This is supposed to be an easy mission.

But it's just happened that he's mentally unprepared for what to come. He had failed, several times.

The rogue I.S. still went loose, and he's almost out of energy.

But even worse is the state of his best friend.

Of course, AI has no reservaztion about internal turmoil between them, and such, deliver a barrage of plasma bolt at her. Ichika only have one and only choice.

It's her or his safety and so, he chooses the former.

[Ignition Boost Engage]

The phrase is the last thing grafted into his eyes, Houki's face was blank, and to top the imminent danger, she's apparently running out of energy very soon.

"HOUKIIIIIII!"

He felt like his back had an eruption as dozens upon dozens of plasmid fireball hit and break through his shield with enormous force, the sensation of the burning is numbed quickly. His wings and armor had been stripped bare.

Houki had been pulled from her stasis and her eyes widened in shock.

It's like everything slow down into a crawl, took her ten second, maybe more, to open her mouth.

Ichika can't do anything either, he felt like his entire body had increased multiple times in mass, he couldn't even blink.

Then his vision fizzled.

The world had turned upside down, maybe, he only saw…

Light… he could only see light. White, in every corner of his eyes, there's only white. His eyes felt dry, and he closed it for a moment.

Ichika don't know how long he had spent unconscious, as he opened his eyes, all he saw is not an ocean where he's fighting.

It was his hometown.

Ichika tried his hardest to stay awake, not to mention, that he's falling at considerable velocity. His head hurt, he wanted to threw up, and he felt like his back has been stripped bare form it's skin.

"Help… me…"

Last ditch moment, he used his horse-like feet platform to counter the impact force, leaving a sizable crack on the paved road. He managed to slow down enough to stop, but then, his frame gave up.

His armored extended leg rattled and then disappear as soon as they went loose, one of his engine exploded, and his armor disappeared part by part, and he found himself surrounded by extremely weak barrier as his body met the concrete wall on an intersection.

He slumped, feeling even weaker; the accumulating injury had their effect magnified as his life support began to fade. He walked wobblingly, trying to trace the environment with anything left on his vision.

He reached the metal gate to his residence, but he's unable to push it with his last drop of strength…

He gave up, and darkness engulfed him.


Infinite Stratos

-The Mirror Verse-

Disclaimer:

Izuru Yumizuru & Okiura

And everyone else!


Prologue: Other Side


Ichika once again felt stupid. How long had he gone out this time? He couldn't tell at all...

The burning sensation still continued to lap at his skin, although at this point it had lessened greatly. The burns on his body were deep and painful, but they were bearable and he was alive. What more could he ask for right now?

Ignoring all impulses to stay asleep, the dark haired youth forcefully opened his eyes and found himself face to face with an unknown room. A hospital room by the looks of it, if the sterile white floor and blank bed was any indication. The unnatural scent of the entire room was actually familiar to him. He had gone to these kinds of places several times; mostly to visit his friend, though never for himself. Never once had he been afflicted with a major sickness or injury that required hospital treatment.

He couldn't focus much; his body was in too much pain. Looking down, he saw the unmistakable appearance of a hospital gown and the bare traces of bandages just barely poking out of his skin. A professional treatment; nothing he could do himself

"You're awake, thank God!" Not a question, but rather a statement full of relief. The voice was unfamiliar to him, though it was undoubtedly woman's voice...or was it a young boy?

Sitting aside his bed is a girl roughly his age. She was Japanese by the looks of it; a trait they both shared. Her hair wasn't too long and ended just past her neckline. A common haircut, if not for the fact that her black hair carried with it a bluish tint like his own (a very special mix of dyes, Ichika knew). He would've been fascinated if not for his current situation. Her casual attire was nothing special: A plain white shirt and a pair of blue skirt and black sneakers.

He blinked, she did it too. Her ruby red eyes continued to stare at him, much to his discomfort. The color was way too familiar to him. And discomfort mixed with wounds wasn't a good combination.

"Where...where am I?" God, his throat felt like it'd been rubbed with sandpaper then doused in vinegar, "I don't...remember much..."

"Odaiba General Hospital," She smirked brightly. What was she so happy about? Did she find anything amusing with how red his skin was or how ragged his breathing got? "You collapsed in front of my home."

Was that what happened? How embarrassing. Most likely the fatigue and pain made him delusional, desperate that he wanted to go home despite everything.

"Ah, I'm sorry; there must be something wrong with my eyes," He forced a smile, which looked quite morbid given all the injuries on him, "Also, I'd like to apologize for any trouble that I might I have caused. I doubt I'll be able to pay you back soon in my current condition."

Her sheepish grin got even wider, something Ichika found oddly comforting.

Though she wasn't the kind of person to trust a stranger, he was bold and honest. It reminded her of herself, actually. Besides, attacking her directly wouldn't result in anything meaningful.

"Well, your injury isn't as fatal as it looks. But still, you recovered faster than most normal people if the doctor's to be believed." She commented, "Do you have someone you can contact?"

"Ah yes, but…" He trailed off. The girl looked at him expectantly, urging him to continue. He didn't, "Anyway, I haven't 'introduced myself yet," He quickly diverted the topic, "I'm Ichika, Orimura Ichika."

"How silly, I'm Orimura Ichika as well!"

What followed the friendly laugh is a total silence. Remember those scenes in a movie where there's a dramatic silence when something dramatic happens? It was exactly what was happening now. Neither spoke a word, but rather gawked at one another silently.

…Wait, what?

"You said you're Ichika?" They uttered at the same time, pointing at one another rather comically despite the serious situation, "But I'm Ichika Orimura!" They pointed at themselves again.

Another moment of silence, this time even long than the last. It would have continued for quite a while had the nurse not entered and interrupted them.

"Ah, I see he's already awake!" Both teens nearly jumped in surprise and looked in opposite sides of the room. They didn't want to look at one another, "I'll inform the doctor soon, please excuse me!" She bowed quickly before hurrying out of the room.

Her brief appearance broke the icy circumstances inside the room, and thus the conversation continued, "Wait, it's quite weird..." Ichika muttered softly.

"More like fishy, you know!" She slammed her hands into the soft bed, "I'm Ichika! The one and only Orimura Ichika!"

"There's something not right..." He frowned. Since when was Ichika Orimura a girl? To be more specific, since when did the name Ichika became female? And what about the hype and uproar he caused one February ago?

On a side note, this girl was really energetic despite her appearance. Maybe he'd been watching too much manga recently, but he thought the girl was one of those quiet types who didn't do much talking. He was wrong.

"For that I agree," The girl nodded, "Then do you have anything as proof to back up your statement?"

Miraculously, that question didn't sound half as hostile as he thought it should.

"Yeah I have-" Ichika grasped his left arm, feeling nothing but bare skin and bandages. He began to panic, "Where is it? Where's my gauntlet?"

She got infected by his outburst as well, and, quickly rummaging through her bag, she pulled out a silver colored advanced glove, "Hey, this one I mine! Sorry!"

Putting the glove aside quickly, she rummaged through her bag once again, this time pulling out a bulkier metallic gauntlet, "Here it is!"

Ichika nodded and grabbed the bulky accessory. He suddenly felt the urge to wear it. With a small breath, both of them wore their respective 'accessory', and called out, "BYAKUSHIKI!"

They didn't know why they did it or why they called out the IS name. It just felt...natural.

In a split second, their arm was engulfed in a bright light that consumed the room. As the light subsidized, their previously bare (or bandaged, in Ichika's case) arms had been covered with mechanical parts, silvery white armor with blue and gold trimming. The difference though, his arm is quite abnormal in length and size.

"Okay, this is awkward…" They contemplated, synchronizing their mental voices unknowingly "But if it's the color, anyone can make it…"

"Who is my first best friend?" Ichika suddenly asked. It was a random question, but good enough proof all the same.

"Shinonono Houki" she answered flatly, before countering him quickly, "Who is the second one?"

"Dunno, Rin?" She gave him a raised eyebrow, "I mean, Huang Ling Yin" He clarified quickly, "Dan Gotanda, where did I meet him?" He asked.

"Seventh Hell Arcade…" She answered hesitantly, though she was certain she got it right, "What's his favorite game?" she rebutted.

"Air Hockey" he replied "And I almost always won anyway"

Okay, this definitely awkward. That left only one question, one very dangerously private question that no people will be able to answer. NO ONE!

"What are Chifuyu-nee's favorites?"

"Yakiniku. Golden bear Beer. Black laced lingerie!" they chorused at the same time, running out of question until she said, "Karaoke shower"

He grimaced "Wait, shower head?"

"Soap bar if she's in the tub" she recounted somewhat awkwardly. He tapped her hand with a fist "Well, she used the head when washing herself so-"

Finished with his response, she nodded, "Ah I see-"

They felt imminent death but there was nothing they could do to prepare for it. They felt a grip of doom threatened their skeletal integrity. How could they have been so careless? They should've known better. They could hear a war drum echoing in their mind. Maybe it was the sound of the Valkyrie? Maybe it's the sound of Ragnarok? In either case they would die here there was nothing - not even there I.S. - that could save them.

If this was a cheap movie, the two of them might have confessed their love and shared a long heartfelt kiss despite the fact that they'd known each other for only about 10 minutes before the world end. Seeing as this was reality, however, they made do with nodding at one another and prepared to face death with a smile.

"Chifuyu-nee..." Both teens made a strained smile as their head turned to - no, was FORCIBLY twisted aside by a woman "Good afternoon! Is everything alright?" This time it was only the girl who spoke.

They saw a Goddess of War. Instantly all the blood drained from every inch of their skin and they lost all feeling in their body. Under her bangs, her eyes looked down at them menacingly, with a smile that would condemn them to the seventh generation.

And thus, divine punishment was delivered.

"You're being too loud and you scared the hospital staff with those arms" Chifuyu ground out, making sure to keep her eyes on the two troublemakers.

The youngsters had been forced into seiza position out of habit, much to her ire (and confusion), "We're sorry" They mumbled together, bowing their heads as much they could; which wasn't much in Ichika's case. Burns had a habit of impeding movement.

Chifuyu sighed, "Doctor, if you please?" She quickly turned back to the door and welcomed the Doctor and his assistants, all of whom showed faces of anxiety and curiosity.

With his companion's nod, Ichika stood up from his position on the floor and made his way back to the bed, discarding the loose hospital gown in the process. He was too scared and in too much pain to be embarrassed even with the two females watching.

The tests came quickly, and soon the doctor was putting away his last instruments and reached his diagnosis.

"In case of infection prevention, we'll conduct 2 or 3 more days of constant inspection and treatment…" Ichika sighed, though he nodded all the same, "However, with the way his injury has been healing, maybe he could even return by tomorrow. I've only seen few case like this, accelerated healing is quite unique to…"

He doctor leered aside, and Chifuyu-nee nodded in understanding.

Well, how about that?

"Thank you very much" Chifuyu bowed. To think that he'd been mortally injured, and now a day of rest and he was fine?

The girl mumbled something, and then politely asked if she was allowed to talk with him a little more even if it was already past visiting time.

"It should be alright, but please don't stay for too long," The doctor let her so, so long as they not bother anyone again with flashes of blinding light.

Beside the doctor, Chifuyu mumbled something to him about a national crisis of some sort; the doctor's expression turned into a faint surprise and he excused himself quickly soon.

"Now, let's return to the topic," Chifuyu asked sharply and to the point "Who are you, and where did you get that I.S. from?" She pointed at Ichika, "That aside, where you did get such private information from?" Ichika couldn't help but want to palm him his face.

After gulping his annoyance, he replied, "Ichika Orimura, age 15, Class 1-A Student of IS Academy," He raised the white gauntlet," This unit, ByakuShiki, is a test type rolled out by Kuromachi Machinery Development…" He stated expressionlessly "Alas, it's seems that I lost Yukihira for some reason, but Reiryaku Byakuya remains untouched."

"Did you say Yukihira…?" Chifuyu questioned.

Nodding, Ichika summoned his weapon, but the only thing that appeared was a saber-shaped lump of metal.

"… Seems like I'm a fake after all, eh…?" He gave a sardonic grin.

"Hey, but what you just said now-" The other Ichika gasped in realization. But… well, she didn't understand. What happened? He was so cheerful just now, and yet…

"So you do realize that there's nothing you could use to prove that you're Ichika." Chifuyu commented bluntly "and not a stalker"

"I learned to accept that sometimes this world is cruel enough to hide the truth," He said calmly, a sad smile adorning his face "If you can't recognize me, then neither can my friends. Better safe than sorry..."

What? Ichika clenched her hand tightly, tugging on her skirt as the tension in the room increased tenfold.

"You shouldn't play mind games with an adult; you won't be able to win" Chifuyu's face contorted into a small glare.

"Chifuyu-n-" Chifuyu raised her hand to stop her little sister before she could barge in, causing the younger female to go quiet.

"Listen, I don't know what happened, but if there's anyone that's capable of doing this its either someone that knew about us since long ago...or maybe it's some kind of ancient conspiracy,"

Female Ichika raised an eyebrow, unsure if Chifuyu being serious, seeing as these two still listening, Chifuyu continued "Like you said; this world is not kind, and all I can do is trust your words or not. Is that what you're trying to say?"

"Yes" Ichika answered without hesitation.

"Then you have all the time to think," Chifuyu told him, caused him to respond with confused face silently

"I have contacted the Government and sooner or later they'll send PSIA as first response unit"

Female Ichika shown a great "PSIA! Are you kidding!?" she screamed, before realizing her mistake as Chifuyu threw her a stern look, "Sorry, I'll be quiet..." She mumbled.

PSIA. Public Security Intelligence Agency. It is administered by the Ministry of Justice in the government of Japan, and is tasked with internal security and espionage against threats to Japanese national security based on the Subversive Activities Prevention Act.

An organization rarely featured in media and not known by most of the populace - which kind of contradicted the Public in its namesake - it was basically the CIA on steroids. Like the name implied, they handled anything that was considered a grave matter to both public and national security; and even aliens if the need ever arose.

This also included the handling and protecting important figures.

Chifuyu simply poked her forehead and smirked amusingly, "Think a little, idiot. He's on the whole different level than you are"

With that, the woman left the room before she had a chance to ask anything, leaving a lot of questions; especially the reason why it was PSIA and not the I.S.A. personnel that were mobilized.

"It happened during my… our kidnapping too," He smiled" And yet they can't find me anywhere, like empty depot in Tokyo Bay."

In the end, it was Chifuyu who saved her; could it be that… he remembered the same thing? If he was lying or pretending, why distant eyes look so distant and… sad? Is it because no one recognized him?

He rested his head on the pillow, using it to muffle his scream. "AAAAAAAAAAGH!" The lone female jumped; it was still pretty loud despite the pillow muffling his face, "This. Fucking. Sucks! I'll probably end in a lab somewhere being dissected!"

"Lab? What are you-"

And then it clicked.

He was a male.

Male couldn't use I.S.

Not only was he using one, but he also had a personal unit to boot.

He might be as well a walking, living, and breathing nuclear bomb that could explode anytime.

"I assume that PSIA will treat me as hostile as now, is that right?"

"Depends, especially that you're armed with something potentially more dangerous than tactical nuclear warhead… but first thing first, tell me the number of your core"

"001, tough luck; did you-"

"Okay, hand me that, I will try to confirm that with the corporation, and government will be unable to do anything openly, 001 is privately owned" she said to him without humor in her voice.

He looked at her intently, so close that it almost like he want to kiss her. Her determined gaze is unshaken by his glare, and he decided that "Between my sister and government, you know the answer" and he handed her his gauntlet swiftly.

They know it's idiotically reckless, but that's the way Ichika Orimura rolls.

"Last question" female Ichika muttered "Did you use Phantasm Color #64-"

"And Black Flower" her male counterpart finished "Mix ratio 1:3"

That bluish tint on a shiny black hair wasn't natural indeed, they agreed.

-3333-

Chifuyu bit her lips as she read the medical report she received, specifically the genetic correspondence.

Though she felt a little guilty, it was strictly necessary. The moment she arrived in hospital as her sister called, she saw him. His face, it was a familiar sight, and yet different. And with him possessing an I.S., more question appeared.

Her best guess, he got that unit from Tabane. And Tabane don't care anyone other than Chifuyu or her own family members.

So she made a gamble, and signed the necessary inform consent for genetic checkup.

It took effort for her not to crumple the paper as she sighed. His overall genetic matchup is 50%, and skewed further due to gender bias. With the advancement of medical technology, even before I.S. born, preservation of usable genetic sample that can last for years is possible… however, chances that he's born in an artificial womb is quite implausible because…

That boy shared exact same maternal genetic code with Ichika, which means they're originated from exact same ovum, possibly because the ovum split, in other words: semi-identical twins.

Chifuyu frequently went with her mother to the gynecologist, and her mother's pregnancy is quite normal. Ichika's actual twin sister is not even identical to her.

The only plausible explanation is that her mother gave birth to a triplet, and don't say anything about it, having this guy stranded somewhere, raised or conditioned to believe that he's the real Ichika Orimura by people who constantly stalked her family for years for information, and somehow get their hand on an I.S. as well.

And if Chifuyu had to be honest, that explanation is extremely contrived on its own. Chifuyu's life is full of conspiracy, but this scenario is plain ridiculous. Ichika's never been that important or well known to public until her kidnapping years ago, which forced Chifuyu to drop her chance to become the winner of second Mondo Grosso.

Maybe this guy is related to those people who tried to kidnap Ichika back then?

The more she thought about it the more headaches she got.

Her self-tormenting, brainstorming session is ended when a couple of PSIA agents approached her and politely greeted her and gave a salute, she replied as proper. "We will determine what to do next, but don't worry, we aren't curious enough to gamble with the safety of this miraculous discovery" smugly the agent noted.

Chifuyu deliver a witty, sharp remark after that "Which one? A male I.S. pilot or a free I.S. core?"

Some of the member is taken aback, but the agent who spoke with her had his relaxed expression relatively unchanged. "Both, actually… though if your sister's testimony about it having the same signature as Core 001 is right, well, that will be problematic to us"

He is naïve enough to give this billion dollars -but practically priceless and irreplaceable- weapon of mass destruction quite easily, if the people behind him has any plan, it's a very idiotic plan. Unless of course, you deem the cores as precious but otherwise disposable, which mean there's only one possible culprit…

Chifuyu rubbed her temple again, the headache is getting worse until her sister finally walk out of the hospital, and both her hands are covered by white gauntlet. The left one is sleeker than the right one, giving the feel of uncanny asymmetry.

"Chifuyu-nee…"

"Handing his I.S. like candy to a stranger, just what the hell that idiot is thinking?"

Ichika smiled at her widely "He said: Between my sister and government, you know the answer"

Sure thing Chifuyu didn't expect that answer. However, it also made Chifuyu the location of her weak point.

She smirked confidently as she mentally swore she'll put a stronger defense

-3333-

And like the doctor said, he was eligible to leave after two days passed, injuries healed flawlessly. The government agents made sure he left the hospital unnoticed, and as far as security breach concerned, it's seems that the rumor just started to spread at small scale.

So they decided to carry their orders as fast as possible.

Ichika is brought into a massive facility, to be exact; it was Cadet Representative training facility. The building itself is built so sturdy that theoretically can be used as wartime fortress.

"Kid, never a moment I think I'll brought a guy to this place, if you know what I mean" the agent assigned to escort him winked.

"That sounds wrong when used outside context, sir" Ichika jokingly responded.

The inside is not much outside his expectation too, large main hallway and heavily guarded receptionist, sorry, security check welcomed their arrival.

Ichika then immediately brought into main facilities, which is located underground, with several people waiting for him inside conference room. From the way they dressed, Ichika has very little doubt that they're all important person, possibly the most important people in Japan, in fact. Amongst them, he even saw current Prime Minister of Japan, off all people. There's also the Chief Engineer that lead the team that developed ByakuShiki, though Ichika doubt he'd recognize him.

To be honest, this kind of feeling is new, since he's shipped almost immediately to I.S.A. back when… well; he accidentally participated in the entry exam for I.S. Academy. Not like he had any chance though, Chifuyu demand it or else no protection guaranteed.

Under the bright lightning, the situation is quite ominous, and the air felt like several times heavier.

"Calm down buddy, act like you should act" the agent whispered, as he gently pushed the boy to sit on the assigned chair. For a specific reason, multiple sensor and cables is placed around his body, especially around major arteries, eyes, and head.

Directly facing him is a man dressed sharply in dark blue business suit, like a lawyer. Ichika recognized him as the head investigator of PSIA team that has been assigned to handle his case.

And ever since he met him, Ichika can only feel wrong. This man is sharp, dangerous, a force to be reckoned with. He saw Ichika as a threat, and made sure Ichika knew that.

Ichika felt today's assembly will take a toll on his mentality. From the first day, he disliked PSIA agent, who tried to rub on his face and being an ass in general. It's like he provoked his reaction on purpose, and Ichika is so distressed that the doctor demand the agent to leave. He came again at the next day, that time, Ichika refused to talk to him at all. His men is a little better, they all act professionally, if cold. Ichika has been accustomed to the coldness of his sister so it's a bless.

So now, a new hell.

"So… Orimura Ichika-kun"

"Hai"

"We have searched throughout all kind of record about your identity, including the possibility that you are born as twin brother of the real Orimura Ichika"

He's still treated as pretender, but at least they did it out of necessity, he thought. He had seen the result of his gene test, and it confirmed that he is Chifuyu's little brother.

"However, testimonies and legal documents all pointed that this scenario is not true, so, how about you tell us what you remember"

It's a request, not a question.

"My earliest memories began at the age of five, our parents left us before I can remember anything, and I've been raised by my older sister, Orimura Chifuyu since then. As for my birth, nothing out of ordinary, at least my sister claimed so"

Neither cardiograph, corneal, not even cerebral sensor indicated that his words are lie, at least, on his own personal part. The operator even mused something, before continuing the operation.

"I am not affiliated to any organization, except Infinite Stratos Academy as a student, and Kuromachi Machinery Development for their test unit [ByakuShiki]"

The murmurs come even louder.

"[ByakuShiki] is supposed to be third generation I.S. that utilize [One-Off Ability] from the start, rather than relying on experimental [Image Interface Weapon]. For unknown or maybe never mentioned reason, [ByakuShiki] shared the same OOA as [KureZakura]"

"How about that?" the investigator asked.

"Correct so far" the man from Kuromachi Ltd. Confirmed "Indeed, his unit also has the core with exact numbering of 001, however as failsafe measure, core network rejected it"

The holographic projection that appear in front of the participant all highlight the point where both core have exact same header signature.

As the two cores are almost exactly similar in everything, one become dominant over the other and blocked access from the other one: exactly similar to how a network will treat an illegal entry.

This brought even bigger question, as no I.S. core shared similar header like this, as each of them are, to put it simply, hand crafted by none other than Shinonono Tabane herself, so each and every core don't have the same signature.

Adding the fact that Core 001 itself is fairly unique, because it's given personally to Orimura Chifuyu, the same as Core 468 is given to Shinonono Houki.

"However, we found the design of this machine is quite unique as well" the man continued as more images projected "This is the overall design of his unit, as you can see"

A larger image is shown, comparing the blueprint of his [ByakuShiki] and the other [ByakuShiki]. Ichika himself examined intently.

Unlike his unit, the other one is seamlessly blended much like typical power armor in fiction or real life, both the arms and leg armor are fairly reasonable, all in all, it look a lot less ridiculously contrasted as the pilot –the other Ichika- safely integrated.

"This machine, as you see, is comparatively larger, about twice as heavy in overall mass sans pilot. There are extension systems on the legs and arms which mimic, or rather, entirely replaced the pilot's own finger and toes. The platform under the leg in particular added roughly 50 cm to the pilot's height. So, Orimura-kun, do you have any opinion about this?"

Ichika replied "I honestly don't know much because I haven't studied about Infinite Stratos until my entry to I.S.A., however, if I had to say it's because I.S. weapon is about twice and a half as large as human counterpart, thus the enlarged humanoid manipulator. In case of the extended leg, it's used either for surface mobility system and suspension, or additional rocket booster"

The focus then given to his sword, which fit his statement perfectly: the sword is easily as long as the female pilot is tall, roughly 165 cm. Its handle is quite thick and while it would be possible to be held by human hands, it'll be very uncomfortable. And like Ichika claimed, the leg do contain sturdy-looking magnetic/linear shock breaker and apparently, the explanation given the pair of blade mounted on its horse-feet like heel as reinforced skating equipment, generating a powerful suspension field that reduce the friction with the surface.

"Ano, Orimura-kun"

Ichika recognized her as one of I.S.A. teacher. "From what I can gather, you didn't receive training or education as Personal I.S. pilot, right?"

Ichika stunned on that, because the answer is yes, he didn't.

"My entry to I.S.A. itself is quite accidental"

Then he began to tell them everything, when he lost in the city hall, and accidentally enrolled with the exam much to everyone surprise. Ichika was sent straight to I.S.A. soon after and receive ByakuShiki as personal unit, he also fought with British Cadet Rep, Cecilia Alcott, in his first sortie in his unit.

"That's quite… unbelievable" Prime Minister could not contain his anxious feeling, all of it sounded ridiculous.

"I have no other proof other than my I.S. and the data within its black box" Ichika bigheartedly smiled, one of the stuff he learned that so far no one can manipulate the data in the I.S. black box except Tabane herself.

The Black Box contains every report up to the detail of every sortie and battle.

Reinforcing the control once again, the Investigator smugly smiled, something that made Ichika shiver. "In any case… we have only one answer for this… there's only one person that could theoretically manipulate each and every single piece of information I.S., Shinonono Tabane"

Ichika saw that question from a mile away.

"What are your relations to her?"

"Big sister of my best friend, and a childhood friend of my sister's"

This made everyone chuckled except the investigator, whose expression turned grim out of anger "Orimura Ichika, please answer seriously"

Ichika bit his lip as he began to lose his patience, at least until his assigned bodyguard tap his shoulder, he took a deep breath.

"I have no other answer than that, the last time we met is when she delivered [AkaTsubaki] to her sister" Ichika told him "And from what I can gather, she's also involved in [ByakuShiki]'s final adjustment"

"But YOU aren't there, there's only her, the REAL Orimura Ichika"

Ichika stay silent, and his sensor hasn't detect anything that could prove that he is lying, not even remotely. Still, he's pissed that after all the little hope, he's really unrecognizable.

He of course, has the final trump card, that even he felt is a little excessive, but really, did he have another option?

"Having no real identity and carrying illegal Weapon of Mass Destruction, it's safe to say that your very presence can and will jeopardize the order of our country. What stopped us from arresting you for act of terrorism?"

"Perhaps if you told us the truth, we can make some arrangement-"

"What if I say attempted suicide?" the boy nonchalantly replied.

Every single person there had lose their cool the very instant he spoke that, in a very much neutral manner, to boot. It was Prime Minister that had it worst; as his palm met the table soundly "You can't be serious!"

"Well, think again. Imagine yourself as 15 years old freshman, suddenly losing virtually all of your beloved, no one recognize you, and you're treated as class 1 international criminal. What stopping YOU from the thought of suicide? Optimism? Empty hope?!"

With punctuation, Ichika slammed the table, to the point that the assortment of drink spilled out. The guards by sheer reflect all pointed their weapons at Ichika, the young man didn't mind in the slightest.

"The fact that I'm not shipped to a hidden lab to be a used guinea pig or research sample, YET."

He raised accusingly at the investigator as rage began to crept into his voice "YOU know and I know that anyone with XY chromosome cannot use I.S., I CAN. As far as I can remember, the only thing stopped that from happening is that Japan will lose their one and only one unique LIVING asset, SIR. So to hell with you and your paranoid statement because I am loyal citizen of Japan as much as you are! Got it?"

Ichika's breath is erratic, his face is almost literally burning with rage and his eyes, well, and his naturally scarlet eyes did not help at all. The medical staff monitoring his lie detector began to panic because of the odd reading, not to mention, Ichika's outburst made some of the sensor detached from his body.

And the fact that Ichika's fist had cracked inch-thick thick glass table, shredded little skin along the process. Granted, he delivered enough force to rival a friggin mallet, so minor injury is a given. It's a well known fact that seasoned I.S. pilot gained what could be considered borderline superhuman abilities, like multiple athlete combined with sharp mind of a soldier. Of course, most of them aren't that well rounded and simply being smarter, faster or stronger than other.

The investigator clenched his teeth in response, but has nothing else to say.

His escort agent can't help but pitied the boy; he tried his hardest to endure such a huge pressure, and he finally snapped, before the rest of security act to restrain him he pushed Ichika back to his chair "You did it well, son, that's enough for now"

"Please pardon my insolence"

The subsequent discussion is a lot more civilized, because everyone trying their hardest to get along with a naïve teenager, not to say they don't project their authority over him however, but Ichika responded with far more respect against non-aggressive questioner.

Besides, he could kill unprotected man in split second, judging from his strength demonstration earlier (poor table) and no one wanted to gamble with that.

All in all, Ichika had earned their favor at last. He is however, frightened that he never once thought how much influence he can bring… because Chifuyu always protect him from outside interference.

How he could be so powerful and meaningless at the same time, he understand now.

"It's the same with Gospel…" Ichika mentally noted as he left the room "When I fail to lay my strength and compare it to my foes to create an effective battle plan, the result is always failure"

His sister always and always hammering it to his head: "Use your head. Use your head. Use your head". No, it's not about headbutting the enemy to submission; it's about Ichika THINK a little.

With no one supporting him, Ichika is forced to think on his own, and he just knew the result is either spectacular or catastrophic.

-3333-

"You threatened a national security agent, in front of high ranked JSDF officers and politician, what exactly is in your mind?"

It's a valid question; anyone with remotely sane mind will ask the same thing.

"I am no one to speak but did I have anything else to do to earn their trust? I'm so desperate there"

And thus, he retorted in defense.

"You could be sleeper agent"

"Male sleeper agent who can pilot I.S. and own my own unit, why the hell I'm giving it to someone else?"

"Infiltrating our family, earning our trust and strike us when we're vulnerable"

Ichika looking very dejected, that's quite harsh even for Chifuyu… well, not really… it's really typical of Chifuyu. Sharp as a finely crafted blade, straight to the point like a bullet. Then again, he really has no excuse that could prove Chifuyu is not right.

Knowing the hardship of raising him (or her, in this case), it's a small wonder that Chifuyu didn't turn into antisocial person. However, this Chifuyu -even if she not recognizing him in the slightest- is the same kind of Chifuyu he knew.

She put a barrier around her, and to break that barrier is not easy task, so it's always her who control the social dynamic, no matter with whom.

He coughed twice and shrugged, decided that if Chifuyu decided to play the cold shoulder, then he could just be indifferent to it "Then why do you even care? I'll just get out of here, with or without ByakuShiki"

Her eyes blinked in response, that wasn't exactly the reaction she expected. It wasn't anger; it wasn't sadness, more like a heavy feeling of helplessness. All alone, heart screaming for help and attention.

Just Chifuyu is, the moment their parents left, she also lose her faith-

No, she can't get fooled by that, but…

Chifuyu sighed heavily, the more she wanted to avoid personal attachment, the worse it became. Her sister doesn't even bother with it.

Recognizing a family member sometimes can be done on instinct alone and whether Chifuyu like it or not, this emo brat is technically her brother.

But if a family defined solely by blood, then the point is moot. Shinononos are much more of a family than her parents ever was, the moment those irresponsible adults left, Shinonono took care of her.

She didn't want to feel indebted, but she also learned the hard way, that trying too hard will gave disastrous result.

And thus, she decided to try.

"We'll see that during your 14 day trial here"

"…You can't be serious"


Who read this far? Thank you very much, and here's a reward for your patience, a free fic for a more popular snippet. (Cue MGS2 Theme)

Kudos for anyone recognizing this


My right fist went across my attacker's jaw and sent him back towards the nearest table, of which he tripped.

"Damn you Orimura!" The previous taller boy, now surrounded with his friends came at me.

Even with my training of kendo, there's no guarantee that I could take on 3 guys on a similar physique as mine. I wasn't putting up much of a fight as these guys had teamwork as well as surprise attack, often attacking my vulnerable spots.

Luckily, I was saved…

A battle cry was all that I needed to hear, Dan intervened on my behalf and the odds were improved, but at least we weren't losing as much as I was alone.

As much as being a hero of justice was concerned, it was not easy and not just playing games and acting a role. We put ourselves on the line.

Being showered with punches and retaliating on our own, it was still evident that we were fighting a slow and a losing battle.

It was only with the call of the bell and the teacher arriving that all action was stopped, and all of us had earned a detention for the rest of the day.

I had regretted nothing and neither did Dan, and as we walked out only to catch the bewildered looks of Tomoki and Rin.

But this day was a wakeup call. As if a fire lit in our hearts, we knew that in order to prevent this tragedy from occurring, we needed strength…

A lot of strength…

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

"Emperor of the Silver Throne" he said, a mixed invocation of pride and regret is thick in his statement "And I was called Red Right Hand of the Dictator"

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

I heard a yelp of pain, I continued to twist…

"Please, let me go. I won't do it again!" I continued twisting it.

"This hurts a lot!"

"It better hurt." My cold voice rang out.

*SNAP*

That signature sound was the evidence that I had dislocated her shoulder or worse, fractures, and she spun briefly and crashed down face up. I wasn't done with her yet.

I deliver a soft kick to her stomach, sure thing it's not hurt as much as the one I did before, but it would very much humiliate her just as well.

"Please… please forgiv-"

I reached out and began lift her one handed, rough hands digging on soft, squishy skin on her face. Even the other bullies were too stunned and did not help her. I felt the girl continued to struggle upon me, it was useless.

Such beautiful face, yet beneath it, pitch black heart is exposed clearly. In my mind back then, there's only one raw, primal desire to crush it, tore it away to expose the hidden, twisted expression of an alpha female who think she can do as her wish.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

"This fist of mine by no means clean, and for ByakuShiki turned into a silvery white gauntlet, it's quite Ironic"


Yes, it's not dead. YET.