“Hey, don’t think about it too much, Tomo. Let’s just go get the things,” Ichaival decided.
I followed behind him, uncertainty lingering about the whole ID badge. We went up three escalators and crossed two sky bridges before arriving at the food block.
“What the hell is up with all these bridges? This can’t be called a shopping center anymore,” I complained, looking back at the one we just passed.
“You know, since you can make water, shouldn’t we just get some empty jugs and fill them up with your power?” Ichaival suggested.
“I guess, but since we have these, it’s not like we have to worry about money,” I countered.
“Yeah, you’re right. Let’s just grab some over there then,” Ichaival agreed with me.
The cashie inside looked at our badges with a suspicious look, but accepted them. He tapped it on a scanner near the cash register and bagged the bottles of water for us.
“Not too big of a difference. Guess there’s no danger,” I remarked, tasting the newly acquired water.
“Let’s see…. snacks are next. Just pick whatever you think we’ll like,” Ichaival read off.
“Food everyone likes? I don’t know anything about that, so that’s all you,” I decided.
“There’s like five different stores right in front of us,” Ichaival wondered.
“I don’t think it matters. Not like we’re finding fresh produce or vegetables,” I said, walking ahead.
“Yeah, you’re right,” Ichaival agreed, following behind me.
I grabbed a shopping basket inside. Was there any difference between food here and our world? If there was, the difference better not be too drastic.
“This might have too much sugar. I don’t know if I can eat it,” Ichaival muttered, checking the label.
“Didn’t think you were the type to care about that kind of stuff,” I remarked.
“Really? I have to look out for my weight and maintain it. Gotta worry about that type of stuff,” he explained, picking up another item.
“I was talking to Shan and he mentioned you played tennis. Were you any good?” I recalled.
“Uh, I’m decent. Shigetzu’s a lot better. He was our ace and the captain,” Ichaival answered.
“I see. Can’t imagine you having a weight problem if you played tennis,” I commented.
“I was pretty different back then. Well, I think everyone’s fine with pretty much anything. I don’t really want to get candy since it’ll make us thirsty. Maybe some trail mix or energy bars,” Ichaival said, inspecting the aisle.
We were stuck with the worst assignment, inadequate at it. Zhuyu no doubt did this on purpose. Then again, food should be food everywhere.
“Yeah, let’s just get some energy bars. We’ll be walking most of the time anyways,” Ichaival decided, nodding his head.
We spent five minutes wandering around, before locating energy bars. Ichaival bought an entire box, too much in my opinion. Then again, there were five of us, so it maybe not a bad idea after all. I grabbed a few more miscellaneous items such as jerky and crackers before checking out.
“Looks like we have everything,” I confirmed.
I handed my ID badge over and the cashier showed no particular reaction. Why did the other one react so much? Ichaival and I carried our bags out, realizing we had no idea where the others were. I didn’t even think we arranged a meeting place.
“Tomo, let’s just sit down. It’ll probably take awhile for us to find them. Man, I wish Long told us about what to do before he left. Oh well, Tess can find us no matter where we are,” Ichaival suggested, pointing at a nearby bench.
I sat down, placing the bags down on the ground. Hold on, Tess knew our whereabouts anytime?
“Ichaival, tell me more,” I requested.
“The tracking thingy?” he asked.
“Yeah, that. She knows where we are even in our world?” I asked for confirmation.
“She only ever uses it if we’re separated or something like that,” Ichaival nodded.
“That’s kind of troubling. You’re probably right, I doubt she ever uses it to do something bad,” I admitted, staring down at the floor in thought.
“Nah, Tess is a pretty cool person. I think she does what’s best for us. So you don’t have to worry about it,” Ichaival assured me.
“Right. I much prefer Tess have that power than anyone else. It makes me shudder if someone else had it,” I agreed.
“Yep, like that bastard, Shigetzu. I’m sure I would hate him every day,” Ichaival said, shaking his head.
“Don’t you already do though?” I asked in surprise.
“No, Shigetzu is alright. There are times when he’s just a piece of s**t. Go tell him I said that. He’ll probably just laugh,” Ichaival urged.
“I’ll pass. Shan seems to be the type of person I rather avoid, than get to know better,” I declined.
“Ah, I’ve located you. Long and Shigetzu are waiting in the front with everything else. We’re heading out,” Tess said, passing by us.
After crossing two bridges and numerous escalators, we arrived back at the front. Zhuyu and Shan inspected hiking backpacks, snapping the buckles and pulling on straps.
“Hey, you guys are back. Tess, the equipment seems good. We have nothing to worry about,” Zhuyu reported.
“Good. We can proceed. I hope it does not come to the point where we stay the night. I prefer we neutralize the threat as fast as possible,” Tess said.
“Wait, all this looks like we’re hiking. Is the area we’re going to that bad?” I questioned, looking at all the gear.
“Yes. The area has been overgrown with rather interesting flora. We must prepare accordingly,” Tess responded.
Moving to a less crowded area, we packed all our equipment. Tess bought prune blades, manual weed whackers, safety goggles, axes, mini-saws, and canisters of fuel.
“Can’t we just hack our way through with swords? Or burn down the entire place?” I adjusted my backpack.
“Unfortunately magical powers are weakened at our destination. Recall how I said the people here are strong magicians? They’ve placed a binding spell there and won’t lift it for us. They rather preserve their safety than endanger it. We’ll have to do it the old fashioned way,” Tess explained.
“Damn, can’t use any of the powers I copied,” I realized.
Tess checked everyone’s pack, making sure nothing was too heavy. Confirming everything was fine, we headed back out to the train station. Time for the actual part of the mission.