“Did I hear him right? He’s going to “get that chip out”,” I inquired, looking over at Kisai.
Kisai remained silent for ten seconds before pulling out a small notebook. He flipped to the middle section and showed me a rough sketch of an electronic chip. There were a bunch of technical details I didn’t understand but this confirmed my suspicions. The quality of the picture was on par with Jacque’s skills as well. Kisai just being damn good at most things as usual.
“When did you even draw that?” Zhuyu asked, staring at the sketch.
“Took me about three minutes, just using all the information we got so far from the previous devices,” Kisai explained.
Wait, when did Codex even receive the chip implant? It was possible Stellar Foundation technology was advanced enough to perform the procedure within minutes. However, I didn’t notice anything like that when the two leaders were conversing.
“They planned all of this in advance?” I concluded, accepting a bottle of water from Kisai.
“Yep, that’s what I’m thinking. Yuki, where do you think the implant location is?” Kisai slipped his notebook back into his left jean pocket.
There were only a few plausible spots on the human body. The device must have a connection to the brain if extensive analysis of data was involved. Only one prime spot for that type of access.
“Right here,” I replied, pointing at my forehead.
“You got it. Someone in the 3rd Division must have done it. Never thought they have one of the top people test it out personally,” Kisai confirmed.
“What’s the risk though?” Zhuyu asked, folding his arms in thought.
“Don’t know, depends on where the chip is actually placed. If someone overloaded the chip, that could cause permanent brain damage,” Kisai replied.
“That explains why Codex picked Yuki then. You’re the biggest threat to ruin it,” Zhuyu remarked.
“Nah, I’m weak as hell. But if they’ve approved implanting devices into people, it’ll be hard to shut them down,” Kisai said.
“You think Codex isn’t the only one?” Kuan asked.
“Knowing how they operate, yeah. Pretty sure Codex is the only one crazy enough to put that thing in his head. The others probably just have it in a part of their body where magic flow typically occurs,” Kisai elaborated.
“Safe to say that the next set of opponents will be like that?” Zhuyu predicted.
“Yeah,” Kisai agreed with a nod.
Professor Q returned alone. He entered the control booth without saying anything to us. What was he planning now?
“I apologize for the delay. Let us return to the glorious task of gathering important data!” Professor Q’s voice blared over the intercom. “Jin, my old pal, it is finally your time on the stage. Your gun shooting friend will join in the festivities as well!”
Kisai and Kuan entered the battlefield. I guess Xi wouldn’t be a participant just yet. What kind of opponent would the mad scientist select for them?
“I neglected to mention manifestation of weapons is prohibited! Being a generous facilitator however, I will provide weapons at my whim,” Professor Q elaborated.
Kisai retained his usual smug, confident expression despite the new development. Kuan was neutral, maintaining an excellent poker face. Someone in a battle suit entered the battlefield, their face hidden by a helmet.
“They’ve already made this much progress, huh?” Zhuyu snapped a picture of the opponent.
“Uh, do we have permission to do that?” I questioned.
“Tess wants pictures. I did the same during your battle,” he replied, jotting down notes in a notepad.
The heroes’ opponent targeted Kuan first, shooting at him with a handgun. Instead of bullets, lasers exited the firearm. Kuan avoided the initial barrage of shots and snuck behind them. Kisai ran interference, allowing Kuan to yank the opponent’s arm and disarm them with a swift kick to their elbow. He grabbed the gun, smashing the barrel of it into the enemy’s neck, before dashing away.
Their opponent pursued Kuan, slashing at him with a beam blade. Kisai grinned and snapped his fingers. The beam disappeared, leaving the wielder with only an empty hilt. Kuan tossed the handgun over to Kisai before evading a charged kick by the opponent.
Kuan tripped the opponent and Kisai followed up with five shots. The projectiles never struck the opponent and instead coalesced into a riot shield. They knocked Kisai away with one swing of their new weapon and then charged at Kuan. The gun user attempted an escape but wasn’t fast enough. The opponent slammed Kuan into a wall before bashing him with the riot shield three times.
Kisai ran up behind them, passing the handgun through the opponent’s open legs to Kuan. Kuan retrieved it immediately and fired two shots at the riot shield. Bullets actually exited the muzzle this time. Flames surrounded the first bullet and struck the center of the riot shield. The follow-up bullet exploded, releasing a powerful burst of wind. This set the entire riot shield on fire, forcing the opponent to drop it. Kisai swooped in, extending his hand out toward the weapon, and retrieved it for his own use. He converted the riot shield into a purple dagger and aimed for the opponent’s helmet.
“Is that allowed?” I watched the dagger sink into the helmet visor.
“Should be okay. Professor Q just said no weapon manifestation but Jin’s just manipulating the opponent’s magic into the form of a weapon. Technically, can’t classify it as one,” Zhuyu explained as he took more pictures.
“You guys always just find ways to bend the rules. Not that I’m mad about it,” I remarked.
A blinding flash of light occurred, and when everything was visible again, the opponent’s face was finally revealed. Their helmet was split in half, fractured on the ground. They were female, somewhere in their late-twenties. Her hair was wrapped up in a tight bun, a glowing hairpin threaded through it.
“Took you long enough, Jin,” she stated, pointing at the magic user with a grin.
Kuan slid a black glove over his right hand and grabbed the flickering purple dagger near the helmet. He stabbed the blade into her left leg, shoving it further in with a wind bullet from his gun. She grimaced but remained standing.
“Your turn,” Kuan said to Kisai, joining up with him.
Kisai extended his left hand out and the purple dagger returned to his possession. Kuan assisted his friend with a large smoke screen that spread throughout the entire battlefield.
“You know what’ s going on, Yuki?” Zhuyu glanced over at me as he dropped his pen.
“You do know that I’m seeing the exact same thing you are, right?” I pointed out.
“Visually, sure. But your sense of detecting magic fluctuations is way beyond what I can do. See what I’m getting at?” Zhuyu explained.
“I guess,” I responded, closing my eyes and giving it a shot.
There were three magic sources, one significantly weaker than the other two, most likely Kuan. The other two were at an elevated level but still stable. However, a couple of seconds later, one of them plummeted near zero as the other skyrocketed. Pretty sure that was Kisai pulling off his fancy magic manipulation. There was always the possibility it was the other way around, but witnessing his combat style firsthand, that was unlikely.
“Kisai’s in control, he did something to her magic,” I reported.
“Sounds like Jin. We’ll find out now,” Zhuyu agreed with my assessment.
As the smoke finally cleared, Kisai stabbed the tip of his bo staff into the woman’s back, a gust of wind accompanying the contact point. This sent her flying in Kuan’s direction who caught her mid-air before transitioning into a rear naked choke. It was locked in for five seconds before their opponent escaped with the aid of water magic, transforming her body into a slime-like consistency. Kisai snapped his bo staff in half over his left leg, transforming them into two handguns. He flung one halfway across the battlefield which landed right into Kuan’s open grasp. They unleashed a barrage of ice bullets, striking the woman’s head all the way down to her feet. Her body was now hardened, covered in a shiny layer of ice.
Kuan sidearmed the handgun Kisai gave him back at the man. Kisai, wielding a firearm in both the left and right hand, launched incendiary bullets at the frozen opponent. The resulting blasts melted the ice encasing her but uneven, jagged pieces of ice struck her, some pieces piercing her battle suit. Kuan dashed forward, driving the pieces of ice further into her body with precise knee strikes and targeted punches.
“So coordinated,” Xi observed in her low voice.
“They’ve worked together a bunch. I’ve seen this a lot,” Zhuyu explained.
Kisai snapped his fingers and steam drifted upward from the woman’s body. She yelled out in pain as the ice melted, burning her skin. Kisai slammed his two handguns together, creating a hunting knife. He flicked it over to Kuan and gathered magic in his left hand. Despite all of the damage inflicted on her, the woman always remained standing on her feet. Kuan kicked her in the stomach before slashing both her arms with his newly acquired weapon. As she stumbled backward, he ran forward, and plunged the blade into her stomach. He took one step back, raising his hand at Kisai. The magic user released the stored magic in his left hand, channeling all of it into the hunting knife. A burst of bright light filled the room and once things were visible, their opponent was on the floor, unconscious with her head slumped to the side.
“Please tell me you did not kill her!” Professor Q dashed out of the control booth again, my first time witnessing genuine concern expressed by him.
“She’ll be okay,” Kuan said, sitting down on the floor in exhaustion.
“I’m surprised you even let her do this,” Kisai commented, helping Professor Q transport the woman over to us.
“Anything we can do to help?” I watched them place her down on a makeshift stretcher.
“Nah, Professor Q’s got it under control. He’ll do anything for his daughter,” Kisai revealed, sitting down next to Zhuyu.
You can’t just casually say that and not expect me to have questions! Observing the two, there was a slight resemblance between them. Still, never expected the division leader to have a kid. His personality wasn’t the greatest but someone was able to stand it.
“My precious child! I am forever in your debt for the vast amount of intriguing data that you’ve bestowed upon me. Please be okay,” Professor Q said, clasping his hands in prayer.
“Is she a natural magic user?” I asked.
“Yeah, she’s got the aptitude for it ever since she was a kid,” Kisai replied, leaning back in his seat.
“F*** you Jin, why didn’t you carry me back?” Kuan slumped into a seat below us.
“The heck, I’m more tired than you are. Long, you should have dragged him back,” Kisai remarked.
Ten minutes later, Professor Q’s daughter woke up. She stood up on her own, making her way over to us with small, slow steps.
“Em, don’t strain yourself to talk with these te-, no, them! Does it hurt anywhere? Tell me right away and I will have someone take you to the infirmary right away! No, we must go now to make sure no internal injuries were sustained,” Professor Q rambled, tapping his cane on the ground in frustration.
“Dad! I’m fine, I knew what I was getting into when I volunteered to test out your new project. Jin, you were too soft and let up at the end,” she scolded.
“What? Impossible!” Kisai denied with a slight grin.
“He totally did,” Kuan disagreed.
“That is a note I must make of when analyzing the data,” Professor Q murmured.
“Oh, I forgot to introduce myself to all your friends. Not you Kuan, I already know you. My name’s Emperi, but just call me Em. You must have already noticed but I’m this idiot’s daughter,” she revealed, shaking her head at the division leader.
“How rude! Because of your willing participation in so many of my projects, I will overlook this slight,” Professor Q pouted.
“Ah, this is enough data for today. I would have loved to test the shield girl but I must prioritize my dear daughter first. Jin, you’ve fulfilled all my conditions so I will transfer the key over to you.”
Two researchers, with panicked expressions, suddenly rushed into the room.
“Professor Q, we must evacuate to the safe room immediately. The 11th Division is under assault!” they revealed startling news.
“Preposterous! What have you fools been doing?” Professor Q ran over to the researchers for more information.
“They’ve already entered the main premises! Please follow us,” the researcher pleaded.
“Very well,” Professor Q reluctantly agreed.
We evacuated the battlefield, following the two researchers. After traversing multiple hallways, a huge boom rocked the floor and multiple flash bangs detonated near us. When I regained my senses, only Xi was next to me.