Classroom of the Elite Volume 12 Chapter 2 Part 4
Later on, during the lunch break, Horikita called me out to the hallway after I finished eating.
“I want to talk about something that isn’t suitable for the classroom. By talking out here, we’ll know if someone is listening in on us.”
“So? Does it have to do with the new special exam?”
“Yes. Chabashira-sensei said that this new special exam will be considerably difficult. It’ll be problematic for the academically weaker students, but it’s an ideal setting for our competition.”
She must’ve intended to get our personal business out of the way first, so she started with that.
During the spring break, Horikita and I had promised something to each other. Namely, that we’d compete to see who got the higher score in one subject of a written exam. If I won, Horikita would join the Student Council, and if she won, I’d use, without reservation, the abilities I’d been hiding this past year for the benefit of our class. They had announced that even students with an A rating in Academic Ability would struggle to get more than 90 points. With an exam that difficult, we wouldn’t botch the competition with a draw because both of us got perfect scores.
“I trust you have no complaints?”
She wanted to confirm that I had no objections to settling it with the next written exam.
As there was no point in dragging it out any longer, I naturally agreed with her.
“That’s great. Then, let’s move on to the next topic.”
Satisfied with the reaffirmation of our agreement, she took out her phone.
Then, she launched the OAA app we had installed just this morning.
“I looked up the number of students in the first year with Academic Ability ratings of a B or higher. There are 17 in Class A, 13 in B, 13 in C, and 11 in D.”
54 in total. A reasonable percentage, you could say.
“There are 4 students in our class that have an E rating in Academic Ability. Make that 12 if you include those with D ratings. There should be more than enough firepower available amongst all the first-years to cover for them.”
“The question then becomes, how many of the first-year honor students can we draw to our side?”
Even though there were 54 of them, they would inevitably be hotly contested. The slightest opening could lead to all of them getting snatched away from us.
“Yes. The class that ends up with the most of those 54 students will naturally have an advantage. On the other hand, the class that ends up with the students with a D+ or lower will be at a disadvantage.”
The app they just introduced to us was packed with extremely useful functionality.
The class that made the best use of it would probably have the best chance of coming out on top.
“Sakayanagi-san, Ryūen-kun, and even Ichinose-san. Odds are that they’ll all make their first move today.”
Of all the leaders, Class A’s Sakayanagi would probably go on the attack straight away.
Thanks to the fact that her class had the fewest number of students who weren’t confident in their academic abilities, the only thing she had to do was entice the smarter first-year students over to her side. The overall stability of Class A was easy to see with just a glance at the app, even for the new students. If they worked together, they could rake in the rewards for the top scorers all in one go.
Meanwhile, that simply wasn’t an option we had available to us.
“First and foremost, we need to prioritize helping our classmates with Ds or Es get paired up with higher ranking students.”
Horikita nodded lightly in agreement.
“I won’t say it’s perfect or anything, but I tried making a list for who we should prioritize finding partners for. Either way, I think we need to start by taking care of Sudō-kun first.”
“Hold on. It’s true that Sudō was given an E in Academic Ability, but is that really the case?”
Sudō’s grades were so horrendous when he first enrolled here that he had received an E rating as a result.
However, in the latter half of his first year, his academic performance slowly began to improve.
In other words, his current abilities were probably better than what was reflected for him by the school.
“Right… He’s certainly grown by leaps and bounds compared to how he was before. Even during spring break, he spent his time studying in order to make up for the stuff he missed earlier in the year.”
“Were you tutoring him the entire time?”
“Of course not. I don’t have the time to keep him company every day. He’s already learned how to study by himself to a certain extent. I just checked in on his progress every so often and gave him feedback on how he was doing.”
I thought Sudō was only studying due to Horikita, but this was an honestly admirable development.
“To be honest, Sudō-kun is at a slightly higher level in my book… When I compare him to other students, I feel like he’s between a D and D+.”
Of course, this was nothing more than optimistic speculation.
However, as someone who knew just how Sudō was a year ago, he had indeed matured quite a lot.
“If I’m not mistaken, Sudō used to panic a lot more when he heard about a new special exam. I’d expected him to be upset this time, but he was pretty composed instead.”
Then again, he did make quite a fuss about losing to Kōenji in the Social Contribution category.
“You think his Academic Ability ratings are above a D, and yet you placed him above Ike in priority on your list?”
“His personality and outward appearance had a large role to play in that. What he said this morning about how he’s heavy-handed with the newbies in the basketball club had a part to play in it too.”
Apparently, it seemed like she wasn’t being partial to Sudō after all. She had reached this conclusion after properly analyzing all the factors.
“If you were a first-year student who knew nothing about any of the second-years… who would you find it easier to pair with, Ike-kun or Sudō-kun? Considering that, on the surface, they both have the same rating.”
“Well, it would have to be Ike.”
The combination of Sudō’s tall stature, red hair, and harsh tone of voice gave off a terrifying impression.
If I had to pair up with someone at their academic level, I’d prefer to go with Ike, who was easier to deal with.
“Nevermind finding a partner that would compensate for his lack of academic skills, it’d probably be difficult to find him a willing partner in the first place.”
This was the exact reason why she chose him as the student she wanted to sort everything out for first.
“Got it. If possible, we want to get him paired up with a first-year with at least a B- in Academic Ability, right?”
“Yes. I think he’ll definitely make it through that way. I’d like to get moving as soon as possible, so will you help?”
“Help? I don’t think there’s anything I can do, though.”
“Just stay by my side and tell me what you think. Having someone I can trust close by would be great.”
“So, you’re saying that you trust me?”
“I trust you the most out of our classmates who act independently.”
With the way she phrased it, I couldn’t tell if she trusted me much or not…
“Or, perhaps sparing even a single minute from your studies makes you worried about losing your match with me?”
Her provocation was rather counterproductive.
It was like she had given me a perfect excuse to avoid helping her. All I had to do was say that I was worried and study in my room.
“I’m very worried about─”
Just as I was about to gratefully take advantage of that excuse, my cell phone vibrated.
It was because Ichinose Honami, the leader of Class 2-B, had posted a message in the global chat the school had provided for us in the app. The message was─
[I have been given permission to host a meet-and-greet for the first and second-year students in the gym today from 4:00 to 5:00 PM. If you can spare the time, please feel free to join!]
This message was undoubtedly a lifesaver for the students who had been racking their brains about how to make contact with the first-years.
“As expected of Ichinose-san. She acted with due consideration for everyone, not just her own class.”
Although it’s unclear just how many students would attend, it’d be safe to assume that there would be a decent turnout.
It was more than possible that some people might establish partnerships on the spot.
However, instead of joy, a hint of frustration could be seen on Horikita’s face.
Perhaps she had been planning a similar strategy.
“What’s wrong? The special exam only just started, you know.”
“Yes, you’re right. It seems like our first order of business has been decided for us.”
By that, she must mean participating in this meet-and-greet after school.
And before I knew it, I was being roped into helping her out.
Well, I suppose it’s not that bad if I’m just keeping her company…
It seemed Horikita knew exactly what I was thinking, as she looked me in the eyes like she was testing me.
“Alright, I’ll go.”
“Oh? You’re actually going to lend a hand? I thought you’ve been avoiding me lately, but… you’ve become awfully cooperative, haven’t you?”
Brazenly imposing on me like this despite being aware that I’ve been avoiding her was really quite the feat.
“I was just thinking of taking a closer look and seeing what kind of strategy you come up with.”
“I see. It was premature of me to say you’d be cooperative.”
Even so, Horikita seemed to be willing to accept this, relatively satisfied with me coming as a compromise. This was all just as front, however, as this was an exam where I had no other choice but to take action myself in order to survive. Acting together with Horikita simply made a bunch of things easier.
“In which case, you can just treat what I say next as though I’m talking to myself. While it’s true that our primary goal here is to get students like Sudō-kun and Ike-kun over the finish line, competition between outstanding students is one of the fundamental principles of this special exam. So naturally, we have to pay close attention to the movements of Ryūen-kun and Sakayanagi-san… That is to say, we have to pay close attention to their strategies.”
Although what she was saying was obvious, the Horikita of the past wouldn’t have thought it through to this point.
She would’ve focused solely on helping Sudō and the rest of her class survive, neglecting to pay any attention to her enemies’ strategies.
This time, however, she was being very cautious from the start.
“Of course, at this point, there’s no way to know what kind of tricks those two will pull. That being said, I believe private points will play a key role in their strategies.”
Private points, or in other words, money. Horikita believed that, in this school, the power of private points spoke for itself. For the time being, there was no common factor connecting the first and second-year students. This meant that using private points would be the best way to quickly settle discussions with them.
“I don’t know how much financial power Class A and Class C have right now, but if it turns into a competition over the excellent students, they might very well take up the strategy of just buying them outright.”
“Right. Private points will be the easiest thing to understand as far as the first-year students are concerned.”
Anybody could imagine the process of taking private points and exchanging them for the assistance of students with study skills. Though, if you irresponsibly used piles of money to fight this battle, you’d probably run out of private points in the blink of an eye. This was especially true for us in Class D as we had a sluggish financial situation for the past year. It was incredibly obvious that the amount of private points we had, our financial power, was significantly lower than that of the other classes.
“Under normal circumstances, we should invest our funds to secure a fixed number of students for ourselves as well.”
The reason I said this was because, fundamentally, the only way to fight money is with more money. We had to play the money game, asking ourselves who can stack the bills higher.
However, the fact that Horikita seemed frustrated about the message Ichinose posted in the global chat earlier must mean…
“Let’s start by scouting out the meet-and-greet. I can take action if the opportunity presents itself, but I have no intention to rush things. Are you fine with that?”
It seemed like she still hadn’t settled on a course of action herself, as she didn’t say anything further than that.
“As an aside, Ayanokōji-kun. Can I safely assume that you’ll find yourself a partner on your own?”
“Would you find me one if I asked you to?”
“Objectively speaking, your Academic Ability rating is a C, so it pretty much doesn’t matter who you pair up with. It should be easy enough for me to take care of while I’m at it, though.”
“Well then, I’ll reach out to you if I’m in trouble.”
If a first-year student decides to pair with Horikita or Yōsuke, I could rule out the possibility of them being from the White Room. It wouldn’t be impossible for me to reach out just before the pairing is finalized and switch places with them. However, if my opponent knew all about this ahead of time, it was also possible that they might predict that I’d choose to do that if I’m in trouble. Since I’d have to watch out for them outmaneuvering me, it’d be hard to say that this would definitively keep me in the clear. Furthermore, the first-year student who decided to pair up with Horikita or Yōsuke wouldn’t be very happy with having me replace them, so they probably wouldn’t accept the change very easily either.
“It’d be better if you didn’t take your time with it. It’s not like there’s nothing to be worried about. The 5% penalty for running out of time won’t come cheap.”
While I didn’t intend to take too long with it, I was concerned about the student who had come from the White Room.
There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that they had blended in with the first-year students.
Hello! This is the end of Chapter 2. Chapter 3’s introduction should come out relatively soon. I had previously thought Chapter 3 was much longer than it really is. To be fair, it’s over twice the length chapter 2 was, but it’s a bit more manageable for the first two parts. My release ETA for the introduction is 1-2 days. Please look forward to it and thank for reading.