Three days had passed. Adam’s friends had frequented his house each day, simultaneously hanging out and taking care of him. His strange mental state had stayed most of the time, yet had finally started to subside the morning of July 3rd.
Charlotte walked into Adam’s house, literally. She phased through the front door without even bothering to open it. Jerry sat in the same chair with his laptop, yet had notes scattered all over the living room.
“What’s up with this mess?” Charlotte asked, picking up a piece of paper that she stepped on.
“Well, over on that side of the room are notes for college prep. Think the stuff closer to me are lists with the code I’ve been trying to get to work. I’m trying to create my own hacking software, and it's a pain. Freaking code always is.”
Charlotte nodded, not having a clue what Jerry meant by “code” and “hacking software,” although she feels like it could have been something she crossed while possessing people.
“Have you used any of your magical devices to locate what I’ve been investigating?”
“It’s not magic,” Jerry chuckled. “And, yeah. I used some stuff at home, but I can’t figure out what could be causing this strange feeling you’ve been, well, feeling.”
Charlotte fidgeted. “I can’t tell where it’s coming from. It’s either in Prelude or somewhere very close. Something feels like it’s… opening up? Something bad.”
Jerry and Charlotte heard footsteps coming from the hallway.
“It’s probably that seal nonsense.”
Adam stepped into the living room, actually seeming lively.
“Now we’re talking about a seal? The animal? What did the seal do to you, Adam?” Jerry asked in a mocking tone. “Did he steal from your secret stash of blue apples? I don’t think there are any blue apples—”
“No, dude. I'm serious. I’m feeling better, finally.” Adam sighed.
“Well, your voice doesn’t sound as bad now. Glad to have you back.” Jerry smiled. Charlotte walked up to Adam, placing her hand on his forehead.
“It seems he is better. Good. We can start discussing the event with those two men.”
Adam moved Charlotte’s hand away, even though the cold felt nice to him. He walked over and sat down the couch, moving some papers out of the way.
“Yeah. I hate that I was so out of it the last few days. Is it an overuse of the World Mirror?” Adam looked down at his hands. “I did go all out. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever ‘gone all out’ with anything in my life.”
Charlotte nodded. “Even though your body is now capable of regenerating to a degree, it’s still feeble on its own. Using a power like that can only go so far before there are repercussions. The fever you obtained seemed to be one of those repercussions.”
“I seemed… to be saying some weird things?” Adam looked at Jerry. “Blue apples? Wonder what they would taste like?”
“Anyway, you’re better now. We wanna hear about what happened.” Jerry requested.
“Wait… Where’s Brandon? Is he okay!?” Adam stood up in a panic. Charlotte walked over and calmed Adam down. He slowly sat back down.
Jerry seemed confused. “Yeah, he is? You really don’t remember anything that happened these last few days? Anything… come to mind?”
Adam shrugged. “I mean, I guess if he’s okay… Wait, what’s that look for?” He analyzed the face Jerry was making. It was as if he was trying his best to hold back laughter. Adam turned to Charlotte, who had a small blush on her face.
“It was an entertaining few days, that’s for sure.” Charlotte turned and walked into the kitchen.
“Just… approach Brandon carefully. It may take him a bit to recover.” Jerry finally erupted in laughter.
“What the hell happen—”
“Anyway,” Jerry interrupted, wiping a tear from his eye. “This seal?”
“Uh… Yeah, sure.” Adam sighed. “The two of them were talking about some kind of seal. They seemed to have some kind of device monitoring it? Apparently, they learned throughout our fight that my power seemed to be affecting it in some way. In fact, that’s how they found me. I was stupid to test out my power in the woods.”
“You mean, you figured out how to use it?” Charlotte asked curiously, yelling from the other room.
“Not really,” Adam moved his hand around in an odd fashion. “All I know is the more damage I take, the more my body heals. Thus, more power comes out. I was running and jumping around like crazy.”
“That seems to be a very sloppy and dangerous way to use it,” Charlotte commented, walking back in with a cup of coffee. She placed it on the table in front of Adam. “There’s no way that’ll help in the long run, especially if you get sick every time you overuse it.”
“You’ll have to think of some other way to get it to work.” Jerry expressed with concern. “I’m not a fan of you having to use the Ability like that.”
“I’m not sure how…” Adam cracked his fingers, seeing if that alone would do anything.
“That’s what I’m here for,” Charlotte stated. “I’m not sure if you remember, but Brandon now has an Ability as well. I want to help you two learn how to use them.”
“He… has one?” Adam held his head, trying to remember the end of the conflict. “What happened to those two anyway?”
“I knocked them out, but we’re not sure if they were found or not.” Charlotte shrugged. “Don’t worry about them, I’m here in case they decide to show up.”
“I’m not worried about that. Besides… Fighting that guy, Derek. I felt like… there wasn’t any malice behind his fists. He struggled to bring himself to hurt me. He even said he didn’t want to. Yet, I went all crazy. I feel like I forced his hand.”
“Well, we’ll figure out what they were after, good or evil.” Jerry seemed to be typing faster than usual. “They had a device that could monitor this… seal? Charlotte, do you think that’s what you’ve been feeling?”
Charlotte nodded. “A seal… It could be a possibility. Although… I feel like when it comes to a seal of any kind, if it’s placed anywhere in nature, it should have a concrete source. This one, I can’t seem to find.”
Jerry raised his finger. “Remember what I told you. Try your best to pay attention when knowledge like that pops up in your mind. It could help us try to figure out what you’ve forgotten.”
Adam was sipping at the coffee, taking in the aroma. “Charlotte, did you make this?”
“Yeah, Jerry taught me how to.” Charlotte laughed. “I’m pretty sure I wasn’t making coffee hundreds of years ago.”
“It’s good,” Adam commented, putting the cup down. “But… Brandon. What’s he going to do? If he awakened an Ability, I’d rather he just go to Unity and not get mixed up in all of this.”
“He’s struggling to figure things out.” Jerry put the laptop down and stood up, stretching. “For now, he’s going to at least do the training with you and Charlotte.”
Adam clenched his fist. “Either way… An Ability is not a good thing to have. And how are we supposed to train? Me being outside is what led those two to me in the first place. It’s dangerous to use them out there.”
Jerry chuckled, almost like a supervillain. “Leave it to me.” He pointed all around the room. “Charlotte said that this room would be large enough as long as we move the furniture. And I can install security cameras to keep an eye on things while you guys get down to it.”
“I—I guess that works? But what if my dad comes ba—” Adam paused. “...He probably won’t. But, just in case?”
“I’ll still keep an eye out, even for him,” Jerry reassured his friend with a smile.
“Do you have some kind of ill-will toward your father?” Charlotte asked. “I noted a strange tone in your voice when you spoke of him.”
Adam sighed. “Honestly, I don’t know. I’d rather just not think about him.”
“Well, that doesn’t sound like it’s on the positive side. I figured as such, from what I gathered before. Oh well, we won’t discuss it.” Charlotte tapped the side of the couch. “Once you’re ready, the training will begin. You’ll start by moving all the furniture into the hallway.”
“If I strain myself, what will we do about the World Mirror?” Adam asked. Charlotte walked over and placed her hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t worry. I’ll help you control it.”
“If you say so…” Adam took another sip of his coffee. The front door suddenly swung wide open with Brandon stumbling inside.
“Y-You guys have no idea how difficult it is to hide your Ability during prac—” Brandon’s gaze met Adam’s. His face became immediately flustered.
Adam sighed. “What did I do? I’m better now, so I’ll apologize for anything weird Sick Adam did.”
“No…” Brandon shook his head. “The events that transpired on the night of July 1st shall never be discussed!” He pointed to Jerry and Charlotte. “You two are the only other ones who know what happened. It does not leave this room, got it!?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Jerry laughed. Adam sat there in confusion. After a moment, he figured it wasn’t worth stressing over, whatever it was.
Winona took a stroll around the garden in her backyard. Daisies, daffodils, peonies, tulips, pansies, and petunias were a few flowers out of the wide variety that the garden held.
She had put a lot of effort into growing everything over the last six years with her father. It was an important place for her, and she took extra care to make sure it wasn’t ruined.
Winona leaned over a spot where a few sunflowers were growing. They seemed to be one of the only plants that were struggling for some reason. She put her hand on the ground in front of the flowers, as she closed her eyes.
“The soil seems… Yeah, the soil is fine. It must be something else.” She stood up and gazed around at the colorful display surrounding her.
“I’ve used my Ability to alter the soil here. The plants help each other grow, and at the same time, do not hinder each other. That’s the network I’ve been working on for years now. I’ll have to think of what could be causing this.”
Winona felt the vibrations of footsteps through the ground. Her Ability to alter the earth came with this extra sense, although it was one she had only recently begun developing. Turning toward the source, her eyes widened in shock and excitement.
“Cynthia!” Winona ran up to her older sister and embraced her, burying her face in her heavy black coat, taking care not to rub against the cerulean pin shaped like a “U” which indicated her status as a member of Unity.
“Hey, Win. It’s been a while.” Cynthia took off the sunglasses she was wearing and looked down at her younger sister with warm brown eyes.
“You’re wearing this thing even though it’s summer!? It’s not… something forced, right?” Winona asked in a worried tone.
“Nah, don’t worry about that. I actually wear the heavier version of this thing for a reason. It’s to constantly train with my Ability.” Cynthia pointed at her leg, which had air slowly flowing out through the bottom of her black jeans.
“What I learned recently is that I’m actually capable of manipulating vectors themselves. However, it’s just with whatever comes into contact with my legs and feet. I’m able to cool myself off by forming a light breeze that I send upward. Kinda like a fan coming from my legs… if that makes sense?”
Winona bent down and analyzed her sister’s power. “And here I thought you just made your legs stronger so you can kick everything. That’s… a lot more complex than I would have thought it to be.”
Cynthia nodded. “Yeah, it’s confusing. But I’m coming up with a lot of cool techniques with this knowledge. Anyway, I heard you’ve been working on some new tricks yourself? Can I see?”
“Sure! Umm…” Winona led her sister a few steps away from the plants. “Sorry, I just don’t want them to get damaged.”
“Oh, right! That makes sense!” Cynthia chucked awkwardly, scratching her head. “Anyway, what do ya got?”
Winona closed her hand and moved it as if she was mixing something inside of it. She opened it to reveal a small stone had appeared.
“Can you form earth out of nothing now!? That’s a remarkable skill!” Cynthia raved.
Winona giggled. “It’s nothing like that. Take a look!” Winona raised her hand in the air. Cynthia noticed multiple stones seeming to form out of nowhere, hovering above the two sisters.
“I place my phantonic energy inside the earth, and it lets me manipulate it, as you know. What I’ve been doing is attempting to have tiny particles of dirt that are just naked to the human eye floating around me. When I want to, I can mold them together and form rocks, which I can use on the fly.”
Cynthia’s face lit up. “That’ll help when you have no source of earth underneath you to use! If that scenario ever happens. I’m assuming it’s not too taxing on your energy?”
Winona shook her head. “Nope, it actually ended up being pretty easy once I got it figured out. Lifting up and manipulating a lot of dirt in the air, however, is too much strain on my body. My limit of what I keep around me is about half of my weight.”
Cynthia smirked, stretching out her body. “I wanna see what you can do. Give me your best shot!”
“W-What!? That came out of nowhere!” Winona was flustered. “Besides, we can’t do that here! The gard—”
“Winona.” Cynthia interrupted in a serious tone. With a single word, the entire mood in the air took a complete turn. “Enough worrying about the garden. I don’t want you to hold back. Throw everything you’ve got at me. Can you do that? Not worry about the garden, and trust your sister?”
The way Cynthia spoke to Winona gave her an uneasy feeling. This uneasiness did not come from her sister, however. It came from the anxiety within herself, and the obsession she had with keeping the garden safe.
“Is… Is that your angle?” Winona took a step back. “Seriously?”
“You’re moving to Nexus City to join Unity soon. You won’t have time to worry about this garden. There are many more things you need to focus on. I won’t let my little sister get stepped on by the harshness you… have to deal with.”
There was a strain in Cynthia’s voice. The happy reunion that had been occurring was already long gone.
“Dad… got hurt during that incident… I wanted to stay by his side, as you do now. And… I wanted to make sure mom wasn’t too stressed out and that the three of you were happy. When I got to your age, I was dragged out of here against my own will. My desire to remain here tore things apart.” Cynthia’s voice was shaking at this point.
“They… would have killed me. I had skill with my Ability, but I was expendable. Dad was able to calm them down… But, those Brown Suits, they destroyed the entire garden. We put our heart and soul in that garden, as a family. And they just destroyed everything.”
Winona had tears in her eyes. “Sis… I…”
Cynthia took a step forward. As her foot touched the ground, a massive gust of wind was created. The sisters stood in the center of the small tornado that formed, consuming the garden. Petals from the flowers merged with the twister, creating a vibrant display of color that in any other situation would be breathtaking.
“What… are you… doing!?” Winona stomped her foot, causing her Ability to activate, merging with the earth. Pillars of stone rose up and were directed toward Cynthia’s direction. With a simple twist of her foot that she had just used, Cynthia shattered the ground apart with her own Ability, stopping Winona’s attack instantly.
“Introducing you to the world you’re about to step in. Winona, take all those emotions you placed in this garden and use them to power yourself. Fight through all the bullshit we have to deal with as people with Abilities!”
Winona, in her fury, understood what her sister was doing. She always worried about how her sister was, and expected Cynthia to be holding this much within herself. It didn’t dawn on her that this is how she would open up about things.
Yet, Winona was thankful. Her sister’s rampage started to tear down the walls that were holding the two back. She had to fight back, it was something the sisters could only communicate via their Abilities, the very things that had cursed them.
Winona still had the stone from before in her hand. She noted that aside from obviously not being capable of attacking from the ground, the wind disrupted the particles she kept around her in the air. All she had was what was she currently held, as she trembled in simultaneous anger and fear.
“No.” A simple word echoed in her head. She put everything she had into this soil beneath their feet. Everything. She could still use it.
Winona molded the stone into a sharp shape. She threw it swiftly toward Cynthia, who had predicted the attack. Adjusting her footing, she changed the direction of the wind, altering the path of the stone.
That was perfect for Winona. As she moved her foot, she raised up the earth below her, despite it being torn to shreds. It could not stand up to the wind and fell apart. Cynthia assumed that her sister was expecting to hit her with the earth as she focused on deflecting the stone in the air.
This was not what Winona was planning, however.
Her energy had merged with the collapsing dirt and was now capable of being manipulated. Taking advantage of the change in wind direction, Winona focused the dirt toward the very stone she had just thrown. As if the stone was a magnet, the earth collected around it, spiraling with ferocious power.
Winona stated a minute ago that moving substantial amounts of dirt strained her body, yet it wasn’t impossible. As the stone gained weight, Winona could force it against the wind. She brought the trajectory back toward Cynthia.
Cynthia changed the direction of the wind again, causing the petals surrounding them to blanket the two. The sisters could not see each other, yet continued to battle. Winona manipulating the heavy stone toward where her sister was, and Cynthia trying to push it away.
It was faint, and barely recognizable as the ground was messed up, yet Winona sensed how Cynthia’s footing was. That was the key: Cynthia’s footing. She had to keep that to keep her Ability working correctly.
Pushing her body with all her might, Winona forced the stone through the heavy gales. Eventually, it happened. Cynthia had no choice but to move, as she could not keep the stone held back. Winona felt this and took action.
With all of her might, the younger sister sent a wave of stones that were deep underground at her sister, slicing right through the petals. Cynthia was aware of what was happening.
Just in the nick of time, Cynthia put her foot right up against the mass of stone heading toward her, breaking her sister’s attack apart once again.
Winona gave one last push. With the wind currently not an issue for her Ability, she used her energy that was within the crumbled earth. Remains of the attack that was just destroyed buffeted Cynthia, knocking her onto the ground. At the same time, the pressure was too much on Winona’s body, and she collapsed.
Moments later, Cynthia stood up, her body stinging from her sister’s last resort attack. She looked over to see Winona attempting to stand as well, yet encountered difficulty in doing so.
Cynthia ran to her sister and helped her sit up. Winona was barely conscious, yet reacted as Cynthia embraced her.
“Cynthia… You know, we could have just talked it out like normal sisters?”
The older sister shook her head. “Words… Words don’t make it as far as you would hope. I felt like I had to communicate with you through action. Is that just my messed up mind after doing this thing for over half a decade?”
Winona squeezed Cynthia hard, who winced at the pain she felt. Yet, she accepted it.
“No matter what has happened, or what will happen, I’ll be there for you now. In any way I can. Even if we wind up in the center of hell, we’ll fight for each other. That’s what sisters do, right?”
Cynthia had tears rolling down her cheeks now. She attempted to form a response for her sister, yet nothing but sobs came out. Winona patted her head, holding her as close as physically possible.
“What kind of things have been happening? And… what am I getting myself into?”