Not My Concern

((From => The O'Conaill Home))

Night time was a much nicer companion than the day's sun. It was a dark night even so; clouds covered much of the sky, and where they didn't, only the stars poked though, no sign of the moon tonight. Rogan moved quickly, slipping around the side of the small building and off the street.

It was a small homespun business of sorts, cheap electronics and the sort, but his casing earlier had revealed a much more high-tech on-site security system than he'd been expecting. It was curious, certainly, but questioning too deeply wasn't part of the job.

"Why are we here, sir? You took a lot of pictures of this place yesterday, didn't you?" The voice was bright and curious, but at least she knew to keep to a hushed whisper when quiet was clearly what he wanted. He spared a glance for the holographic image of the navi that was poking her head out from the pocket he kept his PET in.

"The same reason I go anywhere, Lyntael. Someone requires some information, and I can get it for them." He glanced back around the site and pulled the PET from his pocket. Lyntael came with it, then leaped to his shoulder as he extended the custom probe from one side and raised it above his head. A muted beep announced the dispersal of a system scrambler tuned to lock up the surveillance this particular shop was using. Lyntael winced as though hearing something unpleasant, then looked at him.

"We're doing something bad again, aren't we?"
"Hush." At his word she paused, looking around for a moment and biting her lip.
"This is ACDC, isn't it, sir? We should go visit your brother instead! He's nice! Even if he did make me wear shoes all the time..." Rogan only shook his head, moving now towards the main door of the building and glancing about. The on site security here really did seem disproportionate to such a small business. The system would take him a little while to slip through without triggering anything.

As he lifted lifted his PET to fit the end of the probe to the system and let it interface, Lyntael slipped back down his arm to stand on the screen, facing him. Even so, she was looking down and away slightly, and didn't speak. He hologram dissolved as she slipped back into the PET a moment later. Rogan let a small smile curl on the edge of his lips.

"Besides. I doubt Eric would appreciate a visit at this hour. Now, let's jack you in and you can tell me what the system is doing while I work. Can you simulate a stable link?" There was only a very slight delay before she responded.
"Yes, sir."
"Then do it."

((Lyntael Jacking in, to => ACDC Net))
((Return from => ACDC Net))

Rogan walked quickly away from the deceptively plain building, which he was now quite certain housed far more than met the eye. If the work was more major than was being let on, he ought to insist on a higher commission, he supposed, but the deal had already been done, so it was his own fault really.

A part of him brooded quietly over the actions of his Navi, within the net. Life-like or not, he had given her an instruction and rather than follow it, she had instead portrayed the affectations of trying to, without succeeding. Unsettling, since, if it was something she simply couldn't do, he'd expect to be told so, rather than getting a confirmation like that.

The night was still young as he made his way through the silent, deserted streets and he spared a glance down to the pocket where he kept his PET. As expected, he could see the holographic form of Lyntael peeking up over the edge of the pocket, just enough to see out. She was a strange little program, he'd give his brother that much. Shaking his head, he pulled the PET from his coat and looked directly at the image of the now even smaller girl. She looked back up at him with an expression that he was tempted to read as hopeful, if not for being a program.

"Lyntael. There are things we must discuss. Within that organisation's network, you encountered virus activity, and deleted several. I have always known this to be the primary function of navis, and the main reason for their creation, and that some make their living in this manner. I had always assumed that it was..." He paused, picking the right words. "A paid occupation. Employment that was waged. Tonight, however, I have received from you a small, but not insignificant amount of zenny. This is, then, how it actually works?"

He reached his car, a simple, black model from several years ago and climbed in, tossing his PET onto the passenger seat as he fished for his keys. Lyntael had held onto his arm, and now clambered from it, across the wheel and onto his dashboard, sitting down to let her legs swing over the edge. She nodded to him.

"Yes, sir. Viruses generally leave behind data that's still convertible and usable." As she spoke she flushed slightly and she raised her hands, eyes widening. "Oh, but, Rogan, sir! This was really hard for me tonight, and, and they were just very simple viruses. I can't really... I'm not." There it was again. The affectations of human mannerisms getting in the way of her communication. He was about to mention it again when she took a breath and calmed herself. "That is, sir, I don't believe Eric had combat and virus busting in mind when he designed me." Rogan's slightly distasteful grunt was hidden by the sound of him starting the car.

"No, Lyntael, I think I understand exactly what my brother had in his mind when he designed you, and not wishing to speak ill of the man aloud, I'll say no more on that." In his head though, he could call him the sort of pervert who creates a school-girl model appearance, then puts her in a revealing skirt and underwear so close to transparent in all the wrong places, such that they might as well not even be there. In his head, he could call the man all sorts of things. Despite his tactfulness, Lyntael seemed to understand his meaning, and she blushed, shifting to tug self-consciously at the hem of her skirt. She waited for him to continue, staring up with those cripplingly innocent eyes and he sighed after a moment, pulling his car out and beginning to make for down town.

"Regardless. What you came away with is about a quarter of what I expect this contract to pay me, and that's not to be ignored. I want for you to continue deleting viruses whenever you are in a network and it does not interfere with the work I need you to do." His eye jumped down to the dash as Lyntael visibly flinched away from his request, curling into a defensive ball. He put his eyes back on the road but listened to her response.

"Please sir, I can't. I'm scared to, and I really don't have much I can fight with. Those were really, really weak viruses, from what I've read of others, sir. What if your work takes you somewhere really dangerous? Please don't make me, sir." As she cowered from the concept, arms about her head, Rogan kept his silence, thinking.

The bright lights and over-bearing advertisements of the old Electown area were coming into view and he slowed his speed a little. His contact wasn't expecting delivery of the documents until tomorrow, and some clients weren't the type you dropped in on early. He made instead for the small hotel he had rented a room at. Sleep was seeming more tempting that it should do, but he hadn't slept during the day, or the night before at all, so, perhaps he could do with a longer rest. As he pulled the car into the supplied parking and grabbed his PET he gave Lyntael a firm look.

"I have no intention of wasting time or money buying you upgrades to make you more capable of doing work that all navis are supposed to be capable of, Lyntael." He sighed. "However, you being more capable is a benefit to us both. Here's what I propose then. I will not spend money upgrading your processes, however, any money that you gain for yourself, that is not my own earnings, I will keep aside for your own benefit and upgrades. I expect, though, that you will get stronger, if you do this." He turned his attention to a street vendor as he came around to the front of the run down hotel, taking an order of something that vaguely resembled a food product, and most likely contained meat, of some sort, and started to eat it as he walked slowly back towards the main doors. Wasn't too bad. It was hot and filling, at least, and that's all that really mattered. Lyntael was watching him, biting her lip with her brows drawn down.

"Rogan... I don't..." He took another large bite of his food, quite sure he knew what her next protest was going to be, but the image of the tiny navi, perched on his shoulder now, surprised him. Her shoulders squared and her face grew serious. "I will, sir. I promise. If it helps you, then I'll do it. Even if all I can manage is to help make enough for you to stop neglecting yourself like this. You should have better food, and more sleep, in more comfort, sir. It's not good for you!" Her small outburst trailed into a more embarrassed silence as Rogan collected his key card from the desk, the clerk glaring at her as he handed it over. As they climbed the stairs, Rogan chuckled.

"I am looking after myself perfectly well, Lyntael. I eat when I have to, sleep when I need to, and I take care of myself just fine. I don't live in luxury or excess, and I don't waste anything, but I'm hardly neglecting myself." He slipped into his room and dropped the wrapping for his meal into the bin in the corner, then sprawled out on the bed and slipped his PET onto the bedside stand.

"Now rest. I need sleep, and there's more to do tomorrow." Somewhere in the movements, Lyntael had ended up standing on the screen of her PET again, and she watched him settle and roll over.

"I..." but it was no more use. She knew Rogan well enough now to know that he was the sort who fell asleep on command, and was already close to gone. "Yes, sir..." She murmured, then sat down to watch him sleep.

((To => Electown))