I Haven’t Made a Site Update in Quite Some Time, So Let’s Talk!

Hi everyone, long time no talk.

Over the past few weeks, my will to write has returned to me, and we are back in the game. I did start this newer version of the web novel back in January, so I’m certainly a lot further behind than I want to be. The delays in chapters are mainly contributed to mental health-related issues that have been amplified by everything happening this year. I can say they’re definitely still affecting me, but at least I’m making progress once more.

The chapters are being released weekly, with one new chapter for everyone. On Patreon, I now have it so we are two chapters ahead of everywhere else, which a new chapter posted there weekly as well. If you’re caught up with the story, and that interests you, then two bucks a month will grant you access. It is greatly appreciated if you do so, but as I’ve stressed in the past, simply reading the series is fantastic support on its own.

Don’t be shy about asking questions, by the way. If something in the story confuses the hell out of you, ask. I’ll answer as long as we don’t dive into spoiler territory. That is the thing though: there are loads of things that won’t make sense right away. Like what I’m doing with this new version involving Brandon *recent chapter spoilers* and his strange “alter ego” that has taken him over. It’s a new idea I have, yet it will all lead to the overall plot surrounding him that I’ve had all along. It will make sense in the long-run, just please be patient with it, just like you would with other points of the story.

I’ll admit it right now. One of my pet peeves is people who are not patient. In general, but also with writing. As this is a series that releases by the chapter, not everything is going to be covered right away. There’s a lot of content overall that needs to be covered, so it’ll take time. So, if you ask a question with the clear intent of “just tell us what the hell is happening” then it’ll probably be ignored. Genuine innocent curiosity, however, will loop back to what I discussed above: I’ll definitely answer you as long as we don’t get into spoiler territory.

I think I mentioned this on Royal Road, but this version of the web novel takes the comedy aspect of the series a lot more seriously. Comedy has been a thing with Phantonics since the beginning, so I figured that I would officially make it into a core part of what makes up the Phantonics universe. So, whacky antics will now be a more common part of the story. There are moments that will be quite stressful to read in the future, so a good balance of humor will be needed to help the reader not get too sad. Timing for this humor is something I’ve been working on; mainly involving Brandon. I hope to keep at it and make the “interlude” sections of the story in between arcs a lot more entertaining.

Speaking of, I’m not sure if I want to start doing interlude specific chapters. I’m still thinking about how I’d go about doing those. One thing I am heavily considering is beginning short stories of alternate “what-if” scenarios that could happen. I’d probably just call it “Phantonics Alternate” or something simple like that. Here, I’ll give away an idea for one: it would be called “Phantonics Alternate: Ash” and be a what-if scenario if Faith and Emma weren’t saved from the fire and they both died. It would be quite dark, so—naturally—it would be fun to write. Also, taking into consideration the humor thing, another side story thing I’d consider is one strictly for that kind of thing, that detaches itself quite far from the normal story. Maybe call it “Phantonics Fool” or something like that—idk I just pulled that title out of my ass. Right before this sentence that I’m writing right now, I took a small breather for a moment and noticed I had typed exactly 666 words, so that’s fun. Thought I’d mention it, just cause.

Side story-wise, Phantonics Sakura is still one that I will do whenever we reach 10 supporters on Patreon. Still only at one at the moment (shoutout to Novagirl93 for the support you’ve given so far) so, for those of you who do want to go that extra mile, that will be one of your (eventual) rewards. If you want to see Alexander Strauss in his own story (readers of the previous web novel will know him quite well—he’s a fan favorite from the few people I’ve talked to) then tell your friends! And for you lovely folks that read the story normally, rest assured. It will be released to the public upon completion. I mention on Patreon that it will be released in chapters, much like the normal story, specifically on there. Random note: I’m pretty sure the side story for Faith will be called “Phantonics Flare” and I have a good idea as to where I want to place it in the timeline. It’s… quite far off, however. We’ll deal with that once we get to that point. Random note 2: Alexander’s side story is called “Phantonics Sakura” due to his Psycho Matter matching the color of cherry blossoms—I know, creative. It has nothing to do with that one person from that one series about ninjas.

I think I’m going to make chapters a bit longer again so that more content is released weekly. When this version started, I wanted chapters to be shorter so that people could sink into the story easier and not be as overwhelmed. It was also to help me keep up with a schedule, but we all know how that went. I’m going to keep it up as long as I can, and we can hopefully start to see some growth in the series as we get through this second half of the year (how is 2020 already halfway over wtf). The current Crimson Mine Arc should be done by the end of July and the arc after that will hopefully be done by the fall. That will get us through Book 1, perhaps around 2 years after I started the original web novel (October 27, 2018 will always be considered Phantonics’ birthday, btw). I’m doing a really rough estimate here (especially considering how I am) and I’m guessing Book 2 will go into 2021. If I do well enough, maybe we can reach the territory of new new content like… a year or so from now? It’s kind of rough to type that out, but who knows? I could pull off something crazy and write much more before then. It all depends.

I should clarify, as I said before, there’s plenty of new content before we reach that point. The Crimson Mine Arc currently in progress is completely new, surrounding that two chapter fight with Derek in the previous version. It’s much more expanded than before, taking place in an entirely different setting. Fun fact: this mine was actually something from the original Phantonics that I wrote a decade ago. It’s kind of nice to go back to it when I’m actually somewhat competent with writing (somewhat). The following arc will have extra content expanding on that fight with Carl in the woods. Book 2’s first arc will be roughly the same (done better, though—I honestly did not care too much for how I wrote that), then there will be another completely new arc, followed by the arc the last version left off on. That one will be similar, with some differences with how some of the fights play out. Once we get past the point of the Chris fight and the situation that was going on with Emma, we’ll be in new territory. I’ve mentioned this before, but I, unfortunately, did pull the plug right before the super crazy stuff went down. It motivates me to get back to that point, but I know I have to take it slow. Or, just be careful with my writing. If I want to go off with writing, I certainly can if I’m in the right mindset. This simple update, for example, is WAY longer than I thought it would be. It’s a lot of rambling, but I’ve felt like I’ve covered some good points. Not only for you guys to read, but for me to think about.

Anyway, I think I’ll end it here, on that note. If you actually read through this entire thing, bless your soul. This update alone is about an average length of a chapter, and it took me about an hour to write (that does count the small breaks though). So, can I keep this up and work on an actual chapter right now? Or will I go to bed? Both sound tempting. We shall see.

Thank you,

-Kyle

 

 

Chapter 7

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

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

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

“Three hours.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You…”

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

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

Charlotte paused for a moment before speaking—somewhat annoyed.

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

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

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

“…What the hell are you talking about?”

Charlotte grinned—her arms opening wide.

“The World Mirror.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That appearance… it reminds me of…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The power of life itself.

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

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

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

“Yes… Yes—amazing!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…”

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

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

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

Even then, physically and emotionally, he felt nothing. 

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

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

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

“Is he mute or something?”

“I’ve never heard a peep out of him.”

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

“He might as well be dead.”

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

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

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

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

“Just what the hell is happening…?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So, why are you upset?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Was it acting, though?”

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

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


Next: Chapter 8

Previous: Chapter 6

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 2.11

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

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

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

“Jerry! We gotta help her! We—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Senpai!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

“It-It’s just—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas nodded, gesturing back toward the main table.

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


Next: Chapter 2.12

Previous: Chapter 2.10

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.10

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

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

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

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

Charlotte then fell to her knees, sobbing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“CODE 4200—ACTIVATED.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“OPTION FOUND—ANALYZING PROPER CODE TO PROCEED…”

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

“There! Wonder what it was trying to—”

“CODE 0710—ACTIVATED.”

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

The voice had come from Emma.

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

“Emma…!?”

“DRAGON SPINE—INITIATED.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Possession!”

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

This would be impossible to accomplish.

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

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

“atatamaestethuilpettcwliashtwta”

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

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

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

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

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

However, they stopped.

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

“Emma! Hang on, I—”

“Charlotte, I wouldn’t do that.”

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

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


Next: Chapter 2.11

Previous: Chapter 2.9

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.9

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

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

“N-No way…”

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

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

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

“Rewrite Phenomenon…? So that means—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How did you escape?”

“It was all thanks to my afetraha—

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

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

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

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

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

Charlotte looked at the girl in concern.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, that’s correct.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For… For what—”

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

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

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

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

“Y-You’re… You have to be…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Huh? Save who? Who’s down there!?”

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

“I am… Are they involved?”

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

“W-Wait, what!?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They aimed at Roy and Roger.

“Those two behind you mean nothing to us.”

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

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


Next: Chapter 2.10

Previous: Chapter 2.8

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.8

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

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

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

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

“…It’s pathetic of her.”

Her eyes widened at Rizzo’s statement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Huh…?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Huh? How come?” Roy asked her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Alexander? What’s the matter?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And with those words, Alexander snapped.

“RIZZO!!!!!”

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

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

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

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

“No, we won’t be! Get inside!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“EAT THIS, YOU GODDAMN SHITBAG!!!!!”

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dammit… She’s still way too cute.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Next: Chapter 2.9

Previous: Chapter 2.7

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brown Suits did not move a muscle.

“Men!? I order you at once!”

Alexander chuckled, then exploded in laughter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I-I don’t know…”

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

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

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

“Then fly.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let’s go—Chronos!”

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

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

“Come—to—me—my—footsteps.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Share—my—pain.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…I’ll just have to get serious!”

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

However, Chronos shattered to pieces.

“Wh-What…!?”

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

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

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

Monica’s entire right arm had crumbled into dust.

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

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

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

“…Just… How could you…” Monica could not release her voice anymore. The pain was far too intense for her to handle. Her armless body collapsed onto the ground in front of Alexander.

“Sorry. When ya became a threat, I had to take action. Ya see—this world needs me. Right now… my Psycho Matter is the only thing that can potentially stop that man. Yeah… That very man you look up to. If you honestly thought ya could impress the guy—well—ya very well could.”

Alexander opened his hand, pointing it toward Monica’s unconscious body. Tiny particles of Psycho Matter began to fall out, enveloping her.

“Ya get too close to him—however—something far worse than this would have happened. Something even I couldn’t fix.” He breathed in deeply.

“I’ve always done research into it, but ever since that kid almost crumbled into dust in front of me, I’ve been looking into it non-stop. It’s not the entire body, and it’s nothing vital, so…”

Pink ooze started to pour out of Monica’s wounds. The Psycho Matter began to reshape while growing in size. After a few moments, Alexander had fixed the damage he caused, as new arms had formed where the others had been moments prior.

“Well, shit. It actually worked. Sorry—they’re gonna be pink—but those should function just like normal arms.”

Monica’s brand new fingers twitched as she slowly regained consciousness. Her vision met with her new appendages, shocked at their appearance.

“Oh—and don’t think ya can test those in the lab to find out any secrets of mine. I removed any values relating to the formation of my Psycho Matter. It doesn’t really matter anyway—after all these years…” Alexander smirked. “They haven’t figured out shit.”

As Alexander stood above his defeated opponent, he felt the earth beneath him shake. He turned around to see the source of the impact. There, in the center of the street, Rizzo had appeared.

“Alexander… making a mess, as usual, I see?”

“Shitbag… manipulating others, as usual, I see?”


Next: Chapter 2.8

Previous: Chapter 2.6

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.6

Roy nervously knocked on the front door of the Roswell household, not even bothering with the doorbell. Emma opened the door, immediately disgusted at who had shown up at her home.

“Roy, I already told you I wasn’t interested in dating you. Coming to my house? Now that’s just—”

“No, this isn’t about that! Listen, your mom works for Unity, right?”

“Yeah? She’s not here right now. In fact, she’s not even at work, she’s—”

“Point is, you have connections, yes?”

Emma glared at the boy, who was clearly in a panic. “What did you do? How did you get in trouble?”

“It’s not about me! Look—my boss at Ann’s just got arrested by those Brown Suit people. They’re a part of Unity, right? Some freaky lady was leading them, and they took him!”

“I know the Brown Suits are supposed to be keeping an eye on the town while my mother’s gone, but… Arresting people? Unless it involves phantons or chaons in some way, Unity leaves normal arrests to the police.” Emma pondered the situation.

“They could be investigating what happened a week ago. Actually, I assume they would do that. But, what does the manager of Ann’s have to do with it? Charlotte worked there… C-Could they be honing in on her!?”

“Listen, if they took him to the police station, I could probably get them to let us know what he’s there for, at least?”

“I already know why they took him—apparently he lied to them in their initial interview about what he saw that night!”

“He saw something? I didn’t hear anything about that… I just assumed my mother was the one to report everything that happened in the woods. What did he see? Do you know?”

“I heard… something about a disgusting creature… and some girl saved him? And then they mentioned something about Charlotte—a girl who worked at the store up until recently. I tried my best to listen in without getting caught. Although I saw the whole thing go down.”

Emma bit her lip. “Shit! Charlotte was involved in this before the stuff in the woods, huh? Yeah, they’re definitely suspicious of her now! What do I do!?”

“Listen, I’m sorry about all the stuff with me asking you out a lot. You’re just hot and—damn that’s not the point! I just want to make sure the old guy’s all right!”

“Fine, fine. We can walk over there, and I’ll see what I can do. Also—if my looks are the only reason—then you’re definitely not dating me.” Emma sighed, walking into the house. “Let me grab my stuff.”

“Oh—whatever! Just hurry up! That freaky lady looked capable of ripping someone in half!”

“Roy—most of Unity is capable of doing that. I gotta see if I can figure anything out, or Charlotte’s in trouble…”

 

Emma and Roy were heading toward the police station a few minutes later, taking a shortcut on a dirt trail that led right to their destination, cutting right through where a small amount of the northern woods branched off into town.

“It’s a short walk from my house to the station in the first place, but we have this path here in case we have to get there quickly.”

“This would be a nice path to take a nice, romantic stroll on! Would definitely help in wooing a girl!” Roy shouted with enthusiasm.

“Cool—as long as you don’t think we’re on one right now.” Emma held her head in annoyance. “Man, you only really think of one thing, huh?”

“My momma wants grandkids, so I can’t let her down!”

“I’m sure that’s the main reason,” Emma responded sarcastically.

“Hey—someone’s over there—”

Roy pointed toward a creek that was coming up off to their left. A person stood knee-deep in the calm flowing water, looking around. Emma recognized them immediately.

“Yo, Roger! What’s up?”

“Oh—Emma, hey!” Roger waved at her, almost knocking a bucket over that sat next to him.

“Hunting for some crayfish again?” Emma leaned over next to the side of the creek, looking at the water below.

“Yeah! I haven’t done it in a while, and—is… is that Roy?” Roger noticed the boy who had been accompanying Emma.

“Huh? You’re that Roger kid in our grade, right? What the hell are you doing out here?” Roy asked in a rather rude tone.

“Don’t be rude, Roy! He likes to come out here to this creek and catch crayfish. I used to catch them as well—it’s actually pretty fun.”

“Y-Yeah—” Roger shyly nodded his head. “T-There really delicious when you cook them…”

“Is that right? Well, shit. Didn’t think something like that would be.” Roy scratched his head. “Anyway—come on, Emma. We gotta get to the station!”

“Is something wrong?” Roger asked, stepping out of the creek and onto land.

“Nothing,” Roy answered. “Don’t worry about it—”

“You wanna come with us?” Emma interrupted Roy with her question.

“Huh? Why the hell should he?”

“Roger’s going to school for Phantonic technology next year. Having him around wouldn’t hurt… I hope.”

“I mean—I’m not sure if I can do too much with all these Brown Suit guys walking around, but I’ll come along. Can’t find any crayfish today anyway.” Roger sighed, tapping on his empty bucket.

“What would he even do? We’re just seeing if the old guy’s okay, right?” Roy seemed agitated.

“To be honest, I like having someone who actually understands the seriousness of this stuff with me,” Emma replied. “With the way you’ve been acting, I bet you think we can just bust him out of there? It’s not that simple.”

“I—I mean I’d like to do that. But let’s at least make sure he’s okay… Seriously.”

Emma sighed. “Right. We will.”

The three began to walk—Roger carrying his bucked alongside him.

“Oh, Emma! When’s Brandon gonna be back from the Unity thing?”

“Hm? It’s gonna last for three days—if I recall. Why?”

“I beat that game he let me borrow. I just wanna make sure I get it back to him as soon as I can.”

“Huh?” Roy seemed interested, although not in the game. “Brandon? Do you mean Brandon Shepherd? You guys hang out with someone like him?”

“What do you mean ‘someone like him’?” Roger asked, curiously.

“You’ve heard all those rumors about him! Like, how he’s acted all creepy with the women’s volleyball team and stuff? Sounds like someone you wouldn’t want to be around—”

“Roy.” Emma stopped walking, turning toward the boy. “I don’t like to judge someone based on rumors. From everything I’ve seen, after many years of knowing him, I know he’s not like that.”

“R-Right…” Roy looked down. “Damn… I’m not doing too well today when it comes to getting on your good side.”

“You can get on my good side by shutting your mouth.” Emma began to move once again. “Come on, let’s go.”

As she walked ahead, Roy stopped Roger before he could follow her.

“Can-Can I borrow that?” He pointed at Roger’s bucket.

“Huh? What for?”

“I just wanna wear it over my head for a bit.”

“Huh!? Why!?”

“I… just wanna hide from the world for a little bit.”

 

The trio arrived in front of the police station, which was swarming with Brown Suits. Several were patrolling the parking lot, along with circling the perimeter of the building.

“All right. You two stay back here by the road.” Emma requested.

“What!?” Roy yelled—his voice echoing with the bucket over his head. “We can’t go!?”

“Take that thing off—how were you able to even walk with that on? And there… are a lot more Brown Suits around than I thought there would be. I don’t want to risk getting you two caught up in anything. Don’t worry—I’ll be okay.”

Roy did as he was told, taking the bucket off. “How can you be sure?”

“Well—despite not having an Ability—I’m actually quite important to them.” Emma began to walk over to the front door. Roy attempted to stop her but was halted by Roger.

“She knows what she’s doing,” Roger assured him.

As Emma approached the Brown Suit guards in front of the main entrance, they did not have time to react to her, as the door swung wide open. Monica stepped out, pulling out a pack of cigarettes.

“Oh?” She let go of the lighter she was about to take out while putting the cigarettes back in her pocket. “I was about to come out here for a quick smoke, but I see we have ourselves an interesting visitor?”

Monica approached Emma, extending her hand. “Monica Teske. You’re Emma Roswell, correct? I’ve heard so much about you.”

“About me, or about my ‘Miracle Girl’ title?” Emma chuckled, shaking Monica’s hand in return.

“You should feel honored. Ever since they managed to get your spine to work, there have been all sorts of advances in both phantonic and medical fields.”

“I suppose that’s true. Anyway—I’m assuming you’re in charge here until my mother returns?”

“That’s correct. Sir Rizzo allowed me to command our fellow Brown Suits as they simultaneously protect the town and investigate the events that have recently transpired.” Monica giggled. “I’m curious as to why you’re here, seeing as though you know your mother is not.”

“I was just wondering—did you take the manager of Ann’s into custody earlier today?”

“That’s classified information—normally. However, seeing as though you took your time to come over here with your friends—” Monica glanced over Emma’s shoulder to see Roy and Roger in the distance. “Oh, you even brought the boy who was hiding in the back of the store. I see—that’s how you found out. Yes, we did, indeed.”

“I’m in no position to say anything like ‘release him,’ especially since I assume you’re doing this for the sake of the investigation. However—I would like to know about his current well-being.”

Monica placed her hand on her chin. “Hmm… what to do? I really respect not only what you’ve gone through—but what your mother’s done for me. Should I lie—or should I tell the truth?”

“Well—you answered my first question. Why not answer this one as well?” Emma asked.

“I just have a feeling you won’t like my answer—that’s all.”

“Won’t like your—” Emma stepped closer. “What exactly are you doing in there!?”

Roy noticed the rise in Emma’s voice. “Hey, what’s up?” He dashed over to her.

“Roy, wait—” Roger attempted to stop him, as two Brown Suits stood in their way.

“I told you guys to stay back! It’s fine!” Emma stated.

“You know…” Monica smirked. “I was willing to let that boy there walk free, as long as he didn’t try to pry into Unity’s affairs. He did so, however. He even got you involved, Emma.”

“Huh!?” Emma turned to her, gritting her teeth. “Roy didn’t do anything wrong. He has the right to know what’s happening with his manager, especially since you left him alone in the freaking store!”

“The lack of employment at Ann’s doesn’t concern me.” Monica expressed. “What does concern me is how somehow people still try to go out of their way to defy Unity to this day! Do none of you realize what you’re dealing with!?”

“You know what it sounds like?” Emma got up into Monica’s face with a cocky grin. “You’re hiding behind the power the name ‘Unity’ gives you, right? In reality, you’re afraid.”

Monica burst into laughter. “This is rich! Coming from a girl who’s hiding behind the power of her ‘Miracle Girl’ name. You don’t have an Ability, so that’s all that’s really keeping you safe!”

“I’m not hiding behind it!” Emma yelled. “What’s such a big deal about my spine anyway!? Sure, it was a miracle that it worked, and it revolutionized how a lot of things work these days, but… It’s easily been duplicated many times by now! What’s so important with preserving it at this point, honestly?

“My, my. I see what you’re getting at—I do. With the logic you have, you don’t hesitate to get involved in situations that you feel you need to get into, regardless of your circumstances. I’ve heard—you want to join Unity. You’re even willing to face the possibility that you gain an Ability, thus messing with your spine’s structure. That’s a strong will you have.”

“Heh! I’ll risk anything when it comes to people I care about—especially my sister. She’s dealt with so much, and I couldn’t be there for her… If you must know the source of my will—it’s her. I won’t leave her alone—I’ll be by her side and help her face whatever she wishes to tackle!”

“Well, it’s honestly a cliché reason, but a strong one—I’ll give you that. Yes… Yes—your will is magnificent, Emma Roswell.” Monica chuckled under her breath.

“Yeah? What’s so funny, then?”

“It’s how naive you are. With such a strong will, you seem to be clueless when it comes down to it!”

“Clueless? To what?”

“Your Miracle Girl title… your spine. It seems you think it’s some sort of artifact kept to display a great achievement in history or some crap like that!? You really don’t know, do you!? I feel so sorry for you, Emma! You’re—so—damn—clueless—”

A gust a wind suddenly enveloped the area, almost knocking Emma off of her feet. As everyone in the parking lot looked up toward the source, the boy with shining pink wings descended, bearing a malicious grin.

“Ya really shouldn’t be talking—ya dumb bitch.”


Next: Chapter 2.7

Previous: Chapter 2.5

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.5

Brandon stood across from Trevor, alone in the vast empty room. Everyone else had moved up above to view the match behind the window.

“You don’t have to be nervous—” Trevor stated, noting Brandon’s body shaking. “I simply want to see what you’re capable of.”

“W-Well I haven’t done anything like this before, excuse my cold feet!”

“Cold feet? I feel like that’s something you usually wouldn’t say…” Trevor theorized.

“He’s right—” Faith nodded her head. “Must be the anxiety’s stirring up his brain?”

“Hey, don’t act like you know me!” Brandon angrily pointed at Trevor.

“I’m sorry. It’s part of my job to analyze the behavior of a person to figure out how they would act in various situations.”

“Huh? What—are you some kinda detective!?” Brandon asked, stomping his foot.

“You’re pretty naive, aren’t you? Do you even know what you’re getting yourself into by joining Unity?”

“Naive…?” Brandon recalled that Adam used the same word recently. “…Well, not like I have a choice!”

“If I recall the details—” Trevor began to walk around. “You went right up to Sir Rizzo and displayed your Ability, knowing exactly what would happen. I would say it was your choice, was it not?”

“But—but if I didn’t—”

“You would have gotten in trouble? True. Although Unity would have caught you eventually, you have quite the potential with your Ability… do you realize that?”

“What do you mean…?”

“Electricity. The number of things you can pull off with that kind of power… Just how do you choose to use it? I’m curious. If I had it, I could think of all sorts of tricks to avoid Unity’s detection. You didn’t even try, though, did you?”

“Look, man! Why are you speaking like my Ability is all high-and-mighty? Is your’s that bad?”

“Oh, I’m not saying that at all. Why don’t you come at me, and you can see what mine is like?”

Brandon sighed. “People with their wording… Or is my mind just that bad when people simply say the word ‘come’—Anyway. Fine! Whatever you want! I want to get stronger, and the best way to do that is to kick everyone’s ass!”

Trevor smirked. “It seems your heart is in the right place. But—how about your mind?” He raised his arm, beckoning Brandon to strike.

“Show me.”

Blue sparks began to form around Brandon, lighting up his body.

“Woah, so cool looking…” Faith watched Brandon’s Ability in awe, as this was the first time she saw it in person.

“Surrounding your body with it? I see—”

Brandon roared, charging at Trevor with swift speed. He raised his fist and swung it directly at Trevor’s face, landing a hit.

Or, at least he thought he did.

Before it made contact, Brandon’s punch was stopped dead in its track. It felt as though Brandon had just hit a wall, jumping back and wagging his hand in agony.

“Gah! God damn—What the hell just happened!?”

That’s how you use your Ability?” Trevor asked disgustedly. “Honestly, do you think giving your opponent a slight shock added to your fist will change anything?”

“Well, you’ve gotta admit, it would be quite surprising to the average guy—”

Trevor positioned his right palm toward Brandon. The air around it began to circulate, concentrating into the center of his hand. He then unleashed it, the pressure colliding with Brandon’s body, sending him soaring into the wall behind him, shattering the concrete it was composed of.

“Brandon!” Faith attempted to run out of the room to go and help him, only to be stopped by her mother.

“You can’t interfere, honey.”

“He just got shot into a wall! Please, can I just—”

“Young lady.” Rizzo interrupted her plea. “We are ones who possess Abilities. Our phantons are in an awakened state. Do you honestly think phantons of that level would let their vessel get damaged so easily? We can handle pain like this. I would have assumed you knew that already.”

“I-I know that… It’s just, he—”

“She’s just concerned with how he handles it, sir,” Pam explained. “He is new to combat, after all.”

“That’s fair,” Rizzo responded. “However, do not fear. Trevor would not purposely kill a fellow Unity member.”

Brandon managed to get himself out of the small hole that formed on the wall upon his impact, collapsing onto the floor, coughing horribly.

“What… the… What… the hell was… that!?”

“I call my Ability ‘Air Force.’ As you can manipulate electricity with your Ability, I can manipulate air with mine!”

Up above, Faith seemed to be pondering something, which Winona noticed.

“What’s up, Faith?”

“You know—a lot of the time in video games—lightning and air are grouped together with fire, earth, and water as the five natural elements.” She pointed at herself and then to Winona. “I’m fire, and you’re earth. Those two with their lightning and air… all we need is water, and we’d be a complete set!”

“Huh… That’s pretty weird, actually.” Winona nodded at her friend’s analysis.

“You ladies make a good point—” Rizzo remarked. “That certainly is interesting. I wonder what it could mean…?” He ended his question with a rather creepy grin, which caused the two to take a step away from the man.

“Come on! Air Force, like the plane thing!? Get creative!”

“Yes… like the plane thing.” Trevor sighed. “You call your Ability ‘Shepherd Surge,’ correct? I honestly don’t see the creativity in that one myself.”

“Oh, come on! It’s using my last name, and both words start with the letter ‘S,’ and—”

“All right, enough of this!” Trevor yelled. “Let’s go! Show me something more impressive!” He motioned his hands toward the floor, causing a gust of wind to kick up around the room, almost knocking Brandon off of his feet.

“Okay—gotta get past this guy’s wall-thing he’s making! Let’s get up close and personal!”

Brandon, electrified, dashed at Trevor once again. He sent his fist flying once again, colliding with the invisible barrier Trevor was creating. Instead of flinching from the pain, Brandon continued to attack—whacking at the wall with a barrage of punches and kicks.

“You trying to see if you can find a weakness in my barrier? I hate to tell you this, but you won’t find one!” Trevor formed more pressure around himself, pushing Brandon a few feet away.

“I will! I’ll show you!” Brandon leaped upward, getting quite high into the air. He positioned himself, ready to land a kick. As he descended on Trevor, electricity concentrated in his leg, lighting his attack up just like a lightning strike.

Trevor’s eyes widened, astonished at the sudden boost in not only power but speed. He could barely react as Brandon collided with his barrier, electricity scattering all around them.

“Oh? This is more like it!” Trevor swung his arm around, his palm connecting with Brandon’s leg. The force he built up was powerful enough to break right through Brandon’s electricity, knocking him away.

Brandon rolled on the ground a few times, attempting to stop. He was able to, but not after causing several red-hot sparks to form under his feet.

“Gah! Shit shit shit!” He stomped his feet several times, trying his best to prevent his shoes from catching on fire.

“Even after pulling off something impressive, you still act like that?” Trevor noted.

“I’m trying not to lose these shoes, man! Do you know how much to cost—ow!” Brandon held his leg in pain. It had taken damage from Trevor’s attack and felt like it was sprained.

“Well, you’re not gonna be fighting much more on that leg. I guess we’ll call it—” Trevor began to cough violently, clutching his chest.

“Uh, dude? You okay?” Brandon cautiously limped toward Trevor.

“You—” Trevor attempted to calm his cough, holding his hand to his face. A grin slowly formed. “You’re not as stupid as you look, I see.”

“Huh? What did I do?” Brandon looked at Trevor in curiosity.

“You took advantage of my Ability… and you used your own to ionize the very air I was manipulating. Quite clever. It would be hard to breathe under these conditions.”

Brandon gave Trevor a blank stare.

“…So, uh. What… does ionize mean, exactly?”

Trevor glared at his opponent in disbelief.

“All right. I apologize in advance for this, but you deserve it—”

Trevor formed air around Brandon’s feet, swiftly launching him upward. He collided with the ceiling before he could even process what was happening. As he began his descent, Trevor concentrated more air around Brandon, this time using it to slam him right into the ground below.

Now we’ll call it.”

“And that’s the match! Trevor is the victor!” Rizzo declared, casting his voice throughout the room.

“Brandon!” Faith, now allowed to, ran out of the room, with Winona quickly behind her. The two swung dashed down two flights of stairs, opening up the door into the training room.

Brandon lied there in the floor’s debris, unconscious. Trevor did not hold back in his final attack on the boy.

“Trevor, how could you!?” Faith yelled, holding Brandon’s hand.

“It was a match, it’s what happens. Especially when I was faced with danger. The guy could have completely shut off any attempt for me to breathe—I had to take action.”

“You were about to call the match before you started having difficulties breathing,” Winona commented. “It would only make sense for you to end it even sooner, wouldn’t you think?”

Trevor shrugged. “What’s done is done.” He approached Faith, glaring at her. “I gave him an honorable fight, seeing as though he had the courage to face me. You wouldn’t understand that, though, would you? You don’t even dare to use your own Ability.”

Faith stood up, forming a flame in her hand inches away from Trevor’s face.

“You were saying?”

“Oh? Nice progress. Although—” Trevor pointed at Faith shaking body. “You still have some things to work on, it seems.”

“Trust me—next time you hurt my friend like that, I will use my flame on you.”

“Is that right? Looking forward to how that will go.” Trevor began to walk toward the exit, waving back. “Sir Rizzo, I’m going to take a break.”

“Very well,” Rizzo responded. “Faith and Winona, take Mr. Shepherd to the infirmary. We want to make sure he’s all patched up for tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll hold off on discussing all the Unity-related topics I had for all of you.”

“Here… Let’s get him up.” Faith told Winona, as the two picked up Brandon, carrying his unconscious body out of the room, taking care not to catch up to Trevor.

Pam stepped close to Rizzo. “Sir, is that how you raised that boy?”

“Yes. He’s given great dedication to his training, and his curiosity only leads to even greater success. Honestly, his family should be proud of him.”

Pam sighed. “I know he was born without blue eyes like the rest of the Ouderkirks had. Even if they considered that ‘the end of the bloodline,’ he still had tremendous power. If he’s pushed too far, it could go to his head.”

“That’s all right. I want the boy to desire power. He’s who I plan to have succeed me in the future, once my body begins to finally wear down. I want him to feel like he’s truly one of their family members, and I want him to hold authority, just like his family should still be doing.”

Pam looked at Rizzo in astonishment. “Sir… does that mean—all along—you didn’t compete against Becca for your own benefit? In fact, it was all for—”

“Paul—” Rizzo cut Pam off, facing the boy off to his side. “What did you think of your partner’s capabilities?”

“He’s certainly new at all of this. But he was actually able to make Trevor of all people cough like that? I’m really looking forward to working with him!” Paul responded, almost cheerfully.

“Glad to hear. Teamwork is the most important thing here in Unity. You must always prioritize that over anything else.” Rizzo beckoned Paul to follow him. “Come. It’s time for one of your exams. We should get one in before you fight seriously tomorrow.”

Paul nodded, following the man out of the room. He turned to Pam, giving a wave.

As Pam waved back, her hand slowly formed into a fist. When the two were down the stairs and out of sight, she slammed it on the nearby wall.

“Goddammit, Rizzo…!”


Next: Chapter 2.6

Previous: Chapter 2.4

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.4

“So, this is Unity, huh?”

Brandon stared out the window next to Winona, the massive headquarters of the infamous group coming into view.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to this part of the city, yet this building looks familiar…”

“Have you seen it on TV?” Faith asked him.

“Nah, it didn’t have that huge has blue U thing in the center up there—”

“Our headquarters was built based on neoclassical architecture—” The Brown Suit interrupted Brandon. “You can tell by the pillars around the front entrance. Aside from Unity’s symbol up above, the entire structure is composed of limestone.”

“Huh? If you guys are Unity, shouldn’t you use that phantonite stuff?”

“There’s no need to waste it on the building,” Pam responded. “It costs too much money to produce that amount of phantonite—and even then—phantons can alter its structure. Intentional or not, phantons from Ability users within and ones relating to the Nexus Network would warp the building, causing it to collapse.”

“Limestone, along with quartz—” Winona started to explain. “—are two natural minerals that do have a relation to phantons. With the building made up of limestone, it can suppress the phantons from within and keep unnecessary interference from the outside.”

“She’s right.” Pam nodded. “Studying how quartz and limestone interact with phantons was how phantonite came to be in the first place.”

“Interesting, interesting…” Brandon seemed to understand what was explained to him, although he wasn’t so sure about the “interesting” part. “Anyway, I guess let’s head in?”

“Yeah, I suppose it’s time, huh…?” Faith said nervously.

Pam escorted the three inside the front doors of the building, leaving their bags in the van to be picked up later. They walked into a giant lobby, filled with several tables and chairs. There was the main reception desk, with two large doors on each side.

A lone woman sat at the desk. Her blond hair completely covered her face—currently focused on a laptop in front of her. As the group approached, blue eyes barely became visible, glaring out at the world.

“This is Veronica Wilton, part receptionist—part guardian of Unity.”

“Hi, hi.” Veronica greeted them in a monotone voice. She took out a paper from one of the many pockets covering her white coat, matching the other colors that Unity had. “This is the schedule, Mrs. Roswell.”

“Thank you.” Pam accepted the paper, glancing through what it had to say. “All right, this doesn’t seem too bad. Nothing that different from my own orientation years ago.” She looked at the three next to her, giving them a grin. “No need to worry, guys.”

“What does it say, mom?” Faith moved next to her mother to look at the list herself.

“See—nothing too exciting. A bunch of information today, then tomorrow you’ll begin doing some training exercises with your group leaders.”

“Group leaders?” Brandon asked.

“Oh, that’s right—Brandon, you’re not too familiar with all of this, so let me give you a quick rundown on that part—” Pam cleared her throat. “Basically, you’ll be put on a team with someone else that’s new here—in your case—someone with an Ability. Then, someone who’s already graduated Unity will be assigned to lead the two of you.”

“Right. I think I remember something about Faith and Winona being on a team together?”

“Yep!” Faith answered Brandon’s question. “Winona and I have done a few miscellaneous activities here already, and seeing as though we already know each other, we were put together.”

“Miscellaneous activities?” Brandon was confused. “What would those involve?”

“Basically just testing our Abilities,” Winona responded. “Although, Faith hasn’t had much time to do that yet, as she’s only recently begun to get her Ability down.”

“Right, right…” Faith giggled awkwardly. “Yet, we’ve also been here for various classes on general Unity-related things. Especially martial arts classes—now those are fun!”

“You know, it doesn’t seem all that ba—” Brandon stopped speaking at Pam placed her finger on her lips.

“Remember, Brandon. Try to avoid talking like that here.” Pam turned toward Veronica. “Anyway, we’re gonna head on in. Thank you again, Veronica.”

“It is my pleasure.”

Pam led the three into the giant doors on the left, leaving the lobby behind them just as quickly as they entered. They began to walk down a long, dimly lit gray hallway with a few doors on each side.

“Sheesh—she was kinda creepy. You said she was also part guardian of Unity? Is she some kind of robot or something?”

“No, nothing like that.” Pam chuckled. “Wearing the white coat indicates that she simply does your typical office work here, fooling the average public. But since you guys are entering Unity now, you can know that she’s actually incredibly powerful, with an Ability of her own.”

“Oh!?” Brandon’s eyes lit up. “What Ability is it!?”

“Even I don’t know that, actually. I’ve never seen it or heard any details. Rumor has it, that she—power-wise—rivals even Adam’s mother.”

“Woah… I heard Adam’s mom was a big shot here, is that right?”

“That’s right. She… She had the potential to easily be the Leader of Unity. Although, that was cut short, unfortunately…”

“Ah, man. Poor Adam. My mom was kinda crazy, but at least I knew her before the divorce happened. Can’t imagine what it was like not having a mom at all…”

Faith’s eyes fell to the ground upon hearing that statement from Brandon.

Pam sighed. “Right. You’re doing this to eventually help him, right? You must really care about him.”

“Well, there’s that—” Brandon scratched his head in embarrassment. “But… I also owe him.”

“Owe him?” Pam asked.

“Eh, it’s not important right now.” Brandon laughed.

“I hope he’s doing all right…” Faith said with a worried look.

“Relax, he’s got—” Brandon hushed himself. “He’s… He’s got us in his heart! Yeah! Totally nobody else helping him, haha!”

Faith and Winona glared at Brandon, while Pam stared at them in confusion.

“Anyway, here we are—”

At the end of the hallway, Pam opened up a heavy steel door. It led into a vast gray room, that was around the size of an average gymnasium, with two other doors off to the left and right. There was a long, single window on the other side of the room above them, which seemed to have several monitoring stations within.

“Well, there’s a lot of empty space, but it sure is gloomy in here…” Brandon stated.

“This is one of the training rooms used here. If we took the right door back in the lobby, we would have ended up in the other one.” Pam explained. “These rooms are mainly just for show, actually. What’s under these floors is—”

“Welcome!” Rizzo’s voice echoed throughout the room, interrupting Pam. The group looked up to see him standing in the center of the window, glaring down at them.

“What the hell!? How is he doing that!? What is his Ability!?” Brandon looked around in a panic.

“It’s… It’s a microphone, Brandon.” Faith sighed, patting his shoulder.

“Oh… Yeah, that’s a thing.”

“Winona Collins. Faith Roswell. Brandon Shepherd. In that order, you three have awakened marvelous Abilities. One could assume the gods themselves granted them to you. But, how did this come to pass?”

“Well, I wanted to stop the Brown Suits from taking my sister and ruining our family’s garden,” Winona responded bluntly.

“I had the person most precious to me dying in my hands, and through that stress, it awakened. Sure kept him warm until I got him to safety, at least.” Faith shrugged.

“Eh, k-kinda like her’s, except that he was getting stomped on by a man.” Brandon sighed, glancing at Faith.

“Person most precious to you, huh…?”

Pam looked upward at Rizzo, grinning with her hands on her hips. “That answer your question?”

“…Interesting group. Although it was a rhetorical question, I appreciate the honesty.” Rizzo cleared his throat. “Perhaps it was due to these circumstances, or it involved a force similar to fate? Regardless, you are here today, ready to begin your quest. What quest? Your quest to learn all the values of Unity, and to protect our country of Requiem!”

“Uh-huh. I’m sure that’s the glorious reason.” Brandon said sarcastically, followed by a nudge from Pam.

“I told you not to—”

“You’ve got quite the mouth, Brandon Shepherd.”

A different voice was heard on the speakers. Approaching the window, Trevor revealed himself.

“What the? Who are you? And what’s with your hair?” Brandon stepped back nervously.

“That’s Trevor Benjamin—” Winona began explaining. “He’s a year ahead of us in his Unity development, and incredibly strong. I’ve had a few practice matches with him before, and have lost every time.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, Winona,” Trevor stated. “Out of the four new recruits this year, you’ve certainly shown the most potential.”

“Huh? Wait—four?” Brandon questioned.

“Yes—” Pam held Brandon’s shoulder. “As you know, Faith and Winona are on a team. If it were only the three of you, we would have just paired you all together. But, since there’s another person, we can keep the traditional setup.”

“Where is this other person I’m supposed to be with—and who ruined a perfect threesome!?”

“Threesome, huh…?” Faith held her head, sighing at Brandon’s wording.

“He’s right here, actually,” Trevor responded. “Here—Paul, introduce yourself to your new teammate.”

As Trevor gestured to the side of him, nobody appeared.

“Oh, I get it!” Brandon’s face lit up. “This person’s got invisibility! That’s a cool Ability!”

“No—” Trevor sighed, reaching down toward the floor next to him, out of sight of the others below. “He’s just lying here—he does that.”

Trevor pulled up a person in his arms. The boy moved like a rag doll—swinging around loosely.

“Sorry, Trevor. Had my hearing turned off. These machines in here were bugging me too much.”

The young man placed his feet on the ground, finally standing up straight. He adjusted his round glasses, which did not seem to fix their crooked placement over his brown eyes.

“Hi, I’m Paul. Paul Callahan.” He fidgeted with his hair, which was wrapped up in a bun behind his head. “Nice to meet you.”

“Interesting guy—hi, I’m Brandon Shepherd! I guess you and I are gonna be working together?”

“It would appear so! I apologize in advance if you have to carry me around sometimes.”

“…Carry you around?”

“Yep. My body has gotten used to not using any unnecessary energy, so a lot of the time I’m just on the floor for the hell of it!”

“That sounds like an extreme case of Adam…” Brandon sighed.

“Well, then that’s good!” Faith gave him a thumbs up. “Maybe it means you two will be able to work well together?”

“I-I’m not sure… hopefully?”

“Well, that will be put to the test starting tomorrow!” Rizzo stated. “You’ll be meeting the Unity member in charge of each group, and you’ll be facing off against them—working together with your partner.”

“Facing off!? L-Like a real fight!?” Brandon asked anxiously.

“No, nothing serious—” Faith explained. “It’s simply to test how well you use your Abilities, and how well you work on a team. You should be okay on that front—having so much experience in sports after all.”

“I’m not used to trying to inflict pain on others—although I have kicked a few guys in the nuts before… as well as taken a few hits myself…”

“Good to know!” Pam chuckled, as the other two girls giggled awkwardly. “I think you’ll be okay. There’s a lot more you’ll have to worry about in the future.”

In the room above, Trevor turned toward Rizzo. “Might I request something?”

“What is it?” Rizzo asked, keeping his eyes focused below.

“I’m curious about this guy’s Ability. It involved electricity, correct? I would like to see how mine fares against it.”

Rizzo smirked. “At his current level, your Ability will fare extremely well. However—if you’re curious about it—then I don’t mind.”

“Thank you, sir.” Trevor looked down directly at Brandon. “Did you hear that, Brandon Shepherd?”

Brandon did not say anything—his terrified face answered Trevor’s question for him.


Next: Chapter 2.5

Previous: Chapter 2.3

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