Adam stood his ground, raising his fists.
“Hey, hey! I kinda like this guy! Let me scuffle with him—” Chris was interrupted by Derek, who shoved the tablet in his face.
“Watch that. Make sure you can confirm the seal’s weakening.”
Chris sighed. “All right, all right.”
Derek began to stretch, showcasing his muscular figure; a complete contrast to Adam’s. He questioned if he could handle this guy, let alone Chris, the one who already displayed the power of his Ability.
Adam assumed Derek had an Ability as well. The suspense was eating away at him, despite the confidence he exhibited moments prior. He also had to rely on the World Mirror for this, something that was still mainly uncharted territory.
“I’ll try to knock you out quickly. I’m sorry about this, but we don’t have a choice.”
Adam smirked. “You actually do have a choice. Both of you can turn around and leave. I’ve already had loads and loads of crap happen within the past twenty-four hours; I don’t need anymore. Apparently, I now have some kind of seal I need to investigate as well?”
Adam leaped forward, ready to strike at Derek with his fist.
“Just let me go home and take a damn nap!”
Derek raised his hand. The very next moment, Adam found his chest to be in agonizing pain. Derek had hit Adam with a powerful punch, one that went completely undetected. Adam was already several yards away, lying up against a tree when he was aware of what happened.
“It…” Adam was coughing uncontrollably. “Hurts… warm…” Blood had begun to gush out of his mouth, falling down into his lap and onto the ground.
“You’ll die with an injury like that,” Derek claimed. “We have the means to fix you up, however. That’s a pretty good reason to come with us, don’t you think?”
“Dang, Derek! You messed him up real good!” Chris was fired up. Derek glanced back in his direction.
“Any readings? Regardless of what his Ability is, we need to see how it affects the seal.”
Chris chuckled. “Well, you’re not really giving him much opportunity to use the Ability.”
“I assumed him attacking me meant that he was using it. It’s unwise to go against an unknown enemy holding back.”
“Hah! You hypocrite! You’re definitely holding back! I know a real hit from you would have destroyed his entire body!”
“We need him to weaken the seal, so of course I can’t kill him.”
“But still, that totally goes against what you just said! He’s obviously considered an unknown enemy to us as well!”
“Chris, I’m not in the mood for your-”
A gust of wind interrupted the two. Both of the men turned toward Adam, who was enveloped in the white aura of the World Mirror. A loud sizzle could be heard from his chest area as his injury was quickly healed.
“Why… am I always bleeding in these goddamn woods!?”
Derek felt a sinister force, putting up his guard in reaction. A loud beeping noise could be heard from the tablet Chris was holding.
“Hey, hey. Derek. It’s doing something!”
“Good.” Derek positioned himself, ready to charge ahead. “If you’re willing to drag this out, then you might as well break the seal now. It’ll save us a lot of trouble! And, it seems you can heal your injuries. In that case...”
Adam braced himself, ready for the next attack. This was a futile effort, as Derek struck Adam for the second time in the side of the head. The boy's body spun around multiple times before crashing into the tree behind him, wood scattering as if a bomb was set off.
All of Adam’s senses seemed to be shut off now. There was nothing except a vast emptiness in front of him. This void was familiar; he had been here before.
“Am I dying again?” Adam asked himself. His voice echoed in his head.
“It figures Faith was only delaying the inevitable. I was meant to die in these woods, wasn’t I?”
“It’s getting cold again…”
“I like the cold. It’s so… calming…”
“Just a beautiful sleep in a beautiful void. That’s all I want.”
“I remember… something… Fai… who? Who was that?”
“Someone… was here before…”
“They had something… something…”
“It was… warm?”
“I like the warmth. It’s so… calming…”
“F… f… fire…”
“F… fire… Fai…”
“I remember. Of course, I remember.”
Adam’s vision filled with light. His first instinct was to believe that Faith had returned for a second time to save him. This light was different, however. A moment passed before he recognized it.”
“World Mirror. That’s your light, right?”
The light didn’t respond.
“Not talking, eh? Well, that’s fine. Anyway, what are you? I’d really like to figure that out. Can’t do that if I’m dead… living… right.” Adam smiled.
“Ever since those events so long ago, I had a goal. A goal that… I couldn’t get to. I was weak. It frustrated me. That frustration dug me down deeper and deeper until I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to live in a world where they could suffer so harshly. It was cowardly of me.” Adam took a long pause.
“When it happened… and Faith saved me… her Ability awakening… that flame she cast was so warm. The warmth reminded me of those memories from our childhood. Those days were robbed from us… I tried so desperately to get them back. It worked for a while—although it exhausted me. As I grew, I saw more and more of the ugliness of the world.” The light was getting closer to Adam as he spoke.
“They grew as well. Life opened up different paths for them; paths that I couldn’t take myself. I didn’t have the energy to move in any direction; I just stood there, drowning in my own loneliness. Although Faith saved me, I was still in that same spot. Then you came along, World Mirror.”
Adam raised his hand, almost touching the light of the World Mirror. “You’re pretty stupid, manifesting inside me. Whatever purpose you have, you’ll have to deal with me and my nonsense. Example: I’m talking to a giant light thinking it’ll respond to me. That’s pretty crazy, don’t you think?”
The World Mirror enveloped Adam, who started laughing maniacally.
“No more filter.”
Adam was conscious again. The World Mirror lit up the entire woods; trees sent flying much like the night before. His body was bloody, yet the wounds had been erased as usual.
“Well, glad you didn’t kill him! But now we’ve got a bigger problem on our hands!” Chris yelled. “What the hell is that Ability!?”
Derek was astonished. “It’s strong, that’s for sure. Did we… stumble upon another source of power we could use?”
Adam took a step forward. The ghostly aura of the World Mirror circulated around him, much like a small tornado.
“I’m gonna beat you two and force info about this ‘seal’ shit out of you. Let’s make it quick; I have a nap to take and a world to tear up.”
Derek reacted just in time; blocking Adam’s charge into him. He held back Adam’s hands with his own; the force of the World Mirror pressuring him. Adam noticed something strange; Derek’s body seemed to have certain areas light up in a faint blue glow. Beginning with his legs, it also coursed through his arms. Both were able to simultaneously push the other away, causing a massive gust of wind to rise up from the center of where the two departed.
“I saw something that time,” Adam stated. “There’s some sort of blue energy flowing to certain parts of your body whenever you do to do something, isn’t that right?”
“How did… you see that?” Derek asked in a bewildered tone. “You said blue, right? That’s phantonic activity. Nobody with the naked eye could have seen it.”
Adam chuckled. “I’m just as confused as you are when it comes to all of this.” His arms sizzled, unaware that they broke during that exchange. “Now then, let’s see if that information means shit or not!”
Brandon had already returned from helping out his father. Walking up the door of Adam’s house, he tried to open it; no luck in doing so.
“That’s weird, he should have unlocked the door to go in, right? And he never leaves the thing locked when he’s home.” Brandon was confused. “Hey, Adam! Wanna open up!?” He pounded on the door, not even bothering with the doorbell, as he assumed Adam would be able to hear him.
“Adam! Open up! Adam! Hey… Adam?” Brandon finally decided to try the doorbell; anxiety welling up within him.
“This… calm, calm down, Brandon… he might just be on the toilet or something. There’s… no way it’s the same thing happening again, right?” Brandon started to breathe heavily, leaning up against the door.
“Should I have stayed to listen to him? It could have been serious… why didn’t I stay?” Brandon slapped his head, trying to calm down. “I gotta think positively, gotta-”
An intense rush of wind from the woods got Brandon’s attention. He looked over and saw the trees moving violently, some seemingly close to being uprooted.
Brandon didn’t hesitate; he ran toward the direction of the commotion. It’s something he felt he needed to do, as the worry for his friend seemed to shift that way.
Derek unleashed a flurry of punches and kicks, which Adam was finally able to see thanks to the blue aura he noticed. His body was quicker now; being able to move fast enough to avoid each attack. All the energy the World Mirror released to heal him seemed to now be boosting his physical capabilities.
With trees toppled over, Adam took the opportunity to use them as cover. This was futile, as Derek had to strength to smash them apart and the speed to instantly go for a second strike on Adam himself.
Derek was able to land a blow, breaking Adam’s left arm with ease. Adam rolled on the ground a few times before being able to come to a stop on his feet. Derek did not hesitate and charged at Adam; clenching his fist. Adam raised his right arm to guard against the punch; causing it to break as well. Derek did not take into account, however, that Adam can, in fact, heal rather rapidly. He immediately struck Derek in the face with an uppercut from his left fist.
Stumbling back a few feet, Derek regained his posture, wiping the blood that had appeared off of his face.
“You’re a lot better than I thought, kid. How long have you trained for?”
“Hah, remember I said I was just as confused as you were? I awakened this thing not even twenty-four hours ago!”
“That could explain why the seal hadn’t shown any signs of weakening up until last night… but, I was referring more along the lines of your fighting style. It’s sloppy, yet at the same time you can still keep up with me. You’ve had to have some kind of training.”
Adam chuckled. “Nah, haven’t had a day of training in my life!” He charged at Derek, who held him back.
“That’s not possible… who the hell are—” Derek was smacked back by a punch from Adam, which was followed up by an attempted kick. This time, Derek was able to successfully block the attack with his own kick, pushing Adam back a few feet.
“Adam Grayson! Tell the people you work for that I’m coming for them! I’ll tear down everything that messes with me!” Adam felt a surge of pain suddenly course through his head, grabbing it in response.
“Gah! Why am I going around spouting out my name like that!? I have to be careful…”
“Adam… Grayson?” Chris seemed surprised. “Yo, Derek. You don’t think…?”
“That might be a possibility. In which case, I’m not too sure what we should do now.” Derek pondered.
Adam lowered his hand from his head. “Screw it. I’ve already gone past the point of being careful.” He ran forward, getting back into the action.
Derek grabbed Adam’s arm as the man attempted to land a punch. He tossed Adam off to the side, who bounced off a downed tree. Adam was able to regain his posture rather swiftly. Derek charged at Adam, barely missing him as the World Mirror continued to grant the boy even more power.
Taking this opportunity, Derek took hold of the tree that Adam struck a second ago, swinging it around as easily as a baseball bat. Adam reacted just in time and was able to jump up in the air to avoid the attack. Derek repositioned himself and chucked the entire tree at Adam, the bottom that was covered in roots landing a direct blow.
At this point, Adam couldn’t even feel the pain he was taking in this fight. Putting all of his energy into his arms, the World Mirror aided him in smashing right through the tree. Aware that he was now armless, Adam tried to stomp down on Derek, who evaded just in time. Striking the ground, Adam caused a quake that rattled the area. At this point, the woods were far more damaged than the night before.
Trying to stand up, Adam realized that he broke his leg during the recent attack. Adam was noticing that his body could not keep up with the power that he was unleashing.
“You’re tearing your body up pretty badly. I can’t tell if you’re so desperate to survive that you’ll do anything, or you just want to die.” Derek commented.
Adam questioned the same thing himself.
“Yo, Derek! We’re making quite a scene! Pretty sure we’re gonna be getting attention pretty soon! Wanna finish this up?” Chris raised his hand. “I can always hit him if you want?”
“No need,” Derek responded. “I’ll finish this.” He clenched his fist, which alone was enough to cause a gust of wind to form. Adam noticed his phantonic activity in his arm was more intense than it had been the entire fight.
“Gonna wrap this up with one more punch, huh?” Adam unconsciously had his healing prioritized in his right arm, as it had healed a lot quicker than his left. He formed a fist, as he did something else unconsciously: use the World Mirror in the same fashion Derek was using his Ability.
“You wanna know something, Adam?” Derek took a step forward, as Adam did the same, his leg almost completely healed. “I get this sense of déjà vu from you. Like we’ve done this sort of thing before. I remember in school learning about the phenomenon in Phantonics: the theory that phantons can create ‘paths’ in reality, causing it to split into an unlimited amount of parallel universes.”
“Yeah, I know. Phantonics was the only science class I really cared for. Your point?” Adam and Derek were slowly approaching each other as they talked.
“There’s just the possibility of so many different events, different outcomes, different everything. And here we are, playing our roles in this universe, never knowing how it plays out in others.”
“I wouldn’t be concerned with the other universes right now,” Adam stated. “Worry about the right here and now!”
Derek smirked. “Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.”
Adam and Derek’s fists clashed, the sound echoing throughout the world they knew so little about.