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ToKyotchi Chapter 59

The Reinforcements?

Che couldn’t help but silently chuckle to himself as he watched Avis slowly regain all of the composure she’d lost mere minutes ago. He’d known since the first day he’d met her that she was ruthless, but he was only beginning to understand the extent of her capabilities.

Nikki’s Sunstorm technique helped paint the sky with brilliant hues of blue, its intensity reflected in the glossy windows of the headmaster’s quarters. There was a stifling yet invigorating warmth in the air, just hot enough to make someone’s shirt stick to their skin.

The spectators continued rushing for any exit they could find, the panicked screams and cries drowning out all other sounds. Che watched as several students and faculty members ran towards the gates, their expressions a mix of terror and confusion. He knew it was only a matter of time before someone ended up getting hurt in all the commotion.

Avis seemed to stand in the center of all of it all, her face calm and composed as she assessed the situation with a critical eye. As requested, none of the soldiers, faculty, or even Dr. Chapman moved an inch closer to the ring.

However, it appeared Avis wouldn’t be outnumbered either way. Her earlier anxious expression had been replaced with a cool confidence that would cause even seasoned warriors to hesitate. What did she have up her sleeve now?

“Reinforcements?” Nikki turned to face Che, her eyes narrowing. “What does she mean?”

Che shook his head and sighed. “Who knows? I’m tired of trying to figure out what these people want.”

After all, it seemed like every passing minute brought a new challenge and a new set of rules to follow. It was exhausting, but Che knew he couldn’t afford to let his guard down, not while he was surrounded by dozens of potential opponents.

“Oh, I think I know exactly who she means,” Lorenzo suddenly spoke up, his tone lighthearted but intense. “It’s two of your favorite people, after all.”

Avis must have heard Lorenzo’s comment, because she turned to face him with a hint of amusement in her eyes. “Ah, I believe that’s them now.”

Che braced himself for the arrival of whoever Avis was referring to, watching as Nikki and Lorenzo followed suit. He quickly scanned the skies and every corner of the stadium, hoping to catch a glimpse of these supposed “reinforcements,” but he couldn’t find anyone who stuck out. As if reading his thoughts, two figures emerged from the surrounding mob of soldiers.

“Throw your worries over the deep end!” Reagan jumped up from behind a cluster of guards, flipping onto the ring like an experienced gymnast.

“Into new dimensions you can’t comprehend!” Vista did the same, though she landed much more gracefully, quickly brandishing her purple thorn whip.

Che groaned at the sight. These two seriously couldn’t be Avis’ backup! What was she thinking? He took a deep breath before preparing himself. There was no time for any of this.

Besides, Avis wouldn’t be able to hold everyone off for long, and Che was not interested in becoming a prisoner again any time soon. He slowly brought up his fist just as Reagan and Vista were continuing their coordinated speech.

“Let the sheep and followers sl-“

Reagan’s words caught in his throat as Che interrupted with his Ace Punch technique, sending Reagan flying backward so fast he almost fell out of the ring entirely. The teen quickly recovered, glaring at Che as he rubbed his aching jaw.

“Ayo! You sucker punchin’ folks now?” He held up a clenched fist, his silver teeth glistening in the sunlight.

“Oh, don’t act like you didn’t have that coming,” Che folded his arms. “That’s pretty much your signature move.”

“Whatever!” Reagan jumped to his feet. “We’re gonna settle this now!”

Che shook his head. “No, we are not, Reagan. Just tell me where Yokan is.”

“You will not see him!” Vista cut in, flinging her hand forward as she prepared an attack. “Doze Petals!”

“Star Wall!” A pink, translucent wall shot up from the ground just before Che and Nikki could get covered in pink rose petals. Che watched as Lorenzo’s face contorted in concentration as he held off Vista’s attack.

“Nikki!” Lorenzo called through gritted teeth. “When I drop this, that’s your chance. Got it?”

Nikki nodded, her eyes never leaving the pink wall that seemed to shimmer and shift as Vista’s petals danced on its surface. As soon as the petals dispersed, Lorenzo dropped the shield, and Nikki shot forward.

“Fire Orb!” Nikki made quick work of Vista, who had no time to react before being hit with a massive burst of fire. As her unconscious form fell to the ground, Nikki slowly turned to face Avis, while Che kept his eyes trained on Reagan.

“I wouldn’t move,” Che stated calmly.

“Don’t tell me what to do!” Reagan snapped back.

“Nikki,” Che whispered through the side of his mouth, not wanting to take his eyes off Reagan. “This is the best chance we’re going to get.”

From his peripheral, Che could make out Nikki nodding in agreement as she returnred her attention to Avis. “Looks like it’s just you and me, Professor. Let’s end this.”

Avis stood firm, but Che noticed the sweat beading on her forehead and the slight tremble in her hands. She’d been much more affected by the shattered illusion than she let on. Che took a deep breath. There was still a chance Nikki could prevail against her.

“Even if you defeat me,” Avis smirked as if she could hear Che’s thoughts. “It won’t change anything.”

Nikki remained poised to attack, never faltering at Avis’ words.

“I can tell keeping that illusion up took all of your strength,” her voice was filled with determination. “You can’t do anything but taunt me now. You’ll lose, and I’ll defeat Eminal next!”

“Your naivety is almost admirable,” Avis let out a frustrated growl before dropping her hands to her sides, leaving herself wide open. This was it! This was when Nikki needed to strike!

Yet, Nikki didn’t react at first. It was as if she’d entered some deep trance, and that was when Che realized she’d been gathering as much energy as she could from the sky. He wiped his forehead, noticing the Sunstorm technique grow in intensity all around them as she prepared for the final attack.

“Fire Orb!” Nikki shot a fireball at Avis with deadly accuracy. The professor tried to dodge but was quickly consumed by an inferno that threatened to envelope the entire ring. Che couldn’t help but stare in amazement. He’d never seen Nikki do anything like it before. Had the Sunstorm really powered up her Fire Orb technique that much?

Nikki slowly pulled her hand back, and Che now felt as if all the surrounding heat was gathering in her fist. She shot another Fire Orb attack, and this time she knocked Avis back several feet.

The professor landed just outside the ring, rolling a few times before coming to a complete stop. Several soldiers rushed to her aid, but it was clear she wouldn’t be getting back up anytime soon.

Nikki then slowly turned to face the stands, which were now almost completely empty save for a few scattered soldiers and brave onlookers. She let out a deep breath, the exhaustion from her battle finally catching up with her. Che rushed to her side, wrapping an arm around her waist to steady her as she stumbled slightly.

“You did it,” he grinned at her, and Nikki managed a tired smile in return. “You beat Avis.”

“Thanks,” Nikki leaned her head against his shoulder, letting out a deep sigh, “but I don’t think we’re out of this yet. I still don’t know where Eminal is, and they’re all about to attack us now.”

The speakers crackled back to life as Dale and Fritz continued their commentary, their voices echoing through the now silent stadium.

“Well, how exactly do we call this, Fritz?” Dale asked. “Looks like Professor Avis is officially out of the ring, but everyone’s fleeing the stadium!”

“And she DID get knocked out by Nikki, who was her intended opponent,” Fritz chimed in, “even though there’s now four additional fighters in the ring!”

“Plus those other fighters intruded on the match anyway,” Dale observed. “Not like it’s her fault. Oh, well! I say let’s make it official! This is more exciting anyway!”

“Agreed!” Fritz exclaimed. “The winner of this match is none other than Nikki, folks!”

There was no applause to accompany Fritz announcement, but Che could feel the adrenaline still coursing all around him. At any moment, the soldiers would close in on them. He noticed Reagan rubbing his eyes, as if he were trying to clear his vision.

“What’s wrong with you?” Che asked him, keeping his voice low.

“Nothing!” Reagan snapped back. “Just..just a weird headache.”

“A headache?” Che repeated, his suspicions rising. “What did Avis do to you?”

Reagan didn’t reply, instead shutting his eyes as if in pain. Che turned to Nikki, who was now steady on her feet and watching Reagan with a look of concern.

“I wonder if Eminal’s doing this…” she whispered.

“Reagan, last chance,” Che stepped forward, extending a hand toward Reagan. “Tell us where Yokan and Eminal are right now.”

“You can’t beat either one of them, so there’s no point!” Reagan’s eyes snapped back open as he slipped into a battle stance, and that was when Che felt as if something all around them, some invisible force, was lifting. “They’re both too…wait what? Where am I?”

Reagan started blinking rapidly, rubbing his eyes once more as if trying to get a clear view of what was going on. Finally, he seemed to recognize Che.

“Yo, nerd, what’s going on?” he demanded. “How’d I end up here? This a trap?”

Che felt a chill once again run down his spine. What in the world was going on? He whipped his head around, desperately trying to find the source of this unknown power.

“You’re both wrong, you know,” Lorenzo’s voice startled Che, who’d noticed he’d been quiet since Nikki knocked Avis out of the ring. “Avis’ hold on his mind is weakening. Chetachi, I think you’d better do whatever you need to do soon.”

Che was just about to prepare to deal with Reagan again when horrified cries rang out from the remaining spectators who hadn’t made it out yet. All the surrounding soldiers lifted their weapons in unison towards the sky, and Che followed everyone’s gaze as a figure zoomed down from above, a crazed expression on his face.

“Yokan!” Che gritted his teeth. “He’s here!”

“Looks like someone’s approaching from the sky!” Fritz exclaimed, continuing his commentary. “Folks, I can’t believe it! Another challenger is entering the ring!”

“Guy looks pretty mad too!” Dale added. “You think he’s here to stop that imposter?”

“Let’s hope so!” Fritz replied. “Otherwise it might get a little dangerous for us, Dale!”

Che was certain Yokan would launch an attack against him before even reaching the ground, but Yokan stopped abruptly, hovering in the air above them. Che clenched his fists, his entire body tensing as he tried to anticipate Yokan’s next move.

That was when choking and gurgling sounds pulled everyone’s attention toward Dr. Chapman, who began clutching at his throat as he was lifted into the air.

“No!” Nikki screamed, but it was too late. Yokan’s grip on Dr. Chapman tightened, and Che could see the veins in his face begin to bulge as he struggled for breath. Che wanted to close his eyes, but he didn’t want to lose sight of Yokan.

“I’ve got him, just like I planned.”

Avis’ voice startled Che, and he looked over to see her standing on the edge of the ring, her breathing quick and ragged. The air around her shimmered, and Che struggled to make out her form as she blinked in and out of sight. At times, he could have sworn he saw a different person entirely. He felt his blood run cold. Was she truly Eminal in disguise?

Dr. Chapman had stopped clawing at his throat and was now motionless. Che felt his stomach drop as he realized the man may be dead. He clenched his fists, anger and determination surging through him. He had to end this now.

That’s when Dr. Chapman’s body shimmered before disappearing entirely. Soon, all of the soldiers vanished as well, leaving the surrounding field completely empty save for Yokan, who landed where Dr. Chapman had been standing before.

Nikki gasped. “They were…they were all illusions?”

Lorenzo nodded, a mournful expression on his face. “Yes, I’m sorry I didn’t say anything before.”

Che and Nikki turned in unison to face Lorenzo. Che wanted to scream. He couldn’t believe Lorenzo had once again manipulated them to fulfill some unknown agenda. Did he ever stop plotting and scheming?

“I shouldn’t be surprised,” Che could no longer hide his disappiontment. “So, this was all just a trap?”

Lorenzo, seemingly unfazed by Che’s remark, simply turned to face Yokan. “Yes, but only for him.”

Yokan, in response, turned to face Che, his expression now completely devoid of the crazed look he had before. Che felt felt every hair on his body stand up as he realized that Yokan was now looking directly at him and him alone.

“NOW, Chetachi!” Che looked over to see Avis, who was struggling to remain on her feet. “You must stop him now!”

Yokan shot his hand toward her, lifting her into the air before launching her away several feet. She slumped to the ground, already unconscious, and Che felt a surge of anger as Yokan turned his attention back to him, slowly advancing with each step.

“I think we’ve both had long enough here,” Yokan came to a stop just as he reached the edge of the ring, folding his arms in front of him. “You’ve had enough time to figure things out. To remember everything.”

Che shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t care.”

Yokan heaved a deep sigh before shaking his head. “I can’t wait for you any longer, Chetachi. I’m sorry.”

Che’s brow furrowed in confusion, wondering what he even meant by it. He then shook his head, dispelling the distraction.

There was no point in trying to make sense of anything this man said. Che instead took a deep breath, bracing himself as Yokan levitated into the air, his expression once again becoming menacing as he called out to Che.

“You will either remember, or you will die!