Chapter 15.1: Elimination Confirmed
In some part of JNIM’s testing center was the control room: a dimly-lit metal box with several stations and people, and one giant screen displaying the different groups. As the 18th remaining group was eliminated, the section focused on it went into a replay. Once finished, it blacked out while the other sections rearranged themselves to fill the screen.
[ELIMINATION CONFIRMED. SEVENTEEN GROUPS REMAINING.]
“Why do I always end up with this job…”
[ELIMINATION CONFIRMED. SIXTEEN GROUPS REMAINING.]
Yawning, a figure with childlike proportions seated in the middle of the room heard the machine roar as the worker nearby input some data. A lab coat with sleeves entirely too long for him hid most of the boy’s body, and a pair of glasses similarly covered his face.
The worker reported, “Final placement by elimination is sixteen. Placement in terms of points is… surprising. Rank nine in terms of total points. Their names shall be kept in case eliminated groups surpass expectations.”
A few minutes after the worker finished logging in the results, the buzzer blared again.
[ELIMINATION CONFIRMED. FIFTEEN GROUPS REMAINING.]
A few minutes and another group later, he continued, “Final placement by elimination is sixteen. Placement in terms of points is thirty-six. No chance for them, huh? Well, we’re getting closer to the finalists.”
“Great, keep monitoring.”
The boy grabbed his mug from atop his desk. He yawned again, but the sound was lost in the orchestra of keyboard clicks, electronic sounds, and people’s voices. Every so often, the monotone buzzer could be heard as the number of panels on the screen decreased.
As he took a sip of his murky coffee, which had long forgotten its warmth, the boy heard a sound that broke tempo. Turning his head, he saw the person entering the room.
“Ah, it’s just Tano” — he put on an amused smirk and spat out the next word — “sensei.”
“What’s with that tone and why ‘sensei’ of all things? How rude, is that how you greet a friend?”
The blonde woman casually snatched the mug from his hand and took a sip that caused her happy expression to cramp up. With a disappointed look, she set down the mug onto his desk.
“Ugh, why is it cold?”
“I’ve been stuck here for hours without being able to leave,” he said, followed by a displeased sigh.
Noticing a speck of dust in the corner of his vision, the boy took off his glasses to clean them and then continued, “As usual, you seem to have no aversions whatsoever to indirect kisses and things of the like. Well, not like I particularly care either.”
She rolled her eyes while taking the seat next to him.
“Oh come on, we’ve known each other for a while. And I was raised outside of Japan, remember? I just tend to forget.”
“Yeah, I see you really haven’t changed…”
“Right back at you. I can only imagine one person who would want to teach two general studies courses on top of magical theory. I should’ve known this is where a prodigy would end up.”
‘Not to mention your short stature,’ she added in her mind.
“I can tell what you’re thinking, there’s no point in not saying it. Also, teaching math and science is incredibly easy for me, and since they’re needed for magical theory, it just helps me ensure they’re on the right track” — the boy held up his glasses to a small light at his desk before putting them back on — “It’s a real drag making up for another person’s incompetence.”
“… You know, I heard a case about someone scolding a fellow teacher for not ‘teaching the necessities and only babbling nonsense,’ or something like that. Apparently, the latter quit the week after.”
“Huh, is that so? I wonder who it was.”
The boy gave a disinterested yawn, moving to take a sip of his coffee.
“Yes, I wonder who… They said that the teacher who scolded him was a shota wearing a lab coat.”
The boy jumped from his seat and spit out his coffee.
“Who’s a shota” — he stopped mid-shout as he realized his mistake — “Ah.”
Tano Yuri broke out into laughter.
“So it was you! Hey, you may be one of the greatest minds in the world, but you’re only sixteen, you know? God, it’s still hard to believe I went to school with a 6 year old brat in the past.”
“A 6 year old who beat you completely in every subject.” He snorted. “Really pathetic.”
“Anyways, nice to see you again, Kenji-chan.”
“Don’t just ignore the things you don’t want to hear. Am I the child or you are?”
Harada Kenji. A prodigy who’d been recognized and admitted to JNIM when he was 6 years old. He looked out of place, the doubt and ridicule from his peers had been expected. But he’d shut them down with a list of achievements, many times bigger than what they all had combined.
This book maniac had formed a (violent) brother-sister bond with the battle maniac from abroad. In the ten years that had followed, the boy had become a professor and researcher at JNIM, while Tano Yuri had gone off to ending war conflicts.
Once she’d retired, he’d offered her a teaching position.