Chapter 32:

Volume 2, Chapter 8: Flaming Shock

Heroes of the Past

Winter Break 2016 Week 2 TuesdayBookmark here

Tess drove me to the training facility, preparing me for my first entry into a different dimension. I stared at my key card picture. When did Tess obtain it? It was perfectly positioned too.Bookmark here

“Tess, what are the different dimensions like?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“Some resemble ours while others contrast greatly. You need to hone your skills further. I fear you will sustain serious damage in your current state,” Tess advised.Bookmark here

“I’m that weak?” I responded.Bookmark here

“Your powers allow access to a wide range of skills and powers. However, you haven’t had a chance to master any basics yet,” Tess explained.Bookmark here

“So what are we working on?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“Sword skills,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

“I’ll have to face Kyoi?” I exclaimed.Bookmark here

“No, you’ll face Zhang, who Kyoi trained,” Tess revealed.Bookmark here

Tess stopped midway during our walk to the entrance. She glanced backwards, staring at something.Bookmark here

“Something wrong, Tess?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Somebody unwanted is here. I’ll create an artificial dimension,” she replied, swinging her golden key.Bookmark here

“What should I do?” I asked, looking around.Bookmark here

“Nothing!” Tess replied.Bookmark here

I nodded, watching Tess throw her golden key down to the ground. I clutched my shaking pendant. The Gatekeeper immediately dashed forward, chains flying out from the ground. Her chains immediately shattered, pieces of it flying everywhere. Tess, unfazed, continued running.Bookmark here

“Tomo, don’t move. That’s an order!” Tess shouted with urgency.Bookmark here

“Tess, your attack pattern has changed enough to actually make me respond,” a voice remarked.Bookmark here

I looked over, shuddering unconsciously. This was the number one ranked hero, Ace.Bookmark here

“Ace, why are you here?” Tess asked, creating more chains.Bookmark here

Ace smiled, dodging all of them. She crushed a chain with her bare hands, shaking her head. This woman was scarier than Kyoi. Tess ordered me to stay put, but I couldn’t just stand here.Bookmark here

“You there, Michi Ichizen’s friend, don’t even think about moving. There’s no reason for you to get involved just yet,” Ace warned.Bookmark here

Tess appeared behind her, throwing a chain around Ace’s neck. She tightened it like a noose. Ace clicked her tongue in frustration, struggling for a few seconds. She then hurled Tess to the ground and yanked the chains off. The woman stroked her neck and coughed up blood.Bookmark here

“I’ll take my leave now. I was hoping to see how Tomo Yuki has progressed, but you have backup coming. It’s unfortunate,” Ace declared and vanished.Bookmark here

I stood there, staring at Ace’s blood. Tess, maintaining her poker face, shut down the artificial dimension. Zhuyu, En, and Kuan arrived.Bookmark here

“Tess, you okay?” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“Yes, we will proceed as planned. Is it just you three?” Tess nodded.Bookmark here

“Yeah, the others might stop by later,” Zhuyu replied.Bookmark here

We entered the training facility. The lights were already on downstairs. Zhuyu wore a university hoodie today, walking with Kuan over to a computer. There were a lot of blinking lights and wires hooked up everywhere.Bookmark here

“What’s that?” I pointed.Bookmark here

“A monitoring system for your training. I asked Kuan to set it up. It’ll take data and send it back to my computer. It should benefit you in the long run,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“Are we ready to begin then?” I asked, taking off my coat.Bookmark here

“Kuan is making final adjustments. Why don’t you talk to Zhang?” Tess suggested, flipping open the cover on her tablet.Bookmark here

Zhuyu spoke with Kuan about something on the computer. En stood near the center, unzipping his green collared coat. He gave me a nod as I approached.Bookmark here

“En, right? I haven’t had a chance to speak with you. How are you today?” I initiated the conversation.Bookmark here

“I’m alright. Are you ready?” En replied.Bookmark here

He was reserved. I got that from Zhuyu too, but it was more apparent for En. Maybe he was just shy? I couldn’t fault him for that.Bookmark here

“Yeah. You have any tips for handling a sword? I’m still a beginner and the only experience I have is watching Kyoi,” I asked.Bookmark here

“Not really, Feng or Long is a better at that. Sorry I can’t help you much,” he replied.Bookmark here

“Tomo, we’re ready. Zhang has a secondary weapon by the way,” Tess warned.Bookmark here

“Wait, you should have told me that earlier! Come on, Tess!” I protested.Bookmark here

En pulled out his sword, waiting for me. I watched for any odd movements. Just what was his secondary weapon?Bookmark here

“Let’s go!” I yelled, making use of Ichaival’s teleportation power.Bookmark here

My portal disintegrated immediately and a force dragged me towards En. Small crackles of electricity appeared around En. He slashed at me, finally landing a blow on my right shoulder. I teleported away successfully on my second attempt.Bookmark here

“What was that?” I glanced at Tess.Bookmark here

“I don’t know what you refer to,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

“Fine, I’ll figure it out myself,” I said, heading toward En again.Bookmark here

En entered into a defensive stance which threw off my timing. I teleported behind him and aimed for his back. He spun around and a repulsive force pushed me away. The man stabbed his sword, now glowing, into the ground. I created a portal but it fizzled out.Bookmark here

Energy burst from his blade, striking me, and a shock traveled through my body. I felt sluggish and slower than usual. Generating a portal behind En, I warped him away from me. En, caught by surprise, reappeared a good distance away from me. Finally free from the effects of his attack, I pondered my next move.Bookmark here

“Zhang, go for pure sword attacks now,” Tess ordered, moving her stylus across the tablet.Bookmark here

En, with blazing speed, reached me. We clashed and I was soon on the defensive. En’s sword movements were fast, reminiscent of Kyoi’s. Of course they would be similar, she trained him after all.Bookmark here

However, En lacked Kyoi’s immense power. He focused on speed and precision. The hero eventually disarmed me, aiming the tip of his blade at my neck. I teleported above him, crashing down with blades around me. En rolled away, but some of my blades wounded him.Bookmark here

“That was good,” En complimented, standing back up.Bookmark here

I retrieved my sword, making better progress this time. En nodded at my improvement and I finally landed a blow on his left shoulder. When I pulled my weapon back, En once again disarmed me. He slid, knocking me off my feet and plunged his blade near my left eye.Bookmark here

“En, you’re cleared for your secondary weapon,” Tess directed.Bookmark here

While not on par with Zhuyu or Shan, En gave me problems. I raised my sword once more and then something pulled it away. Zhuyu’s friend held wire in his right hand, no longer using a sword. I dropped my weapon after an electric shock came through the wire.Bookmark here

En whipped his wire up and my blade nearly pierced my right hand. So this was his secondary weapon. I closed my eyes, recalling the shock. Alright, I understood part of his powers. When En moved in for an attack, I applied his powers. En, not reacting fast enough, felt the electric shock.Bookmark here

I attacked En with my sword. He spun his wire around, sparks surrounding him. Time to counter. I broke through the electric repulsion, slashing at his shoulder. En winced and then the ground shook. Without time to create a portal, I took the full brunt of the flames shooting out from the floor. Collapsing to the floor, I coughed. He had a trump card. Tess whistled and signaled for the end of the training session.Bookmark here

“Damn, that was careless of me. Good job, En,” I complimented.Bookmark here

“It was nothing,” he denied.Bookmark here

En walked toward Zhuyu and Kuan. He was a pretty skilled fighter, probably because of Kyoi’s training. Catching the bottle of water Tess threw, I looked down at her tablet screen.Bookmark here

“How did I do? A failing grade?” I asked, chugging the water.Bookmark here

“No, you did within expectations. It was projected to be tough especially with a dual elemental user,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

“Fire and electricity. A rather strange combination but still very dangerous,” I remarked, looking over at En.Bookmark here

“Yes. En’s skills are quite useful. You’ve acquired an idea of his powers, a good thing. You still require practice, but I’m more comfortable with you entering another dimension now,” Tess said, closing the cover on her tablet.Bookmark here

“Are we done for today already?” I asked, noticing Zhuyu help pack up the equipment.Bookmark here

“Yes, you’re free from combat for today. That doesn’t mean we’re finished though,” Tess revealed.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” I asked, not sure what Tess was hinting at.Bookmark here

“You are free the rest of the day, correct?” Tess inquired.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I planned on being here for the day. If you want to do something else, I’ll be free,” I confirmed.Bookmark here

“Good, then we’ll head back to your house. I already prepared the necessary materials,” Tess decided.Bookmark here

“Wait, what do you mean materials? Are we studying?” I asked.Bookmark here

“In a way. I won’t spoil the surprise. I hope your calculator is fully charged, unless it’s a solar one,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

Damn, that did not sound good. I walked over to the three men. Kuan curled up the last wire, placing it into a black case. Zhuyu pulled out his phone and sighed. En yawned, also checking his phone.Bookmark here

“What are you all doing after this?” I asked, curious.Bookmark here

“Play the games,” Kuan replied.Bookmark here

“Uh, I don’t know. Probably watch some anime. You want to come over, Zhang?” Zhuyu asked, looking over at his friend.Bookmark here

“Sure, I’ll go home and play games anyways. Might as well do it at your house,” En replied.Bookmark here

“Do you guys actually do anything besides playing games?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I do homework,” Zhuyu replied.Bookmark here

“What about things besides school?” I narrowed the focus of my question.Bookmark here

“Redraw for scanlators and complete art commissions,” Kuan revealed.Bookmark here

“Math and writing stories. I live a boring life,” Zhuyu answered.Bookmark here

“Uh, I work,” En revealed.Bookmark here

Their answers didn’t reveal much about their personal lives. I didn’t expect them to divulge too much though. Everything seemed pretty standard so far. I needed to stall for time so I could avoid doing whatever Tess wanted.Bookmark here

“Um, En, where do you work at?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“Oh, just a store near my house. I stock shelves,” En replied.Bookmark here

Come on, give me a longer response. Okay, think, Yuki. I looked over at Zhuyu, who avoided eye contact with me. Damn, he caught on.Bookmark here

“Where do you go to school, En?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Oh, I don’t. I just work,” En answered, shaking his head.Bookmark here

“Any particular reason?” I asked, realizing my question might be too personal.Bookmark here

“I’m not good at it. I didn’t really do well in high school so I’m working until I figure something out,” he replied.Bookmark here

“Tomo, are you finished with your conversation?” Tess asked, walking over to us.Bookmark here

“No, I think Zhuyu has something to say to me,” I emphasized, giving the man a pleading look.Bookmark here

“I don’t know what you mean, Tomo. Kuan, you ready to leave?” Zhuyu ignored my look with a slight smile.Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Kuan said.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I hope you have pencils ready,” Tess said, pulling me away.Bookmark here

Curse you, Zhuyu. First Shan and now you. Maybe it was a fun surprise, like that was possible with the Gatekeeper.Bookmark here

“Tess, let me confirm this. Will it fun for me?” I glanced over at Tess.Bookmark here

“I believe it will be fun. Maybe not specifically for you, but nevertheless, still enjoyable,” Tess assured me.Bookmark here

“I don’t believe you, Tess,” I disagreed.Bookmark here

“Tomo, this will be for your own good,” Tess declared, unlocking her car.Bookmark here

Sighing, I hoped something would delay our arrival to my house. However, such a miracle did not occur. I could lock Tess out, but that seemed like a bad idea. Who knows how she might retaliate? In the end, I prepared myself mentally for whatever Tess would do.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I’m ready. Can you help carry this in?” Tess requested.Bookmark here

I opened the door and saw a plastic bin. There were textbooks and stacks of notebooks inside. I really had to deal with school related things even during break?Bookmark here

“Tomo, do you have a blank notebook to write in?” Tess asked as we hauled the plastic bin up to my room.Bookmark here

“I have a bad feeling about this, Tess. Are you going to lecture me?” I asked, taking a pencil out from my desk drawer.Bookmark here

“Yes, I already informed you about this. Don’t worry, it won’t be too difficult. It will provide much needed context when copying natural world powers,” Tess explained, taking out material from the bin.Bookmark here

“I’ll have to learn this if I want to copy Shan and Zhuyu’s power. Fine, how long are you lecturing me today?” I understood Tess’ reasons.Bookmark here

“Five, maybe, six hours. I’ll only cover the most important points required,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

“Wait, wait, wait! You can’t expect me to master anything so fast. It’ll take at least three to four days,” I protested.Bookmark here

“We shall see how you progress then,” Tess decided, giving me a sharp look.Bookmark here

“Not everyone can master things like you, Tess,” I argued.Bookmark here

“Tomo, relax. I believe three days will be sufficient, is that acceptable?” Tess offered.Bookmark here

“Hopefully,” I agreed, anticipating a long day.Bookmark here

Tess lectured until 8:00 PM. At times, I felt sleepy and dozed off. Tess usually slapped my hands with a ruler when that happened. By the end, my hands were a bright red. I managed to grasp the basics which she seemed satisfied with. On my desk, Tess left a stack of papers and a notebook.Bookmark here

“Review material,” Tess said.Bookmark here

“Does everyone learn this?” I asked, flipping through a notebook.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” Tess asked for clarification.Bookmark here

“Do they know how everyone’s powers work?” I wondered.Bookmark here

“To an extent. Kyoi can help you with anything you don’t know,” Tess answered, organizing her notes.Bookmark here

“I think I’ll decline,” I declined right away.Bookmark here

“Just know you have people to turn to for help. I’m not the only one you can rely on,” Tess relayed.Bookmark here

Was Tess nudging me to become more friendly with them? It made sense. It would help with teamwork. Still, Tess was being rather subtle about it. Why not just say it directly? I was probably placing too much thought into it.Bookmark here

“Tess, you’re leaving your stuff here?” I asked, looking over at the plastic bin.Bookmark here

“Yes, I’ll return tomorrow. It will save me the trouble of having to bring it back up here,” Tess replied, giving me a goodbye wave.Bookmark here

I nodded and sat down at my desk. Ah, this sucked. I was forced to study during break when I shouldn’t have to worry about school stuff. In addition, Tess expected me to become more acquainted with the heroes. I wasn’t against it, but she was really rushing me. Worst break ever.Bookmark here

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