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Infinite Stratos Volume 7 Chapter 1: Sisters

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Chapter 1: SistersEdit

*PAM!!*

"Wha...!?"

Shooting at me? This is Japan!!

"Ku!"

The bullet flew directly at me.

For some reason, the bullet looked slow yet clear.

"Che."

The attacker in front of me—Orimura Madoka clicked her tongue. The next, moment, the bullet that flew at me stopped there.

The bullet stopped in mid-air. This is—

(Laura's [AIC]!?)

"Get down, Ichika!"

Immediately after following what she said, the knife flew over my head. *Clunk* *clunk*, the fruit juice can that dropped from my hand bounced on the floor.

"So you're here to stop me..."

File:IS v07 017.jpg

Madoka accurately blocked the knife that was aimed at her right eye with her hand.

"What!?"

Madoka grabbed the knife in her hand.

"Right back at you."

And threw it back at Laura.

However, to Laura, who released the seal of her left eye, [Odin's Eye][7A 1], that could increase the motion and visual sense several times, it was easy to stop that knife with [AIC].

Though the golden left eye immediately looked for Madoka after blocking that knife, the attacker who deployed her IS gradually disappeared into the night.

"Fuu..."

"STOP RIGHT THERE!"

Avoiding the [AIC]'s stopping ability, Madoka flew off.

Just like that, the attacker who suddenly appeared, disappeared completely into the night.

"Ku..."

"Are you alright, Laura?"

"Who do you think I am? What about you?"

"Ahh, thanks for your help, Laura. Thank you."

"No need for the thanks."

Laura said that as she sheathed her knife and put on the eyepatch.

I patted away the dirt on me and picked up the canned drink that I dropped on the floor.

"Ah."

"Hm? What is it?"

"As expected, Laura's left eye's really beautiful. It was glowing like a diamond."

"Wha-What?"

"It was tough being attacked, but seeing something good may have reduced that to zero—UWAHH!!?"

"Wh-Wha-What reduced to zero, you idiot?"

Laura closed in and stepped hard on my foot.

"IT HURTS!?"

"Fu-Fuun! Hurry up and go back!"

"H-Hey, wait up. At least help me take the drinks."

"Who'd care about you!?"

Without stopping, Laura hurriedly walked away.

"Speaking of which, how were you able to catch up to where I was attacked?"

"Th-That's...!"

"Hm?"

"...I-I could possibly say that, that I tailed two people together or something like that..."

"Huh? What's wrong, Laura?"

"Nothing! Huh, umm, you-you!"

"Uwah, what's wrong!? AH, STOP STEPPING ON MY FOOT! HEY, IDIOT!"

"WHO-WHO'S THE IDIOT!?"

Blushing immediately, Laura stepped forward and gave me a vicious punch.

""You were attacked?""

On Monday, at the dinner table, Houki and Rin exclaimed.

"Ahh, it was last night."

I told them everything, except for the name Orimura Madoka.

On a side note, the reason why I didn't tell them what happened last night immediately was because I didn't want to ruin the happy mood of the birthday celebration.

"The pilot of the [Silent Zephyrs]...what was she aiming for? Did you think about it, Ichika?"

"I don't, know."

As for Charl's question, I answered simply to hide the vague tone.

Better ask Chifuyu-nee.

(But—)

Family affairs...no, about our parents, it's a taboo between Chifuyu-nee and me. Even though I tried to look into it, I couldn't go deeper...no, I didn't want to do it.

"Speaking of which, Ichika-san. Can you feed me the fried egg?"

"Mn, okay. Got it."

I helped feed Cecilia, whose right arm got injured a few days ago. It was really pitiful that she couldn't use her hands properly.

"Ahh, a—n..."

*PAK*. Cecilia used her hand to cover her mouth as she continued to chew.

She was blushing somewhat, probably because she was embarrassed by everyone looking at her.

(Ah, letting others feed her at this age should be really awkward for her.)

"...What, Cecilia. Actually preparing a dish that needs chopsticks..."

"...You could have just eaten pasta with one hand..."

Cecilia looked away from Rin and Houki who were staring at her and coughed dryly.

On a side note, the meal consisted of salt-baked salmon, egg rolls, sesame spinach salad, potato stew and a steaming bowl of egg custard[7A 2].

"Ichika, she could use a spoon to eat the egg custard, right? Cecilia?"

Charl smiled, and for some reason, the smile on her face had a lot of pressure.

"TH-This is...I-I can't eat properly if I use my left hand!"

"Really? Then let me feed you."

"La-Laura-san!? Wait...at least after it cools down first...AAAAAAHHHH!!!"

The spoon that was full of steaming hot egg custard was forced down onto Cecilia's throat.

Hey hey, stop bullying the injured folks!

"Ara ara, you people look really happy~."

"Ah, Yamada-sensei. And..."

Chifuyu-nee. No, Orimura-sensei's with her as well. Both of them were holding the same dinner trays.

"Don't be too noisy, idiot!"

"I-I'm the one who got hurt..."

"Alcott, I should be suspending you with regards to the battle inside town yesterday, but I'll let it slide this time. Don't be mistaken."

"Ye-Yes..."

On a side note, I was lectured badly today in the chase after the [Silent Zephyrs]. The 2-hour lecture made my body feel like choking.

"Just a quick question. Do you people eat together like this?"

"Ah, yes. That's how it is normally."

"Really?"

"Oh? Orimura-sensei, are you mindful of it~?"

"Yamada-sensei, we'll have a close combat fight as exercise after dinner."

"I-I was joking! A-Aha-Ahahahaha~..."

Yamada-sensei, you seem to have gotten into a tight spot after teasing Chifuyu-nee like that. You should learn your lesson...

"Don't be too noisy...then again, saying this to girls in their teens is going to fall on deaf ears. Oh well, control yourself."

After saying that, Chifuyu-nee brought Yamada-sensei to the table inside.

Since everyone was still around, I couldn't ask about Madoka. Better ask when I have the chance next time.

Just like that, dinner soon ended.

"...Speaking of which, why is everyone following me?"

While returning back to my dorm room, I asked everyone who was following me in a group.

"We-Well...it's not that we are worried about you!"

Rin was the first one who answered.

"Ah-, well, you see, it's just that we want to come to Ichika's room once in a while to talk."

Then Charl added.

"Uu, yup! That's right, Ichika. It's important to communicate with everyone here."

Houki nodded her head too. Didn't we talk a lot during dinner? Well, it's not that I don't like this development.

"Then, Ichika-san? If possible, I hope that you can change my bandages."

"Ohh, okay."

After saying that, Cecilia's face brightened. I guess it's a man's happiness to make her so happy.

"Hey, Ichika, you're spoiling her too much already. What kind of representative candidate is she if she can't treat her own wounds by herself?"

Laura rebuked sharply,

"It seems that in this country, they apply saliva on the wounds to heal them. Perfect timing, try it."

"No Laura, applying saliva doesn't mean that..."[7A 3]

This situation...the saying doesn't suit it, right?

"Is that so? Just to inform you, my saliva has slight healing nanomachines."

Huh, is that true? It seems amazing, but it doesn't seem like something I should delve into.

(Laura's a test tube baby born from the German military research lab.)

She was created as an existence that was to fight—well, even though it's easy to deny this out of righteousness, doing that would mean denying Laura's existence.

(And Laura herself isn't too bothered about it, plus it's not something outsiders can talk much about...)

And ever since she came to Japan—after meeting these people, Laura's life may not just be about fighting anymore, or at least that's what I think.

"Hey, are you listening? Really, you fail as a bride."

"Yes-Yes, I'm sorry."

Every time I am called a bride, I secretly recall that kiss. Better not say it out.

Every time I remember that, my face gets rather hot.

"Hm? What's wrong?"

"No, it's nothing."

Casually bringing her face over to me, Laura pulled away. I finally reached my room and opened the door.

"How about chairs? Do I need to borrow them?"

"No need. We'll just sit on the bed. Okay, everyone?"

Charl asked the other girls. Yup, such a nice person.

"Oh well, I'll just sit on the bed."

"Yeah, and the quality of this dorm's beds are good."

"As for me, I'm a little unhappy that it's not my bed—well, this can do though."

"I don't mind."

Rin, Houki, Cecilia and Laura, all answered in turn as they walked into the room.

"Ah, what drinks should I buy?"

"It's okay. No need to spend so much effort, Charl. And if there's a need to buy, I—"

"Really! What'll happen if you get attacked after you said that!"

"Ah, no..."

Charl increased the intensity of her voice. I was shocked and could only apologize sincerely.

Charl suddenly recovered and frantically backed away.

"So-Sorry."

"No, no, it's alright."

"Well...as expected, since Ichika's a guy, you hate to be protected by girls, right...?"

"No, no, that's not the case, you know? We-Well, it's too much to be told off like I'm not a guy."

"Is-Is that so? That's great..."

"O-Oh..."

"..."

"..."

Both of us lowered our heads, and silence occurred between us.

Well, it felt like my heart raced...yet it didn't feel like it...

""""Jii....""""[7A 4]

"Owahh!?"

Ever since I opened the door, Rin, Houki, Cecilia, Laura...anyway, everyone other than Charl was glaring coldly at me.

"C-Charlotte again..."

"Ichika, you bastard...!"

"That-That's despicable! Charlotte-san!"

"Humph!"

Ah, Laura got angry again. She won't be able to calm down once she's angry...

"Ah—well, Laura...san?"

"WHY LAURA!?"

"MINDFUL ABOUT LAURA? YOU BASTARD!"

"I-I-ICHIKA-SAN!"

Wa—I got trouble for myself again.

I could feel that I saw my future kneeling on the floor and begging for forgiveness.

"Hoo."

Two hours later, I finally got away from the girls and rolled onto the bed.

"Let's take a shower."

I thought as I stood up. At that moment, the room door opened.

"Chia chian~! Tatenashi onee-san~ appears~"

"Please go back."

I immediately closed the door. Immediately after that, I heard the sound of water flowing outside the door.

"--WAHHH!!!"

The water blade sliced the door in half.

Tatenashi-san was holding onto the whip sword [Rusty Nail], currently in its sword mode.

"Ara ara, you can't ignore this onee-san.★"

Sigh, do whatever you want.

I couldn't help but lower my head dejectedly.

"Can I enter the room?"

"Please."

The [Rusty Nail] in Tatenashi-san's hand disappeared, and what replaced it was the fan she often holds.

The words written on it are the words 'Disastrous situation'[7A 5]. Don't tell me—wait, there's no need to doubt it. She planned this visit right from the beginning, right?

"Then, what do you want. If possible, I want to take a shower now."

"Hm? Then just bathe as you talk. Because I, didn't bring my swimsuit today."

"DAAAAAAAAAAA!! HOW DID SUCH A DEVELOPMENT OCCUR! RIGHT NOW, URGENTLY, JUST TALK!"

"Ahaha, you became so desperate. Oh my, you're really cute."

"Yeah yeah."

Feeling completely fatigued all over, I poured tea for Tatenashi-san.

"Mn~ nice Gyokuro tea[7A 6]. But you need to work against the tea professor in the Student Council office."

We—I thought I'm supposed to be the Vice-President of the Student Council.

"Tatenashi –san."

"What?"

"I'm going to chase you out, you know?"

"No~"

Haa. I sighed at the end. It seems like I will be toyed by her in the future. Goodbye, my sigh.

"Then, what is it about today?"

"Ichika-kun, weren't you attacked? Do you need security personnel in your house?"

"No...No need to spend so much effort."

She has an IS. I don't want to think about it, but the worst case scenario for an ordinary person would likely be death.

"I guessed you would say that."

"Really?"

Seems like it.

"Also, I'd like to request one thing."

"?"

Tatenashi-san asked in a rare ambiguous tone.

"I...leave her to you!"

*Pa!* She suddenly put her hands together and prayed to me.

"Huh? Huh?"

"I'll leave my imouto[7A 7] to you!"[7A 8]

"WHAT!?"

This sudden development stunned me.

"Haa. You're talking about...your own little sister? A first year."

"Yeah, her name's Sarashiki Kanzashi. Ah, this is her photo."

After saying that, she showed me a handphone photo. The girl in the photo seems to be a little shady.

(Is this Tatenashi-san's imouto? But she feels a little—)

"Just some words beforehand...I hope that you don't reveal that I said this..."

Tatenashi-san explained this first. It's hard to imagine that she would usually say this.

"My sister, she's...a little passive, or rather..."

She seemed to be choosing her words.

"Someone gloomy."

Uwa—that's straight to the point alright.

"Is-Is that so?"

"But she really has talent. She's a Personal IS pilot, but—"

"But?"

"She hasn't gotten her unit yet."

"Ah?"

Then she shouldn't be called a Personal IS pilot...

"Which means that, even though she's a Representative Cadet of Japan, her personal unit wasn't complete, so she didn't get one."

"Oh."

"Don't look like it doesn't involve you, Ichika-kun. You were the one who caused that, you know?"

"Huh!?"

Why did my name pop out suddenly.

"Kanzashi-chan's IS developer was from Kuramochi Machinery Development, which means..."

"It's the same place as where [Byakushiki] was born...right?"

"Yes. And because all the manpower was sent to develop [Byakushiki], it's still incomplete now."

"I see..."

"So! That's why it's all Ichika-kun's fault!"

"So-Sorry..."

"Is that so? So Class 4's personal IS pilot would always take a break every time when there was a need for a Personal IS. She's a cadet without a personal IS; that's something humiliating."

"Then, what's this about leaving your imouto to me?"

"It's like this. As the [Cannonball Fast] incident happened yesterday, we will be having a mixed-year tag-team tournament next time to improve the ability of all Personal IS pilots."

"Haa, is that so?"

"Please! Please tag with Kanzashi-chan!"

Tatenashi-san put the fan beside me and begged me again.

"Ho-Hold on, Tatenashi-san. You don't have to beg me so formally."

"Huh, I see...so, that means, you can?"

She asked gently.

She looked really small, and most likely, it's created by the huge contrast from what she would normally do.

(That's quite a bother...)

Inexplicably, once someone that's so carefree like me gets requested so earnestly like this, I'll end up trying to fulfill her wish to my utmost ability.

"Uu, if possible...please don't mention my name."

"Huh? Why?"

"That kid...it seems that she has an inferiority complex towards me...I guess..."

Tatenashi-san said that with an ambiguous tone.

Seeing her like this, I can tell that the sisters don't really get along well.

"You're not good with your imouto...or something like that?"

"Uu..."

Seeing Tatenashi-san lower her head dejected like this, I started to believe that my thoughts weren't wrong.

These sisters aren't getting along. The elder sister trying to improve herself, and a resistant imouto...thinking about this, I can only think of another two people.

(Houki and Tabane-san are like that too...)

Tabane-san already prepared the personal unit for Houki, yet Houki still remained stubborn. Ever since then, Tabane-san never showed up. Most likely, it's like that now as well.

(Really, that Houki...)

Oh well, since those two are the same, I can't refuse her.

"Then I'll try to act as natural as possible and interact with her."

"Mn, please. Also, that kid's somewhat hard to get along, so be careful with your words."

"Ah."

Anyway, I better process Sarashiki Kanzashi of Class 1-4 into my mind.

"Please do so, okay? But, please don't force yourself..."

"This isn't like you, Tatenashi-san. Wouldn't you say something like 'I'll rub your back' as a reward?"

"Is-Is that so? Ahaha...we, well, for this kind of things, if you wish..."

Yup, that's not like Tatenashi-san at all.

"I'll massage your shoulders for you."

"Uu, mn? Huh? Ichika-kun?"

"Don't mind."

"O-Okay..."

I went behind Tatenashi-san, kneeled on the bed and started massaging her.

"Ahh--, your shoulders are so stiff--. You've been working till late recently?"

"Uu, yeah, about there. Ahh, owowow..."

"The area around your neck is really stiff. At this point, I recommend stretching and a bath in warm water. It's best if you take a longer time to bath."

"I-I got it. Nn..."

"How about I share some of your workload?"

"No-No need. Don't get cocky. Don't you have to be loaned out to other clubs?"

"Ah, speaking of which, that's true."

"Re-Really. That can't do. Onee-san hates kids who give up on their work."

"I got it I got it."

Tatenashi-san finally went back to normal. I continued to massage her for about 30 minutes before releasing her.

"Mm~! I'm a lot more relaxed now. Thank you."

"No problem. Leave your sister to me then."

"Mn. Please."

As a gesture from the elder sister, Tatenashi-san bowed before leaving.

"Anyway, let's—"

What appeared in front of me was the door that was sliced in half.

"Request for another room..."

In a room that wasn't lit, Madoka was changing the bandages on her right hand alone.

Using the robotic nano-machines multiple times, her wound healed, and the syringe that was used was thrown around the room.

"I'm coming in, M."

Entering the room without knocking on the door was the cadre[7A 9] of [Phantom Task], Squall.

Her lush blond hair flowed smoothly as she entered the room.

"Can you please explain the reason why you took action on your own yesterday? Orimura Madoka-san."

"..."

Squall maintained her smile. In contrast, Madoka just glanced at her and continued to wrap her own bandages.

"Even if that was an eventful encounter for you, we were really troubled by you. If you continue to take action on your own like that."

"...I got it."

"Your mission is to steal IS from all over the world. If you often use IS for things other than that—"

*BOOM!* An explosion rang out, and the table and the medical kit on it were sent flying.

The next moment, Madoka's neck got choked as she was slammed against the wall.

"—Fufufu. Your reaction's quick as always."

Squall used partial deployment of the IS to float in mid-air, and 4 floating cannons of the [Silent Zephyrs] appeared behind Madoka, and looked like they were ready to fire out anytime.

"..."

Madoka was released by her and landed back on the bed. Squall removed her IS and landed on the bed too. The bed took the brunt of both their weights and let out a cracking sound.

"Hey, M. Whether you're Orimura Madoka or not, I don't really care, but please maintain your identity as M while being a member of [Phantom Task]."

"...I intend to do so until I settle the score."

"Settle the score...with Orimura Ichika?"

"Humph...he's not a threat at all. I can kill him whenever I want to."

"So that means, with Orimura Chifuyu...right?'

After Squall said that, the lips on Madoka's expressionless face curled up as she looked really happy. However, that was an evil smile.

"Orimura Chifuyu, is it? She doesn't have an IS, so I don't think she's much of a threat."

After the sentence ended, Squall blocked Madoka's karate chop and jumped back to avoid the kick.

Looking closely, Madoka, who was still smiling, now looked angry.

"Don't you ever humiliate her...Someone like you will never be a match for nee-san..."[7A 10]

"Okay okay, I got it. So M, don't throw the knife. You'll damage the wallpaper."

"Humph..."

Madoka seemed to be embarrassed by the useless taunting and returned the knife back into its sheath.

"I'll go sleep for a while. Ah, M? There's still some time until the next mission, so please control yourself a bit."

"Got it."

"I like honest kids. Bye then, M."

Like how she came in, Squall finished what she wanted to do and returned back to her room.

The door shut, and the room was covered in silence and darkness. At that moment, Madoka took the knife out and slid it across her face.

"..."

The skin got cut, and fresh red blood oozed out.

Madoka got overwhelmed with unspeakable happiness through this act of harming the face that looked like Chifuyu.

The delighted expression's reflected on the side of the knife.

"Yahoo--, Orimura-kun, Shinonono-kun."

During the rest period after the second period, the second year student Mayazumi Kaoruko-sempai appeared in Class 1-1.

"Huh, is there something?"

"Nothing much--, just a little request."

"A request, for Ichika and me?"

"Mn, yes. Listen, my older sister's working at a publication company. Can both of you accept an exclusive interview? Ah, speaking of which, it's this magazine."

After saying that, Mayazumi-sempai showed me a fashion magazine for teens.

"Let me see. Erm—isn't this magazine unrelated to IS?"

"Mn? Huh? Is this the first time you're doing this work?"

"Haa."

Houki and I didn't understand it as we could only nod our heads vaguely.

"As for this, Personal IS pilots are either Representatives or Cadets, so they end up in the entertainment industry as well. I guess they can be said to be recognized idols of the countries, so they normally end up being models. Ah, there seem to be some who'll become actors based on the country."

"Is that so? Houki."

"Don-Don't ask me! I don't know!"

Both of us are the same. We're in our teens, yet we don't understand anything about the entertainment industry.

(Ah, speaking of which, Cecilia seemed to have said that she once acted as a model in England before.)

And she even showed me a photo.

The photo showed Cecilia in a nice fitting dress.

(Uu, I'm a guy, so I should be wearing a tuxedo...)

I don't feel like doing it.

Just when I was thinking about that, Rin came to our class.

"What, Ichika. Never been a model before? Can't be helped then. Let me show you my photos."

"No-No need."

"Why?"

*PAN!* Ow, my head got hit.

"Because, well, you must be faking it."

"Wha-What are you talking about!? I'll show you! Watch this! Now!"

Rin took out her phone, slid out the photos and showed them to me forcefully. Hey, stop pulling my neck!

"Ohh..."

"Uuu..."

Looking at the photos together, Houki and I showed a similar reaction.

To add on to that, the screen of the phone showed Rin in a casual fitting dress.

File:IS v07 043.jpg

"Heh...not bad."

"Fufu. Isn't that right? Oh yeah, this was taken last summer—"

*Ding dong*. The bell that indicated the end of break time rang.

"Ichika-kun. You're loaned out to the kendo club, right? I'll come over after school. Bye—"

Just like how she came here, Mayazumi-sempai went away quickly.

I thought that Rin would return back to Class 2, but she seemed to be really interested in showing off her photos.

"And also, this one is—"

*GONK!* A fist was slammed on Rin's head.

"OW!"

Rin frowned as she turned around, and as expected, standing there was Chifuyu-nee.

"Go back to Class 2."

"I-I got it..."

Rin left dejectedly. Same as usual.

Speaking of which, Rin doesn't come over to Class 1 often because of this. Maybe she can do so after school tomorrow.

"Then, we'll be explaining the effective methods of evading in close ranged combat and pulling the distance."

Just like that, lessons continued as per usual.

"Please use this towel."

"Kya--, it's the real Orimura-kun!"

"Over here! I want the towel too!"

"Hey hey, can you give me a massage?"

"I don't give such services."

"Che. Orimura-kun's so mean—"

In the kendo dojo after school, I quickly gave a few kendo members towels after they finished their training.

Like what Mayuzumi-sempai said, today's the 'Orimura Ichika club loan-out day'.

"And for you, Houki."

"Ah, yes. Thanks."

Houki took off her facemask, undid the towel and buried her face in it.

"..."

"Wha-What's wrong? Why are you looking at me?"

"No, it's just that I find that Houki's rather stylish in the hakama."[7A 11]

"Fu-Fuun..."

Houki suddenly looked away. Is she shy?

"Ya, Orimura-kun? It's been a while, isn't it?"

"Ah, yes. We met for the first time since the school festival, kendo-club President."

"Ufufu? Doesn't everyone look really happy? So, was winning the bingo game worthy?"

But why does this person say everything in questions?

Just when I was thinking about that, she suddenly slipped through the gaps between the members and quickly disappeared into thin air.

(Yup, she's a mystery alright.)

"Hey, Houki."

"Yeah? What is it?"

"As for what Mayuzumi-sempai said during the break, what do you intend to do?"

"I refuse. It doesn't match my personality to show up like this."

"As expected."

That's a classic Houki's reply. Just when I was nodding away, that Mayuzumi-sempai appeared in front of us.

"Yahoo--, sorry to keep you waiting~ So, have you thought of the interview?"

"Ah, about that, Houki, she—"

Seems like she will refuse this. Just when I was about to continue, Mayuzumi-san interrupted me.

"Jyan! This super luxurious first-class hotel dinner coupon will be your reward. Of course, it's for two."

After saying that, Mayuzumi-sempai passed Houki and me the brochure of the hotel.

Is that so. Sure, it looks luxurious. But since Houki's going to refuse it, it can't be helped.

"I accept."

Huh?

"Huh, really? I thought you hated this kind of stuff, Shinonono-san."

"No, I should experience this once in a while."

Huh? Huh?

"Really? It's settled then. Orimura-kun's alright too, right? Then, the interview will be two days later, on Sunday. Please get there before 2pm."

"Well, please wait...."

"Bye then~"

Just like that, Mayuzumi-san left carefreely.

After the door of the kendo dojo closed, I stared at Houki.

"Houki."

"What?"

"What happened to your ideals?"

"My-My thoughts vary according to the times! What's there to grumble about!?"

The bamboo blade hit my face hard.

"Haa...never mind, it doesn't matter as long as you're fine with it."

"Is-Is that so? Speaking of which...this dinner voucher at this hotel, you-you'll be coming along too, right!?"

Houki continued to stutter, looking like it was hard for her to say it.

"Yeah. Of course. I'd be angry if I didn't get the voucher after agreeing to be interviewed."

"Is-Is that so? I see. Uu. So that's it!"

Houki's face suddenly brightened as she held tightly onto the promotional brochure.

Wa, what'll happen if she crushes it? I can't tell the address like that.

"What, what? Shinonono-san's going on a date with Ichika-kun?"

"So cool! I want to go too!"

"Ah, this hotel's famous on the international scene. Heeh~"

All the kendo club members who were looking at us from afar crowded around us all of a sudden.

"Th-This, that...it's not, a da-dat-date...it's not a date at all!"

"""Heeh~"""

Seeing Houki trying to defend herself so badly, the girls gave smiles with deep meanings behind them.

(What, that Houki? Isn't she getting along well with everyone in the kendo club?)

I sighed at myself for worrying too much and slightly heaved a sigh of relief.

Speaking of Houki, she didn't really get along well with others in the past, so I always had to worry about her.

(Speaking of which, it's Sunday again?)

And with Tatenashi-san's request, it seems that I'll have a really busy weekend.

(Time to go.)

The 4th period ended, and the classroom became really busy at noon break.

"Let's go to the canteen, Ichika."

Charl smiled at me as usual as she asked me out. I'm really grateful for that, but I can only put my hands together and refuse.

"Sorry Charl. I've got something to do."

"Is-Is that so? Then, what should I do..."

"De-cha—n, come along with us~"

Unexpectedly, the one who came in was Nohohon-san[7A 12] and the rest.

Nohohon-san's still the same as quite, wearing overly long sleeves as she casually flailed her arms.

"De-De-chan?"

"Let's go—Ehehe~"

Nohohon-san grabbed Charl's arms in a really slow manner.

Charl herself didn't avoid that, and anyone can tell from this that she's really a kind person.

"Then, let's go!"

Several girls were waiting in front of the classroom with Tanimoto-san leading. Nohohon-san met up with them and dragged the hesitant Charl's arm to the canteen.

(Then, to Class 4.)

According to the information Tatenashi-san provided, Kanzashi-san's habit seemed to be eating bread in the classroom.

(Since I bought bread as well, hopefully, I can talk with her well.)

As a side note, regarding the mixed-year tag-team match, there was an explanation during SHR[7A 13] this morning. If I don't leave in a hurry, there will be other personal IS pilots requesting me to pair up with them, so I have to make haste.

"I've been waiting for you for a long time, Ichika!"

*DON*.

I met Rin just when I arrived at the corridor.

"You'll pair up with me!"

"Sorry Rin, I already have my partner."

"Ah? Pair?—Don't tell me it's Charlotte!?"

Huh? Why would she mention Charl's name now?"

"...Kuu~ she took the initiative just because she paired with him before. How can I take that..."

"Hm? What did you say?"

"No-Nothing! Then? Who's that partner? I'll make her switch with me. Hurry up and say it!"

Uwa. What's with this logic? She's really scary.

"Erm--, she's..."

"Who?"

"—Sorry."

36 stratagems. If all else fails, retreat. I dashed off to escape.[7A 14]

"Ah—hey! Wait! Ichika!"

I ran down the stairs to the first level and made a huge detour before arriving at the second level.

"Fuu, finally at Class 4."

"Ahh!? It's Orimura-kun!"

"Huh, no way! Why is he here!?"

"Is-Is there any reason for you to come to Class 4?"

An onslaught of people came here...well, I really hate this.

"Excuse me, is Sarashiki-san around?"

""Huh...?""

The girls' voices overlapped one other.

"Sarashiki-san...?"

"'That'?"

The wall of girls split apart like a sea being split to form a road. Through a straight line, I could see her sitting at the last seat at the back of the room, near the window.

She continued to hit the keyboard while looking at the screen in mid-air, leaving the bread she got from the bun shop.

"..."

(Huh? I heard from Tatenashi-san that she was quite passive, but she's unexpectedly active...that's weird.)

Just when I was thinking about this, a girl said softly.

"Excuse me....is it that you want Sarashiki-san to be your partner after hearing the SHR explanation this morning with regards to the personal pilot tag team tournament...or something like that?"

"Hm? Ah, something like that."

I nodded my head, and the commotion spread around the crowd in waves.

"I see...but that girl doesn't have a Personal IS?"

"And she's been taking leaves for all activities up till now."

"And the girl who has a Personal IS is her elder sister—"

I didn't wish for them to continue, so I put my hands together and said really loudly.

"Sorry! I came here looking for that girl."

After saying that, I slipped through the crowd and headed towards Kanzashi-san's seat.

"Excuse me, can I borrow a chair?"

I borrowed a chair from a girl nearby, and sat down without getting permission.

"..."

*Katakatakatakatakata*. The rapid typing on the keyboard could be heard.

It's not the holographic type, but the old mechanical type.

File:IS v07 053.jpg

"Excuse me—"

I again looked at the girl in front of me.

Her hair's short, and in contrast to Tatenashi-san, hers is curled inwards.

The eyes that are staring hard at the screen are longer and thinner than normal, and looked a bit empty as well.

The rectangular glasses that she was wearing looked like they were trying to prevent others from approaching her.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Orimura Ichika."

"..."

Her fingers suddenly stopped.

"...I know."

Ohh, that's good. I finally got a reaction from her.

Just when I was thinking about this, Kanzashi-san stood up.

"?"

Shaking her right shoulder slightly and putting it down, she sat down and continued to hit at the keyboard.

"Well..."

"...I, have the ...right to punch you...but, that would be a hassle...so never mind."

Uu, she's still mindful about the Personal IS?

It's true that Kanzashi-san's IS was incomplete as they were busy building my [Byakushiki], but that couldn't be helped.

"...Anything you want with me?"

"Oh, yeah. Could you be my partner in this tag tournament?"

"No..."

Uwa. That was an immediate rejection.

But I won't give up!

"Please don't say that. Please."

"...I don't want to. And you-you don't...have to worry about looking for other groups..."

"Ahh, it's not that..."

Uu, I really can't think of a good reason.

And I can't say that 'Tatenashi-san requested me to ask you'...

"Well, actually, everyone decided—"

"FOUND YOU, ICHIKA!"

ACK! GUAN YU!?[7A 15]

...No, that's Rin.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN CLASS 4!? AT LEAST COME TO CLASS 2!!"

"Gue..."

The collar of my uniform got grabbed, and I found breathing hard.

HEY, STOP IT, IDIOT! WHAT'LL HAPPEN IF YOU OVER-STRETCH THE UNIFORM!?

"STOP SPOUTING NONSENSE AND COME OVER!"

"Th-Then, bye then, Sarashiki-san. See you next time."

"..."

Kanzashi-san didn't really answer me as she just took a bite off the bun.

--Just like that, I was forcefully deported to Class 2.

"Here."

"What's going on...is this, green pepper sliced meat?"

"Ye-Yeah. Well, it's like this. I want to prove that I can do dishes other than sweet and sour pork."

"I see~ but since I have yakisoba[7A 16] bread today—"

Before I finished, my yakisoba was suddenly taken away. Ahh, my yakisoba!

"You have to eat my green pepper meat. Got it!?"

"Even though you say that, you just ate some of it. You really won't mind!?"

"...Indirect kiss..."

"Huh?"

"No-Nothing!? Stop yapping and eat it!"

"I got it, I got it! Really, it can't be helped..."

Though I'm feeling sorry for the loss of the yakisoba, I focused on eating the green pepper meat.

"Ohh? It's good. It's really good, Rin!"

"Fu-Fufu! Of course!"

It's flavorful but not greasy as it lures me to continue dumping the green pepper meat into my mouth.

"Ah, also, your yakisoba bread's really nice..."

"? I bought that from the store."

"The-The standards of this Academy's shops are really high! Any problem!?"

No, I don't really mind.

"Oh, oh yeah, Ichika. You'll pair up with me for the tag team tournament, right?"

"No, because I've already paired up...sorry."

"Wh-Why-Why!? Who! Who is it!? I'll make her switch with me. Say it!"

"Uwa! Don't say it like just now."

"FESS UP!!"

"I SAID NO!!"

"Ngugugu..."

I don't know what Rin will say if I continue to stay here. Better finish up and go back to Class 1 first.

"I-Ichika!"

"No."

"I haven't said anything yet!"

"A battle or something like that, right? I refuse."

"Uu! How-How did you know..."

"Bye Rin. The bento[7A 17] was nice. Thank you."

"Huh—ah, u-uu..."

I left Rin, who looked shocked for some reason, and went back to Class 1.

"I've been waiting for you for a long time, Ichika. You'll pair up with me, right?"

...I got caught by Laura, who was standing crosslegged.

"Ah--, no...about that..."

"This is the application form. Hurry up and sign."

"So-Sorry Laura...but I've already gotten my partner..."

"What...?"

Seeing Laura about to say 'Who's that person, hurry and spill it out', I could only beg earnestly.

"I'm really sorry! But she was already chosen."

"..."

Laura's eyes narrowed. Uu, that's really scary.

"...Say that again..."

"We-Well, Laura? Wait, let's talk it through, alright?"

"TOO SLOW!"

Laura used partial deployment of her IS to summon a plasma saber and hacked at me. WAAAHH—!

"Stop it, idiot. I only need the smell of burnt meat from a roast meat shop."

My savior Chifuyu-nee appeared from behind, and she quickly grabbed Laura's wrist before throwing her out of the window.

"Instructor! This is a problem between husband and wife!"

Laura gently landed on the windowsill and dropped back onto the floor with that flowing long hair trailing her.

Amazing. She's just like a cat.

"What husband and wife, idiot? I don't need an uncouth sister-in-law."

"!!"

Those direct words seemed to be a really heavy hit to her, as Laura collapsed onto the floor.

H-Huh? Hey—are you alright?

"I've been rejected by the instructor. I've been rejected by the instructor..."

Not good. She seemed to be repeating the same words like she's raving. And her eyes are really empty.

"Hey, Orimura, send Bodewig back to her seat. We're about to begin lessons."

"I-I got it. Hey, Laura, hurry up and get up."

"...It's over for me..."

Wahh, that's one huge trauma.

Can't be helped. I carried Laura up and brought her back to her seat.

"AHH!! ORIMURA-KUN'S CARRYING BODEWIG-SAN IN A PRINCESS CRADLE!!"[7A 18]

"I-ICHIKA-SAN!? WHAT'S GOING ON...I HOPE YOU CAN GIVE AN EXPLANATION!"

"ICHIKA, YOU BASTARD...."

"UWAH! LAURA'S REALLY SNEAKY!"

With Tanimoto-san leading, Cecilia, Houki and even Charl got up to surround me.

"Hurry up and get back to your seats, idiots."

*PAM!!* The sounds of the attendance book, which I'm really grateful for, resounded throughout the classroom.

"Too slow, Ichika! I'm already here!"

At the third arena after school, Ichika and Houki were doing special training today.

If it was as usual, both of them should be even. But having gotten grasp on the activation of [Kenran Butou], Houki had almost unlimited energy as she used it to carry out continuous [Ignitions Boost]s and force Ichika into a tight spot.

"Ku!"

Flying in a Cross Grid pattern to change directions, he fired [Setsura]'s particle cannon, but it was negated by the energy attack of [Akatsubaki]'s saber, [Karaware].

"HAAAAAA!!!"

Houki used [Ignition Boost] and deployed her [Fold-Out Armor] at the same time, using the thrusters' energy to accelerate and attack Ichika.

"Guu!"

Due to this overpowering attack, [Byakushiki]'s shield energy got hit hard.

Houki used the automatic controls of the [Fold-Out Armor] to change directions in high speeds before shooting the energy beams of the [Amatsuki], bathing [Byakushiki] in a storm of lasers.

"It's over, Ichika!"

"Not yet!"

Both of them went into the high speeds of [Ignition Boost]. After that, the clash of blades created sparks that scattered throughout the sky above the third arena.

...

......

.........

"Fuu..."

Houki wiped away her sweat, changed into her uniform and let her hair fly.

"~♪"

Feeling really happy, Houki started humming, a rare feat at that as she tied the knot of her ponytail.

(I beat Ichika today. So he should have definitely change his view of me. Fufufu.)

Not only that, there was something that made Houki even happier.

(Ichika said that he decided on his partner in the tag-team tournament...)

Tying her ribbon forcefully, the glamorous black hair swayed about beautifully.

(It must be me! Really, that Ichika! Wha-What...since it came to that, can't he just pair up with me?)

*PATAN!* Houki energetically closed the locker door, and found Cecilia walking over from the other side.

"Fufufun—♪ fufu, ufufu."

She was feeling rather good too, as Cecilia opened her locker to change clothes.

(Really, that Ichika-san, saying that his partner's already decided. He's referring...to me!)

Lost in her own delusion that's only positive for herself, it's unknown whether it's a privilege for a girl in love or the energy that's contained in teenage girls. It's really a mystery.

(Ahh, finally...finally with Ichika-san...ahhh!)

Originally dressed in the IS suit, Cecilia changed into her uniform, tied the ribbon in front of her chest, and finally noticed Houki's presence.

"Oh my, Shinonono-san."

"Cecilia? You're in a good mood."

Sparks were expected to fly between these two, but Houki and Cecilia smiled at each other.

"Today's really a good day."

"Ahh, yes. It is."

(Fufu, Houki-san's so pitiful...that she doesn't know that I'm paired with Ichika-san.)

(Humph, that Cecilia. I wonder what expression she will show if she realizes that I'm paired with Ichika.)

Both of them continued to believe in their advantages and looked down on each other.

"See you later, Cecilia."

"Okay, Houki-san. I wish you well."

Both of them kept their smiles as they went by each other.

After that, as they completely left each other, they smiled confidently.

File:IS v07 065.jpg

(I win!)

(Victory is mine!)

Two hours passed after that. After dinner, the tragedy occurred...

"Sorry! I'm really sorry, you two!"

After dinner, Houki and Cecilia came over to my room, and I bowed and apologized to them.

""...Ah?""

Both of them let out cries of disbelief...uu, that's troublesome.

"Well, how should I put it? My partner's already decided."

"So-So that means, that means me—"

"So-So, choose me—"

"?"

I was stunned for a while. I really don't understand what they're trying to say.

"Well—, that's how it is. Sorry!"

"Un-Unforgivable..."

"Do you think I'll forgive you!?"

Houki summoned her sword [Karaware], and Cecilia summoned her sniper rifle [Starlight MKIII].

"WAAHHH!!? HOLD ON HOLD ON!!"

"THERE'S NO POINT IN SAYING ANYTHING MORE! JUST STAY THERE!"

"IF YOU'RE NOT PAIRING WITH ME, YOU'LL JUST...!"

*Mesu*...

(Mesu?)

*BAM!*

"""!?"""

The door was sent flying over at an amazing speed, hitting Houki and Cecilia directly.

"Hey, idiots. It's partial deployment, but you're still using your IS. As punishment, run 10 laps around the 1st arena with your IS on. Of course, you're not allowed to use [PIC] nor thrusters. Understood?"

"O-Orimura-sensei..."

Speaking of which, Chifuyu-nee's the dorm head of the first years, so she should be patrolling around.

But even so—

(How much force is needed to kick that door down...)

What a tragedy. My door got broken again.

"Go!"

""Un-Understood!""

Houki and Cecilia suddenly straightened their backs and answered before glaring at each other and running out of the dorm...running 10 rounds with IS equipment on? That must be really tough. How pitiful.

"Hey, Orimura."

"Ye-Yes?"

"You're always the source of commotion. Time to choose a partner, idiot."

"Ah, yes..."

"...I'll come back to get the room door repair form later."

Chifuyu-nee just left these words before leaving...no, you're the one who destroyed the door!

*KLUNK* *KLUNK* *KLUNK*.

"Haa! Haa! Haa!"

*KINK* *KINK* *KINK*

"Fuu! Fuu! Fuu!"

The night sky covered the first arena, and the red and blue machines let out heavy metallic sounds as they ran around the track.

"Haa, Cecilia! Thi-This is all your fault!

"Fuu, fuu! What! Houki-san, stop mistaking things! Fuu, fuu!"

*KLUNK* *KLUNK* *KLUNK*

"I-I'll settle this one day...!"

"That-That's my line...!"

Both of them glared at each other as they slowed down. Either way, the IS' too heavy.

"Gu, gu, gu, 6 rounds, left..."

"I-I won't lose...definitely...!"

Trying to vent the anger that they couldn't vent on Ichika, Houki and Cecilia continued to glare at each other as they continued to run in the middle of the night.



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