In the first week of February, after the training camp ended and students returned once more to the Advanced Nurturing High School. Sakayanagi Arisu, a first year from Class A was in the Student Council Room.
Her favorite hat was on the desk and the one facing her was a first year from Class A, Miyabi Nagumo, the Student Council President.
“The Student Council Room sure is a lot flashier, huh? I barely even recognize it”.
To put it nicely, it is properly furnished.
To say it less kindly, even though the room is strictly formal, now the wallpaper has completely changed and Nagumo brought in all his little knick-knacks. Rather than being a Student Council Room, it is more like Nagumo’s Room. He is showing us how things have changed.
He has made it a symbol of his own power. Sakayanagi took that impression to heart.
“Did Horikita-senpai by any chance invite you to join?”
Nagumo said in regards to Sakayanagi visiting, even though she seemed that her presence here has nothing to do with the Student Council.
“I’m sorry to say, but I was no match for his judgement, so there was no invitation”.
“Boy, he’s a crappy judge of people”.
“Then, do you have a different opinion, Mr. President?”
Nagumo gave a slight smile.
“Of course I’d welcome you! But only as my special property”.
When he said that, he took a stuffed rabbit near him and caressed it. Was that his or a gift from one of the girls in his possession?
A special property. In other words, not through any ability of her own. His judgement was only based on how she looked.
Though it might have been best to ignore it, Sakayanagi lashed out at his comment without thinking.
“Then just how exactly should I get your approval, President Nagumo?”
“Prove you’re worthy of being here. That’s all you must do. It’s not too late to join the student council, you know? So, come to my side, Sakayanagi”.
Although she was just smiling, Sakayanagi quickly continued.
“Why don’t we stop this? I don’t think it’s good for one organization to rely on two leaders. Also, I can’t bear to see the skilled members be crushed underfoot”.
“Two leaders, huh?”
Though she was only a 1st year, Sakayanagi thought herself equal to Nagumo, or perhaps even she was considered herself to be better than him.
But even after hearing that Nagumo did not get angry. On the contrary, he calmed his expression and smiled.
“Both, you and Ryuuen are just too much. It looks like there’s a lot of interesting 1st years, this year. Don’t you think?”.
At this school, there weren’t many students who’d dare to challenge the Student Council.
There was no shortage of students who sucked up to Class A in an attempt to join them and there were even more who just kept their heads down.
Sakayanagi here, though, much like Ryuuen, wouldn’t back down and made enemies, no matter who they were up against. They’d show no mercy either.
“That’s not a very wise attitude”.
Although there might have been students who valued that sort of hostility to everything and everyone, Nagumo was different.
He valued those who threw away even their pride in order to use their power, and accomplish their goal all the way to the top.
Just then, Nagumo’s phone that was on the desk vibrated once. A short while later, it vibrated a second and a third time.
“Do you need to take that?”
“For now, I’m all yours. Don’t worry about that”.
“That’s the trouble with being popular. You always have someone trying to contact you, don’t you?”
“Well, now, that you understand, let me get right to it. If you aren’t looking to be part of the Student Council, then what business do you have with me to the point that you’d have me clear out the room in order to visit me? Sorry to say, but I’ve got another 1st year who’s coming to meet me. I already made an appointment with them, so I can’t talk with you much longer”.
“I see. Then shall we make this fast?”
Though Nagumo intentionally slipped in the bit about the 1st year, Sakayanagi’s expression didn’t change at all.
On the other hand, Nagumo concluded that she was definitelly interested.
“I came here today to ask you for a favor. It is about a student council member, Ichinose Honami a first year from Class B. I am planning to launch an attack against her shortly. It will cause quite a stir once this happens.”
“I’ve heard that story before, so?”
Nagumo urged her to continue, since this was something he had heard before from Sakayanagi, during their previous private meetings. Of course, there aren’t many people aware of this fact.
“She is the only 1st year in the student council. In other words, she is a strong candidate for the seat of the future student council president”
“Well, this is right only if we assume that none of the other 1st years are accepted into the student council and there’s no outstanding talent among the incoming freshmen either”
“Yes, that’s correct”
In other words, Ichinose’s loss is the student’s council’s and Nagumo’s loss.
“As a ‘Thank you’ for the other day I thought I had to inform you in advance. In the worst case scenario Ichinose Honami might get expelled, so I am asking you to bear with it.”
Sakayanagi declared that without an inch of fear in front of Nagumo.
“I do not remember granting you permission to ‘go that far’ Sakayanagi”
Nagumo’s smile vanished, instantly
“Yes, you told me to bully Ichinose just a little, President. However, I was thinking to play with her a bit rougher.”
“Ichinose is my personal property. I am planning to treasure her, dearly. I only gave you permission to weaken her just a bit.”
“I am well aware of that, but unpredictable things happen, sometimes”
Nagumo looked at Sakayanagi with a sharp gaze
We could even describe it as an angry glare.
Sakayanagi though, ignored Nagumo’s stare in a cool manner
“So… You won’t mind, if she ends up getting expelled?”
“You are a bold woman. Aren’t you afraid of me?”
“This is just my nature”
“Then, tell me something. You could’ve simply done what you wanted without asking for my permission. But you still dutifully came here like this to ask for my permission. Should I assume this means you don’t want to make an enemy out of me?”.
Nagumo asked this question, not being fooled by her words of flattery.
“You may interpret it as you please”
“Do not hide from me. I want to hear your honest thoughts”
“The student council in this school seems to have more power than I originally thought. So, if in order to protect Ichinose, the student council…No, if President Nagumo makes a move then it will be troublesome for me as well”
Sakayanagi knows that it is a good idea to avoid Nagumo covering for Ichinose
So, that was her answer.
As though being satisfied with this, Nagumo flashed a smile
Her response wasn’t quite direct, but it also meant that she did not want to make Nagumo her enemy.
“The information I gave you seems to be valid, then.”
“Yes. Thanks to you, I might be able to hit Ichinose’s weak point. Since, I have this information in my hands, from now on, I will use it effectively.”
“It’s ok, Sakayanagi. You can trust me as a member of the student council that everything you do will stay silent.”
“Will the student council stay silent, as well?”
There was no way that Sakayanagi would lose this chance, not after what Nagumo had just said.
“Hmm. Ah! Yes. I do not have to repeat myself, about the stance of the student council, too. What are you planning to do, anyway?”
“Well, That is something that you should be looking forward to…. Let’s just leave it at that.”
There is no advantage in talking about her strategy now.
That’s what Sakayanagi decided to do.
Besides the man in front of her, Nagumo, is a very unreliable man.
He is trying to eradicate anyone who could become an asset to the student council.
“By the way. I do not have many chances speaking with you alone like this. So, I would like to ask you something”
“What is it?”
“I think the chances are low to actually happen. But, when things escalate, usually strong measures are taken….. It’s not uncommon that there are students who can resort to brute strength. What do you think about that as the president of the student council?”.
Sakayanagi is confident that she will not lose to the resourceful type like Ichinose, Katsuragi or even Horikita. However, the use of a physical attack is a different thing. There is no chance for the incompetent Sakayanagi to win.
“So, you are not doing so well against types that resort to brute force as a last resort?”
“I’m not very good at it”
This is very true for Sakayanagi whose body is in poor health condition.
“Unfortunately for you, I do not dislike the use of brute force, either. It is quite common to happen quarrels between the students, in the first place. Unlike Horikita senpai’s intentions, I do not plan to crack them down and punish them. Moreover…. if it is just a skirmish I plan to just laugh it off.”
That declaration put Sakayanagi who was weak against physical attacks, at a great disadvantage. However, it was something else that Sakayanagi was concerned about.
“I see… So, how about the fight that broke out between the 1st years of Class D and Class C a while back. If it were you President Nagumo would you have handed down a different sentence than the former student council president?”
Sudo’s and Ishizaki’s groups were involved in a dispute over who was beaten by whom, their dispute was about surveillance cameras among other things.
Even though Nagumo was not directly involved with this incident, there’s no way he wouldn’t have know about this since he always clings to Horikita Manabu.
“Well….This incident ended up getting the whole school involved. I would not consider them innocent, but I would not consider their expulsion, either. I would end this by suspending the parties involved from school. Of course, I would not ask for penalties in their class or personal points.
What Nagumo had added was the utmost that the student council could accept.
No matter how tolerant the student council is if the school says ‘no’ then it’s a ‘no’.
I must keep that in mind.
Even if the members of the student’s council are far more powerful than the average student. In the end, they are just students. We cannot afford to forget that.
“I see, I understand fully well that you are a very tolerant person”.
I must take into account the fact that fighting by extortion and the use of violence will become a reality in the future.
“If you are worried then, I can arrange an escort from the 2nd years for you”
So, the 2nd year students will be allowed to beat up the 1st year students.
With a proposal from the student’s council president no less that approves such an act.
“I am very grateful for your offer, but I don’t need it. It’s my way to fight only with what I have in my own hands.”
What Sakayanagi wanted to know is ‘how far she could be keep going on her own until no longer being safe.’
For the time being, it was enough for her to just confirm that she had the right to fight back whenever she got attacked.
“Are you satisfied?”
“Yes, it’s more than enough.”
Since Sakayanagi was satisfied with her conversation with Nagumo, she grabbed her cane and slowly stood up.
“Now that you mention it…”
“You still have anything else to talk about?”
Sakayanagi paid no attention to Nagumo’s words. It would not take much time anyway.
“Our conversation is over, but I heard some interesting stories that I would like to share with you. Stories about students trying to buy personal points from the 3rd years that are about to graduate or something like that. A strategy where you can buy something that is supposed to be accumulated during your school days, after your graduation. A quite formidable strategy if I may say…. And a sure way to graduate from Class A.”
A few days back, at the training camp, this was a topic that broke out during a conversation between Kouenji and Nagumo.
It was only the boys that had heard this piece of information, but it wouldn’t be strange for one of the boys to have informed Sakayanagi. We could rather say that it is something that they’d definitely want to let Sakayanagi know about this.
“I’ve made sure that he can’t use that trick anymore. Also, it’s not only Kouenji that came up with this strategy, many other students thought about buying the extra personal points from the 3rd years that are nearing graduation.”
As this had been repeatedly happened in the past, Nagumo just sneered.
“That’s why the school is about to do something about this. There was an announcement that the school will accumulate ‘all the personal points that are left’ from the 3rd years at the time of their graduation. This will be the general rule”
“Is this really going to work?. Certainly, according to this rule, personal points will be confiscated at the time of graduation, so they become worthless when we graduate. If that’s the case, it’s no wonder that there are third-year students who want to leave their personal points to their good juniors way earlier.”
Even the dust that piles up becomes a mountain, eventually.
Just by transferring personal points from several people, a considerable amount will be collected by certain students. It’s no wonder how Nagumo realised that Kouenji moved early.
“Normally speaking, this information is only revealed to the 3rd years. I will just ignore how you, President, were able to obtain this information despite only being a 2nd year…. And the reason that you make such a bold declaration in front of a 1st year is because of your intention to change this limiting rule you just spoke of. Right?”
“It seems that Kouenji is the only student that has accumulated more points than what the school permits. This is foul play, after all.”
The announcement was made in front of all the boys from all classes, so to make aware that the school knows of the loopholes and problems in the rules. It is highly likely that there will be additional rules so the third-year students will hesitate to transfer their personal points.
There is no guarantee that you can really pay after graduation, either. Even if you are coming from a wealthy family.
The case of Kouenji is a very special example.
The official website of the Kouenji conglomerate clearly indicates that Kouenji Rokusuke has a huge personal asset as a first year in high school.
Even though he could nullify his promise, still it’s worth the risk.
“But being born with financial power is considered an extra ‘skill’. Isn’t he allowed to use it?”
“That’s exactly why we should move ahead and stop him from using it”.
“He he. That’s true, indeed”
Sakanagi laughed merrily and tapped ligthtly her cane once.
“Right from the start I did not like the school’s rule of accumulating 20 million points in order to move to Class A. If it can be done in the future, I’d like to evaluate the rules and review the system. Well, it won’t apply to you first-years, anyway.”
As this rule is already established by the school, Sakayanagi and the other first years are already aware of this.
Given the possibility that there are students who will emphasize their strategy on saving 20 million points, he cannot just withdraw it.
“However, you don’t have to pay attention to rules that are only ornamental. There are no students who have actually saved 20 million points individually”
“Well, you can’t just accumulate that huge amount all by yourself.”
“It doesn’t make much sense if you store them all together as a class. However, there is also the strategy of sending someone to an enemy class as a spy. There are students who fear this, but this is not a very realistic plan, either. If they are sent from a lower class to an upper class, let’s say if they have a chance to be sent in Class A , then they can easily turn into traitors”.
“That’s right. There’s no merit to be found in going out of your way to knock down a strong class. But you can’t rule out students with a strong sense of justice acting for the sake of their fellow students”.
“I suppose you’re right. But of course, the upper classes also won’t just pass information to a student who just joined them suddenly. Besides, in the school’s exams, a negative effect on points that occurs, because of you, may come back to bite you. If you deliberately sabotage your class, you yourself will be expelled from school”.
Seeing that Sakayanagi has completely understood the system, Nagumo nodded in satisfaction.
“I’ll give you one piece of advice. I don’t hate your aggressive nature, but from this stage onward you will have trouble if you keep making enemies all over the place, you know? First of all, don’t you wish you had built up trust with the people around you? Still, it is not too late, so build trust”
“And to use that trust as a weapon to ensure victory?”
“That’s the most efficient strategy”.
“A betrayal from someone you are sure would never betray you is a form of attack that would be more than enough to cause critical damage.”
“But you are asking me now to build trust, when you were too quick to throw away the trust you’ve taken care to establish, previously with others. So, tell me President, like you said, don’t you think it would be far more effective to use this at the very end?”
A declaration of war against the former student council president during the training camp was the betrayal of that trust.
“I threw away the trust?
Nagumo asked with a laugh.
“I definitely lost Horikita-senpai’s trust and the trust of the 3rd year students of Class A. But nothing has changed in regards to the 2nd years and the other 3rd years. The 1st years will come to understand that very soon.
That is Nagumo’s strength and pride, and for a moment Sakanagi almost agreed, but quickly changed her mind.
Even breaking the rules he established with Horikita Manabu was something he had planned from the very beginning.
It may be an agreement that the 2nd years had reached beforehand.
“Let me make a correction here, Sakayanagi. I acknowledge your talent. If you wish to join the student council at any point in the future, I will allow it”
“Thank you. That aside, I’m glad I came here today. I was able to learn the sort of person you are, President Nagumo. At the very least, I’m glad to know that you and I are more alike than I ever thought I was with President Horikita.”
Politely bowing her head, Sakayanagi left the student council room. And when she did, Nagumo immediately followed after her.
You forgot your hat.
“My, my! Thank you very much”
After taking her hat back, Sakayanagi once again made a light bow with her head.
“Now, Please excuse me”
“Sakayanagi, would you happen to know anything about Ayanokouji?”
Nagumo asked an unexpected question.
“Ayanokouji…? I am somewhat familiar with that name. I think he’s a 1st year, right?.
“I see, then no, it’s nothing”
If she doesn’t know then there’s no reason to talk about it, Nagumo tried to end the conversation with that.
If it’s needed, I can investigate him for you though?
Sakayanagi offered her assistance as though taking a bold step forward.
“No, I said something unnecessary. Forget it”
“Is that so? Then excuse me”
When Sakayanagi walked off, she ran into a female student. She’s someone even Sakayanagi with her limited cycle of acquaintances is aware of, Kushida Kikyou a first year from Class C.
“What a coincidence! Do you, by any chance, have business at the student council room?”
“Yes. I was thinking to apply for the student council. Could it be the same for you, Sakayanagi-san?”
“Something like that. Please excuse me”
“See you later”
Sakayanagi felt somewhat doubtful that Kushida would want to join the student council at a time like this. Normally speaking, an honor student like her aiming for the student council wouldn’t be out of place. But she wasn’t quite convinced about her intentions.
The girls are well informed of Nagumo’s actions during the special exam. It may be a different story for a senior student who knows Nagumo’s character well, but it wouldn’t be strange for a 1st year to be suspicious of his actions.
If she is aware of Kiyotaka Ayanokouji’s true nature and she is cooperating with him then there’s the possibility that she might have been sent to investigate Nagumo.
But knowing Ayanokouji’s personality, he wouldn’t carelessly get involved with Nagumo at this stage.
There hasn’t been a single bad rumor about her. She’s nothing else but benign.
“Haha. It’s exactly that kind of person that could unexpectedly turn into a villain”
Besides, Sakayanagi doesn’t believe in pure kindness.