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Infinite Stratos - Volume 1 - Chapter 1


Chapter 1: All my Classmates are Female

"Everyone's here, right? Then let's start the SHR (student homeroom meeting)--"

The vice homeroom teacher, Yamada Maya-sensei, who introduced herself before, stood in front of the blackboard as she earnestly smiled at everyone.

She has a petite figure, and doesn't look any different than a student. However, wearing clothes that didn't quite match her body made her look even more petite. And it looked ever more out of place with her large olive green eyes, behind her hazy glasses.

How should I say it? Instead of saying that it was a disproportionate sense of 'a kid wearing adult clothes'...it was more like a kid being forced into adult clothes, and it seemed that I wasn't the only one thinking like this.

"Then everyone, let's get along with each other over the next year~"

"......"

However, the classroom was filled with an awkward mood, nobody reacted.

"Now, let's move on to self-introductions. Mm, we'll go by seating arrangements."

Even though I thought that the vice homeroom teacher was a little cute when she panicked, that didn't stir me with a 'I feel that I've got to do something' kind of state of mind, because unfortunately, I had no time for that.

If you want to know why,

The reason is simple: excluding me, everyone in the class is a girl.

Today is the high school entrance ceremony, and for the first day, a new world opened up. That itself was good, something worth being happy about.

However, the primary problem is that I'm the only boy.

(This... is a lot more serious than I thought...)

It wasn't just me over-thinking it, but in fact, I really could feel the gazes of all the girls in my class.

Besides, my seat isn't preferable. Why was I placed right in the front middle row of the class? My extremely unmistakeable upper body continued to be noticed even though I didn't want it to.

My eyes turned toward the windows.

"..."

Though I sent a pleading look, the sad thing is that my childhood friend, Shinonono Houki turned her head away irritably, pretending to look outside. Such a cold reaction. Is this the attitude that a childhood friend should show after being separated for 6 years? No... Does she completely hate me now?

"...kun, Orimura Ichika-Kun."

"Ye-yes!?"

Suddenly having my name called out, I subconsciously responded. As expected, there were snickers, and it was difficult to stay calm.

Even though it's not like I'm bad at handling girls, there's always a limit. It's similar to liking ramen and letting it be the main course, I'd get sick of it in less than 3 days. Sigh, I don't know. Besides, I never liked ramen to that extent...eh, I shouldn't be thinking about that now.

Anyway, I'm the only boy in the class, there are 29 other female students in this class, and the assistant homeroom teacher is a female as well. As for the homeroom teacher...I don't know, but he or she is likely to be a female as well. It seems that she hasn't arrived yet. What is she doing now?

"W-well, I'm sorry for calling you out so loudly. Did I startle you? Sorry-sorry! But, the self-introductions... we started from 'あ' (a) , and now we're at 'お (o)' for Orimura-san now. So, pl-please, could you introduce yourself? Co-could you?"

The vice homeroom teacher, Yamada Maya-sensei, bowed politely. However, the bowing caused her spectacles to slide forward. And her air of 'anything goes' really worried me. Speaking of which, is she really older than me? If it was said that she's as old as me, I could believe that.

"No, there's no need to apologize... besides, it's just a self-introduction, so please calm down, sensei."

"Re-really? Really? Really? Yo-You said it, so you better do it properly, okay?!"

Yamada-sensei suddenly looked up and grabbed my hand, and held it really tightly... well, it seems I just attracted quite a bit of attention again.

However, since I said it, as a man, I can't get out of it. And the most important thing is that once I form a crack here, I have to face this awkward environment again (TN: Most likely, human interaction).

I stood up and turned to face the class.

Uu...

At first, I just thought that I sensed them staring at my back, but now I could definitely feel their gazes piercing through me from the front. Anyway, even Houki, who had abandoned me, glanced over. As expected, even I, who is self-admittedly rather capable of handling girls, was fearful. Even if I like curry—no, I must stay focused.

"Hm-... Well, I'm Orimura Ichika. I'll be in your care."

After I bowed courteously—wait a second? The expressions on my classmates' faces seemed to generate a weird feeling, almost as if they were thinking, 'say something more' and 'it can't be just this, right?'.

It's impossible for me to rattle on about myself. It's not that I'm uninteresting, but I don't want everyone to hear it. Besides, isn't it more troublesome to talk about ones' interests right from the beginning? I'll scare them if I suddenly talk about 'planting and grafting cacti!', right? On a side note, I'm not actually interested in planting and grafting cacti. I just thought I'd mention it as a word of caution.

"..."

I could feel the sweat trickling down my back. What should I do? What should I say?

Speaking of which, why am I here?

--

"Uu—so cold..."

In the middle of February, I, as a third-year, was heading towards the examination center.

"If I only want to get into the high school nearest my house, why must I go to a place that's four stops away from it...and today is so cold..."

Due to a cheating case last year, the government would only divulge the location of each school's entrance exams 2 days before the actual examination took place. Though I felt that it was completely excessive, as you can imagine. I was only a third-year at the time. Besides, what could I say? Basically, I could only think about my bitterness as I grudgingly headed towards the examination center.

My ideal school was the Aoetsu Private School that was situated near my house, a school that was an average standard in education, and also had a school festival.

If there's any special advantage that's worth mentioning, it is that the private school's fees are extremely inexpensive. Exceptionally inexpensive.

Why? That's simple. This is because 90% of all the graduates of this school are employed in jobs related to this school's corporation.

Even if it wasn't like the employment freeze, it's something worth being happy about when you can be taken care of right after your graduation.

And there are so many wonderful jobs out there, and besides, they're all localized. There's no need to worry about flying to a different rural place every other day. Really quite wonderful.

"And in the end, I still want to get away from Chifuyu-nee's care..."

As for my house, a few things happened. My parents are no longer around, and though my older sister, who's a lot older than me, has taken care of me for quite a while, I've always felt inferior to others for having no parents.

Tough, even though we are not destitute since Chifuyu-nee's earnings are good, I'd still feel bad if I continue to be a burden to her.

At first, I thought of working immediately after graduating from middle school, but due to my big sister's overwhelming strength -—- or we could say gentle persuasion --— I couldn't overcome them, so until then, I was still an examinee.

However, getting into Aoetsu Private School was like finding a job. At the same time, I could reduce the burden I've placed on Chifuyu-nee. But, it wasn't really about reducing the burden I placed on her,... it's just that I wanted to do it.

"...Let's just say that I accept what happened before."

Thanks to a year of cramming, I was designated a grade A student. As usual, I went about taking exams, and as usual, I was accepted as per normal, so I wasn't nervous when I walked into the examinations area. Though I knew the name of the examination facility, I didn't exactly know the location, and such a common public facility has many functions. Though it is rare for a private firm to borrow from the public sector, those are all regional enterprises, and many obey it exclusively.

"Hm... Weird, now how do I get to the second floor?"

Not good, I'm lost. Speaking of which, why must this facility be constructed in such a confusing manner? Seems like it was constructed by some designer with a rather good background. Also, that person should be born from some localized industry.

"But what's with this 'I'm too fancy to design this with some semblance of order', feeling about the place ... and, where are the stairs?... " Seriously, to call this place a maze would be an understatement. It's difficult to understand why there aren't any maps on the walls. Glass tiles on the walls in the corridor lowers air conditioning efficiency, right? And wouldn't it be dangerous to set up tiles on those walls if there's an earthquake and thus render them pointless? Wouldn't those lights that are positioned beside one another use quite a lot of electricity? Besides, wouldn't changing them be extremely difficult? Why is the roof so pointlessly high? Hm...

"..."

A third year already and yet I was lost—no, this is just too embarrassing.

"Never mind, I'll open the next door I see. It'll probably be the right one."

Ah, it's so nice to have a door over here. Shall I open it?

"Ah—you are an examinee, correct? Alright, head over to the opposite side and change. We're in a rush here. We can only borrow it up till 4 o'clock, and we can't have any extensions. Really, I don't know what the government is thinking here..."

The moment I walked in, a 30-something, psychotic looking female teacher started to rattle on. However, she really looked busy, or maybe because she was busy or because she lacked judgment —or both—, she gave me step-by-step instructions without even looking at me before she walked away.

(Change clothes? Hm, do we have to change clothes during an exam nowadays? Ahh, the things they think up to handle cheating, no matter which school it is.)

Once I pulled aside the curtain, I found something mysterious behind it.

How should I put it? It was something like a 'medieval armor placed inside a castle'. Also, it was kneeling down on one leg, as if it was swearing loyalty to its master.

In stark contrast to medieval armor, only minor parts were well protected, and probably no one would find such protection acceptable. Anyway, putting that thing over there would make anyone wonder 'what the heck is going on'.

It has the shape of a human, almost as if it were silently waiting for its user to arrive.


—I know what this is, it's an 'IS'.


The actual name is 'Infinite Stratos'. It was originally created as a multipurpose power suit for space operations.

However, its development did not go as the creator had originally intended, but ended up being modified by the other mechanic specialists involved, into a 'war machine'. However, all the other countries designated it as a 'Sport' —a so called high performance— flying device.

The fatal flaw of the 'IS' is that this machine will only react to females.

Thus, right now, the thing in front of me was like a dummy in a windowed cupboard. It didn't do anything, nor will it do anything. It's just an object.

—Thinking about this, I touched it.

"Hm!?"

Ting! A sound of metal echoed in my mind.

Next, all sorts of information appeared in my consciousness. In just a few seconds, all the things that one wants to know yet is unable to know appeared in front of me. The basic movements of the 'IS', operation method, capabilities, characteristics, existing equipment, active time limit, movement range, sensitivity, radar search, armor residue, output gauge, and so on...

As if I had used it for years, as if it was a technique that I refined, I understood everything about it, and mastered it.

The vision was also linked to the sensors, the numbers directly appearing in my mind. I could also feel the information of my surroundings through numbers.

"What, what's going on...?"

It moved. The 'IS'. Like my own hands and feet.

I felt something expanding over my skin-mucosal armor extended... over.

My body suddenly felt light, and I felt as if I were floating—jets operation normal... confirmed.

While my right hand felt increasingly heavy, a weapon started to form out of light, a close-range combat knife... extend.

I felt chilly about this sudden increase in knowledge of the world, ultra-aware components in the most comfortable way... complete.

I understood everything about what it does. Despite not having known it, despite not having ever learned about it, I understood.


And the world that I saw through the data of the 'IS' was like—

--

"..."

—Hm~

Let's confirm the situation again. Today's officially my first day in High School, and I'm currently doing a self-introduction. In front of me are 29 girls, and behind me, it seems like Yamada-sensei is about to cry...oh yeah, Yamada-sensei's name is easy to remember. From up to down, it can be read as 'Ya Ma Da Ma Ya' (ヤマダマヤ). Hm, nice name, it's easy to remember. Anyway, enough small talk.

And yet, my self-introduction hasn't ended. The girls are giving me looks of 'tell us more about yourself!'.

Hey, Houki, aren't you going to give me a hand as a childhood friend?—Ah, she's ignoring me again? So heartless. How about that touching reunion scene again? Even though it never happened.

(Not good. This is bad. If I remain silent like this, I'll end up being branded a 'sinister individual'.)

I held my breath before inhaling deeply, looking determined as I said,

"That's all."

DANG~! Several girls collapsed onto the floor. What were they expecting from me? Stop spouting nonsense.

"That, that..."

Behind me, I could hear a voice crying. Eh? This won't do?

PANG! I got knocked on the back of my head.

"OW—!?"

It hurt, but compared to this, something even more important flashed through my head.

This way of hitting — with suitable force, perfect angle, acceptable speed, someone — though it's extremely similar to someone else's method that I'm familiar with, but...

"..."

I gingerly turned around. Black tight fitting skirt, tall and slim, the body line of someone who doesn't look muscular even after lots of training. Her hands folded in front of her chest, her sharp slim phoenix eyes would remind anyone of wolves.

"Eh, Guan Yu!?"

PANG! There goes another hit. The impact was quite hard, well, look, all the girls are staring.

Black tight fitting skirt, tall and slim, the body line of someone who doesn't look muscular even after lots of training.

"Who's a hero in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms? Idiot?"

A deep voice. Though I have heard the sound effect of a gong, but, eh?

—No, wait, hold on hold on hold on. Why is Chifuyu-nee here? That sister of mine whose job I don't even know about, my own sister who couldn't even make it back home once or twice per month.

"Ah, Orimura-sensei, is the meeting over?"

—This little argument would only end badly. In the end, our connection as siblings was revealed.

"Ah, Yamada-sensei. It's been tough on you, forcing you to make them introduce themselves."

Oh, I've never heard her use such a gentle tone before. Where did Guan Yun Chang go? Did he ride the Red Hare Horse away and change into Liu Bei?

"No, it's nothing. As the assistant homeroom teacher, if I can't even do that..."

The crying disappeared, as vice homeroom teacher Yamada-sensei responded to Chifuyu-nee with such an energetic voice and an attentive look. Ah, she's actually embarrassed.

"Everyone, my name is Orimura Chifuyu, and my duty is that for this one year, I'll be training you in the operations and controls of IS. Everything I teach, you have to remember, and understand. To those who can't understand, I'll teach them till they can. My job is to thoroughly train you during your first year, from the age of 15 to 16. You can dislike my attitude, but you still have to do what I say. Understood?"

What's with this declaration of war? No mistake... this is my older sister, Orimura Chifuyu.

But there weren't any awkward cries, but shrieks,

"KYAAA—! It's Chifuyu-sama, it's the real Chifuyu-sama herself!"

"I've always been your fan!"

"I came to this school from North Kyuushuu because I admired you, onee-sama!"

"I came all the way from southern Hokkaido!"

"I'm so happy to be taught by Chifuyu-sama!"

"I'll gladly die for Chifuyu-sama!"

Chifuyu-nee stared at the chattering girls with a disheartened expression.

"...it's really quite a sight to see so many idiots gather here every year. What a surprise? Or is there a special reason? Are these fools only here to attend my class?"

It's not an act, Chifuyu-nee really is disappointed. Chifuyu-nee, popularity can't be bought you know? How about you be a bit gentler?

I was too naive in thinking this, as sweet as the sweet wine of the Misaka Shrine (that's just sugar water), as sweet as the Gotanda Canteen's pumpkin. Maybe not Tianjin's sweet chestnuts—sweet but not to the extent that I can write something about it, or something like that.

"KYAAAHH! ONEE-SAMA! SCOLD US MORE! CONTINUE TO SCOLD US MORE!!"

"BUT BE GENTLE TO US FROM TIME TO TIME!"

"AND BE EXTREMELY ELEGANT AFTERWARDS~!"

At least my classmates are good at being energetic.

However, I was rather shocked and confused at my homeroom teacher being Chifuyu-nee -- that shouldn't be the case, but I managed to calm down due to all of the girls' shouting. Of course, when there's such turmoil right next to you, one will consciously calm down, or something like that. I've experienced such things before.

"Oi, so you failed at making even a simple greeting?"

Extremely sarcastic, extreme sarcasm — is this the meaning of being strict? My own elder sister who takes care of me, she's just that kind of a person.

"No, Chifuyu-nee, I—"

PANG! That's the third time this has happened today, got that, Chifuyu-nee? 5000 brain cells die every time my head's hit.

"Call me Orimura-sensei."

"...Yes, Orimura-sensei."

"Eh...? Then, it means that Orimura-kun is Chifuyu-sama's younger brother...?"

"Maybe that has something to do with him being the only guy in the world that can use the IS?"

"Ah~ Great. I really wanted to switch him over."

I'll ignore those words for now. Let's move forward.

I came here to this public IS Academy as the only male in the world who can pilot the 'IS'.

The IS Academy is, as its name suggested, an educational corporation meant to nurture IS operators. The Japanese government sees it as a principle duty to fund it and run it. However, the results of the research are revealed to the entire world due to the common agreement, and at the same time, Japan has no right to either remain silent or hide them. No matter what happens in this school, the Japanese government has to intervene fairly, and has the obligation of settling these matters under the premise that all the countries in the treaty have agreed upon. Also, the school has opened its doors to foreign students without any conditions, and the Japanese government is to provide protection—as accorded to the contents of the IS treaty regarding IS pilot training agencies.

This is the school's code of discipline.

Basically, it's like 'damned Japan, creating the IS and causing chaos in the world, the very least you could do is build a school to train individuals in this area of expertise. And hand over your research and technology. Ah, and you will be bearing all the financing costs'. A certain country A is really a rogue.

(Why am I at this school? ...Well, because I activated a test IS in an IS examination arena, but speaking of which, how did I end up getting in there?...)

—Are Aoetsu Gakuen and the IS Academy similar? Anyway, that seemed to be the case.

"..."

Suddenly, in this extremely excited classroom, I felt a stare.

Looking back, Houki, who was just now looking outside the classroom, turned around to stare at me.

(Hm—, though she doesn't look angry... did I do something?)

Never mind, I'll ask her later.

Just as I was thinking about it, the bell rang.

"Oh my, SHR is over. Everyone, I'll have you memorize the basics of IS within the next 6 months. After that, it's practicals, you must let the basic maneuvers sink in as a part of your body's instincts within half a month. Okay? If you understand, answer me. Whether acceptable or otherwise, respond to whatever I announce."

Oh, a demon trainer from Hell. Right now, Chifuyu-nee could be a demon in a human skin. No, I would still be able to handle it if it was a demon, because they aren't human. And yet this person in front of me seemed to acknowledge only half of the human functions, how inconsiderate.

Either way, this Orimura Chifuyu was the first generation IS pilot that represented Japan, and was undefeated in an actual match. However, one day, she announced her retirement and disappeared... which must mean that she came here to teach... she should have at least told me as a family member... I was an idiot for worrying about her.

"SIT DOWN, YOU FOOL!"

Yes, yes ... I'm an idiot.

 

 

"Aahh-..."

I can't bear it. It's too much work. I can't. I'm desperate.

".................."

The first theory class for IS is finally finished, and it is now break. But, I didn't know how to react to the abnormal aura within the classroom.

Incidentally, while the IS institute is a profit-earning business, there is also education about IS, that make up the daily courses. The structure of the school? You can look at the map by yourself.

(But, I couldn't make it out one way or another...)

Apart from me, everyone here is a girl. Not only my class, but everyone in the school.

Incidentally, the news that 'I'm the only male able to pilot an IS' has also spread throughout the world, everyone knows about me, from the people of the school to the students.

Which is why, in the middle of the corridor there are girls from the other classes, as well as 2nd and 3rd year senpais. Even though I'm used to seeing girls, but in this case, almost no one has approached me to talk. It seems that, from their expressions, schoolgirls of the same year are thinking 'come talk to me'. The air filled with 'Hey, are you running away from your problems', kind of tension bearing aura.

By the way, even though the IS Academy is the world's only specialized IS school, a lot of schools with the intention of stimulating their students enter them in the IS study program so they can take advanced studies.

And these types of schools are 100% all-female. However, in the end, the girls from such schools have almost no immunity against males, and as for the boys in a normal society, there's a dilemma about their status.

The current weapons are waste metal in front of an IS, that's why the balance of the world's military has been broken. And because IS was invented by the Japanese, Japan had monopolized the IS technology. The other countries that had become more aware of the threat signed an IS Application Protocol—commonly called the 'Alaska Treaty', and had authorized the disclosure of the IS's technology and sharing of information, establishing a foundation of world research institutions, and prohibiting military usage, among other things.

That is why, the number of IS pilots in a country has a very close relationship with its military force (a credible defense force). Only girls can be pilots, so all the involved countries created a prioritized female protection program.

That's why, because the ideology that 'woman = great' was accepted, in the last ten years women had become considered superior to men.

When suddenly an equal 'man' had appeared, it was obvious that there would be curiosity first.

(After that, we arrive at our present predicament.)

By chance I looked over at the girl sitting in the next desk, and though she was staring at me before, she immediately looked away in a panic. It created a feeling of anxiety of 'being approached'.

Also, becoming the object of the entire country's girls' admiration, along with being titled Orimura Chifuyu's little brother seemed to make things very complicated.

(Who could lend me a hand in this kind of situation...)

Suddenly, I thought about my old friend Gotanda Dan. That guy always said that he envied me, where is he now? It still isn't too late to switch places with me.

"...Excuse me for a moment."

"Eh?"

Suddenly, someone talking to me. Seemed like there's a winner among the girls who were trying to duke it out?...No, from the almost silent conversations that were carried out inside and outside of the classroom, there's only one girl who would do so.

"...Houki?"

"..."

In front of my eyes stood the childhood friend whom I last saw six years ago.

In front of my eyes stood the childhood friend whom I last saw six years ago.

Shinonono Houki. We learned kendo together in the same dojo. Her hairstyle was still in the ponytail I remembered. Her more than shoulder-length hair was tied together with a single white ribbon (Shinonono dojo is a half-shrine).

Even though her height is the average for girls of her age, an effect of her practising kendo over these long years is that she has acquired a slender shape. According to her, she was born with her scowl. ... no, even the possibility of being hated by her isn't zero. Actually, when she called my name, it wasn't just my imagination that she was angry.

My impression of Houki, is someone that reminds you of a katana, which has in these six years grown ever sharper.

"Is it OK if we talk in the corridor?"

It's probably hard to talk in the classroom. Forget it, if it can pull me out of this current uncomfortable situation, nothing else matters. It's really a childhood friend who lends a hand. Not fickle. Wanting to apologize to me for what she said before. Ah, me.

"Quickly."

"I-I know."

Houki hurried to the corridor, and the girls gathered there stepped away in the blink of an eye. Like Moses parting the sea.

Even though I came out to the corridor, Houki and I were surrounded by others four meters in diameter. Also, I kinda had the feeling that everyone was eavesdropping. The classroom was also silent.

"By the way..."

"What?"

I just thought about it, so I initiated the conversation. Say Houki, you asked me to come but you're not saying anything, is it too late?

"Last year, you won the world kendo championship, right? Congratulations."

"..."

After Houki heard me say that, her mouth immediately became the shape of a 'へ', and her cheeks turned red. ...Huh? Why is she angry? I was obviously congratulating her.

"Why do you know that?"

"Why, because I saw it in the newspaper..."

"Why, why did you see it in something like a newspaper."

What are you getting at, Houki? I don't understand. It's obvious that one reads newspapers, when they like them. Also, even though I haven't heard you speak for a long time, you haven't changed a bit, still talking like a man, like a warrior.

"Ah--also."

"Wh-what?"

"..."

"Ah, no..."

Finally I noticed the hostile attitude, Houki becoming uneasy, and now inconceivably excited. Unbelievable girl.

"It's been a long time since we have seen each other. Even though it's been six years, I still recognized you immediately."

"Eh..."

"You see, the same hairstyle." I pointed at my own head while saying this, and Houki immediately started playing with her ponytail.

"At-at least you still remember."

"That, I can't forget that, since we are childhood friends. "

"..."

A fierce gleam flashes. I'm still being glared at. Huh-, why?

Ding--Dong--Dang--Dong.

Aye, time has already passed. The bell announcing the second period rings, and the bunch that had encircled Houki and me consequently dispersed. They spread like wildfire. Hmm... no wonder they're IS pilots, their actions are swift.

"Let's return to the classroom too."

"I-I know."

Houki immediately showed an unhappy face, and hurried back in the same manner she came. It seems that this childhood friend of mine has no intention of waiting for me. Six years and she has already become like this? -No, that's not it. Houki was like this from the very beginning.

Resolute in following through her decisions, improving herself steadily day by day, engaging in training daily, stubborn and unyielding. Shinonono Houki is a girl who is more befitting of these descriptions than any guy. She hasn't changed since elementary school.

"..."

She was still staring at me fiercely. That's not good, did she read my mind? Houki has, since childhood, always seemed to become especially acute to when someone has spoken ill of her. -No, I'm not speaking ill of you. It's entirely my wish.

Bang!

"Why aren't you sitting already, Orimura."

"I'm very grateful to be under your guidance, Orimura-sensei."

It's only morning, and twenty thousand of my brain cells have already died.

 

 

"...Thus, the basic operations of IS have to be guided by the country. If no permission is granted, we have to pursue criminal responsibilities..."

Yamada-sensei continued with her lesson ever so eloquently. However, I didn't understand anything at all.

"..."

Five heavy books were sitting in front of me. Just flipping to the top most page, I could only see columns and columns of meaningless text. .

(Er, is it only me? Am I the only one who doesn't understand what's going on? Do the rest know? This active whatever offsets that wide-area something, what does it mean? Does it mean that I have to memorize everything...?)

I took a peek at the girl on the next table, and could only see her listening to Yamada-sensei's words, nodding away and jotting down notes from time to time.

(Ku... don't tell me those rumors about IS students studying before they enrolled are true...)

IS pilots have a direct link with our national security strength, so in a certain sense, this school exists to groom the elites. Also, these are scholars who managed to ace exams several times tougher than regular entrance exams.

(Though I'm not too interested in being an elite... hm-, can't let this continue. Anyway, got to study.)

Feeling somewhat inferior, I lowered my head, and unknowingly, I peeked over at the girl who was jotting down notes.

"Is-, is there something wrong?"

As expected, after the girl noticed me looking at her, she expressed surprise and nervousness, showing a forced smile that conveyed a certain kind of expectation.

"Ah, no, it's nothing. Sorry."

"Is-, is that so?"

After hearing that, the girl showed me a look of relief and disappointment, before returning back to working in her notebook...hm~ did I do something to upset her?

"Is there something you don't understand, Orimura-kun?"

Yamada-sensei noticed me talking to the girl besides me, and thus specifically asked me.

"Ah, that..."

I again looked back at the textbooks —mm, I don't understand anything at all.

"If you have any questions, please ask me. I'm a teacher after all."

Yamada-sensei lifted her chest up and answered confidently. Oh, maybe she really is reliable. Alright, I'll give it a go.

"Yamada-sensei!"

"Yes, Orimura-kun?"

An answer that's full of enthusiasm. Seems like this will work, as expected of a teacher.

"I don't understand anything at all."

I honestly blurted out my shortcoming. When I do this, usually others tend to empathize with me.

"Erm...ev, everything...?"

Yamada-sensei looked extremely bothered and was wearing a completely stiff expression...that's weird? Where did that reliable teacher go?

"Th-Then...except for Orimura-san, is there anybody else who doesn't understand the current lesson up till this point?"

Yamada-sensei raised her hand to prompt the class.

Silence...

Strange, that's too strange. Nobody raised their hand. If they only understood half of it to begin with, they'll definitely regret it in the future. Is that alright, is that really alright, with everyone?

"...Orimura, did you read the reference book before entering the school?"

Waiting for an opportunity at the side of the classroom, Chifuyu-nee asked this. Alright, I decided to reply honestly.

"I mistook it for the old telephone book and threw it away."

PANG!

"Didn't I write 'compulsory to read' on it, you fool?"

Another 5,000 of my brain cells died. Damn it, it'll be cheaper to have the coroner give me a checkup now.

"I'll issue you another copy later, but you must memorize it within a week, got it?"

"No, that, the thickness is a little..."

"I'm telling you to do it."

"...Fine, I'll do it."

Already surpassing the designation of demonic sergeant, Chifuyu-nee glared at me. A devil, she's a devil in human clothing. She's a human and yet she's so inconsiderate, how could she not understand the limitations of human beings?

"Whether it's in terms of mobility, firepower or suppressing ability, the IS far surpasses all the older weapons in that aspect. If you don't understand this weapon 'thoroughly' before operating it, accidents will occur. We teach you basic knowledge and train you to prevent such accidents from occurring. Even if you can't understand, memorize it, and remain strong and steady. These are the rules and regulations."

Yes, that's completely true.

Let me add on one thing, I didn't wish to be here.

One day, a group of black-clad men came up beside me, said something about 'we'll protect you' and left a notification letter regarding enrolment into the IS Academy. I don't understand, does this 'protection' consist of tossing a boy into a girls' garden and abandoning him? Right now, I want protection, and Chifuyu-nee's the reason.

"...You brat, you're thinking that you didn't come here of your own choice, right?"

I was shocked. Why did she consider it alright to reveal my thoughts so brazenly?

"No matter whether you wished for it or not, people can't get away from an interactive life. If you want to abandon it, abandon your identity as a human first."

As sharp as ever, it's about time for me to face reality. Chifuyu-nee was a realistic person right from the very beginning, and I know the reason.

"..."

Ho— looks like I have to work.

Well, maybe I won't be able to get to the level where Chifuyu-nee wont be all red in the face, but at least I don't want her to be embarrassed on the professional field.

I won't abandon my family members, unlike my parents who I had never seen.

"Th-Then, Orimura-kun, I'll teach you everything that you don't know, so you must work hard? Alright? Alright?"

Yamada-sensei tightened her hands and closed in. As she's shorter than me, it naturally turned to her shyly looking away.

"Yes. Then, I'll leave it to sensei after school."

After saying that, I sat down. Chifuyu-nee also returned to the side of the classroom.

"After-, after school... a teacher together with a student, two people alone after school... Ah! No, no, Orimura-kun. Your sensei will become weak when she's forced... and this is my first time with a guy..."

Suddenly blushing and saying such things. Yamada-sensei, are you alright? IS pilots really have no resistance to males. Speaking of which, all the stares directed at me were very uncomfortable. If these stares could generate a physical force, I would have become a pincushion.

"How-However, if it's Orimura-sensei's younger brother, then..."

"Ah—ack ack! Yamada-sensei, continue with the lesson."

"Ye-Yes!"

Chifuyu-nee coughed twice, causing Yamada-sensei to return from her fantasy.

Yamada-sensei frantically moved back to the stage— and failed.

"Uu—it hurts..."

(...Is she alright? This teacher...)

Only then did I realize just how many catastrophes I would be in for.

--

"Ahh, can I have a moment?"

"Huh?"

During the break after the second period, again I was confronted with a feeling of uneasiness. Suddenly being asked to talk caused my response to come out somewhat weird.

The girl who asked was naturally blond. She's stared at me, and her blue eyes that are held exclusively by people of white descent revealed a sense of unhappiness.

Her hair was slightly curled up, giving off a sense of nobility. Her radiating demeanour was the one which women normally give off in today's society.

In current day society, due to the IS, women are given higher status. It's not just a privilege, even the archetype of 'women = great' came into being. At the same time, men were relegated to being slaves, manual labor. Right now in the city, it's not rare to see men being abused by women they never met on the streets.

Anyway, in the minds of the women nowadays, men are basically considered servants. To be honest, that's not necessarily a bad role.

On a side note, since this IS Academy has the duty to accept a large number of students, it's not rare to see foreign students enrolled here. As a result of this, only about half the girls in the class are Japanese.

"Are you listening? Hello?"

"Ah-, ah, yes, I'm listening... was there something you wanted?"

Upon hearing my reply, the girl in front of me deliberately increased her volume.

"Wait a second! What are you saying? Just the fact that I'm talking to you should be enough to make you feel greatly honored. Shouldn't you have a better attitude towards me?"

"..."

To be honest, this is the kind of person that I'm the worst at dealing with.

Being able to use an IS means that a person will become part of their country's military. Thus, IS pilots are held in high regard, and currently, only females are IS pilots.

But the difference between that and flaunting power is that, if the power is begotten through violence, it's just a tool for violence.

"I'm sorry. But I have no idea who you are."

It's true. Even though I did pay attention to the self-introductions and all sorts of rhetoric, I couldn't recall what was said before. In my defense, Chifuyu-nee being my homeroom teacher was a rather shocking experience.

However, my reply didn't seem to go over too well with the girl in front of me (it would be great if she would tell me her name). She narrowed her eyes to slits and said in a tone conveying complete contempt with regards to men.

"You don't recognize who i am? You don't know who Cecilia Alcott is? You've never heard of me? The representative candidate student for England and the top scorer on the school's entrance exam?"

Ah, so her name's Cecilia. Oh—

"Well, may I ask a question?"

"Humph, it's the job of a noble to answer the requests made by people of the lower class, so you may ask."

"What's a representative candidate student?"

KA—THUNK! Several girls eavesdropping on our conversation collapsed onto the floor.

"A, a, a..."

"Ahh?"

"Are, are you serious?"

She really looked angry now. If this were a manga, she would most likely have a crossed-vein popping out of her forehead.

"Ah. Because I really don't know."

If I don't know something, I have to honestly admit to it. It would be to my own demise if I did otherwise and still wanted to try to maintain a good standing.

"..."

After being angry for a bit, Cecilia actually calmed down. She pressed her thumb against her temples, conveying a headache, grumbling...

"I can't believe this, this is really quite unbelievable. Though this is a land to the far east, this is not some under developed country. This is common knowledge, common knowledge. Don't tell me you don't have a television..."

How rude, I do have a television, it's just that I don't normally watch it.

"What's a representative candidate?"

"The pilot of a country's IS is decided from the pool of representative candidates, which means the elites...you, should be able to understand what the words mean."

"Now that you mentioned it, that does ring a bell."

Seems like it's true that it's easier to forget simple things.

"That's right, we're elites."

Oh, she revived. As expected of a representative candidate.

She pointed her finger at me, the tip nearly touching the tip of my nose.

"It's a miracle for you get into the same class with the chosen ones... you should feel blessed. Do you realize the situation that you're currently in now?"

"Is that so? How fortunate for me."

"...Are you trying to make a fool out of me?"

Wasn't it you who told me how lucky I was?

"In the first place, you knew nothing about IS', and yet you were able to make it into this school. When I first heard that you were the only male in the world who could pilot an IS. It had me expecting a lot more of you."

"Making assumptions about me, will only leave me in an uncomfortable situation."

"Humph. Because I'm an elite, I'll even be nice to people like you."

Oh, what a friendly attitude. This is the first time I've experienced something like this during my 15 years of life.

"If you don't fully understand anything regarding IS, hmmm... if you cry and beg me, I may be inclined to teach you. After all, I'm an elite amongst elites, the 'only' one who defeated an instructor during the entrance exam."

It feels like she purposely emphasized on the word 'only' —eh, hm?

"That's the entrance exam you're talking about, right? Are you talking about initiating the IS?"

"What else?"

"That? Well, I managed to beat an instructor as well."

"Huh...?"

That's what happened. Though rather than defeated, I evaded the instructor that had suddenly come charging towards me. She accidentally crashed into the wall and was unable to move. That's all.

Maybe my words caused quite a shock to her, since Cecilia widened her eyes in disbelief.

"But, but I heard that I was the only one?"

"Maybe it's because I'm not a girl?"

*Pacha*. Ah, that's not a good sound. It sounded like walking on cracked ice.

"In-, in other words, I'm not the only one?"

"Well, I don't know."

"You! You said that you beat an instructor, right?"

"Mm, well. Something like that."

"Something like that? What do you mean by that?"

"Erm, calm down, okay?"

"How-? How can I calm down after hearing that—?!"

DING—DONG—DANG—DONG.

The bell for third period interrupted our conversation. It felt like a saving grace to me now.

"...! I'll be back! Don't run away! All right?"

Not good, such a reply would likely make her angry. I had to promise her.

"For the remaining time, we'll mainly be describing all sorts of equipment that can be used in actual combat, and their characteristics."

Chifuyu-nee replaced Yamada-sensei, who taught the first and second period lessons, as she stood at the front. It seemed like this was important, as even Yamada-sensei took out a notebook.

"Ah, but before that, we have to decide on the class representative who'll take part in the inter-class tournament."

Suddenly thinking about it, Chifuyu-nee seemed to have mentioned it before. Hm? Inter-class tournament? Representative?

"The class representative is as its name indicates. The class representative will not only compete in the tournament, but will also attend student council meetings and committee meetings as well. Well, you can consider it like a class leader. On a side note, the inter-class battles are meant to gauge each enrolled class' ability. Though there isn't much difference right now, competition will encourage further improvement."

The class started to become abuzz. Not knowing what was going on, I didn't even know the significance of all of this. Hm, anyway, what I can deduce is that we're deciding on our class rep now. Seems like it'll be extremely bothersome, and the person who'll be doing it will have quite a rough time.

"Sensei, I recommend Orimura-kun!"

—Hm? There's someone else who's called Orimura in this class? What a coincidence.

"I feel that it's a good idea too!"

Hm. So do I. Anyone will do, as long as it's not me.

"Then the candidate will be Orimura Ichika... is there anyone else? You can either nominate yourself or another person, both are fine."

Hoho, wait there's only one Orimura Ichika in this class... —ACK, there's no way this could happen!

"M-Me?"

I immediately stood up, and what struck me were the piercing stares. Even without looking back, I knew that they conveyed irresponsible expectations of 'if it's him, he can do it'.

"Sit down, Orimura, you're a troublesome sight. Then, isn't there anyone else? If so, Orimura will be elected without a vote."

"W-Wait a second! I don't want this—!"

"I said that no matter whether you nominated yourself or someone 'else' nominated you, the one nominated doesn't have the right to refuse. The one nominated should be prepared already."

"Ev-Even if I'm not willing—"

Just as I was trying to protest, I got cut off by a highly enthusiastic voice.

"Hold on a minute! I can't accept this outcome!"

*PAM!* Cecilia slammed her hands against the table as she got up, her figure became a lot more intimidating. Oh, so that's how you exert yourself. I really have to get on her good side.

"This kind of election outcome is totally unacceptable! Anyway, having a man as our class representative is totally disgraceful! Do you expect me, Cecilia Alcott to endure this embarrassment for a whole year?"

That's right, talk, keep talking... hm?

"In terms of ability, it's obvious that I should be the class representative. It'll be troubling if some rare far-east monkey is to be chosen because he is a rare breed! I came to this island country to polish up my IS skills, and I have no interest in joining a circus!"

That's weird, how come I'm no longer human? Why? Speaking of which, Britain is an island itself, right? That means that Britain and Japan aren't much different.

"Isn't that right!? Only the most talented can be the class representative, and I'm the most suitable one!"

She could not hold back her excitement—speaking of which, as Cecilia was getting more into it, her choices of words were getting more and more crude, more anger-driven. Though I didn't want to be the class rep, even a simpleton would get somewhat upset from being told off to such an extent.

"In the first place, living in such a country with an underdeveloped level of culture is excruciatingly painful for me—"

Boom.

"Even if Britain's a powerful country, you're far too arrogant on your part, right? How many years has it been now that you've won the world's worst cuisine award?"

—Ah.

"Wha...!?"

In the end, I said it. Just like that, it slipped out of my mouth.

I gingerly turned my head to face her. Right now, Cecilia could only be described as furious, the thoroughly red face indicating her rage.

Wah... I messed up...

"You, you, you! Are you insulting my country?"

Ah—. Really, now there was no way I could stop this. Right now, we're past the point of no return.

"It's a duel!"

*PAM!* Cecilia slammed her hands on the table. In the next instant, she would have thrown her gauntlets, had she been wearing any. In other words, this is a battle of pride?

"Oh, great, bring it on. It's better than a debate anyway."

"You talk big. Since you deliberately asked for defeat, I'll accept you as a servant —no, a slave!"

"Don't look down on me. This is a serious showdown, don't try and do it halfheartedly."

"Is that so? Perfect timing, this will be the perfect opportunity for me, Britain's candidate, Cecilia Alcott to display her ability."

In the end it became a duel, a boy shouldn't be fighting seriously with a girl, right? What should I do?

"How much of a handicap do you want?"

"Oh my, asking for a favor so soon?"

"No, I'm asking how much of a handicap I should give you."

At that moment, the class erupted with laughter.

"O-Orimura-kun, are you serious?"

"Isn't a man being stronger than woman a story of the past?"

"Orimura-kun. Maybe you can pilot an IS, but that's just overdoing it."

Everyone was seriously laughing —damn it, that seemed to be the case.

Of course, men are overwhelmingly weaker. They're powerless. It's true that only a few can pilot an IS, but all females are potential IS pilots. In contrast, men logically can't pilot an IS at all. If a war happened because of a difference in views between men and women, the male faction probably wouldn't even last 3 days. If there's a champion, we'd likely be suppressed within 3 hours. This is because as a super weapon, an IS far exceeds fighter planes, tanks and battleships of the past.

"...Then I won't give you a handicap."

"Yes, that should be the case. More accurately, it bothers me that I don't have to give you a handicap. Hum hum, saying that men are stronger than women, Japanese males really have quite a sense of humour."

The excitement had just now died down. Though, Cecilia's expression is one of contempt.

"Hey, Orimura-kun, it's not too late, you know? You can still get Cecilia-san to give you a handicap?"

The girl sitting diagonally behind me sincerely advised. However, the complicated expression of hers—the laughter and smirk that she was visibly holding back made me even angrier.

"A man would never go back on his word. I have no need of a handicap."

"Hai —a representative candidate is being looked down on. Or is it that you don't know what an IS battle looks like?"

"..."

To be honest, I had never seen a real IS battle before. At most, I secretly watched videos of Chifuyu-nee while she was doing her military service (because Chifuyu-nee didn't want to see me get involved with IS).

"Then, we have a common understanding. The battle will take place next Monday in the 3rd arena. Orimura and Alcott, make sure you are well prepared. Now, let's get back to the lesson."

Chifuyu-nee clapped her hands to end the conversation. I harbored an uneasy feeling as I sat down, speechless.

(I can master the basics in a week. It shouldn't be too hard. Also, I did manage to activate it during the entrance exams. Never mind, I'll think of something once I get there.)

However, after I get past that battle, I'll be taking the position of class representative. Though it's a headache, I can't back down now. And I won't get a second chance.

(Alright, time to pay attention to class.)

I immediately opened the textbook on the table.

 


"Ugh..."

After school, I moaned while tiredly sprawling on to the table.

"No, I didn't understand anything at all... why must it be so complicated...?"

Anyway, I became a soldier specialized in terminology, and had to investigate all sorts of vocabulary. However, it seemed like there wasn't any IS specific terminology, which in other words means that I hadn't done anything constructive today.

Even though it was after school, the situation hadn't changed a single bit. As usual, the other students from different years and classes weren't approaching me, and were instead muttering things amongst themselves.

(Ku... spare me the agony...)

It was the same during afternoon break, and it could be said that I was in a living hell. I went to the cafeteria, and all the girls were following behind me, and it wasn't like they were my honor guards. And when I went to the canteen, the situation was like Moses splitting the sea, and I ended up in a blank slate situation. Am I some mystical animal who only just arrived in Japan for the first time? Speaking of which, there seemed to be one species of Mexican Salamander that's commonly talked about (An amphibian axolotl). I couldn't even tell what kind of creature it was with just the name alone.

"Ah, Orimura-kun, you're still in the classroom? That's good."

"Is there something you needed?"

Being addressed, I lifted up my head. It was my vice homeroom teacher, Yamada-sensei, standing in front of me holding a book.

She's a teacher no matter how it looks, and as expected, my first impression of her was that she's short, even though she's basically the same height as an ordinary girl.

"Well, your dorm's ready."

Yamada-sensei said as she handed over a paper with the dorm number on it and a key.

That's right, the IS Academy is a boarding school, and the school requires all students to live on the campus. Most likely, this is to protect these IS pilots who have unlimited potential. Truly, these individuals are integral to the future defense of countries. Ever since this school started, there have been a few countries who have tried to tempt them, and this isn't uncommon at all.—Speaking of which, every country has been trying to lure over elite pilots.

"Wasn't my room still undecided on? I heard that it might take a week."

"That's the case, but special circumstances require special solutions; it seems like you were forced to change rooms... Orimura-kun, have you heard anything from the government?"

The last few words were said softly, so that only I could hear them.

On a side note, the government she's referring to is obviously the Japanese government. Without exception, there haven't been any 'male' IS pilots before, so even the country has taken measures to protect and keep watch over me.

Ever since news about me being an IS pilot broke out, it was either the mass media, the ambassadors from other countries, or even human DNA research people that were sent over, saying that 'we have to do a live sample no matter what'. Whoever would go along with that is an idiot.

"Because of those circumstances, the government created a special directive. Anyway, you'll live in a dorm until your room is prepared in a month. So until then, please endure and live with the others."

"...Well, Yamada-sensei, your breath is making my ear all itchy."

Speaking of which, how long is she going to bite on my ear? Everyone else in the class really seems to be enjoying this.

"Ah, no, this is because... it wasn't on purpose..."

"There's no need to apologize, I know... since there's a room for me, I've got to go back and get my stuff. So can I go back home today?"

"Ah, no need. If it's luggage—"

"I've already arranged everything. Be sure that you are grateful for this."

Oh my, this voice definitely belonged to Chifuyu-nee. Immediately, the tune of Darth Vader played in my mind without a moment's hesitation. On a side note, there's also another tune in my mind. It's called the Terminator.

"I-I'm extremely thankful for it..."

"Well, it's just some daily necessities. Some changes of clothing and a cellphone charger should be enough, I suppose."

As expected of an unrefined and careless individual. In truth, she's right, but personally, I feel that everyday conveniences are important as well, nee-san.

"Then please use this time and head to the dormitory. For dinner, please be sure to head down to the first-year dorm cafeteria from 6 to 7pm. On a side note, each room has a shower, and there's a large public bath. The time to use it differs by school year...hm, well, currently, Orimura-kun is not allowed to use the large public bath."

"Eh, why?"

I really like bathing in a large public bath.

"Are you an idiot? Do you want to bath together with girls of the same age as you?"

"Ah—..."

Oh yeah. Besides me, everyone here is a girl.

"Ya, Orimura-kun, you want to bathe with a girl!? No, we can't allow that."

"No, it's not that. I don't want to bathe together."

I don't know if I'm unlucky or what. Speaking of which, it's forbidden outside school as well. This is an ethical issue.

"Wha? You're not interested in girls!? That, that could become a problem..."

What now. She has no clue what I'm talking about.

Immediately as the words left Yamada-sensei's mouth, it spread around rumors like a broken telephone. The females' chatter in the corridors started to intensify.

"Don't tell me Orimura-kun's only interested in guys..."

"However... that's not bad."

"We'll need to check starting from his middle school days! It'll be done soon! The results will be here in 2 days."

Talking about this and that.

"Then, I have a meeting to attend to, so goodbye. Orimura-kun, please head to your dorm room, and don't wander about aimlessly."

Considering that the distance from the school to the dorm is only 50m, do I need to be heading there directly even with it being so close?

It's true that they have all sorts of facilities here, all sorts of club rooms, IS arenas, IS maintenance rooms, and IS development rooms. But today, I won't be able to go to them, and it's not like I won't be able to visit them another day. Therefore, I may as well rest for today. Finally, I will be able to get away from the girls' prying eyes.

"Ho—..."

Watching Chifuyu-nee and Yamada-sensei as they walked out of the classroom, I sighed as I stood up. I could still hear the ruckus coming from both inside and outside the classroom, but today, I won't worry about it anymore. It will be better to be in my dorm than here.

 

"Hm~?, it's here, right? Room 1025."

I confirmed the room number and was about to insert the key. Eh, that's strange? The door was unlocked.

*Kacha*.

I entered the room, I saw 2 large beds, arranged side by side. I dare to bet that even a commercial hotel would not be able to compare to it. Just by looking at them it made me feel all light and fluffy. This should be the difference in level. Long live our country.

Temporarily tossing my luggage onto the floor beside the bed, I immediately leapt at it...ohhh, how soft. These are definitely high-priced beds and quilts.

"Is anyone there?"

Suddenly, a voice came from inside. Maybe since the door was blocking it, the voice sounded a bit deep. Speaking of which, every room should have a bathroom, right? –Hm?

"Ahh, you're my roommate, right? Please take care of me from this year on."

—I had a bad feeling about this, this uneasy feeling trickled up my legs.

"I was using the shower, so I'm sorry for looking like this. My name is Shinonono—"

"—Houki...?"

The one who came out from the bathroom was my childhood friend, who I had completed my reunion with.

She had just finished showering, and now walked out of the bathroom. It seems like the bathroom was constructed to be both a shower and a changing room. And without confirming that the other person was a girl, Houki had walked out with only a towel wrapped around her. Ah, it's not a ponytail.

The small surface area of the towel could mean several things. Below the edges were the naked and tender thighs; and seemingly indicating that she had just showered, the water droplets... skirted down her legs. Healthy white skin is a real eye-opener.

Above that was her slender body that had been rigorously trained, and I could see it even though she had a towel on. It really made my heart race, as I'm really weak toward women with unique curves.

Pressing a hand in front of her chest, the large breasts behind her towel were lifted up. No matter what, the last time I saw her body was during swimming lessons in 4th grade, and it didn't really leave me with much of an impression. To think that Houki would choose to wear thin clothing—the above 0.3 seconds of thought was over.

"..."

Houki was shocked. I was too. The all-Japan's most shocked person tournament had begun.

"I-I-Ichika..."

"Oh-, mm..."

I made a definite reply, and Houki's face became extremely red. Basically, this should happen when two people of opposite genders are face to face with each other after a bath, right? Even I would be rather troubled with how to react and handle a situation like this.

"...? Do-Don't look!"

"So-Sorry!"

I frantically turned my head aside and looked away. From the image I managed to see out of the corner of my eye, Houki had tightly wrapped the towel around herself, as if she was trying to hide her body (or protect it)...the cleavage of her breasts was obvious due to the movements of her arms. This made my heart race even faster.

"Wh-Wh-Why, are, you, here...?"

Houki stiffly asked, and it sounded like gears clattering with one another.

"Well, I'm also staying her—"

Out of the corner of my eye, she took action. Extremely fast, as expected of the champion of the National Kendo competition. Houki grabbed the bokken beside the wall, whirled it around and quickly thrust it forward. She lowered her body and instantly decreased the distance between us –I'm about to die!

"Uootsuge!" (sound effect)

I jumped down from the bed and retreated towards the door.

*Pada!*

I managed to escape outside the room in the nick of time. The inertia created by the joints threw me forward.

"Saved—"

*Chi Dong!* The sound of the door splitting could be heard.

The bokken broke through beside my head, the tip missing me barely by 2mm. Hey, this is a wooden door. To be able to stab a bokken through a wooden door, what kind of skill is this?

*Ci* *ci* *ci*...the blade sank back through the door. Ho, so she's letting me off?

*Ci Dong!* The sound of the wooden door exploding could be heard again.

"Are you really trying to kill me? I'd be dead if I didn't dodge that!"

A sudden barrage of attacks had stabbed through where my head was a few moments ago.

"...What? What?"

"Ah, it's Orimura-kun!"

"Huh—, so Orimura-kun lives in this room? That's a good piece of information~~!"

With all the commotion that was caused, the girls started to emerge from their rooms.

Also, what was troubling was that they were all wearing simple nightgowns, completely oblivious to a guy seeing them in them. Some of them had taken it a step further, wearing only a shirt, and not wearing pants or skirts. Instead, I could see white inverted triangles. In addition, some of them were wearing blouses, and I could see flesh-colored chests...girls, should you really be revealing your underwear so casually? In more ways than one, is this really alright?

"...Houki, Houki-san, please let me in. It's going to turn out badly. I'll apologize, so please, I'm begging you like this."

I clapped my hands together and lift them above my head. I must pass these feelings over.

"..."

The only response I got from inside was silence. However, the bokken was pulled back. I sincerely hoped that there wouldn't be a third attack.

Silence...

After that, it was silent for about 2, 3 minutes, but to me, it felt like an hour.

*Ka cha*.

"...Come in."

"Woah, oh."

The door opened, and Houki was wearing kendo attire. It looked like these were the only clothes she could put on quickly. Truthfully, since she had been hasty in putting them on, she hadn't managed to tie her belt properly.

Either way, I had been granted permission to enter, and I entered my room... eh? There's something strange about that, right?

"What now?"

A fierce glare. I was glared at. Sorry, I didn't do anything wrong.

Houki sat down on the bed. Ah, oh dear, she wants to deal with me inside.

"..."

Looking rather angry, Houki quickly tied her wet hair back into a ponytail. Hm, it was the Houki that I knew, at least that's what she seemed like from the outside.

"So, you said that you're my roommate?"

"Oh, yeah, it seems so."

I was glared at. This girl, her eyes were as sharp as bamboo. Really alert and piercing.

"What-, what's your purpose?"

"Huh?"

"I'm asking what you were thinking? Boys and girls can't share the same bed after they turn 7, it's common sense!"

What era was that from? Even though it's not the same bed, for 15 year old males and females to be living together... err... living together might be problematic.

"Wa, wa, wa...!"

"Wa?"

"Was it because you asked for this...? To be in my room..."

"That's stupid."

Why would I purposely risk my life and choose something like this? Besides, I did not.

—However, it seemed that I had failed with my answer, for if I had not, the bokken wouldn't be flying toward me.

"That-!, that was close!"

A close call. It was really a close call situation that I had blocked the bokken, and there would be a fatality if it had hit. From a certain manner of speech, it was now an empty-handed vs. katana situation. Even though it was a bokken, my palms were still hurting, because there was no way that the assault's strength could be fully canceled.

"Stupid... you're saying that's stupid? So it's like that huh, like that..."

Ah, her expression was scary. Very scary. Even though she says that she's a childhood friend, in fact she's a member of a secret organization, a code-named assassin, tasked with executing a certain assignment.

Even though the wooden sword had been blocked by me, Houki was still continuing to exert pressure on the sword. Not good, this is going to be complicated. It isn't a real sword, so it can't cut me to death, but if this weight hit my head, I'd be knocked out. The worst scenario would be my skull splitting in two. No, it can't end like this.

"..."

No, I withdraw my previous statements. The Houki that was standing before me was already a reaper, so even though it wasn't a real sword, it could still split me into two parts. Also, if you added to the fact that she had been using her own weight from the beginning to force the sword down, it meant that right now the situation looked as if Houki was forcing me down ——

"Waaah... Shinonono-san, very bold"

"You shouldn't take the lead."

"The way Orimura-kun is getting it isn't bad either..."

Hey, what's the meaning of that last comment. Also, five faces were peeking in from outside the open door. There were probably over five times as many in the corridor, also watching what was going on inside the room.

"Wh-wh-wha...?

Houki, greatly surprised, immediately got off my body. I'm saved. My life is preserved.

"Ah, it's already finished?"

"The feeling obviously wasn't bad—"

Hey. Do high school girls nowadays say 'the feeling wasn't bad' when they see a murder scene? Please remember. In a few moments you'll see me giving your e-mail addresses to Gotanda.

".........!"

Houki quietly chased the girls out, and whole-heartedly closed the door. As if entering a scene of murder, it looked like establishing a fictional setting was the highest priority. Though, what about the alibi? No, wait a moment, it was only that I didn't think about it, maybe that girl has some assurance, and she'll be protected. What's that? That way the victim could disappear. What a scary world.

"...Ichika..."

"Yes, what is it?"

I am facing death, without entanglement. Ah, humans arriving to this point are unimpeded.

"What's with your face..."

"?"

Wasn't it like this when I was born?

"Nothing, that, about the situation right now?"

Ah, how I will be executed. You know, Houki, the problem with murder isn't what's before, but after. The human body is composed of slightly over 50kg of lipids (fat) and proteins. It also includes about more than 10L of blood. After that are the neglected bones in the skeleton. In fact, the discomposure of the upper part of the skeleton is quicker. Isn't it different from what we think? That is why most people are puzzled. For the analysis of the skeleton a considerable amount of experience is needed, and if you do it one by one, a lot of time will be wasted. That's when the freezer comes in to play. The freezer...

"Are you listening, Ichika?"

"Uh-, uh!? What!? No I'm not!?"

"Is there someone who would actually say that he isn't, stupid..."

She sighed, as if she were resigning, seemingly amazed. Hmm, it seems that I did something wrong. Considerable amount of guilt. So I didn't feel comfortable. But if I had run away, I wouldn't be a man.

"So-Sorry, can you tell me again..."

Someone who acknowledges their own faults needs to lower their head. It's common sense everywhere in the world.

——Even though I don't think like that, but in front of an angry individual, one ought to acknowledge their faults first. That way the world could grow in harmony.

"That-, that's why. To be placed in this room... that-, what. That means that drawing a line in the aspect of living is needed..."

The voice was indistinct at first, but she said the latter half forcefully. Say, why is Houki looking very uncomfortable? It's probably psychological, her cheeks are also red... a fever?

"First is the bathing schedule. Mine is from seven o'clock to eight. Ichika is from eight to nine."

"Uhm, isn't it better if mine is earlier..."

"Do you want me to wait with my body drenched by sweat from my club activities!?"

"Club activities, is it the kendo club?"

"Ye-Yeah."

"Weird. Doesn't the club have showers?"

"I-, I don't feel easy if it's not in my own room!"

Uh, if you say it like that then I can't object to it. I also think that the washroom at home is better than the ones at school.

"Oh? Speaking of which, there's no toilet in our private rooms right?"

"Yeah, there are only two at either end of each floor."

"That means, there aren't any men's bathrooms?"

I just thought about this problem merely by chance. But it's really like this, from the IS academy's foundation there were only girls, so there wasn't any reason to make a men's bathroom.

"......"

"Eh, that, what should I do?"

"I don't know! Can't you just ask a teacher?"

Even if you say it like that, but in the worst case——

"In the worst case, only the women's bathroom can be used...?"

A killing intent suddenly burst forth, and I immediately turned around. I saw Houki, again holding her sword. She pointed at me with her bokken, conveying an aura of a reaper.

"You, you, we haven't seen each other for a long time, and you've engaged in these perverted interests... I've misjudged you!"

"Hey!? Why would I become what you said, Houki!?"

"Isn't it obvious! Wanting to go into the women's bathroom, if you're not a pervert then what else could you be!? Hum, I'll execute you right now!"

"Like I'd let you!"

For the time being I found a shinai at the edge of her luggage. It was near Houki's personal things, stacked by her suitcase.

(I need to use the shinai well... you, in the past you didn't need me nagging)

If the bokken and the shinai cross, the shinai could break. Anyway I'll just be holding the shinai until Houki calms down. With that thought I pulled out the sword.

(Hmm? It seems like there's something blocking the shinai preventing it from being pulled out)

*Shaa*.

"Aaaaaahhhhh!?"

Finally I pulled out the shinai, and confronted Houki while keeping a reasonable distance between us.

"?"

In front of the shinai, Houki's mouth was opening and closing like a goldfish. Panicking and looking freaked out.

"Hmm? That, what's that...?

I suddenly noticed something unusual attached to the shinai. If I try to summarize, it has a structure of two parallel triangles attached together, and the thing is——

"Re-re-return it to me!!"

She quickly tried snatching at it, the bokken had been abandoned on the bed.

With unbelievable speed Houki grabbed the thing attached to the shinai, and she covered it with both of her hands.

"........."

Weird? Why is she staring at me while blushing? A fever?


——Ah.


Suddenly, I thought about the things in relation to one another. I know what the thing with which I was in contact is. I finally understood.

"Houki."

"Wh-what?"

As if she was protecting something, Houki changed from the offensive. Now she was vigilant in keeping distance between herself and me.

I looked at the gap, and clearly saw a light pink, light blue fabric. Ah, I'm sure now.

"I see you've started wearing bras."

"~~~~~~!!!"

Dong! An explosive sound rang inside my head.


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