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Chapter 152 Interval, Part One - 2


 If Hana borrow Ayase's [Pretending], cosplay is no longer just cosplay. [Retaliation] and [Self-healing] won't help in a gunfight with painted bullets, so it's a choice.
 
「...hmm? Mishuku-san, wouldn't it be better for you to borrow one from Suzu-san or Nishizaki-san?」
「...Yes, indeed. Well, I'll think about it after I see the results of the third event」
 
 With these words, they arrived at the entrance of main gate a few minutes before the start of the second event.
 All the other representatives had already assembled. Lucille and Kamishiro were doing some preparatory exercises in the corner, so they joined them.
 But then, Lucille pointed with her chin in a certain direction.
 
「There」
 
 Many people in front of the entrance to the building were looking in the same direction, at something unfamiliar on the ground.
 It was a temporary stage.
 It was a bit larger than the one used for the Miss Contest, and there was nothing on the stage. There is a staircase to go up to the opposite side of the stage.
 
**a
(I wonder what it is...)
(It is not for the third event, is it? )
 
 While puzzled by the fact that it has nothing to do with the competition to run around the school looking for a ball, one person steps out of the crowd and onto the stage.
 She had twin-tailed hair and a black-and-white one-piece dress. Wearing black garter socks and a skull mark painted on her left cheek, she was the well-known Ibusuki Kaname.
 She walked onto the stage with a microphone and said cheerfully.
 
「Everyone. I'm going to do a mini live performance here. Most of you know my face, right?」
 
 White teeth peeked out viciously from her open mouth.
 Her voice and tone are flirtatious, yet her gestures are somewhat challenging. This brings out the duality of the girl to an excessive degree.
 
『It's frustrating, but kind of cute』
「I mean, where is the continuation of the competition?」
 
 Marika mutters nonchalantly, to which Riko naturally interjects.
 
「I got the permission from the staff. This is just another interval, a bit like an entertainment」
「...Entertainment?」
 
 Riko shakes her head with an expression of disinterest.
 However, the other people present, students from other schools, generally responded favorably.
 
「Hmm... Well, it's good, isn't it?」
「It'll give us more break time」
 
 If the staff has given permission, it is not clear whether the event will be canceled even if they object to it.
 If that's the case, it's a positive idea to just enjoy the show.
 
「But this is a bad idea」
 
 Yotsuba muttered with a distorted expression.
 
「...I guess so」
 
 A performance by Kaname in front of the audience.
 A similar situation happened at the Miss Contest. At that time, it was a prelude to the indirect use of [Ruler] with [Terminal], and was meant to make the people present aware of her presence.
 If it is the same in this case.
 
「She's thinking of something bold, like manipulating the participants of the rivalry」
『What do you mean?』
「Oh, Hazuki-san and the others didn't know that, did they?」
 
 When Yotsuba briefly explains the power of [Ruler], Marika and the others' expressions cloud over.
 
「Yotsuba, is there any way to stop or prevent it?」
「I don't know. At least, if we stay vigilant, it should lessen its influence」
 
 Even if the representative members of Shibahou Academy could manage that, it would not stop the influence on other schools.
 If this is the case, holding the mini live concert itself is dangerous.
 Yotsuba stepped forward and raised her voice, saying that it would be better to raise an objection before the event started.
 
「Wait a minute. I understand your intention to hold the live concert, but I cannot agree to the delay of the third event. I am also concerned about the possibility that you might take advantage of the live performance to use your mental manipulation abilities」
 
 This caused a stir among the surrounding students.
 Seeing them looking at each other and wondering if they should protest as well, Kaname looked relaxed for some reason.
 She tilts her head in a mocking pose and says in a cheerful voice.
 
 **b
「But, if there is an entertainment, the break time will be increased, won't it?」
 
 There are students who are tired and battered in Shibaryuu Academy and Shibakkou Academy.
 The flow of the meeting changed around them again.
 
「Besides, don't you think it's a rare chance to see me live for free?」
「...Ah, she's taking advantage of being an idol, isn't she?」
 
 Suzu walked up and muttered.
 As she pointed out, the bait of Ibusuki Kaname's live performance was quite effective. Many people are lost in thought as they weigh the pros and cons, and the scene stalls.
 [Ruler] through [Terminals] is not so effective as C-rank, but the title of "popular idol" compensates for the lack of effectiveness. The more favorable factors that look at Kaname, the easier it is to be effective.
 
「Now, let's have a majority vote by representatives from each school to decide whether the mini live performance is acceptable or not」
 
 The representatives each raise their hands, as if urged by a staff member.
 Shibahou Academy voted unanimously against, Shibatsuru Academy voted unanimously in favor――the remaining ten voted six in favor and four against.
 
「With the majority in favor, the mini live concert will be held」
「...It's no good...」
 
 Kamishiro let out a breath.
 Then a woman wearing a staff armband came out with a microphone. She stared at Chihiro for a moment, and had a face that had been familiar to him since childhood.
 
「As for the possibility of mental manipulation ability, we will offer counseling to those who wish to receive it after the competition is over. As for the operation staff, we consider such a situation to be part of the strategy」
「...Nee-san」
 
 Her presence among the staff is probably a precaution against [Absolute].
 Considering the school festival, it is safe to assume that she will come when she gets some information that Fukami Kaito might do something.
 
 Well...
 The mini live concert was not stopped. The protest may have alerted students from other schools, making [Ruler] a little less effective, but maybe not enough.
 If Chihiro and the others are forced to interfere by kicking the management's decision, they will be warned.
 So, is there any way to frustrate Kaname's intention peacefully?
 
(Hmm...)
 
 Chisato and Chihiro are turning their heads together.
 [Ruler] is more effective when people are aware of its user existence. In other words, if Kaname doesn't leave an impression on people, the effect will be lessened?
 So, if someone draws attention with a smile, singing, and dancing――
 
「...Singing, too, maybe?」
「Eh?」
「Izumi-kun, what do you mean?」
 
 When Chihiro explained his intention to the girls who looked at him with question marks in their eyes, they looked at him as if they understood or did not understand.
 And to this, Suzu groaned.
 
「Hmm... but it might make sense. Theoretically, it would take a certain amount of control to make the opponent behave in a way that would benefit her. If we can neutralize them, even a little, I'm sure」
 
 A professional judge of ability gave her approval.
 
**c
「Well, to be honest, it's not something I'd like to do」
「Hmm? Chihiro-kun, why?」
「I mean, I think I'll probably join in if we do it」
 
 To compete with girl idols, it is necessary to a girl, too.
 It would be best if all the member participate in the competition. Kamishiro could only cheer, but if it's Chihiro, who knows if he can escape?
 
(Nii-san, shall I do it? )
(That would be nice, but the body is mine anyway...)
(Oh, that reminds me...)
 
 Chihiro's comment made some of the participants' eyes sparkle.
 
「It was right that I brought the costumes. I've also prepared a wig for Izumi-kun」
「Ayase-senpai, aren't you too well prepared?」
「I think half of it is Izumi-kun's self-destruction opinion...」
 
 Hana said with half-open eyes.
 
「It's better than nothing, isn't it? And let's make use of Ayase-senpai's "I'm just a girl" here」
「Competing with idols by singing. Well, it's not my style, but let's give it a try」
 
 Lucille agrees.
 Both of them are rather enthusiastic about the idea, perhaps because they don't want to be at Kaname's mercy. Aika and the others also offer to help in any way they can, and the group becomes more and more determined to give it a try.
 
『I'm sorry, I can't sing』
 
 Except for one girl.
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