Roy nervously knocked on the front door of the Roswell household, not even bothering with the doorbell. Emma opened the door, immediately disgusted at who had shown up at her home.
“Roy, I already told you I wasn’t interested in dating you. Coming to my house? Now that’s just—”
“No, this isn’t about that! Listen, your mom works for Unity, right?”
“Yeah? She’s not here right now. In fact, she’s not even at work, she’s—”
“Point is, you have connections, yes?”
Emma glared at the boy, who clearly in a panic. “What did you do? How did you get in trouble?”
“It’s not about me! Look—my boss at Ann’s just got arrested by those Brown Suit people. They’re a part of Unity, right? Some freaky lady was leading them, and they took him!”
“I know the Brown Suits are supposed to be keeping an eye on the town while my mother’s gone, but… arresting people? Unless it involves phantons or chaons in some way, Unity leaves normal arrests to the police.” Emma pondered the situation.
“They could be investigating what happened a week ago. Actually, I assume they would do that. But, what does the manager of Ann’s have to do with it? Charlotte worked there… C-could they be honing in on her!?”
“Listen, if they took him to the police station, I could probably get them to let us know what he’s there for, at least?”
“I already know why they took him—apparently he lied to them in their initial interview about what he saw that night!”
“He saw something? I didn't hear anything about that… I just assumed my mother was the one to report everything that happened in the woods. What did he see? Do you know?”
“I heard… something about a disgusting creature… and some girl saved him? And then they mentioned something about Charlotte—a girl who worked at the store up until recently. I tried my best to listen in without getting caught. Although I saw the whole thing go down.”
Emma bit her lip. “Shit! Charlotte was involved in this before the stuff in the woods, huh? Yeah, they’re definitely suspicious of her now! What do I do!?”
“Listen, I’m sorry about all the stuff with me asking you out a lot. You’re just hot and—damn that’s not the point! I just want to make sure the old guy’s all right!”
“Fine, fine. We can walk over there, and I’ll see what I can do. Also—if my looks are the only reason—then you’re definitely not dating me.” Emma sighed, walking into the house. “Let me grab my stuff.”
“Oh—whatever! Just hurry up! That freaky lady looked capable of ripping someone in half!”
“Roy—most of Unity is capable of doing that. I gotta see if I can figure anything out, or Charlotte’s in trouble…”
Emma and Roy were heading toward the police station a few minutes later, taking a shortcut on a dirt trail that led right to their destination, cutting right through where a small amount of the northern woods branched off into town.
“It’s a short walk from my house to the station in the first place, but we have this path here in case we have to get there quickly.”
“This would be a nice path to take a nice, romantic stroll on! Would definitely help in wooing a girl!” Roy shouted with enthusiasm.
“Cool—as long as you don’t think we’re on one right now.” Emma held her head in annoyance. “Man, you only really think of one thing, huh?”
“My momma wants grandkids, so I can’t let her down!”
“I’m sure that’s the main reason,” Emma responded sarcastically.
“Hey—someone’s over there—”
Roy pointed toward a creek that was coming up off to their left. A person stood knee-deep in the calm flowing water, looking around. Emma recognized them immediately.
“Yo, Roger! What’s up?”
“Oh—Emma, hey!” Roger waved at her, almost knocking a bucket over that sat next to him.
“Hunting for some crayfish again?” Emma leaned over next to the side of the creek, looking at the water below.
“Yeah! I haven’t done it in a while, and—is… is that Roy?” Roger noticed the boy who had been accompanying Emma.
“Huh? You’re that Roger kid in our grade, right? What the hell are you doing out here?” Roy asked in a rather rude tone.
“Don’t be rude, Roy! He likes to come out here to this creek and catch crayfish. I used to catch them as well—it’s actually pretty fun.”
“Y-Yeah—” Roger shyly nodded his head. “T-There really delicious when you cook them...”
“Is that right? Well, shit. Didn’t think something like that would be.” Roy scratched his head. “Anyway—come on, Emma. We gotta get to the station!”
“Is something wrong?” Roger asked, stepping out of the creek and onto land.
“Nothing,” Roy answered. “Don’t worry about it—”
“You wanna come with us?” Emma interrupted Roy with her question.
“Huh? Why the hell should he?”
“Roger’s going to school for Phantonic technology next year. Having him around is always a good idea in these situations.”
“I mean—I’m not sure if I can do too much with all these Brown Suit guys walking around, but I’ll come along. Can’t find any crayfish today anyway.” Roger sighed, tapping on his empty bucket.
“What would he even do? We’re just seeing if the old guy’s okay, right?” Roy seemed agitated.
“To be honest, I like having someone who actually understands the seriousness of this stuff with me,” Emma replied. “With the way you’ve been acting, I bet you think we can just bust him out of there? It’s not that simple.”
“I—I mean I’d like to do that. But let’s at least make sure he’s okay… seriously.”
Emma sighed. “Right. We will.”
The three began to walk—Roger carrying his bucked alongside him.
“Oh, Emma! When’s Brandon gonna be back from the Unity thing?”
“Hm? It’s gonna last for three days—if I recall. Why?”
“I beat that game he let me borrow. I just wanna make sure I get it back to him as soon as I can.”
“Huh?” Roy seemed interested, although not in the game. “Brandon? Do you mean Brandon Shepherd? You guys hang out with someone like him?”
“What do you mean ‘someone like him’?” Roger asked, curiously.
“You’ve heard all those rumors about him! Like, how he’s acted all creepy with the women's volleyball team and stuff? Sounds like someone you wouldn’t want to be around—”
“Roy.” Emma stopped walking, turning toward the boy. “I don’t like to judge someone based on rumors. From everything I’ve seen, after many years of knowing him, I know he’s not like that.”
“R-Right…” Roy looked down. “Damn… I’m not doing too well today when it comes to getting on your good side.”
“You can get on my good side by shutting your mouth.” Emma began to move once again. “Come on, let’s go.”
As she walked ahead, Roy stopped Roger before he could follow her.
“Can-Can I borrow that?” He pointed at Roger’s bucket.
“Huh? What for?”
“I just wanna wear it over my head for a bit.”
“I... just wanna hide from the world for a little bit.”
The trio arrived in front of the police station, which was swarming with Brown Suits. Several were patrolling the parking lot, along with circling the perimeter of the building.
“All right. You two stay back here by the road.” Emma requested.
“What!?” Roy yelled—his voice echoing with the bucket over his head. “We can’t go!?”
“Take that thing off—how were you able to even walk with that on? And there… are a lot more Brown Suits around than I thought there would be. I don’t want to risk getting you two caught up in anything. Don’t worry—I’ll be okay.”
Roy did as he was told, taking the bucket off. “How can you be sure?”
“Well—despite not having an Ability—I’m actually quite important to them.” Emma began to walk over to the front door. Roy attempted to stop her but was halted by Roger.
“She knows what she’s doing,” Roger assured him.
As Emma approached the Brown Suit guards in front of the main entrance, they did not have time to react to her, as the door swung wide open. Monica stepped out, pulling out a pack of cigarettes.
“Oh?” She let go of the lighter she was about to take out while putting the cigarettes back in her pocket. “I was about to come out here for a quick smoke, but I see we have ourselves an interesting visitor?”
Monica approached Emma, extending her hand. “Monica Teske. You’re Emma Roswell, correct? I’ve heard so much about you.”
“About me, or about my ‘Miracle Girl’ title?” Emma chuckled, shaking Monica’s hand in return.
“You should feel honored. Ever since they managed to get your spine to work, there have been all sorts of advances in both phantonic and medical fields.”
“I suppose that’s true. Anyway—I’m assuming you’re in charge here until my mother returns?”
“That’s correct. Sir Rizzo allowed me to command our fellow Brown Suits as they simultaneously protect the town and investigate the events that have recently transpired.” Monica giggled. “I’m curious as to why you’re here, seeing as though you know your mother is not.”
“I was just wondering—did you take the manager of Ann’s into custody earlier today?”
“That’s classified information—normally. However, seeing as though you took your time to come over here with your friends—” Monica glanced over Emma's shoulder to see Roy and Roger in the distance. “Oh, you even brought the boy who was hiding in the back of the store. I see—that’s how you found out. Yes, we did, indeed.”
“I’m in no position to say anything like ‘release him,’ especially since I assume you’re doing this for the sake of the investigation. However—I would like to know about his current well-being.”
Monica placed her hand on her chin. “Hmm… what to do? I really respect not only what you’ve gone through—but what your mother’s done for me. Should I lie—or should I tell the truth?”
“Well—you answered my first question. Why not answer this one as well?” Emma asked.
“I just have a feeling you won’t like my answer—that’s all.”
“Won’t like your—” Emma stepped closer. “What exactly are you doing in there!?”
Roy noticed the rise in Emma’s voice. “Hey, what’s up?” He dashed over to her.
“Roy, wait—” Roger attempted to stop him, as two Brown Suits stood in their way.
“I told you guys to stay back! It’s fine!” Emma stated.
“You know…” Monica smirked. “I was willing to let that boy there walk free, as long as he didn’t try to pry into Unity’s affairs. He did so, however. He even got you involved, Emma.”
“Huh!?” Emma turned to her, gritting her teeth. “Roy didn’t do anything wrong. He has the right to know what’s happening with his manager, especially since you left him alone in the freaking store!”
“The lack of employment at Ann’s doesn’t concern me.” Monica expressed. “What does concern me is how somehow people still try to go out of their way to defy Unity to this day! Do none of you realize what you’re dealing with!?”
“You know what it sounds like?” Emma got up into Monica’s face with a cocky grin. “You’re hiding behind the power the name ‘Unity’ gives you, right? In reality, you’re afraid.”
Monica burst into laughter. “This is rich! Coming from a girl who’s hiding behind the power of her ‘Miracle Girl’ name. You don’t have an Ability, so that’s all that’s really keeping you safe!”
“I’m not hiding behind it!” Emma yelled. “What’s such a big deal about my spine anyway!? Sure, it was a miracle that it worked, and it revolutionized how a lot of things work these days, but… it’s easily been duplicated many times by now! What’s so important with preserving it at this point, honestly?”
“My, my. I see what you’re getting at—I do. With the logic you have, you don’t hesitate to get involved in situations that you feel you need to get into, regardless of your circumstances. I’ve heard—you want to join Unity. You’re even willing to face the possibility that you gain an Ability, thus messing with your spine’s structure. That’s a strong will you have.”
“Heh! I’ll risk anything when it comes to people I care about—especially my sister. She’s dealt with so much, and I couldn’t be there for her… if you must know the source of my will—it’s her. I won’t leave her alone—I’ll be by her side and help her face whatever she wishes to tackle!”
“Well, it’s honestly a cliché reason, but a strong one—I’ll give you that. Yes… yes—your will is magnificent, Emma Roswell.” Monica chuckled under her breath.
“Yeah? What’s so funny, then?”
“It’s how naive you are. With such a strong will, you seem to be clueless when it comes down to it!”
“Clueless? To what?”
“Your Miracle Girl title… your spine. It seems you think it’s some sort of artifact kept to display a great achievement in history or some crap like that!? You really don’t know, do you!? I feel so sorry for you, Emma! You’re—so—damn—clueless—”
A gust a wind suddenly enveloped the area, almost knocking Emma off of her feet. As everyone in the parking lot looked up toward the source, the boy with shining pink wings descended, bearing a malicious grin.
“Ya really shouldn’t be talking—ya dumb bitch.”