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Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Vol 7 Chapter 1

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Magic High Schools are——
Nationally established high schools for the purpose of nurturing
"Magicians", the practitioners of modern magic.
There are a total of nine such schools set up in the country.
The locations of the premises are as stated.
First High School: Hachioji (Kanto, Tokyo)
Second High School: Nishinomiya (Kinki, Hyogo)
Third High School: Kanazawa (Hokuriku, Ishikawa)
Fourth High School: Hamamatsu (Tokai, Shizuoka)
Fifth High School: Sendai (Tohoku, Miyagi)
Sixth High School: Izumo (Sanin, Shimane)
Seventh High School: Kochi (Shikoku, Kochi)
Eighth High School: Otaru (Hokkaido)
Ninth High School: Kumamoto (Kyushu, Kumamoto)
Among these, the First to Third schools have a fixed quota of two hundred
students who are divided into two courses, Course 1 and Course 2 (The
Third High School terms them as "Specialized Course" and "Normal
Course"). The difference between Course 1 and Course 2 students lies in
the availability of instructors; if we take away the availability of a personal
instructor, then the curriculum between the two courses are the same.
While the Fourth to Ninth schools, each with a quota of a hundred
students, provide instructors to all the students, the level of their
instructors is a notch lower compared to those of the First to Third schools.
Even though various schools follow the curriculum guidelines set by the
National University of Magic, there are also schools that have their own
special characteristics. For example, the Third High School places
emphasis on practical battle magic, and, in contrast, the Fourth High
School places emphasis on a large number of highly complex
manufacturing magic which are valuable in areas of magic engineering.
Aside from the different focuses in the types of magic, there are also
schools that specialize in magic usable in a particular environment. The
Seventh High School teaches, separate from the normal curriculum, high
level magic that has practical usability above water or seas, while the
Eighth High School integrates practical outdoor lessons on magic useful in
regions of extreme cold or mountainous regions where the living
environments are extreme. 


Chapter 0
Magic.
It is a product of neither legends nor fairy tales, but instead has become a
technology of reality since a time unknown to people.
The first verifiable record dates back to AD 1999.
The incident, in which police officers possessing special powers stopped a
nuclear act of terror carried out by a fanatic group in order to fulfill the
prophecy of destroying humanity, became the first verifiable case of magic
in modern times.
Initially, that unusual ability was termed "Supernatural Power". An ability
that was present in a person as a result of a purely inherent, sudden
mutation, whose systematization as a technology which could be spread
among the masses was thought to be an impossible thing.
That was an erroneous notion.
Through the research of "Supernatural Power" by both the influential
Eastern and Western nations, the existence of people who were imparted
"Magic" was gradually made public. It became possible to reproduce
"Supernatural Power" through "Magic".
Of course, talent is required to do that. However, only those who are
blessed with a high aptitude can attain a mastery that can put them at a
professional level, much like those who possess ability in the fine arts or
sciences.
Supernatural power became a technology systematized through magic,
while magic became a technical skill. A "Supernatural Power User"
became a "Magic Technician".
Skilled Magic Technicians, capable of suppressing even nuclear weapons,
are powerful weapons to a country.
At the end of the 21st century —— in the year 2095 -- the various nations
of the world, which are far from unified, are locked in a race to nurture
Magic Technicians.
The First High School is affiliated with the National University of Magic.
It is an upper-level, magic institution known to send the most graduates to
the National University of Magic every year. 
At the same time, it is also an elite school that churns out the largest
number of excellent Magic Technicians (in short, Magicians).
With regard to magic education, there is no official stance on providing an
equal opportunity in education.
This country does not have the luxury to do so.
Furthermore, childish, idealistic debates revolving around the clear
disparity that exists between the capable and the incapable are not
tolerated.
Thoroughly talent-driven.
Harshly competence-oriented.
That's the world of magic.
In this school where only elites are accepted, right at the start of
enrollment, the students are already divided into high achievers and low
achievers.
Even if two individuals are both freshmen, they are not necessarily equal.
Even if they are blood-related siblings. 
Chapter 1
"I can't accept this."
"You're still going on about that...?"
It was the day of the school entrance ceremony, but it was still early
morning, two hours before the start of the ceremony.
The freshmen whose hearts were filled with anticipation at the future their
new life would bring, along with their even more exultant parents, still
numbered few and far between.
Standing before the auditorium where the entrance ceremony was going to
take place, a man and woman pair, clad in brand new uniforms, was for
some reason locked in a verbal disagreement.
They were both freshmen, yet their uniforms were strangely and
distinctively different.
We are not talking about the difference between slacks and skirt, nor the
difference between a man and woman's attire.
But rather, on the female student's chest was the eight-petaled flower
design of the First High School's emblem.
That emblem was not present on the male student's blazer.
"Onii-sama, why are you a reserve? Didn't you top the entrance exams?
Typically speaking, the one who should become the freshman class
representative should be you, not me!"
"Putting aside the question of where you got hold of the entrance exam
results... since this is a Magic High School, it's obvious that they'd place
more emphasis on practical magic skills rather than on paper tests, right?
Miyuki, you are well aware of the extent of my practical abilities, aren't
you? I'm quite surprised that I even got accepted here as a Course 2
student."
It was a scene where the male student was trying to pacify the female
student who had been lashing out angrily with her sharp tongue. From the
fact that the female student had called the male student 'Onii-sama', we can
probably presume that they are siblings. It is also not unlikely that they are
closely-related relatives. 
If they are siblings...
Then they are siblings who don't resemble each other at all.
On one hand, anyone who sets eyes on the younger sister will no doubt be
captivated by her; ten out of ten people, or even a hundred out of hundred
people, will agree that she is a lovely, beautiful girl.
On the other hand, for the elder brother, other than his erect back and
piercing eyes, nothing in his ordinary appearance could be said to be
attention-grabbing.
"How can you be so unsure of yourself?! Even when there's no one who's a
match for you in studies and taijutsu! The truth is, even for magic-"
The younger sister reprimanded the elder brother for his weak
proclamation, but,
"Miyuki!"
As he called out her name in an exceptionally strong tone, Miyuki sobered
up and shut her mouth.
"You understand right? Even if you say that, it can't be helped."
"...I apologize."
"Miyuki..."
He put his hand on her lowered head and slowly stroked her glossy black
hair, which had not a single frizz in it. "Now, what should I do to fix her
mood..." the young man who was the elder brother pondered with a
miserable face.
"...I'm really happy you feel that way. I always feel that I'm being saved
whenever you get angry in my place."
"Liar."
"I'm not lying."
"Liar. Onii-sama, you're always scolding me..."
"I'm not lying, I said. But, I too hold you in my thoughts the same way you
do about me."
"Onii-sama... 'hold me in your thoughts', you say..."
(...Huh?)
For some reason, the young woman blushed.
Even though the young man could feel that a seed of dissonance that he
could not ignore had been sowed, in order to resolve the most immediate
problem, he shelved that doubt for now.
"Even if you back out of giving the reply address, there is no way I'll be
selected as a replacement. If you back out at this eleventh hour, you won't
be able to avoid a blemish on your appraisal.
You do understand that, right? Miyuki, you are a smart girl."
"But..."
"Besides, Miyuki, I'm looking forward to it.
Show this useless big brother of yours the glorious moment of his cute
little sister."
"Onii-sama is not a useless big brother!
...But, I understand. Please pardon me for being willful."
"There's nothing to apologize for. I've never thought of that as being
willful."
"Well then, I'll be taking my leave.
...Please watch me, Onii-sama."
"Yeah, break a leg. I'll be looking forward to your performance."
"By all means, see you later." The young woman bowed and disappeared
into the auditorium. After ascertaining that she had left, the young man
breathed a sigh of relief.
(Well... what should I do now?)
The young man who had escorted his little sister, who had reluctantly
become the freshman class representative, to school before the ceremony
rehearsal started, was now at a loss as to how he should spend the
remaining two hours before the start of the school ceremony.
◊ ◊ ◊

The main building, the practice building, and an experiment building made
up three of the school buildings.
An auditorium/gymnasium whose internal layout can be altered via
transformation machinery. A library with three levels above ground and
two levels below. Two small gymnasiums. A preparation building equipped
with a changing room, a shower room, an equipment-storage room, and
club rooms. The canteen, the cafeteria, and the procurement department
are in another building. And above all that, the various large and small
annexes constructed make the design of First High School appear more
like the campus of a suburban university than a typical high school.
The young man looked left and right as he walked along a path paved with
a layer of bricks, searching for a place to rest until it was time for him to
enter the auditorium.
The ID card that would allow him to use the school facilities would only
be given out after the school entrance ceremony ended.
In order to avoid a scene of chaos, the open cafe that was meant to serve
visitors was also closed today.
After five minutes of walking around while referring to the campus map
displayed on his mobile terminal, beyond a row of trees, which were
positioned in such a way that couldn't escape his field of vision, he spotted
a bench in the courtyard.
It's a good thing that it's not raining, a frivolous thought entered his mind
as he sat down on the three-man bench, opened his mobile terminal, and
started accessing a book portal that he liked.
This courtyard seems to be a shortcut from the preparation building to the
auditorium.
They were probably roped in by the management of the entrance ceremony
to help out. That is, the current students (upperclassmen to the young man)
who were passing the young man at a small distance. All of them had the
same eight-petaled flower emblem on the left side of their chests.
As they passed by, a trail of artless, ill-meaning words escaped from their
backs.
—Isn't that kid a Weed?
—He's early... he sure is enthusiastic for a reserve.
—In the end, he's just a spare. 
A conversation, which he didn't really want to hear, flowed into his ears.
The word, Weed, refers to a Course 2 student.
The students who have the emblem design of an eight-petaled flower on
the left side chest area of their blazers are called "Blooms", while the
Course 2 students who don't have that are likened to weeds that have no
blooming flowers, and are sneered upon as "Weeds".
The quota for the freshmen in this school is two hundred.
Among them, one hundred of them enter this school as Course 2 students.
The First High School, which is affiliated with the National University of
Magic, is an institution established under national policy for the purpose of
nurturing Magic Technicians.
In exchange for a granted budget from the country, it has the obligation to
produce definite results.
Every year, this school produces over a hundred graduates who either enter
the University of Magic or enroll in a Magic Technical Institute of
Specialized Higher Training.
While it's a pity, the fact is that magic education is a trial-and-error thing.
Accidents, which go beyond the level of minor mishaps, can easily happen
directly through magic slip-ups from practice training and experiments.
Even while the students are aware of the dangers involved, one will bet
one's future on one's own talent in magic and the possibility that exists in
oneself, and walk the path to become a Magician.
When there are only a handful who possess such talent, and that talent is
highly valued by society, few would throw it away, even more so for the
young men and women who have yet to reach their individual maturity,
rendering them unable to pursue a road outside of a 'brilliant future'.
Another fact, as a consequence of such a belief system getting fixed inside
of them, is that, many children have been burdened with 'wounds' from
that belief system.
Thanks to the accumulation of know-how, most accidents resulting in
deaths or handicapped bodies have been eradicated.
However, one's talent in magic can be easily impaired via a psychological
component.
Every year, the number of students who have dropped out as a result of
being unable to use magic due to the shock of an accident is by no means
small.
The ones who fill the gap are the "Course 2 students".
Upon enrolling in schools, they are allowed to participate in classes, use
the facilities and access data, but they lack the most important component
in their studies, that they are not entitled to receive personal instruction in
practical magic skills.
They can only learn on their own, and show results through their own
efforts.
If they can't do that, they will have to graduate from a normal high school.
If one does not graduate from a magic high school, one cannot pursue
studies in the university of magic.
Given that the number of people who can teach magic is very insufficient,
it is unavoidable that the more talented ones be given priority. Right from
the beginning, Course 2 students are accepted under the condition that no
one will teach them.
Publicly, it is forbidden to call the Course 2 students "Weeds".
However, in part, one can almost say that this has become a well-known
derogatory term for them, a term that is rooted even within the Course 2
students themselves. Even the Course 2 students have to recognize that
they are no more than spares.
That was the same for the young man.
That was why there was no need for them to have spoken that aloud on
purpose for him to realize that. He had entered this school while being
fully aware of that.
What an unnecessary favor from them, the young man thought as he turned
his attention to the book portal that had loaded on his data terminal.
◊ ◊ ◊
On the open computer terminal, a clock was displayed.
His consciousness, which had been immersed in reading, returned to
reality.
There were another thirty minutes until the school entrance ceremony. 
"Are you a new student? It's almost time for the ceremony."
Around the same time he was about to stand up, having logged out of one
of his favorite reading portals and closed his computer terminal, a voice
came from above him.
The first thing that came into view was the skirt of a uniform. Following
that, wrapping around a left arm was a wide bracelet.
Broader and thinner than a normal bracelet, it was the latest model of a
CAD that was made with fashion in mind.
CAD (Casting Assistance Device) —— spell support processor.
In this country, it is also known as a (Magic Operator).
Something that replaces tools such as spell chants, talismans, hand seals,
magic circles, magic tomes, and other traditional methods of invoking
magic, it is a tool of necessity for any modern Magic Technician.
These days, there is no research into using a single word, or a single phrase
to invoke magic. When used in conjunction with talismans and magic
circles and others, the shortest invocation will take around ten seconds,
while the longer ones can take above a minute depending on the magic,
and in place of that, the easy-to-use CAD can reduce that to under a
second.
While it is possible for magic to be invoked without a CAD, the number of
Magic Technicians who do not use CADs, which can rapidly accelerate the
invocation of magic, equates to nil. Among those who have dedicated
themselves to the specialization of one particular skill in bringing about
supernatural phenomena with just their will alone, the so-called
"Supernatural Power Users", the ones who seek the speed and stability that
an activation system can bring and love using the CAD have become the
mainstream crowd.
However, it does not mean that anyone who possesses a CAD can use
magic.
The CAD only provides the activation sequence, and it is the ability of the
Magic Technician himself that invokes the magic.
In other words, CADs are red herrings to those who can't use magic, and
are only carried by those involved with magic.
And then, according to the young man's memory, the students who were
allowed to persistently carry a CAD within the school compounds were
either executive members of the student council or particular committee
members.
"Thank you, I'll be on my way."
On the left chest area of the other party, was of course the eight-petaled
flower emblem.
The bulge from the chest that was pushing up the blazer did not stir any
part of his consciousness.
He did not hide his left chest.
He did not do such a cowardly act.
But, it didn't mean that there was no ill feeling of any sort.
He could not imagine himself getting actively involved with a high
achiever who appeared to be a student council executive member.
"I'm impressed. A screen type?"
However, the other person seemed to think otherwise. While looking at the
film screen of the mobile data terminal that the young man had folded in
three folds with his hand, the person grinned, as if delighted at something.
At this juncture, the young man finally looked at the face of that person.
The face of that person was twenty centimeters lower than the height of
the young man who had stood up from the bench.
The young man's height was a hundred and seventy-five centimeters, as
such, even for a female, she was short.
She was just at the right height to ascertain that he was a Course 2 student
with her line of sight.
But her gaze did not have the slightest hint of belittlement, and was filled
with a pure, innocent wonder instead.
"Our school disallows the use of virtual display terminals. But yet, it's
regrettable that many students still use the virtual display type.
However, you are using the screen type even before enrolling into the
school."
"The virtual type is not suitable for reading."
Anyone could tell that his terminal was a seasoned one with one look, so
she did not bother asking further.
The young man's reply that sounded like an excuse was a fruit of careful
thought, since if he was excessively blunt, it would become more of a
disadvantage to his younger sister than himself, as he was certain that his
younger sister, who was the freshman representative, would probably be
chosen by the student council.
Upon hearing that calculated response, the upperclassman became even
more impressed.
"Instead of watching animation, you read huh? This is even rarer.
I also prefer book-based information to animation-based ones, so I'm kind
of happy."
Indeed, while this is an era where virtual content is preferred over text
content, book readers are not really that rare.
Somehow, it seemed like this upperclassman had an uncommonly sociable
personality. Judging from her tone and speech, she appeared to be getting
friendlier.
"Ahh, I beg your pardon. I'm the student council president of the First
High School, Saegusa Mayumi. Written as 'seven grass', read as Saegusa.
Nice to meet you."
Even though she added a wink at the end, there was not a hint of wonder in
her tone. With a pretty girl's looks and together with a well-proportioned
body despite her small frame, she radiated such an alluring atmosphere
that it would not be surprising if newly matriculated male students
misunderstood her intentions.
But yet, on hearing her self-introduction, the young man seemed to frown
involuntarily.
"A number... and to top it off, a 'Saegusa (Seven Grass)'."
A Magician's ability is greatly influenced by heredity.
A Magician's qualities are greatly related to his lineage.
And in this country, the houses that possess a superior blood lineage in
magic carry a number in their family name by tradition.
Among the numbered Magician lineages that carry a superior hereditary
factor, the Saegusa is one of the two houses deemed to be the most
powerful in this country currently. That young woman who was the student
council president of this school was probably of their direct descent. In
other words, she was an elite among elites. It might even be apt to say that
she was the exact opposite of him. 
Holding back a bitter mutter, and somehow managing to bring out a
courteous smile, the young man returned his name.
"I'm, no, my name is Shiba Tatsuya."
"Shiba Tatsuya-kun... I see. You are that Shiba-kun huh..."
The eyes of the student council president went wide with surprise, after
which, she nodded meaningfully.
Well, at any rate, while he was the elder brother of the freshman
representative, the top entry student Shiba Miyuki, he was a dunce who
flat-out couldn't use any magic. The 'that' was probably referring to that.
Thinking about that, Tatsuya politely kept quiet.
"Among the teachers, you have been quite a hot topic,"
Said Mayumi after a cheerful smile, appearing unconcerned with Tatsuya's
silence.
It was probably due to how rare it was to have a pair of siblings who were
that much of a far cry from each other, thought Tatsuya.
However, no such incredulity nor negative emotions could be sensed from
her. He could feel no sign of ridicule embedded in that smile.
He could only feel a friendly positivity emanating from Mayumi's smile.
"Out of a hundred marks, the average mark of all seven subjects in your
entrance exam was ninety-six.
Especially, the best were Magic Theory and Magic Engineering. Even
though the average mark of those who passed was no more than seventy,
you got a perfect grade without a hitch for both subjects that had essaybased
questions.
It's an unheard of record high."
It wasn't his imagination at hearing those unreserved praises, thought
Tatsuya. The reason was because,
"Those are merely paper test results. They are just data inside an
information system."
In the appraisal of magic high school students, more emphasis was given
to practical results, and not paper test results.
While a bitter civil smile surfaced on Tatsuya, he pointed to his own left
chest. 

It was not possible for the student council president to not understand.
However, Mayumi shook her head with a smile at Tatsuya's words.
Not vertically, but to the left and right.
"That kind of terrific score, at the very least, I won't be able to reproduce
that, you know?
I may not look like it, but I'm really much stronger in theory-based
subjects. If my entrance exam had the same questions, I definitely wouldn't
be able to score such a high mark like you, Shiba-kun."
"It's about time... please excuse me."
Tatsuya took his leave from Mayumi, who seemed to have something more
to say, and turned his back towards her without waiting for her reply.
Somewhere in his heart, he feared the smiling face of Mayumi, and at what
might happen if he were to continue talking with her.
Even though he was not conscious of what he was afraid of.
◊ ◊ ◊
As a result of the conversation with the student council president, by the
time Tatsuya entered the auditorium, more than half the seats were already
filled up.
Since there was no seat designation, be it the first row, the last row, right at
the center, or right at the edge, he was free to sit anywhere.
Even now, depending on the school, there are schools that follow the
traditional style of arranging the seats by class that will be announced prior
to the entrance ceremony, but as for this school, one can only ascertain
one's class upon receiving one's ID card.
Therefore, the seats were not arranged in class order.
However, there was clearly an order to the distribution of seats for the
freshmen.
The first half at the front would be taken up by the Blooms. The students
who wore an eight-petaled flower emblem on their left chest. The
freshmen who would be able to receive the full benefits of the curriculum
of this school. 
The second half at the back would be taken up by the Weeds. The students
whose left chest area was left blank. The freshmen who were only allowed
to enroll in this school as reserves.
Even when they were the same freshmen, who were becoming the students
of this school on the very same day, they were cleanly divided into a group
with the emblem and a group without it.
And this was not something that was enforced.
(The people who were the most conscious of the discrimination accepted
the discrimination, huh...)
It was certainly a kind of common sense in itself.
Without the intention of going against the flow openly, Tatsuya chose at
his own discretion an empty seat near the center of the last one-third rows
and sat down.
He turned his eyes to the clock on the wall.
Another twenty minutes more.
He couldn't access any site in that auditorium where electronic
communication was restricted. The data saved in his terminal was also no
longer new information to him, and more importantly, it was forbidden to
open a terminal in this place.
Tatsuya tried thinking about his sister who should be doing her final
rehearsal at this time... and shook his head.
That little sister wouldn't become flustered right before the main event.
In the end, Tatsuya, who did nothing, adjusted and sat himself upright on
the hard seat and closed his eyes. Just as he was about to slip into a snooze,
"Er, is the seat beside you occupied?"
A voice called out.
He opened his eyes, and just as he thought, the voice had been directed at
him.
As expected from the voice, it was a female student.
"Help yourself."
Even though he was bewildered why she purposely chose to sit beside a
random male student, despite the fact that there were still many empty
seats, on top of the seats here being made large enough with comfort in
mind, the other party was a young woman with a slender build (note that
this is referring to the horizontal aspect), and thus, Tatsuya did not feel any
unease with her sitting beside him. Rather, it was much more comfortable
than if a filthy muscle block were to sit beside him.
Thinking about that, Tatsuya gave a polite nod.
Thank you, the young woman nodded as she took her seat.
Beside her, three other young women sat down one after another.
I see, Tatsuya acknowledged to himself.
It seemed like they were looking for a place that could accommodate all
four of them sitting together.
They are probably friends, though it's quite rare to see four friends making
it into a difficult school like this one and to be in Course 2 together on top
of that, thought Tatsuya. It won't be strange even if one of them were a
high achiever, he felt —— but it didn't matter to him anyhow.
"Er..."
The voice called out to Tatsuya again, who had turned back to facing the
front after having no further interest in the same year student beside him
whom he had just met by chance.
What on earth does she want?
Clearly, she wasn't an acquaintance, and neither did he knock against her
on the elbow nor on the foot.
If Tatsuya were to say it himself, he was sitting in a good posture.
He shouldn't have done anything that would warrant a complaint but —
"I'm Shibata Mizuki. Nice to meet you."
Unexpectedly, she introduced herself, in a seemingly timid tone, to Tatsuya
who cocked his head. Even though it could be dangerous to judge one by
appearance, she didn't seem to be the type who was good at impressing
others.
She probably forced herself to do it, judged Tatsuya. She might have done
it with the thought that they would need to help each other since they were
both disadvantaged Course 2 students.
"I'm Shiba Tatsuya. Nice to meet you too."
Upon returning a soft introduction as he thought about that, the eyes
beyond those large lenses appeared relieved. 
In this era, it was quite rare for girls to wear glasses.
Since the middle of the twenty-first century, as a consequence of the vision
correction procedure becoming widespread, the ailment known as myopia
had become a thing of the past in this country.
Unless one was born with a hereditary form of vision abnormality at a
serious level or such, one would not need any vision correction tool, and
even in the event that one would need it, it was more common for people
to affix ten-year long persistently worn contact lenses that were harmless
to the body.
If she was wearing glasses despite this, it could be because it was her
hobby, a fashion accessory, or due to —
(Over-sensitivity to spirit particle emission, huh...)
Just from a quick look, he could tell that there was no degree in the lenses.
At the very least, he knew that they were not used for vision correction.
From his impression of this young woman, rather than wearing them for
fashion, it was more probable that she was wearing those glasses because
of a particular need, Tatsuya thought naturally.
"Over-sensitivity to spirit particle emission" refers to a condition of the
body where one can see spirit particle emission without conscious effort,
and cannot shut them out with conscious effort, in other words, a type of
disorder where complete cognizant control cannot be achieved. Thus, it
was not really an illness, nor a handicap.
It was a disorder where one's senses were excessively sharp.
Pushion (Spirit Particles) and Psion (Thought Particles). Both were
particles observed in "Para-Psychological Phenomena" — which included
magic as well — comprised of non-physical entities that neither
corresponded to Fermions, particles that make up the composition of
matter, nor were they the same as Bosons, which bring about the
interaction between matter. Psion were particle manifestations of intention
and thought, while Pushion could be thought of as particle manifestations
of the emotions brought about by intention and thought. (A pity that this
was still at a hypothetical stage.)
Normally, it was Psion that was used in magic, and in the technology
systems of modern magic, emphasis was placed on the control of Psion.
Magicians first started from learning how to manipulate Psion.
People who suffered from "over-sensitivity to spirit particle emission", a
hereditary disorder, showed symptoms of being oversensitive to spirit
particle emission — non-physical light generated depending on the activity
of Pushion.
Those who were visually exposed to spirit particle emission would have
their emotional state affected. Consequently, Pushion were hypothesized to
be particles formed by emotions, and as a result, a person suffering from
"over-sensitivity to spirit particle emission" tended to be susceptible to the
breakdown of his or her mental stability.
Fundamentally, to prevent that, it required the control of Pushion
sensitivity, and for those who were unable to do that, they would require a
technology aid. One of these aids were glasses made from a special kind of
lenses known as "Aura Cut Coating Lenses".
In reality, to Magicians, "over-sensitivity to spirit particle emission" was
not that rare of a condition. Since a Magician's sensitivity to Pushion and
sensitivity to Psion were more or less directly proportional, the number of
Magicians who consciously manipulated Psion and were troubled by being
oversensitive to the radiation of spirit particles fell on the higher side. One
could even say that it was something that could not be helped.
However, it would indeed be rare to see a person who had it as a disorder
such that he or she needed to constantly block the spirit particle emission
with glasses. It would not be much of a concern if it was because of a
lesser manipulative ability, but, if it was due to an extremely superior
sensitivity, then it would be bad news for Tatsuya. (Though it would be the
opposite for the person in question.)
Tatsuya had a secret.
It was a secret that could not be uncovered from his outward appearance
alone, and as such, not of concern, but, if she did have those special eyes
that would allow her to sense Pushion and Psion as if they were
completely visible to her, his secret might be discovered by random
chance.
—He would have to be much more alert and act cautiously whenever she
was around.
"I'm Chiba Erika. Nice to meet you, Shiba-kun."
"Nice to meet you too."
The voice of the young woman sitting beside Mizuki cut off Tatsuya's
thoughts. 
But that was a welcome interruption.
Tatsuya's look had unconsciously turned into a stare, and Mizuki's
bashfulness was pretty much approaching its limit, but it had gone
unnoticed by Tatsuya.
"But, can I say that this is an interesting coincidence?"
Different from her friend, Erika appeared to be an extrovert and of an
unreserved type.
Her short, bright hair and her distinct facial features amplified the
impression of her being a lively girl.
"What is?"
"Well, you know, we are Shiba, Shibata, and Chiba right? Don't they
rhyme somehow? Though they are a little different."
"...I see."
He could understand what she meant by that.
(But still, Chiba huh... another numbered one?[3] I didn't know that the
Chiba House had a daughter by the name of "Erika", but it's possible that
she's of collateral descent...)
As he thought about that,
really interesting,
a somewhat out-of-place laugh escaped from him, but it was not to the
extent that drew cold looks from those around him.
After the remaining two students on the other side of Erika had finished
introducing themselves, Tatsuya felt like satisfying his trivial curiosity.
"Were the four of you from the same middle school?"
Erika's reply was an unexpected one.
"Nope, all of us just met for the first time."
Tatsuya's surprised look might have been a strange one, for Erika started
giggling as she explained.
"I didn't know where the place was and I was staring at the information
board. That's when Mizuki called out to me."
"...Information board?"
That's strange, thought Tatsuya. The data for the school entrance ceremony
included the location of the venue, and had been sent to all the new
students. By using the LPS (Local Positioning System), a standard feature
in a mobile terminal, even if a new student didn't read the information
board, or remember any of the information, one shouldn't lose one's way.
"The three of us didn't bring our data terminals."
"Well, the virtual-screen models are banned and I had the school entrance
guide stored in mine."
"We managed to luck into this school after all. It wouldn't make sense to
get marked off right at the school entrance ceremony."
"I forgot mine actually."
"So that's the reason for you, huh..."
He really couldn't accept it. It's your own school entrance ceremony; at
least verify the location of the venue before coming, he thought honestly to
himself, but didn't say a word.
There was no need to stir up any meaningless trouble — thinking about
that, Tatsuya restrained himself.
◊ ◊ ◊
Miyuki's reply address was outstanding as expected.
Tatsuya never had the slightest thought that his little sister would fumble at
something like this.
Even though she was fired up and included a number of pretty dangerous
phrases like "everyone alike", "as a single body", "aside from magic" or
"in an integrated manner", she managed to set them up properly and they
didn't sound thorny at all.
Her openness, innocence, and modesty, coupled with her lovely, beautiful
appearance, had captured the hearts of not just the guys, the freshmen, but
the upperclassmen as well.
Miyuki would probably be surrounded by boisterousness from tomorrow
onward.
That was not an unusual thing.
Using the society's standards, one could call Tatsuya a siscon from the way
he pampered her. He wanted to commend her immediately, but
unfortunately, what followed immediately after the ceremony was the
issuing of the ID cards.
Since the individual cards were not made beforehand, the arrangement was
to have each and every person go to a certain place to personally have their
data written into the cards meant for use within the school premises, so
whichever counter they went to, the procedure could be completed, but
here, a wall naturally appeared in Tatsuya's heart.
Miyuki probably, undoubtedly, skipped this step; as the freshman
representative, she had probably already been conferred with this card.
And right now, in the midst of the visitors and student crowd.
"Shiba-kun, which class are you in?"
Erika, with a face that could not hide her excitement, asked Tatsuya, who
was the last in line among the group (in other words, he was practicing the
'ladies first' rule).
"Class E."
On hearing Tatsuya's reply,
"Yay! We are in the same class."
Erika hopped up and down happily. She seemed to be overdoing it but,
"I am in the same class as well."
With just the accompanying action missing, Mizuki also had a similar face,
so this might be a natural reaction for freshmen.
"I'm in class F."
"I'm in class G."
Even so, it was not like the reactions of the remaining two were cold and
unfeeling. After all, they were in high spirits about enrolling into a high
school.
This school has eight year one classes, and each class has twenty-five
students.
In this respect, they were equal.
In the first place, the Weeds who were not expected to bloom into flowers
were placed in classes E to H, and the Blooms who were expected to
bloom into large flowers were never mixed among them.
The two girls who were assigned to different classes naturally went along
their way. It seemed like the two of them were headed towards their
homerooms. Even though classes A-D and classes E-H were located on
different levels, it did not appear that their enthusiasm was any less from
that.
It was not like all the Course 2 students would stick around together in one
group.
There were also a number of them who would straighten their backs, and
be proud about getting accepted into a reputable school.
Since this school was also ranked among the top in the country in areas not
pertaining to magic.
The two of them probably went off to search for new friends among those
whom they would spend the rest of the year with.
"What shall we do? Shall we go take a look at our homeroom as well?"
Erika asked as she looked up at the face of Tatsuya. While Mizuki didn't
ask, she was also probably looking up at Tatsuya.
Save for a few schools who were continuing the old traditions, these days,
high schools did not employ the system of having homeroom teachers.
Administrative circulars did not need to be handed out one by one, and
besides, there was not that much extra budget to waste on such human
resources, so the circulars were distributed through the terminals that were
connected throughout the entire school.
A system of having one terminal for school use assigned to each individual
had already been in existence decades ago.
Except for individual instruction or practical lessons, almost everything
was done using the data terminals.
If more care were needed, counselors who held expertise in multiple
disciplines would be assigned by the school.
So, the reason homerooms were needed was for the convenience of
practical and trial lessons. When practical and trial lessons ended within
time, so as not to have a time surplus, they needed somewhere to hold a
certain number of people. (Notwithstanding, detention was a daily affair.)
Besides, with the personal terminal system, it also made some things very
convenient.
No matter what background people came from, once the time they spent in
the same room became long, they would mingle with one another
naturally. 
By dispensing with the homeroom teacher system, the bonds between
classmates tend to strengthen.
At any rate, if one wanted to make new friends, going to the homeroom
was the fastest route to that. But, Tatsuya shook his head at Erika's
invitation.
"Sorry. I'm meeting up with my little sister."
There were no lessons nor further things to be communicated to them for
today.
Tatsuya had an agreement with Miyuki to go back together immediately
after the procedures were done.
"Heehh... if it's Shiba-kun's little sister, then she must be really cute right?"
On hearing Erika's thoughtful and questioning murmur, Tatsuya was
troubled as to how he should answer her.
If it's his little sister, then she must be cute. What could that mean? thought
Tatsuya. He felt that he couldn't quite connect the cause and effect well.
Fortunately, he didn't really need to force himself to answer that.
"Could your little sister be... the representative of the freshmen, Shiba
Miyuki-san?"
Since Mizuki had asked a more primitive question.
This time round, there was no need for him to hesitate. A nod from Tatsuya
was enough to ascertain the answer to that question.
"Eh? Really? Then, are you twins?"
The question from Erika was a natural one. To Tatsuya, it was a question
that he had heard since young.
"I have often been asked that but we are not twins. I was born in April
while she was born in March. If I were born one month earlier or she were
born one month later, then we wouldn't be in the same school year."
"Hmm... I guess that really makes things complicated huh?"
With a little sister who was a high achiever in the same school year, it was
bound to be complicated, but Erika did not ask that with any bad intent.
Tatsuya smiled and let the question slide.
"That aside, it's surprising that you can tell. Shiba is not such a rare family
name after all." 
On hearing Tatsuya's counter question, the two young ladies smiled faintly.
"No no, it's pretty rare."
However, the way she said it gave off a considerably different feel. In
contrast to Erika's smile, which was mixed with a sense of wryness,
"Your features look alike..."
Mizuki's reserved smile appeared to lack confidence.
"Do we look alike, I wonder?"
Tatsuya's head did not turn at Mizuki's words. In the same manner as
Erika's words just now, as if his highlighting tone had taken root, Mizuki's
words felt unreal to him.
Rather, he couldn't believe them.
Even if one didn't actively look for the good points in Miyuki, she was a
rare beauty. Even if you took away all her superfluous talents, just by
being there, she would not be able to help but gather attention -- A born
idol. No, a star.
Looking at his little sister, he could understand that the idiom, "God does
not give two gifts", was but an unpleasant lie.
Conversely, was he himself above the norm, or above average, perhaps?
Tatsuya evaluated himself.
During middle school, to an onlooker, while love letters (to Tatsuya, they
appeared as fan letters) were shoved to his little sister, Tatsuya had never
once received such a thing.
Even if it were only partially, they should still inherit the same genes, but
even Tatsuya had doubted not just once or twice whether they were bloodrelated
or not.
"If you put it that way... uhn, you do look alike. Shiba-kun is quite the
hunk as well. It just kind of feels like your features can't resemble any
more than that."
Just as Erika replied to Tatsuya's query, Mizuki also nodded in agreement.
"'Hunk' you said, which obsolete word from which era is that... and doesn't
that mean if you take away my face, there's no resemblance in us right?"
Feeling-wise, Erika's words might be a little difficult to understand, but it
seemed like it was not just their faces that looked alike. After Tatsuya had
interpreted as such, he made a dull jab at her. 
"That's not it. Hmm, how should I put it..."
It seemed like Erika couldn't quite express it as well either.
If not for Mizuki's rescue boat, she would probably still be fumbling for a
while.
"It's your aura. Your dignified features look alike. As expected of siblings."
"That's right! Aura, it's your aura."
Slapping her own lap, Erika gave a strong nod as well.
This time, it was Tatsuya's turn to smile wryly.
"Chiba-san... aren't you someone who gets carried away easily?"
Carried away? You're so cruel, she started protesting but he let it slide.
From her tone, it was not like Erika was really flaring up at his comment.
"That aside, Shibata-san, it's amazing for you to be able to tell by our
aura... Your eyes must be really good."
But it was Erika who jumped at his words with a deep tone woven into
them.
"Eh? Mizuki is wearing glasses you know?"
"I don't mean that. Besides, Shibata-san's glasses have no degree in them
right?"
Huh? Erika peered into Mizuki's glasses with a bewildered face.
On the other side of those lenses, Mizuki's eyes widened and hardened.
Was she surprised at being seen through, or was she chagrined at a secret
of hers being discovered? Whichever it was, it seemed to Tatsuya that it
was something of no consequence to her.
As to why she had made such a face, he had no chance to inquire about it.
The time was just up. And it was probably for the best for now.
◊ ◊ ◊
"Onii-sama, sorry for the wait."
From behind Tatsuya and the rest, who were talking at a corner near the
exit of the auditorium, the voice of the person whom he was waiting for
called out. 
Miyuki, who was surrounded by a crowd, slipped out from there.
Initially, Tatsuya felt that she was a little early, but thinking about his little
sister's character again, it was perhaps just about time.
Even though she wasn't one who would shy away from socialization, it
was undeniable that she had a tendency to be obsessively displeased with
flattery and compliments. While you could say that she was behaving like
a kid, since young, there had been no lack of opportunities for her to
receive praise, and among them, the times when such compliments were
coated with a mix of jealousy and envy numbered not just a handful.
If you think about that, then it was quite understandable that she would be
somewhat suspicious of the adulation she received. You can even say that
she was bearing it well for today.
"You were quick" was what he intended to say as he turned around, but
even though the words remained the same as planned, his intonation turned
into a questioning one.
Behind the one he had expected, was an accompanying one whom he
didn't.
"Hello Shiba-kun. We meet again."
In response to that amiable, disarming smiling face and words, Tatsuya
lowered his head without saying anything.
Despite his inadequate acknowledgement to her courteousness, the smile
of the Student Council President, Saegusa Mayumi, did not give way in the
slightest. Perhaps, it was a type of poker face of hers, or perhaps, this was
something inborn in this young lady who was more senior in age.
Whichever it was, Tatsuya, who had only just met her, could not tell.
But, more than the elder brother's strange response to the student council
president, his little sister appeared to be bothered by the two young ladies
who had snuggled up (?) intimately to her big brother from beside him.
"Onii-sama, they are..."
Before explaining her own situation on why she was not alone, Miyuki
was seeking out an explanation on why Tatsuya was not alone. Even
though he was a little taken aback by her abruptness, he had nothing to
hide. Tatsuya answered without a second's delay.
"This is Shibata Mizuki-san. And that is Chiba Erika-san. We're in the
same class." 

"I see... isn't it a little too soon to be dating your classmates?"
With her adorable head tilted to the side, it's not like I have something
against it, Miyuki's face seemed to say as she asked. Her lips formed a
lady-like smile. But, her eyes were not smiling.
Oh my oh my, thought Tatsuya.
It seems like immediately after the ceremony, she has been bombarded
with flattery from left and right, setting her on edge, resulting in plenty of
accumulated stress.
"There's no way that could happen right, Miyuki? We were just chatting
while waiting for you.
You are being rude to both of them, aren't you?"
His little sister's pouting face looked cute to him, but to not give her own
name after getting introduced to the other party might not look favorable
for her reputation in front of the upperclassmen and the same year
students. On seeing Tatsuya's slightly reproachful eyes, a look of
resignation flashed across her face for an instant, and following that,
Miyuki fixed up an even more gracious smile on her face.
"Good day, Shibata-san, Chiba-san. I am Shiba Miyuki.
I'm also a freshman just like Onii-sama, so I look forward to being in your
care."
"I am Shibata Mizuki. Same here, I also look forward to being in your
care."
"Nice to meet you. You can just call me Erika. Can I call you Miyuki?"
"Yes, please do. It'll be hard to distinguish between me and my brother
from our family name."
The three young women introduced themselves to one another again.
The greetings exchanged between Miyuki and Mizuki seemed appropriate
for people who have met for the first time. But for Erika, right from the
start, she was surprisingly (if this is the right way to put it) friendly.
However, only Tatsuya felt bewildered at Erika's friendly manner of
speaking.
There was no sign of Miyuki being bothered by the almost overly-familiar
behavior from her nod.
"Ah-ha, Miyuki, I didn't expect you to be so sociable from your outward
appearance."
"You are just as open as you appeared to be. Nice to meet you, Erika."
After getting exasperated by all the flattery and compliments, it was
understandable that she would be quite fond of Erika's frank attitude, but it
seemed like both of them had somehow acquired a mutual understanding
beyond that. Miyuki and Erika were both exchanging unreserved smiles
with each other. While Tatsuya could not help but felt left behind, it would
not do to remain rooted here. Since the group with the student council
president who had followed his little sister were of the same crowd, they
weren't really obstructing anyone, but because of this, if they continued to
stand around here, they would become an obstruction to people who would
want to pass through.
"Miyuki. Are you done with your business with the student council? If you
are not, I can go kill some time myself, you know?"
"It's fine."
The one who had replied to Tatsuya's question and suggestion was the
other party.
"I'm here just to say hello for today.
Miyuki-san... can I call you that as well?"
"Ah, yes."
As Mayumi addressed her, Miyuki nodded, her unreserved smile replaced
by a solemn expression.
"Well then Miyuki-san, we'll catch up on another day."
Mayumi bode goodbye lightly with a smiling face and started to make her
exit out of the auditorium. However, one of the accompanying male
students at the back called Mayumi to a stop. On his chest, blooming
proudly as if it were a natural thing, was an eight-petaled flower emblem.
"But President, what about the schedule on our side..."
"We didn't really make an appointment beforehand. If she already has
another engagement, she should give that priority right?"
After the male student, who appeared to want to persist further, was
restrained by her eyes, Mayumi gave a meaningful smile to Miyuki and
Tatsuya.
"Well then Miyuki-san, I shall take my leave. Shiba-kun as well, I'd love to
catch up with you one of these days."
After bidding them off again, Mayumi left. Following that, the male
student who was following behind her turned around, and he glared at
Tatsuya so hard as if one could hear his tongue clicking.
◊ ◊ ◊
"...Now, shall we go back?"
While he had somehow managed to invoke the displeasure of not just the
upperclassmen but the student council executive members when he had
just enrolled into the school, it was something quite beyond his control. Of
course, it was not like he was going to experience a smooth-sailing life
where he could just brood over things like that. Despite having less than a
full sixteen years of life experiences, Tatsuya had already experienced
negativity of such degree.
"I'm sorry, Onii-sama. Because of me, people are getting a bad
impression..."
"It's nothing you need to apologize for."
Without letting the distressed-looking Miyuki finish her words, Tatsuya
brought his hand up and placed it on Miyuki's head from the side with a
small knock. As he continued to stroke her hair in a combing fashion, her
downcast face became tinged with an enraptured shade. To any onlooker,
this pair of siblings appeared to be approaching a dangerous boundary, but
perhaps, still withholding their reservations as a consequence of having
just met the siblings, Mizuki, and Erika as well, said nothing about that.
"Well, since we are all here, why don't we go have a cup of tea?"
"Sounds great! There seems to be a nice cake shop around."
In other words, it was a teatime invitation.
There was no need to ask them whether their families were waiting for
them. Asking such a thing would probably be a needless consideration. It
was the same for Tatsuya and Miyuki.
That aside, Tatsuya had something else to ask. In truth, it was really an
insignificant thing, but it was something that would gnaw at him if he
didn't ask. 
"You didn't check up on where the school entrance ceremony would be
held, and yet you know where a cake shop is?"
It might be a question of a slightly teasing nature.
"Of course! It's something important, isn't it?"
But Erika nodded confidently without the slightest bit of hesitation.
"'Of course', huh..."
His acknowledgement turned into a moan. But, as if it were somebody
else's business, Tatsuya thought that someone would receive the brunt of
that.
"Onii-sama, what do you think?"
But it seemed like Tatsuya was the only one shocked at Erika's rash
remarks.
Even Miyuki did not appear to have paid heed to the lack of common
sense in prioritizing a confectionary over the ceremony venue. —Though
in the first place, Miyuki was not aware of the details of the whole story.
"Well, sounds good. After all, we just got acquainted with one another. Be
it the same gender, or the same year, we won't find another friend too
many."
Even though he said that, he had never really put much thought into his
agreeing response. There was no particularly pressing matter awaiting him
at home either. Originally, Tatsuya did think that they should go
somewhere to spend the afternoon to commemorate his younger sister's
enrollment before going home.
Since it was not a well thought out line, it reflected his offhand true voice.
Apparently aware that it was his true voice speaking, Erika and Mizuki
returned their words in this manner.
"Shiba-kun I say, when it comes to Miyuki, you don't ponder too deeply
over it..."
"You really care about your sister, don't you..."
Whether it was a compliment or a comment from blank amazement, before
the combined respective differing gazes, Tatsuya could only remain silent
with a bitter face.
◊ ◊ ◊
The "cake shop" that Erika brought them to was in fact a "French cafeteria
with delicious dessert". They took their lunch there and spent some time
chatting merrily (it was the three females talking, and Tatsuya was only
listening), and by the time they got home, it was close to evening.
There was no one to welcome them.
The house, which vastly exceeded average in size, appeared to be
inhabited by just Tatsuya and Miyuki.
He returned to his room and took off his uniform first.
He really didn't want to think that such a 'makeshift mantle' could affect
him that much, but, after taking off the blazer that was intentionally
fashioned to look "different", he felt a little lighter. He clicked his tongue
once at these feelings of his and quickly finished changing.
As he was relaxing in the living room, before long, Miyuki, who had
finished changing, came down from her room.
Even though materials had made a large progress, apparel design had
largely remained the same as a hundred years ago.
With her beautiful shapely legs revealed from below the short skirt of a
style from the start of this century, Miyuki approached him.
For some reason, this little sister's fashion sense tended towards a more
revealing nature at home. Even though he seemed to be more or less used
to it, her considerably increased femininity from it frequently caused
Tatsuya to feel troubled about where he should set his eyes on.
"Onii-sama, would you like something to drink?"
"Sounds good. I

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