The Infinite Stratos (インフィニット・ストラトス Infinitto Sutoratosu?) (abbreviated as IS), are powered exoskeletons, which were originally meant for outer space exploration. Designed by Tabane Shinonono, they possess technology and combat capabilities far more advanced than any other weapon system, thus threatening to destabilize the world.
Introduction & Impact of the IS
When the IS was first proposed it was scoffed at and few people paid it any attention. A month later, a "mysterious" hacker hacked the military missile bases and ships all over the world launching 2341 ballistic and cruise missiles towards all major cities in Japan. The world‘s first and only IS sortied and neutralized 1221 of the missiles with a sword and shot down the rest with energy weapons -something no country in the world had the technology of producing.
This IS was later code named "White Knight". It's faceless pilot claimed no allegiance to any worldly nations and was attacked by several major world powers seeking to capture or destroy it. The White Knight fended off its attackers, destroying 207 next gen fighter aircraft in the process, as well as disabling 7 aircraft carriers and their naval escorts. It also destroyed 8 weaponized military spy satellites.
The IS showed that it was capable of generating a nigh invulnerable shield barrier, 100% optical camouflage, hyper-sonic speeds and capable pulling off insane high G maneuvers while seemingly unaffected by gravity induced blackout/red-outs and also space flight. The "White Knight" IS was never seen again after the incident and its pilot's identity remain a secret to the general public.
Faced with such an overpowering weapon, the nations of the world enacted the "Alaska Treaty", which stated that the IS would never be used for military combat and that existing IS technology must be equally distributed to all nations, to prevent any one nation for dominating the others.
The introduction of the IS does, however, have a major effect on society. As it can only be operated by women, the power balance between men and women is broken, with women coming to dominate society over men.
The reason why only females can activate the IS (and why Ichika Orimura is the only male who can do the same) is currently unknown. But it is hinted in the novel that Tabane Shinonono, the creator of IS, did not deliberately configure IS to be a female-only platform. She mentions that it was a accidental side-effect, and since she didn't really care about that factor, she didn't see any reason to bother with it.
Features/Characteristics of IS
- Primary protection for IS and its pilot is provided through use of energy shield (invisible to naked eye) that could block both physical and optical weapons. The protection level of IS shield is sufficient to be impenetrable to most conventional weaponry, but it could be penetrated by high-powered IS weaponry.
- The basic armor plates of IS offer minimal protection against incoming attack, since any weapon powerful enough to pierce the shield would be also powerful enough to penetrate the armor plate. (That should explain why the pilots are so scantly covered by armor plates)
- However, special equipment such as additional physical/energy shield or augmented heavy armor plate (specially designed to withstand damage) could provides moderate to adequate level of protection.
- The integrity of the energy shield is maintained unless the IS is depleted of power, but the shield tends to lose its strength when nearing a complete power depletion. (Same thing applies to all other components such as armor plates. Weapons, especially, tend to have difficulty maintaining the materialized shape when nearing power depletion)
PIC (Passive Inertia Control)
- Incorporating PIC allows the IS to accomplish extreme agility and mobility unparalleled by any conventional platform.
- PIC largely absorbs and negates impact shock, thus protecting the pilot and the IS from catastrophic events such as high-speed collision.
- PIC is also applied to flight assist, and coupled with gravity control technology, makes IS capable of flight and hovering.
- When the pilot is linked to Hyper Sensor, she receive augmented sensory input data from IS's sensor, directly into 5 sensory system in her body. Simply put, when piloting an IS, the pilot's senses such as vision are greatly improved.
- Using the sensory data input from IS, the pilot gains 360 degree field of view, being able to 'see' directions that are not possible for human body without turning her head (Such as behind, directly above and below)
- However, because such improved sensory input is much different from normal human body, the pilot must process the input data into something she could comprehend first. (The speed and efficiency of processing such data decides the effectiveness of IS piloting)
- As IS gains experience during any situation while it is active, (be it normal training or combat, or even a simple checkup) it records data about its every components and proceeds with optimization process. When IS receive damage, it automatically tries to repair the damage during its Closed Form period. The resulting data collected would be implemented throughout its component to improve their efficiency, but the damaged component would be left out of equation.
- It is possible to activate a damaged IS (as long as it has power left) but such action - especially entering combat situation with damaged IS - is highly undesirable, since IS would try to cope with the given situation only with components that are still operational.
- Activating a partially damaged IS causes the inoperable components (damaged parts) to stop optimization until it is fully repaired.
For an example, If an IS loses a leg, and is forced into combat it would try to maintain its performance as best as it could without use of a leg. So, even when the leg is fully repaired, it would show a discrepancy of efficiency compared to other components, which will continue to compound the situation as the IS keep on operating.
- This kind of situation could have serious implication since it would interfere with general optimization process and could even prevent the IS from reaching 2nd Shift.
- For that reason, even the most hot-headed pilot tends to refrain from forcing damaged IS into action.
The basic components of an IS are:
- Cores - The Black box of an IS that allows it to function. It is a combination power source and AI. The AI inside the core collects data on its pilot to better anticipate their every need. Pilots are supposed to learn to trust the AI as if it were a partner instead of an extension of their will. Because only 467 Cores were created, most of them are shared by the world's governments where only a few IS pilots, who work under certain organizations and large corporations, possess their own personal IS. The reason for having Designated Pilot and Personal IS lies with the very nature of IS itself; possessing self evolving mechanism which is manifested only when IS is kept paired with a pilot for a prolonged time. It is illegal to exchange or remove the cores, due to possible contamination of the data collection capabilities of the AI. Of the 467 cores created, 322 are used for actual combat and the remaining 145 are handed over to research facilities and enterprises of various countries.
- Energy Barrier/Absolute Defense - The Absolute Defense is activated by the IS itself and not by the pilot. If an attack is deemed nonlethal by the IS, it wouldn't activate the Absolute Defense ability; even if it results in minor to moderate injury to its pilot.
This ability is said to be able to protect the pilot from any kind of attack, but it also has seriously high power consumption; depleting the power of the IS with just single activation (In that sense, it is more like pilot safety mechanism rather than combat defense mechanism). In a competition the pilot is declared the loser if their shield level hits zero to avoid injuring the pilot.
- Mandatory unlock - Although only mentioned once, the IS also reacts to extreme damage to the pilot or the unit that could cause malfunctions by dematerializing into its closed form. This is called the “mandatory unlock”. There is a warning that you are taking too much damage. If this continues, the IS will return to its “closed form”. It is dangerous for this to happen (both because it has reached a point of critical failure and possible harm to the pilot should it happen mid-flight).
- Preset - The standard weapon/equipment that all IS possess in the beginning, such as swords for melee type, rifles for long range, etc.
There is also the option of adding additional weaponry to the Personal IS (known as Equalizer). However they have to be made especially for the IS in question, a complication made problematic by the core's AI. Since each core is unique and may reject the equipment. Here's the following equipment.
- Valkyrie Trace System (VT) - A piece of equipment/program that emulates the performance of winners from Mondo Grosso. Basically, it tries to copy all aspects of previous Mondo Grosso champion, theoretically enabling any IS to fight like the champion - who is basically the world's strongest. However, the system is flawed and puts an incredible strain on the pilot; often threatening her life. Research, development, and installing the VT system is strictly banned by Alaska Treaty because of the overwhelming danger to the pilot. The only known user is Laura Bodewig.
Forms of IS
The following talks about the different forms an IS will take:
- Inactive Form - The form all IS take when there are no pilots. In this case, IS retains the physical manifestation of its components even when inactivated, and call-up just activates IS without any significant visible change. Described by Ichika to be kneeling like a samurai before its Lord. All Training IS are in this state since the fitting process is rendered useless due to multiple users.
- Closed Form - The form the IS takes when not being used. It takes on different shapes for different users, mostly accessories like ring, earrings, necklaces, etc. for girls, and a gauntlet/bulky bracelet for Ichika.
- Default Setting - The form it takes when it is being used for the first time. The IS have the basics like flight capabilities, shielded barrier and its related weapon, but the power exhibited is very low, thus it is not recommended to be used immediately in a fight. Once the IS has finished configuring all the settings for the user, it will take the next form.
- 1st Shift - The form taken after the IS has finished configuring the settings. This is the stage that most users would have for Personal IS. Here they gained full usage of the weaponry given, like the Yukihara from its default metal blade to the energy blade.
- 2nd Shift - An upgrade from the 1st Shift. This is apparently a rare case for an IS to go into a second form, as there are not many cases of IS unit evolving to 2nd Shift. In 2nd Shift, the IS undergoes a dramatic transformation, altering its appearance and gaining new abilities, in particular, the One Off Ability, which is unique to that particular unit. So far in the series, the Byakushiki and the Silver Gospel are the only two known IS to achieve this form.
Types of IS
Due to the limited number of IS cores (467 to be exact), most of them are being used in R&D, being distributed and shared among the world's governments and corporations. The types of IS are split into two categories:
- Training IS - Used to train IS students in how to use an IS. It's settings remain the same despite the user. Japan, being the leading pioneer for IS, has developed a mass-production version to train the girls at IS academy, but one must have permission to use it.
- Personal IS - Special IS units that "bond" and change to fit with the user's specifications. Originally harder to use in their default settings but once formatted to their users, they become like an extension of the users themselves. Personal IS units' abilities far surpass those of the Training IS units, boasting greater output in firepower, speed and maneuverability, etc.
Cecilia claims that people who are given Personal IS are considered the elites of all elites, making Ichika's case an exception in that he is given a Personal IS for the purpose of gathering data for the government.
In the light novels, it is stated that there are four generations of IS with each generation surpassing the previous in terms of overall specifications, the latest generation being Byakushiki (Ichika) and Akatsubaki (Houki). Each generation of IS has its own specific theme and goal to achieve:
- 1st Generation IS: The basic goal of 1st Gen. IS was the completion of IS. The R&D was focused on applying various IS related technologies to produce a stable, operational IS.
- 2nd Generation IS: The basic goal of 2nd Gen. IS was the utilization of add-on capability, known as Equalizer. Application of various equalizer packages enabled the 2nd Gen. IS capable of various assignments.
- 3rd Generation IS: The basic goal of 3rd Gen. IS is the application of advanced Image-Interface technology, enabling it to field more advanced weapons such as BT (Blue Tears), Shock Cannon and AIC.
- 4th Generation IS: The basic goal of 4th Gen. IS is the application of Fold-Out armor, which enables the IS to configure itself to a form that maximize specific role, whether attack, defense, or mobility. This makes the 4th Gen. IS capable of performing various assignments just by switching its function in real time, not requiring the time-consuming process of changing Equalizer. Currently, Tabane Shinonono is the only one who created the 4th Generation models, an impressive feat considering she did it on her own without any assistance, while the whole world are still developing 3rd Generation experimental types with the 4th being in theory.
Known Canon IS & Users
- Byakushiki (Ichika Orimura) - Japan 3.5th - 4th Generation Melee Type
- Blue Tears (Cecilia Alcott) - UK 3rd Generation Long Range Sniper Type
- ShenLong (Lingyin Huang) - China 3rd Generation Melee Type
- Raphael Revive Basic (Maya Yamada) - 2nd Generation Multi-Purpose Type
- Raphael Revive Custom II (Charlotte Dunois) - France 2nd - 2.5th Generation Multi-Purpose Type
- Schwarzer Regen (Laura Bodewig) - Germany 3rd Generation All-Rounder Type
- Akatsubaki (Houki Shinonono) - 4th Generation Melee Type
- Uchigane (IS Academy Students) - Mass Produced Training Type
- Revive (IS Academy Students) - Mass Produced Training Type
- Silver Gospel (Natasha Fairs) - USA/Israel 3rd Generation
- Silent Zephyrs (M) - UK 3rd Generation
- Mysterious Lady (Tatenashi Sarashiki) - Russia 3rd Generation
- Fang Quake (Iris Calling, Leader) - USA 3rd Generation
- Uchigane Nishiki (Kanzashi Sarashiki) - Japan 3rd Generation
- White Knight (Chifuyu Orimura) - 1st Generation
- Kurazakura (Chifuyu Orimura) - 1st Generation
- Aranchne (Autumn) - USA 2nd Generation
- Kurokagi (Chloe Chronicle) - unknown
- Black Knight (M) - unknown
- Golden Dawn (Squall Meusel) - unknown
- Tabane Shinonono - Creator of IS
- IS Academy - Training & Boarding School
- Alaska Treaty - The conditions for IS usage
- The design of the IS is similar to that of the Orbital Frames from the Zone of the Enders video game series. Similarly to the common abbreviation of "Infinite Stratos" as "IS", Orbital Frames can also be abbreviated "OF", another commonly-used English word.
- The Design of the IS all seem to have taken some element from a Mobile Suit from the Gundam Universe, namely, a Gundam. For Example:
- Byakushiki : ZGMF-X10A FREEDOM GUNDAM.
- Byakushiki Setsura : ZGMF-X42S DESTINY GUNDAM, XXXG-00W0 WING GUNDAM ZERO CUSTOM .
- Blue Tears : GAT-X105 STRIKE GUNDAM, ZGMF-X10A FREEDOM GUNDAM, ZGMF-X20A STRIKE FREEDOM GUNDAM.
- Akatsubaki : GAT-X303 AEGIS GUNDAM, ZGMF-X09A JUSTICE GUNDAM , ZGMF-X23S SAVIOUR GUNDAM, ZGMF-X19A INFINITE JUSTICE GUNDAM, MBF-P02KAI GUNDAM ASTRAY RED FRAME KAI.
- Shenlong : ZGMF-X56S/B SWORD IMPULSE GUNDAM, OZ-13MS GUNDAM EPYON.
- Raphael Revive II Custom : GN-003 GUNDAM KYRIOS, GN-007 ARIOS GUNDAM, GN-011 GUNDAM HARUTE.
- Schwarzer Regen : GNW-001 GUNDAM THRONE EINS, GAT-X102AS DUEL GUNDAM ASSAULT SHROUD, GAT-X105E+AQM/E-X09S STRIKE NOIR GUNDAM.
- Silver Gospel :XXXG-00W0 WING GUNDAM ZERO CUSTOM.
- ↑ Vol. 3 Ch 3 p.124