Chapter 1: Training Camp

 

The first morning of training camp.
Without being awoken by anything in particular, I naturally opened my eyes.

“… Mnn…”

In my half-asleep head, I squirmed up my body. When I confirmed the time on the analogue clock on the wall, it was a little passed seven. I was sleeping in a Japanese-styled six tatami room. While I had my slight misgivings at not being in my own room, I remembered soon enough.
(TL: 6 tatami ~ 10m^2)
Not only wasn’t it my room, it wasn’t even the town I lived in.
This was the guest house ‘Sunflower’, located right near the beach of another prefecture.

“Ah… I see. Training camp started yesterday.”

No, today to be more precise.
By the time we arrived at Sunflower last night, it was already ten. Numerous train changes had worn us out, and we all fell right asleep. I hazily thought over such things as I got my appearance in order.

“Are you awake~?”

A Japanese folding screen decorated with a painting of a pine tree slid open and Kagurai-senpai appeared.

“I’m up. Good morning. And wait, please don’t enter a man’s room without knocking.”
“Ha ha ha. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’re a man, aren’t you?”

Kagurai-senpai gave a hearty laugh. From what I could see from that crisp smile, she wasn’t weak in the mornings. Well, this person usually sleeps a lot in that dive thingamajig, so I guess she just can’t get sleep deprivation.

“If you were up, you could’ve paid a visit.”
“I don’t have the energy to raid a girl’s room so early in the morning. Why are you here so early anyways? As I recall, we were supposed to meet at eight, right?”
“I was so giddy I woke up early, see.”
“Ah, I guess I get’cha.”
“I got up at four in the morning.”
“Now that’s early.”
“And the others just weren’t getting up, so I snuck under their covers one by one to shock them up, but I got some extremely nasty looks.”
“Of course you would.”
“However! That’s not enough to get me down!”
“Your willpower’s at an all-time high!”

Needlessly so! Considerably unnecessary!

“At present, I’m sure the others are trying to desperately erase what I drew on their faces.”
“That room sounds fun!”

Drat.
Even if we couldn’t lodge men and women together, this feeling of loss is nothing to laugh at.

“I was thinking I’d take a walk; want to come along? Rather, you’re coming.”
“……”

It seemed I had no right to refuse, so I silently followed her. When I looked at her joyful face, my drowsiness had disappeared somewhere. The zeal she poured into this camp as club president was a cut above the rest.

*BREAK*

The training camp of our ComClub with no real activities was decided upon as summer break approached its mid-stages. Having committed a failure so grand as ditching end-term exams, the ComClub’s early days of summer were spent pursued by remedial lessons.
The last day of those lessons, the road home. As Orino-san, Kikyouin-san, Kurisu-chan, Kagurai-senpai and I rounded the school gate the five of us,

“H-hey, you lot, do you want to go to the sea ‘r somethin’?”

Kikyouin-san said quite abruptly.

“……”

Our eyes all went round. None of us had ever expected such an invitation from her.
As if the kid who never invited the others out to play had wrung out all their courage to join the group, a peculiar air flowed between us. In a drama, this might be an emotional scene, but in reality it was as if the air had stiffened a bit…

“… God. This is why I was against it. I knew it would turn out like this!”

While we were troubled how to react, Kikyouin-san lamented loudly, ruffling her hair into a mess.

“Y-yep! The sea sounds nice! I was just thinking I wanted to go!”
“Y-yeah, that’s right. I was also just about to say something of the sort!”

While Kagurai-senpai and I promptly followed through, “You’re wrong…” Kikyouin-san shook her head.

“That Tsuchimikado contacted me yesterday.”

The Tsuchimikado she referred to was Tsuchimikado Senzou-san. Third son of the Tsuchimikado House that was apparently famous around Kyoto, and the swindler who deceived me a while ago. According to her, Tsuchimikado-san had conducted an exorcism on guest house Sunflower outside the prefecture. He caught wind of rumors that ghosts appeared, rushed to the scene, and spent three days and nights cleansing evil spirits, it seems.

“’n so, that Sunflower place said they’d let him stay for free as thanks, and he passed the buck onto me.”

There Kikyouin-san looked at me.

“I’m sure he intends it in place of interest on his debt to you.”
“Ah, so it’s like that.”

He still hasn’t returned that thirty thousand yen after all.
While it’s not like he had no intent to return it. Though judging by his personality, until things got considerably serious, it didn’t look like I was getting it back.

“But Kikyouin. Is that really alright?” Kagurai-senpai asked.
“Won’t letting five of us stay make for a considerably cost?”
“That part’s, well, within their expectations. To be blunt, all those ghost rumours have sharply decreased their visitors, and barely anyone goes out to play on the nearby beach anymore. So if we stay without heeding the rumours, they’ll actually be thankful, it seems.”

I see.
If customers stopped coming due to bad rumours, then guests who enjoy themselves without giving a lick about them should lighten the rumours’ credibility considerably.

“With exorcisms… it’s often a huge hassle after the ghost’s cleansed as well…”

Those were some profound words from a self-proclaimed onmyouji.

“Hmmm. I see. Then there’s no need to show restraint. One of those win-win situations.”
Kagurai-senpai nodded to herself. Beside her, “B-but…” the ghost-hating Kurisu-chan asked in a shaking voice.
“W-will it be alright… It’s a little scary to stay in a place like that…”
“I think you can trust him in that regard. That guy’s skills are the real deal. And if anything happens, I’ll do somethin’ about it.”

At her blunt yet kind words, Kurisu-chan breathed a breath of relief.

“If that’s how it is… yeah. That sounds fine.”

Orino-san said, as the voice of the group.

“It sounds fun to go on a trip together. I’m for it.”
“Right. And the beach near the guest house is pretty much reserved for us, right? Hm. Based on how you think about it, this might be our lucky break. We can play without any fear of troubling anyone, eh…”
“The sea with everyone huh. That kinda sounds like club training camp.”

As I casually said it, “Training camp!?” Kagurai-senpai bit on with all her might.

“Training camp… my. What a nice ring to it. My heart trembles… I was just thinking I wanted us to do something as the ComClub. Our first activity the other day was a huge failure…”

When Kagurai-senpai said that mingled with a sigh, everyone stared at me. I’ll admit, it’s my fault for sleeping so soundly when I hadn’t done anything in particular! But no need to drag it on, remedial lessons are already over.

*BREAK*

“Alright! Then I hereby announce the ComClub’s second official activity!”

Our club president declared with a full-face smile.

“It’s a swimsuit episode!”

……

Bloody otaku.

*BREAK*

With breakfast over, we got right to the beach
I finished changing far faster than the girls, so in my swim shorts, I headed to the shore right outside of Guesthouse Sunflower a step ahead of the rest. I wanted to prepare the parasol and floats before the others got here.

“… There really isn’t anyone.”

I stuck the parasol into the sand with a mumble.
It looked like the story about ghost rumours was true, it really was as if we’d reserved the beach front for ourselves. Even as I looked around, I couldn’t spot a single swimmer. At most, an old man walking his dog, and a car in the distance. Meaning, at this very moment, I’m the lone king of the beach… how lonely.
I thought I’d jump for joy at having it all to myself, but having it all is surprisingly lonely.
Won’t someone come soon? I thought as I pumped air into the dolphin-shaped float.

“Kept you waiting.”
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”

Orino-san and Kurisu-chan appeared.

“The sea sure is nice. The weather’s fair, it really does feel like sea weather.”

Orino-san wore a white T-shirt over her swimsuit.

“Ah, so the dolphin gets this big when you inflate it! It’s cute!”

Kurisu-chan wore a white T-shirt over her swimsuit.
Et tu brute.

“… You people.”

I heard a low voice from behind the T-shirt duo and saw a swaying silhouette. A silhouette clad in an adultish bikini.

“Why are you wearing something over your swimsuit!? That’s against the rules, out!”

Kagurai-senpai grasped the sleeves of Orino-san and Kurisu-chan’s shirts. Their bodies jolted in surprise, “No, umm,” came a feeble defence, but it was meaningless.

“Hup! Stripping time! Expose your beautiful body beneath the sun!”
“KyaaAH!”

*BREAK*

[IMAGE]

*BREAK*

Kurisu-chan was the first casualty. Her white veil stripped bare, her swimsuit was exposed. A frilled bikini, terribly cute at that.

“A-auu…”

With her exposure shooting up, Kurisu-chan hung her head shamefully. Her gaze shifting back and forth between me and the white sands.

“K-Kagoshima-senpai… u-umm, how is it… I just bought this swimsuit the other day.”
“Yeah. It really suits you.”

I gave an honest compliment.

“Really?”
“Yep. Really cute.”
“C-cute…”

Fidgetting her fingers, she hung her head again. Was she acting bashful? I really think this part of her is cute.

“Now Orino! Kurisu’s already stripped, now it’s your turn!”
“I-I get it! I’ll take it off myself, so let go of me!”
“Ha ha ha! Foolish mortal knave!”
“Noooooo!”

Kagurai-senpai and Orino-san were still tussling. While it seemed she was able to strip Kurisu-chan all too easily, Orino-san was a hard fight.
The reason being… yeah, well, it was a problem of body type.
Kurisu-chan’s body’s quite streamlined, after all.
To put it in Inazuma Eleven terms, she was ‘The Wall’.

“Just strip already, Orino. Fufu. Show that daring cloth to Kagoshima!”
“I-it’s not that daring!”
“Hey, Kagoshima. You want to see Orino in a bikini, don’t you?”
“Ah, no…”

With it suddenly turned to me, I grew nervous.

“Um, well… it would be a lie if I said I didn’t want to see… but I just thought a T-shirt over a swimsuit isn’t bad either. The way you get these brief flashes of the bottom piece from the hem, I think it’s kinda more erotic than being able to see the whole thing. And being able to have fun fantasizing about what the whole thing looks like is—hah!”

By the time I noticed it, I was getting some cold eyes.
Crap, I panicked and said my true thoughts.

“W-wrong! That back there… if I had to equate it to something, right! Just as Milo’s Venus’ lack of arms lets it stir the human imagination, making for a wonderful piece of fine art, T-shirt on swimsuit might be best, on the contrary…”
“… Please don’t hold art in such contempt.”

My junior had completely lost respect for her senior.

“K-Kurisu-chan… please, don’t look at me with those eyes I save for Kagurai-senpai…”
“Did you just casually throw out something cruel!?”

I got the feeling someone screamed something, but I ignored it. There’s a time and place for everything. It seemed that the example of Milo’s Venus was too hard to understand, so I have to keep it simpler.

“I’m just trying to say nude with knee socks is more erotic than plain nude!”
“……”

Once my declaration was over, Orino-san swiftly and silently pulled off her T-shirt, showing her bikini. Perhaps she sensed a danger to her chastity. I wonder why when a woman just stripped, I didn’t feel too happy about it.
Yeaaah.
I made a few verbal slips there, I repented.
I really am weak when flustered.
Rather, well, I get the feeling you could say that about every member of the ComClub.
This is a group of people terrible at thinking on their feet.

Sadly, the three women made a dash for the ocean as if to run away from me. Left behind, I entered that lonely air once more.

“Good grief, they’re kids the lot of them. Getting so worked up over the borin’ old sea.”

Soon after I heard a fed-up voice. It seemed that Kikyouin-san had come as well.

“It’s not like it’s anything rare. Seventy percent of the earth’s surface is water.”

A rebellious line fitting of the contrarian girl.
Unconcerned, or rather, putting on airs. Strangely mature, it seemed that Kikyouin-san wouldn’t get worked up over the mere sea.

“Hey now, Kikyouin-san. You can make the point, but the sea is–”

When I turned my neck, Kikyouin-san’s swimsuit entered my field of vision and I lost my words.
Her swimsuit was… a flashy leopard print.
She was wearing huge sunglasses on top of that. Those ones that look like a dragonfly’s eyes.
No way. No how…

“… Kikyouin-san.”
“Yes?”
“Could it be this is the first time you’ve seen the ocean?”
“So it is. So what?”
“No…”

What do I do? This kid’s really going all out.
Soaring high over her first beach, and misunderstanding something about it.
What a girl of misunderstandings.

“Come to think of it… you’re from the west, right?”
“Yeah? Kyoto.”

I see. So Kansai people wear leopard print after all (my prejudice). I’m sure Kikyouin-san will grow into the aunty who walks around town in leopard print.

“Y-yeah. Um, I think it suits you. The sunglasses are also a nice touch…”

I started off by praising her.
Well, if I closed my eyes to the fact it wasn’t to my tastes, it’s not as if it didn’t suit her. Coupled with her light-pigmented hair, she looked like a Hollywood actress.

“Hah? What are you sayin’? I don’t really get if it suits me or not. But I’m just wearing the sunglasses because it’s too bright. I’m not trying to be fashionable or anything. And the swimsuit’s just something I randomly threw on.”

She said restlessly. Her eyes flitted to the dolphin I was blowing up, and the three playing over yonder.

“’n wait, in the first place, the sea’s just water, right? Salty water. Is that anythin’ different from a bath. Aah, I really never wanted to come to the sea. Though since Tsuchimikado begged me, I had no choice in the matter.”
“……”

She’s a tsundere.
This girl is acting tsundere towards the summer sea.

Kikyouin-san set up the beach chair she brought next to the parasol and lay herself over it. Her expression and posture spoke, ‘the sun sure is bright’.
She wanted to do something celebrity-ish apparently.

*BREAK*

Playing on the beach was enough to fill up the morning hours.
After returning to the guest house for lunch, we got back and started the watermelon smashing.

“Kagoshima-kun, right, right, a little more right.”
“No, you want left, go left.”
“Screw that, up, do up. Smash the top of your head with all your might.”

With my eyes blindfolded, various voices flew my ways. Nearby, I could hear Orino-san and Kagurai-senpai’s voices. Despite her insistence, “I’m not going to take part in something so childish,” I could hear Kikyouin-san’s cheers from afar.
Now then, whose orders do I trust?
Kikyouin-san is out of the question. There’s a chance that Kagurai-senpai is just shouting out random things to tease me, so moral character-wise, it would be Orino-san.
I concluded, and moved on Orino-san’s orders.
And.

*BREAK*

‘Ah, Kurisu. You’re late. Is there no bathroom nearby?’
‘No… I found the bathroom easily enough, but…’

*BREAK*

Having returned from picking flowers, I heard Kurisu-chan converse with Kikyouin-san.

*BREAK*

‘Umm, I ran late looking for something…’
‘You lost somethin’?’
‘Yes… but I couldn’t find it… what should I do, maybe someone stole it…’
‘Calm down, I tell you. What sorta thing are you lookin’ for?’
‘My staff.’
‘Staff. A staff, eh.’
‘I took it out of the storage gem today morning for maintenance. After that, I left it out to bask in the sun…’
‘It needs to dry?’
‘Bask, or rather sunbathe, perhaps. My staff… The Staff of Calima needs to be periodically charged by the light of the sun.’
‘Hmmm. There’re some similar artifacts in eastern sorcery. Though ours use moonlight more often than not. Even so, a staff, eh… in Tarot, the staff represents fire and innovation.’
‘You know your stuff.’
‘I’ve studied western to an extent as well.’

*BREAK*

While I heard the intermingling of magic with eastern spellcraft, I ignored it and concentrated on Orino-san’s orders.
The watermelon is only a little further.

*BREAK*

‘So the staff’s gone?’
‘… Yes.’
‘What is it shaped like?’
‘Umm, it’s wood, stands about as tall as I am… the tip goes like swish and then pow. It looks like a normal stick at a glance, but there’s a scarlet crystal embedded in the very top.’
‘Your height, a normal stick, a crystal…’

*BREAK*

Just a little. Just a little more.
Kagurai-senpai had stopped teasing, she was giving correct orders—meaning the same orders Orino-san gave, so I was able to move swiftly.
I gripped the stick in my hands… a stick with a nice feel I picked up outside the guest house.

*BREAK*

‘K-Kurisu… isn’t it… that?’
‘Heh? Huh…’

*BREAK*

“”That’s it!””

Orino-san and Kagurai-senpai’s voices overlapped. All or nothing, I lowered the wooden stick towards the watermelon.

“UWOOOOOAAAAAH!”

*BREAK*

‘My staaaaaaaafffffff!’

*BREAK*

The blow with all my body weight behind it brilliantly collided with the watermelon. The sensation conveyed to my hands wasn’t that of smashing into the sand. I could tell.
Finally, I thought. The moment of impact, I got the feeling some unknown power concentrated in the wooden stick, but it was surely my imagination.
The next instant—

*BREAK*

Something exploded.

*BREAK*

“U-uwaaaaah!”

Liquid slathered all over my body, sending me falling on my backside.
I frantically pulled off the blindfold—to find the watermelon blasted all over.
Its green skin was strewn around, the red contents radiating about the white sands.
W-whaaaaat?
What just happened?
T-the watermelon… became dirty fireworks…

“… I-I was a quest-class bomb user…?”

While my mouth began running in my confusion, Kikyouin-san wandered over to me. She looked over my watermelon-covered form as she spoke in monotone.

“Oh no, this is a disaster. It looks like that watermelon was an exploding watermelon.”
“E-exploding watermelon…? You’re telling me such a weapon-like fruit exists?”
“Course it does. I’m sure it’s from the country one over.”
“Y-yeah…”

Come to think of it, maybe I saw it on the news. Something about grown hormones and expansion… apparently, the watermelon we used for melon smashing was an exploding watermelon. What terrible luck.

“Hey, Kurisu, is it alright?”

Finished dealing with me, Kikyouin-san called over to Kurisu-chan.
She was sullenly embracing the stick I used for the melon.

“Urgh… m-my staff… it reeks of watermelon……”

Well, like that, the melon-smashing ended as a failure.

*BREAK*

For dinner, we all surrounded a hot pot.
In the guest house’s first-floor tatami dining room, atop the portable gas stove on the square table, the pot simmered and seethed.
We were the only guests of Guesthouse Sunflower at present; using the grand dining hall for large groups or large banquets with just the five of us was a bit of a lonely experience, but I decided not to mind it.
Once the pot was ready, it seemed that Orino-san’s hot-pot shogun switch was flipped as, “Kagurai-senpai, quit hogging the meat, and eat some vegetables as well.”
“Mmm…”
“Kurisu-chan, how about some mushrooms too? They’re tasty.”
“Urgh… I-I mean, they’re all mushy and stringy.”
“Kikyouin-san, don’t use your chopsticks on raw meat. You’ll get a stomach ache again.”
“Kuh… you stab where it hurts.”

Thanks to her direction of everyone’s hotpot needs, we were able to have a tasty meal.
The hot-pot shogun generally takes on a negative connotation, but in actuality, with hotpots, yakiniku, okonomiyaki, and other foods everyone eats together, it’s actually a lot easier with someone properly directing.

“By the way, Kikyouin-san.”

Where did she fit all that meat into her slender body… Kagurai-senpai’s momentum forced me to ponder as she abruptly raised her voice.

“It’s been bothering me for a while now…”
“What.”
“How long are you going to wear those sunglasses?”

Oh, someone finally brought it up.
Truthfully, it had been bothering me for a while now. “Someone’s going to point it out, surely,” I thought and ignored it, but as no one said anything, I had completely lost the right time.
I was sure we were going in the ‘let it slide’ direction, but as expected of Kagurai-senpai, the dignified authority on not reading the mood. She’ll shove in a retort at any time.

“D-does it really matter!? I’m free to do what I want!”

“Hmm.”

As Kikyouin-san panicked, Kagurai-senpai formed a malicious smile, “Aaah!” she cried out, pointing into the distance.
The moment everyone’s attention was directed that way—she made her move.
Circling behind Kikyouin-san’s opening-ridden body, she stuck her arms into her pits and got her into a nelson hold.

“Hey! What are you doin’, Kagurai! Let go of me! Seriously, let go!”

Kikyouin-san squirmed and kicked, but the hand of evil wouldn’t let her escape.

‘Kagoshima, now!’

Kagurai-senpai’s eyes flashed at me.

‘Roger!’

I immediately returned the eye contact and sprung into action.
Perhaps it’s sad that our first coordinated effort as president and vice president of the ComClub was this malicious. I got the feeling Kikyouin-san was going to be pissed later, but let’s just go with the flow. At these sort of drunk circles (though no one’s drinking), most things are permitted.
I smoothly snatched away Kikyouin-san’s sunglasses.

“……”

For a few seconds, silence ruled the space.

“… P-pfff.”

Another few seconds and snickers leaked from Orino-san and Kurisu-chan, who had taken on the peanut gallery position of, “We’re not going to stop you, but we don’t support your actions.”

“Ahahahah! As I thought! You got reverse pandified!”

Circling to the front of the pinned Kikyouin-san, Kagurai-senpai laughed loudly without restraint.

*BREAK*

image.jpg*BREAK*

“Gu…h.”

Kikyouin-san grit her teeth, covering up her reverse-pandified eyes. With just how beautifully pale her skin was originally, the white around her eyes really stood out.

“Hahahahah. It’s because you tried to act cool wearing something like sunglasses. Ahahahahah.”
“I-I mean… I never thought I’d tan this much…”

Her first time at the beach, it looks like she didn’t know her own constitution was prone to suntan. And today, she had learned first-hand the scariness of ultraviolet radiation.

“K-Kagoshima-kun,” Orino-san tugged at my clothes.
“I feel bad for her if she laughs that much. Go stop Kagurai-senpai.”
“Orino-san… Mm, but you know, the way I see it, these sorts of things are best sent off with a laugh.”
“Oh……? R-really?”
“Yeah. If we keep mindful of her, it’ll just make Kikyouin-san conversely mindful of us. Just writing it off with a laugh is best, surely.”
“… Sure enough, I do get that feeling…”
“Right? So laugh with all you’ve got, and make a good memory of it.”
“I see. Yeah, you’re right.”

Orino-san and I pointed at Kikyouin-san simultaneously, “”Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahah! Lame!”” we burst into laughter.
No, I mean, it was funny.
Telling me not to laugh? No way, no way.
What’s more, her sunglasses were in that dragonfly shape so the white spread a considerable radius. It was super intriguing.

“……”

The reverse panda’s face went bright red as she silently started to shake.
Ah, this is bad.
It’s about time she snapped.
I’m constantly getting her to snap day by day, so I can tell. Just as I thought at the very least I could evacuate myself to a safe area,

“L-like you’re any better!”

The reverse panda pointed at the loudly laughing Kagurai-senpai and shouted. While her face was bright red, a sinister flame blazed in her eyes.

*BREAK*

“I’m not the one who brought along a box of condoms!”

*BREAK*

“Bbffh! H-hac ha. H-hey, wai, wha wha…”

At the unexpected counterattack, Kagurai-senpai gave a grand choke.

“You even distributed them to all the girls!”
“G-guh….”
“To hell with, ‘A woman’s got to protect her own body’! You seriously creeped me out! You tried to act like a senpai and slipped and fell, you pervert!”
“I-I mean, girl… the summer ocean is full of danger. If any mistakes were made with a summer’s love, there’s no going back…”
“Not happenin’! Your knowledge is just inclined in a crazy direction!”
“In the games I play, when it comes to the sea, in most cases, i-it gets to that! Outside no less! In the shadow of the rocks!”
“Then you’re playing the wrong games!”
“Guh… a-anyways, Kikyouin-san. That talk was supposed to be over with yesterday… I said it, didn’t I? ‘You definitely can’t let Kagoshima know’ I said.”
“Hmph! No clue what you’re talking about.”

An interesting reversal of attack and defense.
A triumphant Kikyouin-san, and a bitter Kagurai-senpai.
It looks like where I wasn’t looking… meaning in the girls’ room, there was a bit of a controversy last night. No, how should I say it, yeah?
Girls have it hard.

“… Hm. You say that, Kikyouin, but you still took it!”
“Wha! Wron-! That’s… how am I even supposed to return that?”
“… And let’s not stop there!”

After laying Kikyouin-san with a stroke of the sword, Kagurai-senpai slowly turned her head around, towards Orino-san and Kurisu-chan.

“In the end, each and every one of you took it!”

At that unforeseen spark, Orino-san and Kurisu-chan choked.
… But they really were having fun in that other room.
When I fell right asleep.

“K-k-Kagurai-senpai and Kikyouin-sanpai. Please don’t drag us into your fight…”
“Kuuurriiiiisssuuuu.”

Reverse-panda Kikyouin-san creased the pure-white area around her eyes to form an ill-spirited smile.

“Come to think of it, yesterday night, you were doing some strange exercises in the bathroom. I saw it by chance, see. Those were definitely exercises to enlarge your chest!”
“W-w-why are you exposing that!?”

Her efforts to overcome her complex over her body disclosed, Kurisu-chan cried out.

“U-urk… you’re terrible, Kikyouin-senpai.”
“Hmph. It’s your fault for doing something like that at the training camp.”
“I mean, it takes three days to recover from one day spent slacking off, it said in the book…”
“No, then the book got it wrong.”
“B-but! I don’t want to hear it from you alone!”

Was Kurisu-chan really going on the counteroffensive?
At that unexpected development, Kikyouin-san was slightly taken aback.

“Orino-senpai and Kagurai-senpai are a different story, but if one had to say, Kikyouin-senpai, you’re on the smaller side! You’re with me! We’re comrades!”
“Hah!? Don’t group me with you! We’re in no ways alike!”
“We’re together on the spectrum.”
“Don’t spectrum me!”
“If I’m going to get half-baked breasts like you, I’d rather stay small!”
“H-half-baked!?”
“I’ll have to start calling you Ms. Mediocre.”
“Guhah! What a humiliating ring!”
“… Mn? Huh… in the first place, doesn’t the fact you could tell I was doing breast enlargement exercises from just a glance mean you did something similar…”
“AaaaAAaaaah! Silence! Quiet, quiet!”

Oh pitiful Kikyouin-san, who picked a fight with her junior and got shot down.

“Kagoshima-kun…”

Orino-san called out to me softly and whispered in my ear.

“I-I’m going to run away while I can, can you let me through… at this rate,”
“You’re not getting away, Orinooo.”

As Orino-sensed the danger and tried to flee, her angles were grasped by a firm and dark shadow.

“I won’t let you be the only one to get out unscathed…”

Clad in a muddy black aura, Kagurai-senpai had become the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep of Cthulhu mythology.
Her eyes said this.
We all die together.

“E-eeep.”
“Orinoo. Backtracking a bit, you haaappily accepted the condom I brought, didn’t you?”
“Urgh… b-but everyone accepted it… I’m not the odd one out.”
“Yes, you’re right about that. But you are the only one who secretly came to me later with questions on how to use it!”
“—-! K-Kagurai-senpai, that was a secret…”
“’These things have a front and back, right? How are you supposed to tell.’”
“Eck.”
“’Umm… w-when you put this on… i-i-is it better to do it with your mouth?’”
“Erk.”
“’S-so anyways… umm, when I was playing around with it, the bag broke, so if possible, could you give me another?’ Just how interested are you, you closet pervert!”
“Urrrrgh! A-acting so high and mighty, Kagurai-senpai, you couldn’t even answer a single one of my questions! When you’re usually playing all those strange games, you haven’t learned anything practical!”
“S-say that again! I dare you!”

… Well, like that.
The four girls cut at each other only to be cut down themselves, an ugly bout of offense and defense unfolded.
Generally speaking, everyone here is a good kid. So none of them were used to showing contempt. That was precisely why whenever they tried to attack, they would dig their own grave.
Unable to beat down their opponent from a safety zone, they were constantly taking swipes with a double-edged sword.
What’s more, each and every blow bore outrageous damage.
Watching over the strife from a little away, I could only make a dry smile.

“……”

But—my heart felt just a little warm.
They really are all getting along.
What was flying around for a while now wasn’t backbiting, it was insults.
Being able to trade insults is proof you know the other person well, and proof that you trust them. This was a gathering of exceptionally busy people, so we rarely ever did anything together… even so, like this, bit by bit, it looks like our bonds are deepening.
They really look like they’re having fun. Making noise with friends like the sort of high school girl you could find anywhere.
With such a truly serene heart, I stood from my seat at ease—

“You ain’t gonna tie this up with a pretty bow!”

I couldn’t stand.
The second I tried, Kikyouin-san pulled the cushion from under my feet, sending me into a brilliant tumble. Something grabbed my feet from behind, dragging me kicking and screaming into the center of the battlefield.
… Girls are scary.

*BREAK*

After using the communal bath, dressing in a Yukata and returning to my room, my fatigue hit me like a truck.

“M-my legs are, crap…”

Laying out a futon, I threw myself right down. Enervation was starting to come out all over my body, it was especially terrible around my legs. My calves and thighs were screaming out.
I’m paying the price for my usual lack of exercise, definitely.
I somehow managed to put on a bluff in front of everyone, but I was at my limit.

“Rather, it’s that… those four have way too much energy.”

It’s not like we’re part of a sports club, but everyone is way too amazing.

“Heeey.”

As I lay out over the futon, a voice came from beyond the sliding screen.

“Kagoshima. Can I come in?”

It was Kagurai-senpai. After sitting myself up, “Go ahead,” I permitted her entry.
A little time lapsed and the screen slowly slid open.

“What’s wrong? Didn’t the girls head for the bath?”

Guesthouse Sunflower was a small place, and there wasn’t a separate bath for men and women. It was on a system where it changed between a men’s bath or a women’s bath at the designated time.
Despite that, it was an open-air bath so I don’t really get it, but putting that aside; when I got out, I was sure I passed by the girls.

“I got out early. The others are still inside.”

Fresh out of the bath, Kagurai-senpai was in a yukata. Just like mine, it was the simple one provided in the room, but when she wore it, the piece looked strangely stylish.
To put it cordially, ‘bewitching’, and to put it low brow, ‘kinda sexy’.

“Even so, it’s not like you to properly ask before entering a room. For a moment there, I didn’t know who it was.”

When I spouted some cynicism, “Ah, y-yeah…” she returned an inarticulate answer.
“I’ve got a lot on my mind too…”

She said softly, her eyes wandering here and there.

*BREAK*

“I thought there’d be trouble… if I caught you… tinkering with your hard drive.”

*BREAK*

“Who’s tinkering, idiot!”

I retorted so hard I broke character.
Just what was this senpai saying with that red face!?
Ah, I see. So that’s why there was a bit of time between my, “Go ahead” and her entry!

“I-I mean… today you burned our swimsuited bodies amply into your eyes, right? What’s more, the girls are in the bath. When all that’s going on, if the man’s alone in his room, I thought he might get excited, so I showed some consideration…”
“I don’t need that consideration!”
“In the games I play, when the man is going at it alone in his room, the girl generally spots him… and from there, bit by bit…”
“That’s a game, ain’t it!”

Good grief. The troubling part is how instead of playing dumb, she actually sounds relatively serious. It’s not like Kagurai-senpai tells dirty jokes to tease, her oversensitive response to vulgar topics just ends up as a dirty joke.
I don’t think she was like this when we first met, but… just what could have turned her into a person so susceptible to them?
Hmm…
I’ve got no clue.

“So in the end, what did you come for?”

In that awkward air, I spoke somewhat tiredly.

“Ah, right, right. Right. That’s right… i-it’s not like I came here to see you transfer software into hardware, you hear!”
“I know!”

When I was trying to move on from that already! When I thought I had made perfect use of the single syllable, ‘So’ the most appropriate word to change a topic!

“I thought I’d discuss tomorrow’s plans with you again.”
“Tomorrow…”

The ComClub’s training camp was planned for three nights, four days. The first day, or rather the zeroeth day ended just with reaching our lodging, and on the last day, we planned to leave as soon as we ate breakfast.
So today and tomorrow were the only days we could have any real activities.
Today was practically over already… that left tomorrow.
Today—meaning the first day only had, ‘play at the beach’ planned, but two consecutive beach days would be harsh. So we needed to polish up a plan.

“Right, then let’s go over it again. We’re vice president and president, for argument’s sake.”
“What do you mean, argument’s sake, huh?”

Prodded a bit by Kagurai-senpai, I took the map and memo pad from my back.
Kagurai-senpai and I kneaded the plan for tomorrow. The bus and commute times to get to nearby sightseeing spots, we had already completed various preliminary evaluations.

“Yeaaah. Don’t you think we should buy a few more fireworks?”
“I think we have enough, but if you insist, I’ll find a time to slip out and buy them tomorrow.”

Like that, the two of us held a meeting.
At first, the meeting was held as a final check, but as we talked, improvements and changes began to surface. Not like that, not like this, in the midst of our conversation, Kagurai-senpai returned to her room and came back with her personal laptop. Unlike my analog ways, Kagurai-senpai stored all her notes digitally.

“Huh? Isn’t that Gakuta-kun…”

The PC was connected to Gakuta-kun. Various cables extending from it pierced into the stuffed animal’s back.

“He wasn’t attached to your phone, so I was sure you left him behind, but you brought him after all.”

She really can never let go of her dolls, how heartwarming, I mused as Kagurai-senpai placed the computer and Gakuta-kun on the table, “No,” she shook her head.

“Gakuta’s keeping house. His personality data’s been extracted, so this is just an empty shell.”

She said something I didn’t really get.
I wonder if that meant she didn’t feel like doing ventriloquism this time.

“Thanks to a certain someone, Gakuta’s body was smashed up the other day. It’s currently being repaired.”
“Guh…”

That certain someone was me, so I shut my mouth.
I didn’t get why a computer was necessary to repair a stuffed animal, but I’m sure that had to do with the complex setting Kagurai-senpai had in her head.

“I wanted to finish repairs before training camp began. But thanks to ComClub activities, I couldn’t find the time.”
“ComClub activities…? A-ah, I see.”

Come to think of it, we were the Computer Club.
I’d completely forgotten. When we were gathering members, she said, “I’ll take care of all the ComClub duties on my own,” and true to her words, it looks like she was properly carrying them out.

“But specifically speaking, what do the ComClub’s activities entail?”
“What? I just normally write up programs and submit them to student-oriented events and contests. As long as I get proper results, I don’t get any complaints from the school’s side.”
“Hmm.”
“But when I made an artificial intelligence and sent it in the other day, there was a bit of a ruckus.”
“… Senpai, you can program AI?”

I’m not bright in that field, so I don’t really know, but was an AI something a single high schooler could make?

“I managed to switch it out for something else before the ruckus grew into anything big, but… that ‘AMLO’ was a satisfying build. Even without a human giving orders, it’ll arbitrarily read their thoughts and autonomously take action, the assistant robot of dreams… Hrm. It’s not easy to purposely lower your level.”
“……”

I felt like I was hearing about a different world and, “Anyways, moving on, moving on,” Kagurai-senpai changed the topic as if it was nothing at all, gazing at her computer screen as she exchanged words. At times, Gakuta-kun’s bodies would let off a bright flash, in the corner of the screen, “Repair Rate 72%. Damage detected in abdominal storage medium,” the message displayed, but I decided not to pay it any mind.
Just like that, about twenty minutes passed by, and as the talks were finally getting together,

“… It sure is fun.”

Softly.
Kagurai-senpai said it as if talking to herself.

“Fun. It really is fun.”
“What are you saying, all of a sudden?”
“What’s this, Kagoshima. You’re not having fun?”
“No, of course, I’m having fun too.”

But when she said that so suddenly, I didn’t know how to respond.

“Today really was fun. Making a ruckus at the beach with everyone, picking at a hot pot, laughing over stupid things, arguing over even stupider things… it was all a first for me.”
“Is that so…?”
“Yeah.”

With a nod, and a small laugh.
But for some reason her smile… looked far too lonely.

“I’ve really taken a liking to these members.”
“……”
“Orino’s an oppai, Kurisu’s a loli, Kikyouin’s a tsundere, and Kagoshima’s an idiot.”
“Oy.”

Another character-breaking retort.
No, but still, that was something appropriate to retort at.
She was in danger of blowing away the sorrowful air right there.

“… What’s wrong, Kagurai-senpai? The training camp isn’t over yet. You should save that heart-to-heart air for the last night.”
“Haha. You’re right, my bad… it’s just, when I think of how we’ll have to part eventually, I get quite the lonesome feeling.”
“Eh? W-what do you mean part?”
“Well of course we’ll part. I’m a third year, you know? I’m going to graduate earlier than the rest of you.”
“A-ah, so that’s what you meant…”

That was a surprise. Since she suddenly came out with ‘parting,’ I wondered what she was talking about.

“There’s still a way to go before graduation…”

I said.
I couldn’t stand to see her, looking a few sizes smaller than usual.

“And, l-look. It’s not like graduation means a lifetime parting. We have email and twitter these days, so we can get in contact as much as we want, and if we ever want to meet, it’ll work itself out…”

Kagurai-senpai… didn’t say anything. She closed her eyes and linked her lips in a straight line.
The silence seeping into the room threw my heart into disarray.
Sad, and miserable, and tantalized to boot.
Why is it so, Kagurai-senpai?
Why are you showing such a weak form to me so suddenly…

“Yeah!”

As I stayed without a word, Kagurai-senpai forcefully stood and hit her hands together.

“Forget what I just said. That was my bad. Got a little sentimental there, don’t worry about it!”
“… Kagurai-senpai.”
“Now then, the others should be out of the bath by now. I’m returning to the room. When the girls are done drying their hair, I’ll come get you again. Let’s all go get some ice cream together.”

Severing her energetic voice, she turned her back to me and walked off. With her taking on such a clear attitude of rejection, I couldn’t pursue it any further.

*BREAK*

After that, we spent our time eating ice cream and playing cards.
Before we went to sleep, Kurisu-chan clung to me in tears, “Oh noooo! The rhinoceros beetles are swarming around my staff! Kagoshima-senpai, please get them off! W-whoah! Lots of bugs I’ve never seen before!” and we had a bit of a tussle, but, well, it wasn’t much.
I returned to my room, and by the time I got under the covers, it was around eleven.
We still had tomorrow, I can’t stay awake forever.
The girls got up early today morning, so I’m sure they’ll sleep soon without much play.

“It was a fun day.”

I muttered earnestly under the covers.
From the depths of my heart, I was glad I came. I had to give my thanks to Tsuchimikado.
It looked like everyone was satisfied, and at present, the training camp was a huge success.
It’s just…

“… Kagurai-senpai.”

She was still on my mind.
Graduation.
The word remained in a corner of my mind.
Pitiful as it may be, up until this very day, I had completely forgotten the fact that Kagurai-senpai would graduate before us… no rather than forgot, it never hit me.
That was because she didn’t behave very senpai-ish (rude of a thought as it is), but also perhaps because I myself never wanted to consider we might part someday.
There’s nothing in this world that never changes.
So we will change, and following along, our place and relation will change as well.
Time passes by.
We can’t remain high schoolers forever.
We’ll have… to graduate.

Reality was never ‘Sazae-san’ or ‘Kochikame’.
It was always ‘Lucky☆Star’ and ‘K-On!’.

Without repeating the same days forever, we must mature and grow with the years.
But… the desire to stay this way forever exists after all.
The fear of change.
It surely finds a place in everyone’s heart.

“……”

As I drowsily thought over such notions, my consciousness slipped into darkness. The first day of training camp was over.

 

↽Back Title Next⇀

 

3 Responses to Chapter 1: Training Camp

  1. Muhtar Lutfi says:

    Seven percent of the earth’s surface is water. (Seventy)

    sending my falling on my backside. (me)

    we all surrounded a hit pot. (hot)

    Kikyouin-san grit her teach, (teeth)

    each and everyone one of you took it! (every)

    The bus and commute times tog et to nearby sightseeing spots, (to get)

    Like

  2. Reaper Phoenix says:

    Thanks 4 the chapter!

    Orino…
    She’s preparing for battle. Maybe she even brought her victory underwear.

    Like

  3. habib1100 says:

    Thanks for doing this chapter!😊😇

    Like

So, what's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s