Before any of them could have time to be shocked, the earth shook.
It was like an earthquake, but everyone knew it wasn’t one because they knew the culprit all too well.
“Spread out!” Shinichi said.
As they tried to catch their footing while the earth shook, Shinichi gave out a command.
To the students’ surprise, they actually carried out his orders immediately and successfully.
Apparently, the events these past few days had already programmed them to reflexively obey Shinichi’s commands.
However, there was one troublesome exception.
Although Shinichi had entrusted her with some errands now and then, he let her do things as she pleased.
To make things worse, she was standing right at the center of the entire group because she was the core of the skills group.
And because she had even gone out of her way to push aside the students that responded a little slower than the others, the little time she could’ve used to run had been completely used up.
In the next moment, the sand worm rose up from the ground they were standing on and Tomoe was sent flying.
Like the leaves of a tree, Tomoe was easily sent into the air with her screams.
Stones and broken lumps of earth were sent flying along with her, and then by coincidence, the sand worm reached out for her with its giant open maw.
Unlike the real exoskeletons, the simple exoskeletons (protectors) couldn’t fly, so it wasn’t possible for her to move in the sky.
Seeing those teeth arranged like a ring on that massive maw reaching for her, Tomoe couldn’t help but scream.
With how big the sand worm was, it was doubtful that her protector would be able to protect her.
She shrunk her body and braced herself for impact, but— Suddenly, she was pulled.
It felt like something had suddenly coiled around her and pulled her from the side.
While Tomoe was still processing what had happened, the sand worm’s mouth passed by that spot in the air where she was at just a moment ago.
“You okay?” Shinichi asked.
“…Huh?” Tomoe said.
When Tomoe saw where she was, a wave of deja vu hit her.
A gentle but common face was near her and the arms supporting her felt right as home.
The warmth and that throbbing sound she felt from her ears felt pleasant.
Although she had yet to process what had happened, her mind told her that she was safe ‘here’.
“This has to be a new record, though. Never thought I’d embrace the same girl three times in a row this quickly.”
She had yet to realize that she was being princess-carried by Shinichi again.
A teasing smile appeared on his face. “I did take care not to hurt you when I used the Snake Belly Sword, but I should still ask. Any injuries?”
“—! Nope! I didn’t let even a single one of them get hurt!” Tomoe said.
There was genuine concern behind those eyes looking at Tomoe.
In the face of those eyes looking straight at her, perhaps because of the distance between them or perhaps simply out of embarrassment or maybe to get back at him, or maybe all of the above, she replied with the same thing he told her earlier.
“…I see. That is annoying,” Shinichi said.
Here he was worrying about her, and yet she took that concern to be for someone else.
Shinichi was a little annoyed to have his words thrown back at him, but at the same time, he was also a little impressed.
On the other hand, Tomoe was feeling down because she couldn’t even thank him properly.
“Hey! That thing went back underground again!” A student said.
Meanwhile, the sand worm went back into the ground.
They had casted skills and shot at the worm many times all to no avail.
“Our attacks aren’t working at all!”
“It’s too fast too. If we try to run away, it’ll just catch up with us in no time at all. And because it’s underground, we can’t do anything to delay it either!”
All the methods they’ve used to forestall the raybeasts were useless against the worm.
They could try, of course, but it would probably just get past it easily.
They couldn’t run, their attacks were useless, and they had no way to delay the worm.
They were at a complete loss what to do, but they couldn’t even concentrate on coming up with a solution because they didn’t know when the next attack would come.
It was at a time like that that Shinichi asked a strange question.
“…Hey, you guys have really high grades, right?” Shinichi asked.
“Well, kind of, I mean we did manage to get into this school. I’m confident that our grades are higher than your common high school student,” a student said.
“In that case, would you happen to know a method to get hydrogen from water?” Shinichi asked.
“Huh? Well, there’s electrolysis, but there’s also a new method that’s been recently discovered that relies on photons… Wait, don’t tell me!?” A student said.
“A-Are you serious?” Tomoe asked.
The moment the name of the chemical element came out, almost everyone thought of the same thing.
That’s why they asked Shinichi if he was being serious, but what they got in response was that mischievous smile of his.
“What do you think about filling that hole up with hydrogen and then setting it all on fire?” Shinichi said as though he’d thought up an amusing prank.
Just when everyone thought they’d already gotten used to Shinichi’s eccentricity, this time he casually asked them to cause a hydrogen explosion.
“Tamaya~!” Shinichi celebrated.
“We did it,” a student said.
“‘We’ve done it now’, you mean,” another student corrected.
A few minutes after using some skills, the students successfully executed Shinichi’s prank.
They didn’t have any other way of producing enough power to defeat the worm, so the students of the mixed class could only go along with his disturbing idea.
They’d erected wind- and water-attribute defensive skills before hand, so they were fine, but the worm that had been sent flying by the impressive explosion was charred black.
Shinichi was the only one happily cheering ‘Tamaya!’
“Damage-wise, this is already on the level of an advanced skill, isn’t it?” A student asked.
“A, aha, haha… Mark my words, I’m never complaining to that guy again,” a student said.
“Senpai, we understood that right on our very first day,” another student said.
With paled faces and plastered smiles, the students of the mixed class all shared the same thought.
After the fear and the shock had passed, all they could do was to laugh.
A destruction that gave rise to pillars of flame and explosive winds had started out from nothing more than a small fire.
If not for the defensive skills that Tomoe erected and the Float skill, they would’ve all been sent flying away.
At the very least, that’s what it seemed like looking at the over 50 meter diameter of the crater left on the ground. Just seeing it was enough to give them chills.
Especially when the cause of this was nothing more than a Science Experiment that applied skills.
Produce water using a skill, isolate the hydrogen, send the hydrogen into the hole, and then blow everything up.
Although the creativity required to think up the plan went beyond common sense, the knowledge used were all common, and that was what made it so terrifying.
“…Maybe, just maybe, the foster might’ve landed in the hands of the one person who should’ve never gotten it,” Tomoe said.
He was not merely flexible, unscrupulous, and absurd, no, he had a completely different perspective and application of Garesto’s technology.
In a sense, he did not have the
But of course he didn’t. He was someone from before the cultural interaction between the two worlds began.
Although perhaps it might’ve been more because he had been exposed to Falandia’s magic which prioritized versatility.
“Ku ku, you’re probably right,” Shinichi said.
Regardless, the person himself seemed to like how Tomoe put it and laughed.
“If you’re aware, then restrain yourself, will you?” Tomoe said as they all landed some distance away from the crater.
Although they had managed to escape from a predicament, there was a complicated color on their faces.
“Sigh, now what? Look, everyone’s looking weirdly at their fosters because of you.”
Everyone had started looking strangely at their fosters upon landing, and Tomoe glared at Shinichi for that.
These students have been using these fosters as ‘light weapons’ all this time, but never did they think that they would be capable of producing the same destruction as ‘heavy weapons’.
“Fools who don’t even know how terrifying their weapons are are nothing but third-rate, isn’t that right, Spirit Practitioner?”
“D-Don’t tell me you did this on purpose?”
Shinichi’s lips curved into a smile, but even as Tomoe quivered before that fearless face, he didn’t deny it.
When Tomoe was still a child, the very first thing her mother taught her about spiritual techniques was that fear.
Her mother thoroughly taught her that spiritual techniques could easily kill people when handled poorly.
That’s why she understood why it was important for Shinichi to teach the dangers of the fosters.
But that was only if they weren’t in the middle of a war.
“But at this rate there’s a chance everyone might stop being able to fight!”
Although the students here were weak, they were currently being carried by their high morale.
It would be problematic if they were to become fearful of the weapons they were using now.
“At least consider the time and place,” she glared at Shinichi, but the latter just shrugged.
“Sorry, but I hate bothersome jobs.”
As his incomprehensible excuse left Tomoe speechless, he grabbed that thing that rolled over to where the students were squatted over.
It was also charred black because it had been caught up in the earlier explosion.
“…I see. That’s why there are A Rank raybeasts in a place like this.”
The object no longer maintained its original shape, but it was clearly a part of a man-made object.
As Shinichi examined it, he seemed to have figured out what it was.
“Just how long have they been preparing? It’s all useless, though,” Shinichi said.
“Hey, what have you been going on about for a while now? Things about bothersome jobs and preparing…” Tomoe said.
“Oh, nothing. It just means that I’m about to get all the bothersome things together and solve them all in one fell swoop. A giant explosion had just blown away a giant raybeast. The sound and impact from that explosion should reach quite the distance, so… What do you think will happen next?”
That smile from before – the same smile that a child would make when coming up with mischief – was seated snugly on Shinichi’s face.
Tomoe didn’t understand what he was getting at, but she had a bad feeling all the same.
“What do you mean ‘what will happen’—” Tomoe asked.
“Hey! What’s with this crater!? What happened here!?” A voice yelled.
“—It means that some stupid snakes will come rushing out even though no one’s poked them yet. Just like this,” Shinichi said, but unlike him, everyone else was shocked.
The three shadows that had descended were all wearing blue exoskeletons meant for military use.
“They’re looking down at us… Ku ku.”