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"Beacon of Hope" is the ninety second chapter in Ahiru no Sora.

Chapter Summary

Shinmaruko High wins their first-round match

After much thought and consideration, Kenji decided to call Sakamaki and ask if his current team Kuzuryu High has no future. Sakamaki replies none and believes that there is a 99.9% chance of failure. Upon hearing, Kenji smiles and responds as the ace of his team, he has a lot of responsibility, and if there is a 1% chance of his team attain success in future, he is willing to take that risk and will rise to the top with his current teammates at Kuzuryu High. Sakamaki is stunned by his response, and due to being a bit intoxicated, he oversleeps at the restaurant. One of the cafeteria staff members wakes him up and informs Sakamaki that it is 4 am. An unsteady and dizzy Sakamaki wakes up, gives his thanks to the worker and exits the restaurant. Sakamaki is still baffled by Kenji’s response and provides his opinion if the world was that simple, then nobody would go through hardships.

The Inter-High Preliminaries tournament continues Shinmaruko High and other teams who have been waiting for their matches participate. Tokiwa’s team's first-round opponent is the seeded Kawasaki Academy. Both teams display exceptional performance; however, Shinmaruko High leads the match. In the final few minutes, Tokiwa, while attempting to score, passes the ball to his teammate Kento. The number 10 member of Kawasaki Academy tries to stop him. Kento is unfazed by his opponents’ defense, passes the ball to his captain Chiba. Kawasaki Academy, known for its elite defense, tries to foul out Chiba, the focal point of Shinmaruko High’s offence. Chiba doesn’t let his four fouls diminish his performance, and upon receiving the pass, he viciously dunks. Shinmaruko High expands their lead further. Later on, Chiba gets his fifth foul and exits the match. After their captain’s departure, Shinmaruko High manages to maintain their lead and win the match. The onlookers in the crowd praise Tokiwa and his teammates for their brilliant performance and comments that their team is strong; they’re not one of the Kanto region’s best eight just for show.

A depressed Kaname arrives at the tournament venue and eagerly watches the match between Shinjo Towa Academy and Saijo High from the second floor. Similar to Tokiwa’s team, Saijo High is also one of the top eight teams in the Kanto region. At the start of the match, Shinjo Towa Academy uses their main lineup, comprising Takahashi, Kojima, Roku and Kashiwagi. Confident by their team’s height advantage against Saijo High, Shinjo Towa Academy managed to keep their adversary at bay. However, afterwards Fujita and his teammates switched their defensive formation and placed two defenders on Takahashi. Hence, this resulted in Saijo High attaining a 30-point lead. Due to his severe leg injury, Kojima gets subbed out, and the difference in skill starts to show up, and Saijo High wins the match.

Tsukishima sees Kaname on the second floor, and she quietly stands right beside him. Kaname, later on, notices her presence. Both stare at each other awkwardly. Kaname being shy and confused to see his senior greets her by saying happy new year. Tsukishima replies it is the month of May. Kaname then congratulates Tsukishima on her school’s men’s basketball team advancing to the district finals. Tsukishima doesn’t show any positive emotion and replies that Kuzuryu High got eliminated early in the tournament is disappointing. A happy Fujita sees his girlfriend and waves at her that they won. Tsukishima congratulates him and, upon seeing Kaname, then excuses himself. Tsukishima tells Kaname to wait, and he responds that it's alright. Next year his team, Kuzuryu High, will be stronger, and they will indeed perform well. Tsukishima stares at him, and Kaname leaves. Tsukishima colleagues from Saijo High see her, and one of her friends says they’re excited their team won. Tsukishima being a bit depressed by Kaname’s response tears up, and she feels saddened for him and his team.

Shinjo Towa Academy second round opponent is Saijo High

Meanwhile, at Kuzuryu High School, the basketball team’s locker room burns down. The city police are present in the school’s vicinity to investigate. Besides Sora and Kaname, all the basketball team members have been called to Satsuki’s office. A confused Nao looks at her teammates and advisor. Satsuki questions all of them if anyone was smoking inside the locker room? A confused Nabe replies they did not smoke. Satsuki then angrily looks at Momoharu and questions again. Momoharu responds that he doesn’t know how the fire incident started, but he was about to smoke inside the locker room. Upon hearing, Kenji gets a bit frustrated and responds that they always do something that would surprise him, and this time it’s an unimagined level of stupidity. Kenji then angrily tries to leave the room. Masahiro tries to stop his teammate and assure Kenji that they didn’t intend to start the fire. Kenji angrily stares at Masahiro and furiously advises all of them for the time being to stay away from him. Kenji then walks out and furiously slams the door. After Kenji’s departure, Satsuki tells all the members of the basketball team he was so happy and proud of their performance both in academic and sports activity. It's just a first-round loss, and as to what were they all thinking. Momoharu responds that as captain, he will be the one to bear the punishment.

Kaname arrives at school and astonishingly sees the burned-up locker room. Being a bit confused, Kaname then heads to the girl’s locker room and asks what happened. Due to his unannounced arrival, the girl’s team members furiously beat up Kaname. Meanwhile, at the school’s faculty office, Satsuki tells Momoharu and his teammates that going forward, they will be facing some punishment and depressingly instructs them to leave his office. Upon leaving their advisor’s office, Nao tries to confirm from Momoharu that he indeed smoked inside the locker room. Momoharu responds, it is true. Nao then angrily punches Momoharu in the face and walks away. All of them are confused and shocked as to what they just witnessed from their team’s manager. A bruised-up Kaname overhears their conversation and responds that he thought their locker room maybe was moved to another location. Momoharu then urges his teammates for the time being to stay out of trouble, and worse come worse, there is a possibility of their basketball team might get disbanded. Kaname then jokingly gives his opinion that maybe they should blame the fire incident on Kenji. Momoharu responds that the situation is already out of their hands and walks away. At school’s basketball court, an angry and depressed Kenji tries to practice and, while dribbling, comments that maybe he should have accepted Sakamaki’s offer to enroll at Yokohama Taiei High. Kenji then curses his current teammates and states that he is such a fool for even trusting them. Kenji then calls his sister Juri that a lot has happened, their team lost in the first round, and he apologizes that he could not keep the promise of meeting her at the Inter-High Tournament. A depressed Kenji then lays on the basketball court, looks at the ceiling, and states the instant he finds a little light in his life; it gets shut right out.

The following day at school, the word spreads about the boys’ basketball team’s locker room burning down. While conversing, all the students agree that the team members must be smoking inside the locker room; they’re indeed a group of troublemakers and should get expelled. Madoka and Youko inside their classroom overhear what the other students at Kuzuryu High are saying about the boys’ basketball team. Youko notices Madoka’s depressed expression and comments that Momoharu and his teammates have outdone themselves this time. Upon hearing, Madoka replies to change the topic of conversation. After the conclusion of the third-period class, Madoka notices her senior Tama while walking across one of the hallways. Tama borrows some course books from her colleague Kousaka. Upon seeing them, Madoka gives Tama a surprise and friendly hug. Tama becomes a bit startled. Madoka then asks her if it was Kousaka, their schools’ famous senior. Tama confirms it is him and further states she has been dating him. A surprised Madoka asks since when. Tama responds it has been few months, and it all started when their class went to a local karaoke bar. A depressed Madoka replies, except her, everyone she knows is in a relationship. Tama responds that she did invite her, and you (Madoka) didn’t join due to club activities. Tama then asks as to how did the girls’ basketball team performed. Madoka replies her team lost in the first round of the Inter-High Preliminaries.

Kaname meets Tsukishima at the Inter-High Preliminaries Venue

Meanwhile, at the faculty office, the school’s staff members discuss the locker room fire incident. Oshio, the Kuzuryu High soccer team advisor, asked Satsuki that the basketball team members admitted that the cigarettes found inside the locker room are theirs. Satsuki replies that Momoharu and others informed him the pack of cigarettes was not theirs, and someone else kept it inside the locker room’s cabinet. Oshio responds that they are making unnecessary excuses, and it’s like saying, the cat ate my homework. Satsuki replies that besides the basketball team, other clubs at Kuzuryu High also use that same locker room, and he has seen the soccer team members Ono and Yamaguchi use the locker room. Oshio furiously stares at Satsuki and replies, that is he trying to blame his soccer team? Satsuki responds that he is not accusing anyone; however, there is a possibility that other members of the club at school might have placed the pack of cigarettes inside the locker room. The school’s principal intervenes and gives his opinion; everyone agrees that someone left the cigarettes inside the locker room, which started the fire incident. There is no dispute over this fact. Upon hearing, all the staff members agree. The principal further states that whether Momoharu and his teammates smoked inside the locker room is irrelevant, and they will receive punishment.

One of the other staff members believes that they could have avoided this incident if they would have implemented stricter rules. Momoharu and his teammates had been practicing earnestly for a month to prepare for the Inter-High Preliminaries. However, they lost in the first round is a letdown. All their big talk going to the Inter-High Tournament was a complete joke, and as teachers, we should all decide that the basketball club members should receive punishment. The other teachers then discuss that after the locker room renovation, the tennis club should use it. Upon hearing, a furious Satsuki responds, a waste of effort, you say, here are the mid-term results of Momoharu and his teammates. They are not that great, but the results are satisfactory in comparison to their previous exams. He challenged them if they did not pass their exam, they will not participate in the tournament. The staff member responds that if they work harder and attain good results, you’re saying Momoharu and his teammates can reach the Inter-High Tournament. Satsuki replies as teachers; their job is to assure their students maintain good academic standing at school.  However, what Momoharu and his teammates are trying to accomplish makes an effort seem small in comparison.

Satsuki further states, compared to his basketball team, other high schools have been eagerly preparing themselves for the Inter-High tournament for over a year. The determination to come back day after day to do the same thing is the kind of effort he is talking about, and it doesn’t always pay off because the Inter-High is a vicious tournament where only a handful of schools can qualify for it. Satsuki further comments that isn’t that the reality!? Isn’t this what society is all about!? It’s the world they all live in, and then furiously questions his colleagues that all of them are mocking his basketball club by calling it a waste of an effort just because his team lost a single game at the tournament. If you make a mistake, you strive to fix it. Upon listening, the principal intervenes and urges Satsuki the way he is behaving doesn’t befit a teacher. The punishment still stands, and the boys' basketball team will be suspended indefinitely.

Afterwards, at the principal’s office, another school from Kawasaki city calls to request a practice match with the boys’ basketball team. The principal’s secretory politely refuses the offer and notifies the headteacher. She further comments that this is the fourth institution that has called their office today. The principal replies the beacon of hope the boys’ basketball team created upon their participation at the Inter-High Preliminaries tournament has gotten wrecked by their wrongdoings.  

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Reference

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