We returned to the laboratory where everyone else was already gathered. The two researchers were nowhere in sight. All the heroes were in rough shape, much more haggard than when they first arrived. I didn’t see Lilith or any members of her team present. I guess Tess let them leave early or they were in a different part of the area.
Zhuyu’s entire left arm was bandaged up, small red stains dotted across it. He walked with a pronounced limp but stood up the entire time. Multiple bandages adorned his head, most prominent in the forehead. It made sense he suffered the most abuse since Tess had him play the role of practice dummy for everyone else. Tess left the room, telling me to catch up with everyone while she took care of a personal matter.
“I know I asked you before but are you really okay?” I surveyed his injuries.
“Same answer as before. This is pretty normal. Check out Zhang,” he assured me, motioning over at his friend.
En wore a visible back brace, wrapped around the bottom of his T-shirt. The dual elemental user’s fingers on both hands were bandaged up too. He moved his neck around, noticeable pain on his face. He sat down on a couch, leaning all the way back.
“A lot better than you,” I commented.
“Not really, hurts everywhere,” En said, drinking a cup of water.
“Same. We’re expected to do this again tomorrow too? I don’t think my body can handle it,” I agreed, doing light stretches.
“My body is ready, Tomo. Don’t be weak like Darryl, you’re better than him,” Shan chimed in, slapping his friend in the back.
“Ow! What the f***? You know I got injured there!” Ichaival glared at him.
Shan appeared fine, no bandages or any body braces. His arm did contain a few minor cuts, but other than that, nothing major like Zhuyu. Lucky you. Ichaival was the complete opposite. Both of the false archers’ arms were bruised. There was a bulge on his right leg. The man’s neck was wrapped up in gauze with small amounts of blood present. This reminded me of the beating Mirei gave everyone, except not as severe, and that was only a few weeks ago. How the hell did the heroes manage to keep going despite all these setbacks?
“Shigetzu’s right. Stop being such a little bitch, Darryl. Look at me,” Kisai boasted.
“F*** you, Jin! We all can’t be like you and just be so good to not get beat up,” Ichaival shot back, shaking his head.
Ichaival was correct. No bruising, cuts, and scratches visible on Kisai. He only grinned at the false archer, mocking him with a disappointed head shake. I swore the magic user suffered at least something minor especially after his spars with Kyoi. No way he escaped without any negative side effects. Kyoi sneaked up behind Kisai, squeezing his right shoulder.
“Jin, I thought your shoulder wasn’t feeling so good,” Kyoi stated, tightening her grip.
“Nah, I’m all healed up from it. I’m fine,” Kisai refuted, enduring the pain despite his words.
“Good to know,” Kyoi said, finally letting go of his shoulders but not before chopping it.
Kisai maintained his smile, patting his shoulder with care. Well, that was dumb. I noticed white gauze underneath Kyoi’s shirt. At least she didn’t try to claim she was injury free. Wait, someone was missing! Where was Jacque?
“Hey, where’s Jacque?” I questioned, looking around.
“He’s in the clinic getting treatment, Yuki,” Jen answered.
“Is he going to be okay?” I questioned, surprised Tess didn’t say anything about it.
“There’s nothing to worry about. Tess said he pushed himself too far and ended up fainting,” Jen explained, handing me a plate of food.
“Doesn’t sound like something Jacque would do. Hang on, were you there with Jacque when it happened?” I inquired.
“Mmhmm. Lucky for me Tess was around or I would have totally panicked. I was really scared I did something to get Jacque knocked out!” Jen passed the water pitcher over to Shui.
“At least he’s okay! We still have one more day to go!” Shui remarked.
Jen wore a brace on her right hand, moving it around every few seconds. Probably wasn’t a battle injury, just overexerting it from firing arrows. Other than that, she was in good shape. I envied her role for the training camp because she could just stand back and not worry about getting hit. But, Tess did ask Shan to work with her so I assumed Jen was sore from that.
Shui wasn’t too steady on his feet, dirt smears covering the man’s arms. I noticed indents on his face. Huh, wonder what kind of training Tess had him do? I recalled the obstacle course back in the place where I trained with Kuan. Based on marks across his face, Shui must have gone through that a few times. Didn’t think Shui was that athletic since the obstacle course appeared intensive.
“Tomo, how’s everything gone for you? It’ll get these bastards off my back,” Ichaival inquired, slapping Shan’s hand away.
“Fuckin’ tired. I really don’t know if I can even move tomorrow. Are you guys just super well-conditioned?” I didn’t understand their lack of concern for the second day of training camp.
“I wish! I guess our bodies are just used to it,” Shui exclaimed.
“Yeah, what Lau said. This isn’t our first time going through this, you know,” Ichaival agreed.
“I’m just glad Tess gave me a little break when I learned stuff from Jen. I’d probably end up in the clinic if I didn’t end up resting,” I said, refilling my plate with food.
“Tomo, did you end up practicing your kicks on anyone?” Shan asked.
“Kind of hard when I’m facing all the top tier heroes,” I answered, shaking my head.
“S***, I get it, I get it. Not even against Kuan?” the gravity manipulator pointed over at hero who was on a nearby computer.
Damn, I forgot he was here. With his back facing me, I couldn’t tell the extent of his injuries, if any. A few minutes later, he stood up and walked over towards us with small, careful steps. I didn’t see a bulge on either leg, so he wasn’t wearing a brace, or at least not a bulky one.
“Your leg okay?” I inquired, watching him sit down.
“Kind of twisted it a bit when Tess pretty much wiped me out. She took a look at it already. Nothing too serious,” he answered.
“How were Tomo’s kicks?” Shan glanced over at the gun user.
“Didn’t really get a chance to work too much on it. Tess wanted me to focus more on firearm stuff. It’s decent,” Kuan replied before asking Zhuyu to pass him food.
“I guess you get a pass for now, Tomo,” Shan said, refilling his water bottle.
“Why are you so interested all of a sudden? You aren’t really the type of person to care so much,” I asked, finding the man’s behavior suspicious.
“Hey, that’s not true. I care plenty. Ask Darryl or Long. They know!” Shan refuted.
“The hell you do!” Ichaival retorted, shaking his head in vigorous disagreement.
“You can’t trust what Darryl says. This man literally told me he was just lying in bed when I asked him to go somewhere. Turns out later he already had plans with Felicity,” Shan disputed.
“It’s Tess, Tomo. That’s the reason he’s asking,” Zhuyu interrupted the two’s back and forth.
“Oh, you’re scared about going through Tess’ punishment!” I realized, discovering an important piece of leverage for future use.
“Damn it, Long! You don’t have to say it straight out,” Shan responded, giving his friend a disappointed look.
“She would have figured it out eventually. Tomo’s not dumb. Might as well just get it out of the way. Besides, we’re all kind of responsible for her development. You know Tess will want us to continue working with her,” Zhuyu countered.
“Long’s right,” Kuan agreed, pulling up his pants leg to reveal a compression knee brace.
Before I could comment, Tess returned, Jacque following behind her. The artist wore a boot on his left leg, hobbling toward us. The Gatekeeper asked everyone to sit down. Over the next half hour, she reviewed everyone’s training, stating points of improvement each individual could work on. Afterwards, it was our turn to speak. We took turns discussing positives and negatives of our sessions. Tess concluded the meeting by asking us to provide feedback for her. I expected everyone to remain silent, but people actually spoke up, giving her their critiques. The only people who didn’t go into specific details were Jacque and En.
“That ends the training for today. You may return home and rest. Tomorrow, we will continue in hopes of maintaining a strong attitude and build a strong foundation,” Tess dismissed us.
Before I left, the Gatekeeper pulled me aside, handing me a medium sized manual. I flipped through the initial pages, seeing her handwriting inside. They were all personal notes on techniques and maneuvers from each of my sessions. I thanked her for it, really grateful Tess took the time to put this together for me. How did she have time to personally write all of this? This was at least a good ten to twenty pages. Upon closer inspection, it was printed but the font matched exactly Tess’ penmanship. Just another one of the great mysteries surrounding the woman.
Hah, this was really tiring. This level of fatigue matched my experience of using multiple powers for the first time. I checked the time on my phone and saw it was already six. S***, it felt like an entire day passed by. I shuddered at the surprises and thrills Tess panned for tomorrow.