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Chapter 2: The First Years’ Final Battle 
March 8th. 
Within Class C, Chabashira would soon be announcing the final special exam of the year. 
There were thirty-nine desks in the classroom. 
There had been forty just a few days ago, but that had been taken for granted and now, one of them was gone. 
This was because Yamauchi Haruki had been expelled. 
It wasn’t just Class C who had faced this. Manabe from Class D and Yahiko from Class A had been as well. 
There was no doubt that these expulsions had left a mark on the entire first-year student body. 
Any hopes that there might have been a way out had been completely shattered. 
Before they could get past the shock and sorrow of everything that had happened, time continued to march forward. 
At the sound of the bell, homeroom had begun for the day and Chabashira walked into the room. 
The classroom was completely void of idle chatter. 
“-Without any further ado, I will now announce the final special exam.” 
Chabashira began explaining the details of the first year’s final special exam. 
Just as I had predicted, nobody was willing to say anything about Yamauchi. 
Ike and Sud?, his closest friends, were probably trying their best to come to terms with reality. 
“We will be finishing off the year with one final special exam where you’ll be asked to show off a culmination of everything that you’ve learned up until now, including knowledge, physical ability, cooperation, and maybe even a little bit of luck. In short, all of you will need to demonstrate the full extent of your potential.” 
Normally, Chabashira would’ve been flooded with a tidal wave of questions and complaints from Ike’s general direction. 
However, Ike was just listening to her quietly. 
Most likely, he was wary of the fact that he may very well be next in line for expulsion. 
“The special exam is called the ‘Event Selection Exam’, an exam where each class will compete in terms of their comprehensive ability. The class you’ll be competing against will be decided in accordance with the rules, similar to how it was during the Paper Shuffle exam.” 
The Event Selection Exam. I couldn’t help but wonder what this final special of the school year would be about. 
“To start things off, I’ll use these cards to make the explanation easier for all of you to understand. There are ten white cards and a certain number of yellow ones, modeled after the number of students in the class.” 
As she spoke, Chabashira attached each of the blank cards onto the blackboard and lined them up. 
Each card was roughly the same size as a playing card. While the ten white cards had nothing written on them, each of the yellow cards seemed to have a student’s name written on them. 
Altogether, forty-eight cards had been attached to the blackboard. 
There was one less yellow card than there were students in our class. This seemed like it was probably going to be significant. 
“To start things out, I’ll explain the purpose of these ten white cards. The lot of you’ll have to talk things out with one another and decide on ten events that you’d like to do, which you will write down on these cards.” 
As soon as she said this, Ike let show a somewhat difficult expression. 
Having noticed how he was struggling to avoid interrupting her explanation, Chabashira spoke up again, her words laced with amusement. 
“If there’s something on your mind, why don’t you speak up?” 
“N-no, it’s just… don’t you get angry at us when we interrupt you while you’re still talking?” 
Ike was obviously feeling distraught over this. 
“Either way, I just can’t get ahold of myself unless you get this nonsense off your chest.” 
In the past, Chabashira would pretty much only take questions at the end, but this time, it seemed like she was fine with hearing him out halfway through. 
Many of our classmates turned their attention toward him. 
Although he was puzzled with her change in attitude, Ike proceeded to voice his doubts. 
“Then, uhm… uhh… What did you mean by events, exactly?” 
“Writing, Shogi, Playing Cards, Baseball… You’re free to write down any events you think you can win at. It’s also up to you to come up with the rules for how each event will play out.” 
“Eh? We’re allowed to choose whatever we want?” 
Despite the fact that she had said it was up to us to decide, it didn’t seem to be clicking with Ike and the others. 
“While you’re allowed to choose what you want to choose, there are still some restrictions. For instance, if you were to choose an obscure contest or game that not many people are familiar with, nobody but the proposers would have any chance of winning. In addition, the rules of the event must also be fair and easy to understand. Therefore, after you’ve submitted your events, the school will judge whether or not they’re appropriate, and act as the final say in the matter.” 
Certainly, most people would have no chances of winning if peculiar rules were implemented, or if they had chosen excessively obscure sports or games that would only favor a small set of dedicated enthusiasts. 
That said, I still wondered if there was more to the restrictions on the rules than this. 
“Additionally, the rules must have regulations to prevent neutral outcomes. In the game of Go, for example, if both sides have the same score from territory and enemy captures, the game ends in a draw. In which case, the white side, as a concession for being the player who went second, would be given an additional half-point and win the game. In Shogi, as another example, it may seem impossible for the game to end in a draw at first, but it does happen on rare occasions, like when both kings are positioned in their respective promotion zones. If this happens, the game is in a deadlock and the winner is the player with more pieces in play. You will be required to come up with detailed rules like these ahead of time. If you submit an event without including tiebreakers to prevent the potential neutral outcomes, then it will be rejected.” 
Events that ensure somebody comes out on top, while also not being overly obscure. 
Even though there were countless options to choose from, it seemed that, to some extent, it was restricted to stay within the scope of a student. 
“Well, let’s try illustrating it using an easy-to-understand example. Ike. What are you good at? Anything’s fine, so just say it.” 
“Uh… What am I good at…?” 
Ike began to think, seemingly unable to come up with something on the spot. 
“I-I guess I’m pretty good at stuff like rock-paper-scissors?” 
After hearing such a ridiculous answer, the rest of the class was unable to hold back their laughter. 
Nevertheless, Chabashira took it seriously and wrote ‘rock-paper-scissors’ on one of the white cards. 
“Okay, so let’s suppose you chose rock-paper-scissors as one of the events.” 
Not having expected that she would take his answer seriously, Ike and the rest of the class were left with dumbfounded expressions. 
“So then, what are the rules?” 
“Uhm… Best three out of five?” 
Chabashira wrote Ike’s rule on the bottom of the card. 
“The event is well-known, and the rules are clear and simple. There would be no reason for the school to reject it.” 
“S-she had no problem with it…” 
Although it was an event that came about from a sloppy answer, the school didn’t seem to have any problem with it. 
“Now, just repeat this nine more times and you’ll be done.” 
Chabashira picked up a piece of chalk and began writing on the blackboard. 
“This is the schedule for the exam, which is also something important for you to keep in mind. It will be roughly divided into three phases.” 
Special Exam 
March 8th ? The special exam is announced, and the class matchups are finalized. 
March 15th ? Event selection is finalized, and the opposing class’s ten events are revealed along with their rules. 
March 22nd ? The Event Selection Exam begins. 
“B-But sensei, wouldn’t it take way too long for us to compete over twenty events?” 
“On the day of the exam, each class will narrow down their ten events to their top five choices and submit those. In other words, there will be ten events, not twenty.” 
At this point, Horikita spoke up. 
“So basically, five of the ten events are just bluffs… meant as false information for us to mislead our opponents?” 
“I suppose the events can play that role too. Of the chosen ten events, seven of them will be randomly selected by an automated system prepared by the school. That’s how it will work.” 
Without denying anything, Chabashira confirmed Horikita’s assertion. 
Compared to previous special exams, it seemed as though this one will span over a longer period of time. 
I could assume that they had chosen to hold seven events because they wanted to ensure that there was a tiebreaker. 
Since there wouldn’t be any draws, it led me to wonder if the winner would be decided by the first class to get four wins out of the seven events. 
“Even if the outcome is decided before all the events happen, the exam will continue until the final event ends. This is because the outcome of each event will influence the change in class points. In other words, even if the winners and losers have been determined, the competition will continue until the very end. The deadline for getting your ten events finalized will be Sunday the 14th at the end of the day. Your events will need to be checked over by the school, so it would be safer for all of you to have each event checked as soon as you decide on it.” 
“What happens if we don’t manage to come up with ten events by the 14th?” 
“If that happens, the school will fill in the gaps with pre-arranged events. That said, you shouldn’t assume these ones will be favorable toward you. The events would probably end up doing more harm than good.” 
It looked like we definitely needed to come up with all of our events, no matter what. 
“Another important thing to note is that you’re not allowed to submit the same event twice. Suppose you’ve submitted a soccer event that determines the outcome by best two out of three. If you try to submit another soccer event with different rules where the outcome is decided by a penalty kick, it will be rejected. I advise you to keep this in mind.” 
“Is it possible for us to retract an event after we’ve submitted it?” 
“That won’t be allowed.” 
“Then… are there any restrictions on who, or how many times somebody can participate in the events on the day of the exam?” 
“Certain portions of the rules you’ll have to follow will probably be difficult to understand with just a verbal explanation, so the school prepared this handout containing the specific details. Feel free to make copies of it afterward. It should have the answers you’re looking for, Horikita.” 
It would’ve been nice if the school had prepared a copy for each of us, but it was possible that they hadn’t done so intentionally. 
With a single copy, the entire class would have to gather together to look at it all at the same time. 
In that way, it would likely end up sparking conversation amongst everyone. 
“I already wrote this on the blackboard, but the ten events you end up choosing will be relayed to the opposing class on the 15th. After all, it’s hard to hold a fair competition if your opponents don’t know what kind of events and rules you chose.” 
In other words, we had roughly one week to study, practice, formulate plans, and do any other preparation we might need. 
It’s also quite likely that there will be a battle of trying to figure out the other class’s preferred events on the day of the exam. 
“Also, after the exam on the 22nd finishes, you’ll have the 23rd off. After the graduation ceremony on the 24th and the closing ceremony on the 25th, you’ll be free to enjoy your spring break to your heart’s content.” 
I figured that our motivation moving forward would be highly dependent on whether or not we ended up losing or winning. 
At any rate, I was able to grasp the general idea of the Event Selection Exam. 
Based on Chabashira’s expression, there still seemed to be something important she hadn’t mentioned yet. 
“There’s still another important part to this besides choosing the events. In order to properly manage such a large number of people, you’ll need to select somebody to play the role of commander. Bear in mind that this commander won’t be able to directly participate in the events.” 
This seemed to be the reason why there were only thirty-eight yellow cards. 
“It’s an important role for somebody that needs to be able to adapt on the fly. You can think of it as a supporting role that participates in every event, acting as a lifeline. For example, they can substitute for a missing player or solve difficult problems that arise. This isn’t just limited to sports either. The commander would be given the means to intervene with games like Shogi or Go as well.” 
It wasn’t just about the foundational ability of the students. The contributions made by the commander were also important. 
“How exactly the commander is involved in everything will also be up to you. Using rock-paper-scissors as an example… you can come up with rules like: ‘The commander can join in one time at their own discretion’ or ‘The commander can swap out the student participating in the match’. It’s up to you.” 
This meant that interventions from the commanders would generally be allowed as long as they’re fair. 
In something like baseball or soccer, giving the commander the ability to switch out the players would be like assigning them the role of head coach for the team. 
Through all seven events, the involvement of the commander was probably going to be a major part of the entire exam. 
“Commanders will be granted private points when the class emerges victorious, but at the same time, they’ll have to bear the consequences when the class faces defeat. Indeed, when a class loses, the commander will be held liable and be expelled from the school.” 
It seemed like the loser would be forcibly expelled this time too. 
“In this special exam, having a commander will be crucial. Moving forward without one won’t be permitted. If you talk it through with each other and still can’t decide on one, come and speak with me about it and I’ll pick someone appropriate for the role.” 
Once again, we had to nominate one person to take the heat. 
The protection point I had got my hands on during the provisional special exam seemed like it would be a big hassle now. 
I was well aware that many of my classmates were already looking at or thinking of me. 
A protection point was the only feasible way for us to override an expulsion. 
By appointing me, the holder of the only protection point, as commander of the class, we’d be able to avoid any expulsions even if we ended up losing the exam. 
That said… 
Were they really fine with having me be the commander so that everyone can avoid the risk of expulsion? 
Or, would they ask an excellent student like Horikita to be the commander in order to maximize our chances of winning? Our classmates would probably be fine with either. 
If somebody other than me were to volunteer to take the position, most of them probably wouldn’t object to it. 
At the same time, if nobody wants to do it themselves, everyone’s expectations would probably be put on me. 
Horikita spoke up again. 
“How will our opponent be decided?” 
“After each class selects their commanders, they will be expected to meet up in the multipurpose room after school today. There will probably be a raffle where the commander of one class is given the option to choose who their opponents will be. You should decide ahead of time on who you’ll choose if you win the raffle.” 
From what she said, the raffle winner would get to choose the class they wanted, and the remaining two classes would be matched up automatically. 
“Then, we should choose Class D, right? Our chances of winning against them would be much higher!” 
“It’s true that, given that they’ve got relatively worse coordination, you would probably be more successful if you chose to go against a class that has resigned itself to a position like Class D. However, going against those of a lower rank is not necessarily the most advantageous choice to make.” 
Chabashira was implying that, if that were the case, odds are all three classes would inevitably try to choose Class D. Class D would certainly be the easiest to deal with now that Ryuuen was no longer in charge. 
“In this exam, what matters is knowing which class is best suited to be your opponent. It’s incredibly important that you leverage the strengths and weaknesses of each of the other classes.” 
Going up against Class A or Class B wouldn’t necessarily mean that it’s hopeless for us. 
We would have decent enough chances of winning as long as we choose events that favor us. 
That said, the higher ranked the class, the more formidable an opponent they would be. It’s unavoidable. 
Despite Chabashira’s advice, not a single one of us was smiling. 
Even Horikita was lost in thought over the possibilities, wondering if we could beat Class A or Class B in our current state. 
“Seems like my words weren’t very comforting. In that case, let’s try facing reality. If it so happens that you lose and Class D wins… you’ll probably go back to being at the bottom once again.” 
Chabashira picked up the chalk again and began to write down the current class point distribution on the blackboard. 
Class Points as of March 1st: 
Class A – 1001 points 
Class B – 640 points 
Class C – 377 points 
Class D – 318 points 
Class C and Class D were neck and neck. We have managed to rise up to Class C over the course of the past year, but at the last moment, we would end up dropping back down to Class D if we lose. 
Essentially, for our class, the goal was to hold onto our position through whatever means necessary. 
“As for how the exam will affect class points… Each event will increase or decrease your class points by 30 points. As examples, you’ll get 210 class points if you win all seven matches. If you win five and lose two, you’ll get 90. These points will come directly from the opposing class. Furthermore, the class that comes out on top will be granted 100 points from the school as a reward.” 
In other words, we could earn a maximum of 310 class points. 

Being able to snatch class points away from our opponent by winning events was another big thing to keep in mind. So far we hadn’t been given an opportunity to make a dent in the class points of the higher ranking classes even if we wanted to, but now it was possible to close the gap all in one go. Depending on the matchups and the results, we may very well rise up to Class B or drop down to Class D. 
“If your opponent doesn’t have enough class points, the school will temporarily make up the difference and provide them the missing points. In other words, classes with negative class points will appear to have 0 on the surface, but they’ll still be responsible for reimbursing the school for the deficit later on.” 
From what it sounded like, this meant that class points could invisibly drop below 0. 
Either way, every class had more than 210 points, so that didn’t seem like it was something we had to worry about this time at least. 

Part 1 
After Chabashira left, there was still a bit of time before classes started. 
Our classmates crowded around the handout of the event rules that had been left on the podium. 
“If you’d excuse me.” 
Horikita squeezed her way through the crowd and took pictures of it with her cell phone. 
She had probably taken the initiative to do so in order to take her time to read through it once she got back to her own seat. 
I simply stayed in my seat and watched as it happened. 
“I’d be willing to show you too. Though, you might not be interested.” 
“I appreciate it.” 
Immediately after, she texted me the two pictures. 
Event Selection Exam – Rules for Selecting Events 
There are restrictions on events and rules that are overly obscure or complex. Exceedingly niche event genres may not be allowed. Should an event include written exam questions or anything else of that nature, the school will provide the problems in order to maintain fairness. Additionally, attempting to deviate from or modify the fundamental rules of an event is prohibited. 
Usable Facilities:
– On the day of the special exam, the designated commanders will operate from the multipurpose room. Additionally, school facilities such as the gymnasium, sports grounds, music room, and science lab are generally permitted for use, but there are some exceptions. 
Event and Time Restrictions:
– For each class, events deemed to be duplicates of pre-existing events will not be accepted. Additionally, it is possible for events that have no stated time limit or that take too long to complete to be dismissed. 
Number of Participants:
– The number of participants required for each of the ten proposed events must be different, excluding those acting as substitutes.
– The minimum number of participants is one and the maximum number is twenty, including those acting as substitutes.
– A class may not submit more than two events that require more than ten participants from a single class, including those acting as substitutes. 
Conditions for Participation:
– Each student may participate in one event and no more than that. However, if every student from a particular class has participated in an event, students from that class will be allowed to participate more than once. 
The Role of the Commander:
– Commanders hold the right to be involved in all seven events. How exactly they’ll be involved will be determined by the class that proposed the event. These methods of participation must be approved by the school prior to being accepted. 
It was roughly divided into five categories. 
For any given event, there could be anywhere from one to twenty participants. There aren’t very many events that would require twenty people but, depending on how it’s handled, it would be more than possible to come up with some. If we manage to come up with two events that collectively use close to forty people, we’d be able to let some students participate two or even three times depending on the circumstances. No matter how much we want to keep the numbers low and only choose a select few to participate, it would immediately become difficult to do so since we have to ensure that the number of participants in each event is different. 
“Jeez, the school’s gone and made quite the special exam for us, haven’t they?” 
“Yeah. But, I guess that might be what they’re going for, testing our overall growth this past year and all.” 
While many students would be participating, a class would still never be able to win if they didn’t work together. That was the kind of exam the school had created for us. 
It’s similar to how it was back during the sports festival, except this time physical ability wasn’t the only thing that would give an advantage. Depending on how one looked at it, it was entirely possible that it could turn into a battle purely focused on dexterity, academics, or mental capability. 
Most likely, the key to this exam was not only understanding our own strengths and weaknesses, but figuring out those of the other classes as well. Furthermore, I have to agree with the amount of time they’ve allotted to us for event selections. We would have to go through a considerable number of group discussions and choose carefully if we wanted to get the most out of it. 
Moreover, there are also students in our class who might neglect to participate. If we can’t get everyone to participate in an event at least once, nobody would be able to go a second time, which we’d have to make additional adjustments for. 
Having more or less understood the rules, Horikita let show a slight face of discontent. 
“Seems you have some complaints about the special exam.” 
“Yes, many. The biggest one being the fact that the class with more of their own events chosen on exam day pretty much holds the key to victory. We’ll be put at a major disadvantage if the events happen to favor our opponents.” 
The only events we could have absolute confidence in are the ones we prepared ourselves. 
So, it was only natural that we’d prefer to compete with our own events instead of those of our opponents. 
“It’d be much fairer if the school were to just select ten events, present them to each class, and then randomly pick seven of them on the day of the exam.” 
Indeed, if one were to evaluate it on the basis of fairness, Horikita’s objection would certainly be correct. However… 
“If they did it that way, the lower-ranked classes would most likely have even lower chances of winning though. We should probably interpret this way of handling it as the school being merciful and allowing the lower classes to also have a chance of coming out on top if they’re lucky enough.” 
Generally speaking, the higher a class’s rank, the more excellent its students. 
“That… That’s certainly another way to look at it, but… this exam still doesn’t sit well with me.” 
Speaking of which… 
Despite it being such a critical time for the class to come together and wrap our heads around the exam, Hirata simply sat motionless at his desk, his eyes downcast as he quietly waited for time to pass by. 
“He was the center of the class until just the other day.” 
“Are you saying that it’s my fault?” 
“Well, who knows.” 
It was Hirata’s own problem, but I didn’t think that anyone, himself included, knew exactly what that problem was. 
“Guys, there’s one thing I’d like cleared up about before we start talking.” 
While Hirata remained completely motionless, Sud? spoke up instead, set on starting up an internal class discussion. 
After a brief glance in my direction, he looked over the entire class. 
“Many of us aren’t happy with what happened last weekend. Ain’t that right Kanji?” 
“…Well, I dunno if I’m unhappy with it. I really just don’t get what happened is all. Everyone’s been wondering how Ayanok?ji ended up with the most praise votes. Like, how’d he even get 42 of ‘em?” 
Many eyes were beginning to turn toward me, with those from the Ayanok?ji Group being no exception. 
“He must’ve gotten tons of praise votes from the other classes, right?” 
There hadn’t been any time for explanations or excuses last weekend. 
I had already anticipated that somebody would bring this matter up a long time ago. 
The only issue was, there was no way for me to easily speak up about it in this situation. 
As someone from the lower caste of the class, I wasn’t in any position where I could openly explain what had taken place. 
“About that, I’ll explain what happened.” 
Horikita took the initiative and spoke up in my place. 
“Hold up. We want to hear it from Ayanok?ji. We lost a buddy… You know that right?” 
“That might not be possible.” 
With that, Horikita stood up and began to cover for me. 
“Not possible? How so?” 
“Because it’s quite likely that Ayanok?ji-kun himself doesn’t quite understand what happened.” 
“…Ayanok?ji doesn’t understand?” 
“Correct. To put it simply, it was all part of Sakayanagi-san’s plan. I’ve personally taken the time to try and figure out why she did such a thing. I’ll explain that as well.” 
In order to provide a step-by-step explanation, Horikita began to answer in a way that was easy to understand. 
“First off, she targeted Yamauchi-kun, telling him to feel reassured since she’d provide him with praise votes. In fact, there’s no doubt about this since Yamauchi ultimately ended up admitting to it himself. But, behind the scenes, she had probably chosen to give those praise votes to a different student.” 
“That… I guess that’s true. But, why did she choose to give them to Ayanok?ji?” 
“Good question. Why do you think that is, Sud?-kun?” 
“Uhm… Maybe it’s somethin’ like Ayanok?ji’s actually super incredible? So she decided he was worthy of praise votes… or somethin’ like that?” 
“Have you seen anything unusually exceptional about him? To me, he just seems like a student who’s quick on his feet.” 
“That… Well, I guess that’s true.” 
“His grades on written exams haven’t been that great, and aside from that one time he ran fast, he hasn’t been very noteworthy in sports either. Instead, since his other qualities aren’t on the same level as his running speed, it’s possible that he’s not even athletically capable in the first place. What’s more, he most certainly doesn’t come across as charismatic either.” 
From the perspective of those in our surroundings, her words almost described me to a fault. There simply wasn’t any room for disagreement. 
“That is to say, your idea is improbable.” 
Horikita spoke without even the slightest hesitation. 
“So you’re saying he was chosen by mere coincidence? Man, I just don’t see it.” 
“Try using your head a little. For argument’s sake, let’s suppose Ayanok?ji-kun is actually an incredibly talented person. Would an enemy like Sakayanagi really be willing to deliberately give a protection point to somebody like that? It’d be undeniably stupid for them to cast praise votes on a seemingly formidable opponent. If there had to be an exception, it’d be to cast them for someone predestined to end up with the most votes in their class from the very beginning like Ichinose-san, wouldn’t it?” 
In reality, Ichinose had ended up with a total of 98 praise votes. This came from the idea that it’d be better to stack all the praise votes on one single person, instead of casting them for somebody at random. 
“I’d totally never wanna give a protection point to someone like that.” 
“True! That’s true.” 
Kei and Sakura both spoke out in agreement with Horikita’s deduction, followed by many of the other boys in the class. 
“I don’t know the reason why Sakayanagi-san targeted Yamauchi-kun, but everything that happened makes sense if we assume that she wanted to have Yamauchi-kun expelled from the school. It probably went down exactly as she planned for it to, setting it all up so that Yamauchi-kun and Ayanok?ji-kun would butt heads. In which case, she could seal Yamauchi-kun’s fate by focusing a large number of praise votes on Ayanok?ji-kun instead.” 
“So you’re saying… Haruki’s expulsion was the entire purpose of Sakayanagi’s strategy?” 
“Exactly. And it follows that Ayanok?ji-kun being chosen… no, being used was just a mere coincidence. He doesn’t stand out, nor does he pose a threat to her class. From what I can gather, that must have been how it all played out.” 
Generally speaking, Horikita’s explanation was very advantageous to me. I couldn’t think of a single way it could be used to implicate me any further. 
“It’s pretty much the only reason I can think of for why she targeted Yamauchi-kun and protected Ayanok?ji-kun.” 
After hearing everything she’s said, even Sud? and Ike would have no choice but to agree with her. 
And yet, it still seemed like Sud? just couldn’t come to terms with it. 
“Are you upset that I stood up for him?” 
Horikita asked, having seen Sud?’s conflicted expression. 
Sud? simply looked away from her without giving her a response. 
“I stood up for Ayanok?ji-kun because I’m well aware that the one most responsible for Yamauchi-kun’s expulsion is me, not him.” 
The one who had exposed Yamauchi’s schemes to the rest of the class and had driven him into a corner was none other than Horikita herself. 
“If you’re looking for someone to blame, it would be ridiculous for you to pin it on anyone other than me.” 
It would be impossible for Sud? to blame Horikita for what had happened. 
Deep down, he understood the reality of the situation: that unnecessary students would inevitably be discarded and cast away. 
It’s just, no matter how profitable it was to think this way, it wasn’t just something everyone could take at face value. 
At the end of the day, the frustration was really because I had ended up with a protection point. 
Because I was the only person who could safely watch over the exam from the sidelines. 
“This special exam… How about I volunteer to be the commander?” 
Having sensed an opportunity, I cut in. 
While I still hadn’t heard anything from Sakayanagi, I was nearly 100% certain she’d be the commander for Class A. 
In which case, we probably wouldn’t be able to faceoff against each other unless I held the position as well. 
“I know that the class is wary of me because of what happened during The Class Vote Exam, so I want to clear up those suspicions by becoming the scapegoat this time around.” 
Sud? looked at me, a bit surprised. 
“Sweet! This way, nobody’ll have to be expelled and Ayanok?ji’ll be able to clear his name as well!” 
Thrilled at the idea that we’d get through the exam without any expulsions, Ike spoke up in support of my nomination. 
“No, hold on a sec. I’m glad Ayanok?ji-kun’s okay with taking on the position, but I’m not exactly okay with having him be the commander.” 
The unexpected student who cut in this time was none other than Shinohara. 
“Sure, by having Ayanok?ji-kun do it, we won’t have to say goodbye to anyone else if we lose because of his protection point. But, doesn’t that kinda feel like we’d be giving up on winning from the get-go? It’d be like we’re setting ourselves up just to get stomped on! Horikita-san said it herself, Ayanok?ji-kun is just average.” 
In other words, she simply couldn’t see our class coming out on top with me leading the way. 
“If it turns out that we’re matched up with Class A or Class B, wouldn’t he have to face off against Sakayanagi-san or Ichinose-san? The commander seems like it’s real important, and I don’t think we’ll stand a chance if it’s Ayanok?ji-kun. You guys know we’ll probably drop back down to Class D if we lose, right?” 
Some of the students would undoubtedly agree with Shinohara’s opinion. 
“Like, wouldn’t it at least be better to see if anyone else’s interested?” 
Despite her words, the position came with a heavy risk attached to it. Nobody here would be foolish enough to readily raise their hand. 
In the past, we might’ve been able to rely on Hirata, but this time, it didn’t seem like that was going to happen. 
Even now, he sat alone with his head down, not even attempting to act like he was taking part in the discussion. 
Under these circumstances, if there was anybody else fearless enough to nominate themself for the role… 
Everyone gradually turned and looked toward Horikita. 
However, considering the situation, I didn’t think- 
“I apologize, but I don’t want to take on the risk either. If Ayanok?ji-kun’s volunteering himself, then I’d like to enjoy the same benefits as the rest of the class. Shinohara-san’s right. There’s no honest guarantee we can beat Class A or Class B if we go up against one of them at our current level.” 
“But… You were totally just covering for Ayanok?ji-kun, like, just a few seconds ago. And now you wanna have him be commander?” 
Kei, having been listening from the sidelines for a while now, quickly called Horikita out on her inconsistency. 
“I thought he might choose to volunteer for the position on his own if I spared him the effort of proving he had nothing to do with Yamauchi-kun’s expulsion. That’s all.” 
With this, Horikita had cleverly blocked off any of my potential escape routes. 
It seemed like she had been aiming to pass the responsibilities of the commander off to me, just like I had expected of her. 
In her eyes, I was much more capable than most other students. 
She had probably already decided that, instead of entrusting the position to some half-baked student, it would be safer to leave it to me. Because even in the worst case, I still had a protection point, so it wouldn’t matter at all. 
“I’d like to ask, is there anyone else who’s willing to be the commander?” 
At this point, the only people who could object would be those willing to put themselves on the line as well. 
Regardless, there didn’t appear to be anyone else willing to take on the risk. 
“Even if Ayanok?ji-kun is the commander on paper, we can just make careful preparations for everything ahead of time. As long as he acts as instructed on the day of the exam, it shouldn’t make too much of a difference who the commander is.” 
Voices of agreement came from various students who weren’t willing to think about it too deeply. 
“At any rate, class is starting soon. The school hasn’t set aside any additional time for us to iron out the details, so it seems to me like we should arrange a time for everyone to meet up together.” 
From what it seemed, Horikita would be the one to look after the class now that Hirata wasn’t taking the initiative to do so. 


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