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That day, many students, not only our classmates but also from other classes, came to catch a glimpse of Merl-san and asked her many questions.
I was afraid that they would find out that Merl-san was an alien somewhere along the way, but as one would expect from space technology. It seemed that Merl-san manipulated people’s perceptions so that she could fit in perfectly on the Earth, and she got through the ordeal without any problems.
As I watched her from a distance, I noticed Kaori at the entrance to the classroom.
Kaori also found me and beckoned to me in a somewhat reserved manner. What is the matter?
“Kaori, it’s been a while.”
“It’s been a while, hasn’t it? The last time we met was when Yuuya-san showed Merl-san around the town, right…?”
“That’s right… Huh? Perhaps Kaori knows about Merl-san…”
“…Yes, I remember. Um, the space one, right?”
Kaori had encountered Merl-san when she and I were together before, and to my surprise, Merl-san’s cognitive manipulation didn’t work on her.
“When my father told me about the new student, I was surprised that the person was Merl-san, you know? I think it is difficult in many ways for Merl-san, an alien, to attend this school, but her documents were accepted as if it were a matter of course, and…”
“Oh, haha… well, about Merl-san, you see, it seems that space technology can manipulate perceptions in that area. So even though she has features that don’t seem earthly, everyone just naturally accepts her.”
“That is kind of… amazing, but also terrifying at the same time…”
I understand what Kaori is trying to say. I am genuinely impressed by space technology, but more than that, it is a very frightening thing to be able to change perceptions, etc., without realizing it.
I don’t think Merl-san would abuse that technology, though…
“But why did she decide to transfer to this academy?”
“Umm… that’s what I don’t really understand either…”
It is true that Merl-san said she had something to do on Earth but was it to enroll in this academy?
“Well, I don’t think she’s trying to do anything wrong, and if I get a chance, I’ll ask her, okay?”
“Right… haha. But even so, with Yuti-san, who is from another world, and Merl-san, who is an alien, coming to this school… It’s not at the level of internationalization anymore, isn’t it?”
“Well, sort of. And, if it’s possible, about Merl-san…”
“It’s a secret, right? I know. I mean, under the circumstances, if I told anyone, they wouldn’t believe me.”
Since their perception has already been manipulated, they would not believe it even if we told them that Merl-san is an alien.
As I was exchanging information with Kaori like that, I did not notice that Merl-san looked at me for a moment.
After that, I tried to ask Merl-san why she came to this school, but the wave of people coming from other classes to take a glance at her, the transfer student, was so constant that I could not go to ask her.
Well, it seems that she is accepted by the students without any problem, which is a relief for me…
After school, I was finally able to find Merl-san alone and called out to her.
“Oh… Yu-Yuuya-san! W-what’s wrong?”
“Oh, no, um… I was just wondering why you came to this school…”
Even though the ruckus with the Dragonia aliens was over, I thought that there must be something to do on the planet Amel, but Merl-san is now on Earth.
So I thought she must have some purpose…
In response to my question, Merl-san began to fidget, and her gaze wandered.
“N-no, that… ah! Well, since I’ve come all the way to Earth, I was told to go study the culture of this planet! Yes!”
Is it like studying abroad? It is true that the people of Planet Amel seem to have a long lifespan, so they may be able to have this kind of experience casually.
As I was thinking about this, Merl-san said something in a whisper.
“So, I was thinking that… if you would like, as part of this cultural research, maybe we could go to an amusement park together sometime…”
“Oh… n-nothing! W-well! I have some business to attend to later, so if you’ll excuse me!”
“Eh? Ah… she’s gone…”
Merl-san suddenly began to panic and just left.
In the end, I did not know the detailed purpose of her visit, but I was relieved to see that it did not seem to be a big problem.
The day after Merl-san transferred in.
On that day, too, I lightly asked Merl-san what she wanted to do on Earth, but she evaded my question.
I wondered if it was something that was difficult for her to say. I was hoping I could help, but I can’t… force her to tell me.
But I’m feeling a strange look from Merl-san, who’s sitting behind me in class… Did I do something wrong?
While I was thinking about this, Sawada-sensei came over.
“Well, everyone’s all here. Today’s homeroom is to decide what to do.”
While some of the students were puzzled over Sawada-sensei’s words, some seemed to have an idea of what she was talking about and nodded their heads.
“Some of you may have already noticed… that I’m talking about the athletic festival.”
Okay, so it’s right after the summer break, but it’s that time of year already!
Of course, I have experienced athletic festivals at my previous school, but this is my first time at this school.
Even the ball games were on a large scale, so I could not imagine what kind of level this athletic festival would be.
Naturally, Merl-san was unfamiliar with the athletic festival itself, so she was still tilting her head in confusion.
Then Yukine, who was sitting next to me, told Merl-san and me.
“…As you can probably guess from the way the teacher told us, our athletic festival is very large scale.”
“As I thought…”
“Um… excuse me. I don’t know what an athletic festival is…”
“…Simply put, the whole grade is divided into two groups, and they compete against each other in different events. But in our school, if you win, you get all sorts of perks.”
“Yes. The most important thing is that the more you win, the more money your class can spend on the school festival, but there are also various other prizes such as free tickets to the school cafeteria for a month, the right to invite your favorite artist at the school festival, and so on.”
“T-there really is a lot on offer here…”
I wasn’t particularly surprised about that since there was talk about the budget for the school festival, not just for the ball games, but even for the field trips.
However, the other supplementary prizes that I heard were absolutely extravagant. The right to invite your favorite artist to the school festival is… something that is unique to this school.
As Yukine’s explanation was somewhat far-fetched, Sawada-sensei was unusually enthusiastic.
“Our class is the red group! The more you win in the competition, the more bonuses I get! You guys, give it your all!”
“So you’re making a lot of money there, aren’t you!”
Just like during the field trip, Sawada-sensei was getting the same kind of attention from the students. She doesn’t seem to have much trouble making money, though…
“So, Kageno. The homeroom and the first period will be devoted to the athletic festival, so you’ll be in charge of deciding on the contestants.”
“You can count on me!”
In response to Sawada-sensei’s listless words, class committee member Tsutomu Kageno, who had also previously taken the lead in organizing the ball game tournament, smiled wryly.
“Before deciding on the contestants, let me briefly explain about the athletic festival. As the teacher had said, the athletes will be divided into two groups, the red group, and the white group, and they will compete against each other. And it is not only the senior high school but the entire school, including the middle school, that competes against each other. Yet, there is also the aspect of an inter-class competition. Depending on the results, the winners are given preferential treatment in the budget for the school festival, and there are luxurious extra prizes that only the class that comes in first can get… Well, it’s business as usual around here.”
It’s really amazing that this school can say that’s how it’s always been…
“And it’s also unique in that the scores and the budgets you can earn vary depending on the event. For example, interclass relays get big points. With that in mind, we should carefully choose who will compete in which event.”
“Yes, yes, one question! Does this mean each person can only participate in one event?”
When Kaede cheerfully asks a question in response to Kageno-kun’s explanation, he shakes his head.
“No, there is no limit to the number of events you can participate in. However, everyone must participate in at least one event. And no matter how athletic you are and how much you want to participate in all the events, you may not have the physical strength to do so. That’s why it would be best to give preference to those who are confident in the events they want to win.”
I-I see… What can I say? The school I used to go to before was a very normal school, so there were no particular strategies or detailed rules, but in such a large-scale event, the strategy that each class chooses is important…
Then Ryo raised his hand this time.
“I understand the general outline of the event, but has the second prize been announced yet?”
“No, we won’t know until the day of the event. So you should be fully prepared to compete in any of the events.”
From what I’ve heard, there’s a very good chance that the second prize for an unexpected event could be very lavish.
“Now… any more questions? If there are none, let’s decide which events to compete in. I’ve said many things, but honestly, I think it’s best to pick an event that you like, regardless of whether you win or lose. There’s no need to go out of your way to enter an event you don’t like.”
“Hey, Kageno. I don’t want us to lose.”
“No, Sensei… We don’t want to lose either, but it’s important to have fun too…”
Kageno-kun smiled bitterly at the teacher’s words.
Thanks to Kageno-kun’s quick and efficient progress like this, the events in which the students would compete were smoothly decided.
Although my physical abilities have improved dramatically thanks to my level-up in the other world, I was never very good at sports, to begin with. They probably wouldn’t believe me if I told them that with how my body is now.
Anyway, the only experience I had in the athletic festival at my previous school was in the steeplechase, so I hoped to do that again this time.
In addition, I was recommended by others to participate in a cavalry battle and a tug-of-war. [T/n: Kibasen, which literally translates to “Cavalry Battle,” is a type of piggyback riding sport that is played in Japan.]
Tug of war is fine because it’s an event that involves a lot of people, but I’m not sure if I can handle the cavalry battle…
I am a little worried, but since I was recommended, I will do my best.
Incidentally, Merl-san, who probably doesn’t know much about Earth culture yet, seems to be participating in events where she has to cooperate with others, such as ball tossing and tug-of-war, for the time being.
In space, Merl-san was fighting with the help of an extraordinary machine, but I wonder about her muscular strength and physical ability.
And so the events were being decided, and finally, it came down to the last event.
“Now, all that remained was the mixed-gender three-legged race…”
Yes, the last remaining event was the three-legged race, in which men and women were paired together.
“Up until now, we have been able to choose to some extent based on foot speed and strength, but this one is a little more difficult… If the height difference between the pairs is too great, it will be difficult to run… At any rate, is there anyone who wants to participate at this point?”
When Kageno-kun asked this, several people raised their hands.
“Kanzaki-san’s partner, huh…?”
“Haha… it’s kinda bad…”
Rin had also raised her hand, but there were no boys who could be Rin’s pair.
If we could find a pair for Rin, we would just fill in the number of participants…
“Hmm… Rin-chan is so fast, isn’t she?”
“As I said, I’m not as good as Kaede. It’s just that I’m so tall… If you want, I can decline and give it to someone else…”
Rin says so, but that would be a waste after she had gone to the trouble of raising her hand and expressing her intentions.
Since Kaede, a track team member, also said she’s fast, Rin must be pretty fast too.
“Um… I-I’ll run if it’s okay with you…”
I raised my hand timidly, and Rin looked at me in surprise.
Then Kageno-kun nodded in satisfaction.
“Yes, Yuuya-kun, the height difference between you and Kanzaki-san isn’t that big, not to mention your physical abilities. May I ask you to do it for us?”
“Yeah. I don’t have any experience with three-legged races, but I’ll do my best.”
“No, I’d be grateful if you’d just run with me. Let’s work together!”
Rin smiled as she said this.
──Thus, the events for the athletic festival were decided.