ACDC Apartments Unit 214

"... Where am I?"

Mill looked around, yet found nothing. It was just a flat plane as far as he could see. After walking around for a while, Mill realized something... He was on the Net! Then, out of nowhere, a Metool was in front of him, like it had been there the entire time. It was just staring at him, so Mill got down on his knee to get a better look at it. It was utterly silent... Neither of them made a move. Mill thought about what to do with it, but before he could decide...

BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. What the hell?! An earthquake! How is the Net having an earthquake?! Instinctively, Mill latched onto the Metool, trying to cover it from whatever might come. His ears then started to pick up something... A voice?

"... Up! ... Up!" What? Who was saying that? And why up?! Not ready to trust the voice, Mill dug his feet deeper into the ground while still holding onto Metool, who didn't even seem phased by all this. Suddenly, Mill's chest started hurting. "Argh... What the hell?!" Mill glanced down at the Metool, but it wasn't attacking, since it's pick was lying on the ground. Just what the hell is going on?! Mill, determined to figure this out, looked up...
and saw a girl on his chest.

"WAAAH!" screamed Mill, flailing about at the suprise and eventually banging his head against the bedpost. "Ow ow ow..." groaned Mill before taking another look at who was sitting on him. "... Lilia?"

"That's right!" answered the girl. "I get back from my school trip expecting my brother to pick up... but you weren't there!" Lilia gave Mill a hard stare as she waited for him to respond.

"Uh... Wait..." muttered Mill as he searched his brain for an answer. "... Oh! Damn, that was today! I'm really sorry, Lilia. It's just that something happened last night that made me get to sleep late..."

"Hmph, I'll say!" huffed Lilia. "You're just lucky Rina's dad dropped me off. You might as well have been dead when I found you. I was hopping on your chest for 5 minutes, but you were just clutching that pillow for dear life!"

Mill took a moment to register that before looking at his arms. Yep, his pillow was there, and nearly crushed to boot. Suppose that was the "Metool", then. And... Lilia was probably the earthquake. Figures. "Well, anyway... Two things. First... What do you want? And two... Get off me!" shouted Mill.

"Oh, right... Sorry." said Lilia sheepishly as crawled off the bed. "Well... The thing is..." Lilia muttered before she started playing with her ponytail. Mill twitched at this, knowing from that sign that bad news was coming. "... I kinda... lost my Navi."

"... What?" asked Mill incredulously. Just how much bad karma has he been burning off lately, anyway?

"Well, I figured she could use some exercise after that field trip to the rural area. No problems there, but... She kinda slipped into a link on accident. I lost contact after that..."

Mill facepalmed at this, needing a moment to regain composure. Knowing that railing on her wasn't going to accomplish anything, Mill asked, "So... where did the link go to?"

"... Electown."

"Oh hell..." Why Electown?! It's always so busy! How could he possibly find a single Navi there?! Mill sighed before saying, "We'll go soon. Go make me some breakfast or something while I get dressed."

Lilia nodded, shouting a quick thanks to her brother before running out to the kitchen. "Little sisters..." muttered Mill as he slammed his door shut.

(Going to Electown)
Mill, currently hunched over his desk, let out a big sigh and sat up as he finally finished installing the last of Magna's upgrades. Having done that, he flipped a switch on the side of his PET and booted his Navi back up to life. When Magna appeared on the screen, Mill asked, "How are you feeling?"

"Performing at 98% efficiency, Operator. The upgrades were a success." reported the purple Navi.

"That's good. Now we should be able to handle something like those big viruses better than last time..." said Mill, reflecting back on the battle with the Gigas.

"Hey! We won that in the end, didn't we?" shouted Mill's sister, Lilia, from across the room where she was watching TV. She quickly turned it off when she heard her brother's comments, however, and walked over to his desk. "Well, I'm going out," announced Lilia, "Try not to get too bored, okay?"

"Yeah, yeah..." muttered Mill, waving off Lilia as he stretched back in his chair.

"You know..." began Lilia from the door, "... You really need to find a job, Mill."

"I'm working on it, alright?" answered Mill, a slight sense of irritation in his voice, "I'm just waiting on SciLab to process my application..."

"Operator, incoming e-mail," said Magna, "It is from SciLab." Wow, how about those coincidences?

Mill quickly grabbed his PET and opened the message. He traced it over with his eyes while Lilia walked back over to see the result. "Well? Did you get the job?"

Everything was silent for a moment before Mill sighed, then said, "... Denied. Everyone wants experience these days. How can anyone get a job when everything requires previous experience, anyway...?"

Lilia could feel the sullen atmosphere building up around her older brother, so she said, "Oh... Well... It probably wasn't worth it. Internships never pay that much anyway, right?"

"I guess..." answered Mill flatly.

"Why don't you check for some job openings online? I bet there are plenty!" exclaimed Lilia, reaching over to Mill's PET and forcing the e-mail closed.

"Okay, okay. I'll try," responded Mill, sensing what his sister was trying to do. "Now just get outta here like you were going to."

"I'm going, I'm going!" shouted Lilia as her brother lightly shoved her away. "Good luck," she said as she stepped out of the door.

"Yeah... Thanks, Lilia," answered Mill. Lilia smiled, then closed the door and was gone. Mill looked around the room, then sighed once more. "Well... I guess I have some expectations to fill. Magna, open up the local news site's classifieds section."

Magna nodded, then did some quick link-hopping before returning with the page Mill wanted. Mill plugged the PET into his PC and uploaded it, causing the page to pop up on the computer screen. "Alright... Let's see what we have here..."

While Mill read through the listings, Magna did some searching of his own. And, being a Navi, found something very quickly. "Operator, there is one that I believe is applicable to you."

"Oh?" asked Mill. "Pull it up, then."

Magna drew the page down to a specific excerpt before saying, "This is a job at an electronics parts store in Electown. All it says is required is electronic knowledge, which you should be able to fulfill." 'Twas true. Aside from virus busting, Mill was pretty good at manual repairs. He had, in fact, had to rewire the microwave just earlier that morning after Lilia almost nuked her breakfast.

"Alright then... I guess I'll have to try. Download the address and let's go, Magna."

"Acknowledged." Magna quickly pulled the necessary information before returning to his PET, which quickly swiped off the table along with his wallet before walking out the door.

(Moving to Electown)

Mill stretched back in his chair, looking away from the computer his PET was plugged into. "I just can't figure out your coding, Anyis. It's too complicated." Mill just shook his head and pulled himself back up to the desk. He took one more look at the code on his screen and said, "It's amazing how different you are from Magna. There's no way I could've done any of this".

"Well, I've been modified a lot by my other Operators, so making heads or tails of my coding probably is difficult." explained Anyis simply.

"How many other Operators have you had, anyway? Also, I'm a little curious as to what you were like before." asked Mill quizzically.

Anyis thought for a moment, then answered, "Eh, maybe I'll tell that story some other time. More importantly... Do you have another PET? The insides of this one are banged up pretty bad".

"Oh, right... Magna ended up damaging the PET. Well, I do have another, but I've been tweaking it lately and I don't know if it'll work..." replied Mill, omitting the fact that he had been ganking parts from the store without Bilst's notice, although he was fairly convinced Bilst wouldn't care either way.

"It has to be more comfortable than this, at least." stated Anyis curtly as she poked her foot into a hole in the PET's floor to make a point.

"Alright, alright..." sighed Mill in defeat, getting up and pulling a cardboard box out from under his bed. After opening it, he pulled out a purple PET... And it was definitely an older model. It didn't flip close, had a large screen, and was pretty big for a PET. Closer inspection would find a tiny projector attached to the lower corner and a fold out mini-keyboard hinged onto the back of the PET, both of which Mill had added himself.

"... Into retro, are you?" teased Anyis after seeing the PET.

"Hey, it's a good model. The screen is much better than the other PETs, and I've made sure to update with all the current drivers from the Link PETs." defended Mill as he grabbed a wire to connect the two PETs together. "Alright, I'm beginning the transfer."

Anyis nodded and closed her eyes, waiting not too long before a swarm of data picked her up and sent her to her new home. Once the transfer was complete, she opened her eyes and... "Wow... I guess you were right. Link PETs seem so small now." She began walking around a bit, and it took her a good minute or two to actually find a wall. "Impressive... It's a little empty, but I can probably fix that given a little time." said Anyis, giving her approval overall.

"Guess that means it's working alright, then. That's good." nodded Mill, taking in the pride of his first successful custom PET. "Alright, I'm going to go take a shower. Make yourself comfortable, Anyis".

Anyis nodded in returned as Mill got up and left for the bathroom. Once he was gone, Anyis began playing with the PET's features, trying to learn what everything did. After a few tries, Anyis managed to get the projector working, and next thing she knew, she was looking around Mill's room in 3D. She then looked at herself, realized that she was only 6 inches tall, then sighed, "Oh well, I guess this is better than nothing..." Curiousity got the best of her, though, and she couldn't help but look around the room, having never actually seen the real world in 3D before. A bed, a desk, a nightstand, a lamp... Mill's room was really plain, she noticed.

"Umm... Excuse me?"

The sudden voice made Anyis jump, making her turn around. "Who are you?"

"I'm Mill's sister, Lilia. He told me what happened to Magna, and... Well, I just wanted to see how he was getting along with his new Navi." answered Lilia carefully.

"Such a caring sister... I wonder if Mill actually deserves to have you around." snickered Anyis quietly.

"He has his problems, but he's a good person overall... Please try to understand." begged Lilia, bowing her head to the Navi.

Anyis was caught a little off-guard at how serious Lilia was, but quickly pulled herself together and answered, "Don't worry, don't worry. He did me a big favor, so I owe him. I'll do what I can".

"Thanks." smiled Lilia cheerfully before turning around to walk back into the other room where she was watching TV. Before she took too many steps, though, a commercial came on that made something in Lilia's mind click. "Hey... This is... Hey Mill!" shouted Lilia towards the bathroom, trying to carry her voice over the running water. "Didn't you sign up for this tournament a while ago?! It's started!"

For a response, Lilia heard a loud crash, the water turning off, and a lot of thumping around in the bathroom. "Guess he forgot..." sighed his sister wearily.

"Lilia!" shouted Mill as he busted out of the shower sporting nothing but a towel. "Get out of my room, I need to change!"

"Yes, yes..." replied Lilia, stifling a light laughter as she walked out of the room. "Oh, actually..." she muttered to herself as she went over to make a phone call.

The door to Mill's room slammed shut, and clothes promptly began to fly as Mill rummaged for something clean to wear. Anyis just looked on in amusement, but realized shortly thereafter that she didn't know what was going on. "What's all this about?"

"I signed up with Magna for a tournament in Netopia last month and forgot about it with all the things that have happened lately... You have no objections to taking Magna's place, right?" explained Mill hastily before remembering that he didn't have Magna any more.

"Nope, sounds good to me. I could probably use the exercise." nodded Anyis, stretching her arms out in preperation.

A new shirt and a pair of khaki cargo shorts later, and Mill was just about ready to go. "Ugh, I don't have time to put my contact lens in... Now where did I put... Ah, here..." mumbled Mill to himself before finding a pair of thin framed glasses in his nightstand. After putting them on, he said, "Wow... I haven't worn these in forever. I'm surprised the prescription's still good."

"They do you some justice, I think." noted Anyis, taking in Mill's new appearance.

"Justice or no, we really need to leave." announced Mill as he grabbed his jacket, picked up Anyis's PET, and lept out of his room. Before he could get out the door, Lilia shouted, "You can stay in Dad's apartment! He's on a business trip this week, so you'll have it to yourself!"

"Mm..." grunted Mill incoherently, making Anyis raise an eyebrow. When they were out the door, she asked, "Friction between you and your father?"

"Maybe I'll tell that story some other time." answered Mill coyly. Anyis just laughed as they made for the airport.

(Moving to Colosseum)
*gasp gasp gasp*

The lock released, the door slammed open, Mill was wheezing for breath, Lilia screamed and nearly flew out of her seat, and at the end of all this, Mill was home from the beach.

"Good god Mill, did you really need to do that?!" yelled his sister, curled up on the couch and clinging the TV remote like it was her weapon to fend of what she thought was a robber breaking into the apartment. Lilia's face was bright red in a mix of anxiety and embarrassment as she realized it was her brother who just broke in.

"That... I... No! Something... important... *gasp*" mumbled Mill through his heaving breath, after having literally sprinted from the Metroline to the apartment. Being far from the model of an athlete, Mill would later think that was a terrible, terrible idea. Despite still being unable to string two words together in a phrase, Mill started stumbling towards the computer in his room.

Lilia blinked, at somewhat of a loss having never seen her brother so exasperated before. "... Well, it doesn't look like I'll be getting any useful information from my brother. Anyis, could you please explain what's going on with him?" she asked in the direction of Mill's pocket as she got up to follow Mill.

"I won the base file for a Support Program, and Mill wants to try rebuilding Magna with it. On the way back, Mill found out he has no athletic ability whatsoever. And I didn't really enjoy bouncing around in his pocket all the way back." grumbled Anyis as she let go of what she had been clinging to for stability.

"Oh, really? That's great!" exclaimed Lilia, instantly forgiving her brother upon the good news. Mill, meanwhile, had finally dragged himself to his desk and collapsed into his chair. He fumbled for a cable to connect his PET to the computer, but his motor skills remained utterly shot and his efforts proved futile.

Suddenly, a glass of water dropped on the desk in front of him. "Here, this'll help." said Lilia as she delivered to Mill some much needed sustenance. Just as soon as she placed it on the desk, Mill took it up to his mouth and drank it in one ravenous gulp.

"Gah... That's better. Thanks, Lilia." said Mill in his first coherent sentence since he got home. One glass of water really didn't seem like enough to totally revitalize a person, but apparently it did enough to get Mill coordinated once again. He opened up his drawer to find the necessary cable, hooked up his PET and computer, and announced, "Alright Anyis, you're connected to the computer. Go ahead and transfer the SP base and Magna's core data."

Within a few moments, Anyis was in the computer, carrying a data file under each arm. "So how does this thing work?" asked Anyis, whose only idea was to just shove Magna's core data into the SP base and hope for the best.

"Uh... Hold on, there's an info file that came with the program. Gimme a minute to read." muttered Mill as he opened the instructions through his email. Cover page, legal jargon, copyrights... Table of contents. Opening the SP builder wizard, beginner's guide to graphic modeling, You and Your AI 5th edition, how to design a weapon of mass destruction...

Out of curiosity, Lilia leaned over her brother's shoulder, only to recoil in shock. "527 pages?! Is making an SP really that complicated...?" whimpered Lilia, who was quickly coming to think that she'd never get an SP.

"No, it's mostly just legal filler so no one can sue for defects or faulty programming. Although I can't find a thing about importing existing data..." sighed Mill as he kept scrolling through page after page.

Anyis had been tapping her foot impatiently for a while now, and learning that Mill wasn't going to be useful any time soon really didn't help much. "... Damnit! I'm tired of waiting! Those instructions won't help, so we're doing this my way!" shouted Anyis as she shattered the ice encasing Magna's core data.

"Wait, Anyis!" yelled Mill... as Anyis slammed the core data into the SP body. Oops.


New operating platform recognized--
--Checking compatibility--
--Compatibility recognized--Syncing systems--
--Assembling body data-- 100%
--Ordering motor functions-- 100%
--AI found--Installing--100%
--Upload complete---Launching--

A blinding flash of light erupted from the SP base as it swallowed up Magna's core data, making it impossible to tell if what Anyis did was brilliant or idiotic. All she could tell at this point was that... there was a very large shadowy figure amidst the light in front of her.

"Referencing atomic clock signal... Time discrepancy of 5 weeks, 3 days, 8 hours, 24 minutes, 15 seconds. Adjusting internal clock unit... Complete." muttered a robotic voice at it apparently checked the time as the light faded.

"Magna...?" asked Mill cautiously. With visuals restored, Magna's body was in clear view, but he had no idea if the rest of him transferred over properly.

"Yes, Operator?" responded Magna simply.

"You're... you, right?" questioned Mill further.

"A strange question. I will answer the nearest related query of whether or not the AI of the Navi Magna.exe fully transferred to the body of this Magna.SP. It has. The direct install of pre-existing core data is a process recognized by a Support Program Base unit, therefore my single AI was built a second body, rather than your fear of my body creating a second AI. Thank you, Operator." answered Magna thoroughly and completely in the most efficient manner possible.

Mill thrusted his arms up in victory, Lilia hugged her brother, and Anyis punched Magna with one of her gauntlets.


... Wait, what? Magna turned his giant body around to face his assailant, who was pointing a finger up at the face of the golem who overshadowed her by nearly a scale of 2-to-1. "Hey. You saved me, and now I saved you. We're even. Don't you dare even try to make me owe you again." asserted Anyis in a very edgy show of gratitude.

"Understood, Mother Unit." replied Magna without any regard for Anyis's attitude.

Anyis blinked. "... What did you just say?"

"Understood, Mother Unit." repeated Magna as per orders.

Anyis's face turned bright red through combined anger and embarrassment. "No no no no no no no no. You do NOT call me that!" shouted Anyis at her new SP.

"I can not comply, Mother Unit. I am now a Support Program, and you are my host unit. Scans indicate graphic model specifications in the chest and pelvic area concurrent with the female classification. Thus, you are the Mother Unit instead of the Father Unit." explained Magna shamelessly.

"Mill! Make him stop! Please!" begged Anyis as her anger/embarrassment mix turned into pure embarrassment.

Her plea fell on deaf ears, as Mill was laying with head flat on the desk, doubled over in laughter and more concerned with not busting a gut, while his sister had since left the room to not get herself involved too deep. He now knew what it meant to not understand what you have until it's lost, because Mill realized that he really missed Magna.
The electronic lock on the door beeped as the handle turned, giving way to Mill as he entered his apartment. The inside was quiet and empty, with no sign of his sister being home. Further inspection of the main table would reveal a note that Lilia went out with friends, so it would seem the apartment was his and his alone for the afternoon. What to do, what to do... Well, Mill had just bought some new upgrades for Anyis earlier, so the first order of business was clearly lunch.

"Hey!" shouted Anyis in frustration, having denied her upgrades just because of Mill's stomach. Her outbursts fell on deaf ears as he rustled through the refrigerator, ultimately to produce a loaf of bread. "Oh, there's still some leftover turkey..." muttered Mill as he went back in for a second run.


10 minutes and one sandwich later, Mill sat himself down in front of the computer in his room and hooked up his PET. "About time..." Anyis muttered as the upgrades got loaded. As the power-ups attached to her, Anyis felt... not that much different. She could tell her HP value rose a little, but that was about it. She raised a quizzical look to Mill in search of an answer.

"Most of them were just process upgrades for your techniques. Apparently you hosting Magna is affecting you as he grows, so I pretty much had to play catch-up on that last shopping trip." said Mill as he explained his earlier discovery. "Still, since you have some extra memory now, is there anything you want to change or add?"

"Hmm... Yeah, actually." answered Anyis after a moment of thought. "Kill my Ectopatcher. It's just not working in large enough doses now, so I want something better to heal with." Truthfully, it probably could still mostly manage for herself and Magna, but after having fought a lot of other Navis recently and working with a real meat-shield in MeleeMan, it had become apparent to Anyis that she needed a little more.

"Anything else?" asked Mill as he opened Ectopatcher's file and started playing with stuff.

"Well... Could you change my terrain type? The water field has been helpful and all, but I'm an ice Navi before a water Navi. It feels like I'm starting to get away from my roots, sorta." Anyis confessed.

"Okay, not water. That won't be hard." noted Mill mentally.

"I have a request, Operator." announced Magna, breaking his silence up to this point.

"Oh? What is it?" questioned Mill, somewhat surprised by Magna wanting something.

"I request a less obstructive defensive measure. I have become aware that it is difficult for me to keep up with Mother Unit at all times, and would like to have a means to defend without slowing her down." elaborated Magna in acknowledgment of his slow movements.

"As long as it isn't tying me up, I don't mind." added Anyis.

"Sounds complicated... Well, I'll see what I can do." said Mill uncertainly. "Is there anything else? There should still be a little more space left after this."

"Nothing that I can't figure out on my own." answered Anyis, shaking her head in response. Magna similarly responded with a "No more queries, Operator." Nodding his head, Mill turned away from his Net duo to get to work.


"Alright, I think I've done all I can right now. Your stuff is done, Anyis, but I'm still stuck on Magna's request." reported Mill about an hour later. Upon seeing how much time he had been at this, Mill promptly got up and walked into the bathroom.

"Hmm. Only thing to do now is try the new techniques out. There's something else I've been wanting to try, too..." thought Anyis aloud. "How far did he get on that defense, Magna?"

"There was a moderate amount of progress. It is not guaranteed, but it might be within my capacity to manually make this new code functional. I will have to test it to be sure." answered the SP informatively.

"Huh. I guess Mill's actually good for something after all." noted Anyis with a sense of surprise in her voice.

"Gee, thanks." grumbled Mill as he sat back down. "So, you said you wanted to do a test run?"

"Yeah. I was thinking Sharo, since like I said earlier, I'm feeling a little out of touch with my ice control." answered Anyis, offering her suggestion.

"Sharo again? That won't bother you, will it Magna?" questioned Mill off the top of the head.

"Correct, Operator. I am not designed to be affected by anything less than extreme temperatures." answered Magna quickly.

"Okay then. You two should be able to get on the Net by yourselves since the PET's still hooked up to my computer. I left my chips back in the main room, so I'll be back in a minute." suggested Mill as he got up once more. Anyis simply waved him off as she led the way in front of her SP out onto the Net.

(Jack In, Sharo Net)
Mill glanced out his bedroom window as he leaned back in his chair, and noticed that the sun was a lot lower than when he had first jacked in. He just kind of sat there for a moment, balancing his chair on two legs until the time registered in his head, prompting Mill to ask, "... How long were we online?" to his digital companions.

"A few hours, I guess." shrugged Anyis, who didn't particularly care what time it was. "What does it matter, anyway?"

"We occupied Sharo Net for 3 hours, 27 minutes, and 35 seconds." reported Magna in a complete cutoff of the Mother Unit's question.

Anyis paused to think, placing a finger on her chin, before responding, "Huh... Yeah, I guess I was just wandering around a while between the virus battles and the fight with Mieli. Guess that chewed up a lot of time."

"Ugh..." grunted Mill, "There goes my afternoon." He planted his chair back on all four legs, then got up, grabbed his PET, and aimlessly wandered into the apartment's main room.

"Seriously, why do you care?" muttered Anyis as she laid back inside the PET. "It's not like you had anything better to do today. No errands to run, no friends to meet, no job to... Mm." So that was the issue, Anyis realized.

"I don't even know how many days I've blown it off now..." groaned Mill as he flopped onto his couch. "I haven't been to work since before the tournament. The tournament! I have to go first thing tomorrow, get on my knees, and beg for my job. I can't even explain why it's taken so long..."

"... If you're so dead-set on going tomorrow, then what's the problem?" asked Anyis quizzically as she propped herself up on her elbows. "Look, I promise I won't distract you or anything when you wake up tomorrow, so stop spazzing out. Magna promises too. Right, Magna?" Anyis explained before glancing to her SP, in hopes that his blunt wordage would get through to Mill.

"Affirmative, Mother Unit." answered Magna promptly. "It is not my perogative to disrupt the processes of the Operator, and will not be until a new command is issued. Should the Operator need be disrupted, please-"

"Oookay then, thank you Magna. That'll be enough." cut in Anyis swiftly, raising a hand towards her SP to tell him to shut up. "Is that fine, Mill? Nothing left to obsess over?"

"Oh be quiet." grumbled Mill as he turned the TV on, not wanting to hear his Navi patronize him.

(Moving to TOMORROW)
"So... Euthenia is Anyis's younger sister, Aecher is the younger brother to both of you, and I haven't met the older brother to everyone yet. Is that right?" asked Mill of the sibling Navis from the couch in his apartment. This situation was weird enough already. He didn't want to have to sort it out from within a bomb shelter hidden in a smalltime ElecTown parts shop.

"Yeah. Might as well try to find that damned brother soon just to get this all over with... Other than that, my big happy family is now your big happy family. Congrats..." sighed Anyis, her voice full of exhaustion. Finding her bubbly little sister was not how Anyis expected to or wanted to have her day play out.

"Okay... And Bilst didn't tell you anything about where he was going or why, Euthenia?" asked Mill of the new arrivial.

"Nope! Bilst just said you'd take care of me, and SpectreMan said so many nice things about you. I hope we'll get along well." answered Euthenia with a curtsy of her skirt, and it was probably for the best that she didn't elaborate on the "nice" things SpectreMan said of Mill.

"That ass..." grumbled Mill while secretly promising eternal vengence on his former boss. After putting down his bubbling internal rage for the time being, Mill pondered for a moment on whether or not there were any more pressing questions he had for Euthenia. "... Oh yeah. Two big guys in black suits and sunglasses followed me into the shop, looking for Bilst. Do you have any idea who they were? All I can really add is that one of them had a slight Sharoan accent."

"Hmm... Suits, sunglasses, and a Sharoan accent..." Euthenia thought aloud, tapping one of her ear covers with her finger repeatedly as some sort of habit. "... Oh! Yes, I think I do! They're very nice people."

"..." Aside from that being about as stupidly vague as anyone could get, there was a certain problem Mill was starting to unearth with Anyis's sister. "... Okay, Euthenia? Listen to me for a sec. On one hand, there's Bilst." explained Mill, motioning his right hand outward. "He was taking care of you for a while, ran away from something or someone, and he stashed your PET away in a bomb shelter. On the other hand you've got the guys in black." Mill motioned his left hand outwards as well to visualize the difference. "They're mysterious, they're searching for Bilst, and they look like secret agents." At this point, Mill took both his extended hands and slapped them together. "They are pretty clearly opposing forces. They do not get along. They can't all be nice people."

After hearing all this, Euthenia re-assumed her thinking pose, tapping a finger against her ear cover. "But... They are secret agents. So yeah, they're all nice people." responded Euthenia with a sweet smile.

"I quit." stated Mill as a fact before burying his face in a couch pillow. He couldn't do this any more.

"Welcome to the club. I joined it decades ago." sighed Anyis through the hand covering her face, who had lived with this personality for far longer than anyone ever should.

*beep beep*

The apartment's lock disengaged to give way to Mill's unsuspecting sister, Lilia, as she walked into her home after school. "... Oh, hey Mill, I didn't know you'd be home. Why are you burying your face into the couch?" she asked casually without missing a beat, setting her bookbag down on the table and stealing the TV remote out from under her brother's foot.

"..." Oh god. Mill just got a cruel and terrible idea. He was going to burn, freeze, then burn again in the deepest depths of hell for this idea... But he was going to do it anyway. "Hey, Lilia..." started Mill as he lifted his face into light-filled world outside the pillow. "You still want a custom Navi, right?"

"Yeah, of course! You promised you'd make me one once I entered high school, but then you quit programming after you made Magna... Is this a revision to that promise?" asked Lilia, whose attention was absolutely Mill's every time the custom Navi talk came up. She was so intent on hearing what Mill was going to say that the TV remote was just dangling from her hand, and she had completely forgotten that she was going to turn the TV on.

"Well, uh... Kinda. Some stuff happened today, and I... sorta ended up with an extra Navi." explained Mill, grabbing the green PET off the table to display. "I can't really have two Navis, so err... Do you want her?"

"Really?! Oh my god, yes! Thank you so much! I totally don't say it enough, but you are the best brother in the world!" squealed Lilia, who was doing a fantastic job making Mill feel guilty about passing the buck. She was really excited about this. Lilia even wrapped her brother up in a hug. God, Mill so didn't earn that hug. Lilia leaped up off the couch as she snatched the green PET from her brother, then addressed her new Navi, "Hi there! I'm Lilia, your new Operator."

"Hi Lilia, I'm Euthenia. I hope we'll get along well." responded Euthenia with a smile and another curtsy. Didn't she say that exact same thing to Mill a few minutes ago...?

"She's my little sister. Take good care of her." said Anyis with no detectable emotion, popping up through her hologram projector while sitting on a data block.

"Really? That's so cool!" Lilia was far too excited at this moment to decipher sarcasm. "I'm going to my room to do the setup stuff. Thanks again, Mill!" shouted Lilia as she hopped and skipped to her bedroom like she was walking on air.

Once Lilia and Euthenia had left the main room, Anyis opted to speak her mind. "Mill, you're a bastard. I don't know how else to say it."

"It's your sister for my sister. It makes sense..." groaned Mill as he buried his face in his hands. "Plus, Lilia has the patience of a saint. She can handle Euthenia..."

"I guess." shrugged Anyis. "She'd need the patience of a saint to live with you."

"Yeah, yeah, go ahead and take your shots now." Mill wasn't going to sleep well tonight.

(Moving to A Lousy Night's Sleep)
"Mrr..." grunted Mill through his pillow, having fought long and hard for his sleep over the prior night, yet here he was getting pestered by some weird noise. Chirping... No, barking... Wait, it was kind of screechy... Oh blast it all. "What is it...?" moaned Mill at the sound, not bothering to get his face out of the pillow.

"Mill! Wake up, damnit!" shouted Anyis angrily, having been yelling at the unconscious corpse of her Operator for the past 5 minutes.

"Why...? I don't have anything scheduled today..." groaned Mill as he finally twisted his head just enough to reveal one cracked-open eye to the world. "Did something... happen?" he asked while fighting through a yawn. Mill's mind had caught up to the rest of him enough to start thinking of the potentially dangerous event from yesterday: giving Euthenia, Anyis's sister, to Lilia, Mill's own sister. "Please tell me it wasn't..."

"No, Lilia left for school already with Euthenia in tow. The problem is that nothing has happened! I haven't been on the Net in days! I'm getting behind on my ghost purging!" griped Anyis, disarming Mill's fear and replacing it with a fear of her own.

"Oh, that's all..." sighed Mill as he slowly pushed himself into an upright position. He looked around his room wearily before realizing... he couldn't see crap. Right, glasses... "So..." asked Mill after applying his eyewear, "... Can I get some breakfast first? Maybe change into something more than just a T-shirt and boxers?"

"You can do that after jacking me in. It'll only take a moment." said Anyis matter-of-factly.

"... Is Magna even awake? I haven't heard a thing from him." asked Mill after realizing that something was missing.

"... Ergh... Hold on a minute." That was probably a 'no'. Anyis walked over to the lifeless shell of her golem SP, then promptly started kicking it with the heel of her boot. "Hey, Magna! Wake up! We're going onto the Net!" The sound of her heel banging against Magna's metal body was extremely annoying, and Mill had to restrain himself against tossing his PET out the window to save his ears. To his relief, though, Magna was equally alerted by the ruckus, and a spark of orange energy lit up in his body, signaling that he was online.

"... Good morning, Mother Unit, Operator." greeted Magna with what was probably a default message.

"Did you hear me, Magna? We're jacking in, so get ready." repeated Anyis quickly.

"Understood." responded Magna bluntly.

"Well, there you go. Mill, jack in. I'll get us where we need to go from there." commanded Anyis, having gotten everything in order and ready to go.

"... Whatever, do what you want..." sighed Mill as he got up off his bed, took his PET off the table, and pointed it at his computer. He then plopped the PET on his bed so he could get to the bathroom to address a fairly bad case of bed head.

(Jack In, Hades Net)
"... Aaand there we go." whispered Mill quietly as he placed a bottle of prescription medicine on the nightstand next to Lilia's bed. She had apparently managed to fall asleep despite her illness, so Mill didn't want to disturb her. After sneaking back out of his sister's room and closing the door, Mill turned his attention to the PET in his hand. This PET, however, was not Anyis's.

"So, I've heard from Anyis that you two and your brothers are part of this super-old, obsolete management system for the Net, and no one ever bothered to shut down the supercomputer ordering you around. Is that right?" asked Mill.

"Yup~" nodded Euthenia, with a far happier expression on her face than what was merited for the topic at hand.

"Okay... And the supercomputer punishes you guys if you don't clean up enough junk data in a given time?" continued Mill with another question.

"Yup~" nodded Euthenia again.

"See, I told you all this! Did you not believe me?" grumbled Anyis, shouting from her own PET over on the table in irritation that Mill was getting a second opinion on what she told him, and from her ditzy sister at that.

"No, I did, which I why I'm really confused as to how Euthenia wasn't punished when I took her out of that room in the parts shop. As soon as she reconnected to the Net, shouldn't the supercomputer have laid down a judgment similar to what blew up Magna before?" explained Mill.

"Oh, yeah, that... Well..." muttered Anyis. She knew the answer, but it was just too silly for her to say.

"Flowers~!" shouted Euthenia gleefully. "I guess I still had some flowers planted across the Net~"

"... Flowers?" repeated Mill, but with trepidation instead of glee.

"Yeah... I channel the junk data into my own attacks, right? Well, Euthenia turns it into flowers. I guess she still had enough in bloom during her offline period to meet quota." sighed Anyis, who despite decades and decades of understanding of her sister's abilities, could never really come to terms with this "flower" thing.

Mill sat down on the apartment couch, and placed Euthenia's PET next to her older sister's. "Sooo... At one point, among others, SciLab was planning to leave the management of every piece of junk data on the Net to a fistfighter and a florist?"

"... Well you don't have to make it sound THAT ridiculous. Jeez..." muttered Anyis, who inwardly had to admit that sounded like a terrible idea. "... But hey, I wasn't always a fistfighter!"

"... You weren't? Really?" asked Mill, shocked by this revelation.

"Really~!" responded Euthenia. "In fact, she originally used to-"

"Ahem!" coughed Anyis, cutting off that thought entirely. "We'll be leaving that for whenever I want to bring it up."

"Okay~" nodded Euthenia, showing that she really wasn't hung up on it that much to begin with.

"When is 'whenever'"? asked Mill, who was even more curious now that Anyis was showing reluctance over it.

"... Later." was all Anyis offered.

"Fine..." sighed Mill as he stood up and grabbed Euthenia's PET again. "Well, that's all I wanted to ask, thanks. Want me to put you back in Lilia's room?"

"Sure~" nodded Euthenia, leading Mill to do what he just said.

Once that was done, Mill finally picked up his own Navi's PET for the first time since he had returned home. "Oh, what? You actually have something to say to me?" asked Anyis, refusing to look at her Operator as she said it.

"What? Were you jealous because I was paying more attention to Euthenia?" laughed Mill.

"... Hmph." grunted Anyis. She turned her attention to Magna in an effort to ignore Mill, but all she could do was stare at him since the SP went into sleep mode immediately after jackout to properly process the Bugfrags he had picked up.

"Well, all I wanted to say was that I have some spare zenny sitting around." shrugged Mill, who started to slowly lay the PET back down on the table.

"... Wait!" shouted Anyis. "... If you want to buy me some upgrades, I wouldn't mind."

"Oh, so bribery works on you. Good to know." Needless to say, Mill was thoroughly enjoying this conversation. He didn't get the upper hand on Anyis all that often.

(Going to Navi Shop)
Up to this point, Lilia had been in the midst of an awesome day. She had aced her literature test, found her best friend's missing earring, and beat the snot out of the biggest jerk of the class in a Netbattle. As if that all wasn't enough, Lilia had just gotten out of class and it was the weekend! At this rate, something great was probably waiting for her at home too...


Or there could be strange, suit-clad men sitting on her couch.

"Relax, Lilia! I let them in." grunted Mill from the kitchen, still covering his ears from that scream. Gregor and Viktor, being the professionals they were, didn't flinch at all. "These guys are, uh... well, I'll let them explain that. They just need to ask you... well, you and Euthenia some things."

"Uh... Okay..." replied Lilia, understandably still a little surprised by this all. Since nothing was going to happen with his sister just floating in the doorway like that all day, Mill took her schoolbag away and tugged her onto a seat. Before putting the schoolbag away in the closet like usual, Mill opened up and pulled out his sister's PET. Euthenia waved at Mill, prompting him to respond with a half-hearted smile, before giving the green PET to Lilia.

"Well then, Miss Alidine..." said Gregor, getting up off the couch and clearing his throat, "Please let us introduce ourselves. I am Gregor Dolvechki, and this is my comrade, Viktor Kruzchev." Viktor nodded to confirm, and Gregor in turn pulled out his badge and showed it to Lilia. "We are agents to the government of Sharo, and we'd like to speak with your Navi, Euthenia."

Lilia blinked, then stuttered, "Um... what?" This was totally going over her head.

"It's fine, just hand him the PET for now." said Mill as he took a seat on the other couch next to his sister. Figuring she could at least trust her brother, Lilia nodded cautiously and handed Euthenia over to Gregor.

With the long-sought PET now in his hands, Gregor turned the screen towards him and said, "Euthenia, this is Dolvechki speaking. Do you remember me?"

"... Mr. Gregor? Wow, it really is you! Is Mr. Viktor here too~?" responded Euthenia jovially, clearly familiar with who she was talking to. Gregor turned the PET around in his hand and showed it to Viktor, who nodded in response to the Navi. "Wonderful! I missed you guys~!"

Both agents looked at each other, Viktor shrugged, leaving Gregor to shake his head and continue. "We've... been looking for you for quite some time. Can you tell us why Lieutenant Kaullel abducted you?"

"Oh, that?" answered Euthenia, tapping her cheek with her finger while she probed her memory. "Well..."


"Mill, what the heck is going on here?" whispered Lilia to her brother while Euthenia told her tale to the two men from Sharo.

"Well, uh... Turns out Euthenia belonged to the Sharoan government, and she got stolen out of a research facility last year." answered Mill in an equal, albeit more sheepish, whisper.

"... What?! Does that make us, like, criminals?!" gasped Lilia, somehow combining both a shriek and a whisper into an appropriately low-volume expression of shock and fear.

"No no no! I've explained everything to those two," said Mill as he motioned to Gregor and Viktor, "and they really had no idea what they were dealing with. You know how Euthenia is with dodging questions."

"That's true... I'm kind of amazed she's answering them right now, really." noted Lilia as she watched the other conversation going on. "But am I going to have to give up Euthenia?"

"No, you won't. Anyis explained all that Undertaker stuff to you at some point, right?" asked Mill, still whispering.

"Yeah... why?" countered Lilia, also still whispering.

"Euthenia never let the Sharoans in on that..." answered Mill with a sigh. "They figured Euthenia had some super-advanced system, when she's really as obsolete as can be. Gregor and Viktor were pretty crestfallen when I gave them the truth. I can't see why they'd want to keep her after how much they've wasted already on research."

"Wow... that's kind of amazing." admitted Lilia, stunned at how she was connected to such a strange situation.


"You must be kidding me..." groaned Viktor, burying his face in his hands as he spoke for the first time since coming here.

"Nope~! It was all a total accident! By the time Bilst had taken care of everything, he had already been listed as a a traitor!" giggled Euthenia. "He really handled such an disaster well. It was impressive~"

Mill's attention was earned on that statement, making him enter the conversation, saying, "Hey, hold on... So my boss fled his country, then fled his second life, dodging you two, for no reason...?"

"So it would seem, comrade..." groaned Gregor, who then proceded to mutter obscenities in his native language.

"Well, um... On the bright side, it sounds like no one is the bad guy here, right?" offered Lilia, trying to salvage the emotional state of the entire country of Sharo.

"I suppose... Ah, pardon me." responded Gregor, who was interrupted by an incoming call on his own PET. Mill and Lilia would've followed the conversation, but neither were particularly well-versed in Sharoan. The stress in Gregor's voice did become increasingly clear as the phone call continued, though. After it abruptly ended, Gregor walked over to Viktor and whispered a few things, then turned back on the siblings.

"We... have a problem. The research project has... gone berserk. We think Euthenia is the only one that can stop it." explained Gregor.

"Well, if you really need her..." muttered Lilia, but that thought cut off fairly quickly.

"Nope! Lilia's my Operator now. Wherever I go, she goes!" asserted Euthenia, aware or unaware that she held all the leverage in this situation.

"... Very well then. Miss Alidine, we need you to come with us back to Sharo immediately." announced Gregor.

"... Huh?" echoed the two siblings in unison.

(To Sharo)
"Whew, finally home..." sighed Mill, who punctuated that statement with a flop onto the living room couch. He craned his head back over the armrest to stare, upside-down, through the balcony's glass door, and the orange sunset shimmering through it. "There goes your weekend, Lilia."

"Mhm, yep." agreed Lilia absent-mindedly, being far more interested in and occupied by her new SP.

"... Do you have any weekend homework left to do?" inquired Mill, just to test.

"Mhm, yep." answered Lilia, and as she did so, Mill recognized the fact that while his sister's body was home, her mind was clearly still off in Sharo somewhere. Oh well, not his problem.

"... I'm gonna go mess with my computer a bit." reported Lilia suddenly, before disappearing into her room just as quickly.

"Have fun..." muttered Mill as he reached hopelessly for the TV remote. Failing at that, he pulled out his PET. "Anyis, could you start up the TV for me?" pleaded Mill as he pointed the device at the entertainment system.

"The hell are you being lazy for? I did all the work back there!" snapped Anyis, refusing to budge an inch from where she was sitting.

"... Magna?" queried Mill, trying to defer to his old Navi.

"I am not equipped with the necessary functions to venture outside the PET without the Mother Unit, Operator. I apologize." explained Magna.

"Bleh... Whatever, I'll just rest up today. Maybe I can get the parts shop up and running tomorrow without any more foreign secret agents bothering me..." sighed Mill as he half-assedly plopped his PET on his stomach.

"... Hey Mill, could you come in here a minute?" shouted Lilia from her room.

"... Or not." groaned Mill as he pushed himself up off the couch, slowly.

"Are you sure you're only 20 years old, Mill?" chided Anyis toward her Operator for moving around like a decrepit old man.

"I really don't need to hear that from you, o ancient one." retorted Mill, aware that he always had leverage in an age argument with Anyis. "So what it is, Lilia?" he asked upon reaching her doorway.

"Euthenia's acting She's not responding to me at all..." explained Lilia, being clearly troubled.

Mill leaned over Lilia's desk to stare at the PC screen, which showed Euthenia staring blankly into the Net sky. She was wandering round aimlessly, with Ratatoskr bouncing around behind her. "..." Yeah, if nothing else, Euthenia being quiet was abnormal. "Anyis, could you snap your sister out of whatever daze she's in?"

"... Fine..." grumbled Anyis, who felt like her Euthenia quota had already been filled for the next month already. The connection was already open, so Anyis simply just walked herself into Lilia's PC along with Magna. "Oi! Euthenia! Wake up!" she barked, trying the shock approach right away.

"... Hrm..." sighed Euthenia, ignoring the shouts entirely. Ratatoskr, though, seemed to take an interest in the presence of a fellow SP, so he scuttled his way over to Magna and engaged the golem in a round of silent examination of each other.

"..." Anyis began tapping the heel of her boot against the ground to vent her impatience... but of course that wasn't going to work. "Hey, Euthenia...!" shouted Anyis again, this time grabbing her sister by the shoulder and spinning her around to meet face-to-face.

"... Hm? Oh, hello Anyis~" said Euthenia, finally shifting her head back down to the natural level to see her older sister. "Is something the matter~?"

"Yes! You!" yelled Anyis, shaking her younger sister more, though both Mill and Lilia were getting a sense that she was just doing that for her own satisfaction at that point. "Lilia's trying to talk to you, and your AI is off floating in the Undernet somewhere!"

"Ah~! I'm sorry~! I was just thinking... something seems off..." explained Euthenia... vaguely. She didn't really know why she was spacing out either.

"Well that 'something off' isn't going to fall out of the sky any time soon! The River has a better chance of dropping on you!" jabbed Anyis, being ever-irritated by Euthenia's spacey mentality.

"... Ah! Ah ah~! That's it~!" squealed Euthenia, pounding a fist onto her open palm in revelation. "The River's gone~!"

"... Haaaaaah?!" scoffed Anyis, before putting a finger under her sister's chin to push her head up. "Are you stupid?! It's right above you! It's there! It's everywhere! It doesn't just disappear that easily!"

"Hrmmm... But I really don't see anything..." pondered Euthenia aloud.

"..." Now, Euthenia was a ditz far and away, every day of the week, but even Anyis could trust that her sister wasn't a liar. "... Tell you what. Make a flower for me, Euthenia. If the River's really gone, you shouldn't be able to do that, right?" requested Anyis, who finally let go of her sister and stopped shouting.

"That's true... I'll give it a try, then~" nodded Euthenia, who tucked her skirt back behind her knees as she knelt down towards the ground between she and her older sister. "Flower, flower~ Watch the nettle, pluck a petal~ Ah, it's a tulip petal~" sang Euthenia, albeit just for her own amusement rather than for any practical effect. All she did was poke at the ground a bit with her fingers, yet... "... Oh~!" gasped Euthenia as a lone tulip grew out of the ground of Lilia's PC. "... Hmm~? That's strange, no ghosts..." she thought aloud as she eyed the tulip suspiciously. "Ah well... A tulip for you, Anyis~!"

The recipient of the gift, Anyis, had already lost her footing entirely and collapsed back onto her rear end. She was utterly shocked by this flower's existence. Euthenia was making crazy claims about not seeing any ghosts when they were damn necessary for her flower making, and now Anyis wasn't seeing them either! Almost on reflex, Anyis triggered her gauntlets and drew some ghost data from the River into her palm, just to confirm that it was still possible to do so. "Okay... Okay... Euthenia. What is in the palm of my hand?" quizzed Anyis, holding out the swirl of ghost data in front of her sister.

"Erm... Air~?" answered Euthenia, tilting her head and giving a sweet smile. She was totally, utterly lost.

"You... really don't see it at all... You made that flower... not using any at all..." muttered Anyis, who was desperately trying to rationalize this nonsense. She kept coming back to the same conclusion, though, over and over and over. "You're... free..." Once she had finally said it, it felt to Anyis like it was really possible. She scrambled up to her knees and crawled over to her sister to stare at her, eye-to-eye. "You're free...! Do you understand what this means...?!"

"... Eh...? Free...?" questioned Euthenia cautiously.

"You... can't see ghost data, at all. You made that tulip without using any ghost data. I can see my ghost data, but that tulip... there was nothing! You made that yourself! That is a new entry on the Net that you created from scratch! No recycling, no reformatting!" Anyis plucked the tulip from the ground as she said this, to wave it in front of her sister's face.

"That's... mine...?" Euthenia almost felt like she could believe it, but...

"We have NEVER been able to use anything but ghost and junk data! You, though! You just made a flower from nothing! Any stock Navi can do that, but us Undertakers can't! Do you understand?! You... you... aren't an Undertaker...!" Anyis's voice was uneven as she said this. Her voice never, ever wavered...

"I... you... but... It's been so many years, though...! You... me... Aecher... big brother Orpheus... We've been Undertakers forever...! What am I if I'm... not..." Tears welled up in Euthenia's eyes as she forced words out of her mouth one by one. One could question why Navis were ever designed with a function as pointless as crying... but right now, Euthenia needed it.

Anyis, for one, recognized that, and for all her bark and bite, she shifted back to her soft gloves and wrapped up her sister in a hug. She herself wasn't quite crying, but her body was trembling enough to convey her emotions. "This is a good thing...! You're free... A free Navi, just like everyone else..."

"I... *hic* I... *hic**hic* I'm... *sniff**hic* ...!!!" All Euthenia could really do is bury her face in big sister's robe, and let everything go.

Magna and Ratatoskr had long made their distance, understanding well this was beyond them. Mill and Lilia, as well, had gone back into the living room some time prior, leaving the PETs behind. They didn't really get what had transpired just yet, but that explanation could wait. Right now, this was just a private matter between two sisters.

(Subplot Chapter 6 END)
"Mrrh..." mumbled Mill with a spoon in his mouth, sitting somewhere just under half-awake on one side of the dining table. He crashed hard into his bed last night, having finally succumbed to the jet lag from those bullet trips to and from Netfrica a few days ago, and he was having the damnedest time getting up to speed this morning. The cereal in his bowl was hardly engaging, his hair completely out of sorts, and he wasn't wearing more than the white T-shirt and pair of boxers he had slept in. Naturally, his sister was at the other side of the table eating her own breakfast, and she wasn't exactly enjoying his disheveled state.

"What's up with you, Mill? You usually aren't this slow in the mornings... and you usually at least get dressed before breakfast." questioned Lilia, pointing her spoon at Mill. Seeing as she had school, Lilia was already changed and packed, as was probably going to leave in just a bit.

"Iunno..." responded Mill slowly, at least giving the courtesy of taking the spoon out of his mouth this time. "Just... haven't really woken... uuahhhhhhhp..." A wide yawn puncutated his answer as Mill stretched his arms up over his head.

"Anyis hasn't really woken up either, I think~" chimed in Euthenia from her PET on the table, noting the silence from her older sister.

"... Mm... That's it... Anyis is usually shouting at me about something by now..." groaned Mill as he glanced over to his own PET also on the table. "Anyis...? What are you doing in there...? You awake...?"

"... Yeah, yeah. I'm thinking about something, don't bother me." answered Anyis curtly, but unenthusiastically.

"...?" Mill raised an eyebrow at that response, his curiosity sparking enough that he could at least be... about 70% awake? "What are you thinking about so intensely this early?"

"Ugh... I see 'don't bother me' has no meaning anymore. The Undertaker stuff, if you must know." snapped Anyis, as she tried to tune out the probing questions.

"Oh~! Did you figure out what disconnected me~?" queried Euthenia, having already broken free of the Undertaker network after those strange events in Sharo.

"Kinda... Mill, when we ran into Eidolon the other day, she was a patch job of a bunch of different Navis, right?" answered Anyis weakly, only to turn around and question her Operator in turn.

"Something like that... Andrew's been repairing some significant damage by patching her with the remains of recently deleted Navis." explained Mill before a new spoonful of cereal. "Core modifications are crazy hard, since that's where your AI is hosted. I'm not really sure how he does it, especially with such a random collection of Navis."

"And my core is where Aristotle's trackers are embedded, too." appended Anyis to the pool of knowledge. "Euthenia had them, too, but they got purged somehow with her bond to Ratatoskr."

"SPs are connected straight to the Navi's core, right? Did that like... reset something?" suggested Lilia, though she was truthfully just grasping at straws for the matter.

"If that was all, Magna would've broken me free months ago, and Aecher and Orpheus would've been clear... decades ago. Just getting an SP isn't the difference." corrected Anyis, pointing to her still-asleep metallic ally she shared the PET with. "Ratatoskr had something special to wipe Aristotle's trackers clean from Euthenia's core, without damaging her."

"Was it love~?" asked Euthenia with a smile, who was sitting inside her PET with the aforementioned Ratatoskr resting on her lap.

"... I don't think so." sighed Mill quickly, trying to prevent Anyis from getting her hands on that one. "If we want to think of the difference literally, Ratatoskr's unique because he was pulled from Euthenia's core by Sharo's research team... Wait... If Ratatoskr was copied from Euthenia, wouldn't he have had the Undertaker code too?"

"Nope~! Aristotle's very careful about people copying his code, so you'd have to double my entire core to get those trackers... if they were still there, though~" answered Euthenia with a bit more technical expertise than she usually demonstrated.

"... So you can just take bits and pieces from a tracked core without bothering the code at all?" asked Mill rhetorically. "What a shoddy security setup..."

"The Undertaker network and Aristotle are defunct, Mill. Of course it's a crappy design." grumbled Anyis, not one to be happy about the flaws in the design of herself and her siblings.

"I guess... So the Sharo team managed to extract Euthenia's core in pieces until they had the whole thing, then reconstructed without the code to make Ratatoskr? Hmmmm... Is it... an overwrite...?" muttered Mill to himself. "That's nuts, though..."

"Mill, you're talking to yourself." chided Lilia, who admittedly was not following a whole lot of this. Techy stuff was Mill's zone, and while she did know the whole Undertaker story from both Euthenia and Anyis, Lilia had only been given about a month up to this point to digest it all.

"Ah... Sorry. I was just thinking... If Euthenia and Ratatoskr basically had the same core, wouldn't Euthenia's core have been somewhat overwritten by Ratatoskr's core? There probably were a lot of common files." explained Mill, illustrating his thoughts. "But that's really, really dangerous for the Navi. Overwriting the core... I'm surprised Euthenia stayed the same mentally before and after."

"Is that surprising...? It was just giving me... more me~!" giggled Euthenia, who didn't seem bothered by the redundancy much.

"...!" A jolt suddenly ran through Anyis, her eyes widening greatly as her mind realigned. "That's what did it! Euthenia got overwritten by a clean version of her own core, cutting Aristotle off from her entirely!" she shouted boldly, though after a second her shoulders sank. "... But where the hell do you get a perfect, clean copy of your core like that?" A heavy sigh followed that question, as Anyis realized this was no easy task.

"Yeah... The Sharo team worked on Euthenia and the Ratatoskr project for like, 2 years. They managed to produce the cure, but they didn't even know what they were dealing with at the time. It was a total fluke. I don't know if they could even repeat it, given the another 2 years." admitted Mill in retrospect. He sure as hell wasn't going to try and do himself what he wasn't confident a team of Sharo's top scientific minds couldn't accomplish.

"Compromising on the core's degree of matching would, at best, produce structural changes like Eidolon at has. Worst case... my AI would be rewritten. That kind of sucks, a whole lot." stated Anyis emphatically, to no disagreement.

"Well, at least we know what the cause is now. Thankfully, you're not on much of a time limit either to get this figured out." offered Lilia as a silver lining.

"... That's true, I guess. I've been stuck with all this ghost crap for so long, a few more years wouldn't make much difference." nodded Anyis reluctantly. "Aristotle's really dumb for a supercomputer. As long as I wipe enough ghost data to meet his quota, he won't notice any efforts from me to get free."

She... just jinxed it, didn't she?

Magna's orange core energy flared to life as he woke up, prompting the golem SP to immediately hop over to Anyis with far more urgency than he normally moved with. Foregoing any pleasantries, he grabbed Anyis and lifted her right up off her feet and turned her around to face him. "Wha... the hell?! Magna, are you sleepwalking or something?!"

"Mother Unit, I must report an extremely high volume of data being transferred to this location as we speak. The data signature and transfer method are identical to a previous high-volume transmission received several months ago. I advise taking defensive measures immediately." reported Magna hastily, his robotic voice disguising the anxiety that would otherwise be in his tone.

"Huh? There's no way that-" started Anyis, but she quickly bit her lip as she too began to sense something. "... Shit...!" The audible panic coming from the PET drew the attention of both Mill and Lilia, who weren't quite yet grasping the situation.

"Arrival in 3..." counted Magna.

"Damnit! That transfer months ago was Aristotle trying to purge Magna...!" swore Anyis, still in Magna's grip.


"Mill, shut down the PET! Now!" ordered Anyis loudly, shouting with as much force as she could muster.


"Wait, what? This is a little short notice...!" retorted Mill as he fumbled desperately to grab hold of his PET. He was right, though, that all of 1 second was not enough time to shut down the whole thing. Failing that, the last second passed, and an e-mail forced its way to Mill's inbox and opened itself up:


Aristotle placed blame of Euthenia's escape on Anyis, and wasn't giving her a pardon. An invisible and incredible force struck Magna when the e-mail closed, felling the golem as if he was a tall tree. His grip on Anyis slacked, the light of his core energy went dark in an instant, and he dropped backwards onto ground with a loud bang, out cold. Anyis dropped to her feet, her eyes and head darting about all over the place in search of where Aristotle's strike would come from.

However, Anyis should've been listening instead of looking, as in the panic she forgot how Aristotle normally doled out her punishments. Noise began building up in her ears: loud noise, quiet noise, sporadic noise, constant noise... It was pure white noise, and it was head-splitting. Anyis clutched her ears in a desperate and hopeless attempt to mute the noise, but regardless her senses were blurring and she was forced to drop to her knees for inability to remain standing. It was all building up too quickly with nowhere to go, so Anyis impulsively did the only thing she could: she screamed.


The white noise was all in her head, so no one else had any idea how much she was suffering until she let out such a shrill scream. Lilia, Euthenia, and Ratatoskr could only watch on in fright as Mill fought with his PET, issuing shut down commands over and over only to have them all ignored. "Damn! Anyis, can you shut it down from your end?!" shouted Mill, content to just get a response from his Navi if nothing more.

"... Can't... Just... agh... break... the PET!" gasped Anyis, who lowered her head to the ground and spoke through very forced breaths.

"Ugh...!" grunted Mill at the prospect, but he could recognize the need to hurry. He wasn't going to enjoy this at all, but it was nothing compared to Anyis's plight at current. Mill flipped his PET over and popped the cover off, grabbed the spoon out of his bowl, and pointed at the battery. Before Lilia or anyone else could object, Mill wedged the metal utensil into the live circuit, transmitting the heat and voltage up into his arm before managing to pop the power source out as his grip on the spoon flinched. Everything in the PET immediately went dark, and dead silence overtook the apartment.
"Mill, seriously, stop fidgeting and give me your hand!" chided Lilia as she gripped her brother's wrist.

"What are you expecting?! Burns sting! Of course I'm going to flinch!" argued Mill, sitting atop the bed in his room, as his sister applied medicine to red areas on his fingers and palm.

"And you're going to put up with it if you know what's good for you! God, boys really can't deal with pain..." snapped Lilia, having to deal with her wimp of an elder brother by 5 years. "Now hold on, I think we have some wrap bandages that'd be good..."

"Yeah, sorry..." sighed Mill. "I'm just getting anxious about what'll happen when I start my PET back up." All that was really holding him up was his nerves and his hand, since the battery slot itself didn't suffer much damage from the forceful prying before. That battery itself was toast, and the spoon was probably doomed to recycling, but Mill only really needed to pop a new battery in and the PET would be good to go short-term.

"Mm, right..." nodded Lilia slowly, as she finished binding the wrap on Mill's palm. "Gimme your thumb... And I'm worried about Euthenia, too. She's sulking in her PET and won't talk to me. I think she feels at fault for Anyis getting attacked..."

"That's ridiculous. The same thing would've happened to Euthenia if Anyis was the one that broke free instead... Too tight, too tight!" yelped Mill as Lilia inadvertently cut off the blood flow in his index finger.

"Sorry, sorry! Okay... I think you're done." announced Lilia, affixing the binding on the last of Mill's fingers. "Oh... I need to leave for school, don't I...? Should I really go?"

"Yes, you should go. Dad'd kill me if I kept you here." answered Mill flatly, and most likely honestly. "Just hang around for a few minutes while I get Anyis up again. She may or may not need immediate help..."

"Okay. Come on Euthenia, you should help Anyis instead of just sitting around depressed." said Lilia, turning her attention then to her own PET, as she began to lecture her Navi.

Mill stood up in the mean time and began searching the drawers in his room. "There should be a backup battery in here somewhere... Huh. I forgot I had a spare chip slot in here... Oh, wait, there's the battery." he announced finally, withdrawing the blocky power unit with his un-bandaged left hand. Mill just stared at it for a few moments, his mind running a few too many scenarios on what could possibly happen, but he quickly dismissed at all knowing he'd have to find out regardless. "Alright, here we go..." muttered Mill as he sat down at his computer, with his PET laying next to the monitor. Lilia stood over his shoulder, and both siblings watched intently as the brother popped the new battery in and hit the PET's power button.

After going through its boot-up process, the PET's screen opened the window to its digital space and showed both Anyis and Magna prone on the ground, the latter flat on his back as he was before the shut down while Anyis had fallen unconscious on her chest and face. "Hey! Anyis! Magna! Wake up, both of you! Say something if you can!" shouted Mill into his PET, trying to evoke some kind of response for either of his digital associates.

"... Mmr... Shut up, Mill..." groaned Anyis after a few moments, albeit weakly. Magna remained completely unresponsive, but one could figure he was okay if Anyis was still alive.

"Anyis! You're okay?" questioned Mill quickly.

"... No I'm not okay, don't be stupid... Good job shutting down the PET, though... It bought some time." groaned Anyis as she pushed herself up into a sitting stance, though she quickly had to put a hand to her forehead for support. She tried to stand up from there, but... nope, not happening. Anyis fell back to one knee as soon as she tried that.

Euthenia then transferred herself into Mill's PET and rushed over to her older sister to lend a shoulder. "Anyis, don't force yourself..." Given how often Anyis usually pushed away her sister, it was both surprising and a sign of the situation when she just slumped over Euthenia without so much as a word of complaint. Ratatoskr followed after Euthenia, but she shooed her the red squirrel off. "Ratatoskr, why don't you be a good boy and try to go wake up Mister Magna, okay~?"

Anyis watched her younger sister's SP scamper off, and... her mind just wasn't clicking. Granted, Aristotle was trying to purge her personality, so that shouldn't have been surprising. It did, however, suck mightily. "Ugh... I feel like I want to go to sleep, but... I definitely wouldn't wake up again... Lame..."

"What can we do at this point, Anyis?" queried Mill. "We don't really have a choice at this point but figure out how to cure you."

"No kidding... Euthenia's cure took 2 years... I probably have 6 hours at best..." groaned Anyis, rubbing her temples as the same time as she tried to think through the dulled pain. Thankfully, the shutdown managed to screw up Aristotle's purge upload entirely, so the supercomputer had quite the mess to clean up. On the flip side, though, that clean up was probably making Anyis feel even crappier than she would otherwise...

"So wait... she needs to come up with the right core to patch with in just 6 hours?" questioned Lilia in a mostly rhetorical manner. "That's just insane, there'd basically have to be another Anyis on the Net! How would... Hey, Ratatoskr, stop that!" she hissed, deterring her SP from jumping up and down on Magna's chest in an attempt to resuscitate the golem.

"Or a Navi that has a lot of Anyis' data... A strong Cross might be enough assimilation... maybe." theorized Mill, with a fair bit of uncertainty. "Anyis, you've been around a long time. Isn't there anyone you've built up a strong Cross with over the years?"

Crosses... Anyis tried probing her brain for something that would qualify. She first though of her only current Cross ally, MeleeMan. That was wrong for a variety of reasons, though. One, their Cross was average at best currently, so he definitely didn't have enough of Anyis's data to serve as a sufficient overwrite. Two, he was neither dead nor willing to become Anyis's second SP, most likely. MeleeMan's core was effectively off-limits. Past that... "Nn... Brain's all scrambled... Can't think too far back..."

"There... is one, right...?" suggested Euthenia cautiously. "You were closer to him than you were with me or our brothers... Come on Anyis, you can't forget your..."

"Ungh... That's... that's... so blurry..." murmured Anyis as she closed her eyes, in an effort to try and focus through the white noise in her head. "... Ah... white... That's right, but... Jeez, I still wasn't prepared to make that visit..."

"Do you have a core in mind we can use?" pressed Mill, sensing that Anyis likely... wouldn't be a good source of information much longer as-is.

"Yeah... Guess I should confess... How to say it... I, uh... need to get my husband's core..." admitted Anyis awkwardly, fidgeting a bit against Euthenia from both pain and embarrassment.

"..." Both Mill and Lilia turned to look at each other for a few moments, then turned back to the PET. "... Huh?"

"It's true~!" exclaimed Euthenia in defense of her potentially delusional sister. "Anyis and Grants were together for a long time~! I only met him a few times, but... he was definitely Anyis's husband~!"

"I didn't even know that Navis could get married..." said a surprised Lilia as she put a hand to her cheek.

"I don't really mind the concept, but... Anyis? Just... wow..." marveled Mill, almost at a loss for words.

"I didn't grow a second head, Mill... You don't have to gawk like that..." jabbed Anyis weakly.

That elicited a smirk from Mill, who was frankly relieved to see Anyis with enough energy to heckle him like normal. "Well, uh... Regardless of how shocking that is, we know what we need to do, so let's not wait around anymore. I'll try e-mailing some friends to help Anyis from here, so could Euthenia just escort Anyis online for now?"

"Yeah, no problem. You're the one concerned with my being late for school, not me." said Lilia with a smile. "But, um... what about Magna? He's still not awake..." Ratatoskr turned around and looked at Lilia with a nervous face, having failed in his assigned task to wake the golem up. "Oh, no... I'm not blaming you, Ratatoskr!"

"Eh, I'll just drop his body online along with Anyis. He'll wake up at some point..." shrugged Mill, taking the resilience of his original creation for granted. "Do you have any idea where to jack in, Anyis?"

"Mhm... Gimme a minute, I'll put down the coordinates..." mumbled Anyis as she started sloppily assembling a data file.

(Jack In, ACDC Net - Anyis.exe/Euthenia.exe)
"Haaah..." sighed Anyis heavily as she flopped over onto the floor of Mill's computer dataspace. Magna already did the same, but only because he didn't make it more than a few steps before falling over.

"Tell me about it..." groaned Mill as he put his head down on his desk. "Actually... Yeah, do tell me about it. Tell me right now that you don't have any more giant personal demons to slay." Mill's head jumped up at this as he started staring at his desktop monitor intently.

"Um..." mumbled Anyis, who actually had to think hard on that one. She initially looked upward into the sky to confirm that, yeah, she officially could not see ghost data anymore. That ruled out a lot of problems right off the bat. "I guess just... loose ends? I'm free of the Undertakers now like Euthenia, but that still leaves my brothers... not that I particularly want to help them, given a choice."

Mill pondered this response, since while he still hadn't met Anyis's older brother, he actually knew Aecher before he even knew Anyis. That was because... "Yeah... I think I want to limit interaction with my dad as much as I can. Maybe Lilia and Euthenia can explain the situation to them."

"Which would leave me to contact Orpheus... Hrm. I'm not even sure how to find him now that I can't just toss up a signal into the River." thought Anyis aloud as she pictured her vagrant older brother.

"Operator, Mother Unit, I would suggest resolving internal issues before involving ourselves in outside matters." interjected Magna, effectively speaking into the ground as he was still flat on his face.

"Oh, right, good call Magna. There's just too much to think about right now... Lemme run a system restore on you two. It'll take a few hours, but that should correct the errors caused by your sudden growths. The extra insight into what caused what will be nice, too..." instructed Mill, who grabbed his mouse and started clicking away at various things.

"Some clothes that actually fit would be nice... but I absolutely, definitely need my abilities back! I can't fight like this!" exclaimed Anyis frustratedly, as she flailed her bare arms out in front of her.

"... What do you need to fight, though? You don't need to burn ghost data anymore." questioned Mill curiously.

"... Boredom. I need to fight boredom, simple as that." answered Anyis bluntly. It looked like some habits were hard to break.

"I will simply follow the wishes of the Mother Unit." voted Magna in line with Anyis. "However... I will appreciate having the necessary drivers to balance myself on these... legs."

"Is it really that hard, Magna? You had that humanoid GMO for a bit when you were still a Navi, so I've seen you walk before." asked Mill of the golem.

"Achieving equilibrium at 6 feet is much different than achieving equilibrium at... 11 feet? Operator, I must file a report that with these legs included, my total height has increased by 1 foot." explained Magna, before discovering that he had some vertical growth to account for just like Anyis.

"Huh... Oh, crap... If the two of you changed proportions, all those GMOs I made are worthless now!" whimpered Mill at the realization of his wasted effort.

"Oh deal with it, a few GMOs is nothing compared to you buying a replacement Navi if I had died." argued Anyis in response. "Actually... stop whining and just start up the restoration. You'll get a full damage report you can cry over when it's done."

"Wow, you're grumpy all of a sudden." replied Mill.

"You try wearing a skintight bodysuit that's 2 sizes too small in all the wrong places..." muttered Anyis as she closed her eyes and waited for Mill to put her and Magna to sleep.

"Fair enough." shrugged Mill, as he typed a few things into his keyboard. "Alright, all set. Get a good rest you two, and see you in a few hours." With that, the restoration program started running, giving Mill the task of... leaving it alone.

"Hmm..." mumbled Mill as he got up out of his chair and started walking around the apartment. One glance at the nearest clock told him it was roughly lunchtime, so there went his morning. Lilia was still at school, naturally, and Mill only had a single bowl of cereal before that disaster with Anyis went down. As if to confirm his thoughts, Mill's stomach growled. "I guess I'll go out to eat..." So, Mill grabbed his empty PET, checked his account, and... checked about everything else on the PET.

He had to shred a few circuits when it locked up this morning, and Mill couldn't really ignore that his precious custom PET was not looking too great now that he had the time to properly examine it. "Oh jeez, did the electrical discharge damage the motherboard...? Well, it's holding up for now... Might want to go shopping after lunch, though." Checking his money revealed to Mill that he actually had a good amount tucked away for upgrades, but aside from that he probably ought to scope out core parts...

(To Navi Shop)
Despite all his best efforts to the contrary, Mill still managed to get home before Anyis and Magna woke up. The system restore didn't have all that much time left, thankfully, but Mill had to figure out some way to kill time in this completely lifeless apartment. Honestly, his options were few and far between without a Navi since effectively everything was networked one way or the other. Online activities were out of the question entirely, so... TV? With his PET useless as-is, Mill had no remote and thus had to go through the painstaking task of turning it on manually. Gasp. Being the trooper that he is, though, Mill did it anyway before sitting down on the couch.

"Coming up at the top of the hour, a special report on the rise in civilian activity within the NetPolice and NetMafia ranks. Is this the beginning of-"

Bleh, news. Time to change the... Crap. No Navi, no remote. Mill didn't think this through too carefully. As punishment, he had to get back up, walk back over to the TV, and start pressing the button on the side of screen to scroll through channels. His reward for the extra work? Nothing good on, naturally. Left with no choice but to abandon that venture, Mill turned the TV off, and... hmm.

Soon enough, Mill actually became so bored that he did household chores. The ones he was already supposed to do, granted, but he actually was bored into productivity. A little cleaning here, a little appliance maintenance there, and eventually Mill found himself in his room giving his damaged PET another examination. He had already popped the case open and removed a few parts, and was now staring at the motherboard. The motherboard with several singe marks on it.

"Oh jeez, I didn't realize there were this many..." groaned Mill aloud at the sight. The external upgrades, like HP Memories and Process Upgrades, seemed largely intact thankfully. However, a lot of the core hardware seemed iffy at best... Mill built this thing off an old generation 2 PET, so replacement parts would be extremely hard to come by, even with his shop's full supply at his disposal. "Come on buddy, just hang on a little longer for me..." begged Mill of his PET.

Before the PET could answer, though, Mill's computer interrupted with a notice that the reboot finally finished. Anyis and Magna were made to wake up, and Mill quickly gave them his attention. "Are we better now? Clothes fit, Anyis? Can you walk, Magna?"

"Seems like it." noted Anyis as she gave herself a look over. Her bodysuit, robe, and boots had been appropriately tailored to her new proportions, and the absence of her belt had been filled by a lovely blue sash. Anyis's gloves were still MIA though, which probably was the final sign that they weren't coming back. The restoration didn't do much of anything with her longer hair, either. "Guess I'll just figure out what to do with this later." she said after grabbing a few locks in her hand. "Actually... I'm feeling pretty great. I had no idea a life without ghost noise filtering through your head constantly was so... nice."

"... Wow, uh... I had no idea you could never hear yourself think." responded a somewhat stunned Mill.

"Eh... You learn to tune it out after a decade or two. Besides, it's gone now, and I don't think any of my previous Operators can take credit for that. So uh... Good job, Mill, and thanks." shared Anyis, showing a rare sense of appreciation. Maybe her mood was just improved in general with a clear mind finally.

Mill actually found this pretty awkward, since it was just so... out of character for Anyis. So, he changed the subject. "You're... welcome? Anyway, how about you, Magna?"

Anyis's eyebrow twitched in irritation after hearing that kind of uncertainty from Mill, but she didn't make a point of it as the SP answered. "My balance has stabilized, so I should be capable of the full range of motion now." reported Magna, who made his case by walking around the computer space a bit. "Additionally, I have received additional armor on my body, shoulders, and head. Overall, my physical structure has been solidified significantly, perhaps as a side effect of the balance compensation." added Magna as he pointed to various places on his body.

"Great, sounds like I don't have much more work to do. Figured out anything on weapons?" continued Mill with his questions.

Anyis and Magna both looked at their own hands, and in unison answered "... No."

"Hmm... Ah well, we'll get that figured out soon enough. Your commands probably just got remapped or something." guessed Mill. "For now let's just get you two back into the PET. Gimme just a minute to put it back together and turn it on..."

"Put it back together...? What were you doing?" asked Anyis cautiously.

"It's, uh... kinda damaged, honestly. Cutting the power this morning fried a few things... important things. I'm not really sure what to do besides hope and pray." confessed Mill while still focusing his attention on reassembly.

"Oh that's just great..." sighed Anyis as she walked up the video window to take a look. "God, it looks like you put it on a grill! Just be care-"


Mill pounded his head against his desk as the attempt to turn the PET on only produced the sound of something burning. "Yep, that does it, PET's dead for good. I shouldn't have turned it off in the first place...!" groaned Mill, who punished himself by tossing his hair into a mess with his hands.

"Oi oi oi, the hell am I supposed to do without a PET?!" yelled Anyis, who quickly re-found her antagonistic self.

"Agh... There's a direct link to the shop's network in my computer, right?" asked Mill.

"Hold... Yes Operator, there is." reported Magna, after dutifully checking through files for a few seconds.

"Great. Take that, and I'll meet you there in a bit. I need to salvage upgrades from this thing first..." ordered Mill before quickly taking apart the ruined purple PET.

"I am so not putting myself into one of those junky secondhand PETs you have piled up." resisted Anyis.

"Just go. Magna, just take her with you." commanded Mill with his attention still on the PET.

"Understood, Operator." nodded Magna, who unceremoniously picked up the Mother Unit in one hand, plopped her on his shoulder despite her loud complaints, and walked through the link.

A few minutes after that, Mill finished salvaging his PET's upgrades and tossed them all into the bag with the new upgrades he (wisely) never installed. Being in a hurry, Mill somewhat reorganized his hair, tossed on a fresh set of clothes, and hurried out the door.

Except the door opened on him first, and behold, his dear little sister was home, panting and totally out of breath. "M... M... Mill... Is... everything...?"

"Oh, Lilia, you're home. Great. Yeah, everything's cool. Tell you what, I'm just on the way out. Walk and talk with me." answered Mill quickly, who spun his sister around and started leaving with her in tow.

"H-hey! Wait...! I need to put all my school stuff away...!" gasped Lilia.

(To ElecTown)
"Ahhhhhh, I am so done today." declared Mill as he flopped onto his bed. His Navi almost had her brain fragged, his SP almost fell apart, and his PET literally did burn to death. Having resolved all three of those issues, Mill felt entitled to an evening off.

"Like hell you are! Magna and I still don't have our weapons figured out!" exclaimed Anyis quickly to correct her Operator. Oh well, entitlement not granted.

"... *sigh*... How about we figure that out after dinner, at least?" suggested Mill in a bargaining attempt.

"Dinner? I haven't even started it yet! Are you already hungry, Mill?" shouted Lily from her own room next to Mill's.

Mill buried his face in his palms for a moment, before answering, "No, don't worry about it!" and turning his attention back to the PET lying next to him. "Okay, fine, you win. Just tell me when you're where you want to be." With that, Mill pointed his brand new PET at his computer and wirelessly jacked it in for the first time.

"Just what I wanted to hear. Come on, Magna." replied Anyis, waving at her SP to follow. The two of them stepped into the exit link, while Mill got up off his bed to rustle up his chip folder from wherever he put it.

(Jack In, Sharo Rogue Net)
The plan was spending all night fixing Anyis (after learning HOW to fix her after the reformat), but Mill couldn't exactly skip out on running his own business the next morning. As such, he off-and-on combed through Anyis's code in his free time over the next 4 days, after stabilizing Anyis enough the first night to wake her up and explain the situation. She was quite irritated with the whole ordeal as expected, but also as expected the upgrades Mill had bought on the way home went a long way towards placating her. Magna needed his own repairs too, but he was functional enough to serve as Mill's surrogate Navi while Anyis was out of commission. Doing it this way actually allowed Mill to sleep at night, but it was exhausting work nonetheless to relearn his Navi from scratch and perform significant code repair to both her and her SP.

Nonetheless Mill got it done, and after getting both Anyis and Magna back up to full speed spent the rest of his free time that week doing absolutely nothing towards the end of relieving his mental burnout. Anyis was a bit bothered to be cooped up in the apartment network for that long, but Mill honestly had worked his bum off to get these repairs done properly AND didn't slack off on his business at the junk shop. In light of that Anyis could only concede that her Operator really needed this break. Truthfully, she had been putting off some... housekeeping of sorts since her reformat, so given the long stretch of downtime Anyis had taken to the homepage she, Mill, and Magna called theirs to organize her thoughts.

... Literally. Absorbing the cores of both her husband Grants and the Titan, a monstrous data entity composed of the data remains of thousands of deleted Navis, viruses, and programs, deposited an inordinate amount of thoughts into Anyis's memory banks that were not hers. Anyis quickly flushed the foreign memories into outside storage in the homepage after it occurred to her that she knew some things she... honestly did not want to know, and determined to eventually sort out the stuff she did and didn't want manually. As it would stand, "eventually" was now.

Leaving aside the mushy and embarrassing thoughts of her husband that Anyis immediately put under the tightest security possible, there were actually some good bits of information in the Titan's residual memories. Virus strategies she didn't know about were the most common, but one of her early returns actually referenced a hidden treasure tucked away in the private lines of the Net. Doubting that the former owner's own thoughts would lie about such a thing, Anyis hopped onto the Net in short order and picked up the prize without much in way of conflict. And as a result, she just returned home.

"I... think it's a GMO?" announced Anyis uncertainly as she unwrapped the compression around the file.

"That's kind of underwhelming for a 'hidden treasure', Anyis." responded an unimpressed Mill, having not cared much about his Navi's little excursion in the first place.

"Well maybe it's a really good GMO or something. The previous owner sure liked it, at least." replied Anyis as she weighed the file in question in her hands.

"I guess. If you like it, that's just one less GMO I have to make myself." said Mill with a shrug. "Do you want me to load it up in the modeler?"

"Nah, it'll be quicker if I just put it on." answered Anyis as she did just that. In a single flash of light her outfit was completely swapped out, in favor of a... school uniform? It was a pretty modest variation of a girl's sailor uniform, with a blue knee-length skirt and a white short-sleeve shirt that already matched Anyis's normal color choices. The bracelet on her right wrist stayed but, but in addition to that a silver chain was suddenly dangling out of her skirt's left pocket.

"... That's it?" questioned Anyis aloud as she observed her new outfit. "You were right Mill, this is underwhelming. I'm supposed to be able to fight in this?"

"You're asking me? Check your weapons or something, I don't know what a schoolgirl GMO is supposed to be equipped with." answered Mill incredulously.

"Uh... Something like... this?" mumbled Anyis vaguely as she flicked her wrist once, causing... a single lollipop to appear in her grip.

"..." Both Mill and Anyis stared at it in a stunned silence for a few moments before Anyis gave up and popped the thing in her mouth. "Well... at least it doesn't taste bad." she said with a shrug.

"There's no way that's your weapon." decided Mill, outright refusing that fact.

"Lemme try one more time..." said Anyis through the candy in her mouth as she flicked her wrist again, this time causing an aluminum baseball bat to appear. Anyis caught it quickly before it could fall, then gave it a few swings before expressing her satisfaction. "Normally I'd just want to punch my enemy, but this is a pretty good alternative, I'd say."

"It's more... you than a sword, at least. I suppose that could work." replied Mill after a moment of thought. "Do your other routines work?"

Anyis tried to summon Cryos in full form, but the ethereal spirit of blue flames was a total no-show. Not terribly surprised by that given her other GMOs, Anyis moved on to just trying to summon some blue fire herself, and sure enough the bat in her hand caught ablaze as she willed it. "Yup, that works. That works quite nicely."

"That makes you happy then, and me happy that I don't have to do any edits." announced Mill with an approving nod. "Just put it in your GMO folder and we'll see if we can't find some uses for it in the future."

"You're really playing this lazy card for all its worth, Mill." noted Anyis coyly and she complied and moved over from Mill's PC to the PET. It didn't take Anyis long to navigate its filepaths to the GMO folder, and as she gave the command to unequip the new outfit... nothing happened. Anyis performed the command once, twice, three times more to the same result, and then got a bit nervous. "Uhh... Mill?"

Said Operator had just gotten up out of his seat and was leaving his bedroom, but turned around wearily to answer. "What?"

"It's, uh... not coming off."

"..." And so Mill was back in chair, and staring at his PET. "I knew I should've checked it out first..." he muttered with a groan appended. He opened the command log on his PET and started skimming the reports, but the look on his face looked pretty defeated after a while. "I can't do anything about it short of tearing your code out wholesale, and I... doubt you'd enjoy that."

"No kidding! So am I just supposed to walk around as a delinquent schoolgirl for the rest of forever?" questioned Anyis frustratedly.

Mill grunted and scratched his head, trying to think of something. Eventually he arrived at what could only be described as the safety net at the bottom of the pit of ideas: "I guess we just report this to the GNA and hope they've handled locked GMOs before."

"Ugh, great... Fine, let's just go get this over with. Where's Magna?" replied Anyis.

"Should still be calibrating the electrical grid network, I think..." sighed Mill, not really wanting to get wrapped up in this errand. "Just go fetch him and I'll jack you in straight to Internet City."

"Pain in the ass..." grumbled Anyis as she hopped back off into the apartment network. Whether she was referring to having to fetch her SP or go plead for the GNA's help... Well, it was probably both.

(Jack In, Internet City)