Chapter 69:

Volume 3, Chapter 14-2: Math Help Again

Heroes of the Past

Someone rang the doorbell twenty minutes later. Mom already opened the door, revealing an annoyed Zhuyu.Bookmark here

“Oh, it’s you again. Have you finally taken an interest in my daughter?” Mom asked.Bookmark here

“No, I’m here because of Tess,” Zhuyu responded, pointing at the Gatekeeper.Bookmark here

“Too bad. Yuki, how can you let your friend beat you? I’m ashamed my daughter has failed even at such a simple task,” Mom remarked, shaking her head.Bookmark here

“Mom, just be quiet. Tess, why is Zhuyu here?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Protection,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“Really? I thought you said we don’t have to worry about Champ,” I pointed out.Bookmark here

“Not Champ. The others associated with him are a concern. With Zhuyu here, they’ll at least reconsider before attacking,” Tess revised her original answer.Bookmark here

“I’ll take your word for it,” I said.Bookmark here

“Zhuyu, follow me up to Tomo’s room. We must hold a conference,” Tess ordered.Bookmark here

“Why not just talk in the living room? I mean….,” Zhuyu suggested, but Mom cut him off before he finished.Bookmark here

“There’s no need to be shy. Go!” Mom urged.Bookmark here

Zhuyu sighed, following Tess upstairs. We all sat around the table in my room. Zhuyu took a pen out of his pocket and a folded piece of paper. This was awkward.Bookmark here

“Tomo, what exactly did Champ offer you?” Tess inquired.Bookmark here

“A power up, but I wasn’t going to agree. I don’t even know him. Though he did make some good points,” I recalled the terms he listed.Bookmark here

“Hmm, not a bad offer. So, would you go over to them based on what you’ve seen of us so far?” Tess prodded further.Bookmark here

“Maybe? I mean, it’s not like I know you guys that well either. I would probably trust what you say more than Champ and the others at this point,” I admitted.Bookmark here

“Good choice,” Zhuyu commented.Bookmark here

I glanced at his piece of paper, seeing a crude diagram with i’s, j’s, and k’s organized in square brackets. They looked like matrices, but he wrote weird letters surrounding them and various arrows.Bookmark here

“Tess, how viable do you think it is?” Zhuyu asked, tapping his piece of paper.Bookmark here

“In theory, possible, but there exist issues. The computations for are beyond what you can handle,” Tess answered, glancing over at his piece of paper.Bookmark here

“The issue is defining the space. Polar coordinates might be more useful than the usual Cartesian one. Especially if we’re dealing with imaginary numbers,” Zhuyu mused, leaning back against the wall.Bookmark here

“Yes, there will have to be modifications. Ah, sorry about the tangent, Tomo. It’s good to know you trust us even if it is a minuscule amount,” Tess agreed with his assessment.Bookmark here

“Zhuyu, I want to ask about the tension between you and the other heroes,” I decided.Bookmark here

“Well, it’s just we’re douchebags, simple as that. We’ve done some rather shady things like making deals with criminals, stuff like that. Or not helping people,” Zhuyu revealed.Bookmark here

“Of course. I can see that,” I nodded.Bookmark here

“They take their roles much more seriously than we do. There’s bound to be issues when it appears we’re not doing what we’re suppose to,” Zhuyu continued, writing down more weird letters on the paper.Bookmark here

“It’s starting to make sense. I already know why they hate you so much just by seeing you and Shan at school,” I put the pieces together.Bookmark here

“Hey, we pull through when it counts. That’s all that matters. Besides, I think that you’ll find us much more tolerable once you really know us,” Zhuyu protested, capping his nice pen.Bookmark here

“I guess. You know, this is actually good that you’re here. I’ve been meaning to ask you about something, Zhuyu,” I realized.Bookmark here

Zhuyu blinked and sighed. Don’t give me that response. I don’t pester you with random questions all the time.Bookmark here

“Alright, fine. What do you want to know?” Zhuyu asked, glancing at his watch.Bookmark here

Most people these days didn’t even wear one anymore, relying on their phones. Actually, Kisai wore one too. He wore an analog watch with a large face, small scratches around the face. It wasn’t expensive, but used for its function of telling the time rather than a fashion statement.Bookmark here

“What rank were you before?” I questioned, curious about his strength level.Bookmark here

“Oh, that’s what you wanted to know. I was ranked ninth, above where Tess is now,” he replied, giving a slight smile.Bookmark here

“Really? I thought you might be higher,” I commented.Bookmark here

“Nah, I’m not as strong as Shigetzu or Jin. I’m just barely above average. I would probably be with Darryl down there in the lower tiers if Feng didn’t train me,” he admitted.Bookmark here

“Right. I still think you’re hiding something from me though. Especially with anything involving Feng,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“Maybe I am. Tess, how long do I have to be here? I still have homework to do,” Zhuyu inquired, tapping his pen on the table.Bookmark here

“Two hours at most. I’m still working on the barrier around Tomo’s house. Once I finish, you can go,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

Zhuyu nodded, pulling out his phone. If he stayed for that long, I might as well interrogate him. I would attempt a mind dive, but I wasn’t within an artificial dimension.Bookmark here

“Zhuyu, what were your previous powers?” I continued my questioning.Bookmark here

“Oh, just something called the Dragon's Mandate. That’s pretty much it,” he answered.Bookmark here

“That doesn’t tell me anything at all. You do know that, right?” I pressed him for more details.Bookmark here

“Fine, I’ll give you the basic rundown. Accelerated healing, strong defense, and the power of the skies. You know, thunderstorms and rain, stuff like that,” Zhuyu explained.Bookmark here

“Sounds pretty overpowered. Why would you ever give something like that up?” I asked, wondering why he chose his current vector powers.Bookmark here

“Felt like a change. I wanted to test out some natural world based powers and I’m a math major so it seemed appropriate. Of course, this was after the supposed final battle. I haven’t had my current powers for that long,” Zhuyu explained.Bookmark here

“You’re kind of an idiot if you don’t mind me saying,” I commented.Bookmark here

“I guess? At the time, it seemed like a good idea. Things were dying down and there weren’t a lot of threats,” he revealed.Bookmark here

Zhuyu glanced at my computer desk which reminded me of my incomplete math homework. Oh, I should take this chance to ask him questions.Bookmark here

“Oh, I see. U-sub, huh? This isn’t a hard problem, but you probably don’t know the trig identities. That’s the only thing that makes this one difficult,” Zhuyu said, writing down the problem again on a new piece of paper.Bookmark here

“Which one do I use?” I asked, not sure what he meant.Bookmark here

“Let me see. Do you have the textbook?” he asked, glancing over at my bookshelf.Bookmark here

“Of course,” I nodded, grabbing the book for him.Bookmark here

I expected him to flip to the back, but instead he only turned a few pages in the front. He stared at the page for awhile and then looked over at Tess. Wait, did he actually not know? This was unexpected.Bookmark here

“Tess, the half angle formulas are correct in here, right?” Zhuyu asked, pointing to an equation.Bookmark here

“Yes. That is the correct form for cosine squared,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“Okay, thank you. Yeah, so you just want to convert the $cos^2(u)$ into this form where you have $frac{1+2cos(u)}{2}$. From there, I think you can take care of the rest,” Zhuyu explained, writing down the initial steps.Bookmark here

That did make sense. Zhuyu flipped through the book as I solved the problem. He stopped in the middle, tracing the page with his finger. Was he working out a problem? Ignoring him, I finally found the solution, inputting it into box online. At last, no red X’s! I really hated those red X’s. They mocked me every time I failed.Bookmark here

“Tomo, bookmark this page. It’ll help when you do integration by parts later on. You definitely want to remember this when you do solids of revolution,” Zhuyu advised, showing me the page.Bookmark here

“Okay. I think you had the same professor when you took Calc II, right?” I asked, searching for a bookmark.Bookmark here

“Tomo, here,” Tess handed me a package of sticky notes.Bookmark here

Alright, no time to question why she carried such items with her. Perhaps she was studying. I peeled them off, pasting it onto the top. Zhuyu checked my work.Bookmark here

“Looks good. Whenever you run into this kind of integral, try seeing if you can isolate a sine or cosine. Sometimes, it won’t work, but it’s usually the best choice. Oh, there are actually some functions you can’t integrate, but they won’t put that down there,” Zhuyu noted.Bookmark here

“So about the professor?” I mentioned again.Bookmark here

“Are you talking about Professor Kob?” Zhuyu responded.Bookmark here

“Yeah. My classmates say he’s terrible,” I nodded.Bookmark here

“I thought he was pretty good. Great lecturer in my opinion. I mean, my highest grade in any math course was in his class. I learned a lot from him,” Zhuyu revealed.Bookmark here

“Of course you do well with a hard professor. I’m not like you. Any tips?” I remarked.Bookmark here

“Just take notes. That’s pretty much it. He usually puts a problem similar to one of the examples. I can send you my old midterms if you want,” Zhuyu offered.Bookmark here

“I’m pretty sure that it won’t be as easy as you say. But I will definitely accept those old midterms,” I said, working out the next problem.Bookmark here

“I’ll do it once I get home,” Zhuyu promised, looking at his watch again.Bookmark here

“How did you get here anyways?” I realized.Bookmark here

“I drove. Taking the bus would have taken too long,” Zhuyu answered.Bookmark here

“Oh, I thought someone might have given you a ride,” I said.Bookmark here

There was knock on the door and Mom walked in with a tray of food. She glanced at Zhuyu, who kept a flat expression on his face. Both Tess and Zhuyu now looked rather expressionless.Bookmark here

“Tomo, as I….,” Zhuyu began his sentence.Bookmark here

“Yuki,” Mom interjected.Bookmark here

“What is it, Mom?” I asked after her interruption.Bookmark here

“I wasn’t calling you. I was just correcting your friend,” Mom explained.Bookmark here

Zhuyu blinked at her statement, directing an inquisitive stare in my direction. Well, I didn’t know how to react either. Perhaps the best course of action was to just ignore her.Bookmark here

“Uh, To-,” Zhuyu said the first syllable of my name, before Mom interrupted again.Bookmark here

“Yuki,” Mom cut in.Bookmark here

“Yu….ki, you should be careful on that one. It has boundaries so be sure to evaluate it,” Zhuyu finally gave in.Bookmark here

“Here are some snacks for you. Please enjoy,” Mom announced, giving me a knowing expression.Bookmark here

Tess showed no reaction during our interaction, continuing whatever she was doing. Zhuyu sighed after Mom left and then checked my computer screen.Bookmark here

“Anyways, Tomo, you have to be careful about evaluating the boundaries. There are problems where you have to split it up,” Zhuyu warned.Bookmark here

Things were back to normal then. I nodded at his advice, sketching a quick picture of the function before proceeding. I made good progress on my homework while Tess continued constructing her barrier. Zhuyu occasionally glanced over at my work. He gave some pointers when I became stuck, but let me do my work until I asked for help.Bookmark here

An hour later, Tess informed us there was still thirty minutes left. I completed my math homework and felt pretty accomplished. Except I still had chemistry reading, but that could be done later.Bookmark here

“Do you still have a lot of homework left?” I asked, recalling Zhuyu’s unpleased look.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I actually wanted to make some notes, but I guess it’s fine. I still have some time, less time, but still doable,” Zhuyu answered.Bookmark here

I felt a bit bad Zhuyu had to spend his time here, but not really. If what Felicity said before was true, he probably watched anime and wasn’t even doing actual work. However, I appreciated his help. Someone knock on my door again, please let it not be Mom. Yukie outside with a tray of food.Bookmark here

“Yukie, did Mom ask you to bring this?” I asked, taking the tray.Bookmark here

“Yes. She was busy making something so she could not leave the kitchen unattended. I apologize if the food on the tray is not aligned to perfection. I tripped on one of the steps,” Yukie replied, pointing at the food.Bookmark here

“Thank you for taking the trouble of bringing it up. Mom didn’t tell you anything that could be misinterpreted, right?” I thanked my cousin.Bookmark here

“What do you mean by that?” Yukie asked, tilting her head to the side.Bookmark here

“It’s fine. If you don’t know what I mean, then Mom didn’t bring it up,” I dismissed.Bookmark here

Zhuyu glanced at the food on the tray, but didn’t touch any of it. He ate nothing from the time Mom brought it up either. Was he too shy or just disliked the food?Bookmark here

“Ah, you have friends over. I’ll excuse myself then,” Yukie noticed Zhuyu and Tess.Bookmark here

“Wait, Yukie. If you aren’t busy, maybe you can hang out with us for awhile,” I offered.Bookmark here

“Are you sure? If you are discussing any private matters, it may not be prudent for me to be present,” Yukie asked.Bookmark here

“No, no, nothing like that is happening. I was just finishing my math homework and Zhuyu helped me out,” I shook my head at her assumptions.Bookmark here

“Uh, Tono, was it? I’m Zhuyu Long. Due to rather unforeseen circumstances, I came here at the request of Tess. Sorry if we’re bothering you,” Zhuyu introduced himself.Bookmark here

“Ah, I see. Yuki has a rather interesting circle of friends,” Yukie remarked, taking a seat next to me.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” I asked, already regretting my question.Bookmark here

“To be able to summon them at anytime is an incredible demonstration of your friendship,” Yukie explained.Bookmark here

I think you have the wrong idea. Although, she did make a valid point. Tess convinced Zhuyu to come even when he had homework. Same thing happened last time too when Zhuyu and Shan came over to give a rundown on the heroes. What kind of power did she wield over them? Yukie stared at Zhuyu and the zero vector user looked uncomfortable. I didn’t know what was running through her mind. Maybe she just trying to analyze him?Bookmark here

“Zhuyu, what is your relationship with Yuki?” Yukie finally asked.Bookmark here

Tess’ normal expressionless face for a brief moment turned into one of amusement. That surprised me more than my cousin’s question.Bookmark here

“Acquaintances, I guess. I don’t know Tomo too well, so we’re not exactly friends. Why are you curious about it, Tono?” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“I was curious as this is the second time I’ve seen you. Your answer tells me you are not a potential candidate for Yuki’s lover,” Yukie elaborated.Bookmark here

“Well, I’m glad that matter is cleared then,” Zhuyu nodded.Bookmark here

“Do you believe there will be potential for your feelings to change, Zhuyu?” Yukie asked a follow up question.Bookmark here

“Maybe? I don’t know. This is getting weird. Tess, perhaps you can enlighten us with an amazing comment,” Zhuyu pleaded, glancing over at the Gatekeeper.Bookmark here

“Ah, Long is correct in his assessment of the situation. Tomo holds a grudge against most of us at this point. But, over time such hate may turn into something else. Are you satisfied, Long?” Tess added her opinion.Bookmark here

“Sure, why not? Anyways, Tomo, how are you feeling about the quarter so far?” Zhuyu shifted the topic of conversation.Bookmark here

“Going better than last quarter. Nothing too exciting has happened. I’m keeping up,” I replied, relieved he changed the topic.Bookmark here

“Be sure to keep up in math class. It builds on everything you’ve learned so far. I suggest reviewing triangles if you haven’t already. Trust me, it’ll be helpful when you have to do inverse trig subs,” Zhuyu advised, checking his phone.Bookmark here

“You are quite knowledgeable in the topic, Zhuyu,” Yukie observed.Bookmark here

“I should be, considering I’m a math major. I’ve taken the class before as well, so I might as well tell Tomo what kind of things she should expect,” Zhuyu revealed, scrolling through something on his phone.Bookmark here

“You show great promise as Auntie would say,” Yukie commented, her eyes displaying a brightness.Bookmark here

I almost choked on a cracker after Yukie’s sentence. Damn it, Mom, what kind of bad things are you teaching Yukie?Bookmark here

“I don’t know what that’s suppose to mean. I’m just gonna accept that as a compliment. But, really, I’m not that smart. I work two to three times as hard just to keep up with Jin or Shigetzu. Hell, I probably would have to stay up all night for a year just to match Tess’ level of knowledge,” Zhuyu remarked.Bookmark here

“Really?” I asked, surprised by his statement.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’m not that great. Tess, how’s it going?” Zhuyu confirmed.Bookmark here

“Close. About ten more minutes,” Tess updated.Bookmark here

We discussed more idle topics and then the barrier was complete. Zhuyu looked very happy once Tess informed us. I couldn’t blame him, but it made me wonder if he hated being around other people. Specifically me.Bookmark here

“I’m heading home to finish my homework. Tomo and Tono, I thank you for putting up with me. Tess, I’ll see you later,” Zhuyu declared, standing up.Bookmark here

“No, the pleasure was mine. I apologize for any misconceptions from before,” Yukie bowed.Bookmark here

Zhuyu nodded, leaving with rapid speed. Tess left too, telling me to contact her if anything suspicious occurred again. Yukie excused herself as well, leaving me to do my chemistry reading. Today was hectic. Damn it, I really hoped this hero thing would be resolved soon. I didn’t want anything to happen to Yuka. Guess I should be more proactive about doing training.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.