Disclaimer: I do not own Infinite Stratos.
AN (15/01/13): I received a few messages about this so I'm going to address it here. The first 3-4 chapters will only have minor changes to the story line. It's mainly there to set up the story. Once past that, original content is much more abundant.
During the finals of the second Mondo Grosso Tournament five years ago, I was kidnapped. For no apparent reason, a mysterious organization captured and locked me inside a pitch black room. With nothing but the endless darkness and the sound of my rapidly increasing breathing accompanying me, negative thoughts permeated my mind.
Am I going to die here? Cold and alone? Without a single notable accomplishment to my name?
"I haven't even repaid Chifuyu-nee for taking care of me all this time…"
As if uttering her name aloud had summoned her, Chifuyu-nee appeared before my eyes. Entering through the large hole she had created with her IS, with glaring light pouring in from behind her, the warm smile she directed at me was forever engrained into my brain. My sister had rushed here to save me in her IS, forfeiting her match in the Mondo Grosso Tournament and breaking several laws in the process.
Thankfully the German military had intervened on Chifuyu-nee's behalf before she was prosecuted. Having been the ones to find the location of my imprisonment and subsequently given the data to Chifuyu-nee, they claimed it as a military operation and Chifuyu-nee got a full pardon. In return, Chifuyu-nee joined the German military for a year as an instructor. That year was when I made the decision that would alter my life forever.
Sitting alone in my room, I began to reminisce. For as long as I remembered, Chifuyu-nee had always taken care of me. Even though she herself was only a teenager, she had looked after me. Even when we were poor, even when I was sick, even when she became famous, she continued to look after me. I didn't want to be a burden to her anymore. I wanted to grow stronger in order to protect Chifuyu-nee and the happy life she deserved. But what could I do in this world of female superiority? As a former Mondo Grosso champion, Chifuyu-nee had reached the pinnacle of strength that I, as a male, could never hope to gain. As the futility of my situation began to fester, I had an epiphany. If I could not stand in front of my sister as a shield, then I will stand behind her as a pillar of support. Taking out a piece of paper that was hidden under the drawer of my table, I dialled the phone number written on it.
"Hi! Hi! Are you high? Super Genius Shinonono Tabane here!" was the greeting I received.
My own reply was much less childish, ironic considering the person on the other line was almost twice my age. "Tabane-nee, it's me, Orimura Ichika-"
"Ii-kun! What a surprise! I heard about your kidnapping and how Chi-chan came to rescue you! Are you okay? Were you hurt?" I winced at the mention of that day and of my own weakness.
"I'm fine. More importantly, Tabane-nee… I have a request… Please teach me about the Infinite Stratos!"
That seven word request changed my life. As a male, I could not match the strength my sister processed, but that did not mean I could not protect her in another way. I will augment her strength instead, by learning as much about the IS as possible. I will be the pillar that supports her, by making sure that her power, her IS, remains undefeatable.
At that time, I never knew how wrong I was nor how my original goal was much more achievable than I had imagined.
With cold air in my lungs and the morning sunlight glaring at my eyes, I let loose a loud yawn.
"What's up Ichika? Did your sister give you another beat down in those so called spars again?" asked my friend Gotanda Dan. The 'so called spars' he mentioned are the kendo practice sessions that I begged Chifuyu-nee for when she returned home from Germany. As she is often away for her job, we would have a 'skill assessment' every two weeks to check whether I was slacking or not. More often than not, it turns into a brutal one sided ass kicking with me on the receiving end. I'm proud to say that I am improving though. My current record is one minute and seventeen seconds before blacking out. While it doesn't seem to be much to brag about, anybody that knows her, understands that Chifuyu-nee is scary strong…
"No, I was just doing some last minute studying. Besides, Chifuyu-nee hasn't returned from her job yet." I half lied. While it's true that Chifuyu-nee is away currently, I wasn't exactly studying the material Dan thinks I am. Turning my attention back to the road, I see my bus stop. "Well this is where we part ways Dan. I have to take this bus then transfer another two times before arriving at my destination."
"Hah, that sucks for you! By the way, are you going to finally tell me which high school you are applying to? It isn't Aoetsu Private School is it?" Dan asks.
"Nope, and that's all I'm going to tell you Dan. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if I reveal the secret. Ah, there's my bus. I'll talk to you later today." With that, I gave Dan a salute and boarded the transport.
In the five years that have passed since my kidnapping, I have not remained idle. With Chifuyu-nee, I trained my body through kendo in order to prevent another kidnapping incident. With Tabane-nee, I expanded my knowledge of the IS. In the beginning, it was very difficult. As a ten year old, the complexity of the IS were far above anything I have learned at that point, but Tabane-nee never gave up on teaching me. The way she broke complex mechanics down so that even I could understand was amazing, and I often thought that she would have been an excellent teacher if she hadn't invented the IS.
After three years of online studying with Tabane-nee, she began to give me practical assessments as well. For these assessments Tabane-nee would give me an IS related problem and I would have to find the source of the flaw and create a solution with the data she gives me. At first, the problems were relatively easy: an overheating gun barrel due to a lack of coolant or low thruster power due to faulty power distribution. But recently, Tabane-nee increased the difficulty in her assessments to the point where I began to develop IS equipment. Of course, seeing as I had no access to a lab anywhere near technologically advanced enough to build such things, Tabane-nee did it for me. We came up with a process where I would present the designs and we would discuss and make changes to any problems that we can see. Then, Tabane-nee would physically build the design in her lab. The data from the tests would be forwarded to me and we would make further adjustments based on the outcome.
My first few designs were complete failures. My idea for an energy shield that drew power from the IS's own shield energy and compressed it ended explosively, and the revolver thruster incident should just be forgotten as soon as possible. That doesn't mean all my designs were failures though. While many of my designs would not be considered anything new to current IS manufacturers, a select few of my designs have even impressed Tabane-nee. (Well more surprised that I thought of it than impressed…) One day, she emailed me, telling me to check my bank account. Suspicious that she was playing a prank on me, I rushed to the nearest ATM to check on my life savings. The extra zeroes displayed nearly gave me a heart attack. It turns out that Tabane-nee had sold my designs to various manufactures under her name and had transferred the profit to me. While I initially refused the earnings, stating that Tabane was the one who actually built these designs, she countered that since I was the main designer, I deserved a share of the profits. Eventually we settled on splitting the profit between the two of us and while I wasn't exactly happy with the decision, I learned that Tabane-nee could be just as scary as Chifuyu-nee when provoked.
With the experience gained thanks to Tabane-nee, I plan to go to an IS technical high school and after that, either go to post-secondary or work in an IS manufacturing company. If I ever want to become Chifuyu-nee's pillar of support, than I need as much hands on experience working on IS's as possible.
"Crap, I'm lost…" Whoever designed this building must have been insane. There are so many hallways, staircases and dead ends that this building could be considered a maze. Why did the exam location have to be here? Did they purposely do this so that more kids would fail? Screw this, I'm going to open the next door I come across and find someone to help me… Spotting a door at the end of the hallway, I sprinted over and turned the knob.
I stopped when my eyes saw the contents of the room. Right in front of me, as if it was an ancient samurai kneeling before his lord, was an actual IS!
Stunned by the fact that I was actually this close to object that I was researching, I slowly raised my arm to touch it.
As soon as my finger brushed the armour of the IS, a bright light flashed. Suddenly a wealth of information poured into my brain. Everything about the IS is known to me, from operation methods to capabilities, characteristics, movement range, current equipment….
"You are late! Hurry up and get in the IS. We'll begin the examination immediately." A feminine voice popped up from the corner of the room, surprising me.
"Huh? Wait I think you made a mist-"
"Quit dawdling and get in! We are on a tight enough schedule as is!" Not wanting to agitate the owner of the voice more, I quickly complied and climbed aboard the IS.
The sensation of the IS's armour surrounding my body was amazing. In addition to information I received earlier, my senses were also augmented. I could suddenly see everything around me in perfect clarity and if I focused, I could even hear the heartbeat of the other occupant of the room. My whole body felt as light as a feather. yet strong enough to lift a car.
Extending my right hand, I instinctively called a weapon to it. Light particles gather, forming a rough shape before materializing as a large katana.
So this is what it's like to pilot an IS. This was the power Chifuyu-nee wielded and was heralded as a master of.
Abruptly, my enhanced senses picked up another IS charging towards me from behind. Turning around to face my opponent, I was greeted with the surprised face of a young woman. Taking the opportunity, I dodged her and watched as she crashed into the wall.
"Wa-wa-wah! You're a guy!" She exclaims, as she picks herself up from the ground.
"Ugh… Yeah." I replied intelligently. It took another moment before the meaning of those words settled into my brain.
I, Orimura Ichika, a 100% genuine male have just piloted an IS, the machine that has rejected all male pilots since its creation ten years ago.
And that's why I find myself listening to the very woman I 'fought' with, sitting in a desk inside a classroom, surrounded by girls. I really wish to emphasize on the word 'surrounded'. All my classmates are female and not only that, the whole student body is comprised of females. Even the staff members, from the teachers to the janitors are female. That's right, I'm currently enrolled in the IS Academy as the ONLY male student ever accepted. With a 99.9% female population, I felt very isolated. The intensity of the stares from my classmates only adds to my dilemma. Why do I have to sit in center-front seat of the classroom?
My only reprieve is that my childhood friend Houki is also in this class. Having not seen her for six years, I looked forward to catching up with her. Glancing towards her direction I see her staring at me as well. Having been caught she lets an angry puff of air out and turns away from me. Wah, Houki, is this any way to treat a childhood friend you haven't seen in six years? With my only support now dashed away, I fell into a depression.
"…chika-san, Orimura Ichika-san, ORIMURA ICHIKA-SAN!"
"Y-yes! Orimura Ichika present!" I yell out, having been surprised. Quiet laughter spread throughout the class. Great, first day of school and I've already made a fool of myself.
"S-sorry for calling your name out so loudly but Orimura-san wasn't responding earlier…. Are you angry at me? I'm really sorry! B-but we are doing self-introductions now and we are at the surnames starting with O's now…. S-so can you introduce yourself? P-please?" Yamada-sensei pleads as she bows in apology.
In an attempt to calm my frantic teacher, I quickly replied. "Ah, Yamada-sensei, please stop bowing. There's no need for you to apologize to me. I just zoned out so please calm down."
"Really? Really really? O-okay, then please proceed with your introduction."
Standing up and turning around to face my classmates, I finally see all the stares that were directed towards my back since homeroom started. Swallowing some saliva, I prepared myself for the introduction.
"Ahem….My name is Orimura Ichika; I look forward to working with you." Ending my speech with a bow, I take another glance around the classroom. Ah! What's with all these eyes demanding that I say more? What should I say? Taking a deep breath, I prepared for the next part of my introduction.
"…..That is all." And with that, the whole class face faulted. Now they are showing me eyes full of disappointment! Did they expect me to say something cooler?
A blunt object suddenly hit my head. Strange, it actually has a nostalgic feeling to it. Wait…. That force, at that angle and speed. That could only be…
As soon as I turn around and utter out my sister's name another blow hits my head.
Looking at me with stern eyes and wearing business women's attire, my sister stands in front of me.
"Orimura-sensei, is the meeting over?" Yamada-sensei asks.
Turning towards her, both Chifuyu-nee's facial expression and voice took a gentler tone. "Ah, Yamada-sensei. Sorry for making you do the self-introductions. It must have been difficult for you, especially because of this idiot here."
That's not fair Chifuyu-nee. Why does Yamada-sensei get such gentle treatment while I'm treated as an idiot?
"Listen up, everyone. My name is Orimura Chifuyu and I've been tasked to train all of you in the operations and controls of IS. I expect each and every one of you to remember and comprehend what I will be teaching, no exceptions. To those who don't understand a subject, I will teach it to you again and again until it is engrained into your mind. Understand?"
Normally, a teacher with that type of attitude would scare the students, but Chifuyu-nee is special…
"KYAAA—! It's Chifuyu-sama, it's the real Chifuyu-sama herself!"
"I've always been your follower!"
"I came to this school from North Kyuushuu because I admired you, onee-sama!"
"I came all the way from southern Hokkaido!"
"I'm so happy to be taught by Chifuyu-sama!"
"I'll gladly die for Chifuyu-sama!"
Chifuyu-nee just stared at the fanatical girls before covering her face with the palm of her hand. "...it's really quite a sight to see so many idiots gather here every year. What a surprise? Or is there a special reason? Are these idiots here only to attend my class?"
Chifuyu-nee, you should really lighten up. This type of popularity can't be bought you know? Of course, I never really had to worry, even when Chifuyu-nee makes scathing remarks such as this, the girls only get more fanatical. Come to think of it it's kind of scary, do they all have masochistic tendencies?
Now that the class has finally settled down, Chifuyu-nee turned her attention back to me. "So, are you such an idiot that you even failed to even make a simple self-introduction?"
"What? No Chifuyu-ne-"
"It's Orimura-sensei to you."
Not wanting to lose anymore brain cells I quickly complied. "Yes, Orimura-sensei."
And with that, Student Homeroom (SHR) came to an end.
Naturally, being the only male to pilot an IS, I expected the girls to be curious, but it seems that my new found relation to THE Orimura Chifuyu has increased my popularity even more. Even now I could see several of them mustering up there courage to even approach my desk. ~Sigh~ if this keeps up, I'm going to have a hard time making any friends.
Oh, it seems someone has actually come to talk to me. Looking up, I'm greeted by the familiar face of my childhood friend, Houki.
"Is it okay that we talk in the corridor?"
I guess it must be hard to talk inside the classroom with everyone eavesdropping. Maybe she wants to apologize for ignoring me earlier? Well, whatever the reason, I do want to talk to my friend who I haven't seen in six years.
Seeing her rush out of the classroom, I quickly followed her as well. As I exited the room, I saw Houki waiting for me in the middle of the hall. She relaxed her posture for a second, as if in relief at seeing me follow her, before stiffening up once more when I approached.
As Houki was remaining silent, I decided to start the conversation. "You won the world kendo tournament last year correct? I want to say a late congratulations."
Houki's lips stiffened but two patches of red formed on her cheeks. Looking at her again, she actually seems kind of cute…
"H-How do you know that?"
"I saw it in the newspaper of course."
"Yeah, they had a small article announcing that you were the winner."
"You know Houki, even after not seeing you for six years I still managed to recognize you immediately."
Houki once again blushed before whispering out, "How?"
"Your hair style, it hasn't changed even after all these years. As we are childhood friends, how could I forget that?"
"Ah." Houki nods her head in confirmation.
"Oh, break is over. We best return to class Houki." Taking her hand, I lead us back to class. Strangely, Houki's face was extremely red the whole time we walked back…
When second period came about, I once more gave thanks to the fact that Tabane-nee had crammed all the IS terminologies into my head. If she hadn't, I would not have understood even one percent of the materials presented today and with a teacher like Chifuyu-nee, I really didn't want to imagine the consequences. It was during this time that another girl came up to my desk.
"Can I help you miss…" Ah! I had zoned out during the self-introductions so I never got her name… "Sorry but I don't remember you name…"
The blonde girl looked really offended. "You don't know who I am? You mean to tell me you have never heard of Cecilia Alcott, representative candidate of England and valedictorian of the IS exam?"
Oh, so her name is Cecilia. Hmm something she said has caught my interest though. "What do you mean by valedictorian of the IS exam?"
"Oh? You don't know? Well I guess it is the duty of the nobles to educate the peons. I am the valedictorian of the IS exam as I was the only one to defeat the instructor in battle. Do you see why I am so great?"
"By the IS exam, you mean the one where we initialize the IS correct?"
"Of course! Even a peon such as you should realize that!"
"Then I've also defeated the instructor as well. Does that make me a valedictorian too?" Well defeated is not exactly the correct term, considering that I just dodged her.
"Wha-What? But… I was told that I was the only one to defeat the instructor…"
Trying to calm Cecilia down I told her a possible reason. "Maybe it's because I'm a guy so they didn't count it?"
Wah! Cecilia is gripping the edge of my desk hard enough that it's creaking in stress! She's even angrier than before!
Phew, literally saved by the bell.
"I'll come back so don't you dare run away!" With that Cecilia returns to her own desk. Looks like I've only delayed the inevitable.
Seeing as Chifuyu-nee is teaching the third period, I quickly straitened my back and gave her my utmost attention. Anything less would definitely earn me another smack to the head and I don't think I can afford to lose anymore brain cells.
"This period, I will be covering different types of IS equipment, their uses in combat situations, and their characteristics so be sure to pay attention. Before that though, you will have to pick a class representative for the upcoming inter-class tournament. The class representative's job is quite self-explanatory. In addition to participating in the tournament, the representative also has to attend all student council meetings and committee meetings as well. The representative will effectively be the class leader and in tournaments, show the class' overall ability, so pick wisely."
Ugh, that seems like a lot of work… I'll happily let some other poor sap take the position.
"Sensei! I recommend Orimura-kun!"
"I second that notion!"
That's right just let Orimura-kun take the job, I'm fine with tha-… Wait isn't there only two Orimura's in this class? With one being an instructor that only leaves….
"Are there any objections? No? Then the class representative will be-"
""I OBJECT!"" Cecilia and I yelled at the same time.
Huh, looks like I can agree with Cecilia after all.
"Why should we let this low born monkey be our representative?" Low born monkey? And I thought we could have gotten along…
"I refuse to acknowledge him as our representative. In the first place, the representative should be someone of skill and grace, and I Cecilia Alcott perfectly fit the bill. A monkey like him from this undeveloped island country should just-"
"Oh? And what makes your country so much better? Last I heard, Britain still holds the undefeated title of world's worst cuisine?"
"What?" Crap, I probably shouldn't have said that, but her comments on Japan just infuriated me. She looks really angry now.
"H-how dare a monkey like you insult my country like that? This is unforgivable! I hereby challenge you to a duel!" Slamming her hands down, Cecilia gives me death glare.
"Fine, I accept. It would be more effective than continuing to argue with you."
"Great. I'll show you Britain's representative candidate, Cecilia Alcott's true power. By the end of this, I'll have you grovelling at my feet so don't you dare change your mind!"
The girl sitting next to me gave me a worried glance. "Orimura-kun, are you sure you won't reconsider? As a representative candidate, Alcott-san should be really strong. At the very least, you should ask for a handicap."
"No, as a man, I will not go back on my word. A handicap is not necessary."
"Then it is agreed. The match will be scheduled next Monday in the third arena. The winner will be the class representative. Before that time, I want no more fights between the two of you, understand?" Giving both of us a glare, Cecilia and I both nodded. "Good, then let's return to the lesson."
I paid full attention the rest of the class. Despite my earlier bravado, I knew I would need all the help I can get for the upcoming duel. As much as I knew about the actual IS's themselves, my knowledge on operating one was sorely lacking.
Letting out a deep yawn, I finally allowed myself to relax my posture. As strict as Chifuyu-nee is, I still learned a lot from her lesson today. The problem is that I still need practical experience operating an IS. I could always just ask Chifuyu-nee, but I don't want to always depend on her. Besides, Chifuyu-nee is a teacher, asking her for help would seem like favouritism…
"Ah, Orimura-kun! I'm glad you are still in the classroom!"
"Yamada-sensei? Can I help you?"
"No, no, I'm just here to pass along some information. It seems that your dorm is ready."
That's right! With all the commotion that had happened I had forgotten about my living arrangements! "But Yamada-sensei, didn't student resources say that, due to my sudden enrolment, it would take some time to sort out a room for me?"
"That was the case, but as you are considered a special case, the government decided to make some changes." Of course, that would explain it. As the only male IS pilot, I am considered to be a 'special case', in other words, a unique specimen. The Japanese government would no doubt want to keep me under watch.
"So for the time being, please get along with your roommate. Your room number is 1025. Dinner is served at the cafeteria from six to seven pm. All rooms have a built in shower but there is a large communal bath available. The time schedules differ by year- Ah! B-but Orimura-kun is not allowed to use it yet!"
"Eh? Why not?" I really like bathing in large baths and to have that taken away seems pretty unfair.
"I-it would be i-improper for O-Orimura-kun to bathe according to the current schedule…." What's wrong with the current schedule? Going to bathe in the first year time slot seems perfectly fine to- Oh yeah… Everyone else besides me is female…
"So y-you would be fine b-bathing with girls Orimura-kun?"
"No, no, no, no, no! I don't want to bathe together!"
"You are not interested in girls Orimura-kun? T-that could be a problem…" As soon as Yamada-sensei finished her sentence, the class around us exploded in chatter.
"Eh? Orimura-kun is into guys?"
"That's not good… Well, it isn't bad either…"
"Quick! Research into his middle school days! If we work fast, we can get results within two days!"
Well that's great… This day can't get any worse, right?
"1023…1024…Here we go, room 1025." Standing in front of my designated room, I knocked twice. Hearing no response, I opened the door and entered the room.
The one thing you can count on in the IS academy is the high quality and up to date facilities; this room is no exception. From the furniture to the space provided, the dorm room is comparable to a room from a five star hotel. Unable to resist any longer, I jumped onto one of the beds. It was just as comfortable as it looked; soft enough to cushion my body, yet firm enough to support it in a comfortable fashion. I released a sigh of satisfaction as I allowed my weary body to finally relax.
"Hm? Is someone here?" A familiar voice drifts out from the closed door of the adjacent bathroom. The door soon opens, releasing the trapped steam.
"You must be my new roommate. Please take care of me from this year on. I'm Shinonono-"
"-Houki?" Standing before me, with only a towel wrapped around her, is my childhood friend. As she had just finished showering, her long, damp hair cascades past her shoulders and down her back. The small towel barely covers her body, and I was treated to the sight of her fair, smooth skin glistening with water droplets. Her training has kept her body slender, and it seems her height wasn't the only thing that has increased in the six years that have past. If the straining of the towel around the chest region is any indication, Houki might rival Chifuyu-nee in a few years- Ah, what the hell am I thinking!
"I-Ichika? D-don't look!" Quickly complying I face my body towards the wall. "S-sorry."
Listening to the rustling sounds of what I believe to be Houki putting on clothes, my heart only races faster. "W-why are you h-here?"
"Well I was assigned this roo-" My danger senses scream and I quickly dodged to the right.
In the spot where my body was previously located, Houki had slammed a bokken (wooden sword) against the ground. Dressed in kendo attire, Houki raised her sword in preparation for another strike. Seeing as I didn't have a death wish, I quickly dived out the open door and into the hallway. Closing the door quickly, I sat against it and released the breath I had been unconsciously holding.
Three centimeters above my head, Houki's bokken appear through the door. Holy crap, Houki! I know you won the world kendo tournament but to be able to pierce a solid wood door with a bokken… Are you sure you are not taking any drugs?
"Oh so Ichika lives here?"
Due to the loud noise, many girls have entered the hallway in order to investigate. While that by itself would not have been a problem, their attire, or more accurately, lack of attire made me very nervous. Some girls wore only a shirt without any pants or skirt, giving me glimpses of the underwear they wore underneath. Others wore practically transparent nightgowns. Wah! Don't you girls feel any embarrassment? There is a guy in your midst and he can only take so much!
"Houki! Please, as a favour to your childhood friend, please let me back in! I'll apologize and everything, just let me in! I'm begging you!"
Slowly, the bokken retracted from the door and a quiet "Fine, come in." drifted out the hole. Opening the door again, I quickly entered the room, only to meet with Houki's glare.
"So you are staying here?"
"W-what are your intentions? Everyone knows that girls and boys can't sleep in the same rooms once they are seven! It's common sense!"
Where did you get that knowledge from Houki? Sure it's improper to share the same bed but I'm quite sure there have been lots of people of the opposite gender who have shared a room… Well living together might be a problem.
"D-did you intentionally p-plan this?"
"Don't be ridiculous Hou-" Another sword swing approaches my head but this time I'm ready for it.
I'm actually impressed by myself. Catching the bokken with my bare hands against someone of Houki's level is very hard to do. My blocking her attack only increases the severity of Houki's glare though.
"S-so you're saying I lack common sense huh?" When did I say that Houki? Wah! Even though I've caught the blade in my hands, Houki is asserting more and more pressure, making the bokken inch its way towards my head. Seriously, how strong are you Houki?
"Oh, Shinonono-san is so bold!"
"She's dominating Orimura-kun!"
"So he likes this sort of play? I'll have to do more research!"
The girls from the hallway now crowd around the open door, watching me and Houki. What do you think is happening? Can't you girls see that Houki is trying to kill me!
Blushing slightly, Houki finally backs away from me. I'm saved!
"Eh? You're done already?"
"But you haven't got to the good part yet~"
Face now red, Houki turns her glare to the girls and immediately chases them out of the room. Closing the door, she releases a sigh.
Not wanting to provoke Houki again, I immediately reply. "Y-yeah?"
Houki looks down towards her feet, and shifts around. "I-if you are to stay here, then there will have to be some ground rules. F-firstly is the bathing schedule. Mine will be from seven to eight. Yours is from eight to nine."
"Wouldn't it be better if mine is first? I usually only take a quick shower anyways…"
"Do you want me to stand all sweaty after club?"
Club? Oh, she must mean the kendo club. "Don't you have showers in the club change room anyways? Why do you need to use the room shower?"
"I'm uncomfortable using them, okay! So that's that!" Stamping her foot on the floor, Houki closes the matter.
"Speaking of which, there's no toilet in this room, is there?"
"No, but there are bathrooms at both ends of each floor."
"So, there aren't any men's bathrooms?"
"…" Well great! What am I supposed to do? "I guess, if worst comes to worst, I'll have to use the female washrooms…"
Killing intent floods the room. Crap, did I say that out loud? It's a joke Houki! A joke!
"Y-you! After parting for so long, you've developed these types of perverted interests! I won't allow you to escape!" Once again, Houki's bokken flash out to strike me. Spotting a shinai (bamboo sword) sticking out of Houki's bags, I quickly grab it and parry her strike.
The shinai strains to hold off the force that is Houki's bokken, but suddenly the pressure is relieved. "G-give it back!"
Taking another look at the shinai I've grabbed, I spot a light, bulbous piece of fabric hanging from the end.
"I see. So you've started wearing bras Houki?"
My vision turns black.
I spent the next morning futilely apologizing to Houki. She remained silent the whole time through breakfast and refused to even look at me. First period passed with only a few awkward moments due to mentions of bras, as ironic as it is. The break after that involved a pack of girls swarming me with questions of Chifuyu-nee's personal life, but Chifuyu-nee put an end to that with swift blows. It was at the start of second period when I received a surprise.
"Oh yes, Orimura, your IS needs more time before it can be prepared. As there is currently no available suit, it seems that the school is making you a personal IS, so be patient."
"A personal suit? For a first year, and at this time?"
"This means that the government has given support..."
"Ah~ so good...I want to have my own personal suit too."
This came as a surprise to me, but with further thinking it made sense. Currently, there are only 467 IS cores, the key component to any IS. With Tabane-nee or Professor Shinonono as most people call her, refusing to make more, a personal IS is very rare. Due to me being the first male IS pilot though, the government would want as much data as possible and giving me a personal IS would achieve that.
On a side note, this Professor Shinonono is—
"Erm, sensei. Is Shinonono-san, a relative of Professor Shinonono...?" I'm surprised that no one has made the connection yet. Shinonono can't be that common of a surname right?
"That's right, Shinonono's that person's little sister." Chifuyu-nee… Even if it's obvious, is it really alright for a teacher to divulge her student's personal information like that? Look, the girls are now swarming poor Houki because of you Chifuyu-nee.
Come to think of it, Since Houki is Tabane-nee's sister, she should know a lot about piloting an IS right? Just as I'm pondering this, Houki reaches her limit.
"I HAVE NO RELATION WITH THAT PERSON!" That's right; Houki seems to carry some hard feelings towards Tabane-nee for some reason. I wonder what happened…
After the class settled down, the rest of lesson went on as normal.
Finally lunch break arrived. After butting heads with Cecilia again, I decided to try repairing my friendship with Houki once more.
"Houki, let's go get something to eat."
"…I'll go alone."
"Don't be like that Houki. Eating together is more fun!"
"…" Getting tired of her ignoring me, I began pushing her towards the cafeteria.
"H-hold up! I said I'm not going! Stop it!"
"If I stop, you will just run away again. Would you rather I carry you there instead?" Houki glares at me angrily before suddenly turning around. "Huh?"
Houki had twisted my arm to escape. Before I could regain my bearings though, my vision suddenly turns upside down before I painfully crash onto the floor.
Ow! Ow! Ow!
Picking myself up from the floor, I look towards Houki. "You really have improved."
"Humph, that was just an additional application to kendo. You are the one who has grown weaker." I really don't think it's fair to call me weak. Who would expect their childhood friend to suddenly throw them?
"Come on, let's just go get lunch." This time I grabbed her hand instead and headed towards the cafeteria once more.
"Houki, can you teach me about piloting an IS?" After buying both our lunches and finding a free table, I finally asked for her help.
"It's your fault that you accepted a duel, idiot."
How mean. You won't even help a childhood friend in need, Houki?
"Please Houki. Even if I pay attention in class, without actual experience piloting one, I'm going to be in trouble."
"…" Houki ignores me and instead begins to eat her meal at a fast but consistent pace.
"Hey aren't you the person mentioned in the rumours?" Turning around, I see that the person talking to me is a third year.
"I heard that you are going to duel a representative candidate. Are you sure you are ready for that? How much time have you spent piloting an IS?"
"Um, about twenty minutes I guess…"
"That's not good. The key to IS is operating time and as a representative candidate, your opponent definitely has over three hours." This sempai has hit my main problem directly. As expected of a third year student.
"If you want, I can teach you about piloting an IS."
Well, I was originally asking Houki, but since she has been adverse to the idea, I guess I'll accept. Besides, this sempai has a nice, approachable aura around her; I'm sure that we'll get along…
"Okay, please-" Before I could accept the offer though, Houki interrupts.
"It's okay, I'll be teaching Ichika anyways." Eh? Not that I'm not grateful Houki, but weren't you against the idea originally?
The nice sempai counters Houki's statement. "Aren't you a first year? As a third year, I have more experience and knowledge than you do. Surely I'm more suited to teaching him than you are."
"I-I'm Shinonono Tabane's little sister." And Houki ends this argument by dropping a bomb.
"Even if you are Shinono-Eh?" The meaning of Houki's words finally registers to the sempai.
"So there will be no need to trouble you, sempai."
"I-I see. Then I'll be going now. Good luck with your match Orimura-kun." Bowing, the nice sempai quickly escapes.
"So… You are teaching me now?"
"That's what I just said right? Come to the kendo arena later. I need to check if your movements have gone rusty."
"Wait, what does that got to do with piloting an IS?"
"Just do as I say!"
Dressed up in kendo attire, both Houki and I face each other in the center of the kendo dojo.
"So why are we doing this again?" I ask.
"When I threw you earlier today, you were completely defenseless. I need to make sure your kendo skills have not degraded." As I said before Houki, how was I supposed to expect that? And what does kendo skills have to do with piloting IS?
"No more questions. Here I come!" With that, Houki charges at me with an overhead swing.
As expected of a tournament champion, Houki's speed is really high. Fortunately for me, I've been sparing against Chifuyu-nee for years now, so this speed is still manageable. At the last second, I take a quick step backwards and let the shinai miss me by a fraction of an inch.
"Eh?" Not expecting to hit empty space, Houki loses her balance and leans forward. Seeing the opening, I swing my own shinai in a diagonal slash. Crouching low to center herself, Houki immediately brings her shinai to parry my blow. Pushing my blade away, she quickly retreats a few steps, before resuming a guard stance. It seems she is taking me seriously now. Getting into my own stance, I began to look for any weak spots.
Once again Houki charges first. I dodge the first strike by stepping out of the way but Houki has learned from her last mistake. Quick as lightning, another blow heads towards my arm and I'm forced to use my shinai to block it. It seems like Houki has adopted the constant attack strategy to prevent me from attacking her, as each strike I block is quickly followed by another, forcing me to defend. If this keeps continuing I will eventually make a mistake and Houki will have a chance to end the match.
Thinking quickly, I raise my shinai to defend another attack. This time though, instead of matching force with force, I yield a little, redirecting her shinai with a combination of both Houki's strength and my own. The overhead swing she makes tilts to the side and gives me an opening to strike. Stepping forward, I ready my Shinai for an attack before-
"KYAAA! Orimura-kun is so cool!"
My eyes immediately lock onto the edge of the dojo. At some point of our spar, the dojo had filled with spectators who, until now, had been watching our fight with held breaths. This second of distraction cost me the match.
"MEN!" Houki's shinai smashes against my helmet. Even through the protective gear, the shock from the blow still hurt my neck.
Taking off her helmet, Houki takes a deep breath. "It's my win Ichika."
Removing my own head protection, I sigh. "It would have been mine if I hadn't been distracted…"
"Quit whining. A loss is a loss so you should take it like a man. Besides, you shouldn't be distracted just because a crowd formed. Where have you been practicing?"
"I've been doing mostly self-training with occasional lessons and spars from Chifuyu-nee for the past six years. I've never actually fought with an audience watching before." I respond sheepishly.
"Humph. Kendo is about discipline and if you are so easily distracted, than surely you're lacking. We'll continue training in kendo for three hours each day until I'm satisfied with your progress."
"Wait, what about my IS training? If we train in kendo for three hours each day, I won't have any time left!"
"How can you worry about piloting IS when you get distracted so easily! Not to mention, you lost to a girl in kendo even after all your training! Don't you feel any shame?"
This is hardly fair Houki. As a kendo world tournament champion, you could hardly be classified as just a girl. Losing to you would be expected in most cases. I guess you are right though. I do feel somewhat ashamed that I got distracted at such a crucial moment.
"Fine, fine. So are we going to continue?" Picking up my helmet, I adjusted it on my head once more.
Watching Houki, re-equip her own gear, I'm hit with a nostalgic feeling. In the six years that has passed, Houki has grown a lot stronger. If it was six years ago, I would have easily won within the first ten moves. Now, Houki can challenge me on equal ground and stand a chance in winning. While this might not be IS training, I do look forward to more sparing with someone near my skill level.
Smiling a little, I prepare my stance and make a 'come hither' gesture towards her.
As much as I wanted to sleep and finally rest my poor muscles after the training, I forced myself to remain awake. While I may have forgotten about it yesterday, I did not want to delay contacting Tabane-nee much more. The fact that I'm sharing a room with Houki, who is showing animosity towards her sister for some reason, does not help. Sometimes, I wonder if it would be easier just to reveal that I'm in contact with THE Shinonono Tabane regularly. I wouldn't have to hide my progress from Chifuyu-nee anymore and I could stop lying about my source of income… As nice as that sounds the consequences of that information leaking out is dire. Tabane-nee is the creator of the IS, and as such, many countries are looking for her. Her security alone would probably outmatch national leaders. If anyone found out I could contact her, whole countries would mobilize their resources in order to claim a line of contact with the genius inventor…
Straining my ears, I hear the soft and steady breathing of Houki across from me. Double checking by sight, I confirm that that she's finally asleep. Reaching into my bag, I pull out my portable computer and turn it on. Oh! The holographic screen is showing that I have an unread message from Tabane-nee. Touching the icon, I display it on screen.
Hi! Hi! Ii-kun! It seems you're busy on your first day of school! I hope you're paying attention. ;) I have a new project I'm working on right now so we'll have to delay our usual lessons for a while. I figure you'll appreciate the break, with you having to learn a lot of new things in IS academy. Don't slack off though because I'll quiz you when we resume again! 3 Super Genius, Shinonono Tabane, signing off! :)
Really, Tabane-nee? Another new project? I thought you already had one you were working on three weeks ago? Well, at least I don't have to increase my workload. Firing off a quick response, I turn the computer off and replace it in my bag. Time to get some sleep.
Week two, Monday. The day of my duel with Cecilia.
"You said that you were going to teach me about piloting IS, correct?"
"So why is it that for the past six days, we have been doing nothing but kendo training?"
Looking away from me, Houki had the decency to blush slightly in embarrassment. "W-well it couldn't be helped. Your personal IS wasn't ready."
"We could have borrowed a school machine! Even just going over the basics in piloting would have helped!"
"Don't, pretend, to, look, somewhere, else."
Great, so I have made zero progress in gaining piloting experience. Maybe I should have accepted that kind sempai's offer after all…
"Ah! Orimura-kun!" Yamada-sensei comes running over to the A-block seating area of the third arena. It seems she was in quite a rush, as by the time she reaches us, she is panting heavily.
"Calm down Yamada-sensei! Take a deep breath, In...Out…In…Out… Stop!" At my last command she really does stop breathing and begins to hold her breath.
"Puah! Was… that… long… enough?" It seems like Yamada-sensei really can't take a joke…
"You should respect your seniors, idiot!" Oh it seems like Chifuyu-nee has arrived.
Another strike hits my head. You would think with the amount of time I've been hit in this fashion I would develop a reflex to dodge it… Maybe the blows have been killing more brain cells than I thought…
"It's Orimura-sensei! Remember this or die!" That's not fair Chifuyu-nee, I've been calling you Chifuyu-nee for years and you ARE my sister. Suddenly calling you Orimura-sensei all the time is hard for me.
As if sensing my rebellious thoughts, Chifuyu-nee gives me a glare. Such cruel treatment towards your beloved little brother. "Hai, Orimura-sensei…"
Finally catching her breath, Yamada sensei joins in the conversation. "O-Orimura-kun! Your IS is here!"
"Orimura, hurry up and get ready. You can only use the arena for a limited time, so make this match yours."
"It's just this level of an obstacle. If you're a man, then get past it easily, Ichika."
"Eh? Eh? Wha..."
Yamada-sensei, Chifuyu-nee and Houki's voices overlap each other.
The females around me were all on the same page.
As I walked towards the cargo bay where my IS is located, my cellphone's message alert rang. Huh? It's a message from Tabane-nee! Looking around and spotting Chifuyu-nee and the others far behind me, I open the message.
Uui! Uui! Ii-kun! It's me again! 3 By now, you should have received the news that your IS has arrived! Sorry for the delay, but I've been working on making some last minute changes to it! :) Think of this as a thank you present for all the help you have given me recently! Take care of Byakushiki! Unparalleled Mad Scientist Shinonono Tabane signing off!
So that was her new project. Silly Tabane-nee, I'm the one who can't thank you enough for all that you have taught me. I'm pretty sure you would have been just fine with your research even without my 'help'. I really have to find a way to repay her someday…
Reaching the cargo bay door, I wait for it to slowly rise. In the center of the large, empty room, is my personal IS. If I were to describe it in one word, it would be white. No decorations or any other colour exists on its smooth white armour. It kneels before me as if waiting for me to wear it.
"So this is-"
"Yes, this is Orimura-kun's personal IS! Byakushiki!"
"Hurry up and mount it! We don't have much time so you will have to format and fit all the settings in battle, got it? You will fail miserably if you don't."
Not wanting to waste any more time, I climb aboard Byakushiki. Strange… Unlike the last time I touched an IS, there's no shocking feeling, nor the flash of light. The information link is still there though so I know I can pilot it.
"Lean on your back. Yes, just like that. You'll feel like you're sitting down. Next, the system will optimize itself."
Allowing the armour to close around me, the IS releases a hiss of air. Like last time, it doesn't feel like wearing armour as much as the armour being an extension of your body. With the link between Byakushiki and me complete, my senses once more expand and clarify. Data, from the condition of my body to the operation time of the IS floods my mind. Hmm? What's this? It seems like there's information on the IS Cecilia is piloting. Focusing on that, an image of her IS along with some combat data appear before my eyes. So her IS is named Blue Tears… Something about it seems familiar though… Ah! So this is where one of my designs went! With excitement shining in my eyes, I bring out more information about the name sake of the Blue Tears. Built in micro gravity-control engines and linked to the IS core… This is no doubt one of my designs! How ironic that Cecilia's British built IS is based upon a weapon system designed by this 'low born monkey'!
Seeing my mirth, Chifuyu-nee levels me one of her infamous glares. "And what are you so happy about? If you don't take this seriously, you really will fail! Now… is everything running fine? The hyper sensors are all functional, right?" Even if Chifuyu-nee tries to hide it, with my enhanced senses I can hear the concern in her voice. Even now she's slightly tensing her hands every few seconds.
"Everything's fine Chifuyu-nee. Byakushiki is in full working order." Hearing that, Chifuyu-nee relaxes a little. Chifuyu-nee, you really are worried! You didn't even catch me calling you by name!
Focusing on Houki now, I call out to her. "Houki."
"I'm going now."
"… I know idiot! Y-you better win or else…." Houki looks down at the floor and mumbles the last part so quietly that even my IS sensors can't decipher it.
"Mm! I'll definitely win, so wait for me okay?" Activating the gravity controls, Byakushiki floats into the air and I direct it to the gateway of the control room.
Seeing the gate open, I accelerate and enter the bright arena stage. There, floating at the center of the arena is my opponent, Cecilia and her IS Blue Tears. Having mainly a blue and black colour scheme, her IS has four 'wings' floating behind her. In her hands, she holds a two meter long rifle. A further search reveals its name to be Starlight MkIII, a seven calibre laser gun.
"So you finally show up. I was starting to think that you had run away."
"Like I would ever do that."
"Oh? And you think you can match someone like me in an IS battle? How long have you actually spent piloting an IS?"
"Ha! Your silence says it all! Compared to me, you're terribly inexperienced, but seeing as I am a graceful lady I'll give you a chance. If you grovel before my feet for my forgiveness, I'll let you forfeit and walk away unharmed. Even I don't like bullying the weak."
Warning! Enemy targeting systems have locked on! Safety locks have been removed!
She does have a point, compared to her, my IS piloting experience is practically nothing. To make things worse, my IS is still doing initial settings and even now I can feel the armour shifting slightly in multiple places to better optimize itself. Even with my knowledge of her IS my chances of winning this battle is very slim, but…
"I can't do that, as a man I accepted this challenge, so I can't back down. I will defend my honour and duel with you!"
"What a pity. To refuse this grateful offer this oujo-sama has given you. If so…"
Warning! Enemy weapons are now loaded! Energy build up detected!
Quick as lightning, Cecilia raises her rifle and fires a round. "Goodbye!"
Unable to react in time, the supersonic energy round clips my IS. Though the shield has absorbed most of the damage, some of the force still bleeds through.
60 Shield Points depleted. Shield Points remaining: 540. IS damage: low.
Ugh, with one hit, my shield points are already down by ten percent…
"Oh? Giving up already? It's no fun if you just sit there, so dance for me!"
Shot after shot of blue energy beams descend towards me. I quickly fly away at top speed in order to avoid the barrage. Damn it, if I don't get something to retaliate with, I'll be a sitting duck. Calling up the weapons list, I look at the options available to me… What the hell! Does it still qualify as a list if it only has one item? Selecting the Close Combat Sword, I materialize the 1.6 meter long blade into my hands. Seeing this, Cecilia stops her rapid firing briefly.
"Hah! You're going to challenge me with a sword? Are you joking?"
"We'll see about that!"
Once more the barrage continues but this time I have a plan. By focusing the hyper sensor on the barrel of the rifle, I'm able to predict the angle of trajectory as well as when it fires due to the energy build up. Using this information, I can try dodging accordingly or block the energy round with my sword.
Setting my sights on the Starlight Mk III's barrel, I see the tell-tale glow of the energy build up! A quick acceleration right and I-
Get hit on my left leg. My shield points have fallen another 30 points. Even with the hit though, I feel a sense of satisfaction. That energy round was originally aimed for my torso, if I can get this technique working then avoiding a hit will be possible. Seven more hits later and another 140 shield points lost, I finally get results.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! CLANG! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! CLANG!
I avoid the beams again and again, occasionally slashing at the ones which are unavoidable. Slowly I inch my way towards Cecilia.
With frustration building up due to her inability to hit me, Cecilia finally brings out her trump card. "Humph! Don't get cocky just because you learned to dodge. Now you'll see the true power of my Blue Tears!"
The four fins that are attached to her IS's 'wings' detach and fly towards my position. These fins or 'bits' make up the Blue Tears weapon system.
Each one of the bits is installed with a BT laser gun and a micro gravity-control engine, allowing the pilot to control each one independently. While attached to the main IS body, the bits can provide extra manoeuvrability and thruster power. It's when it is detached though, that its true strength is revealed. Against multiple opponents, the bits can fire upon many targets, forcing them back and allowing the pilot to snipe them one by one with other supporting weaponry. Against a single opponent, the bits can surround and fire upon them from all sides, whittling down their defences bit by bit. Obviously, my current situation is the latter scenario.
Gah! Even if I can see 360 degrees around me thanks to the hyper sensor, my brain can only focus on a section of it at a time. Due to this, I can only 'see' one or two of the bits at max, with a general sense of the location of the rest. My dodging strategy has affectively been destroyed.
Something's odd though… With me focusing on the bits, Cecilia should have plenty of opportunities to fire at me with her rifle, yet not a single beam has come from her direction. Is she toying with me? No… The same thing is partially happening to the bits as well… The bits only fire one at a time, unless they are somewhat close together… Has she not mastered directing multiple bits at once?
To test this theory, I focus my vision on the two bits which are closest together, while leaving a 'hole' in my defence towards the general direction of another bit. When my sensors picked up an energy build up, I quickly turn towards that bit and blocked the oncoming beam with my sword. Just as I thought! She can only focus on them one at a time! I can still fight!
Accelerating Byakushiki towards Cecilia, I leave another opening for her to take notice of. If I can keep up the countering method, then I'll be able to close the distance between us!
PANG! PANG! PANG! CLANG! BOOM!
"Wow, Orimura-kun sure is amazing! He even took out one of the bits just now! This doesn't look like a beginner piloting at all!"
From within the control room, Yamada Maya watches the ongoing battle with uncontainable excitement. Behind her, Orimura Chifuyu stands with an expression of irritation.
"Don't praise the idiot yet. He's too overconfident right now."
"Look at his left hand. See how he's clenching it every few seconds? He's had the habit of doing that since he was young. He will make a mistake soon."
Maya stares at Chifuyu for a few seconds before beginning lightly giggling in mirth. "You really are brother and sister. To even notice a small detail like that…"
Chifuyu looks shocked at the declaration. "W-well… He is my little brother…"
"Oh? Are you embarrassed? The Orimura Chifuyu is embarrassed?"
Lowering her eyes, a dark and ominous aura begins to surround Chifuyu. "Are you making fun of me…?"
"Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!" Chifuyu has put Maya in a painful headlock in retaliation to the teasing.
"The one thing I hate most is being made fun of."
"Ow! I'm sorry! Ow! Please let go! Ow! My head is going to fall off!"
With one of the bits destroyed, dodging the laser fire has become even easier. Avoiding another shot from behind, I spot one of the bits that has wandered in too close. Putting on a burst of speed, I swing my sword and cleave it in two.
Using the resulting explosion as a boost, I accelerate towards Cecilia in a surprise attack. Not expecting my ploy, Cecilia reflexively blocks my swing with her rifle instead of dodging. My sword easily cuts halfway through before stopping, making her weapon unusable for the duration of this battle.
"Using your rifle to block my attack? Isn't that an amateur mistake?"
"Sh-shut up! Don't think you've won just yet!" Her angry scowl suddenly turns into a smirk and before I could react, Cecilia kicks me away from her.
"There are six Blue Tears."
Her skirt shaped armour spreads out and two larger bits deploy beside her, both equipped with seeking missile launchers. It seems the British has made some changes to my original design. Seeing the launchers fire, I immediately fly away at my maximum speed but the missiles easily catch up. Still I'm not worried. One of the many reasons why the IS made all other current weapons obsolete was the installed PIC or Passive Inertia Canceller. As the name suggests, the PIC removes almost all the negative effects of inertia on the pilot, allowing the IS to move in ways that normally exert too many G's to perform. Completely stopping in an instant when moving at 500 kilometers per hour is easy for an IS, and practically impossible for a missile. When the missiles were close enough, I quickly preformed a back flip, effectively stopping in mid-air and allowing the missiles to pass by me.
Unfortunately, Cecilia anticipated this and detonated the missiles with a shot from one of her Blue Tears nearby.
"Ichika…" Watching the match on screen, Houki's expression is one of obvious worry. Throughout the match, she had experienced an emotional rollercoaster, rapidly switching between worry, whenever Cecilia gains the upper hand and elation, whenever Ichika had developed a counter strategy. With her eyes glued to the screen, she whispers a small prayer for her friend's safety and victory.
In the room next to her, the two teachers who were previously bickering had gone silent. Observing the image of smoke on the holographic screen, both Maya and Chifuyu bore a serious expression.
Watching the smoke disperse, Chifuyu releases a sigh of relief and relaxes her posture. "That idiot… His machine saved him."
On the screen the smoke dissipates, revealing the pure white machine hidden within.
Its true form has appeared.
Formatting and optimization of settings are complete. Please press the button to confirm.
This message directly appears inside my mind and at the same time, a holographic button appears in front of me. It took me a second before I realized what it meant. I had been so focused on the battle, I had completely forgotten that my IS was still in its pre-set form. Without further hesitation, I press the button.
Immediately, a rush of information engrains into my mind. Data such as thruster sensitivity, stabilization settings and hyper sensor calibration is known to me. At the same time, a bright glow emits from my IS before dispersing, revealing sleek undamaged armour underneath. While the pre-set Byakushiki perfectly fitted my body, the armour design had a certain bulkiness to it. Now, the armour has a more elegant feel, with polished curves contoured to my body. I can truly say that Byakushiki is my personal IS now.
Hm? The weapon list once more appears inside my mind; it seems it's not only the armour that has changed.
1x Close Combat Enhanced Sword Yukihira Nigata
10x Multi-Purpose Energy Blades
The word Yukihira strikes me like an arrow. As someone who originally chose to be the pillar supporting Chifuyu-nee, I had memorized everything regarding the word Yukihira. It's natural to do so, as Yukihira was the name of the only recorded weapon Chifuyu-nee used in combat. The sword named Yukihira… And now I too wield a sword with Yukihira in its name…
"I really do have the best sister in the world…"
"I-is that First Shift? You m-mean to tell me you were fighting all this time with the initial factory settings?"
Although I heard everything Cecilia had said, none of it registered in my mind. Instead I activated the special function of the sword in my hand and watched in marvel as the blade opened up and a pure blue energy blade formed in its stead.
"Even now, you continue to look after me…"
"A-are you ignoring me?"
"But… It's about time I leave your care and protect you instead… I'll be sure to defend your name and honour!"
"What are you saying? You're not making any sense at all! Gah! No matter, first shift or not, I'll finish you off now!"
With that the two remaining laser bits immediately close in before firing non-stop towards me. It appears that Cecilia, having recognized the weakness in her earlier strategy, has instead opted for rapidly firing from a single source in order to hit me. Unfortunately for her, Byakushiki's appearance wasn't the only thing that has changed due to First Shift. The speed, response time, and clarity of the hyper sensor had all been upgraded.
With my increased reflexes and speed, I easily weave past the barrage of laser fire, before slashing one of the bits with the Yukihira Nigata. Seeing the other bit retreating out of my range, I materialize the only other weapon equipped on my IS. A rectangular hilt appears in my empty left had, and from the tip, a fifty centimeter long energy blade forms. Without wasting another second, I throw the smaller blade towards the fleeing bit and watch the last laser drone explode.
Receiving another locked-on warning from Byakushiki, I turn towards Cecilia's location and find the pair of missile launchers pointed at me.
Shield Points remaining: 137. IS damage: none.
Seeing my remaining Shield Points, I hatch a plan.
When the missiles once again approached me, I materialize two more energy blades and used them to intercept the explosives. The resulting explosion creates a smokescreen and using my improved hyper sensor to 'see' Cecilia's location, I fling Yukihira Nigata towards her before accelerating after the blade.
On the other side of the smoke, Cecilia continued to scrutinize the dark clouds for movement. She had seen Ichika intercepting the missiles and knew that an attack was imminent. Suddenly, the energy sword her opponent was wielding burst out from the smoke and in her surprise, she was not able to fully dodge it. Angling one of her 'wings' to deflect the hit, she was shocked when the sword easily sliced through the material before hitting her shoulder.
240 Shield Points depleted. Shield Points remaining: 327. Warning! Critical damage on right shoulder armour.
A look of horror dons on Cecilia's face. With one hit from that sword, her shields were reduced by thirty percent while also critically damaging part of her armour.
Before she could recover from the shock, Ichika continued his assault.
Charging towards Cecilia at full speed, three more hilts materialize around my right wrist before forming an energy claw. Gearing back my right arm, I gave a vicious straight punch to her abdomen. Continuing the assault, I tilt my IS to the left before executing a spinning elbow, forcing her to fall back. Using the left over momentum from the spin, I force her to fall back to earth with a kick.
Raising my arm, Yukihira Nigata once more materializes into my empty hand, before I chase after Cecilia's falling figure. Raising my arms for an overhead strike, I let out a battle cry.
Shield Points remaining: 16.
The sound of a buzzer reverberates throughout the arena.
"Match end. Winner: Orimura Ichika."
Hearing that, I raise Yukihira away from Cecilia who was effectively straddled under me. Her IS was heavily damaged, with my last strike destroying much of the armour surrounding her arms, which she had used to block. Stepping away from her, I watch as her IS dissipate before dematerializing Byakushiki.
Still lying on the ground, Cecilia continues to stare at the sky. Perhaps she is still shocked at her loss? Approaching her, I extend my arm to help her up. She stares at my offered hand for a few seconds before wordlessly taking it. Pulling her up, I couldn't help but notice how soft her hand is. I wonder if the rest of her body is equally soft…. Wah! What am I thinking! Feeling my cheeks heating up, I quickly release her hand and look away from her.
Forcing myself to face her again, I lower my head in a bow.
"I wish to apologize for my comments last week."
Raising my head, I take in the sight of Cecilia's shocked face.
"I… Let my anger get the better of me and said some things that I shouldn't have, so I wish to apologize."
Bowing again. I start heading towards the change room.
"I-I was the one who i-insulted you first. S-so it should me who should apologize. G-gomenasai!"
This time, it's Cecilia who bows and this time, it is I who is shocked. I never expected the high and mighty oujo-sama to apologize to me.
"Ah! It's all water under the bridge now so you can stand…" Scratching my head in embarrassment, I wait until Cecilia rises.
"The battle today was really close Cecilia. If you were to have more up to date information on my IS, I'm sure you would have won… What I'm saying is that I want you to take the class representative position. I didn't want it in the first place and as a representative candidate I'm sure you're more suited to it than I am."
"I look forward to working with someone as skilled as you in the future and hope we can be friends, class rep."
A sense of déjà vu appears as I extend my hand to Cecilia and she stares at it in shock. Finally shaking herself out of it, she takes my hand and shakes it.
"I-I look forward to working with you as well."
"Don't get cocky just because you won! You made several mistakes today and if Alcott hadn't been playing around with you, you would have lost in the first few minutes."
Instead of the congratulations I was expecting, I got a scolding instead. How could you be so cruel Chifuyu-nee?
"But I guess you did win, so I'll let you off with only a light warning today got that?"
"Chifuyu-nee…" You really do care!
"Yes, Orimura-sensai." Ugh, I got hit again…
"Orimura-kun, the gauntlet on your right wrist is your IS in standby mode. If you call for it, your IS will deploy immediately; however there are rules governing IS deployment so memorize all of it. Saying that, Yamada-sensei hands me a book the size of a telephone directory… How am I supposed to memorize all of this?
"That's all for today. Head back and get some rest."
Her tone is once more cold. Sigh… Chifuyu-nee can't you show your gentle side more often?
"You were thinking of something idiotic weren't you?"
"Sorry…" This is scary. How did you read my mind so easily Chifuyu-nee?
Another cold person has appeared. At least Houki doesn't hit me- Wait, she does! Why are all the females I'm close to so violent towards me?"
"Hurry up! I'll lock you out if you dawdle any longer!" Hearing that, I chase after Houki.
Back in the room, the atmosphere hasn't gotten any better. Is this any way to treat your friend who just overcame great hardship, Houki?
"-as worried about you…" A quiet whisper comes from Houki's direction
"Eh? Sorry I didn't hear that. Could you repeat it?"
Turning red, Houki's shoulders began shaking. Uh oh, she's picking up her bokken now.
"Y-you! Are you making fun of me!"
"What? All I said was for you to repeat what you said."
My timely dodge saves my head but a few of my hairs were severed.
"Wah! Houki, calm down! Calm down! I'm sorry for whatever I did to anger you!"
Hearing that, Houki lowers her sword, but a tight grip still remains on the handle. Phew, crisis averted for now.
"Tomorrow we'll begin your IS training."
"Y-you do still want m-me to t-train you, r-right?" Strange, Houki's turning red again, but this time it's like she's embarrassed. I wonder why? "I-I mean you could ask Chifuyu for help or even that sempai…"
"Well, I don't want to bother Chifuyu-nee more than I have to and people will interpret it as favouritism anyways. I could ask that sempai but I prefer Houki better as we're familiar with each other. Besides, your kendo training did come in handy during the match. I was able to keep my focus despite the audience and my reflexes improved as well and I have you to thank for that."
"S-so you do want me to teach you?"
"Of course I do. I'll be in your care from here on out."
"Is that so… I see I see…"
With a happy look on her face she points her finger at me.
"Then I'll make a special exception for you and continue your training. Make sure to leave some time after school starting tomorrow, got that?
The next morning during SHR, a surprise was waiting for me.
"So it's decided. The class representative of 1-1 shall be Orimura Ichika."
"Eh?" Didn't I give that position to Cecilia! I told both teachers of my decision so why is it me?
"What's the problem Orimura-kun?"
"Yamada-sensei, why am I the class representative? I gave the position to Alcott-san."
"That's because I forfeited my position to you." Standing up from her chair, Cecilia elaborates.
"As a personal IS holder, you need piloting experience more than ever and what better way to get it than by representing our class in battle? While my skill as a representative candidate perfectly fits the class representative roll, I decided that you were in need of that position more. As a lady of my stature, I could not abandon a fellow classmate in need."
"Uh…" I really couldn't go against her logic, even if I didn't want the position at all…
"Therefore, as the graceful elegant noble and benevolent lady that I am, I'll help you improve your piloting skills, so you better be grateful I-Ichika-san."
Wow, Cecilia really acting nice all of a sudden… And… Did she just call me by my first name?
"Ichika is already training with me! He asked me directly!"
Shooting a death glare at Cecilia, Houki emphasizes on the 'me' part.
"Oh? But wouldn't I be the better choice as an instructor, IS grade C Shinonono-san? I am a candidate representative and have an IS grade of A."
"G-grades have nothing to do with this! Ichika asked- no, begged me to teach him!"
Wait, Houki's grade C? Even I have a ranking of B…
The IS grade basically tells how compatible a person is in piloting an IS. Although it's not really important as compatibility increases as a pilot gains more experience, to find out that Houki has a lower ranking than me is somewhat shocking. Incidentally an IS grade of A is considered top class so Cecilia's claim does hold some merit.
"Sit down and be quiet you idiots!" Ah. Chifuyu-nee has arrived. Not wanting to be the subject of her ire, Houki and Cecilia immediately comply.
Ouch! What was that for Chifuyu-nee?
"Stop complaining! I already have to deal with an idiot like you so I'd appreciate it if you don't cause more trouble."
Turning to glare at the two girls, Chifuyu-nee continues her scolding.
"As for you two, you're IS levels mean nothing and might as well be garbage. All of you here have to learn everything from the very beginning, whether you are a complete amateur or a representative candidate. Understand?"
Though her words may seem harsh, they do hold truth in them. As the pinnacle of IS piloting skill, Chifuyu-nee has achieved an IS grade of S, a rank that few even know of… To her, the ranking of a few teenage girls would indeed be garbage comparatively.
That ranking is something I need to achieve. As a stepping stone to my goal of protecting Chifuyu-nee, I will have to reach her level and possibly beyond…
IS designation: Byakushiki
Current Pilot: Orimura Ichika
Built by Shinonono Tabane under the guise of the Kuratokugi-ken manufacturer, the close combat IS, Byakushiki, is considered to be the most technologically advanced of all current third generation machines. In truth, Byakushiki should be considered a 3.5 generation machine as Tabane built it as a precursor to the 4th generation machine she is currently working on...
1x Close Combat Enhanced Sword Yukihira Nigata
10x Multi-Purpose Energy Blades
The Yukihira Nigata was created due to the request of one Orimura Chifuyu. As the energy requirements to maintain the energy blade is more than the IS core can provide, sacrificing one's own Shield Energy is required. In exchange, the Yukihira Nigata becomes extremely powerful, able to deplete enemy Shield Energy at the merest touch. A solid hit from the blade will more often than not be able to pierce the Shield Barrier and cause heavy damage to the IS itself. The next level is the use of Reirakyu Byakuya. By activating this ability, Byakushiki can completely negate any energy constructs. As the attack is unhindered by the Shield Barrier, an opponent's IS will activate the Absolute Barrier in order to defend the pilot's life, usually completely draining their Shield ability is extremely draining though and can only be used sparingly.
The Multi-Purpose Energy Blades was a last minute addition installed by Tabane. The blade on each hilt can have a variable length, with the maximum size at one meter long. These blades can be used as medium range throwing daggers or as a close range blade. It's real strength is its ability to fit in various slots on Byakushiki's armour allowing for enhanced close combat possibilities such as energy claws or energy blade enhanced elbow strikes, kicks, etc. There are more functions to this weapon but Ichika has not yet discovered them.
IS designation: Blue Tears
Current Pilot: Cecilia Alcott
Mainly designed by the British Government, the IS was built around the weapon system Shinonono Tabane had sold to them. Built as a long range sniper unit, Blue Tears main strategy is either swarm enemies with the bits, or use divide and conquer tactics.
1x Seven Caliber Long Range Rifle Starlight MkIII
4x Optical Drones 'Bits' mounted with BT Lasers Blue Tears
2x Seeking Missile Pods Blue Tears
1x Close Combat Knife Interceptor
Due to the multiple point of views, using the bits in a battle situation is extremely difficult, as the human brain is not designed to multitask in such a manner. Currently when Cecilia uses the Blue Tears weapon system, she has to stop her own movement and only attack through the bits. Even then, she can only attack with one bit at a time, unless they are fairly close together. As the designer of the weapon system, Ichika is confused by the difficulty in the use of the bits. Perhaps the British Government has changed the design more than meets the eye...
To combat this weakness, Cecilia can attack with her seeking missiles and then follow up with strikes from the drones, allowing for simultaneous attacks as the missile lock on system is independent of the user once fired.
AN: Well this story is my first fan fiction as well as the longest piece of writing I have ever done. I tried to retain the original light novels writing style while avoiding blatantly copying the text, but there are one or two parts where it's the same. I look forward to any constructive criticisms you may have.