Chapter 1.18

Previous: Chapter 1.17

Next: Chapter 1.19

Brandon was flung from the shadows onto the dirty basement floor. Jerry, who had been attempting to stand up, almost fell back over upon hearing his friend yelp in pain.

“Brandon…!?” He looked over at the black mass hovering above the front of the barrier. “What is that!?”

“Oh, good. Spiky red-hair guy—” Jason’s voice cracked. “Excuse me. I’m getting a little exhausted from warping all over the place. Keep this guy from barging back in here. It’s dangerous. Okay? Okay.”

Before Jerry could respond, Jason’s shadow had vanished. However, his voice did echo out one last comment.

“How in the hell is this thing still visible? What caused that to happen? Oh well. We’ll fix it…”

Jerry forced himself on to his feet, limping over to Brandon, who had begun to move. “Hey, are you okay? What happened?”

“Jerry…” Brandon looked up at him. “Adam’s still in there. He’s probably going to start fighting some guy. He’s already injured and is probably going above and beyond what he can do alone…”

“Why?” Jerry asked. “What for? Tell me whatever you know!”

Brandon held his head while nodding to his friend. As he told Jerry what had unfolded inside the mine, sheer pain continued to surge throughout his body. By the end of the quick catch up, Jerry noticed this.

“If what you’re saying is true, then your body was affected pretty badly by those chaons. You’re probably poisoned. We’ll have to fix you up before it’s too late.”

“…Is it possible to get possessed by some demon or something?” Brandon asked. He stood up, feeling incredibly dizzy.

“Careful—” Jerry held onto him to prevent him from falling back down. “And, yeah, absolutely. That’s how they do it. Your body becomes riddled with chaons, giving them a ‘home’ that they can safely nest in. If one becomes poisoned, your system will naturally cleanse the chaons, eventually. In the meantime, your body’s not only taking damage, but it’s also at risk of possession.”

“Do you think I was possessed…?” Brandon questioned. Jerry pondered the possibility based on what he had been told.

“It’s possible… it would explain a hole in your memory. When you ran into that barrier… the chaons that would have gotten into you shouldn’t have been in you for too long, but…”

Jerry took out his phone and opened the app that he used before. He motioned it around Brandon as it picked up signs of chaonic influence. “Okay… you’re definitely poisoned. Not too bad, actually. You’re certainly not possessed, though.”

“Why does it feel like my head’s splitting open…?” Brandon questioned, holding his hands around his temples. “Like… my head is an egg, and something’s trying to break out, but it lacks the strength to.”

“That’s… quite the comparison.” Jerry was utterly perplexed at Brandon’s condition. 

Jerry’s brain went into overdrive. He had to brainstorm all the possible moves that could be made in the current situation so that everyone could get out of it safely. 

Miraculously, Jerry Peck happened to be one to work extraordinarily well under pressure.

Fighting through the pain—which was slowly subsiding—Jerry began to walk Brandon toward the stairs.

“W-Where are we going…?” Brandon began to squirm like a pet trying to break free and run off. “We’ve gotta help Adam…! Jerry! We’ve gotta—”

“We’ll save him, relax!” Jerry yelled. “Listen—whatever you’re going through right now… whatever Adam is going through, I swear… I’ll figure out a solution to everything!

The confidence that radiated from Jerry seemed to affect Brandon, as he had finally calmed down. Despite his desire to rush back in and help Adam, he repressed it and placed his trust in the best place possible.

As Jason opened up a portal inside the mine, a young man dived out of it. Only a few meters from the ground, he managed to somehow slow down and calmly land on his feet. Adjusting the goggles he was wearing, which were a part of what looked to be an old pilot hat, he took a glance around.

“Hey, uh, Jason?” He looked up at the shadow, which seemed to be groaning in annoyance. “Where exactly did you put me?”

“These guys keep messing with the mine…!” Jason cursed. “I can’t even place you in the right place! Well, whatever. The girl should still be in the same section, just a little bit ahead. I’ll leave it to you, Chris.”

“Yeah, yeah…” Chris waved as Jason faded away. He looked around—a shiver going up his spine upon taking in the surroundings. 

“These are the mines, huh? Creepy. Creepy creepy. Ah—shit! I’m starting to repeat words just like Carl! No, don’t do that.” He took a deep breath. “Father. Sister. Keep me safe. Not only from whatever’s in here but from that guy back at the base…”

Chris began to walk at a brisk pace. He wanted to get out of the dark caves as quickly as possible, aware that he had to accomplish his mission to do so.

It was then that Christopher Serpenti had realized something. Never in his nineteen years on this planet did he once encounter a ghost. There were many other horrifying things he had met, but not a mere spirit. He had no idea how to proceed with his task.

“Do I… talk to her first? Carl said she should be easy enough to fight against, but how do you fight against something already dead? Does that make any sense!? Demons… Chaonic Entities—to be more precise. I’ve dealt with those, but… they’re technically living.”

As Chris spoke to himself, he was unaware that the torches he passed had begun to be blue in color as opposed to the usual red. 

“I’m thinking that talking to her—asking if she’ll just come with us—is the better option. I’m not sure how to fight against a ghost. If you can fight them just like a normal human, then what’s honestly the difference? They might as well be alive at that point…”

He stopped. What Chris encountered was something that shook him to his very core. 

Tiny azure flames danced around Charlotte, who was sitting right in the middle of the cave floor. She was humming—her way of focusing her energy into moving the sprite-like specters of energy as if they were dancing. 

Although disturbing, it had no malicious intent, as Chris assumed it did. Charlotte initially did not notice him as she was deep in thought regarding her power.

“I can make phantonic energy from chaons…?  How does it work? Well, it’s now in a form I can use, so maybe I can —”

She glanced up to see the man standing before her. There was no greeting—no acknowledgment, aside from the two staring at each other in silence. Chris, eventually, broke the silence with the snap of his finger.

“…I won’t let you get away with your cursed rituals, demon!”

A spark flew from his fingertips, growing in size and flying at Charlotte, exploding upon contact. Chris leaped backward, gaining height as he made contact with the ceiling. Mysteriously, he held onto the rocky surface as if there was a place to grip onto.

A blue wave of energy ripped through the smoke, revealing a completely unharmed Charlotte. The flames that were around her had reformed, enveloping her in a ghastly aura. 

“That was extremely rude of you,” Charlotte said with a serious expression. “Do you just attack women willy-nilly like a savage!? Wait—willy-nilly… what does that mean…?”

“I’ll attack anyone if they’re in the middle of a cave performing dark arts like you are!” Chris yelled, flicking his finger repeatedly. A spark formed each time as Charlotte was bombarded by multiple attacks. She created a large circular shield, which blocked the explosions from making contact with her. 

“Is that your Concept?” Charlotte asked, moving the shield to her side as it floated in mid-air. She quickly formed a javelin in her right hand and, with remarkable speed, chucked it toward Chris. He evaded it by releasing his hold on the ceiling, jumping onto the wall as the javelin smashed his previous location into pieces. 

“See if you can figure it out! It tends to stump people, but it’s quite simple!” Chris sent more sparks at Charlotte, who once again blocked all of them. He continued to shoot at her as he landed back onto the ground and sprinted right toward her swiftly. 

“What is he—” Charlotte used her power to force the floating shield forward, bashing right into Chris. She figured he would be rather easy to send hurdling, considering his slender physique. However, he did not budge, and the shield met with fierce resistance.

“Well, you’re a ghost, after all. And with that attire, I’m guessing you’re quite old. Not sure how much science you would actually know!”

With the initial force of Charlotte’s attack diminished, Chris adjusted his footing and leaped back, managing to gain significant distance from the shield. He rubbed his forearms, which had made contact with the phantasmal object. 

“Yeesh, thought I was gonna lose there for a sec. Definitely had to get away before you tried something fishy. What is your Concept? Or—er—wait. Ouderkirk… Ah, yeah! You can control phantons, can’t you? Is that how you’re making those weapons?”

“I believe so,” Charlotte moved her hand, causing the shield to return to her side. “I don’t have to think too hard about it. I call it ‘Royal Armory’ because the weapons seem to already be made, ready to go. Summoning them and using them is what drains me.”

“Ah. See, maybe I misjudged you. You seem to talk normally. This is what I wanted to begin with—talking is much easier. Although, it seems as though fighting you isn’t as difficult as I initially thought.”

“Are you the one who owns this mine?” Charlotte asked as the shield faded away. In its place, a longsword formed, which she grabbed without hesitation. “Tell me exactly what’s going on here.”

“Uh, no, I don’t own it. I work for the guys who own it, I guess? Listen, I was just told to capture you. I didn’t really want to actually fight, but I’m not sure you’re gonna listen at this point. I did start it, after all…”

“Capture me…?” Charlotte raised her sword. “You’re right. I won’t listen to someone who wants to do that—why the hell would I?” She dashed forward and, in a split second, began slashing at Chris. He managed to evade the attacks—his body meeting no resistance to the air around him. 

“I get it, I get it! The guys I work for aren’t all that bad, actually! I’m sure talking things out with them will work out! I’ve just gotta bring you to them!” Chris sent several sparks at Charlotte, who whacked them away with her blade. “Ah, geez. This is on me. I had to freak out and begin fighting—you do realize it looked incredibly creepy, though!? What were you even doing down here? What are you doing down here, overall?”

“My friend ended up in here somehow, and I’m here to get him out… that’s all.” Charlotte lunged at Chris, taking a mighty swing that shattered the ground beneath them. He dodged, grabbing onto the ceiling once more.

“Right, right… My friend Derek should be working on that part right now. So, you don’t have to worry about that.”

Charlotte brushed dust off the illuminated blade, chuckling softly. “And why do you think I should trust your word? If I just surrender now and go with you to have this hypothetical discussion with the people you work for so that everything can end ‘peacefully’… how will I know my friend is safe? How will I know that I’ll be safe?”

“…Yeah, I messed this one up. Dammit. Oh well… I guess I’ll just have to do this the hard way.” Chris jumped a few yards back, readying his fingers. “I know it won’t do much at this point to gain your trust, but my Concept is ‘Friction.’ I can move around quickly with no resistance, or I can gain lots of resistance like I did against your shield. I can hold onto walls and ceilings easily, as well.”

“Well, that is good to know…” Charlotte resumed a battle stance while the inside of her processed this new information. “…Friction… friction. I swear I’ve picked up that term before, but what is it!? I think I can figure it out, based on what he’s said… Freaking memories. No—this is this era’s fault! Science has gone too far!”

“And with these sparks that I’ve been making… I make enough friction with my fingers to create it, but it continues from there. The spark moves like a bullet—all the resistance it meets building up heat, forming a tiny explosion upon contact.”

Charlotte was perplexed at Chris’ explanation. “…Okay. I think even if I did understand modern science, I wouldn’t understand how something like that works…”

“From what I’ve been told, Concepts don’t have to fully make sense!” Chris explained. “They bring a factor that exists in this universe under your control, so through one’s influence, things can get a little tricky!”

“I see… In that case—” Charlotte swapped her longsword for another javelin. “I’ll end this before things get too tricky!” 

She chucked the weapon with remarkable force, rocketing toward Chris. At the last moment, he moved his body slightly to the left, just enough to dodge the incoming strike.

“I practice subtle movement all the time! And with how much resistance I can make if I let an attack hit me, you’ll have to do better than that!” 

“I’ll need both stealth and strength to take you down, huh?” Charlotte noted as Chris flicked his fingers once more. This time, several sparks erupted from him—a volley of flaming projectiles flying toward the ghost girl.

Charlotte took a deep breath. The azure torches surrounding them began to dim as she phased through the ground beneath her as if she dropped into a body of water. The sparks soared passed when she was a moment prior, and the remaining light on the walls faded, leaving the surrounding area in darkness. 

“What!? Damn!” Chris looked around in a panic. “The torches… were red up to this point,” He glanced back where he could see a tiny crimson light in the distance. “Right… They’re supposed to be that color. The ones around here were tampered with by her…!”

“—And I’m not restricted by the space inside of these caverns…” Charlotte’s voice echoed all around Chris, who was trying his hardest to guess her location. 

She shot out of the wall off to the side—the raging azure from her weapon garnering Chris’ attention. A giant war hammer had formed, ready to strike.

“I’m a ghost, after all!”

The head smashed into Chris’s side—an impact was made that tore the stone around them. He had enough time to activate his Concept, creating enough resistance for his body to stay in place.

However, there was astounding power behind Charlotte’s swing as phantonic energy was exploding out of her weapon. Even if he could put up a fight, the struggle was futile. His body would break before the attack ended.

“Well, shit—”

Chris was slammed into the wall of the mine—the shockwaves ripping everything in the area to pieces. As his consciousness faded, regret took hold of his remaining thoughts.

“I’m… not gonna die, am I…? Did I… lose everything, again…?” 

Next: Chapter 1.19

Previous: Chapter 1.17

Table of Contents



Chapter 1.17

Previous: Chapter 1.16

Next: Chapter 1.18

Jerry awoke, still slumped over the stairs. His body ached from where he had leaned on each step—the sharpest pain near the back of his neck. Immediately, his mind kicked into gear. 

“What happened…!? Okay—need to think, need to think…” He stepped onto the cellar floor and looked around the left corner. “The barrier’s still there…? What happened to Brandon? Something knocked me out—did it get him as well? Did it take him? Why just him? Why—”

He paused, taking a deep breath as he tried to focus. “Calm down. Think rationally. Nobody seems to be down here…?” Surveying the damaged basement, Jerry began to formulate a few ideas while taking his phone out of his pocket. 

“Okay… I was out of it for twenty minutes. Charlotte hasn’t returned, so something must be going on inside that cave to delay her for so long. Brandon’s missing—he wouldn’t just leave me lying on the stairs like that if I passed out. Why would he be kidnapped, while I’m just knocked out? I would conclude that another party is involved, to some degree. Many, many questions. I could ponder for hours… but I’ve got to act before it’s too late.”

Jerry turned and began to dash up the stairs. That was what he attempted to do, although he immediately ran into a problem. He collapsed onto his knees, leaning on the bottom step. The pain in his neck had spread to the rest of his body, preventing him from moving any further.

“…I was able to move fine for a moment, but now… Gah—what happened to me!?”

Brandon ran behind Adam as he took note of the energy—now calmer than before—surrounding his friend. 

“Hey. Uh… are you okay? That power… it heals you—if I remember correctly?”

“Yeah,” Adam held out his arm. “I’ll be fine, for now. We need to wrap this up quickly. Charlotte’s in here, you said? Where’s Jerry?”

“I’m not sure… after Charlotte came in, my memory’s kinda fuzzy. I hope whatever possessed me didn’t hurt him.”

“Let’s hope not. If Charlotte’s in here, we need to group up. With her, I’m sure we can get this done fast enough.”

“Speaking of fast… you’re running quicker than me. That’s a first.” Brandon noted.

“I told you this power also gives me a boost in my physical capabilities. That includes something like this…” Adam glanced down at his legs. “I don’t know how to use it, but since it’s active as it heals me up, I guess that works.”

“Wait… it doesn’t look like you need healing. You’ve got blood all over you, but your wounds should be—”

“The World Mirror’s aura…” Adam hesitated. “It’s given me protection from the chaons, in the manner that phantons protect everyone else. It’ll only stay active as long as it heals, though. So when it diminishes enough… the chaons start eating away at me again. It’s a cycle. You probably can’t notice it, but I can feel it, believe me…”

“…S-Should we do this?” Brandon asked nervously. “I don’t like the idea of you constantly getting messed up like that, man. “Maybe we should go back and think this through.”

“…Let’s find Charlotte,” Adam suggested. “She’ll probably have the best idea on what to do. I’d rather find her anyway before we think about leaving.”

The setting that had repeated for quite some time had finally changed. Adam and Brandon entered a more substantial area—a circular room with boulders, mine carts, and metal track scattered about as if they were randomly chucked in there. The familiar torches were still lined up on the wall surrounding the place.

“This is… new.” Brandon stopped to glance around as Adam took an extra few steps before slowing down.

“Yeah…” Adam’s eyes surveyed the new location noticing the chaons did not seem to act differently.  

That is until he glanced upward.

At the center of the stone ceiling, a black swirling mass appeared. The chaons swarmed around it, seeing to dissipate upon contact. Jason began to speak.

“How did you two join up…? That’s not supposed to happen! And how did you get here!? This is supposed to be one of the safe rooms kept out of the cycle!”

“Adam… it’s talking. What is that—why is it talking!?”

“Just stay behind me, Brandon,” Adam raised his guard. 

“Oh, boy…” Jason let out a sigh. “Well, let’s get this over with, quickly.”

A figure emerged from the darkness, descending down toward the two boys. Adam backed up, pushing Brandon as he did. Derek landed effortlessly, staring at the two with a blank expression. 

“Hmm…” Derek glanced around the room for a moment before returning his focus to them. “Oh. Oh, yeah. I’m getting that feeling. Jason, that déjà vu feeling is at an all-time high right now.” He pinched the area between his eyes. “I don’t like it. Carl said it’s a side effect from how my Concept works, but I don’t really trust his judgment. He started scratching the inside of his ear wildly while explaining the current situation. For what reason?

“That’s why you wanted to warp so quickly? I get it,” Jason chuckled from the abyss. “Should I send Chris too? He’s ready to dive on in, as well. Carl’s dancing around him… H-He’s just dancing.”

“Let Chris take a shot at the other ‘point of interest’ that’s in here. I’ll back him up once I’m done.” Derek shrugged as his attention returned to the boys in front of him. “Oh, hi, yeah—I’m Derek. I’m here to escort you out of here.”

“…Who are you? Where did you come from?” Adam asked—his body twitching from the pain he was in.

“I’m Derek, are your ears okay? Are you okay? Why are you covered in blood? Is that your blood? What the—what the hell? And that energy…”  

“I think it heals him, Derek,” Jason responded from above. “It looked like his arms were growing back when I tried to warp him earlier. That energy—I think—is the reason why I couldn’t get it to work.”

“I know the gist of it,” Derek rubbed the side of his head. “He doesn’t have phantons. That caused the chaons in here to hurt him. This power of his healed him, luckily, but he’s still in danger. Well, Jason, just shift the sections accordingly, open up the barrier, and I’ll walk them right out before they get hurt any further.”

“…I’m not leaving,” Adam stepped forward. “I’m not leaving until I save that little girl! Where is she!? What the hell even is this place!?”

“Woah. Yelling. Stop that.” Derek said. “What girl? Jason?” He looked up. “Got any idea who this ‘little girl’ is that he’s talking about?”

“I don’t know how, but it seems he knows of it…” Jason replied. “Listen, kid. The mine was set up this way to protect that girl. So, don’t worry about it. Trust me when I say this: Don’t get involved. At all. It’s for your own good.”

Adam went silent. Derek looked at him and shrugged. 

“Well, our shadowy boy said so. I’m… kinda concerned as to how a little girl is involved, especially considering…” Rage temporarily filled Derek’s voice before he stopped speaking.

“Adam, what should we do…?” Brandon patted his friend on the shoulder—the World Mirror’s energy not resisting this action. “I don’t know how to approach this…” 

“I don’t really understand how this other guy got in—I didn’t pay attention, unfortunately—but he seems to not have awakened phantons. So…” Jason’s shadow quickly flew downward, coving up Brandon before either of them could react.

“Let me warp you out, at least.” 

Adam reached out his hand, but it was too late. The shadows vanished, and Brandon was nowhere to be seen.


“Hey. It’s okay. We just got him out of here before the chaons started eating away at him. Look—I know how frustrating it is to want to save someone, and you can’t… trust me. But she’s safe. I know these ominous-looking caves don’t help reassure that. But I trust the people I’m working with. Expect Carl. He’s a creep.”

Adam’s arms drooped down—the aura around him starting to surge, which caused a chill to run right through Derek.

“She appeared in front of me… first time in Ann’s—nothing to note of her expression then. But then, in my basement… she was crying. She asked for my help before she faded away. There is some girl in here? She asked me for help…

Derek did not say anything in response, as the feeling Adam radiated resonated with him. He knew what situation was about to unfold. In many ways, it would be one of the most challenging tasks he’d dealt with up to that point. 

Jason was preoccupied elsewhere, yet had a tiny sliver of his shadow remain. He could hear the words that were exchanged.

“She manifested in front of this kid…? How in the world is that possible…? I gotta go get him. I know he’s busy, but this is a horrible predicament we’re getting into!”

“Look, Adam. That’s your name, yeah?” Derek stepped forward. “Let’s relax. Not only is this situation stressful, just look at yourself. Your body has gone through a lot. Even if it can heal, you still feel the pain. Great pain, I’m assuming? Do you know what that can do to your head? Please, let’s end this before it begins…” He pleaded while reaching out his arm.

“I don’t want to get violent.”

Adam knew Derek was absolutely correct. In most cases, Adam tried to look at things rationally. Several times, that act had failed. Ever since the girl first appeared to him in his basement, he had been relying strictly on his emotions. Despite trying to keep a cool head, the strain his body had taken was far beyond what an average person could handle. 

It was only half a year prior that a mere slice to the wrist was too much for him.

Now, in the span of a few days, he had shattered bones, had his body burn apart, and had limbs vaporized by his own uncontrollable power. Not to mention, the process of regeneration was almost just as painful as receiving the injuries.

It was all too much for Adam Grayson’s combat-rookie mind to handle.

He gave up all rationale. Saving the little girl from her pain, whether she was dead or alive, was his top priority. Even if it meant fighting the man in front of him, who only wanted to help, then so be it.

Taking a quick glance at his hand, Adam raised his fist in front of him. Derek was met with the World Mirror’s icy glare.

“Get violent, then.”

Next: Chapter 1.18

Previous: Chapter 1.16

Table of Contents



Chapter 1.16

Previous: Chapter 1.15

Next: Chapter 1.17

Brandon Shepherd stopped upon hearing a voice call out to him. It was one only he could listen to—one that did not originate from the mine. He shook his head frantically as if he wanted to shake the voice out of him.

“Shut up… I’m out right now. The curse is probably the reason why—where am I? Don’t worry about it—I’ll sleep soon—I have to rescue Adam—he’s important… Yes, I used it—how do you think I’m in such a place? I’ll use it again, too—it’s all troublesome—I’m so unlucky… cause of you… Remember that, as I’m used up in your abysmally pathetic game…”

He began to sniff the air—a sinister grin forming on the face of one that should not be fueled by malice whatsoever. “Smell that? Misfortune. That’s gotta be him—I’m gonna bring him here—I’ll use it.”

Pausing for a moment, his mouth resumed moving. Not a single sound could escape, however. The crimson energy of the mine had gathered, forming a demonic hand around his throat. Several others immediately proceeded, grappling onto his limbs. They squeezed as if they wanted to crush Brandon like a can.

“…! D-Dammit…!” His voice could barely come out. It broke through, however, and Brandon Shepherd screamed louder than he ever did before. The bloody roar was accompanied by a fierce glare of dark amber irises, directed toward the world. 

“…So loud.”

Brandon stood in pitch blackness. He could not even see his hands.

“Is that… me? What am I shouting for? Oh… wait. This seems… familiar.”

He let out an agitated sigh that echoed in the void.

“It’s been a while since this happened. I get like this sometimes whenever I get really anxious. Think the last time was a few years ago in high school? During practice… I’m surprised it didn’t happen recently. Or… did it? I almost had a heart attack when I first heard Adam tried to… Oh… wait. Oh! Adam!” 

Brandon looked around, yet his vision remained the same regardless of what direction he turned toward.

“Adam got sucked into some cave… and I tried to run in there to help him. Right, I guess that’s a good reason to freak out? What is… going on, exactly? It feels… different this time. Hmm…”

He began to ponder, tapping his foot on the “ground.”

“Hmmmmmmmmmmmm… Yeah, this shit is weird. That’s about all I can come up with.”

Upon hearing his disembodied screams once more, he jumped in shock. 

“…Well, I’m smarter than I look—I… I hope. I can come up with something. I think… I should probably wake up first. How to do that…?”

Adam’s vision returned to him. The first thing he noticed was the gigantic white aura that had formed around him. His body ached immensely, yet the World Mirror had saved him from burning away. 

“It… can help me regenerate lost limbs, I know that. But I figured something that constantly ate away at me would be a bit too much…” 

Looking ahead, Adam was still in the mine, right where he had collapsed. Blood was all around him, and it covered his body from head to toe. He noticed something odd occurring.

“I can see clearly, even though you’d think this energy around me would blur my vision. Hell, my eyes lighting up should blind me, but they don’t…? How the hell does that work?”

Phantonics, as a whole, tended to contradict many other fields of science. It seemed that his unknown power of the World Mirror did this as well. To what degree, Adam was unsure. 

The aura guarded him—chaons seemed to be lighting up as they made contact with his power. They could not get in, at least for the time being. 

“It activates whenever I’m injured. More healing equals more energy coming out. Right—okay. That sucks. I should really figure out an alternate way to unleash it. Cause, clearly, this power is hella strong. It… can make a difference. I know it can.”

Adam began to walk, noticing immediately that, along with the intense pain, he was quite dizzy. 

“I lost quite a lot of blood, didn’t I? In fact, when I originally tried to… you know, they noted that I had lost a ton of it. Hmm… I think I can regenerate blood, as well, but it’s a much slower process compared to everything else. Damn, okay. Gotta watch out for that, I suppose?”

His arms twitched as he raised them in front of himself. “How to control this power…? What have I been doing thus far when I can ‘control’ it?”

In the fight with Charlotte and during his attempt to break the barrier, the World Mirror did work in the way he had intended it to. Energy had gathered around the limbs he wanted to use, mainly due to his injuries, yet the explosion of power was something to take notice of.

“What did I do in those moments? How did it feel when I swung my fists…? It’s way too soon for me to be entering combat with this thing, but…” Adam’s eyes gazed into the darkness ahead. “I might have to if I proceed with this weak-ass rescue attempt.”

He shook his head. “That girl was a ghost anyway, Adam. She’s dead. What’s there to save…? No, that’s contradictory. You’re helping Charlotte, who’s also a ghost. Who can… basically be considered alive, with how she acts. Gah…” 

Scratching his hair fiercely in his frustration, blood gushed out of it. 

“Guh…! What the fu…!” 

With the World Mirror’s power active, he was much stronger right now. Adam did not take into account a simple action, such as scratching the top of his head.

“P-Pretty sure I almost dug into my brain… Damn this…”

Adam stumbled forward. What happened next was an incredibly lucky circumstance that fate decided to give him. He would not know the details for quite some time, but by stepping on a certain spot of the cave with the World Mirror active, something occurred.

He had stepped on a border—a spot where two sections of the cave that were constantly swapping had met. All of the sections frequently shifted to keep a person lost in the crimson maze, yet one could easily set foot on this spot at the right time.

Nothing would happen—or even be noticed—if it was anyone else. Adam was the one capable of making the change. By stepping on this border, the entire framework of the mine was rewritten. Adam’s desire to rescue the little girl resonated with the World Mirror, and with its power, the cave was now—unbeknownst to him—under his control. 

Nothing could be kept from him now. Adam continued to stumble on the rocky path, trying his best to keep his composure. Blood dripped from his head while the scratches slowly healed. The aura surrounding him was like a white flame casually passing between the tinier crimson ones located off to the side. 

He heard groaning—seemingly out of nowhere. Walking a few meters ahead, Adam quickly located the source of the sound. A sizeable crimson cloud was directly in front of him—ghastly red hands occasionally popping in and out of the mass. 

“What the hell is this thing…?”

The groaning turned into the sound of someone crying—a young man that sounded familiar to Adam.

The voice began to speak. Adam recognized it—his eyes widening not only from the realization but from the words that exited the mist.

“Kill… me…”

“Brandon…?” The World Mirror’s aura was like a storm—the power unleashed instantly caused the stone walls of the cave to crack. The regular red fog that was around him was blown away, yet the mass that had trapped his friend remained. 

“Kill me… Kill me… Kill me, kill me, kill me, KILL ME, KILL ME!!”

With each repetition of those words, the crimson hands unleashed as a countermeasure to Adam’s power. They grabbed onto him, despite beginning to break apart against the pressure of the World Mirror.

He waved his own hands around in retaliation, whacking the appendages off easily. The white energy had no choice but to bend to his will—Adam’s desire to save his friend, as well as the confusion toward why Brandon would say those words. Out of everyone he knew, Brandon Shepherd was the least likely to spew such nonsense.

Or—was he? This brief hesitation led Adam to get punched a few times by the hands, sending him several feet backward. He realized that it was no time to consider something like that. The time was after—after Brandon was safe.

Remaining on his feet, Adam blitzed the crimson energy—the hands unable to affect him whatsoever as he charged through. Coming into contact with the cloud, the struggle began. Despite being a gaseous phenomenon, it was rather difficult for him to break through. 

Still, Adam pressed forward, attempting to tear it apart.

Inside the pitch-black world, Brandon had given up. His screams from the outside had ruined him, as he sat in the fetal position with his ears covered.

“W-What the hell…? I can’t do anything to get out of here, can I? What the hell, what the hell, what the hell…?”

The Brandon that was on the outside and the Brandon on the inside were now synced together. Both of them, in their own respective darkness, were unsure of what to do aside from giving up. 

Tiny cracks of light appeared before him. Brandon slowly glanced up at the phenomenon—pieces of darkness falling around him like they were shards of glass.

The blackness shattered. The white entered the realm, enveloping him. Brandon was astonished to see Adam appear from the light, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt.

“I don’t know how you got in here… but whatever. What’s important right now…” Adam looked as though he was about to cry out of sheer rage. Brandon’s eyes, flickering between yellow and blue, were focused on his friend.

“I’m not going to let anyone go through anything remotely close to what I did! Especially my best friend! Don’t ever say such shit like that when your life’s so important, you goddamn moron!”

The crimson cloud faded as Brandon stared at Adam in awe. He felt as though he could cry, but this feeling was suppressed by a surge of emotions—ones that left him more confused than anything.

“I-I appreciate that, dude. But… W-What’s happening here…? Where am I? What’s going on!?” Brandon shot up onto his feet, glancing around the area. Despite being captured by the strange mass, he seemed fine physically—the mysterious “alter ego” that had formed out of nowhere had rested knowing Adam was safe.

“You… what? You don’t know—oh, okay. I think I might get it…?” Adam crossed his arms. “Were you possessed by something? All of these chaons in here could have caused something… That being said, how did you get in?”

“I… I don’t remember! What’s been going on!? You said that stuff to me, but I don’t know the context!”

“D-Did it legit leave your memory? What the…?” Adam pondered what could have possibly happened. “Whatever! As long as you know that I meant that stuff I said, then fine! Let’s just forget about it.”

“I… I know you mean it. We don’t have to get into all that sensitive stuff right now, at least, for my sake. If you ever need to talk about it, though…” Brandon was clearly embarrassed by the topic. He threw any nonsensical pride off to the side, however. “I’m here. I’ll always be here… I-I should have made it clear that I was always there for you, to begin with!”

Adam was astonished to hear those words come out of Brandon’s mouth. He’s heard him say similar things before, but it felt different this time. Adam understood why, as he noticed his friend begin to tear up.

“I don’t want you to die… dude, don’t die. Please… no matter what the cause is, you can’t. We have to see things through to the end!”

Adam looked toward the ground below. He noticed that blood had been dripping from his body, and tiny puddles began to form around him. The World Mirror was healing him, yes, but the strain on his body was starting to show.

The sight made Adam begin to shake in a panic. However, the scene also helped Adam recall words he had heard before—similar to Brandon’s.

“You can’t die…! Adam, please! Stay with me! You… have to stay… with me, don’t you remember…!? We have to live, so we can…”

Through the sheer force of his will, Adam calmed himself. He glanced up at Brandon, who could notice the fire that had formed in his eyes.

“Do you know how I feel, Brandon?”

“About what, exactly…?”

“I hate suffering. Whether it be myself or seeing someone else go through it. I tried killing myself cause I hated suffering in loneliness that much. If I had to choose between my suffering or someone else’s, however… I’d take on all of the burden. I think that’s part of the reason I got to that point. It’s not going to change, though. I’m stronger now. I’m someone who conquered death itself, after all. I’ll keep going. It’s like you said, we have to see things through to the end!”

Brandon did not know how to respond. He felt incredibly proud that his friend had found this inner strength to press forward. However, he was incredibly concerned with how far Adam would go. 

“There’s something in here that needs help. It’s simple, really. I’m going to go rescue her. It’s dangerous as hell, and I’m not sure how well you can manage with these chaons, but…” Adam held out his fist.

“After what you’ve said, how can I turn you away? Do you want to stay? In that case, will you help me?”

Brandon hesitated for a moment before a cocky grin formed on his face. He bumped his own fist against Adam’s. 

“Why not? Let’s show this person just how far these two idiots can go for them!” 

Next: Chapter 1.17

Previous: Chapter 1.15

Table of Contents



Chapter 1.15

Previous: Chapter 1.14

Next: Chapter 1.16

Brandon stumbled as he walked through the shadows—the torches near him dim. His usual blue-eyed gaze—fixated on the ground—was unseen to the world.

“My head has never been so clear… My heart has never been in such turmoil—I’ve got to find Adam and end this quickly—I can’t be here—I have to hide again—I’m just a tool—so unlucky—so unlucky…

The incoherent mumbling continued. Having mysteriously passed the barrier, Brandon continued through the cave. He had no way of knowing that sections of the cavern were continually swapping places with one another—the mine was deliberately keeping him separated from any other forms of life. 

Charlotte had noticed this. While analyzing her aura and how it reacted to this unique environment, she felt the presence of two others lost in the caves. 

“One is Adam… I can feel the World Mirror’s energy rather easily now ever since it surfaced the other night. What’s this other one, though…? It gives off phantonic energy in the manner that a human does, but… what is this dark pressure I’m feeling from it? That’s not normal.” 

She shook her head as she began to walk. “Regardless, no matter how often these sections switch places, they’re keeping us all apart. If I detect Adam in a nearby area, I can’t get there in time. The shift occurs too quickly. I can fly fast—if I do say so myself—but it’s not enough. I risk losing this form if I put too much power into flight.”

Glancing from left to right, Charlotte focused on the crimson torches on the wall. “It doesn’t make sense for them to be lit if nobody’s normally down here. I wonder…” Raising her hand, tiny specs of phantonic energy ascended. She notices how they seemed to strengthen—growing in size. This was not her doing.

“Let me see if I can try something. Hang in there, Adam…”

The shadow that had tried to grab Adam was no longer in the mine. In an entirely separate location, many miles from Prelude, there was a remote white brick building deep within a lush green forest—blanketed with vines as nature tried to claim it. Inside, there was nothing but a single sizeable empty room—literally no item in sight.

Underneath the floorboards was where everything was. The center room was an eerie laboratory with little light. Large test tubes gave off a cerulean glow while several monitors lit up the silhouette of a figure covered in a black cloak. The shadow was floating near this person as it had just relayed information to them. 

“I see, I see, I see…” The man in a shaky voice leaned on the desk in front of him. “That’s no good. Our leader is preoccupied with another important task right now. We can’t interrupt him, even for something like this.”

“I know,” The shadow responded, annoyed. “That’s why I warped to you, Carl. I assume you can help me come up with something. I’m not sure what will happen if the kid somehow finds the main room, but I’m pretty sure he’ll die before that happens.”

“This strange energy coming from him intrigues me…” Carl commented as he began to chuckle. “What an interesting power, to be able to resist your shadows. This family is just full of surprises!” 

“His mother, Rebecca Grayson…” The shadow seemed to ponder. “From what I know, she was strong, but not that kind of strong. A power like this kid’s shouldn’t exist… unless of course, there’s an influence because of—”

“We should cut the chit chat,” Carl interrupted. “If you can’t warp him out of there, then we’ll have to send someone in personally. You can control how the sections change, yes? Just open up the barrier from the inside so that someone can walk them out. We’ll have to figure out a good spot to do so…”

“There’s a hole in the basement of his house, but the kid had friends over. Walking into one of them would be troublesome…” 

“Warp them out of the way? Let your power drain their phantonic energy just enough so they lose consciousness. No struggle involved.”


“Jason, what is it?” Carl sat up and hovered over the shadow. “You in there, you disembodied freak?”

“I-I just went and checked again…” Jason paused. “Somehow, one of his other friends got inside. And… another person, too.”

“Well, that’s not good… Not good, not good, not good.” Carl began pacing around the room. “Who’s this other person? Just warp the two of them out—we’ve gotta focus on getting that kid out of there—”

“I’m not sure how it’s possible, Carl. But the other person… is an Ouderkirk.”

Carl went silent. He slowly lowered his hood, revealing an extremely pale man with unkempt black hair. His eyes, crimson in color, glared at the shadow. 

“Are you serious?”

“I’ve never met one of them before myself, but it completely matches. White hair, blue eyes, phantonic energy that’s off the charts… but, there’s something peculiar about how she moves.”

“What does that mean?”  

“A pure-blooded Ouderkirk shouldn’t exist anymore. How this girl seems to control her power… She’s careful with it. I think—”

“A ghost…?” Carl began tapping his finger on his arm. “Why, yes! Yes, yes, yes! That would make sense! Incredible! She sounds like a great specimen!”

“You looked fearful a moment ago…” Jason noted. “What’s with that change?”

“She must be much weaker as a ghost! Keeping a spiritual form stable, especially in the environment the mine has, is tremendous work! If we can capture her, you do realize how quickly we can set our plan in motion!?”

“That’s right…!” Jason shouted cheerfully as his shadow began to dance around. “We need an Ouderkirk’s power! Yes! Let me see if I can—wait, the kid!”

“Right! The kid, the kid, the kid!” Carl ran around in circles, furiously scratching the hair on his head. “We can’t let him die… I think?” He stopped abruptly. “We may or may not be in deep shit if that were to happen!”

A metal door off to the side suddenly swung open as a muscular man with short black hair entered the room. His brown eyes glared at them, clearly irritated.

“What on earth is all this noise about? I know you like to shout at random times of the night, but Jason, too?”

“Ah, Derek! Perfect timing!” Carl ran up to the man, shaking his hand repeatedly. We need your assistance with something! Actually, is Chris busy? We might want him to tag along. This could get a little nasty…”

“He isn’t…?” Derek tilted his head in confusion. “I want to say no, but I feel like that’s not going to be much of an option. Just what are you getting us into this time, you crazy scientist?”

Adam’s eyes had finally begun to open—their ghostly gaze looking toward the crimson light on the walls. He could barely move at first but slowly sat up.

“My arms…?”

They had mostly healed at this point—a tiny white aura indicating that the World Mirror was doing the finishing touches, which Adam could not make out on the surface. He moved his fingers around without issue and clenched his fist as he hit the ground, using it to prop himself onto his feet.

“This is what was beyond that barrier, huh? What’s with these…?” Adam analyzed the torches. With the World Mirror active, Adam’s vision picked up what appeared to be a faint red smoke from the flames, which was not visible to the naked eye.

“Well, I’m in here. I went through the trouble of busting in when I could have easily approached it much differently. Why did I feel like, at that moment, I had to get in here? Who is that girl…? Why did her voice…” Adam shook his head. “Whatever. I’m clearly in a ‘do now, think later’ mindset—for whatever reason—so, let’s just go find her.”

He began to run, still feeling pain from being sucked into the mine. “It was pitch-black behind me… Did I seriously get pulled in that far? Even though I don’t want them here, I’m surprised the others didn’t show up. Something’s weird about all of this. No shit, Adam. But…”

Adam slowed down, almost tripping before coming to a complete stop. 

“I let something within me—some feeling I didn’t know existed—pull me into this. Is it…?”

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

Faye’s words echoed in Adam’s mind as he shook his head. 

“It’s not something that cliche, is it? I heard a little girl cry for help, so I rushed in to save her? I mean… t-that sounds like something any person with a heart would do! I…”

There was a reason Adam was hung up on this. He could tell the moment he started running through the cave. Adam wanted to come up with an admirable excuse for his actions—one that would outweigh the complete loss of a logical approach. This “excuse” was legitimately what he felt in his heart, so things would have worked out in the end. As long as Adam survived and saved the unknown girl, it would be a happy ending.

The moment Adam realized what was happening to his body, everything was ruined. He paid attention in school—enough to know what chaons were—enough to know of their crimson and scarlet auras.

Adam knew the role phantons had in counteracting chaons. Awakened phantons were utterly immune to their potent toxicity, while normal phantons could at least hold up a good enough resistance for some time.

Adam Grayson was the boy who mysteriously lacked phantons. Sure—the World Mirror was powerful and gave Adam quite a boost in capabilities. But he was still new to everything. He did not know how to properly use it.

There was nothing to protect him from the crimson mist surrounding him—visible with the World Mirror’s eyes. His skin began to burn as it lit up in a blood-red blaze. 

Holding his breath did nothing. He had already taken in the strange substance—it now circulating inside his lungs. Blood burst from Adam’s mouth as he coughed violently—gasping for air that could no longer enter him. 

Adam Grayson’s naive actions won heavily against his feeble attempt at being a “courageous hero.” He fell to his knees as death was once again beckoned by the appearance of his blood.

Next: Chapter 1.16

Previous: Chapter 1.14

Table of Contents



Chapter 1.14

Previous: Chapter 1.13

Next: Chapter 1.15

“Hmm… hmm… hmm…” 

Faye quietly hummed to herself as she strummed the strings of her guitar. She lay in bed with a notepad next to her—red headphones over her ears, which were connected to her phone as she listened to tunes. With free time on her hands, she was attempting to write a song.

“That wouldn’t sound too good… Maybe a different type of song?” 

While she shuffled through her playlist, attempting to find inspiration, Emma walked into her room—the door on the opposite left side of the room, wide open. Her hair was down, which she was playing with—a habit she had when it was not wrapped up in its usual ponytail.

“Hey, Faye?” She waved at her sister to get her attention while glancing around the room.

“What’s up, Em?” She asked, uncovering one ear to listen.

“Where did you put that medicine? I got a killer headache all of a sudden…”

“Uh… oh—right here,” Faye leaned over to her nightstand, brushing the wrapper of a snack she ate earlier out of the way. She picked up the pills and shook it. “These?”

“Yeah, thanks.” Emma took the bottle and looked at it. “Hope this helps…”

“You’ve been playing loads of games the last few days,” Faye noted, wagging her finger. “I’m not one to talk whatsoever, but you’ve gotta be careful. Take breaks every now and then.”

“Dude, Shadow Sea Adventures has too many secret levels to unlock! It’s only the first game, as well. These developers are crazy!” 

“We need to 100% the Super Samurai games, remember? We’ve got to get to that pretty soon… There are only two months left before I leave.”

“I know, I know…” Emma walked over and sat on the edge of Faye’s bed.

“You’re not taking those?” Faye pointed at the bottle of pills.

“In a sec. I just wanna see what you’re writing…” With a mischievous grin, Emma leaped for the notebook. 

“H-Hey! Emma!”

“Writing a love song of some kind?” She snickered as she looked at her sister’s writing.

“I-I…” Faye was too flustered to speak.

“W-Woah…” Emma was bewildered at the words on the page in front of her. “This could totally be some kind of love song! You’re usually not the best at this kind of style, but…”

“When were you one to care about this type of music? You’ve told me before that it’s crap!” Faye asked.

“Usually, it is. Cause love is just…” Emma paused, placing the notebook down. “Crap… But, you’re good at making this stuff sound good. I wish you… could have been a musician…” 

“Well, I’ve got to work for Unity, for the time being…” Faye sighed, putting her headphones down. “I won’t really have time for this sort of thing.”

“…Hey,” Emma got into a fetal position, clearly distraught at the conversation topic. “Do you think Conceptors can ever be ‘free’ from this whole thing? With powers, like the ones you have, you should be responsible—for sure. But… being tied down by a group that is definitely not responsible… How do we fix this?”


“You have the opportunity to fight for good—sure. But it just seems… wrong, not having a choice. We don’t see Mom as often as we should, and even when we do, she’s exhausted from all of it.” Emma chuckled. “Not that that’s any different from having a parent with a demanding job. But it is different. There’s so much danger and uncertainty that—”

“Emma,” Faye tapped the notebook next to them. “Wanna know something? This song I’m working on…” She moved some of her hair behind her ear as a tender smile formed. “It’s actually inspired by a poem I wrote when I was little. I’m not sure what happened to it, but I remember it vividly. Trying to add proper music to go with it is the tricky part… It’s gotta be perfect.”

“T-That’s interesting and all, but what does that have to do with—”

“Look at the lyrics again. You can see it as some kind of love song—sure—but the main theme is centered around ‘hope.’ Hope that the person singing and the person they’re singing to can come together and conquer anything that gets in the way…”

“…no matter if the skies are gray.” Emma glanced at one of the lines, twirling her hair around her finger. “Hmm… Well—” Emma stood up from the bed. “I guess I’ll hope things turn out for the best.”

“Take those pills and lie down, for now,” Faye suggested. “Don’t worry. Leave everything to your big sis.”

“I don’t want you to bear that burden…” Emma mumbled to herself.

“Hmm?” Faye was trying to hear what her sister was saying.

“My birthday’s in a few days,” Emma changed the topic. “I’ll be seventeen. Just a reminder in case you forgot. Hopefully you’ll have enough time to get something.”

“Right, right…” Faye sighed. “Anything you want specifically?” 

Emma began to leave the room as she stopped and leaned up against the door frame. “Well, aside from things relating to the topic we just discussed…” She placed her hand on her chin, going deep into thought. “Games… You can check my wishlist to see what you’d think I’d like.”

“I can do that…” Faye nodded, picking up the notebook and taking a quick glance at it.

“Oh, that’s right…” Emma stared at Faye’s large wooden desk, which was to the left of the door. She had her attention on the two drawers on the right side. “Your own birthday was over two weeks ago—feels much longer than that. You’re eighteen now…”

“I am,” Faye began to put her headphones back on. “I can now legally vote for whatever political nonsense Requiem wants to get itself in.”

“You’re also old enough to legally… you know…” Emma tiptoed toward the drawers. “Did Mom get you any…? You gotta be safe, you know?”

“W-Wha…” Faye was flabbergasted at what Emma was bringing up. “W-Why do you need to know!? You’ve gotta wait a year before you start thinking about anything like that!”

“Oh, it’s not about me,” Emma responded with a sinister grin. “I just want to make sure you’re prepared in case any—let’s call it—’Gray Sky’ situations happen.”

“I-I don’t have anyone who I would want t-to…”

Emma stared at Faye with a brooding judgemental glare. Faye knew the emotions her sister was expressing through it.

“I-I…” Her hands began to shake as she raised them in an attempt to protest. 

Emma’s glare continued. While Faye’s flustered face was comedic at this point, surprisingly, flames began to form from the top of her head. Emma’s eyes lit up in horror.

“Oh. Well, they’re not burning anything. She doesn’t seem to notice… I shouldn’t tell her… I don’t want to freak her out. Cute quirk, Sis.” Emma slowly back walked out of the room so Faye could cool down. 

“Geez…” Faye noticed the heat on top of her head, yet the fire had already dissipated. “Huh…?”

Around the corner, Emma pressed her hand gently on the wall. “Right here is…” She slowly exhaled as she seemingly had held her breath. “That’s a good birthday wish. I don’t want you to fear those flames anymore, Faye. They didn’t take me, after all…”

Torches lit with crimson energy decorated the walls of the cave. Aside from that, it was merely stone in the immediate vicinity—nothing to indicate that this was once a prosperous mine that helped put Prelude on the map. 

The debris that was sucked in with Adam was, oddly, not near him. He lay on the ground unconscious—his arms almost entirely healed from his attack on the barrier. It had been several minutes, yet there was no sign of Charlotte.

If Adam was awake, he would notice every few seconds the strange “shift” occurring around him. The entire mine shook as sections seemingly swapped places with one another.

Charlotte, in an entirely different area—this one with a few broken tracks and a minecart off to the right—had stopped flying. She was well aware of the situation at this point.

“An abandoned mine underneath Prelude… sealed off by that strange barrier,” She began to walk around, taking note of the torches on the wall. “This bitter energy permeates the air… It keeps these things fueled, that’s for sure. Is it also causing the area to move around in the manner that it is…?”

Charlotte looked up and then down, clenching her fist. “Even though it’s a wall surrounding the outer area, its influence extends all around… like a ring around an invisible sphere. The barrier itself was invisible until just recently. I never sensed it at all… How is that possible?”

Although it was for a brief moment, she recalled the scarlet symbols that were on the barrier before she broke through. “I swear I’ve seen that writing before… Come on, Charlotte. You losing your memories is quite the inconvenience, ain’t it?” She paused. “Ain’t…? I’m picking up words like that? Strange…”

Taking a glance at her body, Charlotte realized something. 

“My power… isn’t weakening?” She took a closer look at the blue aura surrounding her, which seemed to be much more active than usual. “What… is this?”

From the ceiling of Adam’s current location, a peculiar black portal seemed to form. It slowly descended toward him while a childish voice began to echo on the walls.

“Oh boy… I sensed that someone broke in, but you of all people managed to do it, huh? Well, that’s not good. I should probably get you out of here…”

The darkness surrounded Adam as it began to swirl around. “Let’s warp you out of here… Huh?” 

A faint white light emitted from Adam’s body. It was enough to shield him from the shadows grabbing hold of him. 

“Huh…!? What the hell is this power!? I figured you awakened some cool Concept that let you bust through things, even our barrier. This is… different. Yes, that’s right. You don’t have phantons. This is definitely different.”

The shadows ascended. The voice began to chuckle as they faded away. “All right. We might have to get a little rough with you, depending on how you respond. Let’s see how this works out, Adam.”

Next: Chapter 1.15

Previous: Chapter 1.13

Table of Contents



Chapter 1.13

Previous: Chapter 1.12

Next: Chapter 1.14

Adam ran over and pushed the cabinet off to the side, which was a lot lighter than he had anticipated. It was almost tipped over—the metal wobbling as it readjusted its position firmly on the ground. 

He began slamming his fist on the stone wall repeatedly in a thoughtless attempt to break through. It only took a few hits before he began to bleed, although he could not notice the red stain on the wall, as his vision was still filled with the crimson energy the strange barrier was emitting.

Eventually, the pain became evident to Adam—slowing him down. He grimaced as he stared at his wound. The World Mirror was already active—the silvery-white power forming as his body began to regenerate.

“This energy…” Adam took a step back while looking at his hand. “It appears when I’m injured. Not only can it heal, but it can also…”

Taking a deep breath, Adam whacked the wall once more, this time with the World Mirror’s power still surrounding it. The stone cracked this time—a tiny fragment falling off. Recalling his fight with Charlotte, Adam started putting the pieces together.

“If I can unleash this power, it can be used to destroy this wall—I’m sure of it. That part I’m not concerned about. This barrier, though…” Adam started to punch the stone, this time with both of his fists. 

“I’ll need tremendous strength to bust through. World Mirror—whatever the hell you are—let’s put you to the test. Let’s see just how special you are.”

As the pain surged through his hands, the World Mirror’s energy began to flow out at a faster rate. He was surely breaking his fingers at this point, yet that was—morbidly—Adam’s goal. 

“What am I doing…?”

The wall began to crumble as Adam chipped away. Although Adam could not tell, the red energy had now become entirely visible as he continued to clash against it. Scarlet sparks scattered about in an attempt to knock him back, yet he kept on punching.

“Why don’t I just go get the others…? Why am I doing this…? What’s driving me right now…?”

Brandon and Jerry had heard the commotion at this point and began to run toward the basement door. 

Adam had created a hole in the wall, which seemed to lead into a cave-like area. The barrier remained—Adam’s final obstacle. His fists completely enveloped in white—he was ready to bust it down.

As he pulled back his right arm, the energy erupted out of him—immense power that, for this brief moment, was his. He slammed his fist into the barrier—the force blowing back everything behind him into the opposite wall. The washer and dryer had begun to bend from the sheer might.

Adam could tell that this was not enough. He also noticed that his hand was close to vaporizing from its own power. Something had to be done at that moment, while the barrier was pressured.

Energy exploded from his shining left fist as he gave a mighty uppercut to the barrier around the same place where his right had connected. This was enough—the crimson before him shattering asunder. 

At that moment—like a vacuum—the opening swallowed Adam whole as he rocketed into the cave on the opposing side. Everything on the opposite side of the room was sucked in along with him. Brandon had almost taken a step into the area affected but was luckily safe. The two watched in absolute shock as their vision filled with dust.

“G-God d—” Brandon coughed, trying to catch his breath. “W-What the hell just happened!?”

When the two could finally see once more, they were horrified to see that almost the entire basement had vanished into the cavern. All that remained were a few scraps of metal near the entrance, seemingly charged with crimson electricity.

“This is…!” Jerry ran over to inspect what had just occurred, making sure to keep a safe distance. “This red… It can’t be!?”

The two only saw a bright white light as they entered the basement moments prior. They had no clue as to what exactly transpired. Brandon began to look around in a panic.

“D-Did Adam get sucked up in there!? Where did that hole come from!? What’s this red stuff around the entrance!? I—” Brandon started to run into the darkness.

“Wait, Brandon! Stop! You’ll—”

Brandon slammed against the crimson energy as it immediately began to reform into the shape it was before. He fell onto the ground hard, blood flying out of his mouth upon impact.

“Idiot! It’s dangerous!” Jerry went to inspect his friend’s injuries, only to stop before he made contact. “This has to be…” He pulled out his phone and moved it toward Brandon. “I know Dad helped me get this app… Where is—oh, there!”

Tapping on the phone a few times, Jerry opened up a program that seemed to be composed of a grid. Many dots appeared—mainly blue in color. A few were red, which seemed to indicate where Brandon was.

“Dammit, you got some in ya… It should be okay, though. Your own phantons should help flush them out.”

“The… hell are you talking about…?” Brandon attempted to sit up while holding his head in agony.

“You know what phantons are, Brandon. Since I helped you out in school so much, I know you’re also aware of their counterpart. The opposite of a phanton is…?” Jerry leaned in, expecting an answer. Brandon did not respond, unable to focus properly under the current circumstances.

“…I’ll let it pass this time since you’re suffering.” Jerry sighed. “A chaon. Opposite of phantons are chaons.” He used his phone to scan the surrounding area. “Phantons make up life, so you can see how chaons are harmful to people.” 

Unknown to Jerry, Brandon’s senses had begun to fade.

“With the phantons that your own body produces via your phantonic network, chaons that get inside you will be released slowly. As long as you’re not constantly exposed to them, they’re not too toxic to humans. They hurt like a bitch, but you should be fine. If you have awakened phantons, like you do with a Concept, you’re actually completely immune to them. W-Wait a sec…”

Jerry was not paying attention to Brandon. The science he knew led him to conclude that, although it was a hard hit, his friend would be okay. While Jerry’s concern grew on Adam, Brandon sat there in a complete trance.

As if being exposed to chaons had caused something to stir within him.

“A… Adam doesn’t have phantons! Shit! Shit! Phantons help as a defense mechanism from chaons! Even if they’re not awakened, phantons are still vital to keeping someone safe. If he doesn’t have that layer of defense… what’s going to happen to him!? What even happened here in the first place!? Gah!” Jerry began to rustle his hair in a frenzy. 

The current commotion happened to be just enough. From the basement ceiling, a certain spirit had begun to descend toward the two. Charlotte—half-awake—glanced around. 

“What did you guys do…?” She landed, startling Jerry as he tumbled to the floor.

“Charlotte! You’re actually up!? I’m not sure, but we think Adam got sucked into that—” He pointed at the hole in the wall, where the barrier had reconstructed itself. “That’s made of chaons!”

Jerry briefly explained to Charlotte what he thought he had told Brandon. Her eyes widened upon the realization that Adam could potentially be in tremendous danger. 

“If that’s the case, then… there’s no reason to hesitate.”

Charlotte entered her white-haired form instantly. Manipulating the phantons that were emitting from her body, a gigantic glowing axe was created. “Move Brandon out of the way! Did he lose consciousness or something!?”

“He shouldn’t have—” Jerry finally noticed Brandon’s state. “B-Brandon…? Did you hit your head too hard or something…? Well—” He dragged his friend toward the stairs, doing what Charlotte had requested. “If you’re going in, be careful! I’m not sure how chaons will affect you.”

“This red, ominous power…” Charlotte inched closer, raising her axe into the air. “I feel like… I remember something about it. You call it ‘chaons’ in this day and age? Hmm…”

Despite the animosity radiating from the crimson before her, Charlotte was not afraid. She felt like this was something not worthy of her fear. 


With a single slash downward, the azure split the crimson apart. As it opened, the same force attempted to drag her in. Although it had little effect on her, she still flew into the cave immediately, dropping the axe as it faded away. 

“There she goes…” Jerry stood on the stairs looking around the corner as the event unfolded. While he watched the barrier once again reconstruct itself, he decided to finally focus his attention on Brandon. “Okay, what happened to you—”

Brandon stood, while Jerry slowly lost consciousness. It seemed as though a mere wave of black-haired boy’s hand near the back of his friend’s neck did the trick.

“You don’t need to involve yourself in this,” Brandon spoke in a stern voice, something he never did. He walked over toward the barrier—head looking down. 

No one, not even Brandon himself, understood what was happening. Words exited his mouth—ones that were his own, yet were not simultaneously. 

“All right, moron. Let’s go save Adam. I can’t trust anyone else with this, can I? Man, how unlucky can I be…?” 

Next: Chapter 1.14

Previous: Chapter 1.12

Table of Contents



Chapter 1.12

Previous: Chapter 1.11

Next: Chapter 1.13

Jerry watched the screen of his laptop display a jumbled mess of numbers as it was attempting to process the information he was looking into. Currently, he and Brandon were at Adam’s house—Jerry relaxing in the cozy navy-blue recliner that was bought the day prior. As you walk into the home, the living room is directly ahead with the kitchen off to the right. To the left of that is the hallway that leads to the remaining rooms. 

“So, you actually bought this thing…” Jerry leaned back. “You really can’t stand sleeping on that couch?”

“Have you felt this thing?” Adam slapped the tan cushions repeatedly—the sound nearly identical to hitting a stone. “I can’t sleep on this. I won’t allow it.”

Jerry leaned forward and placed his laptop on the glass coffee table in front of him, glaring at Adam to his left. “Well, what you choose to do with the money that Charlotte gave you is none of my business. Although with the situation we’re in, you should be somewhat wise with it.”

“Sleeping well is always a priority,” Adam looked at his brand new smartphone, which was in a case that had a space-like design. “As well as having communication that won’t break… You sure this thing is sturdy enough?”

“Best one on the market right now,” Jerry answered.

“Well, that’s good,” Adam raised his arm and patted Brandon on the back, who was sitting next to him. “Aren’t you glad I bought ya a new one as well?”

Brandon was looking down at his phone with the same case Adam’s had—his with an electrical design. “Yeah, I do appreciate it a lot…”

“And like I told you, don’t think me getting that for you is a persuasion to help me out…” Adam paused. “It’s been two days since I told you everything. How are you processing it?”

“Huh?” Brandon looked up, quite confused at Adam’s question. “How are you processing it—that’s the better question. You’re right in the center of all of this shit.”

“I’m taking it one day at a time, I’d say,” Adam answered. “I can’t really figure out this World Mirror thing while Charlotte’s sleeping. I’m hoping she can wake up soon.”

Jerry tapped his laptop in frustration. “I’m trying to come up with code so I can begin my hacking process. It’s all flimsy crap so far—I’d get caught the moment I even tried. So, while I wait for the rest of this to process, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking now.”

“What you’re thinking…?” Adam leaned forward, ready to listen.

“Brandon—” Jerry pointed at him. “It’s like Adam said. We’re not going to try to drag you into this. You were told cause you’re our friend. If you do get involved, just realize… your life probably won’t be normal from that point onward.”

That was a fact which Adam himself had not adequately taken into consideration. A Concept alone would be an obvious game-changer for someone if they were to obtain one, leading them into an abnormal life. Adam had something else going on entirely—something that set him outside the known realms of possibility.

Despite that, two of his closest friends—ones not even classified in an abnormal realm, were here with him. One had already agreed to assist in this situation, striving to achieve their own goals while doing so.

The second one—Brandon Shepherd—did not hesitate with his response to Jerry.

“Of course I’m gonna help. Even if I’m completely useless, I’ll find a way! A normal life…?” Brandon chuckled as he shook his head. “I could probably have a fancy one becoming a professional soccer player if I gave it my all. But honestly… why the hell should I do something that I hate!?”

Jerry was shocked to hear those words, while Adam could not help but burst into laughter. 

“You finally said it, god damn I’ve been waiting for that.”

“You don’t want to do soccer…?” Jerry began to chuckle. “When did that happen?”

“I’ve always hated it! My parents made me do it when I was younger. I didn’t enjoy it, but I was really good. Baseball and lacrosse too—I was good, but… not my thing. Eventually, I took my main sport, soccer, and tried to roll with that. There was nothing else I wanted to do, so I figured I could at least go somewhere with it.”

“I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard you say a single positive thing about it,” Adam added. 

“Yeah, now that you mention it… you really do hate it, huh?” Jerry nodded. “I see. Even if you have talent, you still don’t want to pursue that… It’s strange. I have talent with technology, yet I love it. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.”

“We humans are complicated creatures,” Adam shrugged. “It’s just the way it is.”

“Well, back to the topic at hand,” Jerry cleared his throat. “Since you seem to want to help, Brandon, I’ll keep my explanations simple enough so that you can understand them.”

“H-Hey, what’s that supposed to mean—”

“I’m going to get straight to the point. Adam, I assume you’re aware of this, but no matter how we proceed with everything… Unity will become our enemy.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Adam sighed loudly, leaning back on the rock-solid cushions. “There would be little to no pressure if it wasn’t for them.”

“My dad has never been an official member, he only does work involving the technical field. ‘Medically,’ watching over you and Emma would be his only assignments. What I’m getting at is… well, he’s important, but not vital. I’m sure things could still turn south for him if he didn’t comply with the rules. So, we might very well be on a timer for this stuff…”

“I’m well aware… And if the others, who are actual members, get involved, I’m sure they could be forced to fight like puppets.” 

“I’ve got a question!” Brandon raised his hand like he was in a classroom but proceeded to ask regardless. “Just what makes Unity this dangerous-ass thing to deal with?”

“Two major things—” Jerry put up two of his fingers. “One: Their leader. His Concept is… well, unknown. But it holds great power and makes him practically unbeatable. I can detail what’s known about it, however…”

“Let’s just hope we don’t have to face him any time soon,” Adam said while tapping the side of the couch. “At least let me unlock my super-secret OP ancient powers, first.”

“Right. Fighting an unknown with another unknown. That always makes for an interesting event.” Jerry nodded while folding his arms.

“The second thing is pretty obvious—to me—so I’ll explain…” Adam paused, gritting his teeth. 

“Clover, right?” Jerry asked.

“Huh? Like the plant-thing?” Brandon also asked.

“Yeah… the plant thing. They’re a special group within Unity themselves that work under the leader directly. Named ‘Clover’ cause they wear green-colored suits, I guess?”

“I-I think I’ve seen those guys before!” Brandon stood up. “Those creepy dudes with the weird goggles?”

“Yep…” Adam groaned. “They’re like some cult-like police force. So many bastards walking around enforcing dumbass rules. Usually, they only get involved with Unity business, but they could easily, easily get tyrannical if they desired to. I’m surprised the government hasn’t been taken over by them yet.”

“Maybe they already took over…?” Brandon suggested with a horrified look on his face. “Maybe they wear green to symbolize the fact that they’re secretly lizard people!

Adam, with no force or malice behind it whatsoever, reached upward and smacked Brandon in the face. “Okay, Mr. Conspiracy Theory. I mean, who knows? With Concepts, I guess anything could be possible…? His eyes widened. “Shit, maybe they could be lizards!”

Jerry slowly shook his head. “I’m surprised Brandon can sometimes swallow you up in his nonsense. Anyway, I think you get the picture. Not easy to move around when you’ve got guys like that all over the place, hiding in the shadows.”

“Well, at least we don’t have some super high-tech surveillance watching us 24/7.” Brandon chuckled, sitting back down as the smile slowly faded from his face. “…R-Right?”

“There are ways to, easily,” Jerry responded while rubbing the back of his head. “It’s nothing, at the moment, that I couldn’t handle. However, it could become a third thing we’d have to deal with if Unity steps it up.”

“With all the phantonic technology there is, I am surprised they don’t use much of it outside of combat and research…” Adam commented. “Actually, I’m not surprised. It fits them. Increasing their own strength instead of helping people better their lives.”

“Definitely one thing I’d like to do after I’m done studying…” Jerry sighed. “If we get to the point where that’s allowed. Oh! Yeah, that reminds me. Adam, what are you going to do about school?” 

“Huh? School?” Adam chuckled. “I thought that was obvious. I’ve awakened to an awesome magical power. Screw school, I’m saving the world!” A mere chuckle turned into almost villainous laughter.

“Your words and your actions contradict one another…” Jerry smiled. “That’s what you want to do? Save the world?”

“…Well, this thing is called the ‘World Mirror,’ after all. I think it’s a given I’ve got to do something like that. The size of that ‘world’ I would want to save in the end…”

The ones Adam considered his family, regardless of blood relations, flashed in Adam’s mind. He did not say anything else, he merely glanced toward the floor with a gentle smile on his face.

“I guess I can continue with school bullshit, for the time being…” Brandon shook his head in disgust. “Until I have to leap in and save the day.”

“You, saving the day? Yeah, sure.” Adam snickered as he rose from the sofa. “It’s starting to get late. You guys staying?”

“I suppose,” Jerry answered. “I can work on everything right here, after all.”

“We should stay together anyway, in case the lizards try to attack us!” Brandon yelled, punching the air a few times.

“Right, yeah… the lizards.” Adam began to walk toward the hallway. “In that case, I’ll get you guys some sleeping bags. I get the chair, no questions asked. I don’t suggest sleeping on the stone structure right there.”

“You know, I totally get why you hate this thing! My ass hasn’t hurt this much in a long time!” Brandon whined. 

“I would respond with a remark that’s on your level of ‘humor’ but, nah. I’ll leave it at that.” Adam entered the dark corridor, opening a door that was on his left. He proceeded to walk down the creaky wooden stairs that appeared.

At the bottom, Adam’s mold-infested basement greeted him. He only came down here to do laundry, the washer and dryer on his left. The right was a small section with loads of cardboard boxes—Adam assumed many of them had gotten damp just by looking at them. He didn’t really care to salvage what was inside. 

He turned left and then left again. This side of the basement was larger and had a bench with tools off to the right. Directly in front of him were a few more boxes and a metallic red cabinet up against the stone wall. 

“Think the sleeping bags are in one of these…” Adam glanced back at the washer, which had a white basket filled with his clothes. “Eh, guess I should do that while I’m down here…”

As Adam turned back toward the cabinet, someone was there. Someone who was not there a moment prior. At the sight of the little girl that appeared out of nowhere, Adam leaped back in horror.


Adam stumbled, knocking the basket over. Articles of clothing tumbled to the floor while he tried to regain his composure. Upon looking up, the girl was still there. He then recognized her.

“Y-You’re from the store… That night—right! I saw you right before Charlotte walked up to me—”

Tears were falling from her face as she looked at Adam. For some reason, it felt like Adam’s chest was ripping apart. He could feel the emotion radiating from her. 

No. It was not an odd source of energy, causing Adam to feel this way. He himself was about to cry, no supernatural phenomenon involved. The girl was upset—he tended not to care if a random child started crying. It annoyed him, in fact. Why was this one, in particular, however, tugging at his heart?

“Who… are you?”

The girl, who had remained there made no sound. She slowly began to fade away—tiny blue spheres flowing from her.

“H-Hey… Wait!”

As she vanished, a thin glowing thread appeared. It began to move through the air like a fish swimming in water, going inside the cabinet. While this occurred, Adam’s head had started to ache. He recognized this feeling—the same feeling when Charlotte used her power. The World Mirror was active.

His eyes—irises ghostly white—watched as the wall behind started to light up. A fierce crimson color appeared, expanding all the way to each side of the basement. No, it stretched far beyond that. Adam could not tell in his current position, but the red barrier surrounded the entire area underneath Prelude.

Strange symbols began to appear—scarlet as opposed to crimson. They were odd shapes—Adam compared them to squiggles that a child would draw. These had covered the wall, moving from right to left like a roll of film.

“I-I gotta go get those guys. Screw it, I gotta wake Charlotte the hell up!”

Adam attempted to run yet only took a few steps. A voice echoed from within the wall. It was clearly a child’s voice, which he assumed belonged to the young girl. A simple word was heard. It was enough. Enough to make Adam forget about going to get his friends. He had to do something now for her.


Next: Chapter 1.13

Previous: Chapter 1.11

Table of Contents



Chapter 1.11

Previous: Chapter 1.10

Next: Chapter 1.12

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 lied 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 Caldera—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, Faye, 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?”


“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.

“Faye 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 1.12

Previous: Chapter 1.10

Table of Contents



Chapter 1.10

Previous: Chapter 1.9

Next: Chapter 1.11

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 go there a lot, 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 1.11

Previous: Chapter 1.9

Table of Contents



Chapter 1.9

Previous: Chapter 1.8

Next: Chapter 1.10

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 in this situation.”

“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.


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 legitimate 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.”

“T-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 over at Charlotte. 

“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? W-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? You said the guy who discovered the phanton was an Ouderkirk, but seems like that was years ago.”

Jerry shook his head. “Well, no… That guy, in fact, was one of the last ones.”

“I see…” As Charlotte glanced to the floor, Adam noticed Jerry seemingly fidget upon answering—an oddity for him, as Jerry tended to answer questions with steadfast confidence.

“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 couldn’t 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 1.10

Previous: Chapter 1.8

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