Blood splattered all over the room. It was as if a car had struck the two as opposed to a blade. Multiple limbs flew, indicating that Charlotte had managed to slash at the men several times in that instant.
“C-Charlotte!?” Emma tripped and fell over the sudden savagery that occurred in front of her. Charlotte landed on her feet, standing in the pool of blood that oozed from the remains of the Brown Suits.
She dropped her sword—the blue crumbling to pieces as it splashed against the red. Ignoring what she had just caused, she rushed over to her boss.
“N-No… How could they?” Charlotte shook, extending her arms toward Brian. She could not take her eyes off the wound in the center of his forehead, yet moved her hands to shut his eyes, which were drenched in his blood.
Charlotte then fell to her knees, sobbing.
Emma rushed over to her, almost slipping. She grabbed a hold of the ghost girl, who was lost in pure hysteria.
“I-I’m so sorry, Charlotte… I was too late to do anything…”
Charlotte shook her head fiercely, wrapping her arms around Emma. “I-It’s not your fault… It-It’s them… Why, though? Why the hell did this happen…!?”
“I don’t know…” Emma buried her tear-soaked face into Charlotte’s ice-cold body. “Unity’s cruel, and I can honestly see them do something like this. But… I assume they would have kept trying to get the information out of him.”
Roy stepped into the room, unable to actually look into it. “Charlotte… I’m sorry! I was in the store when they took him! I should have protected him—”
“Roy… Thank you. But don’t blame yourself. It wasn’t your fault…” Charlotte turned to him, using all the energy she could to crack a smile.
The boy glanced over to her, able to see this. He moved his head up toward the ceiling before his mind could register the horror that surrounded her. Roy finally felt warmth leave his eyes, rolling down his cheeks.
Roger—still on his knees—crawled out into the hallway, leaning against the wall. “What kind of hell is this…?”
“The Brown Suits…” Emma began to speak, causing Charlotte to look at her. “They… shouldn’t be allowed to act like this, unless given a specific order. Did… Monica order them? Or… is someone else to blame?”
Charlotte recalled what the clock-masked girl had told her a few minutes prior.
“Don’t hold back on them, okay? They’re not actual people.”
Before she could ask Emma if she knew anything related to that statement, they were all interrupted by a strange noise. The room was filled with the sound of what could be described as a distorted radio signal.
A strong, robotic voice echoed from the floor. Everyone looked to see that the source was the goggles that the Brown Suits had worn.
“What is that?” Charlotte stood up, wary of what was happening.
“I don’t know!” Emma got on her feet as well, carefully stepping toward the devices. “I’ve never heard of that code before…!”
“SCANNING… SCANNING… ANOMALY LOCATED—ASSESSING THREAT VALUE… SCANNING… SCANNING…”
Roger glanced around the corner into the room. “Shouldn’t we stop it?”
“SCAN COMPLETE—A-RANK LEVEL DETECTED—ANALYZING POTENTIAL OPTIONS…”
Charlotte formed a blade in her hand. “Yeah—let’s get rid of these things.”
“OPTION FOUND—ANALYZING PROPER CODE TO PROCEED…”
“I’m not gonna let you!” Charlotte jabbed her sword down swiftly, destroying both pairs of goggles.
“There! Wonder what it was trying to—”
Charlotte turned around slowly, a look of pure terror on her face. This time, the voice did not come from the goggles, as they had clearly been smashed apart a moment prior.
The voice had come from Emma.
She stared at Charlotte with an empty expression. Her arms were shaking and her back was slouched.
As her mouth echoed the haunting voice, Emma’s eyes changed—her irises becoming an emerald color while her sclera was more along the lines of seafoam. A burst of dark-green energy—similar to television static—erupted out of her back, slowly molding into the shape of dragon-like wings.
Roger stood up, rushing into the room. “Emma! What’s going on!?”
Roy started to chuckle with a defeated look on his face. “Damn. I don’t even know what’s going on anymore. Now, the girl I’ve been into has become a freaking monster. All right then—”
“You two—get back!” Charlotte shouted, forming a second sword in her other hand, pointing both of the tips toward Emma.
“What is going on!? This energy… It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before!”
“A-RANK ANOMALY—IN POSITION. DESTRUCTION PROTOCOL—INITIATING.”
“Move you two!” Charlotte raised the blades, blocking the swift strike from Emma’s wings. It generated enormous force, knocking her out of the room and into the opposing wall in the hallway. Roy and Roger had dived out of the way just in time.
The wings extended—flying at Charlotte. Transforming into her true form, she phased through the wall, evading the second strike. This caused the basement to shake—with even more ferocity than a few minutes prior.
Emma’s body floated out into the hall, now hovering in the air. Whatever had possessed her was not interested in Roy and Roger at all, clearing showing interest in Charlotte alone. Her eyes darted around the area, scanning for the ghost girl’s location.
Emerging from above, Charlotte slashed down at Emma, targeting where the wings came out of her back. The right wing quickly blocked both of her swords, knocking her off toward the direction opposite the stairs.
“I need to study how this strange energy works before I can try to get it out of her. Hang on, Emma!”
The same wing aimed at Charlotte, slashing repeatedly like it was a sword itself. Charlotte managed to block the flurry of attacks, although she could not switch to offense. Eventually, her blades shattered—the force knocking her back.
This time, the left wing shot at her—Emma’s body not moving in the slightest. Charlotte leaped upward, phasing through the ceiling to make another quick escape.
Emma’s demonic eyes glared upward—her wings charging up energy, ready to strike. Before they could, Charlotte re-emerged from the ceiling near the stairs. Instead of her usual sword, she had formed a bow in her left hand. Using her right, a fiery arrow was conjured. Without hesitation, she shot the arrow directly at Emma.
As Charlotte predicted, this was blocked by the green wings once more. However, this was no simple arrow she had created. Upon contact, the arrow exploded into a fireball of energy, engulfing Emma’s possessed body.
The wings flapped once, blowing the phantonic energy away from Emma and causing a ferocious gust to roar through the hallway. At this point, Roy and Roger had gotten on their stomachs, holding their arms over their heads to protect themselves as best they could.
The wind had blown Charlotte back a few feet. If she glanced up, she would be able to see the two flights of stairs above her. Emma’s wings—without pause—continued their attack. This time, both of them were rocketing toward Charlotte at the same time.
Using her power, Charlotte shifted the shape of the bow into a two-handed ax, swinging it with great strength. The mere size of the weapon made it capable of intercepting both wings at once, although Charlotte now had to deal with two times the opposing force.
“I-I can’t hurt her…! But if I keep using this amount of power, it’ll tear me apart! I have no choice—I have to go for it!”
Charlotte kicked off the ground—creating enough energy to knock the wings back. They immediately responded, aiming to strike once more.
With quick thinking, Charlotte re-shaped her weapon again—duel-wielding her two blades like before. Positioning them to her sides, she blocked the wings from striking her, while simultaneously opening a path straight to Emma—keeping them at bay.
“Here’s my chance!” She leaped forward, flying at Emma with all the speed she could muster.
Turning spectral, Charlotte faded upon coming into contact with Emma. She had successfully entered into Emma’s mind—now she had to kick whatever the strange phenomenon was out of her.
This would be impossible to accomplish.
Standing upon the sea foam-covered ocean that had manifested, Charlotte saw it. A featureless figure—neither male nor female. It was a dark-emerald color, having an absurd amount of glowing blue veins visible within its body.
Despite not having a mouth, a shape formed on its face that resembled a grin.
Charlotte held her head in agony—a sharp pain now radiating through it. Her vision faded, and the next thing she knew, she was back outside of Emma’s body on the floor in front of her.
“It… It didn’t even seem like I was forced out! I simply… moved—gah!” Her face slammed on the ground—not from an opposing enemy—but from the sheer pain inside of her forcing her down. She could not help but shriek in suffering.
“A-RANK ANOMALY—CORNERED. DESTRUCTION PROTOCOL—IMMINENT.”
“Come on… Charlotte! Move! Y-You have things… you need to protect!”
Charlotte was unable to get out of the way in time, as the wings descended upon her.
However, they stopped.
Charlotte looked up, seeing the wings’ shape begin to distort. Emma herself had started to scream in pain.
“Emma! Hang on, I—”
“Charlotte, I wouldn’t do that.”
Before Charlotte stood up, she turned toward the source of the voice that just spoke to her. Looking upward, she saw Jerry standing at the top of the stairs—a strange remote in his hand.
“This should get it out of her. Yet—our cover’s gonna be blown now, it seems.”
Next: Chapter 2.11
Previous: Chapter 2.9