Chapter 89:

Volume 4, Chapter 6-2: Winter Quarter Midterm II

Heroes of the Past

Friday Winter Quarter 2016 Week 8Bookmark here

“Fuck Nen. I hate him so much,” one of my classmates insulted, walking past me.Bookmark here

“Man, that was rough. I don’t know if I can pass anymore. Who pulls that kind of shit?” his friend responded.Bookmark here

“Come on guys, we don’t have time to worry. We have to devote our time to finals. Oh man, I really wish I picked a different section,” a third person complained.Bookmark here

I walked toward the student lounge, pretty tired. Damn you, Professor Nen. The last question on the midterm took forever, covering something in lecture he only mentioned for a brief moment. I struggled on the question, as did everyone else. Someone cried during the damn test, that was how hard and terrifying it was. Professor Nen probably noticed, not caring. Ugh, at least it was over.Bookmark here

Zhuyu stared at his laptop with a serious expression. His lips moved as he scribbled something down. He didn’t notice me arrive, only glancing up when I sat down.Bookmark here

“Hey, Tomo, how did your midterm go?” he asked, giving a faint smile.Bookmark here

“Shit. The last question was terrible. No one knew what to do. Someone cried in class. It was bad,” I replied, exhaustion setting in.Bookmark here

“He did the same thing when I took the class,” Zhuyu said, typing on his laptop.Bookmark here

“Really?” I inquired further.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but I don’t think it was unfair. He kind of solved it in the problem set-up. He provided the integral and bounds of integration. I got a 93 on that midterm, so I didn’t care,” Zhuyu boasted.Bookmark here

“Lucky you. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as fortunate,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“I’m sure you did above average. Just focus on the final, you’re almost done with the quarter,” Zhuyu encouraged.Bookmark here

He was right about one thing. Finals were fast approaching, only two weeks away. Math finals were on Sunday, following the last week of school. No time for preparation at all.Bookmark here

“Where’s Jacque and Shan?” I asked, not feeling like studying.Bookmark here

“Jacque has a meeting with his art professor. I think Shigetzu has lab work, but I’m not sure. Do you hate me that much you need someone else here?” Zhuyu joked.Bookmark here

“Not really. I’m just curious,” I denied.Bookmark here

“Here’s someone else. Hey, Ko,” Zhuyu greeted the woman.Bookmark here

“Long, can you watch my stuff? I really need to piss. I’ve been holding it in since my first class now. Sorry, really gotta go,” Ko requested, rushing toward the bathroom.Bookmark here

I watched her run off. Zhuyu’s face remained the same, resuming his work from before. I guess he didn’t care or was accustomed to Ko’s weirdness. I probably would end up like him too, indifferent about her strange ways.Bookmark here

“Sorry about that, but it was really bad. Yuki, you look pretty down,” Ko said, noticing my sullen expression.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it was my math midterm. I don’t really want to remember it,” I answered.Bookmark here

“Oh, I know what you mean. Don’t worry, I failed a midterm before. Not that I want you to, of course. Long, doesn’t Kristoph have his math midterm today too?” she asked, looking over at the zero vector user.Bookmark here

“He should. He’s taking the same class as Tomo,” Zhuyu confirmed.Bookmark here

“Kristoph’s taking Calc II? Isn’t he a year ahead of me?” I asked, surprised.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but things happen. I heard he’s in your chemistry class,” Zhuyu replied, staring at me with an amused smile.Bookmark here

I shouldn’t be so surprised. He was in the same chemistry class as me, despite the majority of students being first years. Maybe he wasn’t sure about his major. It would explain why he was taking all these intro classes as a second year.Bookmark here

“Yuki, you want to know something?” Ko asked, her eyes burning with intensity.Bookmark here

“Not really, but you’re probably going to tell me anyway. What is it?” I took her bait.Bookmark here

“I sometimes wish I could reach into Long’s head and eat his brains. Then I can become smart and rule the world,” Ko told me something very disturbing.Bookmark here

“Umm…,” I was at a loss for words.Bookmark here

“No, eating his brains isn’t right. I want to absorb everything. Jin too. That way I can really be sure I can rule the world,” Ko amended her previous statement.Bookmark here

“Yeah….,” I searched for the proper response.Bookmark here

How do I even respond to such absurdity? Ko was weird, but that statement, no idea what to even make of it. Should I question Ko’s mental stability? Everyone accepted it, so perhaps I was just unaccustomed to her quirky ways.Bookmark here

“You scarred Tomo for life right there,” Zhuyu commented, drawing arrows.Bookmark here

“You must think I’m a little cray cray. Don’t worry, Yuki, I’m perfectly fine,” Ko assured me of her sanity.Bookmark here

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

“Hah, hah!” Ko gave an uncomfortable laugh.Bookmark here

“Ko, how’s it feel, now that you’re in your apartment?” Zhuyu asked, ceasing his writing.Bookmark here

“A lot better than being at home. I get a lot more work done. And I get to work way faster,” Ko replied.Bookmark here

“Didn’t you work at a school before?” I recalled.Bookmark here

“That didn’t work out. There were personal issues going on. Yuki, if you ever feel like frozen desserts, I can get you a discount,” Ko updated me on her job situation.Bookmark here

“Where is it?” I asked.Bookmark here

“If you take the bus three or four stops from the bank, it’s around there. I work at the Spotted Dairy. We specialize in cold deserts like ice cream and cakes, but we sell other non-frozen sweets too,” Ko gave me rough directions.Bookmark here

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said.Bookmark here

Half an hour later, Jacque arrived. He looked tired as usual, but kept his usual upbeat smile. I don’t know how he pulled that expression off, despite his negative view of life. He took a seat, placing his hard covered sketchbook on the table.Bookmark here

“Yo, how’s everyone doing?” Jacque greeted, searching through his backpack.Bookmark here

“Terrible. My math midterm was hard,” I responded.Bookmark here

“That sucks. How about you, Ko?” Jacque asked, looking over at the woman.Bookmark here

“Not too bad. I have Japanese homework left, but that’s not too hard. Can I take a look at your sketchbook?” Ko asked permission.Bookmark here

“Go ahead. Long, I don’t even need to ask. You’re just reading manga, aren’t you?” Jacque grinned at the math major.Bookmark here

“Whoa, that’s a big assumption, Jacque. You would be right any other day, but not today. I’m working on a personal project,” Zhuyu replied with a smile.Bookmark here

“I’m not even going to ask. I don’t understand anything going on there,” Jacque decided, peeking at Zhuyu’s piece of paper.Bookmark here

“Hey Jacque, can I draw in here?” Ko asked, pointing at a blank page.Bookmark here

“Sure,” Jacque replied.Bookmark here

Ko gave a huge smile, taking out her phone. She searched for an image, grinning. I hoped it wasn’t something weird, but knowing her, it probably was.Bookmark here

“Anyways, I’m going to go get some water,” Jacque said, swinging his red water bottle.Bookmark here

“Ko, what the….? Oh, never mind. It’s not Harry, just a cat,” Zhuyu exclaimed, glancing over at her drawing.Bookmark here

“Of course, the best cat ever. Yuki, check out my masterpiece!” Ko’s voice brimmed with confidence.Bookmark here

It wasn’t half bad. The cat’s head fur was well-layered and its protruding whiskers were articulated. What did Zhuyu mean by ‘Harry’? Things clicked into place. Of course, Ko never disappointed. Jacque returned after conversing with a few people, examining Ko’s sketch.Bookmark here

“Oh wow, not bad. I’m glad you didn’t pick anything weird to draw,” Jacque commented.Bookmark here

“Zhuyu, give me your piece of paper,” Ko demanded, reaching out for it.Bookmark here

“No,” Zhuyu refused.Bookmark here

“Too late!” Ko said, making a quick mark on the man’s paper.Bookmark here

She added onto it, forming a little smiley face, with the small subtitle ‘Ko wants to be cat one day’ written below. Jacque looked on in amusement. Wow, Ko was really tiring, glad that I didn’t see her everyday.Bookmark here

“Damn it, Ko. Whatever, not like I have to turn this in or anything,” Zhuyu sighed.Bookmark here

“Yuki, your turn now! Let me see your paper for just a few seconds!” Ko turned her attention to me.Bookmark here

“Fine,” I allowed, handing her my notebook.Bookmark here

She returned it to me within three minutes. I saw a smiley cat face, with ‘Ko is awesome!’, written above it. I couldn’t really get mad. It was a decent drawing and not just a random scribble.Bookmark here

“Do you like it?” Ko asked, smiling.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’s not half bad,” I responded.Bookmark here

After some weird stories from Ko, it was time for class. Damn it, they were stuck in my head. Crap, I needed to focus. It was just English, but still, who knew what would show up on the final? I breathed a sigh of relief after class ended. Yes, the weekend was here, and classes were over for the week. Bartholomew walked up next to me outside with an expectant look.Bookmark here

“Tomo, any updates?” Bartholomew asked.Bookmark here

“She said it’s fine for you and Darryl. Lionel was denied,” I reported.Bookmark here

“Thank you. I thought you might pretend I never asked,” Bartholomew said, giving a small chuckle.Bookmark here

“I was considering it. Anyways, if that’s all, I’m going home,” I said.Bookmark here

“Thanks again, I really mean it. Sorry about all that shit Champ pulled. It shouldn’t happen again. See ya later,” Bartholomew said, heading toward the north side of campus.Bookmark here

Real insightful there, Bartholomew. Might as well just told me Ichaival calls Shan a bastard nine times out of ten. I sighed, walking to the bus stop. I really wasn’t in a good mood, waiting for the bus agitated me more.Bookmark here

“Fucking math midterm. Now Bartholomew tells me useless information. My life is just great,” I muttered to myself.Bookmark here

“If you’re that angry, someone might try to pick you up,” a woman’s voice commented.Bookmark here

Kyoi, with her typical smile, stood next to me. When did she sneak up on me like that? There were no signs of her approaching me at all.Bookmark here

“It’s no fun if you remain quiet. I can’t get any satisfaction out of that. How did your math midterm go?” Kyoi asked.Bookmark here

“Not well. I never see you take the bus home,” I observed, suspicious of her appearance.Bookmark here

“Just because you don’t see me, doesn’t mean I don’t. You never see Shigetzu actually do work, but it doesn’t mean he fails his tests,” Kyoi countered.Bookmark here

“You have a point there,” I relented.Bookmark here

“Moving on, I saw you with Bartholomew,” Kyoi said.Bookmark here

“He asked for an exhibition match against Ichaival. Lionel wanted a rank up match too, but Tess said no,” I revealed.Bookmark here

“How boring. I thought he was hitting on you,” Kyoi joked.Bookmark here

“Pretty sure he wouldn’t try pulling that. Anyways, he apologized for what happened at the restaurant. They seem to own their actions if they did something wrong,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“Not surprising considering their stance as the heroes of justice. Nice thing about Lilith is that she’ll admit her faults. Makes it easy to work with her on missions. Doesn’t mean she’ll agree with you all the time but she’s pretty open minded if she wants to be,” Kyoi explained.Bookmark here

“You guys are all freaking weirdos, honestly. Still not used to it at all. Hey, Kyoi, remember the name you brought up last time?” I mentioned.Bookmark here

“Oh, find something interesting?” Kyoi nodded as the bus arrived.Bookmark here

“No, not at all. I asked around, but no one is telling me anything,” I answered, following Kyoi onto the bus.Bookmark here

“It’s a touchy subject, but you’ll find something sooner or later,” Kyoi said.Bookmark here

“What the hell happened?” I took a seat next to her, every other space filled already.Bookmark here

“I’ll let you investigate and find out the juicy details. It’s not scandalous if that’s what you’re thinking,” Kyoi said.Bookmark here

“I’ll have to believe you. Hey, do you know what’s up with Jen and Felicity? It’s sort of related,” I brought up.Bookmark here

“You said Jen’s name near Felicity? Keep doing that and she’ll really like you,” Kyoi grinned at my statement.Bookmark here

“Not again, after seeing that expression on her face. They both like Ichaival, but is that the only reason?” I dug for further answers.Bookmark here

“You ask Shigetzu?” Kyoi recommended as our bus entered the freeway.Bookmark here

“Yeah, gave some vague answer like usual,” I replied.Bookmark here

“From what I heard, Jen unintentionally offended Felicity, something in high school. Don’t know the details since I attended a different school,” Kyoi divulged.Bookmark here

“That’s crazy. Felicity can be like that sometimes, but for something so petty?” I asked, surprised.Bookmark here

“That’s what I heard. At this point, you know Felicity better than I do,” Kyoi remarked.Bookmark here

“Huh? Didn’t you know her…. oh right, didn’t go to the same school,” I realized.Bookmark here

“Despises me just like you do,” Kyoi commented.Bookmark here

“I don’t hate you…. I’m just, whatever you’ll find a way of making fun of me,” I gave up.Bookmark here

“No, I won’t,” Kyoi shocked me with her answer.Bookmark here

“Wait, when did you meet Zhuyu then? You’re a year older, so your senior year?” I surmised.Bookmark here

“Around there. You want to know more?” Kyoi smiled at me.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’m always interested, but no one tells me shit,” I pointed out.Bookmark here

“You’re wrong, Tomo. I’ll allow a mind dive to satisfy your curiosity,” Kyoi permitted.Bookmark here

“Are you serious?” I looked at her in shock.Bookmark here

“Consider it a gift,” Kyoi confirmed.Bookmark here

I shouldn’t pass up an opportunity like this. Please let it be a battle and not some bullshit talking. Who was I kidding, it would end up being bullshit dialogue. To borrow a phrase from Jacque, “fuck my life, bro”.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Memory Dive 6: Harsh TrainingBookmark here

Time Period UnknownBookmark here

“Kyoi, that’s crazy,” Zhuyu said, shaking his head, pointing at the horde of enemies beneath them.Bookmark here

He wore a gray hoodie and dark blue dress pants. Kyoi smiled in response and stood back, arms crossed, not willing to compromise.Bookmark here

“Oh really? If you’re not going on your own, then I’ll have to force you. Remember our contract? If you don’t fulfill it, you will not be in for a pleasant time,” Kyoi intimidated him.Bookmark here

“Kyoi, I’m grateful you saved us, but this is crazy. There’s no way I can win. I don’t have any experience dealing with opponents like that,” Zhuyu refused, shaking his head.Bookmark here

“Too bad,” Kyoi stated, shoving Zhuyu downward.Bookmark here

This was madness, although probably not for her standards. Zhuyu’s face displayed shock, but he recovered quickly. The enemies clamored around him, shouting out in excitement. Zhuyu clutched his back, now serious.Bookmark here

“Awesome, just freaking awesome,” Zhuyu muttered, glancing around.Bookmark here

The enemies blocked him in, cutting off all escape paths. They appeared human, but something felt off about them. I inspected their faces, pinpointing the discrepancy. Were these puppets made in the image of humans?Bookmark here

“Let’s see what he can do,” Kyoi said, crossing her arms.Bookmark here

Zhuyu attempted to disarm an enemy but failed. Another enemy caught him, slashing his arm. A huge red gash ran down his left arm and I expected it to heal. However, blood continued flowing out, and the wound didn’t close up. Were his regenerative abilities not active yet?Bookmark here

“Damn it,” Zhuyu grunted, sidestepping an enemy.Bookmark here

Zhuyu’s movements were unrefined. At this rate, the enemies would overwhelm him. So this was what he was like early on. I felt better about my own progress, seeing this. He finally obtained a weapon, but his swings were awkward. The injuries he sustained increased, but didn’t impact his tenacity. Eventually, the gash from earlier healed, still red from the blood.Bookmark here

“Not bad, hanging in there for so long. Are you good enough to win?” Kyoi shouted from above.Bookmark here

I didn’t agree with Kyoi’s training methods but understood her reasoning. Zhuyu was out leveled by all the enemies, yet continued fighting without quitting. He wasn’t Kisai though. Zhuyu knocked down one enemy, grabbing another by the neck. He hauled them over to a rock, slamming its head down. The hero’s breathing grew ragged and he dropped his weapon. Still the man fought on, kicking a puppet in the knee, and stomping on their leg. Once he completed that attack, one of his opponents knocked him to the ground. This was hopeless. I’m surprised he displayed so much grit. Kyoi would probably come down and rescue him eventually right?Bookmark here

Zhuyu rolled away, standing back up again, legs unsteady. He struggled to retrieve his weapon from the floor, but took out one enemy, before sustaining a hit to the stomach. Zhuyu clawed at the ground, glancing at the sky. Clouds rolled in with a loud rumble. The sky turned gray and ominous. Multiple thunder booms filled the area, causing some enemies to retreat. I expected an epic attack, but only one lightning bolt struck the area. It knocked a few enemies back, but the majority continued swarming toward Zhuyu.Bookmark here

“That’s enough. You need a lot of work, but it’s passable for now,” Kyoi said, finally making her way down, slashing through enemies with ease.Bookmark here

Zhuyu crawled on his knees toward a medium sized rock, leaning himself against it. His breathing finally returned to normal, but the injuries still remained. They healed at a slow rate, still serious enough to deter him from fighting any further. Kyoi slammed her sword down, flames pouring out. It engulfed all hostiles, burning them to a crisp. When the flames died out, there wasn’t charred flesh, but nasty looking plastic.Bookmark here

“Zhuyu, up you go!” Kyoi hoisted him up from the ground.Bookmark here

“Damn…. that really hurt. I am never….,” Zhuyu coughed in pain.Bookmark here

“You met my expectations, isn’t that great?” Kyoi grinned.Bookmark here

“Yeah, sure is,” Zhuyu answered, too tired to care.Bookmark here

“You’ll be ready in no time to fight things like that. I’ll take good care of you to make sure of that,” Kyoi threatened, lending him her shoulder.Bookmark here

“It’s fine. I can walk by myself,” Zhuyu insisted.Bookmark here

“If you say so. Your friend, En, was it? He’s next in line for training. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it more with a friend by your side,” Kyoi said.Bookmark here

“I already what I was in for the moment I signed your contract,” Zhuyu admitted.Bookmark here

“That’s good. Keep on listening and you’ll be strong in no time,” Kyoi said, smiling.Bookmark here

MIND DIVE 6 ENDBookmark here

***Bookmark here

“Long didn’t start out strong as you can see. Nor did Zhang. Both practiced quite a bit to arrive at where they are today,” Kyoi said, shaking my shoulder.Bookmark here

“Kisai’s the exception, though, isn’t he?” I commented.Bookmark here

“Jin, you know how he is. Able to pick up things faster than everyone else. It’s no surprise he beat a high ranking monster in his first few battles. Don’t emulate Jin, it’ll make things worse for you,” Kyoi advised.Bookmark here

“Wasn’t planning to, I’m not that crazy. Still, never expected Zhuyu to be that bad. I assumed everyone started off with a bang,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“That does occur from time to time. If you truly want to see mastery, Tess’ origins are ridiculous. Her accomplishments make Jin’s look like child’s play,” Kyoi revealed.Bookmark here

“Like I should expect anything else. When’s your stop, Kyoi?” I asked.Bookmark here

“I get off at the same stop as you. Same transfer too,” Kyoi replied.Bookmark here

“Do you all happen to live near each other?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Not at all. I live farther away from Long than Jin,” Kyoi dismissed my claim.Bookmark here

“I just assumed that since Shan and Ichaival live close to him. Have you ever been to Tess’ house?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“Several times and it’s an interesting household. You really should visit. Although, I suspect she’ll summon you there soon,” Kyoi replied.Bookmark here

“Figures, oh, that’s not gonna be fun,” I agreed.Bookmark here

Kyoi and I spoke about various other things. Her stop was earlier than mine, after our shared transfer. I felt I knew her a little better now. She was still scary, but at least, not completely crazy. Now with Ko, I wasn’t sure. Did I just attract crazy people? Whatever, the weekend was here, and I could finally take a brief break from studying.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.