Infinite Stratos, and all its characters, belong to Izuru Yumizuru

Text means point-of-view character's thoughts

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Tatenashi

September 10th, 2030

Tatenashi overlooked the city of Tokyo from her company's skyscraper central offices. In her hand was her cell phone.

"Yes, Tabane-san?"

"Tate-chan! Guess what? That project you had me working on is ready! I'll send you the coordinates now~! I'm already transferring my employees to the labs and security sections. Go! Recruit! Make sure to bring Ikkun and Chi-chan! And remember... Having fun is well and good, but winning is more important! Jaa ne~!"

As Tatenashi's phone went dead, Tatenashi had a slight twitch in her eyebrow and a grimace on her face. She sighed.

"Mooh~. She's too energetic even for my tastes sometimes..."

Tatenashi looked over the large pile of folders on her desk. Each one was a part of her company's agenda, or hiring information for a secretary.

The UN had absorbed the Phantom Hunters and were going over a list of IS pilots to choose their first forty eight pilots, or first mechanized IS Company.

Even if it meant having to go to school, she would get this war done.

It was her family's duty, after all.

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Part 2, Chapter 9: Aftermath of a Battle, Start of a War

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Ichika

September 10, 2030, late afternoon

Orimura residence, Ichika's room

Ichika looked down at the letter in his hands for the fifth time in as many minutes, distress and frustration clear on his features.

Madoka...

Dear Ichika-niichan,

If you're reading this, they I guess that we didn't manage to recruit you. That's okay, I guess.

...I'm honestly not sure why I decided to write this. I have several tests that just finished calculations, and I have several subjects available, as well.

I really just knew that, somehow, I needed to write this.

Needed to give myself a sense of closure, if you will.

I'm sure you'll understand why.

We're twins, after all.

Nevertheless, even after all these years, I still don't understand why you refused to acknowledge Tou-sama and Kaa-sama.

Chifuyu-neesama was an excellent guardian, but she just wasn't either of our parents.

She was our sister.

Our parents are important. Filial piety matters, Niichan.

What's wrong with that?

If you still hate them, you really are a Bad Boy.

-Madoka Orimura

P.S. The other half of the necklace- because if I cannot be reunited with my twin, at least it may, and I cannot afford sentiment.

P.P.S. You may want to keep an eye on your girl. I am certain that she's going to be our first target should anything happen...

Ichika crumpled the letter into a small ball and threw it as hard as he could at the wall.

What the hell is with her?

That's bullshit!

They abandoned us!

They forgot about us!

And then they just expected us to come right back!

And then they played favorites!

Oh yes, I'm a Bad Boy now.

I've always been a Bad Boy, Madoka.

Dammit...

Ichika looked down at the necklace in his hand, the two halves he and his sister once carried now united.

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Charlotte

September 10th, late afternoon

Orimura residence, living room

Charlotte was staring blankly at her letter, mixed thoughts swirling throughout her mind.

Dear Dunois-san,

Hello. I'm Ichika's little sister.

Then again, I suppose you already know that. He might have told you.

Sure, I can't be certain, I don't know how he's changed recently, but I know that when it was just him, me and Nee-sama, he was fairly prone to not telling people much.

I suppose I should appreciate you taking care of him these past few months, but Nee-sama has been the one raising him.

Besides, it's not like we, his real family, will ever allow him to be with someone like you.

You should just give up.

-Madoka Orimura

Charlotte stared at it for another couple of seconds before tossing into the garbage.

No, she can't...

She shouldn't...

It doesn't...

No...

No, she hasn't talked to Ichika even once between the kidnapping and the incident in July.

Does that even count?

She doesn't even know me...

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Chifuyu

Same time

Orimura residence, Chifuyu's room

Chifuyu took a sip from a can of beer as she stared at the letter in her hand.

Dear Chifuyu-Neesama,

I can't believe you.

We couldn't even kill you.

We had the advantage of a surprise attack.

How dare you live!

Why?

Why do you continue to live, with Nii-chan?

Are you laughing at me secretly, Nee-sama?

How dare you...

You're unforgivable.

-Madoka Orimura

Chifuyu snorted, then ripped apart the letter and envelope and threw them on her cooler.

Ridiculous.

I thought I taught her better than that.

I'd think that Akemi and Ryuugaki would teach her better than that.

She doesn't...

Chifuyu sighed and took another sip of beer.

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Charlotte

Orimura residence, just outside Chifuyu's room

Charlotte knocked on the door in front of her a few times.

"Orimura-sensei?"

"Come in, Charlotte."

Charlotte blinked, unsure if she had heard correctly, before opening the door and stepping in, closing it behind herself.

The room itself was rather sparse and spartan in design, and didn't look very frequently lived in. It had obviously been getting more use than usual in the past couple of weeks, as Charlotte noted a bit of a hasty clean-up job in the more crucial areas. The sheets on the bed were wrinkled, more so than expected- like they had been shoved down on the bed, made and ready for use, for a very long time before only recently coming to use again.

Charlotte noticed that the newest-looking appliance in the room was a cooler, which had a hastily ripped-apart envelope and letter thrown on top. Chifuyu was sitting on the side of her bed, holding a can of beer in her hand, and from both the smell and the lack of other cans, Charlotte concluded that it was likely her first.

"What do you need, Charlotte?"

Charlotte stopped, realizing that she had heard correctly.

"Uh... Why are you calling me Charlotte now, Orimura-sensei."

Chifuyu laughed bitterly, before setting aside the can of beer in her hand.

"I'm not your teacher anymore, Charlotte. I'm not sure if I'm ever going to be a teacher again. Plus, you're dating my little brother. I think you can call me Chifuyu if you want."

"Right... Chifuyu-san."

Charlotte sat down on the chair across from Chifuyu's bed.

She looked around, her feet shifting insecurely and her eyes refusing to make eye contact. Finally, as if gathering courage and strength, she took a deep breath, and asked.

"Chifuyu-san, have you ever killed before?"

Chifuyu looked surprised, but it quickly faded away to understanding. Chifuyu closed her eyes, a solemn look on her face.

"Yes. When Ichika was kidnapped, and once in Germany."

Charlotte seemed to gain courage and looked straight at Chifuyu.

"Does... Does it get any easier?"

Chifuyu shook her head.

"No. And it shouldn't, either. Being able to kill without some hesitation, even if it's only mental, people shouldn't be able to. Killing without some regret... nobody should be able to do so. However, you should also keep yourself in a position where you know you did the best you could. And you did. You were in a position where you had no other way, and the alternative was dying yourself. None of us even knew that their ISs were designed to keep on going after running out of shielding. We couldn't have known, and so you defended yourself, and the other people there, and any future people that she may have killed- so remember, and regret, but regret only that you had to kill, not that she is dead."

"Is that how you managed?"

Chifuyu looked guilty for a second.

"No. I don't regret anyone that I killed when Ichika was kidnapped. I regret not getting punished for it, but I do not regret the deed. Do not take after me, Charlotte. I don't make a good role model."

Charlotte looked vaguely horrified, and Chifuyu winced.

"Of course you do! You're a skilled, independent woman known worldwide for her intelligence and ability. You dominated the competitive circuit with other pilots using guns with nothing but a single sword. In a male-dominated society, you were the first to show the world as a whole that a woman can be just as strong, just as competent, as any man. Chifuyu-san, I'm sure that at least half of our Academy's alumni and students looked up to you, and that you were the one to inspire them to such heights in the first place. You've inspired a generation of women to become the best they can be, Chifuyu-san. If you aren't a good role model, than who is?"

Chifuyu looked surprised about Charlotte's statements, and opened her mouth.

She closed it with a click after.

Charlotte solemnly looked at Chifuyu, patted her shoulder, and nodded to herself.

"I'll talk to you later."

Charlotte calmly walked out of the room and and shut the door behind her.

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Ichika

September 12th, 2030

Orimura Residence, Ichika's Room

Ichika Orimura,

You have been chosen by the United Nations as one of three-dozen candidates for initial membership in the United Nations Joint Air and Artillery Force.

Should you accept membership, you will be sent to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in the United Kingdom, where you will take a specially-made, accelerated course to join the UNJAAF upon your graduation mid-May.

As an IS Pilot, you will be the only man to participate in the program.

Please indicate your acceptance or rejection of this invitation as soon as possible. Note that we require it at the latest by September 20th, 2030. If you do accept, your flight for the United Kingdom will be on the 25th and you will start you classes on the 1st of October.

Ichika stared at the message for several minutes before nodding to himself. He knew what he needed to do, now it a question of convincing his sister to let him do it. However, there was one other question he had to have answered first.

Ichika got himself dressed, walked out of his room, and knocked on the door to the guestroom that Charlotte had been staying in.

"Who is it?" He heard solemnly from the other side.

"It's Ichika. Can I come in?"

"I guess."

Ichika opened the door and walked in, sitting himself down next to Charlotte before wrapping an arm around her shoulder. She smiled softly and leaned into his shoulder.

"Did you get the email?" He asked calmly. Ichika felt Charlotte's shoulders tense under his arm, before she relaxed slightly.

"I did." She replied in a soft voice.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"Not right now. Can you... Can you just hold me, for a little bit?"

Ichika smiled.

"Of course I can."

Ichika moved Charlotte a bit, so that she was leaning on his chest, instead of his shoulder, and wrapped both of his arms around her waist. Smiling gently, he rested his head on her shoulder, pressing his cheek to hers.

"So yes, Ichika, I did get one of the emails for the UNAAF."

"And what are you going to do about it?" Ichika asked calmly.

"What are you?" Charlotte responded.

"You already know the answer to that question." He replied.

Charlotte rubbed her cheek against his for a second.

"Yes, I do."

Ichika just held her, and basked in the feelings of warmth and peace that she gave him.

"You're afraid, aren't you?" He asked gently.

Charlotte winced slightly.

"I'm not sure if I can kill again..." She replied softly.

"It's okay." He told her.

"No, it's not. It makes me a coward. That's not okay. I don't want to be a coward."

"You know, Char? Sometimes, it's braver to show be afraid, and stay by and do it, than to show no fear and do it. Other times, it's braver to admit to your fear and keep away from it, than just silently stand by and roast in your own cowardice, regretting your decision every day for the rest of your life. I cannot make this decision for you. It's your life. I can answer your questions, I can reassure you that your chosen path was the right one- which it will be, if you think of it properly- but I cannot make that decision for you. I don't think I could live with myself if I did."

"But what if I make the wrong decision? What if I kill the wrong person? What if-" Ichika cut her off by pressing his mouth to hers. After kissing her for a few seconds, he pulled back.

"Don't hesitate. Look forward. Make a choice, and Chifuyu-nee and I will support and help you. Your father might, too. Talk to him. I'm going to make breakfast."

Ichika kissed her quickly once more, before slowly disentangling himself from her and walking out of the room.

Charlotte slumped back onto her bed, hand covering her forehead.

"I just don't know..." She whispered hoarsely.

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Charlotte

September 19th, 2030

Orimura Residence

Charlotte looked to Laura sitting across from her on the kitchen table.

On the previous day, she had been discharged from the hospital, and was currently sharing a room with Charlotte, who had been rather silent the past week. Her new prosthetic right arm was working well, though she still had a bit more physical therapy to go through for it. Laura had every intention of going to the military school, that was something that Charlotte didn't doubt.

Charlotte had already called and talked to her father, who told her that it was her decision. Charlotte was of the personal opinion that he didn't really care, but she couldn't be certain.

After eating, Charlotte twisted her hands nervously for a few seconds before asking,

"Laura-chan, can I talk to you? Upstairs?"

"Yes."

As Charlotte and Laura walked out, Ichika and Chifuyu looked at each other briefly before they raced to the TV.

Charlotte shook her head as she went up.

They walked in to the guest room, and Laura shut the door behind them.

"Laura-chan, how do you deal with being a soldier?"

Laura looked in Charlotte's eyes, her gaze unwavering and stony.

"I do it because I know nothing else. I cannot be anything else. I am a soldier. I know nothing else. I fight for my country and my people. I fight under my commander's orders and I fight for the innocents who have no business in war. Charlotte, you can be strong."

Charlotte broke eye contact and nervously shuffled her feet.

"But... What if I don't? What if I can't be strong?"

"Then you will be. You cannot be strong." Laura stated without hesitation.

"What? But you just said I could..."

"I did. You could be strong. You could not be strong. You could be both. You could be neither. Strength is..." Laura paused, clearly struggling to put her thoughts into words.

"Strength is resolve. It's not about how hard you hit. It's about how determined you are. It's about how much you want the other bastards to die for their country. It's about how much you want to live for your country! If you fight, thinking you're weak or going to die, then you will! You'll die for your country, and nothing could save you. Win! Don't cower! Don't hide! Fight! Kick, bite, punch! Keep on fighting until every goddamn one of the bastards that you're fighting dies for their country. Then, and only then, can you stop! So, what will it be? Will you be strong? Will you win? Or will you resign yourself to weakness?"

Charlotte looked down at her feet.

Can I be strong? No, it's not can, it's will. I will be strong. I will live. I will fight, because I can accept nothing else from myself. I might make a difference, I might not. That doesn't matter. I will win. I will be strong. I will live. I am Charlotte Dunois, and I refuse to be defeated here!

Charlotte looked back to Laura, with a confident grin on her face and a fire in her eyes that hadn't been there previously.

"I will fight! I will win!"

Laura smirked.

"What was that, soldier?" She asked, raising her voice slightly.

"I will fight! I will win!" Charlotte replied, matching her volume to Laura's.

"WHAT WAS THAT?" Laura yelled.

"I WILL FIGHT! I WILL WIN!" Charlotte matched to Laura's volume again.

"Good!" Laura declared. She got up, turned on her heel, and walked, straight-backed, out of the room, closing the door behind herself.

Right, send my response first. After that, go tell everyone.

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Tabane

September 19th, 2033, 18:45 hours

Alice's Mansion

Tabane cackled from within her basement. Matsuda was standing outside of the door, but he decided to just leave the meal in front of the door after knocking a couple of times. She was in one of her moods, and it could take a while for her to come out.

Tabane rubbed her hands gleefully together as she ignored her frizzy hair. The Tabane-san~ Lovely Teleporter 2030 (name subject to change) was finally complete! Now, she just needed to work on mass production.

And relocation.

And filing those pesky patents without those stupid scientists finding out how she builds her toys (that was, after all, what she did with the Luminous Cores).

Speaking of which, she should probably send IS-sized Luminous Core construction information to America and couple of other important UN countries. There was, after all, a war to fight, and they needed every advantage that they could get.

She might even send blueprints on Fold-Out Armor, too.

No. Best not to get ahead of herself. They need to adjust to Luminous Cores, first.

Maybe once the teleporter is done, she could work on some Anti-IS weapons, powered by individual Luminous Cores, that could be wielded by infantry?

Hmmm, there's a thought.

Might not be a bad idea.

Might even get her some more fun.

Might make them think of her as even more (shudder) responsible...

Tabane sighed.

"Well, first I need to finish the Tabane-san~ Super Teleporter 3000 (name subject to change)!" She muttered to herself.

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Ichika Orimura

September 28th, 2033, 11:32 hours

England, Alcott Family Mausoleum

Ichika softly sighed to himself as looked around to all of the guests present, dressed only in black, at the funeral. He recognized around half of them, as they were all survivors of the massacre, as it was now known as, that had taken Cecilia's life. Of course, because of this, there was press everywhere, and Ichika felt vaguely disgusted with it all, even though some objective part of himself knew that what they were doing was necessary, it was important to help establish the morale and tone of the world, he couldn't help but be vaguely disgusted with it all.

He was quite surprised to say that he could feel the grief now, but he knew that he couldn't afford to feel it. Not yet. He had to be strong. He could break down, knowing that this happened on his orders, knowing that it was his fault all of this was...

No, don't go there. Down that way lies naught but destruction...

Ichika took a deep, calming breath as he waited for a sobbing Rin to finish her part of the eulogy. All of Cecilia's classmates, as well as some of her mentors from her training, were speaking. Ichika was the last person to go, and Rin was second-to-last.

As Rin stepped off the podium, Ichika subconsciously stood straighter, focused straight ahead, and schooled his features to a carefully neutral expression.

His steps echoed through the marble tiles, and Ichika knew that everyone was awaiting what he had to say with baited breath.

When he arrived, he turned around and put his hands on the podium.

"I would not be the man I am today without Cecilia Alcott." He began abruptly, no motion on his face betraying any of his thoughts.

"She taught me several important lessons in life, lessons that I should have learned earlier, but hadn't. One of those lessons was in the nature of pride. Not arrogance. Pride. Pride in your actions, of your achievements. She demonstrated to me the value of pride, of justice. She showed me how pride is good, with her never-ending self-confidence, where nothing could put a dent in her belief in herself and in her friends." Ichika made a decisive sweeping motion with his hand.

"She taught me how pride is bad, with her initial underestimation of others, including myself. That is an important habit to break, and one that I almost never did. She showed me what happened when you failed, but at the same time, she showed me how to rise back up again from your failures. To accept them graciously, even when your pride shouldn't allow it." Ichika made a sweep of the audience with his head. They were hanging on to his words.

"However, another aspect of her pride, and the one that was the hardest lesson for me to learn, was about trust. In her mind, if you were her equal, than you could be trusted to do your job- nothing more, and nothing less. She trusted each and every one of us to be able to do our part, and help her to hers. We failed. She died with pride befitting of her stature, fighting for what she believed in, yes. But I failed her personally, because I didn't trust her. No matter what I do, I will always remember her, her death, and the lessons that she had taught me. So, knowing this, I must say that my greatest regret about her death, is that I won't be able to trust in her now that she's gone. Thank you." Ichika bowed to the crowd before walking back off the podium, face never betraying the roiling emotions he felt within his heart.

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Laura Bodewig

September 2nd, 2033, 19:00 hours

Alexandria, Egypt

Laura panted heavily, and took in a deep breath and tried to ignore the sweat dripping into her eyes as she tried to find a safe place to hide from the fire that seemed to burning in ever-increasing amounts of heat no matter where she went. Everything within sight was ablaze, and she knew that it was only her IS's life support systems that were keeping her from succumbing to the heat and smoke in the environment around her.

Laura shuddered as she felt the heat was over her. Ever since she had seen and felt the heat at the Schwarzer Hase base, she knew that she would forever have nightmares of fire.

The Auge des Sturms knew that she needed to kill this woman. Neither the Sen'nen Fubuki nor the Tempest di Fuoco would be able to make it in time. Laura had incorrectly assumed that she could take Autumn on by herself, and only took her three support infantry along because they had insisted, while Ichika and Alessandra, along with the rest of the Gardeners, cleaned up the smaller enemies.

Never making that mistake again...

Her communications were jammed, probably some new toy that had been installed on Autumn's Great Arachne.

Laura felt and heard, more than saw, the movements of the monstrously large IS, towering at a solid twenty feet, with eight twelve-foot-long legs that had flamethrowers filling in every possible space that they would fit, an immobilizing web-cannon on the right arm, and a large sword in the other. To make matters worse, Laura knew that, like the reddish-purple, feathery-looking wings on the upper back of her Schwarzer Regen Schutzengel, the pincer-like mountings on the Great Arachne's back were the form that her Fold-Out Armor took. The Great Arachne's Fold-Out Armor was somehow capable of covering the IS's entire body and acting as a second source of shield energy, rather than the kinetic shield that most applications of the technology were used for.

Laura growled as she remembered the towering IS standing over the buildings at the Schwarzer Hase base when she had first fought in Germany, and remembered as she watched Clarissa burn to death in the hangar. Laura wouldn't be able to sleep soundly until either her or Autumn was dead, of that much she was certain.

It had taken all of Laura's missiles and too many explosive thrown spears, which she could at least materialize outside of her hand now, but she had managed to destroy the Fold-Out Armor and Laura estimated at least a quarter of her opponent's shield energy.

Laura waited for her enemy to move past her, then carefully flew out behind her and unloaded four spears onto Autumn's exposed back. Autumn took the hits, and with a semi-inarticulate scream of rage, spun without rotating the spider's legs. She ran to Laura, who used AIC to stop her motions, before Laura's concentration broke for a second, too strained to maintain all of the shields she had that kept her from direct exposure to the fires roaring around her.

Autumn used this advantage to pin Laura between a pair of her claws, and Laura charged her rail guns.

At the same time a trio of flamethrowers began to burn the right side of her body, Laura fired her rail gun.

Maintaining her concentration, Laura moved her left hand up to point it in a fist at Autumn, just as she felt both her and Autumn's shields break. As the wires from her fist travelled to Autumn's torso, she felt the fires burn her face and slowly melt through the armor on the right side of her ribcage.

The wires connected with Autumn's torso just as the fires started to heat Laura's armor to the point of pain, but Laura's massive pain tolerance showed itself as she grit her teeth and bore it, detonating the explosive tips on her wires as they locked into Autumn's stomach.

"This is for Clarissa, you pyromaniacal bitch."

Laura watched with a slightly smug smirk as Autumn's lower body became nothing more than blood, some bone chips and a couple of rather disgusting bits of something squishy. She flew over, cut off and grabbed Autumn's head, then fired a barrage of explosive lances at the Great Arachne until she was satisfied that it was nothing more than a useless hump of metal. She placed her remaining dozen explosive tips on the piece where she figured the IS's Luminous Core was, and flew away as quickly as she could, keeping her eyes open everywhere. Once she was a hundred feet away, she detonated the explosives, creating and explosion that further demolished the city and eliminated any trace of the great IS and Season that had once been there.

A couple of pain-filled minutes later, as Laura's adrenaline wore off, she landed in front of a tent with the image of a hoe and a sword crossed over a bomb above the door. She dematerialized her IS, threw the head at the door, and collapsed as the world turned to black. She vaguely heard voices,

"It's Second Lieutenant Bodewig!"

"Oh god! Somebody get a medic!"

"Is that head...?"

Shortly after, the world went to black.

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Dan Gotanda

October 4th, 2033, 06:00 hours

Tokyo, NOJOB-controlled Japan

"...And this is Bullet, signing out. Remember everyone, employment is plentiful in Edogawa right now!"

It's been over three years since the criminal organization Phantom Task first appeared on the world's stage...

Dan shut the mic off and sighed, running a hand through his scarlet locks as he switched the lights in his basement off, grabbed his handgun and locked the door behind him.

Their first action was to consolidate their power in the countries that had pledged their support to the Phantom Task objectives under a united communist regime.

He walked upstairs as he stored the handgun in his shirt.

Following this, they began to use their golems and superior numbers of ISs to attack major cities throughout the world.

With water for tea on the burner, he prepared the tea leaves.

London was completely razed.

He prepared rice.

Beijing was heavily damaged.

He cracked the eggs.

Tokyo was next, but they captured it, instead.

Dan sighed as the water started boiling.

They used it as a base of operations and made a rapid strike across the nation, taking over the islands of Japan, with the exception of Kyūshū.

He added the tea leaves and let the tea settle as he went back to making breakfast.

After they consolidated their power in Japan, creating the NOrthern Japanese Occupation Bureau, they completely suppressed and monitored all wireless communications to the outside world.

"Ran, breakfast!" Dan called to his little sister.

That was a year and a half ago. Nobody within the country has had accurate information about what's going on outside since then.

"Coming, Nii!" He heard from deeper in the house.

I do know that Ichika is still fighting. I think that they call him the 'Sen'nen Fubuki,' or something similar. I think it's kind of silly, but that's just me. I know he probably doesn't like it much.

Dan placed breakfast onto the plates just as Ran arrived into the kitchen.

The other two names mentioned with his are Laura Bodewig, known to many as Auge des Sturms and Alessandra Moressi, the Tempesta di Fuoco. I never really got to know Alessandra very well, but I had a bit of crush on Laura.

Dan and Ran sat down and began eating. A few minutes in, there was some frantic, harsh knocking on the front door. Dan set down his utensils and called,

"Coming!"

After all, the war had started, and we didn't have time for anything after the war had begun.

He opened the door to a pair of women standing straight, with harsh faces and black uniforms. He paled as he noticed the silver, ghostly phoenix on their right breasts.

"Dan Gotanda?" The right woman asked.

"Yes, officer?"

"We're with the Northern Japanese Occupation Force. You're under arrest under accusations of anti-government activity. You will come with us now, please." She told him in a tone that indicated it wasn't really a choice.

Before the War, Dan Gotanda was always of the opinion that the most memorable thing that he would ever do, the thing that people would care the most about him, was whatever he would say for Ichika's biography when Ichika inevitably died first.

Really, the son of a pair of chefs who just happens to be unusually good at hiding himself, gathering information, and fiddling with radios is in no way going to do anything really, really important in his life, right?

That was before the rebels started recruiting.

That was before he started monitoring the NOJOBs' patrol patterns.

That was before he started using a radio talk show, under a rather uncreative false name (Seriously? The English meaning of his first name?) to tell everyone in Tokyo just where NOJOB was most heavily patrolling every six to eight hours, under the guise of telling everyone where the most employment was.

Frankly, I'm was amazed it took the NOJOB this long to find me.

So, now I'm important. A revolutionary. And I'm likely to die for it.

Because that's how the world works. That's how it always has worked, and that's how it always will work.

And sometimes,

A beautiful, silver-haired woman landed between the agents.

Sometimes, fate throws you a bone.

Withdrawing a pair of knives from her jacket, she reaches out and...

Part 2 End

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Omake 1: Birthdays

On their sixteenth birthday, it had barely been two weeks since the Battle of IS Academy, and he was preparing for military school, like everyone else who survived the operation. She was given, from their mother and father, access to the Organization's supercomputer, which she used to experiment with a device that overrode the constant optimization on the IS Core. She decided against actually putting it into common use, the constant optimization and influx of data were too valuable to introduce a card like that to the playing field, not when there was every possibility of it being replicated, if their scientists hadn't already found it, and scrapped it for the same reasons. She vaguely wondered if this process was going to infinitely repeat itself in a loop of discovery and concealment, just as he wondered if officer school was going to be worthwhile.

On their seventeenth birthday, he was too busy leading his team through a heavily-defended enemy base in Syria to bother with a party or celebration. As a present for breeching it and eventually capturing the data and destroying the base, he gained a promotion to Lieutenant. He honestly liked it, though his platoon thought him a bit young, they grew to respect him quickly, especially when he was always at the forefront of their battles. For her birthday, her parents let her try out her new poison gas on captured enemy pilots, promising to let them free if they managed to survive, even on life support. She never kept the promise.

On their eighteenth birthday, he took a week's leave starting on that day and drank himself into a stupor on the 27th and 28th, burning almost two of his recent paychecks in the process, before being dragged back to his quarters to 'sober up' by his sister. He told her 'she was being a hypocrite', she told him to 'take a shower.' His girlfriend came in a bit later, and he cried because his twin could now be arrested and executed for war crimes due to her actions. His girlfriend slapped him, told him to get a hold of himself, and they celebrated after he calmed down. His party was a day later- the Gardeners and some other showed up. For her birthday, her parents gave her the IS of one of her friends, showed her its pilot, and told her to 'make it work.' She grinned and took to it gleefully, using up a few captured enemy soldiers in the process, because the enemy had done something smart and IS pilots were hard to capture now.

On their nineteenth birthday, he requested that his platoon be placed on the Battalion under Col. Tatenashi Sarashiki in their operation to retake Tokyo. His request was granted. She went out partying with a wig and some colored-contacts, seduced a man, then tried out a new poison that she placed in her lipstick that triggered based on gender and skin contact. It worked like a charm, and she tried it again in a different part of the world a few days later.

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AN: Aaaand that's a wrap. Yes, my beloved readers, three-year timeskip.

I've got to say, much like chapter 12, this was originally a transition chapter, designed to move people from the end of Part 2 to the beginning of Part 3 and lay the groundwork for many of the events during the three-year timeskip. And then Charlotte and Chifuyu started talking. I'm honestly quite happy with that bit- it came out of almost nowhere, but I knew it was a good idea, and then it started going in directions that I wasn't expecting- Chifuyu especially is interesting for me to write, because she's really far less aloof than she'd like to pretend.

Titles introduced here:

Ichika- Sen'nen Fubuki, (written as 吹千年) translates to Millennium Snowstorm.

Laura- Auge des Sturms, translates to Eye of the Storm.

Alessandra Moressi- Tempesta di Fuoco, translates to Fire Storm.

Gardeners- Ichika's platoon, specializes in demolition. Battle cry is, "Gardeners, let's turn some soil!" Latin motto is: In interitu praepollens. Translation: In destruction, unrivaled. Idea courtesy of my editor.