The next day, Jerry was in Adam’s living room with Brandon and Charlotte. There was a coffee table surrounded by two lounge chairs which were occupied by Brandon and Jerry, while a couch off to the side had Charlotte lying down fast asleep.
“Guess she does need lots of sleep, doesn’t she?” Brandon let out a yawn. “Well, I’m still exhausted myself.” He looked over at Jerry, who was typing away on a silver laptop in his lap. “So, what do we do now? A lot of this sounds crazy to me.”
“For now, we need to take care of Adam. He seems to be the center of all of this due to his World Mirror Ability. If only he had the energy to talk right now, he could tell us about what happened yesterday.”
“Yeah, those two dudes in the woods seemed to have Abilities as well. Ain’t it the law to go to Unity if you awaken one? I doubt they were Unity members. They weren’t even wearing those fancy coats.”
“Fancy? It’s just a black coat for normal members.”
“Well, they have lots of pockets!” Brandon sighed.
“Well, you’re right. That is what you’re supposed to do. Speaking of…” Jerry looked up from his laptop. “What are you gonna do now.”
Brandon was silent. He held up his hand. As if it was second nature to him, electricity started to form around it.
“If I’m gonna be honest, this is pretty kick ass. And I can even ditch the stupid sports and do this for a living, right!? How cool is that!?” Brandon paused. “The issue is… I don’t want to let down my dad. He’s always been cheering me on, so it wouldn’t feel right. Also…” Brandon looked off to the right, where there was a hallway that led to Adam’s room. “I know how he feels about all of this.”
“Well, he has a valid reason to feel that way. You’ve heard how you’re treated if you don’t follow orders. Yet on the other hand, if you’re discovered to have an Ability and you’re not in Unity, you’ll be arrested. Or worse.”
Brandon gulped. “I mean… Th-There’s something else going on here, like you said, with Adam. And her—”
As Brandon turned toward the couch, Charlotte was sitting upright, listening to the entire conversation. Brandon jumped at her blank expression.
“The whole business with Unity worries me,” Charlotte stated. “I believe, on our path to figuring this whole thing out, we may have to face that darkness.”
“Face that darkness? Do you mean like, fight them? But Faith and Emma’s mom is a member! And they’re gonna be soon as well. There’s no way we would fight them!”
“I can’t say for sure how things would occur if that event ever happens. I’m not sure of everything surrounding the organization as of right now. That’s why, if at all possible, I would like to keep these events a secret to your other friends.”
“B-But…” Brandon couldn’t seem to figure out what to say. He felt as though they should know what’s happening, especially with Adam involved.
“Adam cares a great deal about them, doesn't he? Especially Faith. To the degree that he would have normally gone against the logical decision of going to Jerry, the information source, to let them know. I believe the reason he hadn’t gone to them is that he wants to keep this away from them and to not get them wrapped up in this mess.”
“You know, for an ancient spirit girl thing, you sure talk a lot like most people do these days,” Brandon noted.
“That’s most likely due to my possession technique,” Charlotte explained. “I took over several people in my quest for knowledge. I gathered said knowledge by reading it directly from the person’s mind that I was possessing. I’m going to assume some traits people in modern times have slowly rubbed off on me.”
“I suppose that’s a good explanation.” Jerry entered back into the conversation. “Possession… I’m going to have to do some research on that later, that’s for sure! Man, ghosts are so cool!”
“I am, in fact, cold.” Charlotte put her hand on Brandon’s face, causing him to jump away from the sudden chill.
“Hey, watch it!”
“Charlotte, what are you going to do about your job at Ann’s?” Jerry asked.
“I put in my two weeks yesterday, yet… Well, after the commotion yesterday, I kind of told the manager that I had to quit right then and there.” Charlotte seemed somber. “I wish I didn’t do that to him, but… dealing with this is more important. I hope to make it up to him someday.”
“Man, it’s still freaky that we’re talking with a ghost right now. But honestly, I feel like that’s going to be the least freaky thing we’re going to have to deal with, ain’t that right?”
“Well, if you join us, that is,” Charlotte stated.
“I’ve… got some thinking to do.” Brandon sighed. “There are reasons I should be on both sides…”
“Well, while you’re thinking of that—” Jerry handed Brandon a piece of paper. “That should be the perfect drug for Adam to take. Head over to my dad’s office, and he’ll hook you up.”
“Why can’t you go?” Brandon asked in an annoyed tone. “As I said earlier, I’m still freaking exhausted!”
“I have college preparation and a database to break into. I’ve got my hands tied at the moment.”
“Well, why can’t Char—”
Brandon turned to point at Charlotte, yet she was sound asleep once again.
“Dammit…” Brandon stood up from the chair. “Well, Adam needs it, so you bet my ass I’m gonna go get it.”
“Good luck on your quest, Errand Boy Brandon.” Jerry saluted Brandon. “And make sure to keep your Ability under wraps.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Brandon put on his shoes and headed out the door.
Emma sat in the waiting room at the doctors. She furiously mashed buttons on her handheld gaming console, humming to the chiptune of the game she was playing.
“Is that Scarlet Sea Adventures? Man, that’s an old game.”
Roger Oaks was a friend of Emma’s who was here for an appointment as well. He looked over and adjusted his glasses to try to see her progress in the game.
“Wow, that’s gotta be one of those hidden bonus levels. I’ve never seen that one before.” Roger rustled his curly black hair as he attempted to remember the specifics of each level.
“Yeah, it took me a while to finally unlock it.” Emma sighed. “Now I can’t even beat it! That’s stupid eye thing keeps getting in my way!”
The door leading into the exam room opened up, as a tall man walked out. One could tell this way Jerry’s father, Thomas Peck, due to the identical spiky-hair. He pulled out a piece of paper from the lab coat he was wearing.
“Roswell. Emma Roswell. You’re up next, whoever you are.”
“Haha, very funny.” Emma sat up from her chair. “I really hope you know who I am at this point.”
“Yeah, joking isn’t something I’m that good at.” Thomas sighed. “Well, head on in whenever you’re ready.”
“Good luck, Emma! I know this is serious stuff for you.”
Emma turned to Roger and smiled. “Thanks. I know I do.” She held up the game she was playing in front of Roger. “Here, wanna try the level out while I’m in there?”
“Huh?” Roger was surprised. “But if you’re having trouble, I doubt I can do anything!”
Handing Roger the game, Emma walked over to the door. She looked back and grinned.
“It’s your turn now. You got this!”
Brandon was in the center of town now. He looked at the piece of paper to see what Jerry wrote on it.
“I’m not even gonna attempt to read what that says. Whoever named medicine like this, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”
Brandon looked up and saw Faith walking toward him. She was holding a single shopping bag from Ann’s.
“Oh! H-Hey Faith. How’s it going?”
“Just getting a few things while I wait for Emma at her appointment. What are you doing here?”
“I’m, uh…” Brandon realized that he currently could not tell Faith the truth. At least, the whole truth. Saying Adam was ill wouldn’t reveal anything about what’s been happening.
“Well, Adam’s got a fever. So Jerry’s getting me to go to his dad’s office to pick up some…” Brandon glanced at the piece of paper once again. “Whatever this stuff is.”
“Adam has a fever!?” Faith took out her phone in a rush, almost dropping it. “I did text him yesterday, but he never responded. So that’s why!?”
“Um, yes!” Brandon faked laughter. “That is a pretty good reason as to why he would not do that thing with his phone known as texting, yes!”
Faith handed her bag to Brandon. “Here, give this to Emma while getting the medicine. I’m gonna head over now.”
“W-Wait! He needs his rest.”
“Obviously, but someone needs to be there in case he needs anything!”
“But Jerry and uh—just… just Jerry is there already. Not another living soul.”
“Is everything okay? You’re acting kinda funny.”
“Hey, I’m a funny guy. Of course I’d act funny!”
“Crap, I can usually lie to someone easily! Why am I having so much difficulty with Faith!?”
Faith sighed. “Well, I just hope you’re not catching something as well. I’ll see you over there in a bit!” She waved to Brandon and took off in the direction of Adam’s house.
“Uh… I’m not sure if this is bad or not. Crap, it is! If she goes over there, she’ll see Charlotte, and the whole thing will start to unweave at that point!”
Brandon took out his phone and called Jerry. After a few seconds, he got an answer.
“Listen, dude. I know you can be bad with directions, but my dad’s place is where we all go to—”
“No, not that! Faith’s on her way there! It could be bad if she sees Charlotte. The whole thing will start to unweave!”
“It’s not that big of an issue.”
“It is! We hang out with Faith and them all the time! She has no clue we’re now in cahoots with Charlotte! She’ll question why she’s there, and then it’ll all unweave, dude! Faith will get involved, then Emma will, then their mom, probably Winona! It’ll be trouble if they are, that’s what was discussed earlier, right!? What are we gonna—”
“Are you good!?”
Brandon paused. After a moment, he let out a huge sigh.
“No, it feels like my mind’s racing all over the place.”
“Well, maybe that’s your new, uh… The thing I can’t say on the phone, just for safety precautions. It might be juicing up your mind? I’m not sure, just a theory. Anyway, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. See ya.”
Jerry hung up the phone. Brandon put his back in his pocket. He tried to catch his breath while glancing around. It seemed as nobody saw his freak out.
“All right, well… Jerry I can trust to keep things under control. For now, gotta get this medicine!” As he began to walk toward his destination, innocent curiosity struck him.
“Wonder what Faith was shopping for? Food, I bet?”
Brandon peered into the bag he held. After a moment, he realized what was inside. His face went pale as he began to laugh nervously.
“Th-Th-Th-Tha-that’s not food.”
Emma sat in the office with Thomas. She had her shirt removed so that her front was covered, yet her back was bare, showing a massive scar that went from the top to the bottom of her spine.
Thomas held a handheld device capable of scanning the inside of a person, almost like an x-ray. Yet this device was made using phantonic technology and could get a reading of how things looked based on the phantons within a person, and how they circulated around the body.
Thomas pressed the scanner up to Emma’s back, starting to carefully move it around. He had a laptop off to the side which monitored the process.
“That’s good. I know we had that issue for a while where it hurt whenever it was touched.”
Emma remained silent throughout the process. After a few minutes, Thomas was already finished with the scan.
“All right, very good. No issues. That’s the Miracle Girl for you.”
Emma sighed as she got herself dressed. “Seriously, what a stupid nickname.”
Thomas chuckled. “Well, nobody ever expected a spine to be completely rebuilt like that. Even with the advances the last decade, it’s still nearly impossible.”
“Well, they should seriously work on that. I know there’s a lot of people out there who could use this kind of thing.”
Thomas began writing notes on a piece of paper. “Well, that whole incident involving that fire was bizarre. Although, with all that happened afterward, it was probably one of the more normal occurrences.”
Emma stood up, thinking of the events that led her to obtain her scar.
“I know the exact part of the house that fell on me. It hurt so much. I thought my fragile little body was gonna be split in half. Somehow, the house got fixed. My body didn’t. I thought I wouldn’t be able to have a normal life. Yet somehow, here I am.”
Thomas tapped his pen on the desk. “Well, if you are gonna go into Unity, there is the obvious problem that remains.” He turned toward Emma.
“If you end up awakening an Ability someday, it might affect how your artificial spine works. I’m sure your mother has talked to you about it.”
Emma nodded. Thomas got another piece of paper and began drawing on it.
“The artificial metal created known as phantonite. It was named that due to how it interacts with phantons, and can even change its shape. I’m sure you not only learned that in school but with your Unity training as well. As you know, most weapons used are created with phantonite.”
Thomas has drawn a sword on the left side of the paper, while he worked on a spine on the right side.
“With your spine, we did some tweaking with phantonite to reform it. A lot went into its design, and miraculously it worked out. We ran into an issue pretty quickly, however.”
Emma stretched her body. “My own phantons interfering with it.”
“Yeah. We had to come up with a little shell around your spine that would prevent interference. It was… very tricky. But we managed. Now, the only issue you seem to have at this point is a little discomfort during thunderstorms, right?”
“Freaking hate electricity,” Emma stated. Thomas snickered at her response.
“So, if you go without unlocking an Ability, you’ll probably be fine. However, if that happens, we’ll have to re-examine that shell and do some major modifications, since unlocking an Ability makes a drastic change in phantonic activity.” Thomas was stern in his expression.
“I can’t promise you that things will go as well this time around. It’s sensitive stuff to deal with.”
Emma smiled. “Well, if it ever happens—” She flexed her arm as the smile turned into a huge grin. “I’ll just face whatever becomes of it!”
Thomas seemed content with Emma’s response. “You definitely have optimism. You get that from your mother—actually, no. More so from your father.”
“Well, I remember him being so charismatic. I can’t believe my mom married a guy like that. But still, I miss him…” Emma walked over toward the exit and leaned her back against it.
“Faith and I know how Unity is. Our mom has shared all of that with us. But still, it’s an opportunity to make things right at the same time. We both want to go through with it and protect everything special to us.” She nodded.
“That’s why I’ll face whatever happens, as I said. Even if I lose any means of mobility, I still won’t give up!”
Outside in the waiting room, Roger held his hand up in concern.
“Hey, Brandon? I don’t think you should eavesdrop…”
Brandon remained silent, looking down with his head pressed against the door.