Heroes of the Past
Winter Break 2016 Week 2 Wednesday
“We can then calculate the potential energy,” Tess lectured, pointing at the drawing on her whiteboard.
I nodded, yawning. At least Tess arrived at a respectable time today. Writing down a few more notes, I glanced at my alarm clock. Move faster, time. It was brutal to be lectured during break. When the clock finally hit 2:00, Tess stopped. She erased everything on the whiteboard, packing up her things. Finally free!
“Tomo, I’ll give you a short quiz on all the material tomorrow,” Tess announced.
Knowing Tess, her definition of a quiz was a full blown test. Why do you test me so?
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Tess,” I said.
“Remember to study,” Tess reminded.
I debated whether or not to actually study. Was this the kind of dilemma Shan and Zhuyu faced? If I faltered now, that put me at their level. For the next three hours, I highlighted and searched up practice problems. Damn, this was really tough to maintain, but I couldn’t give up now.
When it was 7:00, I finally stopped. I gained a decent understanding of the material. Enough to hit average hopefully. Relieved, I sat down in front of my computer and saw my phone vibrate.
“Tess? Did you need something?” I asked.
“I just wanted to see check in. How’s the progress?” Tess inquired.
“Good. It’s rare for you to check up on me,” I commented.
“I’m just curious. You will gain that 95. Good night,” Tess replied.
Way to make me feel secure, Tess. Sighing, I rested my head on the desk. Your expectations are too high. Might as well keep studying.
Winter Break 2016 Week 2 Wednesday
“Good job, Tomo, you got a 75,” Tess revealed.
“Tess, are you sure? I mean, it’s a 75,” I remarked.
“Although I usually expect a 95, this is adequate enough for you to succeed. That’s all I can ask for at the moment,” Tess explained.
“How many more days of lecturing?” I asked, stretching.
“Only one more day. I believe in you, Tomo. Are you free to head to the training facility right now?” Tess questioned.
“Yeah, who’s my opponent?” I asked, heading toward my closet.
“Shui,” Tess replied.
“Shui, huh? I hope you didn’t rig it like my match with En. He had two different powers,” I said.
“The match with Zhang was a good simulation when facing an opponent you lack information on. Enemies may have hidden talents or powers. I can’t stress how much that possibility exists when entering a different dimension,” Tess admonished, giving me a scary stare.
“I got it, Tess. I’ll keep that in mind,” I stuttered.
“Let’s depart then,” Tess decided.
I noticed a van and red SUV outside of the training facility. Pulling out my card, I tapped it on the card reader and saw a green light blink. Pushing down on the door handle, I opened the door. Someone unexpected sat at the front desk, normally unoccupied.
“Tomo, welcome. How are you today?” Ruiqi greeted me.
“Fine, why are you here?” I asked, looking around.
“Tess requested my assistance with your evaluation today,” she explained.
“Kaze, thanks for coming,” Tess said.
“No problem. I’m interested in seeing how Tomo develops. Her power intrigues me,” Ruiqi remarked, giving me a friendly smile.
I expected to see Zhuyu but he was not present. Instead, I saw Kyoi. She trained in the corner, striking targets with a wooden sword. Noticing us, she gave a wave and continued her training.
“Is Kyoi here often?” I asked, watching the woman practice.
“When she’s free,” Tess replied.
“I wish I still had my powers. I would love to fight her again. She was a formidable opponent,” Ruiqi revealed, a wistful look on her face.
“What rank were you?” I asked, looking at the older woman.
“Third, the spot Jin occupies now,” she answered.
“You must have been pretty strong,” I remarked.
“Sort of? Those were different times. Tess, are we ready?” she said.
Shui walked over, greeting us. This conversation flowed much better than the one with En. Shui was adept at speaking with people, similar to Kisai.
“Proceed to the center. Don’t be too hard on Tomo,” Tess advised.
Ruiqi stood next to Tess, glancing at her tablet. Tess then handed her tablet over. Ruiqi scribbled at a frantic pace, pointing at the screen with a motion similar to a coach. Tess nodded, a thoughtful look on her face. Please let it not be something painful. They wouldn’t do that to me, right?
“Tomo, this artificial dimension will be a little different,” Tess admonished.
What exactly did she mean? There wasn’t enough time to dwell on it. Puddles of water filled the area. I glanced around, seeing stumps and withered trees. Water, huh? If I recalled, Shui manipulated water. I copied En’s power the other day so this battle should be a cinch.
“Alright, Shui, show me your best!” I yelled, feeling confident.
I charged toward him with my sword. Channeling electricity through the blade, I went in for a fatal blow. However, something solid blocked my blade. A large wall of ice appeared, shielding him. He manipulated the phases of water. Pulling back, I formulated another attack plan.
I bypassed his ice wall using a portal. Shui jumped back as I neared him. Good, things were proceeding as planned. As I predicted, he formed another ice wall. Placing portals above him, I directed multiple blades through them. The man noticed, splashing water on them.
With a wave of his hands, my blades crashed down to the ground. He froze my blades, stopping them. I then stepped into a puddle of water. Ice encased my legs and more traveled up my entire body. Shui generated a large wave of water in the air. Icicles formed in the air, traveling straight for me. I failed to escape and the icicles struck me.
Wait, I was dumb. Placing portals underneath my feet, I focused. Yes, this would work. The ice vanished and I was free to move again. Avoiding the barrage of icicles, I reached Shui, slashing him across the right shoulder. Alright, I was feeling it now.
The hero then created a small drizzle, drops of water landing around me. I made a portal, but Shui reacted right away, jamming it with ice. Crap, not good. A large ice cube formed, trapping me inside. When I attempted a portal, nothing appeared. Tess’ words flashed back to me. Whenever I copied powers, I inherited their limitations. Fine, time to melt this ice cube. I placed my right hand on the icy surface, but nothing happened. Oh come on, don’t tell me this was another one of those dumb natural world limits.
“Time to call it, Tess,” Ruiqi suggested.
“Agreed. Okay, that’s enough for now,” Tess said, releasing us from the swampy artificial dimension.
I sat down on the ground, feeling more fatigued than the last battle. Learning to copy Shui’s power was one reason, but it was also the pace of the battle. Ichaival’s teleportation power drained me. Tess handed me a bottle of water.
“Good job breaking through my ice,” Shui complimented.
“If I didn’t have Ichaival’s power, I wouldn’t have broken free. I’m impressed, you know how to really use your water power in different ways,” I observed.
“It’s just practice. You’ll be there one day too,” Shui said.
“Yeah. Thanks for coming. It’s your day off from work, isn’t it?” I asked.
“I was free anyways. Feng wants to talk to you,” Shui replied, leaving me alone with her.
Kyoi sat down next to me, a subdued expression on her face. She draped a towel around her neck, sweat still coming down from her forehead. Her long black hair was tied back in a ponytail.
“You’ve improved, Tomo. I am impressed. Care to spar with me?” Kyoi requested.
“I’ll refuse. What’s wrong with you today, Kyoi? Why are you so nice all of a sudden? It’s freaking me out,” I questioned, moving a few inches away from her.
“Do you think I’m an intimidating woman preying on the weak? Even if I project that image, you don’t have to be so scared,” she replied.
“Yes I do. I’ve seen you serious before,” I disagreed.
“I should work on my image a little more. How are you progressing through Tess’ lectures?” she asked, her usual playful smile not present.
“It’s going well. Why the interest?” I questioned, suspicion setting in.
“You’ll need it for your powers. I’m just checking in. Contrary to your opinion, I do look out for the well-being of others,” she revealed.
“I’ll take your word for it. By the way, where’s Zhuyu? He’s always here when I’ve come by,” I wondered.
“Oh, he’s recovering from a wisdom teeth removal,” Kyoi answered.
“He’s doing fine now. Still feeling sleepy after taking his pain medicine,” Shui revealed.
“Good to hear. He should be fine the day after tomorrow,” Kyoi remarked.
“Guess you guys are normal people too. It’s kind of weird to think about, seems almost surreal,” I realized.
“Yeah, we’re pretty normal. Tess said we’re done. She wants to talk to you,” Shui said.
“Shui, how long have you known Zhuyu?” I asked.
“Since middle school. We met in sixth grade,” Shui replied.
“Wow, that’s a long time. How about you, Kyoi?” I commented.
“Not as long as Lau. I’ve known Long for about three years,” Kyoi answered, a thoughtful look on her face.
“Really? It seems you’ve known each other longer than that,” I said, surprised.
“Does it?” Kyoi replied, shrugging her shoulders.
“Yeah, it does. Did you go to the same high school as him?” I asked, looking over at Kyoi.
“No. Lau did. You can ask him for more details. Tess is itching to talk to you so let’s end it here for now. We can continue later if you wish. Good luck, Tomo,” Kyoi said and headed toward the locker room.
“See ya later, Tomo,” Shui said, departing too.
“Good job out there,” Ruiqi said, noticing me approach.
“How did I do? I’m sure you want to give me a lecture on what I did wrong,” I said, anticipating criticism already.
“I thought you did fine. But, Tess is the one who ultimately makes all the decisions,” Ruiqi responded.
“I saw you writing on her tablet. Weren’t those comments on my performance?” I pointed at the stylus in her right hand.
“No, those weren’t about you specifically. Those were more on Lau’s attack pattern and how you responded. I’m not a great strategist, but I can provide my personal observations about your powers,” she elaborated.
“Tess, what do you have to say?” I asked.
“Nothing much. Your performance has improved. Keep track of the portals you make and monitor your stamina. More detailed information is available in the report I’ll send later,” Tess replied.
“Is that really it for today?” I questioned.
“Yes, tomorrow will be the last day of instruction,” Tess answered.
“So we’re done for now?” I asked.
“Yes. If you wish to use the training equipment, you may do so. I will work on your report if you choose to stay,” Tess said, tapping her tablet screen.
“I think I’ll just go home. I feel pretty tired. I don’t exactly want to put more strain on my body,” I admitted.
“Kaze, I thank you for your assistance again,” Tess said.
“It was my pleasure. Tomo, take care. Make sure to not work too hard,” the woman encouraged.
The three of us exited the facility. Kyoi sat in the red SUV, adjusting her rearview mirror and noticed my gaze. Finished, she glanced down at something, presumably her phone. I thought she might have left by now. Did she stay behind to mock me?
“Kaze, where’s your car?” Tess asked, looking around the parking lot.
“Oh, I parked underground,” she revealed.
“I guess Shui left already,” I said, noticing the van gone.
“Yes, he probably had something planned,” Tess said.
“There’s an underground parking lot here. When were you planning on telling me?” I asked.
“I sent you a map of the area. Did you not check your email?” Tess answered.
“No, I’ll check when I get home,” I replied.
I stared out the window, realizing it was Christmas tomorrow. Tess’ lectures kept me so busy that I lost track of the time. Not that it mattered anyways since I would be spending my quality time listening to her.