Classroom of the Elite Y2V6 Chapter 4 Introduction 1/2
TL, ED, TLC: jhelan123, d3nj4l
Picking up from where we left off yesterday, we arrived at the karaoke parlor in Keyaki Mall. Certainly, excluding the dormitories, it was one of the most optimal places to ensure our privacy.
There was nobody in the room Horikita and I stepped into.
“If we were just going to talk, we didn’t need to come all the way to the karaoke parlor?”
Since we had visited each other’s rooms in the past, there shouldn’t have been any problem with having this conversation in either of our rooms. In other words, the fact that she chose to bring me here meant other people would be joining us.
I won’t get too involved, and leave it to Horikita to drive it through the end.
“We have some time until our appointment…will you sing something?”
She picked up the microphone that lay on top of the table and held it out to me.
“Nah, I’ll pass. How about you sing? I’ll at least clap along for you.”
An immediate denial. You aren’t going to practice what you preach..?
“Because I am going to study,” she said, before silently taking out her notebook.
Seeing that, I pulled out my own reference book and also started studying. At school, most lessons were now making use of our tablets and other such equipment, but when studying by myself, cracking open a book and keeping a notebook really is easier.
Since we weren’t singing, the room was very quiet. While our weird back and forth had created a strange mood, I decided to quietly wait on the sofa and wait for the time to come.
And then it passed 5:10 PM. Horikita, who had been checking the time on her phone every few minutes since before 5 PM, raised her head with a sigh.
“I’m sorry. This might get drawn out longer than I thought.”
I didn’t ask who we would be meeting with, but I think it was safe to say that we were due to meet at 5 o’clock and they were late. Seeing as they hadn’t made contact, there were either circumstances that were beyond their control, or they were somewhat lax, or they were the kind of person who would deliberately be late.
As we waited, I considered several students, picturing one, striking them off and moving on to the next. Another fifteen minutes passed.
The door to the room—which hadn’t budged in the slightest since we’d arrived—was slowly opened from the outside. The one who showed up was… someone I didn’t expect.
It was second-year Class D’s Katsuragi Kohei. He seemed like the sort to be particular about punctuality, so I was surprised.
“Sorry for being late.”
“No, I don’t mind. It must’ve been a lot of trouble for you too, Katsuragi-kun.”
“…More or less.”
Muttering that, Katsuragi prompted the person lurking behind him to enter the room. Another person revealed themself.
“Suzune, it’s great that you wanna have a date with me, but it looks like there’s a few too many people tagging along.”
It was the man who pulled Katsuragi—once the leader of Class A—into his own class, Ryuuen Kakeru.
“It’s because it would be difficult to have a constructive conversation with just the two of us.”
Although he was sneering audaciously, Ryuuen had shown no sign of letting up on his keen observation of Horikita. Now that the case with Kushida was settled, Horikita had cleared her mind and regained her usual composure. Since they’d had almost no direct interaction since becoming second-years, it wouldn’t be surprising if—even at this early stage—he’d sensed the changes in Horikita.
“Were you trying to gain a mental advantage by intentionally coming late?”
The battle had begun, its first shots were them sounding each other out before they even faced off. I guess I can assume that Ryuuen’s side hasn’t been told yet why they were summoned here.
“There was something you wanted to talk to us about… let’s hear the details, shall we.”
“Can you sit down? If this was something that would only take a minute or two, I wouldn’t have bothered calling you out here.”
Ryuuen shot me a glance before sitting down confidently on the sofa and grabbing the tablet from the charging station. As if he was used to it, he placed his order and then tossed the tablet haphazardly onto the table. After that, Horikita reached for the tablet and picked it up.
“How about you, Katsuragi-kun?”
“I’ll have oolong tea, please.”
After hearing his request and completing the order with the tablet, she carefully returned it to the charging station.
“I’ll tell you why I called you here—”
She promptly tried to start the conversation, but Ryuuen held her back with a hand, aiming to unnerve her from the outset.
“Before that, there’s something I wanted to ask you. How did it feel to cut off the dead weight and get those class points? It must’ve been something special, right?”
He flatly asked a question that would be likely to inflict emotional damage upon us. It was a play to try and get the upper hand in this situation where he didn’t know what the topic of our discussion would be yet. There was no doubt that Ryuuen—with his classic style—was using the state of our class to sound us out. It was a trick based on the assumption that our class’s internal affairs hadn’t been cleared up, but Horikita was unperturbed.
“Certainly, it’s not like it didn’t cause a mountain of problems. However, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it’s not going to turn out the way you want. Most of the big problems have already been solved.”
That was a lie. At the very least, the issue with Haruka remained untouched, and it was unclear when that bomb would explode.
“Lying to me, acting all big, ain’tcha?”
Ryuuen asserted that she was lying in an attempt to trick her into revealing the truth, but Horikita paid no heed to it.
“If you think I’m lying, then so be it. You are not the kind of person who would easily believe anything I say in the first place, are you?”
“Hmm, I wonder? I might trust you more than you think, y’know?”
“Whether you’re being serious or joking, that isn’t very funny.”
She dodged his provocations. Katsuragi slowly crossed his arms while staring at Horikita, as if analyzing her.
“Rather, what were you trying? I was sure that you would expel someone.”
“You getting worried ’cause you’re all alone? After all, you were the only one who made the wrong choice.”
Three out of the four classes protected their classmates. He was trying to implant the idea that only Horikita was cruel and made a mistake.
“It’s too bad that we were the only ones who chose the correct answer. You didn’t take even one step forward in the fight for Class A.”
“That’s enough for now.”
Katsuragi stepped in to control the situation, but just then there was a light knock on the door. A waiter showed up with the oolong tea Katsuragi had ordered and also some orange juice. The ill-fitting drink was placed in front of Ryuuen. The incongruity of the combination captured both Horikita and Katsuragi’s gazes for a moment.
Incidentally, I was the same. Ryuuen and orange juice… it just didn’t fit.
“Now that we have our drinks, shall we get down to business? What’s the meaning of this get-together?”
While everyone was still internally commenting on that choice, Katsuragi prompted Horikita to start the conversation. Horikita nodded, and after looking back at each of Ryuuen and Katsuragi once again, she started to talk.
“In order to defeat Sakayanagi-san’s class, I propose we form a cooperative relationship for the upcoming Sports Festival.”
Katsuragi’s shoulders reacted slightly, indicating his surprise. Moments later, after returning to his usual state, he asked her back her own words.
“… What do you mean by cooperative relationship?”
She said cooperative, but the degree of cooperation differed greatly on how that word was taken. It was natural that he wanted to hear the particulars, but it didn’t seem like he intended to reject her outright. Ryuuen, on the other hand, wasn’t surprised, but he didn’t look impressed either. I guess you could say he was just watching with a smirk plastered on his face.
“In this special exam, there are both mixed grade level and grade-specific aspects to the competition. I want to make the most of the system where if we win in a group competition with multiple people taking part, everyone will score equally.”
“Why our class? Would you mind if I ask your reasoning?”
Ryuuen—the leader of their class—listened throughout without interjecting at all.
“First of all, it goes without saying that Class A is out of the question. Sharing the points we obtain with the class we are trying to catch up to would be like putting the cart before the horse. The two remaining options are Ichinose-san’s class or your class. In my analysis, even if Ichinose-san is by far and away the best in terms of trust, it’s hard to say she has many classmates who are physically gifted.”
“So you’re saying you chose us by process of elimination, huh.”
“If it were through a simple process of elimination, I wouldn’t have teamed up with any class to begin with. Since the only person more untrustworthy than someone from Sakayanagi-san’s class is Ryuuen-kun, your class’s leader.”
He certainly wasn’t an easy person to team up with. As if he sympathized, Katsuragi nodded deeply.
“That’s true. Even I, now a fellow classmate, think so. There is no one I’d be more afraid of trusting my back to. That being the case, why did you propose a cooperative relationship that poses such a great risk to you?”
“To win, of course. We can’t advance without bringing an end to Class A’s overwhelming lead.”
“But it would be pointless if those hopes aren’t met, wouldn’t it? This guy will use any means available, that’s who he is. I know it well, since I have my own painful experiences. I can’t recommend it.”
He expressed such an acrimonious opinion of his classmate that it was hard to believe he was on Ryuuen’s side. If we joined forces imprudently, far from reaching Class A, we would be swallowed up by Ryuuen’s class instead. He warned her of that danger.
“I didn’t intend to cut right to the chase during today’s discussion. I haven’t spoken to Ryuuen-kun like this for a while, and I just can’t trust someone who is so unabashedly late. However, when I saw you apologize for being late, Katsuragi-kun, I changed my mind. At the very least, I can trust you.”
“That’s very simplistic. Did you not consider that this attitude of mine may also be one of Ryuuen’s schemes?”
“If I’m not able to discern whether or not I can trust you, sooner or later, I’ll just be swallowed up, right?”
Right now, Horikita was also taking a risk.
When Ryuuen and Katsuragi were put side by side, Katsuragi looked like a good, relatively sensible person.
But if she showed that she was prepared for it, Katsuragi would have no choice but to accept.
“You seem a little different from before, Horikita. So I guess that means you’re growing, too, huh.”
Katsuragi sensed the change in Horikita—how she had matured—and showed a renewed willingness to sit down for dialogue.
“I understand the situation on your side. From here on out, I’ll give you my personal opinion.”
He deliberately added the word personal, probably to warn us that it didn’t take Ryuuen’s intentions and thoughts into account in any way.
“I, too, had a plan in mind to join forces with your class this time and defeat Class A.”
“That’s right. Your class has strong individuals like Sudou and Kouenji who can compete across grade levels. Among the four second-year classes, you have the students with the highest physical abilities, and the depth of your roster is the very best. We don’t need to worry about being dragged down if we team up with you. You’re not someone I can trust unconditionally, but the fact that your class won’t easily betray us is worth noting.”
While Katsuragi said that, Ryuuen’s eyes turned to me as well. However, his mouth remained shut.
Until now, there was no one else in Ryuuen’s class who could conduct negotiations, so Ryuuen always took the initiative in the conversation. However, with the addition of Katsuragi, the need for this had diminished, and he now had the option to wait and see. That was a very big advantage for them.
It was eerie not knowing what Ryuuen was thinking, what he was going to suggest, and at what timing he would do so. While it was easy to talk to Katsuragi, Hoikita must have also started to become conscious of that fear. However, this was a path she would have to take if she was going to periodically propose ideas to him over the next year and a half.
“But, to tell you the truth, I was of two minds on whether I should propose working together with your class to Ryuuen-kun.”
A week had passed since the details of the Sports Festival were announced. If Katsuragi was working towards our classes cooperating, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Horikita had heard of it already. That meant that, in his mind, the half that didn’t want to join forces won out.
“If we were to form a cooperative relationship, our classes would naturally take first and second place. If that happens, the deciding factor would inevitably be the total strength of our classes. Roughly speaking, I’d say that we’d have to resign ourselves to the possibility that your class would get first and we’d get second,” said Katsuragi.
Working together would allow them to leave Sakayanagi’s class and Ichinose’s class behind, but it would also set it up such that the real battle would be between Horikita’s class and Ryuuen’s class. Precisely because Katsuragi understood this, he answered that he was of two minds about it.
Katsuragi understood us, but that didn’t mean he’d immediately show his support for a cooperative relationship with us. So if we didn’t overcome this barrier that we were facing, we wouldn’t even be able to start negotiating with Ryuuen…
So, what will you do, Horikita?
“So you mean your class sees our class as a threat, right?”
“Absolutely. The circumstances are very different from what they were a year ago. Unlike when you were mocked for being a bundle of defective goods, you are now Class B. And that’s after your class points fell all the way down to zero once. Most recently, you had Kouenji’s solo victory and gained a hundred points from making the difficult decision of kicking out a classmate in the Unanimous Consent Special Test. There is no doubt that you certainly are a formidable enemy.”
“It doesn’t feel bad to be evaluated like that, even if it isn’t due to my own achievements. But if we don’t form a pact and face the Sports Festival without any coordination, won’t the worst-case scenario of Sakayanagi-san’s class taking first place become entirely likely? The important thing right now is to defeat Sakayanagi-san’s class. Am I wrong?”
“No. You’re right. Ryuuen, what do you think?”
Now, for the first time, Katsuragi sought Ryuuen’s opinion.
“If you want us to help you out, then there has to be a suitable reward, right?”
“I think you’ve got this mixed up? Sure, the one who brought this proposal to you was me, but that doesn’t mean I must make some sort of concession to you. In fact, you should realize that you’re in the position to form a partnership with the class that’s in the running to get first place.”
“Don’t make me laugh. Even if we don’t cooperate, we’ll win, but if you guys are gonna beg us, I guess it wouldn’t hurt us to help out. That’s our position. If you don’t like it, feel free to run back home.”
“Do you know the way back? Just exit from that door and turn left, you’ll be outside.”
She didn’t even entertain the possibility of a concession and instead recommended Ryuuen and Katsuragi to leave. Not only was her attitude in the true spirit of bargaining, but she also gave off the impression that we weren’t betting everything on its result. That meant that negotiations would end the moment Ryuuen left the table, and along with it would disappear the proposal to defeat Sakayanagi. And after that, if Ryuuen told us he was willing to join hands anew, our positions would be reversed
“You’ve finally got the balls to make a bluff, huh.”
“What are you saying? Just as Katsuragi-kun said, our class has plenty of firepower for the Sports Festival. Or perhaps you think you can take Sudou-kun or Kouenji-kun head on and place better than them?”
“Mano a mano, fair and square, maybe not. But there are many other ways. You haven’t forgotten about last year, have you?”
Ryuuen faking an accident, the very move we were anxious about. It was clear that his words just now were hinting at that.
“It looks like we’ll have guests this year, so they’ll be watching over the spirit of the Sports Festival’s rules more strictly, right? I’d like to see just how far you can take your despicable moves.”
“There’s plen’y of blind spots, and it doesn’t only need to be during the events.”
To wit, he was talking about the changing rooms or toilets, where there couldn’t be anybody watching.
“You haven’t changed a bit. Certainly, the thought of that is terrifying, but… looks like we’re done here.”
Not even slightly disappointed, Horikita snapped her notebook shut.
“Thank you for coming along with me today, Ayanokouji-kun. Unfortunately, it seems like this case is so risky that I don’t even have to ask for your opinion on it. I’m thinking of wrapping this up here.”
“If you’re fine with that, then I have no problems.”
That being the case, Horikita started packing her notebooks. Ryueen watched on without saying anything, but Katsuragi made a move.
“Ryuuen. It looks like Horikita is different from how she used to be, far more than we could imagine. If we don’t take this negotiation seriously, we will be the ones losing out.”
Katsuragi had calmly analyzed the whole situation, so he turned to look at Horikita again.
“Weren’t you the one who decided not to bring this to me because you thought the drawbacks of forming an alliance were worse?” Ryuuen asked back.
“We didn’t propose this idea. But, now that Horikita has started the conversation, the situation has changed. Not to mention, I’m getting the feeling it will be better than I expected.”
Now that he’d refreshed the data he had, his evaluation of Horikita’s class had gone up a little. In short, he’d reevaluated us as a class which he considered good enough to work with.
“She’s putting on a good show, but from my perspective it’s nothing but a front. When you’re at an advantage, it’s natural to try and set things up in your favor. Sure, she seems to have gotten somewhat more persuasive, but the only reason it looks like it’s working is because Ayanokouji is by her side.”
As soon as he said that, Ryuuen picked up the filled-to-the-brim glass of orange juice in front of him, and—without wavering even a bit—threw its contents in my direction. I immediately dodged it by slipping to the side of where I was sitting and avoided getting splashed. A yellowish, foul-smelling stain instantly spread on the spot I was sitting on just a moment ago.