A Far Distant Shore

((From => Convenient Tides))

The sounds of distant screams and cheers faded into a background of bustle and general activity that itself gave way to the regular crash and roll of waves as the sun beat down with relentless force. They were sitting in the shade provided by a small beach-side cafe table; Rogan took occasional sips of an iced fruit drink while Lyntael enjoyed the cool sea breeze and watched to crowds of people going about their lives.

She closed her eyes for a moment and let her other senses take in the atmosphere; the coastal beaches here went on and on and on, a paradise for surfers the world over. Beach culture was in full force, with barefoot locals and eager tourists alike moving about the relaxed cityscape that, for all its arching skyscrapers and bustling streets, never managed to feel more than a stone's throw away from somewhere to kick back and take in the more natural elements of beauty. Another chorus of screams rolled out, on cue, as somewhere in one of the nearby theme-parks one of the tall, fast-moving rides entranced another load of passengers.

She wanted to go down to the sand, and feel it between her toes, maybe go for a swim, and mingle with all the people who managed to enjoy this situation most days of their lives. It was easy to spot the locals from the tourists, once you got your eye in – despite how casual they looked, the locals generally wore broad hats, sunscreen and took numerous other precautions against the beating sun; many tourists did not, and she had already seen dozens of baked red and blistering holidaymakers paying for their hubris. She'd read that the sun here was worse – the UV penetration was more extreme than anywhere else in the world... so even people who travelled from places that regularly saw the same temperatures ended up underestimating it. When she'd read that, it had seemed like an over-reaction, but just one day people-watching here had been enough to show the truth of it.

The breeze was nice, though. Lyntael stretched with a long sigh and lay back on the wood of the tabletop with a content smile. Best to enjoy the relaxation while she could; it wouldn't last much longer. Rogan was waiting on communication from a contact he only rarely made use of; a strange, reclusive person for the most part, but one whose capabilities for digital infiltration and data retrieval surpassed Rogan's, and probably even Eric's by a fair margin. She'd only ever known Rogan to refer to them by their call name – Chaotic Crisis – and she'd never known them to meet in person; just designated times and places, and exchanges of information and favours carried on the back of other innocuous activities. Beside her, Rogan took another sip of his drink and glanced at the PET's clock.

“Are you ready, Lyntael?” She sat up then stood, stretching again as she walked back towards the device's screen.
“I kind of don't want to go, but, yes.”
“Good, I'm going to be jacking you in to visit two specific locations, down to very precise co-ordinates, and then from there, you're to visit the program that operates the bounty system and collect a new objective for the rogue nets.” Lyntael nodded; it sounded like the sort of coded check-in they'd done before.
“Ah, for which net, sir?” She glanced up at him, pausing before she touched the screen to return to her room. Rogan tilted his eyes down to meet her and raised an eyebrow.
“I'll give you a choice, Lyntael... This is about training you, so, I can send you out long range to the Sharo nets again... or I could just jack you in here, but, I'll have to push you harder.” He chuckled softly. “No shirking with your friends this time – last contact I had, the Ezarith's are dealing with a somewhat serious issue of their own at the moment.”

Lyntael glanced back out towards the rolling surf a short walk from their cafe shade. This was important, she knew, but... the thought of going back to the freezing cold of Sharo – cute winter clothes or not – just seemed too unappealing right now.

“I'd really rather stay here, if that's okay. I know what I need to do, I'll stay focused, I promise.” above her, Rogan nodded, then tilted his head in a direction that suggested the screen. Lyntael nodded in return then stood on the interface and let herself slip through back to her own home.

The sudden cool of the interior air was sharp, almost enough to make her shiver for a moment, but she moved quickly, gathering a few things and making sure sh was ready for the next excursion. A scattering of different feelings were present, as they always were now – nerves, trepidation, excitement and daring, all meshed together as different parts of her remembered feeling different ways about the conflict that was sure to follow soon. Rogan's voice came to her a few moments later as she stood by the screen, looking out.

“Alright, Lyntael... hold a moment...” she watched the seconds tick past until they reached forty-seven past the minute, then felt Rogan punch the command that whisked her away onto the greater net.

((To => Coastal Paths))
Between keeping an eye on Lyntael's combat progress and ordering the exchange of information he'd received from his contact, Rogan contemplated the more fine-tuned statistical values the PET was showing him. He'd noticed it, on closer inspection from time to time, and where once the overwhelming array of data had been frustrating and off-putting, he'd been doing his best to take the time to make sense of the bits of it that had eluded him previously. She seemed to grow on her own, and had always done so, gradually, and rather than the physical upgrades in the PET providing her a boost, their limits actually seemed to be what constrained her at times.

He frowned as he looked at the screen, then glanced about the sunny, beach-side cafe location where he was currently settled. No nearby branches, but there would probably be a nearby dispatch at least, for remote orders. With a few cautious taps, Rogan started to scan for a suitable private courier service in the area.
It was only a handful of minutes, while Rogan sipped his drink and watched the crowds on the nearby beach, before his order bore fruit. He caught the yellow and blue uniform that matched the company's logo, from the edge of his peripheral and cast his eyes sideways to see a woman with a delivery satchel moving through the thoroughfare towards his cafe, and then start looking at table numbers. He returned to monitoring his PET and waited for her to find him.

"Excuse me, sir?" Rogan glanced up at the sound of the querying voice. The girl was already pulling two small parcels from her satchel and conferring with a data pad. She looked up again a moment later. "Would you be Charles Brown, sir?" Rogan just nodded and reached out to take the data pad and the offered stylus as she offered them. "Good morning, then. I've got some PET upgrades here, two customisers and two process upgrades, is that correct?" Rogan finished signing the stand-in name and handed the data pad back with a smile.

"That's right, thank you for the quick delivery. I'll be sure to use your company again." She grinned and shrugged in return, before setting the good down on his table an shouldering her satchel again.
"No worries, sir, it's what we do. Hope the rest of your day goes well, it's going to turn into a real scorcher out here by afternoon."
"I'll keep that in mind. Thanks again." With a last acknowledgment, the courier turned and retreated back into the crowds, and Rogan began unpacking the products. He glanced at the screen of his PET and checked on Lyntael's status. He could probably apply these quickly enough without disturbing her. With once last quick glance at the screen, Rogan flipped it over and got to work.