Just the act of Kyoi sitting there, biding her time, scared the hell out of me more than anything. There was no smile, no visible expression, or anything. That was the really terrifying aspect of it.
“I’m done. Now, Tess, I know you’re my friend so I won’t have you grade it. So we’ll get a third party to do it. Yuki, you’re the one I pick. Tess, give her the answer key,” Felicity decided.
I hoped to avoid any involvement. Sighing, I drank one more cup of whiskey. Surprisingly, I still felt pretty good. Alright, maybe I was getting the hang of it. Tess handed me the answer key and a red pen.
“Tomo, this is a great power. Use it well. Do not give a 95 or above unless it is well deserved. Now, go!” Tess said, a burning passion in her voice.
Alright, time to do this. A few of the other girls in the room pulled Felicity away from the table. Tess and Kyoi stood by the door, talking about something. Let’s see, what was this test about?
I glanced at the papers and saw various equations and ugly math symbols. I saw something called a Laplace, matrices with a story problem at the top, integration with Greek letters, and a bunch of other terms I was not familiar with.
They duked it out in math? Why? Out of all the possible things, why would you pick that? Well, I guess physics could be pretty bad too.
“Alpha, beta, gamma, delta, infinity, 89….,” I checked the answer key.
This made no sense to me. Whatever, I just needed to check their papers. It didn’t matter if I had no idea what the questions asked. As I placed the red pen down on the paper, Tess grabbed my hand. She stared at me with a serious look.
In addition to the answer key, there was a stapled supplementary sheet with detailed solutions. It also provided information on when to give partial credit and how many points should be awarded based on the amount of work someone did. Tess was thorough as always.
“Okay, I’m done,” I announced, placing the red pen down five minutes later.
“Let me look over it,” Tess asked.
I handed the papers over to her. Tess flipped through the pages at a lightning speed and nodded.
“Come get the papers. It’s done,” Tess said.
Felicity walked up with a smug look, one full of confidence. I wanted to compare it to Kisai’s look but I couldn’t. Felicity’s look was more shallow and lacked a certain element only Kisai seemed to possess.
She took the paper and glanced at the score circled in red at the top. Kyoi thanked me for my efforts, a rather strange action coming for her. She looked at the paper, shrugged and then glanced over at Felicity.
“So how did it go, Felicity? Have you calmed down a little bit yet?” Kyoi asked.
“No, it’s a guaranteed win for me. I know it!” Felicity declared.
“If you want to argue with a 97, then I don’t mind,” Kyoi said, no pride in her voice.
“Ugh….,” Felicity said, her voice faltering.
Felicity glared at Kyoi and then threw her exam down on the table. I obviously knew the score. Kyoi looked down and saw a 55 circled in red.
“So are we done here?” Kyoi asked.
“Damn you, Kyoi. Fine, I’ll admit defeat for now but it doesn’t mean my opinions of you have changed,” Felicity replied.
“Alright, it looks like everyone’s calmed down a little!” Memoria said, throwing open the door.
“You’re very, very late!” I shouted.
“I’ve been busy with a few things. I thought I asked Ichaival and Shan to check up on you guys,” Memoria remarked, tilting her to the side with innocence.
“Yeah and that damn Shan locked me in here even though I tried to leave,” I said.
“Yuki! You can’t leave! Not now, I have to challenge Kyoi in something else!” Felicity shouted out.
Kyoi shook her head and with a swift movement knocked Felicity out. The woman fell to the floor. Memoria asked Tess to help carry her sister out of the room. I watched as the two left with Felicity in tow. Ko heaved a sigh of relief and walked out. Everyone else left too, leaving only Kyoi and me.
“Kyoi, I have a question for you,” I said.
“Fire away, Tomo,” Kyoi nodded.
“What’s the deal between you and Zhuyu?” I asked, staring at her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Anyways, it’s time for me to visit the bar again. I’ve had enough trouble from Felicity,” she answered.
“Fine, I’ll find out sooner or later,” I muttered.
I returned to the living room and saw a few people asleep on the floor. I needed some food anyways so I walked to the dining room. Zhuyu stood near the box of empty water bottles, talking to the guy Kisai hugged earlier during the night. Shan was also there, talking to Ichaival and a women I didn’t recognize.
“Hey, Shan, what’s the deal with locking the door? You saw me going for the door. You know I wanted out!” I yelled.
“Calm down, Tomo. There’s a perfectly valid reason I closed the door,” Shan said.
“You closed the door on her?” Zhuyu asked.
“It was more like Darryl told me he wanted to get going so it was just the slip of a hand. I didn’t know Memoria had locked it from the outside. So if anything, it’s Darryl’s fault,” Shan explained, pointing at Ichaival.
“Seems reasonable,” Zhuyu nodded.
“Yeah, seems something like Darryl would do,” the man Kisai hugged agreed as well.
“See, everyone agrees,” Shan said.
“Whoa, what’s going on? I didn’t do anything. You bully, Shigetzu,” Darryl denied.
“Darryl, why are you lying to Tomo? She’ll get really mad, you know,” Shan shook his head in disappointment.
“Everyone having fun?” Kisai walked into the dining room, his face pretty red.
“Hey man, you good?” Zhuyu asked, looking up at Kisai.
“Of course, of course. Dude, you’re so warm,” Kisai responded, hugging Zhuyu from behind.
“Really? Tomo, did you need something?” Zhuyu asked, attempting to pry his friend off.
“Yeah, I just wanted to get some food,” I responded.
“There’s still a lot left. Hey, Jin, you know who else is warm? Shigetzu,” Zhuyu suggested.
“Dude, you’re totally right. Shigetzu!” Kisai said, moving towards Shan.
“Hmm, actually I’m not the warmest here. If anything, Kuan is a much better option,” Shan commented as Kisai half hugged him.
“If we’re going that route then it’s obvious Darryl is the best choice. He has a puffy vest, guaranteed warmness,” Kuan said, adjusting his glasses.
“Wow,! It just ends up being me again,” Ichaival protested.
“You guys are right. What am I doing with my life? You’re totally right,” Kisai nodded, approaching Ichaival.
Sighing at their juvenile antics, I filled a plate full of food and sat down at the dining table. The woman at the table appeared a little out of it as Shan pushed a glass of water towards her.
For now, I would observe them. I needed to at least confirm Felicity’s supposed criticisms of everyone. Although I caught a glimpse of it when I saw Zhuyu and Shan not doing school work at school.
“How’s Kristoph?” the woman asked.
“Asleep finally. He’s going to have a sore back tomorrow when he wakes up,” Kisai replied, releasing Ichaival.
“Tomo, it seems you had a hard time with Felicity and Feng,” Zhuyu remarked.
“It was terrifying. So what’s up with you and Kyoi? Don’t lie to me,” I asked, shoving rice into my mouth.
“I’m in her debt, severely so. That’s about it,” Zhuyu replied.
“Really? Seems like there’s more to it,” I prodded.
“No, I pretty much just owe her due to various circumstances,” Zhuyu said.
“Okay, I’ll let you go for today but I will find out more about it,” I said.
“As you wish, Tomo. I think you’ll come to find out many different things about us,” Zhuyu said with the hint of a smile.
“Oh, we should probably introduce you. This is Kuan, he’s a hero like us,” Kisai said, pointing at the man wearing the zipped up grey sweater.
“Nice to meet you. I’m a support member for the most part but I fight pretty well if I have to,” Kuan said.
“You’re kind of weird. Just like them,” I said without thinking.
“Long, my love for lolis has been discovered. Quick, we must escape,” Kuan stood up in a hurry.
“Dude, calm down. Like he said, Kuan is a pretty good support member. He’s as versatile as Jin,” Zhuyu said.
“Where’s Jen? I thought all you heroes would be gathering up in one place,” I asked, looking around the dining room.
“Oh, she left about two or three hours ago. Right, Darryl?” Zhuyu said, an obvious smile on his face.
“Yes, tell us about Jen’s departure. Did you make any plans or secret meetings before she left?” Shan joined in.
“You guys suck. She needed to go home and sleep. She has things to do unlike the rest of you,” Ichaival replied.
“Hey, trying to go through that loli route is no easy feat. It takes dedication!” Kuan countered.
“Screw you, I’m not talking about that,” Ichaival said.
“Speaking of, when’s the translation patch coming out, Long?” Kuan asked.
“Last time I checked, it should be out next week. Should be around 96 right now,” Long replied.
What was this “loli” they referred to? And what significance did it have with anything? I was pretty confused about it but continued listening.
“Jin! Here you are!” a woman shouted, entering the dining room.
A woman with medium length black hair tied with red ribbons entered the room. She wore a pair of icy blue glasses and she was mad. Kisai looked up and waved at her with no fear in his eyes at all.
“Hey there, Melody. Did you need me for something?” Kisai asked, despite knowing the obvious answer.
“You promised me that you’ll help clean up the living room and here you are with your friends. Get your ass over there or I’ll drag you over,” the woman threatened.
Kisai sighed and nodded. He walked away with the woman and there was silence for a few seconds. The conversation continued on, as if nothing happened. Really, we’re just going to pretend that didn’t happen?
“So, the last episode should be out next week,” Shan said.
“Oh, it should be good. An extended length or will be there be a season two?” Zhuyu asked.
“From the looks of it, there might be another season,” Shan replied.
“I really like the character design for the supporting heroine. It really has some good contrast with the weapon she uses in combat,” Kuan added.
“Isn’t it also because she’s a loli?” Zhuyu pointed out.
“No, she doesn’t count as one. I mean, look at her design. It’s not right,” Kuan disagreed.
“Fair enough. So….,” Zhuyu said .
I couldn’t quite follow what they were saying. Things got pretty complicated as they talked about the story and the various characters involved. It appeared that anime was much deeper than I thought. At least when they talked about it it seemed that way. I finished my food and realized I was still not closer to figuring out who these heroes were.
“By the way, is it just me or do you all like watching anime? Is it just something you do?” I brought up.
“That’s not true. Kisai doesn’t especially like it but he watches on occasion. Same with Darryl over there,” Zhuyu said, an accusatory stare in Darryl’s direction.
“I have better things to do,” Darryl argued.
“That’s a lie. I text this guy and asks if he wants to play a game with me. I get a response immediately saying he’s free,” Shan debunked Darryl’s statement.
`It’s just something to do during our free time. Manga too. I’m sure you saw Shan doing that during finals week,” Zhuyu said, looking over at me.
“I don’t especially care. I’m just curious about your hobbies,” I said.
“It’s a good thing Felicity isn’t here then,” Zhuyu said, glancing at the opened dining room door.
“Oh, she did mention something about that. Why’s she so mad about it?” I asked.
“Probably because I forgot to help her study for a test,” Zhuyu said.
“Okay, tell me more,” I asked for the details.
“Tess was sick that day, one of the rare times that she ever is. Jin had work that day so she asked me for help. And I kinda forgot. I ended up catching up on the anime I missed when I could have helped her,” Zhuyu explained.
“Really? You’re kind of a scumbag, no offense,” I commented.
“None taken. But let’s be fair here, Felicity has a lot of other people to help her. That doesn’t excuse it but still,” Zhuyu explained.
“It’s okay. I support you,” Kuan said.
“That’s it?” I asked, hoping for something bigger.
“Yeah, pretty much. Did you expect some long winded tale about some heroes saving the world?” Zhuyu replied.
“Why’s Felicity so pissed at you then, Shan? I mean you’re a year older than Zhuyu and the others right?” I asked, turning my attention to the upperclassman.
“She probably hates my work ethic,” Shan explained.
“She can’t hate you that much. I mean, she’s normal when she’s not drunk, right?” I asked.
“I guess. Felicity’s alright as long as she isn’t out for vengeance,” Shan replied.
I learned many things tonight at this party. One, these people were crazy and could hold an insane amount of alcohol in their system. Two, people spilled a lot of secrets when they were drunk. Three, I was slowly starting to get a better idea of who these heroes were.
“Looks like it’s time for us to leave. You ready to go, Long and Darryl?” Shan asked.
“Yeah, let’s go,” Zhuyu replied.
“Do you need a ride too since Kristoph is pretty out of it?” Shan asked, looking at the woman who was drinking water.
“Yeah, I appreciate it. Do you think I look okay?” she asked, standing up.
“You are walking without any stumbling and your eyes look good. You pass,” Shan confirmed.
Shan and the others left, leaving me alone in the dining room. I stretched and finally felt the alcohol kicking in. I yawned and then felt my head dropping down. I couldn’t keep my eyes open for much longer….
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.