Y1 Vol 3 Chapter 5 | The Quiet Outbreak of War

On our fourth day, we reached a turning point. The shouting and complaining died down and were replaced by the sound of laughter. Along with the corn we’d found, Ike and the others had caught some fish. There was no more resistance about drinking the river water,either. Thanks to the fruit our classmates had found, we’d savedmore points than anticipated, and were making it through this test.

Currently, we’d spent a total of about 100 points, including setbacks like Kouenji’s retirement. If we kept things going like this, we’d end the test with a quite a few points left over. If you looked at the state Class D was in before, the numbers were simply phenomenal. Even Yukimura, who’d resisted the most at the start, had no complaints. Every single person was satisfied with our results.

I started to get a prickly feeling in my head, which was throbbing. I borrowed a ballpoint pen, put it in my pocket along with the folded- up piece of paper from before, and left base camp.

I’d started to figure out more about this test. If I were to break it down, eighty percent of it was defensive, determining whether your class could form cooperative relationships. Therefore, I determined that the remaining twenty percent of the test was offensive, judging whether you had the ability to scout around and gather information. However, this 8:2 proportion wasn’t reflected in the test results.

Rather, that twenty percent influenced the outcome even more.

We already understood each class’ plans. In that case, we knew what we had to do, which was attack the other classes. So, I began tomove toward Class A’s area. As Class D was based around the river,Class A had most likely centered their activities around their cave.

The true appeal of that spot wasn’t just that it offered shelter fromthe elements; the place itself had meaning.

As I wandered through the forest, I heard the faint sound of ocean waves. I picked up the pace, and successfully pushed through the trees and toward the coast.

“Whoa…“I applied the brakes and came to a full stop before a cliff’s edge. “I definitely saw something from the ship. It was below here.”I spotted several facilities located rather close to the cave. It didn’t seem like there was any kind of detour route, but as I walked along the cliff, I noticed a ladder set up in a blind spot. Anyone would’ve missed it upon first glance. I grabbed onto the ladder with all of my strength. It seemed sturdy, so I used it to climb down to the bottom of the cliff.

Shortly after getting down, I found a small hut. Near the entrance, I saw a device—proof that this was a spot. When I peered through the window, I saw fishing tackles. In other words, occupation of this spot meant you would able to catch fish without having to borrow equipment from the school.

When I checked to see whether the spot had been occupied, I saw the words Class A displayed on the device. It seemed they had four hours remaining. I didn’t doubt that Katsuragi and the others had come here and taken possession of the area after they’d held down the cave. You wouldn’t have known about the spot’s existence unless you discovered it back when we were on the boat. Since the small hut was located right under the cliff, you didn’t have to worry about anyone in the surrounding area seeing you.

The tools inside looked unused. Dust had accumulated on them. I took the map out from my pocket and wrote down some notes about the little hut’s location. I only wrote down the approximate position, of course. Measuring it accurately would’ve taken an insaneamount of time.

After I finished marking it on my map, I refolded the piece of paper and put it back in my pocket. Since there didn’t seem to be anything else, I climbed the ladder back up the cliff.

“When we circled around the island, I saw a tower over there…“While scanning the area, I relied on my memory. I shifted my gaze toward the ground that had been trodden on by people. Then I continued into the forest, following the path. Eventually, I reached higher ground. Was a spot here, I wondered?Although it seemed possible to look out over the whole beach by going up the installed ladder, the facility didn’t seem that useful. It seemed like some spots were better than others.

I drew closer to confirm the equipment on the wall of the facility. Unlike the last place I’d checked, this place didn’t seem to be occupied. The facility itself was rather large, so even though the place was well in the backwoods, it would’ve been easy to find. Inother words, that meant I didn’t know who had been monitoring the area. The fact that no one was occupying the tower showed that holding it ran the risk of being observed by the enemy.

Katsuragi was a cautious man, reliant on solid, secure strategies. He wouldn’t carelessly take the bait, even bait this sweet and this close. The bushes nearby rustled despite the absence of wind.

“So, you won’t occupy this spot out of more than a sense of prudence?”“What are you doing here? This place is being used by Class A.”Two guys sprang out of the bushes as if they’d been waiting forsomeone to fall into their trap. I was surrounded. One of the guys immediately went over to the terminal to check on its status. He waslikely checking to see whether I’d claimed the spot or not. “Who are you? I haven’t seen your face before.”He probably wouldn’t know a Class D outcast, a self-proclaimed pill- bug who hid under a rock. The guy in front of me brandished a tree branch like a weapon, thrusting it toward my throat. He was trying to threaten me.

“I’m Ayanokouji, from Class D.”Of course, I instantly buckled and offered my name.

“Search him. See if he’s got anything suspicious.”They put their hands in my pockets, and even checked my ankles for anything hidden, like I was a suspect surrounded by policemen.

“This isn’t an act of violence. Understand?”There was probably only one answer for such a question: to just nod. They searched my body, and took my ballpoint pen and folded-up map.

“What’s the pen for? And a hand-drawn map?”The map had a rough sketch of the island, as well as my notes about the occupied points.

“Give it back.”I reached out, but they didn’t offer it. I ended up only grabbing at theair.

“What’s your goal? Are you acting alone?”As they barraged me with questions, I fell silent. Three seconds, four seconds. I cleared my throat.

“I can’t say.” “I see. So you can’t talk about someone in Class D who’s pulling the strings? Is Class D as a whole planning something? Or are only some of the students plotting?”They asked me a series of rapid-fire questions, like an interrogation.

“I can’t say. If I did…I may not be able to return to my class.”“Being an underling sounds tough, Ayanokouji. Well, whatever. I don’t know what you were asked to do, but don’t make unnecessary trouble. It’d be better for you to just quietly sit back at base camp.”They threw the ballpoint pen at my feet, but kept the paper. These guys had no right to issue orders, but they were coercive.

“There’s one more thing I talk to you about. If you tell us the identity of your leader, we’re prepared to offer a generous reward. 100,000 or 200,000 points.”“You’re asking for me to sell out my class for money?”“You’re free to interpret my statements however you wish, but I’ve made the same offer to other people. This offer is first-come, first- serve. You’re better off coming forward and telling me right away.”Class A’s strategy essentially had no risks. It was a simple method, which you could implement so long as you possessed an abundance of funds. Although the possibility of it working was low, you couldn’t dismiss the possibility that some students might be dazzled by the money and sell out their friends.

“Sorry, but I don’t believe it. How would you pay someone? We don’t have any cell phones here, right?”“It’s certainly true we can’t do it now. If necessary, we wouldn’t mind writing a memorandum.”In other words, they intended to sign a contract now, and transfer private points after the test. “A memorandum, huh? Let me ask you something for my ownreference… Can you tell me how many points I’d get if I did tell you something?”“That depends on your attitude.”“Could I have someone trustworthy settle things? For example, someone like Katsuragi. Or perhaps Sa—“The moment I said the former’s name, one of the boys’ expressions changed.

“Why did you say Katsuragi?”“I’ve heard rumors that Katsuragi is Class A’s representative.”“Don’t make me laugh. Sakayanagi is the representative of Class A. Not Katsuragi. You can go now.”From what they’d just said, it sounded like they had no more use for me. They made way for me to pass. It seemed like those two guys were Katsuragi’s enemies. If that were true, were they working under Sakayanagi’s orders? Was Sakayanagi the one leading, not Katsuragi? I needed to clarify that.

5.1I went down to the beach to check out how Class C was doing, and see their base camp. Yesterday, this place had been filled with raucous noise. Now it was a ghost town.

“Oh wow, this is seriously a surprise! I knew he wasn’t normal, but I didn’t realize to what extent.”I heard voices behind me, as two other people arrived.

“Did you come here to spy around too, Ayanokouji?”It was Ichinose and Kanzaki from Class B. I wondered if they had come here to see how Class C was doing, too.

“I’m in charge of finding food. I was searching around the forest, andended up here.”“Even though it’s the middle of the day, I think it’s dangerous to be running around alone.”After hearing Ichinose’s gentle warning, I nodded in agreement. While the two of them hid in the shade, they’d observed what kind of state Class C was in. As for why they were hiding, well, they had a reason.

“Oh wow, there’s no one around anymore. It’s just like you said,Kanzaki-kun. Seems like their strategy was to retire.”Ichinose scratched her cheek and sighed in disappointment.

“We thought we could at least find out who Class C’s leader was.

Was it pointless, though? If they’ve all withdrawn, we won’t be able to find any hints.”“Didn’t Class C already use up all of their points? Even if we foundout who their leader is, doesn’t that mean they won’t get a penalty?” “They said that we wouldn’t see any negative effects during the second semester, so our points shouldn’t be able to go below zero.”Ichinose pursed her lips, looking bored. All we could see in the former campsite was a big empty space. The only thing left was the tent the school had provided. There were some students left playing around in the water, but it was just a question of when they’d leave.

“I don’t want to compliment a strategy where you use up all yourpoints, but it’s pretty amazing.”“No matter how I look at it, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to work. This test is about stockpiling points so you come out positive. Ryuuen lost when he abandoned that idea.”Ichinose and Kanzaki both looked sad as they gazed upon the uninhabited beach.

“So, trying to find out who their leader is will be incredibly difficult. It’s just impossible. Impossible!”“I think that it would be a good idea to see this test through quietly,and stick to a solid plan.”“Yeah, yeah. Solid strategy is best.”I didn’t know if those two were lying or telling the truth, but they weren’t hiding their plans from me at all. Ichinose and Kanzaki hadrealized that spying on Class C was meaningless. This was the perfect opportunity. I’d reluctantly planned to ask Hirata and Kushida about Sakayanagi, but those two didn’t seem well informed on the subject. Also, I wanted to avoid the students in Class D knowing about my movements as much as possible.

“I just happened to hear a little bit about this, but do Katsuragi andSakayanagi in Class A have opposing groups?”“It’s said they really don’t get along. It seems like they’ve quarreled pretty intensely. Why do you ask?” “Oh, nothing. Horikita just gave me an order. She said if I had time, to go and find out something. She wondered if this would be ourchance to get back at Class A. Well, even though it’s said they quarrel intensely, I imagine they’ll come together during the test.”“Well, rather than coming together, I think Sakayanagi-san is taking it easy during the test. That’s why everyone thinks Katsuragi-kun is the leader. Right?”Ichinose tilted her head, seeking Kanzaki’s opinion. Who could haveimagined that Sakayanagi would be an absentee?”Katsuragi is a clever guy. But even though Sakayanagi isn’t around, there probably won’t be anyone under her who’ll put up resistance. They probably wouldn’t do anything to deliberately cause a rift.

There wouldn’t be any merit in doing so.”If I accepted that story without question, then the two guys I ran into before were doing exactly as Katsuragi had instructed.

“Yeah. That seems like it’s true. But wouldn’t the students working under Sakayanagi-san be really unhappy? I mean, those two are complete opposite types. I would imagine their opinions would be clearly different, too.”“Complete opposites?”“Liberal and conservative? Offense and defense? Persecute and protect? Those kinds of things. That’s why they always seem to be clashing with each other. It’s scary to think about Class A going all out in that situation. If they managed to come together, Class Awould really demonstrate their true powers.”“I see. Well, I’ll tell Horikita later. Ah jeez, she told me to investigate on my own. She gets flustered working with others. Well…please pretend that you didn’t hear that last part. It’s going to be bothersome if she gets angry with me.” “Ha ha, don’t worry, we’ll keep it secret. But I have to say, Horikita has a point. Supposing that two people are completely opposed to and in conflict with each other, it wouldn’t be strange for them to end up destroying each other. Well, it’s not like we can really do anything at this stage.”Kanzaki checked his wristwatch to confirm the time, and then suggested to Ichinose that they head back.

“It’s about time for me to look for food. They’ll be angry if I returnempty-handed.”“Well, let’s both be careful not to get hurt. Please don’t do anything reckless.”I thanked Ichinose for her concern.

5.2Let’s go back to before the start of our special test on the deserted island. Let’s talk about the closing ceremonies for the end of the first semester. I was feeling elated, because I was savoring the joy of being able to fully enjoy summer vacation for the first time in my life. However, the Grim Reaper appeared before me with scythe in hand to snatch away my happiness.

“Ayanokouji. I have to talk to you before you leave. Come to the faculty room.” Chabashira-sensei said immediately after homeroom had ended, before she left the classroom.

“Why? Did you do something?” asked Sudou, who was ready to leavewith his bag slung over his shoulder.

“I don’t remember doing anything.”“Yeah. You’re not good or bad. You live a plain, boring, steady life.” “Why did you sound all sarcastic?”“Sarcastic? I didn’t mean to. Did it feel like it?”What an awful person… My wounded heart wept bitter tears. I heard someone call out to me, and supposed it was Sudou, worried about how he’d hurt me. He was a good guy.

“Hey, Sudou!”“Hey, Horikita. Um, well, since it’s summer vacation…are you free? Maybe we can hang out a little.”Sudou was crazy about Horikita, my desk neighbor.

He wasn’t worried about me at all. “Why?” she asked.

“Well, because it’s summer vacation, you know? It’d be too bad if you didn’t have fun. We can watch movies or go shopping.” “How stupid. It doesn’t matter at all that it’s summer vacation. Why are you even inviting me out in the first place?”“‘Wh-why’? Why are you being so obtuse?”Sudou scratched his head. He didn’t understand Horikita’s feelings, but then it was like a switch flipped.

“Well, it’s just like that, you know? Right? Guys invite girls out when it’s a holiday…“Although I wanted to see Sudou’s efforts bear fruit with Horikita, Chabashira-sensei had called for me. It was best to get unpleasant things over with as soon as possible.

“Hey! Where are you going?” Sudou called, stopping me.

“Where do you think? I got called over by the teacher, so I don’t really have a choice.”“Can you wait just a little? Just a bit?”That expression grossed me out. He grabbed my wrists with his thick,meaty hands and didn’t let go.

“You’re gonna watch me do battle. Be my wingman.” “Don’t say such nonsense—"”Bye.”While we bickered, Horikita finished getting ready to go and stood up from her seat. She left the classroom without any hesitation. Sudou simply watched her go, completely dumbfounded.

“Damn. Guess it was useless after all. Well, guess I’ll go do club stuff.”Horikita’s absence meant I wasn’t needed, so I left. As I arrived at thefaculty room, I saw Chabashira-sensei waiting in the doorway.

“Come in.” “I don’t understand why you called me over.” “We’ll talk inside.”My “incoming depression” meter rose steadily as she met my questions with such short answers. I’d hoped she’d called me here as a joke.

“You might expect bad things when you’re asked to come to the faculty room, but contrary to your expectations, it’s a fine place.

There aren’t eyes all around in here. Many things are better said with some personal privacy.”I noticed that the security camera, which should’ve been installed ina room like this, was missing.

“So what did you want to talk to me about? I’m busy planning my summer vacation right now.”“That’s funny. I thought you didn’t have any friends?”“No, no, I was exaggerating when I said that. I have at least a fewfriends.”Although I could count the number of friends on two hands, the quantity wasn’t important. Or at least that’s what they say. Besides, wouldn’t it have been just fine if I spent summer vacation by myself?”I’ve called you here today because I wanted to tell you my personal story.”Chabashira-sensei’s story? This was headed in a very differentdirection. I didn’t understand why she’d called me over by name andwanted to tell me her story. Nor did I have any interest.

“It’s something I haven’t talked to anyone about since I had become a homeroom teacher. It’s silly, but please listen.”“Before that, should we have tea? You must be thirsty,” I said.

I stood up from my pipe chair and opened the kitchenette’s door. Noone was inside, right?”Don’t tell this story to anyone else. If you can do that, please return to your seat.”“Okay.”I closed the door and returned to sit with Chabashira-sensei.

“How do I appear to you as Class D’s homeroom teacher?”“Another abstract question, I see. Is it okay if I say I think you’re beautiful?”She didn’t even twitch an eyebrow when I made that joke. But Icould feel her bloodlust rising.

“Umm… Well, if you don’t mind being compared to other teachers, Ithink you don’t care at all about Class D’s future, and that you’re a cold teacher with no interest in her students. That’s my answer.”She wasn’t as friendly as Class B’s homeroom teacher, Hoshinomiya- sensei, nor was she as willing to help out her students like Class C’s homeroom teacher, Sakagami-sensei.

“Am I wrong?”“No, it’s as you say. I won’t deny it. However, the truth is different.”Chabashira-sensei paused and looked up to the ceiling, as if she’djust remembered something.

“I was once a student at this school. I was in Class D, just like you.” “I must say that’s surprising. I would’ve thought you were morecapable, Chabashira-sensei.”“Huh… Well, in my time, the class difference wasn’t as extreme. You could say that we were in a four-way battle, not a three-way one. Up until we approached graduation in the third semester of our third year, the difference between A and D wasn’t even 100 points. It was a close battle, where even one trivial mistake could knock you off balance.”I didn’t feel as though she were bragging. Rather, her story felt like one of regret.

“I’m guessing someone made a trivial mistake, right?”“Yes. It happened rather unexpectedly. Class C went to hell because of my mistake. In the end, my goal of reaching Class A and my dreams were shattered.”I felt really sorry for her, but having her bring up her past was really troublesome. If anything, it felt uncomfortable.

“I’m not catching your drift. What does this have to do with me?” “I feel that your presence will be vital to reach Class A.”“What am I supposed to say to that? You’re joking, right?”I felt happy to have been praised so unexpectedly, but I didn’t knowhow to answer.

“A few days ago, a certain man contacted the school directly. He said ‘expel Ayanokouji Kiyotaka.’“Chabashira-sensei made a complete change of topic. She was getting to the true issue.

“He said to expel me? Well, that’s nonsense. I don’t know who it was, but you ignored his request and won’t have me expelled.

Right?”“Of course. We can’t just expel someone on a third party’s whim. As long as you are a student at this school, you are protected by the rules. However…if you cause any problems, that’s a different story. Smoking, bullying, stealing, cheating… If you cause any scandal, expulsion is unavoidable.” “I’m sorry, but I don’t intend to do anything.”“It has nothing to do with your intentions. If I determine that something seems like an issue, it will become reality.”“Are you threatening me?” I found her wording suspicious.

“Here’s the deal, Ayanokouji. You are going to aim for Class A for me.

I will follow up as extensively as I can in order to protect you. Don’t you think that sounds like a good offer?”I’d thought she had changed a lot from when I first met her, but I never could’ve imagined she would blackmail a student. I laughed.

“Can I go now? I won’t listen to any more of this.”“That’s too bad, Ayanokouji. You will be expelled, and once again, Class D won’t reach Class A.”Her speech and behavior weren’t just for show. She seriously intended to cut me. She was placing her unachieved dreams on my shoulders.

“Let me ask you once more. Will you aim for Class A? Or be expelled? You choose.”With my left hand, I reached over the desk and grabbed Chabashira-sensei’s collar.

“I remember when Horikita said you made her feel uncomfortable. I wonder if she felt like this. It’s like entering someone’s home with shoes on.”“Right.” Chabashira-sensei, who’d behaved with confidence until then, laughed in self-deprecation. “I surprised myself. I realize now that I still haven’t given up on reaching Class A.”Her eyes had gotten slightly misty. Her usual cold indifference was gone. When she grabbed my left arm, my hand still grasping her collar, I saw the forceful determination had returned to her eyes.

“I’d thought you would lead Class D voluntarily, but we don’t have any time to waste. You have to decide here and now. Will you help me or not?”Luke, Star Wars’ protagonist, originally chose to return to his uncle’s farm and reject the call to adventure. However, he was eventually dragged into the horrors of war. That was his destiny. You might say I should’ve taken this woman’s story with a grain of salt. I didn’t know how much of it was true.

“You’ll probably regret trying to use me.” “Relax. My life is already full of regrets.”That was the troublesome event that launched my summer vacation. It was something I didn’t like to think about. At any rate, I couldn’t lose my current school life. Throwing away your freedom in order to protect it… How ridiculous.

Written on August 17, 2022