Houki flicked idly through the channels of the tv, slightly anxious yet mostly bored out of her mind.

The young kendo girl was currently trying to find news, any news, about her old childhood friend. Yesterday, the whole world was buzzing at the revelation that there was a male capable of using the Infinte Stratos. Various programs featuring talk show hosts, government officials, even informal and very invasive interviews with Ichika's friends were shown. Houki could only worry if the stress was getting to the poor guy. He never did well when extremely frustrated or nervous.

…Not that she knew…or cared…or spent two hours extensively 'observing' him one afternoon after kendo practice.

Suddenly, a familiar face caught her eye, and she quickly flicked back to the previous channel. Her eyes widened in shock and her lower jaw became slack and fell down as she stared at the spectacle before her.

There was Ichika, wearing only a towel in some random yet clean bathroom. For a moment she was taken aback by the various scars that riddled his body, but that was quickly overridden by the fact that he was, in her mind, chiseled and muscled like a true man. The screen shined brilliantly for a few seconds, and then revealed Ichika once more.

"Hello everyone." Ichika said in a suspiciously sauve voice, with an almost mischievous grin on his face. His black eyes seemed to reach beyond the screen and into Houki's very soul. The most eye catching detail though, was the fact he was currently riding on a bright red Infinite Stratos that had very sharp looking wings. "Look at your IS. Now back to me. Now back at your IS. Now back to me. Sadly, your IS is not like mine. But if you stopped being an effeminate girly girl and got a real pair of weapons, you could pretend that your IS was like mine. Look down,"

The scenery behind Ichika suddenly began to lift upwards, revealing a luxurious yacht and a sunny afternoon. Several similarly chiseled and scarred men, some as young as thirteen while others were as old as forty, were milling around in the background, doing things and flexing suggestively for anyone to see. Ichika began to move towards the right, his IS dematerializing, never once looking away from the camera even as a red cloak dropped over Ichika's shoulders and his towel dropped away, showing the red track shorts below.

"Now back up. Where are you?" He asked rhetorically, and answered his own question without missing a beat. "You're on a boat with the IS your IS could pretend to be."

Houki couldn't tear her eyes from the television, her mouth remaining in a permenant status of 'open' at the commercial, her face full of awe. What the hell was going on?

The camera zoomed in on Ichika, whose unflinchingly serious face continued his assault on sensibility and anything sane.

"What's that in your hand?" He asked, grin turnning savage. For a moment, his eyes flashed a light red before turning back into the normal black "Back at me! I have it." He lifted his hand slowly, showing... "It's an partial deployment filled with two tickets to that thing you love. Look again:" The clawed mechanical hand fell away, now revealing... "The tickets are now diamonds! Anything is possible when your IS looks like a badass and you don't act like a lady!"

The camera began to pan away, and now Ichika was...

"I'm on a horse." Ichika stated plainly, still resolutely staring forward even as the horse walked to the side. The words "Orimura's Warehouse Armory and Arsenal Needs" faded into view next to him.

And then the commercial ended, and something else came on.

Houki stared hard at her television screen, utterly perplexed by what she had seen. What had she just watched?

And why did she suddenly want to go out and buy some very very sharp implements of death?


=I=N=F=I=N=I=T=E=

2 Years Earlier

=S=T=R=A=T=O=S=

Ichika Orimura yawned loudly as he leaned back and folded his arms behind his head. Below him was a big mass of twitching bodies that thought they could take him. The 13 year old boy looked around from his makeshift throne, eyes lazily scanning for his friends.

"Damn man. Couldn't save any for me?" A dark haired teenager in a white T-shirt shirt and black cargo pants said as he surveyed his friend's work.

Ichika glanced down and grinned."And what? Kindly ask these assholes who think they're tough to wait another ten minutes so my friend Ogre can come and beat them senseless? Hah! That's rich."

"Laugh it up Armory. One day, when you least expect it, I'm going to launch a box full of rabid pissed off cats at you."

Ichika's eyes narrowed. "You wouldn't dare."

"Don't challenge him Armory. We both know this fucker will take any challenge thrown at him."

Both teens snapped their attention to the new arrival. Hands in his pocket and dressed similar to his friend Ogre, the silver haired teen yawned.

"Wolf. Sup?"

"The sun. Which is telling us that we better haul ass to school in the next 5 minutes or else our guardians will kill us."

Ichika paled at the thought of pissing off his sister. Over the years, she had toughened up and blossomed into a beautiful young woman. She also developed a large range of skills that usually involved punishing him for any misdeeds. Ogre gulped at the thought of pissing off his demon of a dad and Wolf shuddered at the idea of being even a second late and having his militaratisic dad find out.

"Last one there is buying lunch."

"Hell no! You eat more than enough for three families!"

"Then you better haul ass! Cuz the Ogre is on a rampage!"

"That was terrible."

"You didn't say that when we first met."

"Man, what a day that was. Remember how my sister went batlistic on me when I walked home covered in bruises?"

"Oh yeah totally. She hit us too remember? It was pretty cool of Yami and Desmond to help patch us up though. Your bro was a dick though. I can't believe he stood by and just laughed."

"Like yours was any better Ogre. Freakin Jackal. He actually had the balls to start cracking jokes at his expense."

"I have never seen a more impressive way to shut him up though."

=Quicky Flashback Action=

"I swear to the Great Older Sister in the sky that if you don't help me out right now and SHUT THE FUCK ALREADY, I'M GOING TO TEAR OUT ALL YOUR ORGANS. ALPHABETAICALLY!"

=Wasn't that Quick?=

"...Anyone else have that feeling someone's playing a game with us?"

"All the time."


Chifuyu Orimura stared.

The object of her affections stared back.

"You're bad for me, you know," she said, her fingers tapping absent patterns against her thigh.

"I see you and it's just… I don't know. It's like I'm home, you know? But…" she bit her lip and turned away. "There are… issues between us. We're not physically compatible." She held up a hand, forestalling any objections. "I know, we had fun last time, right?" Chifuyu winced and rubbed a hand across her abdomen. "Well it was fun at first, just tasting—" She coughed and folded her hands across the table, business-like. "I can't do this anymore. We need to call it quits."

No response.

Chifuyu nodded, compassion flitting across her eyes and stood. "I'll leave now. It'll be easier on both of us."

As her footfalls faded into the distance, Drunken Russian Yuri looked up at the assassin rummaging through the fridge. "Does
Strong Lady always talk to ice cream like that?"

Yami coughed into his fist as he pulled out a beer. "You should see her talk to cheese. I was also told by Little Blue she has a love/hate relationship with alcohol."