Chapter 2.34

“Dad… No…” Winona fell to her knees, watching the phantons that were once within her father ascend, taking the dust that remained with them. 

Jerry and Travis stood there in silence. Eventually, the red-haired boy sat down, punching the ground below him. “God… dammit! What were we supposed to do!?”

“Cody…” Travis was shaking. “Why did this happen to you… Just, what…” His voice trailed off.

Thomas managed to take his eyes off of the battle, glancing over where his friend had just perished. “What… happened? Cody…”

“This is the way the world works,” Derek stated. “You can lose someone precious to you at any time. I’m not sure what just happened, personally, but it does not matter to me. What does matter—”

Unleashing phantons from the soles of his feet, Derek leaped toward Jerry and Travis.

“—is succeeding in my mission!”

Jerry realized that Lucy was currently on the floor next to him. Nobody was holding her—leaving her wide open. “Dammit…!”

Lucy was grabbed by Derek before Jerry could even move. Thomas had attempted to attack the man in the process, but could not, as Derek had picked the absolute perfect moment to make his move—one where all present were distracted enough.

“He’s going to get away…” Thomas started to chase after him, proceeding to trip and fall down. “My body’s at its limit, thanks to these unawakened phantons…!”

Winona was the only one close enough to potentially save Lucy. Of course, there was no way she was in a state where she could react in time. With tears running down her face, she attempted to use her own dust in the air to bring back the ashes of her father.

“Dad… I wanted all of us… together again. I wanted Cynthia to come back and… and then we could have been a real family again…” Winona collected the ash into the palms of her hands, while tears soaked into them.

Charlotte and Faith were well aware of the current situation, although they could not do anything to help. Medusa started stomping on the ground repeatedly, seeming to prepare for another attack.

“…Faith, let’s do this. We’ll take this thing down, and we’ll save Lucy. We won’t lose anything else.”

“Yeah…” Faith took a deep breath, forming a veil of flames around her. “Once Adam gets up, the three of us will work together and win!”

“He should be getting back up in a minute. The World Mirror works wonders like that…” Charlotte looked over at the boy on the ground, feeling an odd sensation come from the white energy emitting from him. “Adam…?”

Adam managed to regenerate his esophagus, while the rest of what was lost was not that far behind. 

“I see… I see…” Adam managed to whisper. He sat up—the World Mirror finishing up its handiwork. “I see…”

“Are you okay, Adam?” Faith asked him.

“Derek took Lucy, huh? All right, then. I should go and stop him… But first, let me make it clear to all of you, inside my head and out—”

Adam ran forward with blinding speed, jabbing Overlay-covered fingers into Medusa’s eyes.

“I’m no goddamn hero. Never expect me to do anything even close to what a hero does.”

Medusa wailed in pain, ripping itself away from Adam. He proceeded to kick the beast away from him, sending it a few feet away. 

“I…” Winona silenced her sobs, which Adam noticed.

“I’m not speaking to you specifically, Winona. I would have saved your dad if I was able to. There’s some extra bullshit that’s happening on top of everything. It was annoying as shit, but now that it’s claimed an innocent life, I’m done.

“Adam, what are you—” Faith was interrupted by a glare from Adam.

“I believe in you and Charlotte. Finish this thing off while I go take care of Derek. We’re going to tear everything down until we get our peaceful town back.”

“We… We got it,” Charlotte nodded. “We’ll handle things here. How did you know to strike at its eyes?”

“I can see it focusing all of its chaons toward its eyes. I figured it did something with that to keep you guys from moving. You’re not two that just sit there and let something attack you.”

Charlotte sighed. “Well, actually, I just stood there and let that Miles kid grab me…”

“Oh? Don’t beat yourself up over it. Mistakes can be made…” Adam looked at Medusa, who was attempting to regenerate its eyes. “I’ve made plenty of them, and I’ll probably make many more from this point forward.”

Faith approached Adam, gently placing her hand on his arm. “Listen, Adam—”

“I’m your hero, right?” Adam asked her. 

Faith’s eyes widened. Before she could respond, Adam continued.

“I don’t consider myself one. Nobody should. The idea of a true hero just… isn’t plausible.”

While Adam and Faith had their discussion, Charlotte managed to form a sword and begin swiping at Medusa. The demon managed to stumble out of the way, evading multiple attacks that she attempted.

“What do you mean by that?” Faith questioned, staring down at the arm she still held.

“It’s actually pretty obvious, and I don’t see why the world just… doesn’t seem to understand it.” Adam took a long, deep breath, exhaling slowly. 

“This world isn’t black and white. It’s entirely filled with gray.”

With those words, Adam leaped off in the direction that Derek had gone. Faith watched in silence as the boy cloaked in white disappeared from her vision within seconds.

“…Why’s your power colored white, then?” Faith looked at the ground, shaking her head. “That… makes sense, though. Of course, not everything’s in black and white. Is that why we can’t understand anything? Do we just not look at the world the way we’re supposed to?”

“Of course not!” Charlotte yelled at her, landing next to her. “I know this is a good time to talk about stuff, but it’s also really not a good time to do that! Help me finish this thing off before its eyes heal up!”

“R-Right!” Faith stepped forward, strengthening her flames once more. Charlotte stood next to her.

“Timelines, huh? It seems like they very well could be real… I didn’t really have any doubt though, after what I’ve seen.”

“Huh? What have you seen? Wait—didn’t you say we shouldn’t talk!?” Faith asked, scratching her head in confusion.

Charlotte smiled, wielding her blade in front of her. “I’ve seen something certainly worth fighting for. If you knew what it was, you would agree with me…”

“Y-You can’t tell me?”

“I don’t want something to happen, causing more damage,” Charlotte breathed in, accessing her white-haired form. “Just trust me when I say: we need to keep fighting!”

“Well, I wasn’t gonna disagree with that!” Faith smirked, readying herself for combat. The quick bout Charlotte had with Medusa was capable of preventing the beast from healing its eyes. 

If they were to defeat it, they would have to act right at that moment.

Charlotte was the first to move, thrusting her sword at the beast. Unlike her previous attempt, she managed to slash the side of the Medusa, successfully tearing away a good chunk of flesh. 

“I figured this form would work a lot better. I can’t stay in it for too much longer!” 

“I’ve got your back!” Faith shouted at Charlotte, managing to strike Medusa with a fierce flaming fist.

Charlotte followed up immediately, slashing at the back of the demon’s neck. Her sword had already begun to grow brittle, only managing to give Medusa a good whack. 

“Damn!” Charlotte cursed. “I can’t finish it off like this!”

“Keep hitting it, Charlotte! I’ll do the finishing blow!”

Charlotte did not doubt Faith, following along with her plan. She struck at Medusa several times, causing massive blunt damage. The beast attempted to slash in retaliation while Charlotte blocked the blows with her blade.

Her sword shattered—leaving Charlotte wide-open for an attack. Medusa, sensing the opportunity, manipulated the tendrils on top of its head to strike down at the ghost. At the last moment, Charlotte leaped backward, using a small amount of flight to move out of the way.   

This pattern continued—Medusa now focusing entirely on expanding its tendrils to attack. Charlotte, at this point, could only evade. She managed to keep her white-haired form active, which most likely saved her from getting struck.

In the meantime, Faith had formed a flaming Roswell Sphere in her hand.

“I can’t attack while they’re moving around like that… I’ve gotta…!”

With determination boiling up inside of her, Faith ran into the fray. Charlotte noticed this, attempting to completely garner Medusa’s attention. 

“Adam… I don’t care what you say. Heroes can exist. I’ll show you, you stubborn idiot…”

Faith chucked the sphere at Medusa, which rocketed directly at the beast.

However, Medusa noticed this, moving out of the way at the last second. Faith’s attack was now heading in Charlotte’s direction.

This did not matter. Faith and Charlotte grinned as the Ouderkirk caught the sphere, not causing damage whatsoever simply due to Faith’s desire for it not to hurt her.

“We’ll see ya later, demon!”

Charlotte smashed the flaming sphere into Medusa’s back, causing a massive explosion the second it made an impact. The entire area was covered in raging flames, which only burned the beast that had been struck. 

Faith manipulated the flames to surround Medusa, trapping it inside. Although, both of the girls were certain that they were successful in their attack.

“Just in case—” Faith looked at Charlotte. “I’m going to stay here. Charlotte, please go save my sister!”

“A-Are you sure?” Charlotte asked her worriedly. “Shouldn’t you be—”

“I need to be here right now.” Faith glanced over at Winona, who was staring off into space. Jerry was next to her while Travis had met back up with Thomas.

“Right… You can count on me.” Charlotte assured her. Fading back to her black-haired form, she ran over to Jerry. “Can you come with me? I need your help at the station.”

“I-I mean, I can see why, since I’m the one who originally stopped that energy from going out of control. But in this situation… And right now—” He looked at Winona.

Charlotte leaned on her knee in front of Winona, grabbing her shoulders. Winona managed to look at her.

“Winona. I’ll help you in any way possible to deal with this… I’m so sorry…” She quickly embraced the gloomy girl. “B-But right now…”

“I know… I shouldn’t grief. We’re in the middle of a battle…” Winona nodded, weakly returning the hug. “I just want to know… How? Why?

“We’re going to find those answers—I promise you,” Charlotte affirmed, placing her hand on Winona’s head. “We’ll start the search right here, right now. Through this battle… Through all the battles in the future—we’ll search for the truth to this world!”

“Yeah… We will…” Winona nodded, slowly standing up. “I won’t leave Faith’s side, don’t worry.”

“I’ll stay here too.” Thomas barged in, stretching out his now sore body. “I can trust Jerry to handle things back at the station, right?” He playfully nudged his son’s arm.

“Do you really think I can…?” Jerry asked, now having doubts about himself.

“Of course you can. You’re better than me, you know?”

“Huh? How!?” Jerry asked, quite surprised.

“You’ve got both things down—a head and a heart. With both of those, you can figure a way out of anything.” Thomas gave him a thumbs up.

“Dad…” Jerry slowly nodded. “I’ll do my best.”

“Come on, fake boyfriend,” Charlotte grabbed Jerry. “We’ve gotta get over there. We’re running—I want to conserve my energy.”

“Wait, we’re running!?” Jerry whined. “Sure, you may conserve energy, but what about me!?”

“Just grin and bear it for now!” Charlotte yelled, dragging the boy away.

“Should I go there too?” Travis asked the man.

“Nah, stay here with us.” Thomas leaned in, whispering into Travis’ ear. “I need to discuss what just happened with you.”

“Huh?” Travis attempted to question Thomas, only to be silenced by the man’s hand over his mouth.

Winona walked over to Faith, who was now focused entirely on the fire encapsulating Medusa.

“So this is a chaonic entity, huh?” Winona asked in a melancholic tone.

“This is what Unity’s originally made to fight. Creatures created from chaons, such as this one… Of course, who knows what—”

Winona buried her face into Faith’s shoulder, not making a sound.

Faith simply held her friend in her arm, as gentle and comforting as possible.

“Who knows what we’re really supposed to fight…”

“…This entire world, I think.” Winona responded softly.

“Yeah…” Faith nodded. “That sounds about right.”   


Next: Chapter 2.35

Previous: Chapter 2.33

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

StKa4mainies

Novagirl93

Chapter 2.33

“W-What do you mean…?” Winona was baffled at what her father had just said.

“The timeline must adjust for there being a soul that shouldn’t belong. I happen to be the unfortunate soul that must be sacrificed, it seems…” Cody held his head. “H-How do I know that…? What am I even talking about!?”

“You’re not dying!” Winona declared. “I refuse! Whatever’s going on, I’m going to stop it!”

“I…” Cody grew silent. Travis walked over to him, placing his hand on his shoulder.

“You seem fine to me? As usual, you can take a hit pretty well. So that’s clearly not a problem… What are you talking about with this ‘timeline’ nonsense?”

Jerry stared at Cody, going deep in thought. “He doesn’t look like he’s joking… He’s dead serious. Timelines…? Is something that big actually real!? If that’s the case…” He approached the man. “Cody, is there anything else you can tell us!? Anything that can help us figure out what we can do to help!”

Cody snickered. “Although you do genuinely want to help, you’re seeking out information as well, correct? That’s just like your father… gathering information while simultaneously trying to make things better. It’s tough to do both earnestly.”

“Of… Of course, I want to learn more. I want to learn the truth behind Phantonics—which I assume you know is being kept from us?”

“It absolutely is,” Cody agreed. “Those bastards make it pretty obvious they’re covering up things. Ain’t that right, Travis?”

“Yeah…” Travis nervously nodded. “Without that actual data, I’ve… barely been able to do anything of significance with my career…”

“Don’t worry—we’ll get to the truth,” Jerry stated. “But first, we need to learn more specifically to help Cody out!”

“Heh—I honestly used to think you brainiacs were incapable of emotions. Turns out, I was surrounded by a bunch of softies, huh?” Cody chuckled.

“Well, what can you tell us, Dad!? Anything else!?” Winona asked in a panic.

“It’s like… my soul from another timeline—one that knows the truth behind all of this stuff—is merging with mine. At the same time… I feel tons of power flowing through me. Not in a good way, however. I feel… like I’m about to overload—” Cody collapsed onto his knees, about to vomit.

“Dad!” Winona grabbed him. 

“You… You need to get Adam. He’s the only one who can stop this…”

“Cause of the World Mirror…?” Jerry pondered. “Just… What is Adam’s Ability all about, anyway?”

Before Winona could respond to her father, Cody’s skin began to crack, small amounts of blue emitting from them.

“N-No! Dad!” Winona hugged Cody out of desperation. “D-Don’t! Don’t die!” She began to sob. “You can’t go…!”

“We’ve got to think of something!” Travis yelled, rustling his hair—close to ripping it out. He looked over at Thomas and Derek who were still battling. “At a time like this…!?”

Derek noticed the unusual activity going on off to the side. “Hey, don’t you think you have more important things to deal with right now?”

“I’m not giving you any opportunity to take Lucy!” Thomas proclaimed. Inside his head, he was not as courageous.

“What the hell is happening to Cody!? Is it something these guys did!?” 

“Well, that’s fair. I didn’t expect to be sneaky about it. I’ll just have to take her using brute force,” Derek jumped away from Thomas, wiping the blood off of his body from the wounds he had received. 

“I can read your movements using my eyes!” Thomas pointed out. “Your Ability gives away quite a lot of information regarding how and where you’re going to attack.”

“You know…” Derek sighed, cracking his neck. “My Ability is called ‘Inner Force,’ since the phantons stay inside me while operating how I move on the outside. You’re the second person recently who seems to be able to see how it works.”

“Don’t underestimate how far phantonic technology can go!” Thomas chuckled. “It can be very dangerous… It can also be quite helpful.”

“Yeah, I can’t really let Unity get away with using stuff like this regularly, huh?” Derek placed his hand on his chin. “Hmm… All right. Since you can see my phantonic activity on the inside, why keep it there?”

“Huh? What do you mean?” Thomas asked, pointing his weapon at Derek.

A thin blue line formed around Derek’s body. As Thomas reacted to the phenomenon, the energy erupted outward, pushing him back.

“What is this!?” Thomas jabbed the ground to stop himself from moving.

“I usually fling my phantons around inside of me, causing my physical body to be flung in conjunction with the force I apply. This trick allows me to just straight up fling the phantons around, like so—”

Derek punched the air in front of him, unleashing a beam of energy from his fist. Thomas blocked the azure attack, yet was still sent flying back into the ruined walls of Ann’s.

“That’s quite a change,” Thomas leaped back into the fray immediately. He held Phoebe back, preparing to jab. “I can’t hold back now, it seems?”

He thrust his rapier forward, unleashing a phantonic beam of his own—although it was thinner than Derek’s. Seeing the attack coming, Derek retaliated by swinging his fist at it—the blue radiating out of him easily knocking away the blue from Thomas. 

“The difference between our phantons is becoming more apparent…” Thomas sighed, dashing forward. “I’ve got to end this quickly!”

“We’re both in a rush—let’s finish this up!” Derek smashed his fist into Thomas’ blade, the eruption of phantons blanketing what was left of the store. Winona shifted her foot, erecting a small stone barrier to protect the group from the impact. She kept her eyes on her father the entire time.

“What do we do…!?”

 

Outside, Faith and Charlotte were well aware of the strange activity happening off in the distance.

“We need to get over there!” Faith begged, trying to pull Charlotte in the store’s direction.

“Faith—we need to be careful—you should know this. With our current strength, we have to find a practical way to help.”

“We will!” Faith said with strong determination. “Regardless of how we do it, I’m going to fight! We’ll see this through to the end!”

“Good resolve…” Charlotte smiled softly. “Let’s—” Her eyes widened upon feeling a strange sensation.

“What’s up Char—” Faith went silent. She pointed over toward the police station. “What is…?”

Charlotte turned—the green light confirming her suspicion. “Again!? Emma!”

“Wait, this is what happened before!?” Faith asked, prepared to blitz over to help her sister.

“Should we split up…?” Charlotte questioned, holding Faith’s arm while trying to contemplate. “You want to go help out Emma, but I may be more effective against that strange power of her’s…”

“W-Whatever you think…!” Faith began to panic. “We just need to come up with a decision, and fast!”

Out of the corner of their eyes, the two noticed black energy suddenly surround Miles’ unconscious body.

“What the—” Charlotte formed a tiny knife, flinging it at the mass. It did nothing—Miles quickly vanishing. “Dammit…! They must be rescuing their fallen comrades!”

“…Let’s leave it alone for now. We’ve already got enough on our plate!” Faith yelled, still trying to think while also waiting for Charlotte’s input on their current situation.

“All right. Why don’t we—” Charlotte gasped.

“What is it!?”

Charlotte simply pointed her trembling finger to their east. Faith turned, swallowed by the same terror that had struck her friend.

Limping toward them was Medusa. The demon’s appearance was enough to shock anyone who witnessed it. However, it was not the most horrific feature this beast brought. 

Medusa was holding a blood-soaked severed head—torn right off the unknown individual. 

 

In the woods, Muraco suddenly jumped up in surprise. Brandon noticed this, drearily looking at the rabbit.

“Hey, what’s your problem!”

“Idiot, look!” Muraco pointed over toward Ivan, where another black mass had formed.

“Gah! What the—”

Before the two could move in, their enemy had already disappeared.

“H-He’s gone! Dammit! What just happened!?” Brandon shouted while surveying the ground where Ivan lied moments prior.

“It was the same energy that warped us here. They used it to save their ally, it seems.” Muraco explained. His expression grew solemn. 

“Now that I got a good feel on it, it does feel exactly like the same kind of power that Brandon used…”

 

Faith formed a flame in her hand while Charlotte formed a sword in her own. The two prepared for Medusa to charge directly at them. 

They immediately froze upon staring into the demon’s hellish eyes.

“W-What is this power…? I can’t move…!” Charlotte’s sword fell, smashing apart on the ground.

“This thing is… stopping us from moving with a mere glance?” Faith’s flame vanished—the embers blown away by a slight breeze.

The head that Medusa held in its hand began to disintegrate into black ash, merging with the beast’s body.

“I-It assimilated that person’s head…” Charlotte struggled to speak. “Has it been killing people to stock up on power!?”

“Is that what’s it’s doing…?” Faith couldn’t help but feel queasy. “What a monster…!”

In the next moment, Medusa leaped at the two girls without warning. It did not matter at this point if they were ready—they were restricted by the demon’s strange power.

Faith and Charlotte fell into despair, accepting that they could do nothing to prevent Medusa from ripping them to shreds.

A bright light flew between the two—Adam striking Medusa with an Overlay-covered kick. The force knocked the beast away, saving the girls just in time.

“Adam…!” Faith’s eyes filled with joy.

“I… thought I sensed you coming. Couldn’t be sure, though.” Charlotte sighed in relief.      

“We do have a lot going on over here as well. Geez…” Adam glanced back at the station, blanketed in green light. “It’s that bastard’s power again…”

“A-Adam!” Winona noticed his arrival and sprinted over. “You need to help us!”

“What’s going on over—” Adam paused, grimacing at the swelling energy off in the distance. “This is…!”

“I don’t know what’s happening! My dad says he’s merging with another timeline—or whatever—and the overwhelming power is going to tear his body apart!”

“Timeline? So is this for real…?” Adam held his chest. “I’m not going crazy…?”

“So, she was right…” The inner voice sighed. “I didn’t want to believe it. I did all of this to help you against the trials you face, but it seems to be causing unnecessary dread, huh…?” 

“Well, what do I do?” Adam asked himself. The three surrounding him looked curiously at his actions.

“Should I tell you…? Will it affect this timeline in another way…? No… I can’t let that happen. Maybe I should step back… It’s already too much to lose Cody to this. If anyone else were to get involved…”

“Hey—I asked you what the hell do I do!?” Adam roared. Faith held out her hands, wanting to reach out to him.

“Adam, what are you—”

“Dammit! If you’re not going to help out, then why did you show up in the first place!?” Adam groaned, stepping toward Ann’s. “I’ll have to use Reflection… I let the World Mirror study the properties of the phenomenon, then proceed to deal with it based on I learned! It’s worked so far… somehow! Freaking—don’t worry, Win! I’ll help him!”

Adam started to run toward Cody, who was already covered head to toe with blue phantonic cracks. 

“Adam, look out—”

Adam turned to Faith’s voice, which was yelling out to him. Before he could see her, Medusa struck him, smashing his throat. This blow would have easily torn Adam’s head off if it was not for his quick thinking—gathering energy in his neck at that moment.

Medusa knocked Adam back, falling to the ground—blood splattering everywhere from his fresh wound.

“Guh!” Adam held his throat in absolute agony, attempting to channel more of the World Mirror’s energy to restore it. 

“Adam!” Faith and Charlotte yelled simultaneously, still taking care of focusing on Medusa’s movements. The demon made a high raucous noise, licking Adam’s blood off of its hand.

Winona stared at Adam in despair, as the only possible way in saving her father had just been temporarily taken out of commission. She slowly turned, knowing time was up.

Cody saw Winona and was able to give her one last smile before the phantons disintegrated his body. 


Next: Chapter 2.34

Previous: Chapter 2.32

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

StKa4mainies

Novagirl93

Chapter 2.32

“What did you do!? What did you do!?” Miles roared, swinging his fist at Charlotte. Despite her successful block using her arm, phantonic energy burst out of her, quickly absorbed by the boy.

“Dammit…” Charlotte jumped away, almost tripping on her own feet. From that one punch, she began to feel woozy. 

“You’re just a mass on energy! I’ll use my hands to rip you to pieces! Damn ghost—how could you do this to her!?”

Miles swung violently, attempting to grab hold of Charlotte at any opportunity he could get. She could not build up the strength to fly away in time, causing her to become locked into a close-quarters evasion game.

“Listen… This is war. This is what happens we two sides go at each other with the intent to kill. To no one’s surprise, people die!” Charlotte shouted right into Miles’ face. “Your friend intended to…” She paused. “Kill… me?”

“You’re already dead! You don’t have the right to mess with the living! I’ll make it so you no longer exist!”

Despite his pure rage, Miles’ statement was still accurate. In Charlotte’s eyes, at least. 

“I…”

Her guard fell. Miles took this opportunity to grab Charlotte by the throat using both of his hands. She immediately felt the phantonic energy discharge out of her—Miles squeezing it out.

“What am I even doing? What am I fighting for…? This feeling… I can’t breathe. I’ve… I’ve felt this pain before…” Charlotte gazed into Miles’ eyes. 

“It certainly wasn’t him… That glare, however. I’ve seen it. Fury. Fury, for no particular reason, taken out on me… There is a reason this time, though. I took a life. When I’m no longer among the living. Even if you’re alive, taking a life is… wrong. It’s wrong. So… What grounds do I even have to do it…?” 

Charlotte did not even make an attempt to struggle her way out. If she had the strength to do so, she still would not bother.

“Yeah… It figures. I never mustered up the energy—that I certainly had—to get those fiends off of me. If I’m going to disappear, this is certainly the way to go. Not fighting—even if I could. Besides, if these memories are the only thing I can remember… Please, just end it. Let me be at peace…”

Charlotte’s vision was blurred. The little that remained visible to her suddenly lit up in vibrant orange light. A few moments passed before Miles slowly released his grasp on her. The next thing Charlotte saw was the boy collapsed onto the ground—his back badly burned.

“Huh…?” 

She fell to her knees, reverting to her black-haired form. Charlotte did not bother catching her breath—not needing to breathe—yet held her throat from the agony she had just received. Looking up, she saw Faith rush toward her.

“Charlotte, are you okay!?” She leaned down, grabbing Charlotte’s shoulders.

“Faith… I… I’m okay…” Charlotte replied—her voice hoarse. 

“Thank goodness… Man, I’m exhausted!” Faith slowly rested her head on Charlotte. “Using my flames like this… I wasn’t ready!” 

“Were you the one fighting in the gas station…? I deflected an attack toward there on accident… How foolish of me…”

“So that’s how that happened!” Faith laughed rather boisterously. “I thought I kept the structure of the building in check during the fight. I see… Yeah, I had to use my flames to guard myself. After that, I had to put out the fire before it spread to the pumps. That obviously wouldn’t be good if they went up in flames.” She folded her arms, nodding to herself. “Yep, yep. I’m really getting this Ability down, aren’t I?” 

Charlotte started to giggle—wrapping her arm around Faith. “What am I honestly doing…? I can’t let you guys face all of this alone, now can I?”

“Hm?” Faith looked at her curiously. 

“I need to stabilize my body—you need to take a breather. Let’s do that. But…” Charlotte glared over toward Ann’s. “We need to get over there as soon as possible.”

“Right…” Faith agreed. “If Win’s in there, I know things will be all right. But… like you said, I can’t let any of you face this alone.” 

“That’s right… I’m not alone in any of this.” Charlotte glanced up at the cloudy sky, which revealed a small speck of blue.

“I may not be alive… I do, however, exist. And it’s worth ‘living’ this existence, isn’t it?”

 

“Muraco!” Brandon attempted to rescue the rabbit lying motionless on the forest floor. A sizeable metallic beast stood in his way—glaring at the boy with literally empty eyes—the eyeballs missing from their dark sockets. The mouth, now filled with razor-sharp fangs, emitted an eerie screeching noise.

“This is… that Ivan guy…? This dude grew twice his size. He’s a huge hunk of demonic phantonite now! He’s pure silver and terror!”

“Brandon…” Muraco slowly raised his head. “Stop analyzing his appearance… You need to get out of here…!” 

“I’m sorry—I pay attention to the finer details when I’m in a panic!” Brandon shouted. “And… hell no! I’m not leaving you here!”

“It caught me off guard… It’s too tough for you to deal with! Get out of here, moron!”

Ivan took a swing at Brandon, who rolled out of the way, preventing his body from being sliced apart by the beast’s sharp claws. 

“Being entirely made of metal now, I can sense his movements pretty easily with my Ability. Still—that doesn’t compensate for the hella power gap I now have with this dude… thing… Okay—just what is he!?”

Ivan roared, continuing to strike at Brandon—hitting the ground each time as the boy continuously jumped to evade the attacks. The air crackled with electricity while Brandon maneuvered around the trees at a swift pace.

He knew he was only delaying the inevitable.

“What do I do…? What do I do…!?” His breathing began to pick up—now composed of shorter, quicker breaths. “If I don’t do something… I’m gonna die. There’s no help—I’m seriously gonna die…!”

Brandon started to feel odd. He felt an overwhelming amount of calmness consume his body. Yet, he could also feel an inner rage swell up within him. It did not make sense to him—it was such a mysterious feeling that it distracted him from the horror currently attacking him.

He did not need to worry, as his body began to move for him. Brandon launched backward off the ground using his leg, moving a significant distance away from Ivan. His Shepherd Surge had faded away at this point—no longer active. 

Muraco struggled to stand. “He’s out of energy…? Dammit! Gotta move!”

Brandon looked at the ground, unable to move his own head up to face the beast that had started to charge after him. Like a puppet, Brandon moved his legs, casually walking forward. Electricity slowly surrounded his body once more.

The blue had now become pitch-black.

Brandon casually waved his hand, touching Ivan’s side. The contact caused an explosion of black lightning, ripping his metal body to shreds—bits and pieces scattering about on the forest floor.

“Guh…!” Ivan coughed up blood as he collapsed. In a panic, he tried to stand back up immediately, struggling as over half of his body was now destroyed. The phantonite attempted to reform his lost limbs, but could not. Overwhelming exhaustion struck Ivan, rendering anything he tried useless.

As the strange black electricity vanished as quickly as it had arrived, Brandon and Muraco’s enemy had been defeated.

“That… electricity…” Muraco stared at the motionless Brandon. “It felt similar to that energy that warped us here…” The rabbit carefully hopped over to the boy, taking precaution near Ivan’s now unconscious body. “Hey… Brandon. What the hell was that?”

“I… need to save her… That’s my role…” Brandon mumbled.

“Huh? Save who? Brandon?” Muraco waved his arms in an attempt to get the boy’s attention. 

Brandon finally gazed up, looking at Muraco. For a moment, Muraco swore he saw Brandon’s eyes glow. “Muraco…? What-What happened?”

“You… defeated this guy? Look—” Muraco pointed at Ivan, who was no longer moving. “I don’t feel like he’s gonna try to get up again after that attack.”

“What attack?” Brandon asked—his enthusiastic personality beginning to return. “W-What!? What did I do!?”

“Good grief…” Muraco sighed. “Is this what I get for getting involved with you guys? I have to deal with all of this weird shit?”

“W-What weird shit!? What happened!? For real! I’m freaking out, man!” Brandon began scratching his hair in a frenzied panic. 

“Well, you’ve still got energy, surprisingly.” Muraco shrugged his shoulders, turning toward Ivan. “And, well… This guy—” He proceeded to stomp on Ivan’s head with his right foot. “You tried, didn’t you? You almost got me, but in the end, you were, in fact, a boring villain. Get comfy—this is where you’ll rust away.”

“Muraco, geez. That’s not how a hero should act!” Brandon yelled, baffled at the rabbit’s behavior.

“That again…” Muraco shook his head. “Well, are you good enough to head back? I’ve been hearing all kinds of noises coming from town. We should hurry!” 

“Yeah, let’s—” Brandon attempted to move, falling flat on his face instead.

“…You don’t have as much energy as I thought.” Muraco sighed. “Need a few minutes?”

Ys plse…” Brandon spoke—his words muffled in the dirt.

 

Adam shook his hand, which was in tremendous pain after striking Carl. He glanced behind him, viewing the damage he had caused. The entire upper half of Carl’s head had been smashed to pieces—black blood oozing from it.

“He’s not dead…” Adam groaned. “Chaonic energy is still dancing around like crazy inside of him.”

“Adam…” Pam slowly approached him. “Seriously… How are you this strong?”

“I… don’t think it’s just me right now…” Adam shook his head. “I know you probably don’t understand what I mean—at all—but I can’t explain right now. I’ve gotta go stop something from happening.”

“Stop what from happening?” Pam asked.

“Stay here and finish this guy off. He’s a problem, after all.”

“And you’re giving me orders!? Adam, just what are you—”

“You need to trust me right now,” Adam stated firmly. “Besides…” He sighed. “Even if I explain, none of it will make sense.”

“How can you be sure about—”

Before Pam could finish speaking, Adam dashed off toward the center of town.

“…I can understand more than you think…” Pam sadly murmured to herself. “I wish you guys would trust me…” She snickered. “What I’m hiding from you, though… Yeah—you’re probably right in not wanting to trust me.”

Pam raised her guard at a sudden chuckle. Looking down, she was stunned to see it originating from Carl’s body.

“There’s no shame in keeping secrets, you know.” He sat up—the black blood bubbling from where Adam had crushed him. His mouth spoke regardless. “Sometimes, there are things people don’t have the right to know.”

“They have the right to know this secret…” Pam gathered steam around her blade. “You can still talk like that!?”

“Yeah, I can. Man—that kid can heal a hell of a blow. His power intrigues me… Could it possibly be the push I’ve been looking for…?”

“What are you saying!? Don’t even think about messing with Adam!” Pam slashed down at Carl, only to be intercepted by Jason’s phantom energy, suddenly appearing out of nowhere.

“Thanks, Jason! You recover some of your strength?” Carl asked as the portion of his head that he lost started growing back, surrounded by blood-like crimson energy.

“I think I’m good enough for a tactical retreat. You need a break after regenerating something like your head, correct?”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Carl smirked—his newly formed eyes glaring at Pam. “I guess that’s it for round two. I’ll see you again, Pamela!”

“Wait—” Pam jabbed the ground with her blade, cracking the earth below her with a wave of steam in an attempt to stop Carl. This ended in vain as Jason successfully warped the man away—the shadows fading away. 

“Dammit…!” Pam threw her sword in frustration—the steel striking the rocky terrain, causing a loud metallic bang. “Come on, Pam! You need to step up your game!” 

She sighed while reaching down for her weapon. As she grabbed it, Pam turned around at the sound of a massive crash.

“Wha—”

A dark green mass of energy rocketed out of the front doors, tearing the front of the building to shreds.

 

Jerry had joined Winona and her father, who was still attempting to recover from the strike Derek dealt on him. Travis had finally awoken, yet was unable to fully register the situation around him.

“T-This is what happens when you don’t sleep, kids…” Travis murmured, almost passing back out on the spot. Jerry was able to keep him standing, although almost fell himself keeping the man propped up.

“Anyway, you got Lucy, Win? Let’s take her and your dad and get out of here while my dad’s fighting!” Jerry declared.

“Y-You’re leaving him to fight that guy by himself!?” Winona asked with hesitation in her voice. “But he isn’t—”

Jerry pointed at the fight. Thomas had been tactfully evading all of the blows Derek had attempted on him. The majority of the jabs Thomas countered with also missed their mark, yet a select few were able to create minor scratches.

“My dad messed with his own eyes. There’s technology in them that allows him to track phantonic activity. However this guy plans on using his Ability, he’ll be able to react in time.”    

“A-Amazing…” Winona was stunned. She took a look at Lucy, who was still being held by her. “Jerry, what is this thing on her neck? It caused her to pass out once he placed it on her. Something about suppressing phantonic activity…”

“Huh? Let me see—” Jerry analyzed the strange black device. “I… Uh… Don’t know! Suppressing phantonic activity… Yeah, that makes sense. This might be difficult to remove—we don’t want to hurt her in the process.”  

Cody slowly stood, gaining the attention of the others.

“Hey, Dad!? Are you okay? You shouldn’t push yourself too hard! Thomas has this!”

“Heh…” Cody chuckled, staring at the floor. “That guy’s always full of surprises…” He shook his head. “You all need to get out of here, though…”

“There’s no way I’m letting you continue to fight!” Winona yelled, getting up in her father’s face. “What will Mom say if you come home all messed up!?”

“Mom… Claire, heh…” Cody laughed. “I’ll miss her… I’ll miss you and Cynthia, so much…”

“Huh…? Dad…? W-What are you talking about…?”

Tears rolled down Cody’s face—a bittersweet smile forming.

“I’m going to die, Winona.”


Next: Chapter 2.33

Previous: Chapter 2.31

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

StKa4mainies

Novagirl93

Chapter 2.31

Adam collapsed to his knees, shaking and breathing violently. 

“Adam, what’s wrong—” Pam attempted to ask. Carl interrupted her with another wave of black petals. She responded just in time—slashing them apart with a flurry of sword slices.

“Good—you didn’t drop your guard. I would have been upset if I was able to take you down that easily.” Carl chuckled, creating more petals surrounding him. 

“I don’t have time to check on him… I need to finish this quickly! Hang on, Adam…” Pam leaped forward, striking at the barrage of attacks Carl unleashed. As she dealt with the tiny waves, Carl created a gigantic one, ready to crash down on her like a black tsunami.

“Hey, Pam! Can your sword slice through all of this!?” Carl beckoned her to attack the structure about to crash down upon her.

“I won’t use my sword for this…” Pam sheathed her blade, placing her hands in front of herself. Steam began to form rapidly around her body, forming itself into multiple spheres of steam.

“Roswell Repeating Sphere—go!

Pam let loose, sending the spheres directly into the enormous wave. At first, they seemed to be easily lost in the darkness. From the inside, they ruptured, tearing the black petals to pieces—the massive amounts of steam filling the area, mixing with the fog.

Adam attempted to look up at the action unfolding. He could not, as his vision has become distorted. Similar to a glitch in a video game, the area surrounding him was incredibly pixelated. The lack of white he observed in the pixels made him question exactly what he was looking at.

“This is…?”

It took him a moment, but Adam soon discovered that this scene was in fact Prelude, minus the fog. He compared it to a map with layers—this glitched layer being the standard layer, while the foggy layer was removed entirely.

“What’s… happening here…?”

His voice once again spoke inside of him.

“Dread is fast approaching… Through your keen eyes, you can see how the very concept of despair warps the world around you.”

“Despair…?”

“The bonds you’ve forged… They’re about to be affected drastically. Being linked to yourself—the one with the World Mirror—things… will start to not make sense.”

“Heh… start to not make sense…?” Adam chuckled. “Nothing‘s made sense for a while now. Even if things weren’t thrown completely out of whack… I still can’t seem to get a grasp on it all.”

His inner voice laughed. “I’ve compared it to an author writing our story… One that doesn’t know what they’re doing. Is that thinking outside of the box? I don’t think it matters. Whatever’s happening—”

“You use my voice… Yet, you’re not me. Just what are you…? A few times now… like after I saved Lucy, you’ve spoken to me. I think you called me your ‘fellow past self,’ right? Are you…?”

“…You’ll come to learn that time is a complicated thing, Adam. I’m not sure what else I can say without disrupting things right now, but…”

The pixels lit up in bright white light, blinding Adam. As he held his hands in front of him, another hand reached out for him, lightly grabbing his wrist.

“It’s been hard… hasn’t it? What you did to this wrist, for example…”

Adam looked up, unable to make out the tall silhouette towering over him.

“Whatever pain comes your way… Whatever obstacles throw you off the main track… Please, keep running forward. It’s the only way you’ll make it to the end. The true end… And let me tell you…”

Adam felt something wet land on his face.

“The ending is so worth it…”

Wiping the tears off of him, the white surroundings shifted back to the foggy setting. Adam slowly stood, focusing his attention on Pam and Carl, who were exchanging blows using their sword and spear.

“Keep running forward, huh…?” Adam stabilized his Outline while forming Overlay over his arms and legs. “That sounds like winging it to me… Like running through traffic, hoping you don’t get hit. Oh well…” He arched his back, bending his knees. 

“This body can handle it. I’m the one with the World Mirror, after all.”

He took a giant leap toward the action, shattering the ground below. Pam had just been knocked back as he flew at them. 

“Adam!? You’re—”

Carl grinned, turning his attention to the boy soaring in his direction. “You’re back in the fight, huh!? Let’s do this!” He jabbed directly at Adam with a mighty thrust of his spear.

Adam blocked the blow with his left hand.

“What…?” Carl was shocked. “I… put all of my strength into that…”

Adam crushed the tip of the spear—whacking the remainder off to the side with the back of his hand. This caused Carl, who still held the weapon, to lose his balance.

“Impact…”

In the next moment, Adam’s right fist smashed into Carl’s head, slamming the man into the ground with enough force to cause a fierce gale to erupt into the sky as the earth below tore apart.  

  

Winona and Miles had a staredown—trying their hardest to muster up the energy for another round of attacks. Miles has the entire fog to back him up, while Winona was on her own defending the others, as Cody could not do what she could.

I need to strike fast and hard. His body’s got to be wearing down, even if he’s using all of those phantons to support it…”

Cody stared down at the rifle in his hands. His hands were still trembling while contemplating what has just occurred.

“My… Ability. It’s never done that before. And it felt natural—almost like it could always do that…”

Cody was so lost in his own thoughts, that he did not even notice the man silently approaching from behind. He finally turned around upon hearing Derek grab Lucy.

“Hey! Let go of me!” Lucy shrieked. “I swear, I’ll beat you up—”

Derek did not hesitate to place a device that resembled a black suction cup on the back of her neck, causing her to immediately pass out.

“I’m sorry about this…” Derek sighed. He turned his attention to the man in front of him who had his weapon aimed in his direction.

“Let go of her!” Cody demanded. Winona turned her head toward the commotion while trying to keep her focus on Miles.

“Lucy!”

“This device Carl created suppresses phantonic activity. It’s the perfect way to knock a ghost out since our signal seems to not work on them alongside us Ability-wielders…” Derek clenched his fist. “Hopefully she won’t have to suffer now…”

“You sound like you don’t want to capture her…?” Cody asked him. “I sense hesitation in not only your words—but your body.”

Derek shook his head. “I’ve never wanted to do any of this. However, I have to—it’s that simple.”

Miles began to jump around. “Oh—Derek! Get that girl and move! I wanna kill these guys!”

“You probably should back off, Miles,” Derek suggested. “Your body’s taken enough damage as is. I should have moved in sooner. I apologize…”

“Nah, it’s okay!” Miles affirmed. “I’m having loads of fun fighting! I just gotta change the nature of the phantons inside of me to heal, and I’m good!”

“It’s not that simple…” Derek sighed. “Well, all right. I’m not one to give you orders. Do what you want.” 

Cody inched closer. “You gonna let Lucy go?”

“You probably think I’m at a disadvantage with you having a ranged weapon?” Derek questioned. “Cody Collins, you should know based on your experience…”

Derek flung himself at Cody with no hesitation, striking the rifle—shattering it in a single blow.

“Range doesn’t matter if you’re fast enough.”

Cody attempted to retaliate with a punch. Due to his back, he had trouble twisting around to the proper position in time. Derek quickly whacked Cody in the head with the side of his hand, sending him rocketing into the damaged walls, causing them to finally collapse.

“Dad!” Winona turned around, ready to strike Derek with a stone she formed in her hand. Instead—following her instincts—she spun around, chucking it at a small blast of phantonic energy that Miles had shot at her.

“Don’t think you can ignore me!” Miles began focusing more energy around his body. “Derek, I’m gonna destroy everything. Take the girl and leave!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Derek sighed. “That’s what I’m here for.”

“Nobody’s going anywhere.” Winona declared. Slamming her foot into the floor, a giant dome formed above Derek, encapsulating him within. Turning her attention to Miles for the brief moment now available, she created a drill-like structure from the ground, sending the spiraling mass at the boy. Even with the built-up phantons protecting him, the strike sent him flying out into the fog.

Derek proceeded to smash out of the stone that had trapped him with a single punch. Winona adjusted her focus back to him—the strain beginning to build up within her body.

“I won’t let you take Lucy!” Winona manifested more sand, surrounding herself in it—ready for Derek’s attack.

Derek prepared to face Winona using the only hand available to him—the other currently holding Lucy.

It was at this point where the sky above them—now clearly visible from inside the building due to it’s ruined state—lit up in a fierce blue aura. Winona gazed up at the phenomenon, seeming to know the origin.

“Charlotte…?”

Derek was also glaring at the light above. “It’s that Ouderkirk girl, isn’t it? This isn’t Miles, that’s for sure…”

At the energy faded, there was silence. Winona and Derek awkwardly turned back toward each other, ready to resume their fight. Noticing the fog starting to fade, Derek began to grow anxious.

“Dammit… Haley was taken out already…!? Without the fog, the signal—”

Winona shot a burst of sand at Derek, who managed to whack it away rather easily, despite his current emotional state.

“I don’t know what you guys thought you could get away with, but we have power on our side! You shouldn’t mess with Prelude!”

Derek shook his head. “If the fog’s gone, then that also means any protection has been lifted. Is Unity waiting outside, ready to make their move…?”

“You shouldn’t worry about Unity right now,” Winona commented. “You should worry about me!” A smile slowly formed on her face. “Not only me—but…”

Without warning, Thomas had stood up. As Derek became aware of his presence, the scientist jabbed at him with a blue rapier. Thomas had attacked at the perfect angle for Derek to take his grip off of Lucy. Winona noticed this and used her sand to catch the unconscious girl before Derek could grab her once more.

“I got her!” Winona brought her sand back to herself, placing Lucy in her arms. “Thomas, are you guys all right!?”

“I’m disappointed in myself, to be honest.” Thomas sighed.

“Huh? What for? You just helped me save Lucy!”

“Nah, not that. See—” He pointed at the side of his head. “Knowing of Oberon, I took precautions just in case I had to deal with it directly someday. Whatever signal these guys were just using, it was similar, but not exactly like Oberon. There’s a chip inside of my head that can process this kind of data. It wasn’t quick enough for me to wake up, though…”

Jerry opened his eyes, trying his best to stand. “That’s Dad for ya—always doing weird stuff…”

“Jerry, are you okay?” Winona asked him.

“Yep. That was a nice nap…” Jerry looked over, shaking Travis who still seemed to be out of it. “This guy’s still sleeping soundly, despite the situation we’re in…” He looked around his surroundings. “This is…!”

“Give her to me!” Derek roared, smashing his foot into the ground. “She’s already dead—why do you care so much!? Let her be of use for people who are still living! We can still save… her…” He looked at the ground—his fists trembling. 

“Save who?” Thomas asked, pointing his rapier at Derek.

“My wife… Please…” Derek glared at Thomas with tears almost forming in his eyes. “I just want her to be okay…”

“Still…” Winona spoke. “Lucy’s important to us. We want to know her origins, and we…” She paused. “Do we… want her to be able to rest in peace…?”

“I think that’s what a ghost should be able to do—rest,” Jerry commented.

“Does that mean, Charlotte…?” Winona fell silent.

“Let’s not worry about that right now,” Thomas insisted. “Anyway—listen, pal. I know exactly what it’s like to lose a wife. If there’s a chance that she can still be saved from whatever’s going on with her, then… that’s great. I would have loved to save my wife from her disease…”

“If you understand, then let me have the girl! Hurry!” Derek begged.

“I can’t allow you to go through with it in this way, however,” Thomas stated. “With the damage your group has caused, we have no choice but to stop you.” Thomas jabbed his rapier into the ground. “See this? It’s the custom weapon that my little brother got from Unity. It’s now mine, while he uses a basic weapon with his Ability. It’s illegal as hell for me to own this, but—”

“Why are you rambling at a time like this!?” Derek asked, furiously.

“…I named this weapon Phoebe. After my wife. Also apparently after some Titan from Greek Mythology—where most weapons’ names originate. But, that’s beside the point. I know Phoebe wouldn’t be happy with me going through some dastardly means to save her. Let me ask you—would your wife be happy with what you’re doing?”

Derek started to chuckle, shaking his head violently.

“She’s the dastardly one, for what she tried to do… I know she’s paying the price for committing such a grave sin. But as the man who loves her more than anything in this universe, I still want to save her!”

“I see…” Thomas sighed. “And how would taking Lucy save her, exactly?”

“That’s enough.” Derek declared. “I’ll be taking her now. I’m out of time, you see.”

“Is that so…?” Thomas raised his weapon. “You know, I don’t just have this for the hell of it. I taught myself how to fight. Ability or not, I’ll stop you.” He turned toward Winona. “Keep her safe, all right? Same with your dad.”

“Right…” Winona looked back anxiously, expecting to see Miles pop up once again. After not seeing him, she slowly inched her way toward her father, who was still recovering from his recent hit.

“Give her to me—” As Derek reached out to snag Lucy from Winona’s arms, Thomas once again jabbed at him. With this thrust, Phoebe lit up in a blue aura, increasing the potency of the attack.

Derek blocked the blow by whacking it away from him. “You can charge your own phantons through that, huh? Your phantons aren’t awakened—how long do you expect to last?”

Thomas glared at Derek—his irises flaring up in a light blue while his pupils adjusted exactly like a camera lens.

“Long enough.”

“What did this man do to his body…?” Derek dashed at Thomas, sending a flurry of punches toward him. Thomas used the side of his rapier to parry and evade each strike—keeping a keen focus on every single move.

“Take him down, Dad…” Jerry said, pulling at Travis’ hair still attempting to wake him.

 

Miles stood up after the attack Winona used on him. He started to giggle—almost uncontrollably. 

“All right! I’m really gonna kill her now!” Miles declared, beginning to focus on creating another attack.

“Huh…?”

He quickly realized that the fog that was supplying him with energy had now vanished.

“Huh…? What…?” Miles surveyed his surroundings like a lost puppy. “Haley… W-What happened? Where are you…?!?”

He found the answer to his question—lying motionless on the ground a small distance away.

“…”

As Charlotte stood next to Haley’s body, she sensed an ominous force blitz toward her, ready to tear the Ouderkirk apart. 


 Next: Chapter 2.32

Previous: Chapter 2.30

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

StKa4mainies

New Name for the Site! + Update

Welcome to kyologist.com! Once phantonics.com, this new domain will now reflect my work as an author in general, as opposed to just Phantonics. The normal phantonics.com will STILL link to this site, however. And for the time being… it’s still just Phantonics content haha.

I’ve been working through the writing funk I’ve dealt with the last few weeks. Going back and editing Phantonics chapters with Grammarly Premium has helped me feel a lot better with my work. I think I can finish up the next chapter this weekend. If I’m lucky, I can dish out another chapter so that it can be ready for Patreon.

I want to stream more on Twitch as well, but of course, motivation is an issue for me. Hopefully I can get that ball rolling?

Think that’s it for now. Thank you as always.

-Kyle

Chapter 2.30

Several minutes earlier, with the fog still plaguing the town, Miles crept close to the front door of Ann’s. He began to giggle to himself.

“They went in here, huh? After all that trouble I went through to create that bomb. Oh well…” He opened his hands, forming multiple miniature spheres of phantonic energy in each palm. “It doesn’t matter where you are. I’ll kill you all.”

Before he could shatter the glass doors in front of him, a giant wave of sand came crashing down upon him. Winona had arrived just in time. She glared at the pile of dirt she had created.

“I won’t let you kill anyone, even if you are some kid!”

The sandy tomb suddenly turned blue, erupting into a plume of phantonic energy. Quickly fading away, Miles stepped out, completely unharmed.

“You’re one of the Ability-users, huh? It’s too bad—nothing like that will work on me!”

Winona quickly summoned dirt around her, preparing her defense. “What the…? What kind of Ability does he have!?”

Miles’ fingers began to twitch. The fog seemed to slowly gather, morphing into more phantonic energy. “Thank you, Haley!” He cheered, whipping his hands at Winona, sending sharp waves of blue toward her.

Winona instinctively blocked with her sand. She retaliated by sending a similar form of attack at Miles, only hers was composed of dirt. He quickly moved his hands, coming into contact with each individual attack. This action once again turned Winona’s power into pure phantonic energy, gathering into Miles’ hands in the form of two spiraling spheres.

“You’re just feeding me, you know!” Miles mocked. “You can’t do anything against me!”

“Is that so?” Winona started to chuckle.

“Huh? What’s so funny!?” Miles asked, flinging the spheres at Winona, who whacked them away with a knife made of stone she forged in her hand.

“Between the fog and my Ability, it’s obvious what you’re doing. You’re returning structures composed of phantons back into their original form, which you manipulate. Odd, as I mix actual earth into my Stone Rose, yet you still completely change it… That’s quite the Ability you have.”

“You’re good!” Miles grinned rather sadistically. “I’m actually sort of interested in you now! What are you going to do? Huh? Huh!? I wanna see!”

Winona gathered sand around her arm. “It’s quite simple, actually.” With a flick of her wrist, she sent a small burst of the earth at Miles. He moved his hand in the attack’s path, ready to counter with his Ability.

With a motion barely noticeable, Winona changed the trajectory of her sand, causing it to go around Miles. She snapped her fingers, reforming the sand into a sharp stone spike.

This new object buried itself in Miles’ temple, faster than he could react to.

“Huh…?” 

Blood spewed out of his head, as he collapsed to Winona’s one simple move.

“You don’t have much battle experience, do you? Maneuvering my sand in multiple different directions is something I’ve grown good at. So, of course, I can move around your slow, flailing arms. Sorry—I couldn’t hold back…”

Winona seemed upset at what she had just done. However, she didn’t hesitate. Ignoring Miles, she quickly ran through the front doors of Ann’s.

 

Muraco dashed around the foggy forest, blocking multiple gunshots using his scarf. Ivan pursued closely, now shooting from barrels formed on both of his arms. The man seemed perfectly capable of maneuvering through the treetops with keen precision, not missing a single step while continuing the fight.

Brandon stood off in the distance, observing the two—Shepherd Surge at the ready. He was impressed that Muraco could keep deflecting the bullets raining down upon him.

“Muraco’s… good at this. What kinda experience does he have…?” 

“Dammit…” Muraco cursed. “I have to try something else. I can’t get an opportunity to whack him with my scarf with all the shit he’s firing!”

Muraco retracted the scarf’s extensions. Ivan took this opportunity to attempt a fatal strike on the rabbit. However, he failed to make any mark. Muraco suddenly sank into the shadows, entirely out of sight.

“Where did you go?” Ivan asked himself nonchalantly. He landed on the ground, swiftly shifting his eyes around the woods.

“He really can use more than one Ability…” Brandon noted.

Fabric shot out from the base of a nearby tree, barely missing Ivan as you casually moved to the side. It latched itself onto a tree nearby as another scarf formed from the shadows. This process continued—long scarves manifesting in an attempt to capture Ivan, yet were unable to do so. 

Eventually, Muraco ceased his attack—the woods now covered in a blanket of blue. Ivan stood in the center, completely unfazed. He adjusted the barrels on his arms.

“It does not matter if you created more shadows with these. Wherever you pop out, I’ll fire at you.”

With the combination of fog and fabric, Brandon could no longer see the enemy.

“Muraco… Whatever you’re planning, I hope it works. Cause I won’t be much use right here—”

With a powerful flash, the scarves exploded. Tiny blue threads scattered throughout the area surrounding Ivan, slashing at his body like an infinite number of blades. Within the shadows, Muraco’s voice roared.

“Finishing Move—Thread Shredder!” 

The attack tore through Ivan’s phantonite body like it was paper. Brandon stood back in awe and horror while being glad that Muraco could control the threads to only strike inward. He would be a goner if they ended up scattering everywhere.

As the activity ceased, Ivan collapsed—with a small portion of his lower head left along with his torso.

Brandon ran over to him while Muraco hopped out of the shadows. The two stood over their fallen enemy.

“Did… Did you kill him…?” Brandon anxiously asked.

“I would say yes, except… no. He’s still alive, somehow.” Muraco leaned over in caution. “I can feel his energy… It’s still inside.”

Brandon stared in terror as blood seeped from the wound on Ivan’s head. “How…?”

“How is he alive? Beats me. He’s a tough cookie. That’s fine—he won’t be doing much anymore—”

“No.” Brandon shook his head. “How… can you gather up the courage to kill someone…?”

Muraco was silent at first. Eventually, he responded. “It’s not like we can talk these guys out of it. Their minds were set the moment they began all of this. We can’t afford to let them… live.” He sighed. “Man, I don’t sound like much of a hero, do I?”

“I… get the ‘why’ part of it. I think. But… I asked, ‘how’ you can gather that courage?”

“I’m not sure I would call it ‘courage,’ Brandon. I don’t know what I’d call it, but we, as humans, need a firm resolve to—”

“Muraco… What… do you mean by that?”

“Freaking—I don’t know how to explain this process to you, but—”

“No… not that.” Brandon placed his hand on Muraco’s head. “You said ‘we, as humans’… Are you considering yourself a human…?”

“Huh? I-I mean, I might as well be human! I…” Muraco lowered his head. “I’m not too sure about my origins. I’m aware that I was tortured by the Ouderkirks, but how I gained this form… What I was before… I don’t know.”

“Well, let’s not worry about that! Right now, we gotta get back to the others!” Brandon shouted. “Come on!”

“Wait a minute, Brandon,” Muraco stopped Brandon by grabbing him with his scarf. “This guy right here… I told you he’s still alive.”

“Yeah? I doubt he’s going to do much in that state, dude.”

Muraco shook his head. “No… Something doesn’t feel right.”

“Hmm…” Brandon scratched his head, staring down at Ivan. “I’m not sure—”

In the next moment, the boy and the rabbit were engulfed in a sudden fiery explosion of blue, expelling from Ivan.

 

“Dad!” Winona ran up and embraced her father, who almost fell over from the impact.

“Woah, take it easy, Winona! It’s okay. We’re okay…”

Winona let go of Cody, looking down at the three who had fallen unconscious. “So, it happened here as well…”

“Winona, is everyone okay over there!?” Lucy asked, rushing up to her and grabbing her leg.

“People without Abilities passed out as well… But, they’ll be all right. Pam, Faith, and Adam are there, after all.” She gave a comforting smile to the girl.

“What are we gonna do with all of these sleepyheads?” Lucy questioned the father and daughter, pulling at Jerry’s hair, making it even more spiky than usual.

“If we can carefully move them back toward the station, we can rejoin the others,” Cody answered, scratching his chin. “Now that the base is demolished… we might as well.”

“I can use my sand to transport these guys. It shouldn’t be too difficult.” Winona stated, beginning to form her sand around them.

“Do you hear that…?” Cody asked, pointing toward the ceiling. “Sounds like there’s quite a fight going on above us… It must be Charlotte dealing with the enemy.”

“I just fought someone as well. Managed to take them out quite easily.” Winona glanced up. “I hope Charlotte can handle whoever she’s fighting…”

“Let’s hope that’s the only other enemy nearby. We can make a break toward the station. Er… Winona?” Cody began to chuckle. “Can you… use your sand on me as well? You know I can move around that well.”

Winona sighed with a smile on her face. “Yeah, yeah. Of course, I can. Make sure you keep an eye out for any enemies. I-I mean, as much as you can in the fog… I can handle people who move on the ground thanks to my Ability, but flying enemies… I don’t think so.”

“This is gonna be difficult, and extremely risky…” Cody said, adjusting his grip on his rifle. “But, it’s even riskier just staying here. We need to all group up, I think…”

“You think?”

“It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to come up with these kinds of decisions on the battlefield. I fear your old man’s brain is starting to wear…”

“Oh, come on. You’re not that old, Dad.” Winona giggled.

“So I am old, is what you’re saying?”

Lucy lowered her head. “I wonder how old I am… I’m seven—I know my age when I was alive. How long has it been since…?”

Cody, without thinking, answered.

“Well, you’re in your mid-twenties, of course—” He hushed himself immediately.

“Dad…” Winona’s eyes widened. “How… do you know that?”

“My brain… really is starting to wear…” He let out a long sigh. “I’ve been able to keep it a secret for this long since you don’t seem to recognize me, Lucy. And I figured Pam should be the one to let you guys know. But… I should say it, shouldn’t I…?”

“Do you know who I am!?” Lucy’s eyes lit up. “Tell me, tell me!”

“Yeah… Tell us, Dad.” Winona requested, holding back her anger.

“Right…” Cody carefully leaned down on his knee, grabbing Lucy’s shoulders.”

“Listen, Lucy. You’re actually—”

The reveal was interrupted by the front door of the store shattering apart. Winona and Cody quickly turned toward the action, ready to fight whatever was about to enter.

Winona was petrified at the sight of Miles stumbling inside. A tiny amount of blue oozed from the wound on his head, while his left hand seemed to be quivering.

“Ah… You left before we could finish our fight…” Miles started to giggle with his head facing the floor. 

“Dammit! He survived that!?” Winona motioned the sand around the others in front of herself.

“Round 2…” Miles waived his right hand forward. From the outside fog, a giant sphere of blue shot into the store, tearing through every obstacle in front of it to reach Winona.

“Fight!”

Aisles were toppled over as the attack exploded, ripping apart the very foundation of Ann’s. Winona struggled but was able to successfully keep her sand sturdy enough to prevent the attack from connecting with her and the others.

The dust settled, and Miles’ laughter grew even louder upon seeing Winona standing. “Yes! Yes! That’s it! Let’s have some fun and tear everything apart—”

He was interrupted by Cody, who had shot at him. The projectile entered his right shoulder, almost knocking him off his feet. Yet, he remained standing and did not find the bullet to be much of an issue.

“You’ll have to shoot to kill, you know!” Miles snickered as blue ooze slowly crept from his fresh wound.

“I refuse to kill a child,” Cody stated. “However…”

The debris around the store began to move. As if it was being pulled by a magnet, it flew—striking Miles in a fierce barrage.

“I have nothing against punishing one.”

Miles was knocked out of the store, back into the fog. Cody walked up and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Are you able to keep going? He’ll probably retaliate pretty quickly.”

“Dad…” Winona felt a strange sensation as if it was floating in the air around her. “Why… After all the years of us training together… Why didn’t you tell me you can pull objects toward where you use your Ability!? I…” She shook her head. “I know you can transfer it temporarily into your bullets, but your Ability is called ‘Trip Stick.’ Before you injured your back, you use it in close combat, affecting the ground around you. Opponents got stuck, and you used that to your advantage.”

“Winona…” Cody body started to shake. “I’m… not sure myself. What did I just do…?”

“Huh…?” She looked at her father in astonishment. “You mean, you didn’t even know!?”

The area outside of the shop lit up. The two returned their attention to the battle as Miles began to shift the fog into phantonic energy.

“Winona! This is gonna be a big one!” Cody yelled.

“I-I know! I got it! Don’t worry!” Winona slammed her hands onto the ruined floor. A wall of blue paved its way inside—Winona counterattacking by creating dozens of large spikes from the earth, aiming and striking away at the sizeable phantonic structure.

In the clash, Winona could not ease her mind. Not from the enemy that she was currently facing, but the strange circumstances suddenly surrounding her father.

“What’s… going on right now… exactly?”

 

With a fist of white energy and a fist of steam, Adam and Pam struck at the wall of black petals before them. The force tore through the obstacle, having enough strength to spare—pushing Carl several feet away.

“Nice… nice nice!” Carl caught his breath. “You two are nearly impossible to overcome working together!”

“Adam… are you doing okay?” Pam asked the boy next to her. 

“I’m fine. Using Overlay for my punches works much better than how I was going about it before. It’s not perfect, but I’ve still got my hand in one piece, for now.”

“Good to hear. Let’s finish this guy off before he tries anything fishy! Be careful that other Jason guy doesn’t interrupt either.”

“I’ve been keeping an eye on him…” Adam glared at the mask floating off to the side. “He’s been keeping his distance. I’d say he’s definitely drained at the moment.”

“Well, even better. Come on, Adam! Follow my lead!”

“Will do—” Adam froze. 

“Adam…?” Pam turned back to him before she charged ahead.

“No…” Adam shook his head in dismay. “What is this…?”

He felt a chill run through his body as if it was piercing him from multiple directions. Before he had time to process it, Adam heard his own voice echo in his head.

“It’s beginning…”

He, however, was not the one that spoke.


Next: Chapter 2.31

Previous: Chapter 2.29

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

StKa4mainies

New Wiki + Other Updates (Regarding This Week’s Chapter Release as Well)

It’s like 3 in the morning, but I decided I’d make this update anyway. I’ve been working on a wiki for the story, and I think I can finally make it public! Still lots of stuff to fill in, but I’ve been gathering a lot of information onto the thing.

This means that the wiki will now be the #1 source for Phantonics information. I’m removing the pages I’ve had on here since they’re starting to grow outdated and I don’t really feel like editing them. Not to worry, everything you want such as character information, terminology, etc will all be on the wiki for you to check out!

You can find the link to the wiki in the primary category bar at the top of the homepage (also here)! Hopefully cleaning up some of the other links will make it look a bit nicer.

I’ve been debating on trying to post Phantonics on Wattpad. This is something I may start doing, so I’ll let you all know when/if that happens. So it’ll be on the main site, Royal Road, and Wattpad at that point. I asked about it on Twitter and I got an interesting suggestion. What I may start doing is have Royal Road (and maybe Wattpad) be a week behind the main site in terms of chapters. This way, I can have readers on those sites have a reason to visit the main site if they want to read more. They’ll also be two weeks behind in terms of the Patreon chapters in this case.

Speaking of, I might have to delay this week’s Patreon release for a bit. I’ve had family visiting the past few days and have not had time to write. Well, I’ve had time, it’s just my creativity was drained by them… a lot. I put the energy I could muster up into working on the wiki, so I guess, for the time being, this will be the gift everyone gets this week. As soon as I get the chapter done, I’ll post it up on Patreon immediately.

Normal chapter release is still okay, so don’t worry about that. Royal Road readers, I’m probably going to start doing the thing I talked about above this week. So if you want to read the newest chapter, make sure you hop on the main site to do so.

All right, this has been quite a rambly update, so I’ll end it here. Hope you all have a good week!

-Kyle

Patreon Change + Small Update

Hey everyone. I just wanted to make a quick little update about a change on Patreon. Starting today, there will only be one Patreon tier available, the “Hero of Requiem” tier, which replaces the Red Apple tier of 2 USD. The Golden Apple tier, which was 4 USD, has been deleted. However, the main benefit from it, which is thanking you specifically underneath each chapter, is now within the Hero of Requiem tier. So now anyone who supports the tier will be thanked in that manner!

I’ve been starting to slowly get back into the swing of things after being in a funk for a week or two. So, that’s good. I’m also working on something pretty cool, which I’ll reveal pretty soon. It should make organizing information for the series much easier.

Thanks for reading, as always!

-Kyle

Chapter 2.29

Alexander could not process what had just occurred. He stood up after crashing onto a concrete floor—his wings luckily protecting him from taking too much damage.

“The… hell…!?”

Whatever had just struck him sent him tumbling into an abandoned warehouse that had a high metal ceiling with rusty rafters. The only things noteworthy on the floor were several wooden pallets in multiple stacks around the room.

The being now descended slowly through the hole above—dust and light calmly surrounding it. Alexander immediately retaliated, extending his wings to stab through the enemy.

“Huh…?”

His wings stopped before they could reach it. The one known as “The Nexus” chuckled at Alexander’s attempt.

“Oh—I guess that makes sense. I attack you out of nowhere, so you attack me back. I just wanted you to stop, however. I do not want to fight—I would like to speak with you, Alexander Strauss.”

“The shit are ya supposed to be!?” Alexander started to grow uneasy. “Not only did my wings randomly stop working, they can’t even read whatever the hell’s doing it in the first place…!”

“Oh—I’m not anything that special. Just a being wanting to figure out its origins.” The Nexus raised its hand, forming a large azure spear with a cylinder-shaped hilt that it gripped tightly. “You don’t have to say a word—I know how you act. You’re going to desire a fight. I suppose I could talk to you while you attempt it?”

Alexander chuckled. Several wings shot out of his back, creating intense pressure around him.

“Shit just keeps on piling up, doesn’t it!? Fine, I’ll just do what I always do! You’re goddamn right I want to fight! Bring it on, you freaky fuck!”

 

“Sent us inside the gas station, huh?” Chris groaned, standing up after being slammed into a stand full of potato chips. He leaned on the front counter—glaring at Faith who stood on the other side of the tiny store.

“I’m glad I aimed well enough…” Faith sighed. “If I actually hit the gas pumps, that could have been really bad…”

“How the hell did you not burn me!? You were on freaking fire!” Chris shouted at her.

“I have to put most of my energy into moving around… I can’t gather up enough heat to actually burn you with that technique. Anyway, not that I got you out of the way, it’s time to start talking!”

“Talking…?” Chris chuckled. “Talk about what? You’re the good guy—I’m the bad guy.”

Why though? What are you even doing all of this for…?”

“Huh? We desire power. That’s all—”

“Why do you desire power?” Faith’s face was stern.

“For the love of—” Chris sighed. “Listen. My sister kinda put herself in a really bad situation. If we gain the power within the seal, Carl can learn much more about the world. With that knowledge, he can free her. My buddy, Derek—actually my brother-in-law… he’s her husband. We’re both working toward this.”

“Do you have to go about it in this way…?” Faith asked with a solemn look.

“Well—Unity won’t do shit! They already have her for breaking the damn law! She’s quarantined in a hospital… with guards all around her. She’s trapped in that… gross shit… and used as a test subject. They won’t help her. She’s a huge source of info for those bastards…!”

“So you turned to this path…” Faith sighed. “I’m sorry…”

“Huh…? The hell… are you sorry for!?” Chris flicked his fingers in a sudden rage. Faith moved her head as the spark flew past her, shattering the glass of a vending machine behind her—seared bottles of soda sent flying across the store.

“Unity’s corrupted… I know. That’s one of the reasons why I willingly joined. I want to make it a better place—to have it truly live up to its name. Unity should be a place where we can all come together, not a place that causes fear and suffering.”

Chris shook his head. “That’s all fine and dandy. But we don’t have time for you to overthrow the damned thing! My sister’s dying to that chaonic shit around her! We’re making our move—today!

“I understand… wanting to save your sister…” Faith sighed. “But I can’t allow you to do it like this! You’re no better than Unity right now! People are suffering because of this attack!”

“You aligned yourself with them…” Chris muttered. “No matter your reasoning, you have no say in whether what we’re doing is right or not…” With a snap of his fingers, a spark began to form. This time, it expanded—forming into a yellow whip-like structure.

“What is that…?” Faith asked, forming flames around her arms for defense.

“My Spark Blast Ability… This can be considered an extension of it—quite literally. Take a look!” Chris swung the whip around, almost like a lasso. He then flicked it toward Faith—the tip barely missing her as it caused a powerful explosion upon impact with the already trashed vending machine. The force managed to knock her down on the hard store floor.

“It’s… stronger than before…” Faith leaned up, wiping away the blood from her now bleeding nose.

“What are ya doing just laying there!?” Chris laughed maniacally, sending the whip at Faith for a second time. She managed to roll out of the way just in time, using her flame to push herself even further to successfully escape the impact of the blast.

As she stood up, Chris continued to whip his weapon around. Faith had to continuously dodge, using the shelves in the few aisles around her as shields. He was swift—quickly reducing the obstacles in front of him to dust with each explosion.

Chris roared with laughter, feeling the thrill of the battle welling up inside of him.

 

“Chris… It’s okay. You don’t have to cry anymore…”

Sam sat on the front steps to their house, holding the young Chris’ shoulder in comfort.

“Why… did dad have to die…? Seriously—everyone else flies planes without an issue!” Chris gasped for air as tears continued to flow.

“It can happen…” Sam sighed. “Technical difficulties can always happen… It’s okay, though. He died doing what he loved best.”

Chris rubbed his eyes, pulling an old pilot hat out from behind him. “This was grandpa’s…? Dad gave it to me recently…”

“Mhmm! Grandpa wanted that to be passed on. I’m… kind of afraid of heights, so flying was never really an option for me. But you always loved it! That’s why you have it! Is… it something you want to do?”

“Why would I do something that killed dad!?” Chris shouted. “I’m not an idiot like him!”

“Chris… He wasn’t an idiot. He knew what he was doing. Like I said, it was technical difficulties.” Sam shook her head, standing up. She reached out her hand to her little brother, beckoning him. “Come on, follow me.”

“Huh? Where are we going, Sam…?” Chris asked, grabbing his sister’s hand.

“You seriously don’t know! I’ve been talking about it all week!”

“You have…?” Chris was stumped.

“Oh, geez! Let’s go! You’ll see when we get there! It’s getting late—we’ll miss it!”

Chris said nothing more. He followed his sister in silence as she led him down the streets of Nexus City. As the sun set, the blue of the buildings began to grow in brightness—the two different hues clashing with each other.

“The beach…?” Chris finally spoke up, seeing multiple people standing on the sandy shores.

“Yeah! It’s getting dark—it should be starting in a minute here!”

“Wait…” Chris paused. “You don’t mean…?”

As the sun fell below the horizon, the sky once again lit up. Chris jumped at the loud noise echoing above him. Looking up, he watched as the fireworks began.

“Dad was going to take us to see these… I still wanted to take you.” Sam stated, holding Chris’ hand tightly.

Chris stared in absolute awe at the sight forming above him. Red, blue, green, yellow, orange, violet. So many colors danced around the sky, he couldn’t help his face light up in excitement.

“I’ve never seen fireworks before… They’re so cool!”

“They are… aren’t they?” Sam giggled, holding Chris closer.

“I… want to be up there. The sky’s so open, ain’t it…!?”

“Do you see why dad and grandpa loved flying? Despite the risks, they still did it. They wanted to explore that vast, endless sky. A place where beauty is free to expand to its heart’s content, like right now.”

“They’re a little loud… I can barely hear ya, Sam,” Chris chuckled. “But I… I know. Dad would want me to go up there, wouldn’t he…?”

Sam turned to him, placing her hands on his shoulders—giving her brother a gentle smile. “He would want you to do what makes you happy. If you do want to fly, then for sure!”

“I’ve got a few years before I can start to learn…” Chris scratched his hair. “I’m not even a teenager yet.”

“You’ll get there! Don’t rush your high school years—trust me. It may seem hellish, but life after it is kinda…” Sam trailed up, laughing awkwardly.

There was silence between them as the fireworks continued to explode, increasing in intensity. Chris eventually spoke, still audible to Sam.

“Do… Do you think dad’s up there right now…?”

“Do you think he is?”

“Well… wherever he is, I hope he’s enjoying these fireworks, just like we are…”

Sam nodded, embracing her brother. The big finale started while Chris’ memory grew fuzzy.

 

After over a dozen strikes, Chris had transformed the store into a blazing inferno. He held his head in frustration, panting heavily.

“Why… the hell did I think about that now…? Sam…”

Chris stared into the flames before him. “I’m… sorry. I have to do this… I need my sister to smile once again…”

He stepped back in shock upon seeing Faith casually walking out of the fire.

“What…? None of that shit hit you!?”

Faith started giggling to herself. Despite flames covering her body, she did not react in fear. Instead, she embraced herself, seemingly basking in the warmth around her.

“What in the…? Are you freaking Satan or something!?” Chris swung his whip once more. As it descended upon Faith, she casually avoided the blow by stepping to the right. Before it even made contact with the floor, she grabbed a hold of the weapon with her fiery palm, avoiding the tip.

In a calm, eerie voice, Faith answered Chris’ question.

“I’m just having fun.”

She dashed toward him, sliding her hand along the whip as she moved, making Chris unable to maneuver it.

“Damn it…!” Chris canceled out the whip, positioning himself so he could fire back. He shot multiple sparks—all aiming directly at Faith.

Keeping her right fist ignited, she blasted a mighty flare from her left hand, engulfing Chris’ attacks. They exploded—the recoil pushing back toward Chris himself.

“Dammit, dammit, dammit!” He held his arms in front of his face, instinctively shielding himself from the oncoming force. The fact that he had just guarded himself actually caused him to drop his guard entirely.

Chris could not react quick enough as Faith smashed her flaming fist into his gut—the intense power sending him rocketing through the front counter, shattering it to pieces, while money from the cash register shot out and littered the flame-infested building.

As Chris lost consciousness, Faith collapsed to her knees. She trembled immensely.

“T-There… Take a nap and think about what you’ve done…” She began to laugh. “Have I… been this strong this entire time…?” Glancing at her hand, the flames continued to dance around her—being no issue whatsoever for the one who, months prior, would have been in extreme distress at this scene.

“Am I strong enough… to make things right in this world…?”

Faith then heard a large crashing noise come from above. As she looked up, the ceiling broke apart violently, descending upon her.

 

Charlotte glanced down, looking at the collapsing building below. She had just deflected a strike from Haley’s blade—the force being redirected toward the gas station.

“Dammit… There was a fight occurring in there! I couldn’t tell who it was, thanks to this fog, but… Please, if someone was on my side…  Let them be okay!”

She had no time to think—Haley’s sword aiming at her as it had been. Charlotte blocked the strike, sending the energy from the impact off to the side.

“You shouldn’t worry about others, Ouderkirk girl. In this fog, I’m too powerful to ignore.” Multiple shards of ice formed around Haley, firing at Charlotte. With her sword, she swung rapidly and repeatedly—quickly reducing the projectiles to nothing but cold dust.

“You can even see, can’t you?” Charlotte jabbed at Haley, who guarded successfully.

“Yes. In this fog, I don’t need my vision. I can see everything that’s happening. A lot is going on… Some of your friends are in danger, even. You probably don’t want to waste time here. Unfortunately, I’m not giving you the option to leave.”

Charlotte took a deep breath. “I’ve been honing my senses during this fight. It’s not perfect yet, but I can tell… that Miles kid headed to Ann’s. Can Cody defend the others…? No—wait. Someone else is there… This energy… Is it who I think it is?”

Haley slashed, Charlotte slashed back in retaliation.

“Even still… she’s right. I can’t afford to waste any time. But…” Charlotte transformed her long sword into a great sword, the following slash strong enough to knock Haley back a significant distance. “Hey—why can I feel my energy coming from you…?”

“Oh? You finally noticed?” Haley giggled. “My hair didn’t give it away? Yes—that is your family’s power you feel. Somewhat, I should say. We were injected with some of your deceased family’s DNA. Unity worked out the kinks, and was able to produce a small amount of your power within us.”

“Unity…? What the hell? Why would they do that?” Charlotte asked, keeping her defense raised.

“Aside from the obvious desires that Unity seeks… Well, we were the perfect test subjects. Abilities forced upon us, causing us to lose something… I lost my sight. Miles lost his sanity… the poor boy. By using us as test subjects, they could see how the Ouderkirks’ power could aid us. It certainly gave us tremendous energy, thankfully. Along with what we individually lost, we lack the physical strength to do daily activities, for the most part.”

“It… actually doesn’t sound too bad. I’d love it if my family’s power could actually help someone. But…” Charlotte tightened the grip on her sword. “What led you to this point!? Why are you doing something like this!?”

“The experiments would eventually lead to our deaths. Fangless, the group that rescued us, knew that. We were saved, and along with the potential to still fix ourselves, we’re working alongside them.” Haley’s voice began to shake.

“What is it…?” Charlotte asked her.

“I… want to see the world once more. There’s this beautiful field, you see. Whether it’s filled with flowers—vibrant in color, or blanketed in ice-cold snow… It’s the perfect place. I played there when I was little… I just to see that place again, if anything!

“Are you serious…?” Charlotte shook her head. “I get wanting your sight back. It seems it was wrongfully taken from you, after all. But… a freaking field is your goal? I’m sorry, but trying to kill innocent people… There’s nothing that can make that justifiable, especially that bullshit!”

“Shut up!” A violent gale filled the fog. As in came into contact with Charlotte, frost began to form around her body. “You have no idea what I’ve been through!”

“After what you’ve done, trying to kill my friends…” Charlotte held her sword high in the air. “I don’t give a damn what you’ve been through!”  

“Is that so!?” Haley roared, forming several gigantic shards of ice around herself. She launched them toward Charlotte at remarkable speeds. This did not matter, as Charlotte easily slashed through each of them. Holding the great sword to her side, she soared at Haley.

Although Haley did move her sword in time to defend, Charlotte shattered the icy blade with a single, mighty strike. As Haley watched the fragments fly around her, she finally understood.

She was no match for Charlotte.

She was no match for a true Ouderkirk.

With Charlotte preparing a second slash, Haley flew backward, creating multiple chunks of ice to defend herself.

The chase began. Charlotte sliced through the frozen masses before her, following Haley as she manipulated the fog to maneuver herself around the area.

“G-Get back… Get back!” Tiny blizzards started to form, blinding Charlotte’s vision—slowing down her movement. This was only temporary. Charlotte pushed through, keeping her pursuit going in spite of all that was thrown at her.

“Why won’t you stop!? Just freeze already!”

“The cold doesn’t bother me,” Charlotte stated calmly. “Temperature itself doesn’t bother me. You’re not stopping me with something like that!”

“Dammit…” Haley ascended high above Charlotte, almost reaching the top of the barrier of fog. “Just give up! Let me have your power!”

A fierce blue aura manifested around Charlotte’s blade, melting away the ice that had covered it. “You want my power, huh? I’ll give it to you, then!”

Haley gathered the fog above herself, creating a gargantuan glacier-like structure. “Try and stop this!”

“Is she crazy!? She’ll destroy the entire town with that! Does she not care about her allies!?” Charlotte tightened her grip on her sword.

“Time to go all-out.”

With all her might, Charlotte slammed her giant blade into the heap of ice. The energy discharged from the strike, yet remained somewhat calm as it wrapped itself around the lower half of the glacier. Now that her phantons were in place, it was time for Charlotte to finish the fight in one simple move.

“Royal Ascent!”

With another tremendous slash, all of the energy she gathered erupted, vaporizing all the ice above her with little effort. With such almighty power, mere ice could not slow it down.

Haley was petrified. She did not move, yet her blindfold had loosened from her continuous bout with Charlotte. It slowly fell from her face, revealing terrified blue eyes that matched the color of the attack about to strike her.

Although her Ability allowed vision in the fog, it was merely a black and white image that Haley viewed. At the very last moment, she could have sworn her sight had been filled with raging azure.

Engulfed in the Royal Ascent, she smiled softly, partially glad she somehow saw color once again.

Charlotte stared above in astonishment while the phantons faded. She had no idea she could harness and unleash so much raw power.

“Royal Ascent… It’s stronger than Royal Descent, simply due to the fact I don’t have to hold back from damaging the ground.” Charlotte looked at her sword, fading away. “Those moves… Who taught them to me?”

Her thoughts were interrupted upon seeing a tiny heap fall toward her. She moved to the right, as Haley’s remains plummeted to the streets below.

Charlotte descended, noticing the fog around her beginning to diminish. Touching the ground, light had begun to return to Prelude.

The battle against Fangless was far from over, however. As Charlotte felt Haley’s life fade away, she surveyed the destruction surrounding her. She could hear fighting nearby and was prepared to fly over to assist.

A quick look at Haley’s body stopped her dead in her tracks.         

“What… is that…!?”

An eerie substance—void of color—floated a few feet above Haley. It was a bizarre shape—one that Charlotte couldn’t quite comprehend. It slowly crept toward her, as she did not resist it merging with her body.

Words then echoed in her mind.

“Ouderkirks are masters of the soul, Charlotte. We have the great honor to dictate what happens to one upon leaving the body. Why? Are we considered gods? Not quite. We were granted this power to seek out a certain kind of soul if it were to appear…”

“Who’s… voice is this…?”

A calm, gentle voice of a young woman continued to speak inside her mind.

“…there are indeed special souls out there that could use our guidance. Yet, the most important soul… The one true soul that us Ouderkirks wait for… I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what that is. Our salvation…”

“The one with the World Mirror, right…?” Charlotte muttered to herself. She did not realize that she had begun to cry.

“That… That voice… Mom… It’s you, isn’t it? I found it—T-The World Mirror… What am I supposed to do now…!?” She glanced at her hand, feeling the presence of another now within her. She yearned for it to be her mother, yet knew it was not.

“And… What’s the deal with your soul, Haley…?”


Next: Chapter 2.30

Previous: Chapter 2.28

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Chapter 2.28

“Brandon! Yo, Brandon! Wake up!”

Muraco had been kicking Brandon in the head for the past few minutes, attempting to wake the boy. After about the hundredth kick, his eyes finally opened.

“Okay, what the hell!?” Brandon grabbed the rabbit and threw him across the foggy field they were now located. “Wait—where are we…?”

Muraco sighed. “We’re in the woods north of Prelude. That shadow seemed to send us away from the station. And however it worked, it sure seemed to mess with phantonic values… That’s what you call it, right? Yeah—you passed out from it. I was obviously okay, cause I’m great.”

“Ah, shut up!” Brandon groaned, rubbing his head where Muraco had been whacking him. He stood up, taking a look around. “This… isn’t good. We’ve gotta get back!”

“That’s why I was trying to wake you up,” Muraco stated. “I wasn’t going to leave you here. And like hell I was going to carry you!”

“Right… Well, I appreciate it—I think. Even if you were kicking me.”

“In any case, this fog is certainly mysterious. We need to take caution while proceeding through it. Stick next to me. My ears—along with my other sensory skills—will get us out of here!”

“What other ‘skills’ do you even have?”

“Well, aside from the Abilities I told you about last night during our long talk, I… seem to be able to sense different energies—like how an Ouderkirk can. It’s difficult for me to use it, so I tend to stick with my ears.”

“Huh… I see.”

“Do you?” Muraco glared at Brandon questionably.  

“Of course I do! Besides—it’s not important right now! Let’s go!”

“Right, right…” Muraco began to hop behind Brandon, who had already started running south. He was decently familiar with the terrain—enough to know which direction to go.

They only managed to move a few yards before gunfire rang out through the area.

Instinctively, Muraco formed his scarf in front of Brandon, expanding it to intercept a bullet that had been aimed at the boy.

“Wha!?” Brandon fell to the ground, startled as the bullet connected to the phanton-fueled cloth made a sound similar to two large pieces of metal slamming into one another.

“We’ve got an enemy to the east!” Muraco changed the scarf into a large barrier that intercepted multiple gunshots now striking at the two. “Dammit…!”

Brandon stood, activating Shepherd Surge. “Do they have a freaking machine gun!?” The bullets had now become a horizontal rain of steel, bombarding Muraco’s defense. The rabbit had difficulty keeping the scarf together as he had not been able to complete the transformation in time.

A bullet flew through the cloth, missing Brandon’s head by mere centimeters. At that instant, the electricity around him had managed to get a good feel on the material the bullet was composed of.

“Phantonite…?” Brandon’s eyes widened. “Yeah… It’s definitely phantonite. It feels just like Charlie’s weapon. How… can I tell though?”

“Brandon! Less chatting, more helping! Can you do anything with your Ability!? I need some time to form this correctly!”

“Yeah…” Brandon nodded, looking down at his hands. “Yeah—I think I can!”

A second bullet flew at Brandon—this time his body was now directly in the path. With his enhanced reflexes, he slapped the bullet out of the way with his electrified hand.

With the air cracking around him, a cocky grin formed on Brandon’s face.

“Muraco! I’m gonna blitz at them!”

“Huh!? Are you crazy—”

In the form of a lightning strike, Brandon shot past Muraco with blinding speed. It took the rabbit a moment to process what had just happened.

“He’s…!”

Brandon stormed through the bullets, keeping his arms in front of him as an extra line of defense, although his electricity was successfully deflecting them off of him.

“Keep going… Keep going…!

He had already reached a pine tree where a figure stood on a branch. It was clear to Brandon that this was the source of the attack. With confidence swelling in his body, Brandon leaped up toward this mysterious foe.

“Don’t mess with my town, you bastards!”

Spinning his leg around his body, Brandon struck like a bolt of lightning, shattering the entire upper half of the tree in a blinding light.

Brandon, however, missed the enemy. He glanced off to the right, where the figure—still not entirely visible due to the fog—aimed its arm at him. Brandon noticed the barrel seemingly formed directly from the person’s body. He did not have time to question how or why, as a shot from this distance would hit him. There was no time to reform his Shepherd Surge around his entire body, after all, as he had concentrated all of it to his leg.

“Shit…!”

Muraco reacted just in time, kicking the figure with incredible force, sending it flying into the earth below. The rabbit formed his scarf around Brandon, grabbing him and pulling him to the ground, where they both landed safely.

“You shouldn’t be that careless, Brandon!” Muraco shouted. “Even if that attack was both fast and powerful, it leaves you wide open if the enemy is able to evade it. You need to make sure you’re keeping your guard raised!”

“All right, battle expert! I’m sorry—I know… I thought it would have gotten them…” Brandon pouted.

“Well, that’s okay. It gave me enough time to focus my phantonic energy to my scarf. I should be able to use it to its fullest potential now!” Muraco stared ahead of them noticing the figure casually standing up. “So—who the hell are you?”

The figure did not respond. It took a few steps forward, keeping Brandon and Muraco on their toes. It was a slim, middle-aged man with wavy black hair. He had his entire face below his nose made up of a solid metal structure, along with his arms that were visible due to his short-sleeved blue jacket. Brandon wondered if his legs were the same underneath his black jeans.

“His… body is made of phantonite…?”

“I am Ivan,” The man responded in a monotone, almost robotic voice. “I have no choice but to kill you. We can’t have anyone with Abilities getting in the way of our plans.”

“And what are these plans of yours, ya freak!?” Brandon asked in a furious tone.

“Irrelevant,” Ivan responded nonchalantly. “You have to die. That is all.” He aimed the barrel on his right arm toward the two. A blue aura began to emit from his body.

“He’s gotta be making infinite ammo by fueling the phantonite with phantons…” Brandon shook his head. “He would have to have lots of phantonic energy to do something like that!”

Ivan shot at Brandon, who had already raised electricity in front of him. Muraco, however, deflected the bullet with his scarf, surprising Brandon.  

“Hey, thanks, but I—”

“I’m going to make an opening so you can finish him off,” Muraco stated. “In the meantime, I’ll wear him out! There’s no way I’m letting us die from the hands of this boring creep!”

Muraco’s scarf expanded, forming into several tentacle-like appendages around his body.

“I am Muraco! Hero of Requiem! Villain of Requiem, at least be an interesting character before I take you down!”

 

Charlotte flew into the fog in the center of town. She kept looking around in an attempt to locate the enemy.

“If only my sense could work perfectly…”

Charlotte was startled as a thin layer of ice suddenly began to form on her body.

“There we go. You came to me. That saves me the trouble.” Charlotte glared at the figures that suddenly revealed themselves before her, levitating just as she was. A girl on the right, around her late-teens, and a boy, around his mid-teens. Both had blond hair—the boy’s being short and shaggy while the girl’s long and wavy—yet they each had a mysterious white streak in their hair that caught Charlotte’s attention.

“Wait a minute… This feeling I’m getting from them…”

The girl raised her arms as if reaching out for a hug. She, for a reason unknown to Charlotte, had a black blindfold around her eyes. Her dark blue dress with gem-like decorations danced within the fog as she moved around.

“It seems it was true after all, Miles. The energy you obtained from Carl’s body was, in fact, legitimate Ouderkirk power.”

“I wouldn’t lie to you, my darling Haley!” The boy known as Miles fidgeted while speaking to the girl next to him, yet he kept a wicked grin plastered on his face. His attire seemed to somewhat copy Haley’s—consisting of a blue sweater with similar gems near the collar and white pants.

“Of course not, you sweet boy,” Halley lightly stroked Miles’ cheek. “It seems like even we can achieve something from this operation.”

“Haley and Miles, huh? Were you the ones who attacked us a few minutes ago?” Charlotte asked, easily forming a sword in her hand despite the ice surrounding her.

“Ah, yes. Miles formed a nicely sized ball of phantonic energy formed from my fog. He dropped it on you all, aiming to kill all the living people. You seemed to escape with them, yes? No matter—we shut down that signal. Now our signal has rendered everyone without an Ability unconscious.”

“Thanks for the info. At least those guys passing out makes sense now. Why though? Why are you doing this…?”

“It’s simple, really,” Haley giggled, holding her hand in front of her mouth. “We want power. And when it comes to Miles and myself, you will be perfect for us.”

“I’m not stupid. I can feel your energies… A-Are you two…?”

“We’re not Ouderkirks!” Miles roared. “How dare you even assume we’re related to scum like you!”

Haley calming placed her hand on his shoulder. “It’s all right. Relax, Miles. No—we are not Ouderkirks, like he said. It’s… a complicated situation. We’ve been put into quite a difficult situation, you see. And we’d like to use your power to get out of it.”

“Is that so?” Charlotte snickered. “Well, I may have been willing to listen to you. But, after what you’ve already done… That’s no longer an option.”

“Oh? Do you not notice the ice forming around you?” Haley chuckled, again with her hand over her mouth. “It’s formed from my fog, you see. You’re in my domain to begin with, and now you’re encapsulated. You don’t have much leeway here—”

With an eruption of azure energy, Charlotte shattered the ice around her, smiling confidently at the two.

“All right then. If you’re the source of this fog, all I have to do is take you down, correct? This should be simple.”

“Do you know how much power Haley has been concentrating over these past few months!? There’s no way you can take it on, regardless of your powers!” Miles shouted in a fury. “In fact—let me handle this, Haley!”

“It is true your Ability would be perfect against her,” Haley noted. “However, you lack the battle experience. One wrong move, and she’ll kill you. I’ve got this, Miles.”

“O-Okay, if you say so…” Miles quickly grew timid, floating back behind Haley.

“They can both fly… It must have something to do with their Abilities? Or… just her Ability. This fog… is certainly her domain—she wasn’t wrong about that.”

Haley raised her hand, forming a sword similar to Charlotte’s, completely made of ice. Tiny frozen petals also seemed to form, floating around the hilt. “I’ll defeat you, and capture that other ghost girl. Sound good to you?”

Charlotte shook her head. “Of course not.”

Without any hesitation, the Ouderkirk girl soared toward her opponent with her sword ready to strike.

 

Carl shot the two waves of petals at Adam with a swift wave of his hands. Before Adam could react, Pam jumped in front of him, slashing the petals apart using her steam-covered sword.

Chris quickly snapped his fingers, sending a spark in Pam’s direction. She formed a sphere—flicking it at the attack. The two powers collided, with Pam’s easily overcoming Chris’.

“Shit! She tore that apart! Gotta—”

Through the smoke that had formed, a second sphere of steam flew toward Chris. Carl formed another wave of black petals, knocking the sphere away from his ally before it could make contact.

“Don’t worry about Pamela. I’ll handle her myself. You try and take out the other girl so we can get to the boy before he recovers.” Carl ordered.

“Sounds like a plan, Carl.” Chris nodded, preparing to make another move.

“Adam, wait until you’re fully recovered. Faith and I can hold them off.” Pam prepared to charge ahead, only to be stopped by Adam.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t let you do that. I’m fine—he didn’t injure me that badly.”

A spark flew from Chris. Before Pam or Adam could stop it, Faith did so herself using a fierce flame shot from her hand. She sighed, shaking her head at Adam.

“This Carl guy seems to be the one in charge here. Mom, you can hold him off, for sure. But I think you and Adam working together against him will be our best bet. Based on what I’ve seen from this other guy’s Ability… I think I can take him on my own.”

“Faith, you can’t! You—” Adam was hushed by Faith’s finger placed on his lips.

“You can trust me, Adam. I do have more battle experience than you, after all. Despite my Ability being recent, I’ve been practicing for this sort of thing for years. In fact, I’ll get this guy away from here, so you can focus your attention on Carl. You also need to be prepared for those shadows, as well.”

“I trust you, honey,” Pam nodded. “I’ll make sure Carl doesn’t get in your way. Go for it!”

Faith grinned, cracking her knuckles. “With pleasure.”

Adam said nothing. He simply stared at the torn pavement below him.

“Heh…!” Carl sent another wave of black petals toward them. Pam pointed her sword directly at the attack and took a massive leap forward. The steam surrounding the sword tore through the petals as she jabbed at Carl. He was able to form a spear in his hand at the last second, intercepting her strike.

“I won’t let you escape this time!” Pam shouted.

“Escape? I have no intention on doing that…” Carl swung his spear, whacking Pam away from him. “Not until we accomplish what we came here to do!”

Pam began swinging her blade repeatedly with Carl blocking each slash with the side of his spear. The pressure building up, thanks to the steam, became too much for him, causing him to jump back. He retaliated by creating petals from the tip of the spear, flinging them toward Pam almost in the shape of a beam.

Pam placed her sword in her scabbard, drawing it immediately afterward, slashing through the attack with a sharp column of steam that had quickly built up. Carl stepped to the side, barely avoiding the power perfectly capable of splitting him in two, as it had done before.

“That’s definitely a handy trick! You can even build up that much power in a short amount of time? You’ve certainly honed your craft, Pamela!” Carl dashed at her, attempting to strike her directly with his spear. Pam continued to evade Carl’s attacks, able to get a few slices in herself before he, in turn, blocked her efforts.

“This is my chance!” Faith blitzed Chris, who had lost focus while paying attention to Carl and Pam’s bout.

“Shit!” He flicked his fingers, creating a spark that would surely strike Faith, being only a few feet away.

Faith managed to duck, however, dodging Chris’ attempt to hit her. She pushed off the ground with her feet, jumping right at him.

“Are you an idiot! You can’t dodge now!” Chris unleashed a second spark. Although this would have normally made contact with ease, Faith would not allow it. Taking her right hand, she began to form a Roswell Sphere of her own. Before its shape was complete, she shot the gathering energy out of her palm, throwing herself around Chris’ attack.

“What…!?”

Faith grinned, landing on her feet to Chris’ right.

 

“All right, Faith. We had quite the fight yesterday, didn’t we?” Liz asked, patting the girl on the back. Faith looked as though she was in horrible pain. She was, in fact, considering their battle was the day prior. They stood in the very same forest area that they had begun their trial.

“Why are we doing more training…? Shouldn’t I rest more…?”

“That would be nice—right? It’s not happening, unfortunately. Our goal is to review what happened yesterday and learn.” Liz leaned over, patting the ground beside her. “Win’s… digging, apparently? Wonder what she has in mind, tunneling under here?”

“Oh… That’s what she’s doing? I sorta spaced out when you two were talking… I was thinking about how nice a sandwich would be right now, but we can’t eat, can we…?”

“I’ll help you get the greatest sandwich in the world, once we’re done. Now… I wanted to ask you something. That attack you were using near the end, with the spheres… That’s a lot like your mom’s technique, isn’t it?”

“Yeah… I can’t really throw them yet, but I was able to use them to launch myself toward you. I figured that could have worked, but you can build up enough energy with your Teleleap to block a Roswell Sphere, you mad woman.”

“I’ve done crazier stuff before. You’ll see what I mean once we start working together. Anyway—you launching yourself. Do you think you could work on that? I think it would be perfect for you if you could rocket around the battlefield. Especially at your stage, where you excel at close combat. You can get up close and personal a lot easier with it.”

“I… get what you mean. That might be pretty cool… But, forming those spheres takes too much concentration. Mainly with keeping their shape. I’m not sure how well that could work on the fly…”

“Well, what if you don’t need to keep that shape? You’re building up the energy, right? Try channeling that power into just launching yourself, as opposed to forming the sphere, and then launching yourself.”

“Hmm…” Faith looked at her hands. “It… was pretty fun, actually. Flying through the air. I never thought something I’ve feared for so long could do that…”

“If you master this, you’ll be able to have even more fun! You’ll be like a rocket!” Liz grinned.

Faith giggled. “A rocket, huh…?”

 

“Dammit!” Chris flicked a spark at the ground, where Faith swiftly launched herself upward with another burst of flames, evading the explosion that obliterated where she just was.

Now she was once again in front of Chris. As he turned, she formed a veil of flames around her body. Mere inches away, he had no way to counter her in time.

“Ready to fly?”

Concentrating her flames to her foot, Faith launched herself off the ground, striking Chris with her elbow. She proceeded to dig her fist from the same arm into his chest, opening up the same hand to release a robust flame—catapulting the man into the thick fog behind him.

Stepping down, Faith promptly took off after him by expelling flames from her feet repeatedly. She had completed her task, successfully removing Chris and herself away from the battlefield and onto another. It happened at such a pace that Adam had trouble keeping up with Faith’s movements.

“Not only has she done so well in overcoming her fear… Faith’s flames are basically a representation of her own inner flames now…” Adam sighed. “Can… you do it? Can you take that guy by yourself? You need to be careful, in this fog…”

“You need to have… faith, in her, Adam…” Pam sighed, kicking Carl away from her—seemingly doing little damage despite the high concentration of steam currently surrounding her foot.

“When you named her, puns like that were inevitable…” Adam stood, stretching out the limbs that had finally recovered. “They’re not good puns, but I’ll let it slide for now.” He walked by Pam’s side, lifting his arm—now surrounded in Overlay.

“I never thought the day would come when I’d fight by your side…” Pam thought out loud. “I wonder what your mom would think…”

“From everything I’ve heard about her, she’d probably be concerned we’re keeping this nonsense going on for this long. Let’s hurry up and take this guy down!” Adam vowed.

Pam chuckled, holding back the tears she felt like she was about to shed. “Right. Back me up, Adam!”

Carl donned a menacing smile, forming more petals that spiraled around his spear. Adam and Pam bolted ahead as they began their clash.

 

At the Unity building inside Nexus City, Alexander encountered Rizzo in the hallway. The boy had already formed his wings, ready to strike at the man.

“You’re not going to help out? What the hell is even happening in that town!?” Alexander roared.

“Please, keep your voice down, Alexander,” Rizzo requested. “I already made the official statement. No Unity member is to enter that fog. The official reason is ‘It’s too dangerous,’ but I think you can read past that, can’t you?”

“Do ya just want all those innocent people to die!? Ya just keep on showing how scummy ya are, huh!?”

“Are you going to fight me, again?” Rizzo asked nonchalantly. “I’d rather you not try one of your foolhardy attempts in here, please.”

“I’m not wasting my time on that shit! Ya can’t stop me now—that’s the rules ya made, right?”

“As thanks to your sister, as long as you don’t get in the way of Unity, I won’t lay a finger on you. That is correct.”

“Then I’m going! If all of these bitches here will just bend over for you and watch a town get destroyed, then I’ll be the one to settle things!”

“Do what you want.” Rizzo shrugged, walking past Alexander. The boy paused for a moment before flapping his wings, soaring through the corridors toward the exit. Veronica calmly watched as he burst through the doors and into the city.

“If I go at max speed, I can get to Prelude in seconds. Gotta make sure I don’t flap these things too hard. Don’t want to trash Nexus City just to save another place from being trashed.”

Alexander took to the air, preparing to take off. He could see the fog-covered town from this distance. Gritting his teeth in fury, he began to flap his wings.

He did not get far. Alexander could barely react to the green silhouette kicking him down into the buildings below.  


Next: Chapter 2.29

Previous: Chapter 2.27

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SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

StKa4mainies