Wednesday, November 28th, 2063
Because his team was scheduled to fight today, Student Council President Fuji Uchita was given the day off class to prepare. Until their fight at 9 PM, all three members of Team 99 were free to use their time as they so pleased, like getting some practice going.
At around 1 PM, Fuji Uchita finally had the chance to look at today’s program, only to realize he should have done it sooner. While his squad would fight on primetime television, another fight caught his attention. Tatsu Jin’s Team 27 was scheduled for 6 PM in the Beta Stadium.
Fuji Uchita could not help but think about how Tatsu Jin now had no choice but to fight seriously. Throughout the entire afternoon, the Student Council President ended up daydreaming about the infinite possibilities that the transfer student represented for his future goals. However, he tried his best to hide these thoughts from his team.
Meanwhile, it was impossible for two third-year Elite Magic Academy students to not recognize such a simple pattern. Fuji Uchita’s footwork, which was usually a symbol of his mental and physical fortitude, was clearly sloppier than normal.
With a simple nod, they placed themselves accordingly to press on this weakness, almost securing the down. The Student Council President woke up at the last second, balancing his body enough to dodge and dash backward. For the first time in forever, a pearl of sweat appeared on his forehead.
Following this session, the Student Council President asked for a little time to rest and think. At that moment, Fuji Uchita was deliberating on whether or not it would be acceptable to leave his two partners to satisfy his own desire: finally get the see if the hopes he had placed onto Tatsu Jin were worth it.
He was looking straight towards one of his two teammates: the Elite Magic Academy Vice President. This blond-haired woman was also Fuji Uchita’s second. She ended up helping him quite a bit with Class-1A leadership, especially when the students were giving him a hard time.
When 5:50 PM hit, Fuji Uchita decided this was a risk worth taking.
– I know this is irresponsible, but I REALLY need to go.
– I had a feeling something was wrong. Your footwork was all over the place.
At that exact moment, her smile was probably more effective than a million threats. She was playing with a silver coin in her hands while warning him about the consequences of his actions.
– If you go now, you better not bring this sloppy footwork with you tonight.
Only people close to her knew that, although known to radiate a kind of pure energy, she could act like a real demoness sometimes. This made Fuji Uchita laugh every time and today was no exception. After all, this was the exact reason he chose her to second him. On the other hand, his second teammate simply nodded. He seemed quite used to seeing his team leader answer the call of duty.
Fuji Uchita attached his five signature knives to his belt before running towards the exit. Most students acknowledged his passing with a smile or simple hand waves. He really did not want to miss the beginning of the fight, but still tried to at least smile at everyone.
When he reached the Center Garden, the Class-1A leader was five minutes away from the Beta stadium. After a few flights of stairs, Fuji Uchita finally entered the arena. Despite him being five minutes late, the fight had not started yet.
The Elite Academy Chairman gestured at him, showing that he had kept a seat for him. A bit out of breath, Fuji Uchita thanked his Chairman and finally sat.
– What did I… miss?
– Nothing. You know how much those guys love their ads.
The feeling of Tournament matches came right back to him. They were on a completely different level than Saturday Ranking matches. While in there, he could feel capture drones everywhere, capturing even the tiniest of details. The crowd added an immense pressure, that could either lift a fighter up or dig their grave.
Fuji Uchita remembered how unforgiving this stage was. To him, Tatsu Jin had nowhere to run now, as keeping abilities hidden in that environment was taking a humongous risk.
All capture drone focused on the announcer, who started to hype up the crowd.
– Are. You. Ready?!
The majority of the crowd answered his call from the bottom of their hearts. The announcer looked at his off-camera assistant, who gave him the positive signal. Then, a simple holographic display popped in front of his head.
– Before starting, I will be announcing the SPECIAL RULE spell categories. First, Team 14 decided to go for… Reinforcement Magic!
A thunderous wave of claps reverberated through the stadium. This startled the Student Council President, who never even experienced such an atmosphere. After looking around the stadium, he noticed that most students were not here to support fighters like they usually do.
They were here to see Tatsu Jin lose.
When the content of the holographic screen changed, the crowd calmed down a little, giving the announcer a perfect window of opportunity.
– Meanwhile, Team 27 went for… Flying Magic!
Fuji Uchita coughed in surprise.
– Pardon me?
Like everyone gathered here, he was in complete shock. The stadium went silent for some time. In the meantime, the spectators were chatting with one another, trying to make sense of this announcement. Fuji Uchita noticed that the Chairman was not fazed by the situation.
– You knew, don’t you? Isn’t Flying Magic too high of a tier for first-year students?
– It is, in the forms we know of it so far. But the world is vast, and Magic will keep on surprising you. Keep that intel to yourself, but I was there when Jin cast this Advanced-Class Flying Magic on that young lady.
Unfortunately, the crowd did not share this point of view. Some students, imprisoned by their bias, directly accused Team 27 of cheating. Only a small percentage of students evoked the possible involvement of a secret Magic spell.
While the crowd was indeed puzzled, nothing could possibly top Team 14’s bewilderment. Not in a million years they thought something like this could happen. Still, a young man wielding a shortsword managed to motivate them. To him, who appeared to be Team 14’s leader, this did not change their strategy too much.
The announcer finally broke the silence, asking them to take on their fighting stances. A countdown appeared on all Beta Stadium’s holographic screens. As the countdown hit zero, Fuji Uchita’s heart rate went through the roof.
– Show me what you got, Jin!
Once given the signal, Mia was the first to act, gracefully soaring into the sky. The bow wielder managed to get into position quite easily, because of how hard she trained.
Needless to say, Team 14 did not take a blind eye to this.
They, who have gathered intel about Mia’s previous fights, decided to challenge her for air supremacy. Among the three fighters, the Ice Magic specialist, who could freeze and melt ice to create platforms, was the obvious choice for such a task. The water he used came from a cylindrical tank attached to his waist.
After icing water into a platform, he used it as support to jump higher and repeated the process until he was finally in range. He was preparing for a final propulsion, aiming at dealing enough physical damage to take her down. To make sure he had enough close-combat firepower, Team 14 decided to use the SPECIAL RULE to enhance his strength.
In the eyes of many, Mia was both Team 27’s most dangerous asset, but also the easiest to deal with. Then, dealing with a three-against-two situation would give them an invaluable advantage.
They were all wrong. Mia’s new spell made her even more dangerous. As a matter of fact, Mia was already focused on casting. In the sky, she felt home and free, allowing her to move past her anxieties.
A light-blue Ether, the symbol of her signature spell, appeared on the outline of her body. But while it should have moved towards her hands, this time, the aura enveloped her entire body.
Adrenalin kicked in as Mia succeeded in casting her Medium-Class Lightning Shield Magic. Massive sparks of lightning appeared on the surface of her skin. Anyone getting close to her or touching her would receive a significant amount of lightning damage.
The young woman monitored the Ice Magic specialist and positioned herself in a favorable position. That way, his momentum died just after reaching her, making it easy for Mia to grab his arm.
Every inch of lightning entered the Ice Magic specialist’s body. All of his muscles immediately tensed up, and he fell from the sky, paralyzed. Even for the naturally enhanced bodies of magicians, hitting the ground from that far up was painful.
Mia’s hand was sculpting the form of an arrow, targeted at the one who tried to defy her. The stadium stood silent as a thin ray of lightning pierced through the arena.
Team 14 had lost its first magician by not being able to adapt to a new situation.
Fuji Uchita was really impressed at how effective these two Medium-Class Magic were in tandem with each other. He knew this Lightning Shield Magic was not going to serve her in the future, but right now, it made Mia a real pain to deal with. He turned to the Chairman, who nodded at Mia’s performance.
– Impressive, huh?
– As the Student Council President, I’m proud and impressed. But for all that’s sacred, why does he keep hiding his skills?!
– I have your new weapons. I stopped trying to figure out his endgame. I don’t have enough brainpower.
After Mia downed the Ice Magic specialist, the crowd turned its gaze to the transfer student. To the untrained eye, it seemed like the leader of Team 27 was doing his best. However, for those that had trained and fought a great deal, it was obvious that his blows were not targeting vital areas and lacked momentum.
His opponent, a Class-1C female fighter, used every bit of Magic she knew to gain an advantage. But despite her more powerful blows, her increased attack speed, and her Medium-Class Wind Blast Magic, she did not manage to create an opening.
She was facing the Master of All Magic, who considered himself an expert of Battle Magic. After Mia managed to deal a decisive blow, he simply considered that there was no need for him to really intervene. Instead, his only goal was to distract her long enough so that his teammate could finish her one-versus-one.
The showdown between Yumi and Team 14’s leader got the spectators more excited. Out of these two Class-1A students, the swordswoman was still ranked way higher. However, the latter offered a better-than-expected performance, with his shortsword getting dangerously close more than once.
Nevertheless, Yumi had been getting Tatsu Jin’s Support Magic, moving faster than him. But somehow, her enemy always managed to cross weapons and dodge her attempts at Fire Magic. Focusing her eyes on him, she quickly understood that he had scouted her own style.
Yumi made a hand signal, targeted at Mia. She backed down, letting the bow wielder cast a few Lightning Arrow Magic. Yumi was looking for an opening while watching the leader of Team 14 dodge Mia’s spells.
This was the perfect time for Yumi to introduce something new. Focusing Ether onto her weapon, she activated her sword’s enchantment before rushing in. A high-pitched noise reached her ears as the wind slowly gathered around her weapon.
After closing the distance, Yumi swung her blade with all of her strength. She managed to break his shortsword into two pieces, one of which flew towards the stadium. The Barrier Magic, which had been set up by the Archbishop’s team to protect the crowd, activated itself and stopped its momentum.
Meanwhile, Yumi had her sword extended toward her enemy’s throat.
Team 14’s leader looked at his last teammate with a defeated look on his face.
– We’re done. They’re way above us. We surrender.
Still, something was bothering him and he decided to let Yumi know.
– However, can you at least face Yoshida-san? I’ve just got my ass handed and my fair share of battle. She doesn’t deserve to be played for a fool…
Yumi looked at Tatsu Jin’s expression for a second. His neutral attitude sent her the message that this choice was hers. Moving into her regular battle position, Yumi was ready for her second showdown.
– Why not?
Casting multiple Fire Wave Magic in rapid succession, she aimed for extremely hard to deal with positions. Matching the rhythm of her casting, her female opponent used Wind Magic to redirect the flames behind her.
The idea of her fighting from a distance was so out of character that it made Yumi smile. She, who lived for close-quarters fights, loved how a simple mistake could be a synonym of defeat. But this time around, Yumi understood the value of patience. The swordswoman knew waiting with her weapon in hand was the right call.
The last fighter of Team 14 clearly noticed the sharpness of Yumi’s sword. Her staff would get completely obliterated in a clash of weapons. From there, her only solution was to deal direct blows. Going for the unexpected was the only option she could think of to achieve it.
They locked eyes for a few seconds, before the fighter surnamed Yoshida finally tried her last attempt. Before reaching Yumi, she reversed the grip on her staff and threw it at her with all her remaining strength.
Yumi, who had never thought of this possibility, managed to dodge it. However, the opening was made. She had let her left leg open for a low kick, and her opponent instantly took the opportunity. The swordswoman completely lost her balance, and her right knee hit the ground.
Nonetheless, Yumi had her sword pointed to her opponent’s chest, which the announcer took as the final blow.
– And the winner is… Team 27! The M.V.P is… Yumi Ohno, with two downs!
In a remote part of the Beta Stadium stood the Broadcasting Section.
Like any fancy television set, it was decorated with holographic screens and furniture. It was mainly used to produce post-fight analysis or even talk shows. In order to produce an entertaining program, the broadcast often shifted from one to the other.
To fill in the blanks before the primetime fight at 9 PM, the production team had looked for interesting guests. Because today’s fights were special, the Elite Magic Academy Chairman agreed to make an appearance. Furthermore, the World Eater had requested to fill in the second slot, for personal reasons he refused to disclose.
All around the studio reverberated the program’s musical theme, quickly followed by a question appearing on the main holographic screen.
What impressed you with Team 27’s fight today?
While the main screen was locked down on this question, all the others synchronized and showed replays of the fight’s key moments. It all began with Mia’s taking flight, which was the perfect cue for the World Eater. He looked at the Chairman as if to analyze his facial expression.
– Miss Hirano has the most potent destructive power in Team 27, but it needs a proper setup. That Flying Magic sure came in handy. It’s quite impressive, to say the least…
Jirou Otsuka knew focusing on the World Eater was a better marketing decision. After all, most spectators would be more interested in hearing his opinion. This is why the Chairman interacted briefly, to provide his guest with a transition to the next question.
– The selection of Yumi as the MVP was logical, considering how astute she was today in eliminating two fighters. What do you think was the most contributing factor to her performance today?
– Trust in her leader and his tactic. While most first-year students end up being a bit sloppy and unorganized, both of them had clear roles as vanguard and aerial support. But something intrigues me… What are you scheming with the transfer student?
Jirou Otsuka looked at the production crew, hoping that its leader would get him out of this situation. But when he saw him nod his head in excitement, the Chairman knew there was no way around it. With a smile and a nice hand gesture, he wanted to show a relaxed side of himself.
– I have no idea what you’re talking about. Can you maybe explain?
– Today’s fight was a masquerade, and as this academy’s leader, it should piss you off… but you’re calm and relaxed. How could that be?
The World Eater’s tone got firmer all of a sudden.
– Have you really done all you can to convince Tatsu Jin to take this seriously?
– I’ve got one question too. Have you tried to convince him yourself?!
The World Eater stopped tapping the right armrest of his chair with his finger. With his silence, the Chairman knew he had made the right move.
Jirou Otsuka gestured to his crew that the show was done. When he noticed that the World Eater was trailing him in the corridor, he immediately checked if they were alone, and alone they were.
The Chairman made a U-turn, now facing the Winter Tournament official referee. The atmosphere was tenfold tenser than in the recording center. There was a lot of anger in his eyes.
– Never do that again. I don’t like being pressured that way while live broadcasting. When you get questions, you find me and we’ll talk, alone. Got it?
The World Eater had a cheeky smile on his face, knowing his plan had succeeded. In addition to gathering more information, he kind of liked the idea of putting the transfer student into difficult situations. To him, this made for some fun entertainment.
– So, now, we’re alone. Have you really done all you can to convince him?
– I got told to get the fuck out of his way.
With his pupils wide open, the World Eater was stunned for a short while. He, who came from a military background, had profound respect for the hierarchy system. Talking that way to not only a superior, but to the highest authority of an organization was simply not possible.
Even he, who got quite the snake tongue, would not do that.
This is when he understood something important.
Even he, who got quite the snake tongue, would not do that… at least before deciding to fly solo.
While Yumi couldn’t contain her own excitement, she still took it upon herself to check up on her former opponents. Wanting to make sure the entirety of Team 14 was alright, she sat on a bench close to the health wing and patiently waited for a piece of upcoming news.
She had to restrain herself from smiling. At that moment, Yumi was the happiest she had ever been.
During the fight, it was as if she and the crowd were but one. The young woman felt the tension, the silences, and the excitement resonating within herself. She had quickly pushed the nervousness out to perform and react to the crowd. The way she felt after being praised by her team leader paled in comparison to this connection.
She, who already had fought Ranked matches, fell in love with the Elite Magic Academy and its own and unique way for students to showcase their progress.
But as much as she would love to share this moment with her closest friends, the idea of badly hurting or injuring someone terrified her. When the swordswoman heard the opening of a door, she instantly got to her feet, only to be faced with the Archbishop.
– Is he okay?
– Piece of cake, they’re all okay, dear. Sit down and relax with me for a moment.
The Archbishop’s gentle eyes and smile softened the order, and both women sat down facing each other. Yumi bowed down to show her appreciation.
– Thank you for taking care of them.
– Don’t mind it too much. We decided to let the paralysis wear off on its own and the rest is taken care of. That’s such a simple but naughty spell your friend got.
– I know…
Yumi avoided her gaze to look at the ground, a bit ashamed. The most socially attuned member of the Absolute Trinity knew she had to say something.
– Can I ask you a question?
The young student looked back into her eyes.
– Do you think there’s a lot of students who come and check up on their opponents after a fight?
– I don’t know…
– Not many. It’s a given in our society that winners don’t have to look up after the defeated ones…
That left Yumi wondering, but the Archbishop gave her all the time she needed to finish her train of thought. The Class-1A student had a decisive look on her face, as though she took a definitive stance.
– I was raised in an environment in which you respect and care about your opponent. It’s part of who I am now, and nothing can convince me otherwise.
The senior magician had a conflicted look on her face. The Archbishop knew that the path Yumi had just chosen would be difficult and full of hardships. However, she also found it greatly inspiring.
– I once heard someone say “If some of us deserve power, the kind ones are at the front of the line”.
– It doesn’t relate to our conversation at all… does it?
– Oh, it definitely does… But for now, go celebrate with your teammates.
The young lady thanked the Archbishop for her time and bid her farewell. As she had no idea where both of her teammates went, Yumi took out her GLASS and sent a message on their shared conversation.
Yumi: I’ll be down for some beer at the Irish-style pub. I’m going there right and I’ll send you two my precise location. I expect you to be there, it’s going to be one hell of a night.
On her way out of the stadium and towards the bar, she answered praises from everyone. The majority simply smiled and waved at her, but some even went as far as to clap and voice their admiration. Deep inside, Yumi knew that her style was not anything fancy, but rather focused on extreme effectiveness.
Yumi was thrilled to see that all these people got it.
It took her way more time than she thought it ever would to reach the bar and she noticed that her two teammates were already waiting for her. Both students and staff members inside were heavily cheering on those who provided such a spectacle. Before entering the establishment, she saw through the window her two teammates, seated on a cozy sofa.
When Yumi entered the Irish bar and got closer, Mia instantly jumped to her feet, offering her hands for a celebratory handshake.
– You were awesome down there!
– And you up in the sky, little one.
Yumi then looked at Tatsu Jin, noticing in him a subtle sense of pride. Following Mia’s behavior, the swordswoman also wanted a handshake with her team leader. Yumi had to wait a couple of seconds for Tatsu to finally show some enthusiasm.
– Victory tastes great.
– It’s also extremely addictive.
– You’ll be there to guide us. We’ll be in your care.
While Tatsu Jin considered that Team 27’s first victory was worthy of celebration, he always considered alcohol as his archenemy. His most precious asset was his brain and he would never allow for any kind of substance to mess with it.
There was also another reason as to why, as soon as 9 PM hit, his focus had changed towards the huge GLASS panel. The Student Council President’s fight was about to begin, and he would miss that for pretty much nothing in the whole world.
In his mind, Fuji Uchita was definitely the final boss of his first year as an Elite Magic Academy student. Even though Tatsu Jin had been monitoring his Ranked Matches, he still thought that there was a lot the Student Council President was hiding, under the cover of using just enough power to go by and win.
Yumi and Mia quickly understood what he was up to and smiled at each other. As a matter of fact, they both found this extreme focus towards his goal a bit endearing. The MVP of today’s fight even allowed herself to tease Mia about it. They decided to not disturb him and share some stories to deepen their bond.
Meanwhile, the Master of All Magic was surprised by the broadcasting’s quality. Even though this was taken care of by a major broadcasting company, he was still surprised about not having to miss a single detail.
The Student Council President ended up being very proactive, securing all three downs by himself with his mastery over a large spectrum of Telekinesis Magic spells, combined with enchanted throwing knives.
Tatsu Jin tapped the leather arm of the sofa multiple times, letting the thoughts flow inside his brain. It only took a couple of minutes for him to arrive at a conclusion.
– Endurance. This is how we win.
Team 27 enjoyed their first victory for the next few hours, juggling between games and drinks.
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