Date: 02 January 2036
Emma looked at the xChip. Yesterday she, her family, and pretty much everyone in West River had gone to get their chips inserted. The procedure took less than 30 minutes each. First they numbed the arm and hand completely. Then they put it in a solution that slowed down blood flow. After about 5 minutes they would make shallow cut, enough the break the skin completely, but not enough to cut the veins. The chip is a 3 by 3cm thin piece of circuitry, the x and dots standing out. They would place it directly on the veins, close the skin completely and heal it. The x and dots pushed against the skin so they will cut the area, allowing them to pop out slightly. The skin is then again with the x and dots still seen. Those parts sticking out can be scanned or connected to a computer, similar to a USB.
Everyone was then sent home with a bandage around their wrist and a large pack of pain pills. At first Emma wasn’t so sure about the pills, it didn’t really hurt. But then the numbness wore off. The pain hurt like hell, hades, school, and any other place that was torture. Basically what everyone did for the rest of the day was sitting around begging for the pain to go away.
That morning people came from NIC Corp to insert all the information. A few weeks ago they started handing out the new scanners to the most important places, but it will take a few months before every establishment has them.
A lot had changed over the last few months.
June was gone. She never came back to school after the girls’ suspension and not even Wesley could find her. She made new friends. Mainly Jessica, but she was making an effort. She didn’t get into trouble anymore. Much anyway.
She was still Nightmare. She still went out every night. Fighting crime. Emma smiled slightly. That description made her sound like a superhero. But she wasn’t. People were too scared. Not just the one’s she fought, but the innocent as well.
Rubbing the xChip again, she looked to the distance.
“Would you stop that,” Jessica asked her. Emma turned to her. She and a few girls from school decided to go to Sugar Me Up. Although some of the girls were unsure about her, they did try to be nice.
“Sorry. Ichy,” Emma said, smiling slightly.
“Oh my gosh! Tell me about it. How am I supposed to get an outfit together with this thing on my wrist? It’s so ugly,” one of the girls, Monica Steward, said.
“Actually I heard that designers are making a while new line of fashion for your xChip,” Sarah Thomas said, “All these fancy bands that you put on your wrist, but with the Imprint exposed.”
“Oh. I guess that’s fine. I still think it’s ugly though. What about you Emma?” Monica asked, making everyone turn to her.
“I think your morons,” Emma said without thinking.
“EMMA!” Jessica yelled in surprise.
“I mean, it’s… ‘x’y” Emma said. The girls glared at her, but Emma just smile.
Some things didn’t change.
Dinner is a quiet affair in the Knight household. Now more than ever. The old round table was replaced with a rectangular one. Adam would sit on one end, Abigail would sit on his left and Emma would sit on the other end. Leaving as much space between them as possible. (At times when Wesley was over he would sit where Emma was and then she would sit on his left. Then again, whenever Wesley was over her parents tend to disappear. Percy hasn’t been over yet. He’s been out of the country since the Conference. Then again, Emma wasn’t sure what her parent would do if they saw him.)
“How was your outing?” Adam said, not looking up.
“Boring,” Emma said not caring. “I’m going out tonight.”
Both her parents froze for a second before eating again. It took less than a day for Wesley to find the two adults and bring them back. Wesley then had them driven over to his office in the middle of the night and proceeded to ’talk’ to them. Within that talk he told them about her job as Nightmare, though he seemed to imply he forced her into the position. He also told them that under no circumstances were they to interfere.
“Oh. Ok,” and that was it. No one talked for the rest of the night. And when she left she didn’t have to check if her parents were asleep.
By now Emma could arrive instantly at ‘Wesley’s Super Genius Evil Lair’. (“Don’t call it that.” “What else am I supposed to call it?” “The basement.” “But that’s boring!” “Too bad.”) She didn’t need to look around, nothing changed much since-
Anyways. Wesley was by his computer, switching to different cameras all over the city. Her suit was already out.
“Catch!” Wesley said, throwing her something. Emma caught it instinctively, scowling as she did so. One of these days she’s going to hurt someone by accident because of these reflexes.
“Um? Thanks?” Emma said, not sure what it was. Looking at the object she found a normal, boring black wrist band. It was wide, slightly thick. She pressed on it slightly, finding it hard in the middle. Like there was something inside it.
“Your sponsor told me to give it to you,” Wesley said. His voice was strangely normal. Like a normal person’s normal. Not a Wesley normal.
“Am I ever going to find out who my sponsor is?” Emma asked.
“No,” Wesley told her promptly. Emma pulled a face and looked back at the band.
“What is it?”
“It’s a scrambler. Basically it scrambles the xChip and the xChip-Scanners to hide your identity,” Wesley told her.
“Basically,” Emma said.
“It means: In simplest terms. You do know what ‘simplest’ means right?” Wesley asked, not looking at her.
“I know what basically means,” Emma snapped at him.
“Someone’s pissy,” Wesley stated.
“…have you found anything yet?” Emma asked softly. Wesley knew what she meant. Who she meant.
“No,” Wesley said, a lot gentler than when he says anything else, “Have you tried-”
“They refuse. My powers I mean. Whenever I try they just… short out, stop working. It like, it’s like they know,” Emma said softy.
“Know what?” Wesley asked her.
Emma didn’t answer for a long time, “Know that I don’t really want to find her.”
“You’re still angry,” Wesley said, but Emma shook her head.
“Not really, no,” she said, “I should get going.”
“’We promised. We swore.’” Wesley quoted. Emma froze at those words.
“Where did you hear that?”
“I was going over some old videos. You and June said it to each other. What does it mean?”
Emma was silent for a long time. In all honesty, she didn’t actually want to answer. It didn’t involve Wesley… and yet…
“When we first discovered our powers we didn’t tell anyone. We kept them to ourselves. We promised to look out for each other and we swore never to leave each other’s side… No matter how angry we are. No matter how much we’ve betrayed each other. We will keep to those words. That why I still look for her. And that’s why I don’t want to find her.”
“Because you’re afraid. You’re afraid she didn’t keep to those words,” Wesley continued.
“Yes,” Emma said, closing her eyes.
“I don’t like her,” Wesley said, his voice the same patronizing tone that it always took.
“You don’t like anyone,” Emma said.
“But I will help you find her,” Wesley continued, acting like he didn’t hear her. Emma stared at him for a while. There were many things she could have said. Many things she should have said. In the end however, there was only one thing that said everything:
“Thank you,” Emma said without looking at him.
“You should get going,” Wesley said and everything napped back to normal.
“Leave!” Wesley said, anger starting to creep into his voice.
“I’m going. I’m going,” Emma muttered, unable to keep the smile from her face.
“Please! Don’t hurt me!” the woman shouted as she was shoved against the wall, the man pointing a gun at her head.
“Give me your money bitch!” he shouted as he pressed closer. The woman started to hand over her purse when-
The man’s gun whet flying and he was forced to step back, releasing her. She fell to the floor, shaking, as the man held his hand in pain. They both turned to where the bullet came from. There in the dark, on top a street live, stood a demon. A gun in its hand.
“Leave the woman alone,” it said in a raspy voice.
“Or what?” The man sneered. Suddenly the demon disappeared. Both the man and the woman looked this way and that. The man smirked, that thing wasn’t coming back. He walked towards his gun, reaching for it with his uninjured hand.
He flew through the air after the demon suddenly kicked him. It pulled out a whip, rapping it around the man’s body. It then smashed him against the wall, head first, knocking him out. The demon pulled its whip back, pocketing it behind the gun. It pulled out some rope and proceeded to tie the man up. The woman stared at it.
“Who- what are you?” the woman asked. The demon paused.
“I am the Living Nightmare.”