As soon as the starting signal was given, students from each school started to move in unison.
Chihiro runs to the entrance with the other members of Shibahou. Meanwhile, Lucille's instructions echo in their head.
『Marika is on the first floor, I am on the second floor, Chihiro is on the third floor, and Yuuki is on the fourth floor. Basically, everyone should thoroughly search their own floor without taking the stairs. Hana, you should first change into your scholarly or honor student costume』
Each of them answered in a hearty voice, "Okay".
* * *
Here are the details of the third event, as described by the staff.
The third event is only in the main school building, and does not include annexes such as training halls. The balls are small rubber balls with a letter of the alphabet written on the surface of each ball. The type and number of balls are not disclosed.
Interference and combat are allowed, but if any property is damaged during such acts, a penalty will be imposed according to the degree of damage. Players are allowed to take the ball from someone else's possession or to exchange the ball with another team.
『The school building is basically unoccupied, but there are some staff members, teachers, and students who have urgent matters to attend to. Please refrain from any behavior that is offensive to public order and morals』
『In short, boys are not allowed to enter the women's restroom. Izumi-kun, maybe it's a good thing you're dressed as a woman』
『No, it's not good if I go in there even in such an outfit』
There is no problem to use cell phones and radios for communication. So, basically, each person is supposed to collect the ball separately, gather information, and guess the answer to the question.
（Nii-san, do you want me to help you find the ball? It's easier to search in some places if I can walk through, isn't it?）
（Hmm... No, let's not do that for now. I want to keep Chisato as secret as possible）
（Okay. Then, I'll help you with the brain work）
Obviously, Shibahou Academy's strategy is rather simple: avoid contact with other teams, and focus on speed to retrieve the ball. Then, as soon as the letters are confirmed, Hana, who is waiting near the "answer" button, will be told by [Telepathy], and she will answer the question as soon as she gets the answer.
If one person is assigned to each floor, there will be one person left over, and it will take a lot of effort to organize the information while running. Also, it is to avoid the case that the answer button is too far away from the floor when the answer is found.
* * *
「Yes. Do your best」
After changing his shoes at the entrance, Chihiro ran up to the third floor and left Kamishiro to go out into the corridor. Since each floor is assigned to one person, Chihiro must search all over this floor.
At first, he looks around the staircase area.
However, there is no ball placed on there.
（Well, let's start from the end nearest at hand）
The staircase Chihiro went up leads to a corridor lined with classrooms and a corridor toward the back of the building where the student council rooms are located. Deciding that the classrooms are the most likely to hide something, Chihiro opens the door of an empty classroom.
There, he heard a voice saying.
A girl screamed from the stairs in the direction he had just come from.
Thanks to the voice, Chihiro had enough time to avoid a kick from Kaname as he rushed to the door. He avoids the kick by stepping into the empty classroom and turns around.
「Ibusuki-san. I don't have the ball yet」
「I know. I'm just here to interfere with Izumi-kun」
「Interference? We don't have to fight in this event」
If one person can stop two or more people, one-on-one interference will only slow down the pace of both teams.
It's also a loss considering that there are more than three teams.
Kaname must have known this, but she came even closer to Chihiro, and she started to throw fist after fist at him.
Chihiro backs away and dodges each fist.
「You're limiting your search to four people, right? If so, stopping one of your members will reduce the efficiency. If we are competing with each other for the top position, it's worth doing」
「Then, I think it's better to stop Lucille-senpai than me」
Lucille is the command tower during the competition and the key to the brain work. Since she has the same level of athletic ability and is easy to interfere, it is best to go to her to stop her.
「No. You're the only one I'm after」
But the girl's eyes light up.
「I haven't forgotten what you did to me the other day. Besides, wasn't it Izumi kun who interfered on the break?」
It is true that Chihiro was the one who proposed the idea on the break, but it was everyone's power that created the flow.
So Chihiro cannot proudly say that he was the one who set it up.
「Always! You're always interfering me, always interfering us...!」
Kaname's hatred seemed to be so great that no matter how Chihiro tried to defend himself, it seemed futile.
The fists and kicks continued to be thrown during the conversation, and before long Chihiro was backed up to the window.
「I'll crush you here. I'm going to crush you, right here, right now!」
A powerful straight right hand comes at him.
If he moves to the left or right, he can dodge it. But there is not enough space on the left side because of the shelves and the wall. The right side is also blocked by a row of desks.
So, Chihiro could only lifts his hands to catch Kaname's fist.
It was a solid punch. But even Chihiro could have defended against the girl's bare muscles.
「...Ibusuki-san, why are you so obsessed with him?」
「Because Master is all I have!」
Kaname pulled back her left leg while her right hand was restrained.
Chihiro, who foresaw the coming kick, used his hands to push Kaname's right hand and her body away from him.
The kick was canceled and Kaname took a few steps backward.
Still, the wariness in the girl's eyes did not diminish. Instead, she glared at Chihiro with growing anger.
――Is it necessary to fight?
『Ibusuki-san has attacked me. It seems difficult to escape, so I'm going to fight while watching her』
『Understood. Take it easy and conserve your strength as much as possible』
Chihiro reported in his mind's voice, and immediately received a reply from Lucille.
At any rate, he received her approval. And he has no choice but to do what he can do while watching the situation.
「That man is crazy. He thinks Ibusuki-san is nothing but an object. He'll use you for his own gain and throw you away」
「I know it. But Master is loved by so many people that I can't be special. And what does it matter? If I can be useful to that person, I don't care if I'm an object or a tool!」
Kaname kicks the floor hard, and throws an elongating kick.
Now there is more space to avoid the kick than before. If Chihiro step forward to the left diagonally, he can get away with it, but in that case, Kaname may damage the window.
So, thinking this, he gives up the evasion and crosses his arms to catch the kick. Due to the sole of the upper shoe, which was hit him, his wrist is shallowly injured. And the damage is reduced to less than a scratch by the effect of [Stimulus Sharing], but considering the burden on Aika and the others, he tries to avoid even this level of injury.
Anyway, he continues the conversation and try to subdue Kaname.
But when he doing this, Chihiro's brain was filled with a series of voices.