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Chapter 3: Clear Melody of Cinderella's HeelEdit
The school anniversary's finally here.
As the school anniversary's not opened to everyone, there won't be any opening fireworks, but the students' excitement was enough to fight against enemies, and everyone's feeling really pumped up.
"You're lying, right? You'll be greeted by that Orimura-kun if you go to class one?"
"And he will be wearing a tuxedo too?"
"And you can take photos with him if you win! A two-people photo! A two-people photo! We must go!"
And, in front of the 'Service Café' of class 1-1, we've been working our backs out since early in the morning.
Even so, if I have to put it, I'm the only one who's really busy because I'm too popular and lack a body double. The other people are all enjoying it as per normal.
"Welcome♪. Please walk here, ojou-sama."
Charl in the maid outfit looked really happy as she had been smiling since morning.
(Is it because I said that it suits her? Even so, she's been feeling really happy.)
On a side note, the attendants outside (the cosplayers) are me, Charl, Cecilia, and unexpectedly, Houki and Laura.
(Even if Laura had to take part since she proposed this, Houki unexpectedly agreed...)
That really surprised me. But she would sulk when I told her to invite the customers in, so it didn't look like she would fit in anyway. She would look especially frustrated when the customers asked me when I would be serving them...is it because she lacks calcium?
Seeing the girls in maid outfits running in and out, my heart fluttered for some reason.
Dan used to say 'maid outfit, school swimsuit and bloomers! No guy will be unmoved by these three outfit!' or something like that...un?
Leaving that aside, the remaining classmates are divided into two groups. One's the cooking staff in the kitchen, and the other is the miscellaneous stuff.
The miscellaneous stuff group's busy with the refilling of the food that's used up, the clearing of the tables, and controlling the crowds who're queuing up on the corridor, which would be the toughest for them.
"Sorry, but I've been waiting for two hours."
"Please relax, there won't be any problem. We'll continue operations until the festival ends."
They're busy dealing with the customers who are complaining about all sorts of things (well, it seems that they're all complaining about waiting for too long).
(Would it really be alright to have a longer queue than in the morning...?)
Thinking about this, I used the gap between the attendants to look outside the classroom.
"Ah, there's a signboard for the last in line."
"Huh? What kind of games do they have?"
"I heard that there's janken, memory match and dart shooting. It seemed that they designed these choices for the people who aren't good with certain games."
"Huh-can't we go in yet?"
The crowd outside seem to flood the entire first year corridor, and there's people, people, and more people everywhere. I do think that the maids in our class would be suffering trying to serve so many people.
"Ah, it's Orimura-kun!"
(Uh oh, they found me.)
As I thought that, several of my classmates who were organizing the crowd rushed to me and pushed me back into the classroom.
"Ara—I told you not to come outside the classroom—!"
"You'll make things even more chaotic!"
"The fun must only be enjoyed at the end."
U-Un? What does the last sentence mean?
"""Okay, hurry up and head back!!!"""
Now that they said that, I couldn't say anything back, and can only serve the customers now.
"Hey, the butler over there, bring me to my seat!"
(This voice is—)
A familiar and slightly crude voice. I turned around, and as expected, it's Rin.
Though it's Rin, she...
"What are you doing...?"
Rin, who's dressed in a cheongsam[5C 1], is just standing there.
It seemed that only one piece of cloth is used, and the slits are rather daring. There's a picture of a dragon on the red cloth, and there's gold lace and delicate embroidery. Well...
"Sh-Sh-Shut up! Our class' doing a Chinese teahouse!"
"I see, so it's a teahouse?"
"I'm supposed to be the waitress, but because your class is just beside us, we don't have any customers at all!"
My second childhood friend is fuming.
"Hm? That's strange? Rin, your hairstyle's different from usual. What are the bun-bun things on your hair?"
"Tha-That's right. It really suits you."
"Uu...we-well, I think it suits me since I'm Chinese..."
Why must she be so shy?
"An-Anyway! Help me find a seat!"
"Ye-Ye— Then, ojou-sama, please walk here."
"This is how I should be calling you now."
"Fu-Fuun! Anyway, it can't be helped if you've been told to do this...yup, can't be helped."
Why must she repeat the same thing twice? I harbored this simple question as I brought Rin to an empty table.
On a side note, the furniture was already past a school anniversary's level. Cecilia prepared them all herself.
The insistence she had on the quality of the tables and chairs was especially shocking. They looked so classy, I had to wonder how much one set was worth.
The tea accessories were all intricately chosen, and the classmates in charge of these seemed to be trying their best not to let their hands tremble.
"Then, may I know what would your order be, ojou-sama?"
"Le-Let me see..."
Perhaps the high class of the furniture made her uneasy, as Rin twisted about twice before sitting properly and looking through the menu.
On a side note, we can't let the ojou-samas hold onto the menus on their own, so I or the maids will have to hold it for them to read...I do feel that it's really scary to start getting used to such things.
"What's this 'Reward a Butler Set Meal'?"
"Do you want to try our shop's cakes?"
"Hey hey, are you trying to change the topic?"
"There's no such thing, I can assure you that."
"...Don't say that, it's disgusting."
"Why are you calling me disgusting!? I'm working now!"
"Then I'll have a 'Reward a Butler Set Meal'."
"Ojou-sama, would you like a 'Reward a Maid Set Meal'?"
"Ichika, this meal has something to do with you, right?"
"You really like to make jokes, ojou-sama."
"Sin-Since you called me ojou-sama, obey my words...I want a 'Reward a Butler Set Meal'."
I couldn't resist Rin, who's staring up and me, for the third time, and can only indicate that I understood unwillingly.
Even so, she seemed to be rather embarrassed about it. Is it because of the name of the dish? You're too naive, Rin, there're a lot of dishes with even more awkward sounding names like 'Lakeside Nightingale Cry Set Meal', 'Deep Forest Love Set Meal' and so on...uu, just thinking about it is making me uneasy.
"A 'Reward a Butler Set Meal'? Then please hold on."
Bowing politely, I left the ojou-sama, Rin.
On a side note, I don't have to head to the kitchen when I took the order, as the voice will be passed through the brooch-shaped mic when I repeated the order. Well, as for the insistence...as expected of the girls.
"Okay, I'll leave it to you then."
Returning to the bar counter, I took the 'Reward a Butler Set Meal'. The contents of the set meal includes iced tea and Pocky. It's cheap, and it only costs 300 yen.
The customers' smiles are treasures, but even then, I need to hold back the reluctant feeling to serve the customers as I walked back to the table with the cheongsam girl waiting there.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, ojou-sama."
What's with that answer? She really intends to be like a real ojou-sama, but it really feels weird.
"Then, if you excuse me."
I sat down in front of Rin, and both of us are now facing each other at the 2 people table. One's dressed in a tuxedo while the other one's in a cheongsam...what's with this scene?
"Wh-Why are you sitting down...well, I guess, it-it doesn't really matter."
"Please allow me to explain."
"Oh, oh—I'll leave it to you then."
"WHAAAT!! I GIVE UP I GIVE UP! It's alright if I talk to Rin as if it's normal?"
"Gu, you're right...since your tone's so weird, Ichika, I'll forgive you."
YOUR TONE'S THE ONE THAT'S WEIRD!
"So what kind of set meal is this? It seems to be just snacks and drinks."
"...You can feed."
"...I'm saying, that you can feed the butler with this set..."
Rin blinked, and her face immediately went red.
"Wh-Wha-What-What is this set meal...or rather, asking me to fork money out to feed dessert to you..."
"Can't cancel the order...really, that's why I don't want it."
"But, well...tha-that's right...since I ordered it...uu."
"What's wrong, Rin? It's not mandatory, so you don't need to feed me if you don't want to. I'll just leave if that's the case."
"I-I'll feed! I'll feed you! Service properly once you take the money! Really!"
"I got it, I got it. No need to be so angry."
"We-Well, that...say ahh..."
The crisp sound of the biscuit breaking could be heard from my mouth. The Pocky and the sundae glass were iced together, and so the chocolate bits won't melt immediately even after biting it. It feels like I was eating a protective layer, but it soon melted a few seconds later, and the sweetness that spread was great.
"I-I fed you, so you need to feed me—"
"There's no such service in this shop, ojou-sama."
Dressed in a maid outfit, Houki interrupted the stuttering Rin. Well, she really looks scary.
"Is-Is that so? I see."
"Erm, Houki? It's okay, isn't it? Speaking of which, aren't you taking orders from the third table?"
"I got it!"
Snorting coldly, Houki turned around.
"Why's she so angry...right?"
"I-I don't know."
For some reason, Rin blushed as she ate the pocky. The way she lowered her head like a squirrel's really cute.
"You're rather cute."
Rin spat out the iced tea in her mouth, and then coughed non-stop.
"H-Hey, are you alright?"
"Wh-Wha-What...What do you mean I'm alright?"
"Nothing, it's just that the way you ate the Pocky's really cute."
"Yeah, like a squirrel."
"...Like a squirrel—YOU-YOU IDIOT!"
*BAM!* I got a karate chop on the head. Gua, it really hurts.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
"THAT SHOULD BE MY LINE!"
With the sound of the table and chairs colliding, we stood up forcefully.
At this moment, a fan appeared between Rin and I before opening, and the words written on it are 'Rasetsu'[5C 3]...erm, this must be...
"Okay okay, stop creating a commotion here. The other customers will be frightened, you know?"
"What? Se-Sempai? What's with that out—"
I'm shocked that she's wearing a maid outfit. When did she borrow it? That clothing type's completely the same as our class' outfit.
"I told you to call me by my name."
She kept the fan back in her direction, and folded it back with a snap. The refined movement sounded just like some comedic storyteller[5C 4] or a Japanese dance choreographer.
"Then I'll have some tea too."
"Aren't you serving the customers..."
"Then why are you dressed like that...oh well, forget that I asked."
Haa...just when I sighed for the umpteenth time, an extremely noisy girl rushed in.
"Hello, this is the News Club interrupting. I'm here to interview the butler Orimura!"
It's the news group ace Mayuzumi Kaoruko-san. We're rather familiar with each other since she often came here to take photos of me.
"Ah, Kaoruko-chan! Yohoo!"
"Wa! Ta-chan! That maid outfit suits you too! Ah, since we met, let me take a photo of you and Orimura-kun."
After saying that, she started pressing the shutter quickly, and Tatenashi-sempai already raised the 'YAY♪' victory pose...why did this happen? Are the second year sempais full of enthusiastic people?
"...I'm going back."
"What's wrong, Rin? Are you going back?"
"I still have my own class to attend to."
"I see. Oh, yeah, I might go to your side to take a look."
"Un, well, I'll serve you if you're a guest."
As I exchanged words with Rin, the photography situation changed as drastically as the clouds in the autumn sky.
"It's not good to not include girls in this."
"Didn't you take a photo of me?"
"Ta-chan's too overbearing, so it can't work. Ah, since it's a rare sight, we might as well get the other girls over. How about that?"
"Not a bad idea. I'll take care of the shop at this time."
"Okay, let's do it then! I'm going to take the photos. All the maids, please line up here."
(Why is it that everyone's ignoring my wishes...)
Just like that, sempai started taking photos.
First up, Cecilia.
"Ichika-san, you need to smile."
"You're still looking stiff. This service won't do."
"Speaking of which, you're rather happy, Cecilia."
"Oh my, am I? Ufufufu."
"Hey, hey! Don't hook up my arm like that!"
"What's the problem? It's just a small movement."
(The girls around us are glaring at me. Maybe it's my imagination...)
Next up, Laura.
"But, well. Our height difference's rather significant."
"Mn? Oh, that's right."
"...That can do..."
"You-You can...carry me if you want to..."
"Th-This is for the photo! Do you understand!?"
(That's definitely a lie)
Third person, Charl.
"If-If you don't mind me asking you, Ichika, how's my outfit? Does it look weird for me to wear it?"
"No problem. It really suits you."
"Re-Really? More than the tuxedo?"
"A maid outfit suits you better, and the skirt's really cute too."
"I-I see. So I'm cute...ehehe♪"
(I do feel that she's smiling a lot more radiantly than before...)
Fourth person, Houki.
"What's wrong? Hurry up and take the photo."
"I want to avoid ta-taking a photo in this outfit, but..."
"What about it? Aren't I in a similar outfit?"
"It's not the same! Completely different! Basically, you—"
"Okay okay, I got it. The shop's busy, so hurry up and take a shot."
"St-Sto-Stop holding onto my hand!"
"Sh-Shut up, shut up!"
After some turmoil, all the maid and butler pair shots were finally taken.
Mayuzumi-san looked delighted as she looked through the preview photos on the digital camera.
"Ya~ the girls of class 1 are really sporty. I'm really happy as a photographer."
"Kaoruko-chan, I'll leave it to you at the Student Council."
"Of course, leave it to this Mayuzumi Kaoruko!"
Mayuzumi-san patted her chest as she said that. Why is it that even though she's in an Arts Club, her mannerisms are like those of the Sports Club...
"Oh yeah, Ichika-kun, I'll be helping out here for the time being. Why don't you check out the other stalls in school?"
"Huh? Can I?"
"Yup, you can. This is Onee-san's special service."
"Th-Thanks, but my classmates will scold me if I disappear..."
"No problem! I'll help you deal with it and cover up."
(Hmm—it's true that Tatenashi-san's really popular, so I guess the customers won't be unhappy, right?)
After thinking through this, I accepted Tatenashi-san's goodwill.
"I'll leave it to you for the time being then."
"Okay, be careful."
I took off my butler outfit and arrived on the corridor. It's still crowded, but with Tatenashi-san's help, the flow of the crowd felt a lot smoother than before.
"Ah, it's Orimura-kun!"
"Huh, where are you going to? Rest?"
"Yup, sort of."
I answered the girls as I headed to the corridor.
"May I bother you for a while?"
Someone suddenly called me on the platform of the stairs.
"Sorry, but I'm from this industry."
The lady in suit quickly passed me the namecard.
"Erm...IS armament development company 'Mitsurugi' representative, Makigami Ayako...san?"
She's really a beauty, and the flowing long black hair really suits her.
She's been smiling ever since she called me. Well, she does have the 'Professional' look.
"Yes, we'd like to have Orimura-kun use our company's equipment."
To be honest, there're a lot of companies who were willing to supply [Byakushiki] with equipment, and I spent more than half the time of my summer vacation facing these people.
Basically, as the only guy in the world who can pilot an IS, if my [Byakushiki] is willing to accept some company's equipment, the commercial effect would be more than what I can imagine.
Up till now, the [Kuratokugi-ken] that developed [Byakushiki] hadn't developed any more equipment after that, so invitations were flying in from all companies all over the world like snowflakes.
(Even so, it can't be helped that [Byakushiki] wasn't willing.)
The expansion range of the secondary armaments is decided on the equalizers in each suit, but it seems that the IS core also has its own favorites and would decide on whether it's willing to accept the equipment.
[Byakushiki] hates any ranged weapons and shields, and it even refuses fighting weapons other than [Yukihira Niigata].
But I used a ranged weapon when I fought against Laura, so as a result, the second phase created the [Setsura] that can shoot, fight and defend...
"Ah—erm, sorry, but I can't make the decision...anyway, please ask the school for permission."
"Don't say that."
Unlike her appearance in a suit, Makigami-san's manner of interaction was rather intrusive. She grabbed me on the arm and made me unable to leave.
"How about this additional armor or thruster? Also, if you decide to use it now, we'll even add a leg blade!"
"No, well, I don't really need that...besides, there's someone waiting for me. I'm really sorry, but I have to leave."
While Makigami-san's taking out the product catalogue, I shook her hand off and dashed off.
(Ahh—that took up more time than I thought.)
Thinking about that, I rushed to the meet-up point.
"Fu, fu, fu..."
Right in front of the main entrance to IS Academy, a guy's holding onto a ticket with one hand and smiling.
He's Ichika's friend, Gotanda Dan.
"Finally, finally, finally! The land of the girls, IS Academy...HERE I COOOMMMEEEE!!!"
This started 3 days ago.
Dan was at Ichika's friend Mitarashi Kazuma's house practicing the bass.
"Oh yeah, has Ichika gotten a girlfriend yet?"
"Ahh—he said that he isn't interested in girls. Such dreamy words"
"He's still saying those things..."
Kazuma's adjusting the sound box beside Dan, who's tweaking the bass.
These two didn't join a band. They're just members of the 'Want to learn how to play musical instruments group' (private). There are only 2 members.
"Oh yeah, Dan, what's your class doing this year for the school anniversary?"
"Our class? The rugby team would probably play the 'Squashed by Muscles' game."
"What in the world is that..."
"What about you? Aren't there any instruments you want to perform?"
"Can I even perform at this level?"
"Ah--, that's true~ even though we've been training for a year, it doesn't feel like we've gotten any better."
"Yup. We haven't improved at all. It'll be bad if we can't think of a way."
After ending their conversation in a tone that clearly indicated that they had no intention of dealing with the problem, both of them laughed.
"But Ichika really has it good, isn't it? IS Academy's famous for having so many beautiful girls, right? I want to study there too."
"Yeah. Ichika even said that he's not interested in girls. How stupid."
"He's a complete moron!"
WAHAHAHAHA! After laughing a few times, both of them went silent.
They're now imagining how it would be like to date a bishoujo.
"Hm? Oh, got a call...oh! It's from Ichika!"
Dan picked up the ringing phone and put it at his ear.
"Yo, Ichika, how've you been? What's up? Got something on?"
"You said that you wanted to come to IS Academy, right?"
"I did, I did. What? You got some tickets there?"
He froze. Two seconds later, Dan reacted as if he was going to jump out.
"AR-ARE-ARE YOU SERIOUS!!?"
"It's true. I only have one ticket, so I guess if you're bored, you might want to come over."
He immediately answered. There's no need for hesitation.
"I see. I'll send it to you through mail. Remember to bring it with you, or else you can't get in."
"Right, I got it!"
Dan energetically answered, and his tone immediately became earnest.
"Well, Ichika, you're really a great guy! It's nice to have a friend like you."
"What's with you? That's disgusting..."
"Anyway, that's the case! I'll leave it to you then!"
"Okay, I got it, I got it. See you next time."
After hanging up the phone, Dan again shouted at the ceiling,
And thus, Dan arrived at IS Academy today. It's been over ten minutes since the arranged time, but he didn't really mind.
(Ahh, I can see lots of girls here...the standard's really high-really.)
Even though Dan's wearing casual clothes that were just chosen, other than that, he's just an ordinary teenage guy standing there, and it seems that he's getting quite some attention, as everyone's starting to gossip about him.
"Is that guy someone's boyfriend?"
"I don't know. He looks okay."
"Huh—I find that Orimura-kun's better."
Dan noticed the girls discussing intensely about something, and his heart started to beat wildly.
(Wow, everyone's looking at me...is-is-is-is this the sign of a new development!?)
"The guy over there."
Suddenly, Dan got shocked after being called, and he straightened his back.
Turning around, he saw a bespectacled and meticulous-looking Nohotoke Utsuho standing down there with a file in her hand.
"Who invited you? May I check your ticket?"
Dan frantically passed over the ticket that was squashed flat.
"The one who gave it was...ara? Orimura-kun?"
"The-Then, you know him?"
"I don't think there is any student in this school who doesn't know him. Okay, let me return this to you."
(Th-This girl's really pretty...no, cute! I've got to find some way to know her more...something I can talk about, something...)
"? What is it?"
"The-The weather's great today!"
After the conversation ended, Dan felt depressed that he wasn't interesting enough. Utsuho looked at him weirdly and then left.
(U-Uu, I'm so useless...I'm so useless...)
If there's a bass guitar with him, Dan would be performing a sad tune.
Feeling like he had half a foot in the coffin, he just waited for Ichika to arrive.
"Oh, I see him. HEY, DAN!!"
Seeing Dan's liveless response, I was shocked.
"It's nothing...I'm really uninteresting..."
"I see. So that's how it is."
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT'S HOW IT IS!? YOU BASTARD!!"
"Hold on hold on, don't cause a ruckus. You'll be chased out."
Having been hit hard, Dan finally recovered as he now follows me from behind.
"Let's go over to where Rin is. She'll be shocked."
"Ah, you're talking about Rin? How's she?"
"Way better than good."
"Speaking of which, Ichika."
"What's with that dress-up?"
"Rin's class is doing a teahouse."
"Hey, don't change the topic."
"My-My stuff's not important!"
"Oh well. I'll leave it as that then."
Fufun, I brought the slightly unmoved and humming Dan into the school.
"How about we check out where Rin is?"
"Mn? Well, there's no need to go there. Since it's a rare chance, I want to walk around."
"Okay, I haven't gone there either. Let's go."
Dan and I walk out side by side.
"Ah, it's Orimura-kun! Yahoo~"
"I'll go to your shop later!"
"Huh, taking photos of Orimura-kun in a butler outfit! Success♪"
No matter where I went, girls were talking to me, and I had to wave my hand and answer back. It's really tedious.
As I continued to repeat these actions, Dan could be heard murmuring from beside me.
"You're really popular..."
"No, well, this is like the situation with the Axolotl[5C 5]."
"Is that so? Even if that's the case, I'm really jealous of you. Hey, let's switch."
"I would if we could switch. But try your best, since the IS training's really tough."
"Hahaha! If I can get surrounded by girls, I won't be afraid even if I'm in the midst of fire and water!"
"You might even die in IS practicals."
"...You need to treasure your life more."
"Don't say it like you're telling me to care for the world!"
"Nope, I don't want to die!"
"Same here, okay?"
"That's true. Things don't always go as we want."
Both of us sighed in unison with regards to this inexplicable situation, and we swayed our way into the arts classroom.
"Art's an explosion!"
...I have a bad feeling about this.
"So the Arts Club will be presenting a bomb defuse game!"
"Ah, it's Orimura-kun!"
"And his male friend!"
"Now now, here's the bomb defuse game. Ready, start!"
After saying that, a girl with a group leader armband pushed the bomb to me. Arts Club, is this alright? You let such a person become the President.
"Erm...first, let's make some sensor-like thing fail."
I check the wiring and slip the pliers between the gap.
Then, I cut the wire linking to the impact sensor.
"Good. This means that it doesn't matter even if it's rewired now. Next, it's..."
"You learn about this too?"
Speaking of which, I remember that Laura taught me a lot of things the first time I defused a bomb.
As expected of the soldier and commander of a Special Ops Squad, it seems that Laura's specialty is to neutralize dangerous objects.
"...I think I would rather study at a normal high school."
I don't know the reason, but it seems that Dan gave up on studying in IS Academy.
Well it doesn't matter anyway. There's no need to talk about anything if he can't even activate an IS.
"Ohh! As expected of Orimura-kun, you're now in the final phase!"
The final phase—that's to 'Completely Neutralize the Bomb'.
Basically, it's the scene in those movies when I have to choose between 'blue or red'.
Right now, this game has only two wires left, red or blue. This will be over once I cut one of the wires, but it'll explode if I mess up.
"Dan, which one do you think it is?"
"You-You're asking me?"
"Well, it's a game anyway. Just choose a color you like."
"Uu, oh, oh...blue...red..."
Hm? Speaking of blue, I remembered Cecilia's [Blue Tears]
If red...Houki's [Akatsubaki]?
"Which kind do you prefer? Blond or black?"
"Okay, got it."
Bak! I cut the blue wire.
At the next moment, BEEEEEEPPP!! The alarm rang.
"Ah, I failed."
"Y-Yo-You bastard! Why did you cut the blue wire out of a sudden?"
"Well, you said that you prefer blond."
"WHAT HAS THAT GOT TO DO WITH BLUE!?"
"Well, [Blue Tears]."
I comforted the screaming Dan as I took the consolation prize, a candy.
They're giving candy even at high school...
Is this alright? Arts Club, is this really alright?
"Ahh—I'm sweating now. Let's find a place to drink, Ichika."
"Hm? Oh, you're right. Let's go to Rin's class. How about that?"
"Oh yeah, you said that their class was doing a tea house. Alright, let's go take a look."
Things got easier after we decided on that. We climbed up the stairs and walked into class 1-2.
"GUHA! Ri-Rin, you, what's this...what are you doing?"
"What? Why's Dan here!?"
"Th-The cheongsam really doesn't suit you. Anyway, why—GUU!!?"
Dan got interrupted forcefully since Rin threw the tray.
Uwaa...it went all the way into the face...
"WHAT'S WITH YOU! IT HURTS! Ahh—you're so different from that cute woman I just met."
"What? Who are you talking about?"
"Fu fu fu...not telling you."
"Ichika, it's this idiot's fault."
"DON'T CALL ME AN IDIOT!"
"You're one in the first place."
"WHY ARE YOU AGREEING WITH HER!!"
This trio of middle school diehard friends started squabbling, and the outcome was that we got lectured by the second years who couldn't take it.
Anyway, we found a seat and opened the menu.
"How's it going between you and Rin? Tell me."
"What? What are you saying? Anyway, who did you just meet?"
"Oh, there's a cute woman."
"A cute woman? Not a cute girl?"
"Yup, she seems to be older than us."
"You don't know that person?"
Sometimes, I really don't understand what this guy's talking about.
"Take this, water!"
"Wah! What are you doing, Rin? Just put it down nicely."
"That's right, that's right."
"You're too noisy, Dan! I'll punch you away!"
"...Don't move. I saw on TV before. You're a cadet or something, right? I'll die."
"That's right, so you have to respect me more."
"Hahaha. You're really funny."
"I wasn't joking. Really..."
Just when the three of us were chatting away, my phone rang.
"Where are you right now, Ichika? The customers are grumbling, asking where you went. It's getting busy now, so hurry up and come back."
Charl sounded really anxious, something that doesn't fit her character, and I had to go back.
"Sorry, I'll be going back now. I'll be in the classroom next door, so I'll be there soon."
"Mn, I'll leave it to you then."
After ending the conversation, I told Dan and Rin that I'm going back.
"Work properly, butler."
But well, to put it this way, I remembered the times in middle school when the three of us were often playing together.
My thoughts ended there, and I went back to class 1.
"Ahh, Ichika, it's good that you're here. Hurry up and play games at table 3, and also, serve the food here to table 4."
Immediately after coming back, I received the tray Charl passed me.
"I-I understand. Speaking of which, where's Tatenashi-san?"
"She said that she had things to do at the Student Council, and then ran off somewhere."
How, how irresponsible...
"Anyway, the shop's really busy now. Work fast!"
"I-I got it!"
I moved around busily.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, ojou-sama."
"Kya! It's Orimura-kun~!"
"A game! Let's play a game!"
"I ordered the reward set meal, so hurry up and sit down, hurry!"
I check out the other people, and found that everyone's rather popular.
Most notably, Laura, who normally felt like she's hard to approach, became very popular after she dressed up as a maid, and she got called around to play games everywhere.
(Speaking of which, this is severe overwork to the body...)
While working, I felt that it got hotter, so I rolled up the sleeves of the shirt.
"Hey, Ichika, don't change the design of the clothes randomly."
Holding a tray, Houki said that to me. Her normal clothes make it hard to imagine that she would wear a maid outfit, and like Charl, her popularity's second only to Laura.
"Houki. It's alright that I roll up my sleeves, right?"
"Nope, we borrowed these clothes, so wear them properly."
"What...Houki, don't tell me that you like me in this get-up?"
"Wha-What are you saying! I-I'm just telling you to work seriously!"
"I was joking."
"What is it?"
"Fu, humph! It's nothing!"
With the skirt flying slightly, Houki walked back to the kitchen...why must she be so angry?
(Okay, time to do my best!)
After that, I moved through the tables, and after an hour, I finally got out of the situation where I got tugged around.
"Good work, Ichika-kun."
"Ah, Takatsuki-san, it's been tough on you too."
The reliable person in our class—Takatsuki Shizune-san seemed to be busy with a lot of things.
"You can rest for a while. We need to tidy up the shop a bit, so it'll be quite some time."
"An hour shouldn't be a problem. Since there's a rare chance, why don't you follow the girls to some stall?"
Just when I was about to accept her goodwill, my arm got pulled over...wha-what?
"Then, Ichika-san, please come along with me."
Turning around, I saw Cecilia.
Seeing this, Charl cried out, a rare feat for her,
"AHHH! CECILIA'S SO SLY~ I want to go too, Ichika."
"Wait, if that's the case, I'm going too!"
Interrupting us quickly was Houki, and her eyes looked a bit scary.
"Let's go, Ichika."
Laura already got ready to move.
(Uu...it'll be troublesome if a lot of us move at the same time...ooh, that's right!)
I suddenly had a brainwave.
"Everyone can go with me in shifts. 10 minutes per person."
"In other words..."
"Two-Two of us, alone..."
"...That's not a bad idea."
Cecilia, Charl, Houki and Laura kept murmuring 'un un', nodding away as if they're crushing garlic.
I couldn't hear what they're muttering about, but it's good that they can understand my thinking.
"Then, who fi—"
"Rock, paper, scissors!"
All four of them decided to choose the order through janken. Wow, that was quick!
Three people chose paper, while one chose scissors.
Charl won the first go, and her happy look showed on her face as she raised the scissors hand that changed into a sign of victory.
"The Cooking Club?"
"Yup, their main theme this time is traditional cuisine. I think it's a rare chance, and I want to learn how to make Japanese dishes."
"You really can cook, Charl."
She treated me to a few bentos, and the light seasoning that brought out the taste of the ingredients was to my liking.
If this Charl can make Japanese cuisines like that, I have a duty to try it.
"Uu, mn, I'll cook for you next time."
We continued to talk as we entered the cooking classroom the cooking class uses.
To put it simply, they're selling snacks here, but there's a lot of variety.
The food arranged on the tray includes potato and stew meat, kanto cooking, salad, stew, BBQ meat and so on. There're a lot of dishes, and they all look really delicious, so delicious that I couldn't help but swallow my saliva.
"Ah, don't tell me that's potato stewed meat?"
"Yup. It's said to be a dish women need to know."
"I see...why is that?"
"There seems to be a custom that women who can make the potato stewed meat best will be able to get married, but I really don't understand why."
"Ma-Married...!? I-I see.."
Perhaps surprised by my words, Charl was shocked as she continued to stare at the potato stewed meat.
Just when I was thinking if she really wanted to eat it, someone who looked like the President of the Cooking Club came to us.
"Ooh, it's Orimura-kun! And the famous Dunois-kun who used to dress in guy's clothing."
"What's up? Are you two dating? A secret date between the butler and the maid? Even so, this isn't just ordinary minced meat, but mixed minced meat. I'm kidding, I'm just kidding."[5C 7]
Ohh! I feel that I can be good friends with this person!
On hearing her say what I was thinking, my heart soared as if I was playing a triple jump.
"You're thinking of something stupid again, aren't you, Ichika?"
Why did I get seen through again?
"Okay okay, try it first! I can treat it as a free sample. The condition is that I get to take a photo~ and you must vote for us, okay?"
Wa, it suddenly felt like improper bribing.
"No, there's no need. We'll pay."
As expected of Charl, she's upright.
"Then, erm, can you get me a potato stewed meat?"
"No problems. Enjoy~"
The President of the Cooking Club pulled a potato stewed meat from a large plate that was kept warm at a constant temperature, and handed it over to Charl.
I ordered the same thing, and I quickly tried it.
"Ohh, this is really..."
"It's nice, Ichika."
"Mn, really nice."
The seasoning was done just right. It doesn't feel greasy at all, 'Braised to Perfection'[5C 8], like how I always hear it.
Mn, I really want a bowl of rice.
"But this dish's really nice."
"This dish was cooked through a pressure cooker. This can not only cut short the cooking time, it will also affect the flavor."
Agreeing with me that this dish is nice, Charl pricked her ears and listened to the President of the Cooking Club.
"Pressure cooker...is-is there anything else?
"Fufufu, the rest is a secret. If you want to know, join our club!"
"Cooking Club...Ic-Ichika, would you be happy if my food's good?"
"Hm? Of course I would. It's important to be able to eat good food."
Eating food. Well, it must be a form a salvation—I remember someone said that before.
"Is-Is that so? I see...ehehe."
For some reason, Charl smiled radiantly as she finished off the potato stewed meat.
(Anyway, this stewed meat is nice. I better finish it off too.)
Just like that, my rest time with Charl ended.
"You're too slow!"
Standing on the corridor and waiting for me with her arms folded was the maid with the eyepatch, Laura.
"Your sense of time is too weak!"
"Okay okay, don't say that. We'll use up the rest time like that, you know?"
"Tha-That'll be bad..."
"I remember you wanted to go to the Tea Club, right? Okay, let's go."
"Do-Don't hold my hand!"
Laura immediately shook her hand off after saying that, and her face blushed for some reason.
"Hm? Oh, sorry."
"No, it's not that. Well...I guess...if-if you want to do that..."
"? How about we move fast?"
*DOK!* The side of my abdomen took a karate chop...why's that?
"Hello and welcome...ooh! Orimura-kun! Can I take a photo with you?"
Why is it that everyone asks for a photo with me everytime they see me? I really don't understand.
Anyway, it's not like they'll take anything interesting...
"The Tea Club's opening a Green Tea experience session. Please head to this tearoom."
"Ohh, tatami[5C 9]. You really put in a lot of effort."
It was the same as with the Cooking Club. Every room had proper facilities.
As expected of IS Academy, where so many people wanted to get in.
"Then, please sit here."
Following Laura's instructions, I took off my shoes and sat on the tatami.
"But it's really unbelievable. A butler and a maid sitting on tatami and drinking green tea."
"Fu-fuun, don't you feel that the outfit was too girlish?"
"Do I? You looked really awkward when Chifuyu-nee laughed at you crazily, I guess?"
"Sh-Shut up! The Instructor's another case altogether!"
I recalled Chifuyu-nee saying that she wanted to come over to take a look, and just burst out laughing on seeing Laura in a maid outfit, happily enjoying that scene.
At that time, Laura looked like a recruit who got a water gun as armaments and yet got deployed to the frontlines.
...She seemed like she'll get angry if I say it out, so I decided to remain silent.
"We don't demand that you adhere to the tea tasting customs, so please enjoy."
The Club President, who's dressed in a yukata, smiled as she passed the sweets to Laura and me.
I took one and ate it. The sweet white bean paste quickly spread on the tongue.
"This is really good."
Laura didn't eat the sweet, but looked like she was in a dilemma.
"We-Well, how do I eat it?"
Laura got a little rabbit that's made from white bean paste, and the face looks cute.
The rabbit seemed to be staring back at Laura, and I don't know if it's saying to her 'Please eat me' or 'Please let me go'.
Seeing Laura's reaction, I guess it's the former.
"Wha-What is it?"
"You can't take the green tea if you don't eat it."
After I prompted her, Laura decided to eat the rabbit-shaped sweet in one go.
...Ahh, she doesn't want to see the half-eaten rabbit, right?
"...Muu, Japanese sweets are really good."
What happened to that struggle? Laura looked really happy as she continued to eat the sweet.
And then, the President served tea in front of Laura and me.
"We accept your tea. Itadakimasu[5C 10]."
After bowing, we picked up the tea bowls and put it to our mouths.
The unique bitterness of the green tea spread out, washing away the sweetness left in the tea.
The throat was cleared immediately, smoother than ever, and after drinking that, Laura and I sighed lightly.
"Your tea's really perfect."
Laura and I ended off with the common lines in a tea ceremony, and bowed again.
We should be looking at the teabowls, but the Tea Club here isn't that fussy, as the main point of emphasis is to 'Taste the Green Tea'.
"Come back when you have time."
The Tea Club President watched Laura and I leave the room.
"Mn, not bad. Japanese culture's really interesting."
"Since you find it interesting, why don't you wear some Japanese clothes, Laura?"
"Jap-Japanese clothes? Speaking of which, I've never wore them before."
I tried to imagine Laura in a wafuku[5C 11].
For some reason, I feel that the flowing silver hair and the wafuku would suit her.
"Do-Do you want to try...?"
"If I get a chance, I'll definitely want to try it."
"Is-Is that so?"
Laura immediately showed a rare radiant smile.
After realizing her reaction, she suddenly turned her back on me.
"Ah, alright, if I have a chance."
With such a conversation, my resttime with Laura ended.
"Speaking of which, Cecilia, I remember you know how to play the violin?"
"Mn, and a little of the piano."
"As expected of Cecilia. It would be great if I could learn an instrument too. I only learnt kendo."
"I-If that's the case!"
Cecilia tugged at my arm and pointed at the classroom that had the sign Wind Instrument Society Experience Stall.
"Wh-Why don't we go try it out now? How about it? Well, I guess, it's not like I can't teach you, you know?"
"Huh? Is it still not too late to learn? I don't even know how to read a score."
"For music, having love for it is all that's important."
Must have love? That's a nice line.
"The-Then, let's go in!"
"H-Hey! Don't pull me that hard!"
After opening the door, I saw the President of the Wind Instrument Club lift her head up.
She was pressing down on the piston of the instrument to check its condition for lubricating it.
I felt that it was hard to talk.
Just when I thought this, the Club President who just noticed us lifted her head up.
"Ohh! Ohh! The sixth guest is finally here! Here, here, please come this way! Huh, isn't this Orimura-kun? Can I take a photo?"
"Ah? Oh well, you may do so."
The phone let out a ringing sound.
Facing the smiling Wind Instrument Club President who was smiling and holding onto the camera, Cecilia coughed dryly to interrupt her.
"Nnh! Which instruments can we try out here?"
"Hm? You can try out all of these here. Personally, I recommend the French horn. It feels great when I blow it. The sound fluctuates."
"Then, Orimura-kun, let's get started."
Immediately after saying that, the Club President passed me the French horn she was tuning.
After receiving it, I found that it was heavier what I thought, and got a bit surprised.
"How do I hold this?"
"You must put your right finger here, the thumb should be put here, and the left hand should reach for this exit."
"Is-Is that so?"
It felt weird, hard to carry. Is this gimmick something like this?
"Then, try blowing hard into it."
As the President prompted me, I blew into it as hard as I could.
...There's no sound at all.
"Ah, well, your mouth has to touch it and blow."
The President pressed her lips inwards and demonstrated it to me.
"Yup. And you have to exert a certain amount of strength right into the middle."
"Ohh! The sound came out!"
"Oh? You're rather talented. Orimura-kun, would you like to join?"
"No, I'm not really good with this. How about you, Cecilia? Would you like to join?"
"Don't you know how to play instruments?"
"I only know how to play stringed instruments. I've never played wind instruments before."
"Really? I find that you're really suited to play the flute. There's that grandeur noblewoman vibe from you."
For some reason, Cecilia muttered blankly as she continued to repeat these words.
"Oh, try it."
After saying that, I passed the French Horn in my hand to her.
"Huh? Th-Tha-That's, is that, well..."
"...-direct, indirect kiss..."
"Huh? What did you just say?"
"No, nothing! Nothing at all!"
For some reason, Cecilia started panicking as she waved her hands wildly, and then stared intently at the French horn.
She looked extremely serious, and I had to swallow my saliva.
"Th-Then, I'm blowing..."
"Ah, we must change the mouthpiece. Here, please."
For some reason, Cecilia glared at the President who casually decided to change the mouthpiece.
Wha-What's wrong? Shouldn't you be thanking her?
After saying that, Cecilia passed the French horn back to the President.
"Really, how stupid...!"
And she even got angry for some reason.
Just like that, my rest time with the third person ended as well.
"And I was actually the last one...ku, that was unexpected."
"What are you muttering over there for? Where are we going?"
"Uu, mn, yeah...where's a good place—"
"Speaking of which, what's the Kendo Club doing? It's a rare chance, so let's take a look."
"Huh, it's...ah, is it there?"
"Ho-Hold on! If I go to the Kendo Club—"
"Okay, okay, here we go."
"Do-Don't grab my hand! I'll go there on my own!"
I pulled Houki, who was resisting forcefully for some reason, and headed to the classroom where the kendo stall set up shop.
It's a room with black cloth draping all over. A mysterious person fully covered in armor awaits in the darkness.
"Oh my, so it's Orimura-kun and the phantom member Shinonono-kun."
"Is-Is that the Prez...? Wha-What's with that get up...?"
"Mn, at first, it was just a kendo experience stall, right? But nobody would vote, right? So I just decided to cast divinations?"
Why must they be in questions...?
"But there's nobody around at all? No customers here? I couldn't think of anything, so I full on full kendo armor to try it out?"
Something's definitely wrong.
"Then, let me tell your fortunes. Ah, sit down, sit down."
Houki and I were asked to sit down on the chairs, and we both stared at the Kendo Club President.
She was holding some hanafuda[5C 12] in her hand...
"Hm? What is it?"
"Why Hanafufa...? Don't you use tarot cards or something for divination?"
"I prefer hanafuda divinations, you know?"
"Well, Prez? I've never heard of that before..."
"Hm? I just named it, you know?"
It-It seems that she's really a lost cause.
"Okay~ here we begin, alright? I'll take your fortune in love, okay?"
Don't we have a choice?
As I repeated these words in my heart, the President said assuredly as she started her divination.
"Mn...Orimura-kun's the 'Rain Four Lights[5C 13] So, do you have any difficulty with girls?"
"Well, even if you ask me..."
Sort of, that's about right.
"A lot of things happened to you today as well, right? I really pity you, you know?"
"Then, I'll take the love fortune for the phantom member Shinonono-kun, okay?"
Why didn't the Club President lash out at Houki for her low attendance?
Unfortunately, the face was covered, so I couldn't see her expression.
"Huuh,,,Shinonono-kun, you got the 'Tsukimi-shu'[5C 14]. So, you're looking forward to activities, right? Your lucky point is the dojo?"
"No, well...I'll try my best to show up..."
"Really? I'm really happy to hear you say that~"
Ignoring the last bit of the conversation, it seemed that Houki's divination was done.
"Ah, that's right. I'll see your fate through divination, okay?"
"Divination of fate?"
"Is-Is that so? That's good!"
Houki got worked up suddenly as she popped out.
The President calmed Houki down and explained,
"Erm, can you two hold each other's hands together? At each other? Mn mn."
Houki and I reached our right hands out and put them at each other.
"Then, can you maintain this position for 10 seconds?"
"Ca-Can this really tell what's going to happen?"
Houki asked the President in a slightly nervous tone.
"Well, you see? You'll feel irritated if you put your hands together with someone you don't like for 10 seconds, right? So you don't hate each other? Okay, divination's over."
Wow, that was really slipshod.
"Is-Is that so..."
Hm? Why do I feel that Houki's really happy?
Is there something worth being happy about? I don't understand at all.
"Ah, rest time's over. Houki, let's go back to the classroom."
"Can you let go of my hand now?"
Houki finally realized this after I reminded her, and the hand that was holding tightly onto mine quickly backed away.
"Good bye then. Thank you for today."
"Yes, is it tough? Ah, Orimura-kun, can I take a photo?"
"Ah? Oh well, go ahead."
"Yes, thank you!"
Another photo got taken. For some reason, it seems I got used to it.
"Okay, let's go back then."
"Hey! Hello, Houki?"
"Nothing, well, let's go back to the classroom."
"Y-Yeah, that's true."
Houki put forward her right hand and right leg as she walked back to the classroom with arms and legs in sync[5C 15]
Class 1-1's stall is still as busy as ever, and I returned back to the scene where there's a lot of people squeezing through.
(But since everyone's working hard, I wouldn't feel so irritated.)
To be able to work hard with someone, that's something I'll be happy with.
(Okay, time to work hard!)
"*KLANG KLANG KLANG!* Tatenashi-san appeared!"
The person who abandoned her duty appeared!
Command Escape, escape, escape
"But you can't run away!"
"WHAT! Don't get in my way!"
"Well well, don't say that. Speaking of which, Orimura-kun, since I came to your classroom to help, please help the Student Council with an event."
"You're not saying that as a question?"
"Nope, I'm saying a definitive sentence."
"What about my opinion..."
"Can't I make any decisions for you? I'm the Student Council President."
DON'T IMITATE AIDA MI*SUO'S MANNER OF SPEAKING![5C 16]
"...What do I have to help with..."
"Ara, not resisting now?"
"I know it's useless to resist."
"Oh my. Do you really think you understand what onee-san's thinking? Long way to go, first-year-kun."
She pointed her finger on my nosetip. Now what do I have to do...
"Ahaha, it's really fun to make fun of Ichika-kun."
"And, the activity?"
"Mn, don't be angry. It's a play."
Contrary to what I thought, this feels normal.
"A play where the audience gets to take part."
A play where the audience gets to take part...well, what's that?
"Anyway, follow onee-san. Yup, I decided."
Pointing at me with the fan, Tatenashi-san proudly declared.
"Well—sempai. We'll be troubled if you take Ichika away..."
Ohh, Charl! That's right, keep talking!
"Charlotte-chan can come along too."
"Onee-san can let you wear pretty dresses, you know~?"
Do your best, Charl! I know girls look forward to wearing dresses, but do your best for me!
"Th-Then, well...just a little."
Charl got captured...why did that happen?
"Mn~ so honest and cute! Then, Houki-chan, Cecilia-chan and Laura-chan, come over as well."
The three girls who pricked their ears to eavesdrop answered with a tone of surprise.
"I'll let everyone wear dresses."
"If-If that's the case..."
"Oh well, a trip's..."
"Mn, mn, it can't be helped..."
Houki, Cecilia and Laura were captured too.
"Erm, if I may ask, what are we acting as?"
*Pak!* Tatenashi-san opened her fan, and there's the word 'Hakugeki'[5C 17].
"Ichika-kun, are you done yet?"
"I'm opening the door."
"DON'T SAY THAT AFTER YOU OPENED THE DOOR!"
"What, aren't you all dressed up already? Onee-san's really disappointed."
Right now, I'm in the fourth arena changing room, where I normally change my IS suit.
The costume...well, it's actually a prince's outfit...
"Here, the crown."
"Why, you don't look too happy. Do you want to act as Cinderella?"
This person, really...she really likes to create lots of troubles, and I've really gotten a migraine over it.
"Then it's time to act."
I secretly peeked out. The stage on the fourth arena's really glamorous. Of course, it's full of people, and I could hear cheering from inside the changing room.
"Then, as for the play later, I haven't even read anything like a script yet."
"No problem. I'll be the one hosting, so just perform as I say. Ah, please come up with your own lines."
Is it really okay...I really have to ask.
With an unspeakable anxiety, I moved towards the stage.
"Then, let's begin!"
The buzzer sounded, and the lights reined in.
"A long long time ago, in a certain land, there was a girl named Cinderella."
Very good, that's a normal beginning. Speaking of which, who'll be acting as Cinderella?
Thinking about this, I headed towards the stage.
"No, that's no longer a name. Having snuck out of many parties, they defeated many enemies no matter how much dust they got. The title most suited for them...is 'Cinderella'[5C 18]!"
"Tonight, the bloodthirsty Cinderellas will again take action. The girls will aim for the neighboring country's military secrets that are hidden in the prince's crown, and they shall dance on this death arena called the stage!"
With a sudden cry, Rin appeared in a silvery white Cinderella dress.
"HAND IT OVER!"
Rin glared at me, who dodged in reflex, and threw the Chinese flying dagger— Y-YO-YOU IDIOT!!!
"WHAT WOULD HA-HAPPEN IF I DIED!?"
"I'LL KILL YOU IN A WAY THAT YOU WON'T DIE!!"
"I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS AT ALL!"
No, how can I die here!
I flipped the teaset on the table and used the tray to block the flying knife.
Rin kicked away the tray that had the flying dart on it...WAAH, YOU IDIOT! I'LL BE ABLE TO SEE YOUR PANTIES!!
(Ah, she put on some slacks?)
NOW'S NOT THE TIME TO RELAX!
...Speaking of which, RIN'S ABOUT TO KICK ME WITH THE HEEL OF THE SHOE!
"YOU'RE WEARING GLASS SHOES, RIGHT!?"
"NO PROBLEM! IT SHOULD BE HARDENED GLASS!"
"YOU IDDIIIOOOTTT!! THAT'S DANGEROUS!!"
Just when Rin and I were fighting, I saw a red light moving.
(What's that? Why does it feel like it's moving towards me--)
At the next moment, the object that's near my face got hit.
(A sniper? That means, Cecilia!)
As it seemed that she put the silencer on, I couldn't hear the gunshot or see the muzzle flash from the triggered rifle.
It seems that she's using some powerful rapid-fire skill as she again snipes at my head.
"I-I-I'LL DIE!! I'LL DEFINITELY DIE!!!"
I kept my body down to cover myself...whose act is it now!?
(Ku...he got away.)
As the metallic sound of the bullet shell could be heard, Cecilia's eyes left the scope.
Following the principle of the sniper, to 'Shoot and Move', she headed off to the next sniping point.
(I must win this time!)
Only the female actors know the secret prize, and that is 'The girl who gets the crown from Ichika will get the right to stay with him'.
Even though everyone was stunned when they first heard that,
"The Student Council President has the authority to do that."
On hearing Tatenashi's words, everyone got motivated.
(Live in the same room as Ichika-san, live in same room as Ichika-san...)
Already thinking about it, Cecilia smiled.
(It's a good thing that I can run to the stage from here, and I can use all other equipment other than IS equipment.)
She intended to snipe the crown and grab it to win it like that.
(That's right! Those who win at the times they need to win are the real winners!)
The Cinderella dress on Cecilia dressed. Immediately after reaching the second point, she took her rifle out and got ready.
*Pew pew!* The gunshots that were muzzled with the silencer rang again.
(I should be safe here, right...?)
Several seconds later, I, who was hiding behind the background, had to show myself after Cecilia started sniping me.
On a side note, as the protagonist, I can only dodge around, so every time I returned to the stage, the crowd audience would applaud me and cheer for me.
I bowed politely to the crowd in appreciation, but Cecilia didn't let this chance go as she sniped me.
I immediately ran away onto the stage that's ridiculously wide.
"Ack, no place to run?"
So her sniping was to lure me here as a trap.
"Ichika, hurry up and get down!"
Armed with a riot shield, Charl suddenly appeared in front of me.
Like everyone else, she was dressed in a Cinderella dress.
However, why are blonds so suited for this kind of dress? Is it a culture difference?
"Ch-Charl, you saved me..."
*KLING KLANG!* The sharp sounds of the bullets being blocked could be heard.
"That's enough. Hurry up and run!"
"Oh, okay! Thanks!"
"Ah, we-well, wait a minute!"
"Wha-What is it?"
"The-Then, I'll be happy if you leave the crown behind..."
"Uu, un? Well, okay."
I won't be sniped if I don't have this on my head. Let's do this then.
Thinking about this, I put my hand on the crown, but Tatenashi-san stopped me.
"To the prince, the country's everything. If he loses the important secrets in the crown, the thought of guilt will turn into an electric shock."
I was stunned, but my hand was already reaching for my head subconsciously and took the crown off.
*BAK BAK BAK!!* An unexpected sound resounded, and the electricity flowed through my body.
The current passed through my body, and it felt really hot.
My clothes were burned and tattered, even giving off smoke.
"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!?"
"Oh my, what's going on? Does the ouji-sama[5C 19] worry about his country that much? But we can only look at him. What's going on?"
"YOU DON'T HAVE TO REPEAT THAT TWICE!"
Anyway, I couldn't take a second electric shock, and thus quickly put the crown back on.
Speaking of which...things just got really bad. Tatenashi-san really looked excited. What am I supposed to do now?
"So-Sorry Charl, but you just saw it."
"Huh? Then what? I'll be really troubled!"
"Even if you say that...sorry!"
I scampered away like an escaping rabbit.
However, the black-haired and silver-haired Cinderellas appeared in front of me.
"Hold it right there, Ichika!"
"I'll take the crown!"
Houki's wielding a Japanese sword, while Laura's holding a combat knife in each hand...UWAAAHHH!!
At the last minute, I dodged their attacks from the side and rolled on the floor.
"DON'T GET IN MY WAY. LAURA!"
"I SHOULD BE THE ONE SAYING THAT, RIGHT? SEEMS LIKE I HAVE TO ELIMINATE YOU FIRST!"
"Interesting...BRING IT ON!"
Both of them started fighting for some reason.
Now, I have Rin Cecilia and Charl behind me...Hmm? What? There's an earthquake...
"Now, everyone present can take part in this! Everyone, please work hard for the prince's crown!"
The real reason for the earthquake was that more than ten Cinderellas came rushing over, and the numbers continued to increase...I feel like I saw this in a movie before...haha...
"ORIMURA-KUN, SURRENDER QUIETLY!"
"WALK WITH ME TO HAPPINESS! OUJI-SAMA!"
I continued to think of how to get away from the Cinderellas who were rushing to me as I continued to run through the stage sets.
"I FOUND YOU, ICHIKA!"
NOT GOOD! IT'S HOUKI!
"HAND ME THAT CROWN! IF THAT...that happens..."
"So-So what will happen?"
"UU! ANYWAY, JUST HAND IT OVER TO ME! I'LL SLICE YOU IF YOU REFUSE!"
WHAT KIND OF WORDS ARE THOSE!? THAT'S REALLY SCARY! SOMEBODY SAVE ME!
"Please head this way."
My foot got grabbed and I rolled and fell below the stage sets.
I was led by this person out of the stage set and into the changing room—
This is the side room I was using, and my uniform's still here.
Speaking of which, as it's too dark, I don't know who brought me here.
As I looked at her again, I realize that it's Makagami Ayako-san. She's still smiling.
"Huh, huh? Why's Makigami-san..."
"Yes, I want to use this chance to get [Byakushiki]."
She's still smiling, and she hasn't changed her expression at all.
"Alright, hand it over, brat."
"Erm...well, you're kidding, right?"
"Why would I joke around with you, brat? You infuriate me."
Though the tone's completely different, she's still smiling at me.
I couldn't respond to her sudden change in attitude, and my abdomen suddenly got kicked. The hard impact smashed me into the cupboard.
"Ah-ahh, you bastard! The face can't change back. My face."
"Hoo, hoo! Wh-Who are you..."
"Ahh? Me? I'm a mysterious beauty who disguised as a company worker. Well, are you happy now?"
She again stepped on my legs.
...The pain that came clearly told me that 'She's the enemy'. Why am I still an idiot who loves peace now?
As the situation was bad, I summoned my IS.
I used up a lot more energy than usual as it was an emergency summoning that splits the clothes up, but there's no time to mind about the technical details, because she's an enemy with an unknown identity.
"I was waiting for you to summon it."
Makigami-san finally lost her smile...hold it. The long narrow eyes of this woman in front of me seemed to be distorted because of the evil presence. She is like a snake every time she stretched her long tongue out.
"Because it's finally time for this to come up!"
A sharp 'claw' appeared from behind the woman, ripping the suit in the process. The spider legs like thing had ominous matching colors of yellow and black, each having a blade-like tip.
The 8-legged armor deployed the tips of the legs, revealing cannons.
I tried my best to burst the thrusters on my legs at the floor, exerting the maximum output.
[Byakushiki] and I used the reaction force of the [PIC] to do an emergency dodge.
"Oh, not bad."
Before knocking into the ceiling, I activated the [Setsura] of [Byakushiki]. It'll be faster to attack with the internal weapon [Setsura] than [Yukihira Niigata].
"Who are you?"
Flying backwards to dodge, the woman dodged the beam claw, and continued,
"Ah? Don't you know? I'm a member of an evil organization!"
"I'm not messing around, damned brat! I'm a member of the secret organization Phantom Task. You must call me Autumn-sama, understand?"
This woman—Autumn completely deployed her IS, and her delicate control of her [PIC] dodged my attacks and shot live rounds at me.
Taking the concentrated fire of the 8 cannons, I jumped up and dodged the cannons that were coming in from left and right.
At the same time, I wielded the [Yukihira Niigata] in my right hand and swung it down.
"You're too naive!"
The opponent's 8 armored legs grabbed the blade of the [Yukihira Niggata] completely.
The blade was held on tight. No matter how much I tried, I still couldn't budge.
At this moment, a machine gun formed in Autumn's hand, and she shot at me.
A few shots pierced through my armor, and the tremendous impact spread to my body.
My body has the protection of [Absolute Defense], but the pain didn't disappear just like that.
(It'll be bad if this keeps up!)
Thinking about this, I put my weapon down for the time being, shot the thrusters on the wings backwards and flipped backwards.
Dodging the bullet, I kicked the enemy's gun, and then grabbed the [Yukihira Niigata] back from the enemy's armor.
"Hahaha! Not bad, kid! You can actually pull some moves in front of this [Arachne]!"
There are a lot of obstacles in the changing room, but I used the delicate skills I learnt from Tatenashi-san to dodge the attacks and close in on the enemy.
Learning these skills really helped me a lot.
"Ha! That was close, close, close, close...wow!"
I started to lose grasp on Autumn's movements, and I don't know how many times I was attacked.
It seemed that each armored leg that extend from the back could deploy [PIC], and the [Arachne]'s mobility was more nimble and complicated than any IS I've seen.
The movement was just like that of a spider.
(Uu, I can only predict her movements and use [Ignition Boost]!)
I used the surroundings to control my flight, dodged the bullets that were raining down on me, and waited for the chance to attack.
(Calm down. Just calm down. I'll just attack when it's time.)
"Oh yeah. Let me say this as well. We're the organization that kidnapped you during the second IS Mondo Grosso! This reunion sure is touching, hahaha!"
Her words really enraged me.
--If that's the case, that's the case. So...
"I'LL PAY YOU BACK FOR THAT TIME!"
"Kuku, you're still just a brat, using a frontal assault like that...huh!"
I noticed that she shot some rope-like things from her fingers at me.
The energy lump expanded in front of me, forming a huge web.
If this is energy, I'll use [Setsura] to slash it.
But even though I intended to, the web extended all over me, and several seconds later, held me down.
"Hahaha! That was effortless! That's what happens when you underestimate a spider's web!"
Showing a cold smile, Autumn approached me, who's struggling, and took out a 4 legged equipment.
"Hm, well, it's party time!"
With the sound of activation, the four-legged thing that was about 40cm wide expanded.
"Are you going to say goodbye? KYAHAHAHA!!"
The enemy put the equipment on me. The four legs touched my chest and shrank as it stuck onto my body.
"To your IS, of course."
At this moment, energy that felt like electricity ran through my body.
A sharp pain that felt like it was going to rip through my entire body attacked me.
While in tremendous pain, the fact that Autumn was mocking me with her smile angered me all the more. Unexpectedly, I could still remain focused even under such pain. That was really unbelievable.
"Then, playtime's over."
The electricity vanished, and the lock disappeared. At the same time, I was released from the web.
I try my best to punch her, but—
"You missed, brat! You don't have any IS!"
I got hit on the abdomen and got sent flying to the locker.
This pain made me realize that [Byakushiki] was gone.
"Wh-What's going on...[Byakushiki]! Hey!"
I was only left with the complete IS suit, as [Byakushiki]'s armor and armaments were all gone.
"Hehe, your important IS is right here."
Autumn was holding a crystal in her hand....that's undoubtedly [Byakushiki]'s core. It was radiating even brighter than an ordinary core, proof that the core had advanced to the [Second Shift].
"The equipment just now was called the [Remover]! It's a secret weapon that can forcefully remove an IS, you know? You're really lucky to be able to see it while alive!"
She stepped on me twice.
Unable to get up due to the continuous pain, I glared at Autumn, and she stepped hard onto my head.
"Ah? I can't hear you?"
"GIVE IT BACK, YOU BASTARD! STOP MESSING AROUND!"
Finally able to move, I leaped into action and attacked her back.
"I said that it's too late!"
This time, I got kicked on the side, and my back slammed into the wall, making me unable to breathe for the time being.
What's with her? Does she like to kick? I really want to say that 'This level of legs isn't much', I have a lot of beautiful legs around me.
(Ha-Haha...I really don't know, but people would be like this once they go crazy?)
I gave myself a self-mocking smile...nothing changed at all, nothing. I'm still as useless as ever.
(However—I CAN'T FORGIVE THAT!)
I grabbed the leg Autumn kicked me over with, and closed in onto her body. At the same time, I reached out my arm for the core in her right hand.
The armor that hit my back sent me flying to the wall...damn it, damn it, damn it!
"Well brat, you're useless now. So let me kill you!"
Showing a sly smile, Autumn said that to me.
"Oh my, I'll be really troubled. I'm mindful of Ichika-kun you know?"
A delighted sound echoed in my ears, and that didn't match the current atmosphere. Looking over, I saw Tatenashi-san standing at the door, holding the fan in her hand like usual.
"Where did you appear from? All the systems here were locked down....well, I guess I'll just have to kill you!"
Autumn turned around, and the 8-legged armor attacked Tatenashi-san.
"I'm the student leader of this school, so I have to do this."
"Ah? What nonsense are you spouting?"
At this moment, Autumn's armor pierced through Tatenashi-san's body.
<ref>tags exist for a group named "5C", but no corresponding
<references group="5C"/>tag was found.