Chapter 3: The Transfer Student is the Second Childhood Friend
"Well then, let's start practicing some basic IS maneuvers. Orimura, Alcott, try flying with your ISs."
It was near the end of April, the time when the late-blooming Sakura petals were falling. Today, I'm seriously learning from the instructor from hell called Chifuyu-nee.
"Hurry up! A properly trained pilot doesn't need more than a second to deploy the IS."
After being prompted, I started to concentrate.
Once the IS is optimized, it will remain with the pilot in the form of a decoration. Cecilia's is an earring on her left ear, and mine is an arm guard...no wait, they're mostly decorations, but mine's a defense tool, right? Why is it?
"You better concentrate!"
Damn it, I'll get beaten up next time.
I stretched my right arm out, and used my left hand to grab it. After many tries, I found out that this pose allows me to concentrate best—or rather, it allows me to imagine deploying my IS best.
(Come out! [Byakushiki]!)
I muttered in my heart. At that moment, I felt a thin layer extend from my right wrist over my entire body. The time it took to deploy was about 0.7 seconds. The balls of light scattered out from my body before seemingly combining together to form the IS.
My body instantly became lighter, and all sorts of sensors started being linked to my consciousness, which raised my line of sight. In the blink of an eye, my body was equipped with the IS [Byakushiki] and was floating about 10cm above the ground.
Cecilia was also equipped with her own IS [Blue Tears] as she floated. The BITs that were destroyed by me during our battle were already completely repaired.
After Chifuyu-nee said that, Cecilia immediately got into action. She quickly rose up and stopped high above the ground.
Though I managed to do it as well, my speed of ascent was much slower than Cecilia's.
"What are you doing? In terms of specs, [Byakushiki] has a higher power output!"
A lecture could be heard from the communication line. On a side note, I've only just learned how to do an emergency ascent and descent, and that the method of piloting is to 'push in the direction I imagine'. However, I just can't grasp that feeling.
"Ichika-san, imagination is just imagination. You should find a more suitable image for yourself!"
"Even if you say that, I can't really understand it. Basically, this feeling of flying through the air is still strange to me. How can this thing even fly?"
Though the [Byakushiki] does have two pairs of wings, if I think of it like this, it can't possibly fly like a plane does. Basically, since the theory of flying is unrelated to the direction the wings spread, it can fly in any directions, which makes me wonder what is going on.
"I wouldn't mind explaining it, but there's a lot to it. This includes the anti-gravity wings and the theory of flow interference."
"I know, you don't need to explain it to me."
I immediately refused. My brain definitely can't process all of that.
"Is that so? What a pity. Hoho."
Cecilia revealed a delighted smile, and it was neither a ridiculing, nor a courteous one. It was just a normal, happy smile.
Ever since that match, she seems to always have a reason to train me, which I'm really grateful for. Also, as expected of a representative candidate, she's really outstanding.
However, how much has her mindset changed? Her initial attitude seems to be a lie or something.
"Ichika-san, if you want to, I can teach you after school. We'll be alon—"
"ICHIKA! HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP FLYING UP THERE!? HURRY UP AND GET DOWN!"
An angry shout could be heard from the communicator. Looking closely, far far below on the ground was Houki, who snatched the speaker from Yamada-sensei, while looking completely flustered. On a side note, my vision could be compared to that of a telescope, and it was all due to the IS high-grade sensors. I could see everything clearly from 200 m above the ground. If this sort of ability were to be used for something bad, it could really create quite a lot of trouble!
"Let me add on a bit, right now, the sensors are still limited. The IS was originally intended for space activity, and since the IS has to grasp objects at a distance of tens of thousands kilometers, it's to be expected that we can see so many small things at this distance, so clearly."
As expected of a model student, to be so knowledgeable on such stuff. On a side note, Houki's explanation was like:
"Like a 'mm' feeling."
"With a 'dong' touch."
"And also with a 'clang' mode."
Her explanation was completely useless to me. Speaking of which, did Houki really activate an IS just like that? I haven't really started practicing how to pilot an IS, so I didn't ask how far Houki had gone with that.
On another side note, Cecilia would always rebut Houki's explanations, and then both of them would start to squabble. If so, she's soft to me, yet antagonistic to Houki. Why is that?
"Orimura, Alcott, try doing a sudden dive and then come to a complete halt. The target is 10cm above the ground."
"R-Roger. In that case, I'll be going first."
After saying that, Cecilia immediately dropped towards the floor. I was somewhat impressed as I watched her become smaller.
"You're good, aren't you?"
Just like that, she seemed to have completely stopped perfectly—okay, time for me to go down.
I gathered my concentration as an image of a rocket cannon firing from my wings formed in my mind; after focusing on that, I instantly dived down to the ground.
I landed. However, to an expert, it would seem more like a crash. My body didn't hit the ground too hard due to the anti-gravity function, but my heart nearly got killed by my classmates' laughter. If possible, I hope that the IS could protect my heart as well.
"You idiot. Who asked you to open a hole in the ground?"
Anyway, I got a hold of myself, and rose from the ground. Thanks to the IS shields, the [Byakushiki] didn't get dirty.
"You're embarrassing! Ichika, have you forgotten what I taught you yesterday?"
Giving me a cold stare, Houki folded her arms in front of her chest as she waited for me there. What you 'taught me yesterday'...don't tell me you are talking about those weird noises? Houki can actually tell a joke! Hm, so having a change in perspective is a good thing.
"You're definitely thinking something rude right now, aren't you?"
Why is it that others can read my mind?
"Basically Ichika, ever since the past, you've been—"
Just when I thought that Houki was going to continue to rattle on, someone actually appeared in front of me and interrupted her.
"Ichika-san, are you alright? Are you hurt?"
"O-Oh, I'm alright..."
"Is that so? That's great."
Hohoho, Cecilia again laughed happily. Uu—a girl's emotions just change when they want to. I really want to ask, who it was that said that 'a girl's feelings are like an autumn's sky'? Isn't it even more unpredictable than the weather?
"...How could he possibly be injured when he is equipped with an IS..."
"Ah, Shinonono-san, isn't it normal to be concerned about others? Even if he's equipped with an IS, this is common sense, right?"
"You're one to talk, you wolf in sheep clothing."
"Well, it's better than donning the clothes of a demon."
*BOOM!* Both glared at each other, creating many sparks...no, even though they're not creating sparks, for some reason, I'm seeing them. Is it because of the IS sensors? If that's the case, even though it's amazing, it's not hard to think that this is something useless. Speaking of which, the relationship between these two seems to be on even worse terms, I wonder why?
"Hey you, idiots, don't block the way. If you want to quarrel, go somewhere else!"
Forcefully pushing Houki and Cecilia's heads apart, Chifuyu-nee stood in front of me.
"Orimura, deploy your weapon. You should be able to do so at will, right?"
"Okay, let's begin."
Hearing her words, I turned to the side. After confirming that no one was in front of me, I, once again, used my left hand to grab my right wrist.
—It can cut through objects, has the shape of a sword. It's a sharp, solid object, and also a strong weapon—
My left hand held onto my right hand tightly, and at the moment my focus was at its peak, my palm let out a glow, which shaped itself into an object.
Once the glow vanished, my hand was holding onto the 'Yukihira Nigata'.
(Great, now I can summon it all the time!)
It's also a hard thing to imagine this, but this is to be expected, right? Who'll start thinking of a sword when going about with their daily lives?
"Too slow! Practice until you can summon it within 0.5 seconds."
Ack, there she goes again...not only did she not praise me, she even looked down on me. No matter what she says, This is all I could improve within just one week!
"Cecilia, deploy your weapons."
She raised her hand to where her shoulder was, and then stretched her arm to the side. Unlike me, she didn't glow, but gave off a sudden burst of light. With just that, she was already holding onto the 'Starlight MkIII'.
Compared to me, she was a whole lot faster, and her gun was loaded. Cecilia just had to look in order to remove the safety. Within one second, she deployed her weapon, even getting ready to shoot.
"As expected of a representative candidate—however, you've got to change your pose. Who're you aiming at when you point your gun to the side? Try and point it at the front."
"Bu-But, but I need to maintain this for my image—"
"CHANGE IT! YOU HEAR ME?"
Cecilia looked like she wanted to argue back, but she immediately shut up after Chifuyu-nee glared at her. Seems like we just trained one good soldier!
"Cecilia, deploy your close-range weapon."
"Wha? Ah, yes, yes!"
Cecilia seemed to be grumbling about something (that's definitely it), so she got shocked when she was called, and answered slowly.
The gun in her hand became light particles—this seems to be called 'keeping'—and then, she 'deployed' a new close-ranged weapon.
However, the glow in her hand couldn't shape itself as it floated around in the air.
"Isn't it ready yet?"
"It, it'll be ready soon—ahh, damn it! 'Interceptor'!"
She half-reluctantly shouted out her weapon's name. After her focus gathered, the glow shaped into the weapon.
However, the preface of the textbook did mention this before. It mentioned that this is a 'beginner's method'. For a representative candidate like Cecilia to deploy the weapon through this method, it's really humiliating.
"...How long did you take? Do you want the enemy to wait for you in a real battle?"
"In, in a real battle, I wouldn't allow the enemy to enter my range! So, so there would be no problem!"
"Oh? But against Orimura, you seemed to have easily let a beginner get close to you."
"Th-That, that's because..."
Cecilia mumbled; Not knowing what to do, she was obviously unable to speak clearly. Just as I was looking at this indifferently, she glared at me.
At that moment, a signal came through a private frequency.
"It's all your fault!"
"Be-Because you came rushing at me..."
My IS only had a close-ranged weapon, of course it became like that.
"You, you better take responsibility!"
What do you want me to take responsibility for?
—On a side note, I didn't respond to her signals, she was just sending them to me. Maybe I should say that I have no idea how this private frequency is to be imagined. What's with the 'imagine with the rear right side of the head to communicate'? And what rear right side of the head are you talking about?
"Time's up, that's it for today's lesson. Orimura, clear up the field."
You mean that you want me to fill up that large hole? Where's the soil?
I glanced at Houki, only to see her quickly turning her head away. Seems like she doesn't want to help out.
As for Cecilia—she was long gone.
...I got it! You people want me to settle this by myself, right? Forget it, This is a man's job, as it is one which requires strength. Those guys who need girls to do labor work are just trash.
(Never mind, I had it coming...)
Seems like I've still got a long way to go before I can thoroughly learn how to pilot an IS.
"Oh, so this is the place..."
At night, in front of the IS Academy Entrance, stood a girl with a Boston bag that didn't match her petite size at all.
Her hair that was flowing in the still warm April night was tied with two ponytails on both sides at the top of her head. Her hair that looked like it was going to touch her shoulder was a pretty brown color that matched the yellow hairband it was with.
"Lemme see, where's the reception counter?"
She pulled out a slip of paper from her shirt's pocket. That crumpled piece of paper really was proof of the girl's straightforward character and her lively nature.
"The 1st level General Service Counter in the Main Building...so I want to know, WHERE IS IT?"
No matter how much she grumbled, she won't get an answer from the paper. The girl stuffed the paper along with her frustration into her shirt pocket. Even though the crumpling sound could be heard, she didn't mind at all.
"I'll just have to find it, right? So be it!"
As she muttered this, her feet continued to move. 'Instead of thinking, why not take action?'— that is the sort of girl she is. To put it nicely, she followed the 'practical doctrine'; to put it bluntly, she 'doesn't thoroughly think things through'.
—Really...I was told that no one would come to pick me up, but isn't this too ruthless of them? Those government people, really...aren't they worried about dumping a 15-year-old girl in a foreign country?
At first glance, the girl looks like a Japanese, but taking a closer look, she doesn't really look like one. Those sharp and beautiful eyes of hers belong to a Chinese.
Even so, to this girl, Japan is not only her second homeland, it's also a place that she's very familiar with and has fond memories of. As History puts it aptly 'History is a human's story'.
(Is anyone around? A student or a teacher? Anyone who can lead me?)
As she continued to walk in this unfamiliar school, she was still looking around for people. However, it was already past 8pm, and the lights in the campus were already out. At this hour, the students were already in their dorms.
(Ah—that's enough! So troublesome! I might as well fly through the sky and look...)
Despite her 'this is a good idea' feeling, upon remembering the school rule book, which was as thick as 3 'city telephone directories', she immediately dismissed it.
"It would be bad if you activate your IS at school before being formally transfered! In the worst case, it would become a diplomatic issue. Please spare us that agony!" Once she remembered the high-ranking officials pleas and useless expressions, the girl started to feel better.
(Haha, that's right, I'm an important person as well! Better have some self-discipline.)
To be honest, seeing adults many times her age kneeling down and begging her stirs a good feeling.
For her, who has always hated 'adults who flaunt on their seniority', today's society could be described as `comfortable´.
"Men's muscle power is just a kid's act, a lady's IS is the real justice'. She was happy about this as well, because she had always been a girl who hated 'kids whom are full of themselves just because they're males'.
—However, that guy's different.
She remembered a certain boy. To her, he was the biggest reason for her return to Japan.
—I wonder if he's doing alright now?
Hm, maybe he's still rather energetic. She never saw him being gloomy. He's that kind of a person.
Suddenly, a sound was heard. She turned to its point of origin, and saw some girls coming back from an IS training facility. She could immediately identify it because all IS related facilities in every country look similar.
—Great, I'll just ask them!
The girl strolled towards the entrance of the arena to ask them.
"Anyway, I'm not thinking like that!"
The unexpected shout shocked the girl as she stopped.
It's a guy's voice—similar to one she's familiar with. No, most likely it is that person's voice.
This unexpected reunion caused the girl's heart to race.
—Will he recognize me? He should be able to, right? It has been only a year.
She told herself this while being distracted by the thought 'what if he doesn't recognize me?'.
—It's alright, it's alright! Besides, if he doesn't recognize me, it means that I've gotten prettier!"
Getting into an ultra-optimistic thinking mode, she once again moved forward.
Ah, the volume's too much! Doesn't this mean that I'm mindful about this? So embarrassing!
"Ichika, when are you going to grasp that feeling? You've been stuck at it since last week!"
"That's because your explanation is too unique. What's that 'huh' feeling?"
"...It's a 'huh' feeling."
"Didn't I tell you I don't know what that is—Hey, wait for me, Houki!"
The boy chased after the girl as she walked very fast.
—Who's that girl? Why do they seem so familiar with each other? Why are they calling each other by their names?
The racing heartbeat vanished as if it had never taken place, and it is replaced with an icy feeling, as if an avalanche had struck, stirring her with frustration.
After that, she quickly found the General Service Counter. The main building was actually behind the arena, and since it was lit over there, she immediately found the place.
"Mm, then, the procedures are complete. Welcome to IS Academy, Huang Lingyin-san."
The receptionist's friendly words seemed distant to her, as none of it was engraved into her brain. The girl—Lingyin didn't look happy at all. She pouted and asked,
"Which class is Orimura Ichika in?"
"Oh, that famous kid? He's in class 1. Huang-san's in class 2, so you're in neighboring classes. Oh yeah, that kid's the representative of class 1. As expected of Orimura-sensei's younger brother!"
It's women's nature to gossip. Lingyin coldly stared at the receptionist, who noticed this as the girl continued to ask,
"Is the class representative of class 2 decided?"
"What's her name?"
"What? Erm...why are you asking this?"
Perhaps because she noticed that Lingyin's attitude was a bit weird, the receptionist looked troubled as she asked.
"I would like to ask her if she could relinquish the position of class representative to me—"
Veins could be seen popping out of her smiling face.
"Orimura-kun, congratulations on becoming the class representative!"
*PA!* *PA!* *PA!* *PA!* The pops land on me from all directions, and the colored ribbons that land on me weigh a lot more on my heart than the actual weight itself.
On a side note, it's now free time during dinner, and this is a campus restaurant. Everyone in class 1 is gathered here, and each one is holding their own drink. The atmosphere's rather animated.
I don't want to celebrate! I don't want to celebrate at all! What's with this party?
I glanced at the wall. There's an 'Orimura Ichika Class Representative Assignment Party' banner. Oh, so it's a assignment party...sigh.
"Ya—the class representative tournament will be a lot more exciting!"
"That's right, that's right!"
"We're really lucky to be in the same class as him."
"That's right, that's right!"
From those girls conversation, they should be from class 2, right? Or is it just me? Speaking of which, isn't it too strange? There's definitely more than 30 people here. Why is it that there are more people than there are in our class whenever we gather everyone in class?
"You're really popular, Ichika."
"...You really think so?"
Houki gave a cold response before drinking. Why is she in a bad mood again?
"Look over here, look over here. I'm from the News Paper Club. I'm here to do a scoop on the hotly discussed freshman — Orimura Ichika-kun's special interview!"
Everyone gave an excited 'oh'. What 'oh'?
"Ah, I'm Mayuzumi Kaoruko, nice to meet you. I'm the vice-president of the News Paper Club. Here! This is my card."
I received the card and looked at the name. Sure has a lot of strokes in the kanji, she herself must feel that it's bothersome to write her own name.
"Then, then, Orimura-kun! Please state your thoughts on becoming the class representative. Here!"
She held the recorder in front of me, her eyes shining like the ones of a naive kid.
What should I say? I have no intention of going along, but I can't betray everyone's expectations. Sigh, I'm just a weak Japanese anyway.
"Huh, anyway, I'll do my best."
"Huh—give us something awesome~~ like, like 'don't get too close to me, you'll get hurt' or something like that!"
What the heck! That's a popular line from the last generation, right?
"I don't really talk a lot."
"Wow, an outdated proclamation!"
What? Are you mocking the Japanese actor that we're so proud of?
"How about you make up a few sentences?"
This isn't good at all! Do news broadcasts air all arbitrary and biased news? That's scary!
"Oh yeah, how about having Cecilia say a few words?"
"I don't really like to make this sort of interview, but since you asked me, it can't be helped."
Though she's grumbling, she doesn't look like she's refusing...and she's already waiting over there! I don't know if I'm thinking too much, but her hair's a lot more glamorous than usual. Maybe she's ready to take a photo or something?
"Ahem. Then, first, we'll have the ex-class representative make a statement, so—"
"Ahh, if it's going to be long, forget about it. Just take a photo."
"You, hear me out to the very end!"
"No problem, I'll just make up some content. Oh, let's just assume that you like Orimura-kun."
"Wha, wha, what...?"
Cecilia immediately blushed. Seems like she's definitely angry. Hm, better find some cover from the fire.
"What nonsense are you spouting?"
"That, that's right! What's stupid about it?"
What, that's weird? Why is Cecilia angry at me? Don't glare at me. That's scary.
"Okay okay, anyway, both of you, please stand together! I'm going to take a photo now."
Cecilia sounded rather surprised. However, it seemed like she was rather delighted as well.
"Because you have your own personal IS! Let me take a photo. Ah, it would be good to hold hands too!"
"Is, is that so...that's right."
For some reason, Cecilia, who's starting to fidget, continues to peek at me. I'm getting the 'now's the chance, but I can't let people feel that I'm very casual' vibe from her.
"Excuse me, but you'll give me a copy of the photo, right?"
"Then let me go change clothes first—"
"No way, that'll take too much time. Okay, hurry up and stand together."
Mayuzumi–sempai pulled Cecilia's hand and mine before making us hold hands together directly. What a hard-styled sempai.
"What is it?"
"Not-Nothing, nothing at all."
As she was staring at me, I thought that she felt that something was wrong. Seems like I'm mistaken. Really, I really can't understand her.
"...What now, Houki?"
This side's staring at me as well...I'll omit that, please read on.
"Then I'm going to take it. What's 35 times 51 divided by 24~~?"
"Huh? Let me think...2?"
What the heck.
*Pacha!* She pressed down on the shutter of the digital camera...hold on, hey!
"Why is everyone squeezing together here!?"
Everyone in class moved at an utterly terrifying speed as they immediately gathered around Cecilia and me the moment the photo was taken. Ah, even Houki's moving in! What is this group of idiots trying to do?
"You, you people!"
"Don't mind, don't mind."
"Cecilia can't just have a headstart, right—"
"Wouldn't it be great to have a class memory?"
Everyone was unanimously saying persuasive-like things to Cecilia. Why is that?
My classmates started to stare cheekily at Cecilia, who was unable to say anything...why's that so?
Anyway, this 'Orimura Ichika Class Representative Assignment Party' lasted until past 10pm.
Damn it, I underestimated the girls' energy. Before I realized it, it was already late at night, and my strength had already vanished for no apparent reason as I collapsed onto the bed.
"Today sure was fun, right? Good for you."
Houki said such irritating words with a mocking tone. What's she planning to do? Start a quarrel with me?
"Who says that I'm happy? Would being tired make me happy? If you were in my position, would you be happy?"
"Uu...ah, that's right, maybe I would be happy!"
She definitely doesn't feel that way, but this person here would never take her words back once she says it, and would always end up suffering. She's that sort of person. Seems like I'll have to end this conversation quickly, or else even I'll feel weird if she's going to continue on with something weirder.
"Whatever. I'm going to sleep now."
"Wha-What? It's just 10.30pm!"
"I'm already tired! It's best to sleep now."
After I said that, I snuggled into my bed; and then, a pillow suddenly came flying over at me.
"Hey—what's with you?"
"That, that is something I should be asking, right? I'm going to change into my sleepwear, so face the other direction!"
Though we've been living together for more than a week, why is it that she always wants to change into her sleepwear when I'm around? Couldn't she have done it when I'm brushing my teeth? Really, I wonder that myself.
"Hey, Houki. I did tell you before that you should change clothes when I'm not around—"
I got glared at.
"I get it, I get it. I'm turning over now."
That's why I said that girls are hard to understand. Anyway, I turned to face the other side.
That's right, I hate this silence. It feels strangely long, and the sound of clothes rubbing together really bothers me. I'm a healthy 15-year-old, it's hard to get used to this uncomfortable feeling.
I heard the sound of clothes being put on, and my mind recalled the time when I saw her finish bathing, which made me unable to calm down.
After that, the sound of her changing clothes affected me, and I couldn't sleep at all.
"I-It's fine now."
After gaining permission, I again turned my body around. Though I do feel that there's no need to deliberately switch around like that, but after I said that just now, Houki got angry for some reason, so I decided not to mention it again.
"Oh? Is that a new sash?"
Houki changed into a bedtime yukata. She's really one traditional-styled person. However, I do feel that it looks good too.
Anyway, since the sash is different from what it was yesterday, I pointed that out without thinking much further.
"You, you sure are perceptive."
That's strange? Is it my imagination? For some reason, I feel that the sharp attitude of hers is gone now, and, did her mood improve just now? I really can't understand her.
"No, it's not that. The color and pattern are different, so of course I would notice it. I look at Houki every day after all."
"Is, is that so? You were looking at...me? I get it, I get it."
Why is she nodding about it so happily?
"Okay! Let's sleep!"
Is this the enthusiasm that a person who's about to sleep should have? She's really strange.
Anyway, Houki snuggled into her bed and turned off the lights. The room was filled with silence.
(Uuu...I missed the opportunity to sleep.)
Sleepiness is something that occurs in moments. Once I miss it, it'll be hard to sleep before it occurs again. Maybe that's just for me though.
"Just, just now, about what happened...I'm sorry."
What is she talking about? Since I couldn't recall, I simply replied,
"It's fine, don't worry about it."
"Is, is that so? Then that's fine...then, goodnight."
Being sleepy right from the beginning, I never let go of this sleepiness now as I gradually slipped into dreamland.
In that night's dream, for some reason, I started to recall what happened in the past.
"Good morning, Orimura-kun. Have you heard about the rumor of the transfer student?"
In the morning, just as I was about to sit down, my classmates started talking to me. It's been several weeks since I entered school, and I can talk with the girls normally, so this should be considered a huge improvement, right? Besides, it would be lonely if I were left alone in class.
"A transfer student? At this time of the year?"
It's just April. Why isn't it an enrollment but a transfer? Besides, I heard that the conditions required to enter this IS Academy are rather strict. An exam's definitely required, and without a country's recommendation, it's impossible to enroll here. Which means—
"That's right. I heard that it's a transfer student from China!"
"Woah, is that so?"
Since we're talking about a transfer student.
"Oh my, so is she wary of my existence and decided to transfer in?"
Class 1-1's representative from England, Cecilia Alcott; like usual, the pose of putting her hand on her hip really fits her this morning. Don't tell me that all English folks would do this pose?
"She can't possibly transfer into this class, right? There's nothing to get worked up over."
That's strange. Houki was definitely walking to her seat (at the front row near the window), and somehow she appeared beside me who knows when. Since Houki's a girl, she should be rather sensitive about this sort of rumors, right?
"What sort of girl is she?"
Since she's a representative, she should be rather strong, right? And she's also like Cecilia. What, is she an arrogant person? Really, I'm sick of it. Oh well, at least she's going into another class, so doesn't concern me.
"Uu...are you concerned about that?"
"Hm? Yeah, a little."
After I answered honestly, for some reason, Houki's mood worsened as she shows an unhappy look. Nowadays, it seems like her mood will swing from good to bad; such a troublesome person. Is her mind unstable? Or maybe that's the rebellious mood that commonly appears among youths, right?
"You don't have the time to think about other girls? The class representative tournament is coming up next month."
"That's right! Just like that, Ichika-san. In order to get ready for the class representative tournament, we'll be having more practical lessons. As for the opponent, allow me, Cecilia Alcott to take that place. Besides, the only ones with a personal machine in this class are me and Ichika-san."
She forcefully emphasized the 'only'...but that's right. If it were the other classmates, requesting a training suit, getting authorization and optimizing it would take a whole day, so if I want a quick mock battle, asking Cecilia would be the fastest way.
On a side note, the class representative tournament is just what the name implies, it's a battle between the class representatives, and a chance to give everyone a realistic goal before they really start learning how to pilot an IS.
Besides, this also seems to allow the classes to act as units and allow each other to work together.
In order to motivate everyone, the class that gets the first prize will earn half a year's worth of free dessert coupons. I see, no wonder the girls are so excited.
"Oh well, I'll do what I can."
"Doing what you can isn't enough! Ichika-san, you have to win!"
"That's right! As a guy, how can you not have some self-confidence!?"
"If Orimura-kun wins, the entire class will be happy!"
Cecilia, Houki and all my classmates, they are all saying nice things. But even if you say that, though not too serious, the obstacles I've faced in my basic IS training won't allow me to confidently answer everyone's expectations.
(I did have a nostalgic feeling when I first activated it...)
The feeling I first experienced was like a rebirth, and now it's completely gone. Even so, I'm steadily getting used to piloting an IS because [Byakushiki] is getting optimized to my characteristics...or something like that, right?
One, two, very soon, everyone started to gather, and I was surrounded by girls. Since this is something that happens normally, I've gotten used to it.
However, the one thing I really can't get is that girls really like to gossip.
"Do your best, Orimura-kun!"
"This is for the free coupons!"
"At this point, only the representatives from class 1 and class 4 have a personal IS, so it should be easy to win this!"
As I didn't want to ruin my classmates' exciting mood, I merely replied with a 'yeah'.
"—Your information is outdated."
Hm? A voice came from the entrance of the door. Why do I find that voice familiar...
"The class representative of class 2 also has a personal IS, you know! You can't win that easily."
The person who folded her arms in front of her chest as she puts a leg on her other kneecap and leans on the wall is—
"Rin...? You're Rin, right?"
"That's right. I'm the representative candidate from China, Huang Lingyin. Today, I came here to declare war."
She gave a little smile as her trademark twin ponytails swayed about left and right.
"What are you acting cool for? It seriously doesn't suit you."
"Wha...? Why are you saying something like that?"
Ohh, at least she finally reverted back to her normal way of talking. What was that tone about just now? Really, I can't understand that.
"What was that for—"
*PA!* Asking that, Rin got hit viciously by the attendance book—the instructor from hell has arrived.
"It's time for SHR. Head back to class."
"Call me Orimura-sensei! Hurry up and go back, don't block the door here. You're a bother"
Rin trembled as she retreated from the door; that attitude clearly shows that she's afraid of Chifuyu-nee. She's always been afraid of Chifuyu-nee, but I just don't know why.
"I'll come again later. Don't run away, Ichika."
Why must I run away?
"Hurry up and get back."
She dashed towards class 2. Hm, still the same Rin I know. However, why must she purposely come all the way here just to act cool? Is she trying to change her image after entering High school? That really doesn't suit her at all.
"So, she's an IS pilot? This is the first time I heard of that..."
I subconsciously uttered out what I was thinking...this is bad.
"...Ichika, who was that? Someone you know? You two seem rather familiar with each other."
"I-Ichika-san? What sort of relationship do you have with that girl—"
Everyone else started to gather their fire as they aim and fire questions at me. Sigh, I was so stupid...
*PA!* *PA!* *PA!* *PA!*
"HURRY UP AND GET TO YOUR SEATS, YOU BUNCH OF IDIOTS!"
Chifuyu-nee's attendance book puffs out fire...is it my fault?—yes it is.
(Hm—but why am I reuniting with all the people I know? What they call life is really inexplicable.)
And then, a whole day of IS training begins.
(Who was that girl just now...seems like she's very familiar with Ichika...)
Getting so concerned about the girl that appeared this morning, Houki has been unable to concentrate during class.
(Besides, Ichika seems like he—)
It seems like they're childhood friends.
—She got infuriated.
(I should be his ONLY childhood friend, right...!?)
She continued to try and suppress her anger as she glanced at Ichika. But maybe he was really affected badly by the setback he had yesterday, as he was studying seriously.
(I can't even concentrate on the lesson, and you even...!)
She started to feel a lot angrier, and started to develop a little 'notice me some more!' feeling.
However, calming down and thinking about it, it's really nothing.
Besides, since she's living in the same room as Ichika, like yesterday, they can have time on their own.
(Really, such a worthless guy, I'll be the one to teach him more IS stuff!)
She folded her arms in front of her and smiled heartily. Her advantage won't change, this remains the same even with the presence of the girl that just appeared. Same goes for Cecilia, and the other classmates.
(Looks like we need more special training from today onwards.)
Houki nodded in happiness, her face unable to suppress the happy-look.
"Shinonono, what's the answer?"
Having her name called out, Houki accidentally raised her voice. They're having lessons now, and Orimura-sensei, not Yamada-sensei, is giving the lesson now.
"What is the answer?"
"...I, I wasn't paying attention to the lesson..."
*PAM!* The sound of a painful impact echoed throughout. The attendance book remains as hard as ever!
At the back of the classroom, Cecilia was drawing in her notebook with the mechanical pencil. However, she was just drawing some random lines, unable to create any phrases.
(Who was that? That person just now!)
She was really bothered by that girl who was obviously close to Ichika. Right now, she already has the strongest opponent in Houki, and she couldn't let the number of competitors rise.
Besides, in terms of relationship—with Ichika, the girl just now is obviously closer to him. Right now, she feels like she's like a marathon runner who has almost finished, only to have a runner overtake her from behind.
(That's too despicable! She should be fighting with me fairly!)
Though she doesn't really know if she intends to fight fairly in a relationship battle, this is what Cecilia thought.
She has enough confidence that if they were to fight over something under identical conditions, she wouldn't lose, but since this is the first time she's fighting over a guy with someone else, things aren't developing as she had hoped. This fact made Cecilia really anxious.
(And that girl's actually a representative candidate—)
In this IS Academy, there are little more than twenty representative candidates. However, this should mean that each grade should have four of them. And subtracting Ichika, the number of people who have a personal IS should be 2. This is an advantage Cecilia should have, but now...
(She said that she has a personal IS as well...)
This is bad, this is really bad. It's like she had let the medal in her hand be forfeited and rendered useless.
(This, this is cheating, right!?)
But then, it doesn't matter right now. She has to fight for the driver's seat, and it'll be useless if she can't deal the deathblow to Houki and Rin.
(An IS mock battle won't be enough, I have to find something much more definitive—)
"...How about I ask him out on a date. No, if I want an effective..."
*PAM!* The blond hair on her head got flattened by the attendance book.
"It's all your fault!"
"It's all thanks to you!"
When lunch started, the first thing Houki and Cecilia started to do was to scold me.
"What did I do now...?"
Just this morning alone, they got warned by Yamada-sensei 5 times and slammed by Chifuyu-nee 3 times. Don't they want to study?
Blanking out in front of Chifuyu-nee is like spreading barbecue sauce on their bodies in front of a ferocious tiger, as if trying to emphasize 'come, come eat me'.
"Oh well, if you have anything to say, we'll talk through lunch. Let's go to the canteen first."
"Uuu...well, since you said it, let's do it."
"That, that's right, it's not like I can't go along with you."
Okay okay okay, thanks girls.
Including the other girls from our class, our entire clique moved off to the canteen.
Like usual, I bought a Japanese set at the lunch voucher vending machine. It continues to reasonably provide different types of food, which I am truly grateful for.
On a side note, Houki got a beancurd skin udon, and Cecilia got a Western-styled lunch. Eating that again? You should try some other types as well. But for me, I don't really have the right to say that.
"I've waited for you for a long time, Ichika!"
*DONG!*, with a single sound, the one blocking me was the famous transfer student, Huang Lingyin. Adding on to that, I'll normally just call her 'Rin'.
But this person over here really hasn't changed a single bit. Her hairstyle's still the same twin pigtails (or more accurately, they should be called high-side ponytails)—hm? Oh, I can tell that it's the same person, just like Houki! Deep inside, I pat on these two childhood friends of mine who have such a common trait.
"Okay okay, just stand aside. I can't hand the voucher over if you continue to stand here, and you'll be blocking everyone as well."
"How, how long-winded! I know that!"
On a side note, she's holding onto a bowl of ramen.
"The noodle will lose its spring."
"I, I know that! Seriously, it's because you made me wait for you for so long! Why didn't you come over earlier?"
How should I know? I'm not an esper.
Oh well, it's not like she's not talkative for once. Anyway, I hand the voucher over to the madam.
"Speaking of which, it's really been a while. We haven't met for exactly a year, right? How are you doing right now?"
"O-Okay. What about you? At least get sick for once!"
"What kind of wish is that..."
The people of the opposite gender around me...I'll cut that short, please read the above. Why am I surrounded by so many people with such offensive power? Is it because I'm inconsiderate? I'm really sorry for that.
"Ahem! Ichika-san, your lunch is ready, you know?"
Houki and Cecilia immediately coughed loudly to interrupt my conversation with Rin. Ohh! So today's lunch set is salt-grilled mackerel. The appearance of that slightly charred skin really increases my appetite.
"The table over there is empty. Let's go over there."
Including Rin, I prompt everyone to follow along. Since this is a group of almost 10 people, it'll take us some time to move there.
Good thing we managed to move over to the table quickly. We're lucky.
"Rin? Since when have you been in Japan? How's aunty? When did you become a representative candidate?"
"You've asked too much already. I want to ask you, how could you use an IS? I was shocked when I saw you on the news."
Since it's a reunion after a year, I tossed out many questions that I wouldn't normally be asking. As a childhood friend, I would definitely be intrigued by how she has been during this time. It was the same when I met Houki again.
"Ichika, it's about time you give us an explanation."
"That's right, Ichika-san! Are you...going out with this person?"
Maybe because both of them felt somewhat strange to me, Houki and Cecilia sounded rather shrill when they asked me. The other classmates of course nodded their heads excitedly.
"N-no-no-not really, we aren't dating..."
"That's right, why must we go to that extent? We're only childhood friends."
"Why are you glaring at me?"
Rin just got angry. Such a strange person.
Houki replied with a surprised tone.
"Oh ya—let me see. Houki's family moved out when she had just finished 4th grade, right? Rin transferred in during 5th grade. After that, she went back to China when she finished her sophomore year in Middle school, so it's been about a year since I last saw her."
I see, so Houki and Rin never met before. They just happened to miss each other when they moved.
"Then, this is Houki. Oh, I told you about her before, right? She's a childhood friend I've known since grade school, she's the daughter of the dojo owner where I used to go to train kendo."
"Oh, I see."
Rin stared at Houki carefully, and Houki, not willing to lose, did the same.
"Nice to meet you, I hope we can get along."
"Yeah, me too."
While both of them greet each other, for some reason, I seem to see sparks flying between them. Am I hallucinating because of all the fatigue I've built up? If so, I need a rest. Some French boss mentioned before that Japaneses weakness is that they don't know how to rest. I'm finished, I'm already like this in High School. I'll definitely die once I enter society.
"Ahem! It would be bothersome if you forget about my existence. Representative from China, Huang Lingyin-san?"
"...Who are you?"
"What? I'm Cecilia Alcott, the representative candidate from England! Don't tell me you don't know me?"
"Um, I'm not really interested in other countries."
Cecilia got so angry that she couldn't even say anything. Her face is flushed red like a cooked cuttlefish—she would get angry if I say that, right? Better not say it.
"Let, let me say this first, I won't lose to someone like you!"
"Really? If we were to fight it out, I would win! Sorry, but I'm strong."
Rin said that in a somewhat proud voice. She hasn't changed one bit, always having a weird amount of self-confidence, and not having any malice in her words. This is the real her, she really thinks that way.
—But even if she doesn't mean any ill, some people might get angry.
"You, you actually dared to say it..."
Houki wordlessly put down her chopsticks; Cecilia trembled as she clenched her fist.
In contrast, Rin was still casually eating her ramen right in the afternoon. Casually (nani kuwanu), eating lunch in the afternoon (kao de meshi wo kuu)...that rhymes.
GYA! Did they find out what I was thinking? I'm just thinking of something random, so there should be no reason for them to scold me...sort of.
"I heard that you're class 1's representative."
"Oh? Yeah, well, things just turned out like that."
Rin picked her bowl up and started to drink the soup in large gulps. This person doesn't use anything like a spoon, maybe because 'she doesn't like to lack the attitude of a guy'...you're a girl, right?
"That, if possible, may I guide you a little on your IS piloting?"
She turned her face away, only giving me a glance. It's rare to see Rin stutter like this.
"That would be gre—"
*BAM!* twice the sound of the table being slammed on. Houki and Cecilia stood up after slamming it hard.
"It's my job to teach Ichika! He requested me to do it!"
"You're in class 2, right? We won't receive help from the enemy!"
Wah, both of them look absolutely terrifying. Seems like they're really into the inter-class battles. I should look up to them a bit more.
"I'm talking to Ichika right now. Would people not involved please leave?"
"Who, who said that I'm not involved? Ichika begged me to train him!"
Well, I didn't go to the extent of desperately begging...huh, that's strange. Seems like this was said before; as usual, Houki emphasized on the 'desperately' part, and looks like she seems to insist on this.
"Since he's the representative from class 1, he has to be taught by someone from class 1. Seeing how it is, to suddenly appear like this, I'm guessing that you're plotting something—"
"I didn't just pop out of nowhere. I've known Ichika longer than you have!"
"If, if you're going to point that out, I've known Ichika since a lot earlier than you! Besides, Ichika has often come over to our house to eat, so we understand each other very well!"
"He ate at your house? However, the same goes for me."
That's right, Rin's house is a Chinese cuisine shop. Though I would cook when Chifuyu-nee was at home, at that time, she was active as an IS pilot, so she didn't return home often.
Because of that, it was pointless for me to cook. If I'm going to eat by myself, though it's a little extreme, I just need instant noodles.
But speaking of that, instant noodles don't have any taste at all, and more importantly, they aren't good for your health. Because of that, I would consider going to a nearby shop. Rin's shop has cheap food which is delicious, and they are generous in their servings, so I would go there about 4, 5 times a week.
Because a lot of things happened during grade school, I would often go out with Rin. At the beginning...huh, because of Rin's personality, our relationship began with a rocky start. But after a lot of things happened, we got to know each other to such an extent that we could call each other by our names.
(Speaking of which, it was the same with Houki. We started off rough as well; was it because of my misdeeds—ah, even Cecilia's the same!)
"I-Ichika, what's going on!? I've never heard of this!!"
"Neither have I! Ichika-san, I demand a proper explanation!"
"What's to explain...we're just childhood friends, and I often patronized the Chinese restaurant Rin's family owns."
After I told them without holding anything back, Rin, who was looking rather carefree, now seems rather unhappy.
In contrast, Houki and Cecilia heave a sigh of relief.
"Wha-What? So it's just a restaurant?"
"Oh my, I see. If it's just a restaurant, there's nothing strange about it."
The girls from my class also looked tense before relaxing. Wha-What? Has Chifuyu-nee arrived?
"Is your dad doing well? No, he should have recovered by now, right?"
"What...erm, he's doing well—seems that way."
Hm? Rin suddenly looks rather depressed, and I feel that something's wrong here.
"So, so then, you're free after school, right? Since we haven't seen each other for such a long time, let's find a place to talk! Maybe the restaurant in front of the train station."
"Ah—it closed down last year."
"Is, is that so...what the heck! How, how about a student restaurant? You should have a lot of things to talk to me about, right?"
Uu—there's nothing much to say, is there? I was totally busy during my 3rd year, but that isn't something worth talking about.
"—Sorry, but Ichika's having special IS training with me, so he doesn't have time after school."
Hold on! Houki, why are you deciding things for me? Don't I have the right to decide what I want to do after school? There's nothing more unreasonable than this!
"That's right, special training is required for the inter-class tournament. I have my personal IS, you know? That's right, while Ichika-san's training, I have to be around no matter what."
The disadvantage (?) just now seemed to have disappeared, and the two people seemed to have seized a chance to attack as they suddenly mentioned the special training. They even took away my time after school! Are you girls devils? No, wait, they're helping me out a lot here.
However, people sometimes would love to see some affections. Even so, you gals could have asked me first, right? You have to learn some social skills if you want to survive.
"Well then, after you're done with training, I'll come looking for you. Remember to leave some time for me, okay? Bye bye Ichika!"
Rin drank up the last gulp of soup, packed her things and walked away without waiting for my reply. As expected, she couldn't possibly be polite enough to say good bye to everyone before leaving, as she leaves the canteen.
(So I have to wait for her before I can refuse...?)
"Ichika, I have priority in your training!"
"Ichika-san, we'll be spending meaningful time in your training, don't forget this fact."
And I can't refuse them here as well. Really, I'm suffering. Sigh...
After school, at the 3rd arena, I was expecting to see Cecilia training me on IS piloting, so I couldn't help but let out a sound when I saw that unexpected face.
"Wha-What's with that look...is it really that strange?"
"No, well, instead of saying that it's strange—"
"Shinonono-san? What are you doing here?"
That's right, Houki appeared in front of Cecilia and me, wearing the 'Uchigane' IS, deploying it.
Among IS that are locally produced, the Uchigane is a highly-rated 2nd generation frame. As it is a defensive model that focuses on stability, it's easy for beginners to use it, thus many countries, even this IS Academy, use it as a training model, so they're very common...all this comes from the textbook.
"What's with the 'why'? Ichika requested me to do so."
Did I—oh, I did, right?
"And besides, you still lack practice in close ranged combat, right? Which is why I'm stepping up here."
Just like she said, the Uchigane's design looks like an armored samurai. Basically, its only weapon is a 'close ranged sword'. Well, based on this alone, it really fits Houki, giving a 'end-age samurai' feeling.
—Damn it, I got glared at.
"Uu...I never imagined that you could get permission to use it so easily..."
For some reason, Cecilia was looking rather unhappy. Why is that?
"Well then, Ichika, let's begin. Draw your sword!"
Oh, so full of enthusiasm! That dull black metal color on the sword she drew smoothly exhibits its sharpness. Maybe this is called being 'warned', right? The chilly nervousness spread to my soles.
"Then—here we go!"
—At this moment, a voice interrupts us.
"Hold on a minute! Ichika-san's opponent should be me, Cecilia Alcott!"
Before I could even finish, Cecilia is already standing in front of me as she faces off against Houki.
"Hey, don't interrupt me! Or else I'm going to cut you down as well!"
"I'm not so fragile as to lose to a training suit!"
Houki let out a kesagiri, only for Cecilia to block it with her knife 'Interceptor'. Cecilia used the collision of the blades to pull apart and distance herself, then quickly squeezing the trigger with one hand. The 'Starlight Mk III' fired off supersonic bullets.
—Wa! The battle started! No, wait, what about my training?
"YOU'RE TOO NAÏVE!"
...I'll just wait for them to finish. The chill that flows through my spine tells me that it would be a disaster for me if I interfered.
"Why are you standing there, just watching this so casually?"
"Huh? What...you'll get angry no matter which side I help, right?"
See! What did I tell you? Speaking of that, Houki and Cecilia seem to only work well together in such a situation. Why is that so?
On a side note, it seems like it's also bad to remain silent. For the next several minutes, I was forced into a 2 vs 1 battle. Now, this is true hell...are you girls trying to kill me...?
"Then, that's it for today."
Unlike me, who was already out of breath, Cecilia looked just fine. Is this the difference in experience expected from a representative candidate?
"Humph! You're like that because you lack training."
Houki looks somewhat tired, but at least she's not as tired as me. ...That being said, the reason is that both of you were whacking at me! Isn't that too devilish!?
...But how can I put it? The sweaty Houki gives some sort of elegance, slightly raising my pulse--just 'slightly'. Please, lets leave it at 'slightly'.
"What are you doing? Hurry up and get back to the control zones!"
"Oh? Oh...huh, Houki? Why are coming this way?"
"I'm going back to the control zone."
"No, no, Cecilia's over there--"
"They, they're both control zones anyway!"
That's right. But if so, can't you just join Cecilia?
--Even though I wanted to say that, I could foresee a meaningless argument, so I just returned to the control zone.
I undeploy my IS, and as it vanishes, so does its support, and the fatigue hits me.
After removing her IS, Houki retied her sweat-drenched hair, and said,
"You're tired because you made too many unnecessary movements. You've got to find a way to control it more naturally!"
She said this as we were returning. The kindness of this childhood friend of mine almost makes me cry. Houki, it wouldn't hurt if you gave me a handkerchief!
With Cecilia in the opposite control zone, before I noticed it, Houki and I were together alone.
Doesn't matter anyway, 'cause I'm thinking of getting a shower as soon as possible.
On a side note, the closest facility with showers is the social club tower, but it's in the complete opposite direction to the dorms, so it would be pointless for me to go there.
Even more, as there are no men bathrooms, I would have to use it together with the girls. Even though it doesn't bother me to be seen with just my underwear, it would be a different story for the girls. Besides, there would be too many problems, and honestly, that's not tempting.
Or I should say that, instead of problems, I would get killed by Chifuyu-nee or Houki before I could even explain. Recently on the 'kill me' list, there's also a 'Cecilia' signature when she deploys her IS. That new sign beside her is ever so bright.
"Houki, I've got something to ask you..."
"What is it?"
"Please let me use the shower first. By the way, didn't you join the kendo club? If you're training with me everyday, you'll get pestered by the other girls in the club."
"You, you don't have to worry about that...the big problem occurs when I'm being chased..."
"Huh? What's wrong?"
I don't know what's going on, but it seems like everything's okay. Looks like I don't have to worry.
"So, about the shower--"
The sliding door was opened.
"Good work! Here's a towel! Also, a sports drink should be okay, right?"
Ohh, what's going on? Does this childhood friend of mine have a gentle side to her? I'm really grateful;.
"Thanks! Ah--I'm alive..."
It's already annoying having my face drenched in sweat. And right after wiping it off with the towel, there's a drink to effectively replenish the lost water. Even though I may find that it has too much glucose, that would benefit the body after a workout. Also, glucose is an important source of energy.
Let me go further on this; bringing a drink that's not cold was the right choice. Drinking a cold liquid after exercise is harmful for the body, especially when it's hot. It is best to drink lukewarm drinks. A cold drink might make people feel good, but being so negligent harms them, so, I don't think it's worthy.
"You haven't changed Ichika. Still so young, yet so concerned with your health."
"I told you, it's best to start early. This will form a habit, sparing your family from many worries!"
"You're just like an old man."
For some reason, Rin's staring happily at me as if she can see through me, making me nervous. That 'I understand you well' expression makes me feel ridiculously irritated for some reason. (Speaking of which, has she always looked so cute...?)
Last time I saw her was in Winter, during our second year in middle school, and it's been only a year since then. But I'm somehow getting a 'girl's scent' within her brash attitude. Back then, I treated her just as a friend, but right now, the 'male' in me is reacting to this change in her.
"Ichika, you must have felt lonely without me, right?"
"Well, I would feel lonely if I lost a playmate, right?"
"I don't mean that!"
Rin was smiling. She had a delighted smile on her face, as she continued. Uu--it is exactly the same expression she used to have, whenever she was holding some weird movie ticket!
--AH! I see! Is she going to sell something to me? So scary, I almost fell into her trap.
"Hm? What is it?"
"I won't buy anything."
Rin stumbled. That's strange? Did I guess wrong?
"I'm saying...you're my long-lost childhood friend, you should have something to say to me, right?"
Something I should say...huh, I haven't thought of anything.
Deliberately coughing to interrupt Rin, Houki says in an 'I don't care what you people do' attitude,
"I'm going back first, Ichika. As for the shower, you can use it first."
"Then, see you later, Ichika."
For some reason, it seems like she emphasized on the 'see you later' part. Am I thinking too much? It seems like I'm thinking too much...no, it definitely happened.
"...Ichika, what did she mean by that?"
After Houki walked out of the control room, it looked like Rin got in a bad mood--she tried to force a smile in order to hide it--and as she asked me, the voice she made was lower by two keys.
"Hm? Nothing, just that Houki's the one who usually showers first, but since I'm all sweaty now, I asked her if we could switch the bathing order--"
"Sho-Show-Shower? 'Usually'? Ic-Ichika, what sort of relationship do you have with that girl?"
"What relationship...didn't I say it before? We're childhood friends."
"Si-Sin-Since when are the terms 'childhood friends' and 'bathing order' related?"
Oh yeah, I haven't told her yet.
"I'm living in the same room as Houki."
"It's not like 'that'. My entrance was rather unexpected, and it seems like they couldn't get a room ready for me at the time. So I'm now living in a standard two people-room--"
"Do-Does that mean that you're living in the same room as that girl?"
"Hm? Sort of? But really, it's a good thing that it's Houki. If I had to live in the same room with someone I don't know at all, I would be too nervous to sleep."
"Hm? What's with you?"
"...if it's a childhood friend, it is..."
As Rin lowered her head, I couldn't hear her clearly, so I pulled my ears closer. I can't see her expression due to the angle.
"I'M JUST SAYING, IF IT'S A CHILDHOOD FRIEND, ITS OKAY, RIGHT!?"
She forcefully lifted her head high, and I stepped back in shock. Had I been closer to her, I would have been headbutted by her.
"I got it, I got it! I see, I see, I understand it clearly."
For some reason, Rin was expressing that she understood something, as she continued to nod. What now? What did she understand?
"Don't forget that you have two childhood friends."
"I won't forget even if you don't remind me..."
"Then, see you later!"
After saying that, Rin dashed out of the control zone.
Will today's fluency award be presented to the 'see you later' part? It's only April!? Speaking of which, did she accumulate quite the experience? Rin? You do know that 'not doing what you promised' has many implications on trust issues, right?
Whether they're girls' thoughts, or even childhood friends thoughts, I don't really understand them at all.
"As I just said, let me change rooms with you!"
"Wha-what kind of a joke is this? Why should I listen to you?"
We were outside my room right now, and it was past 8pm. Right after I finished dinner, and was pouring some tea, Rin suddenly barged into our room, and things ended up like this.
--No, these two are completely at loggerheads.
"No, but Shinonono-san must hate living with a guy, right? Since you have to consider other people's feelings, you probably can't relax at all. I'm not bothered by it, so I'm saying that we should switch rooms."
"I-I never said that I hated living together with a guy...besides, this is both Ichika's and my problem, so I don't want anyone else interfering!"
"Relax, I'm his childhood friend anyway!"
"What kind of reason is that?"
So far, the situation hasn't shown any progress; or better put, they can't seem to reach a common agreement. Rin has always had a 'do as I please' personality, and Houki's a lot more stubborn than normal people. No matter what, I can't see them settling this peacefully. Even when it's the 21st century, humans are still humans; old habits die hard.
Speaking of which, am I seeing things? It seems Rin brought her luggage bag over.
"Is that your luggage bag?"
"Yup. All I need is a Boston bag and I'm ready to go."
She's as quick as ever. Among girls, Houki already has very little luggage, but Rin has so little luggage that it's an exaggeration. I once joked that she seemed capable of moving out anytime, and she got quite pissed off, so I never mentioned it again.
On a side note, when Cecilia brought me to see her room, for a moment, I thought that I had entered a high-class hotel. The bed, dressing table, table, even the chairs; all the furniture and decoration were specially ordered, even the wallpaper and lights--I only dare to say it now, but that was somewhat scary.
That was the first time I had ever seen a bed with a canopy over it. And the girl who's living with Cecilia looked really pitiful; almost all the space got taken by Cecilia! Hey, England's representative candidate, you should live more modestly, you know?
"Anyway, I'll also be living here from today onwards."
"Wha-what kind of a joke is that? Get out! This is my room!"
"It's also 'Ichika's room' right? Then there's no problem!"
After that, Rin turned to me as if she wanted me to agree with her. Houki also looked like she wanted me to agree with--getting Rin out--as she looked at me; or more accurately, glared at me.
"Please, don't get me involved..."
It hurts, I need a light painkiller pill here!
"Anyway, I won't switch rooms! You're the one who should get out, so get back to your own room!"
"Oh yeah, do you remember our promise, Ichika?"
"Don-don't you dare ignore me! Okay, if that's the case, I'll use violence..."
Completely agitated, Houki grabbed the shinai beside her bed, ready to be used anytime.
"Ah, you idiot--"
I couldn't stop her in time. Houki lost all her cool as she swung the blade at the completely defenseless Rin.
Such a loud sound. No, wait, now's not the time to sit by and watch the show!
"Are you alright, Rin?"
"Of course I am. Right now, I'm--a representative candidate after all."
Looking closely, the attack I thought that hit her head was blocked by the IS part deployed on her right arm.
More shocked than anyone was Houki. Even if the IS deployment is fast, the one doing that is the pilot--a flesh and blood human. In other words, the deployment can't possibly surpass human reflex.
And that attack wasn't at a level where a normal human could react at such an important moment. In other words, this proves a simple yet clear fact, Rin is strong.
"Speaking of which, had it not been me, that would have been very dangerous, you know?"
Maybe pointing out that she lost control in her anger was more effective than anything else. Houki looked full of guilt as she turned to look away.
Rin didn't mind as she removed the IS part. The right arm that was covered by the cool armor flashed and reverted back to its original state.
How awkward. Houki remains silent as she's affected by the abnormal out-of-character moment she showed, and Rin's looking excited as she waits for my reply.
--Hm? Now that she mentioned it, she did say something about some promise or something.
"Rin, as for that promise."
"Wha. Mm, you should...remember that, right?"
She suddenly lowered her head as she continued to peek up at me, looking rather embarrassed. Is it just me?
"Let me see, you mean that one? If Rin's cooking skills improve, everyday, she'll cook sweet-and-sour pork--"
"Yup, that's right. That's the one!"
"--For me to eat, right?"
I remember that we seemed to have made that promise when we were in elementary school. Really, so amazing! I must have a good memory if I can recall that much into the past! Seems like my brain cells are seriously working; I'll have to reward it.
"Isn't it about the promise that Rin will treat me to eat, once she learns to cook"
Anyway, it's free, so there's nothing better than that.
"But I'm really impressed with my own memory--"
I suddenly got slapped. As it happened so suddenly, I couldn't understand what's going on. I blinked my eyes, and my gaze met Houki's. She was giving me a vague look as well.
I slowly, really slowly, turned my face back to where it was facing, and see Rin. However, the thing I see is a scene I don't want to see the most.
Her shoulders were trembling, and she was glaring at me with hatred. Her eyes were watery, and her lips looked like she was about to cry anytime soon, as they remained sealed up.
"Oh, hey, Rin..."
"YOU'RE THE WORST! YOU CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER THE PROMISE YOU MADE TO A GIRL! YOU'RE A SHAME AMONGST MEN! GET BITTEN BY A DOG AND DIE!!!"
Right after it, Rin moved really fast; she grabbed the luggage on the floor as if she was snatching something, and charged out of the room, almost as if she had kicked the door.
*BAM!!* After hearing the noise of the door being slammed, I finally pulled myself together.
"...It's over, I made her angry."
It was completely my fault...I guess? Even so, I'm infuriated that she said that I'm the worst amongst guys. I don't remember making such a promise with her, that I had to get scolded to such an extent.
--No wait, she was crying...that's right, she was definitely crying.
"Ah? What is it, Houki?"
"Get kicked by a horse and die."
GACK, WHY IS HOUKI ANGRY NOW? And my face's starting to hurt now. I hope the swelling subsides before tommorrow...
If it doesn't, I'll definitely face my classmates interrogation squad. No matter how many times I have experienced it, I can't get used to it. Speaking of which, why are the girls' topics so distant? To be honest, I can't catch up at all.
Anyway, let's sleep for today. Though it's not even 9, I can't do anything even if I'm awake. Besides, Houki's angry as well, nothing good will come of me being awake.
The situation should improve tomorrow morning...probably not. As the saying goes, girls' feelings last 3 times longer than guys'.
Sigh, why are the people of the opposite gender around me...I'll omit this part, please read the above text.
--The next morning, there was a large poster pasted on the students corridor.
The topic is Class Representative Tournament Schedule.
And my preliminary opponent is--Rin from class 2.
Translator's Notes and References
- Orimura-kun is hinting at the famous actor Takakura Ken, who is known for being rather quite. "I don't really talk a lot." is a phrase he's famous for.