[Translator – Anwen]
Despite knowing that the Target form was her specialty and that it gave her an advantage during the exam, Shirone felt that the score of 987 points was out of this world.
Nade recalled and spoke.
“You might not know, but during exams, our senior focuses so hard to the point she seems like a different person. It’s no wonder she never lost her place as the rank 1 prior to entering the Advanced class. I mean, you’re also not much different in that sense.”
Shirone realized once again.
‘How many people of talent live in this world?’
But on the other hand, it gave him courage.
‘That’s right, there’s nothing that is absolute in this world. Like how Amy won using her own method, I will also win using my own method.’
“There’s no need for you to break the highest record, so relax. Before the record-breaking 987 score, I heard that the highest score was somewhere in the late 700s. Our senior achieved her highest record when she was in Class 4, not 5, so even more reason to take it easy.”
‘Then let’s make my primary goal 700 points.’
3 weeks were left before D-day. Shirone had to think of a way to raise his score in that short period of time.
‘I won’t lose. Not in a million years.’
Shirone clenched his fists.
The only thing clouding his thoughts was the Sequence method.
He had to count faster than Yiruki, but he couldn’t come up with a number.
‘Damn it. How should I execute this exactly?’
No matter how much he increased the set numbers using modularity, it was shabby compared to the unit compressive force of log.
“First, let’s train.”
At night, Shirone practiced Photon Output.
The speed at which the Sequence method reached the last number was much faster, but even so, he could only count to 10,000 in one minute.
‘Yiruki reached one million on the first day. I may have the upper hand in terms of stamina, but Yiruki is superior in terms of the speed at which he strengthens his Spirit Zone. If I do nothing about the gap between us, winning will not be possible.’
There was the exam he had to think about as well.
If there were an unlimited number of targets, achieving 1,000 points wouldn’t be too difficult, but there was a unique pattern.
‘At level 1, 10 targets appear. You have to take them all out in order to move on to level 2. Moreover, with each increase in level, there’s an additional target that gets added.’
At level 10, nineteen targets appeared all at once.
Therefore, if one were to start off slow from the beginning and take too much time, one wouldn’t be able to earn a high score.
‘If I miss a target even once, the delay could prove fatal. After all, the name of the game is Speed Gun.’
Shirone finished training around midnight.
Currently, Shirone’s daily routine looked something like this:
He would go to his dorm, sleep like the dead, wake up to take classes, train until midnight, and then repeat the process all over again.
Other students either shared tips and tricks with each other or practiced the Sequence method while waiting in line for the Image Zone.
When it was his turn, Shirone poured out everything he learned and trained without restraint.
Every time the thorns of the Attack Form made contact with a target, the beam of the Photon Output pierced the air.
The students gave him their full attention.
“It’s getting faster and faster.”
As Shirone continued to get used to active magic, eventually, he was able to hit the mark without even turning his body.
A minute passed by in a blur for the students who watched the light show.
The final score was 567 points.
Shirone regained his confidence seeing as his score was higher than what Yiruki had gotten previously.
‘Good. It’s faster than before.’
…Though, his performance lowered the self-esteem of his classmates.
“Over 200 points more than his last score! And all this In the span of a week?! What the hell is this?! It’s an absolute violation of equity!”
“The speed of those light bullets are too fast. Once a target is sighted, it never misses, so leveling up is a piece of cake. Moreso, his linking has improved. He seems to be casting more than 4 times per second.”
“Seeing Shirone’s performance has gotten me fired up!”
“Let’s do this!”
And so, the students eagerly awaited their turn in the Image Zone.
“I guess it’s my turn now?”
Since it was almost the end of the class, the line for the Image Zone dwindled, and as such, the aloof-looking Yiruki made his appearance.
Until now, he wasn’t even practicing and was relaxing under the shade of a tree.
The corner of his mouth curved up and Shirone watched him activate the targeting program.
As soon as Yiruki released his Spirit Zone, he immediately switched to the Deviate Form. And this time, it was smaller than before.
Sounds of awe erupted from all around.
Shirone’s light was flashy, but Yiruki’s demonstration of speed excited the spectators as well.
After one minute was up, Yiruki didn’t even look back to check his score as he walked away with hands clasped behind his back.
His final score was 568 points.
A single point ahead of Shirone’s.
‘…That was not a coincidence.’
Even after this incident, Shirone’s skills continued to improve, but Yiruki was always ahead by a single point.
The intention was clear.
“Yiruki wins once again. As expected, I don’t think Shirone can do it.”
It was Yiruki’s strategy to drive Shirone into a corner. He wanted to make him despair. He wanted to make him feel like no matter how hard he tried, there was no way he’d win.
‘I won’t give up, no matter what!’
Despite Yiruki constantly one-upping him, Shirone continued to devote himself to the Sequence method.
As Shirone broke through and exceeded the multiples of 100, the performance of his Spirit Zone increased exponentially.
In his last practice before the exam, Shirone surpassed 700 points, a score difficult to achieve.
Students cheered for him.
“I can’t believe the score I’m seeing right now. It really IS possible to earn such a score.”
“If you don’t pass level 10 in approximately 10 seconds, it’s impossible to get to the 700 mark. If so, how many do you have to knock down in a second?”
Shirone made a fist.
‘I did it. I earned 70 more points compared to my last real practice. I’ve reached the primary goal I set.’
With the exam day right ahead of him, Shirone’s concentration only increased.
Shirone came down the stairs while hiding his excitement. At the same time, Yiruki walked past him and said.
“Congrats. 700 is definitely an impressive score. Your growth rate is fast, almost to the point it’s scary.”
“Cause I don’t want to lose to you.”
“Kekeke, I see. But you shouldn’t let your guard down. The exam hasn’t even started yet.”
By the time Shirone reached the bottom of the stairs and turned around, Yiruki was already practicing for the Speed gun.
[Translator – Anwen]
The students’ eyes widened.
“Wow! It must take some serious skills to make the Spirit Zone that small.”
The Deviate form was almost the size of a marble, and it was so fast that not even an afterimage was apparent.
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With Yiruki in the center, it looked like the explosions were just happening on their own.
…And just like that, a minute passed.
He beat the score Shirone tried so hard to reach by one point yet again.
The students shouted.
“Amazing! Yiruki still has the upper hand!”
They were looking forward to the competition between Shirone and Yiruki.
One genius vs. another genius.
So far, Yiruki was winning.
‘Again with that one point difference?’
For once, Shirone broke into a cold sweat.
If Yiruki had won using all his might, Shirone wouldn’t have been so nervous.
‘I don’t know. What’s the highest point Yiruki can score?’
The evaluation period started next week.
Class 5 had the busiest schedule, so even with the weekends included, he only had three days left.
‘I need to find a way.’
Shirone left the training ground with an anxious heart.
Central park, which was usually packed with students during the holidays, was empty due to the pressure of the exams.
On a quiet street where most shops were closed, Sharelle headed towards the fountain.
‘Am I too early?’
She was excluded from the Intermediate class evaluation because she had submitted the Advanced Class promotion application the day before yesterday.
Arriving at the fountain, a red-headed girl was sitting on a bench reading a book.
Sharelle’s face brightened.
Amy, who had a haggard expression, heard her and closed the book she was reading and stood up.
“Wow, you’re so thin. The Advanced Class must be hard.”
Amy had become much thinner and was evidently lacking sleep as her face was pale. There were even not-so-concealed dark circles under her eyes.
“Soon, we’ll look like twins. Anyways, welcome to hell. Here, are the files you asked for.”
Amy passed over the files related to the Advanced Class promotion.
It wasn’t considered an expedient means because what she handed was information all Advanced students had access to.
“Thanks. Let’s sit down first. Wanna drink something?”
“Coffee. Coffee is the only reason I’m alive and awake.”
They each bought a cup of coffee from an empty cafe and returned to the park.
They sat down on a bench.
Sharelle asked a question after looking through the files.
“How is it? Is the promotion exam very difficult?”
“Hmm, should I say it’s hard? The level is high, that’s for sure. However, it doesn’t use the system where your score determines whether you fail or pass. Instead, it’s like checking what you can do… Kind of? That’s why cramming is out of the picture. It won’t help. Essentially, they examine the standard at which you can operate.”
“Yeah? That makes me more nervous.”
“It’s fine. Being at the top of Class 4 definitely means you’re at the Advanced class level. The problem is what comes after.”
Sharelle, who was deep in thought, turned her head to look at Amy. She saw her looking up at the sky.
Although her appearance was downright bad, Sharelle could feel a distinctive aura unique to those from the Advanced Class.
‘The mental, physical, and technical parts of her all seem to have become stronger. I should get promoted quickly.’
Amy, who was sucking on an empty cup of iced coffee, opened her mouth.
“How’s Shirone these days?”
“Hoho! I thought you’d never ask. You guys seriously haven’t met up once? Haven’t you heard the rumors?”
“Don’t know. I don’t have the time, and both of our classes are strictly divided anyway. Though I did hear that Samuel visited as a teaching assistant. In any case, what are those rumors you mentioned?”
“There’s something fun happening in Class 5.”
As Amy faced her with the straw still in her mouth, Sharelle did what she did best. Blabber away.
The main point was that Shirone and Yiruki were having a showdown, with the Speed Gun exam as the backdrop.
“…Reducing the units through log. That’s quite fresh. Very Yiruki-like.”
Sharelle was surprised.
“Eh? You know Yiruki?”
“Of course. We were classmates. Of course, I got promoted early, so we weren’t close. But he’s that guy, the one with Savant Syndrome, right?”
“Ho? You do really know him. Have you talked? He doesn’t seem very friendly.”
“Yeah, I did. When I freshly entered Class 5, he was the one who started the conversation.”
“What? Does he perhaps like you? Oh my god. Then it’s a battle between two love rivals.
“Keep talking. He’s a bit weird, you know? He talks like he’s dried up and numb from any sort of emotion. I think that whatever he’s doing to Shirone right now, he was gonna do to me. After all, he immediately picked a fight with me. Though I couldn’t be bothered, so after I stopped paying any attention to him, his interest towards me naturally dwindled.”
“Hmm, in other words, he is a genius hunter. What do we do? Shirone was unlucky to get caught.”
“I don’t think it’s to that extent. It’s a barrier he has to cross either way. Doesn’t matter if it’s now or in the near future. But I agree, he will have quite a difficult time. Using log in Speed Gun will get Yiruki a pretty high score.”
Sharelle glowered a bit.
“How can you say that? Your boyfriend is standing at the edge of a cliff and needs some cheering up. What if Shirone loses?”
“It’s just an exam. They aren’t fighting. Losing is an inevitability, no need to go nuts…”
Amy seemed unimpressed.
Since everyone in the Advanced Class were stars, it did not matter who won or lost, but…
Sharelle was still disappointed.
“You’ve never lost before! So say something that’ll cheer Shirone up! I’ll personally deliver your message.”
“No need. You’ll probably exaggerate whatever I say anyways. Plus, it’s not like it’s a promotion exam or anything of great importance this time. It’s a practical evaluation, for heaven’s sake. Shirone is someone who’s aiming to join the Advanced Class. It’ll be a good experience for him.”
“Then maybe share the secret to getting a high score in Speed Gun. You’re the record holder, after all.”
“Advice, you say? There’s no advice I can give Shirone as he probably already knows what he needs to do. I’m not like this because I’m uninterested, it’s because Shirone’s really talented. You said he achieved 700 points. I only reached that high score because I specialize in the Target Form.”
The one person who wished the two the best more than anyone else was heartbroken.
“Then what? Shirone still has a chance of winning, right? He has to win.”
Amy just nodded her head back and forth with the straw still in her mouth.
Though she disliked his first impression, he was a formidable opponent.
“It is quite tricky if we were to only look at his targeting. That’s why the Savant Syndrome is such a strong weapon. With the addition of logs, he is close to being a firm, resistant wall. In fact, he’s nearly an unbreakable one. And not only that, you said he’s serious this time around. If we competed in the Speed Gun test back when I was in Class 5, and if he was seriously determined to win…”
Amy, who was debating on the result, bore a frown and said.
“I would’ve probably lost.”
Amy never gave up her seat as the rank #1 in the Intermediate class, so Sharelle couldn’t help but be shocked.
Considering she was already in the Advanced Class, she may have been generous with her claim as everything was in the past, but it was still a pretty big statement nonetheless.
Sharelle looked like she was about to cry.
“Wh-What…? So what about our Shiro?”