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Infinite Stratos: Our Darkest Days

Snarky Miracles

Created by: Dilis, Miriya, and Teira.

"All for one and one for all."

-Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

Somewhere over the Gulf of Anadyr

The aurora borealis illuminated the night sky as the battle raged on. A teenage girl with long golden blonde hair watched closely as the engagement commenced exactly according to her own design. Everything was exactly where she wanted it to be. But she had no time to be proud of herself any more than she had time to properly appreciate the beauty of the northern lights.

One of her allies charged at an enemy unit with a giant purple energy sword and started slashing with unrestrained fury against her enemy's defense shield.

"Maria. Don't get carried away. Pull back on my signal. Kenny? Are you in position?"

"Yes. Locked and loaded!" announced a brown-haired girl standing on the shore in an army green colored, massively armored Infinite Stratos with a giant cannon held in both of her mechanical hands.

"Maria get out of there now! Kenny fire once she's clear!"

The raven-haired girl with the giant sword circled back and away from her opponent. Once she heard the distinctive sound of the high explosive shell being fired from the massive cannon of her friend's Infinite Stratos she accelerated with an Ignition Boost to clear the blast zone as the shell connected with its target.

"Perfect shot Kenny! Maria, re-engage now!"

Now she turned her attention to the next fight. A blue haired girl with a same colored Infinite Stratos was engaged in close combat with another IS unit using a very large jousting lance type weapon.

"Tatenashi. You need to pull her back, you're out of position. But don't do it too quickly, we can't have her catching on! Make it look like she's driving you back."

"I'm doing my best Josie, but this bitch is a handful. I don't know if I can keep this up!"

She almost believed what she heard in response. But she knew Tatenashi better than that. She was saying it to inflate her opponent's ego.

"Maya. Tatenashi is coming towards you now. Are you ready?"

"All set! Back off now and clear my line of fire!" yelled the verdant haired bespectacled woman as she looked through the scope of the large sniper rifle in her arms. Once the blue haired student was away, she squeezed the trigger and fired three shots into the target, hitting three times.

The blonde girl nodded at the precision with which her instructions were being carried out. "Perfect! Now get in there and help finish her off!"

"Josie. I'm in trouble here! I can't keep this up! I lost my shield, and my energy is getting low!"

"Jenny? Where are you?"

"Half a click north of the big rock. This bitch won't cooperate!"

"I'm on my way!"

"No Josie. I'll get there faster! Take over for me here!"

"You're right. Move it, Maria! I'm coming in!" the blonde announced while drawing two swords out of the two massive shield bits floating behind her back.

"Maria! If you fuck this up I swear to God I'm gonna tear you limb from fucking limb!" yelled Jenny with her thick Australian accent.

"Tazzy. When I tell you. Disengage and retreat. I'm going supersonic, and hell's coming with me!"

The raven-haired girl accelerated towards her ally at the top speed of her IS unit while the blonde moved in and intercepted the enemy unit which tried to pursue her.

"Going somewhere?!" she yelled at the enemy pilot while viciously lashing out at her with both of her swords.

Meanwhile, the raven-haired girl tightened her grip on her sword and moved towards the third enemy who had the upper hand over her ally. "Get away from her now!"

The girl in the red IS didn't hesitate to cut all her engine power and fall away from her opponent as the girl with the giant energy sword came in at full speed and collided with the enemy Fang Quake unit like a supersonic meteor, knocking her away from her as she passed through and slowed until she could turn to attack again.

"METEOR! RELEASE ALL SAFETIES! FULL POWER TO THE ASCALON!" she yelled at the intensity of the beam grew even brighter. Energy started crackling from the hilt of the blade as it became dangerously overclocked. She raised the sword up over her head and rapidly closed the distance again to her new target who looked at her in wide-eyed horror through her now broken helmet visor.

Chapter One

"School is in session!"

"Congratulations to all of you for making it into this school. I'm your Homeroom teacher, Chifuyu Orimura. You will address me as Miss Orimura. From the Japanese students, I will also accept being addressed as Orimura-sensei, or just plain Sensei. Those of you who know of me will know my patience is razor thin. Those of you who by some miracle don't know me will come to know that I have zero tolerance for a lack of discipline."

Josephine Williams struggled to resist the temptation to pick up her book and read from it. It was the first day and it simply wouldn't do to make a bad impression. Their teacher, Chifuyu Orimura also didn't look like someone who would tolerate any slip-ups so she reached out and simply pushed the book a little further aside as if it would help her further resist the temptation to escape into the swashbuckling world of the Three Musketeers.

Instead, as introductions began, she paid her attention to the students as they introduced themselves.

The first to rise and make herself known was a girl with long black hair down to her middle back. Her uniform didn't feature the same ribbon everyone else wore, instead she wore a blue necktie with a simple knot. Her most striking feature was her pair of crimson eyes, the color of blood. Her looks alone made her seem like the girl she least wanted to piss off in the class. If she were a character on TV, she'd instantly recognize her as the villain. But her personality and looks seemed at complete odds.

"Hi everyone! My name is Maria Cross. I'm from Anchorage, Alaska. I like Ice Skating and Ice Hockey. But my hobbies are mostly musical. I play Guitar, Double Bass, Violin, Cello, Drums, and the Piano. I love music, music is love, music is life, music is happiness! Also the double bass I brought with me is really loud, so if you don't like my music, sad day for you!"

The teacher turned a deathly glare on her that had the American girl cowering in fear. "I swear they put all the crazies in my class on purpose... Be aware that I'm your dorm supervisor and if I hear complaints about loud music I'll show you some of my favorite uses for piano wire! There's a music club, and there's also a soundproof room on the ground floor of each dorm building for playing musical instruments. Now sit down and shut up!"

"Yes ma'am!"


Josephine quickly found herself losing interest again and before she realized it she was holding the book in her hand. She hadn't opened it yet though, so she quickly put it back down and refocused her attention back to her classmates.

A girl with long brown hair tied up with a green scrunchy into one long ponytail going down below her waist stood up with a nervous look on her face, she scanned the room with amber colored eyes before nervously taking a deep breath.

"Hello everyone. My name is McKenna Tremblay, I'm from Whitehorse, which is a city in the Yukon Territory in Canada. Near the border with Alaska actually," she said while turning a smile on the raven-haired American girl from earlier. "Hobbies, I guess I'm mostly interested in Military History, I also like working with machines, I build remote-controlled cars, drones, models, and I can also fix real cars and even tanks! But I also enjoy playing games like World of Tanks and Warships. I'm a bit of a geek really... But I also like being in the outdoors, especially in the winter, I have a cat, I also enjoy ice skating, many sports, and I love, love, love Ice Hockey! I'm rambling, so I'll sit down and shut up now..."

Chifuyu nodded, "Good call. Next!"

Finally, it was her own turn. She slowly stood up and looked around the room with her blue eyes. She could feel the eyes of the class eyeing and assessing her long blonde hair, or her shapely legs, some were enviously staring at the curves of her body, especially the American girl who was shamelessly drooling over every inch of her, it made her highly uncomfortable, and all she could do was get it over with.

"Good morning to you all. My name is Josephine Williams. I'm from Leeds in the North of England. I enjoy reading. One can almost always find me with a book in my hand," she explained while holding up her copy of The Three Musketeers for emphasis. "But I also quite enjoy playing online games as well. I play Star Wars The Old Republic, and Guild Wars Two, among other things. Not much else to say about myself without boring you all to death so I'll sit down and shut up as well."

"Excellent decision," complimented the teacher with a small grin.

Josephine sat back down with a huff. Her eyes turned to her left where she spotted that American girl staring at her. The girl quickly looked forward again once she'd been caught and Josephine could have sworn she saw her blushing. Rather than contemplate the implications she quickly picked up her book and opened it up to read.

"Alright. Let's get started with the class. Open up your textbooks to the first chapter."

The raven-haired woman maintained an indomitable and intimidating posture as she stepped up to the podium in the middle of the front of the class and started explaining to the students about the basics of the Infinite Stratos, or 'IS' units. Her interest in class waned very quickly as there was nothing new to her being discussed.


Josephine quickly looked up from her book "Yes ma'am!"

"Answer the question!"

"The Pilot of an Infinite Stratos does not experience the negative effects of g-forces because of the Passive Inertia Control System. That's why an IS can move at high speed and maneuver without the pilot losing consciousness or other ill effects."

"And what is the opinion of chivalry that Dumas presents in The Three Musketeers?"

"That it doesn't always work. Simple ideals don't always give you the answer to every problem. Chivalry was intended to guide those who followed its tenants towards a good and moral life but the story is full of chivalrous people doing unchivalrous things in the name of chivalry."

"Impressive multitasking. But if I catch you not paying attention again I'm going to smack you with War and Peace! Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes ma'am." she replied while shoving her bookmark in and closing the book.

Leeds, England

One year ago

In an old run down school, in what could well have been an affluent part of the city at some point in the past, Josephine was seated in a classroom and reading Machiavelli while a history class took place around her.

The city, like many others, had fallen on hard times. The school grew more dilapidated with each passing day as the city around it did. Everything became a constant reminder of the difficult times in which they lived.

Without care or mind to anyone or anything that wasn't the book in her hands, including the instructor, she educated herself on what she considered to be more important topics.

The teacher cleared his throat loudly for everyone to hear, but the student whose attention he wanted still wasn't paying him any mind. "Miss Williams. Would you care to answer the question?"

With her eyes still on the book, she began to address his question. The simple fact was, she heard everything, but she simply cared for nothing.

"After the Second World War, the South African National Party came to power in 1948 on a ticket of racial segregation and support for poor whites. They passed laws similar to the Jim Crow laws in the United States at the time, but also arguably harsher. Apartheid eventually came to an end in 1990. If you only read this book of fairy tales, which I'll laughingly call a history textbook, they lived happily ever after. But if you spent a little time reading the news on your smartphones instead of playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush, you might know that they're well on their way to doing Apartheid the other way around now."

"You didn't even look up from your book Miss Williams. Do you honestly hold this class and myself in such contempt?"

"If I had any thoughts to spare on those subjects, I probably would."

"Wow… What's with Josephine today?" whispered one of her classmates.

"No idea… But she's asking for it…" whispered another in response.

"Well. We can discuss this further while you're in detention. Let's move on with class."

She sighed dejectedly while forcing her concentration back onto the book in her hands. Hopefully, Mr. Machiavelli would have some words of wisdom to help her solve this difficulty she was having.

After class broke she was held up by her teacher for her detention. But he seemed more interested in conversing with her than he was in punishing her for the moment.

"Miss Williams… Please explain to me exactly what your problem is. You have the best grades in this school, and I'm told you've even received an acceptance to the Infinite Stratos Academy. You have everything going for you. So what may I ask came over you that you would put it all in jeopardy like this?"

She sighed before looking at him with her sapphire blue eyes. "I don't know what came over me to behave as I did. I apologize."

"This wasn't the first time for you. Nor do I suspect will it be the last. So what is it exactly?"

"Do you actually want an answer?" she asked meekly.

"Yes. I do."

She took a deep breath and gathered her thoughts before explaining the best she could. "I just have all this anger inside me that I don't know how to control or ventilate. The more I learn about the state of the world, the more furious I become. I mean… Just look around us. This is shit. This is absolute shit! Why did it have to be this way? Because your generation had enormous wealth and mismanaged everything. They created a situation where we withdrew from the EU and the single market. Effectively committing economic suicide. My parents both have to work two jobs each and can barely even keep the lights on in our house! It'll be even worse for my generation! There are no jobs for us. Every year people graduate and find an empty job market. Same for those lucky ones who get to go to University. They graduate into nothing..."

"Interesting. These are hardly things a fourteen or fifteen-year-old girl should be concerned with you know."

"Nobody else seems concerned. When people starve in the streets, there's no concern. When riots break out, there's some mild concern which results in a brutal police crackdown. The rich stay rich, and everyone else has to live on the meager scraps they leave us. I can't abide it. And I hate that I'm powerless to do anything about any of it."

"Is that why you want to try to become an IS pilot?"

"I'm not going to try. I will become one. They're even building me a Personal IS and soon they'll start training me on it. I'm going to become a Representative Contender for England. I'll use that power to make a difference. However small it might ultimately be. I can't just do nothing."

"Well. I hope you achieve your goals, Miss Williams. But I have to issue a very stern warning to you. Even a future Mondo Grosso Champion has to mind her manners in school. Try not to have any more incidents. You don't want to go to that academy with black marks on your records."

"Yes sir… I'll do my utmost."

Josephine got up from her desk after class had been dismissed. Thankfully the day was light and went by rather quickly due to it being intended for introductions, orientation, and fundamentals. Only a complete moron who didn't bother to even look at the Reference Manual before coming to the Academy would have had a hard time with anything they were covering.

She wandered out of the class building and through the Academy grounds. The school was beautiful, especially compared to her previous educational institution in Leeds. Nothing was dilapidated. Everything was new, modern, and well maintained.

The school itself was located on an island across the bay from a city in Japan and shared the island with various Infinite Stratos related research facilities, among which was the corporation who produced her own IS frame. Also a place where she would doubtlessly be spending much time doing boring scientific chores.

Rather than dwell on the tedious chores that came with being an IS pilot, she refocused onto the positive aspects. Such as the island being connected to the mainland by a convenient monorail system, and all of Japan was connected by an even more convenient bullet train system. It was her first time outside of England and the biggest part of her just wanted to go explore. In a just a few hours she could be anywhere in this country. She wondered if she'd even be allowed to travel for tourism during the weekends and made a mental note to check the student handbook for any relevant regulations.

The English girl followed a cobblestone path with convenient holographic information floating on it to guide students and visitors around to their destinations. Coming upon a small stonework bridge that crossed a flowing stream with a fountain inside of it on her left. She found it to be that utterly spectacular and couldn't help the bright smile that came over her face.

Number 1042. That was her dorm room. Arriving in front of the building with her luggage in hand, she was amazed at how spectacular it was. She could only describe it as a modern structure right out of a utopian science fiction movie. If it looked as good on the inside as it did on the outside, she felt like she'd probably never want to leave this place.

When she eventually reached her room, she concluded that she did indeed never want to leave. It was simply unbelievable to her how much this dorm room was less like what she expected a school dorm to be, and how much more it felt like it was a five-star hotel room.

The first thing she saw by the door when she entered was a convenient kitchen space against the wall on her right. On her left, she saw an open door leading into a bathroom. Or perhaps more accurately, a washroom. To her disappointment, it only had a walk in shower and no bathtub. But a bathtub was one luxury she could do without if it meant she'd get to live in a place like this.

She then set down her bags against the wall and stepped into the washroom. She flipped the light switch and widened her eyes in wonder. Everything was clean. Not to suggest she was used to filthy bathrooms, but such luxury was never something she'd ever experienced. This was all immaculate! Shiny chrome faucets, pristine white basins, and everything was clean. In fact, everything looked brand new. It had two faucets and sinks with a large mirror, which was good because it meant that both she and her eventual roommate could wash up without getting in each other's way.

There was also one of those overly complicated Japanese toilettes she'd heard about, but on close inspection, she saw the control panel it had on the side was in both English and Japanese, which made this porcelain version of a Star Trek Captain's chair just a bit less intimidating.

Next, she opened the door to inspect the walk-in shower. Unsurprisingly at this point, it was also pristine. Next to the shower, there was a small closet with a towel rack attached to it. Inside the cabinet, she found all the necessary cleaning supplies with which the dorm room's immaculate state of cleanliness could be maintained. There was a letter attached to the door which she took a moment to read outlining how the cleaning supplies were provided with compliments of the IS Academy and where students could go for more when it runs out. The letter encouraged students to be tidy and, in the strongest possible terms, outlined harsh penalties for failure to meet the standards of cleanliness. It also stated that room inspections would be conducted at random.

With that information in mind, she closed the cabinet and walked out of the washroom before turning off the light from outside the bathroom. She then inspected the kitchen area and found it equally pristine.

There was a nice deep sink built into the marble countertop, and a safe distance from the sink was a glass-topped electric stove with two burners. Basic necessities like an electric kettle and microwave were provided as well. Inside a drawer, she found sets of cutlery were also provided. In a cabinet beside the drawer were various plates with the theme colors of the IS Academy, and logo emblazoned in the center. Above the counter were some cabinets as well where she found matching IS Academy coffee mugs. Conspicuously absent were any kitchen knives so she figured she'd have to provide those herself or buy ready meals. The latter somewhat defeated the purpose of having a fully equipped kitchen so she would prefer the former.

She next walked into the living room and smiled at what she saw. The first thing she noticed was that the room was meant for three people. Against the wall and to the left towards the wall with the washroom was a dual bunk bed, and to the right was a single bed. All of them were decently sized twin beds and looked very comfortable. The arrangement of the beds left some space for a small dining table with three chairs around it. The wall to the washroom also had an enormous TV built into it. Though she knew it would probably be a struggle to access the back of it to plug in a game console.

She looked to her right and saw that the windows also revealed that they had a balcony! She quickly opened the door and rushed outside to lean up against the bulwark and take a deep breath of the ocean breeze coming in from all around the island. The view was spectacular. She could see the whole city on the mainland from her vantage point, as well as much of the greenery of the island.

Leeds, England

One year ago

Josephine returned directly home after school. It was rather miserable and wet outside so visiting the park to read, or any other activities were rendered unappealing on account of the gloomy weather.

Her parents were both out. There was nothing unusual about that. Until she started making money from being a Representative Contender they had to work obscene hours to keep food on the table and the lights on in the house.

On her way through the household, she passed by a small box plugged into a power socket mounted on the wall near the kitchen. She read the number and saw the house was running low on kilowatt hours. It was such a sad and pathetic state of affairs that allowed for private companies to resell electricity on a prepaid basis for six times what it actually cost.

All electricity now had to be on this prepaid system. Ostensibly it was so that people would be more conservative with electricity and reduce the nation's carbon footprint. They also stated that it would create more jobs, but that never happened due to the system being fully automated. The points of sale were the already established giant supermarket chains. So she, like many others, knew it was a complete and utter farce engineered solely to make more money for the power companies who got a bigger share of every prepaid kilowatt-hour sold, which was double or triple what they would have made before.

With a disgruntled groan to express her extreme displeasure with the situation, she walked away and off towards her room. She'd have to rely on her laptop's battery power if she wanted to get any gaming done tonight, and worse still, to conserve power, she'd have to wait until much later to get the most out of the time her battery would last and miss a lot of things online that she was looking forward to participating in.

She set down her bookbag on an old chair and took off her school jacket to hang neatly in her closet. She then left the room to go wash up. She turned a creaky knob in the bathroom sink until water started to spit from it rather than flow. There was always air the pipes, and nobody could seem to figure out why that was. Josephine simply concluded that the building was showing its age. World War Two had only recently ended when this building was brand new, and nobody had since given any thought to modernizing the plumbing.

After washing her hands and face she returned to her room where she plopped herself down on her old bed which moaned and creaked at every one of her movements. In the past, she'd found it annoying, but she'd grown used to it. It was as comfortable as she could ask for. She reached over to her nightstand and picked up another book to read.

Her entire room was nothing but scattered books and a small makeshift computer desk made from a wooden board she found somewhere and some metal poles which her father stuck to the wood for her, on which she kept her laptop and even more books.

The entire collection of old books came to her from her grandmother. A collection she and her grandfather had accumulated over their lifetime. A collection from which her grandmother always gave her something to read whenever she visited. A woman to whom she credited her education thus far, and would doubtlessly continue to into the far future as well.

Most people in the world knew how to read. But her grandmother taught her something even more important than that. She taught her how to comprehend. It was an important difference which she didn't take for granted and worked hard to maintain and sharpen.

In the words of George RR Martin's Tyrion Lannister in A Game of Thrones; "A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge."

Noises from inside the room pulled her away from her admiration for the beauty of the island she was on. Figuring it must be one or both of her new roommates she turned around and walked back inside to greet them properly.

Before she could say a single word, she ended up raising a curious eyebrow at what she saw. A girl who was just shy of a full five feet in height with black hair and crimson eyes. She immediately recognized the girl as her American classmate. But what really piqued her curiosity was how much luggage she was holding as if it were nothing. She suspected the same load would be difficult to manage for a grown man but it didn't look like it bothered her in the slightest.

In her left arm, she held what she recognized as a hard case for a very large musical instrument, one that was even bigger than she was. Remembering that the girl said she played the double bass she guessed that's what that was. On her back, she had a soft case for what she also guessed was an electric guitar. In her right arm, was another hard case for what she further guessed was an acoustic guitar. Then, slung over both her shoulders were duffle bags filled with what she presumed were her clothes and other personal effects.

"Do you by chance need some help with any of that?"

"Nope. I've got it. I carried this shit across the world to get here, I'll be damned if I'm not going to finish what I started. Getting those fuckers to let me keep all this when I left was hard enough. God and Uncle Sam. Two bastards who give, and also take away. Well. Not from me!" she explained while she started dumping her load on the single bed nearest the window.

She glared incredulously at the newcomer, "Don't you think you should wait for the third member of our household to arrive before selecting which bed you'll occupy?"

"No point. That'll simply be postponing the inevitable. I'll be taking the bottom bunk. It looks cozy in here, and it's away from god's prying eyes."

"That's two blasphemous things you've said inside of sixty seconds. That's rather frighteningly impressive."

"Are you a believer?"

"No. I'm an atheist. I merely attended a Catholic School," she answered before deciding to take a seat at the dining table.

"You have my sympathy. I was raised Evangelical. Which means keeping the strictest adherence to the literal word of the Bible. Other's are undeservingly handed the title, but we hold the distinction of actually being the real American Taliban."

"But you're not a believer yourself I take it?"

The girl shrugged her shoulders as she set about unpacking her clothes into one of the cabinets by the bunk beds. "Yes and no. It's complicated. I believe that there is a god, but I also believe that if you take him at his literal word like the Evangelicals say you should, then he is someone who is worthy of little more than my contempt."

"So you believe in god, but you don't believe he should be worshiped?"


"So why believe at all? How does that work?"

"It's a contradiction. I know. But it's not any different than say, the US President. Even if he doesn't represent me, my views, or my policies, he's still there and doing whatever he can to fuck with my life. If you ask me, that's god as well."

Josephine found herself laughing at that explanation. "Yes. I think I see your point."

"Oh… What a bitch I am…" she said after putting whatever was in her hands into the closet and then quickly walked over to the dining table where she put out her hand to the blonde girl. "I'm Maria Cross."

Josephine smiled and stood up to shake hands with her. "It's quite alright. I remember you from class today. I'm Josephine Williams."

"Yeah. I remember you too. You're kinda unforgettable."

"You were staring a little hard back there."

"Yeah.. sorry about that. I couldn't help it. I've sort of been sequestered away from the world for a long time now and… well…. have you seen you?"

"Yes I have…" she said while balling her fists. She clenched them and relaxed them to bleed off the adrenalin rush she was getting. "I'd thank you not to make a big deal of it."

"Whatever you want. But does it bother you at all that I'm gay? I mean. If you're uncomfortable with me because of that I could ask for-"

Josephine was flabbergasted at how her actions could have been misinterpreted. "No no! Not at all! That doesn't bother me in the least. It doesn't matter to me in the least either."

"I appreciate that. Thanks," the raven-haired girl replied in a calm voice before going back to her unpacking.

A moment later there was a knock at the door before it slowly swung open. "Excuse me. Sorry. I heard voices. May I come in?" asked a voice from the entrance way.

"If this is the room you've been assigned then you most certainly may," answered a smiling Josephine.

"It is. But. I just didn't want to disturb anyone," she answered shyly while walking in and shutting the door quietly behind her.

"That's very considerate of you, but we're all going to be living together. So you shouldn't be afraid of something like that. There's also absolutely no need to be so shy."

"Yes. Well… I just don't want to seem rude," the girl answered while walking into the room.

Josephine walked up to meet her halfway. She didn't have much with her. Just a laptop bag and one vertical suitcase which she rolled on its four wheels beside her.

"Don't worry about being rude. Our third roommate raises the bar on that so high you couldn't reach it if you tried."

The girl audibly gulped at that and slowly nodded her head, unsure of how else to respond.

"You were in class with us. McKenna, I think that's what you said your name was, am I right?"

"Yes. That's right. And you're Josephine. I remember you too. It's nice to meet you," she said while offering out her hand.

Josephine shook hands with her and smiled kindly.

In the same instant, their third roommate was there and quickly snatched up her hand. "Maria Cross. Nice to meet you!"

"McKenna Tremblay. Nice to meet you too," she replied while taking the shorter girl's hand.

"This is so great! I haven't had any friends for so long! And you're both so pretty! Lemmie help you both unpack!"

"Have you finished already?" asked the English girl.

"Oh yeah. All done. I don't have much in clothing. My life is in my music!"

"You mentioned that in class. But are you actually any good?" asked the Canadian while eyeing the musical instruments on the bed.

"I guess that's a matter of opinion. All art is subjective."

"Well. Play us something while we unpack," suggested Josephine.

"Sure. Happy to!"

McKenna raised a hand, "Just a quick question. Sleeping arrangements?"

"Maria called the bottom bunk," she replied with a polite gesture to the American girl.

"I don't mind taking the top then. If that's alright?"

"Of course it is. I'd probably be most comfortable down here anyway. Closer to the power outlet."

"Fair enough then," said the Canadian with a quick nod.

Josephine looked down at the floor awkwardly, "Umm… There's just one more thing I should tell you both…"

"What's that?" asked the Canadian brunette.

"I sleep with a light on. I'm really very scared of the dark… So I hope that won't trouble either of you?"

The American girl shrugged her shoulders. "Lights on or lights off. Whatever. No bother to me. Lights on just means I get to see a sleeping beauty," she then concluded with a playful wink.

"That's not creepy at all…" muttered the Canadian.

"Not at all no…"

Maria waved her hand dismissively, "You'll get used to me not having a filter between my brain and my mouth. Either that or you can smother me with a pillow. But please make sure its synthetic. I'm allergic to feathers. Oh shit. Speaking of which..." she then ran over to pull the covers off her chosen bed and inspected the pillow. "Oh good. They're synthetic. Oh… And so soft..." she added while hugging the pillow.

Josephine and McKenna looked at each other and both of them started twisting their fingers beside their heads to tell each other their roommate was insane.

After she had finished unpacking, McKenna took a few moments to find all the power outlets in the dorm room and see where she could set up her old laptop. The room had two computers on the long desk attached to the wall, which was strange because the room was set up for three people. So the fact that there were only two desktops was strange. But it was also irrelevant since nobody in the room seemed interested in using the desktops. The computer screens were attached to the wall with mechanical arms, so she just moved them all out of the way and set up there near the power outlet.

Meanwhile, the American was channel surfing on the big screen TV. Sitting on the floor with her back to Josephine's bed. She was dressed in a pair of black pajama pants and an old white t-shirt that had small holes in it. It was the kind of t-shirt McKenna would have thrown out ages ago, but the raven-haired girl was either too attached to, too lazy, or even too cheap to replace it. She was also wearing rainbow-colored socks with grip treads on the bottoms.

"Four hundred accessible channels. Most of them in Japanese," Maria muttered indignantly.

"That's weird. Why would there be Japanese TV channels on a Japanese cable provider in Japan?" asked a sarcastic McKenna.

"Oh! You made a funny! Ha! Ha! I mean, you gotta go through like three hundred Jap channels before you get to anything watchable. Blah. Do you know how to get rid of the age restriction? Most of the channels are blocked by it! Like HBO and shit."

"Why do I feel like you just wanna be able to watch porn on the big screen?"

"We can get porn on this thing?" asked a wide-eyed Maria.

"You been living in a hole or something?"

"Something…" muttered Maria with an inscrutable tone.

A moment later Josephine emerged from the bathroom wearing dark green pajama pants and a white t-shirt with the image of Chester Bennington and the years 1976-2017 on it. Folded neatly in her hands was her school uniform which she carried over to her closet and neatly put away for the next day.

"How can you walk around barefooted? Doesn't it gross you out?" asked Maria while observing Josephine's bare feet.

"Doesn't bother me at all. I think this room is quite clean as it is," answered the blonde.

"You went to the bathroom to change?" asked McKenna.

"And to wash up. So what are you two doing?"

"Seeing if there's anything good on the TV," answered Maria.

"Playing World of Warships," answered McKenna without looking up from her laptop.

"Oh! We have Wi-fi here?" asked Josephine with a cheerful smile.

"Of course we do. The username is your full name the way it's written on your student ID and the password will be your student ID number."

"Very good!" exclaimed the cheerful blonde as she merrily skipped her way over towards her own laptop bag and started breaking out her equipment. "Haven't been able to touch any of my MMOs in over three months now. This will be excellent! Oh wait..." she looked down at her wristwatch with disappointment. "Eight-hour time difference, it's still way too early in Europe for anyone to be online and doing anything."

"The best thing about Warships, there are always enough people online to get a game going," said a happy McKenna.

"Hey, Canadian girl! So can you disable the parental controls or not?" asked Maria.

"My name is McKenna... And yes, sure, just let me finish this game."

Josephine raised up a curious eyebrow, "You do know that anything you want to watch which might be blocked you can stream for free on the internet right?"

"Yeah, but I don't have a computer or a smartphone, and also, this TV is freaking huge, and it's in mother fucking 8k! It's got better resolution than real life!" exclaimed Maria.

"Yes, but everything you can watch is still in regular HD or 4k at best. Only like a handful of movies are in 8k," explained McKenna.

"Meanwhile my laptop can barely sustain thirty fps at 1080p on low graphics for a thirteen-year-old MMO," muttered Josephine. "Being poor sucks if you're a gamer."

McKenna nodded solemnly, "Same here… MMOs need your processor more than your GPU, so if you've got a crappy CPU like me, you're boned. I also badly need an upgrade… I wanna get sponsored by one of the really kick ass tech companies who'll give me the best top of the line gaming laptop to play with."

Josephine looked wistfully up at the ceiling, "That would be amazing…"

"Did she disconnect?" asked a voice on Josephine's laptop.

"Serapis disconnected guys." confirmed another voice.

"RRRAHH! That bastard hit me so hard I disconnected!" yelled Josephine into her laptop's microphone.

"Haha! Hurry up and reconnect, we're keeping your alive, but just barely!" yelled someone back over the laptop's speakers.

"Nobody told me we had an actual girl in this guild. What flavor of a Brit are ya?"

"Salt and vinegar!" she answered with a barely stifled laugh.

"Damn Serapis, your voice is like... honey in my ears!" exclaimed one of the guild members over the voice chat.

"Then I wonder what my foot in your arse will be like?"

The sounds of laughter poured out of the laptop's speakers and flooded the room.

"So Serapis, how's the academy?"

"Only the first day. But I can't complain. Training for these last few months was intense, but I finally get to play again."

"What academy? She in the army or something?"

"Less talking more healing!"

"I'm logging back on my character now. Heals are coming. Just hang on a little longer."

"I'm trying to sleep here!" yelled McKenna from the top bunk.

"Sorry dear. I'll try to keep it down," she answered back without looking away from her screen as she managed to get back into her game and resume playing. "Sorry everyone, that was one of my roommates. We're being too loud."

"No headset?"

"Can't find it. I think I forgot it back in England, so I'm gonna have a buy a new one when they let me out of school this weekend."

"They let you out of army schools?"

"I'm not in an army school, I'm at the IS academy."



"Will you all shut up?! My roommates are sleeping and you're screaming!"

"You're screaming too Josephine!" yelled McKenna.

"Oh, thank you very much. Just yell out my real name to everyone. Thank you!"

"Not my fault you don't use push to talk!"

"Can't stop healing to push a button to talk!"

"First the lights are all on. That's bad enough. But it's four AM and you're raiding in an MMO. Can't you play at a decent hour?" asked the Canadian.

"Time difference. Sorry…" answered a meek Josephine.

"Is your roommate a yank? She sounds like a yank."

"I'm fucking CANADIAN!"

"All of you shut the fuck up right fucking now!" yelled Maria at the top of her lungs.

"Yes ma'am!" answered a chorus from Josephine's laptop.

"That one was definitely a yank…" said another of Josephine's guild members in a low voice.

"Yes. That one was a yank. And we just wiped…" muttered Josephine.

The next day at lunch, a sleepy looking Josephine brought a tray with three meals to the table she was sharing with her two classmates and roommates. Both had textbooks out and were studying up until they saw her coming and quickly cleared off the table for her to set down the tray.

Maria picked up one plate from the tray and stared at its contents. "What is this?"

"The daily special. It was highly recommended."

"What is it suppose to be?" asked McKenna.

"Couscous I think. A little overcooked though, but it shouldn't be too bad."

The American girl picked up a fork and started digging through the plate. It was all mush. There were vegetables and other things she wasn't sure of at the bottom as well, also cooked to mush because they started disintegrating at the touch of her fork.

"I thought the food at the base I lived on was bad… Go figure they spend all their money on holographic projectors for the pillars and tables in this cafeteria but have nothing left to hire anything better than prison cooks."

Josephine nodded in agreement, "So it would seem…" she said before scooping some up into her fork and taking a bite. Followed by her two companions. All three then spit their food back into the plates and started furiously wiping their mouths with the serviettes.

"Oh dear god!" cried Maria.

The Canadian girl turned green, "That's the worst thing I've ever put in my mouth!"

"It's salty, mushy, and god only knows what else is in here that's giving it this horrid flavor…"

"As a rule of thumb, I only give places one chance to make a good impression on me," started the brunette. "I can cook. If you two can as well, then I propose we take turns making lunches for us all."

"I'll second that motion," added the blonde.

The raven-haired girl looked away with a huff, "I never learned how to cook. So I can't really pitch in there."

"Then I suppose the duty falls to us then McKenna."

"I don't mind. But we don't really have anything to prepare in the dorm room. We'd have to go shopping. Would they let us out for that? Or do they have a store here in the Academy?"

"I'm kind of broke…"

Both heads turned to the American girl who wasn't making eye contact with either of them.

Josephine narrowed her eyes suspiciously, "Seriously? Aren't you a Representative Contender? Doesn't your government give you a stipend for your living expenses?"

"I get a salary from the Air Force. But I don't get to touch it. It's all held in 'trust' for me until I graduate. They said that since the IS Academy provides basic necessities for all students, I didn't need anything else so there was no need to provide me with an expense account."

"If there was any justice in this world, your entire pay would be going towards making amends for your fuck-ups," remarked another girl with what they all identified as an Australian accent.

Josephine turned to the newcomer with a scandalised expression. "I beg your pardon. But hasn't anyone ever told you how rude it is to eavesdrop? Never mind how rude it is to stick your nose into a private conversation!"

"Oh shut it, Limey! I wasn't talking to you!" she said while turning a glare onto the American girl. "Do you know who I am you little cunt?"

Maria examined the girl for any familiarity, but come up with nothing. She had long wavy blonde hair down to her middle back, but interestingly, her hair was a gradient, half blonde, and then it turned pink at the bottom. She had light blue eyes and a fair skin complexion. Her school uniform had a yellow necktie, indicating she was a sophomore. The Uniform jacket also had short sleeves, indicating she was a Representative Candidate or Cadet. She was attractive. Very much so. But, she didn't know her.

She then shrugged her shoulders before slouching back in her bench seat. "You're a... very sexy… and very angry POME who's in desperate need of anger management classes, whom I have never met before in my life. But I'm sure we'll get along perfectly if you just go away and get fucked by a Kangaroo."

Josephine glared at the Australian girl but said nothing further while trying to piece together the source of the hostility.

She narrowed her blue eyes and glared into the American girl's crimson irises, "Let me help your memory then… The desert in Arizona. Do you remember what happened there?"

"I don't remember you being there. As I said, you're pretty good looking, even if you're a total bitch. I think I'd remember you."

The blonde girl slammed her fists down into their table, "That's because I wasn't there! My sister was! Because of you, she's paralyzed from the neck down! She'll never walk again, she'll never be able to do anything on her own! Her IS piloting days were over before they started! She should be here now instead of you!"

"I don't know. It might be an important day to you, but to me they all just blur together…" Maria put a hand on her chin and then snapped her fingers, "Oh yeah. The Australian Second Generation model. The one that got splattered all over the Grand Canyon. Yeah. I remember that. Sad day for her, but it was just a Tuesday for me. If she couldn't hack it, if she couldn't accept the risks, she shouldn't have been there to begin with."


"I didn't cause shit. I just shot her. Gravity did the rest. How can it be my fault if her machine was defective junk? Go vent your anger on whoever built that piece of shit she was piloting."

Josephine slowly nodded her head. Now she understood.

"You don't belong in this academy! You're reckless and dangerous! You could have saved her if you cared enough to stop her fall! I memorized all the after action reports! It was obvious to everyone there her machine had completely lost power! So why didn't you save her? Why didn't you even try?! You just left her to die!"

"Didn't you say she was paralyzed, not dead?"


McKenna and Josephine looked between the two and even they were surprised at how indifferent Maria seemed to be to the other girl's plight.

The Canadian girl settled her eyes on her raven-haired roommate. "Maria… I think you could show a little compassion for her poor sister. I don't know what the circumstances were. But at least have some basic human empathy eh?"

The American crossed her arms over her chest and huffed indifferently, "Would my empathy heal her injuries? Maybe I should pray for her? Hmm? Ask god to undo what happened to her? I'm sure he'll do it if I asked nicely… In fact, why don't I try that now?"

She tugged her collar with one hand and pulled out her necklace with her other hand, revealing a silver crucifix the size of her hand. She clasped it in both hands and closed her eyes. "Hey god? Maria here. This girl is really bothering me right now, so could you please do us all a solid and heal her sister? We would deeply appreciate it."

"Fuck you!"

"Well… I guess that didn't work. So what else would you like me to do? If it'll make you stop screaming in my face, I'll even consider doing it."

"I want you to die!"

Maria slowly nodded her head, "Alright. I suppose there's only one way to settle this then. Well, actually there's two, but I don't think the cafeteria has enough jello for the first. So meet me in the arena tomorrow after school. And bring a long wooden box."

"She's a sophomore! You can't seriously be challenging her to an IS duel?!" yelled McKenna.

"Yeah. It's silly, but what can I do? This being an all girls school, you'd think they'd stock up enough jello for a wrestling match. It's just common sense really."

"You're on! I'll make the required arrangements for a proper grudge match! I strongly recommend keeping your mouth shut, the more shit you talk, the more shitty words you'll have to eat!" she yelled before walking away.

Maria reached out to pick up her drink and had a little sip, "Two girls one cup… With her? Why not," she said in a low and amused voice.

Josephine glared at her incredulously.

"What? Do I have something on my face?"

"Thank you for that mental image which I will be unable to scrub from consciousness for the better part of the remainder of the day… But honestly… I can't believe you, Maria. I really thought better of you until just now. How could you be so devoid of compassion? Even if you couldn't for whatever reason save her sister, you could have at least shown some pity for the poor girl! The proper way to handle that was to talk it out, explain your point of view, and of course, show some empathy!"

Maria shook her head, "Explanations and apologies don't sate people's anger. She needs to vent it. She wanted a fight. Well. I'm happy to oblige her. If she beats me, maybe she'll start getting over the anger. Then she can move on to hating me quietly."

McKenna put a hand to her chin as she considered what had just happened, "I agree with Maria. Not the way she handled it. She could have handled it much better. But I don't think she's to blame at all for what happened. IS technology isn't perfect. Anything can malfunction at any time and have bad results. She accepts that risk when she pilots her IS. Her sister also accepted the risks when she got into one. Being angry at Maria for a malfunction she didn't cause is wrong of her."

"I can accept that point. But if Maria really was in a position to save the girl, and chose not to, then she is at fault," she then turned her hard glare back on the raven-haired girl sipping her drink. "Why didn't you? I think you owe an explanation!"

"I don't think I do. I had a reason. But I don't have to explain it to anyone."

"I hope you lose this match… I really hope you lose," she replied while glaring at the American with a hard look in her sapphire eyes. "It would just be a crime against the world if you were to defeat her."

"I'm sorry that your personal sense of justice and morality is offended. Happy endings only come in fairy tales. There's no such thing in real life. We're born, we suffer, and we die. That's all there is to it."

"What the hell happened to you to make you so callous?"

"Does it matter? Will a sad story make you think better of me? Either accept me or walk away from me. I really don't have the option of telling you my life story even if I wanted to. See you in class," she said while scooting out of her bench seat and then got up to walk away.

As she walked away. Her teeth clenched, and her fists balled up tightly enough for her nails to draw blood from her palms.

Josephine was frustrated as she sat down at the dinner table to start on her homework. The episode at lunch was certainly going make living with that girl difficult if not impossible.

She looked to her left and saw the Canadian girl sitting on the top bunk of the bed and tapping away at her phone. She really didn't have a care to give about the situation at all and she felt somewhat envious of her for that. Whomever McKenna was chatting with on the device put a smile on the brunette's face which made Josephine just a little more envious before she managed to fight away that evil green monster and return her attention to more important matters.

She decided that, for the time being, no matter what she really thought of her, she could be civil with the American girl. No matter what the future held, for the time being, she was living with her. That was the reality.

But curiously. The girl in question still hadn't returned to their dorm and she now started wondering where she could have gone or what she could be doing. Ultimately deciding that it was none of her business, she returned her full concentration to her studies.

It wasn't long after that the door of their room opened and a very excited Maria walked in with three pizza boxes and the accompanying mouth-watering aroma to go with it.

"I brought dinner!" she announced while kicking the door closed behind her. She then rushed over to the dining table and set down the pizza boxes. "I didn't know what you all would enjoy so I got one plain cheese, one with pepperoni, and one with mushrooms!"

"Whoa, where on this island did you get pizza from?! And with what money? I thought you were broke?" asked McKenna while jumping down from the top bunk to grab a slice of the pepperoni.

"I went into town and got it from there," she answered while helping herself to a slice of the mushroom pizza.

Josephine eyed the girl skeptically while taking a slice of the pepperoni pizza. "Students aren't allowed off the island except on weekends according to the handbook. So how did you get to the city? And I also remember you telling us you were broke. So how did you pay for this?"

"I didn't pay for it. These were on the house because I speak Italian. The owner of the pizzeria was impressed with me being a proper 'Murican bitch who speaks three languages. As for how I got there, well, I just flew there."

"You used your personal IS to go into town and get pizza?" asked Josephine with a raised eyebrow.

"Well. I actually used my personal IS to fly around and clear my head. I just saw the pizza place from the air and decided to check it out. The owner was cool, oh yeah, and we're all invited to eat there this weekend. Am I awesome or what?"

"Mmm… Free pizza… Yummy!" declared McKenna while gobbling down her slice. "What languages do you speak?"

"English, Italian, and Spanish. Also a little French and German, I started learning the latter two before I left to come here, so my education is a bit incomplete," she answered before munching down on her mushroom slice.

"That's cool. I speak English, obviously. And French. Which I only learned because I had to in school. But if you want, I can teach you some."

Maria smiled brightly, "I'd love that! Thanks, Kenny! You don't mind if I call you Kenny, do you? McKenna is a bit of a mouth full."

The brunette shrugged, "It's fine by me."

"I also speak French as well. For the same reason. But on the plus side of that, I can read Dumas in the original and appreciate where the translations don't quite do the original its proper justice," added Josephine.

"That's really cool. I doubt I'd be considered fully literate in French," remarked McKenna with an amused voice.

Their conversation was interrupted by a heavy knock on their door before it swung open, and like a thunderstorm, Chifuyu Orimura rolled in and wrecked their atmosphere just as it was getting calm and relaxed.

"Maria Cross!" she yelled loudly as she walked into the room.

"Uh-oh…" muttered the American.

"Your personal unit is a not a toy to take on joy rides! I've entered an official warning into your record for this incident. Any further breaches of the regulations regarding the use of an I.S. will result in a strike applied to your record and very harsh consequences. Do you understand?! Even if you don't say 'yes ma'am'!"

"Yes ma'am!" she answered while standing at attention and saluting the woman like a cute little 4'8 soldier that Josephine had to struggle not to laugh at.

Chifuyu then took a slice of the plain cheese pizza on their table. "Thanks for the Pizza. Never make me repeat this again!"

"You're welcome ma'am! And yes ma'am! It won't happen again!"

"See that it doesn't," the teacher replied before taking a bite out of her slice and then walking back out of their room.

When she was gone the three girls sighed in unified relief before giggling at the moment.

"Well. This pizza is definitely worth it. I haven't had pizza since I was thirteen," remarked Maria as she sat down.

"You're fifteen now right? Why no pizza in two years?" asked McKenna.

"Well… It's complicated. But the short of it is that where I was, there weren't any pizza places."

"Where was that?"

"It doesn't matter. Lemmie just enjoy this," she said with a big bright smile as she had a deep smell of her next pizza slice and then bite down on it, savoring the flavor with what the two other girls found to be one of the most adorable expressions they'd ever seen on another human being.

Josephine then found herself at a new conclusion. Getting along with her didn't seem like it would be all that hard. When she wasn't being a cold-hearted evil little troll, she was actually rather pleasant and entertaining. Why she couldn't be this way all the time, was a mystery to her. One which she resolved to resolve.

Maria sat on the floor wearing her black pajama pants, another torn up old plain white t-shirt, and black socks with white treads, where she was watching the TV with wide eyes and a happy smile. She had a pillow in her arms which she was hugging while giggling excitedly at whatever she was watching.

McKenna and Josephine both turned around from their seats at the long wall mounted desk where they were both using their respective laptops to play games and observed the little American with raised eyebrows.

"Are you serious? You made me disable the parental controls so you could watch whatever you wanted and you just end up watching Japanese anime channels which weren't even blocked to begin with?!"

"Why don't you put it on the news or something worth watching? Like Knight of the Seven Kingdoms or something?" asked Josephine.

Maria turned a bright smiling face on the Canadian. "Oh come on! Screw the news! Screw that Game of Thrones prequel! Just look at this shit! Have you ever seen anything so cute?!"

"Of course I've seen anime before. But I don't get why it's such a big deal to you," asked McKenna.

"What are you even watching?" asked Josephine while looking up at the screen.

"I have no idea. I forgot what it was called."

"Then push the information button?"

Maria picked up the remote and pushed the requested button before giving Josephine a smug grin.

The blonde sighed in irritation, the information was all written in Japanese.

"Give me about a month of watching this shit and I can probably pick up enough of the language."

"I'm sure the Japanese will be thrilled that you learned their language from their lowest of lowbrow entertainment," she remarked while turning back to her game.

"You say that, but honestly, when we speak English, do we speak like highbrow intellectuals, or do we talk like the characters on TV do?"

"I suppose that all depends on which side of the pond you're from…"

"Or which side of the border…" added McKenna.

"Ha. America, Canada, and England. Three countries separated by our common language."

It was the next morning, and it was time to start getting ready for class. Josephine and McKenna were each getting out of bed but noticed that Maria was still fast asleep despite the alarm on her phone blaring beside her. Josephine knelt down beside her bunk and gently nudged her shoulder to wake her.

Wake she did. Maria's eyes shot open, she sat up with panic all over her face. Josephine herself got a fright from how afraid the American looked. Then to her curiosity, Maria threw off her covers and started... checking herself. Josephine had no idea what to make of it, and any attempts at getting her attention by either of the two other girls were completely and utterly ignored by the crimson eyed American.

It wasn't until Maria had seemingly examined her entire body that she finally started to calm down again.

"Maria? Are you alright? You're scaring us here."

The American turned a smiling face to her two worried roommates, seemingly back to her normal self as if nothing strange had happened. "Yup. I'm totally fine. Wanna all shower together? We can scrub each other's backs!"

"Now you're really scaring me even more…" muttered McKenna. "Does the bathroom door have a lock?"

"I do hope so. It seems we might need it," answered Josephine.

Chifuyu Orimura cleared her throat as she stepped up to the podium, with a young woman with short green hair and glasses standing beside her, she began to speak, "Class. Today I'd like to introduce my new Assistant teacher. This is-"

Maria quickly stood up in her seat with her red eyes wide in adoration for the young woman standing beside her teacher, "MAYA YAMADA!" she yelled with great excitement.

"Oh my, you've heard of me?" asked the bespectacled green-haired woman with a surprised tone of voice.

"Heard of you? You're my fucking hero! I rip off all your moves!"

"CROSS! Mind your language!" yelled Chifuyu. "Now settle down!"

"Why isn't anyone else excited? Don't any of you stupid shits know who that is?" asked Maria after looking around at all the strange looks she was getting from her classmates after her outburst.

"CROSS! Sit down before I break your legs!" yelled Chifuyu.

"Yes ma'am…" she grumbled while sitting back down.

Josephine had a curious eyebrow raised at her roommate's outburst. She couldn't help but be amused by how the raven-haired girl had a big bright smile on her face as she watched the young woman take the podium.

She turned her eyes towards the new assistant teacher, the first thing she noticed was something which surprised her. For the first time in her life, she was seeing someone who, in real life, had bigger breasts than she did. She made a mental note to ask for tips on how she manages those massive mammaries while piloting an IS, or doing anything for that matter.

"So umm… Hello everyone. So umm, as your... enthusiastic classmate has already said, I'm Maya Yamada, and I'll be Miss Orimura's assistant homeroom teacher this year. I'm very grateful to her for the opportunity to work here. I used to be her student as well and I hope to continue learning from her while helping all of you learn what you need to know to progress as IS pilots. I hope we'll all get along and make this year enjoyable."

"So uhh. What's qualifies you to be one of our teachers?" asked a bespectacled girl sitting in the front row.

"The fact that I hired her myself… Any more stupid questions?" asked Chifuyu while cracking her knuckles.

"Anyone that psychotic Flash bitch calls her hero is probably someone to be very wary of," muttered another girl with long dark brown hair in the second row two seats across from Maria's window seat.

"Flash?" asked the bespectacled girl in the front row.

"Fucking Lazy American Shithead. Insults that require explanations aren't very insulting you silly kike yiddiot."

"What did you just call me bitch?!" she demanded while standing up and slamming her fists down on her desk.

"Temper temper," said an uncomfortably calm Maria while wagging a finger at the brunette, "Don't start what you can't finish. You wouldn't be the first Jew I've sent wandering back to the promised land in tears and misery."

"Cross! Arad! I won't have this in my class! Shut your mouths before I shut them permanently!" yelled Chifuyu. "And Cross, your name is starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth from overuse. Mind yourself! You're from Alaska, so you know what it means when I say you're headed to the thin ice."

"Yes ma'am!" answered Maria while looking straight ahead, ignoring the angry look she was getting from the Israeli girl.

Josephine narrowed her eyes at the shameful display. Though, if she were to be fair, the poor thing had it coming to her for starting the whole exchange. Which begged the question, what made her so hostile towards Maria? People who hate that girl seemed to be coming out of the woodwork at this school.

"So Miss Yamada? Perhaps you might care to share your credentials with the class? Simply to silence any naysayers?" suggested the bespectacled girl in the front row.

"Uhh, sure. Why not? Let's see, Mayuzumi right?" she asked while consulting the map of student seating on the podium.

"Yes ma'am," answered the girl.

"She was a representative contender for Japan until two years ago. She was almost entirely undefeated!" exclaimed an enthusiastic Maria. "But skip the boring stuff and just tell me why you weren't the Representative Cadet?"

Maya smiled at the raven-haired girl. "I couldn't say. They just didn't pick me," she answered with a small shrug.

"Their loss," said Chifuyu with finality. "Now let's get on with class. If anyone has any questions about Miss Yamada's abilities, feel free to google her on your own time. Open your textbooks to chapter two and let's get on with it."

Chifuyu then glared daggers at Josephine. "The textbook! Not The Three Musketeers!"

Josephine looked up from her book and sighed at being caught so easily this time while putting aside the Dumas classic and opening the class textbook. It was going to be a long day, with nothing to look forward to at the end but a vicious IS battle with one Australian fighting for revenge and one American fighting for her own amusement…

Nothing at this Academy was what Josephine Williams thought it would be.