Chapter 93:

Volume 4, Chapter 8-2: Mantan Connection

Heroes of the Past

“Hey, what’s going on?” Ichizen asked a passing student.Bookmark here

“There was a lockdown five minutes ago. Something about an armed person in the area. I don’t know why we aren’t inside. It’s weird unless…. you don’t think they’re inside, do you?” the student informed us, a scared expression appearing on his face.Bookmark here

“That does sound weird. Thanks for telling me,” Ichizen said.Bookmark here

The police remained at the front entrance, their faces stiff and serious. It seemed counterintuitive for everyone to be outside. Something didn’t add up.Bookmark here

“Oh, Old Stone, you’re still here!” Ichizen called out to our sub.Bookmark here

Ichizen waved at someone near us. The teacher glanced over, nodding his head in acknowledgment. He walked toward us, a cigarette still dangling from his mouth. I guess no one cared since he didn’t actually light it. I’m sure numerous reprimands concerning him were heading to the principal’s office.Bookmark here

“Your school is way too fancy about their security protocols,” he said.Bookmark here

“Do you know what happened?” Ichizen asked.Bookmark here

“Not really. They just kicked me out of the teacher’s offices. Something about an armed man in the vicinity,” Old Stone replied.Bookmark here

“Why the hell are we outside then?” I asked, looking around.Bookmark here

“The hell if I know. Unless…. damn it,” Old Stone exclaimed, dashing off with a serious expression.Bookmark here

“He knows something. Let’s follow him!” Ichizen decided.Bookmark here

I prevented him from advancing any further. Who knows what kind of trouble Ichizen would get himself into? Besides, I didn’t want to see Ichizen die again, even if it wasn’t real.Bookmark here

“Yuki’s right. Don’t be an idiot,” Chihiro agreed.Bookmark here

“Guys, come on, it’ll be an adventure,” Ichizen argued, struggling.Bookmark here

“No, it won’t. Did you not see him earlier in class? If he’s not afraid to pull out a knife in class, who knows what else he can do?” I refused, dragging him back.Bookmark here

“But….. but….,” Ichizen whined, staring at me with sorrowful eyes.Bookmark here

“Just listen to Yuki! Wait, something’s happening,” Chihiro said, pointing at the entrance.Bookmark here

One of the police officers departed from the entrance, heading towards the large crowd of students. She spoke with one of the teachers and returned to her original spot.Bookmark here

“Attention everyone, you’re all dismissed from classes for today. Something has come up and we request everyone please head home in an orderly fashion,” the teacher announced.Bookmark here

Student chatter filled the area. It grew louder, but then dropped down, after a few teachers shouted out warnings. Great idea, everyone. Let’s talk louder so the possible armed person in the area could notice us.Bookmark here

“Yes! No school. Does that mean we’re on break starting tomorrow?” Ichizen looked at us.Bookmark here

“I guess. The school will probably contact us. They’re pretty good about stuff like that,” I nodded.Bookmark here

“Alright, time to go home and play games,” Ichizen shouted, dashing off.Bookmark here

“Seriously, is that all he ever thinks about?” Chihiro sighed.Bookmark here

“At least he didn’t follow…. oh crap,” I suddenly realized.Bookmark here

“Huh? Yuki, what’s wrong?” Chihiro asked, noticing the concerned expression on my face.Bookmark here

“You don’t think he chased after Old Stone, do you?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Damn, do you want me to go with you?” Chihiro offered her help.Bookmark here

“If you’re not busy. I don’t think he ran off too far with all that food,” I answered.Bookmark here

We checked the sports field first. There was a hidden shortcut that led to the school basement. Most students used it when they wanted to skip, or as a shortcut if running late. I never even knew about it until Ichizen told me.Bookmark here

“Seriously, I actually think he went back home, and dropped off his food,” Chihiro said, walking through the path.Bookmark here

“That actually might be true. Let’s take a look just in case,” I suggested.Bookmark here

When we arrived at the basement, there were voices. Chihiro and I hid ourselves, making sure we weren’t seen. Wait, that voice, it was familiar.Bookmark here

“I don’t know. The person you’ve been looking for is probably after me,” Old Stone said.Bookmark here

I peeked from behind our cover, seeing Old Stone with two other people. One was…. the Zhuyu look-alike, and the other was an En look-alike? Damn it, shit was weird.Bookmark here

“Are you sure that it’s not us?” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“I can’t say for sure. The police are everywhere. If we’re going to do something, it’ll have to be fast,” Old Stone replied.Bookmark here

“Fine. You know where they are?” Zhuyu questioned, pulling out a handgun from his belt.Bookmark here

“There’s a room on the third floor that has soundproof walls. That’s the best place for them to go, if they’re going to do anything,” Old Stone suggested.Bookmark here

“Are there still police inside?” Zhuyu inquired, checking his handgun.Bookmark here

“They’re still searching for the suspect. I have no idea how they haven’t found anything yet,” Old Stone answered.Bookmark here

“Is there an alternate way of getting there without anyone seeing us?” Zhuyu glanced up at the ceiling.Bookmark here

“No idea, I don’t exactly have the blueprints. Let’s go. We’re wasting time,” Old Stone decided.Bookmark here

They left their spot. There really was an armed person in here. The people inside must be dangerous, if Zhuyu carried a gun.Bookmark here

“What now, Yuki?” Chihiro asked.Bookmark here

“Leave. I don’t want to get caught up in something unnecessary,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Chihiro concurred.Bookmark here

When we backtracked, I saw three police officers blocking our exit. Not to mention, two security guards from our school too.Bookmark here

“This sucks. Should we just go out and pretend we’re leaving now?” Chihiro suggested.Bookmark here

“That might work,” I agreed.Bookmark here

One of the security guards stopped us. She waved us away after Chihiro provided an excuse. Good, that worked out well. We headed toward the bus stop, relieved we managed to get away.Bookmark here

“That was close. Ichizen can’t get past them so it should be safe,” Chihiro said, breathing a sigh of relief at our escape.Bookmark here

“Yeah. Even an idiot like him won’t try something like that,” I said.Bookmark here

Next DayBookmark here

“Yuki, there’s a phone call from school!” Mom shouted.Bookmark here

I answered the phone, listening to the recorded message. Looks like we were finally on break. There was also a warning about security and how the school took it seriously. Blah, blah, blah. I fell back into my bed, sleeping again.Bookmark here

“Yuki, get up!” I heard a voice.Bookmark here

Mom poked me with her laundry basket. She smiled at me, opening my closet.Bookmark here

“What time is it, Mom?” I asked, sitting up in bed.Bookmark here

“Almost ten. Did you get enough sleep?” she responded, throwing my dirty clothes into the basket.Bookmark here

“I did,” I answered.Bookmark here

“Ichizen’s already here. He’s waiting downstairs,” Mom informed me.Bookmark here

“So early?” I muttered, changing clothes.Bookmark here

Ichizen sat at the dinner table, playing his portable gaming device. He saw me, closing the cover. Knowing his gaming schedule, I assumed Ichizen would wake up at noon, or at an even later time. I stared at his face, but he didn’t seem sleep deprived. Did he actually sleep early for once?Bookmark here

“Morning, Yuki,” he greeted, eating a sandwich.Bookmark here

“You’re early. I thought you might still be sleeping, since we’re on break,” I commented.Bookmark here

“I was scared we actually might have school today, so I slept early,” Ichizen revealed.Bookmark here

“Really?” I stared at him in surprise.Bookmark here

“Hey, I’m worried about my grades! If we really had school, it would have been bad,” Ichizen said.Bookmark here

“Your grades aren’t even that bad. There’s only one class you suck at right now,” I disagreed with his statement.Bookmark here

“I guess you’re right, but you still never know about these things, Yuki. Let’s have fun today,” Ichizen said, giving me a big smile.Bookmark here

“What do you want to do?” I asked, hoping it wasn’t something crazy.Bookmark here

“Let’s go to school,” Ichizen answered.Bookmark here

First day of winter break and he wanted to go to school? I stared at him, hoping he was joking.Bookmark here

“Yuki, come on, I want to find out what happened yesterday,” Ichizen repeated his request one more time.Bookmark here

“Why would you want to go when we’re on break? Come on, it’s just common sense,” I shook my head.Bookmark here

“That’s why it’s the perfect time, Yuki. No one will be there, so we can explore,” Ichizen explained his reasoning.Bookmark here

“There’s still going to be police around, you know? How are we going to get in?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“That’s what makes it an adventure. Besides, there’s always a window open somewhere. We’ll just climb in,” Ichizen answered.Bookmark here

“Ichizen, I wonder why I’m friends with you,” I said.Bookmark here

“Is that a yes? I think I just heard a yes,” Ichizen misconstrued my words.Bookmark here

“I’ll go with you, but I have a few conditions. First, we leave immediately if there are police. If we can’t find a way of getting inside, then we leave,” I provided him with my conditions.Bookmark here

“Wait, that means we’ll end up leaving, no matter what,” Ichizen said.Bookmark here

“Of course, I don’t want to get in trouble. Besides, it’ll be a pain for me to explain to Auntie that her son got into a mess. So, do you agree?” I said.Bookmark here

“Fine, it’s not going to be as fun anymore,” Ichizen agreed to my terms.Bookmark here

I ate breakfast and then we headed out. Ichizen carried a small bag, no doubt a sandwich inside. We arrived at the school and Ichizen scouted ahead. He returned with a smile, which meant I was suckered into another one of his brilliant schemes.Bookmark here

“I didn’t see any police around. Like I said, there’s a window open,” Ichizen reported.Bookmark here

Ichizen crawled through the open window with ease. I followed him, finding ourselves on the first floor. He looked around, heading toward the stairs. It was weird being at school, no one around. Ichizen stopped midway up the stairs, beckoning me over.Bookmark here

“Yuki, there’s someone here!” he hissed in a low voice.Bookmark here

“Let’s leave. I don’t want to get involved,” I told him.Bookmark here

“It’s Old Stone. Don’t you want to know what he’s doing here?” Ichizen asked.Bookmark here

“If he’s here, then that must mean something bad will happen,” I disagreed.Bookmark here

“Yuki, come on, let’s go. He’s moving,” Ichizen dashed up.Bookmark here

I would leave you here, but who knows what might happen? I reluctantly followed him to the third floor. Ichizen hid behind a wall, scoping out the situation. I peered out, seeing Old Stone stare at the ground.Bookmark here

“Do you think he’s looking for treasure? Oh man, that would be great!” Ichizen came up with an outlandish suggestion.Bookmark here

“No, dumbass! Of course not,” I hissed at him.Bookmark here

Old Stone took out his knife, placing it back on his belt right away. Looked like he changed his mind. Ichizen and I trailed behind him, making sure he didn’t notice us. At this point, I’m sure he was aware of us.Bookmark here

“What kind of secrets is the substitute teacher hiding?” Ichizen pondered, watching Old Stone exit the classroom.Bookmark here

“I don’t think you want to know,” I warned, watching the door open.Bookmark here

Old Stone headed back downstairs. Huh, weird, did he not find anything? Probably small enough to keep it inside his pocket.Bookmark here

“There’s nothing interesting,” I said.Bookmark here

“Something is definitely going on. I can’t just leave it like this. Old Stone might have found a treasure map and now he’s going around, uncovering secrets,” Ichizen hypothesized.Bookmark here

“That’s very unlikely. Let’s just leave. There’s nothing else to do,” I ordered, heading towards the window.Bookmark here

“Fine,” Ichizen relented.Bookmark here

Old Stone noticed us climb out, waving us over. Not a surprise, I suspected he allowed us to follow him. Now what?Bookmark here

“The kids from yesterday, right?” he asked.Bookmark here

“Yep, that’s us. What are you doing here today?” Ichizen replied.Bookmark here

“I could ask the same. Anyways, I was here to retrieve something,” Old Stone answered, tapping his briefcase.Bookmark here

“You left your stuff inside?” I asked.Bookmark here

“They didn’t let me go back until today. See, there’s a bunch of other teachers here too,” Old Stone said, pointing at a teacher entering his car.Bookmark here

“Oh, so it wasn’t treasure!” Ichizen exclaimed.Bookmark here

“What?” Old Stone asked, looking over at me.Bookmark here

“Don’t even ask,” I replied.Bookmark here

“You guys get home safe. I’ll forget you were here,” Old Stone said.Bookmark here

I didn’t believe him. He went to the third floor for a specific purpose. I wouldn’t pry. Someone like Old Stone, better if I knew less. Who knows what would happen if I got injured, or worse die in this strange world?Bookmark here

“He found us out. Oh well, it was still fun today, don’t you think?” Ichizen laughed, after the substitute teacher left.Bookmark here

“The other teachers here might notice us, let’s leave already!” I said, dragging him away from the sports field.Bookmark here

When we were near the bus stop, I saw Kanshou again. He carried a tennis bag, Meshino accompanying him. He looked down at a piece of paper, before walking over to me.Bookmark here

“Excuse me, are you a student of the school there?” he asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, were you planning on going? It’s closed since we’re on break,” I replied, a bit put off by his smile.Bookmark here

“That’s okay. My friend and I were wondering if the courts at your school were open. One of your tennis members wanted to practice,” Kanshou revealed.Bookmark here

“I don’t know. If they said it’s okay, it should be fine,” I said.Bookmark here

“Thanks for the help. Let’s go, Sueo,” Kanshou ordered, thanking me with yet another smile.Bookmark here

I watched them head toward the sports field. Kanshou was really nice but I didn’t like him.Bookmark here

“Yuki, that guy was really good looking,” Ichizen brought up.Bookmark here

“That’s what you figured out?” I sighed.Bookmark here

“Yeah, don’t you think so too? That guy with him seems familiar. Like I know him from somewhere, but that’s impossible. They’re from Mantan, right? I’ve never been there,” Ichizen answered.Bookmark here

You probably know Meshino, because he’s your gaming buddy, Nex. I didn’t say anything though. I put the pieces together, after hearing Meshino’s friend call him Nex. Did that mean Ichaival had the same connection with Ichizen too? Couldn’t be a coincidence.Bookmark here

“We watched them play, remember?” I responded.Bookmark here

“Oh yeah, you’re right. Man, I almost forgot about that. I’ll head back home and see if Nex is on. Hopefully, he is so we can do some team missions,” Ichizen decided, taking out his phone.Bookmark here

Your friend is not going to be on. I’ll let you figure it out. I missed these times, but knew that it was only a matter of time before I returned.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.