Volume 5, Chapter 1: Zhuyu’s House Again

Winter Break 2016 Week 3 Friday

“Morning, Tess. Huh? Oh yeah, I already woke up. Sure, I’ll be fine with that. See you soon,” I said.

I knocked on Yukie’s door, hearing no response. She probably was downstairs already. Like I predicted, she sat at the table, staring at her tablet.

“Yukie, I’m heading out today. If you need anything, Dad’s in the garage,” I informed her.

“Ah, enjoy yourself, Yuki. I will test out the tools Uncle so graciously gave me,” Yukie nodded.

Tess arrived an hour later and I waved goodbye to Yukie. She waved from the front door, watching me enter Tess’ car. She made such a simple gesture so elegant. Truly, she was the epitome of a beautiful maiden.

“Tess, who’s joining us?” I inquired.

“Long, Lau, and Zhang are confirmed. Most likely Feng as well. Darryl and Shigetzu may join later if their schedules permit,” Tess replied, glancing at her dashboard.

“What are Shan and Ichaival doing?” I asked.

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“Fel invited Darryl out somewhere. Shigetzu has a personal matter. I did not pry,” Tess answered.

“Must be hard to get everyone together. What about Jen and Kuan? I notice they aren’t around much,” I pointed out.

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“It’s difficult considering everyone’s varying schedules. They are at the training facility on occasion. I will organize it so you are exposed to their powers eventually,” Tess replied.

“Are we going to Felicity’s house?” I questioned.

“No, we’ll meet up at Zhuyu’s house. The entrance is near where he lives,” Tess revealed.

“How convenient,” I remarked.

We finally arrived at Zhuyu’s house and Tess parked her car with precision. Her perfection at everything was getting to me. There must exist at least one weakness. I reached for the doorbell and stopped. Where did Tess go? She headed toward Zhuyu’s backyard without saying a word.

“Uh, Tess, I’m pretty sure the front door is right here,” I said.

“Sorry about the slight detour. I confirmed my suspicions,” Tess said, joining me again.

What was she talking about? Anything unexpected for me was normal for her. The front door opened before I even touched the doorbell. Deja vu. Did Zhuyu just stand by the window, waiting for his guests?

“Tomo and Tess. You took long enough,” Kyoi greeted me.

Zhuyu, En, and Shui all wore T-shirts and shorts inside, despite the cold weather. Zhuyu sat on the floor, head down, sweat dripping from his forehead. He gripped a bottle of water weakly. En sucked from an inhaler, coughing at times. His hair was drenched with sweat too. Shui tilted his bottle of water, draining it.

Did they just go for a run? But, they shouldn’t be this wiped out. They must have through a rigorous exercise regiment. Not just once, but several times, based on their haggard appearances.

“Oh, Tomo…. welcome,” Zhuyu said, coughing.

“Am I interrupting something?” I asked.

“No. Feng just… almost killed us,” Zhuyu wheezed.

Kyoi shook her head, feigning ignorance. Certainly something she would do. Tess sat down on the couch, ignoring their condition.

“What did she make you do?” I asked, distancing myself from Kyoi.

“Training. Simple stamina and strengthening drills,” Kyoi replied.

“Right, what does that exactly mean?” I asked.

“Nothing too bad. A four mile run and two hundred push-ups. And other things if they stopped at the wrong time or faltered,” Kyoi explained, a smile on her face.

The three men were disheartened, devoid of any strength. They were meek and defeated. Although, the circumstances made it hard not to.

“You make it sound so easy. It’s freaking hell,” Zhuyu retorted.

“I didn’t know it hurt so much. I’ll have to increase….,” Kyoi suggested, absolute joy in her voice.

“Forget I said anything. Zhang, you good?” Zhuyu asked, standing up.

“Water,” En begged.

Zhuyu tossed him a bottle of water from a nearby box. Wow, they were actually recovering. Shui coughed several times, wincing after standing up. Tess remained silent the entire time.

“Tess, when do you want to leave?” Zhuyu asked, finally standing up.

“I’ll give you ten minutes,” Tess replied.

“I appreciate that. Tomo, are you ready for today?” Zhuyu asked.

“Shouldn’t you be more concerned about yourself?” I questioned.

“I’ll be fine. It’s just bad since I haven’t done anything in awhile. You guys need anything?” he replied, looking at En and Shui.

“I’m good,” Shui answered, grabbing another bottle of water.

“Nope,” En replied.

“I heard you met Tomo’s mother,” Kyoi suddenly brought up.

“Yeah, she left her wallet here and Tess was kind enough to drive me over so we could return it,” Zhuyu nodded.

“Why not just give it to Tess? I don’t see a need for you to tag along,” Kyoi stated, a faint smile developing.

“I needed help from Tess anyways, might as well tag along,” Zhuyu revealed.

“Did Tomo’s mother reveal any interesting details about her?” Kyoi asked, glancing at Tess and Zhuyu.

“She’ll accept monetary donations in exchange for secrets and information about her daughter,” Zhuyu phrased his answer with unnecessary words.

“Really? Thank you for the tip,” Kyoi responded.

“Yes, Tomo’s household is quite interesting,” Tess said.

I was thankful for Shui and En’s silence. They didn’t chime in and make it worse. Tess pulled out a folded piece of paper, handing it over to Zhuyu. Zhuyu unfolded the paper, glancing at it. He thanked Tess and headed upstairs.

“What did you give Zhuyu?” I asked, curious.

“Notes on a mathematical subject. He asked for my expertise on simplifying a concept,” Tess answered.

“Oh, I thought it might be something more….,” I said.

“Exciting? Sorry to disappoint you,” Tess said.

“I’m a bit disappointed Long didn’t ask me,” Kyoi joined the conversation.

“Kyoi, did you actually work out with them?” I asked.

“Who do you take me for, Tomo? Everything I requested of them, I did myself as well. Ask Lau and Zhang,” Kyoi replied.

“She’s right,” Lau confirmed.

“Yeah,” En backed her up as well.

Yeah, seemed like the norm for a person like her. Zhuyu finally returned, wearing his regular set of clothes. En and Shui left the living room, returning with their everyday clothes on as well.

“Anything else you want to do before leaving?” Tess asked, looking over at Zhuyu.

“No, we should be fine. Feng, can you think of anything?” Zhuyu glanced at Kyoi.

“Let’s head out,” Kyoi decided.

Tess led the way, but Zhuyu overtook her eventually. He kept his hands in his coat pockets, a serious expression on his face. After a five minute walk, we arrived at a small field. Across from the field was a police station and residential houses. To our right, there was a brick building with a parking lot.

“What’s that up there?” I inquired.

“It’s a community center. There’s a park there too, but that’s not our destination,” Zhuyu replied.

“Is the entrance in some random place?” I asked, looking around.

“It’s not,” Zhuyu answered, walking down onto the field.

A medium height metal link backstop was located further down the field. There was a faded baseball diamond near it. Numerous redrawn chalk lines and flattened grass filled that area.

“Do people use this field often?” I asked.

“High school frisbee teams usually practice here,” Zhuyu replied.

“Isn’t this a bad place for a portal? There’s a lot of people stopping by, not to mention the police station,” I remarked.

“There needs to be a certain, let’s call it “frequency” for now. At the enclosure, it has that “frequency”,” Tess explained.

“All I see is grass. Is there a hidden door around here like Felicity’s house?” I asked.

“Nope. Get ready, Tomo,” Zhuyu said as Tess tapped a wall with her golden key.

I felt a slight headache and closed my eyes. A high pitched sound worsened it. When I opened my eyes, we were in a small office. There was a mahogany desk in the center and a window in the back with its blinds pulled down. A beat up locker on the side, stamped with a law enforcement symbol, caught my eye.

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