Chapter 38:

Volume 2, Chapter 13: Getting To The Fight

Heroes of the Past

Once outside, I squinted as the bright sunlight shone down on us. Tess glanced at her tablet screen. She circled something with her stylus and glanced at the street sign in the corner.Bookmark here

“Let’s head toward the park. There is a portal leading to where we need to go,” Tess commanded.Bookmark here

The large park contained swings, slides, see-saws, balance beams, and monkey bars. Fueled by a gentle breeze, the chains of the swing rattled. Zhuyu glanced up at the sky with a thoughtful look, sitting down on one of the benches. Kisai inspected the swings while Shan gave Ichaival a gentle push into the slide. Shui and En sat down next to Zhuyu.Bookmark here

“Feng,” Tess called out.Bookmark here

Kyoi stood near a drinking fountain with a small smile. She handed Tess a piece of notebook paper. Tess glanced at it and nodded.Bookmark here

“The portal has changed. It’s not in the same place anymore. I assume the Traveler has been here or someone else changed it,” Kyoi reported.Bookmark here

“You suspect it’s located in these locations?” Tess questioned.Bookmark here

Tess examined the piece of paper once more. She instructed everyone to check around the park, pointing out specific attractions. I was assigned the monkey bars. I ran my hands across all the bars but found nothing. Next, I kicked the wood chips underneath the monkey bars, uncovering just dirt.Bookmark here

“I didn’t find anything,” I reported back.Bookmark here

“Ichaival found it. It’s at the tetherball pole,” Tess said.Bookmark here

The tether ball was a faded yellow, hanging from a rusted chain. There were light gashes on the ball, evidence of the many years children whacked it around the metal pole. But I failed to see the portal.Bookmark here

“So am I missing something?” I asked, not sure of the entryway.Bookmark here

“Just strike the ball,” Tess instructed.Bookmark here

Ichaival smacked the ball and the chain rattled with an awkward groan. The ball missed his face by inches, wrapping around the pole. During the final wraparound, I saw a faint glow from the ball. Without notice, the ball separated from the chain and flew into Ichaival’s stomach. He collapsed to his knees, clutching his stomach in pain.Bookmark here

“You okay?” Shan asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I didn’t expect that to happen. That stings a lot,” Ichaival responded.Bookmark here

“Let’s go,” Tess said, touching the chain hanging from the pole.Bookmark here

An outline of a door appeared with light surrounding the edges. After allowing Ichaival to recover first, we all entered. Within seconds, I looked around, finding myself no longer in the park. Looking out of a nearby window, I saw cars zipping by down below. Were we in the heart of a city?Bookmark here

“Good,” Tess muttered.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” I asked.Bookmark here

“There is a certain possibility over time portals redirect somewhere else. But, we’ve arrived in the correct place so there’s no need to worry,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

Moving away from the window, I noticed two doors with card readers above the handle. Tess swiped her training facility card, opening the door for me. Zhuyu did the same on the right door, letting all the men through on that side.Bookmark here

“Tomo, change clothes. It’s summer in this world currently,” Tess ordered.Bookmark here

I looked at all the clothes inside, unsure which ones to select. Sighing, I picked a skirt and a yellow short sleeved shirt. I’m sure if Felicity or Chihiro saw me, they would judge me for my selections. After changing, I looked over at Tess and Kyoi. Tess wore a plain black T-shirt and a pair of black jeans rolled up above her ankles. Kyoi wore a red tanktop with a short sleeved collar shirt over it. Like Tess, she wore a similar pair of jeans.Bookmark here

“Are we done?” Tess asked, pulling her hair back in a ponytail.Bookmark here

“Yeah, let’s go,” I replied.Bookmark here

Walking out, I saw the boys already waiting outside. Zhuyu wore a white T-shirt with a matching color, unbuttoned long sleeve dress shirt. Even in this weather, he wore a pair of dress pants although much thinner than his usual ones. The others wore a variation of T-shirts and shorts. Instead of a T-shirt, Shui wore a striped tank top. En, unlike the others, didn’t wear athletic shorts but instead cargo shorts with two pockets on each side. Was Zhuyu cold or just hate showing skin that much? He would surely regret wearing so many layers.Bookmark here

“So where are we heading exactly?” I asked.Bookmark here

“To meet up with some old friends. They’ll give you a taste of double battles,” Tess replied, handing us cards.Bookmark here

I flipped the card over, seeing SMT on the back with a bus in the background. I placed it near my skirt and realized there were no pockets. What about my shirt? That didn’t work either. Kyoi smirked at my struggles.Bookmark here

“I can help you with that, Tomo,” Tess said.Bookmark here

She returned shortly with a small purse. I slung it over my right shoulder, placing the card inside. This felt weird. Walking out of the door, we descended down four floors of steps. I didn’t realize we were that high up.Bookmark here

Tess led us to a bus stop where we sat, waiting. This might be a good chance at mind diving again. Perhaps this time I would find something more useful. But who should it be? I was curious about Kyoi but she was crazy. If she caught on, then no doubt I would feel tremendous pain. Shui seemed like an alright choice. Maybe I would finally get a battle scene this time.Bookmark here

“Shui, isn’t Zhuyu hot wearing all of that?” I asked.Bookmark here

“He’s always like that. I would be hella hot but he seems fine,” Shui replied.Bookmark here

Zhuyu rolled his sleeves halfway up now. He didn’t seem to be sweating even with all his layers on. Whatever, time to focus on my actual task. Shui looked at me when answering my question and I executed the mind dive procedure.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Memory Dive 2: Crappy School LunchesBookmark here

Time Period UnknownBookmark here

I found myself in a classroom. A teacher with a potbelly stood at the whiteboard, writing down deadlines dates. Shui sat in the middle of the classroom next to a tall Filipino man. I also saw Kisai and Ichaival there too. Zhuyu wasn’t present though.Bookmark here

“Okay, remember you have to submit your letter of intent for your senior project by this date. For every day past this deadline, there will be a two point deduction from the score you receive. Dr. Mink and I will go through them making sure that it’s something achievable. We’ll also make a few notes on them. Any questions?” the teacher asked.Bookmark here

Someone raised their hand in class. The face was unclear to me compared to others in the class. I couldn’t quite hear the question too well. The teacher’s mouth moved but with no audible sound. Could the issue be related to Shui’s memory of the events?Bookmark here

“If you do decide to something with a partner, I want you to make sure you know the responsibilities involved. Your grade will be a result of both your efforts and not just one of you. Be sure to read….,” the teacher’s voice trailed off.Bookmark here

After a few minutes, the teacher walked away from the whiteboard and sat at his desk. The noise level increased as everyone started chatting with each other.Bookmark here

“Have you decided what to do yet?” the man, seated next to Shui, inquired.Bookmark here

“I’ve been thinking of doing something singing related,” Shui replied.Bookmark here

“Oh, that’s nice. Want to partner up? I can play the guitar while you sing,” the man suggested.Bookmark here

“That sounds cool. We can do covers of songs we both know,” Shui agreed.Bookmark here

“Alright, let’s do this then!” the man said, excitement in his voice.Bookmark here

“Wow, you guys have already figured out what you’re going to do?” Ichaival asked, sitting next to the tall Filipino man.Bookmark here

“Yep. This will be really good. I will be counting on you, Dex,” Shui declared.Bookmark here

“I’m still not sure what I want to do yet. Jin, what do you want to do?” Ichaival asked.Bookmark here

“Not sure yet. But we still have a lot of time to decide, right?” Kisai responded.Bookmark here

They talked more but I only caught fragments of their conversation. The bell rang and everyone left the classroom in a hurry. Shui walked up the rickety stairs of the school toward a large room. The sign read “Lunch Commons”.Bookmark here

Inside, the walls were chipped, faded paint up on the ceiling support beams. The tables were littered with food crumbs and opened food packages. Shui headed into a line, presumably to get lunch. People shoved each other, cutting in the line. This was a madhouse compared to my school. Two teachers monitored the lines but did nothing to quell the chaos occurring.Bookmark here

Shui exited from the other side, carrying a paper tray. There was a small carton of milk, an unappetizing pizza, a small apple, and wrapped up bread. What the hell was wrong with their school? I checked other people’s plate and saw a small serving of pasta noodles and gravy. No way that was fulfilling. I felt a bit sorry for the students who paid for such shabby food.Bookmark here

“Hey, Shui, ready for math class?” Zhuyu asked, biting into a sandwich.Bookmark here

Zhuyu brought his own lunch to school. Good job, he knew to avoid the food in here. En sat near him with no food. I guess he didn’t eat lunch. Kisai and Ichaival joined them a few minutes later. Kisai had a crappy pizza like Shui. Ichaival had a boxed salad which he poured sauce onto.Bookmark here

“Hey, did you finish the homework?” Zhuyu asked, pulling out an apple.Bookmark here

“Oh, I still have two more problems. I’ll do them now since I don’t have chess,” Kisai responded, pouring a mixture of sauce onto his pizza.Bookmark here

“I’m not ready for that quiz at all. Help me, Long!” Shui said.Bookmark here

“You’ll be fine. Darryl, what are you thinking for your senior project?” Zhuyu assured Shui.Bookmark here

“Not sure yet. I might do something with Jin. What about you?” Ichaival replied.Bookmark here

“Writing a story. I’m thinking 100 pages or more,” Zhuyu answered, finishing his apple.Bookmark here

“You’re crazy. That’s too much,” Shui retorted.Bookmark here

“It’ll be fine. I might get lazy though,” Zhuyu said.Bookmark here

“I think Jin is the only one we have to be concerned about,” Ichaival remarked.Bookmark here

I did learn some new things, but again, this didn’t help me at all with figuring out their powers. Come on, when will you give me something useful? This mind diving would be a huge waste of time if I couldn’t extract anything useful. Sighing, I watched them talk. They were joined by a few more people but nothing exciting or relevant happened.Bookmark here

MIND DIVE 2 ENDBookmark here

***Bookmark here

“The bus is here, Tomo. Let’s go,” Tess shook my shoulders.Bookmark here

“How many stops until we get there?” I asked, following the Gatekeeper to the middle section.Bookmark here

“I never counted. From what I can recall, it’s around twelve stops,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

Oh, how rare. Tess usually was very observant. Out of habit, I placed my hands down expecting to pull out my phone. I slapped the edge of my skirt instead. Crap, I forgot. Tess tapped my shoulders when it was time to get off. I saw a tall building with at least thirty floors. Tess led us inside and we waited as she spoke to the receptionist.Bookmark here

“Let’s go up,” Tess reported.Bookmark here

Getting off on the twentieth floor, I saw portraits of people hanging along the hallway. The floor gleamed with a sparkle that only constant maintenance provided. We stopped in front of an automatic sliding glass door. Tess entered, beckoning for us to follow.Bookmark here

“What the hell is this place?” I said, looking around.Bookmark here

It was a spacious area with an observatory located at the top. There were thick walls enclosing a large space with stadium style seating located behind the walls. A man in his mid twenties and a woman in her early twenties walked out of a tunnel located on the east side.Bookmark here

“Tess, it’s a pleasure to see you again,” the man greeted.Bookmark here

“How is everyone doing?” the woman asked.Bookmark here

Tess and the others updated the two people about current events. The man nodded with a concerned look on his face.Bookmark here

“That is indeed a major issue. We haven’t seen anything on our end. But, we’ll help you as much as possible,” the man said.Bookmark here

“Tomo Yuki, nice to meet you. I’m Emily Y and this is my husband, Shane Z. We conduct research on the heroes you’ve heard so much about. Although that wasn’t our first job. We were heroes ourselves,” she introduced.Bookmark here

“I see. Will you be the opponents for the double battle exhibition today?” I asked.Bookmark here

“That is correct. Go easy on us okay?” Shane said with a smile.Bookmark here

The married couple wore white lab coats dropping down below their knees. Shane’s black hair was gelled up, stubbles dotting his face. Emily had chestnut colored hair with a single braid on the right side of her head. It dropped below her shoulders and I saw two tiny cat ornaments on the left side.Bookmark here

“So who will be facing us?” Shane asked, taking off his white lab coat.Bookmark here

“Long and Darryl will be your opponents for today,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“Ah, an interesting pair. Long is a reliable partner for almost anyone. Okay, Emily, you ready?” Shane remarked, glancing over at his wife.Bookmark here

“Of course,” Emily nodded.Bookmark here

Shane was well built. I expected him to be scrawny but he looked pretty intimidating. Emily looked strong too. Zhuyu and Ichaival stepped up to the center where they greeted the two.Bookmark here

“So who do you think will win?” I asked Kisai.Bookmark here

“I think Long and Darryl are gonna get their asses kicked,” Kisai replied.Bookmark here

I couldn’t quite tell if he was joking. Zhuyu spoke to Ichaival, moving his hands around. Actually, why did I even ask Kisai? There was a much better option available if I wanted to know their chances of winning. By now, everyone else except for Zhuyu and Ichaival sat in the front seats, observing the fight. I headed toward Shan, most reliable for anything related to the false archer.Bookmark here

“Shan, what do you think about this fight?” I asked, taking a seat near him.Bookmark here

“Might be pretty bad for them. Despite their appearances, Shane and Emily are pretty good. And Long and Darryl aren’t exactly at 100%,” Shan replied.Bookmark here

“And what are those two’s powers exactly?” I questioned, watching the participants prepare.Bookmark here

“The power of analysis,” Shan grinned at me.Bookmark here

“Really?” I glared at Shan.Bookmark here

“Okay, okay, it’s the power to change the environment. I think you’ll get more out of it if you just watch,” Shan revealed.Bookmark here

“Just out of curiosity, if Zhuyu and Ichaival lose, what does that mean?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Punishment from Tess,” Shan replied.Bookmark here

I knew Ichaival was a lower tier hero but that didn’t mean he couldn’t beat them. After all, he was partnered up with a former high ranking hero. However, Shan’s words bothered me a bit. He mentioned both Zhuyu and Ichaival weren’t at full health. Why did Tess pick them if that was the case? She had more talented options available. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.