Feelin' Squirrely

All right, ACDC Town! The chip shop was closed, but she didn't have all that many junk chips anyway, so that wasn't a big deal. As long as that squirrel's port worked, she was fine. Sabrina made her way over to the statue, which happened to literally be a walk in the park. "Well, here we are...ready?"

"Yep! Blub's all done, too!" SplashMan held the SP in his arms, in anticipation of both being sent into the Net. "He doesn't look like it, but he's a little tougher than before!"

"Well then, no point in waiting! Jack in! Splash-" What the...? There was a prompt thing on her PET screen? "...Would you like to..." Only catching that one part, she selected yes. "Stupid mandatory PET upgrade...okay, I'll ask again. Ready?"

"Still am!"

"Okay then! Jack in! SplashMan, Execute!"

Of course, they might not have been so cheery if Sabrina had read the entire dialog box...

'This port recognizes that this Navi is now permitted to enter Rogue Nets. Would you like to go there now?'

(to ACDC Net...Hard Mode!)
Suddenly, as he was slotting in the chips into the PET, a girl of about his age came up to the squirrel statue. Looking up from his seat on the grass, the girl, wearing a blue tank top and black skirt, held the PET in her hand and jacked in, though from his point of view, he could see from the PET screen that the girl was no ordinary Netbattler.

She was going to a Rogue Net.

Having only heard rumors of Rogue Nets, he was instantly awed by this person, and greeted her. Hey there. Going to ACDC Net? he said in a cordial tone.
Apparently Sabrina was in the zone, because it took her an entire battle to realize that there was someone nearby. "Huh? Oh, hi there! Sorry, didn't notice you back there!" A look over revealed a guy about her age sitting on the grass nearby. "Yeah, we went into ACDC Net, but it's all weird and has more powerful viruses than usual...wonder why?"

"Wah!!!" A scream suddenly came from her PET, from the obvious source. "Hey, Sabrina! We've kinda got a situation..."

"Oh, found more viruses already?. Well, let's get on it!" She started to think about what to do, before realizing (again) that she still had company. "Oh, I can still talk while I do this. Just so you know!"
Hmm, perhaps you got a different connection than usual? Check the server name that you just connected to, Harke suggested plainly, having seen the PET display in clear sight before. I saw that you just went in without any thoughts, though. So I may be wrong, and your connection is fine, he added.

So, anyway. I'm Harke Ezarith, and my Navi in here, showing his black, blue-trim PET, is Eternalis. Nice to meetcha, Harke said as he held out his hand in the basic friendly gesture of a simple handshake.
Server name? How on earth did she check something like that? She was an okay Netbattler, but computers themselves were NOT her specialty. "Umm...I have absolutely no idea how to do that. Though now that you mention it, I did get some kind of prompt box thing when I jacked in. I didn't read it, so I have no idea what it said, but maybe that has something to do with it?"

And now, introduction time. "Well, nice to meet you, Harke and Eternalis! I'm Sabrina Jetto! My Navi's SplashMan, but he's sorta busy, ya know, what with the trying not to deleted and all." She also extended her hand, in order to shake that of the person she just met. Hooray for social protocol! "Don't worry, once we're done with this virus group, I'll make sure you get to meet him!"
Well, it's good to know someone else for a change. I'm not the social type, you see. Eternalis would like to meet you too, but his battle process is in kind of a standstill right now, Harke said as he shrugged, mostly to himself. Then, he realized something, Wait, you don't know how to check your server name? That is an atrocity for any person having a Personal Terminal! Here, let me show you how. Pointing to his PET screen, he navigated to a setting screen inside the PET, where the words [ACDC_034] appeared.

There. That's the server name I'm in, which shows that I'm on an official ACDC network. Hah, kind of geeky of me to know this, huh? said the operator in a shy smile. But anyway, you really should know your PET. I'm not that good of a Netbattler, but I sure can't resist taking a PET apart when I got one of these. Looked in every single nook and cranny, looking it up on Internet forums and stuff.
Huh...so that was how you found a server name? Seemed simple enough, and there wasn't any major reason not to take a few second to check, so...Sabrina frantically did some button pressing, in order to bring up the server name...


Seemed like a perfectly normal name to her...wait a sec. "Hey, what's up with that R after the number? That wasn't in yours, was it? ...Guess it's pretty obvious I'm not good with this sort of thing, huh? I know I should learn more about it, but the only two people I know are, uh, busy with stuff." Couldn't tell him about her father or brother, seeing as how they'd just met, and it was kinda complicated. "So, you know lots about PETs? All I can really do is the basic stuff, and NetBattling..."
(Huh, so I was right. She is going to a Rogue Net. Is she playing dumb or something? I know that you need a special license to enter the Rogues, Harke thought. Or it could be that she's just plain reckless. Yeah, that's it.)

Answering her question earlier, he replied, Heh, well, mostly self-taught stuff, as I already told you. My older sister Ema's more of a PET master. She can code these things blindfolded. She's out of the country right now, though. He looked somewhat downcast, mentioning her sister. Realizing this, he immediately said, But enough about me. That 'R', you said? Guess you wouldn't know R is the server code for a Rogue Net. Tilting his head and looking puzzled, he continued, But you should know, since you'd need a special license I know only incredibly experienced Netbattlers could get. You seem... interesting to observe, Sabrina.

Suddenly realizing the potential misunderstanding that could ensue, he frantically added, his face turning bright red, Of course, I mean in a fellow Netbattler's perspective! Not that I mean anything else!
So what if she should know? Unfortunately, that was giving Sabrina way too much credit on the matter. "Rogue Net? Never heard of it. ...Wait a sec, yes I have. The Mission BBS has an option for something called 'Rogue Net Access'. So does that mean I wound up in it somehow?" Nope, not a clue. Time for a quick subject change to something she actually knew a little about. "So, you've got an older sister that's a whiz at this stuff? I've got an older brother, Brandon, that's kinda like that. He's more of a Navi expert, though." Hmm...he seemed kinda down when he said that. She probably shouldn't keep going on the matter. "Anyway..."

...Interesting to observe? That earned Harke a raised eyebrow as he clarified himself. However, she instead pretended to get angry. "What, you don't think I'm cute?!" She waited a moment for effect, just to get a little more pressure on him...before suddenly bursting out in laughter. "Ha ha ha! Just kidding, you don't have to answer that! Actually, you really shouldn't...I think all the blood in your body's already in your head!" That was probably a little mean, but hey, it was all in good fun...as shown by the silly grin on her face.
(Maybe I shouldn't have said- oh crap, she's gonna blow...) he thought as he braced himself for the oncoming female barrage. Which didn't come, unexpectedly. The girl simply laughed at his weakness with a silly grin. (Hah, you might be interesting after all.)

Kyahahahah! You got me, he said as he straightened himself up. He started to look at his PET screen again. Man, those guys are really taking their sweet time. He turned to his company again, can't keep a girl waiting, gotta strike up conversation. So, where are you from, Sabrina? I'm from Sharo myself, but I'm staying with my dad here.
"Tell me about it..." You'd think a group of bats wouldn't take that long to shoot off a couple attacks...maybe it was enough to drive one batty? Ugh, she was SO glad she didn't say that out loud...luckily, there was a new question to drive that horrible pun out of her head. "Ah, didn't think you were from around here. I'm from Netopia, myself! My Dad sent me over here for a few weeks, so I could practice NetBattling, since Electopia's supposed to be really awesome for that kind of thing. I guess I can see why, since the Nets here aren't so annoying..." Never mind that the Net she was in right now was all dark for NO PARTICULAR REASON.

Hmm...seemed like he was expecting small talk. Sabrina didn't entirely know why, but he just had that vibe. "So, the Rogue Net...gotta admit, I don't really know much about it at all, aside from the fact the viruses there are ridiculously strong. Do you know anything else? I mean, it's kinda weird that I've never even heard about it, not even from my dad..."
It is slightly strange that you don't know... I mean, taking a Rogue Net Access mission without knowing what a Rogue Net is seems pretty weird. Or maybe you're just headstrong. I like that. Pausing, he reconsidered his statement, No offense meant.

Well, from what I've heard from the recesses of Internet forums and occasional father advice, Rogue Nets are where the Net administrators dump virii that seem to have surpassed the others in the normal nets. These are seen as threats to the general public. So you could say that the Rogue Nets are kind of like holding facilities for 'over-talented' virii. I'd think some may even have developed sentience, like a Navi would, Harke said, ending his 'semi-lecture' with a deep breath.
Headstrong? Well, he was hardly the first person to call her that...but saying that he 'liked that'? That was probably a first. Kinda made her wonder if Harke really DID like her... "Huh? I never took a Rogue Net Access Mission...I mean, I knew they existed, but I decided not to do it because the name sounded freaky. All I did was jack into the squirrel, and there we were..." Sabrina decided to shut up for a moment as Harke went on a further explanation. "Well, that explains why they're so tough. But you'd think they'd pick a more isolated place to put them than just a special part of the main Net..."

What sounded a little like a high pitched screech suddenly erupted from her PET, causing her to take a good look at it. "What happened? ...You lost 70 HP?! How many times did you get hit, anyway?!"

"Ugh...just the once..." Even though it was dark in there, anyone could tell that SplashMan had just been thrown for a loop. "W-What an attack..."

"Just once? Wow...I figured they'd be stronger, but that's ridiculous..." That explained why the general public wasn't allowed in there..."Hang on a sec, Harke, I've gotta focus for a minute on this!"
Ooh, looks like you have a bit of trouble with... SplashMan, was it? He looked down at his PET, wishing the others would hurry up and kill already. Can't really help right now, since I can't access the Rogue Nets. Hmm, come to think about it, I don't think it's a special section of the main net, per se. More like, every net has its own virus dumpster. As you may know, the Rogue Nets are hosted on completely different servers than that of the main nets. The Access missions are for those who want to test themselves with their busting prowess. Plus it helps clean out the rogue virii every once in a while. Mutual, busters get their kicks, administrators get peace of mind.
"Well, I wouldn't say he's in too much trouble. I mean, he's a little bit of a wuss sometimes, but he's made to take a hit! Granted, repeated hits like that, not so much..." Though considering most Navis weren't made like that...she chose to stop that thinking and listed to further explanations. "Rogue Net's kinda weird, huh? I mean, considering it's really dangerous, you'd think the people behind would just come out and say 'hey, this place isn't safe, so don't come in here unless you're really strong or want to get deleted'. I mean, the Undernet's like that...only in that case it's pretty much suicide no matter who you are. I mean, my dad's a professional NetBattler, and even he couldn't win a single battle in there. Though he was smart enough to run away before his Navi got deleted, at least..."
Upon hearing Sabrina's statement, Harke's face immediately turned into a look that could only be described as 'What. The. Hell.'. The legendary Undernet, home to the most dastardly, evil programs and Navis known to present man. Every Nethacker's lifelong dream was to earn a rightful spot in the Undernet ranks. Whoa, whoa, whoa, what? Your dad survived a battle in the UNDERNET? That's... that's unheard of! Your father must be quite the guy, and his Navi must be too. Er, if you don't mind me asking, who is your father? finished Harke, excited as he had never been.

(God, I must sound like a fanboy or something.)
"Well, yeah...but like I said, he couldn't finish them off." She knew the Undernet was incredibly dangerous, but just making it out alive was really that amazing? Man, her dad must be even more incredible than she already thought..."My dad? That would be Christopher Jetto, one of the greatest chip experts in all of Netopia! I learned a lot of what I know about NetBattling from him! And yeah, his Navi's something else...even though his Navi's Fire element, I don't think I could even touch him in an actual battle." Sabrina just couldn't help but smile as she talked about her father, even the last part; sure, she didn't know where he was at the moment, but that wasn't about to stop her from being proud of him.
Hmm. Christopher Jetto, huh? I'll have to meet him someday, said Harke to himself as he made a mental note to do so. A chip expert... Now that would be an interesting person to meet, finding out about all the different types of chips in the world. (Course, he'd probably be busy collecting chips or something. Kind of makes me think of the chip shop's old owner.)Suddenly, his PET beeped and, well, demanded his general attention. Well, finally, someone responded. Now I'll have to wait a bit more, and then you can meet Eternalis.

Then, he looked up from his seat to the big squirrel statue looming over him. Hey, Sabrina. What do you think the townspeople were thinking way back then, when they were putting this giant pink squirrel in this park? I mean, ACDC's already become famous for this lightly-colored mammal.
Hmm...the squirrel? Come to think of it, he had a point..."I...have absolutely no idea. I can understand a squirrel, those things are always around in parks." A squirrel suddenly ran in front of the statue, conveniently confirming Sabrina's remark. "But pink? That's just weird. I mean, personally I think it's really cute, but it's still really weird to make a statue out of it. ...Maybe it's supposed to be some kind of abstract art? I hope that's not it, because I don't like thinking too hard about things I just look at...probably why I did so bad in art class last year..."

"Actually, I'm kinda wondering why they bothered to put a jack-in port in it. I mean, that's not exactly someplace you'd think to look for one..." Come to think of it, there were a lot of places like that...though the squirrel was the only one she could think of off-hand.
The jack-in port? He never really thought about that. Hmm, maybe because the squirrel's so oddly colored, people would get curious, get closer to have a look and eventually notice the port. Then, it would spread by word-of-mouth, gradually gaining its present status as a main jack-in point for ACDC.

Looking around, he said, Squirrels... come to think of it, there's not much actual squirrels in the park, is there? Not many trees in the park, just a few bushes here and there.