Chapter 72:

Volume 3, Chapter 17: Student Lounge Conversations

Heroes of the Past

Winter Quarter 2016 Week 5 MondayBookmark here

“Jacque, the hell?” Zhuyu remarked, looking over at the man.Bookmark here

Jacque looked up from his laptop, an orange in his mouth. He shrugged his shoulders and finished eating the slice.Bookmark here

“Bro, what do you expect? I already finished my homework, so this is all I got to do,” Jacque replied.Bookmark here

I sat on the opposite side of the circular table, unable to see what Zhuyu meant. From previous experience, it was probably some bulls**t manga or anime crap.Bookmark here

“Have you read this one yet?” Jacque asked, pointing at his screen.Bookmark here

“No, is it any good?” Zhuyu asked, tapping his mechanical pencil against the table surface.Bookmark here

“Bro, hella good,” Jacque said with a large grin.Bookmark here

“Really?” Zhuyu responded with skepticism.Bookmark here

“Nah, not really. It does have that plot though,” Jacque admitted, popping a piece of gum into his mouth.Bookmark here

They continued talking about random topic which I only heard parts of. Right now, I inspected my chemistry midterm, wondering what score would get me a 3.0. I scored above average, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to worry.Bookmark here

“Actually, I just remembered I have an essay to turn in later. F**k my life, man. I should start working on it. But, I don’t really feel like it,” Jacque lamented, placing his head down on the table.Bookmark here

Jacque sighed, typing on his laptop, but paused. He pulled out his phone and stopped working. I checked the class syllabus again, making sure the correct percentages were applied for my rough estimate. Zhuyu wrote on his paper again, writing down a summation sign. What kind of math was he doing?Bookmark here

“Tomo, how is your training with Jin?” Zhuyu asked, pulling out a calculator from his backpack.Bookmark here

“I guess it’s okay. Still haven’t managed to copy any of his magic yet,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Jin’s style is rather unique, so I’m not surprised if you can’t replicate any of his skills. His thinking process is very ingenious, but different than a standard person’s. It’s what makes him so skilled,” Zhuyu complimented his friend, punching in numbers.Bookmark here

“I can see that. It’s like the opposite of dealing with Ichizen,” I remarked.Bookmark here

Was it okay to talk about this kind of stuff with Jacque around? He might be a hero, but it was kind of sad if he was. No offense, of course. I gave Zhuyu a look which he ignored.Bookmark here

“Hey, Jacque, are you know…?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Huh, am I what?” Jacque asked, taking out his earphones.Bookmark here

“Never mind,” I decided.Bookmark here

I glanced at Zhuyu again, hoping for a sign, but he didn’t notice me. He wrote a function down on his paper, staring at it for a good thirty seconds. Whatever, just ignore me like usual. Jin was rather powerful and it actually made me a little glad I was on their side. The same went for Kyoi. If I joined up with Champ, I had no doubt I would have been decimated.Bookmark here

“Sorry, did you say something, Tomo?” Zhuyu asked, finally looking up from his paper.Bookmark here

“Forget about it. It’s not important anyways. I can ask you about it later,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I’ve been wondering about this, but what’s your major?” Jacque asked, resuming his typing.Bookmark here

“I’m not sure yet. What’s yours, Jacque?” I answered.Bookmark here

“Hopefully design, but based on how I’ve done so far, I don’t think I’ll make it. My life officially sucks,” Jacque replied with a large amount of negativity.Bookmark here

“Uh, I see. Oh, that reminds me. Zhuyu, does the name, Konoe, mean anything?” I asked, recalling Kyoi’s hint from last time.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it does. Why do you want to know?” Zhuyu nodded.Bookmark here

“Wow, you actually gave me a straight answer. Kyoi told me to watch out for Felicity, but I’m not sure what she means. She told me the name, Kaisi Konoe. I was wondering if you knew anything,” I revealed.Bookmark here

“Feng is messing with you again, I see. Well, I don’t know if I can tell you anything. Why don’t you ask Felicity? I’m sure she’ll react with great joy when you mention that name. If you really want to know, Tess or Felicity herself can give you the answers,” he responded, checking the time on his watch.Bookmark here

“Yeah, that’s really helpful, Zhuyu,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“I’m always here to help. But seriously, don’t think about it too much. Felicity will probably tell you about it when she wants to,” Zhuyu warned.Bookmark here

You know, that only made me want to know more. Jacque stood up and walked away, presumably to the bathroom.Bookmark here

“Hey, is it okay for us to talk about hero stuff when Jacque’s here?” I finally asked.Bookmark here

“Sure. Jacque knows about us,” Zhuyu confirmed.Bookmark here

“What are his powers?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“He doesn’t have any. He just knows about us like Felicity,” he answered.Bookmark here

“How many people actually know about you guys?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“A select few. It’s not greater than ten. Circumstances kind of forced us to reveal it. Are you worried about your friend? That one girl. I heard Champ is her boyfriend,” Zhuyu responded.Bookmark here

“What do you think I should do?” I asked for advice.Bookmark here

“I can’t say, Tomo, don’t know anything about your friend. Honestly, I’m not the best person to discuss these types of things. Felicity or even Darryl are better choices,” Zhuyu replied, shaking his head.Bookmark here

Jacque returned, swinging around his earphones, looking around the student lounge. Come to think of it, Jacque actually knew a lot of people. Whenever I came here, Jacque talked to a variety of different people, not just Zhuyu or the others. Maybe I shouldn’t judge him too harshly.Bookmark here

“What’s up? You’re looking at me with a weird look,” Jacque said, sitting down again.Bookmark here

“Oh, it’s nothing. I just noticed you know a lot of people,” I spoke about my observation.Bookmark here

“Yeah, sort of. I guess I’m just too nice of a person. Here comes Shigetzu,” Jacque agreed, pointing at the gravity manipulator.Bookmark here

Shan took a seat near me, pulling out his laptop. The man checked his phone first, before plugging his laptop into a nearby outlet. Jacque sighed, staring at his laptop with a sad look. I wondered what it would be like if they were just normal people. Probably the same. I doubt not having powers changed their personalities.Bookmark here

“Tomo, you think you can beat me yet?” Shan asked, after turning on his laptop.Bookmark here

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

“Tess told me that you were training with Jin, so I was just wondering how strong you’ve gotten. If you can beat Darryl, I’m sure that you’re in pretty good shape,” Shan explained with a slight smile on his face.Bookmark here

“You’re messing with me, right? It’s only been two weeks. There’s no way I can be at your level,” I exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I am, but I hope you refine your powers soon,” Shan admitted.Bookmark here

“Besides, Kisai and Kyoi are more than capable,” I shook my head.Bookmark here

“They’re mainly offensive. Much more useful dealing damage out on the front line. It would be great if we can get someone for a support role,” Shan revealed.Bookmark here

“I’ll try, it’s not like I’m a freaking genius like Kisai. Hey, how well do you know Felicity?” I said.Bookmark here

“Not as well as Darryl or Long. She probably hates me,” Shan responded.Bookmark here

“What the hell did you do?” I predicted his answer.Bookmark here

“I did not display the best work ethic when I had a high school class with her. I’m sure you notice that she really has a thing for that,” Shan answered.Bookmark here

“I expected something like that. Ichaival seems to call you “a piece of shit” in multiple conversations,” I nodded, expecting such a response.Bookmark here

“Wow, that guy. That’s probably one of the reasons why she likes Darryl so much,” Shan shook his head.Bookmark here

“That does make sense after seeing her at the Christmas party. Doesn’t Ichaival like that other girl too? Uh, Jen,” I recalled the archer’s name.Bookmark here

“That’s what makes it so interesting. On a related note, has Felicity spoken about Darryl when you’re with her?” Shan grinned at his friend’s predicament.Bookmark here

“A few times,” I recalled our past conversations.Bookmark here

“Just trying to see how it’s going so far,” Shan said, typing on his laptop.Bookmark here

Zhuyu glanced at his watch, packing up his stuff. He bid us goodbye, leaving for his next class. Jacque expressed despair, covering his face up. He leaned back on his chair, tapping his mouse button.Bookmark here

“How many times have you partnered with Kisai?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“Not a lot. He usually works alone. Not like he needs any backup though, Jin is too OP. He can destroy most enemies with his ridiculous magic,” Shan responded.Bookmark here

“I’m guessing you’re with Ichaival mainly?” I followed up with another question.Bookmark here

“We did get our powers from the same dimension. We were on the tennis team together too, so I’ve had a lot of experience working with him,” he confirmed.Bookmark here

“Okay, I can start to see how the pairings formed. I’m curious though, how do they look for team battles?” I was curious about possible pairings.Bookmark here

“I’m with Darry mostly. Jin is solo for the most part, doesn’t do a lot of tag battles. But he’s pretty versatile, so he’s a good with anyone,” Shan responded.Bookmark here

“Kyoi’s not with Zhuyu? I thought they would fight a lot together,” I observed.Bookmark here

“You would think, right? Zhuyu’s with his friend, Zhang, a lot. Jin’s with Kuan the most, the guy who tames animals. Jen’s usually a support so she doesn’t participate in tag battles too often. Who else is left? Oh, Lau switches around too, depending on the situation. He’s usually with Zhang,” Shan glanced up at the ceiling, recalling the partners.Bookmark here

“I’m a bit surprised. Kisai and Kyoi would destroy everyone if they partnered up every time. Seems like you and Zhuyu are more compatible in terms of powers,” I nitpicked.Bookmark here

“Zhuyu’s powers weren’t the same back then. With his “Dragon’s Mandate”, it’s better to partner up with Zhang. Then again, you haven’t really seen us fight double battles, so I understand,” Shan expounded, shrugging his shoulders.Bookmark here

“I haven’t really seen any opportunities for that,” I noticed.Bookmark here

“It’s more common than you think. There are a lot of tournaments and coliseum type battles that are strictly double battle only. It might be a good idea to think about who you want to team up with,” Shan suggested.Bookmark here

I pondered that choice. A difficult question. Who would I enjoy working with? Zhuyu and Shan weren’t at the top of my list as their powers relied on natural world knowledge. Tess was always a safe choice. Shui was quite alright. I didn’t know En too well. Kyoi was crazy, but quite strong, so I wouldn’t mind being with her for short durations. Kisai was pretty laid back, another potential pick.Bookmark here

“That’s an interesting question. Do you have any battles on archive?” I asked, wondering if such a thing existed.Bookmark here

“Tess might have some. She’s pretty meticulous in keeping track of that kind of stuff,” Shan replied.Bookmark here

“Okay, I’ll be sure to ask her next time then,” I decided.Bookmark here

“How do you have time to even train?” Jacque suddenly interjected.Bookmark here

“It’s only for one or two hours a day. It’s not too bad,” I answered.Bookmark here

“I just go home and sleep. Wish I could be dedicated as you,” Jacque mused, tapping his laptop.Bookmark here

“I want to do that too all the time too! That seems amazing,” I said.Bookmark here

“It’s really not. I end up waking up and not even doing what I wanted to. Hah, f**k my life like always. Come on, focus. You can do this,” Jacque motivated himself.Bookmark here

“Hey, you know what else you can always do? Read manga,” Shan cut in.Bookmark here

“No, bro, I can’t. If I had done this earlier, I wouldn’t feel like this, but I didn’t. Even if I did, I’d probably be worried about something else,” Jacque resisted Shan’s offer, shaking his head.Bookmark here

Shan wrote a header on a piece of lined paper and did nothing after. He clicked on a program, revealing some kind of game. Nothing of interest there. Still an hour before my next class. I didn’t feel like studying and no new assigned homework yet.Bookmark here

What should I do? That’s right, I still had the books Ichizen lent me before. I felt bad about not finishing Yukie’s book yet, but the books Ichizen left behind were more entertaining. I pulled it out and began from my bookmarked page. Jacque glanced at me, taking out his earphones.Bookmark here

“Is that a book for one of your classes?” Jacque asked.Bookmark here

“No, it’s something I had for awhile. Brought it with me since I don’t have anything else to do on the bus ride,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Almost no one ever reads for fun anymore. I definitely don’t, 'cuz you know,” Jacque complimented.Bookmark here

“I’m kind of the same way. Your descriptions fits my friend, Yuka, more than me,” I admitted.Bookmark here

“One of my friends hasn’t finished a single book since middle school,” Shan added.Bookmark here

“Wait, what? What about high school then?” Jacque responded.Bookmark here

“Come on, Jacque. I’m sure that you looked online for some kind of summary, instead of reading it,” Shan answered.Bookmark here

“Yeah, you’re right. I did that for some books, but hey, I did read all the way through. Doesn’t mean I understand most of it but I still finished them,” Jacque nodded.Bookmark here

“Ugh, you’re making me feel bad, since I actually did that too,” I said.Bookmark here

“Tomo, nothing to worry about. Just don’t be like me and you’ll be fine,” Jacque tried cheering me up.Bookmark here

“Right. You’re really negative about things, Jacque. I think you’re fine the way you are now. Then again, I don’t know you too well so that might not make you feel so good,” I changed my response.Bookmark here

“Thanks, Tomo. At least someone sorta believes in me,” Jacque thanked me for the encouragement.Bookmark here

“What are you talking about? We all support you, Jacque,” Shan added.Bookmark here

“That means a lot, guys. I think Tomo needs that kind of confidence from you guys when she fights,” Jacque diverted the topic to me.Bookmark here

“Eh, I think Tomo’s fine. She doesn’t need any empty compliments from any of us,” Shan refuted the validity of that statement.Bookmark here

“That really makes me so happy,” I replied with obvious sarcasm.Bookmark here

“I know, right? I’m just too used to saying that to Darryl. Like Tess said, we’re there for you when you need it. Actually, that might have been Jin. But whatever, you know what I mean,” Shan actually followed up with a sincere response.Bookmark here

“It’s definitely better than your usual ass comments. That kind of goes for Zhuyu too. Seriously, why are you guys such douches?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Nah, Tomo, we aren’t. You just think that, because of how we treat Darryl. Have you ever seen Long talk to Feng before? It’s different for sure,” Shan denied.Bookmark here

“Sure. So does Jacque have potential like Felicity’s little sister?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“Potential? Like for school?” Shan asked with a grin.Bookmark here

“Yeah. Of course not. I meant you know,” I replied.Bookmark here

“I never really asked about it. He might. Tess handles all of that stuff,” Shan revealed.Bookmark here

“She stores all of that information in her head, huh?” I commented.Bookmark here

“Long actually keeps some records on paper. He actually might have what you’re looking for,” Shan revealed an interesting piece of information.Bookmark here

“He does seem the most suited for that kind of thing. He doesn’t give me straight answers like you too, so I don’t know how reliable he is,” I observed.Bookmark here

“He will. We’ve gotten to know each other better in the last few months so it’s only natural that we’re starting to open up,” Shan explained, tapping rapidly on his keyboard.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I can see how that works,” I agreed with his analysis.Bookmark here

I once again started reading, thinking about Shan’s words. I had certainly warmed up to them, especially after the Champ incident. There were still a few things which I couldn’t quite trust them on. That included the Traveler and the true extent of their powers. It felt as if they hid that on purpose. I could just be paranoid.Bookmark here

The latest chapter I read did get me thinking about my overall relationship with everyone. Could I really put my full trust in them and hope that it would work out fine? A part of me screamed out “no” and that it was fine to harbor doubts about them. After all, they themselves admitted they weren’t exactly the cleanest or honorable.Bookmark here

“You look really deep in thought. Thinking about life changing events there?” Jacque remarked.Bookmark here

“I guess you can call it that. Shouldn’t you be working on your essay instead of talking to me?” I replied.Bookmark here

“That’s….a good point. Yep, my life still sucks as of now,” Jacque complained, resuming his typing.Bookmark here

“Sorry if I lashed out at you, Jacque. What’s the essay you’re working on suppose to be about?” I asked, peering at his screen.Bookmark here

“Some art history stuff. I haven’t read the book we were assigned, so it’s hard for me to come up with anything decent,” Jacque admitted.Bookmark here

“That’s not good. I don’t think you should be like Shan. It isn’t good for your work ethic,” I chided him.Bookmark here

“Wow, that’s a low blow there, Tomo. I do work, just not here. Just because I’m not doing it now doesn’t mean I don’t do anything,” Shan defended himself.Bookmark here

“I believe you considering how smart everyone says you are. It’s just you haven’t exactly shown me the dedication I see from someone like Ichaival,” I said.Bookmark here

“Damn, that’s actually insulting. Darryl definitely tries, but that doesn’t mean he succeeds every time. I guess that’s true for most people,” Shan remarked, a mock hurt expression on his face.Bookmark here

“Tomo, it’s like this. Shan doesn’t do work now because he knows that he’ll finish it some other time. See he can do that because he’s smart and lazy. But me, I’m kind of dumb and lazy too, so that’s a lot worse,” Jacque outlined an argument.Bookmark here

“I guess if you put it that way. Whatever,” I said.Bookmark here

Jacque’s typing resumed after awhile and Shan actually read something useful. I read my book, passing the time until my next class. I came across a page which was glued onto the next one. What the hell, Ichizen? You somehow still find strange ways of irritating me. I ran my finger over the page, attempting a method of prying it apart without tearing it. Shan saw me inspect the book with care, but said nothing.Bookmark here

“You need some help there, Tomo?” Jacque inquired, noticing my troubles.Bookmark here

“I don’t want to tear the page, but it seems like I don’t have much of a choice,” I answered, preparing to rip the top page off from the bottom.Bookmark here

“Let me see it,” Jacque requested.Bookmark here

I handed him the book and the man placed his fingers at the top. He tapped the top and a small crease opened up. With care, Jacque pried apart the glued pages and something fell out. Jacque retrieved the object from the floor, returning it and the book back to me.Bookmark here

“There you go. What dropped from it?” Jacque questioned.Bookmark here

“Looks like…. some kind of business card. Not exactly sure what this is,” I checked the item, flipping it over.Bookmark here

“Nah, you know it’s directions to some maid café,” Shan commented with a laugh.Bookmark here

It was around the size of an index card, but with a picture on it. I didn’t recognize the photo, seeing a phone number and a business address. On the back, I saw Ichizen’s sloppy handwriting and a quick sketch.Bookmark here

“I have no idea what this is,” I said, passing the card around.Bookmark here

Shan glanced at it, shaking his head. Jacque flipped over to the back, staring at it for a long time.Bookmark here

“Something interesting there?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“This is a pretty good drawing. Who drew this?” Jacque complimented.Bookmark here

“Wait, you actually know that doodle is supposed to be?” I reacted in surprise.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be one of the buildings here. What’s it called? Shigetzu, help me out here. The one near the fountain,” Jacque asked Shan for assistance.Bookmark here

“Oh, you mean the language department’s library? Now that you mention it, it does actually look like that building,” Shan replied, looking at the picture again.Bookmark here

“Why would he….?” I started asking, but then realized something.Bookmark here

I asked Jacque for the card, checking the address. This was an on-campus location listed. How could I have missed that the first time? After Jacque identified the small sketch on the back, everything clicked into place.Bookmark here

“It looks like you found your answer, Tomo,” Jacque noted.Bookmark here

“It’s one of the English or language department’s cards. Guess Ichizen spoke with an advisor there or something,” I revealed.Bookmark here

“Oh, I guess that makes sense. Why did he put it in the book then?” Shan questioned.Bookmark here

“I don’t know. Ichizen is weird like that sometimes. And I actually thought that we found something important,” I said, feeling a bit let down.Bookmark here

During my walk to the class, I wondered what else Ichizen left behind. Although the card proved useless, I might salvage something else. I already searched through his room with Manami, not find anything besides that photo. I did still have a few of his books, so I should go flip through them, and see if there were any clues.Bookmark here

Winter Quarter 2016 Week 5 FridayBookmark here

I was once again at Shane and Emily’s facility for some more tests. Tess stood with her tablet, staring down at it with an emotionless expression. Emily popped out a disc from the control board, asking her husband for something. He handed her a similar looking disc. Too many interchangeable parts were being switched around for my liking.Bookmark here

“So should I expect to see anything like last time?” I asked, crawling into the pod.Bookmark here

“That will depend on you. It’s rare you ever see a continuation, but from what Tess has told me, that actually might be the case. Your grimoire is rather powerful in that aspect. Not to mention you’ve copied a few more powers since last time, but that won’t really impact what you’ll be seeing,” Shane replied, checking the equipment.Bookmark here

“Okay. Here I go then,” I nodded, closing my eyes, as the pod cover descended.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.