Contrary to popular belief the number of IS cores were not evenly distributed. The permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Japan for obvious reasons, received far more cores than simple member states and several times has this number advantage been used to bully a lesser country into merely doing as it was told. Naturally this did not sit well with some people. Funding from several different countries, including Canada and Spain, and Scientific assistance from several important institutes as well as a massive cover-up performed by several countries that had fallen behind in the IS arms race, including even France, was all that was needed to set in motion the production of a massive series of projects designed to shift the balance of power once more, just as Tabane had done several years previous.
Prologue: AC Direwolf
'Where am I?'
'Am… am I bleeding?'
Confused, disoriented, and scared a figure climbed to one knee and tried to stand. Sounds of battle, death, destruction, and general chaos echoed around him, or rather from the nearby streets. Vaguely he realized that he was standing within a warehouse, and vaguely he recognized the exact warehouse he stood within, even if at that moment he could not quite comprehend where exactly he recognized it from. All he could comprehend right now was that he needed to get as far away from those… things as he possibly could. All that mattered was…
He thought of something. For the life of him he'd never be able to understand why he would think of this later in life, but the fact remains that he did.
"Nee-san! Could Nee-san be in danger?!"
Panic overtook him and he tried to climb up to his feet faster, only to fall back down when he caught sight of something he'd missed as he briefly scanned the room. A red construct, only about a meter taller than him, stood in a limp position in the center of the room; a mecha of some sort his mind logically supplied. Flashes of the chaos on the streets, what had brought him to this place, came to him.
A big lumbering tank desperately trying to fire off its last shot before being hit dead on by that terrible laser beam again, evidently igniting something within and causing it to explode. It was a piece of the armor plating that had hit him, blown him straight through the now blocked, and previously closed, front door. How he'd survived exactly he could never even begin to know.
All caused by a disproportionate pitch black… something, for it certainly was not an IS. He still remembered it's crimson 'eyes' turning to him at the very last second, right before he was hit. It took several seconds for him to calm down and rationalize that the thing before him looked nothing like that monster on the street.
"Is this 'Nee-san' important to you?" The boy's head desperately began to search the room for the source of the voice, eyes widening in surprise and paranoia. It did not take long for the voice to speak again, it's perfect mechanical deadpan only now allowing him to realize what was speaking, "I say again, Is this 'Nee-san' important to you?"
"Yes!" He could not stop himself from saying aloud, "Very…"
"I see…" the voice responded, "I believe that there is an engagement going on around this area. Is that why you are worried?"
For several seconds the voice did not responded. When he did the answer was not something he expected, "Do you want the power to protect this 'nee-san' of yours?"
It was the boy's turn to take several seconds to respond, stunned as he was in so many ways, "What?" was all he managed to squeeze out.
"I said-" the voice began again without even a second's delay,
"I mean yes!" only to be cut off by the boy as he gathered his wits about him again. He'd no Idea why he said it like that, "I just want to make sure she's safe."
"… Even if you will likely need to fight to realize this goal…?"
The question briefly threw him for a loop, but his answer was already set in stone. As resolute as he could possibly manage to sound he said, "Yes, I will."
The voice did not respond. For several seconds the boy began to doubt its words.
For what seemed like several minutes the boy could only stare at the metal construct that he'd long since figured was the source of the voice.
Just as he was about to lose hope it spoke once more, "What is your name?"
"What is not a name." the voice stated, "What is your name?"
The boy hesitated but answered truthfully, "Ichika… Orimura Ichika."
Chaos. Just as with the city streets, chaos was the only words able to describe the situation within the command center of Crimson Ocean PMC's main headquarters which made its home within the very innermost sector of the city they were in, Kyofu.
"They've destroyed the defensive line at Samui Street!" a male voice frantically called over the chaos.
"Damn it, they're almost within the factory district proper…" an elderly voice responded, "Is anyone close enough to engage?"
"Only the Experimental division, sir!" a feminine voice called back, "There's Direwolf but…"
"But Direwolf doesn't have a pilot yet…" the elderly man smashed his fist down onto the table he was standing at with a cry of, "Damn it!"
"SIR!" the first voice shouted earning the attention of the at least 60-year-old man whom acted as the Commander of the city's defense force, "AC Direwolf has registered a pilot, it's coming online!"
"What? That's the first good news today, who is it?"
"I don't know, Arisawa-sama. The pilot is merely registered as a Orimura Ichika but I've never heard the name before."
"Orimura? Isn't that the family name of the former Mundo Grosso Champion?" the feminine voice noted,
"It doesn't matter!" The elderly commander, Arisawa, barked, "Get some more forces over there now, I don't care who it is, we can't let them through the Factory district! Only the Residential district is past that. Norimura, what is the Direwolf pilot doing?"
The first male voice, Norimura apparently, responded, "Sir! He appears to be engaging the unknowns."
The Crimson Painted construct, AC Direwolf, flew through the streets of the city moving ever closer to the source of all the destruction. The three Golem-like beings had regrouped just within the factory district, in the middle of all the wreckage generated by the several dozen tanks and helicopters that they'd just destroyed. They merely stood there, running the hypersensors they used as 'eyes' across the surrounding buildings, searching for something it would seem. Suddenly one jerked away from its search pattern, turning 75 degrees to scan something else it deemed more important.
It did not move in time to stop the shield attached to the Direwolf's right leg from smashing straight into its head and severely damaging the electronics contained within. This apparently included whatever was controlling it as the pitch-black golem fell inactive immediately after being knocked backwards.
"Hostile IS neutralized." The same mechanical voice stated, likely to the pilot.
The other two turned, their hypersensors already finishing the job of the other and completely scanning the new visitor. Were there actually pilots in those two IS they'd likely be terrified at their third counterparts immediate death. The roughly 3-meter tall war machine brought a weapon to bear upon each of the remaining golems who themselves began to move in opposite directions and bring their own weaponized arms to bear upon the crimson construct.
Direwolf fired first; it's arms keeping track of both of the two golems as it began gliding back on its relatively small boosters to take cover behind a nearby building. Its rounds had little effect, merely pinging off the now fully activated shields of the two other machine, as was the best one could hope for when using glorified tank guns against an IS. However, it was chipping away at the energy reserve powering the shields. Eventually this would drop the shields and allow the IS itself to be damaged. That was how nearly everything worked regarding IS nowadays, kinetic weapons such as the upscaled assault rifles in the hand of the Direwolf, just had a slightly harder time with it.
As the machines fired the Direwolf dodged right with a sudden burst of extra speed causing the shots of the golems to go astray and hit the wreckage of one of the tanks instead, crushing the hull of the wreckage even more. Rushing behind a building Ichika instinctively did not stop moving until he'd ducked into an alley where he was fairly sure the golems would have problems finding him. Mechanically the powered armor proceeded to place the two rifles onto the shoulder storage rack freeing up its hands for other things, such as CQC. A small blinking device shot out of the upper rear armor and began floating serenely above Direwolf, whose own hypersensor glowed as it began spotting, scanning, and keeping track of the two Golems.
As one approached the entrance of the alley Direwolf pounced with a similar burst of speed as the one from before. Nearing the golem Ichika threw a punch, the armor plating on the leading fist opening up and deploying a small blade that swung forward with incredible force. The blade, and the fist behind it, collided with the shielding covering the head of the Golem, which had only barely begun to point it's weaponized arm towards the Direwolf. The blade alone could've easily been blocked by the IS's shields, as could the punch, but both the force behind the punch and the massive force behind the knife managed to shatter the thin barrier and led the knife on a clear path through the head of the Golem-like IS. It collapsed just like its brother unit before it.
"Hostile IS neutralized."
"Where-" Ichika blurted sweeping Direwolf's recon unit enhanced hypersensor across the surrounding building and seeing nothing. It was not Direwolf who answered. A rain of crimson beams, fired off from what appeared to be a pair of gatling cannons, collided with the back of the machine scorching the painted armor black from heat. Ichika instinctively jumped, the boosters on the Direwolf's back igniting to give him a much-needed boost. The golem stopped firing, obviously having lost its lock from the sudden maneuver, and begun swinging it's obscenely disproportionate limbs towards the floating AC.
At the apex of the jump Direwolf 's AI deactivated the boosters and let the machine fall to the ground below, a very short burst of beams hitting its side armor as it fell. In cover again Ichika reactivated the boosters and began moving away from where he landed, a small alley in which he barely fit. Just as he exited the alley the last golem reappeared, it's right arm cocked back and ready to swing. Ichika used the speed boost again to dodge to the right and allowing the massive fist to hit the building behind the spot where he was previously located. Just as he was about to reengage his knife and hopefully finish the Golem, the IS backhanded striking the chest armor of the AC, denting it severely, and sending the manned machine flying several meters back and into a warehouse.
"AP down 30%, take evasive maneuvers."
Climbing to his feet he barely managed to dodge out of the way of the follow up gatling laser fire from the Golem. The firepower obliterated several rows of crates that were stored within the building and caused an explosion near the rear of the building. Ichika was not given time think about what he was going to do before the nearest section of the walls was smashed in by the Golem, clearly seeking to engage in melee combat again. Ichika did not waste the opportunity, throwing a punch with his right hand, the blade swinging out like clockwork-
And rather uselessly slicing it's way into the Golems left arm, which had been used as a physical shield. The golem positioned its right arm into a point blank firing position, clearly seeking to finish the battle right there. Instinctively Ichika punched with his other fist, the blade swinging out and slicing its way into the disproportionately small stomach area of the unmanned IS. Without even acknowledging what he had done, or the laser fire that had begun pelting his power armor's already weakened plating, Ichika gouged the blade straight up, slicing through tons of electronics no doubt worth several billion dollars.
Then it all stopped, Ichika vaguely saw a soft yellow glow for a split second from the cut but it quickly dimmed to nothingness. The IS went limp, a series of small explosions rocking the small frame as it fell. The Direwolf retracted the two blades back into the starting positions, the armored plates that covered them sliding back to hide them from view, or rather protect the blade Ichika noted.
"Hostile IS neutralized. No hostile unit's detected." Direwolf's AI's mechanical voice droned, "Combat mode disengaged. Normal mode activated."
It took several moments for Ichika to realize that he's just fought three IS and somehow came out the victor but when he did he could only sigh in relief. Several tense seconds passed as Ichika let the Adrenaline slowly drain from his system before he recalled something he needed to do and exclaimed, "Ah, a phone! I need to find a-"
"What is the number you need to call?" the AI droned.
"When needed this unit can make calls using telephone reception when more secure communication methods are unusable." The AI explained, "Would you like to send a call, raven?"
Vaguely Ichika filed that unfamiliar term off for later questioning but had more important things he needed to do at the moment, "Yes, I would like to call my nee-san."
"Orimura Chifuyu…?" the voice droned. Vaguely Ichika acknowledged that it was a question.
"Yes!" Ichika blurted, "I mean yes, please call her for me Direwolf-san."
There was a short pause before Ichika heard the sound of a phone ringing in his ears. It rung two and a half times before it was answered and he heard the telltale voice of his elder sister utter in a semi-guarded manner, "Who is this?"
She had no idea how much relief merely hearing her voice caused him.
"Chifuyu-nee, it's me." She sounded like was about to say something but was cut off by Ichika continuing on his own, "Where are you? I was so worried."
"Where am I…" the realization that something had happened dawned on her, "What happened? You're not hurt are you?"
Vaguely Ichika realized that if she had no idea what happened then she obviously wasn't in town. Then it dawned on him that he did all that for someone who wasn't even in danger in the first place. Were he not so relieved by the news he'd have been banging his head into the wall for the next hour at least. Without missing a beat he answered, "No, I'm fine, I was worried about you. The town was attacked by some IS. It's fine now though."
"W-what?" It took a second for him to realize just how ridiculous what he'd just said really sounded. While Kyofu did house a rather notable PMC company and several military related manufacturing plants it had nothing that truly warranted a full on commando assault with IS. At least he didn't think so; those tanks he'd seen wereuniquely odd. She coughed before continuing, clearly trying to maintain her composure, "Are you sure they were IS…?"
Vaguely Ichika casts a glance down at the monstrous IS at his feet, It's chest still torn open and the glow long since subsided, "Yes, nee-san. I saw them myself."
"I see…" his sister paused, "I'll be right home."
Ichika was about to ask where she was when the mechanical deadpan of Direwolf's AI stopped him, "Call disconnected." Ichika did not comment. His sister had a nasty habit of doing that when she was in a hurry. Part of him was flattered that she thought he deserved that much attention, he certainly didn't think so.
"Ah… Direwolf-san, how do I get out of…?"
The AI cut him off again, "You don't. ACs are stored in the same manner as personal IS. Would you like for me to store myself, raven?"
The change was instantaneous. Since Direwolf was so much taller than he was this meant that he ended up falling down at least 2 feet, which threw him off balance as he landed. But in the end he was back in his normal clothes and Direwolf was gone, or rather he was now in the form of a fairly normal red bracelet.
Ichika sighed deeply, he was sure that his life would only get more… interesting from here on out…
A/N: I had this sitting around on my harddrive so I figured I'd upload it if for no other reason then to gauge interest. I'm really on the fence about continuing this as I have two more projects waiting to be worked on but... Whatever. Now that school has started again and 4/10 of my periods are 40 minute study halls (WHY?) I suppose I should have more time to write...