[Translator – Anwen]
Shirone was floating in darkness.
It was a quiet and cold space where countless stars were scattered around.
An overwhelming world of stasis…
But suddenly, the scenery in which time seemed to have stopped suddenly accelerated.
The stars began to lengthen into lines.
‘I’m being absorbed.’
In the midst of the stars gathering towards one place, there were immeasurable spherical rocks and gasses.
Seeing the stars rush to each other, Shirone shuddered, but before that happened, the planets began to collapse first.
It was a phenomenon that ignored the law of physics.
‘Time is flowing backwards.’
Following the stars, Shirone’s own physical body dissolved, and in the process, his consciousness also disappeared.
‘But I still exist.’
This last remaining ‘thing’ that constituted a human being. Shirone didn’t know what that ‘thing’ was.
He felt the world that was compressed into a dot.
The result of light, time, acceleration of gravity, and universal gravitation being tied and brought together was…
Light was vibrating.
When he delved in deeper, the light became bubbles and then quickly popped.
It was as if the bubbles mirrored and repeated both creation and extinction.
Everything was filled with light, and even the last thing that made up Shirone joined in.
An extreme sense of unity.
And that feeling felt like an explosion.
Shirone woke from his sleep with a shout. His clothing was drenched as sweat dripped down his face.
He looked around his quiet and moonlit room.
After seeing the books regarding Photon output spread around messily on his desk, he managed to calm down.
“Hoo… Another nightmare.”
He drank water from the pitcher and opened the window. The winds of the early summer cooled down his body.
‘Why is this happening every night? What’s happening to me?’
Ever since he entered the Infinite Realm during the Speed Gun exam, Shirone had been plagued by the same dream every night.
Come to think of it, his nightmare didn’t seem that horrific, but each time he woke up from it, his shock was considerable.
Anxiety seeped in.
After experiencing the thing called the Immortal Function, Shirone felt like everything that made him himself was out of sync.
Due to the chill, Shirone hugged his body.
‘Disregarding the nightmare for now…’
The real problem was that the strange feeling followed him even in reality.
He didn’t know what exactly was going on, but he felt like a particular sense of his became extremely sensitive.
‘But what exactly is it?’
It wasn’t like he could smell better, or had sharper sight, touch, or hearing.
‘It’s not the five senses. It’s…’
It was as if he was equipped with a new sensory organ.
“No way I can sense ghosts now… Right?”
Music coming from a piano was heard from the ceiling.
As Shirone turned around in surprise, he noticed dawn was already peeking through the horizon.
Shirone went to the bathroom with tired eyes.
‘I don’t feel like I rested.’
Since the Intermediate Class practical evaluation ended last week, normal classes would once again resume this week.
‘That might be better. If I train like crazy, I might be able to get rid of this strange feeling.’
With his mind made up, he changed his clothes and left the dorm with a backpack slung on his shoulder.
The academy atmosphere was peaceful.
Most of the students who returned to being friends again after the competition were all talking about the Speed Gun exam.
After the evaluation ended, it was normal for a single star to appear in each class, but this time was an exception.
This was because the Class 5 Speed Gun exam, which was held on the first day, left too big of an impact.
It was inevitable since not one, but two students achieved scores of over 1,200 points! Such a score was unprecedented in the history of the Intermediate class.
“Hey! There goes Shirone!”
They felt something different new from Shirone, who was heading to the Intermediate class building.
The rising star went from Amy’s boyfriend to a student who represented the academy.
[Translator – Anwen]
That was why the upperclassmen from Class 4 would take the initiative to start up a conversation with him
“You did well during the Speed Gun. Let’s check up on each other now and then.”
The reason why the upperclassmen-lowerclassmen relationships were strict was because getting promoted was difficult.
In that sense, it meant Amy had great foresight as she recognized Shirone’s talents early on.
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The Class 6 students started to come up to Shirone after he finished talking with the upperclassmen.
“Senior Shirone, I’m your fan! Can I study with you as my role model?”
They were in the class that was the most displeased about Shirone’s early promotion. It couldn’t be helped since Class 6 was caught in the middle, as he jumped from Class 7 to 5, skipping over 6.
However, they had no choice but to forget about the past and change their attitude since even their seniors from Class 4 considered Shirone as an Advanced-Class rival in the future.
“What is your plan after class today? There’s going to be a magic demonstration inning, would you like to come with?”
“Our research group decided to visit during the holiday, let’s go together. I’ll be happy to be your partner.”
Only after he managed to kindly decline their offers did Shirone finally arrive at Class 5.
“Shirone! Shirone! Shirone! Shirone! Shirone!”
As soon as he opened the classroom door, his classmates pulled him in by his neck.
He was kidnapped before he could even put his backpack down, and when he saw all his friends looking at him, he was left puzzled.
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“The school semester is coming to an end. Join our research group. It’s one that we Class 5 kids made ourselves. The topic for the performance evaluation is up to the taker to choose anyways. It’s going to be fun, and moreover, you can save time. So join us.”
Shirone had consistently declined all offers to join a group so far.
“Don’t be like that and think about it in a positive light. I heard you refused to join a research group because of your personal studies? There are quite a few students like you here, but we still have to take the performance evaluation. That’s why we’re making one temporarily. No discrimination. We’ll quickly finish the evaluation and disband. Then you can study in your spare time.”
“Aha! I see.”
It was a good strategy.
Since the subject for the performance evaluation was up to the taker, there wasn’t a set criteria. That being said, joining an existing research group only to leave right after the performance evaluation was a bit rude.
Therefore, their solution to this problem was to create a temporary research group.
At that moment, Nade came running.
“Hey! What trick are you guys playing?! Shirone is off-limits. He’s mine!”
In the midst of his friends staring at him like he was absurd, a friend who knew what was going on with Nade countered.
“That’s ridiculous. I know what you’re planning. You want to admit him into that weird research group, right? Shirone, you should never join it. Even if you don’t end up joining our group, at least don’t join his. During my entire time here, never have I ever heard of Nade taking the performance evaluation.”
The Supernatural Psychic Science Research Group showed off a pretty long history and tradition, but they did not participate in many public activities.
“Eh? Nade, you have a research group? Where is it?”
Nade racked his brain and avoided the crisis with his unique secret technique that had so far brought him success in life.
“Hoohoo, of course. You think the most popular person in the academy won’t even have a research group? Anyways, you can’t have Shirone, so I’ll be taking him.”
When Nade pulled Shirone away, the student who proposed the idea to Shirone shouted loudly.
“Shirone! You have to think carefully! Never go in there! And Nade, don’t bother Shirone with his studies and just let him join a group where he’s comfortable.”
“Hahahaha! Too late. We already crossed the forbidden line.”
“Wait! What does that—”
The door slammed with a bang, and with that, Shirone was cut off. The students left in the classroom had dazed expressions.
“…What did he just say?”
“This is a problem. Nade, that bastard. He’s really thinking of bringing Shirone into that group. He shouldn’t be swayed.”
“No, I think he’s already swayed. And why the hell did they leave anyway? It’s almost time for class.”
Shirone, who was now in the hallway, shook off Nade’s hand.
“What the heck! What in the world is the forbidden line?”
“Haha! You are the only person who has seen the true nature of our Supernatural Psychic Research Group. That is the forbidden line you crossed.”
“True nature of the research group? There’s nothing to see though.”
Nade looked around and crouched down pulling Shirone along.
“First, sit down a bit.”
“Okay, okay. Just stop pestering me.”
Nade lowered his voice and said.
“It means you’re the only non-member student to have ever entered the research room. So you should never reveal it.”
“Nobody asks about it anyway.”
“Whatever! We already don’t have enough members. Moreover, there are talks going around that the management team is thinking about disbanding it. We have to keep a low profile, so don’t even mention the word ‘super’ in supernatural.”
“Alright, alright. I had no intention of doing so anyways.”
Shirone thought of it as a group on the brink of going under, but those who knew the real value of the Supernatural Psychic Science Research Group were trying hard to swallow it up. In fact, even the instructors were anxious to disband it.
“By the way, Shirone, are you… Really going to join that research group they made?”
“I was contemplating. Why? Is there a reason not to?”
“Of course. No matter how little discrimination there is in the performance evaluation, it’s your loss if you are in a research group with just random people. Besides, you’re aiming to be the no.1 of the entire academy. A single point is important. Instead of clumsily joining a so-so group, I think it’d be better for you to do it alone. Or join a really proper one.”
There was a full score of people in Class 4 who were aiming for the Advanced Class, so even a one-point difference in the performance evaluation mattered.
‘Hmm… But to take the performance evaluation by myself would take too long.’
Shirone beat his brain thinking of a way to make it work.
“What if I join the Supernatural Psychic Research Group?”
“Yeah. It looks like you guys don’t participate much in outside activities, and both you and Yiruki have to take the performance evaluation anyways. I think it’ll be better to join yours than to go and ruin a totally normal research group.”
“Haha! That’s true.”
Nade didn’t rebuke.
That was also why he couldn’t readily recommend his group to Shirone.
It had been 45 years since the establishment of the Alpheas Magic Academy. Most students successfully graduated and left to explore the outside world, but in secretive places they did not know of, various people were doing all kinds of extraordinary things.
The Supernatural Psychic Science Research Group was one such secretive place.
Shirone asked again.
“Well, what I said earlier was a joke. What do you say? You, me, and Yiruki. Taking the performance evaluation together?”
“Are you really okay with that? It’s a plus for us if you join, but in all honesty, our research group isn’t exactly normal. Though I can’t go into details, it won’t be like whatever you’re hoping for.”
It was obvious there were many secrets just by looking at Nade’s attitude in the lecture room back there. However, regardless of interest, a group created just for grades wasn’t appealing.
“The thing is… It’s not just for the performance evaluation”
“Hm? What are you talking about?”
“I’ve been feeling a bit strange lately. I was meaning to ask you guys, but maybe, supernatural psychic science can help explain some things too.”