Chapter 50:

[Vol 3 START] Tournament Arc

Red-Black Course

Aoba Academy.

Currently one of the oldest and most established schools in Japan. Founded over two centuries ago, it started as another regular high school with nothing special of note. However, everything changed one faithful year, when a certain individual successfully led the school through a series of revolutionary changes and thus transformed it into the pinnacle of education, the home of elites among elites.

The name Aoba since then had been associated with only the cream of the crop, and its many historic locations had been elevated into behold-worthy sights. Namely, Aoba Stadium Complex, Japan’s representative stadium for international sporting events; Aoba’s Hall of Fame, where pictures of its alumni – all highly influential figures in history – were shown.

And last but not least, the symbol of Aoba Academy’s values and culture. Standing at 150 meters in height, it easily beat the previous holder for the tallest arc in the world the year it was finished.

“Welcome to Aoba’s pride and joy, the Tournament Arc!” Mike raised both of his arms in excitement as the sight of the giant arc appeared within their sights. Of course, it meant that the boy had been keeping the same pose for a good ten or fifteen minutes, considering how easily spotted it was from afar.

“Tournament Arc?” Meanwhile, his new friend whom he had made during his summer vacation, currently hitchhiking in his flying bedroom, only responded with a confused look.

“Built since Aoba’s first sports festival, the Tournament Arc signifies the school’s ever-present will to be the very best like no one ever was. The name was due to the academy’s first event performed – a free-for-all tournament among all its clubs.”

“Still a weird name, but at least it has its reasons, I guess,” Zain had no other way to respond but to give a defeated shrug, but not before reminding Mike of their current task at hand:

“Anyway, that’s the current school gate, right?”

“Yup,” nodded Mike, “the Tournament Arc is also the meeting point for new students. But remember, we’re not supposed to go the same direction, since I’ve already done with my admission process.”

“Yeah, I know. See you after the exam, then,” with a raised fist, Zain let out a confident grin, to which Mike answered with please:

“Just make sure you still have enough time for orientation.”

Soon enough, the gang landed in front of the arc among the astonished eyes of everyone around – pedestrians and fellow students alike. Although, one would be considered weird if they weren’t shocked that a giant flying bedroom had suddenly landed in the middle of the road.

“Alright, I’ll be going now. Good luck, Zain, Uncle!”

“Have fun at school, Michael!” Mitch cheerfully waved his nephew goodbye, much to the astonishment of the young man next to him, but for a completely different reason.

“What happened to your accent?”

“We’re in an elite environment, after all. I know how not to let it slip from time to time,” a quick answer from the man dissuaded any doubt left, before turning back to Zain and continuing. “Now, onto the important part. Do you remember your personal information?”

“I should be the one asking you,” Zain shrugged, “since I’m still keeping the surname from last time, after all.”

“Yeah, I know,” Mitch could only shake his head in helplessness. During their trip to Japan, the two of them had run the hypothetical scenario over and over again. “I’m your current legal guardian, and you were an ex-orphan that was adopted but refused to change your previous name. But is that enough to pass without any doubt?”

“As long as the paperwork and initial fee are there, it’s fine, remember?”

“… Okay, let’s go.”

Before Zain or Mitch could take another step past the arc, however, a small spherical device had already flown to their side, and, without waiting for a reaction, sounded in a strangely familiar, but more… feminine, mechanical voice:

“Welcome, fine gentlemen, to Aoba Academy. May I see your student IDs?”

“Um, actually, this boy here is taking the admission exam today, and I’m his guardian,” Mitch took a second to put his thoughts into words, but not before lightly poking Zain with his elbow before the situation at hand.

A follow-up light shrug from the young man confirmed their current matter. Never in their lives would the two imagine meeting the same kind of “healthcare” AI again; but in front of a high school.

“Ah, I see,” meanwhile, the robot continued. “In that case, welcome, prospective student of Aoba. I am the school’s Artificial Intelligence in Life and Social Education, or AISLE for short. Since I’m the number 4 model in our current batch, you can call me AISLE 4.”

“Uh… sure, AISLE.”

“4. Don’t forget the 4.”

Am I really getting sassed by an AI? Zain thought but didn’t dare to voice it out. Instead, the young man tried to change the subject:

“Well, anyway, may I ask what the necessary procedures to take the test are?”

“… Of course,” answered the AI. “First of all, may I borrow your legal guardian for a bit?”

“He’s all yours,” Zain gestured towards Mitch, to which the AI then quickly sent a scanning ray throughout his body. After a few seconds of scanning and rescanning, it finally continued:

“Okay, all the necessary procedures are done. The tuition fee and legal guardian’s information have been collected. Now, it’s time for your information, prospective student.”

After its showing, worry had already started to creep up on Zain. However, instead of doing another full-body scan, what AISLE 4 showed him was instead just a holographic form.

“No scanning?” The young man blurted out.

“Our students’ privacy is our top priority,” AISLE 4 replied. “Aside from compulsory information for the school, we will not pry into any other important matter to you.”

Then what am I, chopped liver?” Mitch mumbled through his teeth but immediately covered his mouth when the AI’s singular red “eye” shone on him.

“As for the guardian’s information,” it continued, “the only things we scanned were your name, legal citizen ID, and bank account to attempt the transaction for the tuition fee. Don’t worry about the rest. Now, prospective student, if you would.”

Zain looked over at the form in front of him.

Aoba Academy’s Application form


First name:




Current abilities:

Future career path:

“Um… what if I don’t know my current height and weight?” Zain asked.

“I’ll measure you right now,” with a quick scan from AISLE 4, the ‘height’ and ‘weight’ columns are quickly filled. “Any other questions?”

“Then if I may, what are the last two requirements?”

“… Did you apply for Aoba without even knowing those?” AISLE 4’s light narrowed down onto Zain, giving the look of someone squinting their eyes in doubt. “They’re our main distinction from the other schools, what makes us the true elite among elites.”

“Of course I know,” Zain quickly answered, repeating his previously established excuse that he practiced before arriving. “This is just a further inquiry, aimed at the more specifics of these requirements.”

Though the doubt still hadn’t left the AI’s expression, it answered nonetheless.

“… ‘Your current abilities’ means anything you can consider a ‘special talent’. From simple concepts like smarts, strength, speed, and flexibility, to more specific ones like certain subjects, or even absurd ones like clapping with your feet, anything at all. Afterwards, the school will compare your current abilities with your current career paths to make a specialized exam for you. You can also fill in ‘None’ in either space; if that is the case, we’ll host a standardized test for you and put you in the standard high school curriculum should you pass. Is that clear enough for you?”

“Yes, thank you very much,” with a light bow of gratitude, Zain then continued to fill in his form.

Surname: Kuroshi

First name: Zain

Age: 17

Height: 188 cm

Weight: 74 kg

Current abilities: good core strength and problem-solving.

Future career path: professional NLS athlete

“Alright, that’s everything done,” the AI lightly rocked its body to resemble a nod, before firing another beam of red light at Zain. “Now, for the final step.”

This time, it was in fact not a scanning ray. As a ticklish sensation went all over Zain’s body, on him appeared a skin-tight black jumpsuit, complete with lines of electrical signals to monitor all of his movements.

“This is the suit that will be collecting your data during the test, as well as the custom VR helmet for your career choice,” AISLE 4 explained. “The Tournament Arc will now teleport you to the testing grounds. Good luck, Mr. Kuroshi Zain, prospective student of Aoba Academy.”

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