Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or Infinite Stratos.


The sound of clapping made everyone in class 1-2 stopped their chit chat and went back to their seats as Kurosaki Ichigo shouted from his desk, "Ok brats, back to your seats! We're going to start class now! Now then open your textbooks at page 21. We'll start where my assistant left off yesterday."

The sounds of books opening and pages flipping resonated the whole class. After the students did what they were told, Ichigo said, "Yesterday we talked about introduction of IS and its history. Now we're going to talk about the characteristics and components of the IS." He made a hand sign to the digital blackboard and a picture of an IS surrounded by a blue sphere appeared on it. He then begin his speech, "One of the main and most important characteristics of an IS is its shields. It covers the pilot's body with a special energy barrier that could block both physical and optical weapons. The protection level of IS shield is sufficient to be impenetrable to most conventional weaponry, but it could be penetrated by high-powered IS weaponry. The integrity of the energy shield is maintained unless the IS is depleted of power, but the shield tends to lose its strength when nearing a complete power depletion. "

"Now we're moving on to the PIC. Yamanaka, can you tell me what PIC stands for?" As he said that, the mentioned girl stood up from her seat at the fourth row. She had a curvy figure and had long blonde hair tied in a ponytail and her bangs were covering her right eye. Her left eye was emerald green in color.

Yamanaka stood up, "Hai Kurosaki-sensei. PIC stands for Passive Inertia Control." She said and sat back down.

"Correct, PIC allows an IS to accomplish extreme mobility and agility unparalleled by any other conventional platform. It largely absorbs and negates impact shock, thus protecting the pilot and the IS from catastrophic events such as high-speed collision. PIC is also applied to flight assist, and coupled with gravity control technology, makes IS capable of flight and hovering."

"Next is the Hyper Sensor. When the pilot is linked to the Hyper Sensor, she receive augmented sensory input data from IS's sensor, directly into 5 sensory system in her body. Simply put, when piloting an IS, the pilot's senses such as vision are greatly improved. Using the sensory data input from IS, the pilot gains 360 degree field of view, being able to 'see' directions that are not possible for human body without turning her head, such as behind, directly above and below. However, because such improved sensory input is much different from normal human body, the pilot must process the input data into something she could comprehend first."

"Now we're moving on to the components. Lopez, can you tell me the most important and most component of every IS in the world?" Said girl then stood up from her seat at the second row. She was a slightly tanned, Hispanic girl with wavy brown hair and hazel-colored eyes. Lopez answered the strawberry sensei's question with a Latin accent, "Yes, señor Kurosaki. The most important and most component of the IS is the "CORE" technology."

"That is correct." Ichigo said as the Hispanic girl sat down. "The "CORE" technology is the key to IS units. Currently, there are only 467 COREs made, which means that there are only 467 IS units in the world. All the COREs were made by the IS creator, Shinonono Tabane. The technology behind the CORE is a complete black box which allows the IS to function. Nobody besides Dr. Shinonono can make COREs. And Hat 'n Clogs for that matter." He left out that last part to himself as he continued, "But Dr. Shinonono refused to make more than the set number of COREs. Nations, companies and organizations have COREs allocated to them, with 322 are used for actual combat and the remaining 145 are handed over to research facilities and enterprises. Only a few IS pilots, whom work under certain organizations and large corporations, possess their own personal IS."

"The CORE is actually a mixture of a power source and an AI, or Artificial Intelligence. Due to this, each IS has something similar to a conscious of its own. Communication occurs between the IS and the pilot. The more they spend time with each other, the more the IS learns how the pilot thinks. That's why it is wrong to consider your IS as a tool. See them as your partner. Compatibility between IS and pilot is crucial, and it can be the difference between winning and losing in proper combat. Any questions so far?"

A hand was raised at the first row as she said, "Question! When you say "partner", do you mean like boyfriend-girlfriend?"

"Well, you can put it that way," Ichigo answered, seeing no problem with the question, "But partner does not only mean that kind of relationship. Your siblings, best friends, parents, anyone that is close to you, can be considered as a partner. You can also consider your IS as the ones I mentioned."

"Like the close relationship you have with Chifuyu-sama?"

"Sort o- wait, WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?!" It took Ichigo some time to process what did the student asked before he realized it as he blushed slightly.

Another girl raised her hand up from the fifth row as she ecstatically said, "Now that she mentioned it Kurosaki-sensei, there are rumors that Kurosaki-sensei and Orimura-sensei are dating."

"WE ARE CERTAINLY NOT DATING!" Ichigo shouted in embarrassment and anger, "Where do you brats hear that rumor? Wait! Don't tell me. I already know the damn answer. It's from class 1 right?" He got nods from some of the girls, he then hung his head in surrender," Great, just great. Girls and their gossiping prowess..."

"We heard from class 1 that Kurosaki-sensei and Orimura-sensei were too close for comfort when Kurosaki-sensei challenged her to a demo fight."

"Judging by how they described the situation, we concluded that the both of you were really close, like a couple."

"But don't worry, we will support you during the demo fight, right class?!"

"Yes! I'm sure Ichigo-sama will win!"

"We will support you! With love~"

"We all will support you because we love you, Kurosaki-kun!"

"SILENCE!" Ichigo bellowed, which quieted down all the girls, he then said, "Let me clear up a few things straight. Yes, I challenged Orimura-sensei to a demonstration fight, and no, we're not a damn couple! We're just colleagues, and that's that. Plus, I will not tolerate this kind of behavior from you brats. So as punishment, all of you write a detailed report of the characteristics and components of IS and hand it over by the end of the week. Is that clear?"

"WHAT?!"

"Mou~, Kurosaki-sensei you meanie!"

"It's impossible to write a detailed report in under a week!"

"Well, that's what you get for indiscipline and teasing your teacher," Ichigo smirked at them, making all the students whine and groan in surrender. "Now let's continue our class..."

...

Scene change, at Kendo Club dojo

"OW!"

That was the sound of Ichika whining in pain as he fell onto his butt after a hit from his childhood friend, Houki. During recess, Ichika had told her about his training plans with Kurosaki-sensei. She initially didn't really care about it, but after he mentioned about kendo being part of his training, she practically insisted on helping him in training. Ichika was confused at first, but a death glare from her shut him up and complied with her request. Now, she and Kurosaki-sensei had taken turns to spar with him and judging by their looks on their faces, they were certainly not impressed.

"What the hell, Orimura?" Ichigo growled, his bokken resting on his shoulder, "You technique is there, but your form, speed, footwork and response time are like shit. I thought you had experience training in kendo? So what the heck is this shit?"

"Erm, ano..." Ichika smiled sheepishly as he scratched the back of his head and said, "Maybe it's because I haven't held a sword for a few years now? Ehehe..."

"What?! In what club did you participate during middle school, Ichika?!" Houki demanded.

"The 'Going straight home' club!" Ichika pumped his fist with pride, "Never missed a day in three years!"

"Tch, no wonder he's so pathetic," Ichigo muttered softly so the two students never heard his comment. That club also existed during his middle school days in Karakura, and it's safe to say that the club had the lowest popularity rating.

"Kurosaki-sensei!" The loud voice of Houki captured his attention and raised an eyebrow as he saw the little sister of Tabane bowed to him, "This may be inappropriate, but I would like to ask permission to take over his training in kendo."

"Eh?" Ichika said in surprise as he heard that, but Houki ignored it and continued, "Ichika and I were dedicated to the art of kendo during our childhood days, and seeing his lack of effort in it upsets me as a fellow student. So as a fellow student and friend, I would like to retrain him and spend those lost hours with him-!" She froze when she realized her slip up, making Ichika raise an eyebrow at her words in confusion. Ichigo raised both of his eyebrows before smirking knowingly, which Houki noticed. She blushed a deep red as she bowed even deeper and said, "S-Sorry, a-allow me to rephrase that! I-"

"Jeez, stop bowing already. I'm not all into that formality crap." Ichigo interrupted, which Houki complied as she reluctantly raised her head up and trying to avoid the strawberry's gaze. He continued, "I can see that you're exceptionally skilled, since you're the reigning national champion, so I see no problem in you taking over Orimura's training in kendo. But let me give you some advice," He leaned over to her right ear and smirked as he whispered to her in a slightly teasing manner, "Be direct and don't hold back." he finished and leaned back.

Houki immediately understood the double meaning at the advice as she froze on the spot and blushed deeply. Ichika could swear he saw steam was coming out from her ears. He wondered what did Kurosaki-sensei said to make her react like that, but he probably don't want to know either. Houki wanted to pound him to the ground for embarrassing her, but attacking a more experienced and skilled sensei wasn't probably a good idea. So she just nodded her head stiffly and stuttered, "I-I understand, K-Kurosaki-sensei."

Ichigo's smirk grew wider as Houki put on her serious face and turned back towards the still downed Ichika. Ichigo meanwhile took a step back as he put on his scowl and yelled at him, "Stop your daydreaming Ichika and stand up!"

That shout broke the young Orimura from his daze as he scrambled to stand back up and said, "H-Hai, Kurosaki-sensei!"

"From now onwards, Shinonono will be taking over the kendo training," Ichigo announced, surprising Ichika. He continued, "In your current pathetic state, there's no way you can last more than 5 minutes in a fight."

"So blunt?!" Ichika comically shouted at him for that statement, but Ichigo ignored it and continued with a cold glare, "So we're going to crank up a gear. If you think this is tiring right now, then you have got to grow a tougher spine, because the real tor- *ahem training has just started."

Houki smirked.

And Ichika shivered.

...

Scene change, at Arena 1 after kendo training

"My body's really aching right now, and we're only halfway there..."Ichika groaned as he dragged his feet towards the empty battle ground with his trainer beside him. He was wearing his black two-piece IS suit while Ichigo was wearing a black one-piece IS suit with white trims on the edges. He was also wearing a full moon pendant with two different halves around his neck, one black and one white, which Ichika noticed him wearing for the first time. His childhood friend, Houki had excused herself after the kendo training and went back to her dorm to take a shower.

"That's to be expected," Ichigo said to him, "Your body will get tired easily if your body wasn't used to rigorous activity, which is the case for you. The longer you train, the better your body will cope (and the harder you will get tired)."

"I can't believe that Houki is such a slave driver," Ichika noted, shivering as he remembered the beating he got from his childhood friend after she took over the kendo training.

"Heh, I like her style. Never hold anything back. Do you really think that training would be as easy as saying it?" Ichigo said in amusement, making Ichika groaned and his shoulders slump even more. They finally stopped in the middle of the arena; their progress stopped by a stationary IS in standby mode. Seeing the IS straighten Ichika up as he recognized the IS from the time when he accidentally operated it, "Ehh?! This IS-!"

"Yup, the fateful IS that decided your destiny," Ichigo halfheartedly joked as he walked towards the IS and touched it with his palm and said, "Jokes aside, this baby here is the Uchigane, a training IS for beginners. It is a highly-rated 2nd generation frame. As a defensive model, it focuses on stability and is easy to use for rookies as a training model. Though it is a training IS, it would foolish to underestimate its capabilities. A veteran pilot can skillfully use this IS and defeat a young and newly appointed IS Representative Candidate. You will use this IS for training until your personal IS arrives. Now let's not waste time and suit up."

Ichika nodded and leaned his back onto the pilot seat. After the IS had finished optimizing the system and locking him into place, Ichigo said, "Now materialize the standard katana of the IS. There is a hexagon-shaped hoop on the left side of the IS. Use that to materialize your katana." Ichika complied and placed both of his hands near the hoop and closed his eyes as he concentrate. Moments later, a katana materialized onto his hands.

"That's approximately 2.5 seconds, too slow for materializing your weapon. A skilled pilot can materialize their weapons at around 0.5 to 1 second. Take any longer than that will be costly in battle. A few milliseconds in materializing your weapon could determine your victory of defeat in battle. We will work on that later." As he finished saying that, the strawberry's pendant glowed brightly before he was enveloped in a bright light. In a flash, he was suited in his personal IS, Zangetsu. His cleaver was placed on his back while his second smaller blade was sheathed on his right hip.

"So that's your IS, Zangetsu..." Ichika muttered, in awe at the intimidating beauty of the IS.

"Now let's engage in a mock battle. From there, I will observe on your piloting and fighting skills." Ichigo stated as he took out his large sword from his back and shifted his legs to do a stance, "Come at me and don't hold back, Ichika."

"Y-Yeah," Ichika replied as he shifted as well to a stance.

And the both charged at each other with a battle cry, swords at the ready.

...

Time skip, 7 pm, end of training.

Ichika huffed and puffed as he lay down at the middle of the battle ground motionless and completely fatigued, with the tall figure of the Black Samurai towering above him with his arms crossed. Saying Arena 1 was trashed was an understatement. It looked like a full-blown war had happened there, with craters and large rubble everywhere. Well, most of them were made from Ichika not in battle, but while he was having flight and nosedive training, courtesy of crashing into walls and hitting the ground face down in full speed.

"Man, the staff would flip at this. Fixing the arena up would take like forever." Ichigo muttered before smirking at the downed pilot, "And I'm not going to take responsibility for this."

"Oh shut up," Ichika groaned, "What do you expect from a pilot with only 20 minutes worth of IS piloting experience prior to training?"

Ichigo put his serious game face on as he said, "Considering that you have lack of piloting experience prior to training, I was quite satisfied. You managed to grasp the principles of flying after a while and you were able to fly your IS with variation of speeds. However, your control and maneuvering wasn't really great. You also made a ton of unnecessary movements while engaging in melee combat. That wasted your physical energy and tires you easily. Don't focus too much on brute force, focus more on your speed of your attacks. That way your energy wouldn't be wasted too much. And in a nosedive, you still haven't reached the target of 10cm above ground when come to a stop. So you'll have to improve on that. Overall, it was a good first day of training. You ready for more in the future."

"After today, I'm really having second thoughts right now," Ichika sighed.

"There's no backing away now y'know?" the strawberry pilot smirked at him, making Ichika groan again. He continued, "Why are you still here then? Get up and go back to your dorm, take a shower and get some rest."

"You go on first, Ichigo-san," Ichika said, "I can't really move yet. My muscles are really sore."

"Jeez, you're hopeless," Ichigo jokingly muttered, then he smiled at him as he said, "Well I'll get going then. See you later, Ichika. Take care of yourself."

"Yeah, you too," Ichika smiled back as he leaned back with a comfortable sigh. The strawberry just looked on in amusement before turning around and left the arena.

...

At locker room

Kurosaki Ichigo let out a really comfortable sigh as he exited the bath. He was wearing the clothes he wore the previous night with his pendant hidden inside his shirt with a towel around his neck. There is nothing that felt better than a nice hot bath after a rigorous exercise. "Man, that felt great!" He said as he walked towards a nearby bench where his sports bag was located.

"You sure beat the crap out of my little brother," a familiar voice spoke as he was packing. Ichigo perked up at the voice and turned his head to his left to see a smiling Chifuyu walking towards him at a leisurely pace. She was holding an orange-flavored Gatorade sports drink, Ichigo's favorite. "I brought a sports drink for you, catch." She finished and tossed the drink towards the strawberry, who caught it with one hand.

"Thanks," Ichigo smiled at her. He then sat down and opened up the bottle cap and drank the isotonic beverage with gusto. As he drank a third of it, he stopped and let out a sigh of relief with closed eyes as he said, "Ahhh, that hit the spot! You had been watching the whole IS training, Chifuyu?"

"Pretty much," said girl replied as she sat beside Ichigo, who resumed in drinking the isotonic drink. Realizing that she was alone with Ichigo in the locker room, she looked down to her hands on her lap and started to fidget nervously in her seat, which the strawberry didn't notice as he was still occupied with the cold refreshing beverage. She softly muttered to prevent Ichigo from hearing, "So, it's just the two of us in here, huh?"

"Huh?" Ichigo stopped drinking as he heard her mutter, but he couldn't hear what she said.

"I-Its nothing." Chifuyu immediately said, making Ichigo raise an eyebrow at her. Her face then showed a slightly melancholic look as she looked at the strawberry directly at his eyes and asked, "Ne, Ichigo... Was it lonely for you after you moved away?"

Hearing that question made Ichigo's lips curled into a sad smile as he look away and replied, "It was hard at first, moving to a different town where the environment was different, everyone was a stranger and there were no friends to talk to. But eventually I settled in and made some new friends, very quirky ones to be exact. The prideful stick-in-the ass Ishida, the kind giant Chad, the perverted lecher Keigo, the playboy Mizuiro, the tough tomboy Tatsuki and the cheerful klutz Inoue." Hearing the last two names made Chifuyu frown, does he have feelings for one of them? "They helped me a hell lot in settling in and were fun to hang out with." He then turned to look at the teacher of class 1 and smiled, "But no one could replace the friendship between you, me and Tabane."

The seemingly stoic woman could feel her cheeks heating up upon hearing that statement as she looked away from his gaze and looked down on her lap as she muttered, "I-I see. I'm really g-glad to hear t-that.."

Ichigo raised an eyebrow at her reaction. What was she so nervous about? Shrugging it off, he closed the bottle with its cap and stood up from his seat with Chifuyu doing the same. Then he slung his sports bag onto his shoulder as he said, "Well, it's already late, so let's go back to our dorms." He couldn't help but turn his lips into a smirk which unsettled Chifuyu.

"I have a really bad feeling about that smirk..." she thought.

"Or...you want to come to my dorm and sleep with me again today?" He teased, making Chifuyu blush and turn her head away from his gaze. He was expecting her to deny loudly or beat the crap out of him, but he never expected her next reply as she stuttered out, "W-W-Well, i-if you s-say s-so..."

That made Ichigo blinked a few times in surprise after he heard her reply. Did she really just believe his teasing and accepted his offer he never really meant? His heart started pounding loudly as the situation started to get awkward. Deciding that he should play along with it and not facing her wrath [and believe me, her wrath is downright terrifying] or her puppy eyes if he tell her he didn't meant it, he sighed and grabbed her hand and pulled her along towards the exit as he said, "A-Alright, l-lets go then."

As they exited the locker room, they never noticed a figure hiding in the shadows, listening to their every word. The figure smiled as he exited the locker room a few minutes later.

...

Timeskip, on the day of the duels

"Amazing! The whole arena is full of students! Even some of the staff are here!" Ichika said in awe as he took a glance outside of the hangar with Houki beside him. The second male pilot was wearing his IS suit while Tabane's imouto was wearing her academy uniform. They were looking out at Arena 3 where his duel against Cecilia and the demonstration fight between Chifuyu-nee and Ichigo-san will be held. It was a sell-out crowd with no empty seats to be seen. Some students were even holding handmade banners. One of them was a banner of Ichigo and Chifuyu facing each other with a 'VS' in between and the title was written as 'The Battle of the Legends'. "Chifuyu-nee and Ichigo-san are really popular among the students, huh?"

"It's a fight between two strongest IS pilots in Japan and possibly in the world. What do you expect?" Houki commented with her arms crossed. "I would be surprised if the arena wasn't full."

"I know," Ichika said, "It's just that I wasn't really expecting their upcoming fight to actually gain that much fanfare." He finished as he rolled his right shoulder, then his left one with his face scrunched up as he said, "Dammit, I'm still feeling sore..."

"Hmph, that's what you get for not staying in shape," Houki scoffed.

"Speak for yourself," Ichika retorted, "I went through six days of hell because of you and Ichigo-san. Both of you are so relentless."

"Hmph."

"Don't turn away from me!"

From the control room at the hangar, Orimura Chifuyu was standing by the orange-colored glass window as she awaits the arrival of her little brother's Personal IS with her arms crossed and eyes closed. She was wearing her usual white tracksuit with her IS suit underneath it.

A holographic screen appeared in front of Ichika and Houki and they were greeted with the image of Cecilia waiting for him at the battleground with her IS deployed. Though it wasn't clear, Ichika could've sworn he saw a shit-eating smirk on her face.

"So that's her Personal IS..." he muttered.

"Orimura-kun! Orimura-kun!" A frantic female voice belonged to Yamada Maya shouted at the intercom, startling them from their gaze at the holographic screen. She continued, "Your personal IS has finally arrived!" That announcement surprised them and Ichika looked at the large cargo doors in anticipation. Moments later, the door slowly opened and Ichika couldn't help but dropped his jaw. In front of him stood a standard form of an inactive IS with its grey colour and wings closed up. Though he couldn't explain it in words, he already knew that at first glance at the IS, the connection between pilot and IS was already there.

"So his Personal IS has finally arrived?" a new voice spoke. Chifuyu and Maya turned their heads to the entrance door and saw Kurosaki Ichigo entering the control room. He was wearing a black Yonex tracksuit with some red on the middle and sides of the track jacket ( images/Image/50038EXBLACKF_ ). He was also wearing his pendant around his neck which wasn't hidden under the collar of his track jacket. Underneath the tracksuit, he was wearing his one-piece IS suit.

"Yo Ichigo. Not chickening out?" Chifuyu smirked at him.

"Keep dreaming," Ichigo smirked back, then smiled as he looked at the green-haired woman, "Yo, Maya."

Maya blushed under his gaze as she smiled back and addressed him, "O-Ohayoo, Kurosaki-kun." Chifuyu frowned at how Maya addressed him. Her eyes soften considerably as she looked at him, and why the hell is she fidgeting so much? She cleared her throat in annoyance to gain their attention as she said, "Now let's not waste precious time here. We have Ichika to deal with."

"H-Hai!" Maya answered as she went back to the mic and announced at the intercom, "This is your personal IS, Orimura-kun! The Byakushiki!"

"Suit up now, Orimura," Chifuyu said, "We have limited time in the hanger, so the configurations and fitting will be done during the fight."

Ichika stepped forward and placed his palm on the IS. Moments later, he backtracked slightly with wide eyes as he said, "Eh?"

"What is it?" Houki curiously asked.

He didn't answer immediately as he thought back to the first time he activated an IS. Compared to the first time he activated an IS, this felt different somehow. He then answered Houki's concerns, "If feels different from when I first touched an IS..."

"Is everything's fine, Ichika?" Ichigo asked.

"Yes, its fine," Ichika answered, "I can feel it. I can understand it. I can tell what this is and why it exists. I can feel it."

"Understandable," Ichigo said, "It's almost similar to my experience when I first touched Zangetsu. You should know what to do now right?"

"Yes, Kurosaki-sensei. Just lean back onto it and let the system optimize itself for me." Ichika answered as he did what he said. After the IS locked him into place, it activated and numerous holograms appeared around him, showing his IS status, time limit, shield energy etc. "Byakushiki..." he muttered, "So this is what it's made of..."

Another hologram appeared as he examined his IS, showing the status and details of the opponent's IS, "Cecilia-san's unit is called Blue Tears." Maya stated, "It's an IS made specifically and strictly for long-range combat."

"Blue Tears huh?" Ichika said.

"Just to indulge you with additional knowledge, IS comes with a function called Absolute Defence." Maya added, "It's designed to at the very least save a pilot's life no matter what attack lands. However, when it activates, shield energy will be drained. You understand, right?"

"Yes, I understand, Yamada-sensei," Ichika affirmed her.

"Orimura, are you feeling sick at all?" Chifuyu asked, a tone of worry and concern in her voice.

"Nope, I'm feeling good," Ichika said confidently, After all the training I've gone through; I know I can do this."

Chifuyu let out a deep breath of relief she unconsciously held as she smiled and said, "I see. Okay then."

"Do your best, Ichika," Ichigo said, "Don't you dare forget everything that I taught you."

"Mn! I will do my best!" Ichika said with gusto as he turned towards Houki and called out to her, "Houki."

"Wh-What?" said girl stuttered.

"I'm going off now," Ichika told her.

"Y-Yeah. Go win this." Houki said to him. Ichika nodded to her as he stepped on to the launching pad. Moments later, the launching pad moved forward in high speed and catapulted him into the sky as the launching pad reached the end of the road.

"Ara ara, so you didn't run away," Cecilia snorted as they hovered on the sky with the Ojou-sama looking down on Ichika like some kind of underclassmen. Her right arm was armed with a medium-range laser rifle, with a scope to help her focus on the target. "I'll give you one last chance."

"Chance for what?" Ichika countered.

"It's obvious that I'm going to win this easily." Cecilia smugly said, "If you apologize now, I may forgive you."

Ichika gritted his teeth as he listened to the prideful princess' trash talk while checking on his equipment list. To his disappointment, he only had one weapon available for him, a standard IS-issued blade, but he was slightly glad it was a weapon he was familiar with. Suddenly, a yellow warning hologram appeared.

[~WARNING, enemy IS pilot's left eye is in firing mode. Safety mode off.~]

He then shifted to his usual kendo stance as he materialized his blade in a much faster time than the first time he materialized one as he said, "That's not a chance at all."

"So you don't wanna apologize? What a shame. If so..."

[~WARNING, Opponent IS shifting to shooting mode.~]

"I bid you farewell!" Cecilia shouted as she raised her rifle and fired an energy beam. Due to his intense training for the past week, Ichika was much more alert and was able to keep up with an IS' response speed. So, he was able to prepare himself for an attack as soon as Byakushiki warned him. So what happened next caught everyone off guard.

As the supersonic energy beam was going to hit him, Ichika raised his sword and deflected and redirected the shot to his right, letting the energy beam to hit the barrier-protected wall, much to Cecilia's shock. At the hangar and the control room, Houki, Maya and Chifuyu went wide eyed while Ichigo just smirked.

"I can't afford to lose..." Ichika voiced out, "After I accepted this duel, I knew I had a slim chance to win. So I trained and trained for the past six days, trying to compensate my inexperience in piloting an IS. Even though I do not really want to be a class representative, after all the hell I went through, I can't afford to lose against you. So to defend my honor as a man..." He raised his sword and pointed at her, "I will defeat you!" He then charged at her with determination.

"Challenging me with a melee-type IS when mine's a long range sniper type?!" Cecilia asked in anger, "How foolish!" She then fired shot after shot at him, but he was able to avoid all of them while doing some stunts, occasionally deflect of slash the ones that were unavoidable. Though the crowd gathered to watch the upcoming match between two legends, the current one was highly entertaining as well so they cheered.

As the battle goes on, Cecilia was starting to get frustrated due to her inability to hit the male pilot. She knew that all of her shots were right on target, but curse that monkey for being so...elusive, calling him skillful for avoiding her attacks would hurt her pride. In a change of tactic, she started moving while firing and increased her rate of fire, hoping with her constant change of position, she could fire a shot at him in an angle where he wouldn't able to dodge.

Her hopes were granted.

From the start of the duel, Ichika had a plan. After being forced to read the think IS reference book and crammed all those knowledge in a week by his devil of a sister, he knew of an IS characteristic called Hyper Sensor. By focusing the Hyper Sensor on the barrel of the rifle, He was able to predict the angle of trajectory as well as when it will fire due to energy build up. Using this information, he was able to dodge or deflect the beams.

Well, he was able to dodge partially because that action was stamped into his instincts. Ichigo-san's Getsuga Tensho is really scary...

Seeing Cecilia preparing to fire again aiming at his stomach, he did a quick acceleration to the right, and he-

BOOM!

[30 Shield Points depleted. Shield Points remaining: 570. Damage: Low]

Was hit on his left ankle. He was slightly surprised. As he looked at Cecilia's hovering form, he noticed she was slightly changing her positions on air while moving her rifle slightly off-target from her aim, making her shots unpredictable.

Even so, he managed to dodge and deflect most of her beams as he increased his speed of flight, but he still managed to get hit by several shots, leaving him having 490 shield points remaining. After a few minutes, she ceased her firing as they summed each other out.

"You're the first to ever last this long in your first battle against Blue Tears."

"Thanks a lot for that compliment."

"But let's end this now!" At with that, the four fins that were attached to her wings detached from them, much to Ichika's surprise, and flew towards him. Those four fins started to fire beams at him at every angle, making it seemingly impossible for him to dodge all of them at once, but he did particularly that. Trained to be alert 360 degrees around him thanks to the Hyper Sensor, he was able to adjust his speed in his maneuvers to avoid them, though he was hit a couple of times, depleting his shield points further.

Being an observant, he noticed that with him focusing of the fins, Cecilia should have plenty of opportunities to fire at him with her rifle, yet not a single beam has come from her direction. He also noticed her fins can only fire one at a time. Can she only use one weapon at a time? His thoughts were confirmed when Cecilia ceased fire and the fins were attached back to the wings. She then aimed her rifle at him, "Your left leg in mine now!" She fired a beam at him but he was able to deflect it.

"Let's give this a shot!" He shouted as the rapid fire of Cecilia started again. As always, he managed to dodge and deflect all of them. As he found an opening, Ichika maneuvered and charged at her, swinging his sword downwards at her, but Cecilia managed to evade it by flying out from his reach.

"You're absurd!" Cecilia shouted, "But it's all for naught!" As she stopped her rapid fire from her rifle and detached her fins and started firing again. Knowing her weakness of her IS, he managed to dodge all of the beams fire from the fins. As he got near to one of the fins, he slashed it with his sword and flew away as it exploded a few moments later, much to Cecilia's shock.

"I get it now," Ichika started speaking as he got near enough and slashed at her, but she was able to fly out of his range in time, "The weapons only move with your commands each time." He stated as one of the fins flew near to him and he slashed it immediately. "And while they're in use, you can't use any other attacks. Because you're focused on controlling them. Am I right?!"

...

In the control room, Maya Yamada looked on in awe as he watched Ichika explain Cecilia's weakness as she said, "Wow, Orimura-kun's amazing! I can't believe this is his second time piloting an IS!"

"That is his eighth time," Ichigo stated, Maya looked over her shoulder to him in surprise, "I trained him to pilot an IS in the last week. He was using the Uchigane to train."

"You trained him pretty well haven't you," Chifuyu praised.

"He is naturally an observant fighter," Ichigo noted to them, "He just need the skills and strength to back it up."

Chifuyu face then contorted from a smile to a look of irritation as she said, "But that idiot is getting too overconfident."

"Eh? How do you know that?" Maya asked.

"He has been clenching and unclenching his left hand right? When that habit of his comes out, he tends to make simple mistakes." Chifuyu stated.

"Sugoi...Familial observation, huh?" Maya said in awe.

"Familial observation my ass. It's more than that." Ichigo teased, but he tensed up and his hairs stood up as he felt a dark and ominous aura forming around his childhood friend, "Still making fun of me are you?"

"W-Wait, Chifuyu-"

CRACK!

"OW! OW! OW! That hurt, dammit!" Ichigo shouted as he was put in a really painful headlock by Chifuyu in retaliation to his teasing.

"I can tolerate of you making fun of me. But the one thing I hate most is being made fun of in front of other people."

"OW! OW! Let me go! Chifuyu! You're breaking my head off!"

Maya just looked on at the interaction of the two of them as she started to giggle to herself, "They're just like a couple..."

...

"Two more to go!" Ichika stated loudly as he skilfully swerved and dodged the rapid fire of the two remaining bits. Due to his kendo re-training, he had exceptionally heightened his senses, has high intellect for spotting out attack patterns and weaknesses of the units, and had significantly improved his CQC skills. As the two bits flew at his side each, with the bit at his left side is slightly closer to him than his right, time seemed to slow down and stopped to a standstill.

"She's going to come from where the bit is much further away from me," he stated. True enough, the bit at his right started firing at him first almost immediately before the left one started firing as well. Anticipating that accurately, he avoided the barrage of beams and as he got close enough, he cleaved the two remaining bits into pieces in quick succession before closing the gap on Cecilia, "But it's my game if I take it to close range!"

"You fell for it."

"Eh?"

"There are more than four armaments in my Blue Tears!" Cecilia loudly exclaimed as her skirt shaped armour spreads out and two larger bits deploy beside her, both equipped with heat-seeking missile launchers, surprising Ichika. As the launchers fire, Ichika immediately flew away at maximum speed but the missiles easily caught up. Still he wasn't worried, as he remembered what Kurosaki-sensei taught him on how to avoid getting hit by heat-seeking missiles, but its risk was high.

Better have a plan than never he thought, he dived downwards in a full speed nosedive with the missiles following him, shocking Cecilia and the audience. In the control room, Houki, Maya and Chifuyu were no different while Ichigo was expressionless. No one noticed when his lips slightly twitched upwards.

"Just a little bit more..." Ichika thought as he nosedived towards the ground in full speeds with the missiles following him on his tail. He hoped that his training would make this tactic work. The crowd was on their feet as they watched Ichika getting nearer and nearer to the ground beneath him and the missiles getting nearer and nearer to him.

Just as he almost hit the ground, he suddenly pulled upwards sharply and flew towards where Cecilia is. Due to the inability to immediately change directions, the missiles hit the ground and exploded.

BOOM!

As the missiles exploded, the crowd erupted into roar of cheers, impressed at the second male pilot's skill. Houki breathed out a sigh of relief as Ichika pulled out from what would have been a hard fall. She is so going to give that idiot a beating for making her worry and giving her quite the scare.

With a battle cry, Ichika charged at the British cadet representative and swung his sword down at her. Unable to avoid Ichika's attack in time, Cecilia reflexively blocks his swing with her rifle, but to her shock, his sword easily cuts halfway through before stopping, making her weapon unusable for the duration of this battle. A holograph then appeared in front of her.

[~150 Shield Points depleted. Shield Points remaining: 450. Damage: High~]

A look of horror dons on Cecilia's face. Realizing the seriousness of the damage, Cecilia immediately pulled back, keeping her distance away from the male pilot.

Just before Ichika could charge at her again, a holographic message appeared in front of him.

[~IS Configurations and Formatting complete. Entering first shift.~]

"W-Wha-!" Before Ichika could ponder what does the message mean, he was engulfed in a bright light and lit up the whole arena, blinding the audience as they hastily shielded their eyes. As the light dimmed down, they were greeted with the sight of the pure white machine Ichika is now currently piloting.

After the light dimmed down, a rush of information engrained in Ichika's brain such as thruster sensitivity, stabilization settings and hyper sensor calibration, he realized he had entered first shift. The armor now was mostly pure white in color and has a more elegant feel, with polished curves contoured to his body. Ichigo once told him that after entering first shift, he felt connected to the IS. Though he couldn't explain it, he felt like this is truly his unit now.

Cecilia was utterly shocked as she realized the difference between the current armor and the previous one before the light blinded her. A look of astonishment and surprise crossed her face as she muttered out, "I-is that First Shift? You m-mean to tell me you were fighting all this time with the initial factory settings?"

"Now I know how pilots felt like when their Personal IS entered its first shift," Ichika grinned at her, "It feels like the IS is exclusively mine now." He then inspected his sword. It was different than the one he held before he entered first shift, but there's a sense of familiarity in it. As if the IS listened to his mind, a holograph message appeared in front of him, showing its weapon details. He went wide eyed as he read out the name of the weapon.

"Yukihira...Niigata?" He muttered in surprise. It was a significant surprise because Yukihira was the name of the only recorded weapon Chifuyu-nee used in combat. And now he too wields a sword with Yukihira in its name…

"I really do have the best sister in the world…" As if on cue, the blade opened up and a pure blue energy blade formed in its stead. He narrowed his eyes in determination as he said, "But I have to stop being protected by her all the time. From now on, I'll stand by her side, support her and fight alongside her."

Cecilia was confused as Ichika started to speak gibberish to her ears, "W-What are you saying?"

Although Ichika heard everything Cecilia had said, none of it registered in his mind. Instead, he continued his speech, "To begin with, I'll get stronger so Chifuyu-nee doesn't need to protect me, so that I would support her whenever I can. And if possible, I'll protect her as well. It won't be cool if Chifuyu-nee's brother is a loser!"

"What are you saying? You're not making any sense at all! Gah! No matter, first shift or not, I'll finish you off now!" Cecilia shouted as she fired four missiles at him simultaneously.

"I can see them!" Ichika shouted as he bravely charged forward and cleaved all four of the missiles in quick succession, leaving a large explosion at its wake. Charging at the Ojou-sama at full speed, he pulled back his sword, preparing a full-out attack as he shouted, "Let's do this!"

Unable to respond to the significant increase in speed after Ichika entered first shift, Cecilia was frozen in place as she braced herself for the attack to come. With a loud cry, Ichika swung his sword at her, aiming at her torso. The attack hit full force and Cecilia was forcefully thrown back to earth, creating a cloud of dust.

A look of guilt crossed Ichika's face as he thought that he went too far at that attack. He checked his shield points and was surprised that his shield points dropped from 490 to 250 points. Did Cecilia manage to land a hit on him before he swung his sword?

He slowly landed back down to earth and hoped that Cecilia is alright. As the dust clears, he and the audience could see that she was lying face up, unable to move. Her IS was heavily damaged, with Ichika's last strike destroying much of her armor. A holographic message appeared in front of Cecilia.

[~Absolute Defence activated. Shield Points: 0~]

The sound of a buzzer reverberates throughout the arena.

"Match end. Winner: Orimura Ichika."

As the announcer said that, the crowd erupted once again with cheers and applause for the entertaining and heart-stopping battle. They watch as Cecilia's IS dissipated into nothingness before Ichika's IS dematerialized.

At the hangar, Houki smiled widely at her friend and love interest's victory towards the high and mighty Ojou-sama. All that kendo re-training and IS training paid off with superb results. She was happy for him.

At the control room, Maya was clapping her hands at the victory while Chifuyu and Ichigo smirked.

...

Scene change, at hangar.

Ichika was expecting some words of congratulations from all of them at the control room as he headed back there. He wasn't expecting a fist on the head by a furious Houki.

"What the hell, nose-diving at full speed out there?! I honestly thought you were gonna get killed!" Houki shouted, "You made me worry so much!"

"Houki, I'm sorry," Ichika pleaded to her, "But that was the only way I thought of to actually avoid heat-seeking missiles."

"Hmph," Houki turned away from his gaze, seemingly mad at him. A few seconds later, she turned her head slightly and looked at him at the corner of her eyes and softly said, "Y-You promise you won't make me worry again?"

Ichika wanted to say he can't promise anything, but looking at Houki's eyes, he knew that she was upset at his tactic. And a wrong answer could bring hell to him. So he relented, "Fine, I won't make you worry again."

"Good," Houki said, a small smile forming on her lips.

"You did great out there, Ichika." Ichigo complimented with a smirk. He was standing across Ichika and Houki with Chifuyu and Maya beside him at his left and right respectively, "Good thing that you didn't take my training to waste."

"Thanks, Kurosaki-sensei," Ichika responded with a sheepish smile as he scratched the back of his head, "Though being the class representative wasn't what I really wanted."

"Well, apart from that, kudos to you. I'm proud of you. You should know your Tsundere nee-chan feels the same way too, though she'll never show it." Ichigo snickered, earning a smack on the back of the head from said tsundere. "The hell was that for?!"

"That's what you get from calling me names!" Chifuyu growled, her face red from embarrassment or anger...or both? No one knew either.

"It's the truth!" Ichigo countered. Before Chifuyu could retaliate, he turned on his heels towards the exit and mockingly raised his left arm like he was looking on a watch as he said with mock surprise, "Oh look at the time! I've got to prepare for our duel! See you later Chifuyu!" He finished with a wink as he walked towards the exit with an extra step and closed the door behind him. "Man, it's never boring teasing that tsundere. Some things just never change..."

Chifuyu could feel her cheeks coloring to a deep red as her love interest winked at him. She knew he did that just to tease her like he always does but he got the intended effect on her. As she watched him walked towards the exit and closed the door behind him, she clenched her fist so tightly it turned pale white from the lack of blood circulation as she gritted out, "That...that bastard! I swear I'm gonna get back at him someday!"

Maya mentally giggled at their interaction. They just looked so cute together. Though she never say that or giggle out loud, that would be suicide. She had faced the wrath of Chifuyu only once and she wouldn't want to experience that again. An angry Chifuyu is a...sadistic Chifuyu.

"Ne, Chif- Orimura-sensei," Ichika quickly corrected himself as Chifuyu gave him a death glare, as if daring him to call her 'Chifuyu-nee', he continued, "As I gave Cecilia the finishing blow, my shield points dropped significantly. At first I thought that she landed a hit on me before I attacked her, but I sustained no damage. So why my shield points dropped?"

"That's because you used a Barrier Void Attack." Chifuyu clarified to him, with Maya nodding in confirmation.

"Barrier Void Attack?"

"It's an attack that bypass the IS shield without any difficulties and inflicts damage directly to the pilot. It's Yukihira's special ability." Chifuyu elaborated to him, "It even directs your shield energy into the attack. This played a big part in my victory in the first Mondo Grosso."

"I see. So that's why Byakushiki's shield energy plummeted," Ichika said.

"IS battles end when an opponent's IS shield energy goes to zero." Maya added, "The Barrier Void Attack inflicts damage on the opponent by sacrificing your own shield energy. It's a double-edged sword."

"In other words," Chifuyu spoke again, "Your unit is defective."

"Defective?!"

"Oh no, let me rephrase that," Chifuyu backtracked, "IS are never perfected, so they're always defective. Your IS is specialized in attacking more so than the others."

"Orimura-kun, the gauntlet on your right wrist is your IS in standby mode. If you call for it, your IS will deploy immediately; however there are rules governing IS deployment so memorize all of it." Saying that, Yamada-sensei hands Ichika a book the size of a telephone directory, which made Ichika groan. How was he supposed to memorize all of this?

"Now, Yamada-kun. Is my Rafale Revive prepared?" Chifuyu asked.

"Hai, Orimura-sensei." Maya replied.

"With the Equalizer I requested?"

"Hai, Orimura-sensei," Maya said, her smile widening slightly, "The Equalizer you requested is compatible with the IS."

"Sweet," Chifuyu smirked, not the regular smirk, but the ready-for-battle smirk, "This duel is not going to be an ordinary duel. It's time for me to settle the score with him."

"W-What do you mean 'settle the score with him', Chifuyu-nee?" Ichika asked, slightly thankful she didn't notice his slip of his tongue, possibly because he was focused so much for the upcoming duel, he continued, "I thought both of you are equally strong."

"Let me tell you a fact, Orimura," Chifuyu said, "In our duels in kendo during our childhood, he has more wins than me in our head-to-head record, and I've lost to him 12 duels in a row." Ichika went wide eyed at that.

"Now, it's time for me to stop him from winning his 13th."

...

Timeskip, at the battleground

Orimura Chifuyu was in her Rafale Revive, awaiting the presence of Kurosaki Ichigo for their duel. The crowd were cheering and waving their banners in anticipation of what would be a legendary fight in IS history. Though the Rafale Revive consists of rifles, handguns and more rifles in its arsenal, she is now only wielding her favorite and requested Equalizer.

The famed and the original Yukihira.

She wanted to know how strong Ichigo had gotten since 14 years ago. Though she saw glimpses of his strength during the third Mondo Grosso, she wanted to feel his strength in real time. And she wanted to finally break his combo of 12 wins. Oh how she was itching to fight him right now!

Looking up at the sky, she raised an eyebrow as she saw something blink from the sky. Her eyes widen as she saw something dropped from the sky at high speeds and towards the arena. Squinting her eyes at the falling object, her jaw dropped as she saw it was Ichigo nose-diving towards her, only wearing his one-piece IS suit without equipping his unit.

Ichigo planned for a flashy entrance as he flew high up enough above the arena. Blaming his father for rubbing off on him, he deactivated his suit and dropped down towards the arena as he saw Chifuyu entering the battleground.

As he got nearer towards the arena, he grab hold of his pendant and shouted, "Cast of your fear, Zangetsu!". In under a second, he is now in his IS unit, his large cleaver sword at the ready on his right hand while his smaller blade was still sheathed. With a battle cry, he swung downwards at Chifuyu, only for Chifuyu to block it with equal strength, creating a shockwave.

From there, they exchanged blows after blows as they seemingly disappeared in a blur as sounds of swords clashing at each other and blurs were heard and sparks appeared across the area. Everyone watching was screaming their lungs out as they struggled to follow the intense fight happening right before their eyes. The crowd was like an ecstatic football crowd roaring loudly as if like their favorite team scored. It was that loud.

The both of them jumped back at the same time after that initial bout. Even though it was a brief bout, the crowd were already on its feet, cheering loudly at them. Both of them took a breather as they sized each other up.

"That was a really flashy entrance," Chifuyu smirked at him, "Is your father's actions rubbing off on you already?"

"Maybe, maybe not," Ichigo smirked back, "Now enough with the talk. Why don't we get down to business? I thought you wanted to settle the score with me."

"And that's what I'm going to do right now," Chifuyu stated as she took a kendo stance, with Ichigo doing the same. The air around the two childhood friends went quiet as they studied each other, muscles tense and neither moving an inch. The crowd suddenly went quiet as they await for the next bout to start. The only sound they could hear was the winds blowing around them.

Ichigo and Chifuyu's eyes were narrowed at each other, studying and focusing each other as they await each other to make a move. As if it was meant to be, both of their index fingers at their left hand twitched at the same time.

Taking that as the signal to start, they charged at each other with a battle cry, swords at the ready.


Yosh! Chapter finally done! And its the longest chapter I ever wrote! :D

Credits to The Blazing Atsuma for beta-ing this chapter!

Please R&R!

albert27 out!