Volume 12, Chapter 21: Spring Training Camp Day 2 Conclusion (II)

MIND DIVE 14: First Encounter with Tess (Kyoi Feng)

“Feng, see you tomorrow in class! Thanks for the notes again! You really saved me today in class!” a girl waved goodbye to Kyoi near the school gates.

“That’s what classmates are for, right?” Kyoi headed the opposite direction of the girl.

I inspected the nameplate outside of the school gates. “Laodi High”. Oh, that was formerly a private school. It started accepting regular students only recently. Did that mean Kyoi was loaded like Felicity? No, I recalled her talking about how she wasn’t as well-off as the energetic woman during a bus ride. But, that wasn’t even the most startling part! Kyoi was on good terms with her classmates. Since I rarely interacted with the heroes outside of official matters, I didn’t know much abut their personal lives. It really shouldn’t shock me the number two ranked hero actually had friends. But, it was just so hard to separate the two sides of her.

The hero entered an area full of bikes. She set her bag down on the back of a bike and bent down. A few seconds later, Kyoi suddenly stood up, dropping her key.

“Zha Tess, am I right?” Kyoi grinned at the Gatekeeper.

“Correct,” Tess responded with a nod.

“What does the Gatekeeper want with me?” Kyoi leaned on her bike.

“An introduction. As the Gatekeeper, it’s my responsibility and duty to learn about those selected by the prophets,” Tess revealed.

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“Okay, I’ll accept that explanation for now. So, what do you want to know?” Kyoi’s expression shifted from playful to serious.

“I’ve obtained enough preliminary information from our introductory conversation. I’ll reach out to you at a later date, Kyoi Feng,” Tess answered, walking away.  

“Hey, hold on! The best way to learn about someone is in a battle!” Kyoi grabbed Tess’ shoulder.

Not the best move, Kyoi. I’ve unfortunately done the same thing and it didn’t end well. Tess grabbed Kyoi’s hand, pushing it away, saying nothing. The number two ranked hero didn’t give up, grabbing Tess by the arm. The Gatekeeper extricated herself from the woman’s grasp. Kyoi gritted her teeth, swinging a punch at the woman. Tess caught her fist, shoving Kyoi down to the ground. The Gatekeeper’s face displayed no emotion, but I noticed her deadly aura. Probably sensing this, Kyoi backed off and watched Tess depart.

“What an interesting person,” Kyoi commented, removing the lock on her bike and rode off into the distance.


MIND DIVE 15: Tess and Felicity’s Lunchtime

“How are the college classes?” Felicity swung her school bag around as she walked with Tess in the hallway.

“As expected. I’ve already adjusted to the difficulty curve. The classes here are just a formality. Nonetheless, they are still enjoyable,” Tess answered.

That’s right, the Gatekeeper was already immersing herself in upper level classes in high school. I wondered how much time she actually spent here but it was enough to know all the heroes. The two girls passed by Zhuyu, who didn’t even acknowledge them. Weird, the man might not quite know Tess yet, bu he was acquainted with Felicity at this point. Then again, Zhuyu wasn’t exactly sociable, so he would just ignore them. He was the same way to Felicity when I saw him for the first time all those months ago in the student lounge.

“Hey, Long! Come on!” Felicity glanced back with annoyance.

Zhuyu didn’t react. En walked past him and the math major nodded at his friend. When the dual elemental user neared Felicity, she blocked his path. I knew she was aggressive, but I didn’t expect this kind of behavior from her.

“Excuse-,” En started saying but Felicity cut him off.

“What’s up with Long today?” Felicity shouted at the man.

“Fel, your behavior is not appropriate. Please excuse her,” Tess warned, saving En from a potential lecture.

En nodded at the Gatekeeper, walking off. Felicity glared at Tess but recovered a few seconds later. Was Felicity more reckless as a high school student? Maybe she just hadn’t matured yet. The two girls entered the cafeteria, sitting down at a table.

“What did bring for lunch today, Tess?” Felicity reached into Tess’ lunch bag.

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She pulled out plastic tubes and stared at the items in confusion. The Gatekeeper pried them out of her friend’s hand, cutting open the tops with a utility knife. Tess set her lunch aside and set two thick books down onto the table. She picked up a tube, sipping out the contents while reading both books side by side.

“Felicity, remember we have practice after school today!” a girl shouted as she passed by.

“I know! I’m the one who set it up after all!” Felicity wiped down the space in front of her with two wet wipes.  

“Says the person who forgot practice just a few days ago even though she was the one who asked if everyone was free that day,” the girl shot back before joining a group of other people.

“Aargh! She’s right. I was so busy going over company documents that it totally slipped my mind. Tess, is that even healthy?” Felicity finally set her lunchbox down and unsnapped the top.

“It contains all the necessary essentials for a well-balanced diet. There are no current adverse effects I’ve observed,” Tess answered, turning the page.

“Is this another one of those new products you’re testing out for your parents?” Felicity disinfected her hands before picking up chopsticks.

Tess provided no response, reading in silence. The rich girl sighed, placing rice into her mouth. Her lunch contained rice, cuts of steak, and a salad. I expected more extravagance. I guess this was one of those things that endeared her to people.

“Rare to see you here, Felicity. Finally joining us common folk?” a girl sat down at their table, tossing her school lunch down.

“I’m here a lot! Nina, don’t make it sound like I’m always secluding myself away in some fancy place,” Felicity countered, pointing her pair of chopsticks at her.
“Yeah, yeah. You just admitted you do have a secret spot. How are you doing today, Tess?” Nina opened her milk carton.

Their school lunches were really bad. This, along with Shui’s mind dive, confirmed it. Nina patted down her pizza, nasty grease stains appearing on her thin napkin. It bled through the fabric, getting onto her hand. Felicity handed her a bottle of hand sanitizer. What a mess. That apple wasn’t fresh either. How was this even allowed? I looked around the room, seeing if other lunches were also this atrocious. At the next table, someone shook a plastic box, green colored objects bouncing around inside. A thick layer of dressing covered the salad, probably to mask the staleness of it. My school lunch was luxurious compared to this.

“Nina, you really need to stop eating that,” Felicity suggested, shaking her head as Nina bit into the pizza.

“Can’t help it. All my money goes to school supplies and tuition. It’s free food, gotta take what I can get,” Nina said, drinking her milk afterwards.

“You must be aware of other people’s positions, Fel,” Tess reminded her.

“I know. Nina, are you on a scholarship?” Felicity took out a thermos, pouring hot liquid out into her cup.

“Uh, well, duh! We’ve already went over this before. Don’t you remember?” Nina bit into her apple before setting it down in disgust.

“Oh, yeah, of course we did,” Felicity responded with a nervous laugh.

Tess looked up from her books, a sharp look on her face. He expression returned to normal a few seconds later. What was that all about?

“Nina, have you considered advanced enrollment? Your test scores indicate that you are more than prepared for a course load similar to mine,” Tess brought up.

“I wish I could! That program costs too much money. I’ve searched for financial aid but haven’t found anything that works. Plus my job gets in the way too for any night classes,” Nina replied.

“Perhaps there is a way. Consider…,” Tess explained.

Their words faded as the scenery distorted around me. This was one of the more informative mind dives covering everyone’s past. It displayed the divide between Felicity and other students at her school. I considered myself in the middle class since my parents earned enough money for a comfortable lifestyle. Most people at my high school were in the same position. I wondered if Nina’s experience resembled the other heroes not named Tess.


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