Gender Dislocation

Chapter 17 - Unexpected Turnouts 2

Hi guys, it has been a while.

This chapter was an overkill to me.

It really took a lot of time because the various parts of this chapter is very difficult to link together.

It took a lot of time and words that this chapter actually reached 20 000k+ words. (Record breaker!)

Hope that this chapter is ok, if you guys feel my writing is getting rusty someone let me know.

IS SEASON 2! Though Ichika is still a hopeless blockhead I love the scenes. OMG Madoka was a total kickass at episode 1 before she deployed her IS, I was thinking... Man she's as hot as Selene from Underworld in action. But the general feel of the episodes so far still make it seems as thought the producers are rushing things:(.

Anyways, enjoy:)


12th December, Paris, Dunois Family Mansion, 8:20 am

Louis walked out of the mansion's shelter and moved to the opening platform.

Like all western mansions, here is a huge garden and a fountain in front of him.

The day is still early, it's in the morning.

Louis is still in his morning attire, he could have changed out, but he did not care.

He sat at a nearby bench, closed his eyes and tried to relax.

Louis had a bad dream last night.

He had dreamt of a box, a black cubic box.

The surface of the cubes is smooth, save for the fact that there are sizzles of misty figures swirling underneath the smooth surface.

Then bright light shone itself around the cube, forming an image Louis is all well familiar, an IS.

And for some reason, he can't identify the IS, there is no clear distinguish model frame.

but as far as he is concern, the IS in that dream seemed… real.

It was strong, powerful and well beyond his imaginations.

It shone in its prowess, but something else happened.

At the peak of the bizarre display, the IS started to crumble.

Numerous cracks started from the legs, and the metal pieces started breaking away into tiny pieces.

Soon the cracks spread throughout the IS, and once the frame lost it's firmness, it exploded.

What a dream indeed.

Louis opened his eyes slightly.

In coming from his perspective, it is obviously nonsense for an IS to break apart like that.

Well, it could be that the model frame is not that good.

Or, perhaps the dream is about time's effect on an IS model frame, where with time the model frame will be broken down or worn out.

Well, not that there is any worth trying to make sense of a dream, Louis had more pressing issues to address.

Besides…

Someone is after your life.

Louis could not shake that claim off his head.

Just yesterday, he was approach by one of the most unlikely person in the entire world.

Not only did he propose a joint effort to seek the top 6 missing individuals in the world, (well, not counting the peerless genius herself obviously) he also warned him that he is going to be killed.

The first thing Louis thought of was his own sense of insecurity.

There are already too many holes within family ties especially when it comes to the future of the family's company.

He had often heard rumours that threatened his own life and that of his own position in his family.

So far, he was able to put these rumours down through his own methods, by making sure that those who threatened him are removed first before they can remove him.

But that only works if he knows who is the threat.

In this case, there is no clue as to who started this deadly trend.

No matter how Louis disliked it, it appears that he has no choice but find out more on his own and also depend on whatever information this Orimura Saiyoka can uncover.

Shit… this is so making him look vulnerable.

Louis sighed.

He did think of the possibility that this can be something nonsensical.

But his paranoia part of him is not convinced until he solve this case with his own hands.

No matter how much he thinks, the only answer he has is to find out for himself whether things are what they seem.

"Louis, you're day dreaming."

Suddenly, a voice is heard from behind, addressing him.

Without looking at the source, Louis knows who it already is.

Well of course he does, he has been living under the same roof with that person since like forever.

Louis stopped and turned his head.

Judging from her attire and her sluggish voice, she must have just woke up.

"Sorry Charline, bad habit."

Standing there with her messy long blonde hair, Charline Dunois stood there in her morning pyjamas.

Charline Dunois, sixteen years old by next year, a 4th year French junior high school student, she is just one year younger than Louis.

Like Charlotte and his other sister Catherine, Charline is an IS test pilot who pilots her own customized [Raphael Revive Custom III].

"Thinking about the ISes again?"

"Yes…"

"You are forever thinking about piloting one since that Orimura Ichika guy came about."

"Which male wouldn't? His existence sparks of new opportunities."

"For your gender."

Louis ignored that last comment.

Charline sighed.

"Well, since you can't pilot one, why don't you just cut your complaints and study stuff related to the IS. France never had enough of its own researchers. When it comes to the 3rd generation."

"And the 4th as well."

"Now you are being sceptical. Only one person knows how to make one."

"And Japan has the credit for it."

"Hold on, that Shinonono Houki is not tied to the Japanese government, nor is she to any government."

"Not yet. That will soon change."

"… Can't argue against that one."

Charline stayed quiet after that.

Louis just went back into his head.

Eventually, the 4th generation pilot will either agree to be a representative of a country, or even sign a business contract.

And what happens after that? The country that holds the 4th generation will get a few more technological steps ahead.

Especially the scientists, since they will be the first hand personals to examine the 4th generation.

Even if they can't dissect the 4th generation, they can still gain insights just by testing and by observing countless simulations.

The boundaries and limitations of the current ISes will be expanded.

Imagine that amount of technological insights and knowledge, imagine the kind of power…

And Louis knows, such new insights and knowledge won't be given away so easily.

At most a few countries, or even scientists can afford enough to buy the information.

But still the value and knowledge gain is the same.

Plus even if he can afford to buy the knowledge, there is a high chance that what he receives will not be the whole picture.

As a fellow competitive IS fanatic Louis knows this fact very well, no IS researcher or scientist will give all their knowledge of the IS away to anyone.

Part of the obvious reasons is obviously for financial stability, while others are for rivalries and their own egos.

Other than the peerless genus herself, no one can say they know the most about ISes.

The Infinite Stratos is full of possibilities, there is no perfect or ultimate IS.

That is what draws Louis into the IS.

Imagine what kind of possibilities he can uncover and explore.

Oh what satisfaction it will be if he can pilot and customize his own IS.

If only I can have an IS that only I can pilot and customize, I'll make it the best IS in the world.

Sigh… if only the world have more time to study that Orimura Ichika, if he hadn't died, there is still the possibility of a technological breakthrough of finding the cause of the abnormity.

"… It's a shame that Ichika had to die." Louis said.

"I know right?" Charline commented.

"If only IS Academy can gather more data on his abnormity."

"If only he can come to France for once."

… It appears that the siblings are slightly off topic.

"Just to confirm, that Ichika had only one relative right?"

"Duh? Japan's Brunhilde."

"What about his parents?"

"No one knows."

"… I thought so too, looks like he has some troubled family matters like we do."

"If you get to see him, what would you do?"

"Huh? What are you saying?"

"If that Ichika is still alive, what would you do if you see him?"

"Umm…. Umm…"

Charline began to frigid.

"I would ask him to help out with the family's various equilizers, maybe I will want to even spar with him."

"Ah… I sometimes forgot you are his fan… well even so are you sure you won't let your personal feelings get mixed in family business?"

Charline blushed slightly.

"T-This is this, that is that!"

Yes, yes, I get it.

"W-Well… speaking of family, something unbelievable has happened." Charline said.

"What?"

"Father is thinking of calling Charlotte back."

Huh?

"Charlotte?"

"Yes."

"From IS Academy?"

"Yes. Since that Orimura Ichika and [Byakushiki] are gone, she served no purpose being in IS Academy."

"Wasn't her true gender discovered?"

"Yup."

"And the government?"

"They demanded explanation."

"And?"

"I don't know the specifics, but father managed to worm his way out on the condition that he will turn her in as soon as she returns to government officials."

"And is father against it?"

"No."

"What? He is not going to defend her?"

"Seems like it, Charlotte's birth was an unintended accident remember?"

That goes without saying.

Just not too long ago, some of father's men came back to the mansion with a 15 year old girl.

They tested her and put her through many check-ups.

It was then that they immediately found that her IS aptitude was extremely high, so...while it was unofficial, she was made a test pilot.

It was really odd then for the rest of the family.

At first everyone thought that she was some student from IS Academy, but the age did not make it right.

Then, it was revealed by that man that the girl is the offspring of some illegitimate wife.

Mother went crazy after that, and she even beat up that girl, labelled her a 'thief's daughter'.

Well, not that it is something surprising.

Then following the still continuing crisis the family is facing from the government, that father sent Charlotte to IS Academy to steal data from [Byakushiki] and Orimura Ichika in the disguise of a French man.

Revive is still a 2nd generation machine after all.

IS development needs a lot of money, and most of the enterprises were only able to develop after getting the support of their respective country.

However, France was omitted from the European Union's 'Ignition Plan', and facing this crisis, they had to create 3rd generation frames.

Though it was out of national defense concerns, for a country that doesn't have enough capital, what awaits it is doom if they don't get any benefits right from the beginning.

Dunois Corporation would end up developing the 3rd generation frames, but we were already a lot slower than the other countries and was the last company selling the second generation frames.

Thus, we had too little data and time, and couldn't create much.

Thus, the government naturally gave far little capital to the Dunois Corporation.

Then, the situation had become one such that 'if the country fails in the next selection, the government will completely cut off funding and even revoke the rights to develop IS'.

So if Charlotte can disguise herself, infiltrate IS Academy and steal all the data needed, it would help the Dunois Company.

But it seems like there is no backup plan as to what would happen when Charlotte's true identity was revealed.

Because that happened, and the government wanted some explanation.

So what Father resolved is to use Charlotte as a scapegoat in order to avoid putting the family in further crisis.

Shit that man, using his children like chess pieces.

What he intends to do with Charlotte is definitely not enough to resolve this situation.

Or rather, it might just be the catalyst for the eventual series of backslashes the family will face eventually.

And how has father's workers been dealing with this?

Nothing.

Sure, these domestic scientists and researchers are paid to do work.

But there is no point in paying them huge lots of money when their research yield no ripe harvest.

The main reason why they are employed is because they are French and since they are French, working to develop French super IS model frames would add points to the country's security.

A good IS reflects the country's strength.

It is better if the country gets its own people to make it, rather than employ outsiders that are always suspected to leak such sensitive information back to their own countries.

Father and the French government have been following this logic ever since the budget contract has been signed.

… Damn politics, always getting in the way of things.

They are always on about experimental costs and time limits.

If only the politicians would just sit back, shut up, and give us more time to make a 3rd generation prototype.

Sigh…

That is why Louis hated economists and politicians.

They always got in the way of everything.

"Besides Louis, you're coming with me tomorrow right?"

Hmm?

"What's in for tomorrow?"

Charline gave him the 'you forgot again?' look.

"Tomorrow I'm going to a military base for some test runs."

"Ah… I see."

Even though Charline is still too young to be an active IS pilot, she is still a test pilot.

It is still normal for IS industries to come looking for test pilots regardless of their age.

All the more so since she is from the esteemed Dunois Company.

But still...

"Do I really have to come?"

Charline frowned.

"I thought we talked about this before."

"I still don't want to go, there is no point since I can gauge what kind of packages they will ask you to test pilot."

"Um… then do you expect a 15-year-old just to walk into a huge base all by herself?"

"Isn't dad going?"

"Do you think he even has the time?"

"Then what about mom?"

"Same story, busy schedule. She was the one who recommended that you accompany me."

Damn it…

"What about Caterine?"

"She has test runs with another lame package at another location."

"That sucks… can't they do it at the same place?"

"Nah, it wouldn't work. Caterine got some special guests to deal with, some VIPs from other IS industries working with dad."

"… Looks like she is always busy."

"Well duh? Big sister is France's National IS Representative. Even if France is behind in terms of the IS technology, being a National IS Representative has its own privileges and complex schedules."

"Hmm…"

"Please brother, I got no one else."

"… Sigh, fine. I'll go."

Meanwhile… At the Pullman Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport,

"There has been a change of plans." The blonde client declared.

"What is it?" Madoka asked.

"We want you to speed up this assignment. In other words, kill Louis asap."

Ichika, Madoka and their unnamed blonde client are together at one of the hotel's restaurants talking things out.

Well, it has only been a day since they last met.

This is indeed sudden.

What happened was this.

It appears that the blonde client send Madoka a message in the form of a note at their hotel room.

It was in the room left on top of one of the tables.

She must have gotten one of the staff to deliver the message on her behalf.

Otherwise how can she even enter the room?

From whatever the contents of the note, it appears to be an emergency.

That is definitely not good.

An emergency never rings well at all.

It catches people unprepared, and it forces people to depend on their alertness and quick thinking to get out of the situation.

For folks in the underground world, to get caught in an emergency just means that the opposite side has a high advantage over you, and your survival rate drops as easily by 45%, the rest depending on how you react and deal with the situation.

When if comes to an emergency, Ichika can only think of one thing.

It can't be that the clients got found out right?

If this is the case, we are dealing with a rather pathetic group, yippee.

According to the old man, normally clients who hire assassins would well know of the risks and consequences and do enough homework to ensure that such risks are reduced to the minimum.

If the client got found out, it will be both a disaster from the intended target and a well assured backstab from the hired personals.

If the client got found out, the intended target will obviously act quickly in order to remove the threat.

Which idiot is aware of the threat yet move sluggishly to deal with it?

Once aware, the intended target is well likely to be more cautious in future reducing the killing success rate.

And if the client got found out, the respective hired personals would want to cover their involvement in order to not get more enemies.

If the intended target found out who the hired personals are, there is no telling if he would also go the extra mile to get rid of the assassins.

In order to eliminate that unpredictable possibility, the assassins would want to get rid of the client in order to shut her mouth up.

But thankfully enough, the situation turned out a lot more different to what Ichika had in mind.

"Why the sudden change?" Madoka raised.

"We just had a time limit, that's all you need to know."

"It sounds more like your superiors are pushing the schedule to me." Ichika said.

The blonde client shot Ichika a glare.

"I will let that slide for now, but the situation remains the same. Just kill Louis as fast as you can, make it public, you get your money, and we are done."

"No." Madoka said.

"What?"

"I said no, there is no way we will be able to rush this kill."

"What? I thought I gave you all the information you need!"

"Yes you did."

"We even provided you with the target's timetable, location and even timing down to the greatest detail! How are you not able to kill him asap?"

"For this kind of work, a clean kill is best guaranteed once the two of us are well aware of our target's habits. What you gave us some pretty useful data. But that's what they are, data. We also need to personally know the target ourselves."

"…"

"The initial eight days are well enough for us to gauge the target and predict his habits and movements personally. By then we would have picked a suitable location that we are confident enough to get the kill. Just rushing into this is madness for us."

"How about this." the blonde client proposed.

"What?"

"In the next day, Louis will be accompanying his sister Charline to a military base so that his sister can conduct some IS test runs."

"If it is an IS test runs then wouldn't Charline Dunois just be sufficient?"

"How would I know? All that matters is that Louis is going."

"You want us to enter a controlled military camp?"

"Yes."

It looks like the danger level has multiplied considerably.

"You are making this even more difficult for us, even if we are successful, how are we going to get out?" Madoka said.

"I'll prepare some papers that will make you appear like guests. I plan to be with Louis throughout the time. Once the job is done, you guys can just follow me."

"If you are going to be with Louis won't his sister be there? Wouldn't this Charline Dunois be equipped with an IS?"

"She will be doing test runs in an isolated arena. She will be separated from Louis."

"I don't feel confident. An IS has a lot more mobility from what I hear."

"She won't interfere. I will make it so."

"Hmm… I guess I won't pry then."

"So… can you get the job done?"

"… Possible."

"I'll pay you double once this is all over."

Double payment…

Throwing money in just to lure us… it looks like she is getting desperate to get the job done.

No matter how it really looks like, it is either she wants to look good in front of her superiors or her superiors are really pushing the deadline.

If we consider the first assumption, it can only mean that there are other groups of assassins out there going for the same bounty.

It that is the case, this blonde client in front of us is not the only client out there.

But if we think of the second assumption it speaks of something else.

If she is that pressured to kill of Louis, it can only mean that whoever her superiors are, they are planning something big related to the Dunois Company.

And rushing cases like the one we are facing now can mean that whatever the blonde client's superiors are planning will be performed towards a closer date.

Either case, rushed cases are never good for our side.

"Why tomorrow?" Ichika asked.

"Because it is the only chance I can think of."

"Are we that short of time?"

"Yes."

So it looks like things are leaning more towards the first assumption…

"Since we need to get to you in order to get to Louis, we must have you to leave us a means to contact you. Some private line where it is not traceable, for the good of both our sides, otherwise, this method is a no go for us."

"…"

The blonde client then reached for her suitcase.

She opened it, searched, and took out a notebook and pen.

She wrote some scribbles, tore the page and placed in on the table in front of the twins.

"Use this number. It's one of my irretraceable lines."

"This should be enough right?" The blonde client added.

"Ok, we'll do it." Ichika said.

"Huh?" "Great!"

In contrast to the blonde client's approval, Madoka gave Ichika the stare.

"Thank you for accepting this. If there is anything more you need, just let me know. I'll see to it that your needs are answered."

"That's very convincing." Ichika said.

"I also have a tight schedule to follow, in order to save myself trouble I better make sure you guys are at least equipped properly. Besides, I am already lucky you two still agreed to this."

Then all of a sudden, an alarm like sound vibrated.

The blonde client took out her vibrating phone.

It's a Nokia model…

"It's about time for me to get back." She got up.

"Let me know if there is anything else you need."

"We need explosives, big ones. The traditional C4 would do the trick." Ichika said.

"… That sounds a little extreme. Why?"

"Even if we get in, you are talking about a whole military base. We need something big that will distract the military personals in order for us to get closer to you, and through you Louis. Plus if there are indeed other IS pilots, the explosion will get their attention."

"I'll provide. I'll make sure it gets here by tomorrow."

"We also need other armaments. Mainly guns and ammunition, we may also need a disposable phone so that both our involvements are not traceable."

"Yes, it will be done."

"Also, a list of the personal in the base, like how many troops or how many ISes." Ichika added.

"I'll also provide, what else?"

"A detailed map of the military base."

"Consider it done, I'll prepare transportation tomorrow in front of the hotel once the time comes. Everything you need will be inside."

"Can you send us the base map by tonight? We need some time to analyze it."

"Consider it done."

Later, in one of the hotel lifts, Ichika POV

Tomorrow huh?

Even though I already know what to do, doing the real test itself just seems to get harder and harder.

Hmm…?

Madoka?

For some reason, Madoka had not said a word since I agreed to help that blonde client.

She just stayed there, quiet.

Even now, she is leaning on one of the lift's walls

She just stared at blank space.

For some reason, her current attitude is starting to make me feel uneasy.

I waited until we entered our hotel room.

Madoka went in first.

I closed the door.

"What's wrong Madoka? You have been silent all this while."

Madoka threw her handbag to the nearby table, and resumed walking in.

She appears to be in deep thought…

"Madoka?"

Then suddenly, something that even I did not expect.

"AH MOU!" Madoka cried.

"W-What?"

"I CAN'T STAND IT ANY LONGER!"

"Stand what?"

Madoka stopped what she is doing.

She turned around and stared hard at me.

She closed her eyes, tilt her head to the side, and smiled.

… Shit.

That's one hell of a smile.

"Ichika-nii~."

Uh oh…

I got a bad feeling about this –

Oof!

I got thrown to the nearby wall.

Before I knew it, Madoka had already cornered me.

She elbowed my upper sternum, sealing my movements, and lean dangerously towards me.

Tug, tug.

…!

I soon felt something hard jamming at a very sensitive area of my human anatomy.

I looked down.

Yup, I was right.

Madoka had drawn her carefully concealed silencer pistol and pointed the muzzle tip at the very area directly at my crotch.

Madoka resumed her dangerous smile.

"Ichika-nii, need I remind you, we have a very important component for this very mission. Can Ichika-nii tell me what that is~?"

"… Stealth."

"Ara~ Ichika-nii finally remembers, at such a crucial situation. So then, let me sum up~. First, you disrupt this mission and revealed yourself to Louis for some apparent reason. That is already a penalizing no no."

"…"

"Based on what you have explained to me so far, you even used our family name. isn't that already something for people to trace? What if Louis decides to come after our family through your exchange?"

"Well… you see…"

"On top of that, you just agreed to walk into a heavily fortified military camp, how on earth is barging into a military base is going to help us stay quiet? And considering the possibility, what if we are pushed to using our ISes, wouldn't that be extremely flashy?"

"Well…"

"I'm sure so far, Ichika-nii thought of the possibility where we get caught? Even if we managed to get away, we will most likely be wanted personal. Plus even if we used the IS, wouldn't that make us more priority criminals?"

"Madoka, I know what I am doing."

"You think you know, but will things go as you planned? How is this going to help us search who our unknown client is?"

"W-Well… at least we have a contact."

"And what does Ichika-nii plan to do with it? The big deadline is tomorrow."

"I intend to have someone from the island villa help us trace the number."

"And what if that irretraceable number is a number that is disposable?"

"Highly unlikely."

"Oh?"

Tug, tug.

"Care to explain?"

Oh shit she's really getting serious.

If I don't explain this soon I might really loose my genitals for life!

"In order to convince us to carry on with the work she must have thought of this already. No matter how she dislikes it she has to give us a means to contact her. That number she gave us is already an option in her head."

"Ah huh~?"

"If that number of hers is so disposable as you claim, she would have offered it to us without a second thought. I have already gauged that she has other means of communication. Though this number appears to be the most discrete means of her communications, it is highly likely that it is an expensive one."

"Carry on~."

"When I asked about an irretraceable line, she hesitated at that moment, meaning to say that either this is the only line she has, or that line is not easy to get so either way that number is not something she would give away easily."

"Mm~ Hmm~?"

"If we can trace that number, we will eventually uncover that blonde client's identity, and through her, her superiors. From there on I believe we can understand what we are really getting ourselves into."

"Ara~ If that's the case then who are you going to contact regarding this number?"

"Kin, Orimura Kin."

Whatever it is, the name surprised her.

"… Since when do you have her contact number?"

"At the island villa, before my first kill, when you sent her to pass me the message to get to Japan on my own."

"Hmph."

Madoka released her hold on me.

She kept her gun, and folded her arms together.

"Call her now."

"… Eh?"

"Call her now."

"…"

I reached for my phone and dialled.

I brought it to my ear.

"Ring, ring."

"Ring, ring."

"Put it on speaker." Madoka said.

I can only comply.

"Ring, ring."

"Ring, ring."

"Ring, ring."

"Ring, ring."

"*Pit!* …Hmm~? …A-re? … Ichika…sama?"

"Kin? It's me."

"A-re? … *Yawn*… why call so early?"

"…? Early?"

For some reason she sounds so sleepy.

"Sore wa mada (It's still) gozen Yong-jida… (4 am) des yo..."

… It looks like Japan's timeline is still quite far off.

"Kin, I need you to help me look into something. It's an emergency."

"Na-ni?"

"I need you to help me investigate someone's identity."

"Mu… chotto-matte…"

"…"

"Let me on my computer."

"…"

"Ichika-nii." Madoka said.

"Hmm?"

she started pouting.

"Since when did you get along so well with Kin?"

"Hmm? I just know her."

"Mu…" Madoka puffed her cheeks in response.

"So Ichika-sama, who is it you need me to find out?" Kin said.

"Help me find out more about this irretraceable number."

"… You do know it is called 'irretraceable' for a reason right? Ichika-sama."

"Can you do it?"

"Send the data over. You got a computer?"

A computer?

Madoka moved to one of our luggages and took out a laptop.

Wow… she's prepared this beforehand, how handy.

Madoka on the computer, place it on the bed and shifted it to me.

I started typing.

I used the family's customized email webpage and sent Kin the details.

"OK, I'm sending you the number and a picture of the person I got this number from. I need to know who she is."

"Hmm… through the customized email right?"

"Yea."

Click the send button and ok, there we go.

"Ok got it."

"How is it?"

"… It'll take a while… I can only touch up on the surface but I'll have to refer this one to Onoe oba-san. How much time can you give me?"

"Is it possible within the next four hours?"

"It should be doable."

"Ok, call me if you got anything."

"Mm…"

Kin cut the line.

"Ok, now we just have to wait for her reply." I told Madoka.

Madoka still folded her arms, her lips still in a へ shape.

"…"

"…"

"Satisfied?"

"… Maybe…"

"Is there no way for me to convince you?"

"I still do not like this."

"Relax, I got everything under control."

"You better."

"…! Come to think of it, since he is going tomorrow…"

I took out my phone and dialled a number.

"…? So what are you doing now?"

I resumed typing on the phone.

"I'm contacting Louis, I'm going to meet up with him."

"… Sigh, do what you want."

Madoka turned, grabbed her handbag, walk towards the main door, and opened it.

It looks like she is leaving the hotel.

"Hmm? Where are you going?"

"Shopping."

Madoka closed the door.

"… Huh?"

Outside the hotel, in central Paris,

That Madoka, just what is wrong with her?

I already told her everything is ok.

Yet she…

Sigh…

I know that the stealth component is very important.

But I feel better if we know what we are getting ourselves into.

True, perhaps there are things we ought not to know, do the job and just get payment.

But no matter how much it appears to be, it just sounds like there is more to it than just blind hiring.

Anyways, she won't back out on this.

Even though she strongly dislikes my method, I know that she would still help me.

Anyways...

Let's see, according to Louis, the meeting point is at that famous French monument… the Arc de Triomphe.

Known as Napoleon's Triumphal Arc, it was one of France's top commemorating monuments of Napoleon I and his European campaigns during the early 19th century.

The site is also a grave for unnamed soldiers who served and died during World War I.

Funny it is, that Louis was the one who suggested meeting up in such a place.

The monument was usually crowded with tourists and people who had come to commemorate the war dead.

Discussing matters there might be a better as there are crowds of people who are less likely to overhear our conversations.

But why at such a historical site?

This could be done elsewhere.

Since this is just going to be something short I suggested that it will be better if we talked this over the phone.

But Louis insisted on meeting personally…

Oh well, at least it is better than some random location that I will have some trouble just identifying that on the French map.

Let's see, according to the tourist map just go down the Champs Elysees street.

It should be in the centre of a large circular square known as the Place Charles de Gaullie.

So down the road, yup, I can already see it.

It took me a couple more minutes just to cross the road, avoid all the cars and then wow, it's really white.

With France's cold wind, it really adds on to the effect of the site.

The monument stood really tall, for someone who has only seen if for the first time, it really leaves quite the impression.

Now then, where is Louis?

Ah... saw him.

He is standing at the side at the monument's base corner, wearing a brown shirt, white jacket and blue jeans.

From the looks of it, he is still alone.

If he has a subordinate, he must be at a distance.

"You're late." Louis said as I approach him.

"Sorry, even though this is a famous site in Paris it still took me a while to get the proper directions."

"Hmm..."

We both walked.

"Anyways, what have you got from your side? There must be a reason why you called me."

"You will be visiting a military base tomorrow right?"

Louis paused.

"How do you know that?"

I choose not to answer that.

"Whoever it is, the person who ordered you death will attend the meeting tomorrow."

"… Who is it?"

"I don't know who it is yet, but we will eventually find out."

"How?"

"Because I just found out that you're apparent assassin promised the client to kill you at that very moment. It appears that they want to make your death public enough to create distress within your family."

"… They want to kill me in the military base? Can the assassins even get pass the security?"

"They can, provided if their client help them get the necessary passes."

"…"

"I heard that your sister Charline would be going with you too right?"

"To be more accurate, I am accompanying her."

"Can you stay close to her?"

"Not when she is doing test runs. Any idea where or when the assassins will be coming?"

"Most likely after you entered the base. Whoever wants you dead is quite keen on getting the job done."

"… There's no backing out since I agreed to accompany Charline. Charline also can't back out at the last minute since it will affect her image as a test pilot."

"Either way, you still have to go tomorrow."

"And have at least 50% chance of walking out alive."

Louis looked at Ichika.

"Any idea who is this unknown client yet?"

"I am still working on it."

"Sigh… the culprits are total idiots… they should be going after my sisters. Why me?"

"I am not sure, maybe it is to send a message to your father."

"What message?"

"Perhaps to say his time is running out? Or that he is not so invulnerable as he once thought he was."

"You sure can gauge what these people are thinking…"

"I'm just stating the obvious, no one is ignorant of the fact that the Dunois Company, or better, France, has not created a 3rd generation prototype."

Louis frowned deeply.

It looks like that last comment really affected him…

"So, I will go to the military base tomorrow, then what?"

Oh! He revived!

"I'll see if I can find out who your supposed assassins are."

"And then?"

"I'll let you know asap. Just be there tomorrow."

"That is not very convincing."

"Relax, besides the worst is that you will have to own your sister one for saving you."

"Anything else?"

"Nothing."

"… That's it?"

"Yes. I already tipped you off about what will happen tomorrow. I call it a fair trade."

"This is fair trade? For such a meeting?"

"Oi. You were the one who insisted on meeting personally."

Louis stared at me for a while, then he sighed.

"… I guess it was wrong of me to assume you have something more."

"I have nothing else."

"…"

"Since you bother calling me out like this, I assume you have something for me as well?"

"Not at the moment."

"…"

"…"

"Sigh… The next time we both have something this short, it will be a call."

"One question."

"Yes?"

"I'm still curious about your family name."

"That is a taboo matter for me to discuss especially to an outsider of my family."

"That's a nice excuse."

"I already said it at the beginning, I'll leave it to your imagination."

"Then you don't mind me doing some research on your family right?"

Now I am starting to regret using my alias name…

"I thought you are more of the scientist Louis, I did not take you for someone who would poke his nose into non-IS related matters."

"Nah… I'm just joking. So, try your best to inform me asap who to look out for."

"Yea, sure thing."

And with that, Louis turned and left.

Now then…

Perhaps I ought to meet up with Madoka?

But judging by the fact that she went shopping, she can be anywhere.

Maybe it is better for me to go back to the hotel…

Ring! Ring!

Hmm?

It's my phone.

I took out my phone, and stared at the screen.

Ring! Ring!

This number… Kin?

Ring! Ring!

"Yea?"

"Ichika-sama!"

I checked the time.

That was really fast, it has only been 1 hour…

"What have you got?"

"Remember that photo you sent me?"

"So who is the blonde client?"

"She's Amera Fluxis. A senior staff member of the Dunois Company."

"… Carry on."

"She works in the IS technological development department. Apparently she has been there for three decades already."

"Who is she working under?"

"Apparently she works under someone quite big."

"Also a staff of the Dunois Company?"

"Yes. One of the top brasses to be more accurate."

"Who is it?"

"Well… *conversation censored*"

"…"

"Yea?"

"…"

"… Umm… I see."

If the blonde client is working for a group of superiors, it seems that there are quite the number of people who wanted Louis dead.

"Ok, what about the number Kin?"

"… Still working on it."

"Ok… now here's another request."

"Hmm?"

"Keep looking for people closely associated with the two personal you just mentioned and send me a list via the email."

"Hai~."

"I also want you to include their biography and current occupation within the Dunois Industry."

"Hai~."

"As for the number, I just need to know where is the source."

"You mean the manufacturer?"

"Whoever or whatever that is responsible for the number's existence. You can take more time regarding that matter. The list is a priority."

"Ok, do I send it to you via email too?"

"Yes, put the list and number in two different emails."

"Hai~. Anything else?"

"No. I'll call you again if I need anything."

"Ok~. One more thing Ichika-sama."

"Hmm?"

"When you come back, you better compensate me for waking me up so early."

… Huh?

"No means to be rude, but you woke me up at 4 am with an emergency, and such work usually drives the human brain to work fast. For one hour it is an exhausting work. That is not a pleasant thing for a guy to make a lady do."

… True.

"So what do you want me to do?"

"Remember that promise you made me?"

"… Huh? What promise?"

"… You forgot?"

"…"

"I don't believe you! I was looking forward to it!"

"Ok since I have trouble remembering, when exactly did I make this promise?"

"Before you left the island villa for your first kill."

"Oh! You mean teaching you how to use the IS?"

"Yes! You know Ichika-sama, even if you are from the Main family, breaking promises to a girl is a no no."

"Well… I was thinking that more to be a possibility rather than a promise."

"EEEEHHH?! Why?!"

"I don't have a spare IS remember? If that is a promise, I would be making an empty one… at least until I get a spare IS which even I don't know when it will happen."

"…"

"…"

"Then how about this!"

"… Hai?"

I got a bad feeling.

"In return for waking me up so early, I want Ichika-sama to make it a priority to get a spare IS, and one that you think is suited for me."

… In other words you want a personal IS asap right?

"Sigh… ok I'll see what I can do."

"Make it a promise."

Wha…

"Kin… I am not so sure – "

"Make it a promise."

"… ok."

"Not enough."

"Huh?"

"Say that you promise me."

"Ok. I promise Orimura Kin that I will get her an IS asap."

"Yay~!"

"… You know that Madoka would have your head for this right?"

"Not my head, Ichika-sama is the one who made the promise, not me."

"SAY WHAT?!"

"Fufufu~ I set this conversation to be recorded before I called you. So if I just cut the line where Ichika-sama made the promise, it will seem that you made the promise~."

Isn't that already blackmail?!

"So Ja~. I wish you good luck to get me a suitable IS~."

Kin cut the line.

I've decided.

This will the first and last time I make a promise to a girl outside of the Main family.

Women… they are really scary when it comes to matters like this…

Ah…

I hit my head.

Anyways… Come Ichika, back to reality.

If this… Amera and her superiors are willing to go up against the Dunois family like this…

No matter how much I deduce, it could only be more of an independent action.

But for what reason?

Well… I won't be so surprised if their motive is something related about the stagnant status of the Dunois industry having failed to create a 3rd generation prototype.

I guess there are people like Louis out there who wanted to do something about this underrating situation.

Anyways, time to let Madoka know about this too.

I dialled another contact number.

Shit…

I just recalled that I am calling in a foreign country.

The call fees… they will be more expensive out here right?

Sigh…

The next day, at a certain French military base,

"Welcome Charline Dunois and Louis Dunois. We were expecting you."

In seeing the person in front of him, Louis twitched his right eyebrow by just a little bit.

Standing in front of the siblings is one of the most senior members of the Dunois industry, Rainar Atris.

Louis has seen her coming and going out of the Dunois mansion from time to time.

She is definitely someone you don't want to offend.

She is one of the major members in his family's industry.

In other words, one of the Dunois Industry top brass.

Not just any top brass.

She is in charge of the Dunois financial department.

That's right, she's an economist.

One of the types Louis hated the most.

"Please follow me, the new package is in a deeper part of the camp."

The siblings then followed the VIP.

"… Now I feel awkward." Charline said.

"Hmm?"

"My attire… I feel out of place here."

Charline's choice of dress code is a simple green short skirt, a yellow shirt along with a white overlapping jacket.

"… I see no problem."

"But everyone around us… even Miss Atris… is at least wearing a decent suit."

"Sigh… Charline…"

"What?"

"You are a teenager kid. There's nothing wrong wearing something of a decent fashion."

"Mu… Louis, you don't understand a girl's heart."

"But talk about a welcome… Miss Atris… sigh…"

"What is it brother?"

"Driving us into a heavily fortified base is already too much, but didn't they overdo the security by a top notch? Why all the armed personal?"

Looking around, there are tons of military personal armed around the siblings.

"What are you saying Louis? This is but only natural." Miss Atris commented.

She must have overheard their conversation.

"Even if it is for our safety, just how overprotective…"

"Ah what are you saying Louis? You and Charline are the two children of the Dunois family. it's obvious you might be targeted by suspicious personal."

Who might be on their way here already…

Damn it…

Since they are already in the base, Louis can already suspect anyone to be the presumed assassin.

So the main question ought to be, not who is the assassin, but when the assassin will come…

Miss Atris led the siblings until they reached a checkpoint.

Standing right in front of them are two guards.

"Ok, just wait here, I'll get the passes."

And with that, Miss Atris left them.

"… Charline, come."

"Ha?"

Louis brought Charline to a corner.

"Listen… if anything goes wrong, we stay together."

"Huh? What are you saying Louis? I'm just doing test runs. The worst that could happen is that I get injured."

"I'm not bothered by the test runs."

"Then what is it? Stop creeping me out."

"I'm getting a feeling that we are being targeted."

"…"

"…"

"What the hell Louis?"

She doesn't even get him.

"Louis, there is a limit to your jokes."

"I'm not joking."

"Is it one of your weird hunches? Or is it because of the imposed military presence that has gotten your paranoia up?"

"I'm serious Charline."

"Fine, let's say I agreed to play with your little scheme."

"So if anything happens, don't go flying anywhere. We stick together."

"Sigh… ok."

At the base entrance guard house…

As both twins entered the base guard house, there are several scanning checkpoints lined up side by side, for both luggage and person.

For each scanning point there are two security guards.

Four scanning points, eight guards in total.

For some reason, the security guards appear to be rather lax.

They did not even bother to question the twin's attire, they merely sat down there and waited for them to come nearer.

For this operation, since stealth is a key criteria, the twins wore a different set of clothing compared to before.

Ichika chose to wear a full body black combat suit.

The single layered outfit is accompanied by a thin metallic layer of shoulder blades, along with elbow guards, knee guards and a hard black leather boot.

This combat suit is manufactured by the family during the reign of the 27th when a pressing need for protection is raised during the time when the 27th generation is facing a lot of dangerous commissions.

Bullet proof, flexible and also easy to absorb sweat, the combat suit is a kind of suit developed for the user to be adapt in all kinds of combat situations and underground missions.

Other than that, he also included a pair of sunglasses and an unbuttoned overlaying black jacket.

Madoka is wearing a female version of the attire along with her usual black mask that covers her upper face.

Unlike Ichika who bothered to slide his arms through the jacket sleeves and button them fully, Madoka just buttoned the jacket's first button and left it just there.

She did not bother wearing the jacket thoroughly, her arms at her sides underneath the jacket, entirely like some delinquent school disciplinary personal.

There appears to be nothing else worth note taking, other than the fact that Ichika is carrying an extremely bulky baggage.

Even now as they walked towards the security clearance, it is totally obvious that the security guards cared little of who they are currently facing.

Maybe to them, it is just another boring routine of checking and clearing customs.

After all, they have been doing the same job everyday for all military and civilian personal entering the military base.

Perhaps to them, a person who brings anything marked contraband is a total idiot who is looking for trouble.

Anyways…

Ichika entered the clearance customs first.

He slotted the bulky baggage through the luggage scan.

BEEP!

BEEP!

BEEP!

The security guard got up sloppily, took out a torchlight.

Ichika walked through the clearance scanner.

BEEP!

BEEP!

BEEP!

The second guard got up sloppily.

Do all security guards act like this?

The second guard approach him, while the first guard slowly unzipped the bulky bag.

"Do you have any metallic items on person? Rings? Watches? Camera phone?" the second guard said.

Ichika just undid the buttons of his jacket and revealed the contents that made the scanner beeped.

Two guns, with various other loaded magazines.

"… What the – "

Ichika grabbed one of the guns, where both of them are equipped with the silencer.

He places the barrel tip in front of the security guard's neck.

Bing!

The security guard got a syringe like bullet in his neck.

That's right, tranquilizer rounds.

Ichika shifted his aim at the nearest security guards, and did what he had to do.

By the time the second security guard started moving weird, the first guard saw the contents of the bag.

He looked up… to face a gun muzzle.

Bing!

The first security guard collapsed.

By the time the second shot was fried, the rest turned to look.

The twins moved.

Ichika took the right, Madoka took the left.

Bing!

Bing!

Bing!

Bing!

Bing!

Bing!

All the security guards dropped.

Their aims were precise, no bullet wasted.

"No one left on my side Ichika-nii."

"Same here."

Ichika lowered his gun.

He then turned to check the bulky baggage.

Thankfully the C4 inside is still untouched.

All the wires and other explosive devices are also accounted for.

Ichika then grab the baggage.

"Remember M, try your best not to kill anyone. The less people we kill the less attention we draw ourselves to in the aftermath."

"Mu…"

Madoka puffed her cheeks.

Correct.

They will still be tracked down regardless of the outcome, but how much effort the French military will put in is an entirely different matter.

If they left the base with a number of deaths on their hands, the French military are more likely to spend more efforts to track them down, compared to if they left the base where no one died.

"No killing got that? And destroying the base is a no no."

"Hai…"

It really spoils the fun for her, to not kill.

Now then…

Let's get Louis.

At a very deep part of the base…

"Ok Miss Dunois, we'll start the exercise when you are ready."

"Ok."

Charline Dunois stood in the centre of a huge IS arena.

Her outdoor clothings are gone, all kept in a locker reserved for her use.

Instead, she is now wearing a Dunois customized IS piloting suit.

She closed her eyes, and uttered one word.

"[Revive], deploy."

In a few seconds, her entire body is covered in a bright yellow IS, her own Customized III [Raphael Revive].

On the outside it looked similar to that of Charlotte's Customized II, but the specs has been revised continuously after many test runs.

Since this is a test run, the Customized III is not that thoroughly equipped.

It does not have the Shield-Pierce, and all other combat armaments are removed.

The only it has right now is just one Vent semi-auto assault rifle, one Rain of Saturday heavy shotgun and

"Now let's see, the new package."

She scanned through her equalizers and selected the latest additional item.

In a few seconds, her waists are equipped with two sphere-like objects.

Judging from the advance looking glows from the sphere linings, this is definitely something of 3rd generation make.

"… This is an import from another country? Germany?"

"No. It's one of our newly recent prototypes. If this is good, it will be one step closer to making a decent 3rd generation prototype." Miss Atris's voice appeared in her com link.

"… What does it do?"

"Using the latest technology on restrictive movements, it is a balancing equipment that helps you stabilize balance when the pilot supposedly gets knocked off due to a huge impact."

"… That's something new."

"I know right?"

"So what am I to do?"

"Well…"

There women with basic [Raphael Revive] appeared in front of Charline, armed.

"We would like you to endure some huge impacts."

"… Dodging bullets? Is this some new game?

"Just endure."

"… before we start, what is the name of this new equipment?"

"It's codename for now is the Twin Adjuster Sphere."

"… Sigh what an odd name."

"Well the name can be changed. What matters is the result."

"…"

"So Miss Dunois, we'll begin when you are ready."

"Ok. let's give this a try."

Is what is showing off at the screen so far.

She looks like she is having fun…

Louis sighed.

He really envied Charline.

He is sitting in an observation platform, drinking a cup of coffee from the vending machine.

All he ever did was to escort Charline into this base and out of it.

Other than that, he has nothing else to do.

So all he can do now is to relax and observe his sister partake in the test runs.

Truly, he envied both his sisters.

Not only can they be exposed to the theories revolving around the IS, they can even partake in the practical side of it.

There is nothing better than to explore and test the countless possibilities of the IS.

Deep down Louis knows, as a guy, he can't operate an IS.

Well, since you can't pilot one, why don't you just cut your complaints and study stuff related to the IS. France never had enough of its own researchers. When it comes to the 3rd generation.

Since he can never pilot one, perhaps he ought to head down that road.

There is definitely merit in what Charline said.

But still… even if I become a researcher, I want to pilot one…

"So they are on their way? Already in the base? Good."

Huh?

Louis shifted his attention.

It's Miss Atris.

It looks like she is talking to someone.

Miss Atris cut the line.

"Expecting someone?" Louis asked.

"Yes."

"Who is it?"

"A business partner."

Louis did not want to pursue.

Business… economists… politicians and the like, he really hated those.

At Ichika's side…

"According to the map the client provided us, we should be approaching the communications block." Madoka said.

"Yea… we ought to turn around this corner…"

"No Ichika-nii, that leads to the cook house. There's a higher chance that we'll get noticed."

"Then what about this road?" Ichika pointed at the map.

"If we cut off from here and follow this road we will be at the back of the building marked with the X."

"Hmm… makes sense. Let's go with it."

The twins have infiltrated the military base for quite some time.

They are slowly making their way towards the place where the map is marked an X.

Apparently that marked place is a deep part of the base where it has to be an IS arena, where Louis will be in no doubt.

Judging from the nearest direction signs, they are already halfway through.

"M, what are the chances of us clashing with IS pilots here?"

Ever since his first kill, Ichika started developing the habit of calling his imouto 'M' whenever she had her mask on.

Maybe it is due to the fact that she reminds him of her relationship with Phantom Task whenever she has that mask on… oh well never mind.

"Before I answer you, what does Ichika-nii thinks?"

"For me? Roughly about… 80%."

"Care to explain?"

"Well, since Charline Dunois is here for some test runs, it is possible that there would be other IS pilots to help her out. I would say at least three or four IS pilots are in this base."

"Logical, I'll give you some credit for it."

"What about you M?"

"I'm thinking more of around eight to nine IS pilots. We are in a big base after all."

"… It looks like we really have to hit fast."

"So when exactly are you going to use that?"

Madoka pointed at the bulky baggage Ichika is carrying.

"Anytime when we get closer. Since we're going to create lots of noise. Most preferably somewhere far but still accessible for us to get to Louis."

Two military personal walked by towards the twins, but the two just kept walking.

The two military personals looked at the twin's attire, but once they saw the base pass dangling from their chest pockets, they returned to their conversations.

"It looks like the base pass works. But there is a limit as to how much attention we can draw ourselves to." Ichika commented.

"Then let's start the party."

"… What? Now?"

"We are near the communications block right? Then let's pose some fireworks there."

"… Perhaps that is too big an impact."

"Don't you want to attract all the IS pilots too?"

"Not in that sense. Since that is the communications block, it ought to have power access from a major source. If we destroy that building, what if it triggers a power lock down and it affects the entire power circuit of the whole base? If some entrances are powered by electricity won't we have a hard time moving from place to place?"

"Then we'll blast our way through with the IS. The impacts are way lesser than the C4s we are using."

"…"

"Come on Ichika-nii, it's not like we have nothing."

"… That can work…"

The twins approached the communications block, but there is another problem.

The communications block looks heavily controlled.

Their visitor pass will not help.

If they want to get in, they could do it either from the side or from the back.

There is more than one entrance to the communications block, where there are smaller doors.

But the only thing obstructing them is a wire fence.

If they do not want to go through the wire fence, they will have to go through the main entrance, which is inadvisable since their base pass will not help them gain entry.

"Now is Lunch time, there will be more people at the cook house. Ichika-nii, if we go from behind we will be less noticed."

"Agreed, but how are you going to – "

Break through the fence…

Before Ichika can finish his question, Madoka already gave the answer to him.

She flashed out [Silent Zephyrs]'s left forearm frame and sliced a high-end chop.

The metallic fingers cut through the wire fence like a katana slicing straw bundles.

"…"

Madoka de-materialized the IS forearm and smiled at her twin.

"Got better suggestions?"

"… Carry on."

And with that, the twins tear open the torn wire fence and proceed to one of the side doors.

At Louis's side…

BOOM!

"Huh?"

"What is that?"

"An explosion?"

"All staff to battles stations, this is not a drill I repeat, this is not a drill."

What the…

"Louis!" Miss Atris called.

"What?"

"Come with us."

Miss Atris grabbed Louis's arm and dragged him to the nearest exit route.

"Wait! What about Charline?"

"She'll join us through a different route. Both you and your sister's safety comes first."

An unexpected explosion going off just like that.

That spells it…

The assassins are here.

Louis can only be more mindful of who is around him.

"Miss Atris!"

"Miss Fluxis."

Ah… here's another one…

Amera Fluxis, another one from the financial department.

Louis can only feel unhappier.

What is with all these economists showing up?

Why have I not seen any more researchers or scientists?

Miss Fluxis looked at Louis, and she smiled.

"Ah… I see you got Louis."

Louis can only nod back.

"What's the situation?"

"An explosion occurred at the communications block."

"What? Some power plant gone volatile?"

"We are looking to it, but it speaks more of sabotage."

"Oh? How so?"

"Someone cut the wire fence behind the building, and one of the side door locks are broken into."

That confirms it, they are here.

All the more reason to get near to Charline.

Even her IS is ill equipped, the assassins will not stand a chance against an IS.

"Hmm… anyways, Miss Fluxis, take Louis to safety."

"Wait. I'm not going any where until I see Charline right next to me."

"Charline is in safe hands. We've seen to it."

"Then see to it that she comes right next to me. I accompanied her here and as her brother I am not leaving without her at my side."

Louis almost swore that he saw Miss Fluxis clenched her fists.

"That… can be done."

"Make it a priority."

"I'm afraid your safety comes first. What use is there calling your sister when you are in danger zone?"

"…"

"Anyways, come with me."

Louis can only comply.

It looks like Charline will have to wait.

Little did Louis know, the danger he is expecting is at it's very closest.

At Ichika's side…

"Well, that worked."

"Fufufu~ that's a lot of noise~."

"But it is going to cost us… this base will be at it's full alert."

After the explosion, Ichika and Madoka were running.

They are already near the location marked X, according to their blonde client, Louis should be there.

Or so they thought.

While they are running, the disposable phone given to their client vibrated.

Ichika raised his hand, and Madoka stopped behind him.

He checked the phone, there is a message.

Louis wants to meet up with his sister, I am going to move him somewhere where we will be alone. Will be going to the 7th block housing the 367th Squadron, be there within 5 minutes.

If Louis meets up with his sister, it means that they will have to go through another IS in order to clear things up.

"M."

"Hmm?"

"How confident are you of being the decoy?"

"Ah… you want me to draw attention to myself?"

"Enough havoc to keep Charline in check. If she is doing test runs, it is highly likely she will be with the other IS pilots of this base."

"Oh? Isn't that way risky Ichika-nii?"

"Use [Silent Zephyrs] only if you have to. When it comes to that, don't worry about them tracing back to our family. Since you are using [Silent Zephyrs], their attention will be on Phantom Task."

"Hmm… it can work."

"So, are you confident?"

"I can, but don't blame me if I destroy half the base."

"No don't! And don't kill anyone needlessly."

"…"

"Madoka?"

"OK FINE I GET IT!"

Madoka pouted yet again, in defiance, but she relented.

Gosh this imouto… controlling her is definitely a real challenge.

"So we are splitting up for real now huh?"

"Yeah…"

"Well, then, I wish you luck Ichika-nii~. Send me a message once you're done."

"Same for you."

And with that, Ichika and Madoka ran to opposite directions.

With Ichika making it for Louis, Madoka went to create some havoc.

Meanwhile…

"Why are we here?" Louis asked.

"It's the safest place to meet up with your sister."

"It seems quite far back to me…"

After the commotion, Miss Fluxis brought Louis to another block.

As they walked in, there is a signboard that says 367th squadron.

Well, it is most likely a landmark in regards to where they are now.

Miss Fluxis then brought Louis to the fifth level.

Strangely enough, there are already armed personal present.

Judging by their uniforms and weapon issues, they are not military.

No matter what Louis thinks, they look more like guns for hire.

"… Who are these people?"

"They are employed by me."

"By you?"

"For your security."

"That's too extravagant no matter how one sees it. The military security troopers would have been enough."

"We've predicted this kind of scenario countless times before. Think of it as a little insurance."

A little insurance?

Against the supposed assassins?

Well… they look menacing enough.

"… So when is Charline coming?"

"Just wait! Damn it… when are they going to show up?"

They?

Louis raised his eyebrow.

Just who is this Miss Fluxis waiting for?

Then all of a sudden, someone's phone rang.

It looks like Miss Fluxis's.

"Yes? Ah… I'm at the fifth level."

"…"

"What? Oh I see, so Miss Atris is with you."

"…"

"Ok, we are at the room at the end of the corridor."

Miss Fluxis cut the line.

"Who was that?" Louis asked.

"You find out soon enough." Miss Fluxis said.

"…?"

Something feels off.

Is it Charline?

No… it does not feel that way.

Perhaps it is transport?

The mercenaries around him check their guns to pass the time.

Since there is nothing else to do, Louis can only stare at the door.

Click!

The door opened.

It's Miss Atris.

It appears that she is with someone.

An Asian?

He is wearing sun glasses – !

There are bandages at the forehead and the left side of his face.

"You told them about me as well? Amera?" Miss Atris asked.

She pointed to her companion.

"What? I did not say anything?" Miss Fluxis said.

"But they somehow managed to trace our relationship."

"Huh? How? I was so sure I did not give them any details."

"Make sure you do your best to avoid this again in future. Now then…"

Miss Atris turned to her companion.

"Do your job."

Her companion reached for his sunglasses and took it away.

At another location…

Madoka walked by herself.

It has been a while since she left her twin.

All around her, is total chaos.

The security alarm has been beeping continuously.

A lot of smoke is rising from the communications block.

It looks like a fire has started.

The PA system is reporting a lot of insignificant things.

Around her, she can hear vehicles moving around, separate groups of men running from a distance, shouting instructions…

From there on, Madoka is currently on her own.

Just like how things was when she was still in Phantom Task.

Just like back then, when she was always alone in the field.

"… Looks like Ichika-nii is now right next Louis."

Regardless of the situation, Madoka knows that Ichika-nii would not play to what she has in mind.

For some reason, her twin has a different plan to this mission.

Ah~…

Ichika-nii is still quite inexperienced, yet he is pulling this sort of thing.

Usually Madoka would be dead set against what they are doing now, but there is something in Ichika's eyes back then that made her hesitate.

They were eyes of energy, of inspiration, yet with some degree of madness.

It sounds dangerous, but since when has everything not been dangerous?

So, Madoka decided.

As the imouto, sometimes it feels better to support whatever he is up to, for the time being.

If the current plan messes itself up, they can always revert to the original plan.

That is, kill Louis, get payment and go back home.

Oh well, either way things will work out.

Since Ichika-nii is not the type to mess with things, Madoka can be at least assured that he keeps the stealth component of this mission to heart.

Now then, since she is tasked to cause some havoc, she might as well pass the time.

She took her time to walk, guns ready in hand.

She bypassed some corridors, but she saw no one.

Even though she has been hearing voices around her, they are from distances away.

The place… is mostly deserted.

It looks like the blonde client's bomb was able to be put into its maximum effect.

Many are either at the bomb site, or securing exits.

"Ara… what do we have here."

After some odd turns here and there, she seems to have stumbled upon some huge hanger.

There are a lot of metal crates, all sorts of transport vehicles and other forms of mechanical devices.

But that is not all, there are huge platforms.

Judging from the size and space, it looks like hanging platforms used to hold unused ISes.

… It looks like she stumbled upon a highly controlled area.

If this is such a secured place, Madoka won't be surprised of people return here.

In considering this fact now, Madoka paused.

She closed her eyes and focused on her sense of hearing.

At first nothing…

Then…

She heard footsteps.

Fast, and uneven.

"Looks like there are still some guys running around."

She kept walking forward, not caring if she gets found out at this moment.

"There's one of them!"

Four guards showed themselves.

They opened fire.

Madoka dodged to the side and went for the nearest cover, a metal crate.

The four resumed firing.

Judging from the rate of fire, they are equipped with sub-machine guns.

She sat down with her back facing the firing squad.

Then without looking, she got ready her guns, one in each hand.

Both are equipped with solid live bullets.

Remember Madoka, don't kill anyone.

Though Ichika-nii already said as such…

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

It's really hard to move like this.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Ching! Ching! Ching!

Pause…

The guns stopped firing.

The four guards started reloading.

Ara… it looks like some guys failed to cover fire for the rest of the group.

"Fufufu~."

She readied her self.

"Unlike Ichika-nii, I am not so nice."

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The guards finished reloading.

Madoka jumped into the air and returned her own shots.

They are all accurate shots.

One bullet went to the forehead, another to a guy's right eyes, a third sank into the third guard's trachea and two more bullets sank in each shoulder of the last one.

Three of the four collapsed and stopped moving.

The last screamed and dropped his rifle.

Madoka landed.

She took her time and walked casually to the last man.

She took her time, absorbing the man's moans.

"Ah~. It has been a long time since I immerge myself in this~."

She stood in front of the guard.

The guard stared up to her.

"Sa…"

The soldier looked up to her.

"Charline Dunois, where is she?"

"Go to hell!"

She raised her gun.

"Nice answer."

Bang!

The last guard dropped, dead.

"The gunshot is from here! It's coming from her!"

"Ara ara…"

More security guards…

Eight of them.

They form a loose formation.

All guns pointing at Madoka.

Madoka checked the weight of her own guns.

They seem much lighter compared to the start of the mission, a clear indication that she is running out of ammunition.

"… Looks like the dogs don't know when to quit."

She only has a couple of magazines left.

She has to use them wisely from now on.

"Drop your weapon and surrender!" one commanded.

Madoka pressed a button on her guns.

The empty magazines dropped from the handle.

Some of the guards relaxed slightly, they must have thought that since she has no more ammunition, she is less likely going to resist.

But instead of complying to surrender, she just reached for two more magazines.

While her guns are still in place in her palms, she used her fingers to slot the new magazines into her pistols.

In accordance to her own training, she reloaded them within 2 seconds.

From the instance her guns went 'click', the guards reaffirmed their aim.

"No shit! Fire!"

"Tch!"

Madoka dodged the first volley of rounds and retreated back for cover.

Madoka was just about to move, when –

"Hold fire!"

Another voice intruded the scene.

A female's voice.

The eight guards stopped firing.

"There's no point in hiding, come out!" the female voice commanded.

Madoka stood up and moved from her cover.

The eight guards are still pointing their weapons at her.

"You men step aside."

"Aye Ma'am!"

The men stepped aside, revealing several women in their 30s.

They are all dressed in a Dunois custom made IS piloting suit.

"… This looks like more trouble…"

The females looked at Madoka.

Flash!

The females summoned their ISes.

In an instance, they are all equipped with the [Raphael Revive] basic IS model frame.

Each raised a Vent 0.55 cal Semi-automatic assault rifle and pointed it towards Madoka.

"Surrender, put down your weapons." The leading IS pilot said.

"Sigh…"

Madoka closed her eyes, looked up and brought her left fingers to her eyes

"So troublesome…"

She smiled.

"Sorry Ichika-nii… but with this many opponents… fufufu~."

Her smile became twisted, sickly twisted.

"Ah~ It looks like I can't hold it in much longer~. Oh no, I am really getting excited. Ah ha ha ha ha~."

"What the hell are you muttering? Surrender and put down your weapons!"

But Madoka did not budge.

She merely kept laughing to herself.

Then, in the midst of the unusual happiness, she only uttered one more word.

"Deploy."

At Ichika's side,

"…Saiyoka?" Louis asked.

In response, Ichika raised his own pistol.

Bang!

"AARRGGHH!"

Louis dropped to his knees.

He clenched his wound.

"You idiot! Why don't you just kill him already!" Miss Fluxis said.

… What?

Louis can only stare at Miss Fluxis and Miss Atris in disbelief.

"What… are the two of you…"

Ichika cocked his pistol.

He aimed it at Louis's head, but his eyes went to the mercenaries around him.

"… You did not tell me there is extra company, Miss Amera Fluxis."

Miss Fluxis bit her lower lips.

"How did you find out?"

"I have my own intelligent friends. Besides, if you hired this many people, you would have made short work of Louis. Why spent the trouble hiring us?"

"Well… they are back up."

"Back up? You have quite expensive tastes…"

Louis got up.

The bullet wound he recieved from Ichika is only but a graze.

It appears Ichika missed the shot on purpose.

The bleeding is minimized.

"You…"

Louis glared at Ichika.

"Oh? You two know each other?" Miss Atris asked.

"Just acquaintances." Ichika added.

Ichika resumed his aim.

"Enlighten me, why are you killing this guy off?"

"I thought you don't question the clients."

"I'm curious. He has the minimum value compared to his other two sisters."

"The sisters can reap off more profit than this guy since they are IS pilots." Miss Atris added.

Louis can only stare at Miss Atris in shock.

"Miss Atris, why?" Louis said.

Miss Atris gave him an indifferent look.

"Orders from the government."

"… What?"

"Like I said, orders from the government. Your father is running out of time. The rightists are getting worked up over the fact that they failed to see a prototype 3rd generation IS to this day."

"Even so… why kill me?"

"To send a message to your father that if he does not buck up, he will lose his family one by one."

"Getting threats from the government? Is France that desperate?" Ichika asked.

"Not France. It's the rightists." Louis said.

Miss Atris sighed.

"True, it is mainly the rightists. Those extremists have been getting rather impatient lately. They just fail to see how does giving your family huge budget help when you guys fail to meet up to the government's expectations."

"So they just can't wait anymore, and just threaten my father by killing me?"

Miss Atris shrugged her shoulders and faced up her palms.

"It's politics, my dear boy. Since time is running out, the politicians are resorting to this corrupted method in order to speed things up."

"…"

"You, my dear boy, just got drawn into it regardless of you having nothing to do with the government. Even though I have no grudges against you, I have to do this. So no offences."

"Is there no other way?" Louis asked.

Miss Atris shake her index finger.

"Don't try to beat the bush. Even I have to answer to my superiors."

"Your superiors? Aren't you father's employed staff?"

"Yes. But before that, I was, and still am, a government agent."

"…"

"I merely got employed to make sure that the Dunois Company stays on track. Your father seems to be aware of my affiliations with the government, but he employed me anyway."

"Why?"

"So that he has someone to feed government information."

"… You are a double spy?"

Miss Atris smiled.

"It is only natural, I get paid extra anyway."

"…"

"I even need the extra cash to pay my loyal henchmen." She indicated to Miss Fluxis.

"And me." Ichika added.

Miss Fluxis sighed.

"If it is about your payment, it is already in cash in a bag waiting in your hotel room."

"What about the escape route?"

"You just need to come with us when we leave the base."

"Ok. Now… about these other mercenaries…"

"Like I said, they are back up."

"In case of what?"

"Your failure." Miss Atris added.

"Well, it looks like you had a little insurance."

"We need to make sure that the job is done."

"Then why get me to do it?"

"It's more difficult to trace back if the killer is an Asian from nowhere. Whereas any European can be easily tracked down these days."

"I see."

"Well go on then, we have a schedule to make up."

Ichika resumed his aim.

"Wait." Louis said.

"What now?"

"Just to ask, before you finish me off. What do you intend to do after I died?"

"Pressure your father to developing a 3rd generation prototype."

"Haven't we been doing this all this while?"

"Well, it does not have to be original."

"What?"

"As long as it is a 3rd generation IS, the government rightists would stand down for a while."

"You want our industry to plagiarise some ideas?"

"As long as it is a 3rd generation model."

"This is going to affect our industry big time."

"Well, not that you Dunois family had a choice. The government might as well cut off your budgets, but doing so will have some huge effects on our economy. Your family is one of the biggest industry in France after all. If we do this instead, the Dunois industry economy will be affected, but not enough to the national level."

"But it may still affect the global economy. We export regular demands of the [Raphael Revive]."

"That 2nd generation antique? That will soon change once countries like Britain, Germany and America developed complete 3rd generation models. Don't think your family runs the monopoly forever."

"…"

"Well enough talk. Assassin, do your job."

"Ok."

Ichika shifted aim.

He raised the pistol to Miss Atris.

"… What?"

"Sorry, change of plans."

Bang!

Miss Atris's forehead got a hole in it, and it is no longer a tranquilized round.

After that, everything went hectic.

Miss Fluxis screamed, the mercenaries raised their weapons, guns pointing at Ichika and Louis.

In response, Ichika kicked Louis to a corner, and deployed [Shiroshiki]'s left forearm frame.

The IS arm flickered to life, and the pentagon energy shield was activated.

The fired bullets were slowly absorbed.

Once they came into contact with the shield energy, they continued spinning, until they run out of energy, and fall.

After the first volley, the mercenaries, Louis and Miss Fluxis can only stare at Ichika in total shock.

"… IS…" Louis said.

"IS!" The mercenaries cried.

"HOW?"

"HE'S A GUY SO HOW?!"

"IT'S ONLY PARTIAL LYDEPLOYMENT! KILL HIM BEFORE HE FULLY DEPLOYS IT!

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

Ichika calmly maintained his shield energy and diverted his attention to Miss Fluxis.

Miss Fluxis can only stare in shock her back leaning against the wall.

Oh well, business ends here.

Ichika raised his pistol and ended her nightmare.

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

The bullets are really a fruitless attempt…

"Sigh… men-do da… (How troublesome…)"

Ichika kept his pistol and deployed his right forearm frame this time.

With the left forearm frame deflecting the bullets, Ichika focused his attention on his right forearm frame.

He open the mechanic palm, revealing a hole.

As he focused, the hole glowed in bright yellowish-orange in the instance.

The air around it became sizzling hot.

Ichika raised the opened IS palm, slot it through the covering energy shield, and fired.

BOOM!

The mercenaries made the crucial mistake of standing together in one pack, in one location, and they paid for it.

They are all blasted out of the building, their flesh blackened, charcoaled while their guns melted on their skin.

Everything was over within three seconds from the moment he shot Miss Atris.

That over, Ichika de-materialized his IS forearm frames.

He turned.

Louis can only stare in shock.

Ichika took out his pistol again, and pointed it at Louis.

It is here that Louis's conscience came back.

"WAIT! WAIT! WAIT!"

He raised his arms.

Ichika merely remained indifferent.

"Right now, I have two options. One, I kill you and hide this. Two, I let you live, and drag you into custody."

But obviously, Louis is not paying attention to the situation he is in.

He is merely admiring the fact that a guy managed to pilot an IS right in front of him.

"How can you pilot one?"

"…"

Ichika cocked his weapon.

This is no joke, he is really going to kill me!

"WAIT! WAIT! OK! WHAT DO YOU WANT?"

Ichika paused.

"What else? My own security."

"… Are you Orimura Ichika?"

"… So you have discern that much huh?"

Louis looked like someone just hit him over the head.

All of a sudden, he looks happy, unusually happy.

"So… you're alive? All this while?"

"Louis!"

A familiar voice echoed.

"Charline?"

Running to the room is Charline Dunois still dressed in her customized pilot suit.

When she saw Ichika and his gun, she immediately summoned her own IS.

Meanwhile…

Madoka walked towards one of the living casualties that managed to survive her assaults.

All around her are flames, charcoaled walls, displaced body parts, and bodies with huge holes in them.

The entire battle zone has breached about a quarter of the base.

Most of the area is already beyond salvaging.

That was how bad the fight was.

[Silent Zephyrs] was still deployed.

It's armour frame covered Madoka's body.

Well, not like it really matters.

Everything around her is fired.

Even the camera images cannot be salvaged.

Even if the military managed to capture [Silent Zephyrs]'s involvement, it will be as Ichika-nii said, the blame will be on Phantom Task.

Madoka approached the fallen bodies, those that are still mostly intact, looking for possible survivors.

She approach one of those female IS pilots that made the mistake of challenging her back then.

The pilot lay still, her back facing Madoka.

Madoka kicked her.

She still did not move.

In using the tip of her boot, she flipped the body.

The corpse stared back up to her.

The eyes are lifeless.

Tch!

Madoka moved to the next intact body, repeating the same process again and again.

It took another seven minutes before she heard a grasp for air.

Someone had survived.

In tracing the source, it turn out to be another one of the IS pilots who challenged her.

Madoka approached the casualty.

… How to say this, she looks pretty bad.

Her body is half covered by debris, and it is not just that.

Her lower legs are punctured, butchered, bruised… or whatever you want to call it.

She just cannot move them.

She had a penetrated wound on her right breast, a racoon left eye, bleeding mouth and forehead… all signs that are medically defined as an emergency.

Judging from those wounds… she does not have long to live.

Madoka de-materialized [Silent Zephyrs].

She took off her black mask and approached the IS pilot.

"Oi." She called.

The female IS pilot looked at her.

"I'm here to help. But I need your co-operation."

"…"

Madoka cleared some of the debris that was on her.

"What happened here?" Madoka feign ignorance.

"An… *Cough* attack… [Silent Zephyrs]… *Cough* Phantom Task…"

"Charline Dunois, I am looking for Charline Dunois."

"*Cough*… *Cough*… She left us."

"Where? When?"

"*Cough*… About thirty *Cough*… minutes *Cough*… went to look for her brother *Cough*… Louis…"

Well that changes things.

If she left the group before this fight, she might be at Louis's place right now.

In other words, Ichika-nii.

Ah~…

Though Ichika-nii can handle someone like her, things may go out of hand since he is reluctant to use his IS so openly…

I better get back then…

Madoka stood up straight.

"*Cough*… *Cough*… Help…"

"Thank you so much, I'm going to treat you now."

Bang!

The female IS pilot stopped grasping for air.

Madoka slot back her pistol and put back her black mask.

Ichika-nii's location is at a distance away.

Should I help? It has been a while though…

Madoka took out her hand phone.

She gave a thought, then called Ichika.

Let's hope Ichika-nii knows what he is doing…

Back to Ichika's side…

Charline cannot move.

Her movements are restricted.

She can still move.

But if she moves, her life will be forfeit.

Now, how did she ever end up in the situation?

The reason is simple, [Shiroshiki]'s right hand frame is currently clenching her throat.

Before this, upon seeing a stranger point a gun towards her brother, Charline deployed her IS and equipped herself with the 'Rain of Saturday' heavy shotgun,

She aimed to fire, but upon that instance, Ichika summoned his IS right forearm frame.

He immediately closed in their distance, and knocked her 'Rain of Saturday' heavy shotgun towards the side.

Before she can react to that, his metallic fingers grabbed her throat.

In squeezing her throat, he slammed her to a nearby wall.

All Charline can do is use her IS hands to grab Ichika's right forearm frame, grasping for air, while being pressed against the wall.

"You're good, but not that good." was all Ichika could say.

Charline can only stare back at him.

"Hey! Stop – … you know what never mind."

Just as Louis is going to stop Ichika, Ichika used his other hand to aim his pistol at Louis.

"Look…" Louis said.

"I don't know what is going on with you, but let Charline go."

"Tell her not to point that weapon at me again."

"Ok, Charline, deactivate your IS, now."

"Tell him to let go first."

"CHARLINE!"

"…"

Charline deactivated her IS.

"Now you." Louis indicated to Ichika.

Ichika deactivated his own IS forearm frame.

Charline used this opportunity.

She grabbed Ichika's left wrist, and twisted it, hard.

It was the so called CQC, Closed-Quarter-Combat.

But Ichika had a counter in mind.

Thanks to the hellish training with the old man, he had an idea on how to response.

In using the momentum, he countered Charline's movements and applied his own Jiujutsu.

He slammed Charline down the floor.

And cocked his pistol at her.

"You know, I really have a mind to kill off the two of you."

"Charline please! He's Orimura Ichika."
For some reason, that seems to bring Charline back on track.

Charline released her hold on Ichika.

"Ok, can you take that gun away?" Louis said.

Ichika gave a thought and kept his pistol.

Before the conversation can be continued, Ichika's personal phone rang.

"Excuse me."

Ichika reached for his pocket.

There is only one person who can call him now.

"*Beep!* M?"

"Ichika-nii! I'm headed your way!"

"Relax M, Louis and Charline are with me."

"Oh? They did not attack you"

"Well, Charline did, but everything seems to have calmed down now."

"Anyways, we need to get out of here. Are you with the client?"

"She's dead, I killed her."

"… What?"

"I killed her. But it is ok."

"… It looks like you have a lot of explaining to do later… Anyways, how then do you intent to get out?"

Ichika looked at Louis.

"We will have Louis escort us out. Meet us at the guard house at the base entrance."

"You do that, I'll find another way."

"…? Aren't you going to meet me?"

"No matter what I am too far from you. We won't be able to make it out in time if you wait for me. Oh don't worry about me Ichika-nii, I am used to this already."

"… Ok."

Ichika cut the line.

"Now then, let's get out of here."

""…""

The two Dunois can only comply.

They all ran.

Much later…

There can be nothing but awkward silence…

When you are in a car, normally you would be talking to whoever is right next to you, or you would admire the French scenery outside the car window.

Regardless of which, there is a sense of communication whether you talk or not.

Normally this is good for it lightens up the mood.

But not this…

Three people sitting in one compartment together, yet not even bothering to communicate at all.

Right now, Louis felt very awkward.

He is in his family's limbo car in the weirdest possible situation ever.

To his right sat his sister Charline Dunois, who has been staring at their new guest for quite sometime.

Of course, the guest, sitting at the side seat away from the siblings, is non other than a bandage faced Asian teenager who Louis can only think of as Orimura Ichika.

Charline has been staring at him non-stop too, but this Asian seems to be more attracted to the public scenery outside the car window.

In this situation, normally they would be talking, but the Asian teenager either seems to be uninterested, or that he has a lot on his mind.

The car has been driving for quite sometime… yet there no conversation has been raised.

Why there is no attempt to strike a conversation… because the man in front of Louis is both a murderer and a man who had the wildest ability to pilot an IS.

The fact that this guy had killed someone and almost killed him really killed any attempts to strike a conversation.

The same goes for Charline.

Even though she had her IS equipped, this male Asian teenager brought her down with just partial deployment, not to mention only with his right forearm frame.

The limbo turned to a junction, then Ichika opened his mouth.

"You can drop me here. There is a metro station nearby."

The Chauffeur stopped the car.

As Ichika opened the door, he turned to Louis for one last time.

"Well, we're done here. Considering what we both went through, let's not cross paths ever again."

He emphasized the ever.

Ichika got out and started walking towards some stairs leading to an underground passage.

The Limbo resumed moving.

Damn it… are you just going to let this opportunity get away from you Louis?

No matter how much Louis thinks, this is a once in a lifetime chance.

If he lets it slip, it is going to be back being stuck in the Dunois mansion being the incapable boy unable to pilot and create his dream IS.

SHIT!

Louis unbuckled his seat belt.

"Chauffeur, stop!"

The driver stopped the Limbo.

"Charline! Stay here!"

"EH?"

Louis got out of the car.

"Just to ask you!" Louis called.

Ichika stopped walking, and turned his head.

"What?"

"Why did you save me back then?"

"From Miss Atris?"

"Yea…"

"For pragmatic reasons."

"What? Wait is it about what we have been talking about?"

"No."

"Then what? You are not making sense."

"Why don't you ask me specifically then?"

"…"

"…"

"Ok, then let me start with this."

"…"

"Why are you… like this? I mean, the whole world thought you to be dead."

"Well… that is because maybe I am dead."

"Huh?"

"I have amnesia."

"…"

"I don't remember anything of the past, and since the current me is considered to be way different to the past me, you can say the old me has died."

"Is that what you believe?"

"Can you imagine me killing someone?"

"… I just saw you killed someone."

"Then compare the me now to the me who appeared on the news last year, that harmless looking high school kid who is nothing but a blockhead."

"… Just what happened to you."

"Long story. I have no wish to talk about it."

"Then next question."

"Hmm?"

"As an assassin you could have just complied to work with Miss Atris. Why help me in the end?"

"I have two reasons."

"Which is?"

"You will like the first, but not the second."

"Just tell me."

"The first is more practical. The mercenaries Miss Atris hired are back ups. In case I backstab our agreement, the mercenaries will finish me off. But it can also be like this."

"Yes?"

"Let's say I kill you, I can be confidant that the mercenaries are paid to finish me off as well."

"She hired you and finished you off?"

"That is a possibility I cannot ignore. It can be for tying up loose ends."

"I see… what about the second?"

"It's applied for more economic reasoning."

Louis popped a vein in his head.

Clearly, he hates everything that hinders IS research advances, politics, economics and the like.

"… Just tell me."

"Because if you died and the Dunois family's budget got somewhat affected, it will be bad for the global economy."

"… That's rather economic. Why even bother when you are just an IS pilot?"

"I have to pay attention to the market if I want to buy materials to maintain my IS right?"

"Your IS… it's a 5th generation."

"Well done, you passed your eye score test."

"How did… wait. You've met Dr. Shinonono."

"She saved my life."

"Well that explains your disappearance."

"It just happens that she was making a 5th out of nowhere. I happen to receive it."

"…"

"Anything else?"

"Whatever we have been talking about, about teaming up. Is it all true?"

"Whatever I have been talking to you about, half of it are plain lies."

"… Ah?"

"Since we both share interests I don't mind working with you. But when it comes to Dr. Shinonono and her colleagues it is going to be a different matter."

"Why?"

"I believe that you will jeopardise things when it comes to guaranteeing the safety of the doctors."

"You should know me by now. I've shared you my ambition, mine. If it will allow me to fulfil my dream, I am wiling to pay any price."

"Are you even willing to accept voluntary disappearance?"

"You want me to leave France?"

"Your ambition and dreams are something worth note taking, but I cannot abandon the possibility that someone will trace your movements and expose the doctors."

"Well, it has been my every intention to break off from the Dunois family and start my own IS research."

"So you're going to be a technological hermit Louis?"

"… Something like that. All I want, is the knowledge and the capability to both build and pilot an IS."

"…"

"…"

"That. Is the most interesting thing I have ever heard outside of Japan."

"Thank you."

"So you're a mad scientist Louis."

"Yeah… more mad than you can ever think."

"Hmm…"

"Orimura Ichika or not. You are my ticket to my dream. Don't think I am going to give up."

"It looks like I am about to take a very dangerous gamble." Ichika said.

"So…?"

"Fine, I'll introduce you to the missing doctors."

Louis heart skipped a beat.

"But let me warn you. Should you ever dare attempt to threaten the safety and privacy of my teachers and that of Dr. Shinonono, I will not hesitate but to cut your throat off myself."

Louis gulped.

"Are we understood?"

Louis nodded.

The threat is real.

Louis has already seen it, how this fellow fended off the mercenaries.

There is no questioning how far Ichika can go to kill.

But it is natural.

They are talking about the missing top IS researchers who are part of Dr. Shinonono's original team.

Not to mention, even meeting the peerless genius herself.

"I'll contact you when it is time. Good day."

Ichika turned and resumed walking.

Finally, things are settled.

Finally, a window of new opportunities is opened.

When he finally gets the chance, he is going to learn all he can –

Ring! Ring!

Louis's phone rang.

Hm?

He received the call.

"Hey Louis!"

"Charline?"

"De? De? Is that really Orimura Ichika?"

"Yes… it appears so."

"So what happened?!"

"… He got Amnesia."

Louis heard a familiar sound of a car's door opening.

Oh no…

Not again…

Well, he can't blame her, since the guy is right in front of her…

"Wait." He called again.

Ichika stopped and turned again.

"Anything else?" he looks irritated.

"Other than that." Louis said.

"Hmm?"

Louis, eyes closed in a way that said 'please deal with this', pointed behind him.

Charline Dunois got out of their car and joined the fray.

Does she want a rematch? Was what Ichika thought.

But for some unknown reason, this Charline Dunois has dazzling eyes as she looks towards Ichika.

Before Ichika knew it, she closed their distance.

"Orimura Ichika! If it is really you, Can I have your autograph?!"

"Hai?"

"Sigh…" Louis brought his hand up to his right eye.

"Louis? Who is – "

"Just here her out please, she went hyper non-stop after she found out about you."

"Please~! I an a very big fan of yours! Look, I have so many collections of you and [Byakushiki], can I ask you to give me one of your signatures?!"

E-Even if you tell me that…

It looks like Ichika did have quite a number of fans…

"Charline… Just pass him that favourite poster of yours…"

Charline took out some sort of poster like card and pass it to me.

Ichika guess he just have to sign it…

It looks like some cosmic poster of him with [Byakushiki].

The post looks so unreal… it must have been fan made, but whatever.

"So you're my fan?"

Ichika asked while signing.

"Yes! I had always wanted to meet you in person! I even wanted to go to IS Academy to see you, but dad say's I'm needed back home so I did not get the chance.

I see…

"But still! How cool! To think that you are alive all this while! You even got bandages like that, on top of that Amnesia? OMG! Kyaa!"

"Wait. Since when did you hear about the Amnesia?"

"From Louis!"

Ichika gave Louis a stare that said 'And we were just talking about keeping secrets'.

"W-Well! Regarding you it is a different matter! I never said anything else!"

"Hmm… I see… it looks like you have to wait for a very long call."

Piang!

Louis looked like someone hit him in the head.

"Ok, done."

Ichika passed the poster back to Charline.

She took it, and began admiring it.

Soon, she was lost in dream land.

"Oh before I forget Louis."

"Yes?"

"Here."

Ichika reached for his pocket and passed him a folded piece of paper.

It looks crumbled.

Louis opened the paper.

It was filled with scribbles of writing, making it look as if it was copied from a source with haste.

Scanning through, he saw names, occupations and even each individual's past biographies.

"That is the list of those people closely associated with the two who wanted you dead today. As you can see, many are related to the higher staff of the Dunois industry and the government."

Louis took his time.

Ichika was right.

Many of the names are familiar, and they are mostly from the Dunois financial department.

Louis smiled.

He waved the piece of paper.

"… That's a lot of work you put into."

"It was easy. I just had the right friends who had the capacity to help me look into things."

"I see."

"I guess you have most of the information you need for now. From here on, how you use it, and how you find new information, is totally up to you."

That night, back at the hotel, Ichika POV…

"Aaaahhhh…"

I collapsed on the bed.

I threw a fist up to the ceiling.

Mission complete.

Though it ended in an entirely different way, I can say that everything went well.

But now, I got one main problem.

How on earth am I going to explain this to the old man?

Going against the client would speak ill of our family when it comes to the underground.

Sigh…

"… isn't it about time you explain something?" Madoka asked.

I turned my head.

She is looking at the mirror, her eyes caught mine via the reflection.

Ever since I left Louis, I called Madoka and we finally regrouped at the metro station.

For some reason, Madoka kept silent throughout the journey back to the hotel.

On the passenger seat she has been either looking at me, stare at blank space to get lost in thought, or start fidgeting nervously.

Seriously… there is a limit to how much awkward she can make me feel.

But now that she brought out the demand for explanation, perhaps this explains her behaviour at the rendezvous earlier.

Anyways…

"Well, if I decided to help the client, the budget usage the Dunois industry had will change significantly. Facing threat, they will be rushed to make something that resembles a 3rd generation model."

"You make it sound like they can't make a 3rd generation IS Ichika-nii. De? So it's going to be this? You turn against the client for the sake of the Dunois company's economy? So that globally it won't affect our family's stocks and trade?"

Ichika smiled.

It looks like Madoka finally got what I have in mind.

"That's right. Even if the Dunois Company specialises in the IS, they are also known to be the most influential company in France since they are also responsible for various other stocks and products that France export overseas. If their business is affected, so will be our family's... on a global scale."

"Why didn't you tell me this? Things would have been better if you let me know your plans."

"I already wanted to tell you my suspicions as to why we ought not to kill Louis. But at the time it was difficult to explain to you as I had insufficient information to make my stand justifiable. If I told you, you would have refuted saying that I lacked solid information to start digging into our client's background."

"And that is why you went to Kin?"

"Yes. Her help was useful. I even got better information when Kin dug out the client's associates. It is definitely clear that they want Louis dead so that they can pressure the President/Head of the family to buck up on the IS technology researches."

Madoka smiled.

"… Your crazy at times Ichika-nii. But in a good way."

"Good to see that you finally get what I am doing."

"Fufu~, good, you are improving greatly."

"… Just to ask. Why didn't you join me when we are about to leave the base?"

"Well…"

She looked away.

Clearly, guilt is on her face.

"What is it?"

"Is something wrong?"

"…"

"… If it is something you think that will upset me, you best better confess now. While I am still not angry."

"…"

This is the part where she fidgeted nervously.

Her actions were the same back in the metro train.

…?!

Could it be… due to that?

"Madoka. I saw smoke in the base. It is not just one strand, but there are lots of it when I left with the Dunois siblings."

"Ah…"

"…"

"…"

She still looked away.

Her face had a rather awkward smile, becoming that of a 'Ah haha… Ichika-nii's going to kill me…"

"You went crazy again didn't you?"

Piak!

Madoka looked like she just got slapped.

Yup, it looks like I hit the jackpot.

"M-Ma Ichika-nii~! The damage is controlled."

No… you are definitely not avoiding this.

"Be specific."

"Well… about a quarter of the entire base?"

"MADOKA! DIDN'T I TELL YOU TO REDUCE DAMAGE?!"

"…"

"How many did you kill?"

"…"

"HOW MANY DID YOU KILL?!"

"… About..."

"Ah huh?

"Thirty… plus?"

I collapsed on the bed again.

I give up.

"W-Well… it will be as Ichika-nii said. The government will be more likely to blame Phantom Task than trace for us, since I used [Silent Zephyrs] so…"

"… Whatever."

Madoka…

I totally gave up on this twin… for the moment.

"Aww… don't be so mean…"

Madoka made a cute expression.

It caught my gaze, but that will not work on me.

Speaking of which, Madoka was undressing.

She removed her combat jacket, gun slots and combat shirt, letting them drop on the floor, revealing nothing but a black tight fitting sleeveless shirt.

Apparently the size of the tight fitting shirt was slightly smaller compared to what Madoka wear in order to help her agile movements.

But the fact that the size is smaller made her shirt tighter, and it just made the two hills on her chest more obvious to my eyes.

And the fact that the tight fitting shirt is sleeveless just made her even more attracting to the human eye.

Damn… they're big… WAIT WHAT AM I THINKING?!

I immediately turned my head away.

Damn it!

What's with me?

"Hmm?"

Madoka tilt her head with a '?'.

Then…

"Oh!" she straightened her head.

Judging from how her expression changed, she already knows what I was thinking.

Then, in knowing why I turned my head, she smiled.

"Ho~? Ichika-nii~."

She tilted her head to the side, brought her right index finger to her lips and shrugged.

With her Yamato Nadeshiko looks, her current pose… can really kill any guy.

STOP WITH THAT SEDUCTIVE EXPRESSION!

"A-Anyways! Oi! if you leave the guns like that on the floor just how are the staff going to react if they see them?"

"It's ok. If anyone happen to see the guns, I'll just erase their existence to keep their mouths shut."

She started approaching me slowly, smiling mischeviously.

"Oi… that won't solve the problem."

"It's ok Ichika-nii~. I know how to clean up my own mess."

She continued approaching me.

She reached the edge of my bed and started pouting on all fours, slowly moving closer to me.

Damn it!

She's definitely up to something mischievous!

Button press - Escape

I need to get out of here!

I need to get out of here!

I need to get out of here!

Ring~! Ring~!

""Hm?""

We both look down to the source of the sound.

It is coming from Madoka's pocket.

Madoka tilted her head and reached for her pocket.

It looks like her phone is ringing.

Madoka stood up from the bed.

Madoka brought her phone up.

Her eyes widen at the caller's number.

Slowly, she pressed on the accept call button and moved the phone to her right ear.

… Looks like I'm saved.

I closed my eyes, relaxed, panting.

"Ichika-nii~."

Hmm?

I looked to the side.

Madoka threw her phone towards me.

"Catch~!"

"Huh? WHA – "

I caught it… by a margin.

"Just what are you – "

"The old man is on the line."

I readjusted my sitting position on the bed and leaned back on the pillow.

Slowly, I raised the phone to my right ear.

"Well… I heard that the mission did not go as planned."

I closed my eyes, tilt my head to the left just by a bit, curled down my lips and sighed.

"… Did Madoka tell you?"

"No. I heard it from my friend who introduced me to your client."

"The middle man who helped the client arrange this mission right?"

"Yes."

"… So how do you feel?"

"Well, let's say that I am very proud."

"You are?"

"From what I hear, you were smart enough to recognise there is something wrong with the mission from the very start. You paused the killing of Louis Dunois, masked yourself and approached him in order to find out who your mysterious client is."

"…"

"You found out who your client is and felt that it would be better to help Louis Dunois get rid of the client instead."

"You think it is alright?"

"Usually most would feel that it is better to just kill Louis Dunois off. But considering the facts of what the client has in stall after killing Louis Dunois, it would be better for the global market if you went against the client."

"So it's ok right?"

"Your action is something I agree with. Besides, it was a better decision for the business side of our family. Artfully done."

Well… at least he is fine with it.

Hang on…

If he had sent me to this mission knowing that something like this is going to happen…

"You already know about our client's intentions?"

"Yes."

"And you told us nothing at the start?"

"Yes."

This old man!

"Why?!"

"To teach you another valuable lesson. There will be missions like this that will unknowingly drag you into things that are sometimes way beyond what you can handle. Political grudges, international affairs. We had come across some missions like this in the past, some of my own cousins even died because of it."

"…"

"When it comes to situations like this you have to make very important decisions that will ensure that you do not jeopardise your own safety and that of your family's stability –"

As the old man spoke, I felt a weight sink right beside me at the bed's corner.

Madoka, still in her sleeveless tight fitting shirt, sat right next to me.

She eloped her arms to my right elbow, rested her head on my right shoulder, and pressed her left ear to the phone, listening.

I tried to move her away, but she just sticks to me like glue…

"Are you listening Ichika?" Orimura Ichirou said.

Oh shit.

"Y-Yes! A-Anyways, since you're ok with the outcome, are you satisfied with the mission?"

"Well… I hear you revealed your true identity to Louis."

Argh…

That's the part I feared the most.

"Though you penalize the stealth component of the mission, let me hear your reasoning. I'm curious."

"Well… it's something more personal."

"Oh? How so?"

"He and I shares the same interest when it comes to the IS."

"Will he risk exposing you, Madoka and your family?"

"No. It seems he also wants to team up with me for his own interests."

"Can you discern them?"

"Partly… it seems he has some tensions with his dad. From the looks of it, it appears that he wants to break off from the family and start his own IS industry."

"Hmm… interesting, keep him on further observation if you can."

"Don't worry, I intend to do so."

"Well… other than that, I guess I'll give you a solid pass for this mission."

Phew…

"Good to see that you are improving greatly, I guess it was right to let Madoka come with you."

"… Anything else?"

"Yes, please be back soon. I have an important issue to discuss with you."

"Another mission?"

"No, something more personal this time."

Something more personal?

"It is something related with your future. You'll know more when you come back."

The old man cut the line.

"… Huh?"

I brought the phone in front of me.

… Just what does he mean by something more personal?

On top of that, something that is related to my future?

"Yay! The old man pass you Ichika-nii!"

Madoka squeezed me tightly.

"Y-Yea…"

"Fufufu~ Ichika-nii is improving~!"

"A-Anyways Madoka."

"Hmm?"

"The old man mentioned something really off the charts…"

"Ah… something about Ichika-nii's future?"

"Yeah… what can you think of?"

"Hmm… it is still too early for the old man to relinquish the title of Head to you… maybe it is sharing another personal story with another moral behind it?"

"… Does not sound like it over the phone."

"Maybe history lectures?"

"I said it does not sound like lessons over the phone."

"Urgh… then I'm beat. I can't think of anything else."

"Hmm…"

"Mm~."

Madoka stuck to me like a cat again.

Then, she squeezed my elbow.

"Ouch! What now?"

"You seem to be having quite the conversation with Louis."

She said that while smiling.

"Huh?"

"You even hitch a ride from him."

"You saw that?"

"I was waiting for you before you called me."

"Oh…"

"You seem to be engrossed in some serious conversation."

"Yeah… something of the sort."

"Care to explain?"

"Well…"

"Also, please explain that matter of Charline Dunois."

"Huh?"

"Since when were you so close with her?"

"What are you saying? She's just one of my countless fans out there."

"Oho? So she knew your true identity?"

AH!

Shit.

I slipped it.

"Ichika-nii~."

Oh no…

"Just how much did you reveal? Don't tell me… even Louis knew your true identity?"

"He gauged it for himself! I did not say anything!"

"And yet you still do not eliminate him for your own safety? Did you even consider the fact that you might risk your own safety?"

"… Well."

"We have some time before sleep. Perhaps you can spend the next few minutes explaining everything to me? Oh and when I mean everything, I meant everything."

The time now is still 8:12 pm.

If I want to say I want to go to sleep, it is not a good enough reason since she will say something like 'it is still early, we got time'.

"Don't even think about it Ichika-nii. Sa! Confess your sins to me now."

"What are you going religious now?"

"Shut up. Now explain."

That night.

The interrogation, plus an additional lecture, lasted up to 3 hours.

Damn it…

Getting interrogated and then lectured by my twin, not to mention my very own imouto…

Dear Kami-samas… just how is my future going to progress?

The next morning.

"*Yawn*"

I yawned.

Because of Madoka's interrogation last night, I did not get much sleep.

I literally spent most of the night staying awake, feeling the aftermath of a cruel interrogation.

Madoka on the other hand, clung onto me and slept like a sleeping beauty.

She was not moving at all when she slept, totally indulged in a peaceful slumber.

Damn it…

That was one of the few times that he felt jealous of his imouto.

I yawned again, tired.

"Why are you so tired Ichika-nii?"

"The culprit should not be questioning."

"Ara… for you to be this tired, you must have not slept much."

And whose fault is that!

But forget it…

I have no more energy to retort.

The flight is in about thirty minutes.

Hopefully the flight can proceed without delays, I had enough of schedule obstructions…

We are currently in the middle of sorting out our luggages before we send them in.

Everything seems to be in order… aside from some abnormities…

"Madoka… what the heck are those?"

"Hmm?"

I gestured at those additional plastic bags.

For some reason, I had not noticed them at all up till now.

Since when did we have additional plastic bags?

"Ah! They are ingredients I bought."

"… Ingredients?"

"Hai~!"

"What are they for?"

"I'm going to cook once we get back home~. I wanna try to make some French omelette along with some of my style with additional ingredients back home~."

"… You cook?"

"What's with that look? I'm also a girl."

"... No matter how you put it, there is no way you behave like one."

"What? Ok then! Challenge accepted!"

"Ha?"

"I'll make some decent omelette when we get home. Maybe that will change your mind!"

Madoka cooking…

For some reason, the image is giving me a very bad premonition…

"Besides… you sure you want to leave things like that?" Madoka said.

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"I meant Louis."

"What about him?"

"From what you said last night, I know Louis's type. If he is not satisfied with the current arrangement, he's sure to approach you again... I won't be surprise if he comes rushing to meet you again."

"You're just over imagination it."

"Really? Then let's make a bet. If he shows himself up before we leave, I win, if he does not, you win."

"And the prize?"

"Loser gets punishment game~."

Punishment game?

Isn't that the ridiculous game where as in the loser will have to listen and do as the victor says for a brief period of time?

"AS IF!"

"Aww… don't be stingy Ichika-nii~. It will be a bountiful experience~."

"There is definitely something wrong with your vocabulary of 'punishment game'. No way!"

With the way Madoka already is, Ichika could not help but feel uneasy what would happen if he is stuck listening to every command she gives for this brief period of time.

She is already incest enough, but if he were to go through that kind of punishment game, gods know what she is thinking in her head.

"EEHHH? No fun... Then let's reduce the stakes~!"

"… What?"

"If I win, Ichika-nii carries me to bed and you absolutely cannot refuse. If I lose, well… I'll leave it up to Ichika-nii."

As if that will happen baka!

You imoutos barely give me room to breathe whenever you all occupy my bed.

It's about damn time I get my own private space.

Wait… so as long as I win, I will avoid another bed situation, and Madoka will listen to what I have to say?

Isn't that good?

I can make her tell everyone to stay away from my bed!

Wait… if Madoka has to listen to what I have to say, doesn't that mean she gets punishment game?

"Ara, here he comes."

"Huh?"

I stared at Madoka.

With one hand putting on her black mask, she pointed at the general direction with the other.

I turned to look.

And there he is.

Louis Dunois, running towards the two of us.

"What the… I did not say we are meeting again."

"Fufufu~ I guess it's my win~!"

Gods damn it!

Louis finally caught up to them.

"Ha… Ha… thank goodness… Ha… I thought you already left." He spoke in english.

"What is it?" I followed in the same language.

Louis took a while to catch his breath.

Then he got ready.

Just when he was about to open his mouth, he saw Madoka.

"… Who is that?"

"She's M, my accomplice."

"I see."

Louis still gave Madoka the suspicious look.

Madoka simply stared elsewhere.

She clearly has no interest in him.

"So what is it? I don't recall saying we are meeting again."

"Don't you want to stay here a little longer? I have so much to talk about."

"In regards to the same topic?"

"What else."

Ichika sighed.

"Look, as much as I also want to talk, I have a schedule to follow. I am needed back in Japan."

"You could call back to delay right?"

"… Not possible. Besides…"

"What?"

"Won't these meetings make your absence more obvious to your family? What if it brings attention to your father? What if he finds out about our meetings?"

"Not happening at the moment, he is preoccupied about what has happened yesterday. It looks like he will spend some time rethinking about his own staff members."

"You showed him the list?"

"No. But I gave some hints."

"And he listened to you?"

"He listens to anything that affects the business."

"I see."

"So you really can't stay longer?"

"No."

"Charline will be dissaponted."

… I feel the stare.

I shifted my eye.

Yup, it's from Madoka.

"Sigh… I said that I'll keep in touch with you on the phone. I'll let you know if there is anything new. Isn't that already enough for now?"

"… Yeah."

"Good."

"Just to ask, how long do I have to wait?"

"Depends on the doctors. I can't just throw you in their hideout without getting their approval."

"You got to help me convince them."

"That depends on you. I have no doubts that some will say no. but if some doctors are interested, you have to propose something that catches their interests. The Dunois Company is famous afterall."

"What about Dr. Shinonono?"

"… You will have to reach another level first."

"Huh?"

"It's hard for me to explain. Anyways, focus on meeting with the doctors first. Take things a step at a time."

"… Fine then."

"Ichika-nii, it's time." Madoka spoke in Japanese.

"Ah… ok."

"What? What did she say?" Louis asked.

"My plane is getting ready to take off. I have to hurry."

"Remember to call me if anything happens."

Yes yes…


OK! That's that YAY! Finally done with this.

Thanks to Season 2 I am itching to start writing on Reunion arc.

But sorry it ain't happening. There is still a lot to write about what happens to Ichika during Post Amnesia arc, especially how he became the 28th Head.

Anyways, next chapter Ichika will be taking a trip to Britain. Got to start brainstorming on more OCs lol.

Anyways, I have been re-reading Vol 8.

Is it me or has Izuru made Tabane and Chifuyu ridiculously OP? I mean Chifuyu went up against enemy leader IS pilot and defeated her with just 6 katanas and some cheap science logic. Tabane broke [Silent Zephyrs] with just 10 of her fingers? Plus her body is modified to the cellular level? How frigging OP is that?

It really kills the story just by a bit. But since Tabane decided to side with Madoka I am not complaining. Looks like things might hectic for Ichika once he meets Madoka again in let's say Vol 9 or 10.

So now I put down my pen, see you guys again soon.

Pls continue to review, greatly appreciated:)