Chapter 95:

Volume 4, Chapter 9: What Finals?

Heroes of the Past

I heard a faint hiss and the pod cover opened. Emily stared at me, writing on a clipboard.Bookmark here

“Somebody woke up from a good dream. It’s remarkable you’ve managed to create such an elaborate alternate world,” Emily greeted, helping me up.Bookmark here

“It’s so real that I can’t even tell the difference,” I commented, stretching my legs.Bookmark here

“That’s the power of your grimoire. I’ll do some more research. It could lead to interesting results,” Emily said, returning to the control board and adjusted switches.Bookmark here

Zhuyu and Shane sat at a desk, staring at papers. The zero vector user nodded with a serious expression. Damn, it was weird to see Zhuyu now. Their appearances were similar, yet the demeanor and facial expressions varied. He appeared less dangerous here than in my dream world.Bookmark here

“Emily, how long was I out?” I asked.Bookmark here

“About an hour,” Emily answered.Bookmark here

“How’s Jacque?” I looked around but didn’t see him.Bookmark here

“Stable. Nothing is wrong so that’s good. He has an intriguing power,” Emily revealed, staring at multiple screens.Bookmark here

“He turns into a rock. Not that interesting, right?” I pointed out.Bookmark here

“There’s a very high probability Jacque hasn’t awakened to his true potential. In other words, he still has an unawakened power. We rarely see that occur,” Emily elaborated.Bookmark here

“Any clues on what it could turn out to be?” I wondered.Bookmark here

“With Tess’ assistance, he can meld it into something suitable,” Emily answered, walking over to another pod.Bookmark here

She pressed a button, opening the pod cover. Jacque stumbled out, a dazed look on his face. He rubbed his eyes, getting his bearings together.Bookmark here

“It’s not every day I get probed,” Jacque joked, laughing awkwardly.Bookmark here

“You got to sleep at least,” I said.Bookmark here

“Yeah, definitely more comfortable than putting my head on a hardcover book,” Jacque agreed.Bookmark here

“Is that how you sleep in the student lounge?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“I’m a pretty sad man, Tomo. Really wish they had beds. Ko talked about wanting something like that,” Jacque replied, a wistful look on his face.Bookmark here

“They have sofas in there, right?” I recalled people sprawling out on them before.Bookmark here

“Eh, that isn’t safe. Knowing me, I probably will get my stuff stolen, cuz you know, fuck my life,” Jacque said his signature phrase.Bookmark here

“You’re right, not exactly the best idea. Hey, if you have a friend, then you don’t have to worry!” I devised a solution.Bookmark here

“True, but everyone has their own schedules, kinda hard to get in a solid nap,” Jacque said.Bookmark here

Emily picked up papers from the printer, organizing them inside a binder. She placed it back onto a large bookcase, walking towards us. I wondered how many files they kept on record here.Bookmark here

“Jacque, congratulations! The checkup showed nothing wrong. There is a chance your powers will undergo a shift, morphing into something else. Can you take this back to Tess? She’ll know what it means,” Emily informed us, handing me a stack of papers.Bookmark here

“Tomo, you gonna help me get used to this heroes thing?” Jacque requested.Bookmark here

“I haven’t been a hero myself for that long. I don’t really know what I can teach you. Everyone is a douchebag, especially Shan,” I answered.Bookmark here

“Didn’t know you hated everyone so much,” Jacque laughed.Bookmark here

“It’s getting better,” I modified my statement.Bookmark here

“Seems like it’ll take a lot of work. I turn into a rock. I’m so fucking useless!” Jacque lamented, his face full of sorrow.Bookmark here

“You weren’t that shocked when we rescued you, so looks like you’ll adjust,” I encouraged him.Bookmark here

“Sure hope so,” Jacque answered.Bookmark here

“Yeah, you’ll be fine. Plus you know everyone already,” I pointed out.Bookmark here

“Nah, Tomo, I think you got it all wrong. I literally can’t do shit. In fact, I’ll probably get captured and I’ll be like “oh no”. Everyone will have to come and save my ass,” Jacque questioned my positivity.Bookmark here

“Emily did say your powers might change, so don’t be sad. You never know, might get some cool powers,” I said.Bookmark here

“I wish, but good things like that usually don’t happen. I can only dream, Tomo,” Jacque remarked.Bookmark here

Twenty minutes later, Zhuyu and Shane finished their mini meeting. He walked over, looking at Jacque.Bookmark here

“Everything okay?” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“As good as it can be, bro. I slept like a baby in the pod. So how do we get out?” Jacque questioned.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I leave it to you,” Zhuyu said.Bookmark here

“Tess gave us these special keys. We just put them into any door and we’ll be back,” I revealed.Bookmark here

“Sweet,” Jacque said.Bookmark here

I inserted my key in. We all went inside, returning to the training facility. I handed the stack of documents over to Zhuyu, transferring the responsibility over to him.Bookmark here

“Jacque, let’s get you home,” Zhuyu said, accepting the papers without any complaints.Bookmark here

Great, one less for me to do. Alright, time to go home, and not worry about finals. Damn it, only two more weeks. Why did you have to be so cruel, school?Bookmark here

Friday Winter Quarter 2016 Week 10Bookmark here

“You really aren’t concerned about finals, are you?” I looked over at Jacque.Bookmark here

“I’m hella scared. Just because I’m reading manga right now doesn’t mean I’m not. At least, I’m heading to a review session later. I’ll be okay, I hope,” Jacque replied.Bookmark here

It was dead week and almost everyone was in the student lounge. Zhuyu, Shan, Kisai, and Jacque were all present. Ko was here earlier, but went off to who knows where. Felicity joined us earlier, but departed, after an urgent matter came up. Probably related to the company work she did for her father.Bookmark here

“The thing is, Tomo, you just have to not do work on the last day and it’ll turn out fine,” Shan said.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I call bullshit. I’m amazed how you guys manage to get good grades without studying,” I disagreed.Bookmark here

“That’s not true. Long studies pretty hard. Can’t get my types of results, but he does aight,” Kisai countered.Bookmark here

“Thanks, Jin. Don’t worry, it’s your second quarter here already. You’re getting used to the exam system,” Zhuyu said.Bookmark here

“That’s great and all, but you’re forgetting one thing. I don’t study like you guys do. I’m more like Jacque, no offense,” I pointed out.Bookmark here

“Damn, she just insulted you, Jacque,” Kisai commented.Bookmark here

“Nah, can’t be mad. Pretty bad if you’re near my standards, Tomo. Don’t be like me, it’s not great,” Jacque said.Bookmark here

“That’s not what I meant. I’m normal, unlike you guys,” I clarified.Bookmark here

“I’m flattered, Tomo, but we’re not that special,” Shan refuted.Bookmark here

“You keep saying you aren’t, but I think you definitely are. Ko said something about that too,” I insisted.Bookmark here

“Yeah, well, Ko says a lot of things,” Zhuyu remarked.Bookmark here

I somehow got dragged into their conversation again. Shit, now was not the time. I needed to focus. Maybe I should head to the library.Bookmark here

“We gotta figure out a battle plan for you, Jacque,” Shan said.Bookmark here

“I’m a damn rock. It’s over for me,” Jacque lamented.Bookmark here

“I can hit you with my tennis racquet and it’ll do a lot of damage,” Shan pointed out.Bookmark here

“Jacque, do you even take damage when you’re a rock? Did it hurt when Shigetzu hit you with the racquet last time?” Zhuyu brought up.Bookmark here

“That’s actually a good point. Do you?” Kisai repeated.Bookmark here

“I’m still aware of everything going on, but just can’t do anything. I feel some pain when I turn back, not a lot,” Jacque described.Bookmark here

“Interesting. We might be able to do something with that,” Shan said.Bookmark here

“I can’t help but feel sorry for you. If you’re ever injured, you gotta tell us,” Kisai said, looking up from his phone.Bookmark here

“Thanks, great to know you have my back. I’m still a noob but I’ll do what I can,” Jacque appreciated.Bookmark here

“When he’s meeting with Tess?” Kisai inquired.Bookmark here

“Oh, yeah. Tess asked you to meet with her after finals week,” Zhuyu informed him.Bookmark here

“Where at?” Jacque questioned.Bookmark here

“Her house,” Zhuyu answered.Bookmark here

“Seems kinda dangerous,” Jacque exclaimed.Bookmark here

“You’ve been summoned there as well, Tomo. Consider it the orientation you never received,” Zhuyu mentioned.Bookmark here

“Can’t help you there. Tess’ word is final,” Kisai said.Bookmark here

“Same. We all went through it, not jealous of you at all,” Shan added, the situation turning ominous.Bookmark here

“Why are you guys making it sound so scary?” I asked.Bookmark here

“What are you talking about, Tomo?” Shan denied.Bookmark here

“Shigetzu’s right, don’t take what we said so seriously,” Kisai backed him up.Bookmark here

“Something’s going on here. Zhuyu, what’s so bad about Tess’ house?” I looked over at him.Bookmark here

“Don’t listen to what they say. It’s not that bad, sort of,” Zhuyu replied.Bookmark here

“What if I refuse?” I asked, staring at the math major.Bookmark here

“Tess will find some way of getting you over there. Have you not noticed how she shows up out of nowhere?” Zhuyu shrugged his shoulders.Bookmark here

Zhuyu was correct. Fine, let’s see what everyone was so scared of. Hopefully they were playing a joke on me and doing a great job at selling it.Bookmark here

“Fine, I’ll go. What’s the address?” I asked.Bookmark here

“I’ll take you there. Gotta get Jacque anyways,” Zhuyu offered.Bookmark here

“Are you sure?” I asked.Bookmark here

“It’s more like Tess ordered me to drive both of you,” Zhuyu revealed.Bookmark here

“I’ll have to go since I can’t refuse, right?” I decided.Bookmark here

“Jacque, send me your address later,” Zhuyu requested.Bookmark here

“You got it,” Jacque nodded, pulling out his phone.Bookmark here

“Good luck, Tomo. I mean it,” Shan encouraged.Bookmark here

Fuck you guys. Maybe it was her parents that scared everyone? That could be a possibility, but probably more of a Tess thing. No point in worrying about it now.Bookmark here

“Worry about finals first. If you need to review anything math related, I can help you out,” Zhuyu offered, tapping his pink lead pencil against the table.Bookmark here

“I appreciate that. It’s two days from now, so I need all the help I can get,” I accepted.Bookmark here

“Hey, you didn’t have a calculator for your final, right?” Shan brought up.Bookmark here

“Oh yeah, I forgot my calculator at home. Professor Nen said it was doable without one, so I somehow pulled through. My highest grade for a math class is still from Professor Nen,” Zhuyu confirmed.Bookmark here

How could Zhuyu have been so calm? I would have gotten nervous doing that exam. He claimed he was normal, but it took skill to pull that off.Bookmark here

“Sucks that your finals on a Sunday. But what can you do? Just don’t pull an all nighter like Kristoph,” Zhuyu warned.Bookmark here

“I’ve never done that for a final before,” I said, sighing.Bookmark here

“You gotta try, it’s the best,” Shan commented.Bookmark here

“You seem like the type to do that, Kisai,” I judged.Bookmark here

“Damn, that’s harsh, Tomo. I try to sleep earlier now. I use to sleep at two or three in the morning, wake up at six or seven,” Kisai divulged.Bookmark here

“How did you even function?” I was in disbelief.Bookmark here

“That was before I started working. I still do it sometimes, gotta finish my homework,” Kisai replied.Bookmark here

“You guys, I don’t even know what to say,” I said.Bookmark here

The day passed by and I arrived home. What to study for first? The most pressing issue right now was my math final. The chemistry final was on Tuesday and my last final on Wednesday. Time to rush through a bunch of practice math finals. Around nine, Yukie came into my room. She brought her tool kit, asking to see the bracelet.Bookmark here

“Does it need maintenance?” I asked, watching her tinker with it.Bookmark here

“Yes, it’s important to make the adjustments,” Yukie answered.Bookmark here

“When do you have the tests for your online classes?” I recalled seeing Yukie study the other day.Bookmark here

“Next week. I’ll head to your university for the exams,” Yukie replied.Bookmark here

“If it’s on the same day as mine, I might as well drive you there,” I offered.Bookmark here

“I would appreciate that. How is your exam preparation progressing?” Yukie asked, holding an electronic chip.Bookmark here

“I’ll have to see what I don’t know first,” I replied.Bookmark here

“I apologize for not being available to help more,” Yukie said, finishing her adjustments.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about it. I got above average on my midterms. Means I have a little leeway on the final. Still have to study hard,” I informed her.Bookmark here

“Ah, that is excellent news. Your friend, Zhuyu, provided great assistance. I just have to replace a few parts. It should be done soon,” Yukie said.Bookmark here

Friend, huh? I wasn’t sure if that was the correct word. For Felicity that applied. Even Tess might qualify. For Zhuyu and the others, I didn’t know yet. Comrade might be a better word. Even then, that didn’t fit either. It was difficult to describe.Bookmark here

“Yeah, Zhuyu was pretty helpful. He had the same professor before too,” I agreed.Bookmark here

“Which one is your type?” Yukie suddenly shifted the topic of our conversation.Bookmark here

“Huh?” I exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Oh, poor word choice by me. I was referring to which one provides you with the best help,” Yukie clarified.Bookmark here

“Um, I guess Zhuyu? I prefer Tess, but he’s fine. Kisai’s okay too, but the way he does things, I don’t know if I could keep up. The last person I ever ask is Shan. He knows things, but it’ll be a pain to get anything out of him,” I ranked.Bookmark here

“You’ve gotten to know them better. I am impressed, Yuki. The adjustments have been completed. Here you go,” Yukie complimented, returning the bracelet.Bookmark here

“Like I said, they aren’t…. whatever. They are helpful when they want to be. Good luck studying, Yukie,” I said.Bookmark here

“You too, Yuki. If something comes up, please be sure to contact me. I wouldn’t want you to be injured because of my invention,” Yukie reminded.Bookmark here

If Yukie designed and produced this with limited resources, I could only imagine what she could construct given technology from the other dimensions. Seriously, she would be a major asset. Still, I rather not have her become involved.Bookmark here

Saturday Winter Quarter 2016 Day Before FinalsBookmark here

“Given this population problem, then I would apply separation of variables?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“Yeah, move all the dy and dx to their own side. You’ll learn in more advanced classes that separation of variables isn’t the only solution method,” Zhuyu confirmed.Bookmark here

“Anything else?” I asked.Bookmark here

I reviewed material with Zhuyu. He corrected my mistakes, but other that, let me work it out myself. On occasion, he provided tips about problems to look out for and how to solve them.Bookmark here

“Oh, watch out for any cooling problems. Definitely put that on your note sheet if you’re unsure,” Zhuyu reminded.Bookmark here

“I remember them from the homework. How did you even do these without a calculator?” I asked, amazed he completed the test.Bookmark here

“Professor Nen writes problems that don’t need them. There was an approximation problem I couldn’t check, but other than that, not too bad,” Zhuyu replied.Bookmark here

“I’m surprised you like Professor Nen. He makes things too hard,” I noted.Bookmark here

“He cares about what you learn, so he goes over a lot of problems, which seems like a waste of time. Personally, I really liked that, since he wanted to make sure we knew why and not just how,” Zhuyu explained.Bookmark here

“You’re weird, Zhuyu. Who likes the hard teacher? I prefer an easier one. At least I know what’s going on and wouldn’t feel so scared about the final,” I said, not understanding his mentality.Bookmark here

“Guess I am. Anyways, there’s still a few things left to cover,” Zhuyu responded.Bookmark here

“Do you have time to help me? I don’t want to keep you from studying,” I inquired, not wanting to impose on him.Bookmark here

“My finals aren’t until Tuesday. I helped Kristoph and Ko when they took the first part of calculus,” Zhuyu assured me.Bookmark here

“Speaking of which, doesn’t Kristoph need help too?” I asked, jotting down the initial condition.Bookmark here

“He’ll be fine. I helped him earlier this morning. He’s actually messaging me right now,” Zhuyu answered, typing on his keyboard.Bookmark here

“He’s pretty damn sad every time he finishes an exam,” I observed.Bookmark here

“He always has that look. I can only help him so much,” Zhuyu dismissed.Bookmark here

“So moving onto this part….,” I said, checking my computer screen.Bookmark here

I finished speaking with Zhuyu at five. A very productive day. I leaned back on my chair, requiring a short break, after five hours of math. I stared up at the ceiling, closing the blinds. Flicking on the lights, I looked at my bookcase. When was Tess going to return Ichizen’s books? I wanted to finish the series.Bookmark here

“Yuki, you in there?” Mom knocked on my door.Bookmark here

“Yeah. Come in,” I said, sitting back up.Bookmark here

Mom walked in, no sign of her usual mischievous face. She sat down on the top of my bed, staring at me with a piercing expression. This was getting weird and scary at the same time.Bookmark here

“Yuki, I have something important to tell you,” Mom said, her voice very serious.Bookmark here

“Yeah, what is it?” I asked, expecting big news.Bookmark here

“Yuki…. it’s time,” Mom announced.Bookmark here

“For what?” I questioned, not sure if this was a set up for one of her jokes.Bookmark here

“To finally meet someone,” Mom replied.Bookmark here

“Who?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Ichizen’s little sister, of course!” Mom said some shocking words.Bookmark here

When did Ichizen ever have a little sister? In fact, that was impossible. I knew Ichizen since he was a child.Bookmark here

“Mom, how and when did the Michi family ever have a daughter?” I questioned, staring at her.Bookmark here

“The Ichizen family has an interesting tradition. When they have two children, one remains in the traditional rural home, and the other taken to the city,” Mom unveiled.Bookmark here

“Are you serious? It’s really hard to believe,” I asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I thought it was crazy at first, but I’ve seen their daughter myself. Ichizen never knew,” Mom confirmed.Bookmark here

“I keep thinking you’re pulling a prank, but even you wouldn’t construct such an elaborate situation,” I said.Bookmark here

“I wish I were. Anyways, she’ll be transferring into one of the local universities here. She’ll move in with the Michi family sometime after your finals,” Mom said.Bookmark here

“Why now though? Seems like a weird time. Kind of suspicious. I know that sounds bad, but…,” I wondered.Bookmark here

“Ichizen’s mother just told me today. Can you imagine the bad jokes I made before finally believing her?” Mom revealed.Bookmark here

“Thanks for telling me. You’re being serious, right?” I asked once more.Bookmark here

“I am. Sorry to put this on you, especially with finals so close. Dinner’s almost ready,” Mom replied, leaving.Bookmark here

I was curious about Ichizen’s little sister now. This better not a major plan the heroes or someone else set up. Sighing, I focused on my math, pushing it out of the way for now.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.