Just as I suspected, Torii Sensei didn't show up to school. Instead, we have a substitute filling in for her. On one hand, I'm relieved that she isn't taking the fight here to wreak chaos. On the other, now that we know for sure she is Beatrice, her absence is all the more concerning since we can't track her movements.
She wasn't here long, but the few times I met with her felt like it was something. There were times where she was just Torii Sensei, who genuinely cared for my growth and humored my desire to make use of my powers. When I really think about it, wouldn't teaching me to better use my powers be counterintuitive to her plans?
As far as greater succubi are concerned, I'm Beatrice's greatest threat.
It makes more logical sense to believe that she had more to gain crippling me, refusing to teach me how to use magic, than to grant me the lessons that I would eventually use against her.
So… why did she agree to teach me all those times?
There's also the issue of transforming Hitomi into a pseudo-greater succubus. We've found out that even though she has the raw magical and physical strength of one, she doesn't have an aura. In other words, she's unable to charm or unconsciously attract people to her. Which means Beatrice's method of transforming is flawed in comparison to the shard Mio used on me.
I sigh out the slightly opened window. "Hah… I just want my school life back..."
My fellow classmates are nose deep in their notebooks jotting down notes during our class lessons, but my mind is preoccupied with how the heck I'm going to fight the former succubus queen.
Tomorrow is Hyogo Invitationals, too. My plate is already full as it is.
During lunch, the substitute teacher calls me up before I can even leave my seat. "Saeko, can I have you deliver something to the nurse's office?"
"Sure, but isn't that a job for the class rep?" I ask, at which point I realize Rika is no longer in the classroom.
"Normally, yes, but Rika had left the room before I had a chance to stop her." Sensei hands me a small stack of paper. "These are just homeroom assessments taken by Torii Sensei. She would have turned them in today, but she isn't here."
"Want me to come with?" Mio asks.
"It's fine. I'll meet you and Hana in the cafeteria."
On my way to the nurse's office, I hear students passing by making comments on a new nurse.
"Apparently the school hired another nurse, and she's another babe like Naruse."
"Damn, first a hot transfer student and then Torii Sensei, that class has been getting lucky. It's about time we got some eye-candy for ourselves."
"Wanna check her out now?"
"Nah, let's go after school."
Why do I have a bad feeling about this?
As I get to the door, I half-expected Principal Murata and Naruse to be at it again thanks to Mio's lingering charms. Fortunately for my sanity, the nurse is inside working and taking care of a student. There appears to be another faculty in the room behind the curtains administering aid to someone on a bed.
"Oh, Saeko? Are you injured?" The ever kind Naruse rushes right to me, but I put up my hands to tell her I'm fine.
"I just came to give you these," I say, handing the papers over.
"Thanks for this. Your class is the last one to turn them in. I heard Torii Sensei is absent today. Which is odd because she only began teaching here so recently. I hope she's alright."
Well… that only makes one of us.
Naruse glances over her shoulders to the other faculty. "Yumi, can I ask you to punch these into the system?"
"Of course!" The Yumi I know emerges from behind the curtains and comes over to take the papers. She's wearing a nurse's outfit just like Naruse as if she works here. I'm dumbstruck. "Ara, Saeko! Fancy seeing you again so soon."
"It's like this is my school or something! More like, what are you doing here?"
Naruse shifts her gaze between the two of us. "You two know each other?"
"Know each other? She's— erm," I clear my throat. "Sort of, yes…"
"Yumi is a new student nurse who just started working today. She's been a great help so far!" Naruse and Yumi share a smile.
"I'm sure she has," I say, putting a hand to my face.
Naruse gets a notification on her phone. She gets red in the face as soon as she checks it and excuses herself. "I have to go meet with the principal for, ahem… administrative purposes. Can I trust you to take care of things here, Yumi?"
"No problem. You can count on me," Yumi says as Naruse heads out in a hurry.
"I can't believe those two are continuing their affair… anyway," I turn back to Yumi. "I'm going back to lunch, so please stay out of trouble."
"As a school nurse, I'm only here to help. Ufufu~"
Mio did say that Yumi is specialized in healing magic. If anyone were more suited to the job, it would be her. The student behind the curtains has been quiet this whole time. Chances are they're passed out asleep. I pull Yumi over to a corner and lower my voice. "In your honest opinion, do you think we stand a chance against Beatrice?"
Yumi falls into thought. "Beatrice may be strong, but she was defeated before. I believe the clearest path to victory will rely on getting you to the Blade of the First Temptress."
"So it all comes back to the sword, huh."
It was the source of all my misery, and what caused a rift between me and Mio to begin with. Sometimes, I wonder if I had given it to Mio at the time, we would still have it. Then we wouldn't be in this mess.
A hand falls onto my head. "Hana and I love Mio very much, and now it's as though we have another sister to cherish. We'll protect you with everything we have to clear a path for you when the time comes. But the battle against Beatrice herself, you may be the only one who can take her."
"I won't let you guys down," I declare.
"Good," she begins ushering me towards the door. "Off to lunch with you. Naruse went to have fun, so I would like to have my own fun, too. Ufufu~"
Because of my detour, I didn't get a chance to have a full lunch. I made it down to the cafeteria and all that was left to buy was melon bread. Mio and Hana were kind enough to share some of their food. Though, I preferred Hana's normal food over all the hot sauce poured over Mio's tray.
We return to class expecting a boring last few periods, but the instructor has an announcement waiting for us. He steps out of the way for Rika, our class rep and student council secretary, to take over.
"As many of you may have already heard from a certain someone, the third year's trip will be Okinawa," Rika says, clearly referring to the chatterbox and braggart Mio. "Naturally that means spending a lot of time on the beaches and in the water. We want everyone to be ready and safe. Which is why the rest of the day will be a free-swim period."
All at once, the guys turn to us girls. Their thoughts click into place as the implications of what having a swim period means to them.
And just as all the guys cheer, all the girls collectively groan into their hands.
Rika opens the classroom door. "We'll be swimming with two other classes, so everyone behave. With that being said, let's get changed and have a pleasant swim!"
Everyone starts flooding out of the room, the guys rush out more enthusiastically than the girls. Mio and I remain behind to talk to Rika.
"We don't actually have a swimsuit," I tell the class rep.
"Don't worry. Hitomi made sure to bring spares!"
We head down to the locker rooms to change. All of the girls are taking off their clothes, comparing breast size, and slapping each other's butts. When I really think about it, this isn't much different than the boy's locker room. The girls are just as gossipy and handsy as anyone else.
It occurs to me that when I was a boy, being in the girl's locker room would be a dream. Everyone is naked, pairs of breasts are flinging and bouncing in my face.
"Wow, Mio! Your style and figure is nice enough when you're wearing clothes, it's almost unfair when you're naked."
"Your skin is so smooth and pretty!"
"You could totally pass as a model, Mio."
The girls from our's and the other third year classes crowd around Mio to check her out.
"Kahaha! If you like what you see, check out these knockers—" Mio gropes me from behind as I take off my uniform. She turns me around to face the other girls.
"Ah! Mio— stop!"
Several dozen eyes stare at my body.
"That's right. Saeko used to be a boy," one of them says.
"Now we know for sure that she's the real deal," another one chimes in, leaning in too close for comfort to inspect my body.
"Aww, even if she was a boy, Saeko has a better body than me as a girl!"
"What's taking so long? Hurry and get changed." Hitomi emerges from the showers. She's already changed into her swimsuit with a towel slung over her shoulders. It looks like she was changing elsewhere so no one saw her tattoo.
The girls who are already changed head out with her. Mio holds up the one-piece swimsuit issued by the school and grimaces.
"This isn't hot at all," she complains.
"It's not supposed to be stimulating. We're at school!"
If I had a choice, I wouldn't want to wear this either. As a boy, I would wear swimming trunks and be done with it. The elastic nylon of the girl's swimsuit runs up my butt and adjusting it is a pain. I'm technically covering more skin than I would with swimming trunks, but this is somehow still more embarrassing.
The rest of us chase after the others, and as soon as we come out, the boys look like they have been waiting for this moment.
There's a simultaneous, "Ooooohh!" i
Followed by the girls', "Ugh…"
As we enter the pool, I feel like twenty more eyes are staring at me. Even Gouda and some third year members of the kendo club are also part of this cluster. When he waves at me, my heart flutters for a moment, and I sink my hand back down.
The school boasts an indoor Olympic-sized pool and multiple heights of diving boards. Unfortunately, the diving boards are off-limits since the point of swim period is just for us to wade in the water. Between only three of the third-year classes, the pool is large enough for seventy some odd students to mess around in as long as not everyone is in at once.
Mio doesn't hesitate to dive in. She comes up laughing and splashes water at me.
"Ahh, this feels amazing! What are you waiting for?" Mio asks.
I kick water at her face. "GIve me a minute, I just want to soak for a little bit— uuwwaaahhh!"
She grabs my ankle and pulls me under.
"Damn it, Mio! Pweh…"
Mio swims to the other side of the pool, leaving me in the dust. Kana swims over to me.
"You alright?" He asks.
"Yeah, I'm fine…" I say, smacking the side of my head to get the water out of my ear. I notice he's getting red in the face. "Eh? Don't tell me you're getting turned on seeing me in a swimsuit."
Kana looks away and doesn't answer me.
I grab him by the shoulders. "Get ahold of yourself, there's nothing erotic about this!"
"Y-You clearly haven't read enough doujins, then— quit shaking me…!"
"Ha! You really think you're faster than me?"
Two students, a boy from another class and a girl from my class are at each other's throats outside of the pool.
There's a smug look on the guy's face. "It's a proven fact that boys are physically stronger than girls. You won't win, and there isn't a need to prove it."
"That may be true, but your scrawny body and short arms won't even get you half-way across the pool. If anything, you're bringing down the statistics for boys." The girl shoots back ruthlessly.
"What did you say?!"
"You wanna go, punk?"
Both of them butt heads, not willing to give an inch. Hitomi is about to step in but Mio beats her to it.
"Looks like this can only mean one thing, boys and girls. It's showdown time!" She declares, shoving both of them into the pool.
Both of them come back up wiping the water from their faces. They look at each other confused, and then back at Mio.
"You mean, like a race?" The boy asks.
"A race is exactly what I'm saying. Boys versus girls. Winners get something from the losers." Mio sticks her tongue out and tugs the collar of her swimsuit low to reveal some cleavage.
"Interesting," Hitomi says, coming up from behind Mio. "I approve of this race. What do the rest of you say?"
Both sides cheer. Each gender is eager to prove their worth to the other. The boys are especially excited for whatever prize they think Mio has in store for them.
A chill runs up my spine as both Mio and Hitomi look right at me like I'm the prize. Somehow, I'm beginning to think I won't like this race just one bit.
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