A Short Stop at Home

"...and we are... done!" Chris said as he put the few finishing touches on Nitro's latest signature attack. "There, now you'll really be able to wreck stuff."
"As if I already couldn't," Nitro said from the PET, brushing his nails (or he would be, if it weren't for the glove) on his chest. "So, do you think we could give it a test run? Along with my upgraded buster?"
"Well, I did want to go to the park and just kind of walk around for a bit..." Chris said hesitantly, spinning around in his chair.
"Come on Chris," Nitro begged. "We want to make sure this stuff doesn't blow up in my face when I really need it."
"Oh, alright." Chris said. "But just for a little bit." Chris turned back towards his PET and his computer. He then picked up his PET, and jacked it into an available port on his computer, sending Nitro into the ACDC net.
"Well, that went smashingly, didn't it?" Chris said, as Nitro returned to the PET.
"Yeah, sure," Nitro said, his face still red from his previous encounter. "Didn't you want to go to the Park or something?"
"Yeah, I did," Chris answered. He spun in his chair and looked out the window. The weather seemed fair, there was an odd cloud here or there. Chris stood up out of his chair and grabbed his keys. He trotted down the stairs, and walked out the door, his destination etched in his mind.
Once again, Chris was sitting in front of his computer, his PET sitting on the desk beside him. "So, walk me through this again?" Nitro piped up from the PET.
"There's nothing to walk you through, you're just going to go to the recruitment kiosk, read some pamphlets, and we'll decide where we want to apply."
"Alright, sounds simple enough," Nitro said. "Alright, let's get this show on the road!"
Chris jacked Nitro into an available port on his computer, and, once again, Nitro was on his was to the Netsquare.
Nitro was finally home inside his PET once again. "Man," he said, stretching. "That fight really took a lot out of me."
"Yeah... that really was something..." Chris said. He then added, silently; maybe it was a little too much.
"Zenny for your thoughts?" Nitro said, sensing that something was troubling his operator.
"It's just-" Chris started. "I don't know, that last mission made me feel like... like maybe we're getting in over our heads with this whole NetMafia thing. I'm pretty sure that we just got lucky with the Cog."
"Come on, Chris," Nitro said. "We can take on anything that comes our way, anything!"
"I guess..." Chris replied. He sat silently for a moment, then stood up.
"Where're we going?" Nitro asked.
"We're gonna go to the Navi Shop," Chris replied. "I want to make sure that we're ready for whatever comes our way." Chris headed down the stairs, and walked out the door, headed for the Science Labs.
"Hey, Chris, get up, we've got a live one!"
Chris gave a low grunting sound and stirred slightly. He hadn't gotten much sleep last night, though that was his own fault, as he had stayed up playing video games all night.
Finally, after a bit of pestering, Chris's head rose off the pillows. Taking a moment to rub the sleep out of his eyes, Chris looked over to Nitro, who currently sat atop the closed PET as a hologram, and promptly spat out "wutdyumeanalivewun."
"Hold on Chris, let your mouth and mind wake up with the rest of you." Nitro said.
Chris gave his head a shake, then tried again. "What do you mean a live one?"
"I put up an ad on the BBS looking for a busting partner," Nitro explained. "And we just got a relpy a couple minutes ago. From a... Gadgetman.EXE."
"Gadgetman, huh?" Chris said. He rose out of bed and sat down at his computer. "Well, if it's all the same to you, I'd like to actually meet an Operator this time around."
"Yeah, sure, whatever." Nitro said. "Just make sure you don't go and embarrass me."
"I'll try." Chris said. He posted his message on the board, then got up and threw some clothes on. "Come on," Chris said as he picked up his PET. "We've got to be in the park in twenty minutes."
Chris walked into his room and collapsed onto his bed. After taking his PET out of his pocket and putting it on the bedside table, he pulled the covers over himself. "God, I'm freezing," Chris muttered. As the operator lay in bed shivering, Nitro projected out of the PET's outer projector.

"Hey, look alive, I need you to jack me back in." Nitro said.

"Man, we just got in, can't you cool it for a little bit?"

"Ordinarily, I'd reluctantly say okay and sulk for a little bit in private, but we've got important NetMafia business to take care of."

"You mean we've got a mission?" Chris was puzzled. "But I didn't apply for one."

"I threw a quick notice on the Mafia BBS earlier, before we went out to meet John and Gadgetman. We've only just gotten a reply about ten minutes ago."

Chris pulled himself out of bed and onto his chair, but still kept the blanket wrapped around him. "Ten minutes ago? We probably shouldn't keep them waiting too much longer. Who're we supposed to meet and where're we meeting them?"

"Someone by the name of 'Honeywell', and in ACDC."

"Alright, I'll jack you in now." Chris reached over to the table and grabbed the PET. He then plugged the adapter into his computer, and pressed the Connect button on his PET, sending Nitro on his Teksqp rendevous.
"Come on, would you wake up already?"

It had been about an hour since Nitro had been brought out of sleep mode by the PET's alarm, yet Chris was still asleep. By this point, Nitro had switched the alarm off, as he had grown tired of the insessant beeping, and had instead resolved to take matters into his own holographic hands. After a few minutes of non-responsiveness, Nitro made another attempt. "Chris, either get up now, or I'm deleting all your saved games."
Nitro wasn't sure, but he thought he heard Chris mumble something along the lines of "password protected."
"Oh, really? Well I guess I lost my leverage," Nitro said sarcastically. "There's no way I'd be able to figure out that the password's 'dirtwormtim'-"
"I'm up, I'm up," Chris said, sitting bolt upright in his bed.
"I'm glad that you could finally join the concious. Now go shower and junk, we've got things to do today." Nitro said.


Chris walked back into the bedroom wearing a bathrobe and holding a bowl of cereal, the spoon currently in his mouth. He set the bowl on his desk, and began eating, whilst typing away on the computer. "What're you doing?" Nitro asked.

"I'm applying for an SP mission through the GNA," Chris replied. "Once I post it, we'll head over to the Navi shop in Sci-Labs, and we should have a response by the time we get back." Chris finished typing the request and pressed send, and the post appeared on the GNA BBS. After that, Chris quickly threw on some clothes and scooped up his PET. "Come on," Chris said. "I can ask the guy that runs the place for some pointers on programming an SP."
"If anyone knows how to do it, it'd be him," Nitro said from inside Chris' pocket. Once again, Chris was out the door ready to start a new day.

[To Sci-Labs]
Chris flopped back into his chair as he walked back in. He turned toward his computer and quickly brought up the GNA mission BBS. "Huh, nothin'," he said. He extracted his PET from his pocket, along with the upgrades he had purchased, and began typing away on the computer.

"So, whatcha doin'?" Nitro asked, appearing on top of the PET.

"Well, I'm making you a couple of attacks," Chris replied. "GNA's taking a bit longer to respond than I thought, so I figure that I'll be able to make these while we wait."

"Cool, cool," Nitro said. He flopped down into a reclining position on top of the PET. "So, you know what you're gonna do for an SP yet?"

"Not really," Chris replied. "I forgot to ask the guy at the Navi Shop what he knew, and I can't find any files on Dad's computer to work off of, like I did with you."

"I've been meaning to ask about that, actually," Nitro said. "Whatever happened with your Dad's old Navi?"

"I don't really know," Chris said. "And Dad doesn't like to talk about him. He's told me a couple stories, how he went into the Undernet once and this tag-team fight during a tournament, but he won't tell me what happened to Nitroman."


"That was the Navi's name." Chris explained. "I considered calling you that too, but everyone's done the whole 'BlankMan' naming motif and it seems kind of cliche." Chris finished typing. "Well, I'm done the attacks," Chris said. He hooked the PET up to the computer. "We've just gotta wait for them to download now." Chris re-opened the Mission BBS, and refreshed the page every few minutes, waiting for a response, while keeping an eye on the PET's progress in downloading the new abilities.
By this point, Chris had turned on one of his video games while he was waiting for something to happen. After missing a jump for about the twentieth time, he switched off the device and turned to the computer again, checking to see if he had gotten a reply on the BBS. Sure enough, there was a response. "Hey, Nitro, we've got us a mission."

"Really?" Nitro said. "Hmm... I don't think those attacks have downloaded completely yet."

"No problem, we'll just pause it for a sec and get to work on this mission," Chris said. He took another look at the message. "Seems we're transporting something for someone... over in NetVegas..."

"Well, what're we waiting for?" Nitro said. "Let's get to it!"

"Alright," Chris said. He typed out a quick response, then scooped up his PET. "We'll just go through the Square. Once you go through the NetVegas link, I'll transport you to the coordinates." With these words, Chris jacked Nitro into the Internet.
It had been about a week since the mission. Chris had been sitting at his computer almost incessantly, only getting up for meals, the bathroom, and similar neccesities. Really, nothing had changed from his usual routine. Nitro, however, had been very quiet for a few days, still thinking about the Spikey he had left behind in NetVegas. Chris had been keeping him busy, needing his help with designing their new Support Program, but nary a word was said between them until the last two days. Nitro had originally regarded the SP as simply a tool for him to fight more effectively, but over the course of the process, but after he and Chris had been pouring their heart and soul into this (in Nitro's case, sometimes literally), he had begun to regard her as a sibling of sorts.

Finally, it had come time to activate her. Nitro's holographic form was sitting on the edge of the PET, which was laying upon the desk, connected to the computer, while Chris was sitting at the computer, putting the finishing touches on the SP. They were both looking up at the form displayed on the comptuer screen. Her eyes were shut, signifying that she hadn't been activated yet.

"I still say that that red armour is kind of ugly," Nitro said, his chin buried in his hands.

"Well, I needed some way to differentiate the two of you," Chris said. "And you shot down all those other armour desgins I showed you. It's been about a week now, Nitro, I want to be done with this."

"Alright, fine, whatever," Nitro said. "But I still say the red is ugly."

"And we are... done!" Chris said, punching the last key with a flourish. "Now, all we have to do is download her to the PET, and she'll be activated-" Chris' stomach gave a loud growl. "... right after I make myself a sandwich." Before Nitro could raise any objections, Chris had hurried down to the kitchen.

Nitro was now left alone with his soon-to-be partner. He hopped down from the PET, and had begun pacing around the desk, at least in what little range the PET's projector allowed. Several thoughts entered his mind as he looked up at the computer screen. What will she be like? When the time comes, will I be able to protect her? Will she even like me? As he tried to come up with answers to these questions, Chris had re-entered the room holding a half eaten ham and cheese sandwich, one of his cats trailing along behind him. The cat jumped up onto the desk, and Chris scratched her behind the ear as he sat down. "Hey Charlie," he said. "You here for the big moment?" Charlie gave a soft meow, and hopped down from the desk, instead deciding to go sleep on top of Chris' bed.

Chris had finished eating the sandwich, and so the time had finally come. "Alright, Nitro, I'm gonna need you to put the PET into recieving mode, and then you're going to have to go into sleep mode." Chris said. "The transfer shouldn't take more than a couple minutes, so I'll wake you up when it's done."

"Alright, I'll do that now," Nitro said. With those words, Nitro dissappeared back into the PET, and two lights started glowing on the PET, signifying that it was ready. Chris turned back to the computer, and moused over to the small button saying "Transfer". He clicked it, and the transfer had begun.


"How long will it take for her to wake up?"

"I'm not sure, Nitro. She has to do a bug check before she's fully activated."

"Well, make it go faster, this is killing me."

Nitro had reappeared outside of the PET, and was nervously tapping his foot on the surface. Chris was watching the PET intently, occasionally glancing up at the screen, waiting for the bar to finish moving across the screen. It was a tense couple of minutes, but finally, the bar had finished its progress. Nitro had stopped tapping his foot, and had now sprawled himself on the sirface of the PET, his ear pressed against it. Eventually, a voice could be faintly heard.

"Hello? Is anybody there?"

"She's awake! She's awake!" Nitro cheered. He quickly dissappeared back into the PET, and Chris reached over and unfolded the device, turning it on its side. Nitro was displayed on the left screen, and he was looking over to someone displayed on the right.

"Nitro," Chris said, a proud grin on his face. "Allow me to introduce you, to TNT."

"Is that what my name is?" The red support program said. Her expression indicated that she didn't like the sound of it.

"Uhh..." Chris said, unsure of what to say to this.

"Oh well, I guess I can make it work," The support program said. "Why don't you call me Tina for short?"

"I suppose that works..." Chris said. He hadn't quite expected a situation like this. "Well, anyway, uh, Tina, my name is Chris, and this is Nitro." Chris gestured over to the other screen. "We're going to be working with you as your Operator and NetNavi, respectively."

Tina looked over toward the other screen, and Nitro held his hand out, offering a handshake, his hand dissappearing behind the bridge of the device. Of course, from there perspective, they were simply standing across from each other, so Tina reached out and grasped Nitro's hand, shaking it. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Nitro," she said politely. She turn outwards to face Chris, and bowed slightly, "And you as well, Chris."

"Well," Nitro said. "What d'you say we go out and teach you how to fight viruses?" Nitro said.

"Maybe we should go onto the BBS and see if there's anyone with an SP that'd be willing to bust with us." Chris said. "Just to kind of see how it's done. We're all kind of new to this, so it'd probably be a good idea to get some outside help getting on our feet."

"Nah, we'll be fine on our own, right, TNT?" Nitro said.

Tina's eyebrow twitched at the sound of her full name. "I'd prefer it if you reffered to me as Tina, Nitro," she said. "And I actually agree with Chris. I was just activated not five minutes ago. I'd rather see another Support Program busting, so that I know what to do."

"Oh, come on, it's pretty much just point and shoot," Nitro argued. "How much do you really need to learn?"

"I'm sure there's a bit more to it that just "point and shoot", as you believe." Tina said. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to follow our operator's instructions and wait."

"Oh, I can tell it's going to be fun working with you," Nitro said sarcastically.

"Nitro, would you stop?" Chris said. "I've posted the ad on the BBS, so just sit tight, Nitro."

Chris closed the PET once again, and this time, two hologram's appeared from the projector. Tina's red-tinted form sat idly swinging her legs on the edge of the PET facing the room, as she examined her surroundings. Nitro's green-tinted hologram sat hunched over on the other edge , sulking and muttering things to the theme of "I don't need a tutor."
They waited for the better part of an hour, with Chris having once again switched on his Waggle Interactive Impliment, to amuse himself with a game, while Nitro and Tina watched. Nitro and Chris explained some of the basics of the Net to Tina, such as people, things, and places, while Tina listened. After finishing their explanation, Chris paused his game and checked the BBS. "Nothing still..." Chris noted. He then turned to Nitro and Tina, who had begun a heated debate on applications of explosives.

"Whatever, I still say that a good ol' pineapple is enough to get an enemy to back off in twenty different directions."

"What if you don't have the time to reach for a grenade, pull the pin, and throw it? What if your aim is off? It's always better to have mines and remote-triggered explosives set, just it case."

"The guy could just not get close to them! You could accidentally set them off with you in the way! It's either direct weapons or nothing-"

"We still haven't gotten a hit," Chris said. "We might as well just head to ACDC ourselves."

"Yes!" Nitro made a fist pumping motion. "Told you we didn't need a tutor."

"I'd've prefered to learn from someone experienced," Tina said. "But I have been getting somewhat anxious to get busting."

"Alright, so it's settled," Chris said. He picked up the PET, and connected it to the Net, sending his newly formed team on its way.
Chris was fast asleep in his bed. Yesterday's mission had been quite tiring for everyone in Team Bomber (Nitro had decided that giving the three of them a name to bust under was a good idea, and neither Chris nor Tina could convince him otherwise), so Chris had decided to turn in somewhat early. It was now ten AM, and Nitro was beginning to get restless.
"Come on, let me wake him up," Nitro whined. Or, at least, he tried to. What instead sounded from his mouth was a muffled slur, as Tina was trying to hold him back, her hand covering his mouth. The message made it through to Tina, however.
"No, he's earned the right to sleep in," Tina hissed. "Just let him rest for- ugh!"
Nitro had decided to lick the palm of Tina's hand, in a desperate bid to get it off his mouth, and even though her hand was gloved, she still felt his tounge drag itself across the most sensitive part of her hand. She relinquished his hold of him in disgust, and Nitro siezed the opportunity to bellow his wake-up call.
"Rise and shine, slacker! We're going busting today!"
Chris bolted upright and looked around for the source of the rude awakening. He saw the PET and snatched it up. He began angrily shaking it, saying through his teeth "I was asleep!"
Nitro simply stared back through the screen, unphased by Chris's shaking. "You know this thing isn't motion sensitive, right?" Nitro said smugly.
Tina simply glared at Nitro, still shaking her hand. "You are so childish," she muttered.

Chris eventually got out of bed, picked up a clean smelling shirt and jeans from the floor, dressed, and went down for breakfast. He walked back into the room a short while later, scooping up his PET, and slipping it into his pocket. He then headed out the door, and headed for the train station.
"Check 1, check 2, check 3... Alright, mic seems to be working."

Chris tested his new microphone one final time, satisfied with the quality. He'd been setting up his equipment for the past half hour or so, making sure everything was in working order. This was to be the first episode of "Let's Bust!" his new web series, and he wanted to be sure everything was perfect. He checked the feed of the homepage one last time, and saw that a few navis had begun to trickle in. He smiled, and set some miscellaneous videos up to keep them entertained while he set up, then turned to his Navis. "Alright, Nitro, Tina, how're you two doing?"

"I've just finished applying the upgrades," Tina replied. "I'm ready to go."

"And I got the chips from the shop," Nitro said, sending the data to the cache. "Ready to go when you are."

Chris smirked. "Alright then, I'l. send a quick email to this other guy, and we can get started." He quickly typed out the notification and hit send, then picked up his PET, jacking it in and sending his Navi and SP through a link to the Yumland network.

[Jacking into Yumland]