was I out?” Adam looked frantically in each direction.

“Three hours.”

Adam turned toward Charlotte, who was standing behind him. He could have sworn he looked that way and did not see her at all a moment ago.

“I’m not really sure why you fainted—I’ll have to figure out the specifics later. But, it made moving you to a remote location much easier.” Charlotte shrugged.

“…You’re a freaking ghost.” Adam shook his head, completely baffled at the entire situation he now seemed to be in.

“I am. Let me tell you, it’s been quite the task to keep that under wraps as I investigated.” 

“Investigated what…?” Adam began to back away from Charlotte.

“The location of what I was looking for. Which ended up being—”

Adam did not blink. Somehow, Charlotte ended up behind him.

“You…”

He jumped back, falling onto the ground as he tried to defend himself. There was no telling what Charlotte was capable of.

“W-Why me? What’s so special about me? I don’t have some crazy Concept or anything! I don’t even have phantons!”

Charlotte paused for a moment before speaking—somewhat annoyed.

“Concepts… Phantons… Yes, the science of Phantonics has certainly rounded a lot of the supernatural up into one neat package, hasn’t it?” Charlotte began to giggle. “They’ve been trying to study why you lack phantons. What’s funny to me is that it seems as though you think the answer is something negative—something that deems you worthless.”

Adam did not respond—Charlotte assuming he would. She continued to speak as he remained silent.

“What if I told you… your soul is meant to be different? It exists specifically to use a certain something—something that no one else can use?”

“…What the hell are you talking about?”

Charlotte grinned—her arms opening wide.

“The World Mirror.”

“The… World Mirror?” Adam scratched his head. “The hell…? What is that supposed to be?”

“An item with immeasurable power. Power that can only flow through you. It seems like it already has done so—albeit in small amounts.”

“…All right, Miss Ghost,” Adam stood up, not amused with what Charlotte was talking about. “Let’s say this ‘World Mirror’ thing exists. Why are you looking for it? And—you had the audacity in to kidnap me and bring me out here in the woods? You couldn’t just talk to me about it in the store without going all freaking ‘Boo, I’m a ghost—feel my cold-ass forehead and stare into my creepy glowing eyes’!?”

Charlotte could only sigh in response. She gathered her thoughts and decided to answer. “It was too dangerous to do anything in the store. As for why I’m looking for it… It’s necessary.”

 As Adam was about to ask her what she meant, an azure aura started to form around Charlotte. Starting off calmly, it quickly shifted into a tremendous force that knocked Adam off his feet. He tried standing up, only to be knocked back down once again.

The force diminished a few seconds later, and Adam was able to regain his footing. Focusing his attention back onto Charlotte, he noticed her appearance changed. Instead of the jet black hair she usually possessed, Charlotte now had pure white hair. The clothing she wore was now a set of navy blue armor that seemed relatively light and easy to move around in.

“That appearance… it reminds me of…”

Charlotte nodded, seeming to know what Adam was thinking. “Yes, I know it’s been taught in your curriculum. My true name is actually Charlotte Ouderkirk, a member of the royal family of Requiem!”

Adam chuckled in disbelief. “So, this is what I’m dealing with. I was wondering how a ghost was capable of existing like a living person. If you’re a part of them, it makes sense.”

“My family created the World Mirror, you see. It was always considered as something that could help in a time of desperation. Which is why I’m going to be borrowing its power.”

“Listen,” Adam scratched his head. “Even if I do have this World Mirror thing, I have no clue how to use it. So I can’t really help you out with whatever it is you need.”

“Heh… I don’t blame you for being clueless. Trust me, you’re not the only one.” Charlotte held out her hand to the side. “Let me help you—using what I do know.”

Charlotte waved her hand in a motion as if she was beckoning someone. An azure glow formed near it, and a longsword of the same color appeared—the hilt now held by her.

“I call this my ‘Royal Armory.’ Our family has complete control of the things you call phantons, which we can use to create whatever we want.”

“A sword… completely made out of phantons?” Adam began to back away. “W-What are you planning on doing with that…?”

“Relax. The edges of this blade are incredibly dull—you won’t get sliced apart by it.” Charlotte assured. She began to giggle while waving the sword around. “However, I’m still going to use it on you.”

“What!? Why!?” Adam did not give Charlotte time to answer as he began to run away. 

He could not escape. Adam felt a bitter cold surge throughout his body as Charlotte phased right through him, stopping him in his tracks. 

“I need to pressure you. Understanding the ‘why’ isn’t necessary right now. Besides—” Charlotte prepared her blade. “Where’s the fun in just outright telling you?”

Before Adam could react, the blade struck him on his left side with blinding speed. This was followed by several more slashes that hit him before the pain could even begin to register. Charlotte delivered a kick to finish the combo, knocking Adam onto the ground a few feet away.

The agony he felt was like none he had felt before. Blood spewed from his mouth as he convulsed on the grass, certain that—despite the blade not capable of cutting him—several limbs had been broken by the sheer force of Charlotte’s strikes.

“Hm… Strange, nothing’s happening yet.” Charlotte noted, walking towards the young man in suffering. She realized that Adam’s eyes were, in fact, glowing just as they did at the store. “It has to be active… Why isn’t it doing anything?”

Adam could not even attempt to ask what Charlotte was talking about—he could only cough in response.

“…Is it possible that you’re holding back the power yourself? Subconsciously? That’s no good—you’ll die, you know.”

Die. That simple word set something off within Adam. He looked at the earth beneath him, covered in his own blood. The sight brought back memories that he wished never returned.

Charlotte approached him, ready to continue her onslaught. She stopped, realizing that the young man before her was no longer shaking from his injuries. Somehow—she knew the difference. How the body trembled from physical agony versus internal.    

“…I was looking into things for a while now.  Being a spirit, I can do certain things to help me acquire information. Eventually, I narrowed my search down to your school. If I wanted to, I could have found you right away. There were restrictions—unfortunately, that hindered how quickly I could investigate. I had to do things in a specific order. Becoming a student myself was the first thing. Getting information on the students was next. Graduation happened before I could continue, but I did learn some interesting things…” There was a rather long pause.

 “Six months ago, you tried to kill yourself. Is that correct?”

Adam’s eyes widened. Their ghostly gaze shot up and looked at Charlotte—filled with astonishment on how she knew about it.

“A kid with no real hobbies, no real plans for the future. Friends that have loads of promise, on the contrary. You distanced yourself from them, thinking they no longer needed you. And your home life… heh. Truly, you don’t have much of a family, right?”

Adam’s mind went back a few hours ago to what Pam told him.

“You have a family here, don’t forget that.”

Anger seemed to boil within him. He stood, slowly gaining his composure. Something was occurring that he did not seem to notice.

A faint ghostly aura began emerging from his body. Charlotte could feel it in the air—tiny vibrations that held a certain power. Although weak, she knew what she was facing.

The power of life itself.

“So, this is…” She smirked—her body shaking with excitement. “This is the true power of a soul. Fueled by the World Mirror to the point where it physically manifests from your body!”

Adam was not paying attention to her words. Instead, he charged at Charlotte—his fist flying right toward her. She raised her blade, blocking the strike with its side.

Although she stood firmly in place, the force of the impact shook the area surrounding the two.

“Yes… Yes—amazing!”

Adam pulled his fist back—blood now covering the glowing sword. What were fingers mere moments ago had become lumps of crimson flesh—bones protruding from the wounds.

“His body clearly can’t handle the boost in power it’s getting…” Charlotte shook her head, analyzing the situation. The white aura began forming more prominently around Adam’s hand—still unaware of what was happening to his body. She placed her hand on her chin while observing—a gleeful grin on her face. “That’s no issue, however.”

As Adam Grayson revved up for another punch with the same arm, his fingers had miraculously grown back. The newly formed appendages—lit in a blinding phantasmal light—struck Charlotte’s blade a second time, now capable of pushing her away a few feet.

“See… This is your power! With this, you can certainly help me find—”

Charlotte was interrupted by a punch, now from Adam’s left fist. She whacked it away with the side of her blade—the mighty force almost causing her to lose her balance. Adam, seemingly slipping into a blind rage, began sending a volley of attacks her way.

“The power is also fueling his adrenaline… and his anger.” Charlotte parried the berserk onslaught to the best of her capabilities, yet was starting to have difficulty in keeping up. She evaded a kick, which ended up shattering a tree that had been behind her.

“What crazy power… My body won’t be able to hold out in this form much longer.”

As bark and large chunks of wood flew around the area, Charlotte could tell that Adam’s foot—shoe included—was miraculously still intact. Although it was clear that he could barely stand on it.

Yet, with that very foot, Adam leaped at Charlotte. His right arm—now missing its hand—lit up all the way to his shoulder. Bending it back, he unleashed it swiftly, like shooting an arrow. The spectral energy erupted, engulfing Charlotte before she could adequately block the attack. It shot forward—a white comet rocketing through the forest with immense power. 

The recoil knocked Adam onto his back. As the shaking of the earth slowly ceased, his inner fury subsided. 

“…”

He gazed into the scene in front of him, wondering what just happened. There was no pain—he did not seem to understand how much damage his body had taken.

“Family… right. That’s what she was talking about…”

With a wave of her arm, Charlotte blew the dust away, clearing the way for both of them to see. The area had been torn to shreds, like a war zone. Adam’s attention finally turned to his arm—or rather—where his arm should be. Void of emotion, he surveyed the rest of his body. His left hand was also missing, and most of his person was described as a muddy, bloody mess.

Even then, physically and emotionally, he felt nothing. 

Charlotte held the hilt of her sword—the only thing that remained as shards of the blade crumbled away into dust. “You’re pretty strong, you know that?” She tossed the remains of her weapon to the ground, fading away moments later. 

Adam did not respond. He was caught up in his own mind—memories returning to him involving things people have said about him in the past.

“What the hell is that kid even doing here?”

“Is he mute or something?”

“I’ve never heard a peep out of him.”

“Heh, careful guys. He could be a ghost or something.”

“He might as well be dead.”

There were layers of irony in his current situation. Contradictions, as well.

Whether Adam Grayson was a nameless ghost—a soul merely wandering the world—or a peculiar existence that science deemed soulless altogether, none of that mattered now.

Adam had just unleashed a remarkable power from within him. Whatever was said before this moment—it was invalid to him. This was his true starting line. 

He watched as the strange energy continued to form around his wounds. Although the pain was immense—like tiny needles stabbing through him, Adam was now aware that his body had begun to regenerate.

“Just what the hell is happening…?”

“This is the power of the World Mirror,” Charlotte responded. “Even if it was brief, you showed things that I remember from the legends.”

“…Yeah—I think it’s time you started spilling everything that you know.”

“Everything I know…” She sighed. “Let me ask you something first.”

Despite not needing to, Charlotte breathed just like a living person. She inhaled—held the air in—and exhaled, anxious to continue speaking.

“…What pushed you to the point of wanting to take your own life?”

Adam processed Charlotte’s sudden and intense inquiry, his gaze meeting the moon above. At that moment, emotions began to finally surge inside of him. After pondering for a few seconds, he was able to answer calmly.

“I saw it. All of it. Clearly. The despair plaguing the world. Ever since all of those things happened years ago, I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to save… her, and everyone else. Including myself… That feeling combated that despair… and lost.” Adam formed a light smile.

“It’s funny how I lost due to happiness, however. It felt as though she was better off without me. I was so able to see her genuinely smile again. She—and my other friends as well. They have so much going for them. They don’t need me. And that’s all I had… the fact that I could help them through things. I was too scared of the rest of the world to try to find something myself.” Adam violently shook his head.

“Can’t they see… all of this twisted shit in the world!? I know they can, everyone can. And they… they don’t do a damn thing about it! Nobody ever does!

There was silence. Charlotte spoke before it grew to the point of awkwardness.

“So, why are you upset?”

Adam’s eyes widened, seemingly confused from her question. His gaze would remain upward, however.

Charlotte answered herself. “It’s because that feeling actually didn’t lose. That feeling to combat that despair. It’s still there. But it’s struggling. Life makes everything struggle. But it’s not over.” Charlotte walked over to Adam and bent over him, now blocking his gaze at the moon with her own eyes.

“You have a purpose. To continue fighting that despair. That’s why the World Mirror manifested within you. It knows you want so desperately to fight, regardless of how many times you fall.” Charlotte dropped down onto her knee and bowed to Adam as he stared at her in bewilderment.

“I’ll be by your side while you do so. While I figure out my situation, I can help you with yours.” She smiled. “It’s the least I can do… for being so physically and emotionally harsh to you. I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me one day, yet you don’t have to—”

Adam had reached his limit. Before Charlotte could finish talking, he collapsed—the glow the World Mirror created fading away. His body was exhausted beyond words and could hardly handle what was happening anymore.

“Well, I guess, for now, that’s fine. I’m exhausted as well. I think to have to act like a villain exhausted me more than using my power.” Charlotte chuckled, lowering her head.

“Was it acting, though?”

The branch of a nearby apple tree that was damaged snapped—the fruit tumbling onto the ground. Charlotte watched as they rolled over toward the two.

As an apple—golden yellow in color—came to a stop next to Adam’s now reformed right hand, the spirit grew uneasy as to what she had just set in motion. 


Next: Chapter 8

Previous: Chapter 6

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 2.11

“Jerry, what are you doing!?” Charlotte asked him as he beckoned her.

“Get over here, for now, Charlotte. I don’t want you getting caught up in that.”

The energy that had formed Emma’s wings was now flying all around the hallway, barely missing the people who were in it. Charlotte took his advice and ran up to him, watching as Emma yelled in agony.

“Jerry! We gotta help her! We—”

“This is helping her.” Jerry pointed at the remote. “It’s gonna hurt, but the signal that this thing created should block the foreign entity from controlling her body.”

“How do you know that…? What is that anyway? I know you’re smart, but how do you—”

“I’ll explain once this is over. By activating this, things are going to get more complicated. And I’ll more than likely need your help. Adam’s as well.”

Charlotte held herself back, shifting her attention back to Emma. The energy had begun to fade, eventually dissolving into the air. Her eyes slowly turned back to normal, although she quickly lost consciousness.

“Emma!” Charlotte flew over to her, grabbing her before she fell. Turning back into her black-haired form, she inspected her friend’s status. “It… It’s gone. I think?”

Jerry reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny tablet. “Yeah—she should be okay for now.”

Roy and Roger finally stood up, after cowering in fear the entire time. Roger ran up to Jerry, with a relieved smile on his face.

“Senpai!”

Jerry facepalmed. “This isn’t an anime, Roger. I don’t know why you still call me that.” He let out a loud sigh. “It seems you got mixed up in this, huh? I’m sorry about that.”

“That’s not important right now! We gotta get Emma some help!” Roger turned frantically to look at the girl who had fallen unconscious.

“Of course. My dad should have handled things above. So—Roy, is it?” Jerry pointed to the boy who had been keeping his distance. “Think I remember you from school. Anyway—help us carry her out of here.”

“I can do it—” Charlotte insisted. “And… wait. Your dad?”

“Yeah… It’s all gonna take lots of explaining. First I need to ask: are you okay?” Jerry leaned down, inspecting Charlotte’s condition.

She nodded. “I am. Whatever was controlling her… should have killed me. It had such a strange power. But it didn’t. I was simply ‘moved’ back outside of her.”

“So, that’s what it decided to do, huh…?” Jerry pondered.

“…Jerry. You seem to know more than you first let on.” Charlotte noted. “Just what have you been hiding…?”

“I’ll explain everything, I promise. If you’re okay, I need you to go and fetch Adam right now. Sneak him back into Prelude—into my dad’s office specifically.”

“All right. I’ll trust you, as your fake girlfriend.”

Jerry smirked at the statement. Charlotte gave one last look at Emma before phasing through the wall, beginning her trip back to Minuet.

“W-What about the boss!?” Roy asked, pointing back toward the interrogation room.

“The boss? Huh? What are you talking about?” Jerry seemed genuinely confused.

Roger stayed with Emma as Roy escorted Jerry down the hallway, showing him the bloody room. The red-haired boy was absolutely baffled by the scene presented to him.

“They… went this far…!?” Jerry began to chuckle—being in a state of complete shock. “Yeah… We can’t allow this to go on any longer. We have to do something.”

 

It was an early evening in Requiem. Soaring through the twilight, Charlotte held Adam and Muraco in her arms, carrying them back to Prelude. She maneuvered her way through Daylight Forest—an area that was in between their hometown and Minuet—heading northwest.

“You’re awfully quiet, Adam,” Charlotte stated.

“I usually am. What of it?” Adam asked her, not realizing he gave off a small amount of attitude in his words.

“It-It’s just—”

“I didn’t expect to be heading back to Prelude this soon, is all. Well… that’s not all. I didn’t expect Jerry to be hiding something from me.”

“Human—I mean, Adam—you trust this Jerry character a lot, from what I’ve heard. He gave you directions to head to Minuet in the first place, correct? I can only assume you feel some sort of betrayal, not only from him keeping secrets from you but from potentially throwing you off course?”

“I’m not going that far. I… I’m sure he has his reasons.”

“Adam…” Charlotte paused. “I think I can understand why you hold some sort of resentment, despite your trust in him. It’s cause Emma got hurt, isn’t it?”

Adam snickered. “You hit the mark. I’m impressed.”

“I know it wasn’t Jerry’s intention for her to get caught up in this. However… I feel like he hasn’t had any say in what’s been going on.”

“Let’s just see what happens when we get there.” Adam solemnly stared at the ground below him, flying past at incredible speeds.

About a minute later, they had arrived. Charlotte sank into the ground, masking their presence from anyone above. Although their vision was utterly cut off, Charlotte somehow knew exactly where to fly.

They ascended, entering the waiting room of Thomas’ office cautiously. This act caught Jerry off guard—sitting there in one of the chairs.

“W-Wah!” He leaped into the air, now standing on his seat—arms all the way up.

“Sorry, sorry!” Charlotte chuckled, letting go of Adam and Muraco. Jerry looked at Adam, who raised his vision to meet his friend’s.

After a moment of tense glaring, Jerry’s eyes shot off to the right, noticing Muraco’s presence for the first time.

“W… What is that thing!?” Jerry attempted to climb up his chair but was already as high as he could go. “Wait—a white rabbit…? Is this the thing that attacked you?”

“Thing!? How rude! I am Muraco—Hero of Requiem!” Muraco yelled.

Adam scratched his head, sighing. “This is Muraco—Hero of Requiem. Kidnapper of Adams. Group Member of The Adam Kidnappers. Joined by fellow member Charlotte the Kidnapper.”

“…Incredible.” Jerry jumped off the chair, grabbing hold of Muraco’s floppy ears. “T-This is incredible! I had no idea creature like this could exist!”

“H-Hey, watch it!” Muraco shook Jerry off of him, bouncing back to the opposite side of the room. “If you weren’t Adam’s friend, I would have destroyed you for that act!”

“That… That doesn’t sound very heroic.” Jerry scratched his head, chuckling awkwardly.

“That’s exactly what I told him.” Adam shrugged. “Anyway—Jerry. We have a lot to talk about.”

Jerry nodded. “Yeah… we do. Before we get to that though…” Jerry lowered his head. “I’m… I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’ve kept things from you. I’ve had to lie about a lot, actually. And Emma ended up getting hurt because of it.”

Adam did not respond for a moment. After a long silence, he let out a loud sigh.

“Knowing you, you had a reason to do it. Which is what I’m here to learn about. And when it comes to Emma… You obviously wouldn’t want her getting hurt. Cause of that, I blame whatever ended up hurting her. Not you.”

“Right…” Jerry put a fake smile on his face. “Come on. My dad’s waiting. He can help fill you guys in on a lot.”

“In his office?” Adam walked over to the room’s door, swinging it wide open. He gazed inside, seeing nobody present. The only noteworthy things he could notice were the multiple degrees and certificates displayed on the wall.

“Sort of.” Jerry went past him, standing on the right side of Thomas’ sizeable wooden desk, which had a pen, an empty notebook, and a few folders littering the surface. “You just push it, like this—”

Using all of his strength, Jerry moved the desk off to the side, revealing an old, secret staircase. “He’s down here.”

“Is… Is your dad a supervillain? Are we stepping into his evil lair?” Adam asked half-joking.

“Supervillain? Evil!? I fight that!” Muraco shouted enthusiastically. Charlotte sighed, holding down the rabbit that was about to dive down into the abyss below.

Jerry chuckled. “It’s nothing like that. If he has a lair, he’s not telling me about it.”

“A dad not telling you things? I can relate to that.” Adam smirked.

Jerry escorted the boy, the ghost, and the rabbit down into a brand new room, that was as large as the entire building above. Directly ahead was a long rectangular table surrounded by multiple metal chairs.  Roy and Roger currently sat in two of them, playing with some cards.

“Charlotte…”  Roy stood up from his chair.  “You’re back? I’ve meant to talk to you about you… apparently being a… ghost…?”  He stopped talking, eyeing Muraco.

“Yes, I’m a ghost.  And don’t worry about him—”  She patted Muraco on his head, which seemed to be comforting to him.  “This is Muraco. Our friend.”

“F-Friend…?”  Muraco was surprised at Charlotte’s statement.  She turned to him, nodding with a smile.

“Of course.”

“Where’s Emma?”  Adam asked, glancing around.  The left and right sides of the room in front of them were similar—both having multiple desks scattered about with old computers stationed on each one.  A man was sitting at a desk off to the left he did not recognize. Upon seeing them enter, the man shot up and ran over to them.

“You’re Adam Grayson, correct!?  It’s such an honor to meet you! I’m Travis Robinson, I used to work with your mom back in the day!”

“An… honor, huh?”  Adam shook the man’s hand.  That was the first time someone had said it was ‘an honor’ to meet him regarding his mother, not counting Rizzo’s more than likely ruse upon meeting him a week prior.

Adam analyzed the man’s appearance.  He seemed to be in his early forties, with his light brown hair wrapped up into a single curl on his head.  Wearing round-black glasses and a white lab coat, he was undoubtedly the stereotypical smart-type. 

“I’m currently here helping Thomas out with… well, why don’t you ask him yourself?  Travis pointed back toward the staircase, off to the left side. The room extended into that section, where multiple beds were placed.  Thomas sat next to one of them, where Emma was lying motionless.

“Emma!  Is she okay!?”  Adam ran up to Thomas’ side, glancing down at the girl.  Thomas looked up at Adam, hushing him.

“She will be, thankfully.  Her body was really worn out.”

Adam clenched his fist.  All right—let me see if I can understand this.  Something possessed her after Charlotte killed off those two Brown Suits that shot her boss?”

Thomas sighed.  He stood up, placing his hand on Adam’s shoulder.  “As long as you promise not to get angry and punch someone like you did with Rizzo, I can guide you through everything that’s been going on behind the scenes.”

“Just…”  Adam took a deep breath.  “I’m tired. Tired of not understanding what the hell is happening.  Emma… Why did she have to get involved?”

“Jerry already apologized to you, right?  That’s the first thing he said he would do upon meeting you.  Now, it’s my turn. Adam…” Thomas paused for a moment. “I’m sorry.  I’m… sorry for being so weak. I’ve known so much for so long, which is why I’ve established this little base down here.  But I haven’t been able to do a thing.”

“…You did, though.  Jerry saved Emma with some sort of device?  I think that’s what Charlotte told me?”

“Right.  That was my one condition: If Emma were to get into a predicament, I would get involved, no matter what.  Now that I have, however… Our time is limited.”

“I see… Well then, it looks like you’ve got a lot you need to talk about.  Please, I want to hear every detail.”

Thomas nodded, gesturing back toward the main table.

“Welcome to Twine, Adam.  This mini organization I founded in this trashy basement will hopefully save the world.  From what, exactly? Well, let me tell you all about it.”


Next: Chapter 2.12

Previous: Chapter 2.10

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.10

Blood splattered all over the room. It was as if a car had struck the two as opposed to a blade. Multiple limbs flew, indicating that Charlotte had managed to slash at the men several times in that instant.

“C-Charlotte!?” Emma tripped and fell over the sudden savagery that occurred in front of her. Charlotte landed on her feet, standing in the pool of blood that oozed from the remains of the Brown Suits.

She dropped her sword—the blue crumbling to pieces as it splashed against the red. Ignoring what she had just caused, she rushed over to her boss.

“N-No… How could they?” Charlotte shook, extending her arms toward Brian. She could not take her eyes off the wound in the center of his forehead, yet moved her hands to shut his eyes—drenched in his blood.

Charlotte then fell to her knees, sobbing.

Emma rushed over to her, almost slipping. She grabbed ahold of the ghost girl, who was lost in pure hysteria.

“I-I’m so sorry, Charlotte… I was too late to do anything…”

Charlotte shook her head fiercely, wrapping her arms around Emma. “I-It’s not your fault… It-It’s them… Why, though? Why the hell did this happen…!?”

“I don’t know…” Emma buried her tear-soaked face into Charlotte’s ice-cold body. “Unity’s cruel, and I can honestly see them do something like this. But… I assume they would have kept trying to get the information out of him.”

Roy stepped into the room, unable to actually look into it. “Charlotte… I’m sorry! I was in the store when they took him! I should have protected him—”

“Roy… Thank you. But don’t blame yourself. It wasn’t your fault…” Charlotte turned to him, using all the energy she could to crack a smile.

The boy glanced over to her, able to see this. He moved his head up toward the ceiling before his mind could register the horror that surrounded her. Roy finally felt warmth leave his eyes, rolling down his cheeks.

Roger—still on his knees—crawled out into the hallway, leaning against the wall. “What kind of hell is this…?”

“The Brown Suits…” Emma began to speak, causing Charlotte to look at her. “They… shouldn’t be allowed to act like this, unless given a specific order. Did… Monica order them? Or… is someone else to blame?”

Charlotte recalled what the clock-masked girl had told her a few minutes prior.

“Don’t hold back on them, okay? They’re not actual people.”

Before she could ask Emma if she knew anything related to that statement, they were all interrupted by a strange noise. The room was filled with the sound of what could be described as a distorted radio signal.

“CODE 4200—ACTIVATED.”

A robust and robotic voice echoed from the floor. Everyone looked to see that the source was the goggles that the Brown Suits had worn.

“What is that?” Charlotte stood up, wary of what was happening.

“I don’t know!” Emma got on her feet as well, carefully stepping toward the devices. “I’ve never heard of that code before…!”

“SCANNING… SCANNING… ANOMALY LOCATED—ASSESSING THREAT VALUE… SCANNING… SCANNING…”

Roger glanced around the corner into the room. “Shouldn’t we stop it?”

“SCAN COMPLETE—A-RANK LEVEL DETECTED—ANALYZING POTENTIAL OPTIONS…”

Charlotte formed a blade in her hand. “Yeah—let’s get rid of these things.”

“OPTION FOUND—ANALYZING PROPER CODE TO PROCEED…”

“I’m not gonna let you!” Charlotte jabbed her sword down swiftly, destroying both pairs of goggles.

“There! Wonder what it was trying to—”

“CODE 0710—ACTIVATED.”

Charlotte turned around slowly, a look of pure terror on her face. This time, the voice did not come from the goggles, as they had clearly been smashed apart a moment prior.

The voice had come from Emma.

She stared at Charlotte with a blank expression. Her arms were shaking, and her back was slouched.

“Emma…!?”

“DRAGON SPINE—INITIATED.”

As her mouth echoed the haunting voice, Emma’s eyes changed—her irises becoming an emerald color while her sclera was more along the lines of seafoam. A burst of dark-green energy—similar to television static—erupted out of her back, slowly molding into the shape of dragon-like wings.

Roger stood up, rushing into the room. “Emma! What’s going on!?”

Roy started to chuckle with a defeated look on his face. “Damn. I don’t even know what’s going on anymore. Now, the girl I’ve been into has become a freaking monster. All right then—”

“You two—get back!” Charlotte shouted, forming a second sword in her other hand, pointing both of the tips toward Emma.

“What is going on!? This energy… It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before!”

“A-RANK ANOMALY—IN POSITION. DESTRUCTION PROTOCOL—INITIATING.”

“Move you two!” Charlotte raised the blades, blocking the swift strike from Emma’s wings. It generated enormous force, knocking her out of the room and into the opposing wall in the hallway. Roy and Roger had dived out of the way just in time.

The wings extended—flying at Charlotte. Transforming into her true form, she phased through the wall, evading the second strike. This caused the basement to shake—with even more ferocity than a few minutes prior.

Emma’s body floated out into the hall, now hovering in the air. Whatever had possessed her was not interested in Roy and Roger at all, clearing showing interest in Charlotte alone. Her eyes darted around the area, scanning for the ghost girl’s location.

Emerging from above, Charlotte slashed down at Emma, targeting where the wings came out of her back. The right wing quickly blocked both of her swords, knocking her off toward the direction opposite the stairs.

“I need to study how this strange energy works before I can try to get it out of her. Hang on, Emma!”

The same wing aimed at Charlotte, repeatedly slashing like it was a sword itself. Charlotte managed to block the flurry of attacks, although she could not switch to offense. Eventually, her blades shattered—the force knocking her back.

This time, the left wing shot at her—Emma’s body not moving in the slightest. Charlotte leaped upward, phasing through the ceiling to make another quick escape.

Emma’s demonic eyes glared upward—her wings charging up energy, ready to strike. Before they could, Charlotte re-emerged from the ceiling near the stairs. Instead of her usual sword, she had formed a bow in her left hand. Using her right, a fiery arrow was conjured. Without hesitation, she shot the arrow directly at Emma.

As Charlotte predicted, this was blocked by the green wings once more. However, this was no simple arrow she had created. Upon contact, the arrow exploded into a fireball of energy, engulfing Emma’s possessed body.

The wings flapped once, blowing the phantonic energy away from Emma and causing a ferocious gust to roar through the hallway. At this point, Roy and Roger had gotten on their stomachs, holding their arms over their heads to protect themselves as best they could.

The wind had blown Charlotte back a few feet. If she glanced up, she would be able to see the two flights of stairs above her. Emma’s wings—without pause—continued their attack. This time, both of them were rocketing toward Charlotte at the same time.

Using her power, Charlotte shifted the shape of the bow into a two-handed ax, swinging it with great strength. The gigantic size of the weapon made it capable of intercepting both wings at once, although Charlotte now had to deal with two times the opposing force.

“I-I can’t hurt her…! But if I keep using this amount of power, it’ll tear me apart! I have no choice—I have to go for it!”

Charlotte kicked off the ground—creating enough energy to knock the wings back. They immediately responded, aiming to strike once more.

With quick thinking, Charlotte re-shaped her weapon again—duel-wielding her two blades like before. Positioning them to her sides, she blocked the wings from striking her, while simultaneously opening a path straight to Emma—keeping them at bay.

“Here’s my chance!” She leaped forward, flying at Emma with all the speed she could muster.

“Possession!”

Turning spectral, Charlotte faded upon coming into contact with Emma. She had successfully entered into Emma’s mind—now she had to kick whatever the strange phenomenon was out of her.

This would be impossible to accomplish.

Standing upon the sea foam-covered ocean that had manifested, Charlotte saw it. A featureless figure—neither male nor female. It was a dark-emerald color, having an absurd amount of glowing blue veins visible within its body.

Despite not having a mouth, a shape formed on its face that resembled a grin.

“atatamaestethuilpettcwliashtwta”

Charlotte held her head in agony—a sharp pain now radiating through it. Her vision faded, and the next thing she knew, she was back outside of Emma’s body on the floor in front of her.

“It… It didn’t even seem like I was forced out! I simply… moved—gah!” Her face slammed on the ground—not from an opposing enemy—but from the sheer pain forcing her down. She could not help but shriek in suffering.

“A-RANK ANOMALY—CORNERED. DESTRUCTION PROTOCOL—IMMINENT.”

“Come on… Charlotte! Move! Y-You have things… you need to protect!”

Charlotte was unable to get out of the way in time, as the wings descended upon her.

However, they stopped.

Charlotte looked up, seeing the wings’ shape begin to distort. Emma herself had started to scream in pain.

“Emma! Hang on, I—”

“Charlotte, I wouldn’t do that.”

Before Charlotte stood up, she turned toward the source of the voice that just spoke to her. Looking upward, she saw Jerry standing at the top of the stairs—a strange remote in his hand.

“This should get it out of her. Yet—our cover’s gonna be blown now, it seems.”


Next: Chapter 2.11

Previous: Chapter 2.9

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.9

Charlotte arrived in Prelude, hovering cautiously behind a building nearby the police station. She instantly noticed the street and parking lot were completely torn to shreds, and that the Brown Suits were currently surveying the damage.

“What the hell happened here…?” Charlotte glanced toward the right, her eyes widening in horror. The woods north of town had been completely wiped out, appearing as though a giant crater had swallowed the trees whole.

“N-No way…”

Before she could conjure a plan on how to approach the situation, a blinding flash of blue came from in front of her. It completely enveloped her vision—covering the entire area in a calming blanket of light.

“Thi-This feels familiar!” Charlotte attempted to sense for an active Ability, coming across one where she figured—directly ahead. “There!” She flew through the light—keeping her focus on her target without relying on her vision.

Charlotte’s sight came back to her as the anomaly faded—almost causing her to crash right into a tree that had blocked her path. She phased through it and landed on the ground. Taking a look around, her surroundings had been restored to their previous state.

“Rewrite Phenomenon…? So that means—”

The clock mask-wearing stranger stood before her, seemingly having difficulty remaining on their feet.

“It’s you! You’re the one who fixes things… The one who helped us that night.”

The figure adjusted themselves, staring at Charlotte for a few moments. Then, the girl behind the mask spoke.

“That’s right… That’s… That’s right…! That’s right that’s right that’s right—”

“Uh, what are you doing?” Charlotte asked her, astonished that she actually spoke.

“It’s just… I haven’t talked out-loud like this in so long… The people who I’ve interacted with—well… I can’t really risk doing that. Although, it seems I can speak to you without messing with any values. That surprises me, Charlotte.”

“You… You know my name?” Charlotte questioned nervously. “Was my name mentioned that night…?”

“I absolutely do know you. I’m surprised—it seems you’re still the same even in this—” The girl stopped herself. “Sorry… It’s really complicated for me to speak, as I could completely mess with the time-time… timeline?” She glanced around quickly—sighing in relief. “Good—I can say that much.”

“Timeline…? So—when you go to restore things to their previous state… can I assume you’re using some method of time travel?”

“I suppose you can say that.” The girl nodded. “I’m not sure at this point how familiar you are with Phantonics, but it’s not as big of a deal as one would think. Phantons record data on areas they encounter. The particular skill I use merely uses that data to bring things back together. It’s… honestly, all I can do at the moment.”

Charlotte gazed back toward Prelude, then returned her attention to the girl. “I see you have to be careful—yet I need to know—may I ask you a few things?”

The girl stared down at her right hand, taking a deep breath. “It seems I should be able to before I have to fade away for a while. However—I currently cannot tell you my origin—only how I got to this point.”

“I understand.” Charlotte scratched her head. “You said, ‘fade away’… are you a spirit… like me?”

“Nah, I’m very much alive.” The girl flexed her arms in a comedic manner, almost causing Charlotte to laugh. “Yet… in a way… I guess I might as well be considered dead.”

Charlotte’s eyes widened. “What do you mean by that?”

“Well… look at it this way. If an entire timeline ceased to exist, then would one thing that managed to escape truly be alive… after losing everything…?”

Charlotte was petrified. “What… What are you talking about? An entire timeline?”

The girl sighed. “I can already feel my head spinning simply thinking about it… I cannot say what happened, currently. However—it’s as I said. The timeline I existed in was completely destroyed—and I ended up in this one. It seems extremely similar to mine… Yet… there are a lot of differences as well.”

“How did you escape?”

“It was all thanks to my afetraha—

The girl began to cough violently, collapsing onto her knees.

“Are you okay!?” Charlotte rushed over to her side.

“D-Dammit… I can’t even say that, huh?”

“Wh-What was that noise—” Charlotte’s head began to feel funny. She held it as a sharp pain started to form.

“I’m sorry… Hearing that probably hurt you too, didn’t it?” The girl held Charlotte’s head gently. “Well… This person who I can’t even seem to mention saved me. Along with that, I have been blessed with quite a few handy powers to aid me in… well… I’m not even sure anymore.”

Charlotte looked at the girl in concern.

“Hey, Charlotte. It seems like you don’t remember much, do you? You’re not quite sure what to do… right? Although I do have my memories, I can really share in that pain of uncertainty in taking the next step.”

Charlotte looked down. “Yeah… Adam and I are attempting to uncover the truth of my past, yet… I’m not sure how to do that. There’s something in Minuet that we think may lead to somewhere, but—” She paused. Slowly, she began to giggle.

“What’s up?” The girl asked curiously.

“I can talk to you like I completely trust you. It’s strange… I feel like I’ve met you before.”

“Well, I can say that I’m not from the past, and I’m not an Ouderkirk, in case you were wondering that.”

“So, in this alternate timeline that you came from, you’d be from the future, correct?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

Charlotte began to feel a strange feeling in her chest. “D-Do you currently exist? I-I mean, uh… In your timeline, at this point, would you have existed?”

The girl shook her head. “Nope. Not for a few more years.”

There were several pieces to the puzzle that Charlotte did not have. Despite this, she lacked so much knowledge that she craved to have answers. She took the risk and asked a question. 

“Is… Is it all right if I… see what’s behind that mask of yours? I-I’m sorry if that’s too upfront, but I—”

“I feel like… I can show you, yes. I still will not say anything—and anything you figure out you must keep to yourself. I do not want anything to happen to your timeline…”

“How can you be so sure this wouldn’t ruin it!? It’s okay—you shouldn’t—”

“I can feel it. It’s you, Charlotte—” The girl raised her right hand in front of her. On the back, a glowing blue mark formed in the shape of an arrowhead.

“What is that…?” Charlotte asked, despite the nostalgic feeling welling up inside her.

“All I’ll say is this: Thank you, Charlotte.”

“For… For what—”

“Now then—this mask… remember, please keep this between us.”

Before Charlotte could protest, the girl slowly removed the mask from her face. As she wore a hood, she had been able to completely conceal her look. Now, Charlotte was able to see her. First the hair, then the eyes, and finally, the face.

This is what the girl gave to Charlotte—something only she could witness.

Charlotte was in awe, completely speechless. Her hand covered her mouth, unable to handle the puzzle that had been thrown together in an instant.

“Y-You’re… You have to be…”

“Yeah, probably who you’re thinking.” The girl smirked, placing the mask back on, concealing her appearance to the world once more. “Man, nothing happened by doing that. Thank goodness…”

“Why did you want to reveal that to me…?” Charlotte questioned concerningly.

“Just to give you something else worth fighting for, I guess?” The girl chuckled. “Listen… Right now, I’m lost. I have no clue what to do now that my timeline no longer exists. My body does not seem to age for whatever reason. I’ve been around… for quite a long time.”

“Just like me… it seems.” Charlotte sighed. “It strange—you did not end up where I’d figure you’d be—since you’re from the future.”

“Huh? Oh… Like, I wouldn’t be in this timeline’s future? I honestly expected myself to end up there, but… certain factors threw me back a few hundred years.”

“A few hundred…? Were you around when my family—”

“I certainly cannot say anything regarding your family. I would love to fill in the holes in your memory, but I can tell the universe won’t allow it, unfortunately.”

“B-But you were able to reveal your face! You might be able to—”

The girl started to giggle. “This is the kind of attitude that I would give you. Don’t worry, Charlotte. You’ll figure things out when the time comes.” She sighed. “Although… who knows? I’ve seen plenty of differences. Anything can happen in this timeline, I suppose.”

A sudden spark flew out of the girl’s body, causing her to wince in pain.

“What was that? Are you okay!?” Charlotte grabbed hold of her.

“Even though I’m still alive, the laws of this world treat me as if I am a spirit. As in, I temporarily have to fade away and rest when I use up my energy. This usually happens whenever I use—what do you call it? Rewrite Phenomenon? That. I had to fix a lot more this time, considering how much damage Mr. Str—Alexander, dished out.”

“Right! I came here to see what was happening!” Charlotte stood up. “Is everyone all right?”

“The conflict is resolved. Well, that one is.” The girl glanced at her left hand, where a similar pattern to her right hand formed, although this one was yellow. Before she could move, black electricity formed around her arm, numbing her.

“Gah!” Charlotte did not get touched, although she felt immense pressure from the strange energy, causing her to jump back.

“Right… The values are all messed up at the moment in this timeline when it comes to using this power…” The girl sighed heavily. “I could have fixed the problem with ease using this, but I guess we’ll have to do it the hard way. I certainly can’t use my left eye right now either… Damn.” The yellow arrowhead vanished from her hand—the black electricity soon following.

“What are we doing?” Charlotte asked, preparing herself for the worst.

“Sorry—I didn’t really mean we. My time’s up, so you’ll have to handle it on your own. Listen—go into the basement of the police station. You need to save them!”

“Huh? Save who? Who’s down there!?”

“That doesn’t matter—you’ll save them regardless, right? I know that’s how you are.” She chuckled. “And… Charlotte. Are you aware of the Brown Suits?”

“I am… Are they involved?”

“Yeah, it feels that way. Don’t hold back on them, okay? They’re not actual people.”

“W-Wait, what!?”

The girl’s body began to glow a faint blue color, slowly fading away.

“Just make sure you don’t get caught. And… hopefully… I’ll see you later…”

“Wait!” Charlotte reached out her hand, attempting to catch the girl before she vanished.

“I… hope… I can figure out how to help you all… so it doesn’t happen again…”

The girl had disappeared, fading into the breeze of the forest. Charlotte felt as though she was about to cry.

“…The police station—right! I need to focus on that. Save the other stuff for later!”

 

Emma swung the door to the interrogation room wide open. There were no guards keeping watch, and she was confident that the Brown Suits had all been distracted by the events outside.

However, this was not the case. Two Brown Suits turned toward her—their hands reaching for the guns concealed in their coats. They stopped after noticing it was her.

“Emma Roswell? You should not be here! What business do you have?”

Emma did not bother to respond. She lost focus of the two, in fact. Her attention was shifted entirely to the man who sat in the chair behind them. Roy and Roger walked up behind Emma, quickly seeing the same horror site that she did.

With a gunshot wound to the head, Brian’s lifeless eyes stared back at them.

“W-What… the… hell…?” Emma could not comprehend the scene in front of her.

“B-Boss…” Before tears could fall from his eyes, Roy turned around and vomited on the hallway floor.

Roger did not speak. He merely fell to his knees, unable to stand from the pure shock radiating throughout his body.

“Do not concern yourself with this, Miss Roswell. The man would not speak. Unity does not value people who do not consider the value of information that he was disclosing from us—”

“You… shut up… How could you do something like this…!?” Emma stomped toward the Brown Suits.

“Stay back, Emma Roswell!” The Brown Suits once again reached for their weapons, yet hesitated.

“Do you not shoot cause of my goddamn spine!? Who cares! You’re going to have to shoot me! If you don’t, I will destroy you two!”

“We are forbidden to harm you, Miss Roswell. However—” The Brown Suits finally pulled out their weapons.

They aimed at Roy and Roger.

“Those two behind you mean nothing to us.”

Emma watched in horror as the Brown Suits began to pull the triggers to their guns. She attempted to move her arms in the way to block, yet she knew she was not fast enough.

Before the bullets shot out, a flash of light blinded the room. With a wild slash of her blade, Charlotte tore the Brown Suits to pieces.


Next: Chapter 2.10

Previous: Chapter 2.8

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.8

“I would like to ask: Why exactly did you initiate a battle with, Monica Teske?”

Alexander chucked, shrugging at Rizzo’s question. “I don’t know? Maybe it’s cause I’m tired of people trying to kiss your ass?”

“She’s a fresh graduate—surely someone who should not have to deal with this.” Rizzo sighed.

Monica glanced up and looked around Alexander to see Rizzo. “Sir…”

“…It’s pathetic of her.”

Her eyes widened at Rizzo’s statement.

“Honestly, though—since it’s you—I can see why this is the outcome. It’s sad, Alexander. You have such tremendous power, yet you’re stubborn. With our strength combined, we could easily secure Requiem for ourselves. Perhaps even move on to claiming other countries?”

“For fuck’s sake. Ya really still thinking about becoming a king or some shit?”

“The Ouderkirks are gone, Alexander. For almost a century now, Requiem has moved onto a system similar to the United States. It might work at the moment, but do you think it will last? This country will fall into ruin, especially with Phantonics as a key staple in our economy.”

“Didn’t this damned country almost get ruined when the Ouderkirks ruled the place anyway? I don’t see how ya intend to reinstall that kind of bullshit government again.”

“It should not have. There were outside factors that caused the fall of the family. Which is why I want to give it a second chance. But you misunderstand, Alexander. I don’t want to become king—that title is not mine to take. I would settle for the President’s seat if it meant I could revive the Ouderkirks once more.”

Alexander glared at Rizzo. “I figured… That’s why you’re manipulating him, after all.”

“Manipulating is such a harsh word. I’m guiding Trevor down the path that he deserves to take. If it were not for his fool of a father, his blood would still be pure. It’s not his fault—so I want to aid him.”

“Have ya ever considered that maybe the dumbass doesn’t want to become king?”

“Alexander—you don’t get it, as you don’t care for the concept of glory. When offered to you on a silver platter, one usually does not hesitate to claim it. Take that woman behind you, for example. She’s worked hard to have her Past to Present Ability be useful to me. She respects my power, and she simply wants to be rewarded for her efforts.”

Rizzo folded his arms behind his back, beginning to stroll around the area. “I admit, Monica. Under normal circumstances, you using your power would be quite handy in catching people who defy Unity’s rules. However—with the technology we have prepared—it’s not really needed.”

Alexander’s eyes widened. “Rizzo… don’t tell me you’re talking about—”

“I am. A good portion of phantonic technology developed over the last few decades has been kept confidential by Unity. You’re certainly aware of that fact.” Rizzo pointed at his head. “Recently, I’ve been informed about something quite interesting. Therefore, I’ve decided to begin rolling out that secret technology—for Unity’s sake.”

“You’re that afraid of whatever the hell you’re talking about!?”

“Not me, personally, as I’m not too familiar at how it works. My informant doesn’t even know how, yet they’re quite curious, and don’t want to take any chances.”

“Informant…?” Alexander stepped forward, a look of fear on his face. “Rizzo—who the hell are ya talking about!?”

“That does not concern you—although they have mentioned they’ve taken quite the interest in yourself. I’m sure they’ll approach you when the time comes. But anyway—Alexander. This is good news for you. We can officially abolish a portion of our pact.”

“Huh…?”

“As we’ll need loads of manpower to get this technology up and running, your sister Laura is going to become quite valuable. Honestly—you should pay attention to her accomplishments. She’s been doing quite splendidly recently. Without your help, she’s gained enough value for me to keep her. Do you understand what I’m saying, Alexander? You no longer need to worry about her well-being! She’ll be safe working for me!”

Alexander was furious. He was clenching his fist hard enough that he was surprised he was not shattering any of his bones.

“Oh? What’s the matter? Isn’t that good news? You no longer need to run errands for me in the Blue World—you’re completely free. Well, until I stop you, of course.” Rizzo chuckled. “The technology we’ll use can correct the issues with the Nexus Network. I do thank you for your efforts, however. They certainly helped us figure out how to correct the problem.”

Meanwhile, Emma had joined up with Roy and Roger. She was trying to push the two of them back away from the discussion happening in the street.

“This atmosphere’s too tense right now. If those two start a conflict, we need to get out of here.”

“Huh? How come?” Roy asked her.

“That’s Elliot Rizzo, the Leader of Unity. Along with Alexander right there, we’re looking at the two strongest Ability users in all of Requiem!”

Roy did not say anything. He walked up to the building and sat up against the wall.

“All right. I’m just gonna sit here. I’ve had enough for today.”

“Didn’t you hear me!? I said we would have to get out of here!”

“Eh, it’s okay. I’m sure those two wouldn’t deliberately want to hurt us.”

“Roy…” Roger leaned in front of him, glaring into his eyes. “You do realize that guy just destroyed that woman’s arms without any hesitation, right?”

Roy shrugged. “It’s all gooooooood! No worries here!”

“I’ve seen this before—” Emma approached the boy, who looked as though he was about to cry. “He’s in complete denial of the danger he’s in.”

“N-No I’m not…” Tears began to fall from Roy’s eyes.

Emma sighed, facing back to the two in the road.

Alexander had been looking at the ground, not saying a word.

“Alexander? What’s the matter?”

“Rizzo…” Alexander took a deep breath. “Ya really have dug your own grave, ya know that?”

“Oh?” Rizzo chuckled. “And why is that?”

“First of all, if what you say is true, then my sister won’t be harmed no matter what I do.”

“That’s correct. I give you my word. Not out of respect for you, though. Simply out of respect for her hard work—”

“Also—I know what Laura’s dream is.” Alexander glared up at the man towering above him. “She wants to work with phantonic technology—yes. It’s not the kind you want her to help with, though.”

Alexander’s body began to glow, Psycho Matter enveloping him. “She wants to help people. People who have been hurt—” He glanced over at Emma, who had been listening to the two of them. “She wants to take the technology used for that Miracle Girl there and make it work for everyone who’s been fucked up by something!”

Emma’s eyes widened, hearing Alexander’s words.

Rizzo smirked. “And what makes you think working for me would hinder that—”

“I know how that shit works. They may both have similar basics, but they’re both completely separate fields of phantonic technology. It would drive her off the path she’s worked so hard to get on!”

Rizzo began to laugh. “Honestly, Alexander… the way you’re speaking… it makes me wonder…” He moved right into Alexander’s face.

“How you honestly thought the two of you could ever do what you wanted?”

And with those words, Alexander snapped.

“RIZZO!!!!!”

Psycho Matter erupted from Alexander—his screams amplifying the shock waves that catapulted Rizzo straight through the woods and into the field north of Prelude.

The pressure shattered the windows on the police station, knocking over everyone who stood near. Emma grabbed hold of Roy and Roger.

“See!? I told you—We’ve gotta get out of here!”

“Well—look, Emma.” Roger pointed at Alexander, who leaped toward where he had sent Rizzo. “We’ll be okay if they’re out of tow—”

“No, we won’t be! Get inside!”

“Emma?” Before Roger could question her any more, she had shoved the two of them through the shattered doors and into the building.

Rizzo stood from the crater that had formed upon his impact. He threw his torn up coat onto the ground, brushing off dirt from his body. Glancing up, he saw Alexander honing on him quickly, wings fully formed. He sighed.

“It’s been a while since I had to teach you a lesson, Alexander—”

Alexander sent a wing downward at Rizzo as if it was a large, sharp blade. Rizzo raised his fist at the attack, and with an instantaneous movement, he shattered the wing with his punch.

“DON’T FUCK WITH ME!!!!!” Alexander formed over a dozen wings sprouting out of his back. Swinging his arms, he sent each one at Rizzo with lightning speed. Rizzo countered the wings—knocking each of them away with swift and powerful blows. The collision caused a massive amount of air to rise, blowing Alexander upward toward the sky.

“Come on, Alexander. Please tell me you’ve improved more than that?” Rizzo shouted at the boy.

Alexander gritted his teeth in absolute fury. Reforming his wings, he motioned his hands toward the area above him.

From the clouds, bright pink objects began to descend. As they become visible, Rizzo realized that Alexander had created dozens of gigantic sword-like structures.

“EAT THIS, YOU GODDAMN SHITBAG!!!!!”

Alexander threw his hands downward, causing the blades to rapidly descend. Rizzo stared at the phenomenon as a literal storm of swords fell upon him. They slashed right through the ground, causing not only Prelude to shake but the entire country of Requiem.

 

Inside the police station, Emma covered Roy and Roger, who had started to climb down the stairs toward the basement. Roy stared up in horror at the tremendous quaking.

“Well—this is it. I’m dying a virgin.”

“You’re not gonna die. See—” Emma gestured toward the ceiling, as the shaking had calmed down.

“You were the one afraid of us getting caught up in all of this! Why are you so calm now!?”

“Because—I took that opportunity to slip into here. The Brown Suits are definitely preoccupied with the fight. Which means—we can make sure your boss is all right!”

“Is… is he down here?” Roy asked, reaching the bottom of the stairs.

“He should be. This is where we have our interrogation room. He’ll have the highest chance of being in there.”

Roger nodded. “All right—let’s go check!”

 

At Unity, Brandon awoke from his slumber, after his ordeal with Trevor. Faith and Winona were with him in the infirmary when the shaking occurred.

Brandon sighed. “Is that Trevor guy causing shit again?”

“No—” Faith stood up in a panic. “What is that!?”

Winona placed her hand on the floor, concentrating. As the shaking came to a stop, she opened her eyes.

“That… that came from the southwest… near Prelude.”

“What!? Emma!” Faith began to dash at the door, only to be stopped by Winona.

“Faith, calm down. We can’t just rush into things. Especially when we’re in the middle of orientation. Like hell they’d let us go.”

“Dammit!” Faith slammed her fist on the door. She took a few deep breaths, eventually turning around.

“If it’s something serious… Mom will handle it. Or… even Adam. If something were truly wrong, he wouldn’t standby.”

Brandon leaned up from the bed he was lying in. “Right. You can’t let emotions get the best of you when it comes to this stuff—ow!

“Are you okay!?” Faith ran up to Brandon, holding him up.

“Yeah—just a little sore, like, all over.” He chuckled, attempting to hide the blush he knew he was making thanks to Faith pressing against him.

“I’m glad.” Faith gave Brandon a warm smile, causing him to become even more flustered.

“Let’s go see if they’re talking about it.” Winona gestured toward the door. “Brandon needs his rest.”

Faith nodded, following her out the door. Before she left, she turned back to Brandon.

“Not sure when the nurse will be back, but let us know if you need anything.” Faith grinned, carefully closing the door behind her.

Brandon sighed, lying on his back. He stared at the ceiling.

“Dammit… She’s still way too cute.”

 

Charlotte was holding Adam back, who had attempted to sprint toward Prelude after feeling the quake.

“Adam, calm down! Sheesh—it’s like you saw a guy looking flirtatiously a girl you like or something!”

“That’s… somewhat specific—but anyway—what’s happening over that way!? I can’t let anything happen to Prelude!”

“Relax.” Charlotte turned Adam around to face her, placing her hands on his shoulders. “Want me to go and check?” She pointed back toward Minuet. “I just got back from the hotel when you were throwing that hissy-fit.”

Muraco was a few feet away, holding a lasso in his hands that he formed from his scarf. “Freaking crazy humans…”

“Listen—the hotel’s fine. It seems like the manager checked out the damage and… didn’t care.” Charlotte shrugged.

“What!? How cheap is this hotel we’re staying at!?”

“The point is—we can head back in there. You two should get some rest.”

“Right… We need to figure out how to get through that barrier. We’re all going to go down there tomorrow to check it out. But right now—Charlotte—please…”

Charlotte placed her finger on Adam’s lips, nodding. “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure everything’s okay. Prelude… Prelude is my home now too, after all.”

Adam smiled softly. “You’re right—it is.”

Charlotte grabbed Adam’s hand, beckoning Muraco with the other. “Come on, let’s get you two back inside.”

 

Trees from the woods fell into the massive hole that had formed from Alexander’s attack, along with a small highway north of the field. Within seconds, he had completely changed the landscape into something that could only be described as apocalyptic.

Alexander slowly descended, panting heavily. Using his Psycho Matter, he had taken into account the people who had been driving on the highway, keeping them safe by enveloping the vehicles with his Ability, moving them to safety.

From the abyss beneath him, Rizzo leaped out, rocketing toward Alexander. His body was covered in slashes from the attack, yet he moved without issue.

“Wh-What the hell!?” Alexander prepared his wings for Rizzo’s counterattack, shaken by seeing the man come out of his onslaught so casually.

“This is the first time you’ve injured me like this, Alexander.” Rizzo’s fist collided with Alexander’s wing, knocking him back into the air several meters. Kicking downward, Rizzo’s strength propelled him upward at swift speeds. “Honestly—if you did not worry about the people back there—you might have finally done me in!”

Alexander screamed in a fiery rage, sending multiple wings toward Rizzo. Kicking at the air a second time, Rizzo swung his fist, tearing through the Psycho Matter that opposed him. Realizing that his wings did nothing, Alexander prepared his barrier as the Leader of Unity honed in on him.

With one final fist, Rizzo smashed right through, landing a direct blow on Alexander. The force sent the boy skyrocketing back into the town—tearing through what was left of the street they stood on a few moments prior.

Alexander came to a stop near Monica, who had situated herself on a lamp-post that had miraculously remained standing. As the dust cleared, she stared at the boy in terror—the very same boy who had just made quick work of her in his previous fight—now unconscious in the middle of the ruined asphalt.

Rizzo landed at the scene a few seconds later, stretching out his body— completely disregarding the damage it had taken.

“Such a pity, Alexander. You honestly tried so hard this time. I commend you for your efforts. Although, it’s time to take you back to Unity now. You’re like a child—you need a proper time-out.” He glanced over at Monica. “You as well, Teske. I’d like to hear everything that transpired here today.”

Monica did not say anything. She stood up, limping over to Rizzo.

“I see… Alexander did quite a lot of damage to you. No worries, we can fix you up back at Unity. Here—we can get there quickly if I carry you.”

With a blank expression, Monica fell into Rizzo’s arm as he grabbed hold of her. He walked over to Alexander, picking up his body and placing it in his other arm. Without speaking a word to any of the Brown Suits that had stood around, he leaped off the ground toward the direction of Nexus City.

As the wind blew against her, Monica took a quick glance at Alexander.

Although unconscious, it seemed as though tears were falling out of his closed eyelids.


Next: Chapter 2.9

Previous: Chapter 2.7

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.7

“Alexander Strauss… What are you doing here!?” Monica shoved Emma out of the way, approaching the boy. “Your current orders say you’re supposed to be helping with the orientation!”

“Yeah, you’re right about that.” Alexander shrugged, his wings dissolving into nothing. “I even checked the official list myself—Man, what a weird-ass thing for Rizzo to get me to do!”

“Then why aren’t you doing it!? The Brown Suits are currently investigating the town—we can’t have someone like you interfering!”

“Oh? Interfering? I wouldn’t think of it like that—Think of it as ya having a really overpowered bodyguard, in case those bastards come back! Surely you alone couldn’t handle anything super serious happening.”

“I am a fresh graduate of Unity—something you haven’t actually done! I’m fully capable of doing more than you when it comes down to business!” Monica screamed, not holding back her obvious rage.

“Yeah—honestly, why is that? There are several reasons, yet recently it’s been a head-scratcher even for me. Like—keeping me away, so my Psycho Matter doesn’t interfere with the growth process of the members? And now he wants me there to help with it!? Come on, that’s obviously the mindset of a man who’s freaking losing it!”

“Huh? If he doesn’t actually have to stay away due to that, then does Adam…?” Emma thought to herself.

“How dare you talk about Sir Rizzo in such a manner! Men—” Monica snapped her fingers. “Please escort Mr. Strauss back to Nexus City, so he can get to his real assignment. I’ve had enough of this pointless chit-chat.”

The Brown Suits did not move a muscle.

“Men!? I order you at once!”

Alexander chuckled, then exploded in laughter.

“Oh, man! This goes back to my ‘dumb bitch’ comment! Ya don’t seem to really know how things really operate in Unity, do ya? The very thing ya put so much respect and passion into!”

“What the hell are you talking about, Alexander!?”

“It’s simple—let me explain it to ya. It goes back to the reasons why Rizzo doesn’t want me around. I’ll be frank—I’m no match for Rizzo. Period. What do I mean by that? I mean just Rizzo! Even when it comes to graduates—excluding Trevor if he gets his shit together one day—you’re all just tiny ants compared to what I can do!”

“Yeah!?” Monica was ready to burst. “You think you’re hot shit with your damned Psycho Matter!? Men—do not hesitate.

“Ya might as well stop.” Alexander grinned. “They won’t listen to ya—they’re programmed to be smart—they know when to stand down.”

“Programmed?” Roger asked himself quietly. “What does he mean by that?”

“Is it supposed to mean something?” Roy questioned him, overhearing his thought.

“I-I don’t know…”

Monica gritted her teeth. “Dammit! I’ll just have to take care of you myself then!”

“Do you really mean that?” Alexander asked with a serious expression.

“Of course! I’m not going to let your shit-talking mouth get away with—”

“Then fly.”

With a pink glow formed underneath her feet, Monica was launched directly upward into the air, as if she was shot like an arrow.

Emma fell onto the ground as the thin sheet of Psycho Matter stopped right before it touched her. Alexander formed his wings and ascended, laughing maniacally.

Monica was able to quickly regain her composure. “Wh-What are you doing!?” She screamed at him, reaching into her pocket.

“Teaching ya how Unity operates, since those two years of training didn’t seem to really do it for ya!”

“I see why it’s called Psycho Matter—you damned psycho! Don’t underestimate me!”

Monica pulled out a Core, it immediately reacting to her. Through the blue glow, a massive two-handed sword formed, which seemed to lack sharp edges, yet had three clock-like designs on each side.

“Let’s go—Chronos!”

“A custom weapon? Ya just got that when ya graduated, correct? Shit—I’m sorry I have to break it on ya already!”

Alexander reached out his hand, a faint glow forming around it. Monica raised her sword, ready to return the strike.

“Come—to—me—my—footsteps.”

Alexander reacted in time as a gigantic shock wave emerged from the end of Chronos, colliding with his now folded wings. It sent him flying into the pavement below, shaking the entire area.

Monica landed in front of Roy and Roger, who had barely kept their footing from the impact. She glared toward the pink light before her, which faded to reveal Alexander standing casually, as if nothing happened.

“Well—that was a surprise. Could have sworn all ya could do was look at shit that happened in the past. The hell was that about?”

“Past to Present—” Monica swung her sword again, sending a second shock wave at Alexander. It came into contact with his barrier that had formed, completely negating the force of the attack.

“Not only can I receive information from the past, but I can also use phantonic energy from the past!” Monica slashed her sword twice, creating sharp bursts of energy. Alexander formed two small spheres in his hands, calmly flicking them toward the attacks. Crashing into Monica’s power, the spheres once again halted her attempt to do damage.

Within the smokescreen that formed from the collision, Alexander had sent another sphere of Psycho Matter toward Monica. She raised Chronos in front of her, shielding her from the impact.

“Hah! Is this all your Psycho Matter can do? I’m barely conjuring up any energy at all!”

“…I see. Based on how they’re reacting, I can tell exactly what that is—you’re using leftover phantons. Humans shed a finite amount of phantons each day—simply going about their lives. It’s what the Nexus Network is fueled on, after all. With your Ability, it stores those phantons ya shed, so ya can use them to increase your battle capabilities when you need to. Am I right?”

“Well—I see it’s true. Your Psycho Matter can analyze things it comes into contact with. And with a decent head on your shoulders, you can figure quite a lot of shit out, can you?”

Alexander shrugged, grinning. “What can I say? I was blessed with great power. I’ve dedicated my life to attempting to use it correctly. There’s still much, much more I need to accomplish with it, however. I was slightly interested in your Ability since something that could manipulate time would be very interesting to learn about. But—you’re just taking advantage of a trick phantons are capable of!”

Monica snickered. “Oh? You seem to understand that my Ability is related to that theory.”

“It doesn’t take a freaking genius to figure that shit out! Phantons record data of everything they come in contact with—how do ya think ghosts are a thing? They use values presented to them in the past to form those creepy bastards. That’s how ya see into the past—ya just gather up the stray phantons in the area and make them tell ya what you want to know.”

“Smart—” Monica leaped at Alexander, slamming Chronos down at him—his barrier once again halting the attack. “So—that obviously doesn’t matter in this battle. My power comes from a different aspect of my Ability—how do you propose to overcome it!?” Monica swung her sword to bounce away from Alexander. She smashed Chronos into the ground, causing the pavement to tear apart.

Alexander leaped upward, avoiding the attack altogether. “Really!? Ya think that’s an issue for me!? I already told ya I know how that works as well—and it’s simply a boost in power!” He raised his hands, forming a gigantic sledgehammer. Moving it as smoothly as a feather, he slammed it downward at Monica, blocking it with Chronos.

The collision completely tore the parking lot apart—ripping through the earth toward the road. Roy grabbed Roger just in time and dived out of the way. Monica was flung out of the ground, able to regain her footing on the sidewalk across the street.

Alexander landed in the road, glancing back toward Roy and Roger. “Sorry about that! Ya guys should really get away from here if ya want to live!”

Emma ran up to the two in a panic. “Are you two all right!?”

“No! I just pissed myself!” Roy shouted. Roger slowly crawled away from Roy.

“Y-Yeah—we’re okay. Thanks for the save, Roy. But—please stay back for now…”

“Huh? I was kidding! I didn’t actually—

“Whatever! Come on, guys—let’s get back.” Emma glanced over toward Alexander, who was spinning the sledgehammer in his hand with ease. “We… can’t do anything right now.”

As Emma escorted Roy and Roger toward the building, Alexander raised the hammer in Monica’s direction. “Ya know, I am pretty impressed you’re standing after that. You’re clearly not an amateur—like I thought ya were.”

“So you can generate some decent power. Good—then I can cut loose!” Monica began to run Toward Alexander, sword ready.

“Yeah! Sure—let’s get busy!” Alexander chucked, swing the hammer at Monica’s incoming slash, knocking her back a few feet. He leaped at her, swiftly slamming her with another attack. This time, she handled it a lot better—being capable of striking back immediately.

The two began dancing around the street—striking at each other with their weapons. Each impact sent fierce gales throughout Prelude, shaking the nearby houses. Street lamps were slashed apart, a mailbox was torn into pieces, and cars were turned onto their sides from the sheer force of the battle.

Roy and Roger viewed the conflict in awe. Shaking, Roger turned toward Emma. “Is this really the world you want to get yourself involved with?”

She nodded. “Yeah. Like I said earlier, I’ll face anything for the sake of my sister. Besides—” Emma smirked. “Doesn’t the sound of weapons clashing against each other not get your blood boiling with excitement!?”

“Uh…” Roy took a step back. “Now that we’re safe, we see the true side of Emma Roswell. All righty then—I am certainly not going to ask you out again. I really could die.”

Emma looked at him, wielding an ominous grin. “Good. Now you understand.”

Monica landed several yards away from where the two Ability users began their clash, using Chronos to keep herself standing up. Her body was shaking, yet she could not help but smile.

“Damn—I’ve never had to go all-out like this before. You’re certainly tough.”

Alexander stood near her, letting his hammer float near his hand. “Oh? You’re going all out? How cute.”

“Huh?” Monica wiped the sweat off her forehead that had begun to form. “Are you saying… you’re not going all-out!?”

“Are you serious!?” Alexander cackled. “Sure—your Ability is interesting on paper—and it is giving me a decently fun time—but going all-out!? Ya don’t want me to do that.”

“So that’s how it is, huh…?” Monica raised Chronos in front of her, while Alexander changed the shape of his hammer to a spiraling ball of Psycho Matter.

“Here—let’s see how you do blocking this!

The ball erupted into a fierce beam of raw energy, flying toward Monica with swift speeds. She slashed Chronos down, slicing at the attack. It exploded, ripping apart the entire road several meters behind her, even cutting into a nearby field just south of Prelude.

As the dust settled, Monica was revealed to have withstood Alexander’s power. Yet, she collapsed onto her knees, panting heavily.

“You… Y-You damn bastard…! Do you really want to tear up this entire town!?”

“No? Why the hell would I want that? It’s just some collateral damage—nobody’s gotten hurt yet. Well, ya look like you’re in pretty bad shape though. Wanna call it quits? As long as ya know not to fuck with me, I think we can end it here.”

“Dammit!” Monica slammed her fist on the ground. As she was prepared to give up, a blue glow out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. Looking up, she grinned at the sight of the clock designs engraved onto Chronos lighting up.

“Huh? The hell’s your weapon doing?” Alexander questioned.

“Wow—for real!? I didn’t expect it to actually work, considering your Psycho Matter doesn’t use phantons. Yet—you’re still human. It would be natural for you to still casually shed phantons.”

“What the hell are ya talking about?” Alexander became cautious, analyzing Monica’s movement.

“Let me show you..” Her hand slowly raised, opening her palm toward Alexander.

“She’s planning something… She gonna shoot energy right out of her hand or some shit?”

Slowly, a wicked smile formed of Monica’s face,

“Share—my—pain.”

Alexander’s body began to vibrate. Before he could comprehend what was happening, a tremendous force erupted around his entire body. The pressure was immense, causing blood to fly out of Alexander’s mouth. He stumbled and fell onto his knees.

“Wow—it worked! I can’t believe it actually worked on you of all people!”

Alexander held his chest—managing to keep calm despite the look of fear written all over his face.

“You see—when a human emits phantons into the world—their values change. As phantonic properties are unique to each person—to avoid them conflicting with the other naturally flowing phantons—they rewrite their code so they can all match together without a problem.”

Monica stood, slowly approaching Alexander with Chronos in hand. “That’s what Past to Present can take advantage of. As it stores phantons that I would naturally shed, it’s aware of how that code works. By fighting you with them, they can sync up with the phantons that you are emitting. When that happens, I can reverse their flow, as they’re still adjusting to the outside world. They still have values that are unique to you—yet also have the universal values of natural phantons.”

Alexander sighed. “So—What I’m getting at through that shit-ass explanation, is that you use those stored up phantons of yours, link them up to mine, and distort them as they still hold values that only I have. Thus, it distorts my inner phantons, as those you’re fucking with on the outside are still connected to them through those remaining values.”

“Correct! Not bad for a kid who hasn’t had any legitimate education on the matter! Your Psycho Matter must reveal quite a lot to you. Which is strange—how did you not notice what was occurring?” Monica scratched her head. “Although I actually can’t tell myself. That’s why they designed Chronos here to help me—” She pointed at her weapon. “When these glow, it indicates to me that a link has been established. Usually, it wouldn’t take as long—yet your Ability doesn’t add phantons into it. It would have connected to those, then made it easier to sync up with your emitted ones.”

“Oh? I see—I see…” Alexander stood as if he was unharmed. His gaze fell toward the ground—a snicker escaping his mouth. “Thanks for putting it into words for me. Would have taken a few minutes for my Psycho Matter to come up with all of that. Strange—so strange. Out of every normie Ability I’ve faced, yours may be one of the oddest. So… If I’m to prevent ya from pulling any other crap like that—” He laughed, glaring up at Monica with a twisted grin.

“…I’ll just have to get serious!”

A pink flare shot out from his eyes. Monica raised her blade just in time to block the sudden attack.

However, Chronos shattered to pieces.

“Wh-What…!?”

“Oh, come on! Did ya honestly think I couldn’t break that toy of yours!?”

Monica leaped back, aiming her hand at Alexander. “Don’t get cocky! I still have the link! I’ll just have to mess you up even more—”

She was interrupted by a sudden pink flash. At first, it did not seem to do anything. Monica decided to ignore it and continued her attack. Yet—she soon realized what had happened.

Monica’s entire right arm had crumbled into dust.

“Wh-Wh-What the—” Monica held the wound with her opposite hand, screaming in pure agony. “What the fuck did you do!?” Her shrieks permeated throughout Prelude—everyone looking on in horror.

“Ale-Alexa… der… Strauss!!” Monica motioned her left hand toward the boy, fully intent on destroying him with the link that had been established.

This was a mistake. Without moving a muscle—for a second time—Alexander erased her arm with a blinding pink flash of light.

“…Just… How could you…” Monica could not release her voice anymore. The pain was far too intense for her to handle. Her armless body collapsed onto the ground in front of Alexander.

“Sorry. When ya became a threat, I had to take action. Ya see—this world needs me. Right now… my Psycho Matter is the only thing that can potentially stop that man. Yeah… That very man you look up to. If you honestly thought ya could impress the guy—well—ya very well could.”

Alexander opened his hand, pointing it toward Monica’s unconscious body. Tiny particles of Psycho Matter began to fall out, enveloping her.

“Ya get too close to him—however—something far worse than this would have happened. Something even I couldn’t fix.” He breathed in deeply.

“I’ve always done research into it, but ever since that kid almost crumbled into dust in front of me, I’ve been looking into it non-stop. It’s not the entire body, and it’s nothing vital, so…”

Pink ooze started to pour out of Monica’s wounds. The Psycho Matter began to reshape while growing in size. After a few moments, Alexander had fixed the damage he caused, as new arms had formed where the others had been moments prior.

“Well, shit. It actually worked. Sorry—they’re gonna be pink—but those should function just like normal arms.”

Monica’s brand new fingers twitched as she slowly regained consciousness. Her vision met with her new appendages, shocked at their appearance.

“Oh—and don’t think ya can test those in the lab to find out any secrets of mine. I removed any values relating to the formation of my Psycho Matter. It doesn’t really matter anyway—after all these years…” Alexander smirked. “They haven’t figured out shit.”

As Alexander stood above his defeated opponent, he felt the earth beneath him shake. He turned around to see the source of the impact. There, in the center of the street, Rizzo had appeared.

“Alexander… making a mess, as usual, I see?”

“Shitbag… manipulating others, as usual, I see?”


Next: Chapter 2.8

Previous: Chapter 2.6

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