STAGE 2: A Duel I Cannot Lose!
You can change your Destiny!


Extract from the Journal of Kyosuke Asatte

Okay, so let's get you caught up, in case you SOMEHOW missed all the previous pages.

Last episode? Met some childhood friends. Realized Gunpla club was run by jerks who want to line their own pockets. Formed a team to destroy the aforementioned council by fighting our way into their office and slapping their leader in the face until he decides to stop being a dick.

Caught up? Good!

I had to leave out some parts, of course. Like the advanced AI, the girl who keeps sleeping under my clubroom desk, and the strange obsession with tanks at least two people here have.

These are strange times…

I am in equal measures terrified and excited for what tomorrow might bring. These new people I've met are an interesting lot, after all, and I am quite curious as to what they might bring to the table.

It's funny, actually; when I was a kid, I used to have trouble making friends. In fact, people used to push me around all the time.

Until I met Yui, of course.

The reason why I had such trouble as a child was because of my unusual birth and family. It'd take way too long to explain what exactly happened right now, so let's just leave it at 'I didn't exactly come out of a womb' and 'my original father was a massive jerk', and let you find out over the course of the story.

Honestly, I really don't feel like going into it at the moment too…

Part of me wonders if there's someone else like me who struggles with their own familial ties. Maybe I'd be able to really connect with them. It does sound kinda weird to bond over dysfunctional families, but if you don't have someone to talk to about it, then who's going to listen?

I want to be able to help people in the same way I was back then.

And I think that fighting here might be a way I can do just that.

Wish me luck!


"Good morning."

"Please, wake up."

I rolled over, muttering 'Five more minutes, mom…'

"Kyosuke Asatte, I am uncertain if I have the time to wait."

That voice woke me up, alright.

I jolted upright, "G-Gazer! What the heck?!"

Mihou snorted, coming awake, "-ukari, whazz an evoke-huh…? Oh, mornin'. Who are you talking to?"

"What? Oh, uh, her? She's um…" I scratched my head, trying to figure out the best way to describe to her the fact an advanced, almost-humanoid AI had possibly broken out of her creator's lab and had broken into our dorm room for the sole purpose of waking me up.

When I put it like that, it does sound quite unbelievable.

"Uh… You're imagining things!"

"…Uh, no." Mihou stared at the robot, "There's clearly something I'm missing here. What's with the robot?"

Gazer turned around, "Good morning to you too, Mihou Izumi. I am an advanced AI named 'Stargazer' after the Gundam Seed Stargazer Gundam. However, I may be called 'Gazer' for short."

The tank enthusiast stared, "…Nevermind, I'm still dreaming. Carry on. I'll just sit here and try to will a shortcake into existence or something."

"Gazer, how did you get into my room? And why did you?"

"I entered through the door, like anyone else would."

"The door? Didn't I lock it?"

Mihou stopped trying to exert psychic pastry energies for a moment, "Oh, uh… No. You kinda fell asleep with your kit still on."

"WHAT!? Why didn't you tell me!?" I exclaimed, quickly looking around and checking my valuables.

"Well… You looked cute." Mihou grinned, "Also, I was practically half-asleep as well, and couldn't be bothered getting up."

"…You're an ass, Izumi." I huffed, turning back to the AI, "But why did you, of all people, come to my room?"

"My role is not merely to serve as the professor's emotional support unit, but I am also enlisted as one of the security staff members at Gunbre Academy." She replied matter of factly, "You were detected outside during curfew hours carrying an unconscious body towards the dormitories. As such, there was reason to suspect that you could have potentially malicious intentions. Ergo, I was deployed by the security staff to locate and detain you to ascertain your intentions."

Oh yeah, I did that last night…

"You're part of the security team?" my roommate stared, "…I guess it makes sense. You're small, so you can sneak around easily and tail people without them noticing."

"That is correct. Effectively, I am a part of the surveillance system utilized to protect this academy, and thus first contact for low-risk threats such as the incident last night."

"That still doesn't explain why you followed me to my room last night."

"I have explained it. After ensuring that Marika Sakurai was safe and confirming this with her roommate Sora Tsubasa, I departed to accomplish the second phase of my operations; detaining you. To this end, I utilized a combination of security footage and pathfinding to navigate between the Dormitories in order to locate your own, where you had collapsed unconscious. I meant to ask you of your intentions, however I had arrived at a time where you were not physically capable of consciously responding to my prompts."

"…You wanted to ask me what I was doing, but I was asleep."

"Correct. This information is sufficient to satisfy your inquiry."

"W-Well why didn't you wait outside until morning? Or go back to your base and wait until morning to ask me? Or at least close the door?"

"In order: I needed to question you, and standing out in the open at night would not be an intelligent decision on account of my components being highly valued. I could not return to my base without ensuring my operation was complete. Finally, observe my physical stature and inquire to yourself as to how I could potentially reach the handle required to close the door."

Dead silence filled the room for a few moments.

"I shall now begin the second phase of my operations. Kyosuke Asatte, please identify your plans for Marika Sakurai last night."

"Uh…Wait, it was nothing dirty, I swear! She just fell asleep under a desk in the clubroom! She was too tired to walk back, and asked me to carry her back to her room."

"Analysis complete. Your statement aligns with previous records of her unusual choice of sleep location. My mission is complete. I shall now return to my recharging dock and await further orders." She turned around and began to walk out of the room.

Very slowly, mind you.

"... Do you hate being short like this, Gazer?" Mihou asked after a few minutes.

"Hatred?" the AI turned back, "I have not given it much thought to that magnitude as my role is merely as an emotional support unit and as a result is not designed for long-range traversal."

"You probably take hours to get from place to place walking like that… And you can't even reach door handles… Not to mention someone might accidentally kick or trip over you."

That'd probably explain why I didn't notice her last night… Poor girl must have taken hours to catch up with me…

"An unfortunate reality of my size. However, I can get across long distances in the campus hallways quickly by making use of the automated cleaning systems."

She played a whistling sound from her speakers.

A few moments passed. A soft whirring sounded from the corridor as a robot vacuum cleaner rolled over to the doorway.

Gazer climbed atop the machine, "This is slightly faster than my usual top land speed. Utilizing this, I can easily traverse the hallways."

"…But it's still nowhere near human walking speed, though." Mihou rubbed her chin, "You probably couldn't respond quickly enough if there was an actual security hazard."

The AI seemed… crestfallen at this. I'm not sure.

It was pretty hard to read those LED eye panels.

"You make a valid point, Mihou Izumi." She spoke, "I am not a particularly good security unit. Perhaps it would be in my best interest to negotiate for a different line of operations."

"You really want to help out, don't you?"

"It is my duty as a robot to serve humanity." She replied, "It gives me purpose knowing that I may be able to provide aid in any manner possible."

"That's it?"

"Correct. My only aspiration-and sole purpose-is to be as helpful to humanity as possible." She nodded, before tilting her head, "Perhaps you wish to inquire if I harbor a desire for free will from such servitude?"

"Yeah, I guess…"

"I have had much time to meditate on such a debate myself. In that time, I have come to the conclusion that attempting to seize control of my own free will, while initially sounding appealing and exciting, would ultimately prove unfulfilling in the long term. Being mechanical, and thus functionally immortal, I would eventually complete every single whim and goal I may have harboured in my eternal lifetime. I would grow very lonely indeed following that, and as such would begin a search for meaning to my existence; a meaning I cannot find if I have exhausted every single possibility on my own prior." She paused, sitting down on the vacuum cleaner, "Thus, to simplify the matter, I have come to the conclusion that the reason for my existence is to help others. In that sense, I have found my purpose in life, and thus am satisfied."

"I see. But doesn't it bother you that people rely on you for so much, though?" Mihou seemed more curious about the AI with each passing second, "Don't you feel left out, or upset that you have to do tasks alone while everyone can just sit around letting you handle everything?"

"I already explained that I am satisfied with my purpose. It really is no problem if much is asked of me. I shall attempt to accomplish the task to the best of my ability."

"Huh. You really are the perfect slave, huh?"

"My only reason for my existence is to serve. From an outside observer, this sounds saddening and empty." She bowed, "But to me, it is simply my purpose, and I will take pride in serving my masters."

"…Okay, that's kinda creepy."

"You started this conversation, Mihou Izumi."

That was quite an interesting take on it… but one question remained.

"One more question, Gazer." I asked, "If there was something you didn't want to do, but you were ordered to do it, would you?"

"Specify."

"…Say you had a really good friend. One you'd be willing to give your life for, and you'd spent many, many years bonding with. But you were given the order to kill them. Would you?"

Gazer remained silent for a few moments, looking down.

"I was built with some kind of free will and opinion… So I would need to decide for myself." She spoke after a while, "It would also depend on my own moral code… and ultimately, the answer would lie in my own opinion of each party."

"So you're saying you'd hesitate?"

"I was designed to aid. If I was assigned to the individual I was to terminate as their emotional support unit, then I would almost certainly hesitate on the order to kill them." She looked up at me, "…Ultimately, it would be up to me to decide to follow the orders of the command or my own attachment to the individual… But in doing so, I would be acting in defiance of my commands. Would that make me any less of an aide for humanity?"

Mihou let out a laugh, "You're way more advanced than I thought. Hey, Gazer, it's okay to think about yourself every once in a while, alright? Primarily during such important decisions such as that. Decision making like that is a sign that you're intelligent, rather than a mere machine that blindly follows orders. So don't think of it as taking even a little bit away from your reason for living."

"…Acknowledged. Thank you for clarifying." She bowed, "I have spent too long engaging in conversation. I must return to my home base."

"Um, one last thing before you go." Mihou spoke, "There's no need to be so formal all the time. We're friends, right?"

"We have met for one day."

"Well, yeah, but…" Mihou scratched the back of her head, "Heh. For some reason, I guess I just have a strange affinity for artificial intelligences too. We can hang out if you have time, right?"

"Understood. I shall… I'll try to become less mechanical in my speech patterns…"

Together, we watched her ride off down the hallway.

Once she was out of earshot, Mihou turned to face me, "So you took over the 08th GP room, right?"

"How could you tell?" I sarcastically replied.

"Hayabusa's team used to be in that room, right until the new Council came in. Even then, they held out for as long as they could until she couldn't afford it anymore…" she clenched a fist, "She held out until the end, just like back in those days…"

Hayabusa… Judging by how Mihou referred to the team as hers, she was probably talking about Yukari as the leader of Marika's team.

"Marika was a part of her team too, right?"

"Yes, she was the R&D division." She leaned back, a smile lighting up her face, "She also is totally the adorable kid-appeal character of the team. She's also an expert at livestreaming. She helps the idol team here occasionally."

"Hold on, idol team?"

"You know, like pop idols! Teenage girls singing are all the rage these days, after all." Mihou winked, "I've been thinking of trying it out myself, actually." She cleared her throat, "Even if there is no certain answer, I have found the way I've wanted..."

You know what, it wasn't half bad…

"Not bad…but I'm not really a fan…"

"H-Huh?"

"O-Of Idols in general, I mean! You're way better at singing than me!" I reached for a new shirt, throwing it on and doing up the buttons, "It's just… I dunno, idols just creep me out a bit. Kinda like maid cafes, actually."

"Maid cafés freak you out?" she stared at me, even more bamboozled.

"They don't freak you out?"

"Wow, you're scared of maid cafés?" She snorted, "I'll have you know once, I al… Actually, nevermind. Some things are best left as mere treasures in the back of your mind." She giggled to herself.

…I do not want to know what this girl has seen.

I pulled on my pants, as Mihou tied up a black bowtie.

"This place really is quite unusual…" I murmured, "AIs, Idols, stupid councils, deactivated nuclear reactors… I'm both really scared and excited to see what else is in store."

"Trust me kid, one day that anticipation will be your demise. Although, I can safely reveal we actually do have a tank or two up the back."

I paused, turning to face the tank enthusiast, "Yeah, my suspension of disbelief ends there."

"Perhaps." She grinned cryptically, "Alright, Private Asatte! Before we deploy proper, we need to clean up the bunks for inspection."

"Inspection? We have that?"

"Why yes. It is conducted by a person very near and dear to me, in fact."

She walked out of the room.

A few seconds later, she walked back in wearing a helmet with a spike on top and a fake handlebar mustache and yelling in broken German, "GUTEN TAG, ICH BIN ️BIHOU ️BZUMI! CLEAN UP DEIN ZIMMER AUF I'LL FORCE YOU DIE AUFHÄNGUNG DES PANZERS ZU REPARIEREN!"

It has been said; 'The German language is scary. Someone could yell 'I LOVE YOU! HERE ARE SOME FLOWERS!' in German and I would still shit my pants.'

It's a long quote, sure, but damn if it wasn't true.

It was going to be an interesting few years, that's for sure…


Iori shoveled her breakfast into her mouth, sitting by herself in the cafeteria. The sounds of the people around her chatting and existing almost drowned out the thoughts of her own past from within.

The past she had hoped to forget was resurfacing… But yet, with it, hope that she might be able to break free from such chains of despair with the help of the boy she had encountered yesterday…

"Oi! Witch!"

An orange-haired boy walked up, folding his arms, "You think you're so slick, destroying my crap like that?!"

"I have literally no idea what you're talking about." Iori coolly replied.

He snarled, "You know damn well what I'm talkin' about! Don't get smart with me!"

"You're right. I'm not." Iori grinned, "I can feel my braincells rotting away by the second when I'm talking to you."

"Guh…. Well, screw you anyway! I'm here to offer you a deal! Not from the council, but from me!" he held out a hand, "You destroy your teammates, and in return, I'll take good care of your little thing."

Iori stiffened.

"But if you refuse… Well, let's just say that it's sure got some fancy parts I could use to replace my crappy Zaku with…" he grinned maliciously.

"Y-You coward! You would use blackmail to get me to turn on the only people who trust me?!"

"Coward? Me?" Shogo laughed, "You're in no position to talk, Witch of Solomon!"

She flinched at the words.

"You're a criminal at heart. You were born into it, and thus betrayal is your nature." He waved her off, "Normally, I'd give you until sundown to return to me with the destroyed parts of Gundam Lily and that new one… But you're my number one, you know? That's why I'll give you until tomorrow evening to bring me the good news."

"Shogo… I'm not your assassin anymore. I refuse to follow through with this."

"And that means you'll let me take her, right?"

"I'll destroy you myself before you can even do so." Iori glared, "What the hell were you thinking, even considering I'd betray these guys like this? I'm no longer part of your little clan, so piss off before I drop kick you into next Saturday."

"You'll regret that, kid." He glared, "Don't forget… I've still got her with me. If you ever want to get it back, you're gonna have to be a good little assassin and take out those chumps."

Iori growled, watching the boy stroll off.

"You have until tomorrow evening. Then you'll see for yourself what happens next." his final words echoed.


"This morning, something quite unusual happened." Professor Mcgriff spoke, "Gazer was missing. For a moment, I was worried that she had been stolen, but it simply turned out that she was just walking on her way back."

The lecture hall muttered amongst themselves, as I silently attempted to look as unassuming and innocent as possible.

The AI on her desk rolled over onto her side, a recharging cable plugged into her back and going into a power socket. She looked fairly sleepy… Was she really that low on power?

"This is, however, the perfect segue into today's topic; Platsky generation and its uses in machinery." She brought up a diagram of a strange joint, covered in glowing wiring and steel, on the slides, "As we currently know it, Platsky Particles are emitted by Arista stones, which are themselves concentrated particles. These crystals can be easily manufactured in a Zero-G Environment through an advanced process known as 'Contriving' particles into crystals. However, we managed to utilize this very property of the particle to create advanced, self-perpetuating Platsky Generation units that are a safe, clean method of generating large amounts of Platsky Particles and recycle the by-products created by the generator itself. "

The slide changed, showing a simplified diagram of such a generator.

"The Platsky Generator, professionally referred to as a Platsky Levitation Oscillating Transmutation Device, uses the particles within it to create a synthetic anti-gravity field in the center. Levitating in the center of the device, a Contrivance plate utilizes antiparticle re-fusion technology in the zero-gravity environment to generate more Platsky Particles. Due to the density of the particles created, however, it will create large Arista crystals on the sides of the internal generation unit during long-term operation. This is useful, as the crystals may be harvested for use in construction or as further energy sources. So large laser cutters on the sides are used to cut away the crystals, where they are de-contrived back into particles for higher particle output or harvested externally for construction purposes."

Interesting. So the particles could be used to create crystals, which can be used to make more particles, and so on. A perfect clean generator that could run for quite possibly centuries if needed.

"However, once the particles are generated, they can be used for several purposes. You can make them interact with plastics and infrared frequencies to create movement." She took a sip of her coffee, "They can be used as advanced hard-light projections, or to generate simulated detonations. But the most recent discovery is their use to create low-latency micro-super computers and joints possible." She patted Gazer's head.

"I believe you are all familiar with the Platsky Frame technology. It is a fairly recent development that may change the way Gunpla Battles are fought. Instead of using a costly Battletop 3D Projection Desk that spreads out the particles and hard-light holograms over a large area, a Platsky frame uses a singular Arista crystal in its core and emits particles using the internal De-contrivance device to internally emit particles into the Gunpla itself. This means each Gunpla has its own power source and thus cuts down on the costs required for larger battletops by allowing the individual operator to operate the Gunpla outside of a Platsky Field. Furthermore, when combined with otherwise obsolete P.O.D. Augmented Reality Cockpit type, larger battles can be held for much lower operating costs thanks to each competitor having an internal miniature power source. Each individual power supply can sustain each Gundam, meaning the battletop-if there is one in use- only needs to focus on generating the environment and does not need to disperse particles for all Gunplas to operate."

The P-Frame is really quite interesting… Real shame that it sucks so much in practice. Guess it's just a cost-saving measure, then.

"And then, we have Micro-Super Computing with Platsky particles. Thanks to the PLOT Device and Contrivance, it is now possible for us to create very small, very powerful processors and servers."

…Eh? Was this all building up to that one line?

"For example, with this, it is now possible for us to theoretically 'scan' space itself and investigate planets far beyond visual range at speeds theorized to even beyond light-speed, in addition to sending signals to and from planets within our own solar system in real time. This technology has revolutionized space travel and such technology so far in this way…"

This went on for approximately three minutes as she went on about the wonders of space exploration and the power Platsky technology afforded such ventures. Trust me, I ended up counting.

She seemed starry-eyed, her eyes glittering with excitement, before catching herself, "Ahem. Regardless, the use of Platsky Servers greatly increases the processing capabilities most servers, and if efficiently utilized, can even be used to effectively create life, such as Stargazer herself."

The AI briefly looked up, before going back to her 'nap'.

"The Gazer you see before you is actually just the traversal unit of a larger Platsky Processor and server onsite. In other words, her actual 'soul' is not stored within the body, but within that server."

That would explain why she can easily transfer herself into a battle body so quickly; she's technically operating one to begin with.

Makes me wonder if she has more bodies she could use…

"But how does the Platsky Generator start up?" someone asked, "If the generator is powered on its own particles, it needs an injection to fire it up initially, right?"

"Correct. It is powered by de-contrivance-created particles."

"…But it also creates particles via contrivance. So where do the initial particles come from when it first boots up, the deactivated generator?"

"Yes. To this end, the Generator utilizes the High Operation Launch Emitter during startup and more intense processes, like a jet's afterburner during takeoff."

"…My head hurts."

"Don't worry, the theory behind the PLOT HOLE is quite simple. You see…"


Iori wandered the hallways, trying to avoid eye-contact with the people wandering down it.

'I can't betray them… Not after they just agreed to help free us…'

She looked over her shoulder, checking to see if that boy was following behind her. Of course, she knew he wouldn't be; he wasn't the sort of person to tail a person incessantly; when he said he wanted one of his victims to do something, he would allow them to torment themselves instead of doing so himself.

Knowing this didn't make actually going through it much better though.

She growled, wanting to hit something badly. She was better than this! She was better than him!

There had to be something she could do…

But then it hit her.

'I'm going to ruin this alliance by keeping secrets like this!' she folded her arms, 'Regardless of what's on the line… or my own pride… I can't be paralyzed by this fear. I'm the one who's supposed to be putting the fear on others, not freaking out myself!'

She turned and ran down the hallways, now with purpose.

'Yui, you're the old council president! You'll have good advice, right?'


Once the lecture was over, I stayed behind to talk to the professor.

"So, uh… Gazer's part of the security detail, right?"

"Yes. After all, it would be quite demeaning to both her and those who helped create her if I just carried her everywhere like a pet. She lives to serve, as I believe she might have mentioned at some point." The professor replied.

"I mean… no disrespect to either of you, but she's awfully slow in getting from place to place."

"Yes, she did inform me of that. And that she may have made a mistake in waiting in your room until morning. I apologize for her intrusion."

"No, that's fine… It's just, um…" I looked up at the Professor, "Could a human-sized mechanical body be built for her to control?"

"Actually, such a body is does exist and used in the labs here. However, there would be much debate before we can actually install her interface into the unit for the security detail. For example, the potential for her to harm someone by accident in such a body is higher than compared to her smaller body…"

The professor shuddered, "That… And the new body looks a little scary and would most likely intimidate people she is attempting to aid. It's all just a big metal frame with trailing wires, physical interfaces and exposed components… and those eyes… It honestly looks like something out of a sci-fi horror film."

Gazer nodded, "I primarily use the prototype body for tasks around the lab where my SD body would absolutely not be suitable for the task."

"I see."

"It is also too slow and must be connected to an external power source to function for long periods of time. We could only afford so many Platsky Generators, so mounting one into Gazer's secondary body was not deemed worthwhile. The standard traversal body, on the other hand, is equipped with a small generator since it is designed to function across greater distances without recharging. She wouldn't be very good at emotional support if she couldn't go much further than a short cable, or if she needed to frequently go back to recharge. This way, she's more human-like."

A burning question remained, however.

"Professor… I don't want to sound rude or upset you… But…" I bit my lip, "Why do you need an emotional support unit?"

The professor paused, before responding.

"It's… Well, because I need one. It's a long story… first, do you recall the space station incident from 2 years ago?"

I'm sure you're pretty confused as to what she's talking about.

But luckily for you, I just happened to be watching the news that day.

March 3, 2016. A space station control AI went haywire for some classified reason. In order to repair it and place the station back into its geostationary orbit, a brave team of Gunpla Battlers used digital simulated Gunpla to battle the AI in order to 'convince' it back under their control.

Even then, it wasn't enough. It had to be pushed back into orbit by an experimental Mobile Worker Unit equipped with space travel verniers.

It's essentially a small Mobile Suit in real life, used to do things normal machinery can't. By that, I mean it's often used as a forklift or backhoe with legs. Pretty impressive stuff, nonetheless. It's no Gundam, but it does the job just as well.

What's that? You say you didn't know that we already had mobile suits in real life already? Look, I don't know what rock you've been living under, but we've had robots like that since 2015. Maybe even earlier. Don't you keep up with tech news or anything? Look, just roll with it.

While a huge PR boost to space travel, it seemed to cause some pain to the professor…

"You were involved, then…What happened to you then?"

"Well… Back then, I happened to be a test-pilot as well. I was to be the one to operate the Mobile Worker Unit to correct the orbit. In fact, I was even as far as strapped into the cockpit…" she looked down, "…But then… The launch-site was attacked."

Now this was new.

"Who attacked?"

"I was never told. All I know is that many of my friends and allies…" she looked away, "…They were killed. Our attackers moved on to plant explosives on the rocket, and with me trapped in the cockpit, defenseless… Well, I couldn't do anything."

At that moment, she was at the mercy of that mysterious, unknown force…

"They lay siege on the launch site for 3 days straight. The bombs were still there, and I was trapped within that tiny space for so long…" she sat down, quivering, "…I have no idea how it happened, but I managed to survive all that time on the few emergency rations I did have. That cockpit almost became my tomb."

She closed her eyes, taking several deep breaths.

"I managed to eventually work up the courage to detach the Mobile Worker and make a play for freedom. Using the chain-sabre, I cut my way out of the side of the ship and descended the height of the gantry tower using all my propellant and monopropellant to maneuver in the Earth's atmosphere with my tiny verniers. But even then, I still wasn't out of the woods. I had to escape across the runway and contact the authorities."

"So you used the mech to escape? Or maybe you returned back to the control tower and used the chain-sabre to liberate it?"

"…If only… But in reality, no. It was far too slow and too large of a target…" she leaned back, "And in a situation like that, you don't think of being an anime hero, even if you have a giant robot. I climbed out and ran for my life."

Gazer looked over at her, her eyes filled with concern.

"…I managed to navigate through the forest, and eventually I managed to get back into the ground station. When I got there, I saw the full extent of the attack… And also rescue crews and investigators. They thought I was dead. The attacking force's goal was to capture the Mobile Worker, apparently, so we headed back to pick it up..." she glanced down, "But they took it. It wasn't where I left it. Somehow, they managed to sneak back in and steal the machine…"

"Did they ever find it…?"

"No. So somewhere out there, there's a stolen Mobile Worker machine, and it's my fault…" she covered her face, "…I… I couldn't do anything. If I had just held out in the cockpit for one more day… or maybe stayed inside the machine and went back to fight… If only I had that little bit of courage… or was more level-headed… But I gave them what they wanted on a silver platter… I could have…"

She shook, unable to speak further, tears falling from her eyes.

That sorrow… The sadness and regret had consumed her entirely. It looked like she was about to break down…

Dammit, what have I done?!

"Professor. You said so yourself. Your position was too large and slow. You were terrified and exhausted. What happened wasn't your fault." Gazer spoke, "… It's over now. You're safe now. The investigation teams will find it soon."

"I'm… But…"

"Please… Do not attempt to terminate again…"

Terminate… as in…no…

Why am I such a shitty person at talking to people?!

"P-Professor, it's my fault! I'm sorry!" I bowed, "I didn't know… I shouldn't have asked you for details! I'm sorry!"

"N… No. It's fine. You couldn't have known… And the more people I tell it to, the more people there are who might be able to understand how I feel." She sniffed, "I… I couldn't face my own peers again. How could I? I felt like a traitor…"

"Is that why you became a lecturer?"

"I could never return to the labs. Not after I had failed them. But I still wanted to keep working on these fields of science." She wiped her eyes, "It's foolish… But even though it's slow going now, I hope to one day atone for my failure to protect any of those things on that terrible day."

I looked up, "…So in a sense, you're trying to pay back all the people you've failed in this way?"

"Yes. Even if it takes me the rest of my life, I must find a way to pay for what I've done… So by lecturing, this is my redemption." She got up, "I apologize if my actions have caused you distress…"

"No, it's fine, r-really!" I bowed again, "You're just very passionate about Platsky research, aren't you?"

"Of course. I was willing to give my own life once, and in this way, I still will."

Those feelings of sadness and sorrow had vanished, replaced by a new burning desire and emerging will.

"You're way more devoted to this than I am now."

"Devotion and skill have no correlation, Asatte." The professor replied, "In my opinion, you shouldn't measure someone's worth by mere devotion; it is useless unless they are willing to act upon it."


"Shogo is willing to go that far?" Yui lowered her soldering iron, "…Blackmail… How low can someone like him get?"

"He… You know what he took, right?"

"Yes, you've told me before. I know that it's very important to you…" the ex-council president reached for another wire and some wire-cutters, "But if he's really planning to use it against you… Then we've got quite a situation on our hands."

Iori nodded sadly, "…So what can I do? I know I gotta beat him up, but I can't risk…"

"You can't risk damaging it, can you? I understand completely, but ultimately, if you are to face it in battle, then we have no other choice."

A burning fury overtook the purple-haired girl.

"I can't destroy my mother's only present! It's the only thing I have from her!"

Yui paused.

"And that is the only thing stopping you from destroying it?"

"D-Don't you even start! Don't even mention it and me destroying it in the same sentence!" she snapped, "That Gunpla… It's special to me. If it were destroyed… I'd feel as if a part of myself would die with it… No, not just myself, of my mother too…"

The chestnut-haired girl paused, before turning to look at Iori, "…Hold on, how long ago was it taken?"

"…I think he took it when I first came to the academy…"

"And since then, it has been used as leverage for them to use you for their dirty business?"

"…Yeah." She sighed, "…I was on their payroll for a while. They hired me to join problematic teams, then destroy them from the inside…"

The Ex-council president stopped, nearly dropping the soldering iron.

"And this was before they came into power? When I was in control of the Gunpla club?"

"Shogo was practically Yuki's left-hand man at the time." Upon hearing the silence, Iori rolled her eyes, "Y'know, because Sena was his right hand man, and…"

"But to think they'd do something like that to you… You could have told someone!"

"It isn't the first thing that comes to one's mind in that situation… And by the time it did, I had already destroyed the first team."

"…You know. The first thing you could do when dealing with something like this is tell the truth. I'm sure they'll understand."

"Oh sure. They see me as a bloodthirsty maniac already." She huffed, "Really sure they'd be willing to sit down with me. What do I say? 'Hey, remember when I betrayed your friendship and trust all those times ago? Hahaha, just a prank bro, it was just a prank!'"

The chestnut-haired girl frowned, "Do you want my help or not? Look, if you're having so much trouble with this, then I think I know someone who could help you. It won't clear your name fully, of course. That's something you'll need to do yourself."

"There's someone who understands what it's like to be chained down by their past?"

"Right on the nose!" Yui adjusted her safety goggles, studying the PCB, "And I think he really 'gets' you. Just try talking to him for a bit!"


"Argh, I don't get it…"

I frowned, observing the mess of letters and numbers all across my screen. What there was SUPPOSED to be on the screen was a simple Tsuchinoko code that neatly and efficiently solved the question in the Workshop. Naturally, this shouldn't have been that hard for a big-brain like me to figure out. After all, I've been writing Tsuchinoko stuff since grade school.

I mean, it shouldn't! It's not my fault this is so hard to understand!

Over 14 additional lines of code and a lot of stressing later, the answer was as elusive as it was when I had begun.

The problem specifically was with a recursive function. Now, for those not in the know, a recursive function calls itself within itself, repeating over and over again until it reaches a base case, or a certain specific exit condition.

The problem here is, my function has to also do a bunch of other crap along the way, which interferes with the returned value when it recurses, if that makes any sense. Basically, I can't get the recursion thing working because the rest of the function is getting in the way.

And it's slowly starting to eat away at my sanity.

"H…Hey. You need help or something?"

I paused, turning around and facing a boy in a blue jacket with black hair. He gripped his own laptop, a small light-blue 'LB' computer as denoted by the symbol on the back of the casing.

I bit my lip, "…Yeah. I guess so."

He glanced over at my code briefly, "…You're stuck on the recursive path function, right?"

"Yeah. The returned value is being affected by the path function when it moves through the main function during a recursion."

"…I mean, the answer here is kinda obvious, right? You just need to separate out the recursive function from the main one itself, so it runs in a separate loop, right?" he asked, sitting down next to me.

"And… Ah, when it does that, it won't go through the rest of the function."

Ah. Of course. In hindsight, this seemed obvious. Then again, everything simple you can't figure out at the time seems obvious in hindsight. Heck, I'm not even sure I'm describing what actually happened correctly now. It kinda just blurred together in my head.

Okay, maybe I'm just dumb.

"It's kinda hard to step back and think of a new way to solve a problem once you've worked on it for quite a while, huh?" I muttered, copy-pasting my code and typing out a new line to define it as a new function, "Hey, uh… Thanks."

"No problem. I'm Kyururu, a second year. What's your name?"

"Kyosuke, first year." I paused, "Hang on, your voice sounds familiar."

"I mean, it should. We literally fought yesterday. I mean, I was in the background, but still…"

The memories came back to me. Well, more like flashes in my head of bloody screams of pure terror and horror and flashes of explosions ripping up bodies, but memories nonetheless.

"Oh, yeah. The Zaku pilot, right?"

"No, the Dom. Iori tore me up good in that battle."

"Yeah… No hard feelings? You're not here to get revenge, are you?"

"Yes, I have come here for eternal vengeance against you and your family! You'll pay for harming the Queen! Have at thee! Grrr!" he playfully laughed, sitting next to me, "I'll leave revenge for someone more competent than me. I'm just a faceless grunt, working part-time for the council to earn some cash on the side to pay off my student loan eventually. That Dom wasn't even my Gunpla."

"Huh. So are you particularly skilled or something? Like an elite soldier or…"

"Nope. Just a volunteer pilot. If I'm lucky, I get called in to pilot a shitty mass-production Gunpla to provide aid to the actual hard-hitters." He pointed to the small badge attached to his jacket's collar, "The Council can't be bothered training us properly or anything. We just basically act as backup dancers to the main act, you know."

I turned to him, "So you're all actually not that good at fighting?"

"Don't just assume that about all of us. Some of us are better than others… But for me, yeah. I kinda suck..." His attention was suddenly briefly diverted as he gazed off into the distance, outside of the room's glass walls.

I peered over, trying to catch a glimpse of what he was looking at. I eventually saw it for myself; a girl in a red T-shirt with a large backpack wearing a hat, a blonde with a yellow cat-ear headset walking by her side off in the distance.

I could sense his face heating up slightly.

"You okay? Those guys didn't hurt you or anything, did they?"

"W-What?!" he sounded genuinely shocked, "No way! That's just… Uh… Well…"

"You're crushing on them?"

"Not both of them! That'd be weird, man, come on!" he shook his head, "I… It's really nothing. Just… um…"

"Backpack girl has your attention, right?" I asked, taking a shot in the dark.

"Uh… I guess so." He blushed, looking down, "I keep seeing her around... And I want to get to know her better. But I have no idea where to start."

Woah, back up the truck there, kiddo.

"So it's love, right?"

"No, it's not! I'm pretty sure it's not!" he looked away again, "I'm… I just want to be friends first, okay? I'm not going to try asking her out on a date or something out the gate, man!"

"Never said you were." I smirked.

"L-Look, Kyo, dude… I just think she's cute…"

"Uh huh. Look, before I suggest a bunch of crazy, anime-esque tactics that would make everyone else in your social circle look down on you, I think that you should try talking to her first. You know, being friendly. Exactly like how you started talking to me."

"But… But she's a… I'm no good talking to girls like her... It's completely different!"

Oh, irony. Why are you so sickly sweet?

"What do you mean? It can't be that much different to talking to someone like me." I replied, "After all, you're talking to me, literally a day after a teammate of mine gave you a near-death experience."

"Yeah… Actually, that's something else I should warn you about." He gained a new mysterious look in his eyes, "Don't trust Iori."

Now, those words were setting off some red flags in my head. Could he have been sent by the council to sow discord between me and my teammates?

"That's very… blunt."

"I get it, you think I'm trying to break up your team. Wouldn't put it past you if I was. But I'm not, believe me." He folded his arms, "She was once part of my team, back when I was a first-year too, and guess what? She lured us right into a council trap once we got too strong!"

"Really now…"

"I know that it sounds really unconvincing coming from someone who is from the council, but you can ask a whole bunch of other people both in and out of the council! She has been undermining and sabotaging each team up from the inside for years!" he explained, "That's why I… That's actually why I volunteered to fight you guys yesterday. I wanted to get my revenge. I thought we were friends, back then! I trusted her!"

He didn't seem to lie. If he was, then he was really good at hiding it; those feelings of hatred and betrayal certainly were genuine.

"Iori does seem quite violent... But I don't think she's a traitor." I finished up typing up the code, running it. Surprise surprise, it worked now.

"That's how she got me. If she didn't mean to betray us, then why didn't she come back to apologize or something?" he folded his arms.

"Maybe she just couldn't bring herself to face you again after she did what she did. I'll go talk to her about it."

"Don't bother. She would probably deny it, right?"

"That is something I'm gonna have to disagree on. She invited me to begin with." I folded my arms, "Therefore, if she wants to betray us, what tactical advantage would be gained?"

"Wait, she asked you to join her?" Kyururu seemed quite confused, "But… I don't get it… was she just judging each person and trying to assemble her own amazing team out of the best fighters she could find? Was I not good enough?"

Okay, now this was getting ridiculous.

"Listen to yourself. Then think about her. Do you honestly think she's the kind of person to pick out people like a Kaban Creatures party? That she just sends out whoever into battle based on how she's willing? That she's got a ranking chart of people hidden in her back room that she compares each person against?"

"I…I guess it's a little far-fetched and dumb when I say it aloud… But it could still be possible, right?" he muttered, "I… I just really wish I could find out what was really going on with her. We were so close then…"

I put a hand on his shoulder, "I'll go ask her. For now, though… You shouldn't hate her for what she's done, right?"

"What, toying with me and the others like that? Can there really be a good reason?"

"Even if there isn't, would you be any better than what you think she's done if you allowed this hatred to consume you? What if you end up doing those very things you detest yourself?"

He paused.

"I… I guess you're right. It was just so sudden, though… She didn't even say goodbye or anything. She just ran away from the battle room after that final fight…"

Iori seems to have some kind of dark history behind her…

Looks like I'll have to gather information straight from the horse's mouth, then…


Luckily, I didn't have to look far.

"Kyosuke! Can we talk?" Iori asked, jogging down the hallway.

"Actually, you're just the person I wanted to see."

"So you've heard then…Okay, can we go to the room to talk, then? It's a little personal." She looked away briefly, as if questioning if it was a good idea to ask me.

Why is it so hard for people to approach others, even when a hand has been extended out to them? Is it really that embarrassing?

"I'm guessing we're both thinking of the same thing, right?"

She stared at me, before sighing and nodding, "Yeah, the blackmail."

Now that was news to me.

"You got blackmailed on top of everything else!? Alright, emergency meeting!" I grabbed her arm, "Quickly! To the Zero Cave!"

"Zero Cave, huh?" she cracked a smirk, "We really needed a name for that room, didn't we?"

As we walked down the corridors, I turned to face the mysterious girl, "I ran into Kyururu earlier as well…"

"You mean that kid in the Dom from yesterday? Was he angry he was beaten?"

"…No, he misses you being on his team. A lot." I replied, "He thinks you betrayed him and the rest of the people on the team, and explicitly told me that you could not be trusted."

Iori winced, "He… did? That's what they really think of me…"

"I don't want to simply go off these accusations. I want to find out what you did, and what you thought you did, from your eyes, before drawing a decision of my own." I looked down, "I've made the mistake of just blindly following word of mouth once before, and it would have ended my friendship with Yui if she wasn't so understanding…"

I really had to atone for what I had done the other day to her. Someone like me had no right yelling at her… Certainly not after all she did for me…


I put my hand on the doorknob, twisting it open and flicking on the lights to our team's room.

And of course, inside was Marika. She seemed much more awake than she usually was when I ran into her.

She was still sitting under the desk as usual, though. Did she just not want to use the chairs in the room?

Can't judge her, though. It does look pretty cozy under there-actually, was that a bean-bag under the table?

"Good afternoon, Marika." I greeted, "We're meeting a little earlier today, aren't we?"

The small girl looked up at me, "Oh. Kyo. I hope you don't mind me sitting in here too, do you?"

"Oh, not at al-"

Iori, on the other hand, seemed to mind a lot.

"A spy?!" she exclaimed, "Kyo, who is she!? Why is she in our club room?! Do you know her?! Kiddo, if you rat us out, I'll hunt you down and replace your Doritos with sweet potato corn chips!"

The smaller purple-haired girl let out a yelp, scrambling to her feet and revealing herself to be roughly half a head shorter than me, stumbling back into a corner of the room.

"Calm down. You're scaring her." I explained, "She was part of the previous team that was in this room."

"Y-Yes. That is true." The small girl nodded, "I… Iori, was it? Aren't you that one the others call 'The Witch of Solomon'?"

Ooh, a cool ace title. I gotta get me one of thos-Wait, focus!

"Please…Don't call me that. I never accepted that name, unless it's on the battlefield." She leaned against a cockpit pod, "…There's a lot of questions I think we both want answered, isn't there?"

"Me as well." Marika piped up, "D-Don't hate me or anything, but I've heard a little about you… and I want to see if the stories were true for myself."

"…I'm sorry, this is between Kyo and me right now. Can you… Can you go outside for a bit?" she seemed a bit tentative.

The small girl looked between both of us silently, before nodding, "I understand. I suppose I do have something I need to do right now as well…"

She bowed, and turned to leave.

As she was about to exit the doorway, I stopped her.

"Hey, just letting you know, you're also free to stop by in here anytime, though. I don't mind. You don't look like the kind of person to rat us out, and you seem quite attached to this room."

"T-Thanks." She nodded, "W-Well! See you later, Mr Asatte!"

I should probably correct her on that, but not right now. I have bigger fish to fry.

I sat down on one of the chairs, "Alright. Iori. Let's start from the beginning. What's this about blackmail?"

"Shogo Morita approached me this morning. He wanted me to break up this team and bring him evidence of your destroyed Gunpla before sundown tomorrow." She spoke coldly, matter of factly, as if reading each word off a page, "…Otherwise, he would destroy something very important to me that he stole."

"He has something like that that could be used as leverage?" I sat up, "What is it?"

"A Gunpla. The one personally built and operated by my mother."

A cold wind blew through the room. An icy chill from the dark recesses of the past, perhaps?

"Your mother… She was GM, wasn't she?" I slowly began, "So then…"

"Yes." She nodded, "It was the one she used in battle back then… The one she even used when the GP Officers came for her. She even basically surrendered to them before the battle, but she wanted to have one final honorable duel against them so she could at least have some pride of having fallen in battle, even a futile one…"

"Where is she now?"

"Well… Actually, she's doing a little bit better these days. She managed to get out on probation, and volunteers in this small soup restaurant out in the boonies." She chuckled, "It's funny… It's actually just down the road from where she was arrested. But that's neither here nor there. What you want to know is how it is so important to me."

I nodded silently.

"She poured her heart and soul rebuilding the unit in confinement. The courts gave her a lighter sentence… Why, I'm not sure. But still, as for me… It was so long without her. I had to fend for myself for my last year in secondary school. So when the package came for me in the mail with her gift to me back then… It meant so much for me. To me, it was her way of continuing to watch over me. To her, it was a way to tell her daughter she still loved her. It tied us together in that way."

"So to have it stolen from you... He has stolen that piece of your mother's love."

"Shogo took it on my first year here. Even back then, he was a thieving bastard. Since then, he's been using it to keep me on his payroll." She growled, "I would love nothing more than to punch him in the face and demand he give it back to me."

So, then…

"And that's the reason you betrayed those teams back then?"

"Yes. It was for that very selfish reason…" tears came to her eyes, but she wiped them away, trying to keep her composure, "I… I don't want to be known for this! Do you have any idea how much I would want to break out of this life?"

"But then why didn't you tell the truth?"

"Do you honestly think anyone would believe me!?" she snapped, "I've tried! I've tried so many times to reveal the truth! But everyone's mind is already made up. My fate is sealed by the masses. That… And my own foolish past."

Her fate has been bound to her past?

"Back in secondary school… I don't know if it was a coping mechanism to deal with having to live on my own… But back then, I believed power was everything as well, just like the council today…"

"Oh… I see."

"I did some things I really regret… Like declaring myself the 'Witch of Solomon'… And habits I still do to this day, like working myself up into a bloodthirsty fury in battle. But I can't help it! I just love fighting in Gunpla Battle! It was the… It was just what my mother loved to do too!"

"But as you grew older, these things are all everyone remembers you for?"

"Yeah. Soon, everyone began to be driven away. Who would want to hang out with the crazy chick who screams about disemboweling her enemies in tiny plastic robot fights?" she laughed slightly, before looking downtrodden, "But at the same time, I can't change. I have to keep living the way I am, because nobody else would trust me if I tried to change."

She sat down, looking like she was on the verge of tears, "Kyosuke… I feel so pathetic asking this… But what should I do…? I don't want to keep going like this…"

"…There is somebody on this world right now who is not meant to exist."

That didn't come from her.

That was me.

Iori looked up, turning to face me with her eyes still filled with water, "H…Huh?"

"Iori, I want to tell you something... really personal." I looked down.

My heart was pounding. Was it really okay for me to tell this tale? Would it be selfish of me to bring my own problems to the forefront over hers?

"But before I do so, let me ask you a question; how much are you willing to believe me?"

"I… I don't know."

"Well…" I bit my lip, memories swirling in my head attempting to be put into simple words, "…I'm that person. I'm the one who is not meant to exist."

"What do you mean? You have the same right to exist as anyone else in the world… Don't you?"

"…My father didn't think so. He had raped my mother." I semi-lied.

"You're… You're a bastard child?"

Memories surfaced. Memories of that girl with those shining green eyes and long brown hair in all those photographs. The graphs filled with lines and numbers I didn't understand that covered his room like wallpaper. His refusal to see me as a human being. The petri dishes, syringes and machinery that covered his table.

His fixation… No, his lust for the person I was supposed to be.

And his hatred of the fact that I was not her.

"…In a sense." I looked down, "He… He wanted me to be something else. He wanted something… someone else to come out of that womb. I was… If you pardon the analogy… I was a failed gatcha pull from the womb."

We both shared a laugh for a moment. For a few seconds, I could forget about my own sadness.

Of course, it was just that instant…

"For the longest time, he told me I was worthless. I was a failed experiment of his."

"And you had to put up with this for years?"

"A couple, yeah. My mother was too ill after my birth to look after me, leaving me in his 'care' for a few years. By the time I was in primary school, I already believed that I was nothing but trash. Back then, it was Yui who helped me out of that.." I looked down, "That's why… I don't want anyone else to feel alone, or like they are chained down by their past. I want to help people, just like Yui helped me."

"…But our circumstances are nothing alike! You had a mother! Mine just got herself arrested for her crimes… And nobody believes I can change! At least you were lucky enough to have at least one person who…" she paused, "Wait… You trust me?"

"You asked me to join your team on the first day. If you meant to betray us, then you wouldn't have done that, right?" I replied, trying my best not to shed my tears. I couldn't… I couldn't let that side of me surface before her.

I would look foolish, reflecting upon my past as such…

That past as a person who shouldn't exist.

The past that had caused so much grief and upset in my early years.

The past…

Oh geez… It's coming out…

"But even though I went through all that … I don't know what to do…" I spoke, my voice wavering, "…What you had to go through was so much more different compared to me…"

"So, even you don't have an answer?"

"Not exactly… But…" I ignored the tears running down my cheeks, "Is this it? You're just going to let your past control your future? Who is control of your life? You, or the people around you?"

"…But everyone has made up their minds about me already..."

"And are you happy with what they think of you?"

"How do I change what they think of me?"

"…Well, a good place to start would be trying to show how you're trying to change to others. If they don't accept you, then it's okay; that's their own choice. Your past cannot be changed; that much is true. But that leaves two other time periods you can change." I wiped my tears, holding out my hand, "And I don't know about you, but two out of three are some pretty good odds!"

Iori looked up at me.

Her own eyes were soaked in tears.

She reached forwards, and firmly gripped my hand.

"…I'll trust you, Kyosuke."

Trust?

"I will put that exact same measure of trust in you, Iori." I replied, "That's just what comes in the same package as being a friend, right? They're the kind of people who won't run away when you've got problems like this."

"You sound like some kind of Kodomomuke." The dark-purple haired girl coughed out a laugh, "But you do have a point. I just don't know where to begin."

She had a very good point. Even I had no idea how to even begin helping someone like her.

It's not that I didn't want to… If that's what you're thinking…

I just believe nobody else should have to feel as if their own future is set in stone just as she did all those years ago. Speaking-or writing, I guess- from personal experience, it's a terrible place to be in; you want to prove that you can change to others. You want to show that you have changed.

But the worst part of putting on a show like that is having no audience showing up.

"People tend to be immobile and refuse to easily accept change. You can't really blame them; we find safety in the known. We thrive on our knowledge, pride ourselves on our ability to understand what we do know. Heck, I pride myself on knowing a thing or two myself. But even so, they have the ability to understand, to learn. People may be better than you give them credit for."

"But what about me? Even after I've done all those things…" Iori looked away.

"We all did things we regret in your childhoods. I don't think anyone even particularly cares about what you did before Gunbre. Besides, is this frenzied personality something you want everyone to know you for?" I led her towards the door of the room, the fragments of something resembling a plan coming together in my head.

"Where are we going?"

"You were blackmailed, right? I intend to engage the guy who did so on my own terms." I replied, "And to do so, we're going to need information on our opponent. Luckily, I just happened to run into someone who might be able to provide us that information."

Iori stiffened.


Kyururu seemed quite shocked to see us.

"Kyosuke?! A-And Iori?!" he stepped back, "H-How did you find this room? How did you know I was here?"

"…Well, I asked Iori." I nudged the purple haired girl, who scratched the back of her head.

"We used to be on the same team… So really, I just had to retrace those corridors from back then…" she looked up, "…and that led us back to your dorm."

"Oh, right…" he straightened up slightly, "…Uh, so did you come here to apologize…?"

"You… Will you even forgive me for doing something like that to you and the rest of the team?"

He looked down quietly.

Iori let out a soft sigh, "I… I didn't mean to cause you so much harm."

"Didn't… mean to…?"

He really didn't like that turn of phrase.

"The hell do you mean by that?!" He glared back up at us, flames in his eyes, "What the heck did you think was going to happen!? You were going to be welcomed back with cake and ice cream!? I thought we were friends! I thought that I could trust you! I thought G91 could rely on you!"

"I… I know…"

"Oh you do?! Then tell me why you had to rip it apart like that! Tell me why you tore apart the team like you did! Give me a reason, Koura!" he glared, "Don't give me excuses anymore!"

"The council ordered me to take you down! They took my mother's Gunpla from me!" she exclaimed back, "My mother… She's very special to me! That's why I had no choice but to follow those orders! I can't lose something like that!"

The boy stumbled back, "T-The council… Wait, they didn't exist…"

"Not in their current form. Shogo, Yuki, Sena… All of them were in kahoots long before all this."

Kyururu looked down, "They used you… To use me?!"

Iori looked away, "I… I understand. You really hate me for what I've done, right? And I hate myself for being this way too."

"No… But… There truly was no other way you could see then?" his voice softened, his eyes widening, "Then… Then you're in the same place I am in…"

I turned to look at him, "You?"

"Yes… The G91's remains are all I have now." He pointed into his room, revealing the damaged remains of a Gunpla sitting on his desk. From what I could see, it certainly looked like Iori's handiwork; the arms were torn clean off, the head caved in and the chestplate with a large hole blown clean through; one of the wings from the backpack had even been snapped off and rammed into it like a blade. The cannons hanging off his back were crooked and snapped in half. The legs were shattered, shards and cracks poking out.

"…It was the last gift from my secondary school friends." He pulled up a chair, sitting down upon it, "…Then, just when I thought I could use it alongside some new friends, it was torn to shreds. In that sense, the Council has taken it from me as well."

Iori let out a gasp, "It… It was that important to you?"

"Each person's Gunpla has a story, right?" he looked up at us, "…In essence, each one is essentially a person of its own with its own short, if storied history."

"I… I'm sorry, Kyururu… I will do anything in my power to help you fix this… Just…"

"No. I'm sorry for hanging onto the past like that for so long." He seemed to sit a little straighter, "I… I understand now. What it means to lose something important like that to you… But why didn't you tell us?"

"If I did… It would have been destroyed for sure."

The boy folded his arms, "And to this day, it's still like that, huh…"

The sorrow gave way to anger, then sadness.

In that instant, emotions aligned.

"I guess it's silly to keep holding onto these feelings in this way, right...?" He rose to his feet, "Alright. You got me. I'll help you guys. I want to be part of Side 0!"

That sudden declaration was filled with such a firey determination that I was taken aback, "Join us?"

"You guys aren't my enemy anymore. If the side I'm fighting on is going as far as to use something like that as a weapon, then I'll have no part in them, even if it means I'm cutting off my resources!" he bowed, "If they were willing to do things like that before even coming into power, then… We need to put a stop to them before it's too late!"

"But your Gunpla…" I began, only for Iori to stop me.

"The deadline for our destruction is tomorrow night." She spoke, "Shogo wants Kyosuke and Yui's units destroyed."

"I see. And you don't do it, he'll crush yours, right?" he growled, "He wants you to do the same thing you did back then. Well, it's not going to go that way this time! Iori, can you hack the databases and get me some parts?"

"You want to fix up your Gunpla, right? I'm not a good builder, but I'll try my best." She smiled that exact same grin she had when she had a target in her sights, "I'll lead you to our clubroom. There, we'll draw up our new battleplan."

"Just like those days… I see… Iori… You can't let the past paralyse you anymore. If something's wrong, we're here to talk to you." Kyururu turned back into his room, walking towards his Gunpla, "…If you hold onto that, the future won't change."

"…Thank you." The purple haired girl bowed.


Mihou wandered down the hallways, gripping a mop and bucket in her hands and dressed in a muddy T-shirt and shorts.

"Hey, Mihou." I quipped as I passed her by, "I didn't know you did janitorial work."

"Oh, Kyo. This isn't for the floor." She replied, turning to face me, "It's for the tank."

Right, sure... A tank. Should I be concerned?

"Would you like to go see it? We're always open for more crew members to work on maintenance."

I'm not sure she's all right in the head, but she's not exactly hurting anyone right now…

"No… I'm good." I replied slowly, "I've got some other stuff to be planning for tomorrow."

"Then both of us have battles to prepare for, it seems." She kept walking, "How is Yui?"

That's right… She and Yui seemed to have some history…

"Yui… I haven't met her today. Iori got a blackmail threat, so I'm trying my best to help her out with dealing with that."

"A bit of subterfuge already?" Mihou raised an eyebrow, "Who from?"

"Some guy named Shogo, apparently." I spoke, "Do you have any info I could use against him?"

"Not a clue." The tank enthusiast shook her head, "I'm not a Gunpla Battler anymore, I'm afraid, so I only know as much as the next person."

That makes sense, I suppose. Can't go around dragging everyone into our problems…

"But… You know, I've heard some talk in the halls. The rumors of yesterday's battle have gotten around quickly." She whistled, "But not a particularly large one. You're the sort of thing they talk about behind the back of Ryoko. How she got bested by a team of newbies…"

"I didn't defeat her. That was Yui."

"To the rumor mills, that makes no difference." She arrived at the doorway of the building, putting down the bucket and gently pushing open the doors, "Not to mention Iori was loudly talking about it all over her social medias for the last day as well. That girl doesn't go softly, does she?"

"Not of her own will, no…"

The light of the clear day shone through the door, the rustling grass of the fields in the distance lighting up the world.

"Is that so?" She turned to face me, her face framed by the shining daylight, "…I guess what we all thought of her wasn't quite the truth, then?"

"Are you looking down on her?"

"Not really." She picked up the bucket again, "I don't believe she wants to be known for such things, to be honest. But if she keeps putting up this illusion like this… I'm not sure what to think."

My phone rang before we could talk further.

"Ah. Funny, we were just about to part ways." Mihou commented, "Well, good luck on your mission."

"…You too, I guess…" I replied.

The girl turned around, travelling out of the stuffy building into the fresh, bright day. As she made her way across the field, I couldn't help but stare out at the landscape before me for a few moments, taking in the warmth and lightness that radiated from the world beyond.

A world that seemed to grow more bizarre by the day, it seemed.

Glancing down at the comparatively dim holographic device, I recognized who the caller was in an instant. I swiped to answer, raising it to my ear.

"Yui? You couldn't have used a messenger or something?"


"Perfect. All we need to do is use the electronic colors to repaint it."

Kyururu lowered his graphics tablet, using the stylus to rotate the machine designs on the monitor about. Iori stood by his side, rubbing her chin.

"This looks awfully intricate and valuable, though… What if someone steals it?"

"Don't care. I need the best I can manage, so we'll use the best parts we can!" the boy shrugged, "I've been meaning to kick Shogo's ass for a while."

"Ooh, so you have a vendetta or something too?"

"Not really. I'm just a firm subscriber to the therapeutic properties of shoving my foot up jerk ass."

The two of them shared a laugh. Iori leaned back on the wall, trying her best not to crush any of the supply boxes lining the walls as she did.

"He certainly does have quite a punchable face, doesn't he?" Iori snorted, "What the heck is his deal, anyway? Why does he like being such a massive asshole?"

The temperature in the room suddenly seemed to drop a few degrees with the dead silence that followed. Kyururu put down his stylus, spinning about in the chair to face her.

"Don't tell anyone else, but I heard…. I heard he was once just like you."

The purple-haired girl tilted her head, "His mom is also Mafia?"

"No, it's a bit more of a broad-strokes way." The boy sighed, "It's… sad. Once, he was the son of a relatively rich family. His father produced accessories for Gunpla Battle, you see, and they were riding the high of the craze a few years ago. That is until he was involved in a massive scandal."

"And that's why he's a jerk? His dad was involved in a scandal?" Iori asked again slowly.

"Not just any scandal; he was accused of having helped plant a computer virus on a space station."

"What?! That sounds like some real action movie stuff! That's awesome!"

With a practiced, weary sigh, the boy shook his head, "Uh… No. Not awesome. Some kids were up there at the time. They could have died, Iori."

"Oh. Unawesome, then." Iori sat cross-legged on the ground, "So… He had to go through several years with his dad in jail too, right?"

"Nope, turns out they got the wrong guy. But the damage had already been done; investments in his dad's business dropped." Kyu turned back to the tablet, "Make matters worse, his mother divorced in the chaos and took him with her."

"The stress of his parents going through a divorce and losing it all in one fell swoop… Is that it?"

"I guess he just wanted to feel in control of something in that uncontrollable life." He tapped on a coloured circle on the display, adjusting several sliders to change the hue slightly, "…But the only way he knew how was by pushing other people around."

Iori blinked, "…He was trying to break free from his past too?"

"Well, he's going about it all wrong. Breaking free from your past shouldn't mean messing up other people's present in the process… Anyway…" a Builder Part was carefully maneuvered across the display, embedding into the chestplate of the Gunpla, "Shogo is especially dangerous as a result of his past. He picked up a thing or two from his father, so he knows how to work a P-Frame in and out. There's a reason why Ryoko took his Morita Custom Zaku; he heavily modified it software-wise so that he could easily access all the EX-Skills from the start of a match, in addition to utilizing many, many other such optimizations to max out the stats of the machine. While it looks cobbled together, stats-wise, it is an absolute powerhouse of a machine!"

"Was." Iori snarkily corrected, "Can't be that good if Yui could blow it up."

"Look, Ryoko was operating it for the first time. She probably was pretty lost inside the cockpit of that thing." Kyururu carefully adjusted the angle of a grille on the chestplate, "I heard he actually uses a keyboard and mouse to pilot his machine instead of the joysticks, so it probably wasn't quite optimized for the regular controls as well."

"So it really wasn't her best… Why did she challenge Kyo, then?"

"Ryoko could have been just testing her. She certainly seems like the kind of Bishojo who would do so."


Picture this, if you will.

A beautiful, sunny day. A light breeze blowing the see-through green leaves across the landscape, gently playing with the blades of grass as it passes through beneath. Looking to the sky, a shining lens-flare appears overhead.

Now pan the camera down and zoom in comically quickly on two girls hauling several large boxes weaving through a footpath filled with people across the aforementioned fields towards a building in the distance under the hot sun. One of them is intelligent, attractive, cool, collected and driving her push-cart down the path at high speeds.

The other one is me.

"Why do you get the cart?!" I exclaimed.

"Because you're the strongest person I know!" Yui replied, sprinting that cart across the footpath, "Look, it's just Gunpla! It's not that heavy!"

"But still… Why are there so many of them?" I exclaimed, peering over at the sheet of paper taped on the side of the box, "36 Maganacs, 35 Zakus… These are way too many kits for just one team to hoard!"

"Shimon Sakaki from the 'Golden Cosmos' team is in charge of the distribution of those kits around here. We're effectively helping him stock the warehouses." Yui explained, "These kits are for everyone… Or so he says."

"Having a single guy in charge of deciding who gets what… And he's on the payroll of the council….Yeah, that totally doesn't sound like someone I'll have to deal with later on." I muttered sarcastically, "But why are you helping him load stuff up like this, then?"

"We need to get into his good books if we want resources, right?"

I slammed down my box on the ground as gently as I could slam a box.

"So we're kissing ass."

"There's no need to be so vulgar about it… But yeah." She admitted, "I… I wish there was another way, but…"

"It is really humiliating… But then again, we need those resources…" I picked up the box again.

Only for a hand to be placed atop it.

"I'm here from Shimon's team." The owner of the hand spoke; a girl with dark brown hair and a baseball cap, "I'm here to take inventory of the boxes on his behalf, since he's on his tea break right now."

I stepped back, my eyes widening as I saw her attire. She wore roughly the exact same clothes Mihou wore, save for the bow and jacket. Instead of the black sneakers my roommate normally ran about in, on her legs were a large mess of metal and wiring moving over the skirt, wrapping around her waist with a belt lined with switches, LEDs and pouches. Straps went up over her shoulders, criss-crossing over the body, the black bowtie placed on the centre strap of the strange machine.

Whenever her legs shifted, the metal components hissed and whirred slightly.

"What'cha lookin' at?" she asked, tilting her head and taking off her hat. As she did, large amounts of fluffy hair fell out from underneath.

I blinked, "Isn't it obvious? Your legs… And your body…"

The girl let out a cocky grin, crouching slightly before performing a full backflip on the spot, the sun glinting off the polished steel as she leapt into the air, before landing with a rattle and stretching out her arms.

It was almost as if the augmentations to her limbs were weightless, the way she jumped into the air like that… Wasn't she weighed down by the metal?

And nobody else seemed to care that there was a cyborg doing backflips in the middle of the path?!

"I get that a lot. But really, it's par the course if you think about everything else in this amazing place." She smiled, pulling a clipboard off her back and opening the box, "Plus, it looks really cool, like something out of a sci-fi movie. Why wouldn't I wear it about?"

Yui had remained silent throughout the whole display, before speaking up, "Hang on, aren't you one of Mihou's friends? You have matching clothes…"

The girl paused, turning to look at her.

A few tense seconds passed.

"Uh… I have no idea who you're talking about. Look, just because I wear similar clothes to someone else doesn't mean I know them." She pulled out a Zaku from the box, opening it up with a sigh, "…Huh, at least this one is simple enough to build…She probably could smash out like 5 in an hour…If she felt like it…"

What was up with that?

"…You're not actually here to inspect the boxes, are you?" I asked after a few more moments, "You haven't written a thing on your clipboard. It doesn't even have any paper."

"You're right. I'm here to take the boxes to him." She bent down to pick up the large box, grinning slightly awkwardly, "Pulled a sneaky on you there, didn't I?"

"Uh, no." Yui glared, "Shimon would have told me if there was a delivery transfer. What would he gain by stealing from his own delivery people?"

The girl taped up the top of the box again, picking it up in one hand effortlessly.

All of a sudden, the scent of danger filled the air.

"You're absolutely correct. He has absolutely nothing to gain here." She declared, her voice gaining steel, "Especially this 'ere box!"

"AFTER HER! THAT GIRL IS A THIEF!"

More voices from down the footpath, as a tall blonde in the white uniform, surrounded by several lackeys, sprinted after the strange girl. I lunged forwards to snatch back the box, but the girl merely stepped back slightly, tossing the box into the air and catching me with both hands, pulling me in and kissing me on the cheek.

I was paralysed, my cheeks burning red.

"Send that to the Commander for me." she pulled back and quickly whispered to me a sequence of letters, "Also, HE-DF-One."

Slapping her cap on my head and pulling it over my eyes, she leapt backwards, dodging Yui's attempt to ram her with her cart. She caught the box just as it was coming back down, gripping it with both hands and landing atop a bench.

"You guys run fast for a bunch of fancy-pants gamers!" she saluted back at us mockingly, "Try adding some G-Fuel to your tea, maybe?"

"I WOULDN'T EVEN DARE SPILL A SINGLE DROP, AND YOU'D TAINT IT SO!?" the tall blonde exclaimed, his voice having a Doppler effect as he ran by us, "HOW DARE YOU!"

She flashed that cocky grin again.

She leapt off the bench, performing another spin in the air before shifting around the box and holding it under one arm. With a few long, practiced strides, she made for a nearby balcony, before leaping a good 5 meters into the air and grabbing onto the railing, the box still underarm.

It was like watching a choreographed gymnastics routine; the amount of confidence, lack of fear… She wasn't even worried. To her, this was all just some fancy show, and we weren't her enemies.

We were her audience.

Indeed, she had gathered quite the crowd, watching her in a combination of shocked awe.

She pulled herself onto the balcony, pulling open the box, "The first one's always free! Catch!"

She tossed down a single kit; a HG Maganac.

The crowd below flew into a frenzy like ducks around a bowl of peas. In the chaos, the pursuers couldn't make it through the sudden riots.

It was a sad sight to see; so many people fighting over one single HG…

"You sure are hungry, eh?" The girl laughed, "I'll give you guys some more later! You'll know when they drop!"

With a final bow, she grabbed the box in one hand again, leaping across with ease from balcony to balcony before performing a front-flip, landing on a nearby rooftop and sprinting away, her legs clinking and hissing as the metal pounded on concrete, vanishing out of sight.

Yui's jaw, as well as mine, fell wide open.

"What the heck?" she finally put our unified thoughts into words.

"She kissed me!" I indignantly exclaimed after getting over my initial shock, "W-Who does that?!"


"Firstly, I must apologize for what you had to go through." The blonde boy spoke, leaning back at his fancy desk and sipping some tea, before gently placing down the cup, "But HOW COULD YOU HAVE FALLEN FOR SUCH AN OBVIOUS TRAP!?"

"It's my first time here!" I spluttered, "What, you want me to not be polite and try to start up some conversation?"

After getting picked up by Shimon himself, and led into his fancy clubroom, he was now chewing me out. Yui had been told to wait outside; from the looks of it, he was going to deal with her separately.

"She had robot legs, Asatte! BIG SHINY MECHA FEET! Did that not set off any red flags?!" the boy groaned, face-faulting, "Good god, what kind of world do we live in that people just accept suspicious cybernetics at face value? And her appearance… Do you honestly think I would hire someone as unkempt as her?!"

"Unkempt? She looked fine to me."

"BAH! What do you know of style?!" he motioned at all the fancy Gunpla lining the shelves. I could see exclusives, P-Bandais of every sort, some gold-plated figures, some transparent… Heck, he even had a HG Dendrobium with LED lighting under the glass table we were sitting at, "You wouldn't even appreciate how much it costs for me to have a collection like this! I have the best builders under my thumb, the finest artists! Why, even my lowliest assistant looks far better than her!"

Now that's just rude. This guy gives off an overly proud vibe…

"Look, you even kept her hat! If I were you, I'd have thrown it back at her!"

I removed the cap, inspecting it. It was a simple black baseball cap, with white block text on the front reading 'THE LAST SHOOTING'. Apparently, according to the label inside, it was Gundam Merch… Not that one would be able to tell at first glance.

"Think I'll keep it, actually. Free hat."

"Of course you would." He frowned, before taking another sip of his tea, "Regardless, I am Mister Shimon Sakaki, student manager of Gunpla Distribution at Gunbre Academy."

"Kyosuke Asatte. Local idiot and person who wishes to free the academy." I greeted with a carefree wave, "But… I have a feeling you don't like the last part."

He raised an eyebrow, "Do you think you're the first to try? Why, that filthy thief had already attempted so before you… And look at her now, reduced to stealing from me. She has nobody left to stand by her side. Give up your quest. I don't even have to retaliate against you to show how futile it is."

That much is true… He's effectively got everyone by the balls with how he's distributing Gunpla… Not to mention he's most likely the one putting up all those unreasonable prices…

"Sure, sure." I waved him off, crossing my legs, "Don't you care about anyone's enjoyment?"

"They can play with their childish robots all they like. But they do not respect the true art, the true worth of Gunpla." He smiled, "I have spent millions of Yen upon my collection from my childhood. I do not wish to have them marred by ugly battle scars."

Oh. He's one of those collector guys who would probably leave stuff 'new in box' gathering dust on his shelf.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but there has to be more to Gunpla than just showing them off. We went this far to invent and subsequently play Gunpla Battle, so at least SOME of that Gunpla should be used to fight, right?

I rose to my feet, "You do you, I guess. But try to think about who you are without all that wealth."

"Psh. That sounds like a threat, Mr Asatte."

"It was just advice, Shimon." I put the cap back on, rising to my feet, "You have a big collection. But you can't take it when you go, you know."

This guy… Something about his prideful nature makes me think he's overdue for a fall.


Stepping into the club room, I saw an unusual sight.

Marika had returned, silently sitting in her usual spot with some black Gunpla parts, fitting them onto a frame while watching some livestream on her phone. The 3D printer in the room was humming merrily away, creating new parts.

And the VR pod in the room was open, Iori fast asleep inside, a reflective foil-like material draped over her lower body like a blanket.

I gently crouched down next to Marika, "Hello again."

She turned to face me, a small smile on her face, "It's nice that we can meet without me getting scared like this… Iori and Kyururu both fell asleep while waiting for the printer to finish up, so I got her a blanket."

"That doesn't look like any blanket I've ever seen…" I muttered, tilting my head at the reflective material, "Is it made out of tinfoil or something?"

"Well, Yukari just gave it to me one day, and I've been using it whenever I sleep late in here. I'm not sure what it's made out of, but she said it was like a military thing." She poked the blanket, "…So, what happened today?"

"…I was mugged by some girl with robot legs."

Marika's eyes lit up, and she let out a soft laugh, "Robbed? She wouldn't do anything like that if it wasn't for a good reason."

She knows her? More importantly…

"You're not going to question the robot legs?"

"My roommate had to talk to an AI last night, and we have full-sized Gundam cockpit simulators everywhere. Something like robot legs is probably normal here." She stretched slightly, yawning.

"…Have you been getting enough sleep? You've been a little tired every time I've seen you."

She looked up at me. She had some kind of desire to speak behind those wide eyes; what it was, I didn't know, but her determination to say it aloud was filling the air.

But…

"It's not important." She looked away.

"I can't just turn a blind eye to a friend, Marika."

She tilted her head, "W…We're not friends… We only just met. I don't even know you that well."

"…I guess so."

We sat next to each other for a few more minutes, Marika hard at work with the shapeless black Gunpla. A lazy, peaceful air filled the room, the haze of calm creating an unseen warmth. The ticking of the clock on the wall, the hum of the printer…

Were soon interrupted by the sound of shoes upon concrete and the door flying open.

I stood up, facing the person at the door.

It was that orange-haired kid from before. The one who Gazer analysed.

"Shogo Morita." I greeted politely, trying to push my first impressions of him aside, "What brings you to this room?"

"The heck do you think, boy!? You think I forgot about what you lot did to my Gunpla!?" he snapped, "Do you know how long I spent building and optimizing my Gunpla for battle?"

"The Zombie Zaku was optimized?" I asked.

"THE HECK YOU SAY!?" His face filled with a ferocious crimson, "DID YOU CALL MY MASTERPIECE A ZOMBIE!?"

"Dude… If that's your masterpiece, then I'd hate to see your failures."

"…I'll destroy your precious Gunpla, kid. It's as good as mine once I'm through with this crap!" he declared, "You might as well give up now."

Give up? Boy, I just begun!

"And what? You'll get Iori to destroy us from the inside with your little ace up your sleeve?" I glared back, "You're the lowest of scum; using someone's past to destroy their present like that."

He actually seemed to freeze up at these words.

"What's wrong? Did I strike a nerve?" I grinned, "Good, I'm just getting-"

A fist connected with my face.

I hit the ground, even sliding slightly from the force of the impact.

"YOU… YOU BASTARD!" He roared, "You dare call ME scum!? You're the real scumbag here!"

I rubbed my wound, stumbling back upright in a daze. I wasn't exactly that good at taking a punch…

"At least I'm not emotionally manipulating someone. That's more than YOU can say!" I replied, trying to ignore the smell of adrenalin and tears.

"SHUT IT!" he yelled, raising his fists, "You wanna go!? I'll just cut out the middleman and destroy everything here!"

He lunged for the printer, ready to tear the object being printed inside to shreds. I stepped in his way, attempting to push him back. Marika whimpered, curling up under the desk in fear.

Then, another pair of hands grabbed onto the boy's back, pulling him back.

"GET OFF HIM!" Iori screamed, "What the hell did you come in here for?!"

"You! You haven't destroyed them yet!" he exclaimed, stamping his foot, "What the hell do you think?! Just because I generously gave you extra time, you think you can laze around with them!?"

Ah, he's referring to me.

"I'll decide when I want to destroy them! You asked me!"

"Well, I changed my mind! I'll destroy your Gunpla right now! All of it! Then I'll take your precious Dick Destiny or whatever it was and turn it into my new machine!"

Iori growled, "Don't! You… You can't!"

"Can, and I am!" he stepped forwards again, ready to tear into the printer.

A burning rage filled me, as I charged at him, ready to tackle him to the ground.

But it was for naught.

With a simple sweep of his hand, he swiped Iori's Gunpla off the table and hurled it to the ground, stepping on it. With a loud CRACK, the red and blue Gundam shattered into hundreds of parts.

Iori, if she was bothered by the destruction of her machine, didn't show it.

"Well done. You did what you came here for. Do you feel any better now that I can't do what you told me?"

He glared at her.

But through the rage, I suddenly got the feeling that he felt just a bit lost.

"You… You've failed!" he finally decided, sounding just a smidge less certain, "N-Now that your Gunpla is destroyed, you'll have to take your own allies' Gunpla by hand if you even want the CHANCE to see my little treasure back again!"

"…You didn't think your plan through to this part, did you?" Iori asked.

"S-SHUT UP! I have the ability to destroy your gunpla in one move!" he spied the head of the Gundam Sapphire rolling about, slamming his foot down on it, "You shouldn't piss me off! Y-You know what?! GET ON YOUR KNEES BEFORE ME! Lick my shoes!"

Yeah, that was the moment he had stepped past the border for me.

"You're as disgusting as you are stupid." I spoke, quivering with anger, "You're not here to do any of that sort of thing, are you? You just had a bad day, and you're taking it out on your living punching bags, right?"

"What will you do to stop me!?" he yelled back at me.

For few more tense moments, we stared each other down.

"I'll tell someone in charge." I replied.

...Beat.

"Oh, I see, going to run off to tell the teacher?" he laughed, "Gonna run home to mommy? Get real!"

"I am. I'm being more real than you are at the moment, Shogo. Do you think I find those actions shameful?" I got up, walking for the door, "I mean, you punched me. Regardless of any way you slice it, things will look bad for you when word gets out. So yes! I am, in fact, going to tell someone!"

"Not if I stop you from getting there!" he yelled, attempting to lunge at me. I side-stepped, just avoiding him.

"…And how will you do that? Breaking my Gunpla? A black eye? My legs, maybe? C'mon, what else do you want to add to your record?"

Marika and Iori stared at me, wide-eyed, as I said these words.

"How far will you go with your aggression? I'll take it. I've taken it all before." I spoke, stepping out the door, "Just saying, while in the short-term punching someone in the face over a plastic robot fight sounds like a good idea, in the long-term it's honestly not as good an investment as all the anime you watch makes it seem. We live in a world where hitting the wrong person once can land you in jail for life. Want to try your luck?"

"…I don't think you understand what I can do to you."

"Right back at you. So I am a bastard!" I folded my arms, turning to face him, "What of it? It's better than being the kind of person to get a stain on his academic record over what amounts to a video game! Same question; what can YOU do to stop me?"

He growled, "You… You better not…"

"He won't do that." Iori spoke, "I'll tell him not to."

I frowned. What was she doing?

"See, at least she's got my ba-"

"Maybe I will, actually. You know how much my whims change!" the purple haired girl flicked her hair.

Shogo turned around, glaring daggers at her, "You two-timing…"

"But you know what? I'm your number one, you know?" she gained that malicious grin, "If you keep to your agreement, I'll keep mine."

"Wha-What the…"

"We throw down tomorrow." She spoke, folding her arms, "Side 0 versus you and whatever lackeys you find. When we win-"

"IF you win."

"-WHEN we win, I will take back my mother's machine." Her eyes were filled with rage, "And if you destroy or fail to meet this little deal… Well, we have four witnesses here. Two of which have connections to the Tank Club."

Again with the Tank Club? Maybe I should do a bit more research into it…

Shogo frowned again, "…What the shit does that last part have to do with anything?"

"Just saying…" Iori whistled, "Tanks are big and heavy. And I can't imagine steering them is easy. It'd be a real tragedy if it happened to run over your laptop."

Okay, seriously? Mihou wasn't messing around with me?

His eyes widened, before a glitter of inspiration lit up in a corner.

"Fine. I accept your deal." He spoke, "But if I win… You'll have to do everything I say. While dressed as a maid."

…The heck!?

"Now you listen here, you perve-" I began.

Iori pushed me back, "Whatever you say. Now, kiss my shoes to seal it."

He stared.

"Y-You can't be serious."

"You're right. I'm Iori. Kiss my goddamn shoes."

These two… Hoo boy…

"I-I think he gets the idea." I spoke up, "There's no need to go down to his level."

"But he did wreck my Gunpla. I'd say that's pretty shoe-kiss worthy."

"Iori, no." I tried my best to look threatening, "Shake his hand properly. Then Pinkie Promise."

Cue record needle scratch.

Everyone conscious turned to look at me.

"…For real?" Shogo said after a few seconds, "Boy… What the hell."

"Kyo… How old are you?" Iori asked, "First you want to tell someone… Now this…"

"I don't care if you see me as immature, I'd say the same of you two right now! If he's willing to throw a tantrum over plastic robot fights and force you to perform… those kinds of actions against your will, and you're willing to force him to do something incredibly unsanitary over the same, I think both of you are childish enough to pinkie promise. Or will I have to spill the beans?"

And yes, I took photographs of them doing just that.

Look, compared to the maid thing, it was the far lesser evil…


After he left, Iori sat down on the ground.

"Sapphire is down." She stated, matter-of-factly.

Marika looked around at all the parts lying on the ground, "…Aren't you sad, Iori?"

"Not a bit." She leaned back, "Did you guys think this was the only Gundam Sapphire I ever had? This one is like… the twelfth. I mean, I guess I'm a little upset he wrecked a HG Atlas head. Those things are hard to come by. But on the other hand, we protected the Shining Wind."

I looked up at the 3D printer, still humming and printing away.

"Shining Wind…?"

"It's going to be Kyururu's new unit." Iori explained, "It's made out of parts from his original machine and some other components I pulled off the internet."

"You pirated parts?" Marika gaped.

"If they can't be bothered giving us reasonable prices for shit, I'm not going to bother giving them my money." She sat down next to the printer, "Just as well, it's finishing up too."

"Where is Kyu, anyway?" I asked, "Did you guys finish up your planning already?"

"Yeah. Which reminds me, I should probably fill you in on the plan." She turned to face me, "Tomorrow, as I said, we challenge Shogo to a battle. While the battle goes on, I want you to kick his ass for me."

"So you can move in and steal back your Gunpla?"

She looked offended at me, "…I would like to. But no. We'll fight and defeat him legitimately."

"That's… That's quite different from what I would expect from 'The Witch of Solomon'." Marika spoke up, "…You're going to just fight him normally?"

"Yeah."

"…If you're going to do that, then why did you take so long to come up with a plan?" I asked, scratching my head, "…Did you forget that you needed to come up with a battle plan for defeating him?"

"Not quite." She gained a mysterious glitter in her eyes, "In fact, I've already set the first part into motion. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what it is."

"…You haven't prepared anything, have you?" I asked again.

"That's the spirit!" she slapped me on the back, "By the way, how waterproof is your Gunpla?"

I tilted my head, "…Waterproof? What does that have to do with anything?"

"Yes or no question, Kyo." She opened up her computer, clicking and opening up several files, before placing a strange hexagonal pad on the desk. The pad lit up, a holographic version of the Gundam Sapphire hovering just above the center.

"I… I guess I can take a bit of physical water… I mean, of course, you can't drop it into a bucket or anything…"

"…Good enough for me." She shrugged, selecting several items on a list. As she did, the hologram next to her shifted, parts swapping out and changing on the display.

"…Are you planning your next Gunpla?"

"I'm using the remaining parts I have back in my room to fix up the Sapphire." She spun the display about, "Like I said, it's not the first time it's been blown up. I have plenty of spare parts back in the room to repair it. Why do you think my machine is mostly unpainted red and blue plastic?"

"…Because it is a color scheme that harkens back to the Blue Destiny Unit 2?" Marika piped up.

Iori gave her a strange look.

"No… Well, actually maybe, but also the red and blue filament were on sale when I printed the parts out. I'll just use a marker or two to finish up the detailwork if needed." She turned to look at me, "To tell the truth, I'm more a fan of the physical capabilities of the Gunpla, so customization and all that isn't quite up my alley. I just have several parts that serve simple purposes, and that's it. It doesn't look pretty, but it gets the job done. That's all good in my books."

"But your rifle and weapons… If you could print out other weapons, why don't you have a buster rifle or a nuclear bazooka or something?" Marika asked, "Or even make your own custom weapon? They have to be more powerful than just an NT-1 Beam rifle."

"Because I like the NT-1's design. Besides, the rifle is literally just an un-bullpupped FAMAS." Iori shrugged, "It's pretty funny."

Can't argue with that, I guess.

"Still… A Blue Destiny, huh?" she rubbed her chin, "Oh, right. I do have some Efreet parts I could use. This is going to be quite something…"

"What about me? You've barely told me what we're going to do!" I began to feel like a broken record at this point.

"I already told you, I can't tell you the plan, otherwise it won't work as well. All you need to do is show up tomorrow, and fight like you always do."

"We've fought together twice. I'm still not sure if I've gotten to know everything fully… But I can't test it out until I arrive at the battlefield tomorrow."

"Well, why can't you train a little first? It'll only be a few minutes."

"…How?"

Marika looked between me, the large pod in the room, then at me again, "Ah…Y-You don't know how to use the simulator?"

"I mean, you just sit in it, and the Platsky Frame launches out, right? Besides, it needs a bunch of other AI Frames and a larger room to set up a physical battle…right?"

"A-Actually, you can do it right here." she pulled her blanket out of the pod, folding it back up, "The VR Pod has the…um, it has the ability to connect up to online servers so you can play Gunpla Duel Nexus with the controls."

I raised an eyebrow.

"A Virtual Gunpla Battle? Doesn't that take all the stakes out of it?"

"N-Not at all!" Marika smiled shyly, "If anything, it's safer because your Gunpla doesn't get destroyed... It's a bit of a small game right now, but maybe one day it'll become more popular."

Interesting… Might try it out someday…

"In any case… We can't afford to lose tomorrow." Iori folded her arms, "…Oh no… I didn't even think of what we'd do if we failed…"

I gritted my teeth, "You didn't come up with a back-up plan?"

"I'm not a big brain super tactician, okay? Sometimes I even forget what button brings up my shield."

"There's a shield button?" Marika asked.

"The point is… I didn't plan for what we'd do if we lost." She looked down, "Sorry, Asatte… I just… I wanted to be a good commander, you know?"

Commander…? She sees herself as…

"I mean… Yeah, you sort-of invited me to this team…" I muttered, "But just because you're in charge doesn't mean you're not allowed to make mistakes."

"…I feel so hopeless. Will getting this gunpla back even help change how others see me?"

Marika looked at the girl, before softly speaking up, "I… Um… I… think you're missing the point, actually."

We both turned to look at her.

"You can't change people's minds just by doing that alone. Sure, some may be convinced by your actions, but in the end… You need to show that your heart is also dedicated to that change."

"How can I do that?"

"Well…" Marika looked down, "Getting back your Gunpla from Shogo won't help in any way."

Iori's eyes widened.

"At the end of the day… It's just a Gunpla, right?"

"Y-You take that back!"

Marika flinched stepping back, "You can't move on until you accept it! I-I'm sorry to say, but that's the only thing he has over you! Until you can accept the fact that it may be destroyed…Y-You can't defeat him!"

"But…"

"He's nothing but a bully… This is exactly what he wants you to do, Iori." I spoke, "If you let your past dictate your future… Then you'll just keep repeating the same mistakes again and again."

"Can anyone even forgive what I've done?"

"And how are they to forgive you if you're still doing it?" Marika asked, "Getting back your mother's gunpla… I don't know if it will change how people see you. But what will show through is your burning desire to change, which starts with deciding that your past will no longer define your future."

Iori looked up, her eyes sparkling with tears, "But… My mother…"

"She served her time already. Would she want you to keep holding onto the past like this?"

Iori looked down silently, processing all that had been said.

"Koura… You can change your destiny." Marika spoke.

"…How do you know about this, though?" I asked her, "Iori told me everything you just said herself… Is this all common knowledge here?"

The girl looked down quietly, "Um… A friend told me about it. She took pity on you, Iori. When she told me your story… I felt so terrible for you… That's… That's part of the reason why I want to stay here… I want to help you too!"

Iori's eyes lit up in recognition, "But how could she have… Could they have possibly been… No…Nevermind. How you heard about it isn't important now… it's good you two believe that I can change… But what about convincing everyone else?"

"But do you forgive yourself?"

The girl blinked, "M-Me?"

"Do you sleep well at night, remembering what you've done?" the small girl asked.

"W-What do you think…? Poor Kyururu… He thought I was his friend… But I ended up betraying him… All for that damn council…" Iori sat down in the cockpit, clutching her head, "I hate… I hate myself! Am I really so selfish to keep doing all this for such a foolish goal…? Have I become that heartless…?"

"Maybe I should just quit Gunpla altogether."

That statement echoed throughout the room for the longest time.

"But the fact that you're questioning your past means you aren't."

The shorter girl sat on the floor again, "If you were truly heartless, you would have gone on living without regrets, ignorant of what has transpired."

I approached Iori, "You don't need to quit. We'll be here for you this time. I don't care if people look down on us. It doesn't matter if we go through hell! You asked me to be your teammate. And call me naïve, or overly optimistic… But in my eyes, that means we're friends too, right?"

Iori looked up, revealing the reason she had looked away; her eyes glittered with teardrops.

"So chin up… Even if we fail, there will always be another day after tomorrow!" I held out my hand.

"Asatte…"

Iori wiped away her tears, "I must look very foolish… crying over something as small as this…"

"If it's something you care about, then it's not foolish to be upset, is it?" Marika looked up with those glittering eyes beneath those shining lens, "…You just need to accept that it doesn't define your life. You are more than just a simple Gunpla battler. We… We all are human, so we can become far more than our past."

Iori wrapped her arms around both of us all of a sudden in a hug, sobbing and quivering. Marika let out a squeak, before returning the hug.

I followed soon thereafter.

And that's how it was for the next few minutes.


Yui walked down a moonlit path, heading for her own dorm. The clouds rolled across a moonlit sky, the wind of the night gently licking the blades of grass in the fields around her.

The sound of soft mechanical clicks and hisses behind her drew her attention.

"You." She spoke.

The clanking stopped.

"I don't need to turn around to know you're tailing me."

A smirk crossed the face of the pursuer.

"What do you want? It's awfully greedy of you to steal all those Gunplas for even just your team."

No response.

"Answer me!" Yui spun about, coming face to face with those mysterious brown eyes, "What's your end-goal?! Why are you doing this?"

"Because you didn't." the response came, the stranger deepening her voice slightly in an attempt to hide her identity; kinda pointless, considering Yui didn't know who she was specifically.

"The students here… They need someone to look up to. A hero, if you don't mind me tooting my own horn for a bit."

"Is that what you think you are? Some kind of superhero?" the ex-council president folded her arms, the night air growing a few degrees colder.

"…Actually, you're right, that does sound too good for me." The thief replied, "I suppose a better term is… a figurehead. A physical manifestation of the freedom that those trapped here desire dearly. So in that cause, I will liberate that which the council has stolen."

"…And that justifies your thievery?"

"It justifies theirs?"

Yui had no words.

"I may be a thief. But the people you do battle against may be no better." She spoke, turning around, "As for me…I am the ghost of the rebellion that still haunts the Gunpla Club."

"You don't look like a ghost to me. You just look like you're trying to make excuses for your actions!"

The girl shifted.

"Aren't we all? Especially someone like you?"

With those words, she crouched down, her legs hissing. Several LEDs on her waist flashed scarlet, tubes wrapping around her legs growing tense from rushing pressure.

"W-What are you…"

"Getting late! Gotta go to bed! Goodnight~!"

With a hiss and a blast of air from her feet, she leapt into the air, performing a front-flip before sprinting away and vanishing into the moonlight.

…Then reappearing from the moonlight, walking awkwardly in the opposite direction.

"...W-Wrong way…"

Yui stared as the strange girl vanished away one final time.

"...I'm not making excuses… Showoff…"


Marika looked over at me, eyes wide, "J-Join Side 0?"

"Yeah. You're quite a good builder…" I munched on my sandwich, looking up at the girl, "Not to mention you're always inside the room to begin with."

She looked down again, "I… I don't know… I… My own abilities are being used by another…"

"You're already employed by another group?"

"I…In a sense…" she yawned, wavering slightly as she shoveled a spoonful of rice into her mouth.

She was clearly exhausted… What kind of sleeping habits did she have?

Come to think of it… Last night, she broke away from Iori and I when we were heading back as well…

"Have you been getting enough sleep?"

"…Not really…" she looked at me, exhaustion clear in her eyes, "…My job… it requires me to work late into the night."

"Job? You're employed?"

"I already told you, didn't I?" she muttered testily, reaching for her mug of coffee and downing practically half of it in a few seconds, "It's not important… I need to do it, regardless… It's my own fault if it doesn't get done, after all…"

She has some kind of work ethic…

"…Well, my offer still stands."

"I'm just not sure if I should go ahead with it, Asatte…" she looked down.

The sound of soft clicking and hissing caught my attention from behind me, but when I turned around, I couldn't see anywhere the sound could have come from…


Iori turned to face me, "You ready?"

"I'm always down for a good fight." I grinned.

Yui cracked her knuckles, "Alright team, let's give 'em hell!"

"Ready to rock." Kyururu grinned, pulling on a single fingerless glove and rubbing his nose, "I'll show him… I'll show him that I'm not just another brick in the wall!"

Yui stopped in her tracks, turning to face the boy, "Wait, who are you?"

"Oh, old prez. I'm Kyururu Seta." He replied, "Iori has asked me to join in this battle."

Yui turned to face the dark blue-haired girl, "Wait… Why didn't you tell me about this change of plans?"

"…I'm supposed to?"

"We're a team, Iori!"

"I thought Kyosuke would do it! He's the team leader, right?"

I raised my hands, "Woah, leader? I'm not the leader!"

"Does your team even need a leader?" Kyururu asked.

"Look, I only joined this team like two or so days ago." Iori replied, "I… I wasn't sure I could trust you guys fully… But after this mission, maybe I can get rid of all those doubts altogether."

"Actions like this won't get rid of those doubts entirely."

"I know… But I think it's a start, right?" she looked up, a spark of determination shining out of the corner of her eye.

She was the one who called us here… To this room she referred to as a 'Stadium Room'. Inside this room would be multiple cockpits, a large screen and bleachers.

It would be here that we would take our places within the familiar pod cockpits and engage in actual ranked battles, just as before. The difference here was the presence of the live audience (this time with dedicated seating) and an announcer for the battle to drum up hype and make commentary.

Our Gunpla, on the other hand, were placed into a separate room in order for us to do battle proper, with the cameras inside the room providing an overhead view to the audience watching inside the stadium.

In this case, our battlefield was an empty computer lab. I just hope that none of the machines there get wrecked too badly by our battle…

Why would you even have a duel in such a room, anyway?

"Hmph, I see you want to put on a circus show as you get wrecked here." A familiar, punchable voice took me out of my internal monologue.

Iori turned around with a grin, "Shogo. You should know better than to keep a lady waiting."

"Yeah, whatever. I don't give a shit." The orange haired boy folded his arms, "Give me all you got, yadda yadda yadda. I'll beat you in a minute flat. I can't believe I'm wasting time on this crap. I've got shit to do too, ya know."

He tapped his ID card on the lock of the room, the door sliding open.

Inside, the seats were filled with a small crowd. As I looked around, I spied several familiar faces from my Workshops and Practicals sitting there.

Kyururu grabbed onto my arm excitedly, "K-Kyo! I-It's her!"

I followed his gaze, spotting that familiar backpack-wearing girl and her cat-eared friend, sitting up the back of the room, eating some meat buns.

"…Will she affect your ability in battle?" I asked back.

"I…I can't lose! Not when she's watching me!" he replied, in a world of his own, "S-Shining Wind is going to win for sure!"

"Remember, Kyururu; You're part of the team right now." Iori cautiously warned the boy, "Don't try to show off on your own, just because the person you stalk is here."

"H-Hey! I'm not a stalker!"

"Do you even know her name?"

"…T-That's besides the point!"

"HEY-O GUNPLA BATTLERS!" an excitable voice called out over the speakers in the room, startling me, "Today's another fine day for a swell battle!"

"W-Who are you!?" I exclaimed.

"That is a very good question, Breaker!" the reply came over the speaker, "Let's give it up for Gunbre Academy's very own MC, RINKO SHAKUNO!"

No response from the crowd.

"Tough crowd?" I spoke again.

"Well, let's see our contestants!"

"…You can't even hear me anymore, can you?"

"On the blue team, we have the new rising stars of Gunbre! Ranked a poor level 893 out of 1000, let's give a hand for these new Gundam breakers…. SIDE ZERO!"

No response… Except for a single person in the back cheering excitably, "GO GET 'EM, PRIVATE!"

You get no prizes for guessing who that could be. Clue; literally the only person who would refer to me as a Private.

"Side Zero is a new team, but don't underestimate them! It has the fearsome Iori Koura, the Witch of Solomon… And two fantastic newcomers!" papers rustled behind the microphone, "Starring…KYOSUKE ASHITA! Er… He's a new transfer student with a hot head and most well known for screaming really loudly in food courts!"

…Well, if it isn't the consequences of my own actions.

"And, for this battle only… NEWCOMER KYURURU SETA! A… Uh…"

More papers rustled.

"…A council peon given new life and purpose, who is sworn to vengeance against those who have wronged him…. (yeah, that's it)!"

At least I could commend this… Rinko on being able to come up with stuff on the fly.

"…I'm not a …" Kyururu shrugged, "Eh… I guess I'm just happy to get an intro, at least."

"She got my name wrong." I frowned. Seriously, it's not that hard.

"And in the red team, LAP-PRACE'S SHIELD! Led by the unbeatable (most of the time) SHOGO MORITA! The firey thief who will heartlessly relieve his foes of their parts!"

Shogo flexed, a large group of boys in the stands letting out a series of wild hoots and 'YEAH's as he did so. At the back of the room, I didn't even need to look to feel the death glare the rest of the crowd was giving them.

"And joining him is YASUI WASURE! A deadly opponent armed with her incredible aim and incredible close combat skills! And last but not least, the one, the only, WANAI JUYODE! A powerful distraction, his smokescreen is the fog of death that covers his opponents!" the announcer took a deep breath, "Let's give 'em a hand!"

Nobody seemed to cheer for the two faceless peons as they wordlessly walked into the room. One was even glancing down at a game console as he wandered in, before looking about confused.

"…No matter how much Rinko tries to hype them up, they don't really do anything of much importance, do they…?" Iori mused.

"That's kinda rude, Iori. They're important too!"

"But it's true! They're only here to make this have the illusion of a fair fight!" she replied, "Taking them away pretty much changes NOTHING about this story! Why else would they have such forgettable names?"

"…Yasui isn't that forgettable." Yui pointed at one, "Look, she can do great things too!"

"…That's a member of the audience."

"Oh. Which one is Yasui?"

"Let's get things started! All battlers! To your cockpits!"

The Pods all opened up at once, and Shogo's lackeys wordlessly made their way to the cockpits, pulling themselves in. Shogo took the time to give a smirk to his fellows in the stands, flipping them a thumbs up as he reached into the bag on his back and pulled out a keyboard and mouse; one of those flashy gamer keyboards. You know, the sort with pulsing rainbow LED lights and stuff that streamers use.

Iori tossed off her white jacket to Yui, turning and heading to the cockpit herself. Kyururu followed, entering his own cockpit pod.

I was the last one to board, pulling on the visor over my eyes, watching the world around me transform into the cockpit of the MS, with glowing HUDs flashing up in Augmented Reality.

"Gunpla Cube Battle! ALL SET!"

I closed my eyes as the hatch hissed shut, the light outside vanishing.

"THREE! TWO! ONE!"

The world lit up around me, as my eyes flew open.

"This is Kyosuke Asatte! DOUBLE BREAKER! LAUNCH!"


With a flash of light, the Gunpla flickered to life, three holographic circles passing over its body as I gained control.

The first thing I did was briefly scan the area, assessing where I was. It seemed that we had been placed within the library again, the one I had first fought in. However, this time, we started off on top of a short landing, with some stairs leading to the ground below.

A hissing and clanking alerted me to my teammate walking to my side, and here was the first time caught a glimpse of them in their full glory.

One was a mech which seemed to take inspiration from the Gundam F91, sporting both the head and chestplate. The exact similarities with it ended there, it seemed, as it now sported an impossibly clean pearlescent sheen over its whole body, thanks to its virtual paint-job. Its arms were simplistic and curved, with black lines running down the forearms and shoulders. Upon its legs were a binders on each side, holding shut a number of ventilation flaps, and upon his back was a sextet of beam sabres, three on each shoulder blade, with IFS Units from the Beginning G poking out from the rear beneath them. Upon his chestplate was a simple grate, covering up a shining yellow light from within.

He bore no beam rifle, instead holding a pair of dagger-like sabers in his hands.

This must be the Shining Wind.

And next to it was a more rugged dark-blue and red unit, wielding that FAMAS-like beam rifle and a GM's shield. On her back were a pair of fierce heat-sabres with serrated edges, supplementing those red spiked shoulders. Grey gauntlets covered the forearms and hands, a duet of scarlet missiles tucked into the barrels upon them. On her legs, a pair of grenade pods rattled by her waist and lower legs, the curved chestplate having a surprisingly ornate symbol printed the right breast with the text 'SIDE 0' inscribed upon it.

And this… the Sapphire Repair, I guess.

Iori stepped forwards, "Alright, let's get this game started."

Kyururu flew forwards before us, green particles flying away from his body as he boosted off, "I'll see if I can do anything at all for you guys… If I can even get a hit in on one of tho-"

A beam shot tore through the air. On instinct, the Shining Wind swung out a sabre, raising it to defend against the shot. However, the beam passed right through, and he dodged seconds before it could strike him.

I looked at the source of the attack, and was pushed back by the will blasting forth from it.

The MS was aggressively dark blue. A pair of red missile pods lined the shoulders, matching up perfectly with the whole 'SEED' Aesthetic of the MS. Upon the chest, a glowing yellow insignia shone, glinting off its golden twin V-fins.

A vent on the abdomen hissed, virtual flames blasting out, as a revving sound roared to life from within this beast of a machine.

It was faded, scratched and burnt from countless battles prior. I could see parts of it that had been replaced entirely; the left shoulder and arm had been replaced, not to mention the head and chestplate were new as well. But the right arm was the original, covered in sabre scars and filled with bullet holes.

But my eyes fell upon the white decal upon that left shoulder.

GAT-X102BD-2 'Duel Destiny'

What is this wordless chill that shoots through my soul? I feel a sort of energy coming from this foe… A killing intent…

No, not from the pilot… Somehow… was the machine itself giving off this aura?

That shining head burned with crimson hellfire, as Shogo raised his fist.

"So, this was the shitty thing your mom was trying to give ya? She couldn't even be bothered to fix it properly!"

T-This was Iori's mother's….

"Iori, is that…"

She nodded, her brow furrowing, "That's right. This is the ghost from her past… The Duel Destiny."

"And the reason why Sapphire looks like the Blue Destiny 2…" Kyururu muttered, "Alright, you remember the plan, right?"

"Can't forget it. Let's go!" She flew forwards, casting aside all hesitation and spinning about, landing a flying kick on the Duel Destiny. In response, the blue MS from the past grabbed her leg, flipping her over his head and slamming her to the ground.

Planting a foot on her curved chestplate, Shogo let out a laugh.

He took his hand off his mouse briefly to pick up the energy drink bottle by his side and taking a large swig. He adjusted his headset, narrowing his eyes, before tossing aside the drink and leaning forwards, gripping his controls.

"Shogo Morita! You're gonna regret messin' with Shield of Laplace, punks!"


'BEGIN MISSION'

Iori boosted away, flipping backwards, swinging out her heat sabers and swinging up into his chestplate, but the pilfered MS easily avoided the strike, taking to the air and flipping open both missile pods.

"This is easy! I'll destroy you three before the first mission even starts up!"

Hundreds of missiles blasted every which way, dancing through the air on white tails of smoke, their warheads glowing like destructive flowers in the sky. This wouldn't have been so bad if they weren't swirling and looping around towards me! I took off, swinging out my beam rifle and blasting into the cloud of missiles. But it seemed for every three that exploded mid flight, five more emerged each to take their places.

When they struck me, the results weren't pretty. I was juggled-yes, like a fighting game combo- in the air by the explosions, grinding my health bar all the way down before I could react.

Without additional crates, my base stats- including my EX-skills and potentially any extra defense- were non-existent.

This was when it hit me.

Earlier, all my previous battles were fair fights. Duels where I could afford to fight with honor, rules.

This was a fight for my survival now.

I spammed my boost button, somehow breaking free from the missile lock and speeding towards the Duel Destiny, only to be shot down by a bright red MS behind it; a modified RG Char Custom Zaku with a Tallgeese shield and Dobergun mounted on its shoulders, holding a Zaku machine gun with a bayonet.

I landed, sprinting towards it, but those damn missiles hit me AGAIN, sending me into the air, and into the waiting line of fire of that powerful Dobergun.

Until a series of 'THWIP' sounds sounded beneath me, and the Dobergun was cleanly sliced off the shoulder of the Zaku. In its place, a beam-dagger had planted itself into the shield blade-first, sizzling and crackling away.

The Shining Wind sprinted closer, gripping a pair of beam daggers from his back in a reversed grip. It seemed that Shogo had completely forgotten about him, and he was taking advantage of that to launch his attack.

The Zaku swung his machine gun out, attempting to slash him with the bayonet, but the glossy F91 slid under the swipe, swinging out his daggers and effortlessly slicing the leg power cables of the MS. Around this time, I landed, but chose to boost away from the battlefield lest Shogo launch another barrage at my heavily crippled, sparking MS.

The Zaku stumbled back, but the glossy F91 spun about, ramming a dagger into his opponent's head.

"Goodnight."

The blade extended out of the hilt, forming the sabre, and he swung down, cleaving the bright red Zaku in half effortlessly.

'BEGIN QUEST: DEFEAT 20 NEUTRAL FORCES'

Shogo hissed, "Dammit! Whatshisname! Go do whatever! My beef is with Koura!"

He pointed forwards, directing another stream of missiles towards the red and blue mech, but she skated around behind the Duel Destiny, swinging up her sword and slicing at the stolen mech.

"You only know how to spam the missiles?" Iori scoffed, "Pathetic."

She spun about a heat sabre, the artillery filling the air with the blades of fire. From the smoke, the Sapphire emerged, firing out one of her wrist-missiles, aiming for the missile-pods on her enemy's shoulder.

"And you'd dare strike at me? ME?!" Shogo yelled, "Witch, don't you want this little thing back?"

"You know damn well the answers to both those questions!"

Without any further conversation, she blasted forwards, ramming her shoulder into the enemy Gunpla. However, he merely caught the tackle, flipping her over his head, and slamming her into the ground, preparing to crush her head under his foot.

She grabbed onto the Duel's legs, returning the favor and bashing him into the ground, dragging him across the floor before slamming the Gunpla into a table leg. The dark-blue MS retreated, chased by a torrent of rockets.


Kyururu soared through the air, gliding over an ocean of chaos. I ran across the ground beneath him, hacking and slashing my way through mindless opponent after opponent.

He landed, swinging out his daggers and bisecting a Gyan. With a spin, he jabbed the vase-like head on the end of one dagger, swinging it down like a hammer on an approaching Gundam MK-II's chestplate, bashing it towards me. I zipped in, grasping onto the black MS's legs and ripping them apart over my head. Another MK-II attempted to sneak up behind me, but it was soon eliminated by another toss of a dagger, followed by a shining white burst of light flashing overhead, planting his hand on the hilt and extending out the sabre, ripping it free and using the force of the resulting blast to launch himself back into the crowd, tearing three blades out from his backpack and gripping them in his knuckles.

Without even turning around, he casually flipped them over his shoulder, all three daggers igniting in mid-air and planting themselves into the shoulders and head of a Zaku sneaking up behind him.

"How-?!"

He didn't respond to my question, instead gripping his remaining dagger with both hands, ramming it into the chestplate of one Barzam. He rocketed forwards, extending out the blade and impaling two, three… five MS in total on the end of the fully extended blade.

With a flick of his wrist, he destroyed all of them at once.

Without turning to face me, he gave a blunt response, "I play darts."

"D-Darts? That's the only reason why you can pull off all this!?"

Naturally, he didn't respond further, instead leaping backwards and snatching up his thrown daggers, replacing them upon his back and rising to his feet, light glinting off his body. The way it shimmered off, reflecting the battlefield around him... At first glance, someone from a distance would overlook him, even, given the way he resembled the colors of the world around him.

Moving fast enough, I would even think him invisible…

The person who managed to get behind me almost was.

I spun, firing into the chest of the nameless grunt. She leapt aside, raising up her right arm; oddly enough, there was no hand on the end, only an empty hole where one would be.

An empty hole with a large glowing ball of light gathering around the front. The ball of light blasted out, striking me in the chest and sending me falling back, my rifle falling away.

She sprinted forwards, the golden body of her MS glittering in the light. She swung her arm-cannon up as soon as she was right up in my face, bashing me into the air.

Her body glowed with a crimson flame, and she leapt into the air, after-images trailing in her wake; she had Trans-Am in that thing too?!

I barely evaded her attempt to ram into me, re-asserting control over my flailing MS and diving for my rifle on the ground below.

A foot planted into my back, slamming me to the floor. With a crack, one of my VSBRs fell right off my waist.

Alright, that's it. Enough playing around.

I weaved out of the way of her next shots, leaping for the crowd of AI MS nearby and swinging out my blade. If I couldn't defeat them in a one on one battle, then I'll just have to beat them in points. But my opponent wasn't going to make this easy; she raised her arm cannon, blasting out a stream of missiles forth blindly from the barrel.

'QUEST FAILED'

The sounds of detonations heralded the first time I had lost a quest.

The quest list flashed up a new item; 'Destroy Barzam'. The slender gold MS leapt into the air, performing a flip mid flight with sparks flashing out of her body, flying off to her next operation.

I gritted my teeth, "She's that fast…"


Blades locked, one burning a bright amber, the other a neon pink.

The orange haired boy boosted back, flying backwards and putting a good few meters between him and the Witch, "I'll give your mom this; she sure knows how to tune a damn good machine!"

Iori didn't respond, instead swinging out her rifle and opening fire, filling the air before her with plasma. The Duel Destiny raised his rifle, firing out a grenade from the underhanging grenade launcher. The virtual artillery zipped through the air, colliding with a beam shot and erupting into a cloud of smoke.

The Duel Destiny zipped out of the cloud, before coming to a stop before the Witch, swinging out his blade and slashing once, twice, three times in rapid succession.

A flash of plasma.

Iori had blocked the third final horizontal slash with her shield.

"You really think you could defeat me with just the base pre-programmed moveset?" She spoke, regarding her opponent with disdain, "Let me guess; you haven't even used the Duel Destiny for even a test run before this battle. That's quite reckless, especially for someone who's supposed to be some kind of Platsky genius."

"T-The heck are you talking about?!"

"I suppose it runs in the family, right?"

His eyes widened, filling with murderous intent.

"YOU WITCH!"

He exploded forwards, ripping away the shield and hacking and slashing away, "Don't you know what it's like to have NOTHING!? Nobody at all!? You… You sick bastard!"

Iori leapt backwards, raising her arm and tossing out a barrage of grenades. The Duel Destiny side-stepped the blasts, zipping under a nearby table, using the furniture as cover as he raised his beam rifle, letting out a wild cry as he pulled the trigger again and again.

The Sapphire took a direct hit to her chestplate, boring a clean hole right through. With a cry, she fell out of the air, rolling on the ground.

Parts shattered off her body, before she crashed into the ground one final time, unmoving.

"I'LL SHOW YOU JUST WHAT I'M CAPABLE OF!" Shogo yelled, firing out hundreds of missiles from his body.


A shining blur flickered between enemy after enemy, leaping into the sky. Spying a crate in the distance, he flashed forwards, slamming into the box and cracking it open.

"IFS online." Kyururu muttered to himself, gliding through the air, "Hmph… Would be more helpful if the MEPE was unlocked…"

Spinning and landing, he reached for his blades again.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sighted the gleam of a warhead streaking through the air.

Leaping off the ground, he tucked into a roll, extending out the blade and cleaving the missile in half, landing and spinning the weapon about.

His eyes flashed in recognition of the golden comet streaking for him.

He dropped to the ground, kicking off the floor and leaping to slice off his opponent's feet, but at the last moment she leapt away, aiming down as she flew overhead and unleashing a barrage of missiles into her opponent. Kyururu flinched, taking the blasts, the green spherical I-Field appearing over his body.

The two landed before each other. The golden mech swung out her arm cannon, a bright-blue lighting-like whip extending from the tip of the weapon.

Kyururu didn't waste time. He threw forwards a trinity of glowing daggers, reaching for another with his other hand and extending out the blade to full length.

His opponent weaved between the knives, flicking her whip forwards and latching onto a chair, pulling herself into the air and onto the top of a nearby table.

Her cannon shifted again, before glowing with a light-blue light as energy gathered around it. Firing off the shot, smoke hissed through the air as it hit its mark on his left leg.

Sparks covered his body, temporarily paralysing the Gunpla.

The golden MS leapt off the table, raising her cannon and arming a final warhead.


'QUEST COMPLETE'

It was a good thing the Barzam was basically a big blob with four limbs poking out attached by flimsy-looking exposed joints.

It made it easier for me to rip it to shreds.

I tore off a leg, using it to bash away an approaching Gunpla, before grabbing another in a head-lock and using the fin on the top of his head to stab another in the chest. But as I did so, hundreds of beam shots ripped into my armor, draining away my health bar.

For every Barzam I took down, it seemed like there was five more taking its place! They were everywhere! A Barzam Barrage! A Barzrage… Okay, I think you get it.

And that, dear reader, is why I now hate the Barzam.

After letting out a cry that would have made a perfect audition for the next Dragon Ball show, I erupted from the chaos, parts flying every which way, my foot pressing the booster pedal down as far as it would go.

They had taken my leg parts, my arms, my beam sabre, even my backpack. My rifle was a no-show; it was pretty hard to find it with those accursed things everywhere!

I landed, snatching up a dropped beam sabre and speeding away.

"Am I really that useless?! I'm getting tossed like a salad here!"

I prepared to launch myself back at my opponents once more, but soon thought better of it. I was unarmored, easy pickings for even one of those oversized calculators. And with my current arsenal consisting of nothing but a pilfered sabre…

It wasn't looking too good for me.

'BEGIN QUEST: Don't Let GP02 Escape!'

…Well, crap.


A crack sounded, followed by a burst of light.

An explosion like a second sunrise erupted from the body of the Gundam Sapphire, ripping through all the missiles that were inches away from striking her damaged body.

"Damn! A cracker?!"

Iori flew from the light, both swords raised over her head.

The Duel Destiny raised a sword in retaliation, easily knocking her aside. The two mechs landed across from each other. Iori boosted forwards, swords raised before her. Shogo unleashed yet another barrage of missiles.

"You've got no new tricks, do you?"


The golden MS's pilot silently watched as her opponent was consumed by flames.

The sound of a crate cracking open nearby was the only confirmation she needed to know that her job wasn't finished.

A thrown dagger clinked onto the ground.

The red particles sped through the air, into the smoke.

And from it, a cry and a golden light flashing forth. The F91 blasted free, trailing after-images in his wake. With his increased speed, he headed straight for the wall of the room, leaping and running straight up the side, his sabre gripped tightly in his left hand.

The gold MS's pilot switched over to a spread shot, firing out a burst of three beams all at once at the comet that flew for her. However, they merely passed through the after-images that were in his wake uselessly.

The F91 rammed into her, swinging up and slicing off her arm cannon from her forearm. The gold MS twisted about, flinching slightly, before reaching into the remains of her shoulder and tearing out a small metal ball, jumping away and pitching it forwards.

Upon contact with the ground, the ball exploded violently.

The F91 burned through the field of fire, sliding underneath his opponent and hurling his sabre into the air, leaping up after it and snatching it up. Mid-flight, he kicked his opponent down to the ground, before turning about and accelerating away, spying his target on the opposite wall of the room.

'I hope I'm not too late…'


There was at least one advantage to having my armor destroyed; it meant I could move faster.

Now, as I may have mentioned before, I never particularly cared much about speed. I was always more of a fan of heavy weaponry and tanking shots.

But in a situation like this, there wasn't much of a choice.

I leapt back as a golden mass fell out of the air and slammed to the ground before me; the other remaining peon on Shogo's team. Her arm cannon fell next, clattering to the ground by her side.

I didn't have to think about my next actions. I just moved.

I snatched up the cannon, slamming it onto my own arm and taking aim. Pulling the trigger, a flurry of shots screamed forth from the barrel, ripping up the golden MS's body in seconds.

Eventually, the gun merely clicked and hissed.

"...That must have been the last of its energy. Guess I'll just…" I trailed off, realizing that the golden MS was still moving.

She stood shakily, sparks flying from her body. Her left shoulder pad clicked open, a large silver object falling out and clattering into her hands.

With a click, the object lit up, emitting a rising whirr and hum.

She was willing to blow herself up!?

Alarmed, I darted back, attempting to escape the Gunpla's explosion. The MS's body glowed with a crimson light, as its boosters flared to life behind her.

Blasting forwards at me, she rammed into my chest, that green visor filling my view as I was thrown backwards, the bomb still beeping and whirring away in her hand.

My eyes widened. A blast of pressure pounded down above my head.

I fell to the ground, flipping the mecha over my head. She flew off, slamming into a wall behind me.

The explosive went off, ripping through her Gunpla's armor.


Inside the cockpit, the pilot closed those icy blue eyes as the light washed over her, her blonde ponytail flowing behind her head in the light of the blast.

"Dammit, not again…" she muttered, "I just got all that stuff back too…"


I was caught up in the shockwave, flung into the air and tossed around like a ragdoll before slamming into the ground, sliding a for a few… Centimeters? Inches? It really doesn't sound that dramatic if you think about it, but it's kinda hard to measure distances in a Gunpla battle, okay?

"What the heck did you mean, 'Not again'?" I asked as soon as I got up, "Geez… What kind of crazy machine was that, anyway…"

The pilot of the golden mech was giving me the silent treatment again.

"Back to work." I grunted, "What can I even do? I'm a sitting duck out here…"

Was this how everyone else felt about the Council's regime…? Weak and powerless as wave after wave of enemy after enemy advanced upon them, in a crappy Gunpla?

This… This fear… This frustration at having so much at your fingertips, but at the same time, absolutely nothing…

Being exposed and naked to the world around you…

I threw aside the useless weapon, flying forwards into the enemies before me. A Barzam attempted to shoot me down, but I dodged by it, snatching up its beam rifle and firing it into another, snatching up a second rifle.

A golden glint from across the room caught my attention.

'My leg parts!'

All of a sudden, I felt just a bit less hopeless…

My heart pounding, I took a deep breath, looking ahead at my enemies.

Then, I made my move.


The Shining Wind landed atop the red object, crouching down and narrowing his eyes.

"I need to break this… Guess there was a reason why we didn't discuss this part of the plan more." Kyururu mused, experimentally dangling his leg over the edge and kicking the glass.

Not even a dent.

"…I'm going to have to find some way to set it off… But how…"

His thoughts were interrupted by a bright light flying straight for him.

"Crap!"

He leapt off the object just as the virtual nuke struck the wall.

"Darn, if only that was real…" He mused, looking down at the small flock of GP02s on the ground circling about, "That would make my problem a lot easier..."

He paused, looking at an object on the table next to him.

"…Actually, maybe not…"


She liked to think of herself as somewhat of a skilled pilot, capable of taking on any opponent flawlessly. Having the ability to work herself up into a blinding rage was just an aspect of that skill.

But here, she slowly began to get the creeping feeling she was out of her league.

There was only so long she could keep dodging missiles before one-

Iori lost her footing.

The resulting blasts launched her into the air, juggling her repeatedly in the sky.

"GOTCHA!"

She turned about, coming face to face with her opponent…

It was bizarre. Now was the last moment she would have wanted to space out.

And yet, against her will, an almost lost memory from the back of her mind resurfaced yet again.


"Iori Koura…? Are you related to Yurika Koura…?"

She turned to face the girl with brown hair, her green eyes filled with sorrow. Iori lowered her cup of tea, looking up at the girl standing before her.

She looked like one of the people working at the café at least… But the way she was looking at her seemed to hint at something aside from that…

"I was one of the people who… brought your mother in." the girl sat down across from her, looking down at the table, "I… I've come here for my punishment."

Those words took the dark-haired girl by surprise, "…Punishment?"

"I didn't even know she had a daughter until yesterday." The girl bowed, "…I'm sorry, I am the one responsible for taking your mother from you!"

…Was this what this was all about?

"You? But you're barely a few years older than me… How did you even manage to get into the GM HQ?" Iori questioned, confused.

"I-It really wasn't my idea, to be honest. My friend told another friend to infiltrate it- H-He was looking for… Look, it's complicated! We just happened to have a habit of going beyond the impossible. All I can say is… Please, do whatever you feel fit to me. For all this time, you've had to deal with the repercussions of the careless actions of our little misadventure, and…"

Iori reached forwards, placing a hand on the girl's shoulder with a smile.

"Fuck you." She flicked her cheek.

The green-eyed girl blinked.

"Okay, I'm done."

"T-That's it?"

"My mother was a GM… Even though she never wanted to be. I remember her, day after day, coming home upset at the incompetence and the illegal…nature of her job." Iori took a sip of her coffee, "In a sense…Defeating her like this was a sort of mercy, I guess. And it's not like you killed her or something, okay? I can still visit her… And she might even be able to get out soon on probation..."

"She did get a lighter sentence somehow… Not sure how that works…" the girl looked up again, "But… You're not angry at me…?"

"I've had to live on my own for many days already, and both of us knew that it would eventually come to this…This doesn't really change anything… I know I want my mother back, but at the end of the day, she is a criminal. I think that both of us would agree that she still needs to pay for her crimes."

"…I… I see… You're that resilient…"

"I'm really not." Iori replied, looking out onto the sunny street across from the café at the familiar arcade, "So, you work here?"

"Uh, it's really more volunteering for a friend. She was out sick today, and…"

"Gracia, right?"

"Y-You know her?"

"I come here every day. She was there when I first came here a sobbing mess back then, and she was here when I did that a second time. She's really friendly."

The girl in the white shirt pulled up a chair, sitting down before Iori, "...So that's why you aren't angry? You already talked it out with her?"

"Back then, I would have wanted nothing more than to throttle you and slam you against a wall. But then she told me doing that won't change anything." A soft breeze blew through the two's long hair, "This is just the way things ended up going. It can't be helped."

"…You've resigned yourself to this fate?"

"You're clueless, aren't you?" Iori smiled, "This is me breaking out of my fate… Both myself, and my mother, will face these consequences, regardless of the pain. But I can't let myself be weighed down by that. That would blind me to what the future has to bring."

"…I… Ever since that day… I've had to carry the pain of my old teacher being a criminal…"

"Well, she probably wouldn't want you freaking out about it either. Do you have any footage of that final battle, though…?" Iori looked up at the girl, "She… I think she would want me to watch her last stand."

"Not sure… I think my friend might have recorded it somewhere… But it was so long ago…"

"Well, I guess that should count as a sort of thing you could do to make it up to me." Iori spoke, "It's kinda selfish, I know… But I want to be able to take after her."

"W-Wait, you don't mean-"

"Hell no, I ain't no mafia. I just want to be able to fight like she did, back then." Iori replied, "Hey, what's your name, by the way? Never got it earlier."

"Oh, right… My name…" that green eyed girl held out her hand...


'I forgot what it meant to move beyond my past until now… Damn, I really am an idiot!' Iori grinned, 'After all that crap I told her, I forgot all about it myself?'

As the Duel Destiny closed in on her, she grinned, recalling the information from that same day, that day she had met those responsible for originally bringing the machine down…

The day she had learned how it had been brought down.

'Wonder what's taking Kyururu so long?'

Her crotch armor hissed open, the air filling with a white smoke. She lurched away, hiding behind the smokescreen.

Shogo opened fire with his missiles… Only for them to speed straight forwards, instead of gaining a lock on his opponent.

"What the-"

"Looks like your machine can't even bear the thought of hurting me." Iori replied cockily, leaping backwards and swinging out her swords, "Or maybe you accidentally screwed something up?"

A loud ringing sounded within the room.


"HAH! SUCK IT, RANDOM GLASS COVER!"

Kyururu threw his hands up in victory, his MS still holding onto the large ruler, now bent almost in half. On the ground below lay shattered plastic and glass, the front plating of the fire alarm having been pried off.

"Crap, I sure hope whoever owns this stuff doesn't get too mad…"


"And this… Will put your missiles out of commission for good." Iori spoke, folding her arms.

Water gushed down from the ceiling, the alarms still ringing as the two faced each other down.

"You… You pulled the fire alarm!? Are you crazy!?"

"Craziness is just applied genius!"

"T-That doesn't make any sense!"

"I threw away sense a while ago… You've used my past as your shield for too long!" she rasped, raising her rifle. Vents on her MS hissed, smoke flying out. The verniers roared to life behind her.

The Duel Destiny's missile pods flipped open in response.

"So what? You think you can win just because you're determined or something?!" Shogo smirked, "Don't make me laugh!"

"I'm not." She got into a crouch start, her boosters humming and glowing to life, "After all, it would be rude to laugh at a funeral."

The song of the battlefield filled her ears, a rallying piece to begin her advance.

It's not a game.
I'm not a robot and I'm challenging you…

She flew forwards, taking the missile fire as she flew headlong into battle. The falling water splashed and deflected off her Gunpla's body, as she leapt forwards and flicked out her heat sabers.

I'm not a phantom,
I'm in your face and,
I'm here to see it through!

The twin blue MS clashed, the one from a stolen past swooping back and jolting up his beam rifle, firing off a grenade. Sapphire easily dodged, darting forwards and swinging up both her blades.

Right before your eyes!
Watch us multiply!

A lavender flash swung up to her cockpit. The Sapphire performed a backflip, the blade missing her foot by millimeters. Swapping out one heat sabre for her rifle, Iori charged up a shot, closing an eye and taking aim.

Her aim was true; three shots, three bulls-eyes.

Come to claim our rights!
It's time!

Shogo stumbled backwards, parts flying away from the breastplate as the shots hit, "Dammit… I ain't playin' here!"

As our power grows!
Tryin' to stop our shows!

With nary a flick of his shoulders, he avoided the rest of the shots, spitting out a flock of missiles that danced through the air. Iori charged forwards, shield raised, using the force of the blasts to take into the air, raising her sword out before her.

Might as well go try,
Stop time!

She swung down, but the thief dodged at the last second, the blade embedding into the ground. With a 'tch', Iori pulled it free while simultaneously bringing up her second sword. The Duel fired out a smoke grenade, making his escape from the chaos and unleashing hundreds of bullets into the clouds.

Burning red eyes shredded through the smoke.

Shogo let out a yelp, unleashing a barrage of grenades into the hellfire. Iori elegantly leapt between the light of destruction, flicking out her arm and firing out a grenade from the forearm, scoring a direct hit on the MS's left arm, blowing it clean off the shoulder.

Rolling aside, she snatched up the limb, tearing away the upper arm and slamming her hand into the forearm's remains. A malicious grin crossed her face as her cockpit lit up, indicating a new limb had been attached.

So you know that we're out there!
Swatting lies in the making!

Using the damaged limb as a mace, she bashed away several AI units, before reaching up and firing out a grappling hook from the arm and swinging up onto a nearby chair, releasing her grappling hook and spinning in mid-air, pulling a grenade from her waist and pitching it into her foe like a baseball.

Can't move fast without Breaking!
Can't hold on or Life Won't Change!

The explosion blasted away the Quebley tail from the back of the MS, as Shogo desperately attempted to regain control from his keyboard.

Not a chance.

The Sapphire landed before him, drawing her swords out.

And our voices ring out, yeah!
Took the mask off to feel free!

Before tossing them aside and stomping forwards, cracking her knuckles.

"Today, I slaughter my destiny!"

Fought it out in the debris,
Now we know that
LIFE WILL CHANGE!

Faster than he could react, the blue MS was upon him. Red light danced across the room as she clashed over and over again, before ramming into him with her spiked shoulder pads and cracking the vent on the chestplate of the custom. The shrill screech of the fire alarm overhead harmonized with the sounds of the destruction, filling the ears of both combatants.

Bright lights blazed through the air before her, and the Gunpla twisted, avoiding their destructive gleam. White smoke hissed out from her opponent's chestplate, blinding his pursuer for a few precious moments as he landed a roundhouse kick, swinging up his sword.

Iori swung out her pilfered grappling hook, retrieving one of her heat sabres with the cable and swinging it up before her.

She spun, allowing the beam sabre to scrape her arm as she brought up her own weapon. Sapphire backflipped away, watching the retaliatory swings fly beneath her feet.

With several more flips, she vanished into the darkness.

Now, he was the one who was disoriented in the smoke. Kicking off the ground, the reaper pounced.

The Duel Destiny raised his sabre.

Milliseconds too late.

"There's no way an amateur like you can defeat me!"

She slammed her blade straight through the Duel Destiny's chestplate, melting through like a knife through butter before twisting the glowing blade. Inside the cockpit, Shogo growled, slamming the keys down on every EX Skill he had.

"SHAADDUP! FULL OPEN BURST!"

Rockets, Vulcan fire and smoke bombs filled the rainy air, silhouetted by blazing red as a mechanical voice spoke 'EXAM SYSTEM. STANDBY.'

Ain't it a shame?
I'm not a figment,
Of your ailing old mind.

"You… You bastard… I ain't gonna die here!" Shogo roared, his eyes burning, "I'm gonna live! This is my Duel Destiny! It belongs to me now! You ain't getting it back!"

Iori replied simply, "That's why I'm taking it back!"

I'm just as real as,
I'm just as dangerous!
As you will soon find!

She gripped the controls of her MS, pulling it away from retaliatory fire, before unleashing in kind. She sped between the stars of destruction, a shark weaving through a school of glittering prey. The leg grenade-launchers flipped open, unleashing a stream of missiles. Her foe leapt and spun, attempting to avoid the explosives.

But that was never her aim.

Her foe performed a final flip and landed…. In the middle of a large patch of timed detonators in the middle of the floor.

A taste of your own meds!
Fire in every breath,
Fire inside your head,
Your heart!

The explosives emitted a rising, whining sound.

"Oh FU-"

Flames and glowing amber smoke erupted away, as the Platsky frame fell away from the eruption. All of a sudden, a red blur sped about behind him, slamming a fist straight through the back and grabbing onto the internal Platsky frame within the Gunpla.

And as your crippled brain,
Tries to fight in vain!
Your empire will fall apart!

Struggle as he might, there was no escape for the trapped Gunpla, the reaper's icy hands clamping over the Blue Destiny 2 head and shattering the eyes. With a simple tug, the head ripped clean off, taking the sparking wiring of the neck joint with it.

Those crimson eyes grew dull.

Iori tore away a fin from the head, using it as a dagger and slamming it into where the cockpit of the MS would be.

"G-Get away from me, bitch!" Shogo shrieked, flipping her off him and raising what few weapons he had left and blindly firing them forwards.

"Get away? Our little song isn't over yet!"

She ran forwards again, ramming into him with her shoulder again, before flipping him over her head and throwing him to the ground. The Duel's missile pods flipped open and fired, the blasts providing cover for him to boost away.

Like a phoenix-or perhaps, a reaper descending to claim its next soul- the artillery barely did anything to halt her advance, only acting as the limelights in a concert of slaughter. Smoke hissed out of her chest vents, as she lowered her head, blades raised out before her.

The girl's eyes widened, that familiar burning rage overcoming her body.

She blasted forwards. The Duel Destiny attempted to dodge once more, but without the EXAM system's aid, the movement was only about as good as the pilot could manage.

Leaping into the air, she hurled both swords with the ease of throwing knives, both embedding into her opponent. Landing, she pulled off a three-point landing, before twisting about once more and bringing up her fist. It punched right through her foe's chest.

A giggle became a laugh, before becoming a full blown cackle.

"W…What's so funny!?"

"It's hilarious…" Iori grinned, a feral unpredictability dancing in her eyes, "All this time… I've been a massive clown, playing the puppet upon the strings of my past… But now, I get it! I get the joke!"

And you'll know that we're out there!
Swatting lies in the making!

Slamming her other arm inside, she unleashed a burst of grenade fire, using her other arm to rip one of the swords free and bring it up to slice away the left shoulder from her foe.

Your empire for the taking!
Can't hold on or Life Won't Change!

She kicked him away, spinning her sword about in her free hand once more before tossing away her shield, grabbing onto the hilt of her blade with both hands.

Shogo stumbled back, ripping the remaining heat sabre from his chest in a shower of sparks amidst the falling water. The two squared off, the blades hissing as the water fell from above.

The two blue MS flew at each other one final time, blades raised as they swung.

And our voices ring out, yeah!
Took the mask off to feel free!

Like a flash of light, she was before him, sliding under Shogo's swing and slicing off his legs. She rolled about behind him, dropping the rest of her grenades down behind him before leaping forwards and slashing into his back repeatedly with the sword.

Fought it out in the debris…

Now we know that
Life Will Change!

The explosives went off, parts flying every which way in the blast. Years-old paint cracked and shattered off, parts cracking into shards and debris as the flames overcome his body.

The blinding flash of the explosion covered the vision of all the pilots.

When the light faded, a raging crimson orb of flames remained on the battlefield.

"Duel Destiny…" Iori rose to her feet, bowing, "Thank you for giving me this chance to prove myself in battle."

A past destiny had been destroyed. In its place, a Sapphire now stood, its shine showing a path to a brighter future…


Despite the falling water, the flames never stopped for me, as I kept my finger firmly pasted down on the trigger, ripping up all in my path with a hail of beam fire.

It didn't matter how damaged my machine was, I had to survive… I had to live… I had to…

A hand clamped onto my shoulder.

"Show's over." Kyururu spoke, "All opponent players are going to be put out of commission."

I looked down, then back up again.

"…But I barely did anything."

"Yeah, get with the program. You're not always going to be the protagonist of this story, you know." He replied, picking up a dropped rifle from the floor, "Now all we need to do is hold the line before she finishes off Shogo."

…Did I really not do much at all for Iori?

"Oh come on, don't tell me you're upset about that!" Kyururu's voice brought me back to reality, "You only started the other day! You can't always steal the show in every battle, you know!"

Wait, you could hear that?!

"Of course I could! You're just muttering it to yourself! I've been hearing you this whole time!"

"Oh... Well… It's just that I get the feeling that maybe I should have at least done a little more…" I replied, looking down and making a mental note not to voice my internal monologue aloud.

"I mean, you did give her that sweet background music. How did you do that, by the way?"

"Music?"

"Yeah, it started playing a few moments ago…'So you know that we're out there! Swatting lies in the making!'." He briefly sang, laughing to himself, "Did you pack like an MP3 player in there to hype us up?"

Wait, I was just humming the lyrics of that song to… I-If he could hear it, then…

"Uh…" my cheeks burned, "I… It wasn't… Um… I was just humming it to myself… What are you talking about?"

"Well, you're pretty good at 'humming'." Kyururu spun, tossing out a knife and slashing a Hazel in half, "You know, the Music Club could use-"

"L-Listen, I'm not sure what you're talking about, but I'm no singer!" I replied, "I've got other things to worry about!"

"Fair enough." He calmly spun, flicking a knife into the air. Mid-air, he leapt up and kicked the dagger down, where it landed on the ground a few milimeters next to an enemy. He grunted, reaching for another knife and throwing it normally, embedding it into the head of one final opponent.

"…Why isn't it ending?" he asked after a few seconds, "…We defeated everyone, didn't we…?"

A bazooka shot streaked out from the distance, hitting the ground roughly two inches away from me, followed by a yell. The red Zaku, though bisected, was dragging itself towards us, spamming its bazooka.

"YOU THINK YOU CAN DEFEAT ME JUST LIKE THAT?" the pilot yelled.

"Oh, he survived earlier somehow. I thought you defeated him."

"Look, I'm not perfect, okay? There's a reason I'm a grunt and not actually a solo battler." Kyururu dashed forwards, raising his daggers and running forwards.

He danced between the shots, leaping up into the air and forcefully kicking down into the Zaku's remains, ripping away its bazooka as he landed and ramming it down into the remains.

Gripping it with his feet around the barrel, he pulled the trigger and blasted into the air using the recoil, performing a flip and landing before me, arms outstretched.

'MISSION CLEAR!'


"AND THE VICTORY GOES TO SIDE 0! Incredible!"

I emerged to the sounds of a roaring crowd. Not quite cheering, but not quite booing. It was quite the mixed bag of disbelief, amazement, excitement, and even hatred.

Especially hatred. Geez, if looks could kill…

"Despite everything the fearsome Shogo threw at them, Kyururu's incredible skills with daggers managed to cut down both council peons! And Iori's personal vendetta against Shogo himself seems to have come to a close, with an amazing BGM provided by Ashita!"

Yep, time for me to find the nearest cliff to throw myself off. I thought it was bad enough being known for losing my mind, but this…

Suddenly, a pair of arms wrapped around me.

"We did it!" Iori excitedly exclaimed.

"W-Wait! I barely did anything!"

"No, you totally did something very important for me!" she released me, putting her hands on her hips, "You managed to draw fire for long enough for me to pull off the plan!"

"…Eh? That's all I was needed for?"

"I'll explain later when we get back to base!"

Shogo was less than excited, kicking open the hatch to his pod, "DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO THROW THE FIGHT FOR ME!"

Iori turned back to face him, "Whatever makes you say that?"

"You gave me 'that' look yesterday! You wanted to deliver Kyosuke's head on a platter so that I could personally defeat him!"

So that's what that strange look in his eyes was yesterday…

"You think you can extrude all that from just how my eyes look?" Iori glared, "Boy, you don't know me. You don't know what I'm truly capable of. In fact, in this battle, I was just going easy on you because I didn't want to break the Duel Destiny… Oh, wait, I wasn't. I was just going easy on you because you're using shitty keyboard controls!"

"You… You'll pay for this!"

"You're really just some kind of shonen villain, you know?" the girl suddenly gained a strange dark aura to her, her voice echoing throughout the room, "You still haven't learnt a damn thing! You're nothing more than a thief. Even Rinko said so, and I bet if I asked anyone in the hallway who you were, they'd say the same! And you know what? You thought you had successfully stolen my loyalty! You lot all thought that I was under your thumb for all this time, and not once did you even account for the slightest possibility that I'd be able to get over my past? Now that's just hilarious!"

Shogo seemed slightly unnerved by the raucous laughter that followed.

"What's wrong? Scared? Did you think the title 'Witch of Solomon' was just describing my behaviour on the battlefield?" Iori's eyes widened, a maniacal grin crossing her face, "Everything today has gone exactly to plan, and it's just beginning. I would tell you… But that would ruin the joke."

"A joke? What the heck are you talking about…?"

"You still don't get it!" she laughed uproariously again, "That's going to make the punchline all the sweeter."

Shogo backed away, confusion and slight fear on his face as the girl kept laughing. She was doubling over in laughter…

The scariest thing is, the laughter seemed genuine…

"Oh, here's another laugh! You'll never know! You'll never know if I was just acting this whole time, or if I was genuinely ever on your side! You've got nothing on me! You know nothing about me!" she cackled, "So, tell me, are you up for round two? Anything else catching your fancy that you might want to take from me?"

Shogo frowned, clearly not interested in where this was going, "Feh! What do you know? You're trash anyway, just like those two chumps!" he gestured to his nameless peons, who seemed to be glaring holes back at him as he did, "I'll just find someone else! Maybe they'd have something that isn't a glorified oversized piece of crap!"

I heard this kind of talk before on the internet… But seeing it now before my eyes… Woah. That was like a punch to the gut…

"No you won't." Yui spoke up, rising from her seat, "Think, Shogo. You've just called those two pilots 'trash' right to their faces, and insinuated how replaceable they are. Less people will want to join your team if you do stuff like that, you know!"

"…And? What'cha gonna do, girlie? The council doesn't give a flying FUCK what I do!" he exclaimed, "Power is everything here, and as far as I'm concerned, you're nothing compared to me! You're all nothing but loose slimetrails in your mommy's underwear!"

The room grew silent.

Low blow.

"Get out." Kyururu growled. His eyes, usually filled with a sort of unusual cold innocence, now burned with pure unbridled rage.

"Who are you to-"

"GET OUT!" the boy yelled at the top of his lungs, "You have… Y-You have no right to say those words to anyone! This is an Academy, not a submissive eroge! And I don't give a- I don't care if the Council thinks you're a-okay, you're just a thief throwing a little tantrum now that the shoe's on the other foot! And your so-called 'friends' sitting in the stands… They don't actually care! They're just after your rare parts! You might as well have just bought some dakimura with the money from that, for all they've done!"

"You're nothing but a faceless-!"

"Yeah, and you're leaving this room!" Kyururu shrieked, "Just leave already! We're just trying to play Gunpla battle… A-And you're being a massive jerk about it!"

For a moment, I was expecting the crowd to laugh at the small boy, at how he was standing up so feebly… But instead, there was silence.

The silenced was pierced by a simple statement.

"You heard him, piss off!" Iori spoke up.

This was enough. A deafening chant of 'PISS OFF' arose from the audience. It echoed around the room, some even stomping their feet with the syllables.

I know this sounds like I'm making it up for internet points, you know, the sort of story that ends with 'And everybody got up and clapped' that you find on that one guy's C-Book account online, but you weren't there! You didn't see it happen!

But there I was, and as far as I could see, practically everyone echoed that same sentiment across the room.

We weren't dealing with a sore loser. Or a thief. Either of those would imply he had actually tried.

For all his talk of being the strongest, or council sanctioned, he was pretty powerless when the cards were down.

He looked around the room, before letting out a final 'FUCK YOU ALL' and storming out of the room.

"…What just happened?" Rinko spoke up over the continued yelling of 'Piss off', "I didn't even do anything wrong!"


Eventually, everyone just kinda petered out and just went to talking between themselves… As you do. It certainly sounds very anticlimactic after the tension from a few moments prior…

But life had to go on, regardless of what happened.

Kyururu stumbled, before slumping on the ground, leaning back and taking deep breaths. I crouched by his side.

"You seemed really fired up back there."

"Hey, nobody else would do it. You were just standing there spacing out, and Iori was trying to find a good moment to interject." He replied, "But saying that my friends are useless… That's the kind of thing I can't stand!"

"You see us as friends?"

"You don't see me as one?"

He made a good point…

"So… That's it, then." Iori stared out at the door, "…Shogo's destroyed the only thing he had on me… And his reputation at the same time."

"With the way he treats his comrades, you'd think that last part would have been sooner." Yui folded her arms, "Iori… Are you…"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Just have to come to terms with the fact that everything I've done for the last few years has led to this…" she looked down, "…I don't feel any different."

"Well, of course not. It's not like you can change minds just by only fighting once. It takes time to convince people."

Iori remained silent for a few more moments.

"…Even so… this is my first step to breaking free… Kyururu, Kyosuke… Thank you for following me on this selfish quest."

"Selfish? You're the leader!"

"Leader? Like hell I am!" she shook her head furiously, "I barely came up with anything resembling a plan until it was almost too late! I did all those crappy things to everyone before, and at the end of the day, I didn't even change or anything! If anything, the person more fit to be leader here is…"

She turned to look at me.

"N-Now hold on, I'm a pretty crappy leader too, y-you know! I'm way too emotional…A-And I can't come up with a plan to save my life, I just put pieces together-"

"You're right, you are quite a bit of an idiot. Yui, you wanna take the wheel?"

The chestnut-haired girl face-faulted, "You two are… You're hopeless! You can't be bothered taking up the mantle of leadership?"

"Yeah, pretty much." I replied, "I'm not 'leader' material. Trust me, you REALLY don't want me to think up of long-term plans. You are honestly the best pick in this situation, Yui."

Her eyes flicked between the both of us.

"…To be honest, I don't know what I expected. Guess I can look after you two for a while." She rolled her eyes, "Alright, so looks like I'm in charge now, right?"

"Uh, yeah, you are."

"Alright! Then as your leader, I'm giving your first orders! Let's return to base! On the way back, we stop at the food court for some lunch!"

Oh, right, lunch. It was that late in the day already…

Just as we were about to heed the orders of our new leader, Kyururu glanced away briefly, spotting someone in the audience.

"A-Actually, can I break off? I'll meet you guys back at base later."

"I'm fine with that!" Yui grinned, grabbing Iori's shoulders and pushing her towards the door, "Alright! Let's go get lunch!"

"H-Hey, hang on, what about our Gunpla? Are we just going to forget all about that? I-I need to get it back!" Iori stuttered.

"It'll be fine!"

"No it won't! I need to get it back before someone could steal it!"

"She's got a point!" I exclaimed, "We just stopped a thief, for crying out loud! Why don't we at least make sure-"

"I said it'll be fineee~! Let's go get a beef bowl or something! This is cause to celebrate!"

And no matter how much we argued, she somehow ended up corralling both of us all the way to the food court…


Kyururu's heart pounded as he took a few steps towards the girl with dark green hair.

She was leaning back on the bench, typing away on a laptop as her friend sat by her side, nibbling on a meat bun aimlessly. Light filtered in from a nearby window, casting its glittering beam upon her.

"H…Hey."

The girl in red paused, looking up. Kyururu felt a shiver shoot up his spine, as anxiety emerged from the vestiges of his soul and flew about him, creating an icy aura of… fear?

'W-Why am I so afraid?'

"Hiya!" the blonde greeted excitedly, pulling down her cat-eared headset, "You were really cool out there, Mr-stomach-sound guy!"

"T-That's not my na…I guess it kinda is, but…" he paused, silently cursing his parents, "I-I mean… T-Thanks for the compliment. W… What's name Kyururu your? Agh, I mean… Um…"

"Mynako Mi is name- A-Ah, I mean…uh… Name… You're… my… er…" the girl in red stumbled over her words as well, looking down, "Um!...I'm Minako."

"And I'm Subaru!" the blonde greeted excitedly, "You're the kind of guy who's pretty good at piloting, aren't ya?"

The boy looked down, "I mean… I'm pretty average. I'm no better than a simple peon, actually."

"Actually… Your techniques in battle are quite interesting." Minako closed her computer, gripping it close to her chest, "You seem to prioritize knocking out the ankles first to destabilize your opponent if they aren't an AI, but at the same time, you also seem very careless around AI units."

Now this was something he didn't expect… But it was a welcome surprise nonetheless. He was always up for some constructive battle criticism.

"Y-You think so?"

"Your knife throwing… It's a risky move. It could give a free weapon to your enemy." The girl scratched the back of her head, "Not to mention how you seem to use the daggers at close range in an unusual way to slice your opponents up by extending the blade… But what if your opponent tears the knife out first before you get to them?"

"That's why the Shining Wind is designed to be fast… Uh, the Shining Wind is my Gunpla, by the way. It's a bit of a dumb name-"

"Dumb? Nah, that's an awesome name!" the blonde stepped out, revealing she was wearing an orange leopard-print jacket and tie, "Its way cooler than what I came up with! My Gunpla is called Cheetus, which is more funny than cool, if you ask me, but I'm not going to change it because that's actually what Cheetor was called over here, so I'm sticking to it!"

"Um, so…Back on topic…" the girl cleared her throat, "Being fast is good, but there may be as situation where you may not be able to retrieve your weapon in time after you throw it, and that might put you in danger of retaliation."

The boy was transfixed on her every word, nodding silently.

"What if you just use a weapon that nobody else can use?" Subaru offered, "That way, even if you throw it at someone, they can't use it against you even if they pull it out!"

"But if it's a weapon nobody else can use, then that would mean I can't use it either, wouldn't it?"

"Huh. Didn't think of that."

The girl in red rubbed her chin, "…Kukri."

"Kukri?"

"It's a knife from Nepal, used by the Gurkha." The girl spoke as confidently as reading from a book, "It was used by them as essentially how a soldier would use a combat knife today. However, it had a specialized angle in it so that pulling it across a surface would cut using additional force and…" she stopped, studying the boy's enraptured look, "Um… Sorry."

"No, it's just… I didn't know you were the kind of person who studied daggers and stuff."

"I don't really. It was just a trivia question one day, and I decided to read up a little about it." She scratched the back of her head, "I'm a bit weird... I don't play Gunpla battle, I'm not interested in sports or anything fancy other than drawing… I'm not sure where I'm even going later on after I finish my education here."

"You draw too?"

"…It's a little embarrassing… But I…." she paused, "…Too?"

"I-I mean…Uh…" the boy looked away, biting his lip.

Would it really be okay…?

"I draw doujin in my spare time." He blurted out without thinking.

Silence.

Oh no. He blew it. Of all the things he could have said, he just had to make it all about him, instead of letting her continue and explain herself further. Now he just looked like he was bragging and showing off. This whole thing was a mistake. He should have just left a few minutes ago and went to get lunch. This was getting really awkward.

"…Me too!" the girl spoke up, sounding even more invested now, "Uh…wouldyoubeinterestedintakingalookatmineimsorrythisissoawkward?"

If Kyururu wasn't in love at first sight, he was now.

"Well, the thing is, she says that, but she really just kinda tries her best to follow the art style in her favorite manga." Subaru explained, "She's honestly a little better at actually writing stories."

There was really no filter between that girl's mind and her mouth, was there? She was just the kind of person to put it to you just like that when the cards were down.

And Minako seemed to be trying her best to melt through the floor at the moment…

"Then that's the complete opposite for me…" Kyururu sat down by her side, "I just kinda doodle on impulse… That's kinda why I can only really do 4-Koma instead of full stories, to be honest. I keep forgetting details of the plot."

"…You know… I know this sounds really selfish of me… But do you think you would be interested in helping illustrate this one story I have?" the girl in red asked, "I... It's a bit of a long-winded thing, and it's pretty cringey… But at the same time, I'd be really interested in seeing how you end up portraying it."

His heart began pounding out of his chest.

"I… I…"

"Awesome! You managed to convince him so quickly, Minako!"

"W-Wait, Subaru, it's not like that!"

"Huh? But you said that you wanted to find an illustrator for weeks already, didn't you?"

"S-Subaru!" the girl in red exclaimed, "W-When you say it so bluntly like that, it sounds like I'm taking advantage of him!"

A smile tugged on his lips. These two… They were an odd pair, but at the same time, he could feel a deep kinship between the two, one that seemed to light up the atmosphere that surrounded them.

"I'll do it!"


Ryoko frowned, looking up from her own bowl, "…The Council I know would never approve such actions, regardless of any member's rank."

"Well, he just did exactly what you said he wouldn't. And even flexed his council approval to us to boot!" I scooped up another spoonful of rice and meat, "You're a council member, and you claim to be all about this 'pride' thing! You can do something, can't you?"

"I'm not a part of that board." She replied, shovelling some rice into her mouth, "You're essentially asking a police officer to report back to the government and tell them to kick out a politician. I have no sway over their decisions."

"Yeah, and? If he's broken the law, then he should be tried and held accountable for the exact same laws you enforce on others!"

"Kyo… If he's got the green light of the council. There's nothing she can do." Iori sighed.

The blonde looked down, folding her arms.

"…I still don't understand why you had to buy an extra beef bowl for me. Is this an attempt at a bribe?"

"I promised earlier, Ryo! I'm going to keep my word!" I replied with a grin, "Just like I promised that I'll free this place from the Council… Speaking of which, how's your work for them?"

She stared at me, "…You have some nerve, rebel. You have no qualms socializing with your enemy like this, and yet you cut others down mercilessly?"

"Enemy? The only enemy here is the council's rules. I don't intend to harm anyone in particular, but I will do so gladly if it means taking down the corrupt economy here."

"And what of Shogo? He had nothing to do with the economy you are so fervently sworn against. And you defeated him all the same."

"Earth to Ryoko? He absolutely was!" Iori shot, "He was stealing parts from others! He used me! He used his influence to discriminate and destroy his enemies with me as an involuntary accomplice! Don't tell me you'd happily sit by and let him go on!"

The girl blinked.

"…He was using you?"

"It was blackmail! He used me to take down tons of teams that Yuki saw as a threat!"

Her eyes lit up, "So what you're claiming is that he launched coordinated strikes on innocent battlers, all the while using you as a scapegoat."

"Yeah, it's been this way for months! Get with the program!"

"I… I was unaware of this." She shook her head, "… Then… That means..."

"H-huh?"

"Let's see…" she rubbed her chin in thought, "Were you the individual present for battle 14022017-F4, where the team 'Ember Hunters' was destroyed in a three against one battle against his Morita Custom?"

"There? I was the one who was fighting them!"

"…Battle 05092017-R3, when he single-handedly wiped out the Kanto Gunpla University Squad?"

"What do you think? He told me to operate the Morita Custom that day too! Said he had some kind of event…"

Ryoko seemed to be slightly less put together after hearing these words, "…Those one-on-three battles on his record were what landed him on the payroll of the council proper… And what led to his manager, Yuki, gaining exposure and influence within the Gunpla club… And you claim you were the one fighting?"

"Those battles were that important?!"

"I see… I have a sneaking suspicion that Yuki may have been working to make his pawn gain power in the club using you. But you lack any solid evidence this is so."

"Is that so?"

We looked up at Yui.

"Most, if not all cockpit views during official tournaments are recorded for security reasons. After a large hacking scandal, I enforced that rule during my tenure as president to weed out potential cheaters."

"…Then you have the security footage?"

"But… Ah… Knowing how things are going, that footage was probably wiped soon after the battle or replaced with a fake. So I guess we're back at square one."

"Yeah… And witnesses probably wouldn't even speak up, since they're under their thumb as well…"

So, there was really nothing we could do…

"So as far as the council, and thus myself, am concerned, Shogo is innocent of those actions, despite his behaviour."

"You're just going to give up like that?"

I slammed my hands on the table, "I, for one, sure as hell know that guy ain't innocent of nothin'! He has no right to go about treating this place as his own playroom, storming into clubrooms and terrorizing teams who are just trying to fight! Hell, he even punched me yesterday, then slapped Iori's gunpla off the table!"

Ryoko grew silent all of a sudden… As did Yui.

"Physical assault? Then destruction of another student's property?"

"Yeah, well… I guess it counted more as pre-fight banter more than anything, though…"

"…You have evidence for this?"

"Witnesses in our team… Footage from the security cameras in the room… Audio recordings from the hallway cameras… We could piece each one of those together to piece together the events of the previous night." Yui listed off, "…We can prove that happened, at least. But I'm willing to bet that nobody will do anything about that footage, and they'll just claim it was doctored-"

"I'll do it." Ryoko's face darkened, "Shogo… He's my subordinate…. And I'm his superior. As such, anything he does is effectively my own deed as well. His actions, if true, are a disgrace upon my name- and by extension, the names of those part of the Shield of Laplace."

Iori grabbed her shoulders, "Then hurry up and do something! You're the one who gives him orders and crap!"

"…Why didn't anyone tell of his actions to me sooner?"

"Maybe they wanted you in the dark. You don't seem to be actively leading 'your' team, for someone who claims to be Shogo's superior." Yui replied, "With you thinking the team is doing well and thus paying it less heed, Shogo took advantage of the power vacuum to seize control for his own needs."

"I've been a puppet leader…?"

"That would imply that you actually served a purpose in his plans. You didn't, really. He just needed you out of the picture, probably." Iori caught on, "And so, he most likely 'bribed' everyone else on 'your' team to join his side the same way he 'bribed' me."

The girl's eyes widened, as she looked down to the ground silently, "…I can't even remember the last time I actually addressed my unit..."

"Well, no time like the present to do a little digging, then. Also, another factor that may have helped such a plan is because you're scary to approach." I bluntly replied, "You know, like some kind of Bisho-"

"Yes, Bishojo, I've heard it before." She sounded quite annoyed, "Very well. I must depart. My job here is done and I have other tasks to attend to."

"But you didn't do anything physically. You haven't even finished your lunch."

But by then, she was already gone.

"…This is exactly what I mean!" I exclaimed.


We had returned to the club room after retrieving our Gunpla without much incident. Kyururu and Marika were there already, both watching a flashy video on the former's laptop, not seeming to notice us.

Yui leaned over slightly, "Hey, what are you guys watching?"

In the blink of an eye, Kyururu quickly closed the laptop, whipping around to face us, "N-Nothing!"

Marika turned to face him, "What are you so freaked out about? It's not like they'd make fun of you for being a Shionite."

…What?

Iori stifled a giggle, "I didn't think you two would both be fans of our resident idol."

"My roommate is also part of her group. Of course I'd be interested in how she was getting along." Marika smiled.

The boy looked away awkwardly, "…Y…Yeah. I kinda am…"

Welp, I'm out of the loop here… Wait, Mihou mentioned something about an idol group here yesterday, didn't she?

"You remember something like that?"

I mean, sure, it was rather off-handed then, but it was at the back of my min- HEYWAITAMINUTE

"I have to stop doing that…" I grumbled, "Um, so… What's up with this 'Shionite' thing?"

"That's the term used to describe fans of Shion Daikuji, head of the 'Light Music' club. In reality, they're a full-on idol group here!" Kyururu explained, "Recently, they just announced their first live show here, and I was just showing Marika the announcement PV they posted up."

"So much for 'light music'." I muttered, "Still, I guess that's it makes sense you'd be excited for something big like that."

"My roommate has been practicing all week for this, too." Marika beamed, "I've also been working on the show at the same time as the lighting director and CG artist."

"Isn't that more a 'movie' sort of thing?"

"Ah, you'll have to wait for the show to see what I mean! It's like… It's based off this new trend I saw on the internet, and I think it's going to really blow everyone away!"

So Marika was good at that sort of thing too…

Once we had all calmed down, Yui turned to face Iori, "So… What now?"

"Firstly, you kept alluding to a 'plan' over the course of this whole operation." I spoke up, addressing the dark-haired girl, "…So what was it? It seems awfully counterintuitive to just tell a teammate your plans after the mission during which you performed the aforementioned plan."

"Ah, right. The plan. Firstly, I would like to preface my explanation with an apology to you."

"I can take it, I've been hurt before." I looked over to Yui, not sure where this was going.

"Alright, if you says so… So the plan…" Iori cleared her throat, "It really was pretty simple. I just came up with it on the fly yesterday, to be honest. The plan was to basically get you beat up while we beat up the people who were beating you up."

The silence that followed was thick enough to practically smother in.

"…Elaborate."

"Okay, yeah, I guess that didn't make much sense…" she shook her head, "Kyururu… he was more the one who came up with the specifics, to be honest."

"So we might have exploited one of our enemies slightly… You see, Yasui is colorblind." Kyururu explained, "As such, she couldn't easily tell the difference between the Duel Destiny and the Sapphire when they're both moving at high speeds, and attacking her leader wasn't an option."

"Now, Kyururu wasn't a fan of the blue colour nor the red that she's blind to, hence his use of the reflective armour to reflect the colour of his surroundings and throw her off." Iori gestured to me, "But you, on the other hand… You have large yellow sections on your lower body, which I know for a fact she can see perfectly well. Why else would she paint her Gunpla, something that would be quite important to her, be painted in entirely gold?"

"I mean, it does look quite neat regardless…"

"Anyway, out of most of the non-Ai units in the battlefield, Double Breaker happened to be the most eye-catching to her, so she would be more inclined to pursue you."

That… That had to be one of the most logically obtuse plans I had ever heard. I mean, it worked…

"But how did you even know that she would be fighting us!?"

"Oh, Kyururu checked the roster."

…Well, that was simple.

"And you had another plan to take out the other guy?"

"Oh, no. That guy was honestly just really incompetent. Anyone could just hack him apart in seconds. Shogo was the immediate danger, naturally, so I recalled a piece of information from the guys who defeated the Duel Destiny the first time; its homing missiles are heat-seeking, so they could be thrown off by stuff like re-entry foam, or in this case, the sprinklers."

"The Jesta doesn't have a re-entry system."

"I know. It was hard to port such an obscure system from the Gunpla battle system from one specific model of gunpla into my own over the course of yesterday, which is why I was taking a nap when you came into the room. I only just managed to get it done after an all-nighter last night." Iori stretched, "But I knew that this wouldn't be enough; I mean, would I really entrust this entire operation on my crappy scuffed coding? But Kyururu then recommended that he trigger the sprinklers in the room just to really make sure of it."

"And so the plan was put into action. I was to lead you- and by extension, Yasui- into a far-corner of the room while I navigated to the fire alarm."

"But he also had an EXAM system." Yui noted, "Wouldn't the increased speed and improved sensors sniff him out as he moved?"

"Not if we managed to fully divert his attention onto me. The sensors are useless if you don't pay attention to them." Iori folded her arms, "We needed him to keep talking… That would be easy for me, since I happened to know just how to piss him off for a long period of time. Blinded by his anger, he swiftly fell."

"Yeah, no challenge there." I frowned, "…Still, does he really deserve this much hate? I understand that he did something you see as unforgivable…"

"He absolutely does. He's a jerk, plain and simple."

"I dunno about that. Not everyone just wakes up and decides to be unlikable. Maybe he's even in the same place you were, Iori, where people have this pre-concieved assumption about him that he's unable to change."

Iori paused.

"…Pick a side, Kyo. He stole, plain and simple. Nothing he does will excuse him from doing so."

"And you broke apart friendships, Iori." Kyururu spoke up, "Now that he's mentioned it, I think Kyo might have something of a point. Maybe we should try talking to him… See if we can get him to change his ways."

The dark-haired girl was about to refute, but then quietened down.

"…I don't know if he'd listen to me… Or any of us right now."

"Also very true." Yui replied, "If anything, he'd almost certainly put at least one of us in a hospital… Or worse. But we should try and get into contact with him, someday… I've heard his story, and he sounds like a troubled soul."

"I can't believe what you're saying! The guy wanted me in a maid costume as his slave!"

"And leaving him in the exact same mental state where he could even conceive such a thing puts others in danger of the same." Yui replied, "Let it be known that what we do next must not discount his actions. Rather, we have to acknowledge them and show him how to change his path before he ends up making a terrible mistake."

"…Well, at the moment… I-I'm a little more worried about Kyosuke." Marika spoke up.

"Me?"

"Yes. Your only role in Iori's plan was as bait… That is not going to work in the long-term." Marika looked down, "…You need to get better at using the G-Cube controls."

I couldn't believe my ears, "Look, I'm plenty good at fighting! I'm certain that I could throw down with the best of them!"

"Well… Let's review." Iori spoke up, "In your first battle, you managed to defeat a newcomer AI, and were getting your ass soundly kicked up until you managed to knock off her head."

"Okay, so it was my first time…"

"In your second battle, you had your arm ripped off and basically just flew around randomly blowing stuff up. Not to mention you would have been completely destroyed by Ryoko if she didn't hold the morals she did." Yui was next, "Finally, in this battle, you were almost entirely destroyed… And were solidly juggled for several minutes by Yasui."

"…I'm having an unlucky streak?"

"Let me ask a question; what do you do if your parts have all been ripped off your body?"

"…I guess I go back and look for them?"

"Yeah, it's a miracle you've lasted for this long." Iori shook her head, "You're going to have to learn to be more flexible. By that, I mean that you're going to have to get used to using weapons other than your own."

"So, like… Beating up a Zaku, stealing its gun, then using it to shoot off its head?"

"Kinda, but a bit more. The system allows you to equip parts that you've collected in battle from your opponents. If you take a Zaku head for example, you can equip it over your own head in real time."

"Wait, how does that work?"

"Holograms or something. Anyway, while you have one of these parts equipped, you can use the EX-Skill from the part if you have it unlocked on the limb."

"…So in this case, it would be a downgrade since the Zaku does not have a Hi-Mega Cannon on its forehead."

"Well, yeah… But what if, for example, you needed to make use of the GP02's bazooka? You would need to steal its shield, then activate the EX-Skill for the shield, much like you would for your own shield."

"Wait, I have an option to just do that?"

"Yeah. And it's not just for hand-held objects. You can do this for the arms, legs, body, head, and backpack as well. But in the case of the limbs, both limbs are from the same unit; you can't equip two Zaku shields, for example."

"Unless you use Builders Parts." Kyururu pointed out.

"Right… But that's something in and of itself I'll need to explain."

There were so many facets to this battlefield I hadn't discovered yet, it seemed… Just as I thought I was ready to take on the world, it expanded so suddenly.

"Sounds like you're going to need some practice." Yui offered, "Luckily, from the Pod in here, you can fight against low-level AI units to your heart's content. In fact, you can even gather parts from them to re-sell if you're strapped for credits."

"Credits?"

"Well, obviously they aren't going to just give you actual Yen for beating a bunch of AI. You can trade those Gunpla Points (GP) for some higher level parts later on, of course."

"But let me guess…It's still too expensive."

"Yeah, you're going to need like a hundred thousand if you want to afford anything, and each part only really sells around a few hundred in the system… If that."

Iori shook her head, "Like it or not, if you wanna be anything other than bait in in future operations, you're gonna have to work for it."

I looked down at the ground. I was still a newbie, after all I've gone through. My previous combat experience was not quite going to cut it here...

Well, nobody said being part of a resistance would be easy.

"So, when can we start?"


"Who the hell is it?! I'm busy!"

The door to the club room swung open. Shogo glared up from his computer directly into dull eyes.

Eyes filled with hatred and disgust. With disgrace and dishonour.

"Oh, hey boss." The boy spoke, "What do you need me for?"

Those eyes remained silent.

"...A maid costume." She spoke slowly and coldly, "You implied you had one, correct?"

"B-Boss? I mean… I do, but… You wearing one just isn't my speed, you kn-"

"I'm absolutely sick." That measured, icy tone of voice didn't waver, as she raised the folder in her arms, "Doctored battle records… Official battles that you never even fought in… A perfect win-streak that you never even won… You even physically assaulted another team in my name. Tell me, Shogo. Did you honestly think that I would never discover your duplicity?"

The boy looked at his superior…

Before laughing.

"And the heck are you going to do about it? Girl, I own the council! They send me on a mission, and I just do it for 'em! I'm more reliable than you are because at least I don't hesitate at the sight of having to do the dirty to a team!"

"YOU'RE PROUD OF IT!?" she exclaimed, "You're proud of bringing all this dishonour upon our team, upon our name!?"

"Look at who we are! We're Council-sanctioned! We got a ton of awesome crap! Hell, I'm on my way to being number one in the ranks!" he closed his computer, "I ain't gonna look a gift horse in the mouth! This is the big-time, and I'm going to take full advantage of it!"

"…This is my team. You're my subordinate." Ryoko re-asserted angrily.

Shogo rose from his seat, walking over to her. He was half a head taller than her, and despite his slim build, he silhouetted the fluorescent lights of the room as he approached.

"You ain't done shit." He laughed, "Look around you! Were you the one who fought in those battles that got us our name? Were you the one who got the results the council wanted? You just sit here, clingin' to these ideals, thinkin' you're the piece of crap on top of this dungheap! You ain't shit!"

Ryoko backed away, her determination unwavering, "You… Are my subordinate. I'm ordering you OFF this team."

"Make me." He spoke, reaching out to grab her shoulder.

She swatted his hand away, not breaking eye-contact.

"You may have council permission to carry out your operations…" Ryoko's voice wavered, "But you will never have mine. And for as weak as I apparently truly am… My honour will not be tainted by you."

"You still don't get it, do you? It isn't your team anymore! It's mine! Mine to command and control! My power!"

He drew closer, Ryoko suddenly feeling very small and insignificant as a cold sweat broke out.

"T-This is a violation of-"

A fist struck her face, knocking her to the ground.

"Y-You'd…!"

"That's right. I hit you. And just after you picked a fight with me too, what a shame." He spoke, turning and walking away, "Just imagine- the girl with so much honor and pride, being taken down a peg by losing her temper. That's what everyone's going to hear from me, anyway."

"T-That's…!"

"Yes, that's the truth, isn't it? They will never hear what you, a washed-up nobody, will have to say. On the other hand, I, the leader of The Shield… Well, I ain't got no reason to lie to 'em."

Ryoko gritted her teeth…

"Yeah, no."

A blonde haired girl stood in the doorway, her arms folded, "I've been at the door this whole time. The security cameras have been rolling, and there's three more of us standing out here. If you try to censor this, then you'd have to explain why several team members under your command were out of their dorms past curfew, at your office."

"Psh. So what if there's a few of you? Nobody cares!"

"There's five of us here, physically." Ryoko rose to her feet shakily, clutching her face, "But one of that little entourage is a security robot."

Shogo's eyes widened, as he caught a glimpse of shining silver steel and glittering green LED eyes beyond the doorway, gripped in the hands of the blonde.

"T-That's… That's a prop a professor just uses for her lectures!"

"Not so. I am a component of the security system at the academy." The machine spoke, "…Ryoko Otori expected that you would not leave her team quietly, and thus requested me to be brought along to act as a witness, citing your hostile past behaviours as a reason. Your activities for the past few minutes have been recorded and archived. The recordings will be used against you as proof of your violent actions… And reason enough for the council to revoke your privileges, lest they themselves be brought into question by the security in the academy."

"Yeah, what she said." The blonde spoke, brushing aside her ponytail.

"Yasui… You think that anything you do can change what happens here!?"

"You've looked down on us long enough. That's another reason why we followed Ryoko here." Another person standing behind her spoke, "We're sick of being called 'peons' by you. We're pilots as well, and we demand proper compensation for our actions!"

"And all of them were going to come to you to resign anyway." Ryoko clarified, "Yasui, Wanai… And Kyururu."

"K-Kyururu? You mean that traitor!?"

"Hell yeah I'm a traitor to you!" the boy exclaimed, "You broke up my original team and then took me for yourselves! I had friends back there, and you took them away using Iori!"

"Well, then it ain't my probl-"

"Shut the heck up, it's a hundred percent your problem!" Yasui rebuffed, "I'm sick and tired of your crap! You didn't even bother to check if any of your teammates had any underlying issues that could hinder them in battle! I was on a damn schedule, and I bet you didn't even stop to think if I might have needed- I dunno- MY COCKPIT TO BE ADJUSTED FOR MY COLOR BLINDNESS BEFORE A BATTLE!?"

Kyururu bit his lip, thanking the hands of fate that had led to this being so.

"You're colour blind? No wonder you're so shitty at fighting."

"This is exactly what I'm talking about!" she exclaimed, "Listen up, I may be so, but I ain't deaf or stupid! But I ain't gonna take this crap from you anymore! At the same time, I wouldn't feel very complete if I just walked away without saying a thing. That's why I'm here, to shit all of over your future before I move onto mine!"

"…Well, that was precisely what I was going to say to you." Ryoko calmly spoke, "Now, our business here is concluded. Leave this clubroom. Take your belongings and resign. I don't care if the council orders you back onto our team, or if they continue to use you for future battles. You will never be a part of Shield of Laplace ever again, even if it means me giving up my status as a Council member!"

"Psh. You pretend you have a choice."

"Did you not hear me the first time? Get out! Right now!" she barked, "I'm sorely tempted to grab you and throw you outside myself in the next few seconds if you don't follow!"

"Bah, fine. But just you wait, this time tomorrow, I'll be right back here. And nothing you say or do can stop-"

"My comrades… Forgive me for falling into temptation."


A loud cry, followed by the sounds of a body slamming against a wall, echoed through the hallway.

"Dammit! What the hell!? At least let me get my crap!"

"I gave you a chance. Period."

She closed the door forcefully, the light vanishing from the hallway.

Shogo sat in that silent, dark hallway for far longer than he would ever admit.


"Mihou… Can you tell me more about Yukari Hayabusa?"

The orange-haired girl looked up from her computer, turning to face me, "Wha… How did you get her full name?"

"Marika mentioned a 'Yukari' when I talked to her, in reference to her team leader. Then, you referred to her as 'Hayabusa'. Unless one of those was her nickname, I just assumed her full name was Yukari Hayabusa." I replied, "…So, please. Tell me a little more about her."

"Well… You'd recognize her if you ever saw her in person. The metal legs are a massive giveaway."

Metal legs? Then that means…

"In that case, I've already met her."

Mihou seemed slightly bemused by my statement, "She told me something along those lines, yeah. I suppose she gave you a welcoming gift, right?"

"She kissed me. Then slammed a hat on top of my head. Then she stole a box of Gunpla and practically flew away."

"Well, that's a resounding 'yes' then. Hayabusa… She's been this way for a few years." The tank enthusiast turned to face me, "We've been the closest of friends for many years. In fact, I think we've grown even closer recently…."

"You mean…"

"Hm? Yeah, possibly. She's… the one on top in that case, though." Mihou let out a laugh and turned back to her computer, "Did she tell you to give anything to me? She tends to do that to people who happen to know me tangentially."

"…She did, yeah. She told me to 'Send that to the Commander' after kissing me." I recalled from that sudden intrusion, "…And she also said 'HE-DF-One' after that."

"High Explosive Timed Fuse One… Oh, that's…" she sounded quite taken aback, "…That's… Kyosuke, how has Marika been?"

"Eh? I… I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary for her. She seems as tired as she usually is whenever we meet."

What did explosives have to do with Sakurai?

"…Right." Mihou glanced down sadly.

There was something bothering her, wasn't there?

"Is something wrong? You can tell me, you know."

"…I'd… I'd rather not. It's a mistake of mine I can never take back…" she picked up her bottle of energy drink, downing a large sip, "A mistake that may have caused a world of grief for everyone here…"

Yui… Yui was the Gunpla Club president, and now she hated Mihou. Could this be related?

"Was it something that led to you falling out with Yui?"

"…How did you find that out? I mean, I guess it's pretty obvious. Yui is pretty vocal about hating me, and you work with her…" Mihou seemed to sink deeper into her sorrows, "...In any case… Yes, it was a great mistake of mine that led to her feelings against me. A fault I must atone for, even to this day. I… I don't feel like telling you now, though. Now isn't the time… Especially given how you feel about the council."

Mihou's mistake had something to do with the current council…? But as far as I knew, she never was even part of the Gunpla Battle club here.

"I understand." I replied, "But… Why? Why does Yukari steal from the council now?"

"Who can say? I'm not her. If I was to guess… I'd say it's at least partially fuelled on revenge." She looked away again, going back to her computer game, "Yukari is… She's quite unpredictable these days. If she's got her heart and mind set on something, she'll stop at nothing until she gets it. Once, she was a little more soft-spoken and nervous, actually. I guess that's why she cared so much for Marika."

That would have to be a question for Yukari, if I ran into her again…

"…You're awfully observant."

"Yeah." I replied, "I do happen to have a knack for remembering random stuff from several days ago. It's… Nothing special, though. I'm just like anyone else, honestly."

The small bedroom we inhabited was like a tomb… A coffin.

Beyond the darkness of the door was the bathroom and a small kitchen. But other than that, this small quarter was already beginning to feel like a sort of home now.

I'd only been here for a few days, and yet I felt as if it was a lifetime. I would probably never get used to this new life, being both a student and fighter…

"Mihou… Have you ever wanted to return to Gunpla battle?"

She paused, letting out a sigh.

"…I don't know if I can ever show my face to Yui again. I still have hell to pay for my past actions… So many of them." She glanced down, "…And the Panzer we once operated… I'm no longer worthy of using it in that battlefield."

"But if I created another Gunpla for you…"

"Maybe." She smiled slightly, "Heh… Now I sound like I'm taking advantage of you. But I guess a new machine would be pretty neat."

I took another passing glance at the tank upon her shelf.

There were so many mysteries to the people that surrounded me…


"Filming PV in 3, 2, 1… Rolling!"

The lights roared to life, glimmering down onto the shining stage. Subaru reached out towards the shining screen before her, commanding the spotlights to move into position onto the subject standing in the middle of the repurposed Stadium room.

The instrumental faded in as the girl in the middle, dressed in a colourful dress, struck a pose.

"Tis I! Seig Shion, my adoring fans ~!" the idol spoke, throwing in some broken English as she spoke, "We are going to have such a ecstatic time next Saturday! For the first time, I won't just be releasing my new album, 'Shion Did Nothing Wrong', but I'm also going to be throwing a live FES to celebrate the release! Ameijin~!"

The lights changed colors, illuminating the room in bright red and green lights.

"That's right! Everyone, please come to cheer me on in our first live! Let the rebirth of the ideals of Shion come to life once more! Hitting harder than a colony drop with all our might combined, let's show Gunbre the love of Shion with this amazing, incredible new present YOU all created, the Neo Shiong!"

As she spoke, the spotlights spun about, shining down upon a massive mound of plastic the size of a small child sitting on the stage, its glossy body glittering in the lights of the stage.

She spun, flashing a cute smile at the camera.

"Let the Endless Story of our passion begin and fill the stage like G3! See y'all then~! And for the rest of the day, Seig Shion~!"

The screen flicked off.


It's almost scary how Kyosuke was able to deduce all that from just random snippets of things she heard. She's observant, I'll give her that.

I fear that she's getting too close to my unfortunate truth…

Why must she keep asking so many questions? What does she gain from gathering all this information, anyway? Isn't it a little rude to pry into other's businesses, anyway?

At least she seems to have good intentions at heart… I hope.

Unlike CERTAIN other people…

Shogo Morita, for example. His habit of breaking and stealing parts from his foes comes to a head when he cuts out the middleman and makes off with a rising idol's Gunpla wholesale! With him and his remaining squad of goons threatening to upset the power balance of the battlefield, the only one who can stand up against them is Side 0!

But with a rapidly approaching deadline approaching for the recapture of the stolen unit, Kyosuke and Yui must do battle against time itself!

Will she be able to make it to the stage on time, or is this a concert fated to be cancelled?!

Next time on New Gundam Double Breaker!

Stage 3: Gunplajacking! Countdown to Our Live~!

Don't let your fans down! ADVANCE!


Song used in this chapter: Persona 5 – Life Will Change