Volume 11, Chapter 5-2: Back-to-Back Mind Dives of the Past

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Memory Dive 8: Contracts Suck

Zhuyu, with only his right earphone in, walked alone. He arrived at his house and unlocked the door.

“Kyoi, how did you….?” Zhuyu stepped back upon seeing the woman.

“Hello there, Long. Nice to see you too. Your parents were kind enough to let me in after I spoke to them in Chinese,” Kyoi revealed.

“Damn,” Zhuyu remarked.

“How’s your body?” Kyoi inquired with a serious look on her face.

“Alright. I’m still sore but I’m able to move around without too much pain,” Zhuyu replied, a complicated expression appearing on his face.

“Good, that means you can still train. Call En and we’ll begin,” Kyoi ordered.

“Hold on, Kyoi. I signed that contract, but I have homework to do, and it’s only been a few days since we last trained,” Zhuyu protested.

“I’m sorry Long, can you repeat that?” Kyoi flashed her trademark smile, the one that instilled fear and panic into people.

“I heard you the first time. Listen, if we’re going to train, I want your help with something,” Zhuyu negotiated.

“I didn’t think you were that brave. What is your condition?” Kyoi nodded in approval.

“I’ll train but you help me with homework. I know you’re an honors student and in advanced classes. That shouldn’t be too much to ask for, right?” Zhuyu revealed his request.

Zhuyu, you’re such a dumbass. Out of all the possible favors, you choose that. Although, it was very much like him to do so. Still didn’t explain why Zhuyu owed a great debt to Kyoi.

“Of course, I can do that. Not only will I help you with homework, I’ll tutor you free of charge. Isn’t that a nice deal?” Kyoi chuckled.

“Yeah, I’m sure it is,” Zhuyu responded, the sarcasm apparent.

It then transitioned to Zhuyu, En, and Kyoi standing in a battlefield. Broken flag posts, damaged armor pieces, and blood were scattered across the ground.

“I don’t think I can do this,” En said to his friend.

“We don’t have a choice, man,” Zhuyu said.

“Yeah, you’re right,” En agreed.

“Don’t worry. It’s just taking out some puppets. No big deal,” Kyoi assured them, drawing her sword.

Both Zhuyu and En drew their blades too. I saw nothing at first, dead silence, except for when they moved their feet. A thunderous roar then occurred and knights, dressed in traditional Arthurian armor, charged in. They carried swords, lances, and other assorted weapons. Some arrived on horses and a group of five men wheeled in cannons.

“What the f***? This is crazy, Kyoi,” Zhuyu shouted, parrying a knight who swung their weapon at him.

“Long, I can’t quite hear you. There are too many enemies right now. I’ll take care of this side. You and En handle it over there,” Kyoi feigned ignorance, heading straight for the cavalry.

Zhuyu and En held up decently. Small sparks appeared on En’s sword but fizzled out within seconds. They were still just beginners. The sky rumbled and lightning struck the knights around Zhuyu. En dodged an enemy but was struck in the leg by an archer.

“En, you okay?” Zhuyu asked, knocking a knight away.

“Oh yeah, just fine,” En replied, pulling the arrow out.

“En, pick up the pace! Use your fire to heal it!” Kyoi noticed his condition.

The man, hand shaking, summoned a red flame. He held it over his wound, the color shifting to a bright blue. The injury closed up, no signs it ever existed in the first place. En let out a sigh of relief. A knight suddenly stormed towards him. Zhuyu appeared in front of his friend immediately, stabbing his sword into the ground. A large crack appeared and the enemy fell into the ground. Heavy rain now fell. Zhuyu pointed at the soaked enemies. En stabbed his sword into one of the knights. They stumbled, electrocuted by his powers, and En kicked him into another man. Their fighting was sloppy but they repelled all incoming threats. Kyoi finished off the last enemy with an explosion.

“Good job,” Kyoi congratulated them.

En and Zhuyu sat on the ground, cuts and bruises on their body. En stumbled as he stood up, almost landing on one of the helmets lying on the ground. Who had enough time to conjure up so many knights?

“You did better than last time. En, I still need to teach you how to channel your electricity. It’s not stable enough. Long, your sword skills are terrible. Not up to my standards at all. I’ll have a fun time teaching you the correct technique,” Kyoi assessed.

“So, can I go back and do homework now?” Zhuyu asked.

“En, are you eager to go back and do homework?” Kyoi asked the man.

“Not really but….,” En replied.

“See, your friend agrees you need to train more. Let’s go, we’ll do some exercises,” Kyoi ordered.

“Damn it, I should have known. Sorry En, we’ll be here for a little longer,” Zhuyu apologized, stretching his arms.

“That was my fault, wasn’t it?” En realized his mistake.

“No, it’s my fault too. But, I’m sure she would have found some way to make us do it. Let’s go. Contracts are the best,” Zhuyu answered, following Kyoi.

MIND DIVE 8 END


“Looking good, Jacque,” Zhuyu complimented his friend.

I glanced over at the easel and saw an actual body now. The proportions were off though, not by a large margin, but noticeable.

“Jacque, the proportions don’t seem right,” I commented.

“Huh? Oh yeah, I’m still working on it,” Jacque confirmed, picking up an eraser.

“Good luck. How close are you?” I stared at the picture.

“Maybe thirty minutes? No, more like five hours, to be honest. F*** my life. But I don’t want to be a rock though!” Jacque went off on a tangent.

He continued drawing despite his negativity. Zhuyu drank more tea, keeping an eye on his friend. Another mind dive on Zhuyu? I never tried back-to-back before. Tess walked in alone, inspecting Jacque’s progress.

“Long, how are things progressing?” Tess questioned.

“Nothing bad has happened yet. Is Champ getting used to his new powers?” Zhuyu asked.

“Yes. He’ll continue training until Jacque completes this. Tomo, let’s do a mind dive,” Tess suggested.

“I just did one on Zhuyu,” I informed her.

“I’ll release the chains surrounding me and you’ll peer into my memories,” Tess elaborated.

I was curious about her experiences. I spent the most time with her, yet she was still the most mysterious. Okay, this was a prime opportunity.

“Alright, let’s do this,” I agreed.

“You’ll have to excuse me for a moment. It takes awhile for the chains to dissipate,” Tess said.

Tess finally gave me the okay. S***, I was getting nervous. I stared into her eyes and heard the grimoire pages flipping. The pace was different, more rapid than a normal mind dive. I felt a sharp pain in my head, disorientating me. The scenery finally stabilized, allowing me to view Tess’ memories for the first time.


Memory Dive 9: Daily Life of a Gatekeeper

“Tess, I need your help,” Felicity requested.

She sat on the couch, a book resting on her left leg. There were three monitors on Tess’ table. Tess glanced back and forth, jotting down notes in two separate notebooks.

“Fel, didn’t you ask Long before? Why not turn to him for assistance?” Tess looked over at Felicity with a non-sympathetic look.

“You know what happened last time? He was just watching anime! Tess, you’re the only one I can depend on,” Felicity explained.

“Long would be willing to offer greater assistance if you were not so demanding,” Tess commented.

“How could you say that? I just asked him for help with two days worth of homework. He definitely had time to watch anime!” Felicity spouted.

“You’re doing well in classes. I don’t see the need,” Tess pointed out, staring at the third screen.

“Tess, I have to make sure that everything is right!” Felicity said.

“Why not turn to Jin? He is much more accommodating than Long,” Tess suggested.

“Jin is even worse than Long! He’s probably just playing games. Long and Jin are smart, but they’re not the greatest when giving help. Tess, come on, you’re my childhood friend right? Help out an old friend, please?” Felicity begged with puppy dog eyes.

Tess did not waver, saying nothing. She glanced over in Felicity’s direction after typing for five minutes. Her phone rang before she said anything.

“Ace is coming over,” Tess announced.

“Oh, do you think she’ll help me?” Felicity questioned, a hopeful look on her face.

“I doubt she would. You can certainly try,” Tess replied.

“Hey, hey, what’s her power, Tess? I need more material for my blog, Tess. Do you think I could tag along the next time you go out?” Felicity pestered Tess.

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“Absolutely not. Your involvement in this is quite vexing to me. I was careless when you saw me use my powers. I should have been more careful,” Tess denied her request.

“Come on, Tess! Jin and Long are heroes, right? I’m sure it’ll be fine for me too. Oh yeah, who’s that girl I see with Long?” Felicity attempted to persuade Tess.

“Which one are you referring to?” Tess blinked, staring at Felicity.

“You know, the one with the crazy look. Wait, there’s another one?” Felicity exclaimed.

“Disregard my previous comment. I believe you are speaking about Kyoi Feng. She is an upperclassman,” Tess answered.

“She pisses me off, don’t know why. I just don’t like her,” Felicity remarked.

“Although you say it with confidence now, I highly advise you consider your tone if you ever speak to her,” Tess warned.

The scene jumped and Ace was now present in the room.

“Kaisi is here, huh?” Ace pointed at Felicity.

“She came over to beg for homework help,” Tess answered.

“I just wanted to talk about how everyone is doing,” Ace said, handing Tess a stack of papers.

“A progress report? Did you find mine unsatisfactory?” Tess questioned with a slight edge in her voice.

“I wouldn’t dare, Tess. Consider this an extension of your reports,” Ace denied.

“I will read them later,” Tess decided, placing them on her desk.

“Hey, Ace, I have a question for you,” Felicity spoke up, her eyes burning with curiosity.

“Kaisi, please refrain from asking so many questions. It’s a pain. I will not help you with homework either,” Ace shot her down.

“You’ll be here for awhile, right? I promise it’ll take only half an hour!” Felicity negotiated.

“How about this? I’ll call Darryl over. That seems fair, right, Kaisi? I want to discuss something with him anyways,” Ace offered.

“Darryl? He’s not even in the same class as me! But, I guess it’ll be nice to talk to him. What should I do?” Felicity pondered, tapping a pen on her notepad cover.

“Darryl, are you busy? Come over to Tess’ house. I know you are quite busy, but are you really defying my orders? You’re also offending Tess. This is quite worrying, Darryl. If such things were to happen….,” Ace ended on an ominous tone.

She spoke a few more words before hanging up. Tess focused on her screen, unfazed by the hero.

“Darryl will be here soon. Tess, can you pull up the report on the last battle Darryl was involved with?” Ace requested.

“Do you want the video as well?” Tess nodded, her fingers already clicking away on the keyboard.

“Yes, that would be perfect,” Ace replied.

I was treated to a second scene jump and Ichaival joined them. He wore a light gray hoodie along with two silicone wristbands on the left side of his wrist. The only noticeable difference was his physique. I was impressed he elevated himself within only a few years. It certainly showed his dedication, something the other heroes lacked.

“Nervous, Darryl? Is this your second time here? Third, maybe?” Ace teased.

“This is my third time. What did you want to talk about?” Ichaival questioned.

“Your chain combos with the Kali sticks have surpassed my expectations,” Ace praised, pointing at the video of Ichaival dispatching enemies with his weapon.

“That means a lot, Ace,” Ichaival responded..

“However, I want to highlight a weak point. Right here. See anything wrong?” Ace added, fast-forwarding the video.

“Sorry, I don’t know,” Ichaival replied.

“Your footwork. You can’t step forward fast enough and can’t respond. The enemy sidesteps and you’re vulnerable. See what I’m getting at?” Ace asked the false archer, crossing her arms.

“Yeah, it makes sense,” Ichaival answered.

“We’ll have to remedy this. Tess, who do you suggest that can help Darryl with this problem?” Ace questioned.

“You,” Tess replied, pointing at the woman.

“I don’t get what the big deal is. Why can’t he miss?” Felicity asked, drawing a crude diagram.

“Darryl, I’ll call you once I come up with a solution,” Ace ignored Felicity’s question.

“Why are you so mean? It’s not a big secret or anything. Darryl, you can tell me, right?” Felicity pleaded, making her voice extra sweet.

Ichaival glanced over at Ace. She reacted with an unsettling smile. He then checked in with Tess, but the Gatekeeper looked away. I feel for you, Ichaival.

“Sorry, Felicity. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to know so much,” Ichaival said.

“You’re no fun, Darryl. Just tell me later, okay? That way, you won’t get in trouble,” Felicity suggested with a wink.

Ichaival responded with an uncomfortable laugh. If you really do tell Felicity, you’re f*****.

“Any other pressing matters?” Tess asked, shutting off her monitors.

“No. Darryl, tell Shigetzu he needs to train more. It won’t be pleasant for you either since you’ll be joining him if he doesn’t heed my warning,” Ace informed the false archer.

“I try, Ace, but you know how he is. I can’t really do anything,” Ichaival argued.

“You better hope he changes or it’ll be hell for both of you. If you thought Tess’ training was hard, mine is worse,” Ace threatened with a villainous smile.

“I know. I’ll try to get that piece of s*** to do something,” Ichaival said.

Tess looked out the window, rain still pouring down. When Ace was the leader, Tess didn’t have as heavy of a workload. How did she manage all of it now? This didn’t provide any insight into Tess as a person. However, it did give me an appreciation for her hard work. Perhaps I would learn more next time.

MIND DIVE 9 END


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