Volume 4, Chapter 3-1: Getting to the Fight

Once outside, I squinted as the bright sunlight shone down on us. Tess glanced at her tablet screen. She circled something with her stylus and glanced at the street sign in the corner.

“Let’s head toward the park. There is a portal leading to where we need to go,” Tess commanded.

The large park contained swings, slides, see-saws, balance beams, and monkey bars. Fueled by a gentle breeze, the chains of the swing rattled. Zhuyu glanced up at the sky with a thoughtful look, sitting down on one of the benches. Kisai inspected the swings while Shan gave Ichaival a gentle push into the slide. Shui and En sat down next to Zhuyu.

“Feng,” Tess called out.

Kyoi stood near a drinking fountain with a small smile. She handed Tess a piece of notebook paper. Tess glanced at it and nodded.

“The portal has changed. It’s not in the same place anymore. I assume the Traveler has been here or someone else changed it,” Kyoi reported.

“You suspect it’s located in these locations?” Tess questioned.

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Tess examined the piece of paper once more. She instructed everyone to check around the park, pointing out specific attractions. I was assigned the monkey bars. I ran my hands across all the bars but found nothing. Next, I kicked the wood chips underneath the monkey bars, uncovering just dirt.

“I didn’t find anything,” I reported back.

“Ichaival found it. It’s at the tetherball pole,” Tess said.

The tether ball was a faded yellow, hanging from a rusted chain. There were light gashes on the ball, evidence of the many years children whacked it around the metal pole. But I failed to see the portal.

“So am I missing something?” I asked, not sure of the entryway.

“Just strike the ball,” Tess instructed.

Ichaival smacked the ball and the chain rattled with an awkward groan. The ball missed Ichaival’s face by inches, wrapping around the pole. During the final wraparound, I saw a faint glow from the ball. Without notice, the ball separated from the chain and flew into Ichaival’s stomach. He collapsed to his knees, clutching his stomach in pain.

“You okay?” Shan asked.

“Yeah, I didn’t expect that to happen. That stings a lot,” Ichaival responded.

“Let’s go,” Tess said, touching the chain hanging from the pole.

An outline of a door appeared with light surrounding the edges. After allowing Ichaival to recover first, we all entered. Within seconds, I looked around, finding myself no longer in the park. Looking out of a nearby window, I saw cars zipping by down below. Were we in the heart of a city?

“Good,” Tess muttered.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“There is a certain possibility over time portals redirect somewhere else. But, we’ve arrived in the correct place so there’s no need to worry,” Tess answered.

Moving away from the window, I noticed two doors with card readers above the handle. Tess swiped her training facility card, opening the door for me. Zhuyu did the same on the right door, letting all the men through on that side.

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“Tomo, change clothes. It’s summer in this world currently,” Tess ordered.

I looked at all the clothes inside, unsure which ones to select. Sighing, I picked a skirt and a yellow short sleeved shirt. I’m sure if Felicity or Chihiro saw me, they would judge me for my selections. After changing, I looked over at Tess and Kyoi. Tess wore a plain black T-shirt and a pair of black jeans rolled up above her ankles. Kyoi wore a red tanktop with a short sleeved collar shirt over it. Like Tess, she wore a similar pair of jeans.

“Are we done?” Tess asked, pulling her hair back in a ponytail.

“Yeah, let’s go,” I replied.

Walking out, I saw the boys already waiting outside. Zhuyu wore a white T-shirt with a matching color, unbuttoned long sleeve dress shirt. Even in this weather, he wore a pair of dress pants although much thinner than his usual ones. The others wore a variation of T-shirts and shorts. Instead of a T-shirt, Shui wore a striped tank top. En, unlike the others, didn’t wear athletic shorts but instead cargo shorts with two pockets on each side. Was Zhuyu cold or just hate showing skin that much? He would surely regret wearing so many layers.

“So where are we heading exactly?” I asked.

“To meet up with some old friends. They’ll give you a taste of double battles,” Tess replied, handing us cards.

I flipped the card over, seeing SMT on the back with a bus in the background. I placed it near my skirt and realized there were no pockets. What about my shirt? That didn’t work either. Kyoi smirked at my struggles.

“I can help you with that, Tomo,” Tess said.

She returned shortly with a small purse. I slung it over my right shoulder, placing the card inside. This felt weird. Walking out of the door, we descended down four floors of steps. I didn’t realize we were that high up.

Tess led us to a bus stop where we sat, waiting. This might be a good chance at mind diving again. Perhaps this time I would find something more useful. But who should it be? I was curious about Kyoi but she was crazy. If she caught on, then no doubt I would feel tremendous pain. Shui seemed like an alright choice. Maybe I would finally get a battle scene this time.

“Shui, isn’t Zhuyu hot wearing all of that?” I asked.

“He’s always like that. I would be hella hot but he seems fine,” Shui replied.

Zhuyu rolled his sleeves halfway up now. He didn’t seem to be sweating even with all his layers on. Whatever, time to focus on my actual task. Shui looked at me when answering my question and I executed the mind dive procedure.


Memory Dive 2: Crappy School Lunches

Time Period Unknown

I found myself in a classroom. A teacher with a potbelly stood at the whiteboard, writing down deadlines dates. Shui sat in the middle of the classroom next to a tall Filipino man. I also saw Kisai and Ichaival there too. Zhuyu wasn’t present though.

“Okay, remember you have to submit your letter of intent for your senior project by this date. For every day past this deadline, there will be a two point deduction from the score you receive. Dr. Mink and I will go through them making sure that it’s something achievable. We’ll also make a few notes on them. Any questions?” the teacher asked.

Someone raised their hand in class. The face was unclear to me compared to others in the class. I couldn’t quite hear the question too well. The teacher’s mouth moved but with no audible sound. Could the issue be related to Shui’s memory of the events?

“If you do decide to something with a partner, I want you to make sure you know the responsibilities involved. Your grade will be a result of both your efforts and not just one of you. Be sure to read….,” the teacher’s voice trailed off.

After a few minutes, the teacher walked away from the whiteboard and sat at his desk. The noise level increased as everyone started chatting with each other.

“Have you decided what to do yet?” the man, seated next to Shui, inquired.

“I’ve been thinking of doing something singing related,” Shui replied.

“Oh, that’s nice. Want to partner up? I can play the guitar while you sing,” the man suggested.

“That sounds cool. We can do covers of songs we both know,” Shui agreed.

“Alright, let’s do this then!” the man said, excitement in his voice.

“Wow, you guys have already figured out what you’re going to do?” Ichaival asked, sitting next to the tall Filipino man.

“Yep. This will be really good. I will be counting on you, Dex,” Shui declared.

“I’m still not sure what I want to do yet. Jin, what do you want to do?” Ichaival asked.

“Not sure yet. But we still have a lot of time to decide, right?” Kisai responded.

They talked more but I only caught fragments of their conversation. The bell rang and everyone left the classroom in a hurry. Shui walked up the rickety stairs of the school toward a large room. The sign read “Lunch Commons”.

Inside, the walls were chipped, faded paint up on the ceiling support beams. The tables were littered with food crumbs and opened food packages. Shui headed into a line, presumably to get lunch. People shoved each other, cutting in the line. This was a madhouse compared to my school. Two teachers monitored the lines but did nothing to quell the chaos occurring.

Shui exited from the other side, carrying a paper tray. There was a small carton of milk, an unappetizing pizza, a small apple, and wrapped up bread. What the hell was wrong with their school? I checked other people’s plate and saw a small serving of pasta noodles and gravy. No way that was fulfilling. I felt a bit sorry for the students who paid for such shabby food.

“Hey, Shui, ready for math class?” Zhuyu asked, biting into a sandwich.

Zhuyu brought his own lunch to school. Good job, he knew to avoid the food in here. En sat near him with no food. I guess he didn’t eat lunch. Kisai and Ichaival joined them a few minutes later. Kisai had a crappy pizza like Shui. Ichaival had a boxed salad which he poured sauce onto.

“Hey, did you finish the homework?” Zhuyu asked, pulling out an apple.

“Oh, I still have two more problems. I’ll do them now since I don’t have chess,” Kisai responded, pouring a mixture of sauce onto his pizza.

“I’m not ready for that quiz at all. Help me, Long!” Shui said.

“You’ll be fine. Darryl, what are you thinking for your senior project?” Zhuyu assured Shui.

“Not sure yet. I might do something with Jin. What about you?” Ichaival replied.

“Writing a story. I’m thinking 100 pages or more,” Zhuyu answered, finishing his apple.

“You’re crazy. That’s too much,” Shui retorted.

“It’ll be fine. I might get lazy though,” Zhuyu said.

“I think Jin is the only one we have to be concerned about,” Ichaival remarked.

I did learn some new things, but again, this didn’t help me at all with figuring out their powers. Come on, when will you give me something useful? This mind diving would be a huge waste of time if I couldn’t extract anything useful. Sighing, I watched them talk. They were joined by a few more people but nothing exciting or relevant happened.

MIND DIVE 2 END

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