Chapter 5 The Ball Fight - Part 1

 In the afternoon, the class is basic training.
 The purpose of this class is to develop physical strength and reflexes through exercise, in short, it is the same as physical education in a normal school. However, the classes are held jointly by men and women, and the use of abilities is allowed as long as the rules of the games are followed.
 And today's event is dodgeball.
 They started with a basic practice in the fifth period, and in the sixth period they are divided into two teams and played a game.
 Chihiro is on the same team as Maria and Aika, while Riko and Kamishiro are on the other team.
 Dodgeball is a kind of ball game.
 It uses a single ball and a rectangular court, divided into two halves, one of which is used by the allied team and the other by the enemy team. The inside of the court is called the "infield" and the outside is called the "outfield".
 The game is initiated by the player who has possession of the ball.
 A player holds the ball in his hand and throws it at a player of the opposing team. The player who is thrown the ball either avoids or catches the ball, and is out if he/she cannot do either and is hit by the ball. When a player is out, the player moves to the outfield, picks up the ball that has landed outside the court, and attacks from the outside.
 In this way, the team that loses first is the one that loses the infield players first.
 The game now started with three players from each team in the outfield and seven players from each team in the infield.
 The situation is intense right from the start.
 Because infielders are not allowed to go out of the court, it is difficult for them to avoid attacks in the beginning when there are many players. On the other hand, it is easy for the attackers to make feints, so that they are most likely to succeed in their attacks in the early stages.
 Maria and Kamishiro played well, as expected at the time of team placement.
 Maria, who is not worried about injuries thanks to her self-healing ability, aggressively caught even strong balls. She also returned the impact of each catch to the attacker, accelerating the other team's fatigue.
 Kamishiro, up until Maria's arrival, was the most powerful player in the class. Although he didn't use his special ability, he still showed a solid fight with his high physical ability.
 As a result, each team quickly had four players out and the score was three to three.
 The remaining players are Chihiro, Maria, Aika, Riko, Kamishiro, and one more boy.
 To be honest, Chihiro remained, not because of his ability, but because of luck and chance. And Chihiro's idea is to leave the opponents who could be out at any time and let them interfere with his teammates, so the ball didn't fly too far and he didn't get hit by stray shots.
Well, it's time to get serious...
 Riko said in a light tone after receiving the ball from the outfield.
 She then grabbed the ball with one hand and swung at it with surprisingly firm form. On the other hand, Chihiro and his teammates prepared their bodies and minds for wherever the ball would come.
 Almost as soon as Riko throw the ball away, a lot of human figures appeared in the infield.
 ――They are feints and distractions using her illusionary abilities.
 Even if someone can judge from their knowledge that they are not real people, their evasive action will be stalled if they see a lot of people around them. Also, the trajectory and timing of the ball will be difficult to predict.
 Before now, the effect is limited when there are a lot of people in the infield, but now that the number of people has decreased, it will be very effective.
 Aika fails to catch the ball and is out. She moved to the outfield apologetically, and now it was two against three.
 No, it's actually one against three, since Chihiro isn't much help.
 Chihiro looked at Maria.
I'm fine
 She remained calm.
 And with that feeling, she picked up the ball that had fallen to the ground and held it in a lean form.
You can fight. You don't need to be afraid
 The illusions on the court disappeared, and now multiple illusions are created on the enemy's court. They look like Riko, Kamishiro, and the rest of the players.
 But Maria only scowled lightly.
 The ball is thrown, and the third boy is out. It is now two against two. And Riko spoke to her.
Too bad. Not your lucky day
...Luck, huh?
...What? What's with that expression?
 Riko picks up the ball and raises it. This time it's a phantom of countless balls suspended in midair. It'd be quite intimidating if the balls came together with the real thing.
Stop it. Nishizaki-san, let me do it
 But Kamishiro stopped Riko. Naturally, Riko tilted her head in disapproval.
Why? She's...
Maybe she can't be fooled by half-hearted feints. It's better to have a simple contest of endurance than to wear her out by using too many illusions
...I understand
 Perhaps sensing something in Kamishiro's serious words, Riko obediently handed over the ball.
 And so, the two top students in the class faced each other head-on.
Since that's the case, will you play for me?
Yes. Have it your way
Thanks, I'll go
 With that, the ball is thrown at high speed. It's faster than anything shown in the fight so far.
 Maria caught it as if she were hugging it to her chest, probably as a result of concentrating only on the power, not on feinting.
 There was a loud noise and her left hand is red from the impact.
 But Maria is silent.
 Rather, Kamishiro, the one who had thrown her, moaned. It's the effect of Maria's [Retaliation]. If he threw a strong throw, Kamishiro would have to taste its power.
 Then Maria threw a return throw.
 Kamishiro caught it without difficulty, despite the damage. It seems that there is a big difference between men and women in terms of pure physical ability.
 From there, the game is between the two of them. The rally continued, with neither Chihiro nor Riko getting in.
 It's an endurance match. Maria has a self-healing ability, but it can heal only wounds and pains, not fatigue. Also, she does not have the power to break down Kamishiro's defense.
 Maria attempts is to reduce Kamishiro's stamina through a siege with the outfield.
 Kamishiro, on the other hand, insists on attacking her and continues to throw high-powered pitches.
 For several minutes, the game seemed to go on forever, but it ended in Maria's defeat.
 Maria's fatigue must have reached its limit.
 Maria failed to catch Kamishiro's throw, and was finally out.
 Kamishiro, who had won the game, is breathing hard, and looked to be on the verge of exhaustion.
The result might have been different if this had been a real combat exercise
...Yes, that's true
 Maria replied quietly to Kamishiro's delighted expression.
 Now it is one against two.
 Finally, Chihiro is left alone in the infield. He would have to fight Kamishiro and Riko alone.
 Even if it's just one of them, he can't win.
 The students of the allied team there seemed to have given up on winning and so gently throw the ball on Chihiro.
 It's impossible, isn't it?
 They thought.
 And as the ball rolled gently down the court, it touched Chihiro's foot.
 Then he picked up the ball...
...Take care of the rest
 But, as Maria walked to the outfield, she come to Chihiro and whispered softly.
 His heart thumped in his chest.
 To his surprise, the emotion that came through is "trust". At this moment, she believed in Chihiro's victory more strongly than the lust that was constantly assaulting her body.
 How could she be so sure?
 Chihiro had no idea.
 He didn't understand, but the trust he felt directly drove Chihiro's heart and body.
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