Chapter 2.12

Everyone, aside from Emma, was now seated at the center table.  Thomas and Jerry sat across from Adam, Charlotte, and Muraco while Roy and Roger were off to the right. Travis sat on the left side of the table, writing down something in a notebook he had.

Thomas tapped his fingers on the surface in front of him, pondering how to begin. “How about this?  What questions do you have, Adam? I can answer all of those and then fill in what’s leftover.”

“Questions… I have a lot of them.” Adam scratched his head. “Let’s start with… Why Emma? How is she involved in everything?”

“I figured you would want to start around there.” Thomas chuckled. “Let’s see… You know about her spine, I assume?”

“Yeah…” Adam nodded—a somber expression forming on his face. “I remember it well. Those were the days I kept Faith company all the time since she couldn’t see Emma in the hospital. If a visit was possible, it was sporadic.”

“They didn’t want outside interference, in any shape or form.” Thomas sighed. “Her title, ‘The Miracle Girl,’ came from those days of solitude. For the first time, we were able to create something as complex as a spine entirely out of phantonite.”

“Wait—’we’?” Adam seemed astonished at that statement.  

“You didn’t know? I was on the team that helped design it. She goes to me specifically for checkups due to that.”

“Huh. And here I figured it was easy to do, with your office being in Prelude and everything.” Adam leaned back in his chair, eyes still on Thomas.

“My wife—Jerry’s mother, Phoebe, passed away from cancer shortly before all of this. Despite my recent success with school and my studies in phantonic technology, I couldn’t do a thing to help her. I… desired to learn more. Luckily, I was blessed with incredible talent. Like Jerry, I’m able to absorb knowledge with ease. I had started my journey in medical school, aiming to merge what I had already learned with the things I planned on learning.”

“So that’s how Jerry’s mother…” Charlotte trailed off with her thought.

“I got something along the lines of an ‘internship’ early on. With my status in the field of phantonic technology, they wanted my assistance. A girl had recently been injured in a fire. Her spine was utterly shattered, and things didn’t look too good for her. Thanks to her mother being in Unity, they granted her access to specialized technology to keep her stable. This wouldn’t last, however…”

“I get it. That’s how you got involved in making a brand new spine for her…” Adam stared at the table in front of him, processing the information he was starting to receive. “So, what does this lead us into?”

“Although we managed to form a spine that was capable of replacing her lost one, we ran into quite the predicament. As we used phantonite—which is highly sensitive to phantonic activity—to structure it, Emma’s own phantonic activity could potentially reshape the spine. Obviously, that wouldn’t be good. So, we had to work extra hard to formulate a method to keep that potential flaw in check.”

Thomas leaned forward. “We formed a shell. Again, this was formed out of phantonite. This time, however, we made sure this shell was set to react to particular values, to keep the majority from interfering with what was inside.”

“I can branch off of that, dad—” Jerry chimed in. “From what you know about Phantonics, Adam, I assume you can deduce that phantons interacts with the world as if they were sort of a ‘code,’ like something in a computer. Emma’s spine was capable of working initially due to syncing with specific values that only she possesses. This shell built around it aids in keeping those values in check while preventing other values, or ‘code’ from the outside messing with the spine—like my dad mentioned.”

“So… I suppose this shell can kind of be like a firewall of sorts?” Adam asked.

“That’s pretty much it, yes.” Thomas nodded, happy Adam came to that conclusion as quickly as he did. “Now, with that in mind, let’s assume Emma’s entire spinal structure is sort of like a computer… this ‘firewall’—the shell—is keeping things inside pretty safe, right? Well, what if something were to take advantage of that high-level security, especially when back in those days, actual computers couldn’t even be considered that safe?”             

“What… are you saying? They’re using Emma to store some kind of phantonic code? But, that doesn’t make any sense! Wouldn’t the spine change shape upon reacting to it?” Adam questioned, showing unease with his confusion.

“It’s true—any sort of code would have to phantonic based for it to be stored—one would think.” Thomas paused. “However, what if it’s not?”

“Huh? What do you mean by that?”

“I’m saying… the code that’s currently placed inside Emma is like a phantonic one, yet it is not a phantonic one. It’s capable of mimicking similar values as to where it can be stored, but it doesn’t have values as to where it would mess with the spine’s structure like phantons would.”

“I can recall…” Charlotte began to speak. “What I felt when Emma went berserk… It was like nothing I’ve felt before. I mean—at least what I believe I haven’t felt before. That green, twisted energy… It was incredibly powerful. I’m surprised I was able to suppress it, actually. And—”

“I’m glad I got down there when I did—” Jerry interrupted, reaching into his pocket, taking out the remote that had stopped Emma. “When we got the signal that it had been unleashed, I ran as fast as I could. Let me tell you… I’m not one who should run. I thought I was going to pass out.”

“You guys were clearly aware of this thing inside Emma,” Adam noted. “I can figure out why you hesitated in doing anything about it, all things considered. But—”

“We have done things, actually. Lots of things.” Thomas motioned his hand around the room. “This is a result of all those things…” He sighed heavily. “…They initially hid their plan of storing this strange code inside Emma from me, even though I was on the team that helped design it. I figured it out pretty quickly. Then came the tricky part.”

“Which was?”

“Figuring out what Unity was planning on using it for, and to stop them. We had to take things very slowly, covering our tracks, so we didn’t get caught. Eventually, we gained access to the Nexus Network, sneaking our way through all the hidden data we could come across. And… Well…”

“What did you find out?”

“Well, when it comes to Emma… they’re using the storage space within her as a sort of backup for something… Something we currently cannot comprehend.”  

“Huh?” Adam crossed his arms. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Elliot Rizzo—” Thomas leaned forward. “When you had your scuffle with him, was there anything you noticed that was strange? That might be an odd question since you’re not that used to combat. Yet… what were your thoughts on his Ability?”

“His Ability? I couldn’t do any damage to him at all. That is until I actually used my Ability.”

“If you remember, The Brown Suits used Code 2819 on you, concluding that your Ability wasn’t phantonic based. Even though it caught him by surprise, it actually managed to work on him due to that fact.”

“What my dad’s trying to say—” Jerry continued. “—is whatever this strange power is that’s hidden within the Nexus Network, and using Emma as a backup… it knows all about phantons. That includes how to cancel them out.”

“So… is Rizzo using this power himself!?” Adam asked growing concern. “Is that why nobody can touch him? He just nullifies any Ability he faces?”

“It’s a precaution against Abilities themselves,” Thomas explained. “His actual Ability… well, he hasn’t officially named it, yet it’s basically him enhancing his body in multiple ways. Such as durability to withstand blows from a sword, like you faced.”

“Right… That does explain why I managed to slash at his clothing, yet couldn’t put a scratch on his body.” Adam recalled. “What… What else can he do?”

“Super strength, super speed, even heightened senses—that sort of stuff,” Jerry answered. “Even if it’s all simple on paper, actually using them together, with this unknown power aiding him, you can see why he’s such a monster.”

“Charlotte originally came back to Prelude earlier cause you guys felt that huge tremor, correct?” Thomas questioned. “That… was Alexander Strauss’ doing.”

“Huh? That guy again!?” Adam sprung up from his seat.

“Yeah… He tried to rebel against Rizzo. This is something that has actually happened a few times—and just like this time—he’s always been stopped by Rizzo.”

“Is he okay!? How did…” Adam paused, falling back into his chair.

“What is it, Adam?” Charlotte asked, noting Adam’s sudden shift in behavior.

“Alexander… He uses Psycho Matter, which he said wasn’t of this universe. That means, at least in terms of mystery, we’re in the same boat. There’s this thing though—his Psycho Matter could scan things and learn about their properties. He stated he could use it to completely shut down an Ability if he wanted. It couldn’t work on mine, though. From the sound of it, it seems like he can’t use it on Rizzo as well, due to this unknown power?”

“That makes sense, considering he’s tried multiple attempts at Rizzo’s life. You’d expect a power like that to eventually analyze how things work, yet it doesn’t seem to be the case.” Jerry said, starting to fidget.

“That explains why he was so desperate to figure out how mine worked… He wants to learn how to scan unknown things so he can get at Rizzo, huh?” Adam noticed Jerry’s. “What’s wrong?”

“Just so you know, I-I… didn’t keep everything a secret from you. There were things I legitimately did not know about until I went to dad to ask him. Alexander Strauss, however, I learned about from someone else. Unity has kept info about him under wraps, but turns out he’s actually the older brother of a friend of mine.”

“Laura, right?” Thomas asked his son. “I knew about her connection to him for quite a long time. I didn’t think it was something that you needed to know, yet—being my son—you managed to figure out things on your own. There were… lots of things I didn’t think you needed to know about, but I should have known better than to keep them from someone as talented as myself.”

“Well, I shouldn’t have tried to hide things from you, seeing as though you found out what I was trying to do the second I began attempting to hack into the Nexus Network.” Jerry chuckled. He turned toward Adam. “I had no idea that my dad had this thing going on down here until that point. Then, he told me everything. I’ve been helping him ever since.”

“So that’s what you were actually doing every day on your laptop?” Adam questioned, glaring at Jerry.

“Y-Yeah… I was telling you the truth when I said I currently lack the skill to get any information myself. My dad’s been teaching me various things as I help him out with the development of his software.”

“That software—” Thomas raised his finger. “…is why Emma is still with us.”

Charlotte shifted around in her chair. “What does it do, exactly?”

“I can explain that!” Travis leaped out of his chair, eager to discuss it. “It has several layers to it. First, it blocks off the signal sent to Emma’s spine in case of emergencies, which is what happened earlier today. This raises a lot of issues, however.”

“I assume it has something to do with Unity finding out you’re blocking the signal?” Adam asked.

“Exactly!” Travis answered, nodding fast. “We have to create false data to send back into the Nexus Network, indicating that things are all okay. To be honest… we don’t know how this unknown power operates, so it could all be undone at any moment. We still have to try, though. And even if that doesn’t end up being an issue, we have the Brown Suits to deal with. Luckily, there’s a loophole involving them—”

“Is it because they’re not human?” Charlotte asked. “It helped to know that fact, so I… I didn’t hesitate to slash those two down that… that did that to the boss…”

Roy looked down at the table, cursing his own weakness.

“How do you know that, Charlotte?” Thomas questioned, surprised that she would have that knowledge.

“I…” Charlotte wanted to answer, but a quick glance at Adam halted her words.

“Wait, what do you mean they’re not human!?” Adam was astonished. “They-They act just like them, though—”

“Artificial humans.” Jerry blurted out. “We’re not sure if they’re clones of someone, as they have slightly different features between them, but they were certainly manufactured. Their minds are all linked up to the Nexus Network, and although it isn’t perfect, they can replicate human emotions due to data gained from the network.”

“That makes sense… the network’s run off of phantons after all and those can carry human emotions within them. But… seriously? Processing that kind of thing into data? What kind of backward bullshit is that!?”

“What do you mean, Adam?” Charlotte turned to him as he stood back up.

“Emotions are something that people gain living day-to-day, experiencing the good and bad that faces them. Just taking all of that and shoving it into some kind of processed crap? I hate that! God damn Rizzo…”

“As you can probably guess—” Thomas continued the main topic of the conversation. “The Brown Suits are made specifically to follow Rizzo’s orders. That’s another thing he has under his belt. With them, he can expand his control far beyond his physical reach.”

“However, we can take advantage of the fact that they’re linked up to the Nexus Network. By creating false data, we can throw them off. Like today—none of the Brown Suits or members of Unity know what occurred in that basement, as it had been blocked by the technology we currently possess. The last update they are aware of is what occurred with Alexander. In fact—luckily—the original reason Monica Teske dragged your boss into that basement wasn’t even officially registered. We could have blocked it, however.”

“But wait—that doesn’t make sense.” Charlotte stood up next to Adam. “The Brown Suits were the ones who… who shot him… even if you can block things from being registered, they must have had an order given to them for them to do that! Or do they have enough free will to carry out that act?”

“They may—they may not,” Thomas answered. “The act of shooting Brian Carpenter was, in fact, an order, however.”

“That goddamn Rizzo! I’ll kill him—”

“…Not from Rizzo.” Thomas raised his hand in front of him. Adam grabbed Charlotte’s shoulder to help calm her down.

“Then, who did?” Adam asked.

“It wasn’t a command from an outside source.”

“Huh?” Adam and Charlotte were perplexed.

“Inside the Nexus Network…” Thomas paused. “Inside the Nexus Network… This unknown power… We think it’s some sort of living thing.”

“Like… some sort of ghost?” Adam asked. “I mean, that would make sense, seeing as it’s made up of phantons after all—”

“So that thing was…” Charlotte whispered although it was loud enough to be heard.

“What thing?” Adam turned to her.

“I tried to possess Emma’s body to kick whatever it was out of her. I could have—be it a spirit or a mere form of energy. Yet, there was this figure… It was green, like the power Emma used. It moved me right out of her before I could even register what was happening.”

“Yeah… That green energy was something I certainly haven’t seen before.” Jerry commented. “I’m gonna assume then that’s what it came from—that strange thing you saw.”

“I see…” Thomas got up from his chair, beginning to pace around the room. “Phantons usually give off blue energy, with the exception of whatever Ability the person uses, of course. Chaons give off red energy, except for a strange black aura they sometimes create… Green, huh? This doesn’t sound familiar to me. Unless? Maybe…”

Thomas began muttering to himself, off in his own world. Jerry sighed, turning back toward Adam. “Hey, there’s also a reason why I sent you to Minuet specifically…”

“And even more specifically, the tunnel area?” Adam scratched his head. “Yeah, there’s something down there, blocked by some kind of barrier that we haven’t been able to break yet.

“A barrier?” Thomas moved back toward the table, almost hopping. “I figured those phantonic signals were something along those lines… They’re really protecting that, huh…?”

“Wait, do you actually know what’s down there, dad!?” Jerry asked in surprise. “You just told me it was important for Adam to go investigate it.”

“Yeah… I figured I would use Adam’s peculiar exile to have him fish it up. I don’t know the exact nature of what it is, but I have a vague clue…”

“Is it the seal those guys have been looking for? I assume Jerry told you about that?” Adam questioned. “Although, if you say it’s just phantonic signals, I find it hard to believe they’re having difficulties in locating it…”

“No, I, unfortunately, do not know where this seal is they seem to be searching for, but what’s being protected by that barrier must be—”

“Something related to the Night of the Half Moon, right?”

Thomas nodded. “Now that I know it’s a barrier, it’s even more important for you to break it and find out the contents. This group that seems to be looking for this seal may want it for themselves. I… I was hoping, actually, that the two—rather—three of you now, could actually tackle this group, and at least figure out what their true goals are. I ask this of you, now in desperation…”

“Desperation?”

“You see… The false data we generated today… It’s not going to fool Unity for long. They’ll find out what’s happened here, and make their move. I figure once the orientation is over, actually.”

“Dad? Is that why you…?”

“While Jerry was jamming the signal, I was above ground… disposing of the Brown Suits that currently walked Prelude’s streets. It was difficult—I’m not the stealth-type. But I had to. Now that there are none left simply using the false data will keep us safe. When Pam and the others come back though…”

“I get it, I think…” Adam sighed. “You’re definitely on a timer right now. But what does that have to do with me getting into that barrier?”

“Well—remember—that was what I initially wanted you to do before the events of today occurred. As you have some sort of ‘freedom’ at the moment, I figured you would be the best bet in handling these guys outside of Unity’s way of ‘handling’ things.”

“I know we have to stop this group, obviously, but don’t you think we should work together to handle the Unity situation right now?”

“It’s all about honor, Adam,” Thomas stated. “Rizzo, despite everything, is a man of honor. If you do something as heroic as stop this dangerous group, you should get some kind of bonus points from him. While you do this, we’ll try our best to cover our tracks. Maybe we can make this whole Unity thing blow over?” He shrugged.

“…I think I see another reason as to why you want me to do this.” Adam clenched his fist. “You want me to get stronger, right? So I can eventually take down Rizzo? You know my power can reach him, after all. You saw it in person. It makes sense to get stronger by fighting guys like this.”

“Amazing…” Travis stared at Adam in awe. “You’re just as sharp as your mother…” Adam glanced at him, unable to process the compliment.

Thomas laughed. “Well, you got me there. That’s not a problem, though, is it? Isn’t that what you want as well?”

“Yeah, of course, it is.” Adam slammed his hand on the table, leaning in. “Jerry suggested I do it, to begin with, so I’ll definitely do it.” He walked around the table to the other side—Jerry standing up to face him.

“Adam—you know I’ll support you with my brains. So, in return, support all of us with the power you have. I know you have it in you. After all—” Jerry grinned. “I remember you always boasting about wanting to be a superhero when we were kids.”

“Are you for real…?” Adam muttered to himself, letting out an enormous sigh. “All right, I can do that.” He held out his fist in front of Jerry.

Hesitating for a moment, Jerry gave Adam and smile, pressing his fist against his friend’s. “Let’s get through this!”

“We will,” Adam stated, turning to Charlotte and Muraco. “Let’s head back to the hotel, for now. We’ll rest up and get whatever’s down there first thing in the morning. Then, we’ll come back to report what we’ve found.”

“Why not right now?” Charlotte asked, almost tripping over her own feet as she stood there.

“That—that’s why. You’ve been through a lot today. I want you to get some rest. I won’t be able to do this without you.”

Charlotte looked at Adam in wonder. She quickly turned her head away from him.

“Saying that kind of stuff, huh…? Dammit…”

“Huh? What’s up?” Adam approached Charlotte as she spun back around with a straight face.

“Nothing. Let’s get going.”

“Hmm? Well, hold on…” Adam walked back toward the area with the beds, standing next to Emma, who was still asleep. He reached out his hand, gently touching her own.

“Don’t worry… I’ll make sure to handle whatever happens..”

Emma suddenly rustled around in her sleep. Although she remained in that state, she happened to speak.

“Big… Bro…”

Adam’s eyes widened. He retracted his hand, forming it into a fist. Fueled by a sudden rush of emotions, he could feel the pressure he was putting into his grip.

“Yeah… I have to handle whatever happens.”


Next: Chapter 2.13

Previous: Chapter 2.11

Table of Contents

Sunday Salutations #4

Here’s the new Sunday Salutations update! Patreons can access it here!

Reminder on the Patreon goals:

$10- Helps make sure my WordPress will be covered without worry when I have to pay for it.

$25- I will begin to post analysis and explanation posts for Patreons detailing various things that occur during the story.

$50- I will begin to work on side stories for various characters, starting with Alexander Strauss.

Regardless of being a Patreon or not, I thank you very much for your support!

Phantonics: An Ongoing Web Serial

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

“Well, I think you have.”

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

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


Volume 2 is ongoing! New chapters drop every Tuesday and Friday!

Check out the Table of Contents!

Support me on Patreon! Gain access to chapters early, along with other content!

Official Art #1

I have had artwork for a while now for a decent amount of the cast of Phantonics, created by TsunamiCoRyan through many of his art requests streams on Twitch. Although it was obviously good, I wanted to officially begin commissioning him for his work. Here we have the first commission complete, with full-body designs for the main cast plus Muraco. Phantonics_Characters

If you ever want some artwork done, I definitely recommend commissioning him! He does some great work. Will be working with him in the future for more artwork of the characters in the story.

Check him out on his Twitter!

As We Reach the End of Volume 1… IMPORTANT Info Regarding Volume 2!

I am officially working on the last chapter for Volume 1 of Phantonics! The chapter I just completed will be posted tomorrow (or today, depending on where you are).

The plan is to ease my way into Volume 2 very soon. There will be more creative freedom, as I can freely move characters around without having to do a lot of introductory related crap. I’m looking forward to it, especially since it will have a plot similar to the previous book of Phantonics that I’ve written (which is unreleased). Things are going to get wild.

As Volume 1 was named “Genesis”, Volume 2 will also have a name. I’ve officially decided that it will be called “Verity”, as many themes relating to truth will take place throughout it.

Starting with Volume 2, Phantonics will OFFICIALLY be on a scheduled release! This schedule has not been solidified yet, however I do plan on having chapter releases once or twice a week.

Here’s something I’m going to start doing with this upcoming volume. Although the series will remain free to read on this site, you will be able to read chapters a WEEK early if you pledge to the Red Apple tier on my Patreon. It will be a mere US dollar per month, and I believe it to be a fair price for early content. If you have any comments or concerns on this decision, please feel free to contact me about it.

That’s all for now. More details will be discussed as we actually dive into this second volume. First things first, let’s wrap up Volume 1!

 

If you’re up for it…

Support the series on Patreon!

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Changes to the Site

As you can tell with a simple glance, I have changed the theme for the site. I’d just like to let you guys know that I’ll be messing around with it for a bit, figuring out how I’m going to be releasing chapters from now on. I originally made a page for each individual chapter, and THEN made the post to say it’s released. My plan is to now post the chapter right in the update, and have that as the page people can always go to in order to read the story.

If you don’t really get what I’m saying, that’s okay. I’m trying to type this out so I can understand myself. Basically, things are changing, but it should not have an effect on how you read the story. HOPEFULLY, it’ll even make it easier.

Alright, thank you for reading my nonsense. Been working on the next chapter, should be out soon. Once again, Volume 1 is almost done. Woo!

Chapter 1.19: Versus Absolute Power

New chapter! I put a lot more into this one than I originally intended. A lot of things go down, setting up for the end of the first volume and the beginning of the second. Only one or two more chapters left!

 

“But sir!  He’s never had a day of combat in his life!”  Pam could not hide the concern in her voice.

“I won’t fight the boy seriously.  I just want to see what he is capable of.  If my theory is correct, even one quick spar will show it.”

“But-”

“It’s okay, Pam.”  Adam raised his hand to calm her down.  “I accept.”

“Oh?”  Rizzo smiled.  “I like the confidence.”

“Why would you, though?”  Pam asked, stepping forward.  “You’ve never fought before. And this is the Leader of Unity!

“He did say he wouldn’t fight me seriously.  I think this would be a good learning experience, as I’m uncertain on what I would like to do with my life anyway.  Who knows? Maybe I have it in me to fight?”

Adam started to stretch his body.  Although he was obviously putting up an act, he was telling the truth at the same time.  He had no clue what path to take so he and the others could learn more about the secrets of the World Mirror and Charlotte’s memories.

It was also a perfect opportunity for Adam to see the strength of the Leader of Unity, as well as vent his frustration against the man.

“Adam!”  Brandon ran up next to him.  “Are you… are you sure? Are you really gonna… you know?”

“Don’t worry, Brandon.  Just trust me, alright?”

Despite his hesitation, Brandon nodded at Adam in understanding.  Pam walked up behind Brandon, holding him by the shoulders. After a mutual glance, she escorted Brandon off to the side.

“You two, get the others to move the vehicles out of the parking lot.  I think that’ll be a nice space for this test.” Rizzo demanded the two Brown Suits.  They immediately nodded and ran off to do their task.

A few minutes later, Adam and Rizzo stood face to face on the black pavement.  Brandon, Pam, and Thomas were off to the side to view the event unfold. Before anything started, Emma had appeared.  She ran right up to her mother.

“What’s going on?  What’s Adam doing with Rizzo?”

Before Pam could speak, Brandon answered the question for her.  “He wants to test Adam out in a fight, just cause his mom was apparently really good.  It’s crazy!”

“What!?  Adam doesn’t know how to fight!”

Brandon nodded in agreement, even though he knew Adam has had experience.  He was aware the small amount of training he had done would mean nothing against an opponent like this.

Pam kept her eyes on the two who were about to engage in combat.  She was terrified at what would happen.

“Becca… I’m sorry.  I can’t do anything to stop this.  Even if Adam refused, Rizzo would have still made him fight.  Please… keep him safe from whatever happens…”

Rizzo tossed his coat off to the side, revealing a short-sleeved black shirt.  The scars on his face were in fact not the only ones on his body, as his arms were completely torn up as well.  He took off a small silver ball that was attached to his belt.

“Do you know what this is, Adam?”

“Yeah.  Little balls of phantonite called ‘Cores’.  Phantonite can change its shape and expand as much as it wants depending on how the phantons operate.  You basically code into it what kind of weapon you want, and with a response to the person’s phantonic output, it forms.”

“That’s correct.  Very impressive. It was around the early nineties we developed this.  Took awhile to get it down, however.”

A blue light began to slowly form around the ball.  After a few seconds, the energy erupted, causing Adam to put his arms up in defense.

“Whatever he has planned… I can’t use the World Mirror.  I’ll do this without the help of an Ability!”

As the light faded, a silver longsword had appeared in Rizzo’s hand.  He held the hilt and began spinning the blade around with ease.

“You can use this for our battle.  Don’t be afraid to come at me with everything you have.”

Rizzo tossed the sword into the air, spiraling toward Adam at a swift speed.  The four off to the side gasped, fearing it would strike Adam.

To everyone’s surprise, Adam caught the sword.  Rizzo in response grinned, while everyone else caught their breath.

“Well, that action itself was not bad.”  Rizzo took a step forward. “I won’t be needing a weapon.  But don’t worry, I won’t be serious, like I said.”

Adam raised the sword in front of him, taking a rather awkward battle stance.

“That seemed slower than the attacks Derek and Alexander were throwing at me.  I’m getting better, bit by bit.”

“Despite how many openings you have right now, you are keeping a keen focus on me.  That’s good. You’ll need that.”

There was silence.  Not even the wind was blowing through Prelude that day.  Rizzo raised his hand, and beckoned Adam to attack.

Without hesitation, he did.  Kicking off the ground, Adam dashed forward, taking care not to use his Ability in the process.  Swinging the sword, Adam slashed its blade right at Rizzo’s neck with great force.

Nothing happened.  Rizzo simply stood there, analyzing Adam’s movements.

“What the?  What kind of Ability does he have!?”  Adam, surprised, leaped back swiftly to keep a safe distance between himself and Rizzo.

“What just happened!?”  Brandon was even more shocked than Adam was.  He turned to Emma, who couldn’t hide how nervous she was.

“Nobody knows exactly what Rizzo’s Ability is.  That’s one thing, right there. It’s nearly impossible to damage him.”

“He can do other things too!?”  Brandon almost ran into the duel happening in front of him out of instinct to help Adam.  He was able to stop himself, although was clearly frustrated.

Adam continued to slash at Rizzo.  Each attack connected with ease, yet were unable to do anything.  The only progress Adam made was being able to cut into Rizzo’s shirt a few times.

“Not yet!”  Adam roared, charging into Rizzo with the tip of his blade.  Unable to move him, Adam was flung back, falling on the warm pavement below.

“Your attacks are actually not too bad for your level.  Yet, I’m sorry, but… you can’t hurt me.”

“Yeah?  Well I’m not done yet!”  Adam leaped into the air, descending his blade toward Rizzo.  

Adam did not make it to the ground.

“Huh?”  He was confused.  Without any indication of movement, Rizzo had grabbed his sword, stopping it with his fingers.  Adam’s feet had touched the ground before he could even process how it happened.

“I think that’s enough for now.”

Once again, without any noticeable motion, the blade shattered.  The force sent Adam flying back, hitting the ground hard. So hard, that it knocked the wind of of him.

“Adam!”  Brandon and Emma both yelled his name, about to rush over to him.  Pam stopped them from doing so.

“You two stay back… I don’t want you getting involved in this.”

“What are you saying, mom!?  He’s hurt!” Emma tried to squirm past her mother to no avail.

“He’ll be alright.  It’s over now…” Pam gritted her teeth, furious at not only Rizzo, but herself.

Rizzo walked over to Adam, who had already started to calm his breathing.

“I can see great promise in your already.  Your strikes are strong, and I could see you improve with each swing.  I’d be happy to offer you entrance to Unity, if you so desire. You can definitely-”

“Shut up.”

Adam stood up slowly, clenching both of his fists.  

“I’m gonna make sure you feel the pain that you inflicted that day…”

 

A young Adam ran into the police station in a cheerful mood, almost bumping into one of the officers.  This was the norm, as Adam would often come here to see if Faith and Emma were with their mother, wanting to play outside.

“Sorry, mister!”  Adam dashed off toward Pam’s office.

“Hey, Adam!  You shouldn’t-”

Adam was already out of view.  The officer sighed.

“I hope he doesn’t get in trouble…”

The fire at the Roswell household happened two months prior.  Adam did not understand the situation that well, especially with how they got their house back seemingly the next day.  

Yet, he knew the real damaged it caused.

Faith and Emma’s father was dead, Emma had been in the hospital the entire time, and Pam had to work overtime to catch the group that had caused the inferno in the first place.

Due to this, Faith was alone most of the time, struggling to deal with the aftermath.  Adam took it upon himself to keep her company as much as possible, and to continue their adventures together.

To put her mind at ease.  That was his goal.

This day was no different.  He had the perfect idea for an adventure this time, as Faith apparently had not heard the fairies speak to her recently.  Therefore, it was up to Adam to plan things.

“She’s gonna love it!  We haven’t spoke with the stars in so long!  They’ll know where the fairies went!”

As Adam approached Pam’s office, he stopped immediately upon hearing shouting.  

“Please, sir!  Not today!”

It was Pam’s voice.  Adam almost rushed right into the room, but decided against it as he saw a bunch of ominous-looking men surrounding Pam.

“Pamela, you know how close the investigation is.  And you’ve been one of our greatest resources. Do you honestly think I can let you have free time now?”

Adam hid on the side of the door and glared into the room at the man directly in front of Pam, who was like a mountain in height compared to the rest of them.

“But they think they might be able to do something for Emma!  Please, I have to be there for my girl, especially with how risky the procedure could be!  I don’t want to lose her-”

Adam watched in horror as Pam fell to the ground.  The image of Rizzo’s hand striking her was etched into his mind, while the sound of the impact, as well as the agonizing scream Pam unleashed, made Adam want to tear his ears right off of his head.

“We must purge the darkness of this world.  To do so, you must follow my orders.”

There was a desire within Adam to charge right into the room and attack the man.  

However, he was a wise child.  He knew that it would amount to nothing, and it would make things worse.

Shedding tears, Adam ran away from the scene.  There was nothing he could do.

 

It wasn’t any better for him now.  He had the potential to do something.  To use the World Mirror. Knowing how much power it harbored, surely it could take now Rizzo?

However, he was a wise young man.  He knew it would amount to nothing, and it would make things worse.

Rizzo approached Adam, leaning down to his level.

“Pain?  I see. I sensed a presence that day.  It was you, wasn’t it? I figured it was but a mere child, so I didn’t bother to take action.  But if it affected you that badly, let me just say this…”

Putting his hand on Adam’s shoulder, Rizzo ominously galred into his eyes.

“That wasn’t even considered pain compared to what she’s gone through.  And then you compare it to the rest of the suffering in the world… it’s nonexistent.  So, let me ask you, Adam Grayson. What are you getting so worked up about?”

Adam took a deep breath.

There was a long pause.

“You know what?  Honestly? Fuck it.”

The blinding white light from his right hand collided with the side of Rizzo’s face, and in an instant, sent the Leader of Unity catapulting out of the parking lot and into the nearby northern woods.

Everyone was speechless.  Even the nearby Brown Suits showed uncharacteristic emotion seeing their leader hit like that.  It was at a speed that even they could not see.

Adam did not hold back, as shown by the lack of his hand as the light faded.  He moved his head toward the others who had been watching, glaring at them with his white eyes.

Pam inched her way forward, eyes widened in horror.  “Adam… that… power. You had an Ability? Or, did Rizzo set it off by whatever he was saying to you?”

Thomas grabbed Pam and held her back.  “It doesn’t matter, he just attacked Rizzo.  This is bad.  Especially…”

He pointed at the Brown Suits, who had snapped out of their amazement at the event and pulled out pistols that were hidden under their clothes.

“Men, do not bother.”

Rizzo had already re-entered the parking lot, rubbing his face where was struck.  “Did my words awaken your Ability? Or is this something you had? We’re still working on technology to determine the length of time a person who has had an Ability, so it really doesn’t matter either way.”

Adam glanced at Rizzo, then back to the group.

“I’m really sorry, everyone.  I’ll even say sorry to you, Rizzo.  But I can’t even fathom to work on a side with you in charge.  So, I’ll fight. I’ll either defeat you now with the power I currently possess, or die trying.”

Rizzo stared at Adam, who had returned his gaze back to him.  Eventually, the man started to chuckle.

“You actually caught me off guard.  And then, that was the first time in ages I’ve felt pain, even if it was just a little.  Impressive. Truly, impressive. Men, use the network. I want you to check Code 2819. This Ability of his intrigues me.”

A Brown Coat nodded, taking out what seemed to be a tablet.

Brandon took this opportunity to run up to Adam, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt.

“I… I don’t even know what to say to you.  What about…” Brandon felt as though he was about to come to tears.  “What about…?”

“Brandon-”  Adam placed his left hand on his friend’s shoulder.  “Like I said, I’m sorry. I… lost my cool. I couldn’t hold it in.  But it’s true, I can’t be on the same side as him. So, I’ll see what I can do.  If I die, then it’s my fault for getting too emotional.”

“You’re not going to die!  I’ll-”

“Sir, the readings come back negative.  Does this boy really…”

Rizzo seemed pleased with the Brown Suit’s response.  “Yes, soldier. It seems this boy’s Ability does not have phantonic values involved with its structure.  I felt the same feeling in his attack that Psycho Matter had.”

Adam was astonished.  “He knows that Alexander guy?”

“Since that seems to be the case, then I’ll make a deal with you, Adam Grayson.”

Adam brushed Brandon off and approached Rizzo, his eyes still lit up.  

“What kind of a deal?”

“It’s difficult to raise an Ability like yours in the curriculum we have at Unity.  So, that’s not where you’re going to go. In fact, you’re free. Free to do what you please.  However, you must leave this town, and abandon every living person close to you.”

“What the?  Why would I do-”

“Cause the people around you are promising.  You may be the most promising of all, from what little I’ve seen today.  But with an Ability like that, it doesn’t bode well for their development.  It has unknown properties, seeing as though Code 2819 was negative. I don’t want it interfering with Unity’s development.  I could always send you to a lab, but I’ve tried that before, and it’s not how to go about this sort of thing.”

“I can’t leave them!  They’re the reason I want to take you down!  I want them to live a peaceful life, without having to do your bidding 24/7!”

“Adam…”  Pam felt tears form up in her eyes.  “You’re going this far… for us?”

Emma slowly approached the scene, standing near Brandon.

“I… relate to that, actually.”

“Huh?”  Brandon looked at her curiously, seeing as though she was keeping her voice down.

“I know how much this job has messed up my mother, and I worry that Faith’s going to end up dealing with the same thing.  So, Ability or not, I want to join Unity to be by their side. And…”

“And… what?”  Brandon asked with an unnatural amount of compassion in his voice, while Emma struggled to get the words out.

“I know what he’s done.  Mom’s told Faith and I everything.  I don’t blame Adam at all for slugging the guy.  I would love to do the same.”

“Such interesting goals all around.”  Rizzo snickered. Emma looked up in shock as he was looking directly at her.  

“I… I… how did he?”

Rizzo took a step toward Emma, as Brandon got in front of her and raised his guard.  Adam did the same, putting up his left arm in between Rizzo and his friends.

Brandon approached Adam, cautiously patting his shoulder.  He gritted his teeth and pointed directly at Rizzo.

“Don’t even think of messing with her.  You do, and I’ll be the one to take you down!”

Adam panicked, holding Brandon back after the clear threat to the man.  “Brandon, stay back! You-”

“You’ve got spunk, kid.  I’ve had some spunky fellows in Unity before.  In fact, Pamela’s late husband was quite the character if I recall correctly?”

“Rizzo…”  Pam let her anger rage inside of her, yet kept her worry of the current situation on the outside.

“You’ve been around these people for awhile.  Ability or not, your phantonic energy could potentially be quite powerful.  How about it? Want to join Unity?”

“Don’t get anyone else wrapped up in this.”  Adam demanded. He then felt his friend’s hand on his back.  As he looked, Brandon gave Adam a huge grin. After a moment, he walked right up to Rizzo.

“Sure, I’ll join.”

Adam was shocked.  Before he could say anything, he heard Emma make a small yelp.

“Emma, what’s wrong-”

Turning to her, he immediately looked back at Brandon due to a crackling sound.  He now had electricity emitting out of his body, almost to the point where it made contact with Rizzo.

“And don’t worry, I have an Ability.  I call this thing ‘Shepherd Surge’. You wanna use it?  Fine, be my guest.”

Adam was speechless.  All he could do was raise his hand toward his friend, not knowing what to say at what he had just done.

Rizzo grinned.  “Electricity? Well now, that’s a very interesting Ability you’ve got there.  Also, it was rather smart of you to come forward with it.  Unity would have had to arrest you if we found out any other way-”

“I’m not smart.”  Brandon interrupted Rizzo, turning off his Ability.  He glanced back at Adam. “I’m naive, like you said, Adam.  I have much to learn. And I’m willing to dive headfirst into everything so I can learn more.  So that I can fight by your side when the time is right.”

“Well, this has been quite the eventful day.”  Rizzo walked over to his coat on the ground and put it back on.  “After all the bad news about last night, I sure did learn quite a lot.”  Rizzo pointed at Brandon.

“Very well.  You may start orientation when Faith Roswell and Winona Collins start theirs in a few weeks.  Pamela-” He looked over at Pam, who had an empty look in her eyes at this point. “Make sure you make all the necessary preparations for the boy.”

“Yes, sir.”  Pam answered apathetically.  Thomas poked the side of her face, snapping her back into reality.

“You okay?”

“No, I’m not.  This is too much.”

Rizzo gathered the Brown Suits surrounding the parking lots, and ordered them to prepare for departure.  He then focused his attention to Adam.

“Adam Grayson.  11 AM tomorrow morning, you must leave this place.  I don’t care where you go, or what you do, but you may not have any help from your friends.  They need to be monitored carefully, so their potential isn’t ruined by your unknown capabilities.”

“Fine.”  Adam responded bluntly.  “Also, is this what you did to Alexander Strauss?  His power has mystery behind it as well, so did you send him away from everyone?”

“Oh?  You know him?  Interesting. But yes, although I do get him to do a few odds and ends for me.  It’s part of our deal. You have yet to ruin anything of mine, so you have the amount of freedom that you currently have.  But get in the way of Unity, or obtain any help from your friends, and that will change.”

Rizzo finally walked to one of the vehicles, opening the door.

“Will you survive?  Will you perish? It all depends on how valuable that Ability of yours really is, and if it wants you to remain in this world.”

Within a few seconds, the Brown Suits had drove off, leaving the police station at last.  It was as if they were never there. Yet, they were. And they left their mark.

 

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