Adam Grayson’s Birthday

Today, March 20th, happens to be our protagonist’s birthday! If we go by the timeline given in the story, he was born on March 20, 1994. That would make today his 25th birthday. In the story, currently set in 2012, he’s got a ways to go before actually reaching this age.

So, Happy Birthday Adam! Hopefully you’ll get… lots of apples? Yeah, he’d probably enjoy that the best, let’s be real.

Here’s a picture TsunamiCoRyan made last year for his birthday. Hopefully he will figure out how to use the World Mirror soon, so he doesn’t have to resort to losing his arms with every attack he dishes out…

DYt7KiAVoAASs-o

Chapter 2.3: Eyes That See Through Lies

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

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

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

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

“I see…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You can’t ground me!”

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

“And what would that be?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The atmosphere really is nice here, huh?”

His vision shifted toward the right of him.

“Although… that’s near here as well…”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your Ability?”

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

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

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

I can see into the past.”

“…huh?”

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

“You were lyyyyyyyyying!

“Uh, what?”

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

“You—how—”

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

“That’s—” Brian began to panic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This is going to be awkward…” 


Next: Chapter 2.4

Previous: Chapter 2.2

Volume 2

Going to Start Making Daily Advertising Posts

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

Volume 2 is ongoing!

Check out the Table of Contents!

Support me on Patreon!

Sunday Salutations #3

Sunday Salutations #3 is available for Patreons here!

Reminder on the Patreon goals:

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

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

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

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

Chapter 2.2: Their Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I see. Well, then I guess it works—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s that, human?”

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

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

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

“Hey, I didn’t say we could start—”

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

“Let’s go, then.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Alright. That’s fair.”

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

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

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

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

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

“What were these memories?” Muraco asked her.

“I… I can’t get into details, but-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nobody.”

“But—”

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

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

Adam’s power faded while Muraco approached the two.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Get the hell out of—”

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

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

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


Next: Chapter 2.3

Previous: Chapter 2.1

Volume 2

Chapter 2.1: To Truth

Tick… tock… tick… tock…

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

Tick… tock… tick… tock…

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

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

Tick… tock… tick… tock…

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

“I can’t do this.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They both needed all the encouragement that they could get.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank… you… young… man…”

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unwrapping the candy, he tossed it into his mouth.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“What… are you… doing!?”

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“At least you have the capability to not be detected by cameras.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What would that be?”

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

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

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

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

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

“You gonna go scout around the barrier again?”

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

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

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

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

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

He had almost touched a pile of human hearts.

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

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

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

That was the last thing Adam needed right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…huh?”

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

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

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

“Human! I’ve found you again!”

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

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


Next: Chapter 2.2

Previous: Chapter 1.21

Volume 2

The Eve of Volume 2

Tomorrow’s the big day. Volume 2 begins!

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

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

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

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

Alright—XYZ!

 

Chapter 1.21: XYZ!

“Charlotte!? You’re okay!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How did-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, wow. She’s actually free?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oho? Ask away!”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winona quickly embraced Charlotte, closing the distance between them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Adam Grayson?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hm? What’s that?”

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

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

Alexander shrugged. “Beats the shit outta me!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

“What’s up?”

“Are you… mad at me?”

“Why would I be?”

“Cause of what I did today…”

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

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

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

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

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

“The World Mirror…?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You know why we’re out here, right?”

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

“Well then, let’s go!”

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

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

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

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

“It’s from a show!?”

“Yeah! Kitty Kid and Puppy Pal!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, she spoke.

“You are my hero.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“XYZ!”

 

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

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


Next: Chapter 2.1

Previous: Chapter 1.20

Volume 1

Continue on to Volume 2

Sunday Salutations #2

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

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

Another reminder of my Patreon goals:

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

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

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

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

Chapter 1.20: Aftermath and Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey, uh… so, I need to apologize.”

Emma looked at him curiously. “What for?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma ran up to her mother, squeezing her tightly.

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

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

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

 

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

“Glad to see you awake, Carl.”

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

“Oh, hey. I’m hoping it went well?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon sighed. “Fair enough.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Cold, cold, cold-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Adam?”

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

“Hey, Faith.”


Next: Chapter 1.21

Previous: Chapter 1.19

Volume 1