Volume 14, Chapter 49: Nothing Happens at Work
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Saturday Summer Quarter 2016 Week 5

You’ll work the front register today,” the manager informed me.

Okay, uh, is someone going to teach me or….?” I looked at her.

It’s pretty easy once you start pressing buttons. Most of the system is automated. It’s so nice to live in an area where there’s a tech boom. Things can get done a lot faster.But maybe this will help if you’re not feeling confident,” she revealed.

She walked over to a nearby bookshelf. I found it peculiar that the break room even had one. Everyone was on their phones during our breaks. The manager brought over a medium sized book and placed it on the table.

Manual?” I questioned.

The first few pages are all you need. The rest is just technical junk.”

I glanced up at the wall out of habit before realizing there was no clock there. The time was displayed on a miniature screen at the center of thte table. Only fifteen minutes before my break was over. En entered the room and sat across from me without a word. He pulled out his phone, checking something.

Hey En,” I greeted him, flipping through the manual.

Working the front?” he asked.

Yeah. You’ve done it before, right?” I recalled.

Only when I have to. If someone like me can do it, it shouldn’t be a problem,” En replied.

I scanned the pages one more time. My breaktime was finally over. En stopped staring at his phone and placed his head down on the table.

Finally up here where the real magic happens,” my coworker greeted me.

I somehow doubt that.” I shook my head and inputted the password.

Turned out the manager was right.When I weighed something, the system automatically identified it with surprising accuracy. I didn’t even need to input the product code. Whoever designed this system deserved an award.

And no one is here.” I peered into the break room after my shift was over.

The manual was still on the desk where I left it. I was curious about the designer of the system so I checked the back for information.

Yukie?” I exclaimed.

Why was I even surprised? I knew my cousin was skilled with machines. It was normal if she was involved with designing this system. I pulled out my phone, taking a picture of her name in the manual to show it to her when I got home later.

Wednesday Summer Quarter 2016 Week 7

“Your shift is already over?” I glanced over at En who headed toward the exit.

“Yeah. I’ve been here since six since the manager said there were early deliveries,” he responded, stifling a yawn.

I checked the time on my phone. Almost noon. There weren’t a lot of customers today. The entire time I was at the register, only five people showed up.

“Hey, En, uh well…. is Zhuyu doing okay? You guys are pretty good friends so I was just wondering if you knew anything,” I asked.

“He’s doing fine. Knowing him for so long, he’s just doing the same thing like nothing happened,” En answered.

Not helpful. I sighed, leaning my arms on the counter. The front door slid open and familiar faces walked in.

“I didn’t know you worked here,” Lilith greeted me.

Xiu and Steph accompanied their leader. Not a common combination. Xiu seemed like the type to stay inside. But those were just my assumptions because of her powers. Lilith held a reusable bag in her left hand.

“I started this summer. What are you looking to buy today?” I revealed.

“Baking ingredients. I was planning to bake some sweets and invite people over to relax. It’s been a couple of rough weeks Tess put us through,” Lilith answered.

“You’ll find what you need in the fourth aisle. Milk is near the second aisle along with any dairy stuff,” I informed her.

“Thanks. I saw En out in the parking lot. Does he work here too?” Lilith motioned for Xiu to go ahead.

“Yeah, he’s been here longer than me. Is she gonna be fine by herself?” I questioned, pointing at the departing Xiu.

“She knows what I need. Let’s chat,” Lilith said.

“Kinda suspicious,” I remarked.

“I kind of expected this. Look, Tess has been having you work with the boys on our side. I don’t blame her since Champ trusts you. But I was hoping you could spend time training with the rest of our group,” Lilith said.

“Why don’t you ask Tess then? I’m sure she’s open to it,” I nodded at her suggestion.

“Having you agree beforehand makes things easier for me. You should come by my place when you’re done with work,” Lilith offered.

“My shift doesn’t end until five. I’m sure you’ll be finished by then,” I declined.

“Tess wants us to go recover an Artifact tomorrow. She wants Jacque to join. Could you go get him and we’ll meet up at the university. You’ll get a chance to work with me and Yui,” Lilith offered.

“Works for me. Does Jacque already know?” I asked.

“Yeah, Tess told him. Oh, you’re back. We’re ready to check out,” Lilith replied.

Xiu carried two baskets full of baking supplies and other items. I never expected to be on such friendly terms with Lilith. I recalled the grudge she held against Tess and the others. She softened a bit since then.

“Tomrrow’s going to be fun,” I muttered.

Thursday Summer Quarter 2016 Week 7

What’s Zhuyu doing today?” I asked Shigetzu as he drove me to the university.

“Don’t know. Said he was busy and Tess sent me a text telling me not to worry about it,” Shigetzu replied, driving into the parking garage.

I stepped out and checked my phone for any messages from Jacque. He was waiting for us at the library. I thought for sure he would pick the student lounge since that was the go to place for the heroes.

“Hang on, Yuki.” Shigetzu stopped me once we were in the library.

“He’s right there, let’s just go already.” I stared at him.

“Yuki, look at what’s going on right now.” Shigetzu pointed to a nearby whiteboard.

We stepped behind it, observing Jacque. He sat at the table along with five others. I assumed they were working on a project. Two women sat on either end of Jacque, looking at his sketchbook. He nodded when the person to his left marked something.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Shigetzu?” I hissed at him.

“Calm down, Yuki. This isn’t spying. Call it necessary monitoring to gather relevant data to appease Tess. Also, this is good stuff to talk with Jacque about later,” Shigetzu answered.

“One of your reasons is complete bullshit,” I pointed out.

Everyone at Jacque’s table left a few minutes later. Shigetzu headed to the bathroom first, leaving me to decide to wait or go greet the artist.

“Hey Jacque.” I sat down on the opposite end of the table.

“Sorry to have you come all the way over to the campus when there isn’t school. Where’s Shigetzu?” the artist asked.

“Went to the bathroom. Here’s some stuff from Tess.” I pulled out a folder from my backpack, sliding it over to the man.

“Reading, huh? Not a huge fan of that. Want to just tell me what’s important?” Jacque grinned.

“I would if I read it.” I shook my head.

Shigetzu arrived and chose a seat at the end of the table. That meant none of us sat next to each other. Jacque flipped through the papers inside, a tired look on his face. Must be a tough summer class schedule.

“Who were those girls sitting next to you?” Shigetzu brought up.

“Artifact retrieval…. wait, you saw them?” Jacque looked up at the gravity manipulator.

“Yep, so who were they?” Shigetzu grinned at the artist.

“Just some peeps from my art class. You’ve seen them in the student lounge before, Shigetzu. Don’t give me that bullshit,” Jacque responded.

“I don’t know. Anyways, let’s get back to business in case Tess shows up out of nowhere. I really don’t want to go through a punishment gauntlet again,” Shigetzu decided.

“What’s that?” I questioned.

“Something you never want to go through. Trust me, Yuki,” Shigetzu answered.

“Must be bad if you can’t even joke about it. I remember you talking about Darryl being punished before. Did he go through that?” I recalled.

“More than once actually. Tess really shows off her mean side when making people go through it,” Shigtezu confirmed.

Jacque continued reading through the material, ignoring our conversation. I couldn’t fault him since most talks with Shigetzu never ended in anything useful. No, that wasn’t necessarily true. If the gravity manipulator was serious, he actually was helpful.

“Am I the only one who needs an Artifact?” Jacque asked, placing down the papers.

“Nah, you’re not the only one. People from Lilith’s side need them too. It’s their version of going super seiyan,” Shigetzu answered.

“Everyone here placed seals on their powers through weapons. How did Lilith and her team do it?” I inquired.

“Good question, Yuki. Uh, you know what, I’m not gonna even try to lie to you about this. Long knows more than I do considering he keeps track of stuff for Tess. You should ask him when you have the chance,” Shigetzu admitted.

“Should have known. Where’s the mission taking place, Jacque?” I turned my attention back to Jacque.

“No idea, heard of this place before?” Jacque slid a piece of paper over to us.

“Nope, never been there before. Felines, huh?” Shigetzu replied.

“They were pretty nice when I met them,” Jacque noted.

“Guess we’ll find out when we get there,” I remarked.

“You done with classes, right?” Shigetzu asked.

“Yeah, just need to work on a group project. This won’t take too long, I hope?” Jacque replied.

“Nah, well, guess it depends on what happens. Pretty sure you’ll have plenty of time later,” Shigetzu said.

As we exited the library, I noticed Tess walking toward us. She looked at me and ignored the two men. That wasn’t good.

“Yuki, I apologize for the sudden change in plans. I have a separate assignment for you while Shigetzu accompanies Jacque to his destination,” Tess announced.

“I don’t mind. Where am I going?” I asked.

“Just a little delivery. You’ll join up with Zhang in the Crossroads. It’s a personal request from the Special Investigations Unit chief,” Tess revealed.

“Sounds good. Hope you guys do well,” I said, waving goodbye to Jacque and Shigetzu.