Besides the lessons regarding fighting against the CE, there were lessons like those in other high schools like science and mathematics as well as lunch breaks.
In the morning, at noon and in the evening were all times for meals. When everyone of D-class went to the school cafeteria, they came to realize the injustices that were thrusted upon them.
「WHAT THE HELL!」
Eisuke’s voice echoed throughout the cafeteria. Who knew how many times he had shouted today?
The first years numbered almost 150 people, and to cater for the whole student body they needed to seat 450. Due to how the chairs and tables lined up, this meant the room was fairly cramped.
But inside that beastly dining hall was an area covered with a luxurious carpet along with high-class and spacious tables which wouldn’t lose to those in a noble’s residence.
Furthermore there were also reclining chairs fully equipped with a massage function and a terrace to enjoy afternoon tea.
Undoubtedly, that place was a special privilege for those at the top of the hierarchy, a special area only for the A-class.
「What THE HELL, even what they eat is high-class!」
The meals distributed to D-class were normal rations, even for the SDF or high-school students, such as rice, miso soup, pickles, salad, croquettes, and milk for drink.
But, what everyone in the A-class ate were things that obviously looked like high-class french food, even at glance.
While they didn’t receive any wine, which was to be expected since they were still minors, something resembling a high-class grape juice was poured for them.
「Even I’m tired of getting angry at this all the time」
Even Hinata lost her willpower to get angry, deciding to just choose a seat and begin her meal.
Souji too tapped his friend’s shoulder and urged him to sit.
「Just be patient – look, even the senpais and the other classes say nothing of it, so calm down」
「Uhm, you’re right…」
Eisuke reluctantly agreed and looked at his surroundings.
B-class and C-class, the second years, even the third year students. Except for the ones from the A-class, all of them sat at the same table and shared the same meals.
To the bitter end, the special ones were only the A-class.
「This is bad for my heart, I should raise this issue with the PTA!」
「That’s impossible, please give up on that idea」
A dignified voice resounded from behind Eisuke, who was still complaining.
Turning back he saw an ikemen who could easily match the looks of models, although the swellings on her chest told him that he, was in fact, a she.[TL Note: ikemen – a really cool, handsome looking guy.]
「May I sit beside you?」
「By all means」
If he was a girl that smile would have been enough to make him fall for her, but Souji just nodded back at her without being disturbed at all.
「E~rm, who’re you?」
「Third year, Sakiyama Reika. I’m your senpai」[TL Note: 先山麗華(さきやまれいか)]
To Eisuke’s rude question, the handsome girl called Reika replied without erasing the smile on her face.
「Endou Eisuke. Then, what business do you have here, senpai? 」
Though his introduction was polite, Eisuke’s manner was still rough.
It seemed like he intuitively understood that she would be his (an unpopular boy’s) bitter rival.
But, even if she guessed that, it didn’t change Reika’s attitude.
「I’ve heard your conversation, so just treat this as advice from a senpai to her kouhai」
「Is it regarding the protest to the PTA?」
「That’s right, you should avoid actions like leaking the internal information of the police」
Though Eisuke wasn’t seriously trying to raise an issue with the PTA, he still felt uneasy after hearing what she said.
「It’s fine if all you talk about is your own well-being with family and friends. But the secrets of the special forces, especially regarding the A-class and Phantom armaments, shouldn’t be leaked outside … no, you shouldn’t even think about leaking these things.」
「Does that mean, they’re monitoring for those things?」
「It’s more like censorship or inspection. Just know that they’re monitoring the internet, emails, or letters from the special force」
With such dangerous words coming out from her lips, the first years who were listening suddenly become noisy.
「What the hell is that…!?」
「No, isn’t that normal?」
Though Eisuke was surprised with that, Souji just felt puzzled by it.
「They’re just monitoring the soldiers to protect military secrets, right?」
「Ahaha, it seems your lips are tightly shut. Uhm, I agree with you」
Could it be, a military otaku? ――Reika laughed merrily while looking at Souji as if he was something very interesting.
「As you say, doing checks is a normal duty if you’re a soldier. But, there are only kids entering the special forces so many of them can’t understand this fact」
Reika smiled wryly as if she wanted to say something too.
「Even though we’re the holders of legendary or mythical weapons, in the end we’re nothing but 『Soldiers』. We’re not『Heroes』 who can do whatever we like」[TL Note: She uses [boku] to refer to herself]
「Not a hero…」
Though they were just ordinary words, they pierced deeply into the first years’ hearts.
They’re not heroes, they’re not special, there were as many spares as needed to get the job done: they were nothing but expendable troops.[TLC : 自分は英雄ではない、特別ではない、いくらでも替えの効く、その他大勢でしかない。]
They could not get immersed in the feeling of being powerful like a child could, and they lacked the pride of an adult. They, who were trapped in the pitfall known as being a highschool student, found it difficult to accept this reality.
To her dispirited juniors, Reika offered her tender words.
「It’s true that we can’t become heroes. I mean, there’s can only be one hero, right?」
She looked over to a seat in the distance with a fleeting glance.
Being surrounded by many beautiful girls was a boy who gallantly received the dishes being carried to his mouth*.[TLC*: 最高の美少女達に囲まれ、甲斐甲斐しく料理を口まで運んで貰っている少年。]
The only little brother, of a girl who was hailed as a hero.
The overwhelming sword of light that could tear the sky and rend the earth.
Everyone was speechless and couldn’t find any words to rebbut her.
That was because they had acknowledged deep in their hearts that that was the brilliance of a champion who will save everyone from the terror of the CE.
However, that was it.
「Is that all?」
Amongst the disheartened crowd, Souji asked with a composed face.
「Eh? Well, that’s all but … you really didn’t think anything of it?」
「Anything, like what?」
As if he couldn’t understand the meaning of her words, Souji tilted his head in confusion. Seeing this, Reika showed an expression other than smiling for the first time.
「I mean, it’s about that guy being the only one who can become a hero, are you really okay with that?」
Even if she presented the reality with a tone that was a little irritated, she presented that reality calmly, without showing any regret or disappointment to Souji.
Rather, she began to harbour a little doubt.
「Is becoming something like a hero that important?」
「Grandfather, Kinoshita from next door, or Mio-chan. I came to this place to protect those who were close to me from the CE」
Something like the country or the world was just too big, and had not become his target yet.
But, the people whose faces he knew since childhood being attacked by some unknown crystal monster was something that he couldn’t bear to watch, something worse than dying.
That was the only reason for him to come and join the special force.
「I didn’t come so that I could become a hero 」
That’s why he felt it was strange that they were fussing over it.
Reika could only stare dumbfoundedly at Souji who gave such a straightforward answer, and then let out a self-mocking laugh.
「I see, you’re right. That’s why I――」
Her subsequent words were suppressed as she shook her head and filled her mouth with the remainer of her meal, before she began cleaning her used tableware.
「It’ll make a meal unappetizing if we talk about unpleasant stories, right?」
「Not at all」
Souji drank his miso soup, which had become a little cold, while shaking his head.
「But, please, let me tell you just one thing」
Pointing his finger to Reika who had recovered her dignified expression –
「You didn’t finish your tomatoes」
Souji said as he pointed out the small, round objects left on her plates. He couldn’t stand it when someone wasted food.
「What the hell.」
Souji wouldn’t budge at all, even when Eisuke reflexively tsukkomied his remark.
Seeing that, from Reika’s astonished face rose the best smile she had all day.
「My apologies, this thing is my only weakness」
While obediently apologizing, she picked the cherry tomato with her slender and feminine fingers and tossed it into Souji’s mouth.
「As an apology, we’ll be even the next time we meet」
Leaving behind a wink that twinkled like the stars in the sky, the ikemen senior gallantly left the stage.
「We, are weak against those kinds of guys」
「What a coincidence, me too」
Unusually, Hinata agreed with the frowning Eisuke.
To the side, Souji was thinking while chewing the cherry tomato.
「What class is that senpai from?」
When he remember that she only said she was third year and nothing more, Reika’s figure already disappeared.
After deciding to ask her the next time they met, he extended his chopstick to the remaining croquette.