At the final day past 10 am, I - Horikita Suzune, aimed for 12, then went north to the boundary between 14 and 13. The last day of the special exam is also the last and only time to bring out all of one’s willpower. Fortunately, last night until just before 12, there was no one among 2-D who had descended to the bottom 10.
The bottom 5 who were in danger of getting expelled were all 3rd year groups.
But I can’t be completely relaxed. There is a chance that those 5 groups would join hands with other groups at the very last second to raise their points, leaving someone else in their place. They would definitely switch places with the 6th or 7th place groups who were barely maintaining their positions. Taking this to the extreme, the bottom 10 groups could all join forces with high-ranking groups and escape from the bottom 10.
The designated area reflected on my tablet is 17. It was the exact opposite of 12, where I was headed.
Recklessly ignoring my designated area was an action I could afford to take.
Why was I doing something like this? The answer to that question was in the piece of paper I was gripping with my right hand. This morning, when I awoke inside my tent, this was hidden, folded until it was small.
When I tried opening it, the 4 words ‘Noon,’ ‘ K • A,’ ‘expulsion,’ and ‘12’ had been disorderly written on the paper.
When I first saw this, I had 2 thoughts.
The first was that whoever wrote this had beautiful handwriting, enough to make me want to make it into a copybook.
And the other thought I had was that neither a paper nor a pen were provided to us for free.
“What was the point of buying this note and pen...”
I dimly remembered it from the uninhabited island manual document, but I thought that it was worthless and didn’t bother to remember the cost. I don’t know if this is because their tablet’s battery died or if there was an urgent accident and they needed to make a memo. Anyway, someone capricious bought a note and a memo, wrote a brief code and sent it here.
“No, this is a bit too obvious to be called a code.”
12 was the area in this uninhabited island. Noon was the time. This memo was sent to me on the last day, so it points to something happening today, on the 14th. If it were a simple prank it would be just that. But the last 2 words weren’t.
Expulsion and K • A. Leaving aside the former’s expulsion, the problem was K • A.
If another student saw this memo, they would definitely not understand what it meant.
The instant I read this I got the meaning. That these were Ayanokouji Kiyotaka’s initials.
“If that’s what it means then today, at noon, Ayanokouji-kun will be expelled at 12...”
I thought it was a joke.
So at morning, 7am, when my designated area was revealed, I had intended to ignore this.
But Ayanokouji-kun's GPS signal appearing at E3 weighed on my mind just a little.
And if he looked like he was approaching 12 as time went by, it might not have been a simple joke.
Thinking that, I waited a bit then used another GPS search. If this were a trap someone had sent to make me waste a point, I would have fallen for it.
The result - Ayanokouji-kun passed through F3 to G3 and kept walking forward.
If at this rate he reaches 12...
Driven by that premonition, I decided to head north to confirm.
He has prize money on his head. I can’t throw away the chance implied by that.
There is still time before noon, but I wonder how far Ayanokouji-kun will walk.
Of course there’s also a possibility that this was just a coincidence and he’s already heading to a different area.
The urge to do a GPS search welled up, but I can endure it. With my points I can safely enter the top 50%. But if I not only ignore my designated areas and tasks from here, but even use searches, I don’t know where I would end up. If this ends up being for nothing then I should keep going until I end up at 12.
“Ah! I’ve finally found you! Please wait Horikita!”
Around the time I could almost see a river ahead of me, such a voice sounded from behind me.
“... Why are you here?”
Ibuki-san breathlessly showed herself glaring at me.
It doesn’t feel like a coincidence. It seems that she went out of her way to use GPS searches to chase me here.
“Your points, please show me how many points you have.”
“Wait a second. What on earth are you saying?”
Suddenly appearing and asking me, an enemy, to show her how many points I had was difficult to understand.
“I said it, didn’t I? That in this special exam, I won’t lose to you.”
She confidently thrusted her index finger towards me.
“There’s no need to verify it now. Can’t you wait until the end?”
“There’s no guarantee that all the groups’ points will be displayed at the end of the special exam.”
“That is indeed the case. Because the important ones are the top and bottom groups.”
There was no guarantee that the rankings of groups who had many points would be showed to the entire student body right away.
Of course, there was also a possibility that it would be announced.
“So please let me confirm now.”
She wanted to settle who had gathered more points on the last day.
“This is so foolish that I can’t believe it, but... the fact that you’ve deliberately come all the way here is true. How many times did you use the GPS search?”
“...3 times. You were close so I thought that this was the only time.”
It would be hard and harder to meet who you wanted to meet depending on how much distance was between you.
Ibuki-san used a GPS search as many as 3 times to come here.
“You did a good job.”
“I don’t need your appreciation so please show me your points. I’m 131!”
As though she was saying, how is it, she confidently declared.
“Thanks for telling me even though I haven’t told you. But there are two things I want to say. The first one is that there is no proof that you’re saying your actual point count.”
“Haa? So I can just show you right?”
Ibuki-san took out a tablet from her backpack and stopped me.
“The second is, even if you show me your real point count, I won’t show you mine.”
“Ha? What is that. Are you saying you’re the same as that guy?”
That guy...? That made me a bit curious, but I continued the talk.
“Even though we’re both 2nd years we’re also enemies. I don’t want to take the risk of giving you information.”
Right now I don’t think that my name will appear in the bottom 10.
However, points will continue changing until the very last second.
Even if it’s the last day, the chance that the information Ibuki-san is giving me would trip me over isn’t 0.
“Understood. So you’re surprised at how many points I have. It’s your loss right?”
“Even if you bring winning or losing into it I have no intention of answering.”
Though I repeated my intention to not share any information, Ibuki-san declared with an intention to make me back down.
“Can’t you honestly acknowledge it? That I won in terms of point count.”
“I’ll do that for you so please go back to the test.”
If she would be satisfied with that, I was willing to do that for Ibuki-san.
“...How irritating. Please show me your points!”
“I’m folding but you don’t want to agree?”
“I want to know how many points you really have. I want to know how hard I win against you.”
“It’s important for me.”
“I’m very sorry but I’ll hurry on ahead.”
“I’m heading to my designated area. Calling that running away would be strange.”
I faced my feet to 12 to hurry there.
As if she saw that as running away, Ibuki-san came closer so she could chase me if I did.
“You have a designated area up north? Or are you just chasing me?”
“The thing I want to know right now is your point count. If I learn that even I would go back to my designated area.”
She was going to persistently keep paying attention to me and only me no matter what.
Having to stop here for such a strange thing is honestly regretful.
Even if I were being manipulated by this piece of paper, I don’t want to waste time.
“...It’s my loss.”
“You’ve acknowledged it? So you’ve finally acknowledged your loss right?”
“That’s not it. I’m saying 1 lost to that thing you have that resembles persistence. The points I’ve gathered number 145. You came close but the result is my win.”
I revealed the information I originally should have hidden.
That’s why I declared my loss.
“You won against me? If you’re telling me you won please show me proof.
Seems like a matter of course.
However, I don’t want to stay still anymore.
To verify his safety, I want to get to 12 as soon as possible.
In terms of effectivity, no, I don’t think this is the right answer.
Letting Ibuki-san know the points I hold in the last day probably won’t have a big effect. Right now every minute and every second is precious.
I lowered my backpack and extended my hand towards the tablet inside.
With a severe face that showed no signs of changing, Ibuki-san waited for the answer to how many points I had.
It was when I took the tablet in my hand and made to on the power button.
Ibuki-san and I felt something strong not even trying to hide itself ahead of us and raised our faces.
“I fooo-und you.”
Just like a child meeting his playmate, it was a non-threatening voice.
Ibuki-san didn’t try to hide her dissatisfaction at seeing a female student appear out of nowhere.
“...Who are you?”
“1-A Class’s Amasawa Ichika-san.”
There was a chance that she coincidentally came to the same place, but it seems strange.
I cautiously faced Amasawa-san with my tablet in hand.
The one who wrote about the 1st years’ prize money this morning on the paper - could it be her?
“Don’t mind me please. You can continue."
“Can’t do. We were talking about something private after all.”
The fact that I want to avoid displaying my points as much as possible has also been communicated towards Ibuki-san. She should understand that I won’t want to show my points on the tablet here.
I tried gently encouraging her to go away, but Amasawa-san wouldn’t move.
Ibuki-san saw that and, as if she was tired of waiting, irritatedly called out.
“You’re in the way.”
“Is Sudou-senpai okay? Horikita-senpai.”
“Ha? Ignoring me?”
Even though she should have heard Ibuki-san’s question, Amasawa-san ignored her. As if she didn’t have any intention of leaving right away, she lowered the backpack on her back and rolled her shoulders.
“...Yes. I’m thankful that he was saved because of you.”
Broadly grinning, she made no signs of apologizing at all.
Is she thinking that I’m not someone to apologize to for how she treats and deals with Ayanokouji-kun?
Or is she not thinking that she did something wrong in the first place?
“I told you you’re in the way. We have an appointment so please go.”
“An appointment? Didn’t Ibuki-san also just pin her down on her own?”
It’s as if she had been listening to our conversation since the early stages.
Perhaps that really is the case.
“It still has nothing to do with you. Get lost I said.”
You’re in the way so get lost, she said in a stronger tone.
If this keeps on, Ibuki-san won’t be unlikely to raise her hand.
Even against such a threat, Amasawa-san laughed as if it was funny.
“I wonder what your goal is, Amasawa-san.”
I let Ibuki-san be and focused my attention on Amasawa-san.
I don’t want to waste any more time than this but it can’t be helped.
“Besides, Ibuki-san was irritated but she was waiting like it couldn’t be helped.”
“I have a question. Where is Horikita-senpai going from here?”
“Right now I’m speaking with Ibuki-san, but once that’s over I’ll aim for my area F3 right away.”
Of course that was a lie. I’m now deliberately throwing away my designated area.
But there’s no merit to telling that to Amasawa-san.
She conspired with the other 1st years and schemed to have Ayanokouji-
kun expelled for the sake of the prize money.
With things related to Ayanokouji-kun, it’s easier to not say anything unnecessary.
That’s what I had judged, but I realized right away that that was a mistake.
“You’re a liar - Horikita-senpai. Your designated area isn’t here is it?”
“I wonder what you mean. Are you trying to trap me with a strange trick?”
“It’s useless to try to deceive me. Horikita-senpai’s original designated area was 17. Am I wrong?”
The designated area Amasawa-san answered with was exactly where I was supposed to go next.
I can’t call this a coincidence.
Even her facial expression makes anything but her knowing from the beginning and coming here to do something with that knowledge unthinkable.
“Us 2nd years have a way to fight characteristic to us 2nd years. We can’t speak the truth about everything.”
Right after saying that I continued.
“It’s inevitable to be cautious against people who took action to have Ayanokouji-kun expelled, isn’t it?”
The smooth flow of this talk changes here.
The 1 st year was the enemy. There was no need for her to show any shame.
“Hmm. Well, that might be true.”
Even while saying that, it was as if our words couldn’t have reached her ears.
If her attitude is already based on conclusions then it wouldn’t feel like she’s here.
“Where are you trying to go Horikita-senpai? Could it be... it’s not 12 is it?”
Somehow it seems that my thoughts were right in a bad way.
“You’re making a variety of predictions. But I’ve only decided to head to 12 this morning. You guess terribly well don’t you?”
Even if she had used GPS searches to pinpoint my location, if she had already known then going ahead of her wouldn’t have been possible.
If that’s the case then I should see the folded paper from today as related to Amasawa-san as well.
Feeling confused. Ibuki-san came before me and posed a question about this.
“How long do you intend to drag this on?”
I feel as irritated as her.
Considering the time I’ve already spent dealing with Ibuki-san at this rate I’m going to have to hurry my dealing with Amasawa-san.
Resolving myself even to leak information, I acitvated my tablet and showed
Ibuki-san the screen of my points. Since it came with it no matter what, the existence of the 3-limit group enlargement I had gained will also be seen, but I wasn’t able to use it until the end so there's approximately no real danger.
Though she probably wouldn’t care about something like the maximum number of members in my group.
At the instant she saw my points. Ibuki-san lightly clicked her tongue.
Then she scratched her head and put a lot of her irritation into words.
“Haaa? Are you for real? Haa? This is the worst.”
There was a slightly cruel result for her best efforts these past two weeks.
Nevertheless, I think Ibuki-san did her best.
Her piling up enough points to compete with me despite not having much academic ability is quite a sufficient accomplishment looking back.
“If you’re satisfied, I’ll head to my designated area. Our points are going to be multiplied by 2 in this last day, so there’s still a chance to reverse this situation.”
“That’s true, but... why are you throwing away your designated area?”
As if she was interested about what Amasawa-san was saying just now, she asked such.
“This is a chance, Ibuki-san. I’ve encountered something and am now in no state to be collecting more points.”
Even if I don’t explain everything from the beginning you understand, don’t you? I appealed with my eyes.
“It’s true that the outcome isn’t decided until this exam ends. You stopping here just means that 1 can go ahead and turn the tables.”
While being exasperated, as if she was also satisfied, Ibuki-san tentatively turned her back and started walking away.
With this I’ve succeeded in separating with Ibuki-san for now, at least.
While keeping my tablet in my backpack, 1 focused on dealing with Amasawa-san.
“I will be going to 12 from here. What will you do?”
“Why are you throwing away your designated area and going to an unrelated place? Not even tasks are there. Isn’t this something you shouldn’t do during the special exam?”
“Aren’t you the first one who should understand?”
“What do you mean?”
“Please don’t play dumb. While I was sleeping you tossed this paper into my tent. Why did you do that?”
I pinched the small paper in between my left thumb and index finger and showed it to her.
“...Paper? If it’s okay with you could you show it to me?”
She put on bad acting. Well, this paper wouldn’t be of use to me anyway.
I returned that paper to Amasawa-san who I thought was its originator.
Amasawa-san accepted it, opened it and verified its contents.
“Disorderly arranged phrases... ‘Noon,’ ‘ K ■ A,’ ‘expulsion,’ ‘12.’“
She read that aloud and closed her eyes for a little while.
“Goodness... How many games do you wanna play...?”
“Game? What’s your intention in getting involved with me and Ayanokouji-kun?”
“I dunno. It seems that like Senpai I’m just another participant.”
“Please don’t try to fool me. You appearing before me is evidence that you wrote that paper.”
As if she was annoyed by something, Amasawa-san laughed, tore a piece of the paper and threw it away.
She tore it 7 and 8 times, then threw them away as tiny pieces.
“When you saw these 4 words, did you feel something disturbing?”
“Ayanokouji-kun might be expelled. Seeing through that much wasn’t a difficult thing to do.”
She continued speaking as if she grasped the situation more than I did.
Anyway, playing along with her wordplay any more than this would be a waste of time.
I fixed my backpack onto my back and walked towards her.
“I don’t like this-. Even though you don’t know anything about Ayanokouji-senpai, you feel like you’re his comrade because you’re his classmate. I wonder about that.”
Amasawa-san said those words when she came to my side.
“Horikita-senpai doesn’t know anything about Ayanokouji-senpai right?”
I didn’t like something about that and ended up stopping my feet.
“You’re saying that you know even more about him than I do?”
She turned only her eyes towards me, overbearingly met my eyes and laughed like a very proud victor.
“O-f course. I know a lo-t about Ayanokouji-senpai. Why he’s so attractive, intelligent... and stronger than anyone else.”
I didn’t think that a 1st year who had just enrolled would know things about Ayanokouji-kun.
Does that mean she was acquainted with him since before or after middle school?
Just like Kushida-san and 1 were from the same middle school?
Amasawa-san didn’t mind and kept talking.
“So then what does Horikita-senpai know?”
What do I know?
He’s... since I entered the school, Ayanokouji-kun was my first... friend.
Yeah, it should be fine to call him a friend.
Our seats happened to be next to each other, and we talked about a lot of things...
At first I thought he was just a normal student, but he turned out to be far smarter than I thought.
Even Onii-san acknowledged him as faster than him, and he was well-versed in martial arts.
But he usually seemed to want to hide himself and live a peaceful school life.
There still aren’t a lot of people who know how he is when he gets serious.
But if people aside of them had information about him, there might be a big difference in that information.
“Yes, I may indeed know nothing about him. I can’t deny that.”
Thinking about Ayanokouji-kun again, I ended up arriving at that conclusion.
Perhaps Amasawa-san knew a lot more about him than I did.
In reply to my words which could be taken as admitting defeat, Amasawa-san laughed.
The important thing definitely wasn’t there.
Right now, I don’t think it’s how much I know about him.
“I’m thinking that from now until we graduate, I want to continue getting to know Ayanokouji-kun. As a classmate... as a friend, I’m far off from you.”
That was my present wish. It was how I honestly felt.
I haven’t only given him a hard time once or twice either.
But for our class, he’s an indispensable person and a comrade we cannot afford to lose.
If right now, he is in danger, then I can’t not come rushing towards him.
That’s the reason I’m going to him even if it means throwing away my designated areas.
Now, I was able to once again recognize what I was trying to do.
This choice was never wrong.
If this simply ends as needless fear, I hadn’t gone too far.
“Do you think that you can be of use? Even though you’re someone like yourself.”
“I don't know if he needs more power right now. But when he is troubled I intend to help him.”
After all I had only just turned my school life around.
I don’t know if this conversation that wasted more time has any big meaning to it.
I must thank her for reminding me of that.
When I tried to start walking, Amasawa-san’s right hand extended blocked my advance.
Looking at her face again, her smile has disappeared and was now replaced with an oppressive killing intent with which she was looking at me.
“I’ve understood something from talking to you. You’re actually trying to make something happen in 12. If that weren’t the case there would have been no need to detain me so desperately.”
I can’t waste any more time than this.
“Where are you going?”
“Don’t you understand from all this? I’m going to 12 to help Ayanokouji-kun.”
A move to help him if he’s in trouble, exactly as I said just now.
“Please don’t make me laugh. There’s no way Ayanokouji-senpai would want help from someone like Horikita-senpai, right?”
She says something like that to try and stop me.
“That may be true for now, at least.”
“You mean it won’t be in the future?”
I nodded and turned around.
“There’s another thing I’ve understood from this. You really don’t want me to go to 12. In other words, you’re not the sender of that paper.”
I tried to bypass her right hand and get away, but Amasawa-san blocked me again.
“I won’t let you go Horikita-senpai.”
“The more you stop me the more I must go to 12. According to what you said, he’s in trouble right now right?”
It doesn’t matter how much she knows about his circumstances.
Right now she obviously held the conviction that something was happening to Ayanokouji-kun.
“Do you think you’ll be able to go?”
“Yes, I do.”
Even if I had to remove the obstacle before me by force.
“Hmm. I at least feel that your will is hard enough. I’ll do you a favor and wait for you to put down your stuff.”
In other words, she was going to suppress me by brute force.
I shouldn’t treat this as a mere threat.
I took those words honestly and lowered my backpack to my feet slowly.
“I’ll say it in advance, but I’m more or less experienced in martial arts.”
“...Right. You’re quite well-informed.”
I wonder if that means she knows a lot not just about Ayanokouji but even about me.
“I’ll also say this in advance. I’m super strong so you should come at me with that in mind.”
From the moment she showed her rage, I perceived that she wasn’t an ordinary child.
Those definitely aren't empty words or anything aren’t they?
Tiredness from the uninhabited island test is naturally piling up.
But that applies to Amasawa-san before me as well.
I don’t have any problems with my body, so we’re the same depending on our states.
If that’s the case, I won’t lose easily.
I slowly took a stance while observing Amasawa-san’s movements before me.
Instead of executing any special form, she just continued staring at me ominously.
“If you say you’re going to meet Ayanokouji-kun, then to stop you I’ll play just a little bit.”
Amasawa-san before me stepped her left foot forward-
Though I was perfectly alert, right after I saw that she moved I felt danger and leapt backwards to escape. She hadn’t put much power in the arm she had extended. Was she trying to catch me?
Anyway, I had avoided her first attack. When I thought that, the next thing I knew was that my collar was being gripped by her right arm.
As I whispered words that didn’t qualify as words, my field of vision span.
After pain ran through my back, I realized that I had been thrown by her shoulder.
“One po~int. Kidding.”
I spat out a painful breath without being able to breathe.
“It’s no good to be negligient. Okay, let’s start over. Stand up, stand up.”
Amasawa-san smiled maliciously while looking down on me.
I don’t need to put into words how humiliating that was.
I understood from just one point of contact. Amasawa-san’s strength was considerable.
Since we were both female students, I thought that even if there was a difference in power, it would have been small.
Plans, wits, flashes of brilliance or luck. Just one of these things was enough to turn the tables.
But it might have been naive to think that.
Anyway, the damage on my back isn’t light enough to laugh off.
It’s good that there was soil beneath me, but my recovery will take some time.
If the enemy was proud in their overwhelming superiority, then let me use it as much as possible. I used up tens of seconds in getting back up.
“Don’t worry I’ll wait. You can rest for 5 or even 10 minutes.”
“Of course you’d do that, since you don’t want to let me go to Ayanokouji-kun.”
“It’d be best if we could settle without fighitng you know? Even for you.”
That’s completely true. At the final day of this special exam, which had been going smoothly, I’m starting a fight.
If I don’t do this well I could retire and be expelled as a solo group.
“...One more time.”
After getting over the pain in my back, I took a stance once more.
The same stance as before.
Head-on fights aren’t my strong point with only the knowledge I have of martial arts.
I can’t do anything but show off the power I learned how I learned it.
Though Amasawa-san’s speed surprised me, if she fights with a specialization in Judou then I have something too. One time, my karate instructor thoroughly taught me what to do as a woman if I’m caught by a man.
I put that to use while remembering it in my mind.
I don’t have the leeway to go easy, but if the opponent is Amasawa-san I don’t need to worry about that.
I threw away the notion that I was fighting with a junior and exchanged it with the feeling of fighting a superior.
Amasawa-san focused her attention not on my face but on the slight changes in my shoulders and legs. She laughed as if it was funny.
“Yeah, yeah, I get it Horikita-senpai. I understand how you feel well. But you know?”
I won’t humor her word games.
Now, I focused all of my nerves on looking through her first move-
As I counted about an instant of time passing, I tried connecting with the right foot that stepped into my guard. I again realized the imminent attack with her left foot just above my flank with the pain that came after.
I felt enough pain to faint or to cry and was sent flying to the ground.
The only thing I could do against that power I couldn’t even defend myself against was landing safely. I rolled on the ground twice and thrice and was forced into confusion despite knowing why things had become like this.
“Did you think I mainly did Judou? Your thinking is naive-”
Without thinking I pressed my flank around where I was kicked and closed my eyes.
Against such an overwhelming pain, my heart almost folded for a second.
This just makes the second time I’ve felt her power and despaired.
Ever since I faced Housen-kun... hey.
Remembering that recent incident, I felt many things that made me feel like losing confidence as I continued standing up.
“This year’s first years are all uncute students...”
“Do you mean that last year, Horikita-senpai was cute unlike me?”
I believe that was a malicious reply, but it really hurt to hear.
Even though I’m a different type of student from them, I couldn’t lack charm and be outdone.
When I tried putting power into my feet to stand back up, I was attacked by a sensation as if my power was running out.
From I throw and a kick, my physical strength has decreased beyond what
I could imagine.
“Who are you? It seems like you know Ayanokouji-kun from before...”
One thing for certain is that this girl and him hold a similar bizarre strength.
A strength like the one Ayanokouji-kun showed when he went against Housen-kun and my brother.
“I won’t tell to someone like you Senpai.”
“Yeah, you don’t seem like the type of person to answer so simply.”
Anyway, the fact that the opponent is playing around is some good news.
She’s trying to prevent me from going to Ayanokouji-kun, though. I wonder how much time I can spend. In order to proceed I need to avoid taking even a bit more damage.
“How do I say this? I’m disappointed in a lot of things. Horikita-senpai is even less excellent than I had imagined her to be. It’s because you’re like that that Ayanokouji-kun doesn’t tell you anything.”
As if she was peeking into my heart, Amasawa-san’s pupils were on me.
“Saying that you want to help but not actually being trustworthy. I want to know how you think of yourself.”
“.. .That, might be the case.”
“I said this before but Ayanokouji-kun can’t count on someone like Horikita-senpai.”
“Even if that were true, I want to hear it from his mouth, not yours.”
“Don’t you understand that’s insensitive?”
Without even trying to hide her irritation, Amasawa-san approaches me.
“Kushida-senpai had more things worth seeing.”
“Kushida-san? Why did you mention kushida-san...?”
“Stand, Horikita-senpai. Just talking to you as my senior pisses me off so I’m going to end this.”
At the very least out of mercy, she stands my body back up and gives me some time.
So I can’t give up either until the fight is over.
I stand and focus all my energy on seeing through Amasawa-san’s attacks.
It will probably end up the same way, but it can’t be helped. I can’t do anything more than this.
Amasawa-san comes with light steps.
Block? Dodge? Surely neither would work.
If that’s the case then at least return one blow-!
Pan! A dry noise from a fist is heard beside me.
But the pain won’t come. My line of sight is blocked by shadows.
The student who caught the fist before me spat without even looking here.
That small back belonged to Ibuki-san, who should have gone away.
“Tah... What a punch you threw.”
“Nice catch-. I’m a bit surprised from your unexpected visit.”
I couldn’t take in the situation or move. Ibuki-san turned around and glared at me.
“The one who will take you dowrn is me. 1 don’t wrant to see you lose to some random 1st year.”
While she was saying that, the fist she caught shook her off. Amasawa-san took distance.
“It’s Amasawa Ichika-. Please remember my name, Ibuki se-npai.”
“I don’t have a good memory. If you want me to remember you, is that all the impression you’re gonna leave on me?”
“Ahaha, maybe a bit interesting.”
“I’ll entertain this girl, so why don’t you go to where you wanted to go?”
“What are you saying? Didn’t you do this special test to win against me?”
“Even you’re throwing away your designated areas. It’d be meaningless to come back because of something like that.”
She came back because of something like that? I swallow' her words.
“That girl is unbelievably strong. You might regret this. Are you still certain?”
“What’s that? Do you wanna say I’ll lose?”
“That’s how strong the opponent is.”
“I don’t feel like losing to someone like Ibuki-senpa-i."
“Hah, bring it on.”
That clumsy threat achieved the opposite effect, and Ibuki-san’s willpower caught fire.
“Even if you win against Amasawa-san, you might overdo it. An emergency alarm would ring and you very well may be forced to retire. There’s a chance that you’ll be expelled.”
“Isn’t that the same for you?”
“Eh? Yeah, that’s right.”
“I believe I’m stronger than you.”
While saying that, she made a gesture telling me to get lost right away.
“Which one of you will fight? Hurry up and decide-”
“I will fight her.”^
“Is that the line of the one who almost lost just now? You’re in the way so get out.”
“This is my fight. It has nothing to do with you.”
“You’re saying crazy things. Did you get hit in the head and go insane?”
No good. I can’t stop Ibuki-san with half-baked measures. But I can’t entrust this to her either.
I gripped Ibuki-san’s shoulder and forced her down.
“What are you doing!”
“I’ve been trying not to say it directly, but let me tell you. You can’t win against her.”
“Please don’t mess around. Don’t decide that before it happens.”
“It’s a fact. I couldn’t do anything with my hands or feet, so you shouldn't be able to win.”
If she was on fire, I would fan it to the fullest.
“If that’s the case then give me direct proof-”
I stuck out my left arm to Ibuki-san.
“I don’t intend to lose. If you intend to push yourself into this fight then show me your resolve in kind. Please join my group. Then if either one of us goes beyond recovery, they can withdraw and we can avoid retiring as a group.”
“You’re kidding. Why would I do that with someone like you?!”
“I just told you. Show me your resolve. If you don’t have it please don’t join the fight.”
“I don’t like this...”
“It’s fine if you don’t like it. But if you’ll participate then I want you to do this.”
“This is so bad I’m gonna die. But a 1st year making you retire wouldn’t be funny.”
We understood that our thoughts repulsed each other.
But we touched wristwatches anyway.
The necessary time to form a link is 10 seconds.
If she wanted to Amasawa-san w ould have been able to stop us, but she showed no signs of moving.
She was looking at us and enjoying our interactions as usual.
'That’s not a bad plan. It’s true that if 2 solo groups merge, they would be able to avoid expulsion even if one of them is gravely injured.”
Amasawa-san turned her back and quietly distanced herself away from us.
It’s not as if she felt the danger from a 2-on-l fight and fled.
She put a degree of distance between us, stopped and turned around.
“But you’ve miscalculated something, Horikita-senpai.”
“Miscalculated? 1 wonder what you mean.”
“The fact that it’d be okay for one of you to retire. If you turn it around it also means there’s no problem if I break one of you.”
She flashed a smile she had never show n until now that seemed to be made of simple malice.
“You’re scared? How unimpressive.”
Though she should’ve felt the opponent’s strength, Ibuki-san seemed to be having fun for some reason.
Then, the link completion signal echoed.
“Which one of you should I break -1 wonder!”
Amasawa-san’s face when she broke into a dash from a jog was filled with passion.
Without any stance or anything, she extended her arm and headed here to catch us.
The crookedness of her big smile made her seem inhuman.
Me or Ibuki-san.
She seems to dislike me more, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll aim for me.
“Let’s go, Ibuki-san! To your left!”
“Don’t order me around!”
Even while saying that Ibuki-san moved to her left.
At the same time I also moved to my right and looked for which of us Amasawa-san would aim for.
Amasawa-san approaching us head-on didn’t seem to have the slightest intention of scoffing at our little trick.
She may intend to decide at the last second.
If that’s the case then I'll verify it thoroughly.
Because both of us moved at the same time, the distance between us was lost in an instant and we clashed.
It’s not as if Ibuki-san would time herself with my fists, so as a matter of course we were out of sync.
But again, that doesn’t necessarily mean we will be dealt with easily.
Despite that, as if she had been practicing enough to get used to it Amasawa-san dodged cleanly.
In order to keep striking her, we continued attacking without rest.
“Okay, time out-”
Our blows that didn’t hold back anything at all were quietly stopped by Amasawa-san.
“What’s this 1st year’s deal...!”
We lined up and stared at Amasawa-san before our eyes while catching our breaths.
Our impromptu combination wasn’t coordinated, but it was still a 2-on-l.
Usually the other party should be suitably overwhelmed, but we’re the ones getting tired.
It’s more than I imagined... no, she surpasses imagination.
Within the common sense I hold her existence is unidentifiable.
She restrained a dominant arm. If Ibuki-san tries to get a kick in, she might get countered.
“Ibuki-san, please don’t be careless.”
“Let go of me!”
Could she not endure being restrained? Ibuki-san stretched her flexible body to the limits and fired a kick. As if that’s what she was waiting for, she used the dominant arm she was holding to bring her down.
“I said time out didn’t I?”
At this moment, in this tiring state of battle, I felt an indescribable sense of discomfort.
A clear difference in power. Was Amasawa-san playing?
It seemed that she was fighting with just the bare minimum of movements since a while ago.
A while ago, when we had fought 1 -on-1, what would have happened if she hadn’t waited for me to recover?
But something doesn’t feel right.
With her strength she should have easily been able to completely suppress us.
I thought of just one plan I’d like to try.
Anyway, first, we have to change the situation.
I tried to use my left fist, but just like Ibuki-san it was lightly brushed aside.
“Alright, get ready to start again-”
Broadly grinning as she looked down on us, Amasawa-san took distance once more.
“Aren’t we in the same boat?”
“Unlike you, I’ve been nudging things towards this direction... to get ready to start again.”
“An excuse here is lame.”
That’s probably what anyone would say about us if they saw this situation.
“If you wanna fuck around, I’ll make you remember...”
Ibuki-san got back up and seemed like she was getting ready to go, even alone. I gripped her hand and stopped her.
“What are you doing?” ^
“Since we’ve become comrades, please listen to my instructions. You can do that right?”
“Haaa? Of course not.”
“If you can’t this will be meaningless. You should understand how strong Amasawa-san in front of us is. If it were just me or just you we wouldn’t be able to win.”
“Even if that were the case, I wouldn’t follow your orders for anything.”
Regarding Ibuki-san, what is the most optimal way to approach her?
If Ayanokouji-kun were here in this place, in this same situation, what would he do?
What should I do to make 2 people who originally don’t get along to cooperate with each other even if it’s just in this place?
“I said no didn’t I?”
“I know well that you and I are like oil and water. In this uninhabited island, in front of this 1st year, we’ve only become like this because of a little fight, but there’s one thing I respect about you.”
That’s right. I’ll do what I need to do right now without hesitation.
“Your fighting sense wouldn’t fall behind mine. No, I think it’s slightly above mine.”
“Ha, what’s this all of a sudden? Are you trying to flatter me?”
“However, your fighting style is specialized for 1-on-l fights. In 2-on-l fights against a strong enemy, when it comes to how we move I’m more familiar with it. I might have been mistaken in asking you to work with me. Lend me that power of yours.”
Ibuki-san heard those words and turned to me for just an instant.
“You are strong compared to me. But that’s it. Aside of that, it’s as if our levels are different. You can’t study. You can’t unite your classmates or join hands with others. Sorry, but naming yourself as my rival despite that is quite the hubris.”
If she gets mad then she gets mad. But I won’t stop what I’m saying in the middle.
“Soon, the time for you to break out of your shell might come. Ibuki Mio-san.”
“...What is that?”
“If you keep plunging forward as you are now, you’ll undergo the risk of getting expelled.”
“That’s okay, if it comes to that it comes to that.”
“That would mean my complete and absolute victory. That’s okay?”
“If you get expelled for being half-baked I can’t call you my rival. Keep on going until the last second of the last moment and grow into a rival who can threaten me.”
“Ah-I get it already. I get it so shut up. I’ll follow you only here. That’s enough right?”
“So, what should I do?”
“Just like last time, attack Amasawa-san at the same time. But hitting her is secondary. I want you to circle her without ever getting caught. And I want you to keep attacking.”
“Hitting her is secondary? What will this accomplish?”
“If I’m reading this correctly... then this will definitely give us a chance to win. When I give the signal attack with all you’ve got.”
It didn’t seem like she understood, but Ibuki-san separated from me.
“Planning time is over? Well then, shall we start the 2nd round soon?”
We dash at the same time and face Amasawa-san while separated right and left.
In order to not get caught, I mustn’t come close.
At a distance where I can touch her or not touch her with my fists, I measure the timing and stick it out.
Of course if Amasawa-san doesn’t do anything about this, she will be directly hit by my attack. Therefore, as long as she is being attacked her nerves will inevitably keep being worn down.
Calmly, quietly, and when I feel danger I take distance quickly.
If it were just me I wouldn’t have been able to pull back, but just because we’re separating her consciousness into two directions, it’s a passable strategy.
None. There’s still no gap.
Before I run out of breath, faster, faster-!
Because of being continuously barraged by dangerous attack, the sharpness of Amasawa-san’s movements started to dull.
The one with a smiling face was obviously starting to run out of breath. “-Now!”
In order to not miss out on the chance of a lifetime, I drove my right fist into Amasawa-san.
If it were just until now she would have avoided it with just one hand to show leeway. But she took a defensive stance.
She stopped my direct attack on her body. Ibuki-san circled around to her back and kicked the ground. Amasawa-san turned around to try to deal with her, and I drove my clenched fist into her face.
Amasawa-san’s body shook from the first attack she had received from us.
In the middle of an intense fall, I thrusted her abdomen while she wasn’t able to take a defensive stance.
Amasawa-san spat out a breath and collapsed.
In that instant I straddled her and stopped her movements so she wouldn’t get back up.
“Tuh... that worked...”
“H, haa... haa... it ends here, Amasawa-san. I acknowledge your strength but your stamina sealed your defeat.”
I took advantage of an unexpected weak point and was somehow able to reverse the situation.
“Aha, you found out? I have a weak body.”
Despite being mounted she didn’t get flustered but laughed with her tongue slightly out.
I looked at that Amasawa-san’s gym clothes for no reason in particular and doubted my eyes.
From below her gym clothes, her skin was slightly peeking out.
Without thinking I gripped her clothes and forcefully pulled them up.
“You, what, that injury...”
A severe mark that looked like a bruise. I saw many marks of being struck.
Completely different from the one thrust I gave her, wounds that looked like they had been inflicted as punishment.
That means she had been wounded before we started fighting.
“I had a little fight before you guys.”
By all rights her face should be twisted in agony. It should be difficult for her to even walk.
Despite that, in such a beaten up state, she fought both of us and had an advantage.
It’s not like she didn’t have stamina.
From the start she has been fighting from the verge of death.
She was fighting above me when she needed recovery...
That fact almost made me dizzy.
Someone who could inflict wounds like these on Amasawa-san in her perfect state.
Even if I include men, no one comes to mind but Housen-kun.
“Do you want to know who did this? It might have been Housen-kun.”
There’s indeed no mistake that Housen-kun’s strength goes above and beyond the norm.
If he fought against Amasawa-san, who had an unreal strength, he would still be able to stand above her.
But from her personality, though it’s not for certain I’ve understood something.
It’s unthinkable that she would answer straight.
To the end she hasn’t shown me a single answer that I could understand.
If that’s the case then - the one who overwhelmed Amasawa-san was someone else?
Even if I include all of the students in the school, I can’t pin anyone down.
Yamada-kun maybe, no, there would be no merit for him in doing that.
“Sorry but I won’t believe you. Who was it really?”
“I can’t quite answer that...!”
Negligence. After I saw her injured state, she didn’t overlook the instant when I was shaken.
“Hey, what are you doing?!”
“...Yeah. That was foolish.”
From being able to take advantage of a one-time opportunity, to letting Amasawa-san escape.
“No-w then. With this we’re back to the starting point you two.”
The opponent was wounded all over. Despite that she reversed the situation again.
Whether or not we will be able to suppress her again... I honestly don’t know.
But I have no choice.
Then, as if she thought of something here, she headed towards her backpack and took out her tablet.
“Looks like it’s over. It was a bit fun but it looks like time’s up.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean we’re done. If you want to go then please go ahead~”
Saying that, she opened the path that she had shown strong resistance towards.
Some kind of trap? As our comprehension failed to keep up, Amasawa-san walked away.
“Where are you going?”
“Where? Yea-h, for now my designated area I guess. I have to do the special exam somewhat.”
Anyway, if she’s withdrawn then I can go to check on Ayanokouji-kun’s state-.
“Ah, that’s right. I don’t think you need to go after Ayanokouji-kun anymore you know?”
“Everything is already done. If you think I’m lying then why don’t you see for yourself?”
At that time, Amasawa-san slightly faced her eyes downwards.
“What if you check for yourself? But you might just regret not making it in time.”
As if she really intended to withdraw, Amasawa-san passed through us.
Impossible, could he already be done in by someone?
“What will you do? Will you go to Ayanokouji? That’s why we fought Amasawa-san right?”
“Yes, I’ll go to him.”
I’ve already come this far. I can’t back down now of all times.
“Then I’ll go too.”
“If Ayanokouji is in a pinch, 1 wanna be there to laugh at him.”
We both hurriedly put on our backpacks and ran off to 12.