“How…? Why…? What the hell is this…?” Pam took a few steps back, grabbing the side of a nearby desk to prevent herself from falling over.
“Hi, I’m Lucy! I’m a ghost!” Lucy jumped up, cheering. “More new friends!”
“A little girl…?” Faith leaned over and patted her on the head, smiling at the young child’s enthusiasm. “Wait… She’s as cold as ice!”
“That’s cause she’s a ghost,” Adam stated bluntly.
“W-Wait… Huh!?” Faith asked surprised. “But… is she…?”
“No, she’s not an Ouderkirk. We’re trying to figure out how she works exactly. Her body was sealed behind a barrier underneath Minuet, yet her ghost has been wandering around Requiem for quite awhile. Upon coming into contact with her remains, she gained this form.” Adam explained wearily.
Pam felt as though she was going to be sick. “Her… remains? There shouldn’t have been anything left… Why were they there, and sealed off…?”
“Mom, you doing okay?” Emma asked, noticing the color had vanished from Pam’s face.
“I-I’m fine…” Pam responded, laughing rather awkwardly.
“Huh?” Lucy finally noticed Pam’s presence. Her face lit up. “Ah! You’re—”
Pam suddenly covered her face and bolted down a hallway off to the right, where her office was located.
“Mom…!?” Emma yelled to her, yet Pam had already slammed the door shut.
“What… What was that about?” Faith looked down at Lucy, who was just as confused as she was.
“So she knows too, huh…?” Adam muttered.
“She knows? Knows what?” Faith asked, overhearing his words.
“Who Lucy is. Travis and Cody seem to know as well, but they’ve been preventing us from gaining any info on her.” Adam explained angrily.
Thomas let out a sudden sigh. “I figured as much. Even I tried to take a look into it, since Travis wasn’t getting anything. It seems they blocked my attempt. They did for you too, right?” He looked at his son standing next to him.
“Yeah… How did you know that?”
“Of course I know the things you’d try. Who do you think I am?” Thomas chuckled.
“Lucy, you recognized her, didn’t you?” Adam asked, leaning down in front of her. “Who is she to you?”
“Um…” Lucy pondered the question. “I think she’s a friend of my parents!”
“Your parents—wait, do you remember who your parents are!?” Adam questioned rather intensely.
“Uh… S-Sorry! I don’t remember that much…”
“Damn! I mean—uh… Sorry. It’s okay. That helps, thank you.” Adam patted the somewhat concerned Lucy on the head, which calmed her down.
“So, are we going to ask her?” Charlotte asked. “You didn’t want to cause a conflict between us, I know that. But…”
“The conflict’s already started, in this case.” Adam shrugged. “I’ll go down there and talk to her about it.”
“Wait—” Faith interrupted. “She’s my mother. I can go ask her.”
“Yeah, same here!” Emma added. “Both of us can—”
“I don’t want there to be any family drama rising out of this nonsense,” Adam stated. “I’m going to go talk to her myself. Wait here.”
With those words, Adam went down the hall, almost stomping down on the cold floor.
“There he goes… trying to take on everything by himself again…” Faith frowned.
“Don’t worry,” Charlotte patted Faith’s shoulder. “He can handle something like this.”
“I know he can... “ Faith sighed. “But it wears him down…”
In front of Pam’s office, Adam knocked on the door rather hard.
“Pam. Open up. What’s going on?”
No response. Adam decided to open up the door, yet couldn’t, as it was locked up tight.
“Whatever your relation is with Lucy, it’s okay. I’m not going to judge you about anything. We just want to know, so we can figure everything out…”
There was still silence on the other side. Adam’s patience was growing thin. Eventually, he felt himself already building up energy in his hand.
“I’m sorry, Pam… but we don’t have time for this. We can grieve about things after I save all of us…” He shook his head.
With a mighty push, Adam’s power shattered the wooden door into several pieces, granting him entry into the office. Pam’s head was on her desk, yet she sat up immediately.
“Adam! What are you—”
There was sorrow in Adam’s eyes. Not due to the action he just executed. It was all because of Pam’s face covered in her tears.
“See? I can’t let you suffer like this. Talk to me about it.”
Faith and Emma dashed down the hall, both grabbing Adam by his shoulders.
“W-What the hell are you doing!?” Emma asked in shock at the state of the door.
“Adam…” Faith pulled him out of the room.
Charlotte now ran up, with Brandon, Jerry, and Winona hiding behind her. Adam was startled at the fear in their eyes.
“I have to apologize…” Charlotte paused. “Adam. I know I said we don’t have time to waste, and that’s true. However, don’t go breaking down doors, okay?”
“I…” Adam glanced back at Pam in horror, then slowly down toward the remains of the door.
“You did this to your bedroom door, remember?” Brandon interrupted. “It’s understandable that you’re going through a lot. But… We’re here for you, dude. You don’t have to destroy things.”
“Brandon’s being reasonable for once—wow,” Emma commented. “But, he’s right. We get it, Adam.”
“It’s okay, you guys.” Pam stood up from her desk, wiping away her tears. “He’s just concerned. I think I shouldn’t… hide things from any of you…”
“I am concerned…” Adam gritted his teeth. “But… why am I having issues holding back my anger? When I fought Rizzo, as well. I didn’t hold back, despite the consequences.”
“Eh, that dude’s a dick,” Brandon stated while shrugging. “Even though we were trying to keep things a secret at the time, I think you just had to hit him then, you know?”
“No matter the emotions, logically… it was stupid.” Adam held his head in frustration. "What if I keep letting myself succumb to this anger...? I don't want to hurt anyone important..."
"You won't!" Muraco declared. "And even if you try to, for some whack-ass reason, I'll beat the shit out of you until you're better, like the hero I am!"
“Hey! Bunny! Bad!” Lucy jumped on Muraco, slamming him onto the floor. “Don’t swear!”
“Hey! Get off me you brat!” Muraco struggled, but could not get the child off of him as he held back from using force.
“Such a hero...” Brandon chuckled. “But Adam, let's just take a break. We can talk to Pam about everything in a bit.”
Adam sighed. “Right... I'm gonna give you guys some space, though. Actually, I need to give myself space. An introvert like me being so goddamn social probably doesn't help.” He began to walk off.
“Hey, wait!” Lucy attempted to stop Adam, yet was prevented from doing so by Muraco.
“Leave him be.” He turned to the group. “He's right.”
“Yeah...” Faith took a deep breath. “He's probably spoken more words in the last month than he's spoken his entire life. That's another way for someone, especially like him, to get exhausted. We're all going through so much, but Adam seems to be taking it from every direction.”
“Don’t worry, everyone.” Muraco stood up straight and saluted to the group. “I’ll keep an eye on him! With my ears and my capabilities to sneak in the shadows, I can be a watchful guardian!”
“That’s probably a good idea.” Charlotte agreed. “Even if he does need some space, none of us should be alone right now. We have no clue when that group will make a move.”
“That group…” Pam stepped out into the hallway. “Right… We have to make sure we’re safe. Thomas?”
Thomas peeked around the corner. “Yes, Pammy?”
“You’ve been keeping the townspeople unaware of everything going on, correct?”
“Yep, I sure have. Even since the Brown Suits were walking around, actually. I didn’t want anyone getting afraid of them.”
“Huh? What’s he talking about?” Brandon asked.
“My dad has access to various phantonic technology… which he’s able to use on the residents.” Jerry answered.
“To keep it simple for you, Brandon, it’s a special signal we send from Twine’s basement, causing people nearby to kind of “zone out”, we’ll say—which makes them ignore things that happen around them. We call the program ‘Oberon’. You can register a person’s phantonic signature into it to prevent it from affecting them. And it doesn’t work on people with Abilities.” Thomas explained.
“T-There’s something like that…? Why would Unity allow you to use it?” Brandon questioned.
“He…” Jerry turned toward his dad.
“I go through some illegal procedures to get my hands on this stuff. Don’t worry about the details.”
“I think I am gonna worry!” Brandon shouted. “Wouldn’t that cause tons of issues if it fell into the wrong hands!?”
“It’s already in the wrong hands,” Thomas stated bluntly. “It’s something Unity could potentially use, if they wanted to…”
“We’ll worry about that issue when we get to that point…” Pam sighed. “Anyway. The majority of Prelude’s small population is filled with senior citizens, so they probably won’t be leaving the house at nighttime—or at all, for that matter. So we just have to keep an eye on their activity during the day. Keep them out of the way…”
“So, we don’t have active officers at the moment, right? What happens if one of those old people have a heart attack or something?” Brandon asked in concern.
“Well, paramedics will be called from Nexus City, as usual,” Jerry answered. “At least… I think.”
“It’s almost like Rizzo is allowing this group to attack and do what they want…” Winona commented. “But…”
“It’s that Nexus bastard,” Muraco stated. “It seems to want Adam to grow, which means it’ll put him up against anything for that to happen. Of course, we’re getting in the mix as well.”
“Yeah… I can see why he’s getting so stressed.” Faith looked down.
“Let me take Jerry and Thomas back to Twine,” Charlotte suggested. “I can stay with them, in case something happens. With my mobility, I can move quickly to whatever location I need to be at. If you guys stay here, I think you’ll be somewhat okay. Most of you have Abilities, after all.”
“I think that’s the best play,” Pam agreed. “They need to continue working down there. I’d rather not abandon the station either, seeing as though someone should be in a position to protect the people.”
“All right. Muraco will go keep an eye on Adam. Faith, Emma, Winona, Brandon, and Lucy will stay here with Pam. Lucy—you okay with staying here?” Charlotte asked the girl.
“Sure! We can have a sleepover!” Lucy ran up to Pam. “Is that okay—” The girl paused at the woman’s horrified expression. “Hey, what’s wrong…?”
“I…” Pam began to speak, yet had to stop, as she felt like she was going to be sick.
“Mom!?” Faith held her up, as Pam almost passed out on the spot.
“Clearly this Lucy thing is tough to deal with for you…” Charlotte pondered. “You don’t have have to tell us anything right now, Pam. I’ll take Lucy to Twine with me. I can keep her safe. You guys make sure Pam feels better.”
“I’m… sorry…” Pam struggled to speak. Charlotte shook her head.
“Don’t be. I can understand certain things can be… difficult to talk about…” She glanced at Muraco, then to Winona. “There are only three people I’ve told so far about something… involving me…”
“That thing you talked about with me on the bench…?” Winona asked with pain in her voice.
“Yeah… You were actually the first person I told. I managed to finally bring it up with Adam and Muraco, as well…” Charlotte looked at the others, who seemed to be worried about what she was talking about. “Don’t worry, you guys. I’ll tell you eventually… I’ve grown to trust all of you, after all.”
“Something about your past, I’m assuming…?” Jerry questioned. “That’s all right. Whenever you’re ready to. We need answers—that’s true—but… just like with Pam, we’re not going to pressure you into anything. It’s not worth it.”
Charlotte smiled. “Thank you, Jerry. I knew it was the right choice to pick you as my pretend boyfriend.”
“I still can’t believe it was all fake.” Winona giggled.
“Could have still picked me…” Brandon mumbled. “Anyway—Charlotte, and Pam. Don’t stress over anything. We’ll get all of this sorted out. We’re all strong enough to get through whatever happens! And…” He snickered. “Do you honestly think Adam would let anything happen to us?”
“He’s right!” Lucy cheered. “Adam saved me from the darkness that was around me! He’s a hero that can do anything!”
Faith’s eyes widened at the girl’s words. She started chuckling, shaking her head in a pleasant state of disbelief. “For real…?”
Meanwhile, the hero sat alone on the roof of his house, staring at the starry night sky. He couldn’t help but concern himself with the darkness that he believed had taken root within him.