Volume 10, Chapter 3-1: Battles of the Past I feat. Ichaival, Jen, Tess, and Kyoi
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Tuesday Spring Break 2016 Day 2

I woke up, my entire body aching. Yawning, I headed downstairs and saw Yukie staring at her tablet.

“Morning, Yukie,” I greeted.

“Good morning, Yuki. Your clothes are all rumpled, would you like me to iron them?” Yukie asked.

“No, that’s okay. I’ll wash them tomorrow. I’m not going anywhere today,” I declined.

“Very well. I’m heading to the garage so if you need anything, you can find me there,” Yukie informed me and left.

After eating breakfast, I sat in the living room, unsure what to do. My body still hurt so I definitely did not want to go anywhere. I still hadn’t watched those archive videos yet. Now was a good time. I hooked my laptop up to the TV and went through the available ones. Aan exhibition match between Ichaival and Jen caught my eye. How different were they compared to now? I added that one and a couple others to a playlist. I grabbed a few snacks before playing them. Let’s see how being at full power changed their approach.


Archive Battle 1: Ichaival v Jen

To my surprise, there was actual commentary and it was Ace no less. It made sense since she was their leader. Even if she went rogue, there was no reason for them to expunge her from the system.

“We have an interesting match-up between the false archer and ailment archer. Felicity has to be careful, if you know what I mean. Darryl will be using Kali sticks instead of knives. A smart choice. It’s a potent weapon if used correctly with his powers. As usual, Jen has her bow and arrows. I hope to see her improve on her nimbleness, but at the moment, she’s more than capable of handling enemies if she’s ever isolated,” Ace analyzed.

I paused the video and checked the time stamp. This was about two years ago in the winter, so they were seniors in high school.

“What kind of statuses will Jen utilize for this fight, Tess?” Ace asked.

“That depends on Darryl. Kali sticks mean Jen will focus on paralysis, slowing down his assaults. Another potential choice could be poison. Recall Darryl’s weapons gain an attack boost with each consecutive hit. But with each miss, it decreases. There is a cool down period so if Darryl evades after several misses, his weapons revert back to their base attack,” Tess answered.

“Very insightful, Tess. Let’s focus on something else while they warm up. What do you think of Felicity’s involvement with Darryl? Is she a solid choice or is Jen the superior woman? Tess, your thoughts,” Ace inquired.

“Ace, personal matters should be left up to them. Refrain from spreading idle gossip. Focus on their match,” Tess warned, her voice stern.

“Of course, Gatekeeper. And the battle has begun!” Ace shouted.

Ichaival pulled out his Kali sticks, ready to attack. The battle terrain was rugged, full of ledges and cover. Very advantageous for Jen who was an archer. Then again, it shouldn’t matter for Ichaival because of his portals. He didn’t have a limit so he could use them with much freedom than now. Ichaival would no doubt abuse it, catching Jen off guard.

“An interesting starting move. Jen begins the battle with smoke. The entire field is now covered. With his visibility limited, how will Ichaival respond?” Ace observed.

When the smoke finally cleared, Jen stood behind the false archer. She fired three arrows around Ichaival. This was a familiar strategy. She strummed the string on her bow and a glow emanated from the projectiles. A magical light connected them, forming a triangle that enclosed Ichaival.

“An intriguing move. How long will it last?” Tess asked.

I saw a slight discoloration near Ichaival but it vanished right away. His portals were different back then. Jen fired ten arrows before the magical light dissipated. One struck him in the arm, one in the shoulder, and the rest on the ground. Ichaival struggled raising his weapons before suddenly appearing behind Jen. He struck her multiple times in the leg, knocking her down. Jen raised her bow, strumming it again. The arrows in the ground exploded, bright lights filling the entire battle arena.

“Oh, a flash attack. This will allow her to stall for time but to what extent? Darryl still has the upper handl,” Ace observed.

Their positions were now reversed. Jen stood behind Ichaival now, stabbing him directly with arrows instead of firing them. I noticed the discoloration again and expected Ichaival to teleport. Instead he collapsed to the floor, unable to move. Jen fired arrows in various locations, no doubt setting up for later offensive opportunities. Ichaival finally recovered but his movements were sluggish. He swung at Jen but missed. Jen kicked him in the face and stabbed a few more arrows into his body. She stepped back when Ichaival stood up with a shout.

“Darryl now retaliates. Watch his portals,” Tess instructed.

The arrows embedded in Ichaival vanished and the man made his move. He circled behind Jen, smashing his Kali sticks into her back. His weapons increased in brightness as Ichaival landed hits. Jen fell to the floor, blood dripping out from her mouth. She rolled away from Ichaival and he finally missed.

She slammed the bottom of her bow down on the ground and the arrows she set up all made hissing noises. A deafening sound filled the area and Ichaival had no choice but to cover his ears. Jen took advantage, the noises seemingly not affecting her at all. She fired off a multitude of arrows, raining down them upon the false archer. They exploded in the air, pieces of it cutting into Ichaival’s skin.

“Oh, a stunning counter by Jen! But Tess, it seems Darryl’s hits have severely limited her. Can she really make comeback and prove her love for Darryl is strong enough to fuel her?” Ace said, her voice rising in pitch.

“I will ignore the irrelevant part of your statement. However, you are correct Jen has limited options moving forward. The damage she sustained may prove to be Ichaival’s key to victory,” Tess added.

Ichaival removed the arrow shrapnel from his body. He wasn’t as quick on his feet anymore, yet landed another flurry of attacks on Jen, knocking her prone. She recovered, blood pouring out of her mouth. The false archer wasn’t in the best shape either, scratches covering his face and legs. Ichaival limped over and delivered the final blow. Tess appeared on screen, a pair of headphones on her head. She ended the match and pronounced Ichaival the winner.

“Darryl managed to win this time around. But if they have a rematch, will Jen find some weakness and exploit it? I can only hope they continue to grow,” Ace ended her commentary there.

This match was the reverse of what I witnessed before. Ichaival was a much more formidable foe with his full powers, especially with Kali sticks. Jen’s attack pattern remained the same, performing stylish moves. She seemed much more powerful against a weakened Ichaival currently. I bit into a cracker and played the next video.


Archive Battle 2: Tess v Kyoi

“A much awaited match-up between two powerhouses. Joining me today on commentary will be Feng’s lover. Long, how do you feel about her chances out there?” Ace questioned.

“Ace, Feng is scary as fuck and she is not my lover. Although I am bounded to her by contract. Regardless, her chances against Tess are hard to predict. I must give Tess the advantage. She knows the ins and outs of our powers after all,” Zhuyu denied Ace’s allegations, his voice more lighter than his usual serious tone.

“Come on, give me something to work with here, Long. Enough about you and Feng. Let’s talk about your friend, Darryl. How do you think he’ll fare in the match against his ever dominant tag team partner, Shigetzu?” Ace asked for his opinion.

“Shigetzu is pretty strong. It would be a complete upset if Darryl wins, but I don’t expect him to just lay down. He’ll hang in there. For how long? I don’t know. That depends on how Shigetzu approaches the match,” Zhuyu analyzed.

“You’re certainly right. It’s difficult to know how things will turn out. I noticed Feng isn’t carrying her blade. How will that impact the overall fight?” Ace asked.

For that matter, she didn’t even have a knife. I wondered if this was a stipulation fight. If so, this would be a good chance to observe Kyoi’s physical movements versus her usual swordsmanship.

“It shouldn’t impact the fight. Even without her sword, Feng is still a dangerous fighter. Like Jin, her magic is strong enough to secure a victory,” Zhuyu responded.

“True. Feng is at her most dangerous when cornered. I’m sure you are more than accustomed to that, right?” Ace said, laughing after her statement.

“Yeah, I am. I wonder if Tess will even utilize her true powers. Knowing her, she’ll give Feng a good fight but not go all out,” Zhuyu wondered.

“Yes, Tess is adept at everything. She’s even more powerful than me and that is not an exaggeration. It looks like they’re ready to start,” Ace agreed with the zero vector user’s assessment.

Kyoi and Tess stared each other down, neither side flinching. Tess remained her usual stoic self, giving no indication of her thoughts or emotions. Surprisingly, Kyoi lacked her killer eyes.

“Who will make the first move? Usually Feng does but with Tess as her opponent, it might change her usual tactics,” Ace questioned.

Tess moved first, appearing behind Kyoi. She threw a chain over Kyoi’s neck, choking her. Kyoi struggled and she placed her hands on the chains. Light red flames appeared and shattered them, allowing her to escape the Gatekeeper’s grasp. Tess leaped backwards, launching another chain at her opponent. It wrapped around Kyoi’s right ankle, dropping her down to the ground.

Kyoi regained her footing and grabbed the restriction around her ankle. With amazing agility and balance, the magic user yanked Tess towards her. Tess released her grasp on the chain and Kyoi swung it up into the air. She snapped the chain around her ankle and whipped the chain. The ground lit up with small red spots and slight concern appeared on Tess’ face. How rare. Did Kyoi actually give her trouble? Then again, Kyoi was ranked number two even back then.

“Oh, a signature move. Long, will Tess escape it without any damage?” Ace asked.

“If it’s Tess, she will. And minimize the damage as well,” Zhuyu answered.

Tess glanced around, not taking a single step. Kyoi charged in, heading straight for the Gatekeeper. Tess spun around, chains surrounding her. It formed a barrier and Kyoi only smiled in response. The red spots on the ground grew brighter and then large flames burst out from the ground. It triggered a chain reaction, triggering huge explosions around Tess. The entire area became so bright that the video distorted.

“The entire area is just red! Tess probably doesn’t even care! I expect her to make it out of there without any damage,” Ace shouted.

“I have to agree. Tess’ chains are versatile. She strikes hard with them but they’re also hard to break. I tried and it actually hurt me,” Zhuyu agreed.

The video finally became clear again. Tess was on the ground, flames burning her body. 
Kyoi stood above her, holding Tess’ chain in her hand.

“I can’t believe it! Tess is down! Long, tell me I’m not crazy! You’re seeing the same thing I am, right? This is madness! Everything we’ve known has been turned upside down! Long, what is this?” Ace yelled, disbelief in her voice.

“This is very unexpected. Feng’s flames are no doubt powerful, wielding \textit{Phoenix’s Right}, but I didn’t expect them to nullify Tess’ chains. Could this be a ploy by Tess to lower Feng’s guard so she can retaliate with a counterattack?” Zhuyu commented, his voice much calmer than his broadcast partner’s.

“No, Long, you can’t just do that to me. You’re seeing what I’m seeing, right? Tess down on the ground! Answer me, man. I can’t keep talking if you don’t answer! Do it!” Ace demanded.

“I see Tess on the ground. And you’re not crazy, Ace. But like I said, maybe Tess is just doing it on purpose? It doesn’t seem she’s injured by the explosions,” Zhuyu replied.

“Thank you, Long. I can speak with a clear mind now. What the hell is happening?! Even if it is a trap, the fact her chains were destroyed is crazy! Unless she retracted them and allowed Feng’s attack. Even then, she should have sustained more damage. I don’t get it! Madness, I tell you!” Ace shouted again, her voice both excited and shocked.

Kyoi wrapped the chain around Tess’ neck and hauled her upward. Tess touched the chain around her neck and it vanished. Kyoi clicked her tongue, creating distance between her and the Gatekeeper. Tess brushed off the flames on her body as if it were just lint.

“Tess makes her comeback! Long, how will Feng deal with this?” Ace shouted, her voice 
rising in pitch.

“It’s hard to say. At this point, Feng just has to do as much damage as she can. It’s impressive she knocked Tess down but it looks like there isn’t much more she can do,” Zhuyu responded.

Tess dashed at Kyoi, wrapping the woman in chains. Kyoi struggled, unable to free herself. The Gatekeeper snapped her fingers and the chains turned a bright yellow. After a few seconds, the chains shattered. Despite being free, Kyoi didn’t look pleased. She looked down at her hand and it was a dim red compared to before.

“And Tess pulls off a devastating move. She weakened Feng’s power and left her with little choices in terms of attacks. The battle is nearing its end, I can feel it, Long. Tess will probably win,” Ace predicted.

“Yeah, there’s very little Feng can do at this point. Her magic has been reduced and without her sword, she has a limited repertoire of attacks,” Zhuyu agreed.

Tess slammed Kyoi down to the ground and then pressed her left foot into the woman’s neck. Small flames surrounded the Gatekeeper but it did nothing. Tess bent down, wrapping a chain around Kyoi’s neck once again. She stood back up and then dragged the woman around the area. When she finished, Kyoi looked beat up. Tess released her hold on the chain and checked on Feng’s condition.

“Well, it was looking like Kyoi might pull off a stunning victory, but in the end, Tess does what she does best. Long, any thoughts?” Ace asked.

“It was an entertaining battle. Tess showed off why she’s so powerful with her chains. Feng might have lasted longer wielding her sword. I still don’t think that would have been enough to beat Tess though,” Zhuyu responded.

“Yes, I agree. I still have trouble with Tess. I beat her once and that was when she wasn’t in peak condition,” Ace concurred.

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