Class C Makes Its Move
MEANWHILE, in a different classroom, the atmosphere was quite cold and strained. The assembled Class C students appeared greatly intimidated by the person standing at the podium before them.
“There’ve been many unnatural goings-on, wouldn’t you say?” he asked.
Ryuuen Kakeru was Class C’s leader and dictator. Yamada Albert, Ishizaki, and other students adept in martial arts stood next to him. They were willing to dispense punishment with their fists, should someone oppose him.
“There’s no way any of this could have been a coincidence.”
He spoke as if he were talking to himself, but his ambiguous words seemed to be directed at someone.
“First there was that test on the uninhabited island, and then the sports festival. Someone lurking in Class D knows how to think like me.”
“Someone thinks like you, Ryuuen-san? I can’t imagine someone like that in Class D, though,” blurted Ishizaki. To him, Ryuuen was a strange, incomprehensible being who commanded both respect and contempt.
Ryuuen smiled at Ishizaki. “I thought so, too. But not anymore.”
“So, are the events on the island and at the sports festival connected somehow?”
“Yes, exactly. But don’t worry. I’m starting to see how this person handles things. Listen up, all of you! From here on out, we’re going to hit Class D with everything we’ve got. We’ll put Classes A and B aside for the time being. I’ll smoke out the person working in Class D’s shadows,” said Ryuuen.
No one objected to his plan. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t. They’d already made a deal with the devil himself.
“Ryuuen-san, is there really anyone competent in Class D, besides Horikita or Hirata?”
“Yes. And someone in Class C can expose the puppet master’s true identity.” Ryuuen turned away from Ishizaki and gazed upon the rest of the class once more.
“What are you trying to say, Ryuuen?” asked Ibuki, crossing her arms. She stood near the window, her posture defiant.
“Heh. Ibuki, can’t you even listen quietly?” asked Ryuuen.
“I don’t have that luxury. Besides, you’re just trying to intimidate the entire class. I gain nothing from silence, right?”
“You know, someone with no authority shouldn’t be talking. Besides, you made a rather disgraceful blunder, didn’t you?” said Ryuuen.
“That’s…” She was forced to swallow her words.
Ibuki’s failure in the sports festival had been significant. Ryuuen had wanted nothing more than to crush Horikita. Ibuki had requested to challenge Horikita directly, but had been narrowly defeated.
“Like you, then?” said Ibuki, glaring at Ryuuen. This was her only opportunity for rebuttal. “I mean, you also failed to crush Horikita in the sports festival, or to get the private points you expected. You’re the same as me.”
“The same as you? Don’t make me laugh. My strategy was perfect,” said Ryuuen.
“So, how do you explain the results? You never explain anything. You seriously expect to convince us that Class D has some master strategist?” said Ibuki.
Hearing Ibuki’s comeback, the other students trembled in fear. They wanted to avoid incurring Ryuuen’s wrath.
However, Ryuuen only smiled thinly. “Don’t you think that a perfect strategy is meaningless if someone leaks information?”
“Class D’s success is due to the maneuverings of a mysterious person I’ll refer to as ‘X.’ X has an ally in Class C—my class. There’s a spy among us,” said Ryuuen.
Everyone looked slightly confused.
Ibuki’s eyes widened in shock. “Wait, are you serious?” she asked.
“It’s true. It seems that my control over you isn’t strong enough. It’s extremely unfortunate,” said Ryuuen.
He smiled as if he enjoyed the possibility of being spied upon. Everyone in the room started praying that this would be over quickly. They all yearned to scurry back to their dorms or rush off to their club activities.
“This nonsense is coming to an end right this instant,” said Ryuuen. He slammed the top of the podium, silencing everyone. Without hesitation, he declared, “First, I’ll ask directly. The person who betrayed me, raise your hand.”
Of course, none of his classmates put up their hands. Some averted their eyes and feigned ignorance, while others looked around to see whether anyone came forward. Some stayed completely still to avoid drawing attention to themselves.
“If you just step forward now, I’ll forgive you,” said Ryuuen. The continuing silence seemed to delight him. “Yes. I knew that a spy would plan to stay hidden. Don’t come forward. In fact, stay hidden at all costs.”
No one could have imagined that he would tell their class spy to stay concealed.
“Wait, what? You’re not seriously going to accept that Class C has a traitor, are you?”
“Shut up, Ibuki. Don’t get in the way of my fun. I’ll bury you if you do.” Ryuuen had been all smiles before, but his face twisted as he glared at Ibuki. He was completely serious.
Ryuuen treated men and women equally. If he determined someone to be a nuisance, he would do whatever it took to remove them, regardless of their gender.
“I’ve actually tried not to get too violent so far. You may think I’m lying, but it’s true. I’ve taken it easy on my opponents.”
He slammed the podium twice. BAM! BAM! It was the class’s death knell.
“But maybe that was foolish. I mean, now we have a traitor among us.”
Ryuuen struck the podium once more. BAM! The sound reverberated through the room. The timid students shook.
“So, we’re going to play a little game. A silly, childish little game where we try to find the spy. For most students, there’s really no need to be afraid. This shouldn’t take long at all; just thirty minutes,” said Ryuuen.
Despite his insistence that everyone should have fun, it was obvious that everyone was terrified. Even Ibuki started to feel apprehensive.
“First things first. Take your phones out, and place them on your desks. I’ll come by and check personally. Are there any idiots who didn’t bring their phones? They should step forward immediately. One of them is the culprit,” said Ryuuen.
The students immediately put their phones on their desks.
“Great job listening,” he told them. “That helps a lot.”
Ishizaki went around the room and collected them, attaching a label with the owner’s name to each phone. The labels seemed to have been prepared ahead of time. Ibuki handed her phone over to Ishizaki, looking dissatisfied.
“Ryuuen-san, I collected everyone’s phones,” said Ishizaki. “Ours too.”
“Good work. Well, I think it’s time for a thorough investigation, don’t you?”
“What should we check? The call histories?”
“Come now, as if someone trying to hide their identity would make an incriminating call! Look at the email histories. Then look at the texts. Read all of them, even if it’s just a minor conversation. The traitor might have used an alias.”
“W-wait a minute! There are lots of really private messages on my phone, though!” shouted one girl, her desire not to have Ryuuen see her personal information outweighing the risk of him suspecting her.
“You really don’t want me to read what’s on your phone, Nishino?”
“Of course I don’t! Even if it’s just you, Ryuuen-kun!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Nishino. You gave Ryuuen your phone on the cruise ship, didn’t you?” said Ishizaki. “Why are you so—?”
“Th-this is different from back then! All he did on the cruise ship was check the email I received from the school!”
Ryuuen listened to Nishino’s appeal with cold indifference. During our summer vacation, Ryuuen had gone through all of his classmates’ phones on the cruise ship. However, as Nishino had said, he didn’t go through any private information; he only confirmed the correspondence they had received from the school.
This situation seemed similar, but it really wasn’t. If someone were to go through and read through their entire phones, word of people’s crushes or who disliked who would spread like wildfire. This kind of private information had to be kept under wraps.
“You know that this will make you a prime suspect, Nishino?”
“I-I will obey you, Ryuuen-kun, but there are some things I can’t accept!”
Nishino wasn’t the type to argue, but in this case, it looked like she was dead serious. She’d loudly announced that she had something on her phone that she didn’t want other people to see.
“Are you the spy, Nishino?” asked Oda, who was just one of the students beginning to suspect Nishino.
“No, I’m not the spy!”
“But the fact that you’re hiding something is pretty suspicious.”
“I just want to protect my privacy!”
Ryuuen showed no interest at all in the current conversation. He grabbed one of the phones. “This is your phone, Nishino?”
“Hey!” Nishino panicked, sure that he’d start reading her messages.
However, Ryuuen handed Nishino’s phone to Ishizaki. “Give this back to her.”
“I-Is that okay? You didn’t check the contents.”
“I told you to give it to her.”
Ishizaki quietly returned Nishino’s phone. She and the other students shook.
“Really, it’s not such a mystery. I confirmed your innocence, so I returned your phone. That’s only natural, right? If it’s not the traitor’s phone, then looking at it would be a waste of time and effort,” said Ryuuen. He disregarded the bewildered Nishino, then continued on with no change in his affect.
“If anyone here thinks that what I’m doing is unacceptable, like Nishino said, raise your hand. However, prepare to come under even more suspicion than she did.”
Nishino didn’t have her phone inspected, but she had been deemed innocent. Anyone else who followed probably wouldn’t be so fortunate. Basically, Ryuuen was telling them to choose between being becoming a suspect or keeping their privacy. Faced with those two options, four girls and two boys raised their hands, despite their fear.
“Six people are standing up to Ryuuen-san. The spy is definitely among them, I’m sure of it! Nomura-san, you were the last one to raise your hand. You’re not jumping on the bandwagon to save your own skin, are you?” said Ishizaki.
“N-no, that’s not it! I’m not doing that!” shouted Nomura.
While Ishizaki hurled accusations, Ryuuen wore an eerie smile. “Gather their phones.”
Ishizaki collected six phones and immediately handed them to Ryuuen.
“So, you’re okay with being my prime suspects as long as I don’t look through your phones?” asked Ryuuen.
All six students agreed, though their responses were all slightly different.
“You took quite a bit of time before you raised your hand, Nomura. Were you just biding your time?”
“Huh? No, I didn’t—”
“You’ve been looking around all shifty-eyed. And you’re sweating, hmm?”
Nomura had a very timid personality, and he seemed on the verge of fainting. Ryuuen let out an amused chuckle before turning to Ishizaki once more. “Ishizaki. These six are all innocent. Return their phones,” he ordered.
A second shock. No one other than Ryuuen himself could understand this reasoning.
“Will you explain what’s going on here?” asked Ibuki.
“Later.” Ryuuen ran his hand through his hair and picked up Ibuki’s phone. “Well then, let’s investigate the rest of the phones. I’ll start with yours, Ibuki.”
“Do whatever you want.”