Next chapter for This means War. I'm giving this as a so called New Years present for anyone who bothers reading these fics of mine. Anyway, I really have nothing to add other than I hope that you all enjoy the chapter and please leave comments, reviews, and constructive criticism. I'll be writing a question on the Author's note at the end, so please read it.
Also, for those who might not find this funny, this is supposed to be cringe comedy, meaning it's not meant to elicit laughter based off of joy or cheerfulness. You're meant to cringe and think WTF!?
Today's chapter will be about the graceful noble (pfft), Cecilia Alcott. This'll be a real trip.
"Clarissa, I failed!"
The vice-commander of the Shwarzer Hase could do nothing but look pityingly at her commander as she continued to bawl noisily on the small table. Already she could see the edges of the poor piece of furniture start to crack from the grip the tiny super soldier was giving it and the sound of smashing wood being overtaken by the frustrated sounds the silverette gave out. It honestly stumped her how different the so called emotionless operative was.
"Now now, I'm sure there's a reasonable-" She stopped and flinched as the cracking sounds became more audible, "-reasonable explanation as to why you didn't succeed," She tried her best to placate the young commander, "Maybe he was just not in the mood right then?" A few nods followed her statement, "That's right, it was most likely just wrong timing! I'm sure you can do it if you try harder!"
Truth be told, Clarissa wondered to herself if this was such a good idea. Sure it seemed to make sense at the time when she blurted it out, but wouldn't advice such as "Be yourself" or "Just act natural" have been better? At least that's the vibe she got from reading that 'Horimiya' manga she'd been addicted to recently. Now that she recalled, wasn't the only person who ended up trying to seduce the male lead by copying others usually the bad guy (or girl, as the case may be)?
...This wasn't good.
"Um...commander?" She ventured out hesitantly. No reply came from the slumped student, "Maybe I was wrong about this. Should you not try to be more honest about who you are?"
No response came from the young super soldier. Clarissa wondered to herself whether she should activate "the machine" already, which was pretty much made for situations like this, before the silverette suddenly stood up from her seat with a large thud. Kind of disappointing to the older woman since she wanted to see if it really worked. Not for any nefarious purposes, just curiosity.
"Yes, you're right!" Laura nodded firmly, "A solider never gives up! If you fail once, then heal yourself and go after the target again!" Well, not exactly the same principle, but it made sense to the soldier-girl, "Clarissa, I will be commencing the operation again. Make sure to check back in after doing that espionage operation on Rook Islands!"
It appears Laura had misinterpreted her words. While she was a girl, she was also a soldier first. There was no chance of her giving up now.
Clarissa barely had time to nod before the holo-screen turned off with an audible burst of static, 'Well, at least the Commander's more confident now,' She stood up with a slight sigh, 'Oh well, I'll check up on her later. I wonder what the islands will be like?'
Mission Briefing: Start
"Next target of opportunity is Cecilia Alcott, scion of the Alcott family and current leader of both the household and all its businesses."
On the screen, written out in clear writing, was all the data the Shwarzer Haze had managed to procure about Cecilia and the Alcott family in general. Other than the obvious info such as events, personality, and whatnot, various security vids procured (not stolen) from the school's database also littered the screen. On it she could see the girls mannerisms and various actions, most of which weren't too hard to follow provided she focused hard enough.
"Cecilia Alcott, age 15. Nationality: English/British" Laura read from the scrolling biography, "Currently a Representative Candidate for Britain, she appears to harbor as sense of superiority due to her position. Understandable, but very foolish."
Laura never understood why exactly Cecilia got such a bloated head about it. Sure she had a bigger position than everybody else, but that position was given to her by her home country, and she should have given it the respect it deserved. Think of it like having a gun; you might have a bigger gun than everybody else, but it's a gun nonetheless. A tool, basically. You can feel pride that you're wielding the bigger ordinance, but it didn't make you a better person or higher than anybody else. Laura in particular, while feeling pride as being chosen as a Cadet, nevertheless used it only to serve the people she was loyal to or accomplish her goals. Her actions decided who she was, not her equipment.
"Based on interactions with Ichika (my wife) prior to being nearly defeated by him in the class tournament, it is highly likely that she became attracted to him after his show of strength to her." Now that made more sense to her. As a soldier, she didn't want her beloved to be some meek wallflower waiting for her to come back from the fight. Her preferred man would have been someone who was gentle, handsome, and could take care of themselves in a fight.
"Parameters are the standard flair for someone of her gender and age range, though the hair is longer and more stylized than most," She paused for a moment to examine her own hair; almost the exact same length counting her own stature, but the curls were missing and she had a complete lack of makeup on her as well. She'd need to rectify that later when making her preparations.
"Most interestingly, she seems to have perfected the fine art of making foods and provisions look perfectly healthy and delectable, and yet somehow nearing borderline poison in both tastes and effects." Now this had her intrigued. Long had all the members of the Haze tried - and failed- to perfect their skill in cooking to the point that they could slip in poisons unannounced. All of them failed, either because the food looked discolored from the extra addition or somehow the potential enemy could "feel" the poison coming. She needed to learn how to do this by the time she commended the operation.
The last thing she noticed is that, like Lingyin Huang, she also had the tendency to go into a sort of violent trance where her eyes became empty and she did an unnerving smile. Clarissa had often commented that this was called "Yandere mode" and that it was a staple for most girls in a "Harem series". In either case, she wouldn't try it out unless she was really desperate.
Now the first thing she needed to do was to break into Cecilia's room to procure (not steal) some new things she'd need to make this work. Another thing she needed to do was to make the door handle break after Ichika goes in; complicated, but not impossible for her. Next was her attitude, which had to be matched with the British girl's posh sense of superiority and grace. After that she should succeed.
"Alright, time to start!"
"Ah, that hurts!"
"Ichika-san, please hold still so you don't aggravate the burns and scrapes," Across from him, Shizune sighed softly as she dipped another cotton ball before holding it out to the aggravated teen, "Do you want to do it or should I?" She asked him gently.
Ichika thanked whatever God there was that he managed to pass by Shizune right after getting blown out of the sky. Not only did he not want to deal with questions from the others, not to mention the possibility of getting assaulted yet again, he needed to keep this a secret. Being the vice-class rep, she agreed to help him without asking too much on what happened or advising him to tell the teachers.
"Can you do it? I really don't want to do that right now," Ichika replied back, calmly as he could. He could barely make out Shizune giving him a sympathetic smile before holding up 3 fingers; she was going to count from 1 to 3 to let him get prepared.
"1, 2, 3." Ichika sucked in his teeth and did his best in order to not yell out. The cotton fabric laced with disinfectant and alcohol seared painfully into his skin, causing tears to nearly shrivel out of the sockets of his eyes. Why did everybody always insist on alcohol? It stung like a bee and he was pretty sure it didn't actually help in curing the wound. Thankfully she was being gentle in dabbing the soft fabric against his cheek or else he might not have been able to stop himself.
"That takes care of the cleaning, but we need to put a cloth bandage and some medical tape to make sure the wound heals right," She rummaged through the small box labeled 'medical supplies' for a moment before rolling out the two items, "This shouldn't hurt you, but you need to change the bandages in 12 hours to make sure that the burns stay clean and don't get infected. Do you understand?"
"Yeah...yeah, I understand..." Ichika sighed and nodded once again. Already he could tell that the next few days were going to be a giant pain in the behind, which was made even worse by the fact that he had no idea why this was happening. Laura apparently decided that being a psychopath would be funny and that she would test it on him, "Do I need to get any medicine or other things?" He asked wearily.
Shizune paused for a moment before pulling out a small pill bottle and handing it towards him, "Some low class painkillers, just so you can relieve some of the pain- Ah, ah ah!" She pulled back when Ichika made to grab them, "You're not supposed to take this till after your wounds are cleaned and bandaged, so I'll give it to you after we're done," Another roll of bandage was extracted from the small pack, "Now please stick out your arms and stuff this handkerchief into your mouth. It may get painful."
What happened next came as a blur to the poor teen. He distinctly remembered yelling into the handkerchief and biting it like it would solve all his problems, and Shizune giving out frequent sympathetic words and apologies, but most of it was just a blur to him. Still, at the end of it all he was bandaged fully and his wounds were on the way to healing.
"There, all done," She patted him on the head teasingly, "Just make sure not to get into any more explosions or blades or I might not be keeping this a secret anymore. Got it?"
With a smile in his face and relief in his heart, he finally made it back into his room, confident that he could put the entire incident behind. Surely Laura was just going through a phase and she would be alright come the next day. Right, all was going to be well and things would go back to normal for him and his group of psycho friends come tomorrow.
"Oh, you're back!"
And that futile hope died the second he opened his room door.
"Laura...what are you doing here...again?" He was sure that his voice was cracking from the forced politeness and the nervousness he was desperately trying - and failing - to keep in check, "I-I mean, what brings you here?"
"..." The blank, condescending stare the super soldier gave him was extremely unnerving, even more so than the fact that Laura was completely silent for possibly the first time he'd know her, "...Well?" She finally uttered after a tense moment of silence.
"Well...what?" The only male pilot replied back warily. Was there something wrong again? Did he somehow screw up and send her deeper into spiraling insanity? Please let that not be the case, lest he lose more of his sanity and health. Mostly his health.
Laura didn't say anything, only clicking her tongue in disappointment after 30 seconds of God awful silence. Ichika felt himself stiffen (and not in the good way) and not so subtly made his way to the door-
Or he would have, if not for the fact that Laura suddenly stood up and practically stomped over to him like a raging storm about to hit. Instantly he could feel the nervousness and fear from earlier start to manifest again, and even worse now that she looked outright hostile rather than cheerfully insane (boy that sounded odd).
Regardless, Ichika prepared himself for the worst. Would it be another explosion? Or maybe more attempted stabbings? Either way he prepared himself. He would fight tooth and nail to save himself from any angle of attack.
"Hey, you idiot, don't you notice anything different about me?" Laura asked softly, much to his surprise and considerable paranoia. Was she planning another attack?
Cautiously, like a man faced with a loaded gun, he took a deep breath and slowly opened his eyes. it took him only a moment to grasp the difference; she looked completely different.
The first thing he noticed about her was the eyepatch, as in the fact that she wasn't wearing it on her face right now, meaning her golden eye was exposed for him to see. The second thing he noticed was the presence of make-up, which he knew from experience Laura NEVER wore due to her pride as a soldier. It also tipped him off that something was immensely wrong with her right now.
Other things marked the change in her appearance such as minor curls at the end of her long hair and - he didn't know how he missed this - the fact that she was wearing a dress of all things. A dress! And it wasn't one of those casual dresses he saw her wear from time to time, but a full-blown impractically large dress with frills and various other assortments. Ichika noted awkwardly to himself that he'd seen the dress somewhere before and, based on the fact that it looked really loose on the small-ish girl, he had a good hunch on where she took it from.
"Well..." She started off expectantly, "What do you think?" She did a small twirl, "I made sure to be on my best behavior and attire, as is befitting one in my position."
"Uh...you look good?" The words came out more of a question than a statement. Ichika was grasping, no doubt immensely confused by the odd behavior of the commander of the Haze. She was never one for make-up or frilly dresses, but rather for camouflage and practical shirts and pants. To see her like this felt wrong somehow.
Not that she wasn't pretty - Ichika himself would never say that - it was just that something felt...off about the look she was sporting. Laura was often likened to a doll in terms of cuteness and her personality added a lot to the assumption. But now, seeing her made up and dressed like some mannequin about to be put on display, it gave him the feeling that something was innately wrong about the entire thing, he just didn't know what.
"Hmph, that's all?" Down went Ichika's mouth when the obviously forced snob accent reached his ears, "I should have known better than to expect someone of your stature to notice the differences in my style," She flipped her hair back, with Ichika ignoring the fact it took about 3 seconds since her hair was so long, "Very well, I suppose I should take care not to be offended. After all, I came here to offer you a meal."
Okay, first meek hesitance and now outright snobiness? Something was definitely wrong with his favorite (and only know apart from that one pen-pal he had) soldier girl. Even he could tell she was forcing himself, though that came as no surprise since Ichika prided himself as a very empathic person. He knew others feelings well and would never, ever, be confused or misconstrue them.
Still, food sounded great right now, and he knew that Laura had been improving the past few month's thanks to Charlotte's guidance. Shizune also told him that eating food was pretty much a requirement unless he wanted to stay up with stomach cramps from ingesting the medicine.
"Alright, sounds good." For the first time that evening, Ichika actually sighed in relief in Laura's presence, "I'm so hungry that I can eat a horse right now,"
"Well, you would, being in your position and all," Laura once again folded to her fake 'nobility accent', "But I'm afraid you'll have to be disappointed as I consider the killing of horses, and people in general, to be extremely barbaric." . With a capital B. There was no way Laura, under any normal circumstances, would say that. Something was obviously wrong here. Were he a comic book fan, he would have said something about his insect sense tingling or some other such nonesense.
He didn't have to ask what she meant on the food department, however, as looking at the small table made it rather obvious exactly what she meant by her statement: There was practically a feast there. He could see a mixture of western dishes such as salads and sandwiches mixed in with various stews and other meals in stock. It was a feast fit for a king.
"Wow Laura, you made all this?" He couldn't keep the astonishment from reaching his voice.
"Of course!" She nodded rapidly, "Someone such as I would obviously have no problems with making a meal as gallant as this."
He decided not to argue with her. Rather than waste pointless times he could have used to stuff himself silly, he quickly sat on the wooden chair and clasped his hands together before uttering, "Itadakimasu!" and excitedly plunging the spoon in the stew.
If only he was smart enough to realize that doing so was an incredibly foolish idea.
The first reaction said a lot about it; already he could feel the bile rise to his throat and the feeling of dizziness and weakness spread across his entire body from the first bite alone. Strength began to leave him and his vision started to fade as the god-awful monstrosity in disguise slithered its way down his throat and into his stomach.
"Laura...what is this?" He managed to mutter weakly.
Laura, despite the situation, looked absolutely beaming with pleasure at his pained reaction, "Hm? It's the prized cooking that I'm known for, silly," She bonked him on the head lightly, which was enough to cause a migraine for the pained teen, "Although I was unable to copy the other's natural skill in making her dish, I was able to copy the effects using various low doses of poisons and old style arsenics such as Cantarella."
"Yes, as I lacked the natural skill in making the deceptive cooking, I had to measure the poison carefully and add them in small doses. I'm pretty sure I'm accurate...mostly."
Ichika couldn't be bother to reply. Consciousness had already left him and traces of blood started to seep into his saliva and into the table. Perhaps Laura had overdosed him by accident?
"Um...Ichika?" She shook his shoulders hesitantly, "Uh...I have the cure right here." She pulled out the glass bottle and placed it right next to his comatose head, "Um...I'll be going now."
With Ichika's silence as her only companion, she left the room in a slump, passing by the bemused form of Takatsuki Shizune on the way back to her room. Her plan had failed, and she was no closer to her objective, but she wouldn't give up. She had a few other people on her list and she wouldn't stop. She'd obviously made a mistake focusing on the cooking aspect, so she needed to focus on the "yandere syndrome" Clarissa had told her about. Perhaps that would garner better luck? She wouldn't know till she found out.
Here's the question: For the Tatenashi bonus chapter, should I keep Laura in her loli body or temporarily give her a more mature one? Your choice, and I can milk either for all the comedy its worth, considering who she'll be copying.
Next chapter: Lingyin Huang.