Infinite Stratos: To the Mondo Grosso

Chapter 1: Changing Fate

In a drowsy, lazy eyed state, the notes of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 rung painfully in my ears. Famous as it was, I was no fan the piece written in the D minor scale. Forget that for a moment, I was not a fan of most pieces pushed upon me by my parents. Trying to shut off the howling monster that is my alarm clock, I accidentally stepped all over various sheets covered in complicated musical notes and scores. Way too many papers in here, yet another mundane task for me since I'll have to sort them out later… With hazy vision I barely manage to avoid knocking over the cello sitting near my bed and prevent the violins from falling off the wall as I try to get a grip to help me walk. Whose idea was it to put my clock so far away again? Right, it was father's idea, just so I had no choice but to get out of my bed. Oh how loving you are, you bearded out of tune freak.

At last, I reach the source of my morning anguish. Smashing upon the button, I manage to quell the melodic torture before it reaches its crescendo. It's time to get ready for another uniformly horrendous day. Brushing my teeth, showering and all that helped to wake me up fully but it just as much makes me wish I was a girl as I stare at myself in the mirrors in the bathroom.

Why couldn't this chest have boobs; why can't I exchange my non-existent abs a smooth girl's stomach with a cute navel; why can't I lose whatever muscle mass I have in my body for that matter in exchange for slender and sexy limbs; and, even if my blonde hair is slightly long with a braided pony tail at the base and my jawline as well as facial features are smooth, I could never pass off as a girl – after all, I had men's prized organ resting between my legs.

Why would I want to be a girl? Just take a look at the nearest TV. Infinite Stratos, the new weapon and toy of the world, is on every major headline. Flashy weapons, battles, wonderful aesthetics, it should be everyone's dream to be an IS pilot. It's mine too. Having said this, my eyes were indeed glued to the TV as I re-watched the Mondo Grosso Tournament. Our county's Tempest was the winner this time round. Though I did feel proud, it was over shadowed by jealousy. I wanted to shoot a rifle instead of bowing a violin. I wanted to read an IS manual instead of the scales of another symphony or concerto. I wanted to battle others instead of playing in robotic synchrony with an orchestra. Oh well, life is…well, life. We must live with what we are given.

Fixated on the twirls, dashes and flips of Tempest as it maneuvered through the air I failed to notice the time. Right on cue, a screech pierces my delicate ears.

"ALTO VALLE DI CORODE, come down NOW!"

Oh how I hate the scream of a Soprano. Have you no consideration for my ears? Without a response, I proceed out the oversized wooden doors of my room and down our family's carpeted staircase. Must we be the archetype of an Old Italian family, paintings, vases, classic décor and all? To my right the door is open, allowing the aroma of food to drift out and spread through the house. Don't they know it will make the carpet smell unpleasant?

Entering the kitchen I see an array of various dishes laid out on a crimson table cloth that shines in the light and glides on skin when touched. Satin, a wonderful material in general but I still wonder why it should be used as a table cloth when it could be so easily stained. Mother and father are already seated, quietly and "elegantly" eating their breakfast – perfect posture and all.

"How could you be late Alto, of all days?" Father questions bluntly as he wipes coffee off his ridiculous mustache. Why would you want a hairy abomination upon your lips that resembles a butchered treble cleft? Up to now, and most likely forever, the tastes of "aristocrats" eludes me.

"I apologize, father."

The old man just lets out a grunt and takes another bite of his meal. I myself cut up my Panini and dumped the morsel into my mouth.

"Make haste, Alto. The Academy will not look favorably upon you if you are late."

If you thought she meant IS Academy, well, I wish it was that too. No, she means the Royal Academy of Music. A haven for musicians and a hell hole for me. Woohoo. I'm REALLY excited.

"All our efforts will be worth it if you finally manage to become a conductor. Do your best, son."

Yay…Conducting. I get to wave a stick in front of people who play their instruments with their eyes closed for most of the time. I'm absolutely THRILLED. Now, I don't mean offense to people who actually want to do something like this but, in my eyes, this is rather pointless. Forgive me if I've offended you, good sir/madam.

So, here I am a while later, making my way through the building filled with people. On ears like mine, it can hurt a little in densely crowded places where decibels of sound reach higher amounts than I would appreciate. What room is it again? What floor for that matter…

Making my way through the chaotic arrays of people around me, I finally reached the building's auditorium where a gigantic sign greeted me with the words "Royal Academy of Music Auditions". As I lay my hand on the door knob all I can think of is two things. One: Time to resign myself to this horrid and boring fate. Two: I absolutely HATE my life. All the riches of my family or whatever comes with being an aristocrat are worthless when one lives life without thrills and freedom. Would I have been fat, you could've called me the perfect example of an overly pampered house pet. Perhaps an obese canary would be the most suitable image.

After an absolutely wondrous hour of interviews consisting of questions, playing pieces, and singing (don't tell me you actually think I mean wondrous in a good way), I was finally liberated. For all I cared, I hoped I would fail just so I could escape this fate and be banished to the military or something.

Don't worry; I won't mope for much longer. I'd rather not any way – it's not usually my style to act like the "emo" child. Right now, I've got something better to look forward to. Outside in the hall, my singing teacher was waiting for me dressed in her casual wear.

No, I'm not going on a date with my singing teacher. She's got a wedding ring on her finger with a diamond the size of a gum ball stuck to it. What I'm interested in is her husband. And no, I'm not gay – at least let me explain before you jump to conclusions.

My teacher's husband is on the Italian government's research team for IS development. As a method of motivation, she promised I would be able to take a tour around their facility should I "get off my lazy buttocks and study for my audition". So, I did what I needed to do just to get my own personal tour around my dream.

From the moment I entered the facility and began receiving the lecture regarding IS from my teacher's husband. He brought me around every area and provided me with various information such as IS history, facts about IS operation, weaponry and also gave me quite a good insight to the development and production process at all stages – from the drawing board, to experiments, to proto-types and the final product. I listened to everything, completely fixated on trying to remember it all.

Now, my day was going brilliantly until a certain person showed up. That's right, enter father. With his stare, rough movements, and veins swelling in certain spots, it would seem he was ready to drag me out of the facility.

"Alto, you are going to be late for your afternoon lessons at this rate. Let us leave now!"

Great, is this what they call find a treasure and the ogre comes out situation? I haven't even seen the pilots training yet. Lucky for me, my teacher's husband the professor began to make pleasantries with my father. Being the "epitome of a gentleman" my father is (more like someone who's got his conductor stick way too high up his rear end), he took the opportunity to greet the man.

Of course, I wasn't going to stick around. At the very least I wanted to see an IS up close or watch the pilots train. I'd much rather cut my own ears off than pass up an opportunity I most likely will never have again. Besides, where there's trouble, there's a thrill and thrill is definitely something I lack in life.

I snuck my way out of their sights as they made conversation, moving swiftly on the balls of my feet to avoid making too much sound. Lucky for me, there was a sign with directions in the hallway. Immediately, I entered the corridor which would lead me to the arena. If I get in trouble for this, I don't really mind. An extra lock on the steel cage won't change the fate of an imprisoned bird.

A brilliant shine then caught my attention from the corner of my eye. The door to my left was open slightly with a strange light bursting through the creaks. It could just be sunlight but a little perusal would be of no harm now that I've come this far, would it? I looked around before swiftly entering the room, closing the door on my way in.

If what happened now could be compared to picking up a lottery ticket, then it most certainly is that kind of situation. If, might I add, the lottery ticket was outdated, then it would just be perfect. An IS suit stood right before my eyes. It was more amazing than I had ever imagined or had seen on TV. This particular model was pitch-black with crimson. The sleek framework with certain sharp features gave it a mixed impression of both elegance and menace. This particular model seemed to have complete body armor with a chest plate and helm.

I walked up to get a closer look at my lifelong dream. However, my former enthusiasm soon turned bitter as I remembered one key fact. I'm a guy, not a girl. Wonderful, absolutely spiffing isn't it? Dangle my dream in front of my face why don't you? Am I some horse to hang a carrot in front of my face?

Alas, my robotic friend, it's time to part before I get arrested or something of the sort. I decided to quickly pat the shoulder of the suit. The moment my flesh came in contact with the cold metal, things began to flash into my mind and a sharp bolt of pain shot through my arm and into my body. Masses upon masses of information and data surged through my head. It felt like it was going to explode. At the peak of my suffering my world began to fade to black. The last thing I saw was my bleak face reflected on the surface of the IS.