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Chapter 161 Fifth Event - Survival, Part Two - 1


「...Oh, so that's the reason」
 
 Chihiro thought about the reason why the damage is so low, and eventually he came to an idea.
 Maria's [Retaliation] returns the damage to the attacker, but if there is no clear attacker, or if the attacker is self-inflicted, the damage is returned to the weapon or other object.
 He knew this from the first demonstration of [Retaliation] in the class when Maria destroyed a ballpoint pen.
 The criteria of whether the damage is returned to the attacker or to the object are the presence or absence of the intention of harm and the user's perception of the damage.
 
「You treated Enjou-san's attack as "just taking the ball out of the warehouse", didn't you?」
「...Yes.」
 
 Hana answered without turning around.
 Since it was not an ability to shoot out an object, but only a byproduct of the ability to take out an item through the gate, she was not clearly recognized as being "attacked directly", and half damage was returned to "both the attacker and the object".
 This is in her case.
 
**a
「In my mind, I have a vague perception that a ball suddenly flew out of nowhere...」
 
 If it's Maria, it would be different.
 She, the original user, would have used [Retaliation] better. Though, this ability is not so much dependent on the skill of the user.
 
「Even so, I was surprised. I didn't know there was such ability.」
 
 Mizuki says gently to Hana. Then she continued.
 
「Your ability is still a threat enough for me. Nevertheless, your ability is still enough of a threat to me, because I have to deal with you all by myself.
 
 Hana and Mizuki have different weights for the same damage.
 If Hana continues to use her ability and inflict damage, Mizuki will have to bear some of the burden. But if someone else - for example, Chihiro, who is standing behind her - takes up the challenge, it will slowly take its toll on her.
 
「So, I am sorry, but I will take measures. ...including those who are watching us...」
「...Eh? Ah」
 
 Mizuki glanced at the empty space.
 For a moment, both Chihiro and Hana wonder what is going on, and then they understands. Saki, who has turned invisible, is aiming for a surprise attack. But, Mizuki detected it by relying on the transmitter.
 However, depending on the accuracy of the terminal and the transmitter, it may be difficult to aim accurately at an unseen opponent.
 
 But――
 
 The sky above them suddenly became dark.
 It was not because the sun had suddenly set. But, there appeared a large number of basketballs covering Mizuki's entire surroundings.
 And without a moment's pause, they "fall".
 
「What!? No way!」
 
 Saki's panicked voice broke.
 On the same time, Chihiro and Hana, who had been standing, felt the same way. They hurriedly put their arms above their head and tried to escape further backward.
 However, they cannot escape from the influence of the basketball.
 
 ――And then the bombing happened.
 
 The falling basketballs hit people and the ground at once, bouncing in a chain-reaction manner, and applying secondary pressure in the same way like a bun in the air. The sea of balls swallows them up, and they are wobbly on their feet, barely able to stand on the spot.
 Almost a minute passed.
 When the damage finally subsides, Chihiro's arm feels a mild itching pain.
 This is the result through [Stimulus Sharing] and [Pain Reduction]. But Hana and Saki, who were closer to the center, would have suffered a lot more pain than this.
 
「No, I can't. I can't. I can't. This is crazy!?」
 
 Saki exclaims as she appears, perhaps having lost her concentration due to the shock.
 She has the ability to become invisible, but Chihiro understand how she feels. For Chihiro, too, the ability was beyond his expectations.
 Mizuki's abilities, as seen on TV, are limited to moving to a remote location or summoning a rubber ball and hitting it against an empty can. That alone is a formidable power. However, the sheer volume of her power is just too much.
 
 Chihiro look from Saki, whose will to fight is already exhausted, to Hana, who is also badly damaged by the previous attack.
 Hana seems to have been severely damaged by the previous attack.
 Her legs are wobbling a bit, though there are no visible injuries on her training wear. Still, she may have some kind of bruises on her body.
 
「I'm sorry. But, I can't play against many people unless I do this.」
 
 Mizuki, on the other hand, is unconcerned.
 She, too, must have been caught in the basketball bombardment, but her hair and clothes do not look disheveled at all.
 She must have collected and stored all the bounces that came to her with her ability.
 It is likely that she also retrieved the balls that were no longer used after the attack was over, so that there are hardly any balls left on the ground, although countless balls should have fallen down on her.
 
**b
 Hana's [Retaliation] is also almost ineffective.
 The fact that Mizuki did not even eject the ball but "just dropped it" must have slipped through the conditions for [Retaliation] to be applied.
 
「How did you get this ability...?」
 
 Mizuki, who overheard Saki's comment, answers with a smile.
 
「Ever since I was a little girl, I've been longing for a door that could go anywhere like the ones in children's anime,」
「An anywhere door? But this thing even has a built-in pocket.」
 
 She can move freely and retrieve items at will.
 It can even attack by shooting out its possessions.
 
「I guess I made a mistake in thinking that it doesn't matter if I beat you or not...」
 
 Saki looked up to the sky.
 She knew that she could not defeat Mizuki by half-hearted efforts, but she would only be preyed upon by Kaede if she ran away now.
 No matter whether she moves forward or backward, she will be in the same situation. There is no easy way out.
 Sigh...
 Hana let out a sigh and looked at Saki.
 
「Then, we have no choice, do we?」
「...I guess so.」
 
 After a half-second or so, they synchronize their timing and run toward Mizuki. Of course, Saki disappears as soon as they move.
 
「That's wonderful.」
 
 As soon as Hana and Saki took their first step, the space shook.
 Dozens of basketballs were floating above Mizuki on the left and right. They were shot forward at once, as if they had decided that they could not be dropped in time.
 And upon seeing this, Chihiro thought, "I'll leave it to Hana first," and retreated.
 He keeps just out of sight of Mizuki.
 
 Meanwhile, Hana, who is facing the incoming balls, covers her face and body with her arms. She tries to move forward while preventing the balls from coming one after another.
 However, there are not only one or two balls that she has to defend against.
 They come at Hana from both the front and the sides, and while each ball is powerful enough individually, when several of them are gathered together, they bounce and cover Hana's body, creating unexpected trajectories.
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