Pre-Story note: As with other fanfics, I do not own Infinite Stratos. Fic-wise, this story is a rewrite/reboot of my previous Athena Trilogy which went under after I, admittedly, neglected it for a period of time and all ideas/plot advancement were lost.

For readers who have seen it, this rewrite/reboot also includes addition/omitting of characters, original units and other plot changes from the previous stories to form one single story revolving around the title. Once again, my apologies for sinking the previous trilogy. I'll be sure to keep this one running to the proper end.

For readers who are new to this fic, this is an AU fic centered around four OCs. It's loosely tied with canon events since most, if not all major events of this fic, takes place outside canon's point of view.


Infinite Stratos: Athena

Chapter 1: Praxidike


========== Ten years ago, Togane, Chiba Prefecture ==========

It is a bittersweet atmosphere at a cemetery in the peaceful village of Tanaka where young Inami Arisawa, donned in grey kimono with a sash of matching color tied around his waist, stood before the family grave of his late parents; his father, Kazuya Arisawa, and mother, Naomi Arisawa. Held in the gentle grip of his hands is a single blue-petal Japanese lily, which he then kneels down and places the flower on the base of the gravestone where his parents' names are engraved.

As Inami closes his eyes and is about to pray, he sees at the corner of his eyes another figure walking into the cemetery grounds. Dressed in sky blue kimono with a wide white sash around her waist, young Tsurugi Katami sees him all alone, paying almost no attention to the surroundings. Her long brownish hair waves to the gentle breeze that sweeps across the cemetery ground as she walks towards him with another blue Japanese lily in hand.

With the gravity of the previous tragedy that brought about Inami's parents' demise, Tsurugi's concerns lean more to her dear friend, pitying him greatly for he has to live without the love and care of his own parents at such a young age. She stands before him, trying her best to hold back the tears from forming in her pearly ember eyes while he looks straight up to her.

"Tsurugi…"

"I'm sorry, Inami. I didn't mean to be late…"

"It's okay. You're here now, right?"

Seeing him growing a small emphatic smile with his reply warmed her heart, smiling back as she kneels next to him. Before she could put her flower, she notices that he has placed a similar flower on the gravestone.

"Funny… We brought the same flower."

Inami snickers at her comment.

"That's great, now Papa will have two stalks of blue lilies to gift to Mama. She loves blue flowers after all…"

Like his late mother, Inami also has a soft spot for the color which he believes to be a trait he got from her. Tsurugi places her flower on the gravestone next to his and the two close their eyes, putting their hands together and praying silently for a moment.

"Done!"

Inami gets back on his feet as though he's re-energized, clear of any signs of grief or mourning, much to Tsurugi's surprise as she stands up as well.

"What did you tell them?"

"Well… I told Papa to gift our flowers to Mama and take care of them, maybe put it inside a small vase or something. I also told them that you and your parents have been treating me well."

His cheerful and sincere tone was more than enough to make her smile even more seeing how thoughtful he is towards his late parents as well as giving credit where its due. The Katami family has brought him under their care ever since he lost his parents, under persistent requests from Tsurugi herself who cares for him and sees him as a brother figure even though they're of the same age.

"What about you, Tsurugi?"

"Oh, I told them you have been a good boy and you've been helping out with house chores every day… And I also told them I want to keep on taking care of you forever!"

"Is that so?"

Tsurugi nods eagerly while Inami outright approves of her request and takes her hand.

"Let's keep it that way then, okay? Come on, let's head home!"


========== Present day, Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture ==========

*BDBOOM*

"Tch…!"

Doing combat against a towering unmanned pitch-black Golem that has just blasted a huge crater on the grassy plains at the southern tip of the city where they're currently fighting at, Inami Arisawa, who's donned the powered full-body armor Minerva, leaps over a boulder seeking cover while bits of charred earth and grass rain all around him. Through the mini-map displayed internally on the Minerva's helmet's hologram screen, he watches in horror as another blip similar to that of the Golem that he's currently under attack from escapes his radar range towards Tokyo Bay where the prestigious Infinite Stratos Academy is located.

"So much for diversion, the other giant is resuming on its course towards the Academy!"

Out of desperation to give chase, Inami pops around the boulder pointing one of his arm particle guns at the Golem.

*brriiiriiriiriiriirii-rii-rii-rii-rii*

The hulking menace blocks the hyper-compact blue particle shots with its plated forearms but the shots merely inflicts shallow red-hot blast marks as they chew away on its armor. The minuscule damages barely flinches the Golem as it curls its hand into a fist and points all four particle cannons around its wrist at the boulder Inami's hiding behind. He boosts out of cover using the Minerva's particle pulse-jets on the back of its shoulders and legs, somersaulting to the side as the Golem's cannons are charged.

*BZUUSH*

Merciless to anything standing in its path, the Golem's particle beams instantly incinerates the boulder upon impact leaving Inami with barely any options for cover. At this point, he grows anxious as he notices that the other blip has already escaped the Minerva's radar range while the Golem turns to him.

'Damn it… At this rate, the Academy will—'

Inami jumps away from another incoming particle beam from the Golem as it tries to catch him off-guard. Knowing that the unmanned unit standing before him is holding him back, he's left with no other choice but to take it on hoping that he would still have time to catch up with the other. He runs towards the Golem, firing his forearm particle gun blindly at it while keeping an eye on its charging particle cannons.

The Golem fires the cannons but Inami boosts himself up, dodging the particle beam by inches which graze the Minerva's geodesic dome spherical particle barrier. He lands on the Golem's massive forearm and uses it as a platform to launch himself onto its shoulders where he gets a clear line on the Golem's head. With a hand clutching its bulky shoulder, he fires particle shots into its face and damages most of its visor which has multiple red eyes on it.

The drone retaliates, throwing its other arm to its shoulder and grabbing Inami via his lower body. The Golem's big hand holds him firm and pulls him off its shoulder, throwing him away like a toy. He slams the ground hard but the Minerva armor absorbs the shock that he remained relatively unharmed. He realizes that unlike an IS, the Golem does not have a barrier to protect it from close-quarter attacks; the primary purpose of the Minerva given its armaments consisting of twin particle guns on the forearms and twin beam sabers stored on the sides of its waist armor.

"Over here!"

With one remaining eye, the Golem furiously fire all particle cannons on both arm at Inami who's rudely shocked by the sudden fit of rage the monstrosity has gone into as he runs around it trying to avoid the barrage of thick pink particle beams riddling a trail on the ground where he runs on. He activates a brief boost of speed from the Minerva armor's shoulder pulse-jets, allowing him to quickly outrun the lumbering Golem's turning speed and circle towards its back.

Inami sprints for the Golem's blind spot and jumps just as it back-hand swings its hulking left arm, once again using it as a platform to jump to the top of the Golem where he pulls out the saber hilt on the left waist rack. The saber deploys a blue, thick compact stream of charged particles encased in a blade-shaped energy field which he then rams through the top of the Golem's head just as it was about to look up.

After a brief flinch, the Golem shuts down and its remaining eye loses its red glow while its heavy arms fall to the sides with a muffled thud as they hit the grassy ground. Its clenched fists loosen and the Golem slowly begins to topple backwards from the weight of its shoulders. Inami pulls out the beam saber and jumps off while the Golem's body hits the ground hard, causing a short quake within a small diameter of the ground around it.

"It's down! I'm going to pursue the other giant now, Jinrai-san!"

"-Negative! It's well inside Academy airspace now! Even with the Longboard, there's no way you can catch up to it at this point…-"

"…What?"

Another window of an expanded map view appears on the hologram visor screen which shows the other blip inside the IS Academy's territory and is directly on top of one of their battle arenas. He could only feel a looming disappointment as he realizes his utter failure.

"You can't be serious…"

"-Gerald wants you back stat. The Longboard should be approaching soon, hop on it and return to base.-"

Far in the distance, a flying platform enters the immediate airspace and descends as it approaches Inami who could only clench his fists in anger. The mini-map on his hologram visor screen shows a flashing green blip marked with the word "Longboard" heading towards his position. He looks at the dead Golem, which resembled an IS in almost all aspects except for the autonomous systems that piloted it. An idea pops into his mind seeing as the downed drone is relatively intact.

"Understood, Jinrai-san."

The Longboard, a delta-winged flight platform swoops overhead and circles around before slowing down to a hover above the Golem's body. As Inami walks to the giant's side, the Longboard releases cargo cables from its underside and he grabs one while kneeling next to the Golem.


========== Mount Nokogiri, Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture ==========

Camouflaged amongst the forested landscape on the hillside is a small yet elaborate infrastructure that serves as the base of operations for the renegade group Praxidike. Most of the base is within Mount Nokogiri, with only a few structures jutting out and facing towards Tokyo Bay from a high elevation that both Tokyo Bay and the Infinite Stratos Academy are completely in plain sight.

Standing at the elevated lookout platform is Gerald Bastion, leading member of Praxidike, sighing as he watches a column of smoke spewing out from the very distant IS Academy. Despite the apparent failure to deter the Golems from reaching the Academy, he remains relatively calm as though failure itself was one of the expectations of the attempt given that it is the Minerva's first live sortie. The door behind him sweeps open and he turns around to see Jinrai Takafumi, the engineer responsible for developing weapons and the Minerva, entering along with Inami, Minerva's user.

"Arisawa…"

Inami sinks his head with sheer disappointment as he could only imagine the terrible magnitude of rage that might be building up inside Gerald after committing such a huge blunder for his first mission. He hears Gerald stepping towards them but he could not bear to look up and face him. The sounds of his steps draw closer and stop directly in front of him.

"It wasn't a failure. Don't put your head down like that."

Not a failure? Inami could not believe what he just heard. Did Gerald not realize that his blunder has allowed a Golem to pass towards the Academy and wreck havoc upon the school, the very cause of the smoke column he's seen spewing out from the Academy? Yet, the Praxidike leader mentioned it was not and Inami slowly raises his head, looking at him with a confused expression.

"Had you not tried to intercept, the Academy would have to deal with two of those monsters."

"But still…"

"And you might've been killed had you tried to take on both giants at once."

The previous fight against the Golem projects into Inami's mind. There's definitely no doubting of Gerald's words given the difficulty that he faced when taking on the monstrosity which was quite mobile for something of its bulk, let alone its assault-class armaments of quadruple particle cannons on both of its forearms.

"He managed to recover the giant that he brought down. It's in the hangar bay and we thought you'd like to take a look at it."

Gerald looks back to Inami with a raised brow. Never did it strike him that he would have the audacity to scavenge something like the Golem. However, he has no reason to complain since a live, sort of, specimen of a unit with its firepower would allow Jinrai to expand his knowledge on weapons technology.


The trio enters the hangar bay where the dead Golem is secured onto a platform via cables wrapped around its limbs. Small blast marks scarred its left hand and damaged the majority of its face but Gerald's attention is more to the stab wound on top of its head.

"So it's unmanned."

Inami remembers how uncertain he was before committing such an attack as he did not know whether someone was piloting the Golem until he came into physical contact. There were no pulse readings and given the appearance of exhaust vents all over its body, including its chest, it was clear to that the Golem's autonomous before he rammed the saber into its head. Jinrai raises the Golem's head towards the light as Gerald looks at the sophisticated machinery within, noticing that the stab wound goes deeper.

"Such elaborate autonomous hardware… I've never seen anything like this before."

"No matter how you look, it does resemble an IS."

Gerald notices the bulging arms and legs just like those of a typical Infinite Stratos unit. No doubt, Inami's right about the Golem being an IS-type but answering the question alone leads to another such as the identity of the originator and the purpose of sending these Golems to attack the IS Academy, a studying campus that has no relations to any military or belonging to any nation, including Japan where it resides.

"I presume you've checked this thing for any sort of tracking devices before bringing it here, Arisawa?"

"There weren't any form of transmission signals sent out when it went down or even when I was hauling it back here."

"I see… Go and get some rest then, you've done a lot today."

Without another word, Inami nods and briskly leaves the hangar. As Gerald resumes examining the Golem, Jinrai has the Minerva armors mounted inside a construction cage where he begins to download combat data from the previous sortie. Various data ranging from weapons usage to damage sustained by the particle barrier are downloaded almost instantaneously as the engineer browses through the downloaded data including a recorded footage of the battle against the Golem from the helmet's perspective.

"For a first-timer, he did pretty well."

"Such a big catch. What are you going to make of this, Jinrai?"

"Depends on what this thing is made of. Weapon systems, core processor, armor composite… Lots of things! Also according to Inami, this thing manages to remain mobile throughout the battle… and from the footage, he wasn't exaggerating."

The Golem looks bland with its monotonous color scheme and the series of propulsion nozzles all over its body and limbs. Such a crude design yet it holds a great deal of technological knowledge to have spark much curiosity for people like Jinrai. Gerald remains in the hangar as Jinrai brings over a couple of tooling containers and takes out a laser cutter.

"Let's get to work then."

"Okay."


========== Hachijo Island, Izu Islands Cluster ==========

Beneath the seemingly humble foliage of trees, grass and occasional flowers is an infrastructure that houses another mysterious renegade organization's base of operations. Majority of the underground base is situated below Mount Mihara, the taller of the two mountains on the island. The base also connects to the off-land Mount Taihei via underground passage ways. Unlike Praxidike, the organization that utilizes this base has slightly bigger workforce which commute from one part of the base to another via an internal monorail network.

As with Praxidike's base of operations, this organization's also has a lookout platform albeit more discreet with only a small portion of the platform sticking out from the mountain side. Inside the platform is a man who appears to be in his mid-thirties with short grey hair and his frowned, vengeful brown eyes staring out into the distance towards the direction of mainland Japan as someone enters the platform with a tablet computer in hand.

"Sir, the Jabber units are ready. They'll be up in the air—"

"No. Call off the attack for now."

"…Sir?"

The man, who appears to be the leading head of the renegade group, turns to the other personnel standing at the door leading to the lookout platform.

"Call off the launch. That is an order."

"Understood, sir."

There's much chagrin in the personnel's tone despite his politeness. To have prepared for what appears to be a coordinated attack only to have it cancelled on a whim induces much disappointment yet he knows it is not the time. As the personnel leaves, the man turns back to the outside view, cringing to what appears to have been a forced call. Like the other, he was also looking forward to launching the ambiguous Jabber units if not for an unprecedented event which, in a way, foiled their plans.

'That's right… The damned Academy would definitely be on high alert after that sudden attack. We can't send the Jabbers in under those circumstances!'

Forced yet cautious call of cancelling a planned attack on the IS Academy due to the Golem's strike, the man walks towards a computer terminal with a widescreen on the wall that's displaying a symbolic icon; the Sun held up by a pair of hands. Pressing a couple of keys on the console, he contacts another section of the base as an idea popped into his mind.

"-Sir?-"

"Change of plans. Switch package waypoint set to Delta Academy."

"-Today, sir…?-"

"I'll give the call when it's time to launch the attack."

"-Yes sir!-"

The call ends with a high-pitched fade-out beep and the man looks back outside, slowly growing a grin on his face.


In what appears to be a very long underground hangar is filled with hordes of humanoid robot drones lined up next to each other, the Jabber drones; built with the standard armament of a tri-barreled gun pod and a beam blade emitter built into their right and left forelimbs respectively. Unlike the Golem, the Jabber sports various shades of grey across their body and limbs along with green, translucent covers on both of their optical camera eyes.

"-Confirmed Jabber attack package Strike Lance One. Waypoint Set, Delta Academy. Launch sequence on hold.-"

From the front-most row, three Jabbers walk out of the arrangement and head for the holding stage as other Jabbers step forward to cover the blank spots left behind.

"-Strike Lance One, hold two for Strike Mount attachment.-"

Of the three Jabbers, two of them stands still while the leading unit makes its way to the holding stage; an elevated platform with its borders marked with yellow lines. The other two Jabbers remain rooted as a couple of suspended rail cranes lower a pair of rectangular missile launchers on each of the Jabbers' shoulders. Each launcher is pre-loaded with two big cylindrical missiles, giving the Jabbers, now configured as Strike Jabbers, a total of four missiles each.

Another sub-arm attachment on the suspended cranes hold expanded thruster packs which the sub-arms mount onto the Strike Jabbers' backs while a floor panel in front of each drone opens with twin sub-arms pushing up a pair of armor plates and attaches them onto each of the Jabbers' legs.

"-Strike Mount attachment complete, proceed to holding stage for standby.-"

The Strike Jabbers continue towards the elevated platform while causing loud metallic thuds as their heavy armored legs stomp the hangar floor.

"-Strike Lance One is on standby. Launch sequence will commence when command is confirmed.-"


========== Oamishirasato, Chiba Prefecture ==========

Dusk begins as the sky gets consumed in a reddish-gold hue of the radiant sun setting into the horizon, illuminating the land with its curtain of golden light especially the Katami Dojo that's situated on top of a hill in Yoanji. The ambience around the family-run dojo is soft and peaceful. Its environment is void of any noticeable dirt or stains that would upset the dojo's reputation. Within the main training hall of the dojo, a young lady brandishes a sword with the scabbard on.

Her long chestnut brown hair flourishes at every swing of the weapon and her skin barely breaking even a drop of sweat as her strength seem undiminished by the weight of the iron scabbard, furnished with shallow engravings of waves across the scabbard's surface.

From stabbing motions to elegant swings and blocking stances, she executes various movements while occupying only a portion of the training hall. Sounds of distant steps on the wooden floor alerts comes to her attention and she ceases her training, lowering the weapon as she turns to the training hall's main sliding door where she sees the shadow of another person. The door opens and behind it is a middle-aged man with short black hair donning a plain white kimono.

"Father…?"

"Tsurugi, it's going to be dinner time soon. Aren't you going to shower yet?"

"In a minute, father."

The young lady, Tsurugi Katami, holds the weapon by the scabbard which caught the attention of her father, Kiyoshi Katami, who enters the hall and walks towards his daughter.

"Training with the Shinken again?"

"I'm getting used to handling the weight. But I still wonder… Why would our ancestors make a sword so heavy?"

Tsurugi hands the weapon, the Katami Shinken, to her father as he sweeps his hand across the scabbard's surface, feeling every detail of the engravings as it reminds him of the time when he first received it from his parents. Passed down through generations of the Katami family, the Katami Shinken has stood against the challenge of time but only few knows of the secret underneath the scabbard which, for unknown reasons, cannot be opened easily as though it has been sealed onto the weapon's hilt.

"It's an odd weapon even for ceremonial traditions… which is what this weapon is made for. It is said by our ancestors and proven throughout generations of the Katami family that only those whose heart is pure for safeguarding the family's integrity will be able to release the blade within. As such…"

With one hand on the grip and other on the scabbard, Kiyoshi gently splits the grip from the scabbard and unsheathes the weapon within; a broad, double-edged sword reflecting light off its vibrant, mirror-like silver surface. Tsurugi stares in awe at the majestic appearance of the Katami Shinken's blade, completely clean with minor, extremely light scratches that would explain the durability of the blade and the heart of the individual that wields it.

"Soon, it will be the next successor's turn to unleash it…"

"Successor? But I'm…"

Kiyoshi stores the blade firmly into the scabbard and turns to his puzzled daughter.

"Which makes you even more special to the family, Tsurugi. Unlike the previous generations, this is the first time we have a female as the eldest and only child in the family."

Placing a hand on her shoulder with a warm, sincere smile, Kiyoshi is doubtless to Tsurugi's potential as the succeeding member of the Katami family. His mind focused solely on nurturing her without even a single speck of regret, knowing well that she has always been determined, striving to uphold the family name.


========== Mount Nokogiri, Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture ==========

Within the depths of the Praxidike base of operations, both Jinrai and Gerald are in the research room where parts and pieces of the now-dismantled Golem drone are arranged atop a long, wide light-table that illuminates the dim room. While the Golem's chest and head are still intact, its armored limbs are separated from the body to be examined by Jinrai, especially the massive arms which also have four in-built particle cannons around the wrist.

"Amazing… The armor plating itself isn't thick but the underlying fibers are weaved so compact that it holds the armor together against bludgeoning attacks. The fibers don't contain as much mass as the plating which allowed this unit to remain very mobile while also benefitting from great armor defense."

While being impressed by Jinrai's explanation, Gerald can't help but look at the shallow blast marks on the forelimbs that were previously caused by Minerva's particle gun shots.

"What do you make of this?"

"They're not impervious to particle fire since they lack any forms of defensive coating… and while their armor can withstand tremendous physical blunt damage, this kind of fiber-weaved concept doesn't stand well against pin-point attacks from what I've seen for other armors that used similar concepts."

To state his point, Jinrai takes out a slender, cylindrical punch and a straight peen hammer from the toolbox on the light-table. He holds the punch's pointed end on armored portion of the Golem's legs and slams the hammer onto the punch, causing a brief, sharp noise as well as imprinting a deep dot mark on the armor where the pointed edge was along with short cracks around it. The sudden demonstration also leaves Gerald brow-raised on his durability test methods.

"And to think, Arisawa stabbed it in the head with a particle beam saber… It's like adding insult to injury."

"Indeed it does. Then again, we know what these monsters are weak against. About their weaponry though…"

The two walk around the table towards one of the Golem's arms. Four particle cannon muzzles around the gold-colored wrist plating immediately behind the massive hand itself.

"I can understand why they would make the arms so huge in order to accommodate these sub-howitzer-sized muzzles but what I don't understand is why they need FOUR of them pointing in the same direction!"

"Is it overkill?"

"Beyond overkill… If all four are fired at once like what happened when Inami went up against it. I'll admit, it is an extremely decisive choice of weaponry and I will be using data from it to develop better equipment."

Gerald grows a smirk at Jinrai's apparent confession. Shouldering the responsibility of developing the Minerva, Jinrai has been applying past knowledge as a former experimental weapons engineer to provide the powered armor with the best equipment around. The Golem isn't an exception for that matter since it's an autonomous unit that boasts qualities of an Infinite Stratos, it gives Jinrai more reasons to look into its equipment and apply them for future improvements for the Minerva.

"This… must be its core."

Jinrai turns to Gerald who's holding what appears to be the Golem's core. Roughly the size of a golf ball, the vibrant, spherical object emits a glowing aura as though it's still imbued with plenty of power yet not radiating any sort of thermal properties seeing how Gerald has it firmly in his hand without even flinching. Jinrai remembers recovering the object from within the Golem's chest through the saber wound on its head.

"It's the central component inside its chest, yeah. Given its size, I'll bet that it contains a motherlode of data. I'm surprised you caught that detail with just a glimpse."

"Heh… But remember, this thing is autonomous… Odds are it may go rouge when you try to tamper with it. If you're going to try to crack into its data, make sure you use an isolated terminal."

"Of course. But… how do you know that?"

Gerald briefly eyes Jinrai upon hearing his question as mental images of his past flashes into his mind.

"Heard of the Hyperion Corporation?"

The name wasn't unfamiliar to Jinrai. He tries to remember when he has heard or seen anything related to that name and eventually recalls reading news of a well-known organization of the same name when it was closed down permanently after declaring themselves bankrupt almost a year after the White Knight incident.

"I know of them. Back in my days as an experimental weapons engineer, the military have always been eyeing that company for opportunities to snag a deal to allow development of autonomous weapons… though I was against that idea. What about it?"

"Former employee."

Gerald's flat-out honest answer snatches Jinrai's attention as he stares at him, dumbfounded. Never did he think it would occur to him that someone from a former well-established company of AI development would turn out to be a leader of a renegade counter-terrorist organization that pledges no allegiance to any nation. The ensuing silence between them fills the entire room, lightly disturbed by soft noises from the light table and a computer terminal next to it. There's nothing but absolute seriousness in his tone.

"I see… Rather unfortunate for it to have tanked like that."

"Yeah…"

Jinrai heads over to the computer terminal, preparing for a full scan of the Golem's parts while Gerald examines the core unit which seemed all too familiar to him.

'There's no mistake… It looks totally identical to hers. This is the same core unit for the Infinite Stratos.'


*duf**duf**duf*

Within the confines of his personal dormitory, Inami, dressed only in a pair of shorts, executes swift punches against a suspended cylindrical training bag. With half-finger gloves that have hard, padded knuckles, he repeatedly jabs the charcoal-grey canvas surface of the bean-filled training bag. Every punch is felt through the padded knuckles and onto his fists as they leave deep marks on the bag's side.

From direct horizontal jabs to low, uppercut blows, Inami lands various forms of punching maneuvers on the training bag. His lower legs are also covered with hard padding, especially on his shins where he begins to perform kicks on the training bag as well. In conjunction with his punches, he switches between his hands and his legs to strike various parts of the training bag simultaneously. He feels pressure at every blow but he barely flinches, sweating across his body as he resumes striking the bag.

Throughout his five years, now six, in Praxidike, Inami has undergone training from Gerald in various forms self-defense techniques in addition to his saber combat practice in the Minerva armor. On the grounds that he may need to resort to unconventional hand-to-hand combat without the Minerva, he has adopted different martial art combat techniques to allow him to fight even outside the powered armor.

After dealing continuous strikes on the bag, Inami ceases his training and takes a towel that was hanging around the chains above the training bag, wiping off his sweat until a sound of the automatic door sliding open catches his attention. He turns and sees Gerald at the doorstep with his hands inside his pocket.

"Bastion-san?"

"I could hear those punches from outside your room."

"Sorry… I thought no one else was around. I'm done now though…"

"Well, don't let that stop you, Arisawa."

Gerald steps into the room and looks around while Inami wonders what he meant by his words.

"You did good today. But remember, autonomous drones do not suffer mental fatigue or stress… Fighting them in hand-to-hand combat will be a lot different compared to against another human."

"I understand…"

Gerald nods and steps aside as Inami exits the room, heading for the showers. The automatic door slides shut as he leaves while Gerald glances around the room; the training bag, a bed neatly done, a small table next to bed that has a small radio set and a framed picture next to it. Curious of the frame, he walks towards the table and picks up the picture frame where he sees the photo of young Inami alongside Tsurugi, someone Gerald is completely unfamiliar about.

'I see… So he has been missing someone the entire time.'

Looking around the room again, Gerald sees a thin stack of blank papers and a pencil. He takes them and scribbles some words on the paper before folding it up and placing it under the picture frame on the small table, leaving the room shortly after.


=== [End of Chapter 1] ===