Runeknight began his digital life as a basic Navi named Ward.Exe. Ward was created by a Netopian scientist named Xander O'Lorcain. Xander worked for the Netopian government, designing digital weaponry for use in government facilities to stand against the near constant threat of computer viruses. He was a brilliant scientist and researcher, well respected by his peers and superiors. Xander designed Ward.Exe as a present for the tenth birthday of his eldest son, Eoin.
The young boy was delighted to receive the Navi for his birthday, having never owned one of his own. Eoin helped his father in deciding how the Navi should be programmed; deciding that the Navi would mainly be used to tell the boy stories and help him with his studies. As such, Ward.Exe was downloaded with myths and legends of the ancient past; of kings and queens, knights and dragons, good and evil. Eoin and Ward.Exe grew very close, the boy even going so far as to give the Navi a real name. Eoin named the Navi Alistair Ward, a name from one of his favorite stories that translated to "protector of man".
Several years passed with the boy growing older and growing quite close to his Navi friend. They were inseparable, brothers as true as though they were bound by blood. Eoin's own brother, Rone, was a mere toddler and his sister was newly born. As such, he spent most of his free time with his Navi when not at school. When Eoin turned twelve, his brother Rone almost five, he discovered the thrill of NetBattling with the other children at his school. Of course, Alistair was not designed for battle and so they had a slow start compared to some of the duos at his school. However, it seemed that Eoin had a natural talent for Operating Alistair in battle and soon overcame the limits in the Navi's programming. They could beat most of the children in school, though victory was not necessarily assured, and they gained a small bit of fame. Of course, with Alistair's limits, the two could never rise in the national ranks.
While this drama developed within his family, Xander had his own problems. He had been asked to head up a team to create a Navi-Specific energy generator that would supply a Navi with unlimited energy for a short period of time. Such a device would make a Navi practically unbeatable in combat, allowing it to push itself far beyond normal capabilities. Such a generator would make any data storage area impregnable. If he was successful, Netopia would never have to worry about viruses or sabotage ever again. The developmental process took three years to complete, but Xander had finally created a working prototype. He called the generator program the "Rune Sphere" after the series of runic symbols that served as a password protection system and a failsafe for the device, should it fall into the wrong hands.
Of course, such knowledge is rarely kept secret for long. The NetMafia had learned of the program through espionage and made plans to steal the "Rune Sphere" through any means necessary. After hours, a group of NetMafia goons broke into Xander's lab in search of the generator program. Their blundering set off an alarm that downloaded the "Rune Sphere" program and transmitted it to his son's PET. Xander had set up this trap, believing that the Mafia would not suspect his son of having the generator, and would retrieve the program from Eoin's PET after the Mafia goons were arrested. He didn't foresee what would happen next. The Mafia goons, enraged at being unable to gain the generator, trashed Xander's lab, destroying all of his files that would allow him to easily duplicate the "Rune Sphere". He had to return to his lab to sort things out with the NetPolice, and was unable to quickly remove the generator data from within his son's PET.
Eoin did not know of his father's plan and, seeing an email from Xander on his PET, he opened the file containing the generator program. The download and transfer "trap" had the unforeseen problem of causing the transferred generator data to become unstable. Without its original source programming, the "Rune Sphere" was forced to bond with whatever was available and integrated itself with Alistair's data. Neither Alistair, nor Eoin were aware of this fact. As such, when Xander arrived later that day and removed the program from the PET, he was unaware that he was merely removing a dummy of the "Rune Sphere".
The next week, Eoin, now fifteen, was scheduled to participate in a NetBattling tournament. He was not confident in his chances of winning, and so was quite surprised when Alistair swept the competition. They took home their first trophy that day. Xander, previously baffled as to why the generator program he had removed from the PET was no longer working properly, began to suspect the worst. He examined Alistair's data and found that the "Rune Sphere" generator program had integrated itself completely with Alistair's data. It could no longer be removed without destroying the Navi completely. Protective of his son, Xander explained what had happened to his superiors and pleaded that Alistair simply be watched to see how the generator would perform. It was the next step in the research process anyway and the Navi would be seeing a lot of combat. The board of directors conceded the point and Alistair was allowed, for the time being, to remain with the generator system within him.
Eoin and Alistair went on to sweep several tournaments over the course of that year. They were virtually unstoppable with the "Rune Sphere" enhancing Alistair's abilities. They rose all the way to the national championship and were slatted to battle the current Netopian Champion, a Navi by the name of Tobalis.Exe. Minutes before the final match was to begin, a group of rogue Navi broke into the arena and began siphoning zenny. Alistair and Tobalis decided to team up, along with a few other Navi, to stop the rogue Navi and save the proverbial day. Alistair and his companions defeated the rogue Navi, apprehending them until the NetPolice could arrive. Alistair wanted to continue the tournament and battle Tobalis, to see who was better, but the officials postponed the final match indefinitely until an investigation was finished.
A few days later, Eoin received a call from a NetPolice officer named Jessica Sanchez. Jessica was a lieutenant in charge of the NetPolice Special NetCrime Division. She was putting together a squad of independent NetBattlers to help quell the recent rise in rogue Navi activity. She had seen Eoin and Alistair in action and was impressed with their skills. She said that, despite his age, he would be a valuable asset to her team. Eoin discussed this turn of events with his father, who in turn discussed it with his supervisors who green lighted the idea. Eoin and his father discussed the idea with his mother, Maeve. At first, she was against the idea, but she slowly came around and Eoin was the newest member of [Insert Group Name Here].
[Insert Group Name Here] was a special squadron of NetBattlers and NetPolice Officers, designed to track and combat the rogue Navi who threatened the Netopian Networks. Aside from Eoin and Alistair, the other members were:
The Leader: Grant Kingsman and Tobalis.Exe ~ Grant was the NetOp of Tobalis. He was a skilled NetBattler and a born leader. His Navi had been the champion of the Netopian circuit for seven years running.
The Marksman: Trey Jones and Maya.Exe ~ Trey was a sharpshooter for the S.W.A.T. team before joining the team. His Navi, Maya, was a skilled analyst and served as his spotter. Of course, she was also a skilled marksman in her own right, taking down viruses from afar with her bow.
The Scientist: Amanda Peterson and Thesis.Exe ~ Amanda was a researcher on loan from NAXA for use in developing some NetPolice weaponry. Her Navi, Thesis, was a powerful recovery Navi and excelled at constructing barriers and providing relief. Amanda requested to be transferred to the group in a supporting role, despite her Navi not having any real combat experience. Thesis, for her part, seemed to be developing feelings for Tobalis, though they were not reciprocated.
The Powder Keg: Traci Johnson and Marauder.Exe ~ Traci was a young woman, twenty years old, who was a skilled NetBattler. She wielded a mass of strategic knowledge and grasped tactics better than veterans three times her age. She could have been the best...Except she was ill-matched for her Navi. Marauder was a good-hearted ogre, a massive Navi that ran through his opponents like a freight train. He wasn't skill at taking orders or following a plan, but he was an impressive fighter.
[Insert Group Name Here] was a well-rounded group with representatives from all five Navi elements, a wind, a cursor, a recover and two break type Navi. The group melded well together at first, though Tobalis continuously had a chip on his shoulder when it came to Alistair. The two Navi just could not get along, despite Eoin and Grant becoming fast friends. The situation didn't get any better when Maya was introduced into the mix.
Alistair admired the beautiful cursor Navi. He found her to be intriguing, her form catching his eye longer than it should have and her mere presence causing a warm feeling in his systems. Slowly he began to recognize these feelings as what Eoin called "Love". The NetOp saw these signs as well and Eoin jokingly, and in private, referred to Maya as Alistair's princess. Alistair did not know if Maya shared his feelings, but they did become fast friends, developing a strong bond that lead to a Cross forming between the two Navi. This growing relationship secretly infuriated Tobalis. The team leader of [Insert Group Name Here] had developed his own feelings for the cursor Navi and considered her relationship with Alistair tantamount to treason. A secret rift was tearing [Insert Group Name Here] apart from the inside.
Still, despite tensions, [Insert Group Name Here] did its job well. They quickly mopped up several of the smaller groups of rogue Navi and began to move up the ranks, hunting down more dangerous prey. In battle, it seemed as though the different personalities and clashing ideals within [Insert Group Name Here] vanished. They performed remarkably well and Eoin, who had developed a mentor relationship with Grant and was learning far more about NetBattling than he thought possible, and Alistair were becoming more and more powerful.
Of course, all good things come to an end. The Mafia had caught wind of Eoin O'Lorcain's exploits and quickly surmised the truth of the whereabouts of the Rune Sphere. The Mafia made contact with a rogue Navi named Ladon and offered him a job. Ladon had a score to settle with the members of [Insert Group Name Here], having had his gang mostly deleted by [Insert Group Name Here] over the past few months. Ladon accepted the job and contacted [Insert Group Name Here] under the guise as a simple delivery Navi.
The job was simple, [Insert Group Name Here] was to accompany Ladon to a private server and deliver a data package that was supposed to be of the utmost importance. [Insert Group Name Here] had cleaned up a lot of crime, but there were still some very dangerous Navi running about and Ladon didn't feel safe traveling alone. [Insert Group Name Here] had done private jobs before, making a bit of zenny on the side, and so considered the mission. Maya and Alistair were against the idea. Something didn't feel right about it. Marauder didn't care either way and Thesis would sway with whatever Tobalis decided. The fact that Maya and Alistair were both against the idea infuriated Tobalis. He began to think that Alistair was attempting to usurp leadership, that the "young upstart" would "take a shot at the throne". Tobalis was obviously going nuts with the stress of leadership.
In the end, Tobalis agreed to the mission just to spite Alistair and [Insert Group Name Here] headed off with Ladon with the package in tow. Alistair and Maya were still bothered by something and remained on guard, but there was nothing they could do. When [Insert Group Name Here] entered the private server, the trap was sprung. A jack-out barrier closed down around them and Ladon revealed himself to be working with the Mafia. A fight broke out, hard and fast, with [Insert Group Name Here] versus Ladon and several NetMafia goons. Oddly enough, Ladon had been attempting to reclaim the package that Tobalis had been carrying. Maya noticed this and shouted for Tobalis to be careful of the package. Tobalis confronted Ladon in the heat of battle and the Mafia Navi conceded that the package contained a weapon. He said that it was poetic that [Insert Group Name Here] had been delivering their doom. Tobalis scoffed and attempted to open the package. Alistair, suspicious, shouted at Tobalis, but the "leader" refused to listen. Tobalis opened the package and was immediately assaulted with a black light. Something like inky black tentacles shot out of the box and wrapped themselves around Tobalis, merging with the Navi as he struggled and fell to the ground.
Ladon had laughed, claiming that his job was done, and moved to leave the server. However, Tobalis was too fast for him. Laughing maniacally and screaming about betrayal, Tobalis leapt to his feet and grabbed Ladon. Tobalis' eyes were blacker than the night and his voice was filled with hatred and rage. He reached up and grasped Ladon's head, crushing it with his bare hands. A surge of energy left the dead Navi and rushed into Tobalis, seeming to feed his madness. Tobalis turned to the rest of [Insert Group Name Here] and shouted, bellowed, at them. He called them all traitors and swore that he would crush their bodies and devour their souls. He moved to strike, but Ladon's deletion had shut down the Jack-Out barrier and Grant was able to EJO Tobalis from the server.
Alistair and the rest of [Insert Group Name Here] defeated the remnants of Ladon's mafia goons and left the server as well. However, all was not fine. An hour later, Eoin and the rest of the NetOps received a phone call. Grant was dead, some freak electrical fire had caused an explosion in his apartment, and Tobalis was missing. The conclusion was obvious. Something had happened to Tobalis to make him go rogue and he had killed Grant to escape. However, [Insert Group Name Here] was unsure of how to proceed. They gathered and discussed their options, every now and then receiving reports of a rogue Navi matching Tobalis' description terrorizing the Net and deleting countless Navi. The NetPolice could do nothing to stop him and he continuously shouted out the names of the [Insert Group Name Here] members. Eoin and Alistair were the first to voice their grim conclusion. They would have to track down Tobalis and capture him or....If worse came to worse, delete him. There could be no other choice.
[Insert Group Name Here] found Tobalis in Netfrica Net and moved in to capture their former leader. Tobalis had grown immensely powerful, the darkness that had been trapped within the box having granted the Navi untold strength. The battle was fierce, but in the end Tobalis was no match for the remaining members of [Insert Group Name Here]. Tobalis had fallen, but he refused to give up the fight. They would have to delete him. Marauder moved in to deliver the final blow, his axe gleaming in the light. He slashed down, the axe whistling through the air as it flashed its wicked arc. There was a scream and Thesis slumped through the floor, her data beginning to dissolve.
The research Navi, loving Tobalis despite his lack of caring, had dived in front of Marauder to shield Tobalis from the deathblow. She smiled into Tobalis' eyes as she slowly began to disappear. Tobalis responded by spitting in her face and crushing her skull, finishing the job that Marauder's axe had started. He was up again in an instant, partially revitalized by the surge of Thesis' life force that entered his body. Marauder was next to fall, Tobalis' sword removing the berserker's head from his body. Tobalis charged toward Alistair, but a streaking arrow knocked his sword from his hands and another sprouted from his chest. Alistair followed the air quickly, plunging his spear deep into Tobalis' gut. Tobalis backhanded Alistair, a powerful smash that sent Alistair huddling backward.
Tobalis was dead, but he refused to fall. He was determined that, if he were to be deleted, he would take all of [Insert Group Name Here] with him. Rage boiled within the Navi and he unleashed the full fury of the darkness that had been growing within him. Flames erupted all around Netfrica and it seemed like the Net was squeezing in on itself, smashing down and converging into a single point. Alistair knew that he was about to die. He called out to Eoin, an apology for failure, and then to Maya, confessing his love. He couldn't make out her response, as the air seemed to be crushed so that it could not deliver sound. Seconds of pain stretched to minutes, minutes to hours, it seemed that time had been compressed so that a few moments were an infinity of agony, but soon it would be over. Then, suddenly, the pain stopped. He wasn't dead, but he was no longer affected the might of Tobalis' death throes. There was a burning inside him, a rage that was growing quickly. Cobalt flames spread all along the Navi's body, leaving a suit of jet black armor in its wake. The Rune Sphere was reacting, exerting every ounce of its power to generate what was needed for Alistair to survive. The armor incased the Navi fully, protecting him from death; however, the strain was too much. Alistair fell unconscious and knew no more.
When the Navi awoke, he lay in a circle of barren wasteland about 100 yards in diameter. Outside the circle was the lush grasslands of Netfrica Net, but inside was death. He gazed around, seeing no sign of his companions. Eoin spoke to him, informing him of what had happened after his systems had crashed. The Rune Sphere had protected him, creating a suit of armor that held the strength to repulse the deadly power that Tobalis had possessed. However, the strain on the generator had been to much, causing it to shut down and shut down Alistair as well. Eoin had been able to get Alistair back online, but the generator was done for. Its amazing power was completely expended and was not coming back on line. Alistair still maintained all of the battle knowledge and skills he had developed, but the awesome power of the generator was no longer his to command. In time, the generator systems could replenish themselves, but it could take decades for the self repair to fully take effect. As for the rest of [Insert Group Name Here], they had all been deleted and somehow, could not be recalled. Some sort of backlash from their deletion had fried their NetOp's PETs and corrupted their backup data. Maya and the rest were gone for good. It seemed that Tobalis too was gone, the effort of his final attack destabilizing his data and causing him to fracture and delete.
In the end, Eoin O'Lorcain and Alistair Ward left the NetPolice. The Netopian Mafia knew the truth of the Rune Sphere and would surely strike again and, without the power of the generator to strengthen Alistair, they would surely succeed. Eoin and his family left Netopia, traveling across the seas and changing their names in the process. Eoin, now named Zanallen Espial, gave up NetBattling to finish his education and pursue a career as an English teacher. His father got a job at the SciLabs Corporation and the family moved to a small suburb named ACDC. Zanallen even changed Alistair's official designation from Ward.Exe to Runeknight.Exe, though in private he still referred to the Navi as Alistair. After about a decade, the Rune Sphere did come alive once more, though only in brief spurts that were not even a fraction of its former power. There was hope that that program would regain its strength, but probably not for another decade of two. For now, Zan Espial and Runeknight.Exe were content to live peacefully in ACDC, going about their lives and striving to become the greatest English teacher that was ever known.
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