Orimura Ichika: Game On!

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters or settings, and I am making no money from the writing of this story.

Authors Note

I know... yet another video game fanfic. It's just an idea that has been kicking around for a while, and recently demanded to be written.

Please also note that this story will be AU, with significantly more IS cores in circulation – this will be explained in the first chapter.

A warning: This story will be rated T initially, but could possibly become M rated in the future

Last but not least I am looking for a beta for this story; it will most likely need one in order to be continued.

A small trickle of light illuminated the room I was held prisoner in. Unfortunately for me it came from the small slit that I suppose was meant to double as a window. I had already investigated it, standing on a pile of crates that I had laboriously pushed together. But it was pointless. I could barely fit my hand through the gap, thus rendering that plan of escape redundant. For a few minutes I stood and peered around though that gap, but all I could see was an old boarded up corridor – the light came from a solitary bulb hanging lopsidedly from the ceiling.

I felt weak, weak that I had let myself be kidnapped. Had I been stronger then Chifuyu-nee would not be in this position. My mind drifted back to the time of my abduction, when masked men had burst into my house. I had not noticed them until it was far too late for me to fight back. I had been completely absorbed in watching Chifuyu-nee's progress in the Mondo Grosso. In particular the few words I had heard as the chloroformed cloth had been held over my face haunted my memory.

"Are you sure this'll work boss?"

"It had better. I've got a fortune on Orimura Chifuyu losing the Mondo Grosso. Damn bitch, what kind of monster is she. How can she beat them all so quickly? Huh. Guess some people are just inhuman..." Then I was quickly swallowed up by the blackness and my recollection grew hazy. So instead I clung to those few words, and my resulting surge of emotion.

Apart from the insult to Chifuyu-nee, which was unbearable enough on its own, the conclusion those words made was devastating. I had been taken as leverage to ensure that my sister would not win the Mondo Grosso for the second time. At a time like this I almost for a moment wished that Chifuyu-nee did not care for me quite so much. Because I already knew what would happen. She had already sacrificed so much to raise me after our parents had abandoned us. She would sacrifice her place in the Mondo Grosso in order to protect me.

The Mondo Grosso was effectively an international competition using the mecha known as Infinite Stratos, or IS for short. Amazing but deadly, the IS was more powerful than any current weapon in production – as shown by the destruction of thousands of missiles in the White Knight Incident! Every country wished to possess such power, but to ensure peace Tabane-nee created the Core Synthesizers, and gave one to each country.

The Core Synthesizers produced a certain amount of IS cores per year, of random quality. To keep the status quo each country's Core Synthesizers produced the number of cores per year that Tabane-nee had set. Since they were highly volatile machines, to examine them inevitably led to various parts being damaged, this in turn affected the quality and quantity of cores produced. This was all knowledge that I had gleaned from the newspapers, the Shinonono family had left their home to a more protected area. I still felt a pang of loneliness when I remembered Houki.

Even thinking about the past had failed to distract me from the situation at hand. I had never felt so low. I knew, had always known, that Chifuyu-nee was in a different league to me, who could not compare with her brilliance. But I had been content to watch her shine, and to cheer her on from the sidelines. This however was intolerable. I was no longer a support for my nee-san; I was now a burden – a weight around her neck holding her back from achieving her potential. Tears started to form in my eyes; I couldn't even escape from a locked room.

Once again I glanced around the room, which was unsurprisingly empty from everything except the crates which I was currently slumped against. Moving the crates to this position had taken almost all of my strength, and lifting them into a climbable stack had sapped the remainder of it. They had been really heavy... too heavy in fact!

With a burst of energy I quickly undid my work and soon had the crates arranged haphazardly around me. My fingernails broke, and my hands bled as I forced the nailed down lid of a crate off with my bare hands. There was nothing inside, but I persevered. There must be something useful in one of the crates – there just had to be!

Crate one contained some strange metal contraptions that were far too heavy for me to lift. And so there went my plan of fighting back against my kidnappers. The second crate contained documents, and the third contained what turned out to be paintings wrapped in oilcloth. I was breathing heavily when I approached crate number 4, drained from my exertion so far. My sincere mental thanks went to Houki and the Shinonono Dojo for their kendo training. Seems like all that endurance work paid off.

Upon breaking open the crate I was surprised to see a small black box contained inside. As I reached out and picked it up glowing lines began to trace the surface, centring on a single point. What could this be... it was not an IS core, or if it was it had an extremely strange design. I had had the chance to see cores one day when I accompanied Chifuyu-nee to a research lab; they were similar in their appearance and all took the form of a black box. Yet despite the similarities in their looks they felt completely different. A core, at least to me emanated a foreign power that I could not quite comprehend. This however was taking power into itself.

My thoughts came to an abrupt halt when a hologram was beamed from the side of the cube. I recognized the person immediately... but Tabane-nee? Why was Tabane-nee's image being used? Her rabbit ears twitched as she began to speak.

"Hello, this is everyone's favourite genius, the one... the only... Shinonono Tabane! Congratulations for reaching this message – I included it when I built this thing – but I never could quite get it to work. Ah, the mind of a genius is truly hard to fathom... So welcome whoever you are to the Alternate Reality Ultimate Simulator! Or you can call it ARUS for short. Have fun!"

I groaned in disappointment. For a moment I had thought that Tabane-nee had found me and was going to tell me that everything would be alright. That hope was now crushed. Then the light flared again...

ANAYLSIS: COMPLETE

CONFIGURING DATA...

DATA CONFIRMED

What was going on!? The light was stronger than before, and the box was growing painfully hot. I tried to drop it: but I couldn't! I tried shaking it off, but the cube remained firm...

INITIALISING INSTALLATION TO SUBJECT

SUBJECT CONFIRMED: ORIMURA ICHIKA

What was this thing going to do to me? Tabane-nee you are not getting a birthday present from me next year. The thought made me laugh for some reason. The laugh quickly turned into a hysterical cackle as the pain began to reach newer, more agonising levels.

INSTALLATION TAKING PLACE...

As if the pain in my hand was not bad enough on its own, it had started to spread throughout my body. White hot fire lanced through my veins and I gasped as the breath was knocked out of me. Just as I was about to pass out, some different words appeared.

INSTALLATION: COMPLETE

I lay on the floor for a few minutes as the pain subsided. When I no longer felt like I was going mad I slowly and shakily got to my feet. But a quick glance told me that I was in a different room, or location at any rate, which consisted of plain whiteness. A luminous screen was in front of me, with the same style of glowing words on it as the cube had projected.

ORIMURA ICHIKA: WELCOME TO ARUS

Welcome to ARUS Orimura Ichika. You have accessed the Alternate Reality Ultimate Simulator: IS version. ARUS has been designed to nurture and train IS pilots. You are Pilot 1: Orimura Ichika

What was going on? I'm not a girl, so how could an IS training simulator affect me...

NOTICE: Application is in beta testing stage: Death or in-game failure may lead to, but is not limited to... brain damage, cardiac arrest and loss of limb and/or life.

This was not good. Not good at all. If I didn't play this game – and win – I could end up with brain damage?! I had probably better focus. Take deep breaths and focus. You will only be even more of a burden to Chifuyu-nee if you break now.

QUESTION 1!

How SPECIAL are you?

TUTORIAL: Welcome to the SPECIAL screen, which contains your Primary Attributes. The higher your stat number is, the better you are in that area.

CONTINUE?

YES
NO

What other choice did I have? Stuck in a room like this, all I wanted was to get out of here as soon as possible. I quickly pressed the yes button, hopeful that I would get out of here soon. But why did I have this strange feeling, for some reason I felt like I was digging myself into an ever deeper hole...

You have (10) Stat points to spend

S is for STRENGTH

Strength is a measure of your raw physical power. It affects the following skills: Melee Weapons, Shields, and Energy.

Your current Strength value is 5

This was appearing more and more like a video game by the minute. IS training simulator my foot – this was more like a death trap. Why did I not learn my lesson from the time Tabane-nee tried to fix the washing line! That was a disaster. Okay, so it wasn't for Tabane-nee, after all a theme park paid her a lot of money to use the design as the basis for a rollercoaster – but still! Being launched across the back garden at super speed was not fun in the least. It took me at least a year to be able to enjoy rollercoaster's again.

Childhood traumas aside, I just did not get this situation at all... It was probably just a mini game thing that she was making, so I eventually managed to reach a decision. I would play through until I finished this things tutorial, and exit afterwards. The game had said nothing about exiting leading to dangerous conditions, just failure. Good thinking me... there is almost always a loophole somewhere. Video games these days really are getting immersive though...

Or rather Tabane-nee wants video games to be more immersive. It's easy for her though; she's a genius and has never failed to beat me at any video game I can think of. From fighting games to chess she has always emerged victorious. A new and rather worrying thought came to my mind. Just great, knowing Tabane-nee the game was probably impossible difficulty. No! I could not think like that! Take deep breaths and calm down. I will survive this tutorial, no matter what. Then get out of here ASAP.

Since I did not want to allocate all of my points at once without having seen all of the possibilities I pressed the forward arrow. This was obviously not because I wanted to play the game though, I just wanted to beat the tutorial quickly and get back to attempting escape. My life sucks... I am actually looking forward to going back to being a prisoner!

P is for PERCEPTION

Perception is your general awareness of your surroundings, your attention to detail and your ability to understand people's feelings. It affects the following skills: Ranged Weapons, Explosives, and Lock-picking.

Your current Perception value is 1

This was unusual; the game seemed to have adjusted itself to me. Logically speaking that was the only way to explain the discrepancy in the levels of the starting stats. Thinking back one of the messages that had popped up before I came here said something about analysis. I just cannot remember exactly what. I felt a sheepish grin appear on my face – Chifuyu-nee had always been commenting on how I should be more alert and keep an eye out for things. Still, this devices assessment of me was clearly incorrect; I was not quite that bad at perceiving things, at least I hope! Making a mental note to prove the low score wrong sometime I then went on to the next stat.

E is for ENDURANCE

Endurance is your health, in both mental and physical areas. It affects the following skills: Unarmed Combat, and Willpower.

Your current Endurance value is 7

That was probably right. I can remember Rin scolding me for never getting unwell. I had always been rather healthy for a child, and only rarely got a cold. To make matters worse – from Rin's perspective – was the fact that everyone else would be in bed feeling awful and I would be sneezing, but otherwise unaffected. Pressing the arrow button again I saw that the next in line was Charisma.

C is for CHARISMA

Charisma is your overall attractiveness and your ability to express yourself in the manner of your choosing, whether it is charming others... or intimidating them. It affects the following skills: Negotiation, Speech, and Presence.

Your current Charisma value is 6

Huh? I am that likeable. That's kind of strange... most of the girls in my class avoid me and get bothered when I approach them. The boys don't seem to like the girls acting like that; they're always muttering under their breath and glaring at me. I tried to ask a girl what the matter was but I only made the situation worse. She fainted for your information. When I pressed the forwards button once more Intelligence appeared.

I is for INTELLIGENCE

Intelligence is your cleverness and curiosity about the world and your skill at problem solving. It affects the following skills: Science, Medicine, Mechanics, and Knowledge.

Your current Intelligence value is 5

Hmm, not a good number and yet not bad either– it was exactly in the middle, just like my exam scores at school. It's become something of a running joke among the teachers that I always rank in the centre. I sigh... at least it's not another 1. I bump into the screen, hear a beep and quickly look at the screen once more, to find that it is now showing Agility.

A is for AGILITY

Agility is your quickness, and your dexterity. It affects the following skills: Stealth, Mid-Ranged Weapons, and Reflexes.

Your current Agility value is 6

I really was turning out to be a rather average person, well except for my horrendous perception score – and the less said about that the better. Still, I could not help imagining what Chifuyu-nee's scores would be. She would probably score perfect tens in every category – even charisma; she had always had a lot of fans. Speaking of Chifuyu-nee why was I wasting so much time on this silly game! I should be in the real world, trying to escape. Damn, knowing my luck my body would be laying there on the floor while my head was in this imaginary ARUS world thing... Coincidentally, luck was the final stat, but before I could look at it closer a message appeared.

HINT: While in character creation stage time is effectively paused!

Trust Tabane-nee to do something as epic as stopping time, and use it to play games. And no, I am not being sarcastic, that sounds exactly like her! Anyway, now that I know that time is not a constraint I turn to look at the luck stat. I hope this comes to an end sometime soon... I also hope that I will make it though all of this alive. Unharmed would be ideal, but I've sort of given up hope for that goal. I should probably focus on something actually achievable.

L is for LUCK

Luck determines how often good things happen, how often bad things happen – and how extreme these happenings are. The skill it affects is Fate.

Your current Luck value is 5

How on earth did they calculate how lucky I was? I mean, I could understand things like strength and endurance being possible to measure, but how on earth did the game decide my luck? This really, really did not make sense. And what exactly were these skills – so far they had been mentioned after each stat, yet I had been told nothing about them. Since by this time I had apparently come to the end of stage 1 I was greeted with a summary of my stats, and reminded once again that I still had points to assign.

Strength: 5

Perception: 1

Endurance: 7

Charisma: 6

Intelligence: 5

Agility: 6

Luck: 5

Stat Points to Assign (10)

Alright, here my video gaming skills, honed by years of playing them with Dan, would shine. I quickly placed four points in perception, bringing it up to an average score of five. Intelligence apparently helped solve problems so I put another three points into it – maybe it would help me figure a way out of the game. Since I had three points left I put one in endurance to increase my health. The next went to agility which would hopefully give me an edge when it came to dodging attacks. The last one went to strength – goodness knows I would need it to get through this.

These are your final SPECIAL scores

Strength: 6

Perception: 5

Endurance: 8

Charisma: 6

Intelligence: 8

Agility: 7

Luck: 5

CONFIRM

YES
NO

Strangely enough, when I pressed the confirm button, lights began to swirl around me. I tensed, anticipating more of the pain from earlier, but it never came. Instead I felt oddly refreshed and clearheaded. Almost as if this game really was real. But that would be ridiculous. Then again the situation that I was in was already pretty ridiculous.

So what do you think of the story? It's my first time writing a male character so any constructive advice/criticism would be appreciated. Should I continue it?

At any rate thank you very much for reading and I hope that you enjoyed it.