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Chapter 1: Silent OnesEdit
North American Continent, American Northwest, Strategic Defense Point No. 16, nicknamed [Erased][6A 1], a place which even people with connections in the military would not know about, was filled with the echo of gunfire.
"Intruder Spotted! Urgent backup requested in area 6-D! I repeat, intruder spotted! Urgent backup requested in area 6-D!"
The echoes of firing assault rifles, the angry roar of sturdy men, the chorus of army boots: they were all directed at a sole intruder.
A lone girl walked along a steel passage.
That's right, the intruder was just a girl.
The girl neither laughed nor scoffed at the men; she just looked down at them.
At the sound of her unconcerned voice, rings of light started to gather around her whole body. Those rings of light gathered substance, and in a few seconds the girl's whole body was covered by clear blue armor.
"That bitch, is she a member of the organization that was mentioned in the report!?"
The girl whose body was covered by the IS [Silent Zephyrs], M, armed her long rifle using only her right hand.
That gun, which could use both BT energy and live ammo, was named [Star Breaker]. Right there, right then, there was no one besides this girl who knew that name.
"What's your plan!? Doing things like this to the U.S. Army, don't think you'll get away with it!"
That was an angry roar which wasn't expected to get any particular answer, but M hid her face using the Visor-model Hyper Sensor, and stated her intentions, something nobody expected.
"Give me the IS that is sealed in this base - [Silverio Gospel]."
In a few, short moments, the soldiers collapsed one after another from the deadly bullets shot by M.
But the strange thing was, regardless whether it was possible or not, M didn't kill any of the soldiers. Of course she was using real bullets, but she aimed to just barely avoid a fatal shot.
What a hassle.... to not kill.
But M, willing or not, had to obey the restriction she was given by her female superior, Squall, when she was granted use of this IS: Nobody gets killed.
Obedience - was also not the right circumstance.
In her body, a surveillance nano-machine had been inserted, and if she disobeyed her orders, within a few seconds the core of her brain would be fried.
This was also a condition that Squall gave, so for now M would obey that order.
"Damn! HQ! HQ! Requesting urgent backup! I repeat, requesting urgent back- Gahh!!"
Before long, when locking onto her targets started to become difficult, M casually floated into the sky, and started to charge and mow down the enemy using a rough movement.
Based on the map that was sent directly to her field of vision, the passage was to turn, go down, then go up.
At the exit of the rather tall passage - it was roughly 50 meters to the top - M located a new shadow above the route.
From the silhouette, it was a woman.
How would it feel breaking, breaking those ribs? At the instant she thought that evil thought, an arrow of light pierced her right shoulder.
At the moment she tried to pull out the feather-shaped energy arrow, it exploded spectacularly.
Right before hitting the wall from the shock of the explosion, M rotated her body, and fired her thruster the other way.
But, the enemy didn't miss that half-second of stillness.
The next arrow attack was launched and exploded at her feet this time.
Even M, who was used to high-altitude high-speed braking mechanisms, couldn't completely evade this attack. It was an error caused by her self-conceit.
"Natasha Fairs, citizen of the USA, IS test pilot. And also [Silverio Gospel]'s registered pilot."
Even while talking, the counter-attack didn't slow even a bit.
Both her hands held something that looked like a wing, and had a clear silver coating.
[Silver Bell] no.1 prototype, hand cannon version.
Natasha was using only her own strength to shoot the weapon over and over again, which when looked at in terms of output only, surpasses even the latest armament provided with the [Silverio Gospel].
While releasing Energy Shot, her beautiful blond hair scattered from the strength of the recoil, dancing intensely and beautifully.
"I won't give you that child....!"
Just like a mother protecting her daughter, her desperate attack continued.
But, even with all that, she was just using her own strength after all. She can no longer hit M, who started concentrating her senses fully.
"You're in my way."
Stepping on the wing, she mowed down Natasha with her left hand.
*Don!* With a loud thump, Natasha's body slammed against the wall.
Natasha, unable to move from the intense pain on her whole body, was held by M in a headlock.
Their heights were different but it made no difference to M, who was floating in the air.
Natasha's arms and legs were hanging and swinging. Her bones were broken in at least two places. She had more than twice that many fractures scattered through her body.
Her limbs were powerless and swinging. But-
The spirit that dwelt in Natasha's eyes had not weakened even one bit.
"What's so funny?"
"I can only go this far. But, I've achieved my objective."
While M was still unable to understand the meaning of the words, the passage floor started to give a roaring sound and crumbled.
"I'll take back Natale[6A 2], Phantom Task."
From inside the smoke, a tiger-striped IS had just appeared, snatched Natasha away from M's hand, and then stabbed a throwing knife into [Silent Zephyr]'s chest.
Against an enemy that suddenly appeared, even M had to back off a bit.
"America's 3rd Generation unit [Fang Quake]."
"Alright, and also US representative Iris Calling. I'll make sure you pay me back this debt, Natale."
While saying that, she threw Natasha, who would have hindered close-quarters combat, to the ground.
"Can't you see I'm injured?"
"I know. ...Just wait, I'll return the favor instead of you, and hit her twice as hard."
"That's not what I mean..."
Iris was looking curiously at the sighing Natasha; it seemed she really didn't understand what Natasha meant.
"I'll take that unit too, thank you!"
While saying that, M attacked, holding the knife backhand.
"Hey hey, Have you not watched it in a movie before? When the hero is giving a speech, you're supposed to stand and wait quietly you...know!"
*Gakin!* With the loud sound and flying sparks, Iris broke the knife with her fist.
The blade, broken from the handle at the base, spun away quickly and stuck in the ceiling.
"Just for the record, I'm strong, you know? Are you ready to be beaten to death? That machine you stole from England, it's still an experimental unit right? There's no way you can win using that against me."
Although the machine she was using at the moment, [Fang Quake], was also an experimental unit, judging from its abilities, it had the same concept as [ShenLong], which meant that it also stressed the stability and efficiency aspects of the machine.
"M, can you hear me?"
Squall's voice was echoing through M's head from the IS' private channel.
Although M, who was in front of her enemy, didn't answer, Squall still kept talking, just like the rainstorm she was.
"I've already monitored the situation. Back off for now. We can't afford to lose the machine that took a lot of our efforts to finally get."
Although M didn't think she would lose, it could still take a while to finish the fight.
If the fight dragged on, other IS reinforcement might come too.
With that consideration, M silently and coldly answered.
"I won't let you run!"
While saying that, Iris used Ignition Boost to approach M.
But at the same time, M directed all her thrusters forward, and started a Reverse Ignition Boost.
"You're a clever one, aren't you!"
Although Iris said that admiringly, there's actually no such margin of advantage.
That's because, while M was doing Reverse Ignition Boost she was intently shooting Iris at high speed.
She was sniping during high speed movement using BT energy, and at the same time using maximum speed to retreat along the complex passageway of the underground base without losing her way.
"Stop right there!!"
Iris, while chasing, also had to evade the energy shots that were constantly targeted at her joints. Because of that, the distance between her and M gradually increased. When there was only around 100m before they reached the end of the underground passage, there was already a distance of about 50 meters between them.
(This is bad! If I don't end it now, she'll escape!)
Iris concentrated her senses in order to invoke Revolver Ignition Boost using the machine 4 base thruster. Although she felt uneasy about the 40% success rate, there was no point if she didn't use it now.
M, who realized what Iris was doing, immediately released her Bit and increased her continuous attack firepower.
Iris, who was no longer concerned about receiving some damage, increased her speed.
Her armor was damaged, her shield energy was decreasing, but Iris didn't stop.
The distance was shrinking, and she extended her arm.
She got her. At the moment she thought that, Iris arm was obstructed by the Shield Bit's Energy umbrella.
Furthermore, it self-destructed with an explosion force even greater than a high-powered bomb.
Stalling her with the Shield Bit, with the force of the explosion and the sudden stop from supersonic flight, M managed to escape from Iris.
When she saw the light of the sun, she disappeared into a far away cloud on the other side, only [Silent Zephyr]'s back side projected in the zoomed view mode.
"Aa, Damn it!"
She punched herself in vexation.
When the fist armed with [Fang Quake] collided with her other palm, the loud thick metallic sound echoed all around.
"What? Ichika's birthday is this month?"
During dinner at the dorm, the usual members were having a meal while happily chatting, when suddenly Charl spoke up loudly.
Was it such a surprising thing? To think even Charl stood up, which was something unusual.
"Wh..when is it?"
"September 27th. Ca-calm down a little."
Having said that, Charl returned to her seat.
"It's on Sunday right?"
This time Charl didn't stand up, but leaned forward. Wh... what's wrong with Charl today?
"It's on Sunday I think."
"I see.... Hm, so it's like that. Hm."
Beside Charl, who was murmuring while nodding at the same time, Cecilia, who had picked beef stew as her dinner menu, put down her bread and joined the conversation.
"Ichika-san, you should say these kind of important things sooner."
I don't really understand what's going on, but I'll apologize first.
"Anyway, Sunday 27th, right?"
Cecilia brought out her pure white leather notebook and double-circled September 27th in it. Is this that much of an important event?
"Why didn't you tell me about this?"
Laura, who was sitting diagonally right from Charl's and my point of view, said this while frowning a little.
"Huh? I didn't think it was that important."
"Fuun. But it seems there's some people here who already knew but stayed silent about it."
Glanced by Laura, the childhood friends duo stiffened up.
"I-it's not like I hid it from everyone! It's just that no one asked, that's all!"
"Tha-that's right! If I had brought up that out of nowhere, it would seem like I can't read the atmosphere!"
While saying that, Houki and Rin were stuffing their mouths with their food.
How do I say this, it seems to me like they're just making excuses.
"Anyway! September 27th! Ichika-san, make sure your schedule is empty on that date!"
"A-ah. Actually my friends from middle school already planned to celebrate it at my house. Do you all want to come?"
"O-of course! What time will it be?"
"Ummmm, at around 4 PM I think, since 'that' is taking place on that day, right?"
Having heard me say that, everyone gave a "Now that you mention it" face.
IS high speed battle race "Cannonball Fast", which originally was an international tournament, the situation is a little different at the IS Academy -
The Academy's students participate in that special event that's held by the city.
Having said that, to avoid the overwhelming advantage for personal IS users, the race is divided into one for normal students who use practice suit IS, and another one that is restricted to personal IS users.
This event, which could become a drill for those from outside the academy, is held at the city's IS arena. That arena, built at the coastal district, although not extravagant, can hold more than 20,000 people.
Once, it was used for an idol concert, but the seats could not be completely filled. Since then, there has been no application to use it for any kind of live concert. ....Well, in the first place, it was supposed to be used as an arena for IS.
"Hmm? By the way, starting tomorrow, there will be IS tuning for high speed maneuver, won't be? What are we supposed to do at that time exactly?"
"Fumu. Basically, we're supposed to install High-speed maneuver equipment for our IS, but [Byakushiki] doesn't have it right?"
Laura informed us while holding a small tomato next to her cheek.
"Then in that case, you could do an energy distribution tuning or an adjusting of the output of each thruster."
Charl, who's chewing on a fried white fish, continued Laura's explanation.
"Fuun. If I remember correctly, [Blue Tears] has high-speed maneuver package doesn't it?"
"Yup! The unit piloted by this Cecilia Alcott, Blue Tears, which primary main strength is high-speed maneuvering, will embark with the package [Strike Gunner]."
"Fufun", Cecilia proudly pushed her hand at her chest. The other hand at her hip was posed perfectly, just like a model as usual.
Lately she had seemed to be feeling down, has her problem already been solved?
Lately, Cecilia seemed to be secretly continuing her training alone after school.
I haven't heard about the details, but it seems that the cause is that she let the enemy escape during the School Festival.
Laura wouldn't answer when I asked her about it. It seems Chifuyu-nee passed her no-questions-allowed principle to her.
Somehow, it seems yesterday's matter was even bigger than I had imagined.
The group [Ruined Country Weaving Industry] - [Phantom Task] had started operating over 50 years ago. According to rumors scattered in the electronic network, the organization was born during the second big war or something.
They're not affiliated with any country, don't possess any ideology, nor religious faith, and also have no specific race. Therefore, their objective is unclear. Their reason to exist is uncertain, and their scale is also unknown. Just like a ghost kind of organization, is what Laura told me.
The only thing known is that the organization is mainly divided into two parts: the Board of directors who manage the organization and decide the policy, and the Operational Squad which is filled with specialists.
And in recent years, their primary target have been ISs.
"However, what are they actually?"
I heard that the weapon that was used during that incident, [Removal], is a [Weapon That Doesn't Exist]. In other words, it's a certain nation's highly classified information. That mysterious group managed to steal and use that weapon that was being developed [Somewhere].
...Fu. I guess there's no use thinking about it.
At least for now.
Thinking like that, I return my attention back to the topic at hand, Cannonball Fast.
"That means Cecilia has more of an advantage then. Please teach me about Ultrasonic maneuvers sometime."
"...I'm very sorry. I can't do that right now. Please ask Laura-san to teach you instead."
Although she's smiling while saying that, I noticed her face frown for an instant.
Now is not the time for something other than her own training. - it's a face that seems to tell that kind of story.
"I see. Then Laura, please teach me."
"Okay. I will train you, who's lately been only preoccupied by that woman, personally this time."
By the way, the girl that Laura mentioned is IS academy Student Council President, Sarashiki Tatenashi.
A few days ago, Tatenashi-san, who finally moved out from my room, continued to give me a hard after-school training, as usual.
Thanks to that, my skills have been improving, but according to Laura, it's still that of [a Rookie whose safety device has been removed].
As expected of Chifuyu-nee's disciple, even her words are sharp.
"Rather, talking about having the advantage, aren't you the same? [Byakushiki]'s specs, maneuverability wise, is on par with a high-maneuverability type unit."
"Well, when you mention that, [Akatsubaki] is also the same, I guess," added Rin.
As usual, she was very knowledgeable about IS. She didn't show that part of her even a bit during the middle school days, but it's probably from studying extra hard since returning to her home country.
Hmm. Rin is amazing, isn't she.
"Anyway, what's my country doing? In the end, [Shen Long]'s high-speed maneuver package didn't make it in time. What about Charlotte's country?"
"Since [Revive] is a 2nd Generation unit, it wasn't developed further in the first place, so thruster expansion will be done to cope with it. Well, it was made for easy expansion to deal with speed related things from the start. It kinda feels like ,'[Raphael]'s name is not just for show,' I guess."
I see, I also agree.
"Fuun, what about Laura's country? Your IS is a 3rd generation unit, right?"
"It will use the adjusted high-speed maneuver pack from its sister unit [Schwarzer Zweig]. Since that unit stays in the home country, the development of the equipment is also being continued."
Once the topic changed to IS' technical discussion, everyone's face becomes serious, as expected.
"[Schwarzer Regen]'s sister unit, huh? What kind of weapons is it equipped with?"
"Even though you're my wife, I can't tell you that. It's highly classified information."
Zweig - means [Branch] in German. Since it's a pair unit with Laura [Regen][6A 4], it's probably also an all-range IS, equipped with AIC.
"Fuun. So you're now able to make a nice expression, aren't you Rookie?"
Smile, Laura's mouth tip raised while gazing at me.
"I humbly accept your praise happily, Lt. Commander-dono."
I, who understands Laura's personality enough to joke back and forth with her, replied to her with jestful words.
Laura, who was in a bad mood until a while ago from talking about Tatenashi-san, is now cheerfully smiling - although her eyes still emit cool-headedness.
The ice from Germany - Laura Bodewig. Her cold eye is piercingly sharp like icicles, but beautifully clear.
"We haven't seriously practiced for a while, have we? Tomorrow after school, starting from 16:00, we will train for real battle preparations at arena no. 2. Got it?"
"Roger. I have to warn you, this time it won't be a one-sided game anymore."
"Fufun. Are you sure about that? I'll also show you my new equipment tomorrow."
Saying that, Laura turned her fork around.
The pointed end of the fork then thrusted at the macaroni in the salad pasta right at the hollow part.
"Let's expect the training to be meaningful..."
"'To the macaroni'"
"Is what you want to say, right?"
"You were gonna say that, right?"
Rin and Charl read my mind first.... Ugh.
"Ha ha ha, that's impossible."
Ooh. Houki is giving me a cold look.
No! It wasn't me! It just surfaced in my mind! It's not my fault!
"Ma-, Let's leave aside a certain idiot."
An idiot, indeed. Sheesh.
"Ichika, has the borrowing agreement you have with the Student Council been put in motion?"
"Hmm? Last I heard, it seems they're currently drawing lotteries and making adjustments for that."
Rin said that like it's not important, then stuffed her mouth with her Mabo Tofu, which is covered with a lot of Layou on top.
"By the way, I heard everybody already had joined a club now?"
A few days ago, word of it reached my ears. Since it's a good chance, let's confirm it now.
"I had already joined the Kendo club in the first place."
As a ghost member though, right? Although it seems lately Houki often attends to it. I'm sure it's because the club captain nudged her during the School Festival. Such a troublesome girl.
"What about you, Rin?"
"Heeey! Lacrosse, huh? It kinda suits you, doesn't it!"
Especially the stick wielding part. ... although I won't say it even though my mouth's split.
"I-I guess so. I'm considered a promising rookie newcomer, you know. What a hassle, right?"
Indeed. When talking about personal unit IS pilots, their physical capabilities are generally superior compared to normal students. I nodded in agreement when Rin's figure running along the ground floated into my mind.
"Then, what about Charl?"
"Yeah. Which club did you decide to enter?"
Is it something that is hard to say? Charl is playfully fidgeting her fingers.
At times, it looked like she was checking my reaction by shooting me upward glances, then returning her line of sight downward.
"I-it's... the Cooking club."
"Cooking Club! Oh, the one that we visited when we walked around together during School Festival, wasn't it?"
"Waa, Ichikaa! Shhh! Shhh!"
Hmm? Why is Charl giving the "Don't tell anybody!" gesture?
I don't know why but somehow from the table in the back, I managed to hear the sound of people standing up from their seats.
"Huh, Cooking club is it?"
"Y-yeah. I want to learn to cook Japanese food."
"I see. Once you can make it, please let me have a taste."
"Y-yeah! Of course!"
Charl is nodding strongly while saying that. Her voice is loud enough to make her really look like a different person from the girl who was making the "your voice is too loud" gesture earlier.
"And? What about Cecilia?"
"Of course I joined the Tennis club, the sport that was born in England."
"Hmm, could it be you've played it since you were in England?"
"It's just as you say. Ichika-san, if it's okay with you, how about we play together next time?"
"Hmmm, but I've never played tennis before."
Her previous downed spirit seems to have gone somewhere else. Cecilia elegantly put her hands together and continued her words
"...How about I personally teach you? S-specially."
"Ooh, that sounds good. Then I'll be in your care when the time comes."
Seeing Cecilia's smiling face, I feel a little relieved.
Truth be told, lately there's been suspicion that Cecilia had started to close herself off from others, but if she can smile like this, there's no need to be worried anymore, right?
"By the way, I'm in the Tea Ceremony club."
Laura, who just said that, seems to have just finished her pasta.
"Tea Ceremony club, huh? Laura likes Japanese culture, don't you? ....Huh? Which reminds me, wasn't the tea ceremony club's advisor - "
"The Instructor... no, it's Orimura-sensei."
That's right. I feel like I've heard about it before.
Chifuyu-nee female student fans were rushing at once to sign up to the club, then got sieved by being forced to do seiza for 2 hours or something.
Hmm? Even so, Chifuyu-nee and tea ceremony club looks like a strange combination to me. I always thought she would become the advisor of a sports club instead.
"Laura, are you alright when doing seiza?"
"Of course. This level of numbness is nothing compared to torture."
Well, don't compare it please. What do they do during torture anyway?
"But, I can't imagine at all Laura's figure while wearing kimono. Show me sometime please."
"W-what? I-I see... okay then, if there's a chance, that is."
For Laura to wear kimono, she would have to tie up her long hair, wouldn't she? I think that it would somehow fit her nicely.
"Having a ribbon would be nice, wouldn't it.... let's buy one next time."
"Hmm? You would specially buy it?"
"Don't mind it. It's not like there won't be any more chances to wear it from now on."
"Fuun. Is that so. ...Ooo, if it's a kimono, it would be nice to wear it during hatsumode, wouldn't it? Ah, but are you going to go back to your own country during New Year's Eve?"
"N-no. I'll stay in Japan. ... since you're also here."
She muttered the last part so I couldn't hear it that well, but it looks like Laura will be in Japan during New Year's Eve.
"Oh, then everyone, let's all go together. Let's do it from the New Year's Eve bell while we're at it."
It seems like it would be more fun if there are more people coming after all.
"Oh, but what will everyone do during New Year's Eve? Will you return to your country after all?"
"I will stay."
The one who's speaking is Charl. As expected of Laura's best friend.
"T-then I will also stay."
"Well, there's nothing interesting even if I went back anyway."
Cecilia and Rin continued. Then that means only Houki is left - or so I thought, but I unintentionally realized something.
"Houki is going to help out at the shrine again, right? You also did that during the summer break, didn't you? Next time, once you're finished helping, why don't the two of us....(¡)
*Beshi!* I was hit by Houki.
"Ouch! What was that for!!"
"Sh-sh-shut up! Don't say it so lightly!"
The ones who asked were back are Rin, Cecilia, Charl, Laura - Wait, that's everyone beside Houki isn't it?
"Ichikaa! Fess up what you did during summer holiday!"
"Ichika-san! To do that kind of thing with Houki-san - I've misjudged you!"
"I-Ichika? What do you mean by 'next time'...?"
"To do something sneakily and hide it from me.... Unforgivable."
Those four are standing up while making "Gatata" noises.
"Waaa! Wait, wait! It's not like we did anything wrong... Isn't that right, Houki? Right?"
"...Why do you deny it that much..."
*Bashin!* My head is struck.
Since Houki had also just finished her meal, she stood up while carrying her meal tray and ran away.
Hey, wait! Don't leave me alone in this situation!
"Then, since I've also finished eating, I'll return to my roo - Bube!"
Rin caught me just as I was about to stand up, and returned me to my seat.
It hurts, you know! But faster than me retorting that, the 4 of them start to get near me.
"Ichika! What happened during Summer Holiday?!"
"I demand an explanation!"
"Not fair. Ichika is playing favorites."
"It seems your damn body needs to experience my teachings once more."
W-wait! Please wait! Wa-Gyaaa!!
"Fuun... Ichika is an idiot."
Houki, who already returned to her room, closed her door and leaned on it.
Luckily, her roommate Takazuki Shizune is still out so she can relax without reserve.
"Once it's over let's again, together..."
She recalled Ichika's words.
*Tokun*. Her heart started to throb.
His words reminded her about the summer. Just that is enough to make her heart start throbbing.
Her heart was throbbing violently, and her face reddened.
M-My training is not enough...
While suppressing her hot cheeks with her hands, Houki replayed the Shinonono sword style movements in her head.
Calm down, calm down. She repeated those words over and over again.
She repeats the movements she has learned in her head. She then compares those with the movements she remembers in her memories to ascertain her current mastery level.
That's right. The footwork should be faster, the rush should be deeper...
The figure of her father holding a real sword is strong and reassuring.
In his flowing movement, a certain sharpness could be felt.
As I thought, master is amazing.
Her real father, and also her sword teacher, Shinonono Ryuuin, is Houki's target.
She genuinely admires his ability.
Thinking about it, her father never got agitated, unlike Ichika.
As a man, he should have been able to profoundly set up things, shouldn't he?
Once she started thinking that, suddenly the image in her head of the person doing the training changed from her father to Ichika.
The Ichika in her imagination is sturdy, strong, clever, and keen. Furthermore, his conviction is strong, and there's no maliciousness in him at all.
No way! No way! That's wrong! He's not that splendid!
*Bun* *Bun*, she shakes her head.
Her ponytail, which wriggled while she shook her head, somehow looking like the tail of a sprinting horse.
"Shinonono-san, I can't get in unless you move away from the door."
Called by the voice on the other side of the door, making Houki jump up and move away from the door.
"At last, I can get in."
"It's alright, don't sweat it."
Shizune smiles while saying that, then sits on her own bed and starts opening a paperback book.
The title of the book is "Everything You Need to Become A Soldier". Incidentally, the whole book is American taste's Comedy.
Contrary to her too-serious personality, Shizune likes this kind of books that are filled with trivial jokes that contains good meaning. The reason seems to be "my feelings become direct when reading these books."
"By the way, Shinonono-san.."
"W-What is it?"
"Another complaint. Personal IS users group is monopolizing Orimura-kun again."
"Even if you say that to me...."
"Ah, but it will start soon, won't it? The lending of Orimura-kun to the clubs?"
A few days ago, Ichika, who just entered the Student Council Executive Club, will from now on, under the guise of helping every club, be lent to do general routine tasks for them.
"Now is the time to operate ISs, even if just a little". Although there's a lot of that kind of objections, in the end, the Student Council President Sarashiki Tatenashi's "Now, now, the club with the most favorable attitude will get prioritized in borrowing Ichika" devilish murmur made everyone return to their seats at once.
Really, that person is..... Geez...
But, Houki is also a member of Kendo club. The thought of Ichika coming during club activities honestly made her very happy.
Seeing my gallant figure, Ichika will surely...
She shakes off her hand to erase the delusion that surfaces in her mind.
That's not it! That's not it all, umm.... I mean, that's....
'That's not something that people know anyway,' is the excuse she gave herself, but suddenly she starts to feel guilty.
Uuu.... I'm not like that. I'm definitely not like that. I'm not a woman who would think about superficial things like-
"W-What is it!?"
"Are you okay? You're making such a serious face, you know?"
"I, I'm okay. No problem at all. "
Giving that short reply, she then returned to read her book.
For Houki, she feels that Shizune's no different than usual attitude on the contrary points out her unnatural attitude, and somehow she feels deeply embarrassed by that.
Uuu, it's Ichika fault... It's all Ichika's fault...
That was a complete burst of anger, but that day, Houki's mind kept wandering around that thought, until she finally went to sleep.
"That was horrible..."
Finally released from the hellish interrogation of those four, I scurried back to my room cautiously.
"Welcome home. Ah, sorry to intrude."
*Gaku!* I reflexively hung my head.
Sarashiki Tatenashi. IS Academy Student Council President. The woman who holds the title of the strongest among the student body. One class year ahead of me.
Her personality could be described as wild, or maybe whimsical. She's a very cat-like person.
Somehow, I have the feeling that she's gotten used to opening my room's door lock now. She is currently lying in the bed while reading a fashion magazine.
"What's the matter? Ah, could it be that you're peeking at my underwear?"
"W-Well excuse me! Please don't flap your feet like that when you're wearing a skirt! I might see it even though I don't mean to, you know!"
"Fuun. So, did you see it?"
"A question for you. The color of Tatenashi onee-san's underwear is...?"
Aaagh, this person is really...!
No matter what happens, it seems that she wants to tease me. Every time she visits my room it becomes like this.
"Now then, I've come today because there's something we need to talk about."
"What is it..."
"Don't be so paranoid. It's a pretty serious topic. It's about the aforementioned group."
Aforementioned group - that can only means one thing: Phantom Task.
My mood suddenly tensed up, unlike a moment ago.
"It's still informal information, but it seems that just a short while ago, the United States' IS maintenance base was raided. Their target was the IS, itself, it seems. Ichika-kun should be careful too, or else your IS might be snatched away as well."
"Okay. I won't be caught by the same trick twice."
"Very good. Boys should be like that."
"Become a good enough man whom I can fall in love with", Tatenashi added.
Again, asking for something with such high degree of difficulty...
And anyway, Tatenashi-san's standards seem to be really high.
Her family is a prestigious one too.
Now that I think about it, I can't imagine any man at all who could match Tatenashi-san.
What kind of person could suit her I wonder.
"Ara, worrying about onee-san? Don't worry. Onee-san is also just a woman, I'll put up with the stuff that needs to be tolerated, you know."
"I might unexpectedly fall in love with Ichika-kun, you know?"
"Ha. ha. ha."
Again with that joke. I can only laugh dryly.
"Ah, what's with that reaction. I'm hurt..."
"...But, you know, right...?"
"People who say that kind of things...I wonder if they need to suffer through tickling hell again?"
"Pl-Please stop. That was really painful."
And also, as a man, Tatenashi-san's voluptuous chest and tender thighs that were touching me while tickling were also very dangerous. That's right, that was really dangerous, for many reasons.
"Now then, I wonder if I should satisfy Ichika-san's bodily needs?" [6A 5]
Tatenashi-san is coming towards me while making a tickling gestures with her hands.
T-This is bad! I have to run away!
"Ichika? Are you there?"
The voice which was suddenly heard along with the knocking sound was Charl's.... I, I'm saved!
"Y-Yeah! The door is unlocked so please come in!"
Saved from Tatenashi-san's tickling hell, I quietly go perform a Guts pose in my heart while thinking that.
"U-Um, sorry to intrude."
Seeing Tatenashi-san's smiling figure, Charl stiffens.
Her expression disappeared when I was looking at her face, turning into a blank stare, then somehow turning into a very scary, expressionless face.[6A 6]
"Ichika, what were you doing...?"
"Huh? What... we were just chatting."
"Fuun. Then why did you say that it was okay for me to enter?"
"Why, you say.... Huh? Charl, could it be that you're angry?"
"Why do you say that? There's nothing of the sort. I'm not angry at all, you know."
Aaah! I can see the angry blood-vessel mark & fire behind her back! Why! Why are you angry Charl!
"Then, it's time for me to go back. Charlotte-chan, please take your time."
Whaaat!? When the situation becomes complicated, you run away? Are you some kind of raid unit?
But, the world is cruel. The main culprit, Tatenashi-san, left the room soon after.
There's a sudden silence between me and Charl.
"First of all, please have a seat. I'll make some tea while you do."
"Un. But, there's no need to make tea."
"I-Is that so."
When I sit on my bed while at my loose end, Charl unexpectedly sits next to me instead of in front.
"What is it?"
"No, that's, it's nothing."
Charl's voice that can be heard from next to me is very clear and piercing.
If words had attacking power, I might have become a honeycomb by now. Well, I will never know though.
Anyway, I didn't do anything wrong, but I shrink from the pressure of this silence. "To sit on a needle carpet [6A 7]" really describe this situation well.
Suddenly, Charl started to strangely burst out.
"Ahaha. Ichika, really, I'm no longer mad. That's why, please, don't be afraid like that."
"Huh? Wh-.. Wha?"
"Because, Ichika is flustered just like a man that has been found cheating by his partner. That was really funny. Fu fu."
That laugh is a genuine one, there's no scope of distrust at all. It seemed like she really is no longer angry.
"In the first place, that's... why were you mad anyway?"
"Because Ichika is getting friendly only with Tatenashi-san."
"No no, that's just impossible isn't it. That person is definitely getting along with everyone too."
"...That's not what I meant though..."
Hm? What was that I wonder? I tried to grasp what Charl muttered with a very low voice, but it can't be helped that I can't understand what she said.
"A-Anyway, about the thing I want to talk to you about."
This time Charl, who suddenly began to fidget, started to question me while looking only through the corner of her eyes and playing with her fingers.
"T-That's, you know. I got a bracelet as a present before, didn't I? That's why, t-that's, a-also to return the favor that is, I wonder if maybe I should give you some kind of accessory as a birthday present, is what I was thinking. What do you think?"
Charl is saying this while being unusually restless, but she strongly said the last part while vigorously moving her face closer to me.
"Ah, the bracelet from last summer, wasn't it. But...."
I roll up my uniform and show my right hand. My personal IS [Byaku-Shiki]'s standby form, a bracelet, is on that hand.
"I already have this."
Charl is getting closer again to me with another vigorous move.
"H-How about a watch? See? It's convenient to have one, right?"
While saying that, Charl rolls her left sleeve up and shows her gorgeously designed, cute lady's watch.
"Heee, that watch really looks nice, doesn't it?"
"I-Isn't it!? There's, there's also a model of this watch that's designed for males. Since we're going to buy it, how about a matching - "
"But, I don't really use a watch usually. Besides there is one in my cellphone anyway."
Huh, wha? Charl became sulky while continuing to look at me. Huh? Wha? Why?
"Ichika, a watch is a necessity if you want to be a stylish boy, you know."
"I-If you say that...."
Somehow, I feel like I'm compelled to follow her advice. Why is that, I wonder.
"T-That's why, let's go to the front of the station this weekend. Besides, I also want to look for some clothes."
"I-Is that so. Well, let's go then."
"R-Really!? I-It's a promise! You absolutely have to come!"
Charl then held out her pinky finger after saying that.
Since learning about Japanese custom of doing Yubikiri Genman[6A 8], Charl seems to be strangely infatuated with doing this.
Since there's no particular reason for me to refuse her, every time I indulge her request to do it.
"Yubikiri Genman, anyone breaking the promise will have to eat a cluster bomb."
And every time, the settlement phrase is always extraordinarily scary.
Charl, how do I say it... she seems to be the scariest one when angered, doesn't she.
"Ehehe. I'm looking forward to this weekend."
Even though today is still Monday? It's too early.
"Iii, Chiiii, Kaaaa! Are you awake? You're awake, aren't you! This weekend, how about we - "
I was wondering who the one that suddenly opened the door loudly was, but it turns out to be just Rin.
But, seeing me and Charl sitting close to each other, her expression suddenly stiffened.
"- What are you doing?"
"Well, we're doing Yubikiri to ..."
Charl hurriedly covered my mouth in panic. But, my words didn't escape Rin's ears, and her eyes started to shine.
"Yubikiri? Then, that means you made a promise for something? What is it? Speak up."
"It's about going shopping on weekend - "
"J-Jeez! Stupid Ichika!"
Geh, I'm getting scolded. Charl is saying "I don't know you anymore!" while turning away from me.
Why is it? Isn't it more fun going shopping with more people?
"Hahaan? Then, I'm going too. Please take care of me, Charlotte."
In contrast to the smiling Rin, Charl is pouting. The thing about Charl disliking Rin - is definitely false, isn't it?
"Then, let the three of us go out this weekend. Nfufu."
"Right. What about the meeting place?"
"10 o'clock at the monument in front of station."
Charl is saying that while still keeping her pouting face. ....... Hey hey, if you keep making faces like that, I'm gonna pinch your cheek.
"...What is it?"
Pinch. Pinch pinch.
Rin is opening her arms while shaking her head in disbelief.
"Ichika is an idiot!"
Charl stood up right after saying that, and left the room immediately.
*Batan!* The door being closed made a large noise.
"Ichika, you really are..."
"....please don't say it."
"...you really are an idiot, aren't you."
I'm really sorry.
Charl is hiding her face while returning to her room at a fast pace.
Under her palm, her pink cheek starts to heat up.
I-Ichika, to suddenly touch me like that...... Uuu.... If only he had given me some kind of sign before doing that, then I wouldn't have left the room like that.
Truth to be told, she's still upset, and is in the process of cooling herself off from being genuinely angry before.
But, what's there is a 15-year-old in love. Being touched by the person she liked, the thump of her hopping heart is larger.
Charlotte started to reservedly touch her cheek where Ichika touched earlier for a while, after making sure sure no one was watching.
Her love-stricken heart's fire already lit, and in the blink of an eye, her face is dyed completely red.
Even so, if only Rin had not come, it would have been a date just for the two of us...
If only Ichika had refused her request earlier......
For such a complaint to come out is something that cannot be helped on this occasion.
Of course, she knew well enough that favoring a certain girl isn't his personality at all, but even so - even so, she can't help but to expect it.
I wonder if he'll treat only me specially.
To hold such a cute selfishness is a maiden-in-love's special right.
Charlotte, who had reached her room's door, unintentionally leaked a sigh while opening it.
"....Charlotte, remove this person from here right away."
Charlotte firmly takes in those words.
What's in the room is the cat-and-mouse pair(or rather, more like Laura one-sided hatred) of Tatenashi-san and Laura.
Laura, if she's a cat, she is in threatened state, with her fur scattered, and her tail firmly standing[6A 9]. She has raised her eyes even more than usual.
"If you keep sighing like that, your happiness will run away, you know?"
"Huh, O-Okay, I'll be careful."
"Charlotte! Think about the way to drive her out of the room quickly!"
"Well, that's... Laura, even if you say that..."
Aaa, the dilemma of being a good-natured person.
Charlotte indeed hears the sounds of her happiness running quickly away from her.
"Please don't hate me like that, Laura-chan. Let's get along, okay?"
"Don't add 'chan' when you call me! There's no need to get along with you!"
"Ara~? If you say it like that..."
"Wh!? C-Could it be, you're going to do "that" again?"
In an instant, Laura's expression turned into a scared one.
While Charlotte was wondering what was "that" actually was, Tatenashi-san started to open her arms and move her finger in a tickling motion.
Ah, so Laura hates being tickled.
Tickling. That is Tatenashi-san's secret technique - or rather, her hobby to force other people to laugh.
"S-Stop it. You stupid! I'll retaliate seriously!"
"Nfufu. Now then~, how long will you continue that show of courage, I wonder?"
"D-Don't come any closer! I'm serious you know. I'll really stab you!"
Even though Laura drew her tactical knife, her right eye clearly shows unrest and fear.
"You can't make me retreat with just that kind of knife, you know~."
"D-Damn it.... if only I had a gun, then the likes of you wouldn't..."
"Fufufu, in a battlefield you would lose your life if you had a beef-stir-fry set menu, you know."
That was probably a word twist of "making excuses"[6A 10] wasn't it . Charlotte absent-mindedly thought of that trivial information.
This looks like it'll be over soon. Ah, I better prepare some hot chocolate.
She just recently found out that hot chocolate most effective when calming Laura down.
If a thick chocolate drink is brought to her, Laura will sip it like a squirrel while complaining.
A couple seconds later, it was needless to say that Laura's anguished tickle-induced laughter is resounding inside the room.
"Really! Why didn't you help me back then! Were you going to leave your comrade-in-arms to die? That's unthinkable in a sane state! It's not like the squad I was assigned with at all. No matter what kind of hopeless situation we faced, they wouldn't leave a comrade to die. The reason, that itself is the means to resuscitate the whole squad, it's a technique. In the first place - "
While complaining, Laura is licking the lukewarm chocolate that Charlotte made.
"Did you hear what I said!"
After gulping her chocolate once, Laura let out an angry roar.
But, Charlotte, who is already used to that situation by now, only answered "Un" while putting a comb through Laura's hair.
"Laura, what do you think about the new shampoo?"
"H-Hm? Well, I don't dislike the fragrance."
"Is that so. I'm glad then. It's the first time I bought the Lavender one, so I was really worried that Laura might not like it."
"U, umu... But, I, it's not like I like it, you know. I just don't dislike it, that's all."
Laura, who was made to laugh for a while by Tatenashi, is talkative as usual.
Lately, when Charlotte combed her hair like this, Laura narrowed her eye like a cat in a good mood. Sometimes, it seemed like it feels good enough to fall asleep while still being combed.
Sure enough, Laura, who started to feel the hypnotic effect, was yawning a little.
The nekomimi pajama[6A 11] that she's also wearing seems to have already become a necessary item for sleeping.
"Laura, shall we retire for the night?"
"Umu..... let's do that."
After answering with a sluggish tone while nodding, Laura sipped the chocolate again.
Seeing that kind of behavior that looked especially like a kitten, Charlotte was spurred by the urge to hug her.
"Make sure you brush you teeth."
Laura, who was already half-way into the dreamworld, empties her glass then walks towards the bathroom.
3 minutes later, she returned and lay down on her bed, then crept into her futon.
"I'm going to turn off the light then. Good night, Laura."
Before long, the sound of Laura sleeping could be heard.
Charlotte let out a sigh of relief at her sleeping roommate.
It will be fun even with the three of us, right...?
Her feelings are already directed toward the shopping trip on the weekend.
Since she already confirmed the glittering bracelet on her left wrist, Charlotte starts her secret ritual.
Good night, Ichika...
Chuu...She kissed the bracelet. Charlotte, as if she wanted to hide her red face, pulled the futon over the top of her head and went to sleep.
Translation Notes and ReferencesEdit
- ↑ Isn't this a Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone reference. You know the Mirror of Erased
- ↑ Iris seems to always call Natasha as Natale, probably a nickname or something.
- ↑ Meaning Hurricane's Revival
- ↑ Regen meaning Rain
- ↑ Not in the pervert way, it's satisfying Ichika body's need of tickling.
- ↑ Basically there's 3 things going on at the same time. Charlotte is blankly staring at Tatenashi, Ichika is looking at Charlotte face, and Ichika noticed that Charlotte's expression disappeared while staring at Tatenashi.
- ↑ This is a literal translation of the Japanese proverb is 針のむしろ.
- ↑ Yubikiri Genman is Japanese pinky promise which is usually done by children at Japan. The original song they use when they do the promise can be seen at here
- ↑ T/N note : basically, Charlotte is describing that if Laura is a cat, then she's in the getting threatened state where the cat raises its tail and all its fur.
- ↑ This is a twist of たられば(Tarareba) which means "making excuses" and ニラレバ (Nirareba) which is some kind of beef, leek, and bean sprout stir fry 
- ↑ Nekomimi means "Cat ear". Here it means that the pajama has cat ears on them. See Volume 4 Chapter 2