CHAPTER 1: PART 4
The situation around began to move, without bearing any results Hirata’s team returned to base. The trio was surprisingly in an uplifting mood. Hirata and the others were talking about something with great fervor.
“It is a river!! A river!! What a beautiful feeling it is! It looks like there is an equipment! It seems that we will be able to have an exclusive possession of a mechanism! From here it is only a ten minute walk, so let’s go all together at once.”
Ike’s team had left earlier for a search mission, they may have found out that spot already. And it seemed that they were guarding it so that other classes won’t snatch it away.
“This is a glorious achievement, if we can maintain the source of the river, our situation may vastly improve.”
It seems like as we came to find this spot originally, it was already decided that this would be the place of our base camp. Of course I thought it was because of the terrain and the environment, but it seems that it is just the first step forward.
“Still, there are 2 teams that haven’t returned yet, I guess it will be a trouble if no one stays here to wait for them”
The clock showed that it was almost 3 o’clock, we might not be able to hold on the original schedule, besides, there are countless possibilities of where they could be wandering in this vast forest.
“I’m sorry Hirata, Kouenji, too, because it is my fault, in the middle of our expedition, I trailed off the road”
“Ah, If you are talking about our little Kouenji, he returned alone a little while ago, he wanted to go and swim”
It seems that he did not get lost, but he sneaked away out of the forest. Something that would be expected from a free-spirited guy like him.
“How did we lose him? Did you not take your leadership properly?”
“I am who I am and I am not someone who would put restraints on people….. Do you understand?”
This guy, is he trying to agitate him on purpose? I have succeeded in breaking free from Kouenji’s haste pace already and also being well-informed about the forest.
“I get it, a leader other than showing personality has no ability to answer in complaints, that’s him”
“You are just like him”
“Did you say something?”
There are too many problematic students, including me in this class. Hirata, too, is troubling.
Suddenly Horikita, turned around and looked back. She glared at Sakura with sharp eyes.
“Just, now, did she look at me?”
“S..She.. She was not looking at me, right?!
Sakura looked confused and being in denial, trying to run away from the view, she took her distance from us.
“Do not let her scare you. From the beginning Horikita was scary as a demon, anyway.”
“So that I allow her to mess with me as she pleases?”
“This is the place! We have found the spot! It is amazing!”
We finally arrived to the spot that was found by Ike and the others. To the interior of the cave I saw a mechanism embedded in the wall.
However, to this edge of the river, there is one artificial big boulder. This is where the mechanism was originally embedded. Meanwhile, Hirata’s team started preparing the tent and all other necessities to a place close to the river.
“Yes, the sunlight cast its shadows in the beautiful water. Smoothing the way below ground. This might be an ideal spot to build our base camp. This is fantastic, Ike!”
“He he! I know, right?”
The waters of the river run calmly in a width of 10 meters, creating such a splendid sight. The river is surrounded by the thick forest and a sand road. It feels like this place was already established and opened before. I do not believe that this is a newly discovered site. This was built by our school for a specific aim.
”What kind of verification do we need to prove that this river is ours now…”.
The river has a great width, it goes extremely downstream from this point onward and it seems like it continues that way.
At one glance towards the end of it, we are standing at the flat point that seems to be the only exception in a place where the difference between high and low is really extreme. Maybe there is not another place as well as this one around here.
However, we came to find this place too easily. We don’t even know if there is a possibility for us to actually somehow use the river. Or possibly, we thought too simply that we have a special right to hold this spot.
We only worried about one thing, while walking parallel to the riverside to the direction of the forest. Yet, somehow, we came to hold the north canal.
“It is just like understanding the vicinity around the school. It seems like we are the only ones who can make use of the river”
Along our way, as we were walking down along the river that we thought we could use, there was a sign of old wood. So this place was designed specifically for a reason after all and unauthorized use is prohibited. This is what is written on the wooden sign.
Feeling light-headed as we were walking around, Hirata and his team came back.
“Concerning the decision to build our base camp on this spot, is there a not problem at all about occupying this spot?”
“We already decided on that! Is there any other alternatives, anyway?!”
“There are! Of course, having this place is to our benefit, there are ways to monopolise the river and we can gain some points for doing so, if we can actually hold it for 8 hours and the operation is approved and executed by our leader. However, if other teams found out who our leader actually is, we will be in trouble. Someone with clever eyes might grasp the gravity of our situation”
Across the river and all around us, in 360 degrees there is only the forest. If there is someone or something looking at us from the trees, then we would not notice.
“You mean…, this place… it is not good for hiding, we are unprotected. We are surrounded”
It is true that risk has cast its shadow, but, Ike’s observation is accurate.
Even if we make the base camp on this terrain, we cannot maintain it, there are no options. If by any chance the students of some other classes try to monopolize the river, we will not be able to get out.
Girls and boys alike seem to give Ike their approval. I think that Hirata, too, from the start had the intention to do the same thing, but, from sticking to a neutral position has gathered a lot of viewpoints.
Certainly to be able to earn the right of an exclusive possession is somehow like a two-edged knife.
However, in order for Class A to monopolize the cave, they have to protect the equipments fully by stacking them up/by placing them one upon another in the same location of the base camp. It’s a no brainer that B class and also C class will do the same thing. In other words, we cannot afford to lose ground even for the slightest risk.
“Yes. So after this issue, the new point is who is going to be the leader?”
More than taking possession and occupying spots, the big key factor is deciding who will be appointed as the leader.
Making mistakes on this point can possibly become fatal.
While everyone was thinking of avoiding this kind of role with such heavy responsibilities, Kushida told everyone to gather and make a circle. In a small voice, she began:
“I had a lot on my mind and I thought about various things but, whether one likes it or not, Hirata-kun or Karuizawa-san stand out as persons. But isn’t a leader one that you could rely on and also one that has a deep sense of responsibility? I think that Horikita-san is the one that meets both conditons. How about that?”
Horikita looked like she didn’t expect this kind of recommendation from Kushida, but her expression didn’t change. I wonder if it’s less risky to let her act as a leader since she’s always observing and aiming for A class than to let someone else do it. I think the main point is there. I was calmly looking at the reactions around me.
“I agree with Kushida-san’s opinion. I also think that Horikita-san can be a good leader. So long as Horikita-san is okay with it too, I would like her to take over later”
Even though all the gazes gathered on her, she didn’t particularly appear as she wanted to refuse it.
“You don’t want to do it, right? Don’t force her. I can do it instead”
Suddenly, Sudo announced his candidature, doubtful as to whether Horikita had decided not to take over. But ironically, that became a trigger for Horikita as she soon made a cool decision.
“Ok, I accept”
Even if it’s a little troublesome, I’m relieved since this is more secure than having Sudo or Ike as leader.
As soon as he heard those words, Hirata immediately went to Miss Chabashira to pass on Horikita’s name. Before long, he received the card and entrusted it to Horikita when he came back.
But of course, before this, taking into consideration the risk of being seen by someone nearby, everyone touched the device. This was to camouflage the leader and to not let anyone find out the real one.
“Okay, I resolved the problem of the bath and the drinking water”
With shining and flaming eyes, Ike advocated to economize on points.
“Huh? With things like drinking water from the river? Are you crazy?”
Apparently, Ike intended to use the river’s water both as a natural bath and drinking water. Meanwhile, Shinohara and the girls seemed to not to having such idea and they glanced at the river both disgusted and appalled.
“Well, it looks nice for swimming……but to drink…mmm”
“What’s the matter, it’s completely fine. It’s pure and clean water”
“Yeah, that’s……it seems it can certainly be drunk but….”
Shinohara pulled Hirata’s sleeve after seeing how Ike didn’t stop appealing for saving points in every way.
“Hey, Hirata-kun…..is it really okay? It is not normal to drink water from the river”
Several girls gathered and they came to talk to Hirata uneasily, asking for advice. Watching the gently flowing river waters, the girls protested shaking their heads left and right and saying it was impossible.
“I don’t think I could drink that….”
Ike, who was looking surreptitiously at the consultation going on, opened his mouth already growing irritated.
“Is that so? The water is really clean and transparent and it looks like natural water”
Although it wasn’t turbid or muddy, not only all the girls but also part of the boys remained on the sidelines and watched some parts of the river.
“What’s going on, everyone. What’s your beef? There’s no reason we shouldn’t make use of the available water we found with so much trouble”
“Well then we should try to drink it as an experiment”
“Haha….whatever, I don’t care….”
Ike scooped up the river water with his hands and drank it. Part of the girls were urged to do it forcibly too.
“Aaahhkk….It’s ice-cold and I’m chilled to the bone but it’s good! Damn good!”
“Wow that’s a major turn-off. No way I’m drinking that. Yuck!”
“Ehh? You told me to drink it, SHINOHARA!”
“No way! The type I hate the most are barbarian guys like you”
The two were also glaring to each other and they threw off sparks during their heated argument.
“I heard that the closer you are the more you fight, could this be applicable to both of them?”
“Well, it seems to be true”
So next to the toilet’s issue, wouldn’t it be logic to resolve the drinking water’s problem? But even if a river has been found for it, there hasn’t been any solution yet.
“For the time being, why don’t we think about the water’s problem later? Because if you fight it’s gonna be even harder to resolve”
Hirata told everyone that he wanted to break through the current situation. Probably delaying the situation will bring other problems but if that’s Hirata intention, there won’t be a particular objection. Or so I believed…until a guy that I least expected put a stop to the flow of the conversation.
“Shinohara, don’t complain. It’s a trial where everyone has to cooperate together, that is what!!”
Sudo is the class problem child. But unusually, he put Shinohara in her place in a cool and calm tone.
“Oh please, don’t make me laugh. Do you cooperate yourself with everyone, like you said, Sudo-kun?
Shinohara smiled contrived like she has lower abdominal pains, but it’s impossible for her to take up this stupid attitude. Sudo, after getting into school, he often got into trouble and stirred problems in the class. Very differently compared to Horikita, he’s very far from cooperative. It seemed like Sudo himself was the first to be aware of it, but he continued to have the same attitude without changing behaviour.
“I know that I caused trouble for the class. That’s why I’m saying this. If you provoke somebody’s antipathy by being boring and tiresome like this, it will come back to you (what goes around comes back around)”
“What ..that’s why Sudo-kun doesn’t want to use the point right?”
“No one said such a thing. Kanji, just cool down a little. If you’re told by others to suddenly drink the river’s water, it should be normal for you to feel that you have the right to resist and protest. I’d feel the same too. Hey, if you boil the water, you can sterilize it, right? Why don’t you try that for the time being?”
“Boiling… It’s not a chemistry experiment. Stop with the proper remarks said in the spur of the moment”
Shinohara was prepared to fight with anyone who displeased her, and was aggressive towards Sudou as well.
Hirata called out to settle down the intensifying argument for the second time.
“Let’s end this for once. We still have time so there’s no need to decide things in a hurry.”
As if those words made her a little calmer, Shinohara silently withdrawn. Shortly afterwards, Hirata went to Ms. Chabashira to apply for a provisional toilet.
Without containing the anger towards Shinohara’s words and deeds, Ike left the situation behind biting his lips in frustration all the way.
“Crap, what’s wrong with Shinohara? It’s not only that she doesn’t work hard.”
Annoyingly, Ike picked up a pebble and threw it to drain in the river.
The stone kicked water surface five-six times and jumped to the other side of the shore without difficulty. For something picked by chance, it had a beautiful form. It wouldn’t have worked so well, if he only learned to do it by watching others.
“Are you unexpectedly good at outdoor stuff perhaps?”
“Huh? Ah – no, it’s not like that. I was just often camping with my family when I was little. There’s no danger in drinking river water. I’d know if the water is clean and hygienic.”
Rather than being boastful, he really spoke as if it’s a natural thing.
“Wouldn’t it be better if you came forward with your camping experience from the beginning? If you had gained people’s trust I think you could have carried it a little better.”
It wasn’t acceptable to just act as one pleases without any explanation, even if you had abilities. Not to mention that wasn’t something to be clearly understood unlike the test score.
“If I did boy scouting, I could brag about it. Having just a camping experience isn’t something to boast about. Even if I said something, it would be in vain anyway.”
Somehow, he looked discouraged by the girls’ harsh criticism. Judging from Ike, whose usual thoughts were about being well liked by girls only, it was natural for him to be dissatisfied. However, it seems like the situation would have been be really different if he’d only change manners a little.
To only slightly see Ike and Hirata cooperating and leading the class would feel precious.
But… Ike added, a little dry of words:
“Everyone seemed excited to start this kind of camping life. I thought everyone had some experience. I may have been a little unreasonable thinking that way.”
That was the first time Ike showed us his regret. It was a moment where we became aware of his error.
“Sorry. I have to think of a good solution. I’m going to take a bath in the river.”
That being said, Ike stood up and turned his back on me. I thought that was good for now. His head must have been clouded and confused due to the heat and to look everywhere for this place must have taken a considerable amount of physical strength.
“Ayanokouji-kun. Can you follow him?”
After we couldn’t see Ike anymore, Horikita who was beside me said:
“His knowledge might be useful. That is, it might be necessary for D class. He also knows how to walk around the forest to some extent as well as outdoor knowledge. Since Kouenji-kun is useless, it’s necessary for him to somehow pull the class.“
“You don’t think you can persuade him by yourself?”
As if she didn’t think such a thing would be told, she said upsettingly:
“Me? Persuade? Him? You think I can do it?”
Even though she appealed to me for the thing she couldn’t do with a smug face, I could see she was worried. She is truly a fitting example that building human relationships relies heavily on the abilities of ordinary people.
“I’m asking because I know that’s impossible. Can I rely on you?”
“Well, I guess so. You don’t have anyone else to rely on but me.”
Even if the expectations were the lowest, if the others were all zero, I had to become the top inevitably.
“As someone who isn’t usually to be relied on, Ayanokouji-kun – you’re happy deep down, right?”
It was great of her that she could boldly ask a favor while crossing her arms proudly.
“I understand. I’ll call out to him indirectly. But please, leave the timing to me.”
“… Good. Cause I’m not certain if it’s the best to call out to him now.”。
I stepped aside as to let her know that I accepted, without any particular conversation beside that one. I wonder if Horikita will fully realize the hardships of being alone to the extent of hating it during this week. I think she herself is an excellent person, but only if you consider her individually.
In case of pursuing your own grades only, you will keep on running silently for the top without relying on anyone, but this trial is a good example that there are things that cannot be done by yourself.
Probably, Horikita fully realized for the first time now that she is powerless. If that weren’t the case, it’s unlikely she’d rely on me so quickly. If we had no friends, no one would drop by to visit and we couldn’t even talk to someone. If we cannot communicate, we cannot cooperate and trust each other. A talented woman who looks perfect within the school will become less than an ordinary student in this situation.
“… The school probably calculated the space of that area too.”
Although that’s also the point where you could see the bottom of Horikita Suzune’s limitations.
Because it’s impossible to break away from the rules this school made.
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