Volume 14, Chapter 55: Summer Training Camp Day 0, Into the Future Again (I)
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202XUnknown Location

My knee suddenly hit the ground. Never had that happen before during an entry. I rubbed my kneecap and saw someone in the distance. There was a light drizzle with a layer of fog which obstructed my vision. I headed toward the figure, hoping it was an ally. I was in a cemetery and the weather conditions made it difficult to see any of the headstones clearly. After three minutes, I arrived at the location of the mystery person.

“Hey Yuki, didn’t expect to run into you here,” Long remarked, holding an umbrella in his left hand and a lighter in his left.

“How are you always so calm in these situations?” I glanced over at the gravesite.

“Am I? That’s kind of you to say, Yuki. So, here on Tess’ orders or just for fun?” He lit a joss stick before praying to the grave.

“A little bit of both. Is this…?” I checked the headstone for a name.

“Feng’s. I would stop by since I’m off from work today,” he replied.

“Shoot, sorry for dropping in all of a sudden,” I apologized.

“Don’t worry about it. You can’t control where you drop in, right? I have one more thing to take care of. You don’t have to follow me. The entrance is back that way so you can wait over there for me,” Long said, placing the joss stick into a gold container.

“Pretty sure I’m safer with you. Remember that I don’t really know anything here?” I decided.

“Oh true. Alright, that’s where I’m going next.” He pointed at a small building to our left.

“What’s changed since I was last here?” I avoided a mud puddle in the road.

“Um, let me check my phone. I made a note about when you visited last. Let’s see, that was about a month ago. Not too much, still doing a lot of planning. You haven’t missed anything too big.” Long handed me his umbrella and put his raincoat hood on.

“Thanks. That’s good to know. Guess there isn’t too much I can do except train with you guys if that’s the case.” I took the umbrella and watched Long walk ahead of me.

We arrived at a door with an electronic keypad and scanner. The math instructor pulled out a card from his back pocket and inserted it into the scanner. He then inserted a three-digit code before pushing down on the door handle. I followed him inside and saw cremation niches.

Oh, maybe I should have just waited outside for him.

“Guess I should explain what’s going on. My dad’s here,” Long revealed.

“Wait, your dad passed too?” I placed my umbrella into the entrance bin.

“Yeah. I’ll be quick. You can wait here,” he responded, not revealing any more details.

Five minutes later, Long returned. As we walked toward the parking lot, an old woman passed by us. She paused and waved at the man.

Po Po, I didn’t know you were coming by today. I would have given you a ride,” he greeted her.

“Ah, Long. Don’t worry about me. The retirement home gave me a ride. I’m just glad my granddaughter has someone visiting her all the time. Who is the young lady accompanying you today?” she questioned, carrying a bundle of flowers.

“Feng helped her when she was a freshman. This is Tomo Yuki. She wanted to pay her respects after coming back from abroad,” Long explained.

“Oh, a friend of Feng’s. Please to meet you, Yuki. I hope you don’t mind me calling you that.” Feng’s grandmother handed her flowers over to Long and clasped my hands in greeting.

“Not at all. It’s very nice to meet you,” I said.

“Thank you for visiting Feng. Long, you must be busy, so I won’t take up any more of your time. Until next time,” Feng’s grandmother said and headed toward the main cemetery area.

“She’s a very nice lady,” I commented as we arrived in the parking lot.

“Feng’s grandmother was a renowned traditional opera performer. It’s one of the reasons why Feng was able to pull off such incredible movements,” Long revealed.

“I learn something new every time I come here. What’s-?” I didn’t finish my sentence after sensing an artificial dimension.

Long nodded, confirming my observation. His sword appeared in his right hand. I summoned Mirror’s Rend and blocked a projectile. Ghastly figures, wearing ancient armor, fired arrows at us using a longbow. The math instructor ran his pointer finger across his blade and a purple flame engulfed it. He dashed over and cut down all the enemies in ten seconds.

“Yuki, behind you!” Long shouted as he blocked an attack from a new enemy.

A hooded man swung his knife at me. I neutralized his movement with Long’s zero-vector powers and kept him in place with Shigetzu’s gravitational manipulation. However, he broke free five seconds later and would have struck me if not for my teleportation. Interesting, my enemy could deal with natural world powers. What about magic then? I fired icicles at him, but he sliced through my magical projectiles with ease utilizing his knife. I followed up with multiple flame fissures, but he leaped into the air and navigated through all of them with incredible agility. Hold on, those movements were familiar!

“Long!” I regrouped with him after he dispatched his opponent.

“Yeah, I know. It’s not Zhang. Probably someone that Feng fought with. That’s the most likely explanation,” Long surmised.

“What’s the plan?” I generated a barrier for us.

“You handle him. More incoming enemies,” he decided.

I sighed and teleported behind the hooded man. He immediately spun around, aiming for my neck. Poison droplets left his blade and traveled towards my hand. I repelled it with Zhang’s electrical powers and swung my left knee upward at his hand. His knife flew out of his hand and clattered on the ground. My opponent lunged toward his weapon but I swapped it with a nearby car. He crashed into the passenger side door and rolled around in pain.

“Who are you?” I pinned him down with Shigetzu’s powers and threw off his hood.

He struggled but could not escape my grasp. I noticed a cracked crystal on their wristband. Trapping them in a magical circle, I stepped back and continued interrogating them.

“Must be nice wearing the latest Stellar Foundation gear. But you’re bad at your job if you can’t even beat me,” I antagonized him.

“Like you know anything. I won’t-,” he said before Long slammed him into the ground.

There was a dangerous glint in the math instructor’s eyes as he stabbed his sword into the trapped man’s left hand. Long rotated the blade slightly without any words as a small puddle of blood surrounded my opponent’s hand. The zero-vector user shattered his kneecap with a single stomp. I shuddered and decided not to intervene.

“Who sent you?” Long yanked his blade out of the enemy’s hand.

“You’re a twisted fucker. What, gonna continue beating on me until I break? I’m not that easy! Try your best!” he shouted.

Long remained silent and stared at him with a cold expression. He hoisted him up and dragged the man over to the car. Opening the door, he shoved the man’s right arm into the car before slamming the car door into it five times.

“Stop it!” someone shouted.

My cousin, Yukie, suddenly appeared and shook her head at Long. Long sighed and hurled the man into the ground with disgust.

“Yuki, it’s good to see you again. Long, transfer control of this over to me, please,” Yukie ordered, grabbing the man’s right shoulder.

“Sure. Sorry about the mess,” Long apologized.

The artificial dimension vanished and the rain from before returned. I opened my umbrella and walked with the man over to his car. I recalled the story Kaze told during our ride to the training site. Did the trauma of losing Feng and Kaze really impact his emotional and mental stability that much?


“Kinda sounds normal to me,” Jin commented, handing me a glass of water.

“I really don’t think so. Shigetzu, how about you?” I thanked him for the water and took a sip.

Long dropped me off at Jin’s house. The entire ride was awkward since he was silent for most of it. Shigetzu arrived ten minutes later after the math instructor left. Currently, it was just the three of us.

“Hard to say, Long’s not really one to display too much emotion. But with the way you described it, I understand your concern. I’ll talk to him later and see what he says. How are things going with you?” Shigetzu questioned, chopping up vegetables.

“Tess set up a training camp before school starts back up again. Hold on, why are you cooking dinner for Jin?” I asked, finishing my cup of water.

“He’s teaching me stuff,” Jin replied, snapping open a can of beer.

“Really?” I sighed and asked for a refill.

“Jin’s not lying this time. So, what’s your plan coming back here?” Shigetzu dumped the vegetables into a bowl.

“Tess thought it would be good for me to spar with you guys and learn some new things,” I answered.

“I’m down. Wanna do it right now?” Jin placed his can down onto the kitchen countertop.

“After you finish making this. Pretty sure Yuki’s hungry after everything she just went through. That message from Darryl?” Shigetzu shoved a bowl of ingredients into Jin’s chest.

“Hang on, yeah. Said he’s gonna be thirty minutes later because he’s stuck in traffic.” Jin grabbed a pair of chopsticks and mixed the contents of the bowl with it.

“Leave it to Darryl to come up with a half-assed excuse like that.” Shigetzu shook his head in disappointment.

Thirty minutes later, Darryl showed up and I explained the situation to him.

“Huh, we should probably check in on Long and make sure he’s actually okay. I know he’ll say he is but things sound pretty bad if he’s fighting like that,” Darryl suggested.

“I was thinking the same thing. This needs more seasoning.” Shigetzu pointed at the wok.

“You’re right. Which one is better to use here?” Jin pointed at two different bottles.

“Well, kinda depends.” Shigetzu lectured Jin on what to use for certain dishes.

“How’s the Long you know doing?” Darryl asked, pouring water out of a large milk carton.

“Not sure, Tess said he’s dealing with a personal matter. I can sorta guess what’s going on.” I helped set the plates Jin handed me.

“Shoot, I wish I could tell you what’s going on but it’s up to Long to let you know. So, you taste-tested all of this, right?” Darryl pointed at the food.

“Damn, you don’t trust Jin, what kind of friend are you?” Shigetzu grinned at him.

“Shut up, Shigetzu, you know that’s not what I mean,” Darryl responded, shaking his head.

“Guess you should just leave right now if you’re not going to appreciate my food.” Jin yanked Darryl’s plate away.

“The fuck? This is all your fault, Shigetzu,” Darryl accused.

Jin slid the plate back to Darryl and then glanced over at Shigetzu. Again?

“Yuki, above you!” Shigetzu warned.

I rolled away as metal spikes rained down from the ceiling. I summoned Mirrors Rend and knocked away the incoming projectiles. A man, wearing a suit, appeared and stared at me. Wait, this guy was familiar! I ran into him during Shigetzu’s weapon retrieval.