Y1 Vol 3 Chapter 3 | Rivals on the Move

I woke up much earlier that morning than I’d anticipated. The heat and humidity had made me toss and turn in my sleep. It finally roused me, and I wasn’t very well rested. My bed felt warm, and I remembered that we’d kept the lamp on throughout the wholenight. Our tent stank like sweat. Fortunately, we’d formed the tent with a mesh material because it allowed for the night breeze to blow through. But once the night had ended, the temperature rose significantly. I carefully slipped out of the tent so as to not wake anyone else, and approached our mountain of piled luggage.

We’d kept the luggage outside in order to make the tents as spacious as possible. After looking around to make sure I was alone, I found a singularly colored piece of luggage. It was Ibuki’s bag. Since her bag was different, it was easy to spot. I grabbed it without hesitation and checked inside. If someone saw me doing this, I’d be instantly labeled a pervert. Inside, I found the same kinds of things that everyone else had, like towels, a change of clothes, underwear, etc.

However…“A digital camera, huh?”That explained the dull sound I’d heard yesterday when she dropped the bag against a tree. This item wasn’t appropriate for a deserted island. On the bottom of the camera, I found a rental sticker. Why did Ibuki have this? I considered the possible reasons, trying to think from her perspective. After conjuring up an image of her in my head, several possibilities suggested themselves.

I checked the camera’s power source. It had no data, and no sign that it’d been used. After I finished my inspection, I returned the item to the bag, and went back to the tent.

“Good morning, Ayanokouji-kun. Heading to the bathroom?”Hirata was awake. He turned around as he greeted me. Maybe he noticed that I was sweatier than usual.

“Ah. Did I wake you, by any chance?”“Oh no. I can’t exactly sleep soundly in this environment. Ouch, ouch… Ah, my back hurts. Well, I guess that’s only natural without a proper mattress.”It certainly wasn’t easy to sleep when we were so crowded together, and without real beds to boot. But somehow, everyone else was still asleep. They were probably tired out from yesterday’s activity.

“If you include Kouenji-kun’s penalty, we spent almost 100 points yesterday. I told everyone that in the worst possible outcome we’dbe left with 120 points, but now I’m not even sure about that. I guessthe anxiety woke me.”Hirata took out the manual to confirm his fears. Kouenji’s retirementhad been a pretty serious blow.

“This is tough, even for the class peacemaker.” I couldn’t possibly fathom carrying this kind of responsibility. I peeked at the manual, and Hirata adjusted his position so that I could comfortably look at it. I was grateful for such small acts of consideration.

“I’m only doing this because I like it. If my hard work makes everyone in class happy, then I’m satisfied. But it’s surprisingly difficult. How many points we have after this special test will have a huge impact on our lives. I think it’s wrong to freak everybody out.”Make everyone in class happy, huh? If such a thing were possible, it would be amazing. But it was probably close to impossible. The school’s system dictated as much.

“So, if we have students who want to aim for Class A, and students who want to stay in Class D, what do you do?” While I knew that was a meaningless question, it accidentally came out sounding rather unkind. I guess I wanted Hirata’s opinion, since he was basically just a mass of good intentions.

“That’s hard to answer. Aiming for the upper classes means forcing everyone… I’m sorry, I need to think on it.”I wondered how often he’d thought about it. Hirata smiled faintly.

“So Ayanokouji-kun, do you want to get into Class A? Or are you fineas long as life at school is fun?”“I guess if I had to pick, school life’s my priority. Besides, I don’t think it’s possible to reach Class A.”“I see. I also don’t think it’s simple. Even if our class came together as one and aimed for Class A… I just think our first month’s losses did too much damage.”Hirata was probably thinking about all the other students’ limits. If Class A didn’t fall in the rankings, making up the difference wouldn’t be easy. Even if Class D managed to live conservatively during this exam, we could only gain 100 to 150 points. Right now, even overtaking Class C seemed like a pipe dream.

“Don’t be impatient. First of all, Class D needs to come together andmake it through this test. After that, we can focus on the next goal.”Most of us had decided to let Hirata take the lead. If we worked hardin the short term, we’d earn class points. Right now, ignoring the severe chasm between us and the other classes wasn’t a bad idea. Hirata politely excused himself and quietly headed to the toilet. I stretched out in the space left behind by his absence.

At the very least, Class A had the cave. It was likely that Classes B and C also had spots somewhere. Even though we held the river, that alone might not be enough. Once everyone was asleep, I neatly cut out one of the manual’s five blank pages. Then I took a ballpoint pen.

After I replicated a simple map of the island, I folded it into a small square and put it in my pocket. Soon after, Hirata peeked in thetent’s entrance.

“Want to come wash your face together with me?”I accepted his offer. The tent’s temperature was rising as the sun climbed higher in the sky. We took towels from our vinyl-wrapped luggage and headed to the river. Hirata put the manual inside his pack. The jingle of plastic accessories banging together sounded from Hirata’s bag.

“Gifts or something from Karuizawa?” “Spot on. How’d you guess?”Who else would give him little heart-bedazzled presents? As we headed to the river, we came across an unexpected person.

“What are you doing here?”A student from Class B, Kanzaki, looked our way. Some other boys I didn’t know were with him, but they were probably Class B students, too. They appeared surprised, as if they hadn’t expected us at such an early hour, but quickly regained their composure.

“First day’s over, so I wondered how you were doing. I thought I’d check on you. Your location’s great.”He seemed legitimately impressed by our base camp. He didn’tappear to have a hidden agenda.

“You’re Kanzaki-kun, from Class B, aren’t you?”Hirata seemed to remember him.

“Did I surprise you? I’m sorry, I’m not here to cause trouble.”With that apology, Kanzaki walked away.

“Kanzaki. Where’s Class B camping?” Maybe he wouldn’t tell us, but I thought I’d try asking. Kanzakianswered without hesitation.

“There are large broken trees along the path from here to the beach. If you enter the forest to the southwest and walk a bit, you can find our campsite. You shouldn’t get lost if you enter by those large trees. If you need something, go ahead and tell her you can come by.”With that, Kanzaki left. Hirata gave me a strange look.

“I’m guessing he’s your friend, hmm? What’d he mean by ‘go ahead and tell her’?”“Hmm, I wonder.”Kanzaki, Ichinose, and Horikita had recently worked together in a false accusation case. He probably thought they were still on good terms.

“I wonder if they came here to do some reconnaissance, see how we’ve spent our points.”Doubtless that was one reason, after seeing Kanzaki’s slightly apologetic expression. You could estimate the number of points spent just by the number of toilets, showers, and tents. However, that was probably not the only thing Kanzaki and the others wanted to know. They must’ve wanted to discover our class leader. After all, the rights of exclusive spot possession expired every eight hours.

Perhaps they’d calculated the renewal time and hoped to see the spot updated. However, we’d planned for that. That’s why we postponed the second update yesterday, so the rights of ownership were adjusted to expire right after eight o’clock. That way, it was possible to use the big crowds from roll call as a kind of camouflage for the update.

Hirata seemed to be more anxious. He muttered while drying off.

“I wonder if our strategy’s wrong. Even if we can’t beat the otherclasses, I thought it’d be good for us to unify on this test. That’s the real reason I don’t want them to discover our leader.”His hair glistened with water. A splendidly handsome man faced such constant trouble.

“Don’t worry so much. You should relax a little.”“Thank you. Coming from you, that honestly makes me really happy.”After I washed my face, I scooped up some water for a drink. Even though the forest was insanely hot, the river water was cool and delicious. The water here was groundwater that flowed into the river as spring water, making it naturally resistant to warming or cooling.

Since it came from upstream, the water’s temperature was resistant to heating. We’d been lucky to secure this place as our base.

“First, I think we need to adjust our sleeping arrangements. Since the ground’s so hard here, this week will be tough without proper back support. When everyone wakes up, I’m going to take a poll. We have to cooperate and do our best.”3.1After morning roll call, we began to explore. Hirata provided roles to the more reliable students, starting his plan to save us points.

Meanwhile, the less helpful students and the more independently- minded like Horikita and I did as we pleased.

“What the hell, you guys?!”Ike’s angry voice boomed throughout the campsite. I looked in his direction, and saw two male students wearing wide, smug grins. A pained expression flashed across Ibuki’s face for a moment, but then she quickly ducked behind the tent to hide herself.

“Komiya and Kondou, huh?”Like Ibuki, I recognized those guys. They were from Class C.

“Wow, you Class D rejects are really living frugal, eh? I guess that’s what I’d expect from a class of defectives.”They were stuffing their faces with potato chips and drinking bottles of soda. Not water. Soda.

“Looks like you’re living the high life, Class C.” “Do you know Ryuuen?” Ibuki asked.

“He’s a Class C student. I’ve heard various rumors about him. He’s pretty crazy, I hear.”“Not just ‘pretty’ crazy. Everything that guy does is crazy.”Ibuki sounded irritated, as if she were discussing a family enemy.

“Those two are Ryuuen’s friends. I’d say they’re more like hisunderlings, though.”I recalled the time those two had fought with Sudou. It’d seemed like they were acting on orders from Ryuuen, rather than just looking for a fight.

“What did you even eat for breakfast? Grass? Or maybe bugs? Here,you can have some snacks.”They took a bag of potato chips and tossed it near Ike’s feet as he drew nearer. Though it was obvious that they were trying to start something, we couldn’t help getting irritated.

“We have a message from Ryuuen-san. If you want to enjoy your summer vacation to the fullest, come to the beach right now. Don’t hang back. If you’re sick of living like idiots, then we’re happy to share our luxuries.”They didn’t leave, but continued snacking as if trying to harass us. Ikesnapped at them, but they didn’t seem to care. The provocation continued for at least ten more minutes, until Hirata’s group returned and Class C decided to call it quits. They headed back toward their campsite.

“I don’t think they were looking for me,” Ibuki said. “Yeah. Guess they wanted to harass us.”Their bizarre visit aside, we’d obtained valuable information about Class C: they had luxury items, snacks and soda and so on. They’d been burning through points. In a test like this, where frugality was crucial, what in the world were they thinking?”They said something about sharing their luxuries. Any idea what they were talking about?” I asked.

“I wonder if things are heading toward that worst-case scenario Iimagined…“Ibuki said nothing more, but headed toward a tree on the camp’s periphery. The worst-case scenario she’d imagined, huh? Telling Horikita about this seemed like a good idea.

“Hey, Horikita, you around?” After breakfast, Horikita had immediately returned to the tent, and I saw no sign of her. I called for her in front of the girls’ tent. Although she didn’t reply, the tent shook slightly, and I heard the sounds of cloth rubbing together. Horikita slowly stepped outside.

“Did you hear those voices earlier?” I asked.

“The cheap provocation coming from Class C? Yes, I heard.”“I’m a little worried. I want to check out the situation. Care to come?”“It’s rather unusual to see you taking initiative. Are you feeling well?” I’d have loved to throw those words back in her face.

“Well, I’m free for a week. I don’t have anything to do today, so I’ve just been killing time.”“I don’t want to move too much. Since I’m the leader, if I stand out too much, we’ll be in a bad spot.”“That’s a definite risk.”Even if someone didn’t know a leader’s identity for certain, they might guess correctly if they noticed suspicious behavior. The more conspicuous a person, the more attention they would draw.

“I understand how you feel, but even if you stay in here, the situation probably won’t change, right? You’ve got eyes on Ryuuen, and you’ve even been observing Ichinose. People will remember that you’re the student council president’s younger sister. No matter what you do, you’ll be a target.”At any rate, the penalty for a wrong guess was fifty points. When we’d appointed someone as leader, we’d taken a gamble, and precautions were necessary.

“You’re right. I suppose I can’t say what’s correct. Fine. I’m rather concerned about the state of the other classes. Let’s go.” Horikita and I set out for the beach, where Class C awaited. Her heavy footsteps seemed to belie her casual indifference.

3.2As we neared the edge of the forest, we saw the beach, and the large group of Class C students on that beach. Horikita and I could never have imagined the situation we beheld.

“No way… All this stuff… Is it even possible?”Even beholding the very real spectacle, Horikita kept repeating the word “impossible.” I felt the same. They had installed temporary toilets and shower rooms. But they also had a tarp to protect against sunlight, a barbecue, chairs, and a parasol. They had snacks and drinks. Everything required for a good, relaxing time was here. We smelled the smoke of cooking meat, and heard laughter. Jet skis whizzed past the shoreline. Students were enjoying themselves in the ocean, screaming with joy. Based on a rough calculation, they’d likely spent 150 points or more.

“What in the world is Class C doing? Do they not plan to save points?”That was the sole explanation. This went beyond splurging.

“Let’s check things out. I wonder what Class C is thinking?”We came out from the bushes and walked to the beach. One of the male students noticed us, and called out to another male student nearby. We couldn’t see his face too well, since he was leaning over in his chair. One of the boys rushed over to us.

“Um, Ryuuen-san has requested your presence,” he said. Judging from the timidity of his voice, he was either frightened or naturally listless.

“He rules his classmates like a king. It’s like a royal welcome. What should we do?”“It’s up to you, Horikita.” “Fine. I’m interested in learning his intentions. Let’s go.”We accompanied the boy. As we approached the ocean, the delicious smell of cooked meat wafted by our noses.

“This is absolutely outrageous.”Our class didn’t seem to know how to have a vacation. We approached the man in command of this hedonistic paradise.

“I thought someone was sniffing around. It’s you, huh? What business do you have with me?”“You seem to be doing well for yourself. This looks like quite the extravagant party.”Ryuuen, tanned and clad in his swimwear, laid back in his chair. He flashed his white teeth at us.

“Just as you see. We’re enjoying our summer vacation.”He spread his arms wide, proudly showing off the extravaganza.

“This is a test. Do you understand what that means? You don’t seem to understand the rules…“Ryuuen didn’t seem happy being told about his apparent ineptitude.

Actually, he looked disappointed. “I’m shocked. Does that mean you’re offering help even to an enemy like me?”“If the person on top is incompetent, those below him will suffer.

This is pitiful,” Horikita said.

Ryuuen simply smiled, grabbing the bottle of water placed next to the radio.

“How many points did you use? To be able to enjoy this level of entertainment, I mean.”“Hmm. Well, I didn’t make a precise calculation,” Ryuuen responded guilelessly. “Tch. Already getting warm. Hey, Ishizaki. Bring me some cold water, right away.”Ryuuen poured out his remaining water on the sand, almost in provocation. Ishizaki, who’d been playing volleyball nearly, panicked and rushed to get Ryuuen another water. A mountain of cardboard boxes were piled up inside the tent, likely filled with food and water. Sakazaki peered into a cooler beside the boxes.

“As you can see, we’re enjoying our summer vacation. We’re not your enemies. Do you understand?”Horikita, finding his behavior incomprehensible, pressed her fingers against her forehead and wrinkled her brows as if she had a headache.

“We’re trying to warn you. You’re an idiot.” “Which one of us is the idiot? Me? You?” Ryuuen would accept no insults, and threw them back at Horikita.

“You want to try surviving on this deserted island in this shitty heat? Don’t joke. Class D, the lowest of all, has to put up with starvation, heat, and futility just to save a measly 100 or 200 class points. Itmakes me laugh.”Ishizaki ran over, dripping with sweat as he brought the water. He handed a cold bottle of water to Ryuuen. However, Ryuuen threw it back at Ishizaki.

“I said to bring me cold water. This water’s warm.” “I… B-but…"”Hmm?”Ryuuen’s pupils were just like those of a snake. Ishizaki’s bodystiffened. He picked up the bottle and ran back toward the tent.

“This test is about perseverance, ingenuity, and cooperation. It would likely have been impossible for you from the start. You can’t even establish a satisfactory plan.”They couldn’t possibly hold on for a week after having spent points so lavishly. Eventually, their lives would become hell. The tarps, parasols, chairs and other things would become obstacles.

“Cooperation? Don’t make me laugh. People betray each other with ease. People lie. Relationships built on trust just aren’t viable. Youcan only trust yourself. If you’ve finished your reconnaissance, leave.

But if you wish, we’d welcome you here. You’re free to enjoyyourself, whether it’s to eat meat or play on jet skis. Or perhaps you would prefer to have a different kind of fun with me? I can prepare a tent for personal use.”“That’s not the kind of answer I’d expect to hear from someone whodeclared war on us.” “I absolutely loathe hard work. Patience? Saving? You must be joking.”Ishizaki returned once again, and handed over another bottle of water. Ryuuen opened the cap and chugged.

“This is the way I do things. No more, no less.”“Right. Well then, do as you please. It’s convenient for us, anyway.”Horikita had changed her mind. Class C wasn’t going to be our enemy here, so they weren’t a problem.

“Working up a sweat in order to evaluate other classes is such a pain.” Horikita turned on her heel to walk away, but paused. “There is one more piece of business. You know Ibuki, of course?”“Yeah. She’s a member of our class. What about her?” “Her face is swollen. Who did that to her?”While Horikita was nearly convinced he was the culprit, she purposefully asked in a roundabout way.

“Ah. She ran out of here rather suddenly. She went looking for help from another class in the end? Pathetic girl.”Ryuuen snorted in disgust, then laid back in his chair.

“There are helpless idiots in this world. A ruler doesn’t need subordinates who disobey orders. We determined that I would use our class points to my liking. That’s the fact of the matter. Besides, it’s pointless to raise the banner of revolution against the rulingclass.”“In other words, Ibuki-san clashed with you when you wanted tospend points.”“Well, you could say that. That’s why she got a light punishment.” He made a gesture like slapping someone’s cheek. Ryuuen hadindeed hit her.

“Another boy defied me as well, so I had him driven out. I heard he didn’t die, so he’s probably off somewhere eating grass and insects to survive.”I couldn’t imagine that was something you could say about a friend. But now I fully understood. Even if Ibuki were absent during roll call, Class C wouldn’t care. That’s why Ryuuen didn’t care about his classmates or trying to find them.

“You…used up all your points on the first day, didn’t you?” Horikitaasked.

Even if you used all of the 300 points you were given, there wouldn’tbe any penalties. The effect was nonexistent.

“Yes, as you said. I used all of our points.”His strategy was to be at zero points to negate negative elements. It was certainly unexpected, but it came at a high price. With no points,Class C would have the lowest rank. Even if they managed to guess every other class leader’s identity, they could only achieve a maximum of 150 points.

“If Ibuki is with you, you’re better off chasing her away. If you shower her with your awkward sympathies, you’ll have one extra person to prepare water, food, and bedding for. Anyway, if you can’t deal with it, she can return here. If she grovels on the ground, I’ll forgive her. I’ve a tolerant heart.”He’d forgive her defiance if she returned to being under his control. He seemed pretty sure that she would. It would be difficult for Ibuki to live alone on a deserted island for one week.

“What short-sighted thinking. You’re happy right now using your points, but what are you planning to do after the party’s over?” “Ha ha ha. What should I do, I wonder? Well, I suppose that plain, ordinary people can only engage in plain, ordinary thinking. You’re desperate to protect the points you were given. Looking around for the leaders, desperately holding spots, working up a sweat running through the forest. Absolutely worthless.”Even though we’d confronted him with facts, Ryuuen laughed andshowed no sign of panic.

“Fine. Let’s head back, Ayanokouji-kun. If we stay here any longer,I’m only going to start to feel ill.” “See you later, Suzune.”“I don’t know where exactly you found that out, but do not call meby my first name so casually.”Ryuuen had clearly done some investigating.

“Well, I rather like forceful women. I’ll make you submit to meeventually. When that time comes, it will be the ultimate pleasure.”When he said that, Ryuuen touched his crotch under his bathing suit, clearly to provoke Horikita. Horikita, eyes full of contempt, turned her back and walked away. As I started running after her, I stopped to look at a passenger boat anchored by the pier. I saw students swimming in the ocean, playing volleyball and beach flags on the shore, celebrating with barbecues. Also, I saw the tent where they were stockpiling food.

Ryuuen seemed content to mock the school rules, apparently. “Class C is irrelevant. Their self-destruction will help us.” “Seems that way. They’ve used up all their points, anyway.”Even if they had some saved, it could only be a few dozen at most.

The two students’ absence at roll call would swallow those. “I can’t wait to see what they’ll do once trouble hits.” “Unfortunately, Class C probably won’t face any trouble during this test.”“Why wouldn’t they? How can they endure this test without any points?”“That was Ryuuen’s original goal. We were given 300 points as funds to enjoy our vacation for one week, which is not at all impossible. No matter how much we economize on our food, we have to give up on luxury items. The school made these rules accordingly.”Horikita nodded.

“So, we should try to save where we can,” she said.

“Yeah. But Ryuuen’s different. He can’t see past the end of his nose, much less a week.”“He can’t see past what now?”“Suppose the test ended today. What then? Do you think this trip would transform into a perfect vacation?”“That’s… Well, okay. So what? If you have zero points—” “That’s simple. He’d just do what Kouenji did.”“Huh?”“His physical condition was poor and he was mentally unstable. In that case, it’s better to just retire. If everyone did that, they could return to the passenger boat and go about their lives. That’s what they meant by fully enjoying their summer vacation: without hardship.”Granted, the school might turn us away if we feigned sickness. 300 points were enough to use freely for a one-night, two-day vacation. But sooner or later, the bill would arrive.

“So he really gave up on the test from the very beginning?” Horikitamurmured.

Maybe this was just a theory. Perhaps Ryuuen simply hated troublesome things, or perhaps he wanted to avoid mental exhaustion and preserve his physical strength. Or perhaps he wanted to improve morale.

“The test is literally about freedom. Ryuuen’s way of thinking is one way to approach it. It seems like Ibuki and another student rebelled, and because of that Class C will lose twenty points a day. Since he knew he’d be losing that many points every day no matter what, he came up with a drastic strategy.”Since I didn’t know when Ryuuen had decided to spend all of Class C’s points, I could only guess.

“We ought to think of a way to get points back without giving up.

Ryuuen is most definitely wrong. I cannot possibly understand him,”Horikita said.

I suppose that was true. It was certainly true that we couldn’t predict the actions of Ryuuen, whose plans were likely geared to a very unusual purpose, if his words earlier were true. Any rational person would regard Ryuuen’s bizarre schemes with some anxiety. After we passed the beach, I turned back and scanned the shore once more.

“A zero-point strategy, huh? I see. That’s really interesting.”If we could simply shut down dissenting views from our classmates, it’d be a rather interesting method. After all, this test wasn’t just about saving points within our own group. We had to strategize if we wanted to win.

3.3In order to make effective use of the extra time on our hands, we decided to check out how Classes A and B were doing. We went deeper into the forest, past the roots of the big, broken tree, just as Kanzaki had instructed. When I thought on it now, though, the tree looked as though the school had broken it intentionally, to use as a landmark. It hinted that there was a spot just further ahead.

The moment we set foot in the deep forest, I noticed a slight change. Quite a few students’ tracks stood out on this path, which made it easier to walk. If we simply followed the path, we’d probably arrive at Class B’s campsite. That might be why Kanzaki hadn’t provided a detailed explanation. So far, of all the ordeals on this island, the blood-sucking mosquitoes that went for our arms and legs were the most irritating. Soon, we arrived at Class B’s base camp.

“Well, I suppose it’s just what we’d expect from Class B…“Their way of living was entirely different from ours. Their class had made practical use of their spot, with many trees surrounding a well. They didn’t have enough space to spread out three or four tents, so they’d made good use of the space by putting up hammocks. Despite starting in much the same way, our class had chosen completely different items. I was rather curious about some unfamiliar equipment near the well, but what surprised me the most was the atmosphere.

“Huh? Horikita-san? And Ayanokouji-kun?”Someone called to us, almost as if she’d sensed the arrival of sudden visitors. Ichinose was trying to tie a string around a tree to put up a hammock. She wore a jersey, which really suited her, and appeared lively. Kanzaki sat a little further away from her.

“Your class seems to be functioning well, despite obstacles.” “Ha ha, yeah. It was really difficult at first! But we tried a bunch of different things, and it worked out. Though the list of chores just keeps on increasing. There’s still a ton of work left,” said Ichinose with a big smile.

“I’m sorry if we’re getting in the way.”“Oh, I’m sorry. That probably sounded like I was trying to drive you guys away. I think it’s all right if you hang around for a while. You probably came here to ask me something, right?”Ichinose welcomed us without any hint of protest. She invited us to sit on the hammock, but Horikita declined the offer, so Ichinose sat instead.

“I was wondering if it might behoove us to tentatively enter into a cooperative relationship, like last time,” Horikita said.

“I think so, too.”“Well, how many points have you used so far? What did you purchase? Also, if you could tell us the value of your tools that would really help. We would disclose information in return, of course.”I wondered if Kanzaki could have deduced that information about our class just from this morning. Ichinose, with a grin, took out a manual from a bag near her feet. She showed us a white sheet of paper, which itemized what they’d purchased, and read aloud.

“Hammocks. Cookware. Small tent, lantern, and temporary toilet. Fishing rod, a water shower… If we combine those items with the food we purchased, the total comes to exactly seventy points.”Excluding the fact that Kouenji had retired, we’d applied our pointswith the same rigor as Class B.

“What’s a water shower? I’m a little curious about that.”From the name, I deduced it had something to do with a bath, but since it was five points cheaper than the temporary shower we decided it probably wasn’t as effective and passed.

“Well, let’s go over the situation bit by bit, shall we? Since there are various places in the woods where we can find fruits and vegetables, we can compensate for deficiencies in points by foraging for food.

We can also head out to the sea and fish. That’s what I was thinking we’d do for food. We’re not worried about water, since wehave a well.”Had Class B just naturally obtained those things, like when Kushidaand her group found all that fruit? Since she’d said the word”vegetables”, they probably had better results than Class D. Ichinose took us to the well, and showed us the pulley system used to bring up a bucket of water.

“At first we were worried whether the water was safe to drink, but when we looked around at the surrounding environment and the cultivated food items, we determined that the well must have been all right. To be on the safe side, I tried drinking the water yesterday. I waited for some time, but never got an upset stomach. Starting this morning, we had everyone use the well to get water.”They hadn’t jumped right in and used the well from the beginning. They’d started using it only after properly checking it out. Most people would rather drink from something convenient that could save points.

“Also, there’s enough natural water that we can use it for showers. That’s what a water shower is.”She indicated some kind of large apparatus placed next to the well. That explained it.

“After we put water in the tank here, we get hot water in only a few seconds. It’s really convenient. We use a gas can for the heat source. When we run out, I plan to request another.”Horikita calmly listened to Ichinose’s explanation.

“Did you already know about them? Water showers, I mean,” Iasked.

“No. This is the first I’ve heard about or used them. The school’s rules are rather scary, aren’t they? There weren’t any details in the manual, and we can’t ask the teacher, either. Thankfully we have some kids who are familiar with the outdoors in our class.”Next to the water shower was a simple toilet set up with a one-touch tent. Nothing seemed to be inside.

“We set up this temporary toilet instead of getting a shower room. We got it so that the people who dislike being seen by others when they shower could have privacy. The fabric is also waterproof.”So that’s why it was empty.

“So, you don’t struggle with sleeping on the hard ground?”“Ah, yeah. At first, I wondered what we were going to do, but thenwe took appropriate measures. Want a look?”The grass crunched underfoot as Ichinose made her way to the tent. After giving a heads-up to the girls inside, Ichinose lifted the bottom flap. Underneath the tent was a thick bunch of vinyl sheets, which looked to be about two centimeters thick.

“When we paid for the temporary toilet, we were told we had access to an unlimited number of vinyl sheets. So I might have asked for too many, but we received a large number of them. Of course, I don’t want to waste resources, so I plan to put any unused vinyl sheets into one sheet, and return them in the end.”“By the way, what precautions have you taken against the heat? For some reason, it feels cooler around here…"”I wonder if it’s because we sprinkle water around. We’ve sprinkled water near our beds, because they’re close to the well. We put some water in the plastic bottles that people drank from, and then everyone carries them around so they can sprinkle water efficiently.

The water soaks into the soil quite easily, and since it takes sometime for it to evaporate, the effect lingers and removes the heat.”Ichinose and her class weren’t just relying on tools; they were making good use of their knowledge to improve the campsite. After receiving this information, Horikita carefully explained our situation. She left nothing out in the spirit of fairness.

“I see… Having someone retire sounds like it really hurt you guys.” “Yeah. There’s a lot to make us uneasy right now, but we have to tryand make it through.”“I see. Well, can we continue our cooperative relationship? I thought it would be a good idea to ignore the rule about trying to find out the leader’s identity. What do you think?”“I was thinking that we should talk about that, too. If we didn’t have to be on guard with even one class, we’d really appreciate it. As long as you don’t mind, Ichinose-san, I’d like you to accept the proposal.”“Of course I’m okay with that.”After we reaffirmed our mutual information exchange and resolved to stay in a cooperative relationship, Horikita sighed in deep admiration while looking around. There was a feeling of true solidarity here, with no disorder at all. Each individual student carried out his or her role. Additionally, everyone seemed to be fulfilling their duties happily. Normally, you’d find someone who hated their job or trying to skip out on it.

“This class has fallen in line far better than I could have imagined. I suppose that’s because you’re the one taking command, right?” Horikita said.

“Yeah. For the time being, anyway.”Ichinose had managed to unify her class both in and out of the school.

“Is there anyone in Class D who can bring everyone together? Is thatyou, Horikita-san?”“No. We do have a boy named Hirata, though. Everyone in class clusters around him.”“Ah. From the soccer club! I know him, I know him! He’s really popular among the girls.” Horikita seemed disinterested in talking about Hirata, so she changed the topic.

“Ichinose-san. I’m terribly sorry to keep asking you questions, but we want to confirm Class A’s status. Can you tell us anything that will help us capture their base camp? Even something you know about the area might really help.”“Well, if you’re okay with something that might be useful, I can tell you something about their place. However, obtaining information is going to be tough.”Just like I’d expected from Class B…or rather, what I’d expected from Ichinose. She’d already done her research on Class A.

“Just after you cut through this area, there’s an opening. Turn right and go straight until you see a cave. That’s probably where the Class A base camp is. I went there myself to investigate, but I don’t know for sure. It’s because they’re so thoroughly defensive…or rather, secretive.”“Secretive? What kind of measures has Class A taken?”“Honestly, seeing is believing. If you take a look yourselves, you’ll understand right away. Since you two are going to check on Class A, does that mean you already understand Class C’s situation?”“Yeah. We just went there earlier. They’re doing some unbelievably stupid things.”“They seemingly have no intention of taking this test seriously. There are five days remaining, and they’ll run out of points well before the test is over. I can’t imagine they’ll be able to change their situationeven if they enter into ‘point-saver mode’ right away. They’re not even looking for a spot. I can’t even begin to understand them.”Ichinose didn’t seem able to come up with the answer, either.

“You can’t use any sly tricks in this test. Ryuuen has most definitely spent almost all of their points. They might be having fun right now, but they’re going to regret it later.”Horikita deliberately didn’t tell Ichinose about the potentialwithdrawal plan I’d discussed earlier. I didn’t think she was hiding it; rather, Horikita had probably determined that Ichinose would come to the same conclusion herself.

“Pardon me, Ichinose-san? I’m sorry to interrupt. Do you know where Nakanishi-kun is?” asked a male student in a rather reserved voice.

“I think Nakanishi-kun headed down to the shore. Why do you ask?” “I thought I’d offer to help. Is that unnecessary?”“Oh no, not at all. I’m really happy you feel that way, Kaneda-kun. Can you head over and follow Chihiro-chan’s group? If you tell them I told you to do so, it’ll be okay.”“Okay. Thank you very much!”Horikita looked a little perplexed after watching that short exchange.

“He sounded incredibly formal for a classmate, didn’t he?” “Ah, he’s—"”A Class C student?”I spoke before Ichinose could finish answering. She confirmed with a nod.

“Do you know him? It looks like he had some kind of dispute with Class C. He said he’d get by on his own, but I couldn’t just leave him. I haven’t asked him about his situation yet.”One male student had been estranged from Class C because he’dsupposedly resisted Ryuuen. It looked as though Class B had taken him in. Perhaps he felt ashamed about his situation, hence his offer to cooperate?”We also picked up a student yesterday. Another student whoescaped from Class C.”Horikita filled Ichinose in on the details about her meeting with Ryuuen. She told Ichinose about Ibuki, one of the rebel students, who’d defied Ryuuen for just doing whatever he pleased. She alsoexplained that Ibuki had been hit. After hearing that, Ichinose’s eyeshardened, as if strengthening her resolve to protect her class.

“I think it’s about time to get going, Ayanokouji-kun. We’ll be a bother to Class B if we linger too long.”We all said farewell, and Horikita and I left Class B’s camp.

“In general, I think we’re all on the same page, but they’re further ahead. I can’t deny it,” said Horikita, after we’d left and there weren’t any other people around.

Her words sounded like a declaration of defeat. My impression was the same as hers. There was a big difference between D and B, and not just in points.

“Well, I guess there’s nothing we can do about it. Class B just has those special qualities that Class D lacks.”“That’s their teamwork, right? Class B is the superior class because they’re being led well, so when the time comes to make decisions, they don’t fight or break apart.”Class D had selfish students like Kouenji, who ran off on his own, and no one in our class had the power to step in. Meanwhile, Ichinose had brought Class B together, and there wasn’t a hint of disorder.

They had a real sense of unity, probably the biggest difference between Classes D and B right now. The longer this conflict continued, the starker that difference would become.

3.4We saw a cave opening that looked like it cut deep into themountainside, like a demon’s mouth. There were two temporarytoilets and one shower room near the entrance.

“I can’t really see the inside from here…“Trying to confirm what was in the cave while keeping our distance was probably next to impossible. Neither Horikita nor I knew anyone in Class A. Even though we intended to sneak around, stay hidden, and gather information, we wouldn’t get anywhere. I stepped over Horikita and headed up the road to the cave.

“W-wait.”“Let’s go. I mean, it’s Class A, so of course we’re going to be scared. There’s nothing we can do about that.”Horikita and I both headed toward the base camp.

“What are you planning? We gain nothing by carelessly exposing ourselves.”“And what do we gain by trying to peek from our hiding spot? Wecan barely see, and there’s no one around. There’s not much we can see unless we enter the cave.”“You’re awfully calm, aren’t you? Did you have something in mind?”Horikita asked.

“I haven’t thought of anything. Come on, don’t worry.” “Ugh, what an unintelligible, half-assed answer.”She glared at me with cold and frightening eyes, but I pretended not to notice. Naturally, some Class A students hanging around thecave’s entrance discovered us. I thought I could salvage the situationso long as I could see the cave’s interior.

However, inside the cave were several vinyl sheets joined together into one giant tarp, which blocked my view. I couldn’t see inside at all.

“Who are you guys? What class are you from?”This guy was definitely one of the two guys who’d found the cave quickly on the first day. Yahiko. The other guy, the sharp-witted Katsuragi, appeared to be absent.

“We came to snoop. You have a problem?” Horikita responded, in an imposing manner. It was like a daring switch had been flipped in her brain. She continued, “I mean, I would’ve thought that since you’re in Class A you’d be clever, but…“She looked at the vinyl covering the cave’s entrance, and let out arather forced sigh.

“Well, rather than clever, I’d say you’re underhanded. What cowardly methods.”“What?”Even though it was plain to see she wanted to provoke him, Yahiko sounded irritated, as if she got on his nerves.

“I’m Horikita, from Class D.”“Hah, it’s obvious you’re from Class D. You’re a bunch of stupid failures, after all.”“Stupid, huh? In that case, there’s no harm in us seeing what’s inside, right? Or does that make you feel uncomfortable?”“That’s not it at all!”“So it’s not a problem if we look? You’re in the way.”“W-wait! Hey! Wait, I said! Don’t just do whatever you please!” Yahiko moved in front of Horikita to block her, but Horikita’s wordscut him off.

“We’re just going to look inside. That itself isn’t a violation of the rules, right?”“Stop screwing around. Class A occupies this spot. Class D doesn’t have permission to use it!”“Oh? So you occupy this place. I didn’t know that. Is there a device inside?”“Y-yeah. So back off.”“Well, there definitely aren’t any rules that say we can’t go into the cave. It’s certainly true that we cannot use the cave while it’s being occupied, but that’s not the same as the right to monopolize it oranything. We should have the right to look inside, or at least to verify if there’s equipment, right? If we couldn’t do that, then people could just forcibly monopolize every spot. That’s not what this test is about.”“Huh?!”Her sharp argument skewered Yahiko without any trouble. Horikita’shair fluttered as she tried to peel off the veil that hid the caveentrance. However…“What are you doing? I don’t recall giving you permission to invite guests.”A particularly tall boy passed behind me and continued walkingahead to Horikita. This was definitely…“Katsuragi-san! These two came to snoop around our camp! They’re a bunch of filthy losers!”“You’re exaggerating. It’s just vinyl. Show me around a little.” Horikita, turning to confront the two boys, didn’t seem scared in the slightest.

“Well then, it should be fine for you to look inside. However, prepare yourself. The moment you touch anything, I will notify the school and report your actions as obstruction toward another class. I can’tguarantee what will happen to Class D as a result.”Katsuragi was probably bluffing. There was a very low chance that we’d be disqualified for touching vinyl. And yet, there seemed to be some genuine danger hidden in his words.

“You’re forcefully monopolizing control of the spot. The rules don’t protect such actions.”“You’re right about that. I cannot argue the point. However, it’s something of an unspoken rule. You in Class D have a spot by the river. Class B has a well. You live in and surround the occupied space, so it’s halfway monopolized. Have you taken any forceful measures in dealing with trespassers to your area?”Katsuragi’s calm words stopped Horikita in her tracks.

“One class occupies one spot. Then, they continue to protect that spot so they may obtain points until the end of the test. If you violate this unspoken rule, it creates chaos. Naturally, Class A will trespass upon Class D’s base in retaliation. We should avoid trouble.”It was possible to ignore what he said, but we couldn’t. Like Katsuragi said, the other classes had all unconsciously occupied one area each. If we broke that rule, our troubles would grow. Horikita turned on her heel and walked away from the cave.

“Well, fine. I look forward to seeing the results, and Class A’s abilities.”“We are quite capable. We also expect things from you, Class D. By which I mean, your futile struggling.” After that short exchange, Horikita had the wind knocked out of her sails. If Katsuragi hadn’t appeared, Horikita probably would have stepped through to the other side of the vinyl sheet.

“Yahiko, don’t respond to cheap provocation. Her goal was to force her way in and look around. If you thrust your righteous superiority in their face, the other side will back off.”“S-sorry.”They’d stripped Horikita of all other options except retreat.

Wonderful, wonderful.

“It seems like we have to leave Class A alone. We definitely can’t investigate them.”Once they’d claimed the spot, they hid much of it away behind an impregnable wall. However, despite their efforts, we were able to glean something from the interaction.

Written on August 17, 2022