“Carl, we’re ready.”
Jason had appeared in front of Carl, who was standing outside of their base in the forest. It was early morning—the sun had barely risen over the horizon. The duck-faced mask danced around in the black energy it resided in rather cheerfully.
“Nice nice nice! I’ve been waiting for this moment! Everyone knows their role?”
“Yes—I’ve given instructions to the others who aren’t here right now. Derek and Chris are ready to go, yes?”
“Oh, indeed! Especially Derek. We had to make sure he was the most prepared, as he’s key in this mission succeeding.”
“If only I could move the girl with my phantom energy… I can defy space, after all. The issue is her values are far too sensitive for me to do that…”
Carl wagged his finger. “Not to worry! You’ll still have plenty to do! You’re with Chris and me, preventing the people in the station from counterattacking. We’ve figured out the girl’s current location is in that basement, which is all too perfect. We can proceed with the initial plan. She won’t die, of course, so we should be able to scoop her up from there.”
“The Ouderkirk girl is currently down there too…” Jason sighed. “You’re gonna have him do something about that?”
“Sure! Haley will already be there, considering she’s the one who will attack the place. Miles is attached to her, so having him there will be simple! Assuming the Ouderkirk girl survives the initial attack, Miles can wear her down. And Derek can grab the little girl during the commotion. If I can get the Ouderkirk girl too... “ Carl began to cackle.
“And in the meantime, I can warp away whatever defense they may have to Ivan’s position. You and Chris can handle the remainder of them…?”
“It’ll certainly be a challenge, especially if Pamela Roswell is there. But that’s fine! This is going to be fun!”
“I’m excited as well, Carl. But… we have to make sure this goes well. For everyone’s sake.”
“Oh, come now, Jason!” Carl shook his head—a cocky smirk forming on his face. “There are plenty of important things one has to deal with. If you can’t have fun doing them, then you’re not doing it right!”
“I-I don’t know about that…” Jason floated toward the front door of the base. “Hey… Carl?”
“Hmm? What is it, my friend?”
“Do you really think you can… restore my body?”
“You don’t have to worry,” Carl assured him. “With the power I aim to achieve, I’ll be able to do anything! Once I grasp the truth of the world, there will be nothing standing in my way!”
“In that case, I’ll do my part until the bitter end.” The mask seemed to nod. “And… he’s already in position at the seal. That’s just what I got back from doing.”
“Indeed. Once Derek brings the girl to him, it’ll all be on his shoulders. I’d rather not let him deal with it himself, but… he’s the only one who can do it at the moment.”
“Right… Anyway, Haley should have gathered up the energy required for this. Let’s do this as quickly and efficiently as possible so she doesn’t die on us.”
Carl chuckled. “Well, hopefully, that little experiment done on her will help her out. Miles as well. Those poor kids… Even I wouldn’t do something so cruel to them.”
“You say that, but you are going to be strengthening that thing during this mission, aren’t you?”
“Oh, yes indeed! The opportunity is too perfect. Not to worry! It’ll be discrete, and it’s not like those older folk are much use anyway, aside from their used up phantons.”
“You’re horrible, Carl…” Jason laughed. “It’s interesting how young phantons bring chaons into the world, yet older phantons help fuel chaons…”
“You’ve always been interested in how energy works, huh?” Carl shrugged. “Makes sense. You’re a huge mass of energy, after all. Hmm…” Carl examined the black aura around Jason.
“What is it?”
“Your phantom energy… It’s literally the concept of nothingness brought into a physical form. Yet, in order to exist, it has to follow certain laws of the universe. The phantom energy your body is made out of has adapted to those various laws… Although it’s been a huge help in my research, fresh phantom energy would be the best for what I want to achieve. But… where would I find that?”
“You’ve asked this question several times,” Jason sighed. “I can’t help you. I’m not sure about my origins, aside from what’s been programmed into me. I’m still not sure if I’m actually Jason Zamora.”
“A mystery we’ll have to figure out another day. Luckily, that day can certainly come after our victory today!” Carl raised his fist in the air. “Are you ready, Jason!?”
“Heh… Your enthusiasm is usually creepy. Today though, it’s welcoming. Yes—let’s do this.”
“Well, you two look comfortable.” Emma scoffed. Adam and Faith were slowly waking up from their deep slumber, seemingly unaware of how close they were.
“Emma…? What time is it…?” Faith glanced up at her sister, who had her hair let down—drooped around her crossed arms.
“Time to get up. We have breakfast. Once we eat, we’re gonna check on the others.”
“It felt like I was sleeping forever…” Adam stretched his arms, yawning loudly. “Oh, hey Faith. Sleep well?”
“I-I…” Faith realized that she and Adam had been wrapped around each other almost the entire night. “Y-Yeah… I did…” She responded bashfully.
“Good. Oh—Emma. I didn’t know you had that much hair.”
“I usually have it up in a ponytail. Haven’t gotten the chance to do that yet.”
“Right, right.” Adam stood up, continuing to stretch out his body. “Is your mom doing okay?”
“She’s up. Still at her desk… Not sure how she’s feeling though…” Emma responded, shrugging her shoulders. “Hopefully we can sort things out today.”
“Hopefully…” Adam began walking toward the main room. “I’ll go on ahead. Gotta check if this food can actually be considered breakfast.”
“I think that means apples have to be involved…” Faith sighed. She got up, almost falling back down. Emma helped her remain on her feet.
“You still that sleepy?” Emma asked.
“It was some… good sleep.” Faith chuckled awkwardly.
“You know, you’re both adults now. What you do in your spare time is up to you guys. Just remember, I’m gonna be such a cool aunt!”
“Huh!? Emma, it’s nothing like that! We just passed out is all…”
“I’m just messing with ya! Mostly…” Emma chuckled.
“Whatever! I’m gonna go check on Mom!” Faith stomped into her mother’s office.
“Might as well join you!” Emma followed with a huge grin on her face.
Pam had been looking at various papers that were scattered on the desk’s surface. She glanced up upon Faith and Emma entering.
“Sleep well, Faith?” She asked her daughter. “Actually—sleep too well…?” A grin matching Emma’s formed on her face.
“You too!? I guess you’re feeling better, then!” Faith shouted in embarrassment.
“I am… I’ve been thinking about a lot of things. Before I tell you guys about Lucy, I need to talk to Adam first.”
“Huh? Why Adam? Is it about last night?” Faith questioned.
“Oh, the thing with the door? That’s no biggie. It’s… about… well…”
“Whatever it is, don’t sweat it,” Emma stated. “We’ll get through whatever all this crap is, together…”
“That’s what the Roswell’s are all about,” Pam smiled. “Making sure we not only help each other, but all of the loved ones around us.”
“Adam, I’m sorry! If only Ann’s was open!” Winona pleaded for Adam to eat the food that was spread out on the table.
“I don’t blame you, Winona. I only blame myself.” Adam murmured.
“Huh? Why do you blame yourself!?”
“I should have prepared for this. Any scenario that restricts my apple consumption… I should have had a backup plan…”
“What’s the big deal?” Roy asked, chugging down a glass of milk. “T-They’re just apples?”
“A fool wouldn’t understand…” Adam shook his head, sighing.
“What was that? Picking a fight!?” Roy jumped up from his seat.
“Roy, sit down!” Roger begged, pulling on his shirt.
“Roy… Why are you even here? Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?” Adam asked him, getting up in his face.
“O-Of course! I saw all the shit that’s been going down! I need to do this, for the boss!”
“Right… I get it. But understand, this isn’t a playing field a normal person can be on. Well, not normally. You’ll have you surpass all expectations if you’re going to get revenge for your boss.”
“Why are you telling me this!? And don’t call it revenge! Isn’t revenge a bad thing?”
Adam shrugged. “I guess… it all depends on how you carry it out? Getting justice for your boss doesn’t necessarily mean you have to kill someone in retaliation. Figure out another way to do it…”
“You… don’t even sound sure yourself, dude.” Roy scratched his head.
Roger slowly raised his hand. “U-Um… Should I even be here…?”
“You were helping out down in Twine, right? We definitely all the help we can get on that end. Don’t sweat it.” Adam poked Roger’s forehead.
“O-Okay…” Roger nodded his head timidly.
“W-What is your Ability, anyway?” Roy questioned. “These guys have been talking about it quite a lot.”
“The World Mirror,” Adam answered. “It’s quite the Ability, let me tell you… Wanna see?”
“You’re going to show him, right here!?” Winona asked in a panic. “What about everything around us?”
“Oh, I won’t show anything destructive. In fact, this is a first for me. I’ve finally come up with names for certain things I can do with this thing.”
“Yeah. Makes sure Roy and Roger are back a bit, Win. This shouldn’t cause any damage, but you never know with this power…”
“R-Right!” Winona beckoned the other two to move a few feet away from Adam. Making sure they were a safe distance away, he shut his eyes.
“All right. This power… It began to work this way during my fight with Alexander, I believe. A thin, white line around me… It can boost my physical capabilities quite a bit, and without the repercussions of just letting the World Mirror’s energy run rampant. I can honestly… branch out from this technique alone, can’t I? Hmm…”
“What’s he doing?” Roy looked at Adam curiously. “He’s just standing the—”
With a sudden flash, Adam formed the thin line of energy around his body, kicking up a small gust of wind. It blew back a few donuts that were on the table, yet none fell to the floor.
“Woah… What can that do? Does it give you a shield?” Roy questioned, glancing around Adam’s body.
“I mean, that’s part of it. Not an absolute shield, or anything like that. But it does help keep my body safe.”
“So… if I punch you, it would only hurt a little?”
“I wouldn’t recommend doing that. Can’t promise I won’t punch back. Besides, I can heal easily from a simple punch.”
“You… can heal yourself? What the shit!?” Roy yelled. “Well, aren’t you overpowered!”
“Well, maybe at some point I’ll be… Right now, there are still too many risks. Too many kinks I have to work out.” Adam looked around the room. “Hmm… How’s my movement at the moment with this…?”
Adam quickly leaped off the floor, startling Roy enough for him to fall back. He backflipped over the table and soared across the room, landing on the wall on the opposite side.
“Control the energy… Jump off with enough force to launch yourself, yet not enough to damage the wall…”
With multiple thoughts flying through his head, Adam gathered the necessary information he needed to complete his objective. He immediately jumped back over the table and in front of Roy—a ghostly trail appearing on the path he took for a brief moment.
This entire process happened so swiftly, it took a moment for Winona to register Adam’s movement.
“W-What is that power…!?” Winona questioned astonished. “It’s got speed behind it, for sure. But there’s something else going on that makes your movement tricky to track!”
“Yeah… I think it’s just how the energy acts. And what I just did… I use the reflective properties I first experienced when fighting Muraco. No… That’s not quite right. A lot more was going on than simple reflection. I think I’ll call that ‘Redirect’, as I’m ‘redirecting’ how various energies move around me as they come into contact with the World Mirror’s energy.”
“Wow… This all sounds very fascinating!” Roger beamed.
“What? You can understand what I’m saying?” Adam asked. “Even I can barely understand what I’m coming up with…”
Winona ran up to Adam, seemingly pumped up. “I really wanna see this Ability in combat. Adam, after all of this nonsense is taken care of, fight me!”
“Huh? Like, spar?”
“Or we can go all-out. Whatever works—although I’d much rather overcome this awesome power of yours when it’s at its fullest potential!”
“I… I see. I forget you can get quite competitive sometimes…” Adam laughed. He breathed in, quickly exhaling. This caused his Outline to fade away, returning him to normal. “Anyway. Are Brandon and Muraco outside…? Were they out there all night…?”
“I think so?” Winona shrugged. “Hopefully they’re okay. One of us should go check.”
“Yeah—I will.” Adam nodded taking a glance at the food on the table. “Are these… rice balls? No—” Adam rubbed his eyes. “Still had sleepy shit in my eyes… It’s just a jelly-filled donut, of course.”
“Are rice balls—or onigiri, as they’re also called—even a normal thing in Requiem…?” Roger asked slightly amused.
“I think there’s a cool shop in the mall in Nexus City that sells that kinda stuff?” Adam shrugged, grabbing a donut and heading toward the front door.
“That guy…” Roy sighed. “Is… interesting?”
Winona grinned. “He’s doing pretty well at the moment… despite what’s been going on. I hope he keeps it up…”
“Didn’t he destroy a door last night or something?” Roy asked.
“Yeah… He’s had some moments where his temper has gotten to him. That’s not what I’m talking about, though…”
“Huh?” Roy looked at Winona questionably. “Well, whatever. A jelly-filled donut sounds good right about now.” He finally got off the floor and began to scan for the best donut on the table.
Adam opened the door, feeling the fresh morning breeze of Prelude hit his skin.
“Ah, yeah. That’s a good temperature. Not too muggy for once.”
He glanced toward his right, seeing Brandon and Muraco cuddled up together, sound asleep up against the wall.
“I… guess they bonded pretty quick…? Having a rabbit is a pretty great cuddle partner, but I’m pretty sure Brandon would have still preferred my cuddle partner last night…” Adam sighed heavily. This caused Muraco’s ear to twitch, and for his eyes to slowly open.
“Huh…? Oh, hey Adam. Did I pass out here—” Muraco froze. He slowly turned to Brandon, who had a firm hold on him. “Oh… Oh hell no!”
Muraco whacked Brandon with his ears, causing the innocent boy to tumble violently on the ground.
“H-Hey! What the hell, rabbit!?” Brandon screamed, standing up immediately with his fists clenched.
“Why were you holding me!?”
“Huh!? Cause it was getting chilly last night! And you seemed warm enough!”
“Oh, so it wasn’t an accident…” Adam commented.
“You could have just gone inside! I would have been fine! I’m a hero after all!”
“I didn’t want to leave you by yourself!”
“Oh…?” Muraco seemed to calm down.
“Yeah. And you remind me a lot of a stuffed bunny I had when I was little. I just had to!”
“Oh, so now you’re comparing me to some freaking toy!?” Muraco’s rage swiftly returned. “Did our long talk last night mean nothing to you!?”
“You made me feel better, and I respect you a lot for that! And I’m sorry I cuddled with you without your permission!”
“This is a weird argument…” Adam scratched his head, staying off to the side.
“Ugh! It sure is!” Muraco paused. “All right… Apology accepted.”
“Good grief…” Brandon sighed. “Anyway, what’s up, Adam?”
“Well… We have breakfast inside. If you want to eat.”
“Breakfast…” Muraco’s eyes lit up. “Like… bagels!?”
“Umm… I just saw donuts. You’ve had bagels before?” Adam asked.
“I have! When you were passed out. They’re… amazing…” Muraco began to drool.
“A rabbit loving bagels… All right then. I’ll accept it.” Adam shrugged.
Brandon snickered. “I feel like at this point, you’re accepting a lot of what’s been going on.”
“When it comes to the weird stuff? Yeah—pretty much. Might as well attempt to move on from that sort of thing, and focus on what’s important right now.”
“That reminds me… You did take that carrot pun I made seriously, didn’t you?” Muraco asked, head tilted.
“A… pun!?” Brandon grabbed Muraco’s ear, beginning to lightly shake him. “You have to be careful! Adam hates puns! Unless they’re really good!”
“All right—all right already!” Muraco jumped away from Brandon. “Geez, you guys are weird!”
“I think it’s fine this way…” Adam smiled. “Nothing like a weird personality to make things interesting.”
“Right…” Muraco shrugged. “Well, I’m sticking with all of you for the time being, so I might as well get used to it.”
“You’re weird yourself, so you’ll fit in just fine!” Brandon smirked.
“Why you…” Muraco sighed. “Whatever. I’m hungry, so let’s go eat.”
“That… brings up another question,” Adam spoke up. “Do phantons disintegrate food in your stomach too…? Like how it apparently works with Charlotte and Lucy?”
“I…” Muraco froze. “It… It does, doesn’t it!? It actually never crossed my mind!”
“What? How does something like that never cross your mind!?” Brandon asked doubtfully.
Adam began to reach for the handle to the front door. “Yep. Definitely weird. Anyway, let’s get inside and—” His voice trailed off.
“What’s up?” Brandon questioned.
Muraco’s ears began to twitch. “What… is this…? I sense something…”
“You can too, Muraco?” Adam turned to him, his eyes lit up.
“W-What’s up—again—for a second time?” Brandon started to get nervous.
As if someone snapped their fingers to cause it, the entire area was suddenly blanketed with a thick, heavy fog.
“Where did this come from…!?” Brandon looked around the area in a panic.
“It’s an Ability, or something related to… it…” Adam began to shake.
“What’s wrong, Adam?” Muraco asked. “I can feel some kind of heavy pressure...”
“...I say it’s an Ability, cause this is clearly made of phantons. Yet… there are way too many…!” Adam shook his head in disbelief as his field of vision was almost entirely filled with an immense blue aura.
“Could it be that group, finally making a move…!?” Brandon raised his fists in defense.
“I think that could be it, actually…” Adam took a deep breath. “We gotta fight back, then.”
“Right here, right now!?” Brandon asked in fear.
“Real battle has no official start time, Brandon,” Muraco stated. “It happens whenever someone makes a move—simple as that.”
“Dammit…” Brandon activated Shepherd Surge around his body. “Should we get the others…?”
“Should we…?” Adam thought to himself. “I highly doubt the three of us could take them…” Adam glared into the fog. “Even with my eyes, there are way too many phantons to distinguish the presence of anyone. The fog’s an issue on both fronts, in that case…”
“I can’t hear anything,” Muraco commented. “I should be able to pick up on any sudden movement… Is anyone even around?”
“I’m going to use that technique…” Adam sighed. “The one I used to break out of Phobos’ illusion…”
“Who the hell is Phobos!?” Brandon was growing agitated at the situation.
“How is that going to work…?” Muraco questioned, slowly pacing around.
“Outline—” Adam activated his now named technique, glowing brightly through the fog. “And now that the World Mirror is in contact with this stuff—”
“Don’t think I’ll allow any funny business. You three are being sent away.”
As the ominous voice echoed, a gigantic black mass formed around them, spiraling with rapid intensity.
“Shit! Where did this come from!?” Muraco shouted, forming his now lit up blue scarf into a cocoon-like structure around Adam and Brandon.
“No one can defend from my phantom energy…” Jason cackled as his power phased right through Muraco’s defense, filling their vision with nothing but darkness.