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Chapter 1: A Real Summer Day

As the morning sun slowly rose above the small suburban town of Peace Key, life began to emerge from their slumbers and out onto the streets and sidewalks, getting into cars and hopping on the train, slipping into long-held routines.

"Finally, a real summer day." A fifteen-year-old girl sat up in her bed, looking out the window across the room. The large oak tree in the front yard of her house obscured most of her view, but that didn't stop streaks of warm sunlight from breaking in, illuminating the room with a warm glow and concentrating on a space of the blue carpet directly across from the glass.

"Olivia, I'm heading out to work," A voice from nearby called to the girl, "Make sure to get something to eat for breakfast. Okay, see you later."

"Bye, Mom." Olivia called back, slowly stepping out of bed. She heard the front door close just as she slipped on her socks and walked to her own bedroom door, heading to the kitchen.

In the spacious kitchen, the presence of the clear day was felt even more, as the light reflected off of the countertops and tile floor. As she would on most days when Mom or Dad isn't around already making breakfast, Olivia treated herself to a bowl of cereal.

At least...she had some of it.

"Hey Olivia!" A boy of about Olivia's age suddenly appeared outside the small open window above the sink. Surprised, Olivia jumped, and the contents of the bowl spilled all over her, jostled off of the table.

The boy watched from beyond the glass as Olivia slowly turned to him with the most intimidating expression he had ever seen.

"Logan, you idiot! I have to sleep in these clothes! And I just washed them, too! What am I supposed to eat now? That was the last of the cereal!..." Olivia's voice left the kitchen as she ran outside, continuing to yell at her friend. In a good way. I think.

• • • • •

Rising above the Peace Key suburbs, the skyscrapers of Lock City gleamed in the radiance of noontime. Along with many other passengers heading in, Olivia and Logan were on board a transit car, the fastest transportation between the city and town life.

"Did Emily tell you that her parents are away this week?" Logan asked his friend, sitting on the right of him. "She suggested to me that we should stay over one night. But, she lives all the way in the city, obviously...I don't know if my parents would let me. What about yours? They've always seemed pretty chill."



"You're lucky they serve food on this car." Olivia said finally, hastily going through a bag of pretzels, still comically bitter about the morning. "But seriously," She answered Logan's original question, "I'd be down for that. My dad has a lot of away work right now, and my mom is still holding down her own job; I doubt they'd even notice if I left without asking, haha."

Logan, with a tinge of sarcastic jealously, replied, "Well, lucky you." He continued, "My parents are always around, and they have this strange need to always keep track of me, even though I don't  do much usually. It's like how people get when you go near an antique glass collection or something. I'm sure you've never noticed; they tend to act normal when guests are over, but it's pretty much all show."

"Heh, sucks to be you then." Olivia poured the crumbs of her pretzels bag into her mouth.

"Thank you for riding with Lock City Transit," An intercom sounded aboard the car, "We have arrived at Fulrick Station, so feel free to exit the car now if this is your destination. The next departure will be to Rederton Park."

"We should decide what day to stay over while we're here hanging out with Emily today." Olivia suggested as the two left the transit car and headed out of the station. The streets of the city were far more abundant with people than the pleasant sidewalks of Peace Key.

• • • • •

Olivia pressed the call button to Unit 405 at the front doors of Riverside Place, the apartment complex where Emily lives. It is a seven-story building that overlooks the Lumina River, which separates northern Peace Key from the south side of Lock City.

"Emily? You home? It's me Olivia, and Logan!" Olivia called to her friend over the speaker.

"...Okay. Come up." A surprisingly serious Emily responded.

"What's up with her?" Logan wondered aloud as he and Olivia entered the complex and rode the elevator up. Arriving at the door to Apartment 405, it was not long before Emily opened the door for her friends.

"Emily, is something wrong?" Olivia asked.

"Not...exactly." Emily gestured them to come inside. As Olivia and Logan sat down on the living room couch, they instantly noticed a box on the coffee table and papers scattered everywhere nearby. Their friend's striking blue hair shined in the light coming through the main window.

"So, this morning I nearly tripped over this box jutting out from the bookshelf over there in the corner," Emily began to explain, "I hadn't really noticed it before, but seeing as I had nothing planned for today besides watching anime or playing games--"

"As usual." Logan interjected.

"Exactly." Emily replied sarcastically, then continued, "...Anyway, I decided to give this thing a look." Emily lifted one of the papers and handed it to Olivia. "This is the first that I saw."

Olivia read it. "Contents property of Rederton Conglomerate, Business and Research Branch..." She became confused. "Doesn't your mother work there? Doesn't seem unusual or anything to me. He does live here, right?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, but that paper's not the point. Well, not really, anyway," Emily took the paper back and tossed it aside. She started putting forward some of the other papers to Olivia and Logan. "Look. The rest of the crap in this box is all random documents. News articles, lab reports, weird recipes, shit like that."

Olivia and Logan both look puzzled. Then, Logan asked the obvious question, "What would a business and research branch need with all this?"

"And, not to mention," Olivia added, "Why is it all compiled in a box at a random employee's house? Couldn't they just have this stuff on file at the actual company building if they really wanted it?"

"That's just what I thought!" Emily seconded her friends. "Until I accidentally knocked over the box."

Emily pushed the box off of the table a little too hard, and it hit Logan square in the knee before landing on the floor in front of him, with the bottom facing up.

"Uh, ow!" Logan glared at Emily.

"Oops. Sorry..." Emily replied cutely, almost comically.

Olivia and Logan looked at the message written on the bottom of the box, as Emily awaited their reaction.

Eyes wide, Olivia looked up from the box to Emily, "I think...we're staying over tonight."



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