Chapter 40 Information Gathering - Part 1

 In the evening, they slept in the same bed. 
 Chihiro was fine with sleeping on the floor or whatever, but Riko was insistent. 
「After all this time, do you think I mind if we sleep in the same bed?」 
 It’s a reasonable thing to say, but he never expected it from Riko. 
 Women are strong. 
 It’s a common saying, but now he understands that it’s true. 
「Oh. The breakfast」 
「...Well, we don’t have any, I guess」 

 It was only after he woke up that he realized that he hadn’t even thought about breakfast. 
 And he considered whether he should get a hamburger on the way to school, or buy some bread at a convenience store and eat it at school, but he found some snacks that were just about to expire. He put half of them in his stomach for now. 
「Nishizaki-san, maybe you’d better leave the dormitory as soon as possible」 
「Why? ...Oh, that’s right. It’s school time」 
「Yeah. There’ll be more people coming out」 
 Riko should move early, watching out for students walking or running. Otherwise, she might miss the timing and be late. 
「Well, I’m sorry, but I’ll leave first. If you need anything, send me an e-mail」 
 Riko hurriedly got ready and left the room whuke tidying up her uniform caused by her hurried packing. 
 Well, there was stillness as if after a storm. 
 Even after all this time, it seemed like a great miracle that Riko was in this room. 
「...Well then」 
 As Riko left, Chihiro took his time to get ready and left the dormitory. 
 He closed the door and locked it. 
 He then went to school, feeling nostalgic for the actions he had done only a month ago. 
 Today is Saturday. 
 The classes are only half-day, so there is plenty of time to spare. He should do as much as possible to gather information. 
(Yes, I have to do it, I mustn’t give up) 
 He must not give up yet. 
 He must not give up on Maria or his mind-reading ability. 
 After all, it’s scary to give up on something once he has it, even if he says he’s not ready. 
 The morning HR session went off without a hitch. 
 The same goes for the first and second period optional classes, art. 
 Maria attended the school properly. Her appearance in the classroom and the art room was the same as usual. 
 The way her hair was arranged, the texture of her skin, the way she wore her uniform. The way she acted, everything. 
 It could be said that Maria’s refusal to have any contact with Chihiro at school was a result of the fact that Chihiro’s presence did not have a significant impact on her life. 
 Naturally, she never made eye contact with him. 
 But, for now, Chihiro should do something about his mind-reading. 
 Thinking so, he did a web search during the third and fourth period of information processing class. Although the use of a PC unrelated to the class is not good, everyone does it rather often. Besides, if he was doing research on [Lost Item], he would not be blamed too much. 
 And so, he continues to search for information while taking a class. 
 He looked up the ability of [Looting]. While there was no information on Hana’s individual ability, he did find some similar abilities. 
 According to this, it seems that [Looting] is a rare and useful power. 
 After all, it has an extremely wide range of applications. It can be consensually acquired from someone who does not need the ability, or it can be used to suppress criminals who use the ability. 
 Depending on the number of abilities it can hold and the conditions of use, it is not uncommon for it to be certified as Rank A, or even Rank S. 
 ...In that light, Mishuku Hana’s abilities are still moderate. 
 Her rank is B because, as she said, she could only have one ability. 
 However, there is no definitive information about the conditions of her release. 
 At most, he found out that the taken ability can be returned to the owner at will (in many cases). However, since the information available on the Internet does not cover every case, it can only be considered as a reference. 
 In the other case, he could not find a clear description of what happens if he kills his opponent. 
 But well, it is not going to be so easy. 
 After finishing the information processing, Chihiro returned to the classroom and called out to one of the students without waiting for the homeroom. 

「Maisaka-kun. I have a favor to ask you.」 
「A favor? It’s unusual for Izumi to call on me」 
 But Maisaka is willing to listen to him. 
 After HR, they went to the cafeteria and started talking. Maisaka ordered a large bowl of Naporitan, and Chihiro ordered Hayashi rice (Hashed Beef Rice). 
「Actually, I’d like you to do some research on a certain person」 
 Maisaka was unfazed by the directness of the question. 
 He took a forkful of pasta, chewed it, swallowed it, and told Chihiro. 
「But it’s expensive」 
「How much do you want?」 
「Come on, dude. Just tell me what you want. I mean... It’s not like you’re joking, right?」 
 Just as Chihiro thought. 
 Maisaka has the ability of accumulation and is good at gathering information. In addition, as a Class President, he has a wide range of acquaintances and is familiar with the information of other classes. Therefore, Chihiro thought that he might be able to provide information or conduct investigations if he asked. 
 And from his response, it seems that he is already working as an informant. 
「Well, the reward doesn’t have to be cash. It could be something, another piece of information」 
 Maisaka says in a light tone as he continues to eat his pasta. 
「How much?」 
「Depends on who and what you’re looking for」 
 But it seems that he’s more serious than expected. 
 It’s like, "I’ll do my best to get what I’m asking for". So, Chihiro switches his thoughts from meal mode to negotiation mode. He mechanically took the hayashi rice into his mouth and presented the target’s name first. 
「I want to know about Mishuku Hana-san」 
 Maisaka’s expression faltered. 
 He was unexpected... or rather, impressed. And having told him about class A’s rank B by Chihiro, Maisaka must have known that Hana was the one. 
「The reward is about Mishuku-san’s ability... how about that?」 
「OK, I’m in」 
 The answer was immediate. 
「No, there’s no way I’m not going to take you up on this offer. So? What do you want to know about Mishuku? Her measurements?」 
「You don’t have to make a joke here」 
「I was being serious. Then what is it?」 
 Chihiro looked into the air and started to list the things. 
 Personality, hobbies, friendships on and off school, whether she lived in a dorm or at home, and information about her before she entered the school - before middle school. 
「...That’s about it, I guess」 
「Hmm. I see」 
 Maisaka nodded with a serious face and looked at Chihiro. 
「Izumi, are you a stalker?」 
「No, I’m not!?」 
 He couldn’t help but shout out in an outrageous manner. 
「Just kidding. Okay, we’re both almost done eating, let’s get some juice and move to another place. The juice is yours」 
 Though, the cafeteria should be fine if they’re just talking. 
 But deciding that Maisaka didn’t want to be in a crowded place from here on, Chihiro nodded obediently. After cleaning up the dishes, the two of them left the cafeteria.
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