Volume 5, Chapter 6-2: Archery Practice

Winter Break 2016 Week 3 Sunday

“Tomo, do you feel better today? Stop by the training facility if you have time,” I read Tess’ text.

If I went there, she would make me train and my body hadn’t recovered yet. Fine, I would go there to kill time. But, I would make it clear I would not participate in any battles.

I opened my drawer, searching for my car keys. Tess was running an errand so she wasn’t free. I hadn’t driven in a few months, not since the incident with Ichizen.

“Yukie, I’m heading out. I should be back before dinner starts,” I informed her, knocking on her door.

I heard a muffled acknowledgment. Once inside my car, I checked the glove compartment, seeing three small tins of candy inside. This was definitely Ichizen’s, only he ever liked this weird sweet and sour flavor. I realized the facility was quite a distance from my house, after checking the navigation system.

Driving along the freeway, it felt too quiet. I expected calm and soothing music after turning on the CD player. Instead, gushy and upbeat vocals exited from the speakers. Seeing my exit ahead, I decided against turning it off for now. The next track came on and delivered another sugar sweet, happy song. Pulling over on a local road, I ejected the disk, checking the front.

“Spinning-Marshmallowtastic-Sprinkling Tunes,” I read the name out loud.

I blinked, waiting for the name of the CD to fully sink in. I almost hurled the disk down in rage, but restrained myself. Once more, I checked the front, seeing an autographed signature. There was a heart shape above one of the characters.

“Damn you, Ichizen. I don’t even remember seeing him bring this into the car. When the hell did he sneak this in?” I muttered, searching for other possible discs.

Finding none, I sighed. Wait, this was a multiple disk player! Switching to a different disc, I ejected it, examining the front. This one was called “Hopping Dangos, One Big Family”. When did Ichizen even load these in?

All but one disc was from Ichizen’s personal collection. I shoved all the discs back inside, sitting there with my head on the wheel. This music was better than nothing. The one CD that wasn’t Ichizen’s skipped around, no coherent track playing.

Damn, one of the songs actually stuck with me. I tried purging myself of the song, but its catchy tune kept repeating within my head. I admit, the songs were growing on me, but not all of them. I took the elevator up after parking underground, noticing someone sitting at the front desk.

“Excuse me…,” I started and the person spun around.

Tess stared at me with her usual expression. How did she arrive here faster than me?

“Tomo, you’ve made it. Good, proceed downstairs,” Tess pointed downward.

“Tess, how…. did….,” I said, giving up.

“Tomo, something wrong? Did the fight impact your body to the extent that even your speech suffers?” Tess asked, hopping off the office chair.

“I thought you said you were busy,” I finally formed a response.

“You misunderstood. I merely said I had errands to run. I came here after completing them. I expected you would arrive earlier, time to adjustment my formula,” Tess explained, writing something down in a notebook.

“What’s going on down there today?” I said, pointing downstairs.

“Nothing much. Jen is here today and Darryl’s training with her. As for the others, Long is not here nor is Zhang. Shigetzu is here, however, so you may face him if you wish. Feng is also not present. I’ll remain up here, but if you wish for an exhibition battle, you can call me anytime,” Tess answered.

I will not be calling you, Tess, since my body still feels like crap. No one better challenge me either because I would just refuse. Downstairs, I saw Ichaival observing a girl firing arrows at a target. I remembered her from the party. Shan sat on the side, staring down at his phone.

“Hey there~ Yuki, you’re here today too!” Felicity greeted.

“Felicity? What are you doing here?” I questioned.

“Did you forget? My family owns this place. I’m trying to get some scoops and find out what everyone else is doing. Jin is too busy with work and Long is probably watching his stupid anime. It’s okay now since you’re here now! Oh, and Darryl too! He’s been keeping me up to date about everything happening,” Felicity spouted.

Felicity, stop talking so fast. I glanced over at Ichaival, who waved at me. Why are you telling her everything? It must be fine since Tess didn’t reprimand him.

“Jen, right? I’ve introduced myself before, but I’ll do it again. I’m Tomo Yuki,” I said, walking over to the petite girl.

“Oh yes, we met at the party. I’ve heard you’re training to be really strong. If you have any questions, I’ll try my best to help,” Jen offered, shaking my hand.

“Thanks. What’s Shan doing over there?” I asked, pointing at the tall man.

“Probably playing games like usual. I would be surprised if he did actual work,” Felicity answered.

I looked at Jen’s target. Most of the arrows clustered around the bull’s eye. Very impressive.

“Jen, what’s your power, if you don’t mind me asking?” I inquired as Jen picked up her bow again.

“It’s no problem at all. My power isn’t that impressive. I imbue status conditions into the arrows I fire. Nothing special like yours, Tomo,” Jen replied, brushing aside a strand of her hair.

Arrows specifically, huh? What a strange restriction. It limited her abilities to use other weapons too. Kinda sucked, but she was well-versed with her weapon. She must be a support type based on her powers and specialization.

“Darryl, are you free next weekend?” Felicity asked.

“I don’t know yet. A lot of homework to do. I would ask Shigetzu, but he gives me crap for it. He does have his own stuff to deal with, so I get it,” Ichaival responded.

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“Too bad. If you have time, text me. I was wondering if you wanted to catch a movie,” Felicity revealed.

Jen fired another arrow and this one struck the center. Very cool. I wondered how much she practiced everyday to achieve such accuracy. This might be the first time seeing a hero work hard at honing their powers and skill. I had to give her props for the dedication.

“Darryl, you want to try now?” Jen asked, pointing at the target.

“Sure, it’s been awhile. I’m looking forward to getting back in this,” Ichaival nodded.

Shan’s partner walked away, returning a few minutes later with a bow. He checked the strings, pulling them back and firing an imaginary shot. Ichaival’s powers, to my knowledge, did not require a bow. I wonder why he was training to use one.

“This again, huh? Well, at least he’s getting closer to her, probably,” Shan remarked, walking up next to me.

“Is he pretty good with a bow?” I asked.

“He’s okay. I mean, he loves his archers, so he should at least be able to do this much,” Shan replied.

“Hey, he’s pretty good. He would feel a lot better if you praised him more often,” Felicity defended Ichaival.

“But, it wouldn’t be fun. Like I said, he’s just okay. You’ll see for yourself,” Shan commented, smiling.

Jen handed him arrows and Ichaival took a deep breath. Notching the arrow onto the bow, he fired. The arrow wobbled, striking the bottom of the target. Not too bad, I guess. He fired five more arrows and these were better than his first attempt. They weren’t as precise as Jen’s, but he struck the same general area each time.

“Need to practice more,” Ichaival muttered, stretching his arm out.

“Try this. Adjust your legs and position your arms like this,” Jen directed, moving the indicated body parts.

Shan smirked and Felicity looked on with interest, nodding her head. Well, I had to admit this was better than staying at home.

“Darryl, let’s play that new shooting game,” Shan shouted out as Ichaival repositioned his body.

“Damn it, not the time, Shan!” Ichaival shouted.

Ichaival fine tuned his positioning, firing more arrows. Jen’s advice worked out for him. Shan nodded and actually encouraged his friend. I wondered how long they knew each other, they seemed pretty tight.

“Felicity, can you tell me about Shan and Ichaival?” I asked, walking closer to her.

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“What do you want to know? I can only tell you so much since I don’t know Shigetzu that well,” Felicity replied, her eyes still on Ichaival and Jen.

“How long have they known each other?” I asked my first question, watching Jen pluck the arrows off from the target.

“Four, maybe five years? You could ask Shigetzu, I’ll call….,” Felicity started beckoning him over.

I refrained her from continuing any further. Right now, I wasn’t interested in talking with Shan about this topic. Felicity struggled as I caught her with an amateur neck hold. Shan turned around, but after seeing me lock Felicity down, he quickly ignored us.

“What are you doing? That was the perfect chance to have him tell us the story! Come on, Yuki! Don’t be scared,” Felicity gasped when I released her.

“That’s not the problem, Felicity. Anyways, do you know how they met?” I continued with my questions.

“You don’t know?” Felicity asked, tilting her head to the side.

“I wouldn’t be asking if I did,” I shot back.

“Oh, that’s true! I believe they met during tennis,” Felicity revealed.

Looking at Shan, he fit the physique of a tennis player. Ichaival, on the other hand, I was a bit surprised by. He appeared fit, but something about it didn’t quite click with me.

Ichaival notched another arrow and fired. It landed closer to the center than his previous tries. Jen congratulated him and then motioned something with her hands. I could only assume it related to his firing technique.

“Yuki, are you healthy enough for practice?” Felicity asked.

“No, still hurts. I can move around a bit, but not too well,” I answered.

“Too bad. I was hoping to see you in action. That’s okay though! I’m sure there will be chances in the future,” Felicity remarked, nodding her head.

“How about an exhibition match involving Darryl and Jen?” Tess suggested, appearing out of nowhere.

“I’d love that! Tess, will you officiate?” Felicity exclaimed, pulling out her notebook.

“Darryl and Jen, do you have any objections?” Tess inquired.

“Nope, I want to see how much I can push myself,” Ichaival agreed right away.

“I’m okay with it too,” Jen agreed too.

“Darryl better win, I know he’s strong enough to beat someone like her,” Felicity muttered, scribbling weird diagrams in her notebook.

Felicity was pretty biased. Shan would provide a more realistic answer, so I turned to him for opinions about the upcoming battle.

“Shan, how does it look for Ichaival?” I asked.

“He’ll be fine. Probably will get distracted though. You might be interested to know Jen is actually one rank above Darryl in the lower hero tier,” Shan replied, tapping on his phone screen with both his hands.

“Aren’t Ichaival’s powers stronger? All she can do is shoot arrows, right?” I said, surprised by his answer.

“But, they’re pretty useful arrows,” Shan answered, still tapping his phone.

“All she said was that they have status conditions,” I recalled.

“Right. Perfect for downing opponents, wouldn’t you say?” Shan asked.

“I guess but she’s not that skilled with close combat as far as I know,” I tried following Shan’s logic.

“Just watch what happens. It’ll make more sense,” Shan said, glancing down at his phone screen.

I looked at Shan’s phone screen, seeing animated sprites and damage numbers flashing on the screen. He was playing a game as Felicity predicted. Shouldn’t he pay closer attention to the match since it involved his friend?

Jen used a bow, lacking versatility when facing an opponent in close range. Ichaival would then go in for close up knife slashes. How would Jen handle such an attack? I was actually quite interested in her counter, facing a threat like that.

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