Chapter 2.20: It Reveals Itself

“Al, how are you feeling…?”

Laura stared at her brother, who was lying on the couch, facing away from her. He had not spoken a word to her ever since he returned from getting his injuries patched up at Unity.

“You know how it goes when you try beating up Rizzo… Why do you keep trying…?”

“Dumbass. Ya know why…”

Laura sighed. “I know, I know… You really shouldn’t put yourself in danger over me though.”

“The concept of ‘danger’ doesn’t apply to me. Until, well… I try and face him.” Alexander sat up, frustrated. “His Ability’s gotta have something fucking my scan up. I can tell it’s phantonic, which hasn’t been a problem for anyone else. Why the hell can’t I pick up on something…?”

“The problem is you think you’re at a level where you can just rush in and take care of things with your Psycho Matter. That may work with others, but with Rizzo—”

“Tsk! Stop sucking him off! I get it! I’m not strong enough…” Alexander stood up and walked toward the front door.

“Listen, Al! You just need to strategize more! Let me help you—”

“Shut it! I’m going for a walk! Leave me alone.”

“Al, wait—”

Before Laura could say anything else, Alexander slipped on his shoes and stormed out of the apartment the two siblings shared.

Outside, Alexander took out a piece of butterscotch candy and tossed it into his mouth. Instead of burning the wrapper like he normally did, he simply put it into his pocket.

The sun was starting to set—the veins of the Nexus Network beginning to become more visible as nighttime approached. Alexander glared up at the ones decorating the face of Soul Tower, which was a few blocks away.

“There’s… so much damn potential for this thing… and it’s being put to waste. Why can’t I just kick that bastards ass…? What the hell do I do…?” There was a strain in Alexander’s voice as he softly asked himself these questions.

 

The first thing Adam noted as he awoke was his face hurting. He realized that he fell asleep with his head on the table. Groaning, he looked up to see Jerry sitting across from him, working on his laptop.

“There are like a dozen computers over there, and you’re still using that thing?”

“Of course I am. You think those crappy computers can do what this baby of mine can do!?”

“That’s fair. What are you working on at the mom—” Adam paused, glancing to his right. Muraco had passed out, using the table for his bed. He was currently curled up in a ball, lightly snoring with a smile on his face.

“Who allowed him on the table?”

“He’s not a cat, Adam. He’s fine.”

“He’s not even a rabbit, technically! He’s… He’s something.”

“I mean, he does look like something right out of a cartoon. I’m also interested in that scarf of his. He can manipulate its shape, correct?”

“Yeah, he called it the very creative ‘Scarf Manipulation’.”

Jerry chuckled. “That’s as creative as my uncle’s ‘Metal Manipulation’ Ability. Oh! Brandon texted me a little while ago! Uncle Charlie’s actually going to be the one teaching him!”

“Oh? That’s good… How are they doing there?”

“He apparently forgot that I’ve told him before my uncle is a Unity member, so after we had a huge argument over that, he told me things are… tiring. Tiring, but okay. They had quite the training exercise today, but they made it through.”   

“That’s good… Hopefully, they’re getting stronger.”

“Yeah—I’m sure it’ll be worth it.”

“Everything…” Adam paused. “Everything… better be worth it.”

Before Jerry could say anything, Adam stood up from his chair, stretching out his body and yawning loudly.

“I gotta pee. Where do I go?”

“I would… just go upstairs. We didn’t build one down here. Just push the button on your right when you get to the top of the stairs, and the desk will move.”

“All right.” Adam glanced over toward the computers, seeing Thomas and Travis working just as hard as they were prior to him passing out. He turned his attention to the beds, where Emma was still sleeping. Charlotte and Lucy decided to join her, however. Lucy was in between them as all three occupied a single bed, dreaming peacefully.

“What the hell? There’s more than one bed there… Wait—wouldn’t Emma get really cold with those two next to her?”

Jerry shrugged. “Emma looks content. Guess it’s not too bad.”

“Oh well.” Adam sighed, heading up the stairs.

 

After he found the restroom in the doctor’s office and took care of his business, Adam returned to the desk, moving it out of the way so he could enter.

He immediately felt like something was off.

As he noticed his eyes light up, Adam crept down each step cautiously. A faint, red mist began to fill his vision, making him enter a slightly dazed state.

Reaching the bottom, Adam took a step into a pool of blood.

He felt something hit the side of his foot.

Looking down, Adam was horrified to see an arm floating in the scarlet sea beneath him.

“This…”

He surveyed the room. Dozen of limbs were scattered about—on the floor, covering the table, drooped from the monitors, and—

“No.”

The World Mirror’s aura erupted from Adam’s body—his eyes glaring directly at the hellscape in front of him.

“Muraco—this is the perfect opportunity. I’m ending this bullshit. Right here, right now!

The white energy merged with the red mist, creating a light pink color. Adam—no longer rattled by the illusion—had a lot more to deal with. What he could only describe as “numbers” were filling his head. The World Mirror was processing through a seemingly limitless amount of data, much like it did with the barrier earlier that day.

Even without the World Mirror, Adam could easily classify the barrier as phantonic, while this anomaly originating from Muraco was chaonic.

The differences showed as Adam’s head felt like it was burning. In fact, he noticed that his eyes, ears, and mouth had begun to bleed from the strain of analyzing the values from Muraco’s strange “Ability”.

Adam then felt calm. He took notice of the color of the mist, believing that it seemed familiar to him. The next thing he noticed were cracks that seemed to appear within it, despite it not being solid.

With a final burst of energy, the World Mirror shattered the illusion apart.

Adam collapsed onto his knees, breathing heavily. His own blood dripped down, covering the floor that the fake blood was located moments prior.

“T-There… I know it usually wears off on its own, but this time… I forced it to disappear. I can feel it… I… think I can face the source now.” Adam looked up. “Muraco! Let me see if I can—”

Muraco was still sound asleep. Adam was certain that, despite being under the illusion, he would have made enough noise with his Ability to wake the rabbit up. However, looking around, Adam realized something.

Everyone was now asleep. Jerry remained in his chair—his head now resting on his laptop. Thomas and Travis were also passed out in their chairs, appearing to have fallen asleep suddenly.

“W-What the…? Did I do something…? No—what’s causing this!?”

Thin crimson strings of energy began to flow out of Muraco’s body. Adam wiped the blood away from his eyes, focusing on the phenomenon in front of him.

“Now what…?”

“You…” A deep voice began to echo from the energy, now concentrating into a tiny sphere floating above Muraco. “You were able to detect my existence for some time… and now you can break through…?”

“So I was right. The freaky-ass visions were coming from him. More specifically, whatever the hell you’re supposed to be.”

“Heh… I am but an insignificant little being, forged from the hell that this one suffered all those years ago. You humans sure love to cause pain and suffering for everything, don’t you?”

“I can agree with you on that. The opposite can also be true, however.”

“Oh? For the few hundred years I’ve existed, I haven’t seen anything to prove that.”

“Well, you need to open your eyes, then. If you have any, that is.” Adam smirked.

“Cocky little brat… aren’t you? Your name is Adam, correct? My name… well, there’s a name I would like to call myself, but it’s going to take me several millennia for me to achieve that level.”

“Huh? What level would that be?”

“The level of a god, of course. Based on what I am able to do with my powers, I figured I’d call myself ‘Phobos’.”

“Really? I mean, I guess I’ve been afraid of what I’ve seen. Why were you targeting me, specifically?”

“I wasn’t. Your mysterious power seemed to hone in on my own, and it automatically triggered those visions. Unbelievable. I was hoping once this one perished one day, I’d crawl off and go into hiding until I built my strength up. Now that you know of my existence… I have no choice but to fight.”

Adam sighed. “You noticed I was about to use my Ability on Muraco. The plan was to use these values I just obtained to scan for you, and drag you out. Yet, who said anything about fighting?”

“I won’t let any human get in my way… I will survive until I obtain the power necessary to rid this planet of you foul beasts!”

“Could Muraco’s resentment of humans originate from this thing…? Adam scratched his head. “Listen, it doesn’t have to be like that. As I said, open your eyes. This world may be filled with shit, but you simply have to surround yourself with things that aren’t shit. Trust me, there are things you wouldn’t want to destroy if you just take a second to look!”

“Heh… Logic states that I, the weaker one, should listen to you, the stronger one. Yet, my very existence originates from the destruction humans cause. My task is clear.”

“Taking you’re some kind of chaonic entity, I’m not blaming you for your lack of education. So, let me spell it out for you—” Adam took a step forward, stomping the ground. “Your origin doesn’t mean shit! Do what you want to do with the existence you have!”

Phobos cackled. “You’re still trying to persuade me, despite knowing exactly what I am? What an interesting creature you are.” The red energy expanded, increasing in ferocity.

“So you’re just going to fight back?” Adam clenched his fist, building up power in his right arm. “Oh well. I gave you the option to reconsider.”

“I thank you for that. But I’ve made my decision. Whether it’s the correct choice or not, I will follow my nature till the end.”

“It’s building up a decent amount of strength. I can tell though… One quick strike to the center, and it should fall apart.”

“Let’s see if I’m worthy enough to become a god!” Phobos moved forward. Adam wound up his arm, ready to smash it to pieces.

As quickly as it had formed, Phobos was destroyed.

This was not done by Adam.

A mysterious force seemed to erase Phobos from existence, occurring before Adam could come close to making contact himself.

“Wha…!?”

It was then Adam realized that Jerry and the other members of Twine were not knocked out by Phobos’ presence. There were phantons that had become visible to him, which were simply masked by the chaonic energy from the being.

Trying to locate the source, Adam kept his guard raised, unsure if the unknown power would strike again.

“Was it these phantons that caused it…? No, I would have noticed them if they were the ones to do it in. Where did…”

The room began to glow an eerie green color. Adam, having terror running through him, finally turned toward the stairs.

An emerald figure with blue vein-like structures glowing within it stood before him. The featureless clapped its hands together, giving off a sense of glee that Adam could somehow pick up.

“Oh—I’ve been waiting to meet you, Adam Grayson.”

“Who… What…” Adam took a step back, unable to comprehend the appearance of another new being. “What are you…?”

“Oh—Questions right off the bat? That’s to be expected. I think you’ve earned a few answers, from what I’ve seen recently.”

Adam leaned forward. “First, before you say anything else. Are you good, or are you evil?”

“Oh—Concerned are we? That’s also to be expected. Don’t worry—as I am right now—I am but a simple spectator. Although, a spectator wouldn’t jump onto the field and destroy one of the players like I just did.” The being shrugged. “Oh—It doesn’t matter. That thing wasn’t special—although it did bring up some interesting things when you spoke to it.”

“You know—if you’re the one who knocked out my friends, I can easily classify you as an enemy. Why should I listen to what you have to say, if that’s the case?”

“Oh—You make quite a lot of good points. Although, the answer to that is quite simple—” The being rose its arms.

“I’m a treasure chest filled with not only answers, but the power the change the course of this story you’ve embarked on. How about it—want to get to know me, Adam Grayson?”


Next: Chapter 2.21

Previous: Chapter 2.19

Volume 2

Chapter 2.19: Things to Fight For

“Hi, I’m Lucy!” Lucy greeted the red-haired father and son as Adam’s group entered Twine’s basement. “I’m a ghost! Watch!” She leaped up into the air, casually floating around.

“S-So you found her in that room…?” Jerry asked.

“Yep. She’s quite energetic for someone who’s dead.” Adam noted.

“Hey—being dead has nothing to do with that? You’ve known me for a while now.” Charlotte stated.

“And up until recently, you’ve had to sleep most of the time. Your point?”

“Fine, fine!” Charlotte pouted.

“Anyway, this is quite fascinating!” Thomas’ eyes lit up. “She’s not an Ouderkirk, yet she has a stable form that could be compared to you, Charlotte! How did all of this happen!?”

“I can explain it all to you.” Charlotte answered. “Adam, you should go take a look—” She pointed toward the area with the beds. “See?”

Adam turned around, seeing Roger and Roy sitting on each side of Emma, who was now awake. She looked exhausted, yet she was still smiling as she conversed with the two.

“Emma, you’re okay!?” Adam ran up to her.

“Adam…? What are you doing here? Yeah… I’m okay.” Emma stood up slowly, taking care not to fall over.

Roy stood up. “Come on, Roger. Let’s go see if we can be useful at all over at the computers. I doubt I will be, but you probably will.”

“Hah… Don’t sell yourself short, Roy.” Roger followed him, moving away from the beds.

Adam watched them leave, then turned back to Emma. “Do… Do you remember what happened? It was explained to me, but I want to hear how you experienced it.”

“Right… Well, I can’t remember much of anything. My head got all fuzzy, and then… everything went black. When I came to, I was here. And my entire body ached.” Emma looked at the floor. “These guys have already told me the details… I…”

“What is it?”

“Just… Why? Why did they have to use my spine for something like that? I… attacked everyone? Seriously… like, what the hell? I would have much rather preferred to not have my spine fixed if this was the result!”

“Emma…”

“The Miracle Girl?” Tears began to roll down Emma’s face. “I always knew that nickname was just full of horse shit! I’m a freaking curse!”

“Nicknames are stupid, don’t worry about that.” Adam poked Emma’s forehead. “And don’t worry about anything, as a matter of fact. Once I learn how to master my power, I’m diving headfirst into everything, and putting an end to all of this nonsense.”

“You…” Emma snickered. “That’s just like you. You’re… You’re right. I need to grow stronger so I can help.”

“I’d say not to push yourself, but you’re going to get involved regardless, aren’t you? You won’t let this get in the way. That spine initially didn’t stop you, so why should you let this?”

“I mean… this could be a lot more serious than my mobility, but I guess you’re right?” Emma giggled. “You’re weird.”

“I’ve always been weird. Look at all the people I hang around with.” Adam chuckled, patting Emma on the shoulder. “Lie back down, for now. Rest up. That program these guys have made will keep that green nonsense out of you.”

“I… sure hope it does.” Emma did as she was told, making herself comfy on the bed. “I just… want my mom and sister, to be honest.”

“They’ll be back soon. Unfortunately, Unity will most likely catch a whiff of what we’ve been doing at that point. So we’re going to have a lot of decision-making to do.”

“What… are we going to do? We can’t face all of Unity… and… what if they make those guys fight us?”

“They won’t fight us. I won’t let anything like that happen. As I said, don’t worry about anything.” Adam assured her.

“I… will probably still worry. But I’ll trust you. Just… don’t get hurt, all right?”

“Too late for that…” Adam laughed awkwardly. “But, I’ll try my best from this point forward.”

“Oh… okay…” Emma frowned, closing her eyes. Despite her worry, her body’s fatigue forced her asleep in seconds.

Adam walked out into the main area of the large room, but was stopped by Muraco who was standing near the stairs.

“That’s quite the promise. You think you can keep it?” The rabbit asked him.

“I have no choice. I have to keep it, no matter what.”

“Yeah? Well, I’d feel bad if we upset the girl—or even worse—put her in danger. Same goes for everyone here… so!” Muraco hopped right onto Adam’s back. “I’m going to help you keep that promise.”

“Thank you, mutant bunny who recently wanted to kill me. I appreciate it, I really do. And please ignore the sarcasm I put into that sentence.”

“Hey! I didn’t want to kill you! I just wanted to throw you into another world, where… you…All right, maybe I did want to kill you, in a way?”

“It’s fine. I have other things to worry about right now. One day though, we’ll have that fight, and I’ll win.”

“Hah! Foolish! Just like a typical human!”

“What’s ‘foolish’ is what you’re doing right now. Why are you on my back?”

“Oh, this? I wanted to stand on your shoulder, but I’m a little too big for that. So, I’ll be on your back, and just look over your shoulder like this to talk to you!”

“But why are you doing this? I mean, you’re not that heavy, but—”

“Just don’t worry about it! Onward, to the other side of the room!”

“I—” Adam sighed. “Fine, do what you want.”

“Haha! I’ll take advantage of that ‘not caring’ attitude you have!”

As Adam began to walk, he turned around hearing the sound of the desk opening above. Through the secret entrance, two men entered. One was Travis, while the other was an older dark-skinned man using a black can to walk, which had a blue handle. His brown eyes, hidden behind black glasses, met Adam’s.

“Winona’s dad…? What are you doing here?” Adam asked him.

“You can just call me Cody, Adam. And I’m helping out Twine, of course! A group dedicated to messing up Unity? Of course I’ll do my part! For the sake of my back!”

“H-His back?” Muraco was confused.

“Well, that’s quite the peculiar creature there! Yes, tiny rabbit man! My back was injured in a battle a while ago. Due to that, I’m unable to fight properly. Yet, thanks to those bastards, I still have to chip in whenever I can using my Ability! Screw that! Cody wants some rest!”

“You still have to do things…?” Adam seemed angry at that statement.

“Yeah… Nothing too crazy, but every once in a while… like recently, for example. I had to help the Brown Suits with their investigation. Luckily, that gave me the perfect opportunity to help when the issue with Emma’s spine became reality.”

“He helped Thomas dispose of them!” Travis explained. “His Ability allows him to stick enemies to whatever surface he uses it on using a unique phantonic force. Thomas then uses some of the weapons he’s got stored to, well—”

“Vaporize them.” Cody continued. “We have no choice. Can’t leave any evidence behind.”

“I-I see…” Adam assumed their method involved something like that, but did not expect them to be so blunt about it.

“Whether that’s the ‘humane’ thing to do—we can’t really have that hold us back.” Travis sighed. “They’ve done enough damage as is… Perhaps once all of this is over, we can round-up the remaining clones and figure something out. I’m sure they won’t know what to do once we defeat the source of all of this.”

“The source of all of this…” Adam walked up to Cody. “I assume you know the situation we’re currently in?”

“I sure do! We’re in deep shit, kid.” Cody chuckled. “Even if we’re succeeding in sending them false information, that won’t matter once someone pops up in person. Usually, the Unity people stationed in Minuet like to drop by here, but thanks to—well—you apparently, they’re wrapped up in figuring out what happened to that barrier. It’s just a matter of time though before someone shows up. Most likely Rizzo, once the orientation is done.”

Oh, that’s right! You seemed to pull it off! What did you find inside!?” Travis asked enthusiastically.

“Well—” Adam turned to see where Lucy was, but was interrupted by her flying onto Adam’s back alongside Muraco.

“Bunny! I shall join you in taking control of Adam! You be the pilot in the left seat, and I’ll be the pilot in the right!”

“Hey, kid! There’s not enough room!” Muraco shouted, trying to push her off.

“N-No! Bunny has gone evil! I must defeat him!”

“Come on guys… Why are fighting on me!?” Adam groaned.

While Adam and Muraco were distracted by Lucy’s mischief, Travis and Cody looked horrified.

“C-Cody… that’s…!”

“I know… I know. What do we do in this situation…?”

“I was hoping you would know…! But, we should pretend we don’t know anything, for now…”

“Right… I’m not sure if it’s something that’s supposed to be known. Well, it isn’t normally, but I’m not sure under these circumstances…”

Adam was able to calm Lucy down, along with Muraco, who had been riled up as well. “Anyway, this is Lucy. Her body was apparently sealed down there, while her ghost has been wandering around Requiem for a while now. When she interacted with her body, it made her like this. Basically alive.”

“S-So… kind of like how Charlotte is? Except she’s not an Ouderkirk?” Travis tried to play it cool. “Lucy, do you remember anything…?”

“Hmm?” Lucy glanced at Travis. Now noticing her and Cody, she attempted to analyze them. Both of the men held their breath, knowing that this act alone could be dangerous.

“Just that my name’s Lucy! Can’t even remember my last name! My head feels all funny when I try to remember things…”

“I-I see…” Travis exhaled. “There must be a reasoning behind that.”

Charlotte, now done with her discussion with Jerry and Thomas, walked up to the group. “Yeah. We think to keep her current form stable, the majority of her memories had to be sacrificed.”

“Ah, I see! That makes sense…” Travis scratched his head. “Even forgetting your last name, huh…?”

“Yeah. If we knew that much, it would be a lot easier to dig up info on her. I’m assuming she’s related to the Night of the Half Moon in some way, considering where her body was stored. Think we could match the name ‘Lucy’ up with that and figure something out?” Adam asked.

“Sure—” Jerry nodded. “I can work on that—”

“How about I do it, Jerry?” Travis suggested. “You should continue helping your dad out with Block.”

“I mean, sure? It doesn’t really matter who looks it up.” Jerry seemed slightly confused at Travis’ behavior.

“Cody, w-wanna help me out?” Travis asked the man.

“S-Sure! No problem!” Cody followed Travis as they walked over to the computers.

Adam turned to Jerry. “What’s ‘Block’?”

“Oh, that’s what we’re calling the software we’re using. Pretty simple, but it gets the point across.” Jerry answered.

“I gotcha. Anyway—” Adam grabbed Lucy and Muraco, placing them on the floor. “Muraco, keep Lucy company. Anywhere that’s not my back.”

“Man, I sure am getting the short end of the carrot…” Muraco whined. Adam suddenly grabbed a hold of his ear.

“Was… Was that a pun…?”

“Yeah. Is there an issue…?”

“There is. I’m gonna let it slide, for now. You watch those puns…”

“O-Okay?” Muraco nervously escorted Lucy away from him. “Let’s go play a game, Lucy.”

“Hey, I love games!” Lucy cheered.

“Wonderful.” Muraco sighed.

Adam once again turned to Jerry, placing his arm around his friend.

“Huh? What’s up, Adam?”

“Travis and Cody. Those two know something about Lucy. They weren’t doing too well in hiding it.”

“Y-You think?” Jerry glanced over to the two now sitting at the computer desks. “That… could make sense. They’ve been here the entire time. Ever since the Night of the Half Moon, at least. My dad probably wouldn’t know, considering we moved here when I was little. That was years after the incident.”

“It happened about a week after I was born. Travis seemed to know my mom, so he’s been around. Cody obviously has been as well.”

Charlotte joined in on the conversation. “Should I possess one of them? See if I can get the info out of them?”

“Maybe. I’d rather not do that on our allies if we don’t have to. I’ll think about it.”

“It’s best we obtain any information as soon as we can. Considering what position we’re all in at the moment.” Charlotte suggested.

“Right…” Adam walked over to the large table, flopping down in the chair. Charlotte and Jerry followed him.

“What’s the matter?” Charlotte asked him.

“The situation we’re in, obviously. We have to figure out what to do… I feel like my World Mirror is our best bet. How, though? I’m not strong enough yet…”

“Don’t see yourself short, Adam.” Charlotte leaned against the table next to him. “You just made another major step in learning your Ability. Figure out how to apply what you did to the barrier to actual combat, and you’ll continue to grow even further.”

“That’s fine and everything, but we’re limited on time.”

“Well, think about it this way—” Jerry raised his finger. “Charlotte and Muraco are fighting alongside you, yeah? You’re all sharing your strength. It’s not just them, we’re all giving you strength, in our own ways. We can fill the gap in strength for the—”

“This isn’t emotional strength we’re talking about! These are enemies with actual power that could kill us! Sure—Charlotte, Muraco, and I together are pretty strong. But these guys… forget this weird group, Unity alone is dangerous enough. It’s run by a guy that nobody can touch! He has—from our point of view—absolute power! How are we supposed to mess with that!?”

“I’ve… I’ve had an idea for a while now. I could try to possess Rizzo… Make him drop his guard. I wasn’t too sure it would work to begin with, but now I’m really not sure… He could be connected to that weird thing in the Network.” Charlotte sighed.

“Right… Just, what do we do—”

Charlotte placed her hand on top of Adam’s head, and leaned in close to him. She was staring directly into his eyes, only a few inches away from his face.

“Wh-What are you doing, Charlotte…?”

She did not respond for a moment. Charlotte simply took in the calming gray within his eyes.

A smile then formed on her face. Although it was incredibly warming to see, Adam couldn’t help but notice her eyes seemed somewhat pained.

“Yeah… I see. Don’t worry, Adam. We’ll figure it out. We have things to fight for, after all.” Without another word, Charlotte walked over to where Muraco and Lucy were, sitting on the floor to see what they were up to.

Adam and Jerry were left utterly bewildered.

“…Adam, what was that?”

“…I-I’m not sure. I thought you would know…”


Next: Chapter 2.20

Previous: Chapter 2.18

Volume 2

Updates to Patreon Tiers

Recently, I got rid of a few of the tier I had on Patreon, leaving only two remaining: The Red Apple and Golden Apple tiers. I mixed certain benefits in that were in higher tiers into these, and also made a few new ones.

This post is to inform everyone that I am now changing the prices of the tiers, including the main one, the Red Apple tier. I had it set to $1, yet I learned today that it would be better to boost this up to $2. The reason? Processing fees. It’s cheaper to have a $2 tier as opposed to a $1 tier. The second tier, the Golden Apple tier, is now at $4 for all the benefits included in that one.

I’m also going to get rid of Patreon goals for the time being. I think once I begin to gain traction on Patreon, I’ll create goals that I think are appropriate.

Check out my Patreon to see the benefits you can get!

Chapter 2.18: Fangless

About an hour later, Faith sat on the edge of a bed in the infirmary. She looked down at her hands, where her fingers were covered in bandages.

Liz walked up to her, showing that her entire right hand was wrapped up as well. “Your flames were really impressive, Faith! There’s still plenty of room for your control over them.”

“Yeah… It’s funny. Before, if I managed to get hurt by a flame, I would be freaking out looking at the wound. Now though… I’m a lot more at peace with myself.”

“It just shows how much you’ve grown! Listen, I’m sorry about going rough on you guys, but I—”

Liz was interrupted by loud snoring that began to echo throughout the room. Faith turned around, facing the bed next to her where Winona was resting. She was sound asleep, even bearing a grin on her face.

“She definitely tired herself out.” Faith giggled quietly. “Looks like she’s peaceful…” She looked toward the other side of the room, where Brandon was currently lying unconscious in a bed of his own. “Brandon on the other hand…”

He was giving off a grimace of pain, while Paul sat beside him with concern in his eyes. “This guy did way too much. Hopefully, he’ll feel better soon…”

Faith stood up and walked over next to Brandon. She leaned in close to get a better look at his condition. “Brandon… His breathing isn’t right…”

“Hey, don’t worry about him.” Liz placed her hand on Faith’s shoulder. “You know, you should be getting some rest as well. I’m surprised you’re not already knocked out.”

“Right… That’s probably a good idea.” Faith accepted Liz’s suggestion, flopping down on her own bed. She rolled over to face the ceiling, wanting to review everything that had happened that day, but couldn’t—her body wouldn’t let her. Faith’s eyelids slowly closed, and she was asleep in seconds.

 

Adam’s eyelids slowly opened, staring at the ceiling above him. It took him a moment, but he realized it was the ceiling to their room in the hotel. He rose, having his memories come back to him involving what occurred prior to this. As he remembered the tunnel, the barrier, and the girl he saved, Adam froze. There was something in front of him that required his attention.

He wanted to look away, but could not. A little girl stood on the bed a few feet in front of him. However, it couldn’t possibly be the girl he saved. This girl, this thing was utterly grotesque, a green slime oozing from her rotting body. She had no eyes or teeth—her mouth hanging wide open. A foul, rancid smell plagued Adam’s nostrils—he covered his nose, backing up and smacking his head on the wall behind him.

“Hey, what’s wrong?”

Adam looked up a second time. The horrific sight was no more, and a normal, non-demonic girl now stood there. It quickly dawned on him that he knew this girl. She was not only the girl he saved from that strange void, but she happened to be the same one that he saw in Ann’s back when this all began.

“It’s… It’s you…?”

“Adam, what are you doing?” Charlotte walked over to the side of the bed, hands on her hips. “You’re gonna scare her.”

“You were in the store that night…”

“Huh?” Charlotte was curious as to what Adam was talking about. The girl has a questioning look as well, sitting down on the bed.

“Brown hair and eyes… pigtails… suspenders… Yeah, it’s gotta be you, from that night! Charlotte—she’s the girl I was talking about!”

“Wait—for real!? That one you said initially activated your World Mirror that night!? What kind of odds?”

“Um…” The girl wanted to speak. Adam and Charlotte turned to her. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, mister… But you saved me from that darkness—I know that much. So… T-Thank you!”

“I did…?” Adam looked down at his hand. “I’m not sure how I did… or if I did to begin with, but at least you’re safe, whoever you are.”

The girl grinned. “I’m Lucy!”

“Lucy, huh? Got a last name?”

“I… Um… I’m not sure. I can’t remember…”

“Are you serious…?” Adam sighed. “Not another one…”

“I think Lucy’s issues with her memories are a lot more justified in her case.” Charlotte stated.

Adam looked at her with curiosity on his face. “Huh? What’s that mean?”

“Well, she’s a ghost…” Charlotte gestured toward Lucy, who had started to float in mid-air.

“I know that from meeting her in the store—hey, be careful! Don’t go phasing through the ceiling!”

“I’m fine, I’m fine!” Lucy responded, laughing in enjoyment.

“Well—” Charlotte continued. “Lucy’s… I’m not sure how—or why—but she’s as strong as I am. She’s clearly not an Ouderkirk, yet she has enough power to keep her form without it dissipating.”

“What the hell…?” Adam glanced at the girl, now flying around the room pretending to be an airplane. “Was that the reason she was there in the basement…? No, that doesn’t make sense. I saw her way before we even knew about that room.”

“Muraco and I… have actually come up with a theory for that.” Charlotte said, her voice slightly cracking. “After all that energy vanished, you and Lucy emerged, both unconscious. Before we got out of there, we took a look in the coffin…”

Adam’s eyes widened. “Don’t tell me…!?”

“It wasn’t her body. Well—I should say—it no longer is. The chaonic energy had built up for so long, it turned her remains into dust…”

“Chaonic energy…? Yeah—I’d say it’s gotta be related to the Night of the Half Moon, for sure.”

“What exactly is the Night of the Half Moon? I can vaguely recall it from my investigation, but you’ve said it a few times now…”

“The Fisher family—” Adam began to explain. “They owned a farm not too far from here. An odd family from an outside perspective, but nothing too out of the ordinary. However, there was darkness there. Horrible darkness. They had molded their family into a cult over several years, performing various rituals and sacrifices to gain power…”

“Sacrifices…?”

“They would give birth to children merely to sacrifice them… It had something to do with the ‘purity’ of phantons within newborns, and that was vital to what they were attempting to accomplish.”

“Are you serious…?”

Adam nodded. “They got to the point though where they were incredibly weakened using this method. They got desperate, since they were so close to achieving their goal. So… they went on to kidnap local children. That’s how they ended up getting caught.”

“…Do you know what their goal was?”

“It was something chaonic—that much was obvious. Whatever it was… they did manage to create it, for a short amount of time. And in that time… it caused lots of damage. As well as… kill my mother.”

“Adam…” Charlotte tried to move the topic away from that. “Do… Do you think Lucy was one that was sacrificed? You said newborns, though…”

“That is odd—hey, Lucy.” Adam got the girl’s attention. She immediately flew over and landed on her feet. “Do you remember anything surrounding your death?”

“Adam! You can’t be so blunt! What if she isn’t aware that she’s—”

“Oh, it’s okay, Charlotte!” Lucy gave her a thumbs up. “I already know… and I’m sorry, but I don’t remember much about it…”

“That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.” Adam stood up and patted Lucy’s head while walking by. She was silent for a moment, then giggled a little.

“What’s the plan, Adam?” Charlotte asked him.

Adam began to stretch. “Well, I guess we found out what was down there inside the barrier. I suppose… we can head back to Prelude and see if those guys can figure out Lucy’s background?”

“I think that’s probably our best bet right now. They should be able to uncover information that we would be unable to by ourselves.”  

“Lucy, do you want to go with us?” Adam asked, turning to her. “I’m… not really sure what you would do otherwise? But I think it would best to keep you safe, regardless.”

“Sure!” Lucy responded cheerfully. “I don’t know what I’d do either! I’m just here right now…”

“I was thinking…” Charlotte started to speak. “If I, an Ouderkirk, has issues with her memory, then I’d assume Lucy would have an even bigger issue. That is, if we take into account that phantons record memories and that memories have been erased to help keep our forms stabilized.”

“That could be a possibility… although, I’m assuming in your case there’s a lot more to it than just that. Considering the World Mirror, and everything…”

“Right…” Charlotte sighed. “I’m tired of not knowing anything.”

“I’m tired in general. But… we can’t let up. We have to keep going. We’ve got to get all this stuff figured out.” Adam clenched his fist. “Now, I’ve been wondering. Where the hell has Muraco been!?”

“He’s been—”

“I’m back!”

They turned toward the door, where Muraco hopped out from the shadows.

“Bunny! You’re back!” Lucy hopped at Muraco, grabbing a hold of his ears.

“H-Hey! Watch it! My ears are sensitive!”

“That’s good timing. I’ll ask you myself—Muraco, where have you been?”

“Charlotte didn’t get a chance to tell you anything? I’ve been keeping an eye on the activity around here ever since we busted that barrier.”

“Oh yeah? Did you see anyone?”

“Yeah… I sure did. Unity definitely found out. Brown Suits are starting to swarm into town. Think this could keep them away from Prelude?”

“It might… for a bit. We should get back as soon as we can.” Adam sat back down on the bed. “We’re sandwiched right now… We’ve got this group we have to worry about, as well as Unity. I’ll be honest… I want to take it all on myself. I don’t want anyone getting hurt… but…”

“We won’t let you do that,” Charlotte assured him. “We’re all in this together.”

“I know… That’s good though. Cause I certainly have no idea how I would do this on my own.”

“It’s all about teamwork!” Lucy cheered.

“Yeah…” Adam smiled softly. He glanced over at Muraco. “Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Huh? What is it?”

“For a third time, I’ve seen something freaky when you’re around. You say you don’t have an Ability like that, so I’ll trust you. But… Do you know why it’s been happening? Any clue?”

“Hmm…” Muraco pondered the question. “The only thing I can think of—an Ability that I don’t know I have? And it seems to only trigger for you, for some reason? Another World Mirror thing, perhaps?”

“That wouldn’t surprise me. This thing’s chock-full of mystery.” Adam shrugged. “Anyway, we ready to sneak outta here, Charlotte?”

“Yeah. I’ll phase deep underground, then we can move and pop up in Prelude without issue!”

“Y-You think that will have no issue? How can you tell where you’d be that far underground!?” Adam questioned with unease.

“Don’t worry, I got it.” Charlotte grinned, almost sinisterly.

“How…? How can you be sure we won’t end up caught in the dirt or anything? Charlotte? …Charlotte?”

Lucy ran up to Adam and grabbed his hand. “No need to worry! We just gotta wing it!”

“Y-You should be worried… You have your whole life ahead of—wait, no you don’t. Uh…”

Charlotte giggled, holding Lucy’s shoulder. “That’s something Adam would say, minus the enthusiasm. Isn’t that right?” She glanced at him. “Don’t worry so much. You always worry when there are others involved.”

“Muraco, say something?” Adam turned to look at the rabbit who was keeping his distance from the scene.

Muraco responded with a simple shrug.

Adam at that point could only sigh.

 

The man sat in his wooden chair in the shadows of the run-down building, holding his glass of whiskey with one hand and his head with the other. In the dimly lit part of the room opposite of him, a black mass floated slightly above the floor—it’s duck-face mask looking at the clearly stressed out person.

“Are you okay?” The figure asked him—voice eerily echoing against the worn-out walls.

“Of course not. I was convinced that the room was simply those bastards keeping information about that night locked up. A lot of things that happened are highly confidential, after all. But… that’s what was down there…?”

“It’s quite interesting… Not only did that man manipulate Unity to place that down there, but to go to such lengths… to make you suffer?”

The man chuckled. “That’s what it seems like. Even if we were to figure out how to capture this wandering key of ours, we would have had to face what was in that room for it to even be useable.”

“Then you should be thanking Adam. His Ability seemed to destroy the barrier without much of a commotion. The power needed normally—we concluded—would have brought that city of Minuet to ruin. I couldn’t even get inside using my phantom energy—it was quite the obstacle.”

“I don’t care about the how—all I care about is the result. Our key now has a stable form. Before anything else happens, we need to secure it.”

“Right, right.” The shadow cackled. “What’s our next move then, leader?”

“They’re returning to Prelude, it seems. Hmm… They’re lucky they have such an easy way to move around—it’s certainly helped us.”

“You’re talking about me, aren’t you? Oh, you don’t have to praise me. We’ve known each other for so long, after all.”

“I’ve told you, I still can’t trust that statement completely. Although, I’ll keep calling you Jason, for the time being.”

“Hey—I’m not even sure of it myself. So it’s only natural for you to have your doubts about my origin.”

“Anyway—regarding our next move. I think it’s about time we use her.”

“Oh!?” The figure seemed highly enthused. “Really!? We’re going all out!?”

“I think it’s the time to do so. Look at what these people have been doing. So many defiant characters running around—Rizzo won’t know which direction to focus on. His bullshit ‘reign’ will come crashing down soon enough. If not by us, then maybe this silly ‘Twine’ group can do it.”

“So you don’t want us to destroy them? It’s only natural you wouldn’t want to.”

“I don’t care. I just want the key in our possession. I can’t trust it with anyone else. The power that’s behind this seal… It has the power to change everything.”

The door to the room swung wide open, almost falling off its hinges. Carl casually strolled inside.

“It sure does! Sorry—I’ve been listening.”

“I know—I could sense you.” The man sighed. “How’s it going, Carl?”

“Well, I’m excited now! We can finally get things rolling!” Carl looked down at his hand. “We can gain the power we deserve.”

The shadow chuckled. “I can finally have a human body, at last. I’m sure you’d like your body back to normal, Carl.”

“It’s never going to be ‘normal’ again. Once it restores itself, I’ll be at an entirely new plane of existence. Not only will I have perfect control over chaons—like our leader over here—the entire concept of chaons can be thrown away.”

The man smirked. “You’re really confident in those body modifications of yours. Just make sure you save me a seat. I’ll arrive at that level soon enough.”

“Of course, my friend! I’m even surprised you would think that I could reach it before you do!”

“You have lots of potential. We all do… I called this group ‘Fangless’, after all. Ones who seemed to lack any sort of power—any sort of way to fight back. Now look at us—look at how much we’ve accumulated over the years.”

“And we can finally put it to use!” Carl laughed.

The man nodded, determination filling his brown eyes. “Carl. Jason. I’m not going to waste any more time. Begins preparations. We’re taking over Prelude.”


Next: Chapter 2.19

Previous: Chapter 2.17

Volume 2

Chapter 2.17: A Hero

As Charlie’s Metal Manipulation struggled against Brandon’s Shepherd Surge, a thought crossed his mind. “Even if he can make my metal magnetic—however he’s doing it—the raw power it takes to even overwrite the values I’ve put into it… Let alone—keep it going for this long…”

The electricity crept up the metal appendages, getting closer to him. Charlie couldn’t help but laugh.

“Jerry… What kind of people are you friends with?”

Brandon’s body finally caught up to what he was doing. The lightning broke and scattered apart, causing him to collapse on his knees.

“God… God damn… That took a lot out of me… That was-was-was-was-was…!”

Speaks flew from Brandon’s head. He screamed in agony, rolling onto the ground.

“Brandon…!? Hey! What’s wrong!?” Paul dashed over to his teammate, sliding next to him.

Charlie stepped onto the ground, forming all of the metal back into its original rapier shape. He leaned down, checking Brandon’s condition.

“I see… It seems if you overexert yourself, your own Ability can mess with your neuron activity. It’s probably been charging them up this entire time, considering how you’ve managed to avoid quite a lot of attacks.” Charlie looked up toward the ceiling. “Rizzo. Can we call it here? This kid’s shown me more than enough, and I don’t want to waste my time on Paul—someone who I already know is good—with the risk of this kid’s health.”

“It’s your call,” Rizzo responded over the microphone. “He was certainly far more impressive than I thought he would be, as well. If we work on those weaknesses of his, he’ll definitely be a powerful force for Unity.”

Charlie nodded. “Paul, help me lift him up. Let’s get him out of here. Those others are still fighting, after all. We don’t want to get mixed up in that mess.”

The two picked Brandon up and began to carry him. He had a blank expression on his face—the electricity having subsided for the time being. For some strange reason, Brandon—through what little he could currently process—swore he heard a young woman’s voice cry out to him.

“I’m… fine… mom… D-Don’t… worry…”

“Brandon…” Pam stared at the monitor in front of her, having no hesitation in showing how worried she was.

“Pamela—” Rizzo turned to her. “You shouldn’t worry about that boy. After all, don’t you have more important things to worry about?” He pointed to the monitor next to the one she was looking at.

Winona had grabbed Faith, attempting to move into the island area using dirt she was using for temporary flight. Liz had been able to teleport out of her attempt to corner her and take her down—which drained a lot of Winona’s stamina.

The dirt carrying the two couldn’t last, and they fell onto one of the tiny pieces of land that were scattered about on the body of water in the southeast corner of the room.

“Gah! Sorry, Faith… I can’t get us away—”

Liz appeared, kicking Winona away from Faith, crashing into the water nearby.

“You guys seem to be getting a handle on the distance I can do with each Teleleap. If I go beyond that limit, it’ll cause strain on my body. Even though she was trying to encase me in all of that rubble, her attack covered quite a wide area. So I had to leap quite far to get out of it.”

Faith unleashed flames from her body, attempting to wrap Liz in them. Of course, she was not quick enough. Liz appeared behind her, punching Faith before she could maneuver her flames to defend herself. She fell into the water with Winona.

Faith glanced down into the depths below, noticing Winona had already been swimming back up toward the surface. Winona gave her a grin, simultaneously holding her breath. They had a plan.

The two shot out of the water, startling Liz. Faith waved her arm fiercely, sending a wide wall of flames rushing at Liz. She teleported above, rattled by the sudden updraft the fire had created.

Although this distraction was brief, it gave Winona enough time to prepare for her move. She gathered the dirt particles she usually kept close by, forming a spiraling sandstorm above her. With a flick of her fingers, Winona sent it at Liz.

Liz had no choice but to use Teleleap once again. She moved back down near the water’s surface, attempting to search for a good angle to counterattack. Faith and Winona landed on the tiny island, the latter taking the opportunity to use her Ability on it.

The island rose, breaking apart from the mass of earth hidden underneath the waves. Liz—continuing to leap around—was astonished at the sight of Winona’s capabilities.

It was Faith’s turn. She manipulated her flames around the surface of the floating island, completely covering herself and Winona within the intense heat.

“What the…? Faith’s flame’s aren’t hurting Winona…?” Liz landed on another small island, staring in awe at the sight the two were creating.

“Good job, Faith!” Winona began to pant heavily. “Now… we have a good defense. All that’s left is…!”

“A finishing blow! Right…!” It was taking all of their focus and concentration to keep their combination going. Yet, they had, in fact, created something that Liz could not penetrate.

“I’ll drop the island into the lake! It’ll distract her, then we can go all-out, shooting dirt and flames from above until we hit her!”

“This is…” Faith tried to catch her breath. “Taking quite a lot out of us…”

“It’s all we can do right now…” Winona stated—the island now approaching the ceiling. “We’re out of her league. Besides, this is great practice for us…!”

Liz smirked, cracking her knuckles. “You two sure are impressive. Using up this much power would be foolish in an actual fight, but here… You’re really showing your stuff. You two have grown so much.” She giggled. “…however, your defense only takes into account the main factor of my Teleleap. There’s another thing it allows me to do…”

Clenching her fist, Liz jumped. She began teleporting quickly, almost entirely in place. She ascended, regardless, slowly picking up speed. Faith and Winona look down at her in fear.

“What is she going to do…?” Winona questioned.

“My Teleleap can build up momentum! Which means—”

With a swing of her fist, Liz ripped right through the island, smashing it into pieces. The two girls were bewildered at what just occurred.

“…I can charge up attacks like that!”

Faith’s flames diminished, while Liz prepared a second attack right away.

“Dammit!” Winona motioned the shattered earth around them, attempting to capture Liz in her movement. Instead of leaping all over the place, she used the same technique again—building up momentum by teleporting almost entirely in place. The stones striking at her were torn apart, unable to cause any damage.

“Win!” Faith shouted in terror, as Winona was grabbed by Liz. Using her Teleleap, she moved the two of them off toward the desert area. With her descent, Faith could only watch the event unfold. She crashed into the water a few moments later, not bothering to try to brace herself for the impact.

“If… If this was an actual fight… I would have just lost Winona. The enemy could have finished her off at that moment. No—not only that, but… if they wanted to, they could have finished me off…”

Faith glanced up, staring at the light shining from above.

“I’ve… I’ve let this fear get to me for too long. I need to keep moving forward. I need to continue to grow, and become strong enough so nothing like this actually happens…!”

With her resolve set, Faith put her hands close together.

 

“Are… Are you saying I can do that trick as well!?” Faith asked her mother during training a week prior.

“I don’t see why not? I was able to pull it off with my Ability. You seem capable of drawing out loads of power with your flames—that’s key.”

“It is…?” Faith looked down at her hands.

“Your father’s Ability could cause whatever he came in contact with to spin… It was due to his Ability, that I came up with the idea for this move—”

Opening the palm of her hand, Pam created several tiny spheres of steam. They spiraled intensely, showing the raw energy that was being placed within them.

“Roswell Sphere—one of my go-to techniques. If you want to, I can teach you the basic principles. As I can create and manipulate steam, you can create and manipulate fire. I’m sure it’ll help out with your control as well!”

“You based it off of how dad used his powers…? Then, I think it’s obvious.” Faith pumped herself up. “Please teach me, mom!”

“Heh…” Pam smirked, causing the tiny sphere to float off into the sky. “I’m sure your dad would be happy to hear that.”

 

“Focus it all into one area, Faith…” A flame formed in between her hands, slowly lighting up the darkness surrounding her. “Let the flame spin, like a mighty twister…”

Through her sheer willpower, Faith concentrated her Ability into a sphere of raging flames. She couldn’t help but grin at how much she’s been able to get it under control. Not only her Ability, Flame Witch, but the fear that had plagued her for so long.

“In no way have I perfected this yet, but that’s okay… All I need to do…” She moved her hands below her—the sphere exploding with massive ferocity.

Faith shot out of the water, basically making herself a rocket. The single burst had enough force to give her temporary flight—soaring her through the air. It wouldn’t last long, which is why she prepared a second one.

In the desert, Winona attempted to stand. Liz had been pacing around, taunting her.

“It sucks, doesn’t it? You’re in such a perfect area to unleash your Ability with full force, yet you’ve exhausted yourself. You can barely move a grain of sand, can’t you?”

“You…” Winona started laughing. “You’re really acting like a villain here, you know that?”

“That’s the role I’ve gotta play! You two need to be prepared for this sort of stuff in the future. You—”

Liz turned around, hearing a loud noise from behind. Faith had erupted her second Roswell Sphere, causing her to fly toward the desert area at incredible speed.

“You’ve still got some fight in you, Faith!?” Liz grin became crazed. “I like it! To honor your resolve, let me fight right back!”

Liz leaped at Faith, building up her momentum with her Ability. The two met in the air—Flare Witch and Teleleap colliding with one another. Liz had struck at the Roswell Sphere with the palm of her hand, having built up enough force to compete with it.

Faith noticed that Liz had still been teleporting in place, continuing to build up energy. She already had difficulty keeping the sphere’s shape in the first place. With this extra pressure, Faith had no clue how she was managing.

“Faith—tell me! Why do you want to join Unity?”

“Why…?” She could begin to feel her fingers singe from her own flames. “I… I want to become someone… Someone just like the person who has saved me in the past…!”

With all her might, Faith pushed forward—the Roswell Sphere exploding against Liz’s power.

“I’m going to become a hero!”


Next: Chapter 2.18

Previous: Chapter 2.16

Volume 2

Phantonics’ Schedule on Royal Road

I decided on a schedule. Starting today with Chapter 1.2, Phantonics will release daily on Royal Road until it catches up with the main site. Chapters will release each day at 2 PM EST. If you haven’t read it yet or have yet to catch up, reading it on Royal Road will be a great way to help you out with that! Check it out here!


Volume 2 is ongoing! New chapters drop every Tuesday and Friday!

Check out the Table of Contents!

Support me on Patreon! Gain access to chapters early, along with other content!


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!

Phantonics Now on Royal Road!

Phantonics has been approved on the Royal Road, and now I can finally start posting it there! I’ll try to think of a schedule for the chapters, since I don’t want to post them all at once. I’ll make another update once I figure that out. Eventually, when it catches up to the site release, I’ll probably release them both simultaneously. For now, check out the story here!


Volume 2 is ongoing! New chapters drop every Tuesday and Friday!

Check out the Table of Contents!

Support me on Patreon! Gain access to chapters early, along with other content!


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!

Phantonics Fact of the Day #6

Fact #6:

If Faith did not have to join Unity, she would have probably pursued her musical talents. She would have most likely joined a band that one of her friends (who has not yet been introduced) is the founder of.


Volume 2 is ongoing! New chapters drop every Tuesday and Friday!

Check out the Table of Contents!

Support me on Patreon! Gain access to chapters early, along with other content!


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!

Phantonics Fact of the Day #5

Fact #5:

Faith is quite musically talented. She can sing, play guitar, and play piano. Faith even landed a main role in a musical during high school.


Volume 2 is ongoing! New chapters drop every Tuesday and Friday!

Check out the Table of Contents!

Support me on Patreon! Gain access to chapters early, along with other content!


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 2.16: To Keep Moving Forward

Faith and Winona were on the field on the opposite side of the forest, with Liz standing before them. The ground was slightly lower than the area around it, indicating that the floor in the training room was not lowered.

“Faith, don’t you wonder what kind of technology they use to work this thing!?” Winona asked her.

“I do… Um… Before that though, can I ask you something, Win?”

“What is it?”

Liz crossed her arms, seemingly pouting. “I wanted to get started right away, but I guess I can let you two work out a quick strategy.”

“Thanks—” Faith turned back to Winona. “We… already have one. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.”

“I was about to say. So, what’s up?”

“…I’ll be blunt. Why are you being so positive right now?”

Winona was silent for a moment, before letting out a heavy sigh. “Yeah. I figured you’d see through that.”

“You like to fight—I know that. But, considering everything right now… and especially what you told me happened last night.”

“You’re right. It doesn’t make sense. I kind of wanted to be positive for… Brandon’s sake, I guess?”

“That’s a good excuse.” Faith said without hesitation. “You’re usually quite cheerful, but when something bothers you, it’s easily noticeable.”

“I guess… for my own sake? Or… Cynthia’s…?”

 

“The previous evening, Winona was walking back from the restroom, heading to the room Faith and herself were staying in. On the way, she saw quite the familiar face.

“Cynthia! Hi! I thought you were out on a mission?”

“Hey, Sis… It’s orientation time, isn’t it? How are you holding up?”

“It’s fine so far. Brandon… got sort of messed up though. He’ll be all right, thankfully.”

“I see… it figures something would happen right off the bat.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s Unity, Win. Of course something would happen. Sounds a lot tamer than what happened during my orientation…”

“What happened…? You never told me.”

Cynthia snuggled up in her coat, which was clearly still too heavy to wear in the summertime. “Don’t worry about it. Just focus on what you have to do. And… try not to get hurt.”

“Cynthia… is everything okay? You’re still wearing that coat, as well…”

“I told you, I use it for training. I make wind flow down my legs, venting out all the heat—”

“No, that’s silly. I can tell you’re lying about that. What is it really for?”

“Winona… you shouldn’t be so blunt.” Cynthia sighed. “I just…”

“Just what?” Winona’s stance was firm—she was going to get to the bottom of her sister’s behavior.

“It’s just… cold. I hate the cold. No, I… I’m afraid of it…”

“Huh? Afraid of it? What do you—”

“I’ll talk to you about it when you become a legitimate Unity member.”

And with that, Cynthia walked right by her sister. Any sort of power Winona temporarily held on her was shattered—unable to figure out what to say.

Despite this, she quickly came up with the words she wanted to use.

“I love you, Cynthia…”

Cynthia stopped in her tracks. There was no movement, no sound. Just silence. The two sisters stood in the empty hallway back-to-back.  After what seemed like an eternity, Winona could have sworn she heard a sniffle.

“I love you too, Winona…”

As Winona turned toward her sister, Cynthia used her Ability to accelerate her body, moving out of sight in the blink of an eye.

“Cynthia…”

 

“Liz—” Winona stepped forward. “I’m not going to hold back.”

“Oh?” Liz beamed. “That’s what I like to hear!”

“Let’s do this, Faith.”

Faith walked up to her side, cracking her knuckles.

“Yeah!”

Before they began, the group heard a giant crash from behind them. Faith and Winona turned around, while Liz began to giggle.

“They already got started, it seems. Let’s not waste any more time!”

As Liz took the first step, Winona glanced back at her—sensing her movement. With a swift motion of her foot, the ground in front of Winona tore apart—rocks flying toward Liz.

Within a mere second, it seemed as though Winona had already landed the first blow with her Stone Rose Ability at its maximum power. Faith stared at her friend in utter amazement.

“That was—”

“That was fast, but—”

Liz had appeared behind Winona out of nowhere. Before either Faith or Winona could react, Liz grabbed ahold of Winona’s arm.

“You’ll have to be faster to beat my Teleleap!”

Jumping upward, Liz seemed to teleport herself and Winona multiple times, making progress toward the ceiling each time. She smashed her opponent into it with tremendous force—Faith not believing the amount of strength Liz had to pull off such a strike.

The dust settled, showing that Winona had taken the attack. Liz jumped back, slowly descending back toward the ground.

“Oh? You’re lucky that ceiling’s made of stone. You were able to change its properties at the last second.”

Winona stuck to the ceiling, now turned into a sandy surface. She had used it to cushion her from the blow while also keeping herself attached. Using her Ability, Winona formed four spears of stone on the side of her. She launched them with great speed at Liz, who seemed to use her own Ability to teleport out of the way. The spears struck each other, failing to make a blow.

Liz appeared back on the ground, brushing off the sand from her clothes. “Gotta be careful—don’t want you to manipulate the stuff that gets on my clothes—”

Feeling a sudden warmth, Liz turned toward Faith. Without hesitation, Faith had formed a mighty flame, which was heading directly for her. Once again, Teleleap was too quick, and managed to get Liz out of the way.

“I’m so proud of you, Faith! You’ve finally got those flames down!”

“Heh—thanks. It’s not as easy as it looks, though—”

Faith motioned her hands, like she was grabbing directly onto the flame. She whipped it at Liz, who evaded the move just as easily as before. Continuing to move the flame around, Faith attempted to strike Liz, yet was unable to, as she approached the girl cautiously with her Teleleap.

“Dammit! This flame is—”

“You’re putting too much effort into using your Ability, Faith.”

Liz had finally appeared behind Faith, holding onto her shoulder. Faith’s flame slowly diminished, while her fear took over.

“You’ve put so much focus into learning how to control your Ability, you’ve forgotten all that training you’ve done over the years. You know how to fight. An Ability shouldn’t slow you down.

Clenching her fist, flames erupted from Faith. Liz managed to teleport away from her just before she was caught.

“I know I’m focusing too much on my Ability.” Faith stated, as the flames surrounding her faded away. “That’s what I need to do right now. I’ll make sure I’ve got this Ability on a leash once I’m done with it!”

“You can form the flames around your body, huh?” Liz commented. “I’m gonna have to be careful making physical contact with—”

Liz teleported out of the way just in time, as a giant rock nearly missed crushing her.

“Winona’s back up to bat, huh?” Liz looked up toward the ceiling, expecting to see Winona sending a rainfall of stones down on her. Yet, she was not there. A second rock flew toward her—evading the technique for a second time helped Liz figured out Winona’s location.

“The city!?”

Winona stood in the window of one of the tall buildings. Using the stone from the structure, she shot toward Liz and Faith’s location. Multiple rocks were now heading directly at Liz.

“Damn, how’s her aim so good!?” Liz dodged the incoming stones, dancing around the field with her Teleleap. Thanks to her teammate’s accuracy, Faith took this time to move back while Liz remained preoccupied.

“I’m gonna have to leap over there to stop this. To think, she has this much strength with her Ability already!? It’s fine—I can use these rocks as stepping-stones, so the trip shouldn’t be too straining—”

A rock that had just missed Liz exploded, revealing Winona hidden inside.

“How did you…!?”

“Recklessness.”

Winona formed her hand into a fist. With that simple movement, all of the stone that she had scattered about gathered with lightning speed, striking Liz. The impact shook the entire room, knocking Winona and Faith off their feet.

 

“What… was that…?” Brandon stood up, having been knocked into the front of the mountain area. “Was I… Did I lose consciousness from that?” He looked at the trees in front of him, having been torn to shreds.

“I.. must have. It was only for a few moments I think, but… Dammit! I can’t keep getting tossed around like this!”

Paul suddenly appeared, flying directly toward him. Before they collided, Paul managed to do a flip in the air, barely missing his teammate. He even landed on his feet, with his eyes focused forward.

“Oh, good. You’re okay.” Paul sighed, both in relief and exhaustion. “Charlie’s giving me quite a lot of trouble.”

Before Brandon could ask how, Charlie emerged from the forest. He had wrapped the metal from his sword around his body, forming what appeared to be spider-like legs, which he was currently using to move around.

“Why the hell did you make your sword turn into that!?

“Why not? It helps me traverse through the trees easier. You should also be creative whenever you can—I believe.”

Charlie moved his hand, causing the legs to rise from the ground, proceeding to jab at Brandon and Paul. The two managed to avoid Charlie’s strikes—Brandon with his Shepherd Surge’s influence on his reaction time and Paul with his Sensory Swap.

As Charlie formed more legs, it was clear to them that they were becoming cornered quickly. The metal struck the ground multiple times, attempting to land a blow on them as they continued to evade. They moved into the mountainous terrain, using the stone surrounding them as cover.

Yet, Charlie easily slashed their defense apart, forcing them to continue to move. Brandon picked up a rock from the debris, and chucked it with great force. His aim was fantastic, flying directly at Charlie despite the commotion he was causing. It didn’t do much, as Charlie formed a slab of metal in front of himself with little effort.

“Brandon, I’m impressed, honestly. You have lots of strong points, yet you lack key fundamentals for surviving a fight!”

Charlie stabbed at the ground, focusing several legs on a single point. The impact was right in front of where Brandon was standing—the force sending him flying into a rock wall nearby.

Paul retaliated by jumping toward Charlie. As a leg aimed at him, Paul maneuvered in the air, landing on it. He slid on the leg, getting closer to Charlie himself. With simple manipulation, Charlie caused the leg to crumble apart, leaving Paul wide open.

With another leg heading right at him, Paul used his blade to smack the side of the appendage, moving him out of the way. Landing on the ground, he noticed Brandon moving out of the corner of his eye.

“There you go. You got back up already.”

As lighting shot of his body, Brandon dashed forward, flying by Paul and heading toward Charlie. Charlie sent more legs raining down on the boy, yet Brandon was capable of barely avoiding each and every one of them.

“Even if I’m in a place I know nothing about… I chose to be here. I have to keep moving forward!”

With a burst of powerful electricity, Brandon soared—kicking through several of Charlie’s metal legs with his power.

“I-I did it…! I did the thing again—” Brandon fell onto the ground, rolling multiple times due to losing his focus.

Despite losing several legs, Charlie restored them quickly, preventing him from falling over.

“I see… So that’s what you’re capable of.” Charlie smiled. “You’ve surpassed my expectations, honestly. Not bad, kid.” He raised all the metal around him, with the exception of two legs to keep his balance.

“I’ll be nice and let you turn in early, Brandon. As a veteran of the battlefield, I would feel bad for a newbie to deal with so much in one fight. I’ll be sure to keep testing Paul once you’re knocked out, though.”

Descending from above, Charlie aimed multiple legs directly at Brandon. Preparing to dodge, he quickly understood the gravity of the situation.

“They’re too fast… I can’t—”

By instinct, Brandon raised his hands in front of himself to guard against the attack. A surge of electricity erupted from them, blocking Charlie’s metal from coming into contact with him.

Paul cheered. “Nice, Brandon! See that, Charlie? Brandon’s not out of—”

Looking at his senior’s expression, Paul grew incredibly concerned.

“Charlie… Why does he look absolutely petrified?”

Charlie gulped—his eyes wide with fear.

“This entire time… I’ve taken into account his electricity. I changed the properties of the metal, to make sure it wouldn’t be magnetic. Yet… Brandon… How are you defying that…? How are you magnetizing my metal…!?”


Next: Chapter 2.17

Previous: Chapter 2.15

Volume 2