Volume 12, Chapter 5-1: Silk Shot Road (I)

Sunday Spring Quarter 2016 Week 1

“Yeah, I got it,” I said, hanging up after discussing plans with Tess.

Zhuyu, with Kyoi’s assistance, deciphered potential locations of Shan and Ichaival’s ultimate weapons yesterday night. Tess decided Shan and Ichaival, along with Ksi and Bartholomew, would scout out those areas, checking for possible dangers. I was assigned to Zhuyu’s dimension. Tess said the former princess held information on their weapon locations. The bad news was Kyoi led the operation, although En would offset that.

“Good morning Tomo,” Kyoi greeted me in the Crossroads.

“Is En not here yet?” I didn’t see him.

“He won’t make it today,” Kyoi responded, grinning at me.

Damn, that was bad. This complicated the situation. Zhuyu was finishing homework and couldn’t join us today.

“I’m just kidding, Tomo. You don’t have to look that panicked,” Kyoi revealed.

“Kyoi… never mind, it doesn’t matter,” I said.

“I heard from Jin about the epic fight between Darryl and Long. How was it?” the woman questioned.

“It’s one of the more interesting fights. I’ve never seen Zhuyu use his old powers before except in archived videos. Darryl using Kali sticks was new too. Felt like an actual fight, not an exhibition battle,” I disclosed.

“Yes, Long is quite formidable even if it was Lyra’s doll. Let’s see what Fei has to tell us,” Kyoi grinned, leading me to the entryway.

Fei’s Stronghold

“It took you long enough. You made Zhang wait,” Fei remarked as we entered her camp.

“I sent him here so you could have company. Wasn’t that considerate?” Kyoi countered, pointing at the sword user.

“He doesn’t seem pleased,” Fei disagreed.

“Well…,” En started, an uncomfortable expression on his face.

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“Can you just tell us where their weapons are?” I interrupted their heated conversation.

Fei nodded and led us into her office. For a temporary camp, the place was huge. She owned converted safe houses around the area, capturing them after fights with the bandits. I thought the place would consist of pitched tents, but it was an actual building, containing working amenities such as heat and running water.

“Where’s Long?” Fei noticed his absence.

“Doing homework,” En answered.

“How dedicated. I’m wondering if it’s an opportunity for him to stay away from Feng,” Fei teased, taking out a stack of papers from her desk.

Kyoi didn’t take her bait. Fei skimmed through the stack and pulled out two sheets. Why didn’t she just set them aside?

“You’re familiar with the area, correct?” Fei pointed at a map.

“More or less. I assume we can’t materialize our weapons there?” Kyoi questioned.

“Exactly. A certain warlord claimed the area,” Fei explained.

“You want us to clear out the area for you? In exchange, you help us retrieve our weapons,” Kyoi determined.

“It’s just like you say. That was my intention all along. However, we can’t depart yet. Let’s get you equipment. Tomo is in need of experience, I’m sure she won’t mind helping out,” Fei said.

“No problem,” I gave my approval.

“Tomo and Zhang, why don’t you head into the weapon barracks? I want to discuss something with Feng,” Fei directed.

I was really curious, but afraid of the consequences if I spoke up. Fei was lenient, but Kyoi… she might run a blade through me. I followed En.

“Do you know the way?” I saw armed personnel everywhere.

“Fei told me which way to go,” En answered.

He didn’t say anything after that. This was awkward. Usually, I was accustomed to someone talking. Zhuyu was reserved but even he opened up a little. En just remained quiet.

“En, how did you become a hero? I don’t remember if I asked you before,” I grasped for a topic.

En didn’t speak at first. Did I ask him about it before? I only spoke with the man four, five times at length so it shouldn’t be this hard to remember.

“It was… sort of an accident. Long found an entrance to a dimension after school. We were leaving and just fell in,” En replied.

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How… boring. Why were my expectations so high anyways? The fantastical nature of the dimensions and 
everything I experienced bolstered them. En said nothing further, peering at a door. He pulled out a key from his hoodie pocket.

“Oh, I forgot. Fei wanted you to have this,” En recalled, handing me a folded piece of paper.

I smoothed it out and found a recommended list of equipment. En pointed out the general location of items and disappeared into the back. Huh, was he shy or just didn’t talk much?

“These look way too complicated,” I muttered, testing out various blades displayed on the wall.

I finally settled on a balanced sword. En returned, looking no different from before. Did he even select anything?

“What did you get?” I questioned.

“A handgun,” En answered, pointing at his belt.

En led me back to the office. On Fei’s table, there were various marked up schematics and maps. Kyoi stretched and twirled a set of keys around her pointer finger.

“Zhang, are you up to gun?” the woman asked.

“I’m not that good, Feng,” En declined.

“You’re the only one with experience unless Tomo wants to,” Kyoi glanced over at me.

“No thanks, Kyoi,” I refused, shaking my head.

Fei provided additional directions before we headed toward the underground garage.

“Zhang, everything you need is underneath the floor. Tomo, spot for him,” Kyoi directed, tossing me an electronic tablet.

“Kyoi, wait! I have no idea what to do!” I protested.

“It’s simple. Turn it on. Red dots are enemies. Tell Zhang the location,” Kyoi instructed, slamming on the acceleration.

I fell to the ground, hitting my nose. That hurt! I fumbled around with the device, locating the power button. I saw a large swarm of red dots on the upper screen and a green arrow indicating our current location. Kyoi, her left hand on the wheel, hurled a small earpiece at me. I heard a whir of static and then it leveled out, the sound of gunfire replacing it.

“En, I don’t know how to say this, but there’s a huge group of enemies coming for us right now. Um, the direction is uh…,” I relayed, clicking on the screen.

“Tomo, just tell Zhang when there’s an enemy behind or above us. He’ll take care of the rest. Hit the left corner, it’ll switch to a 3D perspective,” Kyoi ordered, making a sharp left.

I didn’t steady myself in time and crashed into the left window. F***, that was totally on purpose. I then informed En about the situation as needed. After scary moments of enemies making contact with our vehicle, we finally arrived at our destination.

“What exactly are we doing here?” I questioned, feeling the cold wind strike my face.

“Taking out the supply route of the warlord. It’ll make storming the area easier. We need to make sure the people understand Fei is no pushover,” Kyoi answered.

We arrived at a clearing and hid ourselves, observing the situation. I stuck my head up. Armed bandits carrying firearms strolled back and forth, keeping a vigilant eye out for intruders. In the distance, I saw a small campfire with two people around it.

“Kyoi, is that campfire an entrance to somewhere else?” I questioned.

“Nicely done, Tomo. It’ll take us to the actual place we need to be. There’s a hidden path to the right of us. Follow it and you’ll arrive near the campfire. Zhang and I will deal with the rest,” Kyoi directed.

I expected sounds of gunfire or magic. Her personality screamed immediate action, but even Kyoi knew when it was a bad idea to storm in.

“Tomo, deal with the one carrying a rifle. Zhang has the other one covered,” Kyoi ordered.

I decided to use Shan’s powers. I inched closer, checking if he was aware of my presence. I also kept an eye on the other man just in case.

“Hey! What the….,” the other man shouted.

En’s wire wrapped around his neck, sparks of electricity flowing through it. The man shook and collapsed the ground. His ally spun around, his back to me. Perfect. With Shan’s power, I forced the man to drop his gun. I utilized Shui’s powers, freezing his feet in place. I flicked my finger toward his back, releasing a small shot of compressed magic. It struck him, knocking the man unconscious. I nodded at En and inspected the campfire.

“Good job. Let’s see what we have,” Kyoi appeared, brushing dirt off her coat.

The sword wielding woman raised her hands above the camp fire. Sparkles of light rose up and then a portal appeared. Kyoi pulled out a notepad from her pockets and jotted down numbers, tapping her pen against the page.

“That’s it,” she finally muttered.

“Something wrong with the portal?” I questioned.

“I was just analyzing its components. You can never be too careful. Never a bad idea to check. Keep that in mind, Tomo,” Kyoi advised, stepping into it.

Actual sound advice from Kyoi. What the hell was happening today? I expected her to make a snide comment, but she was rather subdued today, calmer than I was accustomed to. That was scary.

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