Chapter 68:

Volume 3, Chapter 14-1: Shady Recruiting

Heroes of the Past

Winter Quarter 2016 Week 1 SaturdayBookmark here

Yuka sat in my room reading a book. I stared at the integral sign on my math homework, sighing. I knew how to do the problem, but the steps were so long. Crap, I forgot to ask Zhuyu about the professor for my class too.Bookmark here

“Yuki, you look troubled,” Yuka said, flipping to the next page in her book.Bookmark here

“This problem will take awhile. I shouldn’t have woken up so late,” I said, writing down numbers for the problem.Bookmark here

“What were you doing last night?” Yuka questioned.Bookmark here

“Flame…. uh, I was doing some things with Felicity,” I blurted out.Bookmark here

“You’ve really gotten to know her, huh?” Yuka questioned.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but I end up spending more time with Tess than anyone else,” I admitted, checking the boundaries of integration.Bookmark here

“That’s not a bad thing. Tess is a good person to know,” Yuka remarked.Bookmark here

“I guess. How’s everything with you and Champ?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“We went to a book signing a few days ago to meet one of my favorite authors. It was pretty cool. How’s your love life going, Yuki?” Yuka chuckled.Bookmark here

“What? You know I don’t really care about those kinds of things right now,” I said, caught off guard by her sudden question.Bookmark here

“Really? Well, I won’t pry then. That reminds me, I saw this picture on Felicity’s social media,” Yuka brought up, taking out her phone.Bookmark here

She showed me a photo of Felicity holding a pair of movie tickets. Oh, this must be the date Shan and Zhuyu teased Ichaival about. Damn it, I needed to stop getting distracted. Focus, Yuki!Bookmark here

“I wonder if I should ask Yukie for help,” I wondered, swiveling around in my office chair.Bookmark here

“She is just next door. You might as well take advantage of it,” Yuka said.Bookmark here

“That’s true, but I always feel bad asking her for help. I’m sure she has her own things to do,” I admitted.Bookmark here

“She’s willing to help you so it doesn’t matter, right? Unless she’s busy,” Yuka countered.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but I can solve this though. It would be lazy of me to ask her for help,” I decided, continuing my work.Bookmark here

“I wonder how Chihiro’s doing. They’re still on break right now, so jealous,” Yuka wondered.Bookmark here

“They’re still on break?” I exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Their finals are a week after ours. She starts school on Monday,” Yuka explained.Bookmark here

“Yuka, can you grab the red notebook from my shelf?” I requested, pointing at it.Bookmark here

“Sure,” Yuka agreed, placing her finger on the page.Bookmark here

She crawled over, pulling it off from the shelf. I checked the cover, making sure it was the correct one.Bookmark here

“Do you have all of Tess’ notes? There’s six notebooks,” Yuka asked, picking up her book again.Bookmark here

“She left them for me so I might as well use them. It’s better than calling her right now,” I explained.Bookmark here

“I’m just surprised she’s willing to hand over all her notes. Guess she doesn’t really need them though,” Yuka remarked.Bookmark here

I flipped through the notebook, finding the section I was working on for homework right now. Despite Tess’ dry style of writing, it was effective in teaching the subject. After three minutes, I finished the problem, but did not feel happy at all. Ten more problems remained on the online assignment which I lacked motivation to complete. Yuka took out her phone, surprise on her face, scrolling through something.Bookmark here

“What’s wrong?” I asked, taking a short break.Bookmark here

“Shinji’s here,” Yuka revealed.Bookmark here

“Is he looking for you?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“Actually, he wants to talk to you,” Yuka said.Bookmark here

“What? I don’t even know him. Why does he want to talk to me?” I asked, confused.Bookmark here

“I don’t know. He’ll tell me once he’s done speaking with you first,” Yuka answered, a concerned look on her face.Bookmark here

Yuka walked downstairs with me. Mom already opened the door, letting him in. This was Champ Shinji in person. He had rather plain hair, but I noticed a few strands in the front colored white. He wore a pair of thick rimmed glasses, accompanied by a nice smile. Comparable to Felicity, but something felt off about it, as if it was out of obligation. Mom pulled me aside into the kitchen, letting Yuka and Champ talk.Bookmark here

“Yuki, is this what I think it is?” she hissed.Bookmark here

“What kind of nonsense are you thinking?” I denied.Bookmark here

“Are you stealing away Yuka’s boyfriend? That’s quite bold, but I will support whatever decision you make,” Mom questioned, giving me a thumbs up.Bookmark here

“No, no! This is my first time meeting him in person. I have no idea why he’s here. Stop thinking about weird things, Mom,” I gave an exasperated sigh.Bookmark here

“I know, I know. I’ll bring snacks up later,” Mom decided, freeing me from her interrogation.Bookmark here

I returned upstairs, seeing Champ alone in my room. This was an awkward situation and one I wished to avoid.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I want to talk to you about something,” Champ called out to me.Bookmark here

“Sure, where’s Yuka?” I asked.Bookmark here

“She’s in the bathroom. Let’s talk about business,” Champ said in a very serious tone.Bookmark here

“What do you mean by that?” I blinked, not sure what he meant.Bookmark here

“Don’t play dumb with me, Tomo. I know about you and your powers,” Champ revealed, pushing his glasses up.Bookmark here

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I refuted, feeling imminent danger.Bookmark here

“Tomo, it is in your best interest to join our side. The people you’re with right now aren’t exactly the best,” Champ continued on.Bookmark here

“I still don’t know what you’re talking about. Champ, are you okay?” I bluffed, hoping he would relent.Bookmark here

“You still won’t admit it, huh? Fine, I’ll have to force your hand then, Tomo,” Champ decided, taking off his glasses.Bookmark here

I expected glowing eyes, but he only placed his glasses down on the ground. My necklace shook. I thought Tess was the only one. From my observations, everyone had some kind of unique power or at least a variation, making it special.Bookmark here

“Tomo, by now that you’re ready to tell me the truth. I’ll offer you a deal. Join us and you get an instant power up. I promise you it’ll be worthwhile. All I ask for is information,” Champ laid out his terms.Bookmark here

“Champ, what the hell are you talking about?” I continued my denial.Bookmark here

“Tomo, you want to play that game? I really don’t have the time for that. As you know, I think your so called comrades are already on their way. No doubt I’ve set off Tess,” Champ sighed, looking around.Bookmark here

“If I accept your terms, how can I be sure that you’ll fulfill your end of the deal? I’m very skeptical about anything you have to say,” I asked.Bookmark here

“We’re the heroes of righteousness. It would be strange for us to not keep our word. Unlike the people you associate with, we are true to our word. I guarantee it,” Champ replied, picking up his glasses.Bookmark here

“I’m hesitant about this. You just came out of nowhere and expect me to believe you,” I shook my head.Bookmark here

“And your original meeting with them wasn’t the same? Tomo, don’t try to twist my words because it won’t work. You met Tess and the others under less than ideal conditions too,” Champ pointed out.Bookmark here

“I can’t deny that,” I responded with a weak answer.Bookmark here

“I would….,” Champ started, but then turned around.Bookmark here

Chains flew at him from all directions and I heaved a sigh of relief. Tess stood behind him. Champ placed his glasses back on and dodged her attacks. From his movements, I knew he was more experienced than me.Bookmark here

“Gatekeeper, don’t bother me when I’m engaging in a nice conversation with Tomo,” Champ shouted, rolling away from chains.Bookmark here

Tess pulled back and a golden glow appeared beneath him. Champ escaped, but one single chain caught him in the leg. It wrapped around his ankle, slowing him down. More chains binded him, forcing him down to the ground with a thud.Bookmark here

“Champ, what were you trying to do?” Tess asked.Bookmark here

“Just negotiating a deal. Nothing more. I haven’t heard Tomo’s response yet, so cut me some slack,” Champ responded, gritting his teeth.Bookmark here

“No, Champ Shinji. You’ve failed. There’s no more discussions. Tomo doesn’t agree,” Tess denied his request.Bookmark here

“We haven’t even heard the answer from her yet. At least grant me that mercy, Gatekeeper,” Champ implored.Bookmark here

Tess snapped her fingers and the chains tightened. His plea fell on deaf ears. She hauled him up from the ground. A chain fell from the ceiling and the Gatekeeper hung him from it.Bookmark here

“Ignoring him for now, Tomo, are you okay?” Tess asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’m fine. What’s going on here? I thought you were the only one who had these kind of dimension twisting powers,” I questioned, looking at Champ.Bookmark here

“His powers are different than mine. He doesn’t control entry to different dimensions. He just distorts reality,” Tess revealed.Bookmark here

I stared at Tess, digesting all the information. Champ was part of the other heroes. Did that mean he befriended Yuka for the exact purpose of convincing me? If so, that was unacceptable. Tess turned around, lunging forward with her fist. The chains loosened around Champ and he sunk down into the floor, as if caught in quicksand.Bookmark here

“Did we just let him escape?” I asked.Bookmark here

“It’s fine. No need to pursue him,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

She snapped her fingers, returning me back to my room. I glanced at the clock on my table, only three minutes elapsed. Tess pulled out her phone, making a call. Someone knocked on the door. Oh, damn, how was I suppose to explain Champ’s disappearance?Bookmark here

“Yuki, sorry about Shinji. He had something to do so he left early,” Yuka informed me, looking down at her phone.Bookmark here

“It’s fine, I don’t mind,” I said, blinking at her statement.Bookmark here

“Oh, Tess, you’re here too. Looks like you might be busy, we can talk more next time,” Yuka said, giving me a wave.Bookmark here

“Yeah, come by whenever,” I nodded.Bookmark here

“Your friend is now involved whether she likes it or not. Make sure to be normal around her when she’s with Champ. Although, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that,” Tess finally broke the silence after Yuka’s departure.Bookmark here

“Why do they hate you guys so much? He went as far as to use his powers just to convince me to join them. What did you do?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“Nothing much. Our actions deviated from their philosophy and that is the main reason. For more details, it may be helpful to ask the others, but you don’t have to worry about Champ. He won’t try this again,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.