The day's menu consisted of training in the form of actual combat.
Although [Lost Item] are not meant for combat, it is true that their supernatural powers are needed in the extraordinary world.
Since many of them are employed in jobs that require physical abilities, such as activities in war zones, disaster relief, or police activities to maintain public order, combat training is included in the curriculum of Shibahou Academy and many other institutions.
The training clothes are not only gym clothes and jerseys, but also special suits made of elastic material like swimming suits. It is strongly recommended by the school to wear these suits, which cover the entire body from hands and feet to the neck.
The suits are made of materials that are fire-resistant, waterproof, and have low electrostatic charge, and they protect the wearer's body from various phenomena, which is why the students wear them almost 100% of the time.
Many people wear ordinary athletic wear on top of this suit. Chihiro, too, likes to wear the school jersey on top of this full-body suit.
「Your body looks as good as ever...」
While Chihiro is changing, he hears a conversation between Kamishiro and another boy.
As their conversation shows, Kamishiro's body is particularly toned among the boys in the class. Although there are students who are taller than Kamishiro in some aspects, such as height and muscle mass in their arms, Kamishiro is the best in terms of overall performance.
On the other hand, Chihiro's physical ability is quite ordinary.
His chest is thin and his muscle mass is inferior to that of other athletes of his generation. In the first place, he has not been blessed with a good physique, and it is said that he is physically unable to build muscle.
Not surprisingly, his grades are not good.
Chihiro sighed, but no one heard her sigh because it was drowned out by the bustle of the locker room.
「Well. Let's do this without bitterness」
The training took place in the indoor training area.
Under the guidance of the instructor in charge, the students performed careful preparatory exercises and then teamed up one-on-one for a mock battle. The duration is five minutes, after which there is a five-minute break and the pairings are changed and repeated for the full duration.
The rules are basically whatever they want them to be, although severe bodily harm is prohibited. But, some weapons, such as wooden swords, are allowed.
「...Please take care of me」
Chihiro's first opponent is Riko.
She wore a light red jersey, and faced Chihiro with a deliberate smile.
On the other hand, Chihiro stood with his face facing her, his gaze slightly averted.
With that order, fighting began all over the training grounds.
Chihiro also ran towards Riko, who stood a few meters away. And since his ability is not offensive, he had no choice but to close the distance and attack.
However, Riko smiled and made no move.
While Chihiro is wondering, something suddenly appeared in the way of Chihiro's path.
It's a huge bear, nearly three meters long, standing up with its fangs bared fiercely, threatening Chihiro.
The bear's arms are as thick as a baby's body, and even if it is not a direct hit, Chihiro's movements will be greatly hindered... if the bear is real, of course that will happen.
Nishizaki Riko's ability is to create three-dimensional illusions by manipulating light and other factors. The illusion can be shaped into various shapes depending on Riko's imagination, but it has no direct killing power.
Of course, Chihiro and her classmate are aware of this.
So, Chihiro kept moving forward.
And he muttering to himself, "Don't be afraid".
However, even though he knew it's just an illusion, he struggled to move his trembled legs but still ran head-on into the big bear.
When he made contact, there is no shock.
He passed through the illusion as if he were ducking under a rug, revealing the scene ahead.
Just as he expected to see her, a fist from Riko slammed into Chihiro's face.
It wasn't a heavy blow, but the unintentional impact didn't give Chihiro time to defend himself, and he blew away lightly.
He then slammed into the floor on his back.
As he exhaled and looked up, he saw Riko walking up to him and lifting her legs.
The soles of her shoes then kicked mercilessly at his face but he quickly covered his face with his hands.
Chihiro screamed, and Riko made a happy sound.
And once that happens, there's no stopping her.
She continued to kick, stomp, and torture Chihiro's body. The shallow pain is constantly coming on, and it's slowly ravaging Chihiro's thoughts.
He can't go on like this.
But when he tries to get up, the soles of her shoes fall on his face. And once he got into a bad position, it was hard to recover.
Unexpectedly, Riko comes up to Chihiro with one foot on his stomach.
He looked up and met her eyes from the front.
「You were getting a little carried away today, weren't you? Trying to ignore me, smirking when Takatsuki-san talked to you, and staring at Fukami-san」
Her words made him want to vomit.
And he could feel the lecherous pleasure Riko was having, and it hit him like a chill.
「Hey, how do I feel now?」
Chihiro's ability is mind-reading.
However, it only works while he is making eye contact with the target.
Chihiro can only read the emotions and thoughts that the person is feeling most strongly at the time, but the person will know that their mind has been read.
If the opponent looks away, it is useless to begin with, and even if he wants to use it in battle, the information it can read is too limited to be effective. Especially in the case of opponents who look down on Chihiro, such as Riko, it is almost certain that Chihiro will read their superiority and it will be meaningless.
Even if he is able to read his opponent's intentions, if the opponent is an experienced fighter, the opponent will switch his actions on the assumption that their mind has been read.
And because of that, his rank is E, the lowest.
It's the lowest level of ability, and he's also very unpopular because he can look into the privacy of his opponent.
「I think it's a little too much bullying, and I feel sorry for you. Well? Did you get it right?」
Riko's antagonism towards Chihiro started when he first "read" her mind. And the inside of her mind--
--It's really disgusting. But it's perfect object for bullying.
And now too, Chihiro clenched his teeth as he received a feeling of pleasure without a trace of pity.
It's so frustrating.
But Chihiro didn't have the strength to resist.
And as Chihiro held back the renewed attack, tears welled up in his eyes.
「Ugh, you're crying. That's disgusting, that's really disgusting. Gross, gross, gross, gross!」
While he is tormented, he reminded while Aika spoke to her that he shouldn't talk to her. He also reminded when he made eye contact with the beautiful new student that he shouldn't have expected so much.
But is it wrong to try to resist Riko, thinking that he can resist her?
Is it wrong to call himself a [Lost Item] with such abilities in the first place?
For five minutes until the end of the match, Chihiro is tormented by Riko.
All the while, the tears never dried up.
Aika and Kamishiro are the only ones who looked at him with concern, but no one else in the class spoke to him.
Maria just stared at Chihiro in silence.
☆ ☆ ☆
Chihiro, who had been drained of his energy from the first battle and had to face the following battles, didn't have time to pay attention to his surroundings, but Maria had been very active in the actual training.
She won all the battles on the first day, thanks to her ability and the match format.
She didn't seem to have any luck against Aika or Kamishiro, but she still showed her C-rank ability to the fullest.
Chihiro, on the other hand, lost all his games.
He tried to fight as hard as he could, but was beaten, kicked, and thrown around in every match. In the end, his classmates sighed at him.
「You're amazing, Fukami-san」
「I was no match for you at all!」
After the homeroom, Chihiro bypassed the noisy students and left the classroom straight away.
As he closed the door, Riko looked back at him and smiled, but he no longer had the energy to react.
He then walked alone down the corridor and exited the school building down the stairs.
When he looked up at the sky, black clouds are covering the whole area. It looked like it was about to start raining, but he didn't have an umbrella.
And having no choice, he walked on.
Soon, the rain began to fall.
Even though his hair, skin, and uniform absorbed the water and clung to his body, Chihiro did not start running but continued walking along the path to the dormitory.
However, his pace slowed down and he eventually stopped in an empty alley.
For several minutes, Chihiro just stood there, and then muttered.
「... Maybe I should quit」
It was something he had been thinking about for a while.
He didn't think he would learn anything if he continued. As long as Chihiro is in the class, Riko's attitude will not change.
Then, it would be better for him to quit and work, or to transfer to a normal school.
He's sure that none of his classmates would care if he did.
「...You're giving up?」
There is a voice behind him, calling out to Chihiro.
The voice is not drowned out by the sound of the rain, but sounds strangely clear.
And when he turned around.
Chihiro saw Maria staring at him, holding a large black umbrella.
She should have been surrounded by everyone in the classroom.
But she's chasing him. However, is she really catching him?
「Do you feel annoyed at being abused, ridiculed, and treated like a nobody? Don't you want to fight back? Don't you want to look back and laugh at them?」
She asks Chihiro quietly.
She asks the question that Chihiro has asked himself many, many times before.
Chihiro's answer is the same as before.
「My abilities are useless. I'm not very athletic, and to be honest, I'm not very courageous either. Even if I'm lucky enough to win once, if I get carried away, I'll be retaliated against all over again」
Chihiro tell her while looking away from Maria.
Training is basically done by class. It's called friendly competition, but that means the relationship doesn't end once and for all.
Even if the weaker person gets the upper hand once through hard work, it is not the goal.
After all, it's the start of the day when the strong will attack the weak again, harder.
But Maria shakes her head in boredom.
She slowly walks up to Chihiro and tells him.
「It doesn't matter. I'm asking if you have any desire, jealousy, or hatred」
「Why would you say that...」
He asked Maria, who had stopped right beside him, and she looked up at Chihiro, making eye contact as she said
「Because if you want it, I can make it happen」
When Chihiro saw her eyes, an endless passion flowed into his heart.
It's hot, it's sad, and it's dense. It was something that Chihiro could not name, but if he had to, he would say that it was a kind of intense passion.
It swallowed up and swept away the depression inside Chihiro, and then invaded Chihiro.
But it didn't make sense.
For some reason, the talented transfer student cared about him and followed him, making strange provocations. She even acted as if she was trying to make him read her mind, but what she was giving him was something he couldn't imagine giving to someone he'd never met before.
「Fukami-san, what are you...」
「Maria. Call me that」
Maria whispered, interrupting Chihiro's stunned opening of her mouth.
Then, she stretched lightly and kissed Chihiro's lips.
Chihiro stiffened in surprise.
Maria, on the other hand, looked at him with eyes that flickered invitingly.
And because of that, the feelings conveyed by the mind reading became stronger and stronger. Chihiro begins to lose sight of whether it's his own feelings or those of the other person.
Their lips touch each other, and the tip of Maria's tongue is about to enter Chihiro's mouth. But--
Chihiro came to his senses, closed his eyes, and pushed Maria away.
After a few seconds of breathing, he opened his eyes and found Maria falling on her butt next to him. She seemed unhurt, but her bag and umbrella had been thrown away and her beautiful body is soaked in the rain.
Chihiro hurriedly helped her up, as she looked up at him as if she had lost her mind.
「...I'm sorry. Are you okay?」
He threw away his own bag and gently put his hands on Maria's back and shoulders to lift her up.
But then Maria's giggling voice came to Chihiro's ears.
「Oh, you can do it. That's good. I think you need to be more honest」
Chihiro's head had cooled down but he didn't know what to say.
Maria, on the other hand, stood up, picked up the umbrella and the bags for both of them, and said this while protecting herself and Chihiro with the black umbrella.
「Well. Anyway, since you're the one who got me wet, will you take responsibility?」
Chihiro did not have the right to refuse.