ToKyotchi Chapter 61

The Spirit Fist

Che could feel his teammates’ energy flowing through him as he prepared to strike. Every muscle in his body tightened as his eyes honed in on Yokan, whose expression seemed to shift back and forth between arrogance and annoyance.

Che took one last moment to absorb everything he’d learned since he confronted Yokan. All this time, he’d thought there’d been some master plan, some carefully crafted scheme surrounding his arrival at Legaros Academy.

Instead, it had simply been a game, one with rules Yokan had long forgotten if he’d ever learned them in the first place. As much as Che detested Avis now, he at least understood why she’d gathered them all here, why she’d gone to such lengths in her preparation. Yokan was a threat unlike any they’d likely faced before, and Avis wanted to make sure they were ready for him.

Despite what felt like a neverending parade of twists and betrayals, Che still felt a surge of determination coursing through him as he thought about all the training and guidance he’d received from the faculty and even the other students.

Standing face to face with Yokan, Che was beginning to understand he would have to dig deep within himself if he wanted to defeat him. Brute force wouldn’t be enough; he needed to tap into something more.

Yokan’s menacing stare still threatened to pierce the protective barrier Lorenzo was still holding in place. Che knew he needed to act fast before Lorenzo’s energy depleted completely.

“Well, Dale, it…looks like we should have fled while we had the chance,” Fritz’s voice broke through the tense silence as the speakers crackled back to life.

“Yup, I don’t know why we stuck around, Fritz,” Dale replied, his voice laced with fear. “That guy’s clearly off.”

The two commentators were still hidden away in their booth, but the cameras were now fixed on Yokan and Che as they prepared to fight. Che was certain the entire Tomore region, if not the world, was now watching. It was the imposter versus the maniac.

Che took one final deep breath as he centered himself and focused his energy. “Lorenzo, you can let your Star Wall down.”

Lorenzo regarded Che for a moment before nodding in understanding. The pink wall of light evaporated, and Yokan’s grin threatened to stretch around his entire head.

“Ace Punch!” Che launched himself forward, his fist crackling with energy as he aimed for Yokan’s chest, but his opponent’s gleeful smile only threatened to grow further.

Yokan tried to use his Telekinesis to stop Che in his tracks, but it was useless. Che’s technique, though not as effective on a Mental type, still wouldn’t miss, and that was all he needed at the moment.

Che’s fist collided with Yokan, the energy exploding outwards and causing a shockwave that knocked both fighters back. The force of Che’s attack sent Yokan plummeting to the ground, and for a moment, all was still.

Of course, Yokan didn’t stay down for long. The powerful Mental type had already recovered and was back on his feet, ready to continue the fight, which was exactly what Che was expecting.

“Ace Punch!” Che launched himself forward once again, but this time Yokan was prepared. Che managed to strike Yokan again, this time square in the jaw, but Yokan seemed to recover even faster this time, shooting his hand forward as he prepared to use his Telekinesis technique.

“Star Wall!” the pink wall of light sprouted from the floor of the ring just in time to absorb the force of Yokan’s attack. He huffed in frustration, his expression growing more sinister by the second.

“I hope you have something else up your sleeve, Chetachi,” Lorenzo muttered under his breath.

Che simply smirked in response. He didn’t, really, but he was determined to defeat Yokan no matter what it took. He’d just have to figure it out as the battle went on. He glanced over at the rest of his teammates, who were all watching with bated breath.

Yokan lowered his hand, sighing in annoyance. “Enough games, Chetachi. You can’t win. I’m unbeatable.”

Che knew it was just a taunt, but it still struck a nerve. He clenched his fists, feeling the energy coursing through him as he prepared to strike again.

Yokan responded by rolling his eyes, clearly growing bored of the fight. “Convalesce!”

Che’s blood ran cold at the sound of Yokan’s new technique. He’d seen it listed under Yokan’s stats during their first encounter, and Che had learned how it worked during his studies, though he’d completely forgotten about it until now.

Yokan’s body was covered in a blinding white light as he floated high above them, the light restoring all of the stamina and health he’d lost from the earlier barrage of attacks.

“What? I didn’t know he could do that!” Nikki exclaimed in surprise.

“How in the world did he get this powerful?” Lorenzo added, his voice tinged with awe.

Che hung his head in disappointment. Of course someone like Yokan would make it so that he could easily bulldoze over everyone else around him. He was no different than the bullies Che had dealt with growing up, just on a much larger scale.

Still, Che had to find a way to defeat his opponent despite the ever-evolving list of disadvantages stacked against him. If only he had more time to come up with a plan!

He thought about his mother and how she had always told him to find a way to remain calm and centered amid chaos. As long as he could slow down his thoughts, steady his breathing, and focus on his goals, he could find a solution.

Che decided to heed her advice, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes, blocking out the chaos around him and focusing solely on Yokan’s energy. As everything went dark, Che’d body felt as if it was soaring upward, his mind completely clear and unburdened.

Even though he couldn’t see what was happening around him, it felt as if time had slowed down until everything was frozen in place. Che could have remained like this for hours, resting his body in the peace and tranquility of his meditation, but he knew that Yokan was still preparing for his next attack.

“You know…you should probably move soon.”

Che’s eyes snapped open, gasping as he found himself no longer in the ring but high above the clouds, surrounded by a fuchsia-colored sky that melted into the orange, setting sun. His eyes darted around, searching for the origin of the voice he’d just heard.

“Oh! It looks like you can hear me! Wasn’t expecting that,” the voice chuckled.

“Who are you?” Che asked, still trying to make sense of his surroundings. He was certain he’d start plummeting back to the ground any moment before managing to take one cautious step forward, the ball of his foot bringing his weight down on a surface that wasn’t there. What was this place, and how had he found his way here?

“Oh, that’s right. You can’t see me yet,” the voice replied with a hint of amusement. “I think I’ve seen someone else do this before. Hold on a second.”

Che felt someone grab his hand and yelped in surprise, but the grip was gentle and reassuring. A few feet away from him, the clouds began to swirl together, bubbling and crackling before erupting into indigo-colored flames.

The flames roared, shattering the silence Che wasn’t aware he’d been standing in, before settling into the form of a teenage boy. As he came into view, Che could make out dark skin, light brown eyes, and short, black curly hair. He stood confidently, with a bright smile that only made Che more uneasy.

“Nice to meet you, Chetachi,” the boy nodded with a charming wink. “I didn’t know how to reach you, but it looks like it was easier than I thought.”

As Che continued to gaze upon the strange person before him, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of deja vu, though he couldn’t quite figure out what was causing it. He certainly couldn’t recall floating hundreds of feet in the sky before, and this was the first time he’d seen a person emerge from a fiery cloud in front of him.

Instead, he focused on the boy’s physical features, the way he stood so confidently and yet maintained a certain aura of mystery, as if he knew something everyone else didn’t. He also could have easily been mistaken for Che’s brother if the two were standing side by side.

And that was when Che knew for certain that he was Rowan.

“You’re…” Che began, his voice trailing off as he took another step toward the stranger.

“Rowan. Yes, that’s right,” Rowan nodded eagerly. “And you’re the infamous Chetachi! You’ve been causing a lot of trouble lately. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Che’s heart raced in his chest as he took in Rowan’s words. He wanted to look away, to run back to the ring and join his teammates in their battle against Yokan, anything except face the person he’d been impersonating all this time.

“I…I know I haven’t been very honest,” Che admitted, his voice barely above a whisper. “I’m very sorry.”

Rowan shook his head, his expression softening. “No need to apologize, man. I’ve been watching you this whole time, and I completely understand why you did what you did.”

Che should have felt relief wash over him, but he quickly recalled all the times he’d stumbled since he’d arrived in Eden. He wasn’t sure how he felt knowing someone had been watching him every step of the way.

“Besides,” Rowan shrugged. “I’m glad all my stuff didn’t go to waste, and I really lucked out! You and I are pretty much the same size in clothes and everything!”

“You’re the same size as a twenty-three-year-old man,” Che shook his head and chuckled sheepishly. “I bet you got a kick out of that.”

Rowan threw his head back and laughed heartily, the sound echoing through the pink-tinted sky. “Oh, you’re funny!”

Che wanted to laugh as well, to feel his spirits rise and float with the clouds, but he couldn’t shake off the sense of guilt that weighed heavily on him. Lorenzo had been working tirelessly since he’d arrived at Legaros Academy, desperately trying to uncover the truth behind his brother’s death while a stranger impersonated him. Che wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to forgive himself for that.

“You’re thinking about Lo,” Rowan’s voice pulled Che out of his thoughts.

Che nodded slowly, unable to hide the pain that flickered in his eyes. “Yes.”

“I get it, bud,” Rowan sighed and shook his head. “That’s the main reason I’m still here. Once I got my bearings a little better, I was going to try to send him a message somehow.”

Che’s heart sank, and he was certain it would collapse under the weight of his shame completely. There had to be something he could do.

“No, there’s nothing you can do to help,” Rowan responded as if reading Che’s mind. “It’s a spiritual plane…thing. I don’t know how to explain it. Being a ghost is annoying, by the way.”

“But I…” Che struggled to get the words out. “If I could just take you to see him…”

Rowan sighed, his smile softening. “It’s okay, Chetachi. I was really worried about Lo, but I think he’s grown up a little bit. He seems stronger, able to stand up for himself better, and I think he’s learned that from you.”

Che’s heart swelled with a mix of emotions – pride, sadness, and gratitude. Perhaps one day it would properly register that he’d been a positive influence in someone’s life. He nodded in response, but the knot of anxiety in his stomach didn’t loosen. “I have to get back to him, you know. He and the others are in danger.”

Rowan nodded, his smile faltering as his expression became serious. “I know. We don’t have a lot of time. I think the only reason I’m able to talk to you right now is because you’re meditating. I don’t know how to appear in physical form yet. I think it’s because I’ve always been bad with directions.”

Che couldn’t help but smile at Rowan’s self-deprecating humor, even amid such a serious situation.

“But seriously, I need you to do two things for me,” Rowan continued, his tone growing more urgent. “First, I need you to hold out your hand.”

Che did as he was told, extending his right hand toward Rowan, who responded by doing the same. The indigo flames appeared once more, coating Rowan’s entire arm. He didn’t blink or wince, instead looking directly into Che’s eyes.

Rowan then clenched his fist, and the flames evaporated instantly. Che opened his mouth to ask what had happened when he felt a surge of energy pulsing through his right hand. Silver flames erupted from his fist and traveled up his arm, encasing it like a protective armor.

“What…what is this?” Che asked in awe, flexing his fingers experimentally. They moved with ease despite the silver flames wrapping around them.

“I can’t exactly fight alongside you all now,” Rowan’s tone was somber, though his expression remained determined. “But I wanted to at least teach you one of my techniques. That guy you’re fighting is a Mental type, yeah? Well, guess what? Now you have an attack that’s effective against him: The Spirit Fist.”

Che couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Rowan had just given him a powerful attack that would give the team an advantage in their current battle. He held up his fist in gratitude, and Rowan nodded in return.

“Thank you, Rowan! I won’t let you down!” Che vowed, feeling a renewed determination to protect his friends and end this battle once and for all.

“Oh, I know you won’t!” Rowan exclaimed, grinning widely. “Now for the second thing…”

Che leaned in closer, his heart pounding with anticipation.

“I need you to remember that you’re not alone in this fight,” Rowan’s voice was serious once more. “You have your teammates, and most importantly, you have yourself.”

Che felt a sense of warmth spread through him at Rowan’s words. He had been feeling lost and uncertain for so long, but now he knew he could at least level the playing field.

“I won’t forget,” Che finally allowed a smile to spread across his face.

Rowan nodded in response before slowly fading away, his form once again returning to a pillar of swirling clouds. Before long, the entire sky began to twist and fold into itself, signaling Che’s time in this peculiar realm was coming to an end. Just as everything began to fade to white, he heard Rowan’s voice once more.

“Please protect my brother.”