Volume 9, Chapter 3-1: What Finals?
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I heard a faint hiss and the pod cover opened. Emily stared at me, writing on a clipboard.

“Somebody woke up from a good dream. It’s remarkable you’ve managed to create such an elaborate alternate world,” Emily greeted, helping me up.

“It’s so real that I can’t even tell the difference,” I commented, stretching my legs.

“That’s the power of your grimoire. I’ll do some more research. It could lead to interesting results,” Emily said, returning to the control board and adjusted switches.

Zhuyu and Shane sat at a desk, staring at papers. The zero vector user nodded with a serious expression. Damn, it was weird to see Zhuyu now. Their appearances were similar, yet the demeanor and facial expressions varied. He appeared less dangerous here than in my dream world.

“Emily, how long was I out?” I asked.

“About an hour,” Emily answered.

“How’s Jacque?” I looked around but didn’t see him.

“Stable. Nothing is wrong so that’s good. He has an intriguing power,” Emily revealed, staring at multiple screens.

“He turns into a rock. Not that interesting, right?” I pointed out.

“There’s a very high probability Jacque hasn’t awakened to his true potential. In other words, he still has an unawakened power. We rarely see that occur,” Emily elaborated.

“Any clues on what it could turn out to be?” I wondered.

“With Tess’ assistance, he can meld it into something suitable,” Emily answered, walking over to another pod.

She pressed a button, opening the pod cover. Jacque stumbled out, a dazed look on his face. He rubbed his eyes, getting his bearings together.

“It’s not every day I get probed,” Jacque joked, laughing awkwardly.

“You got to sleep at least,” I said.

“Yeah, definitely more comfortable than putting my head on a hardcover book,” Jacque agreed.

“Is that how you sleep in the student lounge?” I questioned.

“I’m a pretty sad man, Tomo. Really wish they had beds. Ko talked about wanting something like that,” Jacque replied, a wistful look on his face.

“They have sofas in there, right?” I recalled people sprawling out on them before.

“Eh, that isn’t safe. Knowing me, I probably will get my stuff stolen, cuz you know, fuck my life,” Jacque said his signature phrase.

“You’re right, not exactly the best idea. Hey, if you have a friend, then you don’t have to worry!” I devised a solution.

“True, but everyone has their own schedules, kinda hard to get in a solid nap,” Jacque said.

Emily picked up papers from the printer, organizing them inside a binder. She placed it back onto a large bookcase, walking towards us. I wondered how many files they kept on record here.

“Jacque, congratulations! The checkup showed nothing wrong. There is a chance your powers will undergo a shift, morphing into something else. Can you take this back to Tess? She’ll know what it means,” Emily informed us, handing me a stack of papers.

“Tomo, you gonna help me get used to this heroes thing?” Jacque requested.

“I haven’t been a hero myself for that long. I don’t really know what I can teach you. Everyone is a douchebag, especially Shan,” I answered.

“Didn’t know you hated everyone so much,” Jacque laughed.

“It’s getting better,” I modified my statement.

“Seems like it’ll take a lot of work. I turn into a rock. I’m so fucking useless!” Jacque lamented, his face full of sorrow.

“You weren’t that shocked when we rescued you, so looks like you’ll adjust,” I encouraged him.

“Sure hope so,” Jacque answered.

“Yeah, you’ll be fine. Plus you know everyone already,” I pointed out.

“Nah, Tomo, I think you got it all wrong. I literally can’t do shit. In fact, I’ll probably get captured and I’ll be like “oh no”. Everyone will have to come and save my ass,” Jacque questioned my positivity.

“Emily did say your powers might change, so don’t be sad. You never know, might get some cool powers,” I said.

“I wish, but good things like that usually don’t happen. I can only dream, Tomo,” Jacque remarked.

Twenty minutes later, Zhuyu and Shane finished their mini meeting. He walked over, looking at Jacque.

“Everything okay?” Zhuyu asked.

“As good as it can be, bro. I slept like a baby in the pod. So how do we get out?” Jacque questioned.

“Tomo, I leave it to you,” Zhuyu said.

“Tess gave us these special keys. We just put them into any door and we’ll be back,” I revealed.

“Sweet,” Jacque said.

I inserted my key in. We all went inside, returning to the training facility. I handed the stack of documents over to Zhuyu, transferring the responsibility over to him.

“Jacque, let’s get you home,” Zhuyu said, accepting the papers without any complaints.

Great, one less for me to do. Alright, time to go home, and not worry about finals. Damn it, only two more weeks. Why did you have to be so cruel, school?

Friday Winter Quarter 2016 Week 10

“You really aren’t concerned about finals, are you?” I looked over at Jacque.

“I’m hella scared. Just because I’m reading manga right now doesn’t mean I’m not. At least, I’m heading to a review session later. I’ll be okay, I hope,” Jacque replied.

It was dead week and almost everyone was in the student lounge. Zhuyu, Shan, Kisai, and Jacque were all present. Ko was here earlier, but went off to who knows where. Felicity joined us earlier, but departed, after an urgent matter came up. Probably related to the company work she did for her father.

“The thing is, Tomo, you just have to not do work on the last day and it’ll turn out fine,” Shan said.

“Yeah, I call bullshit. I’m amazed how you guys manage to get good grades without studying,” I disagreed.

“That’s not true. Long studies pretty hard. Can’t get my types of results, but he does aight,” Kisai countered.

“Thanks, Jin. Don’t worry, it’s your second quarter here already. You’re getting used to the exam system,” Zhuyu said.

“That’s great and all, but you’re forgetting one thing. I don’t study like you guys do. I’m more like Jacque, no offense,” I pointed out.

“Damn, she just insulted you, Jacque,” Kisai commented.

“Nah, can’t be mad. Pretty bad if you’re near my standards, Tomo. Don’t be like me, it’s not great,” Jacque said.

“That’s not what I meant. I’m normal, unlike you guys,” I clarified.

“I’m flattered, Tomo, but we’re not that special,” Shan refuted.

“You keep saying you aren’t, but I think you definitely are. Ko said something about that too,” I insisted.

“Yeah, well, Ko says a lot of things,” Zhuyu remarked.

I somehow got dragged into their conversation again. Shit, now was not the time. I needed to focus. Maybe I should head to the library.

“We gotta figure out a battle plan for you, Jacque,” Shan said.

“I’m a damn rock. It’s over for me,” Jacque lamented.

“I can hit you with my tennis racquet and it’ll do a lot of damage,” Shan pointed out.

“Jacque, do you even take damage when you’re a rock? Did it hurt when Shigetzu hit you with the racquet last time?” Zhuyu brought up.

“That’s actually a good point. Do you?” Kisai repeated.

“I’m still aware of everything going on, but just can’t do anything. I feel some pain when I turn back, not a lot,” Jacque described.

“Interesting. We might be able to do something with that,” Shan said.

“I can’t help but feel sorry for you. If you’re ever injured, you gotta tell us,” Kisai said, looking up from his phone.

“Thanks, great to know you have my back. I’m still a noob but I’ll do what I can,” Jacque appreciated.

“When he’s meeting with Tess?” Kisai inquired.

“Oh, yeah. Tess asked you to meet with her after finals week,” Zhuyu informed him.

“Where at?” Jacque questioned.

“Her house,” Zhuyu answered.

“Seems kinda dangerous,” Jacque exclaimed.

“You’ve been summoned there as well, Tomo. Consider it the orientation you never received,” Zhuyu mentioned.

“Can’t help you there. Tess’ word is final,” Kisai said.

“Same. We all went through it, not jealous of you at all,” Shan added, the situation turning ominous.

“Why are you guys making it sound so scary?” I asked.

“What are you talking about, Tomo?” Shan denied.

“Shigetzu’s right, don’t take what we said so seriously,” Kisai backed him up.

“Something’s going on here. Zhuyu, what’s so bad about Tess’ house?” I looked over at him.

“Don’t listen to what they say. It’s not that bad, sort of,” Zhuyu replied.

“What if I refuse?” I asked, staring at the math major.

“Tess will find some way of getting you over there. Have you not noticed how she shows up out of nowhere?” Zhuyu shrugged his shoulders.

Zhuyu was correct. Fine, let’s see what everyone was so scared of. Hopefully they were playing a joke on me and doing a great job at selling it.

“Fine, I’ll go. What’s the address?” I asked.

“I’ll take you there. Gotta get Jacque anyways,” Zhuyu offered.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“It’s more like Tess ordered me to drive both of you,” Zhuyu revealed.

“I’ll have to go since I can’t refuse, right?” I decided.

“Jacque, send me your address later,” Zhuyu requested.

“You got it,” Jacque nodded, pulling out his phone.

“Good luck, Tomo. I mean it,” Shan encouraged.

Fuck you guys. Maybe it was her parents that scared everyone? That could be a possibility, but probably more of a Tess thing. No point in worrying about it now.

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