Volume 14, Chapter 45: Alternative Days of the Future (II)
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Simulation: Random Setting, Time Limit 02:00 HOURS

Bright sunlight hit my eyes and birds chirped around me. I walked around, adjusting to my new surroundings. I stared at my right hand and summoned Mirror’s Rend. Particles of light appeared but my weapon didn’t appear. Seriously? I spun around after hearing the sound of footsteps approaching me.

I stared at the figure who held my sword in their left hand. I read about weapon materialization hijacking before but this was my first time experiencing it. The figure dropped my weapon a few seconds later. I waved my hand and regained possession.

I swung my blade, channeling fire into it. I stabbed my weapon into the ground and generated flame fissures. They dodged and redirected my attack. I blocked with an ice wall and fired off a mixed attack. It knocked them to the ground. I hurled my blade at their chest and detonated the stored energy in it. The enemy disintegrated into smoke, vanishing. I retrieved my blade, relieved my powers weren’t limited. A little rusty but not too bad overall.

Next, I faced off against a few minor enemies, defeating them with just my blade. I rested after dispatching more enemies and glanced at the sky. It was now evening, a beautiful sunset in the background.

An owl landed near me. The wind picked up, followed by a temperature drop. The owl hooted and flew off, twisting its head 180 degrees. The next few minutes, I fended off burning skulls. Once I defeated them, a sinister robed figure sauntered towards me. A briefcase floated near their hand.

“Giving me a contract to sign?” I asked the figure.

The briefcase popped open and streams of paper shot out. I set it on fire and slashed at the figure. Damn, just a fake! I created ice walls around me, anticipating an attack. When nothing happened, I scouted the area with my magic. No signs of anyone besides me. All that remained was the briefcase.

“What is going on?” I kept an eye out for potential danger.

A burst of wind filled the area and someone resembling Ichizen appeared. He pointed upward at the sky and a bolt of lightning crashed down near him. The ground splintered with a rumble. I slid towards Ichizen after covering the ground in a layer of ice. I attempted a punch but he dodged. Stomping down on the ground, he cracked my ice and sent the broken shards at me.

I countered with a stream of fire before teleporting behind him. I shot off a compressed bolt of magic. It struck his back and he stumbled to the ground. His forehead struck the shattered ice and a bloody gash formed.

“Let’s finish this!” I charged my blade.

Ichizen remained motionless on the ground. I hesitated but continued my attack, reminding myself this was just a simulation. Unleashing the stored energy, I blasted Ichizen and shielded my eyes after the immense explosion.

A red caution sign appeared in the sky. What the hell? Ichizen shot upward despite sustaining serious injuries. I was pinned to the ground. Zhuyu’s zero vector powers? Sirens blared as the red cautious sign flashed with more urgency. I opened up a portal beneath me but it disintegrated immediately.

“Hey Yuki, you there?” I heard Kisai’s voice.

“What’s going on?” I responded.

“The program encountered a rare bug. I’ve called our programmers and engineers to work on it right now. Just stay where you are!” Kisai explained.

Easy for you to say! The bloodied Ichizen advanced towards me with his dead eyes. A strange aura emanated from him. One of despair and destruction.

“Cut it off!” Kisai shouted.

I opened my eyes as sweat poured down from my forehead. The pod cover popped open and Kisai stared at me with concern. After confirming my vitals were stable, he handed me a towel. As I wiped my face, my breathing returned to normal.

“Weird, the logs don’t show anything,” Kuan said, tapping a monitor.

“Let Tess know. Yuki, let’s get you over to the infirmary,” Kisai suggested.

“Already does,” Kuan responded as he chatted with the support team.

Kisai offered to carry me but I assured him I could walk on my own power. We walked through several hallways and finally arrived at the infirmary.

“Jin, you injure yourself like Long?” a man with medium length hair covering his forehead questioned as we entered.

He wore blue scrubs and a white medical mask. The design on his sleeve patch was a medical one.

“Something went wrong during the simulation and I just wanted to make sure she’s fine. Tomo’s fighting me later and I don’t want to win because of a technicality,” Kisai explained.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Matt. I’m a researcher here but also a registered nurse too. Just filling in for the doctor today because they’re short-staffed,” Matt introduced himself.

Matt led me over to a chair and performed the usual tests I was accustomed to. He sat at his computer, typing on it and stared at the screen.

After a few minutes, he returned with a stack of papers.

“Everything’s stable. You should be okay for your fight,” Matt revealed.

“Looks like you’re cleared. Thanks, Matt,” Kisai said.

“You’re welcome. I’ll head over to watch your fight once the doctor comes back. Good luck out there, Tomo. Jin’s sly when he fights good opponents so watch out,” Matt warned.

I returned to my room and sat at my desk. I should exit the dive right now but I was curious about Kisai’s powers. I fought him a few times already but he was never serious. Might as well see what would happen.

“Yep, let’s do this!” I psyched myself up.

I pulled open my drawer and discovered pencils, pens, erasers, white-out, and other writing related items.

“Seriously?” I sighed.

I glanced over at my bookcase and saw manuals. I slid my finger over the spines but nothing interested me. I picked up the folder Tess handed me yesterday and flipped through it one more time. In terms of combat data, it only discussed their fighting styles and basic tendencies.

I fell asleep and a knock on the door woke me up. I felt refreshed after my nap and opened the door. Jen wore casual clothing instead of her uniform. She gave me an encouraging smile, waving her hand, before asking me to follow her.

“How are you feeling?” Jen asked.

“Actually good. Not sure if I’ll win but I won’t just lay down,” I replied.

“Excellent! I’m hoping to see what exactly Commander Zha sees in you. I’ll be rooting for you.” Jen opened a door and pointed inside.
Just a straight path ahead. Jen closed the door, leaving me alone. I took a few deep breaths and arrived in a spacious arena one minute later.

Jen’s Viewpoint

I headed to my seat after seeing off the new recruit. I was nervous, no, that wasn’t it. I was very nervous. Despite the potential Commander Zha saw in her, I was concerned if she could withstand Jin’s attacks. Long, hands in his pockets, stood near the front.

“Long, what are Cadet Tomo’s chances of winning?” I walked up next to him.

“Depends.” The man provided a short answer, not elaborating any further.

He didn’t like talking to anyone for long periods of time unless necessary. The only person he conversed with regularly was Feng.

“It’s time,” Long said, folding his arms across his chest, still standing.

There was a decent audience here which wasn’t too surprising since Jin was involved. He was popular around the base so most people wouldn’t pass up on an opportunity to watch him fight.

“Yo, heard Jin’s going to fight the new girl,” Darryl approached us, a towel wrapped around his neck.

Long only nodded, not even glancing at him. Darryl wore his training clothes and grasped a water bottle in his right hand. He probably just finished his daily workout. Where were the others?

“This is a one-on-one exhibition battle to determine the new recruit’s rank. On the right, we have Major Kisai. Our new recruit is Tomo Yuki.

Our referee will be none other than Major Kyoi,” a voice boomed throughout the arena.

Kyoi walked in between the two competitors. It was a standard ten minute fight scored by a panel of ranked officials.

“Ugh...,” Darryl muttered.

“Someone’s thrilled to see me! Long, you feeling any better?” Shigetzu greeted.

“About the same,” Long replied.

“Darryl, you can take his place. You’ve been working so hard all the time, this is your chance!” Shigetzu suggested.

“Stop talking to me already. I actually want to watch this and you talking is bothering me.” Darryl sighed.

“So cold,” Shigetzu disagreed.

The preparations were complete and Kyoi signaled for the start. I sat down along with the others. Long remained standing.

Yuki v Kisai: Alternate Reality Battle #2

Jin fired an electric bolt at Tomo. In response, she blocked with an ice wall. She had access to Lau’s powers? This was definitely one of the reasons why the Commander showed an interest in her.

“Won’t work,” Long commented.

“What do you mean?” I questioned.

Jin’s electric bolt fizzled and transformed into embers of fire. It melted Tomo’s wall and he changed the puddles of water into icicles. She conjured a sword, slashing at the projectiles and... absorbed them into her weapon? She actually might have a chance to pull off a surprising victory.

“Interesting,” Long muttered.

“Jin’s actually being challenged. Didn’t think the new recruit would do anything,” Shigetzu remarked.

This wasn’t her first time fighting. What had she gone through before this? Jin created a sword and crossed blades with Tomo. Their blades clashed multiple times and each time her weapon grew brighter. She was storing energy for an attack!

Tomo flung her blade into the ground near Jin and vanished. Were my eyes deceiving me? Darryl stared at the battlefield in shock. A sudden bright light filled the arena causing spectators to shield their eyes. When the light subsided, Jin rose from the ground, a tear in his shirt.

“Impressive,” Long summed up.

“Man, that’s… Darryl, you saw that, right?” Shigetzu glanced at his friend.

“Yeah, she might pull it off, I’m rooting for her now!” Darryl nodded.

Tomo appeared behind Jin, regaining possession of her sword, holding it to the man’s neck. Jin, as always, remained calm. He grinned and snapped his fingers. A magic circle appeared beneath Tomo. Oh, a binding circle to stop her movement! Jin stepped back and unleashed another spell.

“Come on, don’t let Jin beat you! You can do this!” Darryl encouraged.

“Long, what did he cast?” I questioned.

“Corrosive. Continually inflicts damage before exploding,” Long explained.

Jin probably calculated the timing so the explosion coincided with right before the binding circle’s effect expired. Tomo couldn’t escape from the circle before the explosion occurred. She used a portal and escaped further damage.

“That’s Darryl’s power!” I realized.

“Anything to say, Darryl?” Shigetzu shrugged his shoulders.

“She’s so cool! I’m amazed by how she’s handling the battle.” Darryl ignored his friend’s question.

Jin dashed at Tomo, but slowed down, eventually collapsing to his knees. Shigetzu’s powers too! Jin recovered and finally reached her. His right fist, engulfed in purple sparks, struck Tomo’s face. There was a loud sizzle upon contact. Jin followed up a stomp but Tomo vanished again. This time, it wasn’t Darryl’s powers.

“Shadow travel,” Long named the move.

“Oh, someone from the Scale Squad uses it,” I recalled.

Jin swiped the ground and his shadow vanished. Tomo shot out from the ground, leaving herself open for an attack. As Jin fired an attack at her, I noticed a slight shine around Tomo. Jin’s attack bounced off when it struck her.

“Skillful,” Long remarked.

“Yeah, good back and forth. Darryl, still rooting for her?” Shigetzu questioned.

“Of course! I know what it feels like to be an underdog. Pretty hard for you to understand of course.” Darryl nodded.

“That hurts,” Shigetzu responded.

Jin unleashed a stream of magic, striking Tomo’s stomach. Petrify, a spell Jin rarely used. Within ten seconds, Tomo was a frozen statue. Jin struck her with a pulsating blast next. She was freed from her captivity but it dealt major damage. Tomo spat out blood. She opened a portal but Jin immediately disabled it. He appeared behind her and stomped the ground.

“Finisher,” Long stated.

Tomo was trapped inside a large, transparent sphere. Consecutive explosions occurred inside and she couldn’t escape.

“Kisai Jin wins via technical knockout!” Kyoi announced, raising his arm in victory.

“Damn, she was so close!” Darryl shouted.

“Yeah, she’s pretty strong. She’s going to steal your spot,” Shigetzu said.

Kyoi and the medical team assisted Tomo out of the battlefield. Jin gritted his teeth as he examined his shirt tear. Maybe Tomo inflicted more damage than everyone assumed.

“Has potential, needs more training,” Long remarked, offering rare praise.

“Oh, taken an interest in her, Long?” Shigetzu teased.

“No,” Long denied.

“Sure, that’s what you always say. Darryl, let’s go hit the gym,” Shigetzu decided.

“I’m down. Never give in, never give up. Gotta keep putting in the work all the time,” Darryl agreed, following his friend.

I glanced out at the empty battlefield. She really was good. This might just turn the tide for us. Earth could use more people like her.