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 lab 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 her 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 simple 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 if 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 Nexus Network, almost as if it was 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!

 

Chapter 1.21

“Charlotte!? You’re okay!”

Brian was shocked to see Charlotte enter the store. He had been stocking a shelf near the entrance and almost knocked a box of cookies over.

“Hi, sir. I’m okay…” Charlotte was nervous, yet relieved to see that her old boss seemed to care about her well-being.

A boy who stood behind the counter chuckled. Charlotte recognized the messy blonde hair and cocky posture immediately.

“Hello, Roy. I see you haven’t been fired yet?”

“Hey, good lookin’. Nah, I’ve been busting my ass ever since you quit. Brian’s been thankful to have me.

“It actually is remarkable,” Brian commented. “He seemed to suddenly get a lot better at his job since you left. Although, flirting with the customers is still a thing. You’d already be fired if we weren’t so short-staffed. Remember that, Roy. Continue to do well and not be… yourself and we can get past that.”

Charlotte frowned. “I’m so sorry… even though I put in my two weeks… I just up and left like that. And… I heard about what happened yesterday. I should have been there-”

“Charlotte, it’s okay. You young people have a lot going on. It’s understandable. And…” Brian approached Charlotte, leaning up so he could whisper to her.

“I mean… you were here, weren’t you? You saved me last night, right?”

“How did-”

“Relax. Your secret’s safe with me. Those Unity guys already questioned the hell out of me and left anyway. Don’t worry about it.”

“Hey!” Roy shouted, slamming his hands on the counter. “You tell me not to flirt, and here you go leaning up close to women, freaking old man!”

“Oh, I was just uh… what is the term people use these days? Roasting you! Yeah, I was just roasting you so bad, I didn’t want you to hear.”

“Huh? How the hell do you know what that means!?”

“Roy-” Charlotte interrupted. “Just get back to work. Don’t you have to save up for college next year?”

Roy sighed heavily. “Yeah, yeah.” He sat down in a nearby chair, pouting.

“Glad to see you got the whole ‘working’ thing down,” Charlotte said mockingly.

Brian coughed, to get her attention. “Do you need anything, Charlotte? If you just came here to apologize, you did not need to worry about that.”

“Actually… if it isn’t too much trouble, can you help me get some stuff?”

 

Brandon, Jerry, and Emma sat around Adam’s living room, each with a bowl of stew in hand. Emma especially seemed to be enjoying her meal.

“How did Sis just walk out when this was in here!? This is freaking delicious!

“Her and Adam wanted to go for a walk to talk in privacy, I guess?” Brandon responded, slowing down on his food consumption. “Damn, Adam. Trying to gain the upper hand, huh?”

“What?” Jerry stared at Brandon with a confused expression.

“Don’t worry about it.” Brandon sighed. “Anyway, I’m full! Emma—wanna fight in, well… Phight?”

“Sure. I need a break after everything today.” Emma and Brandon stood up with their empty bowls and took them over to the sink. Jerry heard his phone buzz, which he instantly investigated.

“Oh, wow. She’s actually free?”

He stood up, dialing a number on his phone. “You guys enjoy that, I gotta talk to someone.”

“Oh? All right.” Brandon nodded, dashing over to the television in the living room. “Emma! Prepare to be defeated by my Gladiator skills!”

“I’ll be using the Dragon, so I doubt you can do much against that,” Emma stated mockingly, sitting next to him.

“Oh, come on! That’s the most broken character in the game!”

Jerry walked down the hallway as the phone rang on the other end. It was answered after three rings.

“Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. If it isn’t my arch nemesis. Why do you call upon me-”

“Yeah hi, Laura.” Jerry groaned. “Listen, I need to ask you a few questions.”

“Oho? Ask away!”

 

Charlotte had left Ann’s with several bags in tow. Although they seemed heavy with a glance, she had no trouble carrying them.

“My body, as of right now… is totally fine. That power Adam gave to me… just what was it? Where did he get it? It honestly feels… familiar…”

“Charlotte!” Winona ran up to her, with a cheerful demeanor.

“Winona… you’re okay?” Charlotte asked, concerned.

“Yep! All better! Just needed to rest up! Whatever that energy was… it was powerful. I’m glad I put enough energy into my defense, or else it would have blown all of us away.”

“That… that was…” Charlotte sat the bags down on the ground, almost ready to cry. “I’m certain… that was me, who did that. I’m so sorry… I didn’t know how my power would work when I got serious, and it slipped right through the guy I was fighting, and… and I’ve been lying to all of you… and I hurt you, and-”

Winona quickly embraced Charlotte, closing the distance between them.

“You’re… cold. Then, it’s true what Faith said, isn’t it? I’m not sure if she was supposed to tell me, but she did.”

“That’s okay… you should know.” Tears began to run down Charlotte’s face.

“Charlotte, you don’t have to worry. Obviously, you have quite the situation going on, and you tried to keep it from us so we wouldn’t get hurt, right?”

Charlotte did not say anything. She simply nodded confirmation into Winona’s shoulder.

“You can talk to me about it. About everything. If you want to, I would like to hear it. Is that okay?”

“Yeah… yeah, it is.” Charlotte took a step away from Winona, yet still held onto her.

“You know, that’s the same kind of thing you said to me when we first met. Nobody talked to me when I first entered your school. You were the first one. You came up to me, introduced yourself, and said I could always talk to you about anything. That’s how we became friends.”

Winona smiled. “And it still stands. Come on, let’s go over there-” Winona pointed toward a bench off the side of the road. “Nobody should bother us over there.”

Charlotte agreed. Winona helped her carry the bags over to the bench. They sat down and started to talk.

 

“Adam Grayson?”

Alexander stood in an office near the top of Soul Tower in Nexus City. This minimalist office was owned by Rizzo, who had it as a spare outside of the primary Unity building a few blocks away.

Rizzo sat at his desk, glaring at Alexander, who was a few feet away from him. Although Alexander could barely tell, as the lights in the office were out.

“Shit, man! Why are the damn lights off!?” Alexander stomped his foot, creating a glowing pink liquid that covered the entire floor within a second. “There! Now I can see your ugly-ass face.”

“Just make sure you dispose of that when we’re done here,” Rizzo demanded. “Anyway, yes. Adam Grayson. Does that name ring a bell?”

“Nah. Although, wasn’t there a Rebecca Grayson in Unity years ago that was some hot shit?”

“Correct. She would be the mother of this boy. He seemed to know you, from what I gathered today.” Rizzo stood up from his seat, stepping in the pink liquid below him without an issue.

“Just like yourself, Code 2819 came back negative for him. There was no phantonic value found whatsoever.”

“Huh?” Alexander was curious. “What a minute… could this Adam kid possibly be the kid from last night!? Shit, I never caught his name!”

“So, as I did with you, I took precautions so that his power would not affect others in Unity. As of tomorrow, he is banned from his hometown of Prelude and must do whatever it is he wants to do on his own. Seemingly, taking me down is part of that agenda of his.”

Alexander smirked. “Well, add him to the list of people who wanna do that to ya!” His expression quickly changed to a serious one. “Also, what kind of bullshit are you spewing?”

“Hm? What’s that?”

“As you did with me? You never banished me from anywhere! I’m just not allowed in Unity cause ya don’t want me gathering people together to take ya down, seeing as though I know things! Me keeping that shit a secret and my duty with the Blue World is simply a deal so ya leave my sister alone. So his power would not affect others? That was never a reason!”

“If that’s what you want to believe, then believe it.” Rizzo turned to stare out the windows behind him. He gazed down at the evening blue of the city. “Also, would you happen to know what happened in the sky last night? It was clearly a distortion from the Blue World.”

Alexander shrugged. “Beats the shit outta me!”

Rizzo remained silent for a moment. “…fine. Very well. That’s all for now. You may continue your work tomorrow. Soon, I’ll want you changing objectives. I’ll give you the details on that within the next few days.”

“All right, sure. Whatever.” Alexander started to walk toward the door as the liquid began to fade. “Looking forward to it, shitbag.”

As Alexander slammed the door behind him, the room was dark once more. Rizzo continued to stare out the window with a blank expression on his face.

“I was surprised today. That was the first time you altered what I said. I would have simply forced the boy to join Unity, as usual. But this… just what’s so special about this boy, enuexse-

As if his voice glitched like a computer error, Rizzo coughed up blood out of his mouth, splattering all over the window in front of him. He collapsed onto his knees, in agonizing pain.

“Yo-You made me… speak, like that-” Rizzo continued to cough violently as he attempted to calm himself down. After a minute, he was able to. He breathed calmly.

“…I guess things are finally starting to set in motion for you, aren’t they?”

 

Muraco hopped around the Requiem wilderness, underneath the clear night sky. He had his arms crossed, deep in thought.

“When that hole above Nexus opened up… I sensed all kinds of things. Things that concern me… however, I think that human survived whatever happened. The question is, where is he now? Is he still in there? Is he back in this world? I can’t tell from here.”

Muraco gazed upward, viewing the clouds as they passed over the moon and stars.

“If I find you again, human, what do I do? Shall I continue where I left off, or… those words. Are those words you spoke genuine? If so, then maybe… just, maybe…”

 

Adam followed Faith through the dark woods, heading northeast from his home. Both had remained silent for several minutes, only listening to each other’s footsteps.

“Hey, Faith?” Adam decided to speak first.

“What’s up?”

“Are you… mad at me?”

“Why would I be?”

“Cause of what I did today…”

“I’m not…” Faith stopped, hesitating for a moment. She then turned to him.

“I’m… thankful, to be honest. That you would go so far for us… although I’m also scared. Scared for what will happen to you. This banishment from our town… it’s not normal. Just what is Rizzo planning?”

“I take it you know that I have an Ability now, right?”

Faith frowned, nodding at Adam’s question. “To be fair… I knew you’ve been hiding something for a while. But I trusted your judgment, and why you would keep it a secret from us. Seems there’s something serious involving Charlotte being a ghost and an Ouderkirk as well?”

“Yeah… my Ability is actually related to that. The night I awakened it… it was due to Charlotte. She’s lost her memories and has been trying to figure things out for a while now. Apparently, my Ability, called the World Mirror, is important.”

“The World Mirror…?”

Adam’s hand lit up in white light, as he raised it in front of him for Faith to view. “It’s some strange energy, that has a lot of mystery to it. Right now, I know that it can give me lots of strength and also heal any injuries I take.”

“It’s beautiful… like moonlight.” Faith stared in awe. “…injuries? You’ve been injured?”

“I’ve… actually almost died a few times already.” Adam laughed awkwardly. “It’s certainly helped get out of some sticky situations… although it’s the reason I got into them in the first place.”

“Adam… I really wish you told me. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand why you didn’t. You didn’t want my family, Winona, and others getting involved. But still… you know how my I despise Unity as well! I would have joined you, and we could have fought it toge-”

“Faith, it’s more complicated than that. We’re both weak right now. When it comes to our Abilities, we have much to learn. We can’t make a move yet, despite how much we want to.”

Faith looked down at her hand, forming a small flame. Adam noticed that she started to shake.

“Yeah… It’s still not perfect. I’m not completely over the fear yet—But I’m getting there. I’ve taken huge steps! If we’re to do something, we have to be strong enough.”

“Right.” Adam smiled. “Even Brandon realized that, with his Ability. He wants to join Unity just so he can get the best training he can, for when the time’s right. Rizzo’s aware of all of this though… I’m afraid of what will happen to you guys. He says your development is important, which is the main reason I’m being sent away, but still I-”

“Even though we need to get stronger, Adam, don’t worry. We still are strong. Don’t worry about us. You have… a lot you have to do. With whatever it is you’re going to do next. Charlotte’s going with you regardless of Rizzo’s rule, right?”

Adam nodded. “Yeah, I figured she’d be able to help me out, as well as easily hide with her powers if Rizzo decided to track me. I’m… expecting that to happen, honestly. Just… a lot of this doesn’t make sense.”

“You’re right-” Faith agreed. “But, what part are you referring to?”

“I’m not sure exactly. But, it just feels like there’s a lot more going on with Rizzo, and the entirety of Unity than we realize. Even deeper than the obvious as day corruption.”

“I’m sure there is. Which is why we have to be careful.” Faith lifted her flame that was still in her hand toward Adam’s, which was still shining brightly.

“You know… it’s like your Ability and my own… are the sun and moon.”

“Huh? I-I guess they kinda are?” Adam chuckled at Faith’s comparison.

They both lowered their hands as their Abilities faded away. Before Adam put his hand back down at his side, Faith grabbed it with her own.

“You know why we’re out here, right?”

Adam smirked. “Yeah. This path seems familiar.”

“Well then, let’s go!”

“Wrong.” Adam wagged his finger, confusing Faith. “It’s XYZ, remember?”

Faith burst into laughter. “Oh my god, I can’t believe you remember that!”

“Of course I do. We used to say it all the time before adventures. I’m not even sure where you came up with it.”

“Oh, you probably wouldn’t. I don’t think you ever watched that show.”

“It’s from a show!?”

“Yeah! Kitty Kid and Puppy Pal!”

Adam was bewildered. “It… was from that show!? That show was awful!”

“Hey! No, it was not! It was my favorite! Take that back, Adam Grayson!”

“No! It was horrible! The plot was too obvious!”

“It was a kid’s show, of course the plot wouldn’t be that great!”

“Then… wait—what does XYZ even mean!?”

“I don’t remember, but they always said it when they went on an adventure, so I thought I would use it for us as well!”

“Well…” Adam paused for a moment. Suddenly he started to laugh cheerfully. “Ah, what the hell? It can be our thing, regardless if that show was good or not!”

Faith could not help but from smile ear to ear upon hearing Adam’s laughter. “Of course. It’s our thing. Anyway, come on! XYZ!”

She dragged Adam along through the woods, as he quickly matched her pace. A few moments later, they emerged from the trees. What met them was the side of a cliff that dipped off into a wide valley filled with nothing but grass. Miles away, on the other end, the blue light from Nexus City could easily be visible to them.

“Ah, dang it!” Faith pouted. “I was hoping we could see the aurora again… too bad!”

“I knew that’s what you were after.” Adam chuckled, taking a step forward. He did not let go of Faith’s hand. “This is still great. The clouds are starting to go away, and you can see all of the stars. And that breeze… can you feel it? And look at it blow the grass down there.”

Faith nodded, taking in the view as well. “It’s like a sea of green. And the light from the city adds to it. It’s… quite the feeling you get… looking at this place. Aurora or not.”

“Jerry told me about that. It’s different from the Northern Lights. Actually, it really only happens due to the phantonic technology used in the city. Once in a while, a bright blue aurora will form somewhere in the skies of Requiem, made out of pure phantonic energy.”

“Yeah, it’s got a more complicated name… but uh, it’s also called the Requiem Lights, right?”

“That’s what I call it. I wish I could see it again. That night with you was the only time so far.”

“That night… yeah.” Faith turned toward Adam and looked directly into his eyes.

“Just like I dragged you here, back then… You were the one who dragged me. It was the first time in ages that I… I felt happy. After everything that happened with the fire… you saved me with your kindness and your cheerful self.”

Adam sighed. “I’m sorry I’m not all that cheerful anymore.”

“That’s okay! You can still show it sometimes! And… after everything recently, I truly believe that, despite all the changes that have happened, the heart of the boy who saved me is still there within you…”

“You think so? Maybe… I’m not so sure myself.”

“Adam.” Faith placed both of her hands on Adam’s shoulders, moving in closer. “I want you to know, that no matter what happens… even if you don’t believe me or not… I want you to know…” Faith hesitated.

Then, she spoke.

“You are my hero.”

Adam’s eyes widened. The directness of what Faith had just said struck him. Within its simplicity, “You are my hero” held so much power. It was at the level that only an “I love you” could have possibly competed with.

He took note of that comparison, as merely thinking about it caused a sudden warmth in his chest.

“…and I’m going to also be your hero, Adam!” Faith declared. “Like when we were little, we’ll keep on exchanging roles! Sometimes you’ll be the hero, and I’ll be the princess. And then sometimes you’ll be the princess, and I’ll be the hero!”

“I- I guess that’s how it can work?” Adam sighed. “But, Faith. I trust you. Right now, I have to go down a certain path, and you have to go down another. Those paths will merge once again when the time is right.”

Faith removed her arms from Adam, nodding with a mighty grin. “Mhm! They will!”

Adam raised his fist, putting it in front of Faith, which confused her.

“Faith, I’ve known you longer than anyone. I’m pretty sure words between us aren’t needed when it comes down to it.”

“Heh… yeah, I see what you’re saying. Although I do love talking to you.”

She had understood Adam’s gesture and raised her fist up as well. “Let’s show this world not to mess with us!”

“You know what to say, Faith. What have we been talking about this whole time?”

“Oh, right!” Faith giggled. Adam could not help but chuckle.

As their fists joined, they mutually shouted the simple phrase that always started their adventures.

“XYZ!”

 

From the shadows of the woods, two eyes gazed at the boy and girl, hidden behind a clock-shaped mask. A whisper of a young woman could be heard.

“Will I exist in this world? It’s all up to you two…”


Next: Chapter 2.1

Previous: Chapter 1.20

Table of Contents

Sunday Salutations #2

Here’s my second Sunday Salutations post! I have about 15 minutes left of Sunday in my time, so I figured I’d get it up quickly. There’s not too much I talk about—it’s quite short to be honest. However, if you’re Red Apple tier or higher, feel free to check it out here!

A reminder that Red Apple tier and above on Patreon will give you access to chapter a post early. This Tuesday, when Chapter 2.1 is released, you will be able to read Chapter 2.2 right away!

Another reminder of my 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 1.20

“Phew, glad he’s finally gone. That guy talks way too much!” Brandon walked over to Adam and Emma, starting to laugh. Adam’s gloomy expression ended this quickly.

“Brandon, why would you… why did you do that?”

“I already said! Didn’t you hear!? I want to learn more, and I think it would be the best place to do so!” Brandon patted Adam’s shoulder, walking by him.

“I’ll talk to you more about it later, okay? Relax for right now. You’ve got a lot you have to do starting tonight.”

Before Adam could say anything, Brandon walked by him and approached Emma.

“Hey, uh… so, I need to apologize.”

Emma looked at him, curiously. “What for?”

Brandon hesitated for a moment. “Well… I know about your back.”

“I mean, who doesn’t? I’ve told you guys all about it before. I was in the freaking hospital for months as a kid after all.”

“I mean, yeah. But…” Brandon sighed. “I know a lot of the details. It was kinda an accident how I found out… so I’m sorry about that. But I do know that electricity messes with you. And I ended up using my Ability like that with you nearby. So, I’m sorry if it hurt you.” He chuckled. “I guess it’s a good thing I’m going to Unity, huh? This Ability won’t mess with you whenever I use it.”

“I…” Emma tried to think of a response, but could not. “I… T-Thanks for sticking up for me. I was kind of scared after he heard me. But you and Adam sticking up for me… it made me feels safe.” She turned away.

“So, thanks! And… whatnot.” Emma pulled out her phone. “I gotta update my sis on everything—unless you want to do that, Mom—”

As Emma looked back, she and Brandon watched as Pam embraced Adam without hesitation.

“I’m… I’m so sorry, Adam…” Tears were falling rapidly from Pam’s face. “I swore to myself that I would protect you… as if you were my own child. But I couldn’t do anything but stand there! Why… after all of this time… am I—”

“Pam-” Adam calmly pushed Pam away from him. “It’s not your fault. I’m an adult now. I knew the risks, and it was my fault I lost my cool. Now, I’m being punished for it. Although, this honestly what was going to end up happening anyway.”

“But…” Pam tried to dry her eyes. “I don’t want you to be alone… with whatever you do. This is what Rizzo does. He plays these games. I think he believes forcing you to be by yourself would hinder your growth, so you wouldn’t become a threat to him. I doubt he actually does want you to grow.”

“It’ll be okay either way,” Adam reassured her. “And besides… Do you honestly think I’m going to listen to him? I’m not going to be alone.” He stepped a few feet away from the group, looking off toward the woods.

“I’m tired of that. I’ve put myself in a situation where I had nobody beside me before… and you think I’m gonna let someone else force that upon me? Hell no. But don’t worry, none of you guys will get involved.” He turned back to them, giving a wink and a cocky smirk in Brandon’s direction.

“After all, he specifically said that I can’t be with any living human being.”

Brandon had no clue what Adam meant, along with everyone else. A few seconds later, it hit him.

“Oh! Oh, you’re right! Haha! Take that, rules!”

Pam, Emma, and Thomas were clueless as to what the two were talking about. Adam approached the teary-eyed woman, giving her a confident smile.

“I’m going to put an end to all of this.”

Pam could not believe what Adam had just said, for the words matched ones that a young girl had told her once before.

 

“I’m going to put an end to all of this.”

 

She could not help the tears that had started to form once more.

“Becca… your will is still here, isn’t it?”

Thomas gave Pam a pat on the head, then turned to Adam. “That’s great and everything. But, kid, how are you going to do that with a missing hand?”

“Huh?” It took Adam a second to realize what Thomas was referring to. A quick glance down his right arm made him understand.

“Oh.” The World Mirror’s aura formed around the stub. A few seconds later, Adam’s hand had begun to reconstruct itself.

“Woah, you can heal yourself!?” Emma watched the event in awe. “What even is this Ability?”

“It’s called the World Mirror,” Adam answered. “It’s got a lot more to it then one would think.”

Thomas analyzed the Ability carefully. “It’s true. After all, Abilities are always phantonic based. And they determined that it’s not. Just what is it?”

“That’s one thing I’m trying to find out.” Adam stretched out the hand that had finished forming. “It’s related to the Ouderkirk Royal Family in some way, though.”

“What?” Pam could not hide the concern in her voice. “How do you know that?”

Adam sighed. “Charlotte’s an Ouderkirk. She doesn’t have memories aside from knowing the World Mirror’s important for something. Oh, and she’s also a ghost by the way.”

The group was speechless. Adam walked over to Brandon and flicked his forehead. “Come on. Before we do anything else, I’m hungry. Let’s go to Mona’s. I’m getting myself an applesauce burger.”

As Adam started to walk off, Brandon looked at the others and shrugged. He then followed close behind.

“You know, I keep telling you that thing is disgusting! Even the people working there give you a weird look when you order it!”

“Well, maybe they shouldn’t have it on the menu, then.”

Emma ran up to her mother, squeezing her tightly.

“Come on, mom. Let’s leave those two weirdos to their thing for now. How about some coffee?”

Pam let out a long sigh. “Yeah… yeah. I think I need one right now. Want some, Tom?”

Thomas nodded nonchalantly. “Sure. Even I’m burnt out from all of this.”

 

Carl’s eyes opened, staring at the stained gray ceiling above him. He sat up, the creaking of his worn out bed echoing through the almost empty room.

“Glad to see you awake, Carl.”

Carl looked off to his right, where there was a tiny wooden table. There, a man sat in the shadows, moving a glass of whiskey around in his hand; the ice’s clatter was the only noise at that moment.

“Oh, hey. I’m hoping it went well?”

“Yeah.” The man sat the glass on the table. “He was able to siphon the Ouderkirk girl’s power from what was left in your body. It worked.”

“Oh?” Carl grinned. “Excellent. So that test wasn’t in vain after all.”

“That’s right. In fact, it was good that things ended up this way. That creature you created would have never found the seal.”

“Oh? Yeah yeah yeah? Interesting! We finally found it?”

Carl could hear a small chuckle come from the man. “Yes. Although, it was where we originally thought it was all along.”

“Is that right?” Carl started to laugh. “After all that testing we did! That sure is remarkable! Although, this does raise the question…” He stood up from the bed and began to pace around the room.

“What exactly were we catching on the radar, then?”

“That’s still an important piece. I believe it to be a sort of key that we need for the seal. Seeing as though even between myself and Jason, we were unable to crack it open.”

“A key that moves around? Who exactly created this seal in the first place?”

There was a moment of silence, to the point where it almost became awkward.

“A powerful man. One that we still don’t have a chance against. Which is why we need this power.”

Carl chuckled. “Works for me. I’m just here to learn everything I can. I have no limits to the knowledge I want to obtain. See what I did to my body? I’ll do anything for the truth!”

“The truth, huh?” The man picked up the glass of whiskey, hesitated, then took a sip.

“The truth is something nobody should really strive for. It’s not worth it.”

 

“I can’t believe you two!” Charlotte was wagging her finger rather violently toward Adam and Brandon. “We’ve been trying so hard to keep these things a secret, and you two just go and reveal it all like that!?”

“Well, to be fair-” Adam caught Charlotte’s finger. “You also revealed yourself to people last night as well.”

“That was different! People were in danger! That wasn’t the case for you! You just had to keep your cool, and you wouldn’t be in this situation!” Charlotte sighed, taking her finger back from Adam.

“…from what you said though, I see why you did it. It still sucks.”

Brandon cautiously tiptoed forward. “Glad to see you full of energy. You looked as though you were going to die on us earlier- oh, wait… yeah. You’re already-”

“Brandon. Are you sure you want to join Unity?” Charlotte asked with slight worry. “You know what goes on there…”

“I know.” Brandon scratched his head. “But, to be honest… as we trained these last few weeks, it wasn’t really doing much for me. It just felt like extreme exercise. I didn’t get any closer to learning more about my Ability or how it works. If I go to Unity, where they’re experts… well, hopefully, that’ll help.”

Charlotte frowned. “I just wish I remembered more… maybe I would have been able to teach you properly.”

“Don’t worry about it! One of the reasons we’re doing all of this, to begin with, is to figure out your memories. It’s all good.”

The three heard a cough come from the kitchen. Jerry stood in front of Adam’s stove, mixing up some food in a pot. The smell of meat and spices and started to fill up the house.

“Not much of this is good, Brandon. Now, before the others get here, and before this beef stew is done…” Jerry sat the spoon he was using to stir the food down on the counter. “Adam, here’s my gift to you.”

Adam reached out his hand as Jerry handed him what appeared to be a flash drive. It was silver in color and didn’t seem like something that would be too expensive to purchase.

“What’s on it? Did you find out anything?”

“I did not.” Jerry sounded frustrated. “It turned out that I certainly could have hacked into things very easily. Yet, I would have been caught. What you have right there is a little thing I created. I call it a ‘god drive.’”

“Uh, all right.” Adam analyzed the device more, attempting to figure out what was so “godly” about it. “What’s it for, though?”

“It’s just a simple flash drive on the outside. However, I added my own personal touch to how it can work. If you plug that sucker into any computer, it can rip the data right out of it without an issue. That’s what we need to do. It’s too difficult to gain the data wirelessly, but if we use that right at the source, it’ll give us everything.”

Brandon took the god drive out of Adam’s hand to look at it. “How the hell did you get it to do that?”

“You really think you can understand, even if I explain it to you?”

Brandon sighed. “Fair enough.”

“Anyway. I’m sorry this is all I can do…” Jerry started to tap the counter in an agitated manner. “I don’t know enough. If I had the proper knowledge, you wouldn’t have to dive right into enemy territory. But, this is the only way at the moment.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Adam put his hand on Jerry’s shoulder. “You’re still going to college, I’m assuming? You’ll absorb all that clever stuff quickly.”

“Yeah… there are areas I really need to work on. I realized that as the process kept taking longer and longer.”

“See, Adam?” Brandon wrapped his arm around Jerry. “He and I both have to work on our own thing. But we’re not abandoning you for a second! We’ll be back stronger and smarter than ever before!”

“That reminds me—” Jerry calmly moved Brandon’s arm off of him. “You’ve gotta talk to your dad about all of this. He assumes you’re still going to New Age with that soccer scholarship.”

“Yeah, please don’t remind me.” Brandon groaned. “And what I’m planning on actually doing isn’t gonna help the situation. But—that’s all right. I’ll get it to work. Oh, right-” He turned to Adam. “I’m assuming Rizzo’s not gonna allow you to attend classes while this whole thing’s happening?”

“I wasn’t planning on it anyway,” Adam responded. “I’ve got a cool superpower, and I’m teaming up with a ghost to conquer evil. Pretty sure school isn’t as important right now.”

“That’s right—” Charlotte walked up to Adam. “I’ll be there for you. Whatever direction you end up going, I’ll follow.”

“You know, that is a good point.” Adam looked at Jerry. “Where should I even go to obtain this information? Somewhere in Nexus?”

“Nah, that’s too risky. Nexus City is pretty high-tech when it comes to security. However, you may have a good source in Minuet.”

“That close?” Adam put his hand on his chin. “Where in Minuet exactly?”

“The library.” Jerry picked up the spoon and checked on the stew. “Our high school simply connected to Minuet’s library through that underground tunnel, to save them from building a library of their own. However, what I did end up finding out through my digging…” He reached into his pocket and took out his phone. After some swiping, he showed the others a map that seemed to show multiple pathways.

“You wouldn’t need an underground map this convoluted for one simple tunnel. There’s more down there. And it’s being covered up. Whenever I tried to look into it, the information definitely meant to lead me away from it. I feel like it could be something to investigate.”

“I mean, sure, it sounds interesting. But even if there is some sort of information source down there, would it have stuff we actually need?” Adam asked.

“I have a feeling it very well could. You know what happened right next to Minuet all those years ago, right?”

“Of course I do. The incident with the Fisher family?” Adam paused. “…it’s where my mom lost her life, after all.”

“Yeah… Unity fought so hard and investigated for so long after the fact. Information wasn’t as easy to move around two decades ago, even with phantonic technology starting to boom. They had to have a base of operations close enough to the site where they could work easily. No public records ever state where that was, so… this is my theory of where it could be.”

“Right. Pam didn’t want anything to do with the case after it happened, so she wouldn’t know. Besides, I’m ‘supposed to do this without help,’ so I can’t ask her. Rizzo could find out if I did.”

Jerry looked on the counter, picked up a bottle of spices, and poured some into the stew. “I’ll do my best to avoid Rizzo’s eye, cause I want to see the data you hopefully end up obtaining. I’ve also… been really curious about something.”

“What’s that?”

Jerry stirred the stew slowly before putting the top on the huge pot. “The guys you encountered… they had some really state-of-the-art tech on them. And after what I heard today… I’m really concerned. They could track your power, Adam. Remember? That’s how they found you in the first place. And seeing as though your Ability isn’t phantonic based… just what kind of technology do they have on their side?”

“That’s true…” Adam sat down on the couch, stretching out. “I’m gonna have to watch out for those guys as well. After last night, they’re definitely trying to do something.”

Adam felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He took it out to see what he had received. It was from Faith.

“Win and I are all good. We’re about to head back. I heard Jerry’s making stew? I can’t wait! But… yeah. I heard everything for Em. We need to talk later, please.”

“Uh oh, that’s not good,” Brandon said, gazing at Adam’s phone from the other side of the couch. “Whenever a girl says ‘we need to talk’ it doesn’t end well.”

“Well, obviously there are things we have to talk about, after what happened today.” Adam attempted to shoo Brandon away. “And don’t look at my phone. I might have secret stuff on here.”

“Huh? What would you have to hide?” Brandon suddenly gasped. “Does she send you nudes!?”

Adam poked Brandon’s face to shut him up. Charlotte grabbed Brandon by the neck, pretending to choke him.

“Cold, cold, cold—”

“Adam, is that what we’re going to try first? Seeing if there’s anything in Minuet? Once you leave tomorrow, my advice is getting started right away.” Charlotte let go of Brandon, whose teeth were starting to chatter.

“That’s probably our best bet. I don’t have enough control over the World Mirror yet as to where I can move as freely as I want to. Along with that… if I do get caught, I’ll probably get the normal punishment of trying to, you know, break in somewhere to steal something. Considering this top-secret info as well, it’s not gonna be a pretty sentence.”

Brandon shrugged. “I mean, the law says you’re supposed to join Unity if you have an Ability, right? And you’re already not doing that, so might as well go break other laws!” He laughed sarcastically. “That’s not good advice… but anyway. Do you think Rizzo has ulterior motives to forcing you to do this?”

“Oh, absolutely,” Adam responded bluntly. “Although it could be a valid argument that my Ability could mess with the development of others, I know there’s something more. Could…” He paused. “…could he know about what happened to me? Like… how being alone can mess me up?”

“I’ll go kick his ass right now!” Brandon cracked his knuckles. Charlotte held his shoulder to calm him down.

Jerry walked over to his laptop on the nearby chair and picked it up, flopping down on the seat. “Stew just needs a few more minutes. And, yeah. This situation is odd, to say the least. I wouldn’t drop your guard for a second, Adam. Actually, that goes for all of us. Anyone connected to Adam could be used to Rizzo’s advantage. This all… seems like some strange game to me.”

Brandon smirked. “Well, good thing I’m good at games!”

“I think it’s more serious than that, Brandon.” Adam sighed. “…look. I’m sorry, guys. For getting you dragged into this.”

“Don’t be,” Brandon reassured Adam. “It was my decision to show Rizzo my Ability in the first place. I got myself wrapped up in this, to be honest.”

“I think it’s a good thing you did,” Jerry stated. “I feel like those of us close to Adam, who don’t have any ‘value’ in Rizzo’s eyes would be in more danger. With an Ability, you’re more valuable. Luckily, or unluckily, I know Rizzo. He’s aware of my talents with phantonics, and even said I’d be instrumental some day. I think I’m okay? Let’s hope.”

Charlotte started to walk toward the door. “Adam, I took some of the money I gave you. I’m going to head to the store and get some supplies I think we may need. Just relax for now. I’ll be back in a few.”

“Oh, all right?” Adam leaned over the couch to look at her. “You’re actually gonna go to Ann’s though—”

Before he could finish his question, Charlotte had walked right through the door.

Brandon walked up to the door, trying to figure out how exactly Charlotte pulls off her ghostly powers.

“Hey. Do you think she even knows how to use a doorknob?”

 

A few minutes later, Adam sat on his bed. He was going through various things that he had found under the bed. The envelope that Pam gave to him had already been placed in a backpack he was preparing.

Jerry peered around the doorway, knocking on the wall. “Stew’s all ready. I know you just went to Mona’s, but feel free to come get a bowl.”

“I’ll be out there in a few.” Adam gave Jerry’s a smile and a nod. As Jerry left, his expression grew gloomy.

“Can… can I do this? Just up and leave? Everyone had just re-joined my life recently, and already I’m abandoning them. What is Rizzo going to end up doing? Not just with me, but with them. I can’t let him hurt them…! But… how can I stop him?”

Adam held his head in frustration, feeling a headache come on.

“I should rest, but I don’t have time for that right now! What do I do!?”

“Adam?”

He glanced at the doorway, where Faith stood. She gave him a warm, gentle smile. Although—he could see the concern in her eyes.

“Hey, Faith.”


Next: Chapter 1.21

Previous: Chapter 1.19

Table of Contents

Chapter 1.19

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

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

“But—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you know what this is, Adam?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam did not make it to the ground.

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

“I think that’s enough for now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Shut up.”

Adam stood up slowly, clenching both of his fists.

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

 

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

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

“Hey, Adam! You shouldn’t-”

Adam was already out of view. The officer sighed.

“I hope he doesn’t get in trouble…”

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

Yet, he knew the real damaged it caused.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Please, sir! Not today!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Rizzo approached Adam, leaning down to his level.

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

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

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

Adam took a deep breath.

There was a long pause.

“You know what? Honestly? Fuck it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Men—do not bother.”

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

Adam glanced at Rizzo, then back to the group.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re not going to die! I’ll—”

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

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

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

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

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

“What kind of a deal?”

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

“What the? Why would I do—”

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

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

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

Emma slowly approached the scene, standing near Brandon.

“I… relate to that, actually.”

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

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

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

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

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

“I… I… how did he?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure, I’ll join.”

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

“Emma, what’s wrong—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You okay?”

“No, I’m not. This is too much.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Next: Chapter 1.20

Previous: Chapter 1.18

Table of Contents

Chapter 1.18

“Adam… Hey, Adam!”

Brandon’s voice echoed inside Adam’s head. He had told Brandon on countless occasions to only wake him up if there was an emergency.

Adam opened his eyes, ready to grab hold of Brandon’s throat.

“Dude! You’re awake! What the hell happened to you!?”

“Huh?” Adam’s hand lowered, falling onto his chest. It was then he noticed the state of his clothing and how torn apart it was.

Then it all came rushing back to him. He jolted upward, almost smashing his head against Brandon’s.

“Shit! What did happen!? I’m alive!? I’m back in my house!?”

Brandon took a few steps back, uncomfortable with the unusual amount of energy his friend was displaying.

“You went somewhere?”

Adam was breathing heavily, trying to gather his thoughts. Brandon approached him, making sure he was all right.

“I… yeah. A lot happened. I need to tell you guys about it. But, uh… what are you doing here?”

“We’ve been trying to find you since last night! Did you get caught up in all the shit that happened in town?”

“Huh?” Adam moved to the edge of the bed. “I… no. I was kidnapped, and-”

“Kidnapped!? Huh!?” Brandon let out a massive sigh. “Well, come out into the living room. Jerry’s out there. Before we discuss everything… there’s something more important we have to deal with.”

“A-All right…” Adam stood up, following Brandon out into the hallway.

“Something happened here? Did Muraco come back after I got dragged into the portal?”

As the two entered the living room, Adam noticed Jerry sitting in what had become his chair. Although this time, he was not on his laptop. He had his focus on something else. Adam looked over to the couch, his eyes widening.

“Charlotte!? Are you okay!?” Adam rushed over to her, realizing that his body ached from the sudden movement. Charlotte was sweating and breathing heavily. She looked up at Adam, returning his concern.

“Adam… thank goodness. You’re okay. I was worried that those guys got to you while we were off fighting in the forest.”

“What!? Those Derek and Chris guys? Did they come back? Is that why you’re in that state right now?”

“Not them…” Charlotte coughed a few times before continuing. “Although, the person who I fought seemed to be working with them. He’s the reason why I’m weakened… I used up a lot of power.”

“Something… entirely different happened to me last night.” Adam sat down next to the couch.

“Yeah, he said you were kidnapped!?” Brandon turned from Adam to Jerry. “What the hell? Both sides seem serious. But first… what do we do about Charlotte?”

Jerry was silent, clearly deep in thought. Brandon looked at the couch, concern all across his face.

“She needs some rest, that’s all,” Adam reassured him. However, Brandon shook his head.

“No dude… it’s more complicated than that.”

Before Adam could respond, Charlotte let out a small yelp. Adam quickly turned his attention to her, noticing that for a moment, she had become entirely invisible.

“It’s… tough to remain in the world of the living.” Charlotte paused for a moment to steady her breathing. “Even with my blood, it’s turning out to be too difficult. I think…”

Adam knew what Charlotte was about to say, yet could not prepare himself for it.

“…I think I might disappear…”

“No!” Adam quickly grabbed her hand, surprising her. “Everything is just beginning! We’re gonna figure out the secrets behind your lost memories! Behind the World Mirror! We’re gonna stop whatever bad nonsense happens in the future!”

“Yeah… I know. That’s what I want to do, obviously, but I’m not sure if-”

Brandon suddenly shouted, tipping and falling onto the floor.

“Uh, Adam? What are you doing!?”

“Huh?” Adam had no idea what Brandon was talking about. The frightened boy slowly pointed at the ceiling. A mass of blue energy had emitted itself from Adam, floating high above his head.

Before anyone in the room could respond, the strange aura descended, and merged with Charlotte. Adam tried to swat it away, but it had already done its job. Charlotte gasped loudly as if she was impaled by a sword.

“Dammit! Dammit! What’s happening!? Why is so much random shit happening!?”

Charlotte raised a finger in Adam’s face, silencing him. She had a dazed look on her face, yet had seemed to calm down from her previous symptoms.

“That… wasn’t your power, was it? Someone gave that to you, right? What happened to you last night?”

Adam paused, glancing at Brandon and Jerry. The three sighed simultaneously, expressing relief for Charlotte, yet annoyance at everything happening. Jerry pulled out his laptop, seemingly out of nowhere.

“Yeah, let’s catch each other up, please.”

 

“Al!? Is that really you!? You’re actually home!?”

An irritating voice awoke Alexander from his slumber. He was facing a ceiling that seemed somewhat familiar to him. Before he could move to investigate, a face had blocked his vision.

“Al, are you okay!? Your clothes are a mess! What kind of stuff has Rizzo been making you do now?”

“Laura, get out of my face.” Alexander pushed his younger sister off of him. She immediately retaliated, going back to where she just was. This time, her long, curly hair that matched Alexander’s filled his face.

“No, after you tell me what happened! You never come home, and I find you collapsed on the couch this early in the morning with clothes all torn up?”

“Don’t ya have something else to do? You need to get ready for college, yeah? I know it’s all a cinch for ya, but ya gotta at least pretend to show some effort.”

“Hmph! I’ve been doing college work for a few years now. Actually starting isn’t gonna be that much different. Why can’t you tell me what happened?”

“Cause, it doesn’t concern you.” Alexander sat up as Laura moved onto the cushion next to him.

“You… you don’t have to keep protecting me, you know.” Laura paused for a moment. “I’m an adult now, so you don’t have to—”

“Ya know this is more serious than that. This is the deal he and I had with each other. I keep investigating the disturbances the Nexus Network is causing to form using my Psycho Matter, clearing any spirits that are around here in the Blue World. Ya stay alive, capable of doing all your research, just like good ol’ mommy and daddy did.”

“It still doesn’t make any sense… simply clearing the spirits won’t help fix the issue the network’s causing. Why isn’t he…” Laura clenched her hands. “Why isn’t he using you for something else?”

“Yeah, it’s all pointless for me,” Alexander smirked. “He’s just trying to get some kind of bullshit information out of it. I go to report all the calculations I took, yet nothing changes. Obviously, it’s to try to hold me back from getting stronger.” Alexander stood up, starting to chuckle.

“He’s scared of what I am! And you’re too vital toward Phantonic research for him to off you! I could just charge into his office and end all of this right now!” He paused, slowly pointing toward Laura.

“Yet… that’s not how it works. I might have great power, but as things are at the moment, Rizzo has absolute power. That’s what I need… absolute power. I can’t risk the chance that he’ll still come after you if I make a move.”

“I… I’ll get stronger! I’ll—”

“Ya just keep doing your research, ya smart ass. I’ll work on what I need to do. Once I understand how my Psycho Matter truly operates, Rizzo is dead. All the Brown Suits are dead. Anyone who fucks with my sister and me is dead.”

Alexander started walking away, entering a hallway to the left of the couch. Laura sprang up, clearly pissed off.

“And where do you think you’re going!?”

“Gonna shower. I smell like shit.”

As she watched her brother enter the shadows, Laura flopped back down on the couch.

“Why do you have to deal with all of this on your own…?”

Alexander slammed the bathroom door behind him, leaning against the door.

“I wonder if that kid survived… he was looking to be a great source of info. Yet… what happened at the end there…” Alexander gritted his teeth.

“It might be a reach, but… if it’s how I think it is… Rizzo might not be the only one with absolute power right now.”

 

Adam was walking toward Prelude’s police station at a quick pace. Brandon followed close behind, as well as Jerry, who was struggling to keep up. Adam took out his phone and look at a message he had just received.

“Faith and Winona are okay. They’ll probably be coming home later tonight, actually. They just need to go through some questioning about what went down.”

“Well, that’s a relief.” Brandon glanced over his shoulder to see Jerry, who had his phone out as well. “Did you find anything?”

“There’s nothing on the news about what happened here at all,” Jerry responded. “The main headline is the weird light that appeared above Nexus City last night. And they’ve already concluded that it was some kind of… joint test? By the Requien Military and Unity? Haven’t heard that one before.”

“Did I really use that much power as to where it was seen in the real world?” Adam seemed somewhat fidgety. I noticed that my power ripped right through the Blue World… and then everything went dark.”

“This ‘Blue World’ you mentioned…” Jerry put his hand on his chin. “I’ve honestly never heard the phrase before. And that Alexander Strauss guy… I’m not sure who that is. Although the last name is familiar…” Jerry shuddered for some reason.

“Well, I was in some kind of bizarro world, that’s for sure. And the guy had some kind of powerful Ability… he grabbed me right through this portal that formed and dragged me right in.”

“After a mutant white rabbit kidnapped you?” Brandon did a quick chuckle. “Honestly… stuff is starting to seem more and more believable. We always knew weird things like Abilities existed, but after seeing all that sort of stuff up close for almost a month now? It changes ya.”

“It has been crazy…” Adam sighed. “We gotta be careful. I’m not sure what that weird bunny’s gonna do next. He was keen on throwing me into that Blue World, so maybe he thinks that seeing me go in means his job is done?”

“Are you sure leaving Charlotte alone is a good idea?” Jerry looked back toward the other side of town. “What if something happens? The stuff about him against the Ouderkirk family does raise some questions for me.”

“Charlotte wanted to make sure she got some rest. Before I could say anything, she passed right out. Guess that weird power’s gotta sink in.”

“Right…” Jerry put his phone in his pocket. “You two keep heading to the police station. I’m gonna go check on how my home computer’s doing at processing something. Be careful though, I’m sure Unity’s swarming the place right now.”

“All right. And don’t worry, right now we’re just some innocent kids.” Adam reassured Jerry.

“Innocent? I’m not sure about that one.” Jerry laughed, waving at the two before walking off to his house nearby.

Adam and Brandon continued to their destination, which was only another minute away. Jerry’s hunch was correct. Several SUVs with the infamous blue “U” on the side were parked in front of the station.

As the two approached the front door, they encountered two male guards standing outside. They wore brown from head to toe; brown suit, brown pants, and brown shoes. However, they wore a light blue tie that had Unity’s symbol on it in black, along with strange brown cyberpunk-styled goggles with blue lenses.

“Brown Suits? Shit, they’re actually seriously investigating this…”

“What business do you have here?” The guard on the left asked with a stern voice.

Brandon stepped back slowly, clearly nervous. “Oh, uh! N-Nothing! We were just passing through is all—”

“We’re here to see Pamela Roswell,” Adam responded to the guard with no hesitation.

“She is currently in a meeting with Mr. Rizzo. No outsiders are allowed into the police station until the meeting, as well as the events that transpired last night, are investigated thoroughly.”

“Rizzo’s here!?” Adam started to get angry.

Brandon grabbed Adam’s shoulder. “See? She’s in a meeting right now! We can talk to her after—”

“Do you even know how your leader acts? The things he does?” Adam asked the two Brown Suits bluntly. “Working so close to him… you have to know, right?”

“Young man, we’re going to have to ask you to leave the premises at once.” The guard on the right spoke up, as both began to raise their guard.

Brandon, in the meantime, started swatting Adam’s shoulder repeatedly. “Dude, come on! Let’s not start something!”

“Brandon. If he’s in there with her, I can’t just sit back and wait.”

“What the hell are you talking about? They just said it’s a meeting-”

“You’re naive, Brandon!”

Brandon stood in shock at his friend’s words. Adam turned and glared back at him, yet his eyes were different. It looked as though Adam was about to break down and cry.

“Young man, if you have some sort of hatred toward our leader, then you are allowed to put in a complaint at our office in Nexus City. However, with direct threats, we will show no mercy. Leave now.

Adam felt the World Mirror rising to the surface. He knew that he should not use it, as everything would fall apart the moment he did. Yet, the burning fury within him told him to just do it.

Before Adam came to a decision, the front doors of the police station opened up. A tall, giant man came out, his jet black hair almost rubbing against the head jamb. His empty green eyes glared down right into Adam’s.

“What seems to be the problem here?” The man scratched at his face, which was covered in scars. They extended downward, and one could assume that there were more hidden underneath his black coat.

“Sir, this boy here, he—”

“Your eyes are gray…” The man bent down, getting close to Adam’s face. Adam could not help but freeze.

“No… they’re a certain kind of gray. Yes, they match her eyes… you’re Adam Grayson, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, that’s me,” Adam responded, taking care not to get too riled up.

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. Elliot Rizzo, Leader of Unity.” Rizzo extended his hand out. Adam hesitated, yet decided to shake his hand in return.

“It’s thanks to your mother’s efforts that we’re here today. Great ruin could have fallen upon this country, yet she made the noble sacrifice to save all of us.” Rizzo gave a creepy grin. “She was easily one of the greatest fighters Unity ever had, without a doubt.”

“So I’ve heard.”

Rizzo smirked. “That’s right. You were just a baby when it happened. I apologize that you never got to know her. Truly, she was magnificent. Many people, including myself, thought that she had something in her blood that made her so powerful.”

Before Adam could say anything, Pam walked up behind Rizzo, as well as Thomas.

“Jerry’s dad? What are you doing here?” Brandon seemed surprised at his appearance.

“They needed my help with some data that was collected last night. You do know I just recently became a doctor on the side, right? Phantonic technology is what I’m really good at.”

“Damn! How is the Peck family so damn smart!?”

Rizzo chuckled. “You make a good point, young man. Perfect timing, as it relates to what I was just discussing.” He walked past Adam and Brandon, raising his hands up to the sky.

“This world is filled with so much mystery. Not just regarding phantons and their counterpart, chaons. The world goes so much deeper than that. For example, let’s take Adam’s mother and Thomas here.” He pointed at the group.

“How can one hold such great skill in combat? How can one possess such limitless knowledge? I feel like it’s something that goes beyond what the phanton can do! Thomas’ son is pretty gifted as well, correct? I think it could be something within our genetics… within our own flesh and blood.”

“Where are you going with this?” Adam asked, gritting his teeth at how much enthusiasm Rizzo was showing.

Rizzo nodded at Adam and turned to Pam.

“Pamela. Mind if I test how this boy is in a fight?”


Next: Chapter 1.19

Previous: Chapter 1.17

Table of Contents

Chapter 1.17

The two slammed their feet into the ground, proceeding to dash at each other. Alexander raised his right hand, attempting to grab Adam.

However, Adam’s body moved differently. Alexander could not immediately tell how, yet it was certainly different from how it was minutes prior.

Adam ducked his head, avoiding the grasp of Alexander’s hand. Clenching his fist, Adam swung right at Alexander’s chest, making contact. Despite this, it did not seem to do damage.

“Well, damn! Good thing I formed a second barrier right on my body! Ya seem to have it down! This level of energy in front of me just won’t work when it comes to defense! Did you forget a little something though while ya were moping? I can still get ya with-”

Before Alexander could reform his barrier to grab hold of him, Adam leaped backward. The new white line around him was making it so his body moved as if he was a ghost himself. The phantasmal appearance is something Alexander took notice of.

“Yeah, I can see now. How he’s using his power… it makes it slightly difficult to track his movements. Although, that’s not too hard to handle. While I tried to grab him, however…”

Adam jumped high into the air, forming energy around his right foot. As he came down, Adam attempted to stomp Alexander’s body into the ground. This did not work, as Alexander formed a wing as an effective enough shield to stop him.

“You’re really trying to go for a direct approach, aren’t ya!? Can’t ya tell by now that won’t work on me!?”

Alexander caused his wing to vibrate violently, propelling Adam into the air. He quickly regained his focus on Alexander, staring down as a second wing was formed.

“I haven’t fought too much. Sorry, but I’m not really sure how to deal with someone like you.”

“Ha! Well, I’m sure ya can figure something out! Come on, I believe in ya!” Alexander flapped both of his wings, beginning the pursuit of his foe in the sky. “Let’s see what you can do in the short amount of time before you land!”

Thinking swiftly, Adam focused power into his left hand, releasing it off to his side. The recoil from this tactic was able to move him out of the way just as Alexander swung one of his wings at him.

Alexander grinned, as he continued to jab at Adam with each wing. Adam had no choice but to continue charging energy into his limbs, doing what he could to dodge his opponent.

Doing this was incredibly painful, as it felt as though his hands and feet were breaking under the pressure of his own power. As he began to descend, Alexander rushed right at him.

Adam was struck directly in the chest by one of the wings. Alexander flapped the opposite wing to gain enough force to slam Adam into the blue stone below. As his body was shrieking at him to stop this fight, Adam stood back up.

Alexander flew above him, clearing the dust that had formed from the previous attack using the mighty gales from his wings. Adam stared up at him, clueless as to what he could do against someone who was this strong. What bothered Adam the most was that he knew Alexander was not even trying.

“You’re doing better! Good! Good! Keep that shit up!” Alexander opened up his hand, facing the palm at Adam. A quick shock wave of energy emitted out of it, just missing Adam by mere centimeters. The impact, however, was capable of throwing Adam off balance.

Alexander did not give Adam a moment to collect himself. A second shock wave was sent downward. Adam channeled his energy to the only place that was touching the ground, which was his right heel. The force was able to catapult Adam out of the way.

He landed on his back, holding his foot in agony. Adam was not sure how much longer he could last. What would even be considered as a satisfactory performance for Alexander? If he could not give him one, Adam was not going to be able to leave.

“Ya don’t seem to notice how your body has changed in regards to how you’re using your Ability. I guess ya really are new at all of this, huh?” Alexander put his hands together, gathering the raw energy of the Psycho Matter inside them.

“Let’s see what happens when I do this!”

Alexander opened his hands, raising them high into the air. A gigantic sphere of Psycho Matter formed, one that dwarfed Alexander in size. Without hesitation, he chucked it downward.

Adam stared in disbelief as the sphere fell toward him, growing even more substantial in size as it descended. There was nothing he could do against something like that. His eyes lowered as he started to give up hope.

His gaze fell onto his hand. For some reason, this simple act triggered memories to rise inside of him. Yet, they were not the kind that usually appeared when he looked toward his right hand.

 

Two hands touched the back of his. Looking up, Adam saw Brandon and Jerry. The three had just graduated from high school, as happy as they could be. Still dressed in their blue caps and gowns, the three had made a promise.

“We’ll kick the future’s ass, right guys!?” Brandon grinned at his friends.

“I’ll learn all kinds of things about Phantonics, and the rest of the world!” Jerry declared with confident laughter.

“The world, huh?” Adam smiled lightly. “Yeah, I want to learn about it as well.”

“Here, Adam. This is for you!”

Winona had placed a flower in the palm of Adam’s hand. It was her gift for his eighteenth birthday.

“It’s nice looking. What kind is it?”

“It’s a blue lotus! In Egyptian culture, it represents rebirth! You told me that’s what you want to do with yourself, right?” Winona grinned. “It’s also March 20th! Your birthday is the first day of spring this year! A definite season of rebirth, correct?”

“Yeah, you’re right. It’s perfect. Thank you, Win.”

Adam held the blue cartridge in his fingers. He was in complete shock as to what Emma had just given him.

“I wanted to get that for your birthday. Sorry it’s a month late, but I figured you’d still appreciate it.”

“How… how did you find this? This is a legit copy of the first Catch Man game! I lost mine years ago, and figured I’d never get one again!”

“Well, I know a guy in Nexus City who—ah… don’t worry about it. Point is, I made sure that thing was indeed legit, and luckily it was! So, Happy late Birthday!”

“You took the time to get this for me…? Thank you, Emma.”

“No problem, Big Bro!” Emma smirked. A few seconds later, she cringed, a look of pure and utter embarrassment on her face.

“God, it’s been so long since I called you that.”

Adam placed his hand on Charlotte’s shoulder, who had collapsed onto her knees during their training.

“Charlotte, you don’t have to push yourself.”

“Curse this body…” Charlotte looked up at him. “I’m not even using my true power, and I can still get this exhausted.”

“Well, please take it easy. I don’t want you to end up disappearing on us.”

“What… what if I do disappear?”

Adam leaned down next to Charlotte, grasping her cold hand.

“Even if that does happen, we’ll get you back. You belong here—with us. At least, if this is where you want to be.”

Charlotte smiled, tightening the hold on Adam’s hand.

“Yes, I’d love to stay here.”

A young Adam and Faith stood on top of the cliff, hands practically glued together. They were in awe at the blue aurora that filled up the nighttime Requiem sky.

Yet, Adam’s vision drifted to the left of him, looking at Faith. For the first time in ages, she was smiling brightly.

 

Adam’s hand formed into a fist. He looked up at the massive attack, mere feet away from him.

“I guess I have things I gotta live for, huh?”

The World Mirror’s light engulfed his fist as he raised it upward.

“XYZ!!!”

The collision seemed to shake the entire Blue World. The energy Adam used was able to keep the large sphere at bay, even as it continued to grow in size. Alexander glared down at the event, filled with frustration.

“Moron! I gave ya plenty of time to dodge! Ya can’t overpower that! Damn, now I gotta weaken it so ya don’t freaking die!”

As Alexander moved his hand, beginning to move the Psycho Matter back in his direction, his eyes widened. It was, in fact, moving toward him, but not due to his actions.

The World Mirror was erupting out of Adam’s hand. He roared loudly, almost being audible above the ferocious otherworldly noises coming from the clash. Alexander’s sphere of Psycho Matter had stopped growing and had started to rocket toward him at swift speeds.

Using his wings, Alexander evaded the sphere just in time. It soared past him, as the beam of the World Mirror coming from Adam tore it to shreds.

The World Mirror has unleashed so much energy, that the beam appeared to have slashed right into the sky of the Blue World itself. Alexander landed, speechless at what Adam just did.

“He… not only destroyed my sphere… that power… it ripped right through this dimension! I can’t even do that with my Psycho Matter! I need to go to a source of distortion to enter and exit this place!” He swore under his breath.

 

Faith and Winona were in an ambulance on their way to a hospital located in Nexus City. The two were okay, aside from the extreme strain they put on their bodies due to their Abilities.

Winona was in worse shape, resting on the wheeled stretcher in the back. Faith was sitting next to her, with a paramedic off to her side.

The three heard a gasp come from the front. Faith wondered what was wrong as the paramedic looked to see what his colleague was reacting to.

“What the hell is that!?”

Faith slowly stood up, now going to check out the issue herself. As she got to the front, her eyes lit up in amazement.

The sky above Nexus City had seemingly split apart, with a white light shining stronger than the blue of the city.

The driver sighed. “First it was your town, and now it’s Nexus City. Weird things are happening tonight, huh?”

Faith stared at the light in silence. She had no idea why, but pain had begun welling up in her chest.

 

Alexander stomped into the dust cloud that had formed, ready to take his frustration out on Adam.

“Ya had that much power!? Have ya been screwing with me this whole time!? Hey! Come here—”

Alexander froze, his eyes widening in pure disbelief as Adam came into view.

His body had begun to crumble, ash spewing from him like blood.

“What… the hell happened!?” Alexander walked up to Adam, almost reaching out to him. Adam had a blank expression on his face as if he was a statue slowly fading away.

Alexander’s hand lit up, forming a small amount of Psycho Matter. “I… shit. I’ve never tried this before, but if I can… if I can recreate properties identical to a human body, I can fix this. Even if this does work… I can’t change the color. You’ll be a walking pink freak for the rest of your life! I… I didn’t do this! It was you…”

There was a sudden shift in pressure, which rattled the Blue World.

Before Alexander could react to it, he started to feel dizzy. Trying to stay on his feet, he formed a cane-like structure out of his Psycho Matter. This did not help, as he collapsed onto the ground, losing consciousness.

The bodies of Adam and Alexander began to float, rising to the dark blue sky above. Adam had now lost all of his limbs, his face starting to break apart. What looked like tears began to form, although they quickly turned to dust.

A colossal amount of bright blue energy suddenly presented itself, merging with Adam as he ascended into it. The sound of a fire igniting, followed by the sound of crashing waves occurred as the energy filled Adam’s entire body.

He could feel the raw power coursing through him, causing the crumbling of his body to cease. The World Mirror took this opportunity to begin healing the damage that it had done.

Adam basked in the energy like he was sleeping in the world’s most comfortable bed, covered in blankets crafted by the gods themselves. His vision did, in fact, start to dim—the phenomenon lulling him toward where he originally wanted to be that night: his dreams.

He could barely register the figure that had appeared in front of him. The only thing Adam could make out was the calm, confident smile the unknown entity had on their face.

It then spoke to him.

“There are many players in action now. Going all sorts of directions, doing all sorts of things. You need to remain on the board, heading to where you need to be.”

There was a small chuckle that could be heard, as Adam fell into a deep slumber.

“…I look forward to the day where I’ll be playable…”


Next: Chapter 1.18

Previous: Chapter 1.16

Table of Contents