Chapter 6

The Missing Evidence

Wednesday, September 5th 2063

At 10:30 am, there was a very calm atmosphere inside Class-3A’s classroom. Every student was actively listening to their Magic Theory teacher, who was in the middle of an explanation regarding the theory behind Explosion Magic. In reality, one person was solely responsible for that silence, and it was not the teacher. Seated within one of the middle rows, a certain student was focused on comprehending the content of the class. He was the kind of student who did not need to take notes as he relied heavily on his echoic memory. 

 

Because his classmates respected him, no one wanted to disturb the content of the class. They knew that he would be among the ones suffering from it. Even though the Elite Magic Academy was not focused on creating rivalries between classes and promotions, this student was Class-3A’s pride.

 

Over the course of the last two years, this student had been dominating his competition without ever letting it go to his head. This behavior turned him into some kind of role model, which the academy used to show its new students the path to success.

 

Because Class-3A students knew firsthand the amount of hard work he put in, their respect toward him skyrocketed. He was not some kind of talented genius, but someone who reached the top with sweat on his forehead. Always first one to arrive and last to leave, he concentrated the amount of effort needed to reach his objective. In that regard, his most dangerous assets were his mental strength and persistence. It was not a fluke that Fuji Uchita had been voted unanimously as the new Student Council President, who had the most power inside the academy, only after the chairman.

 

The one in charge of this position changed every year and was elected between a selection of students picked by the Elite Magic Academy’s chairman himself. So, at the end of every year, second-year students voted for who they thought would be a perfect match for this position during their next year.

 

Magic proficiency was of course the most important factor, but things like personality, inspiring traits, or achievements were also considered.

 

At the end of last year, Fuji Uchita had been elected by ninety-seven percent of his peers and therefore selected as this year’s Student Council President. Even with his title and track record, his attitude did not change at all and he remained nice and approachable, although a bit intimidating in the eyes of the student body.

 

He was not wearing anything extravagant, like jewelry or tattoos, but something else stood out from his appearance. For a magic fighter, especially a male one, it was rare to let one’s hair grow too much. But it did not seem to bother Fuji Uchita, who rocked a long, blond hairstyle.

 

He had an average size, but his Elite Magic Academy uniform almost seemed too small for his musculature.

 

However, there was one thing that Class-3A students did not know about him. For a few months, Fuji Uchita had been experiencing a huge lack of motivation. His mental strength had been challenged so much that his personal goal in training was not to better himself anymore. He did it only to keep inspiring the young magicians.

 

It was mainly because of a lack of real competition. The Student Council President had been the most powerful student of his promotion since day one. There wasn’t one person that could qualify as his rival, and even older students would often not be a match for him. So, lately, when no one was here to see him, he had been slacking off, questioning the point of training in magic and reinforcing his own body.

 

However, something started to agitate him.

 

Two days ago, there was an announcement made by the Elite Magic Academy: a transfer student was coming. Yesterday, Tatsu Jin arrived and a rumor already circulated that he had held his ground against the Class-1B Magic Theory teacher.

 

In less than forty-eight hours, the Student Council President’s hope had gone through the roof. After all, transfer students were recorded as extremely powerful in the academy’s history. From the bottom of his heart, he was curious to know more about Tatsu Jin since the day he arrived.

 

Even though he deeply wanted to directly introduce himself to him, he decided to repress his emotions and go check on his student file instead. While talking with the Magic Counselor on Tuesday, he had been completely surprised after having seen the outcome of his demand.

 

At 11 am, the Magic Theory teacher gave Class-3A’s students a little break so that the Student Council President could dive right into his thoughts. Inside his head, he was thinking that the situation was completely absurd.

 

For someone to be accepted as a student of the Elite Magic Academy, there was a load of background checks and political connections required. But he saw that Tatsu Jin’s file was empty, which caused his brain to short-circuit for a second. The strangeness of the situation alarmed him that something about this was fishy.

 

He made a mental note to keep track of the transfer student’s actions over the course of the next few weeks, just to make sure.

 

Suddenly, someone interrupted his thought process. An Elite Magic Academy attendant passed the Class-3A’s sliding door and directly went to whisper something into the teacher’s ear. After getting the teacher’s approval, the attendant went on to warn the Student Council President that he had been urgently summoned to the Security Barracks and that he should go there right away.

 

On his way down to the Security Barracks, he wondered what could be so urgent to be summoned so quickly. He felt a bit of pressure as this was his first official business as the Student Council President, outside of the Opening Ceremony last Friday.

 

When he reached the building, he spoke to the head of security, who redirected him to the staff member in charge of Technological Overwatch. As this staff member had been recently hired, Fuji Uchita introduced himself and then went into a more serious discussion.

       Could you tell me why I’m being summoned?

       Yes. When I woke up this morning, I analyzed last night’s data and found a few things that may indicate a breach.  See for yourself. 

The staff member showed Fuji Uchita a graph on a holographical screen that represented the results of the class building’s magic detectors. Around midnight, there are two sudden peaks at a ten-minute interval recorded by the detector in front of the Magic Counselor’s office. As the Student Council President had some trouble understanding the graph, he asked the staff member about it. 

       Are you telling me that someone used magic or that these are just malfunctions?

       I don’t know… which is what worries me. I have never seen such dysfunctional behavior. Basically, it’s obviously not normal, but it’s not enough to tell that magic had been cast either.

       What a troublesome situation.

       Yes, and that’s not it… look at this. 

He pointed his finger toward another holographic screen, which displayed the feed of the class building’s camera located in front of the Magic Counselor’s office. Despite the image being pixelated with a troublesome grain, it was still possible to see a few weird visual effects on the door’s shadow. The one in charge of Technological Overwatch zoomed on the image and explained the situation. 

      You see, right there… if we zoom in a bit, there’s something weird on the door’s shadow.

      Is that… is that bubbles?

      That’s what it looks like at least. However, we’re back to square one as it is more likely to be a technical problem than a real magic spell. It does not look like any spell recorded in our security’s data. There’s also one last thing.

     What is it?

      A door opening itself on one of the storage rooms. It’s rare but it can happen, especially as they do not feature the inviolable lock. 

All of this was too much for Fuji Uchita. 

       What’s the likelihood that all of this is not a coincidence?

       If these events happened at different times during the night, I would have been more hesitant. But considering that they were all focused on a thirty minutes span, I would say 60%.

       I should go see the Magic Counselor to check if anything happened. Here’s my GLASS number, keep me updated. Thanks for your service, I’ll be on my way.

      No problem.

After taking a few steps away, the Student Council President hesitated to act on his inner thoughts. Nonetheless, he decided to follow his instinct and came back to the staff member to ask for a favor. 

       Can you please look at Tatsu Jin’s pathing on the camera feed for me? Just look for anything out of the ordinary.

        How is all this related to the transfer student?

       Just a hunch. Don’t think about it too much.

        Okay. I’ll do that for you.

Separator

      You’re telling me that eleven first-year student files vanished out of thin air?

      Maybe not, maybe I just left them somewhere else. You know, often when you are not looking for something it will naturally come back to you.

The Student Council President and the Magic Counselor were in the middle of a heated argument, and the latter’s laid-back attitude irritated the former.

 

The Magic Counselor found out a few seconds ago that these files were not at their usual place in one of his drawers. If not for Fuji Uchita’s persistence, he would not have even figured out that these were gone for a long time. However, he did not really like the condescending tone his interlocutor had and reminded him that he still had digital copies as backups.

 

With his eyes wide open, the Student Council President hesitated to ask him a question. 

       Did you check if these digital files are still on the server? 

The Magic Counselor stopped speaking and playing with the pen in his hand at the exact moment his interlocutor finished his question. So, he sat down on his chair and logged onto the Elite Magic Academy’s server, only to find out that what he was looking for was gone as well.

 

Fuji Uchita had a firm grasp of the situation after looking at the Magic Counselor’s facial expressions.

      That’s what I have been trying to tell you. We have found multiple sources of evidence that point to a possible breach of our security system. Your office seemed to be the main point of interest, so I rushed here to enquire about the situation.

       You think some intruders managed to get through our defenses and stole these files?

The counselor expressed his thought, but with a tone that betrayed his disbelief.

      But the inviolable lock? My GLASS password? Magic Detectors? Cameras? 

Seeing that the Magic Counselor started to panic, Fuji Uchita took over the responsibility of decision-making. 

      What is done can be undone, counselor. I’ll inform the chairman of these developments myself. In the meantime, do your best to regroup all information about these students into some form of files. Don’t bother with the transfer student, I’ll ask about his information myself.

     Understood… I’ll… I’ll get to it now.

A couple of minutes after exiting the Magic Counselor’s office, the Student Council President received a notification on his GLASS. It was the staff member in charge of Technological Overwatch who asked him to come over once again as he had just found something new.

 

The bell rang announcing 1 PM, the end of the first period, and therefore lunch break.

 

He made a quick stop to the cafeteria of his own dormitory building and grabbed two sandwiches to eat. He knew he would be the first one to arrive and that he would not have to wait in line. The Student Council President also figured that he was not done with moving all around the academy’s grounds, so he needed energy for the rest of day. 

 

On his way to the Security Barracks, he could not prevent himself from linking this event to the arrival of the transfer student. Even though his brain was telling him that it was not respectful to accuse the transfer student without even the slightest proof, his gut felt otherwise.

 

Even he himself could not fool magic detectors, which meant in his eyes that, if Tatsu Jin was linked to this business, he was helping someone else.

 

Fuji Uchita thought about what the transfer student’s motive could be in this affair. After a minute, he concluded that the disappearance of his file was probably a good thing for him.

 

He got close to the Technological Overwatch room and waited for the staff member to end his meeting with the Head of Security. Then, he entered and was presented the result of his favor.

       Your instincts are on point. Yesterday, during lunch break, Tatsu Jin indeed had a really weird pathing. Look for yourself. 

To make it easier to spot, the staff member displayed the behavior of the transfer student on six different holographic screens. On each one, Tatsu Jin ended up looking straight at the security camera for a couple of seconds. Fuji Uchita quickly understood what had transpired. 

      Is he… mapping the location of the cameras?

      Most likely… the magic detectors, too.

      Is there anything else?

For a reason he could not figure out, the one who granted his favor harbored an expression of shame and answered his question. 

      There might be… but I did not manage to find anything to prove it.

      What is it?

       After yesterday’s afternoon class, Tatsu Jin walked through the storage room with the suspicious door, and not a single camera managed to capture him leaving. An hour after that, our camera system got a glimpse of him on the second floor of his dormitory building doing some light groceries. I can’t wrap my head around how he got from here to there. There could be a possibility, but…

       I know what you are thinking, but it’s not possible. Teleportation Magic is out of a first-year student’s reach.

      Yeah… I know.

      But did someone cast it for him?

       No, that’s impossible. We would have detected at least the same weird things with our magic detectors. And let’s not forget the whole Elite Magic Academy’s security system.

The Student Council President’s expression turned gloomy, which the staff member did not miss pointing out. 

        Are you okay?

      Not really… imagine having to break the news to the chairman.

      Good luck my friend. Do not make him wait.

      Thanks. If the occasion presents itself, I’ll slip a word in for you.

After agreeing with a slight nod, Fuji Uchita set off once more. This time, he had his eye on the administration building. He was determined to find some answers about this whole situation.

 

Being the Student Council President had many interesting perks, like the right to disturb the Elite Magic Academy’s chairman at any point in time for important businesses. While others would need to schedule an appointment, he was able to go through the building without being stopped. The chairman’s secretary showed signs of respect and smiled to him before getting on her feet to warn her superior. The third-year student remained in the hall for less than a minute before being allowed inside the most important office of the entire academy.

 

The chairman himself stood to his feet and offered a seat, which Fuji Uchita accepted with pleasure. Since he was not there to exchange polite words, the Student Council President directly went down to business.

      We had a breach of security last night.

      I know… my head of security warned me a few minutes ago.

       Ok then… what do we do?

      Nothing. 

With a broad smile on his face, the chairman witnessed his third-year student’s face going through multiple emotions. So, he explained the reason for his decision. 

       It’s just student files… they’re easily replaceable. Nothing valuable was robbed. We’ll just strengthen our security system to get rid of the breach and we’ll go on about our usual day.

       You know that there was psychological data in these student files and that we signed an agreement to not disclose them?

       If this ends up in the press, I’m sure a sincere apology would suffice.

The Student Council President calmed himself when he understood that there was some information asymmetry going on. In a nutshell, the chairman was hiding something big.

 

His instincts told him that it would be wise to let the matter go for now. After all, he could patiently gather information to make the situation clearer. If the suspect was not the transfer student, that was probably what he would have done. But right now, satisfying his curiosity meant a great deal to him.

      The transfer student… he isn’t the regular kind, huh?

      What makes you say that?

The Student Council President rolled his eyes in exasperation when he saw that the chairman was trying to play dumb. 

       That’s how you want this to play out? I’m not stupid, you know.

      I am just asking for the basis behind your claim. I’m not denying anything here.

The chairman shrugged his shoulders while voicing his answer. He was clearly trying to scout out what his student really knew about the transfer student. It was very important to find the perfect middle ground. He had to say something to convince him, but not enough to avoid putting the transfer student into a difficult position. So, the chairman waited for Fuji Uchita to lay down his cards on the table. 

       When was the last time you supervized a student’s visit yourself?

      I was as curious as you are right now.

      Of course, I am curious! I am also fairly sure that he played his part in yesterday’s security breach.

Suddenly, the chairman harbored a serious face. 

       You know that’s an accusation that can have consequences. I hope you have some basis and evidence to back up your claim. 

Fuji Uchita explained in detail how magic detectors activating twice in a ten-minute interval could not have been a coincidence. In addition, he detailed the transfer student’s pathing, which really looked like a suspicious reconnaissance. Finally, he mentioned how impossible his movement from the class building to his dormitory building was.

 

The Elite Magic Academy’s chairman listened to the Student Council President without interrupting him in the slightest. When his interlocutor was done, a smile appeared on his face.

      Let me put this in layman’s terms. You have nothing but circumstantial evidence and intuition.

      No. I have something else.

The smile on the chairman’s face disappeared once again. 

       What do you have then?

      A motive, which also leads to another question. Why was Tatsu Jin’s file empty?

His question unnerved the chairman, who was thinking about this unexplored territory. His next few words would be of utmost importance, so he did not want to rush an explanation, only for it to be seen through by the smart student on the other side of his desk. He decided that no answer could satisfy his student’s curiosity. 

       No comment.

       You know it’s like an admission of guilt, right? You let someone be introduced into one of the most important magic academies of the country without doing some background check.

The chairman remained silent under these accusations, and the Student Council President had no choice but to surrender. 

       He must be quite the genius for you to behave like that huh.

       What’s the motive you mentioned earlier then?

       Anyone looking at his file would end up suspecting him of shenanigans. His file suddenly vanishing is a good ending for him. And to comprehend who the culprit of mischief is, you need to check who will benefit from it.

       I see… he benefits quite a lot indeed. However, you know that there is nothing I can do without concrete evidence.

       I’m pretty sure you’ll even intervene yourself to falsify evidence if needed. With all things considered, I would rather not be in your way. Rather, I’ll be in mine as I offered my help to the Magic Counselor. I also must ask Tatsu Jin to fill out his student file himself. 

After looking at the chairman’s smile one last time, the Student Council President stood up from his chair and tried to leave the office. He did what he was supposed to do and even gathered important information. However, a small device in the form of a cube was waiting for a courier. The chairman used this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.  

       Can I ask you to drop this GLASS Cube to Class-1B? It’s the list of all contractors available to first-year students. If you’re going there, you can kill two birds with one stone.

       Sure.

As there was a lot of time left in the second period, he wandered around the academy’s grounds and ended up sitting on a bench in front of the class building. He had a lot to process and there was no one around to disturb him.

 

An hour later, it was almost the end of the second period, and Fuji Uchita made its way toward the classroom dedicated to Class-1B and waited for the bell to ring. Two minutes after he reached the particular classroom, it was finally time for him to make an entrance. He apologized for this interruption first and announced to Class-1B that the list of contractors was finally available for all first-year students.

 

The Student Council President put the GLASS Cube on the Magic History teacher’s desk and warned everyone that a simple contact with their own devices would trigger the download. He then excused himself and went back to the corridor he came from.

 

Fuji Uchita could have mentioned that he needed to speak to the transfer student in private, but he decided otherwise. He did not want the transfer student to feel pressured into giving away his personal information. That would look more like bullying than regular Elite Magic Academy’s business.

 

Therefore, he patiently waited for his time to act. When the transfer student appeared from within his classroom, the Student Council President made it clear that he wanted to talk with him in private.

 

Understanding that he was trapped, Tatsu Jin had no other choice than to accept. They walked outside of the class building, and Fuji Uchita started the conversation.

       Because you were not at the Opening Ceremony, you might not know who I am.

       I indeed have no clue who you are.

       My name is Fuji Uchita, and I am the Elite Magic Academy’s Student Council President. Happy to make your acquaintance.

       Considering how everything I do ends up going public, I think that you already know my name. Nice to meet you though…As I am bad with honorifics, I’ll just call you President. 

 Fuji Uchita was a bit surprised by Tatsu Jin’s personality, who really did not fit the transfer student’s archetype. But he would much rather talk to someone like Tatsu Jin over an egotistical maniac with a god syndrome, which was not that rare all things considered. 

 

He witnessed that Tatsu Jin was not really concentrated on their conversation, and he just could not figure out why. After a minute of silence, the Student Council President did what he was there to do.

       I must apologize. Some kind of mistake on our end happened and we are forced to ask for your assistance.

      Just tell me what I have to do.

      Can you fill out your student file once again and send it to my personal GLASS number?

      Sure. I’ll send it to you.

Something alerted Fuji Uchita, who stopped walking. 

       You don’t care about what happened to the original file, do you?

      Do I have to? There was nothing important in it anyway.

      I see… thanks for your time, I’ll be on my way.

The Student Council President stood there, witnessing Tatsu Jin slowly walk over to the first-year dormitory building. He did not know what to think. 

Separator

Since the moment he opened the file on his personal GLASS, Tatsu Jin’s heartbeat was unusually fast. The list of contractors available for first-year students included a name that sparked the interest of the transfer student. Actually, he never really allocated any unnecessary brain cells to his conversation with the Student Council President.

 

All he could think about was how that name ended up here.

 

First-year Contractor            Eleanor Shinsei          Specialization: Illusion Magic

 

From a decent part of his walk to the first-year dormitory building, he kept on fixating this name on his GLASS screen.

 

He knew at that point that Eleanor Shinsei would play a huge role in his plans. Setting up a meeting to introduce himself as soon as possible had become a top priority in his mind.

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