Part 12 A few days before our confrontation with Class A, Keisei finally managed to get in touch with Katsuragi. Shortly afterward, Keisei contacted me and called me out to a discreet location. At this point, Katsuragi was basically isolated from the rest of his class and was often left all alone, so it was probably easy to get in touch with him. “…So, what can I do for you, Yukimura?” The man who harbors an unrelenting resentment for Sakayanagi stared at Keisei with a pointed look in his eyes. “Katsuragi, there’s something I’m hoping you can help us with.” “Given the current circumstances, I can already guess what you’re here to talk to me about.” From the looks of it, Katsuragi already had an idea of what Keisei was trying to propose. “Then that makes things simple for us. I was hoping you’d tell us which events Class A plans on choosing. Also, if possible, I’d like you to throw your matches for us.” Keisei added in another request that he hadn’t mentioned to Horikita and me. “And what would I get in return for doing that?” “We’ll welcome you into our class.” “That’s an amusing proposal. You want me to betray Class A and drop down to Class C?” Katsuragi sneered at Keisei’s suggestion. “We will rise up to Class A someday. We have the potential.” Keisei spoke up once again, emphasizing that he could transfer classes once we managed to reach Class A. But, to Katsuragi, Keisei’s words probably sounded like nothing more than delusional nonsense. “You’ll rise up to Class A someday? Doesn’t every other class say the same thing?” “That’s…” “If you really have the potential, can’t you just beat Class A without doing something underhanded like this? Isn’t the reason why you’re trying to use me because you can’t do that?” Keisei fell silent at Katsuragi’s irrefutable, scornful tone. “Well, whatever. Let’s say you guys really can rise up to Class A. Are you saying you can provide me with 20 million points right now in exchange for the information? No, because that’s impossible, isn’t it? If you had that much, you probably would’ve used it to prevent Yamauchi from being expelled.” Of course, Katsuragi was well aware that we didn’t have such a large amount of points. “That’s…” “Don’t tell me you want me to wait two years for you to prepare the points?” “…Well, yeah.” “This is beyond delusional. Even if you guys do become Class A, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to save up 20 million points by then. We could sign a contract, but it’d be useless if you don’t have enough points when the time arrives. No, is this even an offer everyone in Class C agreed on in the first place?” Katsuragi wasn’t an idiot. He probably had a solid understanding of Class C’s current situation. If this was an offer that everyone in Class C had agreed upon, the person who came to meet him would’ve probably been Horikita. Since Keisei and I were the ones reaching out to him, it must’ve been obvious that this was still confidential. “I can understand that you’re desperate, but you didn’t even come prepared to negotiate. Were you planning to tell the rest of your class after I agreed to cooperate? Did you really think I would accept something like that?” Betraying your fellow classmates wasn’t something that could be done easily. Even more so for a man with a strong sense of duty like Katsuragi. “…Are you, are you really fine with being silenced by Sakayanagi then?” “What?” “Do you really still want to cling to Class A even though they got Totsuka expelled?” Catching onto the fact that Katsuragi wasn’t going to be persuaded by his offer, Keisei pushed forward, fully resolved to go down swinging. “I wouldn’t have the confidence to make it to graduation like that. It’d be far too pitiful.” “So you’ve resorted to inciting my emotions now? I’ll give you zero points for a strategy like that, Yukimura.” “Dammit!” Seeing as I was present right alongside Yukimura, Katsuragi then directed his attention to me. “Do you have anything to say, Ayanok?ji?” “No, you’re completely right. There’s nothing left to say.” Upon seeing me raise the white flag of surrender, Katsuragi redirected his focus to Keisei once again. “Yukimura, I’m not trying to criticize you for anything, but if you want me to double-cross my class, it’s pointless if you’re not prepared.” With his back up against the wall, Katsuragi stared out into the distance.
Rather than looking at something, it was more like he wasn’t looking at anything at all. “That being said, you were right about one thing.” “…One thing?” Despite the fact that Keisei had already given up, his ears perked up at Katsuragi’s words.
“I do harbor an immense, unwavering hatred for Sakayanagi. For me, that’s more than enough of a reason to do something, even if you don’t have anything to give me in return.” With his arms crossed before him, Katsuragi once again fixed his gaze on Keisei. “As you might have already guessed, Sakayanagi hasn’t told anybody which events she plans on choosing.” As expected, Sakayanagi appeared to be keeping her plans to herself. “And I’m not happy about it either. In an exam like this, where the entire class needs to cooperate as a unit, that’s just not how she should be doing things. Typically, you’d expect her to share information with her peers and adopt a strategy that would secure our victory.” By not sharing which events you’d be choosing, the biggest advantage would be that your choices wouldn’t leak out to the opposing class. However, the quality of your training for the events would diminish at the same time. If you tried to prepare for all ten events, it’s only natural that your overall efficiency would drop. “If you’re fine with it, it’s not like I can’t tell you what I think she’ll end up picking.” “R-really!?” Just as Keisei was about to completely give up on persuading Katsuragi, he unexpectedly found himself catching a lucky break. Katsuragi’s resentment for Sakayanagi ran deep. “As long as you can promise me that everything I say stays between us…” “O-of course. I’ll even bring up the twenty million points with Horikita and the rest of my class for you later.” Keisei nodded along, apparently under the impression that he had managed to strike a deal with Katsuragi. “That won’t be necessary. Even if the information I give you turns out to be useful, it probably won’t be worth twenty million points.” “Then, what do you want in return?” “Nothing. I just ask that you defeat Sakayanagi.” With that, Katsuragi began to speak. “Of the ten events, the three I’m most certain she’ll end up choosing are Chess, the English Test, and the Mathematics Test. After those would probably be the Modern Literature Test and Flash Mental Arithmetic. Conversely, events that require a large number of participants like dodgeball and long rope jumping can be pretty much thought of as fakes. Our class doesn’t seem to have practiced for them, as far as I can tell.” We wouldn’t be able to confirm if Katsuragi’s predictions were correct or not until the day of the exam itself. But, if we go into it thinking that he was right about the first three, it probably wouldn’t end up biting us in the end. “Are you really okay with it? With not getting anything in return?” “Like I said earlier. Even if you don’t have anything to give me, I still have more than enough reason to take action.” Through an unexpected turn of events, Keisei had gotten his hands on information that he hadn’t thought he’d be able to get. Most likely, he was beginning to feel overwhelmed with joy. “W-we did it Kiyotaka! Now we finally have a chance to win this!” Keisei excitedly took on a triumphant pose. “One more thing. You said that you wanted me to throw my matches for you as well, right?” “Eh? Ah, no. You don’t have to…” “Hah… You came all this way to negotiate, and yet you’re satisfied with just getting some information?” Katsuragi let out a slight chuckle, seeming to have found Keisei’s panicked reaction amusing. “It’s not like that, it’s just…” “Don’t go thinking you can win against Sakayanagi just because I’ve given you a little information. It would probably be wise for you to think that you’d just barely be able to put up a fight if I throw my matches. However, the only event I’d be able to help you guys with is Flash Mental Arithmetic, or, if it somehow manages to get chosen, Long Rope Jumping.” After listening to Katsuragi speak, I decided to ask him a single question. “Will you even be allowed to participate with Sakayanagi being so wary of you? It’s true that, if Long Rope Jumping gets chosen as an event, you might have to participate more than once. But, given that only one or two people can influence the outcome of the Flash Mental Arithmetic event, what makes you think she’d choose you for it?” “That’s because the only students in Class A who specialize in Flash Mental Arithmetic are me and one other student named Tamiya. Furthermore, Tamiya isn’t all that skilled at it either. With that being the case, leaving me out of the event would just hurt our chances of winning.” After all, Sakayanagi probably thinks that she’s dulled my fangs by having Yahiko expelled. In order to turn me into one of her pawns, she’ll get me to participate in an event.” The idea of using Katsuragi, a force that had defied her, as a mere pawn was probably somewhat appealing to Sakayanagi. Afterward, Katsuragi shared his plan to help us. If he were to be chosen for Flash Mental Arithmetic, he would deliberately get an answer wrong and, in the case of Long Rope Jumping, he would get caught on the rope early on in the event. “That being said, I’d like to avoid having Sakayanagi realize that I’m throwing the events as much as possible. For Long Rope Jumping, I can make it look like I mess up by accident, but for Flash Mental Arithmetic, I won’t be able to make mistakes on the easier questions.” It would look like we were competing on equal footing, but our class would win by a slim margin. “Though, remember this. Even if Flash Mental Arithmetic gets chosen on exam day, if Sakayanagi doesn’t decide to have me compete, you’ll just have to cut your losses and give up on our plan.” Either way, we had been provided with some unprecedented information, so we had no reason to be dissatisfied. After Katsuragi left, Keisei began talking with excitement filling his voice. “Let’s tell Horikita about this, as soon as possible.” “No… We shouldn’t tell her we contacted Katsuragi yet.” “W-why not?” “This only ended up working out for us in hindsight. She won’t be happy with us if she finds out that we did this without telling her.” “But, shouldn’t we be putting the information to use somehow?” “I’ll find the right time to tell her. I’ll make sure we don’t get in trouble.” Keisei seemed a little worried at first, but he eventually agreed. It was probably because he felt guilty about meeting with Katsuragi in secret.