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!”