Brandon awoke the next day, still in the infirmary. The first thing he noticed was that his body felt completely fine compared to the day prior. Shifting himself to the left, his gaze caught a young man sitting next to him. Paul noticed Brandon waking up and waved.
“Yo. Sleep well?”
“Huh? Paul? What are you doing here?”
“I usually get up pretty early. Normally, you were supposed to room with me, but they wanted to keep you in here. I got lonely pretty quickly, so I figured I’d drop by.” Paul had a knife in his hand and an apple in the opposite. He was in the process of cutting it up into slices for Brandon.
“Uh, y-you don’t have to do that.” Brandon laughed awkwardly.
“Nah, it’s fine. It was sitting here after all. I hate apples, but I feel bad for food going to waste—”
Brandon jumped up and covered Paul’s mouth—a look of pure terror across his face.
“You don’t say those words, ever! He’ll get us!” He quickly moved his head back and forth, surveying the room.
Paul struggled briefly, freeing himself from Brandon. “W-What are you talking about!?”
“Oh… Wait. He’s not here. Right…” Brandon took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. “Sorry, it’s just a habit.”
“O-okay…?” Paul sighed. He began to chuckle. “You’re certainly one strange guy.”
“Hah. I get that a lot. Strange, weird—all that stuff.”
“I do too. It’s usually due to how I operate my body. Luckily, the people who actually matter know why I do it.”
“Huh? Do you mean how Trevor had to pick you up from the ground?”
“Yeah—see—I call my Ability ‘Sensory Swap’. It amplifies my senses in general, but I’m also able to shut off a sense of my choosing to amplify another to an ever greater degree. For example, I can shut off taste—something you usually wouldn’t need in combat—and it increases the capabilities of my other four senses.”
“That’s… interesting. How does that involve—”
“You see… my Ability was forced out of me. By someone who kidnapped me and many others several years ago. It wasn’t natural, which means it usually takes a greater toll on my body. So, in order to compensate for that, I rest whenever I can.”
“I-I see…” Brandon hesitated to continue the conversation, but wanted to know more. “…What happened to this person who kidnapped you?”
“He’s dead now, luckily. I was rescued by Unity, and recruited as the only survivor. Well… it’s kind of more complicated than that.”
“What do you mean?”
“It was… at a church. I should say—a place that was pretending to be a church. A guy pretending to be a pastor… He would secretly use his Ability to locate children with the potential of having a good Ability, and force it out of them. Before Unity even got there, however…”
“You don’t have to continue if it’s hard to talk about!” Brandon assured him.
“Oh, no! It’s okay! I want you to know. You’re my new partner after all, and I don’t want to keep any secrets from you!” Paul breathed in, then continued. “Another group actually liberated the place. I lost consciousness during the event, and when I woke up… the few kids who were still alive at that point were gone. Unity showed up after, and that’s how I became a Unity member. Well—not an official one. I had to wait a few years before I could take these classes.”
“I see… That sounds rough. I, uh… don’t have a history like that. One of the biggest issues I’ve dealt with was my parent’s divorce. For some reason, my sweet and caring mother started to go crazy. That’s… how I describe it. I lived in Serenade, and moved with my dad to Prelude to ‘get away’ from her. I don’t blame her for anything, I just I knew what happened… so I can help her.” Brandon rubbed his head. “Sorry—it doesn’t sound as wild as what you’ve gone through.”
“It’s all right, Brandon. We all go through various kinds of pain, and they all affect us in various ways. Thank you for sharing that with me… I do wonder though—is she still alive?”
“I… I’m not sure. Last I heard, yeah. But that was years ago.”
“Then there still might be a chance for you to figure things out, and to make things right.” Paul smiled. “My parents were both killed by the guy who kidnapped me… so I can’t really talk with them about anything that we may have feuded about.”
“Oh, come on! Now I feel bad!”
“Oh, sorry! That wasn’t my intention!” Paul chuckled. “But, it seems you’re fine now. The doctor here patched you up pretty well!”
“Patched?” Brandon analyzed his body, trying to find exactly where he was patched up.
“I don’t mean literally. The doctor, Jordan Rhodes, has an Ability that can heal wounds. So of course Unity had to recruit him.”
“Oh… I didn’t see him. I just saw a cute nurse.”
“He usually does things while the person is asleep or unconscious.” Paul stood up. “Anyway, if you’re all right and you’re not eating these apples, I guess it’s time to get ready.”
“Ready? For what?”
“The tests today!”
“Tests!? Oh hell no, I’m not doing that crap! I haven’t even studied for anything!”
“Not that kind of test. We’re teaming up to have a practice match with the Unity member that’s going to be watching over us for the next two years.”
“Oh… well, that’s better—wait, no that’s not better!”
In the tunnel below Minuet, Muraco slowly rose up from the shadows. Taking a glance around him, he assured himself that he had covered up every individual camera with cloth. He raised his thumb, indicating that the job was done. Charlotte then emerged from the wall, with Adam by her side.
“That’s taken care of.” Muraco stated. “We have to make sure we prevent anybody from finding out what we’re doing, if at all possible.”
“I’m not sure how easy that’s going to be… We may have to use a lot of power to bust through this thing. It won’t be sneaky at all.” Charlotte sighed. “Here—check this out.”
Charlotte walked to the opposite side of the dimly lit concrete hallway, putting her hand on the cold wall. “Adam—can you feel anything—”
“I’m curious…” Adam leaned over next to Muraco, grabbing a hold of his ear. “That was a pretty cool Ability. You can merge with the shadows and move around? Interesting. You just gonna keep on pulling Abilities like that out of your ass?”
“Hey—watch the ear! And I’ll use Abilities when I see fit! I’m not gonna just showcase all of them right off the bat!”
“It would be nice to know so we could strategize, just in case…” Adam turned his attention back to Charlotte. “Feel anything? I’m not sure…”
“Try to focus. From what you’ve told me, you may be able to detect something.”
“Focus? That’s pretty vague. How am I supposed to ‘focus’ exactly?”
“Hmm… well—when I go to sense things, I try to concentrate on the center of my head—” She pointed at the spot right between her nose and eyes. “Right here. Try that, and then look ahead.”
“I guess I can try…” Adam scrunched his nose, eyeing the wall in front of him. He wasn’t too sure how this would work, but he figured if Charlotte was asking him, he’d at least give it a shot.
As his eyes began to glow, it appeared. A gigantic swirling ball of blue energy, hidden behind the wall. It was slightly larger than an average sized room, indicating that it more than likely was surrounding one.
“I see… a sphere. Made of phantons? It’s blue, so I’m going to assume it is, unless there’s some other weird-ass form of energy that’s blue.”
“You… can actually see it, huh?” Charlotte seemed surprised. “I can only sense it. And obviously, feel when I come into contact with it. It’s strange… even though phantons can clearly be visible—take my power for example—it’s still undetectable by the naked eye most of the time. You can bypass that with the World Mirror, it seems.”
“I remember in my fight with Derek, I ended up seeing the phantons he was using with his Ability. Seems like that’s another thing I can add to the list of what this World Mirror can do…”
“Interesting. That should come in handy in the future. Anyway—” Charlotte transformed into her armored form, stepping forward. “You two stay back for a sec.”
Using her power, Charlotte created a gigantic sword, one that’s blade was easily the size of her entire body. Yet, she held it up with ease.
“L-Let’s do what she says, Muraco.” Adam picked up Muraco and carried him off to the side.
“Hey! You don’t have to carry me! I’m not a child!” Muraco struggled and jumped out of Adam’s arms. “Don’t belittle me just cause I’m a—”
Charlotte swung her blade—the force ripping through the wall like it was cutting through paper. The strike startled Muraco, who leaped high enough to smack his head against the ceiling. Before he fell back down to the ground, Adam caught him.
“I-I have great hearing! Of course a sudden event like that would scare me—”
“Hey, you guys. Look.”
Charlotte pointed toward the room—or at least—what should have been the room. Instead, there was nothing but darkness in front of them. Combining the light from the hallway and the glow from Charlotte’s weapon, it should have at least been lit up to the degree of being able to see what’s inside.
Adam’s eyes had reverted back to their gray color. “Is… Is this barrier blocking light from entering it?”
“Intriguing.” Muraco commented. “Not only is it blocking us from entering, but it’s preventing us from even seeing the contents hidden within.” He paused for a moment, then began to chuckle.
“Huh? What is it?” Adam asked him.
“My Ability I just used, Shadow Sneak, should be able to get me inside if it’s designed like this.”
“I doubt it would, actually.” Charlotte stated. “It’s still a phantonic barrier—even if you can merge with it, it’ll prevent you from going all the way inside.”
“Charlotte—” Adam’s eyes once again turned white. “Can you try striking it with your sword a few times?”
“I can, but I shouldn’t use too much power. We’ll be noticed if we force our way through.”
“That’s okay. I want to see something…”
Charlotte hesitated for a moment, then nodded her head. “Okay. If you have an idea, then I’ll go with it.”
“Muraco, feel free to attack it as well. Maybe this is time for you to show off a new Ability?”
“I don’t have many offensive Abilities!” Muraco groaned. “Honestly my kicks from my Bunny Hop are probably our best bet.”
“That’s fine, then. Just make sure you don’t burn your legs off or whatever. We’re not sure what this barrier can do.”
“Well—” Charlotte raised her sword. “When I’ve tried to phase through it before, it repelled me away. Let’s see…” She took one swift slash at the darkness in front of them. Instantly, the recoil had knocked Charlotte back a few feet.
“That didn’t work…” Muraco stretched his body. “But your sword seems fine, so let me try!”
Muraco leaped at the barrier, striking it with a solid kick. The same thing occurred—he was knocked away the instant he came into contact with it. However, he hopped back at it once again.
“How about this!?”
He unleashed a flurry of kicks in what seemed like a single moment, using incredible speed to strike. This did not change anything, as the barrier once against sent him back.
“Damn! I thought speed could overwhelm it, but—”
“I see…” Adam took a glance down at his hand.
“Huh? What is it, Adam? Did you notice something? How do the phantons react to our attacks?” Charlotte asked.
“I mean—it’s obvious even without looking at the phantons. It’s bouncing your attacks right back the second they come into contact with it. Bounce… Another word you could use…” He gazed up at the wall of darkness before him.
“It’s reflecting them.”
“I don’t think it really matters what word we use.” Muraco commented. “It’s still the same—”
“It does matter, actually.” Adam interrupted him, taking a step toward the barrier.
“What do you mean? What are you planning to do?” Charlotte was concerned at what action Adam was about to take.
Adam raised his hand, watching it as the glow of the World Mirror formed around it, along with the rest of his body. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since I fought Muraco. I noticed how this power acted at a certain moment. If I’m right, then… we’ve all been really stupid when it comes to the World Mirror. Myself especially.”
“Have you figured something out!?” Charlotte showed enthusiasm at Adam’s potential breakthrough.
“Well—we’re about to find out if I did or not.” Adam took a deep breath. “Guys. I think I know why it’s called the World Mirror. The World Mirror. Note the emphasis on ‘mirror’. Watch—”
Adam started by lightly tapping on the barrier. His finger was swatted away like a bug, yet he did not care. He tapped it a few more times with the same result. His hand began to light up as he moved on to striking at the blue sphere with his fists.
“I… I don’t think this is gonna work either.” Muraco said, crossing his arms.
“Hold on. Give him a moment.” Charlotte expressed her confidence in Adam’s plan.
With his hands in pain, Adam paused for a moment to analyze them. He glanced up at the barrier, then back to his hands. During this, he noticed something odd.
“What the…?” Adam watched as a blue streak of light hit the side of the barrier. A few seconds later, another one—this time on the opposite side. This pattern continued, with lights seemingly coming from nowhere striking the sphere.
“Charlotte—can you sense that?” He pointed at a spot where a streak had just occurred.
“What? I only sense the barrier. What are you seeing?”
“I-I’m not sure… Is something else trying to get inside…?”
“Yeah. It should be phantonic—the color matches the barrier. How can you not sense it though?”
“That’s odd…” Charlotte continued to sense around the barrier to see if she could pick up on anything.
“They’re getting reflected back, just like our attacks have been. Hmm… Whatever you are, strange power, you want to get in as well?” Adam raised his hand, touching the barrier directly. “Let’s break-in, then.”
A burst of white light lit up the tunnel, radiating from Adam’s touch. By coming into contact with the barrier, the World Mirror’s power was being pushed back.
Or so it seemed.
In fact, for the first time, something that had gone against the sphere remained in place. Adam could feel the bones in his arm cracking under the pressure, yet he was doing it. Doing what the World Mirror was designed for. He felt foolish this entire time—thinking he simply had to continuously pull out power to fuel his body and produce massive strikes against his enemies. When in reality, it was incredibly simple.
The blue obstacle before him resembled the world. And with his power, Adam reflected it, like a mirror.
Next: Chapter 2.14
Previous: Chapter 2.12