Chapter 4: Mysterious Lady
"Tatenashi-san! TATENASHI-SAN...YOU DID THAT TO HER!?"
Even though she got pierced by the armored leg, Tatenashi looked undisturbed. On a closer look, the spot the Arachne stabbed through didn't even leave a single bit of blood.
"What's with you...? I didn't feel like I hit you...?"
Tatenashi smiled, and at the next moment, her body collapsed.
Splash, the thing that turned into Tatenashi spread out.
"You bastard...is that water?"
"Good answer. It's called a water fake."
The casual voice rang from behind Autumn.
Tatenashi swung her spear at the shocked Autumn, who turned around her head in shock.
"Oh my? Did I cut you too thinly? That IS of yours is really mobile."
"What are you?"
"My name's Sarashiki Tatenashi, and my IS is the [Mysterious Lady]. You've got to remember that."
Tatenashi smiled. The IS on her is one Ichika never saw before.
The armor's narrow and small.
However, the parts that didn't have the armor form a transparent liquid-like thing. It felt just like a water veil.
The lady with a unique appearance that's surrounded in mist had crystal shaped items floating on both left and right sides, and they were really eye-catching.
The objects called Aqua Crystals activated the screens of water that covered Tatenashi like a huge windbreaker.[5D 1]
"Heh! I'll kill you now!"
"Ufufu. That's really some classic line from a villain, which means I'll definitely win."
After saying that, Tatenashi used the spear to attack.
In contrast to Autumn and her [Arachne] IS that managed to attack continuously with 8 legs and 2 hands, Tatenashi just used a spear to block them all.
"Damn you! Don't get cocky, kid!"
Drawing two daggers from her waist, Autumn turned all her armored legs on the back into firing mode to fight in long range.
"That painless attack of yours isn't going to break through my water shield."
The water veil blocked the live rounds of attacks that rained in like a storm, nullifying them.
The bullets immediately lost their speed on entering the water veil, and stopped as they were captured by the water.
"Isn't that just ordinary water?"
"Oh my, aren't you the alert one? This water's controlled by the nanomachines in the IS. Amazing, isn't it?"
Even though Tatenashi was saying that, she didn't stop moving her arms.
She used the spear to skillfully flick away the two knives in Autumn's hand, and even used her legs when necessary as she completely nullified the opponent's attacks.
"Who in the world are you!?"
"I won't introduce myself a second time. It's too troublesome."
Seeing her attacks getting blocked perfectly, Autumn started to feel anxious.
Tatenashi completely ignored her reaction as she rushed the enemy's attack with precision and a cold face.
"Oh yeah. Do you know? The Student Council President in this academy is the strongest."
"HOW WOULD I KNOW!?"
Autumn threw the knife in her left hand and jumped forward to close her distance with Tatenashi.
She grasped the moment Tatenashi deflected the knife and kicked the spear up.
Four of Autumn's 8 armored legs were in shooting mode, and the rest were in close combat mode as a fierce attack was launched.
"It's really tough to handle so many legs."
"Hahaha! I'll see how long you can keep up that wretched mouth of yours!? The strongest? Don't make me laugh, kid!"
As what Tatenashi said, the 8 armored legs gradually held down Tatenashi.
Even though she had armor protection, the enemy's attack started to touch the IS' main body directly.
"Just rest there, Ichika-kun. Leave this to onee-san, so just pray and make a wish for me."
"Humph, kid! Weren't you being so calm just now?"
Autumn finally broke through the bronze wall-like defense as she used the armored leg to kick Tatenashi.
At the same time, she shot out spider web from both hands to rob Tatenashi of her mobility.
"Haa...haa...you're really hard to handle, kid!"
"Yup, seems like I can't move now."
"This is the end...!"
*KLANG!* The 8 legs got ready and slowly closed in on Tatenashi.
But Tatenashi didn't look anxious or scared.
"Hey, don't you find this room hot?"
"I don't mean the temperature, but the human touch temperature."
"What are you talking about...?"
"The discomfort level is decided by humidity—hey, don't you find this room extremely hot?
Completely shocked, Autumn saw that the entire room was full of mist, and her body was covered with this thick mist.
"Yep, I wanted to see that look on your face. The look when you know you got outwitted."
Tatenashi smiled like a Goddess, but this expression should be more like a Deathscythe that clearly indicates the intention to kill.
"[Mysterious Lady]...'The Lady in the Mist', this machine can control water freely. Like I just said, they're nanomachines that can use the energy of the IS to control water, right?"
*BAM!* Tatenashi made a gun with her fingers, and the next moment, Autumn's body got covered in explosions.
"Aha. I didn't just explain my ability to show off or make fun of others, you know? It's just that I won't be able to see your shocked look if I don't explain it."
The nanomachines that used the energy of the IS turned the mist into a heat source and blew up the target. This ability is called [Clear Passion].
Although, it might not be highly effective in limited space, this skill can be prepared while doing all other actions, so it's highly rated for being effective in practical battle.
"Gu...It's not over...no...not yet!"
"Nope, it's over—right, Ichika-kun?"
Feeling a bad premonition, Autumn turned her head around to see Ichika grabbing his right arm and concentrate.
"Come on out, [Byakushiki].
His entire body was covered in light, and then—
(Tatenashi-san just told me to make a wish, which means that I can still summon [Byakushiki] at this moment.)
I never heard of such a nice thing before.
But I believed it.
([Byakushiki] will respond to me as long as I call for it, no matter how many times—no matter how many times!)
"Come out, [Byakushiki]!"
I gathered my concentration on my right arm, and through my tightly shut eyes I somehow saw the light in front.
Then...I let the core form, no, summon on my right hand.
"[Byakushiki], emergency summon! [Yukihira Niigata], maximum output!"
The core formed particles of light that covered me.
After feeling the hardness of the core that changed into my weapon, I opened my eyes.
(--I can do it!)
I synchronize the already materialized [Byakushiki] with my wavelength and attack Autumn.
Raising the blade above my head, I could strongly feel the activation of [Reiraku Byakuya].
"What? How-How did you—"
"Who knows? TAKE THIS!"
Autumn raised the 8 armored legs above her head to block my attack.
But I didn't stop as I sliced down forcefully.
From between the armor bits that were sliced off by [Reiraku Byakuya], I could see Autumn moving in a somewhat slow manner...no, that's not it. It's not that she was too slow, but I was too fast.
I used the thrusters that had the function of [Ignition Boost] to fly at Autumn and kicked her to the wall. Perhaps the force was too strong as this impact caused part of the wall to collapse, and I could see what was behind it.
"! Ichika-kun, get her!"
"Da-Damn it...is that it...!?"
*Swoosh!* The sound of compressed air could be heard, and Autumn got away from her IS.
Autumn's IS glowed, and several seconds later, it self-destructed.
...Just when I was about to be caught in it, Tatenashi-san covered me with her body.
"Are you alright? Ichika-kun?"
Extending her water veil shields to the largest, she protected us. Even though I had the IS' [Absolute Defense], I would have been impossible to remain unscathed had I been caught in that explosion.
"Y-Yeeah, wait...ah! Where's that woman!?"
"She got away. She most likely took the core out before it self-destructed, leaving behind only the armaments and armor to self-destruct. Even so, that was reckless of her. She would have hurt herself had she failed."
Saying this in an unexpectedly stern tone, Tatenashi-san felt rather cool.
"Is-Is that so? Well...speaking of which, I guess..."
"I-I would be really happy if you could move back a bit..."
Tatenashi-san hugged me to cover me with her back.
In other words, well...her breasts were stuck on my face. Soft and elastic.
"Ya. Ichika-kun no ecchi[5D 2]."
"No, no, that's not it! Well, that-that's because things were urgent..."
"Ahh—you're not man enough if you try to look for an excuse. How are onee-san's breasts?"
"Not talking? You're too much."
"Huh, no, well...it-it's really soft...I guess..."
"You're really perverted."
Having given up on arguing back, I weakly lowered my head.
Anyway, a lot of things happened today.
Right now, all I want to do is to take a bath.
"Oh yeah. What do you think this is?"
Saying this, Tatenashi-san played around with 'That Thing', swirling it around.
"...? The crown?"
"Yup, that's right. The one who gets this can stay in the same room as Ichika-kun. It's really a great item."
"What!?...Don-Don't tell me those girls were working so hard for that?"
"...What were you thinking...anyway, wouldn't living with me be quite an uninteresting thing?"
"Is that so? Well, anyway, I got it."
I have a bad feeling, but well, it's too late.
"I hope we can get along during this time, Ichika-kun♪"
Powerless, I fell backwards onto the floor.
(Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!)
Autumn ran through the IS Academy grounds, cursing in her mind.
(What simple job! What kind of joke was that-that kid!)
Speaking of which, the attack for today's infiltration was meant to be carried out in the dorm room, but as there was suddenly a roommate, they had to modify the plan drastically.
(Speaking of which, I never liked that kid ever since she joined this organization...)
She remembered the girl who always looked so haughty, thinking that nobody could match her, and that everyone was inferior to her.
The girl herself took part in the creation of the [Remover] and the planning of the infiltration this time.
(Speaking of which, what sort of remover was that? Wouldn't it be meaningless if it can be summoned from such a far distance anyway?)
And there was no second chance now. Once it was used, the IS would become resistant to it.
Autumn then realized that because the IS had created a resistance to being removed, it was able to be summoned from afar.
In other words, it was totally predictable, and the girl who raised this plan should have seen the outcome. That's what Autumn thought.
(I'll kill...kill kill kill! SHE MADE A MOCKERY OUT OF ME!)
Gritting her teeth in anger and regret, she found that she finally reached a park that was far away from IS Academy.
(Damn it...I'm thirsty. Is there water...)
She looked around, and found a water cooler at the park.
Anyway, got to deal with this thirst! Autumn quickly walked to it.
(I'll kill that brat! I don't care what Squall says.)
With a tap-turning motion, the water spurted up.
She went over to ravage the water like a beast and continued to think of how she should kill that girl who just joined in.
(Slowly, slowly kill her...hihi.)
Autumn suddenly noticed that there was no water.
(What's wrong? Is it faulty...?)
Thinking that, she looked at the tap, but something unbelievable happened.
The water spurt up wildly, covering the sky.
The water that rained down on Autumn like transparent blocks wet her clothes, but she didn't care about that.
Though she immediately tried to back away, her feet that were about to move were stuck because of [AIC].
Due to the inertia exerted, Autumn fell backwards.
"Damn it! Is that the German IS!?"
"That's correct, [Phantom Task]."
Laura's voice echoed silently.
The icy pressure surrounded her, maintained over there.
"Don't move. A sniper is aiming at your forehead."
"Spill it out. Everything you know about your organization."
As a soldier, Laura already had received information about this secret organization.
Through the infiltration and the fact that they used ISes to battle, she understood that it was a really large group.
"Your IS was a second generation one from the US. How did you get it? Talk."
The IS core technology was never revealed to the outside world.
In other words, it could only be taken from somewhere.
And because it would be a heavy loss on the national defense side, nobody would reveal that their ISes got stolen.
From the way they planned the theft of the IS and the capability to do it, this organization wasn't to be underestimated.
"Alright. I have lots of ways to carry out interrogations, so it looks like I need to spend some time with you."
As Laura said that and walked to Autumn, Cecilia said through the private communicator,
"Get away! A unit's approaching!"
Immediately after expanding the sensors, Laura's right shoulder got shot through.
Laura immediately took off the left eyepatch to activate the [Odin's eye], the hyper sensor device.
But it was tough as she had to dodge the next two shots.
"Laura, get away!"
Using the trajectory of the shots, Cecilia was immediately able to tell where the opponent was shooting from, and aimed at the machine that was quickly approaching.
"How did that happen...don't tell me...?"
Appearing in the focus lens that was used to see things far away was a machine Cecilia had seen once before.
BT number 2 frame [Silent Zephyrs].
It was a prototype frame that used data from the first frame, Cecilia's [Blue Tears], and had BIT protective shields.
"What are you doing? Cecilia, shoot!"
Cecilia immediately used her laser rifle to snipe, but as the enemy deployed the BIT shields, there wasn't any effective damage.
She then released her BITs, but they were shot down by the enemy.
(Sniping down so accurately at supersonic speeds? And even the shooting was fast!)
Cecilia was mystified that the opponent's ability was better than hers, and the threat caused by the normal BITs of the enemy was far greater than when Cecilia controlled 6 of them at one go, sending her into a tough spot.
"If that's the case!"
Cecilia shot the missile BITs below, intending to let the enemy that was flying to defend before attacking, forcing it into a tight corner.
Though Cecilia believed this, something unbelievable happened next.
The curved lines that were drawn out in light took down the missile BITs.
(This is...a polarized control shot that can only be done when the BT weapon is moving at high velocity? How can there be such—)
The unbelievable scene that happened in front of Cecilia caused her to remain rooted there.
(Amongst all the IS pilots, my suitability with BT should be the highest. So, why!?)
"What are you doing? Move aside!"
Laura knocked Cecilia away, taking the BIT laser attacks for Cecilia.
After seeing the [Schwarzer Regen] armor dissipate, Cecilia finally recovered, but by then the attacker was already beside Autumn.
"I'm here to get you, Autumn."
"Don't...you call me like that!"
The attacker that flew over shot a Gatling Laser in a small area at Laura, preventing her from approaching Autumn.
At the same time, the attack used a pink laser blade to slice the [AIC] apart, freeing Autumn.
"Is that all German enhanced genes have to offer?"
That face was covered by a hyper sensor that acted as a cap, and only the lips could be seen.
But Laura could clearly see a smirk on her face.
"Damn it...how do you know that?"
"I have no need to tell you, good bye."
The attacker grabbed Autumn and flew back the way she flew in from.
The BITs that were holding off Laura and Cecilia immediately self-destructed after the mission.
"Laura, call the school! I'll pursue them!"
"Stop it! It's useless to chase them. And with our abilities, even if we caught up to them, we would lose to them."
Cecilia bit her lips in anger and watched the enemy fly off.
The mysterious attacker had come in like the wind, and gone off like the wind, not leaving any evidence behind.
Laura and Cecilia felt that a storm was about to arrive.
"And that's the deal."
At night, in my room.
After the festival ended, I heard Tatenashi-san's explanation.
Recently, a mysterious group had started to take action, and they were targeting me. As precaution, she requested to stay with me.
"Th...Then, what kind of person is Tatenashi-san?"
"Ara, I'm a gentle onee-san."
"Enough with that."
"Okay. The Sarashikis have been dealing with a lot of underground work. Do you know of the secret forces?"
Secret forces—the kind that would work behind the scenes and never appear in public?
"The Sarashikis are a secret force that goes against other secret forces...it's rather prominent."
Tatenashi-san laughed as she opened her fan.
The words written on it were 'Often on the Battlefield'...really, I don't know how to deal with her.
"But since the immediate danger's over, I can relax slightly now."
"You want to change rooms now? I'll be—"
A saving grace to me. I swallowed these words that I nearly said out. If I said them, I don't know what kind of reaction I would get.
"Fufufu. I'll stay here for the time being? Because I got the crown anyway."
Gua, there's still that trick.
"After changing rooms, you can look for me if you feel lonely sleeping alone."
"No, no need, no need to worry about that."
I feel that if I don't say things clearly, they will just get worse.
She's someone who would strike at such opportunity.
"Che—I thought that you would be happy."
"Yes yes. I'm turning off the lights."
"Mn, sleep well then."
I turned off the lights and snuck into my bed.
Extremely tired, I quickly sank into dreamland.
"Good night, Ichika-kun. You'll be really busy in the future."
At the last moment, I heard Tatenashi-san say that.
"Everyone, it's been tough during the school anniversary a few days ago. Now, I'm going to announce the results of the votes."
That's also the announcement of the result of the tussle over me.
I seem to hear every student that's gathered in the sports hall swallow their saliva.
"In first place, the audience-interactive play 'Cinderella' that the Student Council organized!"
Everyone immediately opened their mouths in shock. Several seconds later, the girls recovered and started booing,
"DESPICABLE! CUNNING! CHEAT!"
"WHY IS IT THE STUDENT COUNCIL!? ISN'T THAT TOO STRANGE!?"
"WE WORKED SO HARD!"
Facing the audience's complaints, Tatenashi-san made an 'Okay Okay' hand gesture and continued,
"The condition to take part in that play was to 'Vote for the Student Council', but we didn't force anyone to vote, so we did follow everyone's will."
The-There's still that condition...
I'm actually rather mystified as compared to being stunned. That's really a well-thought out plan.
But Tatenashi-san's explanation couldn't stop the complaints.
"Okay, calm down. As a Student Council member, Orimura Ichika-kun shall be sent to take part in each social club when it's suitable. As a guy, he can't take part in matches, so please let him be the manager or do the layman stuff. If you want him, please write a request to the Student Council."
"We-Well, if that's the case..."
"Re-Really can't be helped, you. I'll accept it then."
"Our club had no chance of winning anyway. That was lucky."
Voices could be heard from all over.
And then, each club started getting into a frenzy over me.
"OUR SOCCER CLUB FIRST!"
"WHAT ARE YOU SAYING!? IT'S OBVIOUSLY LACROSSE FIRST!"
"THE COOKING CLUB WANTS TO RAISE A REQUEST!"
"HERE! THE TEA CLUB'S HERE!"
"It's okay for the kendo club to be second?"
"THE JUDO CLUB! WE HAVE GROUND FIGHTING TECHNIQUES TO LEARN!"
--No, wait wait! What about me? My own will!
"Then, if there are no special issues, Orimura Ichika-kun shall belong to the Student Council. Please follow my instructions in the future."
After Tatenashi-san ended it like that, the students started clapping and whistling loudly.
Huh? What? What's the situation now? I belong to the Student Council? I'll be sent to take part in activites of other clubs?
"Speaking of which, I have to follow Tatenashi-san's orders!?"
I have a bad feeling, a really bad feeling.
"Good night, Ichika-kun. You'll be really busy in the future."
I recalled what Tatenashi-san said last night.
(Was she talking about this?)
I don't know how serious she was.
I just know that it's useless to go against her.
"Congratulations on becoming the Vice President of the Student Council, Orimura Ichika-kun!"
"Congratulations. I look forward to be working with you."
Tatenashi-san, Nohohon-san and Utsuho-san said respectively, the pops could be heard from the party poppers.
We're in the Student Council Office. Facing the luxurious table that had its back to the window, it left a deep impression, a sign of the person in authority. Yup.
"...Why did it end up like this..."
"Ara, isn't this a great way to settle this? Ichika-kun had to join a club anyway. The Principal said to use the Student Council's power to force you to join a club."
"Even if Orimu joins a club, only a small handful would have given up~"
"But the situation would have definitely ended up where the other students would come over and say to you 'Please join our club', so the Student Council came up with this plan."
The three of them followed up each others' sentences really nicely. Really, as expected of childhood friends, I guess.
Realizing that resistance was futile, I weakly lowered my shoulders.
"My own will's being completely ignored..."
"Oh my, what are you saying? There are three beauties here. Aren't you satisfied?"
"Yeah~ Orimura—there are beauties with you."
"I don't know about beauties or anything, but working here should give you some experience."
Anyway, amongst the trio, Utsuho-san seemed to be the sane one.
It can't be helped then. I can only ask Utsuho-san about the work in the future.
"Well...anyway, this means I have to come here everyday after school?"
"That'll be the case for now. Once we send you to a club, you'll take part in club activities there."
"I-I got it."
"Anyway...if you don't mind, I've got a question for you."
It's rare that Utsuho-san's voice would be so hard to hear.
I looked at her in a mystified manner. Wanting to say something out and stopping twice, she finally spoke up,
"What's the name of that friend of yours who came to visit during the school anniversary?"
"Huh? Ah, Are you talking about Dan? He's Gotanda Dan, and he's studying in a high school in the city."
"Is-Is that so...so, he's the same age as you, Orimura-kun?"
"Yeah, that's right."
"...Younger than me by two years..."
"Nothing, it's nothing. Thank you."
After saying that, Utsuho-san thanked me politely. Her face seemed to blush subconsciously. Was I mistaken?
"Then! To commemorate the gathering of the Student Council members and to celebrate Ichika-kun becoming the Vice-President, I baked a cake today, so everyone, let's eat."
"I'll brew tea then."
"Mn, please do. Honne-chan, please bring the tea set over."
It seems like working together is a basic thing to them, as the trio started to get ready in the same manner.
What I'm happy with is that the cake that's lined together looks really good.
Just like that, I was forced to join the Student Council.
"Sorry to disturb you."
Tatenashi opened the heavy door and walked into the Principal's office.
It was dark outside the windows, and the night that gathered caused everything to be covered in darkness.
"Ahh, Tatenashi-kun, perfect timing."
Inviting Tatenashi in was an elderly man with a calm face.
On the surface, his wife was the principal, but in fact, all school affairs were controlled by this man.
"I need your report."
The man put his hand on the stylish table and prompted Tatenashi to speak.
His face had wrinkles that matched his head and the white hair.
He was rather friendly, and was often called the 'Conscience in the School'.
The man who often does the running of the school, Kutsuwagi Juuzou (轡木十蔵) is the real man running IS Academy.
"First, about Ichika-kun. His training's going really well."
Tatenashi kept her usual playful manner and started reporting in a stern manner.
"To be honest, I'm really surprised. Things that I trained him in once, he's able to learn them after practicing them for a few times. His comprehensive ability is far greater than any girl I've met before."
"You're right. That's because he's Orimura-sensei's brother."
There seemed to be some hidden meaning behind that, but Tatenashi didn't ask as she continued her report,
"Next, about [Phantom Task]. We confirmed that there are at least two IS. One of the cores was taken out, so they shouldn't be able to take much action."
If the core's the heart, the armor's the body.
If only the heart was taken out, it meant that it had to lose the body that was fit around it, so it'd take quite some time to assemble the armor around it.
It couldn't run like a battery that could be put back in after taking it out.
"It's been tough on you, Tatenashi-kun."
"This is nothing much. My machine can gain practical experience too."
"Mn, the Russian type. It's finally complete. I was worried whether it would be completed in time. It's the right thing to hand it over to you."
"There are several flaws the developers made in the design, but I want to use it as it is now."
"Okay, I'll leave it to you then. Do whatever you want."
After reporting about two, three more things, Tatenashi ended her report.
"Anyway, that's all."
"I know all about it. Tatenashi-kun's still really popular."
"Ufufu, that's because I'm the Student Council President."
Tatenashi smiled as she said that, and Juuzou showed a warm and friendly smile as well.
The conversation between both of them removed the tense atmosphere like mist.
"Then, let's have some tea. Oh yea, I bought some nice snacks. It'll be great if it fits your tastes."
After Juuzou said that, Tatenashi's eyes glittered. The expression at that moment fit her age.
"Will Juusou-san's snacks be to my liking? I'm looking forward to it♪"
"Hahaha, I'm not that amazing."
"No no no, it's really good. Oh yes! I brought some tea along with me."
"Ohh, is that brewed by Nohotoke-kun?"
"As you guessed."
"Ohh! The tea she brews is really good. I think we can have a good tea party."
Right now, his speech and mannerism were completely different from his age. He didn't look like a man who was going to be 70.
The two people who were seated started a tea party like good friends.
Nobody would think that they were the two leaders of IS Academy if they saw them like this.
 Translation Notes and References
- See Windbreaker for more details.
- Rough translation: "Ichika you pervert" or "Ichika's a pervert". But usually said in a playful manner.