Disclaimer: I do not own Infinite Stratos or Armored Core.


Chapter 6

Morning Star and Genesis


"Hostile AC Detected." Direwolf reported over the dull roar of his own boosters, "Hostile AC Detected."

I settled down upon a nearby rooftop at the sound of Direwolf's voice. He said that twice and therefore has detected two AC. I stand still waiting for him to finish his analysis.

"AC Morning Star identified. Registered under the class A raven Orleans de Anjou. The Morning Star is a pure melee type AC known for heavily relying upon a single laser blade and occasionally using a unique physical blade. Master, the Morning Star seems to be able to move far quicker and even more agile than it really should be able to. Be careful."

Well that's great news.

"Note: Orleans has a record of toying with seemingly weaker opponents. Master you may be able to exploit this."

"AC Zephyr identified. Registered under the class D raven Madoka 'M' Orimura the Zephyr is a mid to long range lightweight AC that acts as a test bed for parts developed by Ruined Country Weaving Corporation. Much is classified about this AC however it is known that in melee it has some sort of prototypical blade mounted on its left arm. Additionally the Zephyr appears to be particularly effective for guerilla warfare or support tactics."

Madoka-nee's a mid to long range combatant? That's surprising compared to Chifuyu-nee or even myself. Should I help…? I mean Madoka did say she wasn't going to help me…

I could barely see the details of the fight even at max zoom, mainly due to both ACs being painted the same colors and the fight occurring so far down the faux river of the arena. Every once in a while one of the ACs would spit out something like a bright green fire at the other whom dodged almost every single one of them. Occasionally there was either a great colorless flash or a equally brilliant purple flash from the other AC but neither of those ever fully connected either.

However the fight had to come to an end eventually. Finally there was one last flash of green and purple as the two AC met in midair and one fell to the ground defeated at last.

"Hostile AC, Zephyr, neutralized." Madoka-nee lost?

'Direwolf by any chance can you determine how damaged AC Morning Star is?'

"Scanning…" I'll take that as a yes. I waited a few moments, "…Scan complete. AC Morning Star is heavily damaged, a single good hit with either your shotgun or your laser blades will knock him out. Your EOs wil be useless however as his AC seems to be designed around TE defense."

'Then why would my laser blade work?'

"…Master, Rayleonard model laser blades are known to practically ignore TE defenses. For that reason, the Dragonslayer and the 07-Moonlight has been likened to the energy blade wielded by-"

'Chifuyu-nee…'

"Affirmative master."

Slowly watching the Morning Star stand up on the opposite side of the faux river from my position I made up my mind, with three leaps I was halfway down river. The Morning Star looked up at me as I approached and just paused, gauging my actions. I was almost to the river when he made up his mind and activated his boosters. Before I could stop him the black and blue painted AC had sped around a corner and disappeared into the city.

I know better than to fall for that. I take to the rooftops, hopping from roof to roof in the general direction he would be going. This way he couldn't ambush me like he so obviously had been intending to do. A glint of black or a flash of purple here and there were the only things the told me that I was going in the right direction. Was he toying with me? With a sigh I admit that this is probably a fairly bad idea, I mean I'm playing a cat and mouse game with a 'mouse' that I can only assume could take me out with a single hit. Of course, the inverse was also true...

I barely manage to avoid a slash from that purple energy blade as Morning star jumps out from the alley in front of the building I was on. Before I could counterattack a single rocket was launched from it's left shoulder which went on to hit me dead on the headpiece.

Suddenly blind, a flash rocket I rationalize, I quickly launch one of my own and jump away before he could follow up with a second slash. The mere flash from that rocket, even second hand, still made me almost cry. I feel the roof fall out from behind me as I can only assume I fall into a street.

My vision only just began to return when Orleans returned, zooming into the alley I had found myself in with that purple laser blade of his carving a line in the building lining the right side of the alley. Did he not think I could see yet? I snap my shotgun up and-

My eyes widen as a long blade of steel swung upwards from the hand I hardly even noticed. My shotgun was sent flying, landing somewhere behind me useless. This isn't good! Orleans manually jumped, only getting the barest of air, as he brought both his sword together and down upon me.

A dreadful sound was emitted as I managed, barely, to interspace my sword between his own and my head, that was closer than I could ever want. We clash, my swords holding back his for several seconds before his purple blade goes out and only his physical sword was left. That slot on his shoulder armor opened up again and a flash rocket emerged to cover his escape. This time I activate my special flash rocket countermeasures, the magical ability that makes all flash rocks useless in every way shape and form; I close my eyes as it hits.

Perhaps foolishly I continue my pursuit. I'm hoping he won't realize that I can still see just fine and consider me less of a threat than a really am but…

I emerge from the alley just after him, he abruptly quick boosts right and I keep going straight. Wonder if he'll fall for it? Sure enough with a flash of purple he does, approaching from behind he moves in for the kill only for me to perform a quickboost to turn a full 180 degrees and block his slash with my dragonslayer.

"Energy down to 10%"

10%? I don't have the energy to ignite my second dragonslayer… What would Chifuyu-nee do…?

Oh right.

I punch him in the face with my swordless hand.

CRACK!

Morning Star's entire head shattered into a thousand different and tiny pieces. His sword shut itself down as he jumped backwards totally blinded. I deactivate my sword and stand perfectly still, his Fire Control System may have been completely destroyed along with his ability to see but…

"Heh, beaten by you of all people…" Orleans laughs, "Be careful of Shinji and you might just win this, Rookie."

I smile sheepishly even though I know he couldn't see it, "Well admittedly you were already mostly destroyed… Most of the work was done by Madoka-nee."

He merely chuckles, "It just means that for a rookie you learned fast." What does that mean? As if sensing my confusion he continues on, "Morning Star sensed you up the river before, as you watched the fight. You let another fight your fight for you and came in at the end to secure a win with minimal damage. That's how a true raven thinks." He laughs, I cannot tell whether he was actually amused or whether that last was merely his cynicism showing, "Think Ichika, the ACs are not the weapons of a brute but the weapons of a thinking man. As long as you know how to pick your fights you'll do great. The lughead that charges straight in is nothing more than a dead man." …Was he calling out Berlioz? "I should've remembered that and escaped but I did not. This victory is all yours Ichika Orimura."

I would've responded had his barrier not sprung into existence before I could say anything.

That's four down, it's just me, Shinji, and Kanzashi now.


"Hostile AC detected. Hostile IS detected."

Several minutes had passed since my fight with Orleans and it had taken all that time of random wondering to even find a hint to the location of the remaining AC and the IS.

"AC Genesis identified. Registered under the class S raven Shinji Hikaru the Genesis is a highly experimental reverse jointed lightweight AC whom uses only a pair of Zlatko low ammo, high damage sniper rifles. As the Genesis is configured for long-range guerilla warfare tactics and Shinji himself prefers to engage in mid to close range combat there is a disconnect between AC configuration and Pilot tactics. Please note that AC Genesis is equipped with a prototypical Jamming cloak that greatly complicates my FCS's job of keeping track of him."

"IS Uchigane Nishiki identified. A personally IS registered under the representative cadet of Japan Kanzashi Sarashiki. No known data."

'No known data?'

"I only have the barest access to IS related data, master. I apologize for any inconveniences this may cause." I sigh deeply. Of course everything can't be that easy can it?

I could vaguely see the two all the way down the street. AC Genesis was standing for the most part perfectly still in the middle of the street while the IS was strafing about in such a way that her back was never turned to him. There wasn't a point in even asking, both AC Genesis and the IS were both damaged, albeit not to the same extent as Morning Star had quite obviously been…

A round pings off my core. From this range? There was at least 150 meters between us… I suppose there's no point hanging back anymore, they both probably already know that I am here, or at least Shinji does at least. With a simple mental command my boosters reactivate and I duck into an alley before a second shot could be fired. After about 30 seconds I reappear in the same street Genesis was standing in, slightly behind him-

WHACK

Which naturally he had seen coming as his pounce so obviously showed. Well I must say that this is the first time I've ever been legitimately jumped upon before… Suddenly missiles, missiles everywhere! Before I could really even move out of the way the entire area around me was for all intents and purposes carpet-bombed with missiles from presumably Kanzashi. Shinji naturally managed to jump away just in time to avoid the swarm, his jump digging me more into place.

By the time I could really consider what I could do there was already a halberd coming down onto me that I had to activate my laser blades to block. Not good, I actually needed to lean back as she managed to turn her swing into a thrust and almost took my head off with the otherwise blocked melee weapon… Relief came in the form of a pair of clubs smacking her barriers and causing her to back away from me. Oh wait, those are rifles being held by the barrel. Was Shinji out of ammo already?

"Master… this may be a bad time to mention it but we're down to only 30% AP. I recommend you be extremely careful from now on." Already…?

'Duly noted!'

The rifle clubs are swung back around almost hitting me in the face before I quick boosted backwards and away from them. Shinji himself also quick boosted towards Kanzashi to perform a full 360 spin to smack the IS's shields with his repurposed sniper rifles. Considering Kanzashi actually had flinched from the hit that didn't even physically connect with her I could only imagine that Shinji hits hard with those things…

Shinji was forced to jump away as Kanzashi brought her Halberd around in an attempt to finish him off that failed. Seeing a chance I clench my right hand and move in on her only to be warded off by plasma fire from a pair of cannons that had swung up from under her arms. A halberd, plasma cannons, and a boatload of missiles…? That is one diversely armed IS. This isn't good…

Kanzashi is the only one of use with ranged weapons here isn't she? Why is she still on the ground then? Neither of us could get to her in the air…

A weight detaches from my back… My EOs? Thank you Direwolf, I'd forgotten all about those!

Briefly Kanzashi's eyes widened as I, or rather Direwolf, brought a new weapon to the party. As my Exceed Orbits began spitting pulse rounds at her and I charged forward Shinji himself came up from behind and attempted to smack her again. She wouldn't have any of it though and finally decided to at least jump over his swing. Should I be concerned that my EOs hit the wrong target? No, probably not.

With a quick boost I also jump, my dragonslayer igniting… and grazing her shields.

It was enough. This time I know I saw her eyes widen as a mere graze caused her shield energy to bottom out completely. Comparable destructive power to Nee-sama's Yukihira? Yes that's an adequate comparison I'd think.

"Hostile IS neutralized."

As I touch down on the ground again, Kanzashi powerlessly doing so as well a few meters away I heard a faint click, almost like- I turn around, the Genesis was pointing one of it's rifles at me. There was another click and with it Shinji spoke, "Ha! Amaya always said that she thought the Zlatkos had too little ammo but did I listen? No." He drops his rifles, "Perhaps I should start carrying a backup weapon, eh?"

"Always a safe bet." He really was out of ammo…? Does that mean...?

"Heh. Funny, we're both at about 9000 AP." Did he just scan me? "So… Wanna do this the old fashioned way?"

I feel my brow furrow, "…The Old Fashioned way…?"

Shinji laughed boisterously. I can just tell that if I were to see his face he would have a massive grin plastered upon it, "A powered armored fist fight of course! Only way we can make this fair from here on. Well as fair as it could be, you could pack more weight into your punches."

Briefly I catch it. A slight motion of his AC's head, jerking upward and towards the… The crowd? I'd forgotten all about them! They were going wild up there and now that I noticed them I could vaguely hear them cheering, one half of the arena cheering for me and the other chanting Shinji's name. I understand his gesture immediately, 'Think of the crowd.' He wants to make this end in a show.

Direwolf's mechanical voice interrupted my thoughts, "Master, I beg you to reconsider…"

'Sorry Direwolf…' Hey a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. I couldn't just take such a cheap win. Especially not when Shinji challenged me like so.

Letting a small smirk grace my face I let my EOs settle back down upon my back and say, "Could we end this any better?"

"No we can not." He settles into a stance not unlike that of a professional boxer. This is the first time I really got a good look at his AC Genesis. Most of it was covered by a two-piece cloak that only allowed his arms and legs free movement, the experimental cloak Direwolf had mentioned earlier. What little I could actually see was painted a regal purple with the occasional patch of green placed tastefully here and there. His… Head, I suppose, was barely deserving of the name, more like a satellite dish than anything else. His legs were shaped almost like a squashed Z or an S with the most forward part, the one attached to his core, being just long enough to fit a man's leg in. If I had no idea what that cloak was for I'd probably think he looked utterly ridiculous.

I grinned as I took a stance of my own. As the crowd caught on to what was about to happen I swear they doubled in volume. With the roar of the crowd all around us we charged fists ready and-


PANG!

"IDIOT!"

I really should've seen this coming. I know deciding to let it come down to a fist on fist slug out when I had such a distinct advantage was stupid but come on Chifuyu-nee, "I won didn't I!"

PANG!

"You won on a technicality!" I deserved that one. I should know better than to talk back to Chifuyu-nee like that, "That last cross counter sent both of your AP down to zero, his just hit zero milliseconds before your own!"

I barely manage to stop a massive grin from appearing on my face as Chifuyu continues ranting on and on about what I had done wrong. It was her way of showing she cared after all. Besides, truly there couldn't have been a better way to start off the year right?


An old crimson suited man sat within his office, a glass of wine in one hand and a report in the other. A smirk was plastered upon his face as he traded one report for another from his desk and casually leaned back in his chair to read. A request to purchase 2-dozen AC cores sent by the United States, a financial document detailing how a recently formed United Kingdom based corporation was already eligible for full partnership, a list of all newly recruited ravens, a grand total of 84 in the span of a single month…

Open warfare between North and South Korea, Ravens being hired to support both sides. Age-old religious tensions reigniting in bloodshed and turmoil in the Middle East, Ravens being hired by all non-UN backed sides involved. Frederick Rayleonard's preliminary campaign plans for a mass counterattack in an all but inevitable war with Canada's nearest southern neighbor. Ruined Country Weaving Corporation's progress report on the Autonomous AC project and a detailed report on how effective they are compared to manned ACs and IS...

As the carefully crafted world peace created through fear and treaties began to be undone, as war and bloodshed began to engulf the world, no one could deny that Takafumi Arisawa, head of Arisawa Heavy Industry and Crimson Oceans PMC, was a very, very pleased man.


A/N: I hate apple computers. I seriously had to switch computers to get this uploaded and posted because my dearly hated apple laptop wouldn't connect to the internet... despite the fact that I literally wired it to the internet modem.

I could've written a chapter long intermission before chapter 7 detailing the changes throughout the world due to the appearance of the Ravens and their ACs but I figured that a single short scene starring Takafumi Arisawa got the job done in a slightly more effective manner. That isn't pointless fluff. While I won't spoil anything major I will confirm that Act II will focus primarily upon those conflicts.

Fun Fact: the OCs that participated within the battle royale are actually not custom made for this story. Orleans and Maria are hold outs from when I was considering novelizing ACFA. Orleans would've been the ORCA affiliated hero and Maria would've been the League affiliated hero. Shinji, Amaya, and the Crimson Ocean's PMC are actually from an Evangelion/Armored Core crossover I have mostly planned out but don't particularly feel like writing at the moment.

By the way... now that I think about it I seem to remember that when I first stumbled into this fanfiction archive back when IS was still airing in japan there was another Infinite Stratos fanfic that used elements of Armored Core. I can't find it anymore, was it perhaps deleted or is my memory just faulty?

Thank you for reading and have a very nice day.