“Wait, what are you talking about!? I mean— Can you please say that again, Frire Sensei?”
The quickest one to turn around and question her was none other than Shinichi himself, but everyone felt the same and the precious time was ticking.
“Like I said. I can’t supervise the class, and there’s also no one else who can, so the only option left is to choose someone from 1-D to takeover the role of the examiner; otherwise, the entire class can’t take the exam.”
“Do you realize how ridiculous this is!?”
“Don’t worry. Assisting in classes is a privilege and duty available only to students with exceptional grades, but if a teacher asks a student to assist with her class, then the grades of the students don’t matter.”
That was the problem with the policy adopted by the school to compensate for its lack of teachers. Teachers and students were regularly used in the academy to keep everything running.
Of course, abusing this power is prohibited, so there’s a rule that makes it so that the assistance of the students can only be used in class-related matters. Moreover, if the teacher requesting the assistance is judged to have been lacking in preparations or in the progress of her lessons, then it’s possible for her to be demoted or to have her salary cut. As far as teachers are concerned, requesting help from a student is a last resort. The exam is a part of the class, so requesting a student’s help here isn’t against the rules.
The student also doesn’t have the right to refuse. Of course, if the student in question is in bad health or has an emergency, then it is indeed possible to refuse the request, but generally, it can’t be refused since it’s a teacher’s last resort.
“Raise up a fuss all you like, but this decision is final.”
“Wait! But even then it doesn’t really have to be me, does it!? I mean come on, couldn’t you have assigned the best student instead!? Like the class representative, for example!”
“This school makes it a policy to give a chance to the students we expect the most from. That’s why you’re the best choice for an examiner. After all, no one expects anything from you. Besides, you have no intention of doing the test, right?”
“Well yeah, but… Huh?”
Suddenly, Shinichi noticed that there was an emotion that betrayed Frire’s eyes and words. Although it was true that he’d lost his cool because of her ridiculous remarks, and it was also true that their deal meant that it was okay for her to show contempt for him, the way she was acting was still too strange. It was also unlike her to declare this so abruptly in front of everyone as if it were a surprise.
Shinichi knew full well that she wasn’t that kind of teacher, so he asked her a question.
“…Sensei, I have a question. When was it decided for me to take on the role of 1-D’s examiner?”
“This morning… There are other reasons too, but this was the best I could do.”
In other words, something happened this morning that forced her to make this decision, which happens to be the next best thing she could do to keep their promise.
Unfortunately, what that something was couldn’t be said here and neither could Shinichi ask what it was.
“Sigh… Sorry, looks like I caused you some trouble.”
Shinichi sighed deeply and muttered out an apology, then he turned to the yet confused 1-D students and looked at them sharply.
“Let me confirm again. This is a formal request for assistance from a teacher of the academy, right?”
“Yeah, the request has already been submitted to your foster. The moment you accept it, you will be given the duty of an examiner substitute… Sorry.”
There were various emotions mixed in behind her apology, but Shinichi just laughed and said it was fine.
When he looked at the screen on his foster, the request to act as her representative was indeed there. It was also made under her name. There was no ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ option, however.
When Shinichi readily touched the icon that appeared on his foster’s screen, the entire class of 1-D broke out into a clamor, and then with a huge grin of his face, Shinichi looked at their shocked faces and cheerfully spoke.
“What can I say? As of this moment, I have officially become your examiner… You better do as I say or I’ll fail you.”
That was clearly a threat. The class fell into disorder, but Shinichi remained unruffled.
“H-Hey, Nakamura? You understand, right?”
‘Understand why I assigned you as my substitute,’ she meant, and Shinichi turned around to her with a huge smile plastered on his face.
“Yes, of course. I will perform my duties as your substitute to the best of my abilities. Fu fu fu fu.”
Shinichi’s smile was so evil that Frire immediately regretted her decision.
Clearly, he was planning on putting that plan of his into action.
“…D-Do consider my plan too, okay? Anyway, I’ll be leaving the rest to you. You guys, be sure to listen to him too. Alright, dismissed.”
There was a bit of opposition, but this was her last resort. She had no cards left to play other than this. That’s why she decided to believe in Shinichi when he said that he would do his best. But of course, there were still 30 other people who didn’t agree with her decision.
“P-Please wait, Sensei! This is just too absurd!”
“It’s impossible for him to be the examiner!”
“With this don’t we basically have no guarantee of safety!?”
The way they saw it, Shinichi was a student with worse status than theirs and also someone who hasn’t properly attended his lessons.
Someone like that couldn’t possibly serve as their examiner or protect them when needed.
Frire herself thought their arguments were sound, but she really had no other choice left. She tried to persuade them again, but…
“What pathetic gibberish are you spouting?”
Before she could, that cold voice that changed their confusion into anger just a while ago resounded again.
This time, however, he was clearly talking to the students and mocking them.
“Unlike me, didn’t you all apply for this school? Moreover, from your profiles, it seems you’re all hoping to get a military related job in the future.”
With a flick of his fingers, the profiles of the students were projected into the air.
Since Shinichi has been given the authority of an examiner, he temporarily had the rights to view those.
The students understood why he could see their profiles, but they found it hard to accept that a student worse off than them in status who didn’t even take school seriously was doing whatever he pleased with their private information.
They glared at him hatefully as if he’d hurt their parents, but unfortunately for them, he didn’t care one bit.
“The directions you each want to go in seem to vary, but in general, you all want to go to the ‘battlefield’, right? ‘The enemy is strong, so I don’t want to go. It’s not safe, so I won’t go. I don’t like my boss, so I don’t want to.’ You’re not the kind of selfish idiots who’d say something like that, right?”
That cold voice remained unchanged even as Shinichi looked down at them and treated them like fools. Until now no one from 1-D has really ‘looked’ at Shinichi properly, so when they saw him acting like this, they couldn’t help but falter. After all, what was in front of them wasn’t the uncaring and uninterested Shinichi, but something that released an overpowering pressure. But what was really overpowering – even more than the pressure he released – was the gap between this Shinichi his usual self.
“B-B-But w-we’re just students. W-We’re here p-pprecisely so we can train to go to the battlefield.”
But despite that someone was still able to insist that they should have a guarantee for safety while they were still learning. It was a statement made while desperately wringing everything out from oneself, but unfortunately, the answer was an immediate no.
“Are you stupid!? If you can’t do it now, then you’ll never be able to do it!”
No one could say anything in response to that instant rejection. No one agreed with Shinichi, but they were terrified of his glare.
“‘If I just work hard, I’ll be able to do it one day.’ I won’t refute that statement. But that only applies to building foundations. If you can’t even play at a kid’s playground properly, you don’t have the right to run your mouth off as if you have any qualifications.”
Shinichi’s words and gaze were full of arrogance and disregard. Normally, they’d be hurling all kinds of abuse at him right now. After all, he hasn’t shown them the slightest hint of strength despite talking so big.
“Y-You don’t have the right to run your mouth off like that either! We know we’re at the bottom of the barrel! We’re D Class for crying out loud!”
Through his anger, someone was finally able to pick himself up and speak out against Shinichi’s unreasonable words, but Shinichi only snorted and made fun of the students even more.
“You’re the one who doesn’t get it. If you really understood, then you wouldn’t be acting this pathetic.”
“What was that!?”
“I mean it’s true right? We’re D Class. The lowest ranking students of the academy. We have no authority, we have nothing to be proud of, and the chance we’ve been given is only the smallest of opportunities in the academy. We’re students that no one expects anything from, and yet… You’re actually demanding that your safety be guaranteed? You want a proper examiner? You’re so selfish I’m the one getting embarrassed.”
Shinichi tacitly reminded them that this was that kind of place as he mocked them from the bottom of his heart, ‘I can’t believe you have the gall to act like that.’
Enraged, the male student that spoke up against him exploded.
“Shut up! It’s got nothing to do with you! You don’t even do anything!”
The student approached Shinichi, grabbed him by the collar, and glared at him hatefully while yelling at him.
He looked like he was about to hit Shinichi at any moment, but Shinichi just made a dumbfounded look, as though he was tacitly mocking the student that he didn’t even have the guts to punch him.
“Tch, damn it! Enough! This is still just our first year. Half a year later, there’ll be a second time. If they can’t give us a proper examiner now, then we’ll just give it a pass this time!”
“Yeah! Avoiding danger should be the correct decision!”
“Exactly, it’s just a half year away! The time will pass in no time!”
Unwilling to be provoked, the student let Shinichi go and expressed his decision to abandon the exam. Several students also agreed with him, but Shinichi just readily nodded.
“That’s fine too. After all, it’s your decision whether to take the exam or not,” Shinichi smiled.
When the male student saw his smile up close, he shuddered. That wasn’t a smile he would’ve ever expected from someone of his age.
“But by then, you’ll really be the bottom of the barrel, even lower than me.”
Shinichi smiled as he dropped that bomb at them. For some reason, this normal smile was even more terrifying than that smile that sent shivers running through that student’s back.
“W-What do you mean? You’re not participating either, so you should have less points!”
“I’ve been assigned as the substitute examiner, so I’ve already been given passing points. And the evaluation from this test is higher than anything else when it comes to influencing one’s ranking in school.”
Even if the entire class didn’t participate in the exam, and even if their grades weren’t directly affected, Shinichi would still get a passing score. This was one of the policies implemented to prevent an assisting student from having his grades deducted. Without this policy, the system of students assisting in lessons wouldn’t be possible.
And since the D Class didn’t have a lot of opportunities to go up in ranking, the next time they took the exam, Shinichi will have a higher ranking than them. Although their grades up till now were higher, the results from this test could easily overcome that.
“Sorry for passing without doing anything.”
If one just looked at Shinichi’s expression, it really seemed as if he was just making a friendly smile, but no one here took it as such.
Shinichi was generally acknowledged to be the worst student of the campus, and with the exception of a few people, he was also the student with the worse reputation. The thought of having an even lower ranking than him made the students waver.
If they were to explain themselves, then perhaps they might be able to make others understand their situation, but who would possibly lend an ear to someone from D Class. Odds were that people would consider them to be even worse off than the trash of the academy. Could they really endure that? When they realized that, they once again considered the merits and demerits of taking the exam. But this time, the option of ‘not taking the exam’ became that much more difficult. Not just because their ranking would become lower than Shinichi’s, but because if the others were to take the exam while they didn’t, then those who didn’t take the exam would become the school’s lowest ranking students.
“I don’t know!”
“Hey, you said you’re not taking it, right?”
“Shut up! I was just trying to tell him off!”
With that reality before them, the class could only become noisy and suspicious of everyone. If they didn’t know anything and became lower ranked than Shinichi, they could have just protected each other since they were all in the same boat, but now there was a fear that they might end up as the lowest ranking student.
But even then, it was still too dangerous to take the exam, so at most, they just didn’t want anyone else to take it. That way they won’t become the lowest ranking student. This kind of thinking isn’t uncommon among humans.
“…I really didn’t have any other cards left to play, but I’m regretting this already, Nakamura.”
Frire frowned, but Shinichi just laughed.
She was surprised that Shinichi was able to immediately understand the system and the various information he was given not long after he accepted the request for assistance, but the fact that he used that to manipulate his classmate’s emotions left her feeling half-impressed and half-dumbfounded.
Because the attention of the students were completely focused on the problem in front of them, none of them noticed that the entire class of 1-D had already fallen into the hands of the substitute examiner, Nakamura Shinichi.
“Well then, Frire Sensei. It’s about time for me to enter the fields as the examiner. You guys do whatever you want. Only those who want to take the exam should come.”
Shinichi said as he moved ahead, leaving 1-D with no chance to think.
As the students of 1-D saw him walk straight for the barrier covering the fields, they wavered. They had to take the exam, but they couldn’t trust the examiner with their safety. Because of that this whole thing felt like a gamble were the risks were high no matter which option they picked.
“Hey, it’s time to wake up. We’re going in.”
When Shinichi woke up the sleeping ‘girl’ on his head, Frire held her head. It was such a cruel method of manipulation that Frire found herself suffering from vertigo.
“R-Right! In the worst case, there’s the amaryllis!”
“Damn it! Hey, wait up! What’s the point of the examiner going ahead!?”
Although the amaryllis with Shinichi was still young and though they’ve yet to see her strength, they have seen her status. They also knew about the legends of the amaryllis, so they were able to find a sense of security in her. With that, everyone decided to participate, and entered the field.
Frire, who ended up seeing them off, sighed faintly before laughing dryly.
“Ha ha… They’re my students and all, but they’re forgetting one important thing. That creature only listens to Nakamura.”
It was doubtful whether she’d save them on her own when they’re in danger. Frire would just have to trust Shinichi. He probably won’t put them in any life-threatening situation, right?
“He might be like that, but he’s actually a really caring guy.”
Otherwise, he wouldn’t have given her advice on top of their morning spars, Frire smiled. His earlier remarks were probably meant to bring things in this direction. Everything went according to his plan. Since he wanted all the students to participate, he’ll probably do the job properly.
“…Hmm? Could it be that this is the reason why he distanced himself from everyone?”
Because he’d end up getting too deeply involved? And getting too involved might be inconvenient for whatever he’s hiding?
“Was this a mistake then? But there really wasn’t any other way…”
She couldn’t let him take the exam normally to protect his secret. If she hadn’t been chosen as the head supervisor, there might have still been another way, but… That’s why she had no choice but to go with this plan. Unfortunately, it seems this too was no good.
“Doneju Sensei, please hurry! Most of the classes have already arrived at their designated areas!”
“G-Got it. Tch.”
Though still unsure if she’d really made the best choice, duty called. All she could do now was to pray that nothing bad would happen, and do her best at her job.
1-D has been advancing straight since they entered the field. They passed through the forest by the entrance, went over a hill, half-way around a lake, and then into another forest. Before long, Shinichi who was at the lead was at the very back of the march and was just quietly following along.
The students of 1-D were all single-mindedly heading toward the location he’d indicated. They were already behind the others because they entered late, but they were delayed even more because of the issue regarding the examiner. If they were to be delayed even more, there’s a chance this whole day might go to a waste.
Although their ability to march and adapt was also being tested, the test that had the highest points was the combat exam. That was especially so for D Class which didn’t have to go too deep into the fields or anywhere dangerous.
“We’ve finally reached the river. If we just follow it and climb up a little, we should reach the designated point,” said the class representative of 1-D who led them here by relying on his foster’s map.
Just as he said, after getting through the forest, what unfolded before them was a vast but gently flowing river. They were already within their designated exam area, but they still had to go to a specific place within it to conclude their march.
Often times when the examiner decides the location, the examiner also takes into consideration the feasibility of an area as a base for the test. Of course, for the class of 1-D, which was participating for the first time, and Shinichi who had little understanding for implications, there was no way of knowing that.
Still, watching them from the back of the line just head straight through with the river beside them made him look at them meaningfully. Unfortunately, no one noticed that look at his face.
“Do these guys really understand that their march is also being graded?”
That fed-up voice faded into the sound of footsteps, reaching no one.
About 15 minutes later, 1-D finally reached their designated point. It was an area with a river located between the woods and the base of the mountain range. It was curious what the reason was behind designing the place like this, but the area was covered in rocks, giving the ground a hard sensation with cracks here and there, and bad footing where one could easily trip from inattention.
The class of 1-D arrived before 11. No hint of exhaustion could be seen on their faces as they immediately asked Shinichi what their exam would be.
Shinichi sighed in an exaggerated manner, causing the students of 1-D to become dumbfounded.
He wanted to point out their mistake here, but he decided to leave his ‘fun’ for later.
“Apparently, I’m supposed to give you the topic for your test, but I don’t know anything about your abilities, so I don’t know what topic would suit this class.”
“You got some materials from the teacher, right!?”
“Just pick something randomly.”
But Shinichi ignored the protests of 1-D and picked up his servant from his head, then placed her onto the ground. The orders he gave her were brief, but she immediately understood his intentions, and she bolted off with her four short legs toward the direction of the mountain.
Before they could ask Shinichi what was happening, a thunderous sound roared, the air and the earth shook, and the sound of something big falling reached their ears. It seemed as if a huge building had just collapsed.
“…W-What are you doing?”
Clearly, Shinichi had told the amaryllis to do something. But the 30 students gathered here didn’t understand what he’d told her to do. No, they didn’t want to understand. After all, the answer they first came to was simply too terrifying.
“As you’ve guessed, I’m picking out an opponent for your first test. It’s a lot faster to bring the raybeast here rather than to wait for it.”
When Shinichi confirmed their fears, they became even more tense. No one from 1-D could imagine what kind of giant creature could possibly make such a loud sound. The biggest raybeast they’ve seen until now was at most the size of a big dog. Of course, they’ve seen raybeasts bigger than that from the pictures, but never personally. That’s why even though they heard the sound in person, it didn’t feel real.
“Once, the raybeast is here, you will all fight together. I’ll be using this first test as a way to gauge your strength.”
“Huh? All together?”
“Wait a moment! I know we barely have any experience fighting raybeasts, but we have 30 people here!”
“No matter how big that raybeast might be, 10 of us should be enough to deal with it!”
The students became furious for being made light of so much, but Shinichi didn’t mind it and just laughed.
“I don’t really mind, but, you know… When did I ever say that the raybeast I’m bringing is from the D Rank area?”
“It’s true that we’re at the D Rank area right now, but the monsters here are too weak. If you fought them, you could easily win against one of them with just three of you. But what about the raybeasts from those parts?”
As a cheerful smile appeared on Shinichi’s face, he pointed at the amaryllis that was running toward the direction of a mountain.
The students immediately took out their fosters and checked the ranking of that area from the map, and when they confirmed what it was, they were shocked. Just as Shinichi had said, they were indeed in the D Rank area, but right beside them was the B Rank area. Until now they’ve been looking only at the route to get here, so they didn’t notice that at all. Because of that they thought that the enemy Shinichi picked out for them would only be D Rank.
“Y-You’re kidding, right? —!?”
But as soon as they confirmed that, it fell. A thunderous sound resounded, the earth split, and the students went tumbling. Even the people who braced themselves fell on their backsides. Every one of the students gasped.
—Something is there.
A giant raybeast covered in thick fur laid down like a wall in front of them. They knew it was a raybeast, but it was so big and the clouds of dust were so dense that they couldn’t even fully grasp its shape.
Overwhelmed by the giant raybeast, the students of 1-D couldn’t even find it in themselves to become agitated. Meanwhile, the young beast that nonchalantly threw this thing at them jumped up her master’s shoulder as though her job was done.
As their examiner lightly patted her on the head and a fearless smile appeared on his face, the students were pushed into hell.
“30 students, 10 students, whatever, just fight that thing. I’ll judge your strength based on the results. If you can beat it, I’ll immediately give you a passing grade… Of course, we all know that’s impossible.”
The moment that death-sentence-like exam was announced, the giant raybeast stood up. It was so heavy that the rocky terrain actually cracked under its weight.
The students looked up at the raybeast.
Speechless. Until now they’ve never been put in a situation where they had to express that word. They were overwhelmed. And when they finally saw the raybeast after it stood up, they could only describe it with one word, ‘Monster’. No, it would be more apt to call it a behemoth.
The closest thing to it was probably the centaurs from the Greek myths. Only, it didn’t have the beauty of a horse’s body or the burliness of a man’s upper half. The four limbs of the lower body were thick like statues, while the human-shaped upper body looked like it had merely grown out of that. Fur covered every inch of its body, and its arms were thick like logs. They were long too. The part that seemed to be its head did have something that resembled a face, but the rest were glowing organs (crystals), the proof that the monster before them was a raybeast.
The glowing objects where its eyes should have been looked down at them. Though its figure may be likened to humans and statues, its size was on a completely different level. Standing at 15 meters tall, before its overwhelming pressure and sharp eyes, the class of 1-D were silent.
They knew that raybeasts weren’t living creatures. Just energy that had taken form. As such, these creatures neither had the compassion or warmth or mode of life that animals would. When the overwhelming presence emanating from the monstrous raybeast right before them made them understand that, their thoughts came to a halt. So great was their shock that they couldn’t even feel the fear.
“…You guys do your best now.”
“A-Are you nuts!?”
“I can’t believe this, you’re a demon!”
“You’re an idiot, right? You’re definitely an idiot! Only an idiot would do something like this!”
Shinichi ignored the overwhelming presence of the raybeast and told the students to do their best as if none of this concerned him.
It was curious whether it was because of their anger at him or their fear of the monster, but before long, emotion returned to the faces of the students and they yelled at him.
Unfortunately for them, their yells only served as a signal of sort, and the thick legs of the giant raybeast stomped onto the ground as if it were trying to flatten it.
There were no howls or roars like one would expect from a beast. The raybeasts had no reason to threaten others by bellowing out. Instead, what did bellow was the sound of the raybeast’s powerful arms slamming and crushing the rocky terrain.
“We don’t have a choice anymore! We have to fight!”
“Ah, sheesh, everyone, put on your protector and ready your weapons!”
“That bastard… When this is over, I’m going to give him a good punch to the face!”
“We just have to do it, right? Just have to do it, just have to… Do it!”
“Don’t look down on us! We have 30 on our side!”
The class of 1-D somehow managed to dodge the initial attack, then with feelings akin to that of self-abandonment, they changed gears and prepared to attack.
Like this the unwinnable battle between the academy’s weakest class of 1-D and a B Rank raybeast began—
“The spirit is commendable, but… No one even considered to retreat, so that’s a minus.”
—Not knowing that they’ve already been given a demerit.