Heroes of the Past
Friday Winter Quarter 2016 Week 8
“Fuck Nen. I hate him so much,” one of my classmates insulted, walking past me.
“Man, that was rough. I don’t know if I can pass anymore. Who pulls that kind of shit?” his friend responded.
“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.
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.
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.
“Hey, Tomo, how did your midterm go?” he asked, giving a faint smile.
“Shit. The last question was terrible. No one knew what to do. Someone cried in class. It was bad,” I replied, exhaustion setting in.
“He did the same thing when I took the class,” Zhuyu said, typing on his laptop.
“Really?” I inquired further.
“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.
“Lucky you. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as fortunate,” I remarked.
“I’m sure you did above average. Just focus on the final, you’re almost done with the quarter,” Zhuyu encouraged.
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.
“Where’s Jacque and Shan?” I asked, not feeling like studying.
“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.
“Not really. I’m just curious,” I denied.
“Here’s someone else. Hey, Ko,” Zhuyu greeted the woman.
“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.
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.
“Sorry about that, but it was really bad. Yuki, you look pretty down,” Ko said, noticing my sullen expression.
“Yeah, it was my math midterm. I don’t really want to remember it,” I answered.
“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.
“He should. He’s taking the same class as Tomo,” Zhuyu confirmed.
“Kristoph’s taking Calc II? Isn’t he a year ahead of me?” I asked, surprised.
“Yeah, but things happen. I heard he’s in your chemistry class,” Zhuyu replied, staring at me with an amused smile.
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.
“Yuki, you want to know something?” Ko asked, her eyes burning with intensity.
“Not really, but you’re probably going to tell me anyway. What is it?” I took her bait.
“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.
“Umm…,” I was at a loss for words.
“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.
“Yeah….,” I searched for the proper response.
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.
“You scarred Tomo for life right there,” Zhuyu commented, drawing arrows.
“You must think I’m a little cray cray. Don’t worry, Yuki, I’m perfectly fine,” Ko assured me of her sanity.
“I’ll take your word for it,” I decided.
“Hah, hah!” Ko gave an uncomfortable laugh.
“Ko, how’s it feel, now that you’re in your apartment?” Zhuyu asked, ceasing his writing.
“A lot better than being at home. I get a lot more work done. And I get to work way faster,” Ko replied.
“Didn’t you work at a school before?” I recalled.
“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.
“Where is it?” I asked.
“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.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said.
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.
“Yo, how’s everyone doing?” Jacque greeted, searching through his backpack.
“Terrible. My math midterm was hard,” I responded.
“That sucks. How about you, Ko?” Jacque asked, looking over at the woman.
“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.
“Go ahead. Long, I don’t even need to ask. You’re just reading manga, aren’t you?” Jacque grinned at the math major.
“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.
“I’m not even going to ask. I don’t understand anything going on there,” Jacque decided, peeking at Zhuyu’s piece of paper.
“Hey Jacque, can I draw in here?” Ko asked, pointing at a blank page.
“Sure,” Jacque replied.
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.
“Anyways, I’m going to go get some water,” Jacque said, swinging his red water bottle.
“Ko, what the….? Oh, never mind. It’s not Harry, just a cat,” Zhuyu exclaimed, glancing over at her drawing.
“Of course, the best cat ever. Yuki, check out my masterpiece!” Ko’s voice brimmed with confidence.
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.
“Oh wow, not bad. I’m glad you didn’t pick anything weird to draw,” Jacque commented.
“Zhuyu, give me your piece of paper,” Ko demanded, reaching out for it.
“No,” Zhuyu refused.
“Too late!” Ko said, making a quick mark on the man’s paper.
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.
“Damn it, Ko. Whatever, not like I have to turn this in or anything,” Zhuyu sighed.
“Yuki, your turn now! Let me see your paper for just a few seconds!” Ko turned her attention to me.
“Fine,” I allowed, handing her my notebook.
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.
“Do you like it?” Ko asked, smiling.
“Yeah, it’s not half bad,” I responded.
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.
“Tomo, any updates?” Bartholomew asked.
“She said it’s fine for you and Darryl. Lionel was denied,” I reported.
“Thank you. I thought you might pretend I never asked,” Bartholomew said, giving a small chuckle.
“I was considering it. Anyways, if that’s all, I’m going home,” I said.
“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.
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.
“Fucking math midterm. Now Bartholomew tells me useless information. My life is just great,” I muttered to myself.
“If you’re that angry, someone might try to pick you up,” a woman’s voice commented.
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.
“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.
“Not well. I never see you take the bus home,” I observed, suspicious of her appearance.
“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.
“You have a point there,” I relented.
“Moving on, I saw you with Bartholomew,” Kyoi said.
“He asked for an exhibition match against Ichaival. Lionel wanted a rank up match too, but Tess said no,” I revealed.
“How boring. I thought he was hitting on you,” Kyoi joked.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Oh, find something interesting?” Kyoi nodded as the bus arrived.
“No, not at all. I asked around, but no one is telling me anything,” I answered, following Kyoi onto the bus.
“It’s a touchy subject, but you’ll find something sooner or later,” Kyoi said.
“What the hell happened?” I took a seat next to her, every other space filled already.
“I’ll let you investigate and find out the juicy details. It’s not scandalous if that’s what you’re thinking,” Kyoi said.
“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.
“You said Jen’s name near Felicity? Keep doing that and she’ll really like you,” Kyoi grinned at my statement.
“Not again, after seeing that expression on her face. They both like Ichaival, but is that the only reason?” I dug for further answers.
“You ask Shigetzu?” Kyoi recommended as our bus entered the freeway.
“Yeah, gave some vague answer like usual,” I replied.
“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.
“That’s crazy. Felicity can be like that sometimes, but for something so petty?” I asked, surprised.
“That’s what I heard. At this point, you know Felicity better than I do,” Kyoi remarked.
“Huh? Didn’t you know her…. oh right, didn’t go to the same school,” I realized.
“Despises me just like you do,” Kyoi commented.
“I don’t hate you…. I’m just, whatever you’ll find a way of making fun of me,” I gave up.
“No, I won’t,” Kyoi shocked me with her answer.
“Wait, when did you meet Zhuyu then? You’re a year older, so your senior year?” I surmised.
“Around there. You want to know more?” Kyoi smiled at me.
“Yeah, I’m always interested, but no one tells me shit,” I pointed out.
“You’re wrong, Tomo. I’ll allow a mind dive to satisfy your curiosity,” Kyoi permitted.
“Are you serious?” I looked at her in shock.
“Consider it a gift,” Kyoi confirmed.
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”.
Memory Dive 6: Harsh Training
Time Period Unknown
“Kyoi, that’s crazy,” Zhuyu said, shaking his head, pointing at the horde of enemies beneath them.
He wore a gray hoodie and dark blue dress pants. Kyoi smiled in response and stood back, arms crossed, not willing to compromise.
“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.
“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.
“Too bad,” Kyoi stated, shoving Zhuyu downward.
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.
“Awesome, just freaking awesome,” Zhuyu muttered, glancing around.
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?
“Let’s see what he can do,” Kyoi said, crossing her arms.
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?
“Damn it,” Zhuyu grunted, sidestepping an enemy.
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.
“Not bad, hanging in there for so long. Are you good enough to win?” Kyoi shouted from above.
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?
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.
“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.
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.
“Zhuyu, up you go!” Kyoi hoisted him up from the ground.
“Damn…. that really hurt. I am never….,” Zhuyu coughed in pain.
“You met my expectations, isn’t that great?” Kyoi grinned.
“Yeah, sure is,” Zhuyu answered, too tired to care.
“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.
“It’s fine. I can walk by myself,” Zhuyu insisted.
“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.
“I already what I was in for the moment I signed your contract,” Zhuyu admitted.
“That’s good. Keep on listening and you’ll be strong in no time,” Kyoi said, smiling.
MIND DIVE 6 END
“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.
“Kisai’s the exception, though, isn’t he?” I commented.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Like I should expect anything else. When’s your stop, Kyoi?” I asked.
“I get off at the same stop as you. Same transfer too,” Kyoi replied.
“Do you all happen to live near each other?” I asked.
“Not at all. I live farther away from Long than Jin,” Kyoi dismissed my claim.
“I just assumed that since Shan and Ichaival live close to him. Have you ever been to Tess’ house?” I questioned.
“Several times and it’s an interesting household. You really should visit. Although, I suspect she’ll summon you there soon,” Kyoi replied.
“Figures, oh, that’s not gonna be fun,” I agreed.
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.