The world freezes. Crumbling stone pillars replace the trees in Mayview’s forest, and rain begins to fall in heavy sheets. Thunder rolls in the background, but besides that, there is utter silence.
“Why’d you pull me in?!” Isaac hisses. He can barely catch his breath or else he would have screamed those words at his spirit. The crosshatchings on his cheek and elbow sting in the rain, and his pants are caked in dirt.
“You are weak,” his spirit says. His voice rumbles deep in his chest. “You cannot even defeat that!”
He points to the demonic spirit entity in front of him. Its eyes glow purple, and it carries a deadly underbite. It might look like a sabertooth tiger in the right light.
“I’m just off my game. I’ll get it after I catch my breath,” Isaac wheezes.
“And yet the red girl can fight two at once, and she is winning! These creatures deserve punishment for wrongfully attacking you. Yet you cannot deliver justice.”
“I know what you’re doing. I don’t need your help.”
“Your power would be stronger with me in control. Is that not what you want? To not only beat the creature, but to be acknowledged as a threat? To prove yourself worthy?”
Isaac doesn’t deny this, so his spirit continues.
“Have you no shame in your previous actions? You must atone for your sins as well. By allowing me control, you will no longer seek justice. You will be great again.”
“I was never great in the first place,” Isaac says angrily.
“And yet, you could be. You will be far greater than the red girl or the sunglasses spectral. All you need do is give yourself over to me.”
Isaac tries to think of what Doorman would say in this situation. That he doesn’t need to redeem himself. That it was an accident. And yet, things had never been the same after that incident. As much as Doorman tells him he didn’t need to prove himself, the others still treat him as that scared little kid.
And the creatures had attacked first. He’s only be protecting himself. They’re bad, and he’s good. That’s how it works, right? He’s good? If he’s still good, if his intentions are in the right place, there is nothing wrong with that. If he saves everyone, he’ll be the hero for once. He’ll change everything. And he needs that change so badly, it’s going to kill him if he doesn’t. So in that moment, he makes his choice.
He clears his mind, allows his spirit to take over, and fades into the black.
Isabel forms her spectral energy in the form of brass knuckles around her fist and punches the creature under its jaw. The other one is circling her, panting, trying to figure out her weak points. Isabel tries to look around while keeping the creatures under control. She’s close to beating them, but where are the others?
Max is whacking a creature head-on with his bat to her left. Ed and Mr. Spender are tackling a group of three. But where is Isaac? Despite what he seems to think about her, she is genuinely worried about him right now.
Suddenly, a silent, bright light explodes behind her, followed by an enormous sound like a bomb exploding. She sees two creatures running from the source in the distance, but suddenly the light overcomes them, and they are obliterated in a burst of lightning. Their faded versions don’t even have the chance to escape the light before they too are gone.
A cyclone is appearing in the otherwise clear twilight sky, centered at a single point, which is coming closer.
The creature circling Isabel nearly grabs her shoulder, but she dodges just in time, sending a spec shot down its throat. An insane coughing fit comes over it, and then it slowly fades away. She takes out its remains and turns to the other creature, but it is already trying to run away from the cyclone which has arrived. In the center of it is a young boy.
“Isaac?” She whispers.
Only the boy’s hair identifies him. His eyes are glowing white, and his expression is blank. His body is sheathed in a warrior’s uniform, which changes forms every couples of seconds. First, the armor is dark and hard with cracks like lightning, then ivory white with sunny, gold medallions, then icy blue with a glass-like sheen. He is levitating off the ground.
Isaac, or what’s become of him, raises his arms and sends thick strains of cloud towards the escaping creature Isabel had been fighting. They swirl around it and choke the life out of it. The remains it leaves behind cannot get past the cloud prison, and it too perishes.
Mr. Spender grabs Isabel by the shoulder and pushes her away from Isaac. He’s already toting Max and Ed, and they take cover in a particularly thick patch of trees.
“What’s he doing?” Max cries over the wind.
“He’s fused with his spirit, but he’s let it take complete control. That isn’t meant to happen. It’s too dangerous!” Mr. Spender shouts back.
Isabel’s never seen this before, despite all her years training as a spectral. And for the second time in her life, she’s scared of Isaac.
The other creatures have long bolted, yet Isaac seems to be able to sense where they are. He send tendrils of lightning to trap them and shock them until they disappear for good. The club can hear the terrified howls of the creatures from where they are. When they stop and no evil spirits remain, the cyclone slowly spirals out, the wind dies down, and Isaac’s eyes return to blue. He lands on the ground, stumbles for a step or two, then collapses and passes out.
Mr. Spender tells the children to stay behind and goes to check on Isaac. He’s alive, but the fusion took a lot out of him. He makes sure Isaac head and neck are supported and then calls Dr. Zarei hurriedly. He continues to tell the children to stay behind.
Isabel’s never seen Mr. Spender so scared before, except maybe when Max was almost killed by the ghost train. And by the looks on the other kids’ faces, they’re as scared as she is.
Dr. Zarei arrives as Isaac comes to. His whole body hurts with tingles of pain, yet he smiles.
“Did I get them?” He asks.
“Get who, Isaac?” Mr. Spender asks as Dr. Zarei inspects the boy.
“The evil spirits.”
“I… yeah. Yeah, you did.”
Isaac can’t see the terrified looks on the faces of the others, which is good, because for now, he feels like he accomplished something. And he hopes the club will see how great he is now.