Hospital:The Beginning

The navi opened his eyes and looked around, drawing his strangely made weapon from nowhere and resting it on his shoulder before looking up at his operator and looked for words.

"Are you my Female Lead?" He asked, his head cocked curiously, without a hint of sarcasm or taint of cruelty in his voice, it was just a simply asked question, although a bit blunt. He brought the sword to his side and cracked his neck before looking at the netop expectantly.

"She doesn't speak... Is she an NPC?" He muttered to himself while his operator looked down at him with widening eyes and a siftly changing demeanor from angry to nearly bursting out with laughter.

"I suppose... I suppose you could call me the plot exposition." The netop said, struggling very hard not to laugh.

"I see, I see!" The navi spoke, then brightened, asking another question.

"What do you have to tell me, ma'am?" He asked, smiling now.

"Well, this game is that of a strange realm where you're protecting the world you know from all sorts of monsters in all shapes, sizes or forms. You've got your weapon, which can use various skills, and a skill which can grow with your strength. Shall I repeat this, or do you have it?" She asked, trying hard not to snigger.

"Nope, I've got it all down!" The navi said cheerfully, prepping himself mentally and steeling for the horrors the viruses would bring.

"Okay,then, I'm sending you from the safe zone into the realm of the monsters. Be careful, hero." The operator smiled lightly, then jacked in Seraphim through the jack-in point near the end of the bed. She felt exhausted after that small speech.
Erin just snickered as she watched her navi blatantly run by the ongoing battle. She almost laughed at the infallible ignorance of her navi, and that's why she loved her navi.

She had put up a request to help him become stronger, now it was merely left to those who answered to fufill it. She sighed, and went back to watching her navi run into Netfrica net.
The Dekao Memorial Hospital in ACDC was abuzz with activity with doctors, nurses, and patients all heading toward a plethora of tests, checkups, and operations. Suien hesitated at the sight, afraid that stepping into the fray would disrupt the clockwork operation of the facility. Deftly dodging a passing stretcher and a pair of doctors discussing the latest workplace drama, he made his way to the front desk and addressed the receptionist in a flustered tone. "Excuse me," he said, "I have a delivery here for Miss Erin Nagasaki. She's a patient here at the hospital?"

The receptionist nodded curtly and traced a thin finger down the patient list. "Ah, here we are," she replied, "Floor three, second door to your right. Next!"

Suien opened his mouth to ask about a community service program, but now was clearly not the time. Instead, he smiled, muttered "thanks," and walked off toward the other end of the hospital.


Third floor, second door to the right... he thought, Yeah, this is it. Suien picked up a nearby clipboard and read down the list, attempting to gain some information about the patient he had purchased supplies for. Hmm... these are orders for blood transfusions, he thought, replacing the clipboard and looking at the door uneasily, Fairly regular too... it must be a chronic condition to require transfusions at this frequency. Must cost a fortune too... A lump formed in his throat as he worked up the courage to face the terminally ill individual that doubtless awaited him on the other side.

Taking a deep breath, he politely knocked on the door and opened it slightly so his voice would carry inside. "Hello? Is this Erin Nagasaki's room?" he asked, "I have your stuff from the Navi shop."

A girl was sitting up in her bed, grinning as she watched her navi battle it out, finish battling, and heading past a battle, all these battles, these conversations her navi had with other navis were all she had. She snickered at her own position, not being able to leave the hospital due to the disease she had taking a sharp turn when a marrow transplant was rejected, basically causing the entire problem to suddenly worsen.

"So, Seraphim. Let's get to work, then. As your party" She smiled, saying this, and looked up, sighing.

"Eh? Who're you? I've never seen you at the hospital before. I think youv'e got the wrong room." The girl said tiredly, turning back to her navi almost immediately, interrupting the man in the middle of his statement, then hearing the rest of it, flinching a bit in shock as she looked up.

"Come in. Sorry, I've had too many mistakes today." The girl gestured to a nearby seat in the room, looking at Suien.

"Thanks for buying me that. I'd assume you to be... Suien Matsumoto, then?" She spoke, as she lifted up her pet, sliding back to a fully sitting position so that she could better speak.
Suien entered the room with a quiet respect as the bedridden girl bid him enter and his stomach contorted horribly when he realized that the chronically ill patient was so downright young. Such a shame he thought, frowning for a moment but quickly catching himself and covering up his expression, but she probably gets the pity angle way too much. The tall, dark-haired netOp cleared his throat and walked over to Erin's bedside, placing the upgrades on her bedside. "That's two HP memories and a Rapid+ navicust program," he said "I think you wired Suitachi too much money too. The total cost came to 5000 zenny, so I took the liberty of reversing that transaction."

He paused, looking out the window for a moment. I can't even remember the last time I was in a hospital, he thought, ...and I just realized I have no idea how to act here. I've always been told my bedside manner was absolutely horrible... Realizing at once how rude it was to stay aloof and introverted, he turned to the bedridden girl and attempted some form of conversation. "Can I get you anything?" he asked, "It looks like things are pretty busy down there, so if you want anything from the vending machines outside, I can go ahead and grab something."
"Ah, thanks for that." The girl spoke, then shook her head in response to the question.

"I'm fine. I can't really eat anything out of the medical diet." She flipped open her PET, surprised to see some counters had activated in response to the changes, to be specific, a possible "job extension", as well as a "skills upgrade", which included various skills from multiple jobs, as if this were intended. She frowned, pursing her lips with annoyance and looking at her PET.

"Hey, do you know what could have cause this? I didn't buy these Process upgrades, so I don't understand why it's upgraded." She tossed her PET at Suien, only to have it fall pitifully short, hitting the edge of the bed.
It took all the composure that Suien had to keep from wincing at the pitiful throw, but he wordlessly picked up the PET and looked at the series of variables that displayed themselves on the screen. "Hmm... well from what I can tell at first glance, it looks like your processor has been upgraded to a new level - it's a standard practice that most netOps employ when their navi has reached a certain standard of performance. However..." his voice trailed off as something interesting caught his eye. Wait a minute... if she didn't know what those variables meant, that means that the process upgrade was integrated without any external programming required... which means of course that... the navi programmed itself. Suien paused and blinked, No way, that can't be right. It's more likely that the code was pre-written such that it integrates and executes the expansion code as it goes. Still though...

Turning to Erin, he nodded his head, "I think everything's normal. It simply means that your navi has an inherent quality that enables it to execute process upgrades through pre-written..." he paused, realizing that the full explanation might be too much and attempting to frame it in a simpler manner. "...your navi just leveled up and gained new skills," he said finally. "On a side note, however... would it be possible for me to get a closer look at your navi?"
"Uh, sure, he's in Netfrica right now." She spoke, then grinned.

"Would you like to 'join his party?'" She asked, only half-sarcastically, grinning.

"Well, he's got an ally, but he could use another person there."
The girl cocked her head slightly, and pointed to a jack in port if he planned to agree.

"Anyway, the best form of observation if something went wrong with the programming, or something new is happening is to him would be field observation."
"Netfrica, huh?" Suien scratched his head and took out his own clunky-looking PET. "I've never actually had Rass head over to that side of the net, but I suppose there's a first time for everything. Just let me set up the point relay so I can remove him from Yoka via the PET and transfer him to your navi's location..."

A few keystrokes later, the patch was complete. As Suien pressed the small red button on the side, he sat back and removed his chip folder from his pocket. Tis turning out to be an interesting day after all, he thought.
The last time he'd been here, Marlowe had been paying his respects to a dying son-of-a-bitch.

He hated this place. Everytime he came here, he was reminded of who was really running the show and propping the stage in their puppet strung lives. Dame Fortune.

But today he had different intentions and they weren't laced with lead or handcuffs.

Erin Nagasaki.

He approached the counter, trenchcoat unbuttoned. With a passing grunt, he leaned himself casually across the counter, and with dusty eye contact, he addressed the clerk with a lowly drawled tenor.
"The name's Marlowe. I'm looking for someone... Erin." He paused, scratching his stubble as if in momentary thought. "Nagasaki," he finished.

For a moment, the dame give him a suspicious eye, but it was gone in the half bat of an eyelash. She conceded. "One moment sir." Taps on a keyboard commenced before she looked up lazily at him. "Third floor, sir. Second door on the right."

"...Thank you, dear," he replied smokily. He proceeded to turn on his heels, withdrawing his lighter and a cigarette as he did so. That ancient urge was firing at him like a mob crew on a lone rival gangster, and he wasn't one to deny it. He flicked, but was intervened.

"Sir, we have a no smoking policy here, if you please," the desk lady called out with a laconic smile.

"Of course... my apologies." He turned and gave the semblance of a ostensibly sincere wink accompanied with a nod of acknowledgment.

Marlowe turned the corner down the hallway and proceeded to light up the tobacco. He gave a deep inhale; the smog met his lungs like a locomotive forcefully rendezvousing with slow car head first.

The devil was having a field day.


A slow five minutes later, the detective had ascended to the third floor. Thirteen paces and he was just outside of the room.

Marlowe deduced some pieces of information; Erin's presence in this shithole wasn't a party favor. The ward area itself implied a chronic condition.
He remembered what he had read off the BBS in perfect detail; the lass was young. At the thought of it, his rusted heartstrings twanged like a roughly disturbed violin.

It was too bad. Too many son-of-a-bitches running free with blood on their hands, and a bedridden little girl with too little blood.

The thought further bittered the taste of the tobacco. He removed his canteen of alcohol and helped himself to a generous swallow. Wiping the remnants off his lips with his sleeve, he replaced it in his suit pocket.

Clearing his throat, Marlowe replaced his cigarette firmly between his lips and pushed the door aside.
"Another visitor?" A voice asked rather sharply as it trailed off, looking at the smoker with a slight look of disdain in her eyes, the girl drew herself up from her position to cock her head and glare at the tabacco addict with disgust.

"Who're you, and what're you here for?" She asked, not quite impolite, but clearly slightly angry at the intrusion.
"...oh. I'm sorry," Marlowe offered in a sincerely apologetic, albeit shaded, tone, as he became aware of his abrupt entrance. The smoke seemed to be doing none too good for the girl nor was it appreciated.
The devil's perfume was the last thing she needed. At a moment's notice, the aged detective quickly tapped out the cigarette against the doorsill.

"I'm Whitewasher from the BBS trade request you made... Marlowe if you please." As he spoke, he slowly made his way towards the bed. Passing the other visitor present in the room, he gave a slight nod. "...cheers."

As the detective approached closer to the bedridden girl, the taste of pity washed over the aftertaste of the alcohol lingering at the back of his throat.

Lady Luck was a fickle whore. She hadn't been with this girl, and the thought of it made him curse the Dame's habits. Her damning dice; her damning deck. She let the innocent stew stagnant and rotting while the bottom-feeding bastards that inhabited this hellhole of a planet roamed like ass-bitten sheep.

It had been a year or ten since Marlowe had ever given a damn. Seeing that pale girl was like a kick in the gut to remind him what had been and what was. Marlowe's normally imperturbable facade was ostensibly wrinkled with the hint of emotion.

"I believe you were interested in buying some NCPs, Missy," he continued throatily.
The dame smiled slightly at the last couple words, she had taken the bait to the simple inquiry, cocking her head like a bent wire, relaxing visibly as she ejected a credit chit from her whimsical looking PET, making a pathetic attempt at a toss to the man at the doorstep, the chip spinning in midair and hitting the ground, like hopes crashing as they hit he ground, the chip hit, flying up again to hit against the ground once again, sliding and finally hitting up against the elderly man's feet. The damned dame was not with the girl, the girl winced at her own throw, the express train of life had left her behind, straggling in the dust and crying after the train that had abandoned her.
Rayth Ayori, a tall young man with dirty blond hair, leaned with his back against the door of the hospital room. He stared at the center of the room, not so much looking at the frail man who laid in the bed in the middle of the room, but looking through him. He stared through the comatose man as though he was staring into his own mind, and what he saw left a bad taste in his mouth.

"I hate you..." He whispered, his eyes beginning to water. "I hope you die, Freddie."

It was as true a statement that he had ever made. Rayth Ayori despised the comatose young man, hated him more than he had ever hated anyone in his life, but he also pitied him. Deep down, he knew that he was responsible for Freddie's condition and that if the man were to die, Rayth would truly be a murderer. He bowed his head as the tears began to flow.

"Are you crying?" Came an incredulous voice from the small device hooked up to the hospital's internet system. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Shut the hell up!" Rayth murmured. "You would never understand."

"Of course I wouldn't. That bastard deserved what he got. After all," Chaos paused as his voice took a sinister tone. "He hurt Rachel, didn't he?"

"He may have hurt her...But he didn't deserve this. Besides, how does his condition help her?"

"It doesn't...Revenge doesn't help anyone. It is pure pleasure."

"You're sick..."

"Me? You're the one who put that kid in a coma. It was you who started the fire..."

"Shut up!" Rayth screamed.

"Oh, you've done it now. The nurses will come and what will they say when they see you? I know what they'll say. You've obviously come to finish the job you started all of those years ago. You'll be someone's prison girlfriend within the hour."

"Grrr..." Rayth ripped the PET's cord from the wall, the remote system kicking in automatically.

"You won't be rid of me that easily," Chaos laughed. "We were made for each other."

Rayth pocketed the PET and strolled quickly out of the room. Chaos had been exaggerating, but his words held a kernel of truth, they always did. The nurses would come to investigate his shouts and they wouldn't take kindly to an unannounced guest in a coma patient's room. He quickened his pace, ducking down the stairwell and exiting on the third floor.

Rayth slowed his pace, wiping the tears from his emerald green eyes and doing his best to calm himself. He spied a drinking fountain and bent over to gulp down some water. The door next to him was open a crack and he caught a bit of the conversation going on within.

"Netfrica, huh? I've never actually had Rass head over to that side of the net, but I suppose there's a first time for everything. Just let me set up the point relay so I can remove him from Yoka via the PET and transfer him to your navi's location..."

Rass? Rayth had heard the name before.

"Well," Chaos' voice sounded through a small earphone, Rayth's version of a private line. "We seem to have found my little plaything once more. What is the pink wonder doing here?"

"How the hell should I know?" Rayth whispered.

"Find out, stupid."

"I'm not going to just barge into someone's hosp..."

Rayth stopped himself as he noticed a hardened old man walking down the hallway. Despite regulations, the old man was smoking a cigarette and, from the look of the metal canteen that he was swigging from, was on his way to being drunk. Still, he didn't look like one to mess with so Rayth thought it wise to stay out of the man's way. Oddly enough, the old man came to a rest in front of the door where Rayth had heard the name Rass. After a second, the voice of a young girl answered and the old man entered the room.

"The hell?" Rayth whispered to himself.

His curiosity piqued, Rayth settled himself against the wall near the door, straining his ears to hear the conversation going on within the room.
With pause, Marlowe knelt for a moment to pick up the credit chip. 2000z.

Reaching into his right trenchcoat pocket, he removed a chip containing both the Charge and Rapic NCPs.

For a moment, he considered throwing it to the girl, but realized it would be a vain attempt. Instead, he walked to the side of her bed and gently placed it on a drawer within easy reach.

As he straightened his posture again, he glanced down at Erin. " want to know what vexes me lass?" he asked in a sort of warm rhetoric. "...for every person like yourself, there are two bastards out there; maybe one getting favors at gunpoint, the other with a suit bought with blood money."

He lingered on the cynical thought only momentarily, before continuing.

"...has it always been like this?" he tenored quietly.
"...No, not really. I used to be able to come in three days a week for blood transfusions and... Well... That happened." The girl gestured at her leg, where it seemed perfectly normal, other than a tiny scar.

"It's closed up pretty well, but... I had an operation to get some bone marrow to mostly cure this disease. It reacted badly, and now I have to be hooked up more than eight hours a day, and can't move that much for most of the rest of the day.

The girl sighed, then shrugged, her expression cold.
"Wow, that's pretty intense for such a young girl." Rayth whispered.

"She probably deserves it." Came Chaos' caustic reply.

"How can you say that?"

"From my experience, if something terrible happens to you, it is your own damn fault. Let's go."

"What? Why? You were the one who..."

"Nevermind that. That ridiculous farce of a battle within the NetSquare is over and these weaklings are far less interesting than I had hoped. We need to purchase some upgrades and you have to design a new GMO for me."

"A new GMO?"

"Yes fool. I can't corrupt that girl Navi looking like some plain NormalNavi. I can tell that I shall need a bit more flair in order to place myself within her good graces. I need something a bit more...Regal."

"But," By this time Rayth had moved down the hallway so that he could speak in more than a whisper. "I don't have the equipment to create another GMO. We'd need some blank appearance files and those don't come cheap. Easiest way to get them is through the NetPolice and we defin..."



"Just use a pseudonym and keep me in this ridiculous disguise until we are done speaking with them. The police are fools. I doubt they will even bother to check our credentials."

"Damn," Rayth considered. "Alright, but if anything goes wrong I'm leaving you there to rot."

"Please, no database can hold me and I'll be damned if I let some scum of a cop delete me. Let's just go and get this over with."

Rayth nodded and pocketed the PET. He slipped down the hallway and used the elevator to get to the first floor. His car was parked right outside of the hospital, a black Buick Riviera with a leather interior. He had a buddy in Electown mail him new license plates every month or so to keep the cops off of his trail.

He hopped into the car and started her up. The engine purred in response and he sent off down the road. His first stop would be Soryu's Chip shop and then it was off to SciLabs to visit the NaviCust store. He had a fat wad of zenny that was burning a hole in his bank account and he knew that they would need some supplies for the days to come.

"Hey, Chaos." He called to his Navi. "Start recording and then post this message at the NetPolice BBS."


"Hello there...
"...Well my dear, this old fool has to be going," Marlowe delivered with a granite nod. "...and if you should ever need anything..." He paused, placing his hand into the interior pocket of his coat for a brief moment. It emerged with a slightly weathered semblance of a business card in grasp. Raymond Marlowe, Private Inspector, it read in small print. Underneath, it bore a phone number and address. "...Cheers."

With a light toss, he threw it onto the drawer beside Erin's bed, the card daring to waft off the nightstand but adhering to where it had been directed.

Turning around to leave, Marlowe snugly lowered his fedora across his forehead. A hardened cast of shadow encased his countenance again, and his brow beaten by age cast upon itself a furrow.

I need a god damn drink, he thought to himself as he left the room, with an expression befitting an undertaker.

Stepping out of the elevator moments later, he grasped his bottle from beneath his overcoat pocket, and quickly committed to the drink.
He passed the desk lady with his mouth still glued to alcohol-canteen, and she gave a mildly appalled exclamation.

Amused, he gave a snicker beneath his breath. "Good day to you too, ma'am."

Without another glance, Marlowe left the premises. The crawling bastards that walked had something to fear again.
Suien nervously looked from his PET to the bedridden Erin Nagasaki. He had an appointment at the NetColosseum, but he didn't particularly want to leave the poor girl all alone at the hospital. Glancing at his watch as though it could provide him the answer to his dilemma, he stared for a long while as the seconds ticked by one by one. There's really no avoiding it, is there? he thought, biting his lower lip as he watched Erin manipulate the PET, Guess I'll just have to go out and say it...

"Ah... Erin?" he asked, tucking his clunky PET into his belt and unfolding his arms, "I have to head out to the NetColosseum in a few minutes, but I was planning on swinging by the Navi shop on the way. Did you need me to pick up anything?"
" Thanks for asking, but no. I'm saving up for something big." The girl gave a brief friendly smile as she picked a couple options on her PET, prepping a chip for slot-in.

"Um, if it's no problem to you, I'd like to buy a speed expansion later." Erin finished, putting the objectives the screen for the benefit of her navi before hitting the "OK" button. She nodded, then went back to her little world, modding Seraphim in battle.