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

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.3

“So let me get this straight—” Charlotte sighed. “You have an Ability for temporarily taking someone’s hearing capabilities and adding them to your own? All right, that’s fine. But what I don’t get is how you took no precautions for someone actually seeing you?”

“I sure did!” Muraco yelled. “I kept my hearing in focus! If someone were to approach, I would have sensed it!”

“So, why did you allow that couple to almost see us? Surely you should have heard them long before they got that close?”

“I-I was distracted! I wasn’t expecting… yourself to have had a bad past as well…”

“I see…”

Charlotte had used her powers to get Adam and Muraco out of the hotel. They were now sitting on the floor of the forest north of Minuet.

“Listen—” Adam stretched out his body, which was up against a tall oak tree. “We’re out of there now, and the important thing is we’re all safe—”

“Adam, why did you agree to something so stupid!? At least take it outside somewhere, like right here! Nobody would be around!” Charlotte said, clearly irritated.

“Remember our conversation earlier? I love to wing things. The little guy right here challenged me, and I knew his strength, so I couldn’t just say no, tell him to have a nice day, and walk off.”

“Unbelievable.” Charlotte held her head in frustration. “Good thing I found the security room for the place, so I can handle any CCTV footage. But seeing the damage around the door… This will still alert someone.”

“Relax. They’ll probably think it’s just sudden asbestos damage.”

Charlotte looked at Adam, puzzled. “I… I don’t think I actually know what that is? Can’t recall coming across it in my investigation…”

“Good.” Adam nodded. “So you won’t know I totally made up that being a potential cause for something like that.”

Charlotte facepalmed. “Adam, you’re grounded.”

“You can’t ground me!”

“I’m going to. Anyway, Muraco—” She shifted her attention toward the rabbit, who had been watching their exchange curiously. “There’s a flaw with that hearing stealing Ability you have.”

“And what would that be?”

“If someone were to completely lose their hearing out of nowhere, wouldn’t that cause alarm?”

“I’ve considered that…” Muraco responded. “Usually, I just hope they don’t notice? I also can’t get it to work on people with Abilities, since we’re on the subject.”

“A-All right, so basically, what I’m coming to understand today, is that both of you just like to wing things!?” Charlotte let out a huge sigh. “This is ridiculous. I’m taking a nap. If there seems to be limited activity at the hotel later, we can go back.”

“Shouldn’t you take care of the security cameras first?” Adam asked her.

Charlotte groaned, sinking into the ground. She headed off toward the hotel to take care of the duty only she, unfortunately, could accomplish.

“So, Muraco—” Adam stood up from his spot. “What kind of information do you have? Anything that can help us out?”

Muraco seemed uncomfortable with the question. “I… I’m going to be honest, not really. I was freed from my experiments all those years ago, by someone. Then, I wandered around Requiem. That’s all I’ve been doing—while fading in and out of existence…”

“That sounds like what Charlotte dealt with as well…” Adam put his hand on his chin. “It’s familiar, but you don’t seem to be a ghost…”

“That’s correct. Still, my body hasn’t changed in the slightest. And I mean… When it comes to memories, I do have some that picked up over the years, although they have nothing to do with what you two are trying to figure out.”

“Anything would help. Besides, I want to learn more about you, regardless.”

“Human… I-I mean, Adam…” Muraco sighed. “Very well. I’ll tell you about them later, once Charlotte returns. For now, let’s take it easy.”

“All right, sounds good.” Adam wandered over to a small clearing within the trees. He peered out and gazed at the small city of Minuet.

“I’ve always liked this place. It’s larger than Prelude, but not by much. They like to build wooden houses here, and they look really nice. I wouldn’t mind living in one, someday…”

Muraco hopped over next to him. “Although, that hotel you’re staying at looked kind of hideous.”

“It’s all right, you can barely see it since the school’s blocking it.” He pointed off toward the right, where a sizeable red-bricked building stood nearby them. “That’s our high school. Let me tell you, I don’t have fond memories of that place.”

“And a tunnel connects it to the library—that building over there?” Muraco gestured at the tall gray building that was slightly to the left of the school, almost directly in front of them.

“Yep. Our school didn’t have a library of its own, so we always had to walk through it to get books—or whatever.” Adam sighed. “To think, there was something of importance down there this entire time.”

“Well, let’s get some rest for the time being,” Muraco suggested. “We’ll figure it out later.”

Adam agreed with a small nod. Muraco lied down right in the grass beneath him, stretching out. As Adam walked back to the tree he had been resting against, he felt a cool breeze pass him, rippling through the leaves above. He gazed up at the top of the forest, where warm sunshine descended down upon him.

“The atmosphere really is nice here, huh?”

His vision shifted toward the right of him.

“Although… That’s near here as well…”

 

Roy was moving boxes all around the store floor, attempting to fill up empty shelves as fast as he could. Brian currently operated the cash register, tapping his finger on the counter in boredom.

“Boss! You really gotta hire some new people! This is too much work for one guy like me!”

“We have to get people to apply first—” Brian sighed. “There aren’t too many people in Prelude who would want a job like this, unfortunately. Besides, it’s not that bad. Look at you. I’ve never seen you work this much!”

“Cause you’d grill me if I wasn’t working!” Roy finished placing bottles of dish soap on the shelf, crushing up the box that they came in. “Anyway, I gotta piss.”

“Enjoy your piss. While you’re in there, can you clean the toilets?” Brian asked.

“Now that’s just cruel!” Roy stomped off toward the back of the store where the restrooms were located.

“I mean, I would have done it, but since you’re being so nice…” Brian grabbed a magazine that was on display next to the counter. It featured several trending topics that had been headliners in the news lately.

“Let’s see… This is just crap young people are talking about. I don’t care about this celebrity couple—I’ve never even heard of them before!” Brian scanned the pages.

“Nothing about what’s happened recently… They don’t even go into that thing over Nexus City at all! Is this Unity censoring things…?”

The front doors of Ann’s slid open, as two Brown Suits entered the store.

“Speaking of the devil—listen, fellas. I already told you everything I saw after I reported it that night. Unless you’re here to shop? In that case, we have fifty percent off—”

“My, my. What a gloomy little store we have here.”

Brian heard the voice of a young woman behind the two Brown Suits, who moved off to the side to reveal her.

“Purple short hair? Man, young people these days—”

“Young? I’m a fresh graduate of Unity, after all.”

“Hmm?” Brian noticed the usual black coat, and eventually located the blue pin, which was placed in her hair above the left ear.

“Still, that’s pretty damn young. Anyway, what do you want? Like I said—”

“Brian Carpenter, yes? You’re the manager of this store? My name is Monica Teske. I am the Unity member in charge of the Brown Suit squad that is to patrol your town while Pamela Roswell is away for a few days.”

“I was wondering why I was seeing more of them around today…”

Monica approached the counter, her gray eyes ominously peering into Brian’s.

“You said something interesting a moment ago. You said you already told us ‘everything you saw’ after reporting the incident the other night?”

“That’s right,” Brian responded, unfazed. “Mind telling me what’s so interesting about that?”

“A creature like you reported was clearly one created out of chaons. Do you understand how rare that is these days? That was more common way before you and I were born, around the time when witches existed, and rituals were performed.”

“Well, there was that one incident close to two decades ago—”

“And it seems the Rewrite Phenomenon is related as well. You’ve heard about that, correct?”

Brian sighed. “Yeah, I have. I figured it was something like that when the town seemed to be fine after that huge explosion.”

“That’s correct. You see that there are a lot of serious matters regarding this case. Therefore, I take everything quite seriously.”

“That makes sense. So, why would you question me after I—”

“Have you ever heard of ‘Past to Present’?” Monica tilted her head, with a sly expression.

“Is that a band or something?” Brian shrugged. “Never heard of them.”

“It’s not. I was curious as to how much Unity actually let out to the public, but I guess the name of my Ability was kept a secret.”

“Your Ability?”

“Yes.” Monica giggled. “There are a lot of complexities that you wouldn’t understand, but here’s a basic trick I can do—”

Monica’s eyes shot wide open, looking as though they were about to pop right out of their sockets.

“That’s kind of disturbing.” Brain chuckled, hiding his extreme discomfort.

I can see into the past.”

“…Huh?”

“I can go back in time about a month or so and see exactly what transpired in any location I investigate.” Her gaze shifted toward the front doors. “I already checked outside before I walked in here. You reported that the creature took off in the direction of the woods north of town, yes?” She began to laugh.

“You were lyyyyyyyyying!

“Uh, what?”

“A girl saved you. She dragged the disgusting creature away from here. And what’s most interesting out of anything we’ve discussed so far, is her. White hair? That blue armor? If she’s who I think she is, then we must look into this immediately!

“You—how—”

“She seems awfully similar to a girl who worked here at the counter… what does her name tag say? Charlotte?”

“That’s—” Brian began to panic.

Bingo! Your reaction says it all. All right, you two!” Monica beckoned the two Brown Suits. “Take this man into custody. We’ll question him further at the police station.”

“W-Wait!” Brian did not hesitate to show his fear, yet cooperated fully with the Brown Suits. Instead of handcuffing him, they simply held one arm each and dragged him out of the store.

“Sorry, Mr. Carpenter. But Unity’s rule is absolute. And I will not have anyone tear that down. I will check every detail there is.”

As Monica exited, the store was left empty. All that remained was the lone boy hiding in the back, who had witnessed the entire ordeal.

“Dammit! They can’t take the boss away like this! Besides—” He ran up an aisle right toward the cash register. “There’s no way you’re leaving me to deal with this store by myself!”

Roy rustled his hair, struggling to figure out what to do.

“I should close the store, I guess? Then… Then… I’m not sure! Unity… Police station… I know! I can ask her what to do!” Roy let out a heavy sigh.

“This is going to be awkward…”


Next: Chapter 2.4

Previous: Chapter 2.2

Table of Contents

Going to Start Making Daily Advertising Posts

To help promote the series, I will begin posting advertisements each day. Hopefully this won’t come off as too annoying, rather, it helps people get drawn into reading the story. I want to figure out a way to make each of these posts unique and entertaining, yet they’ll all have this sort of thing at the end of them:

Volume 2 is ongoing!

Check out the Table of Contents!

Support me on Patreon!

Sunday Salutations #3

Sunday Salutations #3 is available for Patreons here!

Reminder on the Patreon goals:

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

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

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

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

Chapter 2.2

“So, you tried to cast some morbid illusion again?” Adam asked, slapping the table. “It was an interesting one, much like your dead rabbit in front of my house, but it’s strange. You didn’t sneak attack me this time.”

Muraco stood on the counter in silence, with his tiny fists raised. A baffled expression slowly formed on his face.

“Human… What on earth are you talking about!?”

“Don’t try to deny it. This is the second time I saw some freak-ass scene before you showed up. What’s it all about? Some scare tactic?”

“I-I have no clue! It’s true I may have a few skills at my disposal, but that’s certainly not one of them!”

Adam raised his eyebrow. “A few tricks? So you can do more than jump around, kicking things?”

“Don’t worry about it, human! I am here, once again!”

“Gonna try to throw me into one of those portals in Nexus again? Sorry, but if you recall, I’ve already taken a trip into one! Not only that, but I’ve gotten out of it as well. So, that’s not gonna work!”

Adam sighed. “Although, I still don’t know how I got out of it…”

“I am curious as to what occurred that night. However, that’s not why I’m here—ahem.” Muraco cleared his throat. “Human—are those words you spoke that night accurate?”

“Huh? Which ones?” Adam asked, rubbing his head. “I had a lot going on that night, so you’ll have to jog my memory.”

“You want to go down the path that will make everyone happy… correct? And you want to at least get the world turning toward the direction where that can be a legitimate thing one can do?”

“Oh, that? Yeah, that’s what I would like to do. Figuring out how to do it is going to be the tricky part.”

“That’s correct…” Muraco nodded. “You would need a will of steel—no—a will of diamond to work toward that goal… therefore—” He pointed at Adam with his paw. “I wish to help you achieve this goal!”

“Huh? Really?” Adam was baffled. “What happened to your hatred to the Ouderkirks, and wanting to throw me away?”

“If I can manipulate you and, yes, even that Ouderkirk demon, to work alongside me, then perhaps I won’t have to dispose of you!”

“Manipulate? Dispose of?” Adam sighed. “Man, I could have sworn you called yourself a hero, but here you are, saying that kinda crap.”

“Would you not appreciate my assistance, human? Want to see just how strong I can be?”

“I mean… I’m not supposed to have a living person helping me…” Adam smirked. “Charlotte passes, cause of the dead thing, and you could pass cause of the rabbit thing.”

“I see. Well, then I guess it works—”

“How can I trust you, though? You did kidnap me after all—” Adam let out a loud sigh. “…Charlotte did that too, didn’t she?”

“I’ll fight you then! If you win, then I’ll have to listen to you, and if I win, you have to listen to me!” Muraco put his paws around his waist, standing with a smug, confident posture.

“We can’t fight in here! I’m surprised nobody has even come in after all the noise that’s been going on!”

“Oh, you can thank me for that.” Muraco pointed at himself. “That’s one of my—what do you call it? Abilities! Yeah! I can deafen creatures around me, absorbing their hearing capabilities to boost my own! On top of my already powerful ears, it’ll make sure nobody comes in either without alerting me—”

“You have multiple Abilities!?” Adam was shocked at how casually Muraco told him that fact. “What even are you!?”

“I guess you can call me a ‘Chimera’ of sorts. That’s what the Ouderkirks did to me. They tested on all kinds of animals, seeing if they could awaken Abilities within them. My appearance, as well as my multiple Abilities, are a result of those experiments. To my knowledge, I was the only creature to survive them.”

“Well, that brings up a good point, actually…” Adam started to stretch his body.

“What’s that, human?”

“You’ll be a treasure trove of information. So, yeah. Why not? Let’s fight. I’ll win, and you’ll help us figure things out.”

“Hah! You’ll be the one to help me out, human! There’s no way you can possibly compete with me—”

An apple flew at Muraco with a remarkable amount of speed. Adam had been holding it the entire time, ready to use it in this fashion. Muraco lowered his ears, shielding his head as the apple connected, bits splattering all around.

“Hey, I didn’t say we could start—”

Adam was already directly in front of Muraco, the World Mirror forming a thin, ghostly line around his body. His hand was lit up as well, ready to strike down.

“Let’s go, then.”

Muraco leaped up with his legs, evading the jab at the last second. His ears came into contact with the ceiling, and with enough force, Muraco pushed his body back downward, attempting to stomp on Adam.

Adam flipped his body off to the side; his ghostly aura making his movement difficult for the rabbit to track, as Muraco assumed that he aimed well enough for a hit.

“He’s moving differently this time. The aura’s not unleashing like crazy… He has it under control, surrounding his body just enough as to where it gives him a good enough boost.”

As Adam landed, he flicked an object out of his hand, heading to Muraco at much swifter speed than the apple. Using his ears, Muraco blocked it once again, although this time, he felt a slight sting.

“He picked up a piece of the broken glass from the dishes!?”

Adam dashed at Muraco with the same attack as before, his hand fueled with the World Mirror’s energy.

“You’re really easy to read, you know that?” Muraco bent his knees, ducking from the second jab Adam attempted. He raised his ears and propelled Adam away from him, pushing him toward the door to the lobby.

Adam’s feet slid across the floor, as he attempted to stop himself from ending up where there would potentially be people. Although, something caught his attention away from that fear.

It was as if he was building up energy from sliding backward. He could feel the World Mirror focusing a lot of power into his lower body, even though he wasn’t trying that hard to come to a stop.

Typically, he considered this amount of energy buildup to be powerful enough to blow his legs clean off his body. But the World Mirror was operating differently this time.

It flung Adam back at Muraco, which ridiculous speeds. At that moment, the thought entered his mind, which he would only be able to process to the fullest later.

It was as if the World Mirror was reflecting himself back toward Muraco.

Before his collision with the rabbit, which would have most certainly blown a hole right through the hotel, Adam had stopped. It took him a second to realize what had halted his movement.

Glowing blue cloth had emerged from Muraco’s scarf, creating several ribbons that had grabbed hold of Adam’s body.

“I can expand and reshape my scarf, even using phantons to strengthen it. Good thing I stopped you, we don’t want to destroy this place.”

“So you can steal someone’s hearing, and do that thing with your scarf.” Adam attempted to struggle his way out of Muraco’s grasp. “Please tell me that’s it?”

“I call them ‘Sound Thief’ and ‘Scarf Manipulation.’ And don’t forget ‘Bunny Hop,’ which is basically me using my rabbit skills! And no, that’s not all.”

“You freaking bunny…! All right! I’m gonna finish this before you can use anything el—” Adam screamed as Muraco tightened his hold on Adam, moving a ribbon around his neck.

“I have you right where I want you! I’ll just squeeze you until you pass out! Then I will be the victor!”

“Dammit! Guess I can’t hold back now—”

The ribbons holding Adam had been slashed apart, causing him to fall on the ground. Muraco was astonished, knowing instantly that Adam was not the cause. His guard was raised, attempting to find the source.

Glancing to the right, he saw Charlotte. Her back was turned, wielding her typical blue long sword. However, she retained her black-haired form.

“The demon! It was you! How dare you interrupt our fight!” Muraco leaped at Charlotte without hesitation. As he went for a kick, Charlotte spun around and blocked it with her blade, knocking Muraco back toward his previous position.

“I could sense the fight easily, so of course I came back.” Charlotte held out her empty hand, forming a second sword. Adam watched her in silence.

“She can form objects in that state? Is this due to that energy that came out of me?”

“Demon!” Muraco pointed at Charlotte. “You were not here, so let me tell you about the deal the human and I came to! We’re to fight, and whoever is the victor will give the other orders!”

Charlotte looked over at Adam. “Did you really come to such a stupid deal? Why the hell would you even consider fighting in here to be a good idea? And even then, what are these orders he’s talking about?”

Adam shrugged. “Listen, I haven’t slept well this week, so forgive me on the ‘fighting indoors when there are probably people around’ thing. He’s willing to help us out, and I figured he’d be a good source of information. The whole ‘who takes orders from who’ thing is his idea. I wanted to beat him so I wouldn’t have to listen to—”

“I recall you talking all about this rabbit, and how it kidnapped you that night. You really want to work with someone like—”

“Charlotte.” Adam stared at her with a blank expression. “Do… Do you think you are in a position to say anything like that?”

Charlotte lowered her weapons in shame. In her head, she tried so desperately to construct a counter-argument—but failed miserably.

“All right. That’s fair.”

“Human…” Muraco stepped forward. “How can you talk to someone as vile as this demon so casually?

“Vile!?” Adam put no effort into hiding his anger. “Just like I told you during our last encounter, I know Charlotte, and she’s not vile in any fashion. Just because her family is the cause of your suffering, doesn’t mean she’s to blame!”

“Muraco, is it?” Charlotte squatted down in front of Muraco, who put his arms up in defense.

“Get away from me, d-demon!” Muraco’s voice shook. It was evident to Adam and Charlotte that he was afraid.

“I would apologize for what my family has done to you, but I’m not sure if I’m in a position to do so. I’ve… lost the majority of my memories, so I’m not sure if I had any role in your suffering. However, what I can say is…” Charlotte took a deep breath. “I’ve had some memories return to me, and… they’re not pleasant ones.”

“What were these memories?” Muraco asked her.

“I… I can’t get into details, but—”

“Can’t get into details!? I’ll have you know that the experiments I was a part of absolutely ruined me! The amount of agony and suffering and-and… I can’t go a day without feeling the pain, inside and out! ‘Unpleasant’? Yeah, I’m sure daddy not buying you that horse sure was—”

“They used me!” Charlotte shouted right at the rabbit, causing him to trip and fall. “From what I can remember… I wasn’t at the level they wanted me to be when it came to combat. Therefore, what else can I do? There were plenty of options, but when it came down to it, my blood was just too precious to let it go to waste…”

Adam’s eyes widened. He had a feeling where Charlotte was taking this conversation. From the bottom of his heart, he begged for it not to be true.

“…There were… many different men… Ones they deemed to be fit enough to keep the power of the Ouderkirk blood flowing strong. Of course, I didn’t know any of them. Of course… I didn’t have a say in the matter… It… absolutely ruined me, as well.”

“D-de…” Muraco could not only speak but could not muster up the energy or the will to call Charlotte a demon, as he had been.

The two felt a gust of the wind begin to pick up inside the cafeteria. They looked to see it emerging from Adam. He was staring at the floor, not moving a muscle. There was no glow from the World Mirror, simply tremendous pressure, causing cracks to form on each side of the door frame behind him.

Charlotte stood up, slowly approaching him. “I knew you would be upset if I told you… I wanted to, but I just—”

“There’s no way I’m upset at you. Not at all.” Adam said in a shaky voice. “I do have one question though—” Adam’s eyes met Charlotte’s. They as well lacked the glow of the World Mirror; it was merely his angry gray eyes that were presented.

“If these people aren’t alive anyone, then who am I supposed to beat to death?”

Charlotte continued to approach Adam, forming a half-smile.

“Nobody.”

“But—”

She embraced Adam, going against the gale that he was creating.

“You’ve already done so much for me. Please don’t add a revenge quest to the mix. I’m okay… no—I’m going to be okay. Cause I have you by my side. No—I have everyone else as well. Even—” Charlotte turned toward Muraco. “You, if you want to join us.”

Adam’s power faded while Muraco approached the two.

“So, they were even cruel to their own family. I see…” Muraco sighed, holding back how upset he was at the fact that somebody else suffered from the same source. “I… sincerely apologize. I was… scared, once I sensed you existed.”

Charlotte let go of Adam and sat down on the floor next to Muraco. “I can understand you being afraid. If you would like, I would like to help you deal with it.”

“I-I mean… Only if I can help you… deal with your stuff, too…” Muraco said bashfully.

Charlotte smiled gently, nodding her head. “Yes, you absolutely can.”

Adam walked over to the two. “I want to help both of you… If that’s okay?”

“You already are, Adam.” Charlotte looked up and grinned at the boy.

“Human—I mean—Adam, apparently. We’ll save our battle for another time. For now, I will cooperate with whatever you plan on doing. A-Although… one day, I will take over!”

“Sure, sure. Sounds good. I think I actually know what we should do first—” Adam pointed at the door, embarrassed at what he had done.

“Get the hell out of—”

An elderly couple had entered the doors of the hotel, walking through the lobby toward the front desk. The cafeteria was clearly visible off to their left.

“Crap!” Muraco shouted panicking. “I stole the hearing of the person working at the desk. They’re in a position as to where they can hardly see what’s going on in here—” He pointed at a large plant placed in a pot on the side of the desk. “—that right there blocks their vision. So all good, right? No, now these two could see us!”

“Then let’s go.” Charlotte grabbed Adam’s hand, pulling him down toward her. She wrapped her other arm around Muraco, phasing the three of them through the floor, out of sight.


Next: Chapter 2.3

Previous: Chapter 2.1

Table of Contents

Chapter 2.1

Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock…

Adam’s eyes were shut in his attempt to fall asleep. The hotel’s bed was not soft enough for his tastes, along with the fact that the clock on the wall next to him was far too obnoxious.

Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock…

Another issue was the multiple blankets he had covering him. As it was the summertime, one would usually not have this many.

Yet, it was required, as the girl who lied next to him could not help but radiate bitter cold from her body.

Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock…

Adam had enough. He rolled over, poking Charlotte profusely.

“I can’t do this.”

“Can’t do what?” Charlotte rolled over and stared right into Adam’s eyes. It was as if she was not asleep, to begin with. “You being forced to leave Prelude? I know it’s difficult… but it’s too late now. Don’t worry though, I’m here—”

“No no no, not that. This sleeping situation. There are a lot of factors that are messing with me right now, but I’m curious as to why you, a walking air conditioner, decided to park it right next to me?”

“Oh, that?” Charlotte sat up. She wore a simple black t-shirt and black shorts, which matched what Adam currently had on. Although it was simple attire, Adam could not help but imagine how Brandon would react to the current situation.

“Yeah, that. And I mean… I’m not sure how common it is for people who are just friends to sleep this close together.”

“I see your point.” Charlotte agreed. “Although, this room ended up only having one bed. And with what we’ve been attempting to do the last few days, we both need our rest. So I figured we could share the comfort of this bed together.”

“Right, but still…” Adam sighed. “I’m fine with it, aside from the cold issue. But are you? You didn’t seem to hesitate.”

“Yeah, it’s fine. Plus, I figured we could save some cash by simply having me in the bed, instead of having to lower the thermostat. You did complain about the heat.”

“True, true…” Adam finally sat up as well.

“Adam… Listen.” Charlotte seemed hesitant to talk, which Adam took note of.

“What’s up? Are you not feeling good? I know you’ve been going at it trying to figure out how to get into the place. Phasing through things too often probably sucks, right—”

“No, it’s not that. Ever since that strange energy entered me, I’ve been able to handle my power quite well in this form.”

“Well, that’s good. It bothers me though… You tried to enter underneath the library, only to have something force you out of there. I’m honestly curious as to what’s truly down there, aside from a source of information.”

Charlotte sighed, but couldn’t help but smile. “Your mind really likes to analyze everything when you’re trying to sleep, huh?”

“Yeah, it sucks. I usually just want to pass right out, but I’m so focused on thinking about stuff. In this case, though, I think it’s a tad understandable.” Adam sighed. “Anyway, I’m sorry. What did you want to say?”

Charlotte remained silent. Adam could tell that it was taking a lot of energy for her to form the words. Eventually, she began.

“…That night, when I was fighting that man… Some memories returned to me.”

“Huh?” Adam was surprised. “Are you serious!? That’s good news—”

Reading Charlotte’s face, Adam quickly retracted that statement.

“It… It is good when it reveals that I can remember things… But—no. The memories I recovered were not good ones, at all. They… My family… I…”

“Charlotte, it’s okay if it’s hard to talk about. You don’t have to force yourself. You can tell me whenever you’re ready. Or, you don’t have to tell me at all, if that’s how you feel.”

“But-But I want you to trust me! I don’t want to hide anything for you!”

“Don’t worry about that. I do trust you. And remember, even if it turns out you’ve done some bad stuff in the past, I’ll fight for the Charlotte here and now. I’ll keep saying that—if you need me to.”

“Right…” Charlotte’s gaze looked off to the headboard of the bed, then back to Adam. “You should know that I trust you as well.”

Adam grinned, happy to hear Charlotte’s words. He let out a loud yawn, rolling over to face the wall. “I’m gonna try to get some sleep again. We’ll review some stuff before you go investigating the library tomorrow.

“Sounds like a plan. I’ll try not to freeze you to death.” Charlotte giggled, lying back down herself. Their brief conversation had encouraged the two for their future endeavors.

They both needed all the encouragement that they could get.

 

Alexander was wandering the Blue World, wielding a flame made up of Psycho Matter in his hand. The pink glow lit up his vision, as the usual dark blue sky had turned entirely black, making it difficult to see.

“It’s been doing this shit for days now. Is it cause of my fight with that Adam guy? I’ve never seen this before…”

Small footsteps caught Alexander’s attention. He turned around swiftly, raising his flame toward the source. An old woman approached him, having evident difficulty in walking. Yet, she walked, seemingly not aware that Alexander stood in her path.

“Another one? How many of these dead bastards have there been today? Freaking breaking records here!” Alexander laughed loudly.

“Quit wandering this place and go away! To heaven or hell, I could give two shits!” With a wave of his hand, Psycho Matter had engulfed the lady in an instant. The raging energy tore apart her body, causing her to crumble away into dust.

“There, ya old shit. Better than mindlessly wandering this place. I much prefer that being the reason I do this…” Swatting at the Psycho Matter before him, Alexander caused it to fade as quickly as it had formed. “Although, ghosts wandering the streets of Nexus probably wouldn’t be too lovely. Guess the bastard Rizzo’s got a point with that…”

He groaned. “There have been so many portals opening up lately. The issues with the Nexus Network are gonna become official soon, and it’ll blow up in that bastard’s face. Wonder how he’ll respond? Gotta prepare for the worst—when that happens.”

“Thank… you… young… man…”

“Huh?” Alexander held his head, analyzing how he had just heard that voice inside of it. “Damn… Why is this a thing now? I’ve never heard their voices… up until recently.”

 

“…just what makes you think you can take that away from me…”

 

“That freaking Adam kid… I learned nothing about his Ability, yet for whatever weird-ass reason when I tried to probe info out of him during that depressive episode… I heard his thoughts. The hell? Why would I suddenly develop that skill out of nowhere? Ya made me hear some awkward shit, damn Psycho Matter!”

Alexander held his hand up. A few seconds later, his Psycho Matter had ripped open a portal that had been attempting to form in front of him.

“Although this could be a breakthrough. If I can figure out how to utilize this… then things can start to change.”

Alexander dashed through the portal, ending up in an alleyway within Nexus City. He blocked his eyes as the morning sunlight nearly blinded him.

“One day, I’m gonna encase you in Psycho Matter and freeze the whole goddamn world while doing so, ya bastard.”

“Threatening stars now, are we? Getting pretty confident in your Ability, huh?”

Alexander turned toward the voice. A young man the same age as he stood there, which he recognized immediately.

“White-haired bastard! Lovely to see ya on this fine morning!”

“Trevor Benjamin. I’ll keep reminding you of my name until you actually call me that one day. Things like ‘white-haired bastard’ or ‘green-eyed shithead’ tend to get old.”

“Nah, I like to think they’re still pretty good!” Alexander chuckled. “Anyway, what do ya want? You’re here, so you obviously got my scheduled path for today.”

“Yeah—” Trevor nodded. “Rizzo’s calling upon you. He wants you to be present during the orientation for new Unity members this year.”

Alexander burst out in laughter. “What kind of bullshit!? So much for that ‘keeping me away so I don’t interfere with their development’ crap! Is the man starting to become senile!?”

“I believe there’s a good reason that he came up with that—”

“And there ya go, sucking up to him. Ya know, you’re around my level in strength, white-haired bastard. Ya don’t have to deal with his shit as often as ya do.”

Trevor sighed. “There. Bringing up the original reason as to why he doesn’t like having you around. You honestly think you’re gonna get me to help you team up against him?”

“It’s a good idea, ya know!” Alexander smirked. “I just hope ya come to your damn senses one of these days. He might have saved ya and raised ya up to where ya are today—but don’t be blind to his bullshit. Everyone else isn’t!”

Trevor did not respond. He simply turned away from Alexander and began to walk off.

“Just be sure to get to Unity at a reasonable time today, Alexander.”

A gust of wind formed underneath Trevor’s feet, and in a blink of an eye, he leaped up into the sky, quickly fading out of sight.

Alexander cracked his knuckles in frustration. “Damn. This is why I usually work alone. Too many emotional dickheads.” He leaned up against the nearby wall, taking a butterscotch candy out of his pocket.

“If Rizzo is smart, however… There’s something off. He would never want me at something like this. What’s he planning?”

Unwrapping the candy, he tossed it into his mouth.

“I’ve got a bad feeling. I should act on it.”

 

Brandon shoved his duffle bag into the back of the silver van that sat outside of the police station. He struggled, as there was a considerable lack of space, especially with Faith and Winona’s bags already inside. Eventually, he was successful and slammed the door shut.

“Geez! How much stuff did you two put in your bags!?” Brandon asked panting. “We’re only staying there a few nights!”

“Are you sure you’re up for this, Brandon?” Winona expressed her concern. “If forcing a bag inside a van tires you out, I’m not sure if Unity work is up your alley…”

“You know I have lots of stamina! It’s just… I couldn’t sleep too well last night.”

Faith stepped toward Brandon, causing him to jump a little in surprise. “You’re nervous, aren’t you?”

“W-Well, yeah. There’s that. But also, my dad stayed up with me for a while. We talked a lot. More than we ever had before, actually.”

“Hopefully it was about good things?” Faith asked.

“I guess so. He hasn’t really grilled me about not going for soccer. He thinks this is a good profession to go into, aside from… you know. The bad stuff. He’s concerned about that.”

“Well, that sounds about right.” Winona chimed in. “It’s a great honor to become a part of Unity. However, with all of the corruption stories that have been going around in recent years…”

“Right, right. Well—” Brandon stretched his arms. “Time to kick this corruption on its ass, from the inside out!”

Brandon felt a hand on his shoulder, which almost made his soul leave his body. He turned around just in time to see Pam, as he was prepared to use his Ability to defend himself.

“You should probably keep that kind of thing on the down-low, Bran—”

“Geez, don’t give me a heart attack! I thought it was a Brown Suit!”

“Oh, sorry!” Pam giggled. “But, still. Please keep quiet when it comes to that.” She turned to look at her daughter. “I know, however, that you guys have the potential to change things.”

Faith walked up and embraced her mother. “We can do this, Mom!”

“You don’t have to hug me that tightly.” Pam laughed, holding Faith. “I have to go with you guys anyway. For… some reason?”

The group looked over toward the front doors of the police station, where Brown Suits stood once again.

“Rizzo said he would place Brown Suits in charge while I was gone. I agree that we need to keep our guard raised ever since that incident the other day… But…”

“It doesn’t seem right,” Winona commented. “I just feel it in the air…”

“That cause you’ve got dirt flying all around you?” Brandon asked half-joking.

“No, no—” Winona giggled. “I can’t do anything like that with my Ability.”

“I’ve been wondering, do you have that going on like… all the time? Even when you’re sleeping?” Brandon seemed rather curious.

“I actually turn it off when I’m sleeping. I let the earth I collect disperse outside my house, then recollect it when I wake up. My phantons usually stay connected with it for quite a while.”

“That’s… strange. Abilities are so weird!” Brandon scratched his head. “I guess it’s cool you can have it at the ready any time though!”

“It does come in handy…” Winona sighed, recalling what her sister recently said to her.

 

“What… are you… doing!?”

“Introducing you to the world you’re about to step in. Winona, take all those emotions you placed in this garden and use them to power yourself. Fight through all the bullshit we have to deal with as people with Abilities!”

 

“I’m gonna have to be ready at any time, aren’t I? Cynthia… I’ll be by your side soon. You won’t have to deal with this alone!”

One of the Brown Suits approached Pam, saluting her. “Ma’am, we’re ready to depart whenever you are.”

Pam nodded. “Right, thank you.” She looked a three that surrounded her. “Are you guys ready?”

They were. Even so, the anxiety of the situation could not leave the back of their minds.

The Brown Suit got in the driver’s seat, while Pam sat in the passenger’s. From left to right, Winona, Faith, and Brandon took residence in the back seat. It was a tight fit, which caused Brandon to become flustered due to how close Faith was.

“She so close… Is that apple scented shampoo she’s using—Brandon, stop! That’s creepy! Don’t smell her!” He focused his attention out the window, as the van took off.

After a few minutes, they had already made it through to the other side of Prelude, driving by Mona’s, the last checkpoint, and had left the town behind them. Nexus City had already come into view. Even during the day, one could still see the blue of the blue obelisks, almost as if they were reflecting the sky itself.

The anxiety of the situation was now all they could think about.

 

Adam and Charlotte sat at a tiny table inside the hotel’s cafeteria. They had access to an all-you-can-eat breakfast and were fueling up for their endeavors for the day.

“Adam, you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full.”

“S-So-Sorry!” Adam washed down the apple he was currently devouring with a warm cup of coffee. He put the apple’s core in a small pile that he had been making, before reaching for another one. Charlotte grabbed his hand.

“You can eat more than just apples, you know?”

“I cannot do that,” Adam responded bluntly. “My initial apple intake wasn’t enough. The World Mirror’s over-usage made me sick. An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Clearly not. I’m going to have to try many apples a day.”

“I’m pretty sure over-using the World Mirror would mess anyone up, regardless if they’re healthy or not.” Charlotte let out a huge sigh. “Anyway. Let’s review what we’ve done in the last few days. Think it’s been about a week since we left Prelude?”

“It’s been a long week.” Adam took a sip of his coffee, savoring all the taste he could, despite how mediocre it was to him. “I’ve been sleeping horribly. I like to get ten hours in at least each night, but lately, that’s just been impossible to—”

“Although sleep is important for us right now—” Charlotte interrupted. “There are more important things to be concerned over. Such as… you know, your own safety?”

“Eh, if Rizzo wants to try something, then we’ll fight. Until then, we shouldn’t worry.”

“I…” Charlotte was baffled. “I think we should be worrying. We have to keep our guard up. You’re certainly strange when it comes to protecting yourself. You seem to care at times, but other times, you don’t… at all.”

“Yeah, I get like that.” Adam shrugged. “But I do think we’ve gotta keep our mind clear and not worry to the point that we think a Brown Suit is around every corner.”

“That’s true—anyway, you really like to get off topic. Let’s review.

Adam took a bite of a new apple with a blank expression on his face. “Well, we started off by heading to Minuet. We found this cheap hotel, where you rented a room in your name. I mean, it’s under ‘Charlotte Smith’ obviously, so it’s not your actual name, but I digress.”

“Yes, yes.” Charlotte nodded. “I considered it to be a wise idea to use that money you withdrew from the bank, as using physical cash would make it a lot more difficult to track you.”

“Yes, yes. I’ve remained in the hotel room most of the time, as you’ve been using your spooky spooky powers to scout out the area around the library.”

“Yes, yes. Nothing inside the library itself seemed out of the ordinary. Of course, that’s not where we’re looking.”

“Yes, yes. The information Jerry gave us seems to have validity. Our old high school connects to the library through an underground tunnel, but original construction blueprints reveal that there’s more down there.”

“Yes, yes. I phased right through the ground, coming across something instantly. There seems to be some kind of sealed off room to the north of the tunnel. Not only is it sealed up with concrete, but… It’s like some sort of barrier has been placed all around it. I can’t phase inside from any direction.”

“Yes, yes—all right enough of the yes, yes. But… it’s strange. If it’s a room that neither ghosts nor humans can get into… is it a legit place to store information?”

“They could have stored documents or something of that nature inside after the incident with the Fisher Family, and then proceeded to seal it off? There is something of interest in there, for sure. They wouldn’t take the time to place a barrier there if there wasn’t.”

Adam pondered what they could do. “I mean… Jerry wasn’t able to come up with anything, so this is our only lead at the moment. There has to be information stored about the Ouderkirk’s somewhere, there’s no way they just erased the long history of the royal family.”

“Censorship by the destruction of evidence is a possibility,” Charlotte commented. “Therefore, if we’re heading toward where the information could or could not be, I think we’ll run into the corruption Unity has caused.”

“Well, that’s another thing I want to tackle as well, so—” Adam took another bite of his apple, swallowing it in seconds. “I guess it’ll work itself out?”

“You seem to like to wing things, don’t you?” Charlotte sighed, taking a sip of her own coffee, which had become cold. Although this did not bother her.

“Always have. If you don’t know the answers to something you have to do, it’s basically the only option.” Adam finished off the apple, placing it in his pile. “But anyway, here’s an idea. Do you think, instead of sneaking in, we could just power through the barrier to get in there?”

“That may be our only option, although it leaves the obvious risk of getting caught. We’re not sure what kind of security there is along with the barrier.”

“At least you cannot be detected by cameras.”

“Yeah, I’m glad Jerry reviewed that with me before we left. Normally, I do end up being detectable, although, with a slight shift to how I organize my phantonic patterns, I simply vanish from their view.”

“Probably how ghosts captured on tape appear and disappear,” Adam noted. “You know, the tapes that are actually genuine, if you can find any of those these days.”

Something dawned on Adam. It was something that was easily overshadowed by his encounter with Charlotte that occurred immediately after.

“Charlotte, can you sense the presence of other ghosts? I know you can detect things such as Abilities if they’re a short distance away.”

“Huh? I’m not sure how my sensory capabilities work exactly, but I can usually only track spikes in phantonic activity, like what happens when an Ability is used. I assume if the ghost is at the average level of a normal person when they spawn, I won’t notice them.”

“That night, when you came up to me in the aisle… I saw what I thought was a ghost. Some little girl… I could see right through her. It may be why my World Mirror reacted and why you noticed my eyes?”

“A ghost in Ann’s? I’ve never felt anything off in that place… Strange.” Charlotte raised her finger. “Oh, and concerning me being able to sense people based on Abilities, I think I should let you know something.”

“What would that be?”

“Even if they confirmed that there’s no phantonic activity relating to your Ability… well, it’s weird. I can still sense when you use it.”

“I mean, I would assume you could, considering it’s apparently a power your family created in the first place. Maybe it’s something only you can detect?”

“I wonder what the difference is between me being able to detect normal Abilities compared to the World Mirror? If I can learn how they differ, perhaps it can be of some use to us?”

Adam shrugged. “Who knows? It could be worth looking into. But anyway—” Adam gulped down the rest of his coffee. “Do you think that ghost I saw had any significance?”

Charlotte stood up from the table, stretching her body. “Beats me. We could always look into it if you feel like it is. Although going back to Prelude at the moment would be difficult.” She picked up her empty plate and mug, along with any other scraps she had left.

“You gonna go scout around the barrier again?”

“Yeah, I think I should at least one more time before deciding on your ‘powering through’ idea.” Charlotte headed over to the side of the room, where there was a large metal gate on the wall, which was opened. She sat her dirty dishes on the counter that was inside and turned back toward Adam.

“Well—” She glanced around the room several times. “We’re definitely the only ones here right now. So I’m just gonna head over there now. I’ll be back in a bit.”

Adam waved to her as she jumped at the wall, phasing herself right through it. It was an impressive leap, one that made Adam wonder how she would fare in the Olympics—if she ever entered.

“Now, guess I’ll clean up as well, and head back to—”

Adam froze. His hand had reached for the pile of leftover apple scraps, only to come in contact with something else entirely.

He had almost touched a pile of human hearts.

“Huh!?” Adam jumped out of his chair, causing it to crash onto the floor, loud enough for anyone to hear. The hearts began to ooze out blood, which creates a pool covering the table. He noticed that they seemed to somehow still be beating, despite being no longer attached to their owners.

“What the hell—What the shit—What the fuck!?

He quickly became aware of how loud his reaction was. It would surely alert someone, which would cause a whole other issue. A scene like this would not be easily explained, and would most likely get law enforcement involved.

That was the last thing Adam needed right now.

He looked toward the gate where dirty dishes were placed. “I could use the World Mirror to jump into there, getting me away from this. But the people working in the kitchen—that would obviously cause even more of a stir. What do I do!?”

“Although—I haven’t seen or heard anyone in there in a while…”

He dashed over to the counter, which had the door toward the main lobby off to its right, wide open. Taking a quick peek around the left side, he looked to see if anyone was coming from that direction. Not a soul was in sight.

Next, Adam looked over the counter, moving Charlotte’s dishes out of the way. Peering into the kitchen, he did not see anyone inside there either.

“I know this is a cheap hotel and everything, but… nobody at all? That’s strange… Well, what do I do now?” He rustled his hair in frustration. “Dammit! If I run away from this, someone will still find this mess. They can always use the cameras out in the lobby to see who had been in here… What do I do—”

Adam turned back toward the table. The bloody mess that had appeared there moments before had vanished.

“…Huh?”

He slowly approached the table, completely bewildered. Everything was back to normal, including the pile of apple scraps. Adam picked up the last fresh apple that he had, analyzing it along with the table’s surface.

“No… blood? This apple’s not covered either. It’s the same wonderful red it usually is—”

Adam was interrupted by a tremendous crashing noise behind him. Quickly turning around, he noticed the dishes Charlotte had put there a minute prior had shattered onto the floor. Looking up at the counter, the source was immediately identified.

“Human! I’ve found you again!”

“Oh?” Adam smirked at the sight of the strange white rabbit. He cracked his fingers, ready for whatever the blue-scarfed creature had in store.

“I’ve been wondering when you’d show up again, Muraco.”


Next: Chapter 2.2

Previous: Chapter 1.21

Table of Contents

The Eve of Volume 2

Tomorrow’s the big day. Volume 2 begins!

What can you expect from this volume? Well, with Adam’s exile from Prelude, he must now work together with Charlotte to figure out the answers they seek regarding her lost memories. As they now can’t obtain help from their friends, they’ll have to work at it on their own.

Along with this, we’ll be getting a more inside look at the workings of Unity, and how the organization operates. Brandon, Faith, and Winona head to their orientation, and quickly discover how difficult it’s going to be. At the same time, Alexander attempts to confront some of Unity’s darkness on his own. He may find out that even his almighty Psycho Matter won’t prepare him for what’s in store.

This, along with many other secrets will unravel. The organization Derek and Chris belong to end up making their move, and Adam will soon begin to learn things surrounding the event known as “The Night of the Half Moon”, which resulted in his mother’s death. If this wasn’t enough for him to process, Adam will meet a certain someone who ends up being far more important to him than he realizes.

I thank everyone for their support so far! Here’s hoping Volume 2 will end up being fantastic, and something everyone can enjoy. Remember: Tomorrow Chapter 2.1 will be available for everyone while Chapter 2.2 will be available on my Patreon! That chapter will release on Friday for everyone else.

Alright—XYZ!