“J-Just what did you do to break a foster like that in just a month? Connect it to Safina’s foster! I’ll check it from my side!”
It was hard to tell whether she was shocked or angry, but Shinichi connected the two fosters just as instructed. After Frire examined it from her side, she let out a sigh of relief.
“The unit just shut itself down forcibly… That’s still good.”
“Why did this happen?”
“I don’t know what the cause is, but there are signs of the circuits being overloaded. In other words, it overheated, so the safety measure kicked in. It tends to heat up easily when extracting photons…”
“…So it was because of that Quick, uh, what was it again?” [Ryouma]
“Quick Extract. Yeah, it’s probably the culprit. It’s not even considered a legit theory, so you won’t find a single foster in the world that can accommodate it.”
It’s probably because he kept using QE that the foster’s system was heavily strained.
To make things worse, he kept canceling one skill after another.
A Foster is a device meant to handle photons, so the most terrifying case for it is the loss of control of photons; hence, when it sensed the abnormalities occurring, it stopped. The fact that it actually stopped working means that its protective systems are properly working.
“The automatic maintenance and repair of the foster should finish after three hours. It’s been optimized, but you should still be careful when using QE. You better have it looked once the exam finishes. There’s a chance its systems have worn out after being repeatedly abused by your ‘spoon’.”
“…So the extraction system of another world has Tendonitis after just a few hours of use?”
Extracting photon so many times in quick succession put a heavy burden on the Foster that couldn’t be compared to normal use.
It made sense in theory, but Shinichi found the thought pathetic.
Frire wryly smiled when Shinichi described the Foster’s problem as ‘Tendonitis’.
“That just means that that many people have been hit with the Mind skill… As a teacher, it’s a serious issue…”
She’s helped out too, but most of the students were healed by Shinichi.
If dispelling the Mind skill is the reason why his Foster overheated, then that just means that there were so many victims that the Foster actually overheated.
As a teacher and as someone related to the school’s security, it was not something that she could fathom.
She was an awkward teacher but she had a strong sense of responsibility when it came to certain things.
The eager face she was making now made Shinichi want to help her.
“The culprit’s unprincipled methods has only served to be his own undoing. The type of skill used on the victims has a limited range, and when coupled with the fact that the victims have little in common…”
“…I see. In other words, there’s a high probability that our culprit came into direct contact with the victims! And someone who was even able to make contact with Safina, who was outside the campus in a hospital before the exam!”
“Narrowing down all the culprits could be a bit troublesome, but the culprit that made contact with her when she was in the hospital shouldn’t be too hard.”
“Yes, that should narrow it done quite a bit.”
This logic would only work if there was just one person responsible for all the victims, but the profile of the suspect should already be in the security system of the school and the city.
Moreover, despite there being a lot of students who go out of campus, the only victims that are presently known are these; hence, there is a high probability that there are no criminals who can use the skill outside.
Odds were that the culprit was working on their own.
“I’ll check the people who made contact with Safina in the hospital. One of those should’ve made contact with all the victims this past week. That’s our suspect!”
“Agreed, but who are you going to ask to do that? Even if you exclude the hospital staff from the list of possible suspects, you’re still going to need the help of someone from the school to investigate internally.”
In the first place, the only ones who can investigate this issue are either the teachers or the members of the student council.
But either group is more suspicious compared to the students… After all, the students can’t move freely because of their classes, and not even the students of the Special Class are able to go wherever they please. They have priority when it comes to getting permission, but they’re restricted all the same.
Compared to them, the teachers and the student council have significantly less restrictions. Not only is it easy for them to come into contact with students of different classes, no one will suspect them too.
“I understand what you’re getting at. We can’t ask someone suspicious to investigate. But what about Amamiya? He’s the least likely to be the culprit.”
“The student council president? Ah, yes, not only is he too busy to meet with the students, he’s also an Earthling and a Japanese.”
A Japanese agent of the government of Japan.
His job is to collect information and technology from Garesto.
There’s no way someone like that could use a skill that not even Garesto knows about.
Even if he did manage to acquire such a skill, it doesn’t make sense for him to experiment with it here.
Even if outsiders can’t peek into the student council, he should be fully aware that there are many eyes within the student council itself.
On top of that, this exam is a school event and is outside the jurisdiction of the student council.
The person in charge of the defense is also Frire, a former soldier of Garesto.
There’s no way he’d think he wouldn’t be seen through.
But then Shinichi suddenly realized.
The reason Frire was here was because of her fame and reputation.
Whoever the culprit was, there’s no way they wouldn’t be wary of her.
And they wouldn’t want to be exposed in the earlier stages of the plan and cause the school to tighten security.
But despite that the mind skill was still used. If so, then the culprit must be confident that he wouldn’t be found out.
And that’s because the culprit knew Frire well. He knew exactly how much she knew.
“…Damn, what a pain.”
Although it was nothing more than a conjecture, Shinichi knew from experience that it was more than possible.
More precisely, that was a position that was likely to know it.
But it’s really nothing more than a conjecture, so he was reluctant to say it.
“What’s the matter?”
“Ah, just to be safe, I think it would be best to come up with a lie and ask the student council president to keep absolute secrecy.”
“You’re brushing me off again, aren’t you?… What do you have in mind?”
“‘It is suspected that some teachers have colluded with each other to cheat the exam.’ Let’s use that as a pretense to search for our guy. Like this even if the information is leaked, no one will know our real objective.”
Well, no one except for the real culprits, since they’ll definitely be able to put two and two together.
But that’s precisely why it’s necessary for the student council president to keep absolute secrecy.
Suspecting the teachers is to make the argument of keeping absolute secrecy more persuasive.
“…Sounds great, but…”
Frire half-closed her eyes and looked suspiciously at Shinichi.
“You sure came up with that lie easily.”
Frire’s face was twitching as though in disbelief, but Shinichi immediately replied.
“You know, you really should be the one coming up with this sort of stuff. You’re the adult between us, right?”
Aren’t you an adult? Shinichi shook his head as though he’d given up on her, and all Frire could do in response was be flustered.
“Ah, yes… Let’s go with your idea!”
“I see, that’s good, that’s really good.”
Frire forcibly brought back the conversation on track, but Shinichi’s response to her remained half-hearted.
Because of that she started sweating and her eyes even swam.
“…You really are easy to understand.”
D-Didn’t you brush me aside earlier too!? Maybe you actually realized something about the culprit earlier!”
She really was sharp when it came to stuff like this.
80% chance he was right. It wasn’t just a shot in the dark, after all.
“N-Nakamura? Hey, I’ll get scared if you suddenly go quiet like that.”
“…By the way, do you have an exoskeleton of your own?”
She was timid in some weird parts, though.
The exoskeleton provided to her by the school has already been destroyed, so she couldn’t use that anymore.
Of course, the one who destroyed that was none other than Shinichi, but he was the sort of man to ask this sort of question while feigning innocence.
“Huh? Ah, yeah, I have one. I got it for my severance pay. Though to be more accurate, it was order made and could only be used by me, so they told me to take it away since it’s just taking up space.”
“You should get it ready then.”
That teasing expression from earlier completely left Shinichi’s face, and he told her with a solemn face that that exoskeleton would be needed in the coming days.
Frire too stop being flustered as she could hear the urgency from his voice.
“…Let’s hear your plan.”
“It’s nothing special, first—”
Shinichi spoke about his conjectures.
He spoke about how, where, and what kind of information would be sent, how to move, and what kind of defense system would be laid.
Then when ‘that’ occurs, he spoke about what they and the students should do.
Like this the defensive plan that would decide the fate of the school was decided under the starry sky by just two people.