By the BIOS

It was just another day in ACDC. The birds were singing, people were enjoying themselves...and over in one corner, there was some crackpot plotting world domination. Indeed, one Roderick Franklin stretched out on a park bench, enjoying his present freedom. "Ah, this is an excellent start to my vacation!"

A hologram appeared on his shoulder, of a Navi with entirely too many spike-like protrusions for someone whose main gimmick wasn't spikes. "Yeah, THAT'S why you're here. Sir, I do have to ask...shouldn't you be checking out the rental house, and getting your belongings in order?"

"Oh, Edgar's taking care of that. I trust his judgment on the matter."

"...I see. Well then, as to exactly why we're here..." The hologram looked around to make sure no one was in earshot. There wasn't. "...Shouldn't we be looking for a suitable location for the BIOS HQ?"

The man looked around, making sure no one was in earshot. Why he didn't just ask his Navi was unclear. "...Mmm, I suppose you're right. DenCity is the heart of Electopia...and perhaps all of the cyberworld. It makes sense to set up base somewhere around here. But which area, is the question..."

"...Yes, you've already explained all this to me. Multiple times. I'm not an idiot. Now, seeing as how we're in a part of DenCity now, shouldn't we investigate the area?"

"Yes, you're quite right. And quite eager, by the sounds of it."

"It's been far too long since I last fought. Granted, I'm a shell of my former self...but I suppose that only gives the rest of the net a fair chance."

"Heh heh heh...I see you're not moping around like before."

"That was NOT moping! It was a perfectly reasonable reaction to losing several million zennys worth of upgrades!"

"Well, at any rate, you want to fight, you'll get a fight." With one hand serving as a head rest, he removed his PET with his other, and pointed it at the nearby squirrel statue. "Now go, and commence the era of BIOS! Jack in! LightningMan, Execute!"

The instant LightningMan was back in the PET, a car pulled up to a nearby sidewalk, and a man stepped out from the driver's seat. Dark skinned, scowling, entirely bald, and nearly as large as LightningMan if he existed in the real world, he was nothing if not a bit intimidating. He adjusted the tie of his black suit, and began to walk over to Roderick. He noticed him out of the corner of his eye, and turned towards him with a nonchalance that meant he was either foolish or acquainted with the mysterious man. "Ah, hello there, Edgar! Everything finalized?"

"Yes, Mr. Franklin. The rental house is ready."

A moment passed, as though they were expecting each other to say something else. But neither did at first. "...Anything else to report?"

"No, sir. It was all quite unnoteworthy."

"Fine, fine...well, I'm done here, so no need to sit around when I could be checking out where I'll be living for a while!"

"The car is ready."

"Then let us go!" And so the two got in the car and left. Being the head of a multinational corporation and of a criminal organization wasn't quite 24/7 excitement, after all.


Roderick walked into what was temporarily his new home, giving it an intense lookover from where he stood. "Yes, this shall be just fine!"

"I am glad you like it, Mr. Franklin."

"..." The Netopian man gently closed the door, took a few steps away from the other man, and turned back. "Now, my first order of business. Edgar, how long have we known each other? 18, 20 years?

"That would be approximately correct."

"Then, answer me this. Why is it you're so insistant on calling me 'sir' or 'Mr. Franklin'? We are friends, not mere associates! If you want to address me formally during meetings and such, then very well, it shows that despite our bonds, we are professionals. But if it's just you and I, there's no need for the formality!"

"...Forgive me. I suppose I'm just so used to it that I don't give it a second thought. So, now that the house has your approval, what will you do, siii...rroderick? ...Force of habit."

"Well, it's a step up. I think I'm going to go take a nap...I'm still feeling some jet lag. You go do whatever you feel like. You're off the clock."

"Very well. I'll do that." Without hesitation, the large man reached into his suit jacket, and pulled out...what looked like some sort of portable gaming system. "If you need my assistance for anything, I shall be in the living room."

"Noted!" With that, the true head of BIOS pulled out his PET, for some discussion with his Navi. "You didn't need LanceMan for anything, did you, LightningMan?"

"No. I do have BIOS business to handle, but I can do it myself. You get your rest."

"Well, if you need me, just wake me."

"I will."

"Good! Now, there's just one more thing I need..." Roderick looked around for a moment, then sped off in the direction the other man had gone in. "Edgar! Where's the bathroom?! And my bedroom?!"


...This was an unusual situation. No Roderick. No LanceMan. Nothing but himself. LightningMan stood in his PET for a moment, just to soak in the nothingness. It was a rare experience for him. But, he did have work to he disabled all sound output from the PET, and brought up a list of contacts. First order of business...Construction Head, selected. A moment passed, then a hologram of a HeelNavi popped up. "Yo, talk to me. ...M-Master LightningMan?! Ahh, sorry! Didn't realize it was you!"

"Don't worry about it." Ah, getting apologies because the other Navi wasn't addressing him as their superior. That feeling never got old. And it felt extra good after...what had happened earlier. "How's the base construction going?"

"We're ahead of schedule! BIOS HQ will be completed in a matter of days, at most!"

"Really? That's...impressive." Shoot, he was going to have to pick up the pace on scouting for where to put it. "Nothing's behind schedule?"

"No sir! As requested, the labs were completed first, and all experiments have been moved to them! They're fully operational! Though Lab #1 caused a stir when some lunatic burst out of there. Deleted four Navis before we managed to return the favor."

"...Is that so? Shame, that."

"Don't worry, it was just some rank and file! No one important!"

"Rank and file are important. Who do you think is building the HQ?"

"True enough, I guess. Though, lately, some of the cadre's been volunteering, too. They're why we've made so much progress."

"I guess everyone wants it completed quickly...well then, keep up the good work."

"I'll pass that on to everyone! Take care, sir!" Click.

"...Great. At this rate, we'll have a base, and nowhere to put it. Fantastic." The electrical Navi let out an exasperated sigh, and brought up the contact list again. This time...BIOS Lab #1. Sounded like he should get an update. Another HeelNavi came up, though this time he was dark gray. "What?! Who dares call this number?!...Hrk! L-Lord LightningMan! Apologies! Please, don't demote me!"

Someone groveling and begging for forgiveness. Also something he didn't get tired of. "I'm in a good mood, so I'll let it slide. I just want a quick update on Project Shadow."

"O-Of course! ...Er, I'm afraid we've made little headway recently. Worse, a test subject escaped and caused quite a stir..."

"So I heard. Killed four soldiers."

"Yes...I'm afraid he became corrupted from repeated experiments. The good news is, I believe we are getting closer to isolating and stabilizing the power source. If we can accomplish that, the rest should fall into place nicely."

"Good. If we can master that power, it'll give us a nice edge over other Net powers. Keep at it."

"Yes sir!" The sound of a small explosion could then be heard behind him. "...But I'll admit, there's still much work to do." He turned around to look at the situation, apparently not realizing he forgot to hang up. "Curses! Containment Protocol Alpha! Contain it before it corrupts anyone and we have a repeat of last time!"

"...You do that." Click. "...So, Project Shadow's not exactly breaking new ground at the moment. That doesn't inspire confidence for Project GF, but I still need to check." BIOS Lab #2, selected. And, calling. ...Though he wasn't as pumped up for this check-in. Coming up this time, a NormalNavi in a lab coat. Him. If he wasn't the best scientist in all of BIOS, he would've been canned a long time ago. Maybe even literally. "Oh, hey there, LightningDude! Callin' to check in on ol' Project GF?"

"...Yes. Update. Now."

"Man o' few words, arentcha? I can respect that, dude! Well, I've got bad news and good news. Which do ya want first, el duderino?"

"...I'll take the bad news first."

"Roger that! Gettin' the bad stuff out of the way so you can focus on the good! Diggin' that attitude! Well, here it is! I don't think it's possible to take control of a Cybeast. It'd just, like, be 30 seconds of doing what you want, then they'll break free and get real mad and probably claw you up into 79 pieces! Or bite you into 'em. Depends on which one you tried it on."

"So, Project GF is a total failure. That's the bad news?"

"Hey now, I didn't say that! Chillax, bro! Don't forget, I've got good news, too!"

"...I'm listening..."

"Okay, prepare to have your mind blown! See, the Cybeasts are naturally occuring phenomena, right? So they're programmed in super weird ways, which makes them immune to being fully controlled. At best, you can put a small bit of their power in a Navi dude, and utilize it that way. And even then, it bugs up their own programming temporarily! It's uncool!"

"Are we at the good news yet?"

"Yes we are, electrodude! The key phrase is 'naturally occuring phenomena'. But I've done some homework, and there was once a Cybeast made by a human!"

"...Yes, I know that. But it broke free, started fighting another one, and almost destroyed the Net before it even began. It's not a very obscure legend."

"Yep, you're pretty bright! Now, put that aside for a minute. How does one create a Cybeast?"

"The most common theory is gathering a huge number of BugFrags, then combining them via a process called bug fusion."

"Correctamundo! Now, what's something else that can gather BugFrags, and use them to power itself up?"

"Other than Cybeasts? Nothing, except for..." The electrical Navi blinked, realizing where this was headed. At least he hoped it was going where he thought it was "...You want to utilize Support Program technology in the creation of a Cybeast."

"We've got ourselves a winner, and his name is LightningDude! Unlike Cybeasts, Support Programs are usually bound and obedient to a Navi. That said, we don't want a plain SP. We want a Cybeast that's loyal to BIOS, bro! The problem with that old Cybeast, I think, is because it had no actual bonds within the Net. That was like putting a leash on it, then not grabbing the other end! So, here's my plan. You get a SP base, and connect with it. Then, I fuse a BugFrag collecting and refining program with it. Then, you go out and rack up the BugFrags! The refining program should let it process them, to both increase the quality of the BugFrags, and to let it toughen itself up!"

"That's...brilliant, actually. ...But how many BugFrags do you think it'd take to create a Cybeast?"

"Not gonna lie, dude. A lot. Six digits, at least. Maybe seven."

"...So, it's a lengthy process, to say the least."

"Yup. You can't just snap your fingers and make a Cybeast! But it's still a process! And at the end of that process, is a Cybeast that jumps when you tell it to jump! Or runs when you tell it to run! Or mauls a battalion of NetPolice Navis when you tell it to maul a battalion of NetPolice Navis!"

"Not bad, not bad at all. Good work."

"Well, as you can see, if we're using that method, there's not a lot of Lab #2 to do until you can grab an SP base. So, I was thinkin'...think we could get a nice vacation, LightningDude?"

"......" ... "......You want a vacation for coming up with the world's slowest method of making an obedient Cybeast? Not a chance! Come up with a way to make it work faster, and I mean a LOT faster, and I'll consider it!"

"Yikes! Chill, bro! Just thought I'd ask. Now, if you'll excuse me, me and the others got some method refinement to work on! Later, dude!" Click. ...Well, he found a way. He had to give him that. So, he just needed a SP base, and that project could begin in earnest. Simple enough. He just needed to get a bit stronger, and he could apply for one.

Ring! Ring!

...What? Someone was calling...better check the number. ...SharpMan? Oh, that mercenary Navi he hired. Accepting call. "So, did you get the data I asked for?"

"Yep! And thanks to some unwitting girl wandering around, I barely had to lift a finger for it!"

"...So long as you weren't seen."

"Nope, it was a piece of cake! It wasn't the first time I've bypassed SciLab's defense!"

"Good. You'll receive your payment before the end of the day."

"And that's when you'll get your data!"

"...Ugh, fine." LightningMan brougt up another screen, and started typing on it. "...There. In a moment you should see a spike in your money total."

"...Yep, there it is! Well then, here's your data!" A large data crystal formed next to the electrical Navi. "Anything else I can do? It's not often I get free money like that!"

"...I'll keep in touch." Click. ...He probably should've checked the data before hanging up, but it wasn't the first time he'd hired him. He seriously doubted it wasn't the real thing. A cursory inspection revealed that, yep, it was what he'd wanted. Looked like Lab #3 was about to get a treat. Calling On the receiving end, a generic girl Navi in a lab coat.

"...Oh, Mr. LightningMan, sir! How can I be of assistance? I hope that's what it is...we've had nothing to do since moving into the HQ!"

"I'm about to change that. I'm going to send over some data concerning the rapid multiplication of the virus N.O.. Your task is to try and reverse engineer it so it works on any virus type."

"You got it? So that rumor about the SciLab scientist that snapped was actually true?"

"It was."

"Yes! I guess this means Project Legion is cleared to go!"

"It is. I'm transferring the data now." Even with the processing speeds of the modern net, it took a few moments for all of it to be sent over. "It's sent."

"Yeah, I got it!...Oof, it's heavy!"

"The scientist was very thorough. Anyway, I'm leaving you to your work. Don't disappoint me."

"Wouldn't dream of it, LightningMan, sir! Lab #3, out!" Click. That was painless. And that should do it in terms of immediate business. Now he could sit back and take a load off for a few...

Ring! Ring!

...Of course he'd get a call. Why wouldn't he? Caller...FistMan? Ah, maybe he had news about THAT. Accepting the call. And on the screen, a short Navi with huge boxing gloves for hands. Fitting. "FistMan? Since when did you ever call me before doing something?"

"Yeah yeah, whatever. But I've got news you might wanna hear. I came up with a great plan to blackmail the Weatherbys, and I put it into action."

"What did you come up with, anyway?"

"Well, my operator snuck in and put up hidden cameras in one of the girls locker rooms, and we'd get footage that we'd trade for some stupidly huge sum of zenny. And footage we got. But there was a problem."


"Two Navis managed to find where it was being recorded in the school, and destroyed it before I could retrieve it. One was just some idiot pretty boy playing at being a pirate. You may have heard of the other, though...does the name RaiderMan ring a bell?"

"RaiderMan?!" As soon as the name was dropped, LightningMan's facial expression shifted from mild annoyance to great anger. "That conniving little...urgh! This is what I get for making a mercenary a member of the cadre! He sliced up a nice big BIOS paycheck just so he could wet his beard a little more! Oh, he. Is. GETTING IT!!!"

"Yeah. Thought you might like to know that your plot got foiled due to one of our own. ...Permission to teach him a lesson personally?"

"Denied. The cadre meeting's coming up. I'll deal with him then."

"Well, that's disappointing...seeing you mad like that makes me want to hit something. Something living. Maybe I'll go delete some viruses. Unless you've got something for me that involves me hitting a Navi or three...?"

"No, you're off the clock for now. Do whatever you want."

"Suit yourself. FistMan, out." And LightningMan was alone once more, still seething a bit from the betrayal.

He was really going to have to think about RaiderMan's future in BIOS after this. But he could do that later. He still had time to sit back, and have some rare time off without worrying about any incompetants. Maybe even take a quick nap...


"Arise, LightningMan!"

...Huh? The electrical Navi blinked, realizing that he had, in fact, fallen asleep. He enabled outside audio once more, and faced his operator. "Rested up?"

"I can ask you the same! Though, I do trust you attended to all business?"

"Right, here's my report. Project Shadow is going nowhere fast. Project GF made some progress, but for now they can't do anything about it. Also, the mercenary I hired to acquire that data from SciLab came through, so Project Legion is now underway."

"I see...I'll check the project files myself later for details. Anything else?"

"Well, RaiderMan may be a traitor to BIOS. He and another Navi stopped FistMan from raising some easy cash."

"Hmph...I thought it would be a good idea to make a common mercenary part of the cadre, to show that anyone can rise through the ranks. Perhaps that was a miscalculation..."

"Well, I'd hold off on any action until after the cadre meeting. I intend to get the full story then."

"Hmm...very well. I'll leave the matter in your capable hands!"

"I won't fail you in my judgement. ...So, what now? Anything you need me for?"

"Well, not directly. I was just thinking that some solo busting may be nice. I'm sure the less, the merrier for you."

"Just don't ever pair me up with that...girl again. If I ever see her again, she's getting a shock to her system!"

"Ha ha, I'm not surprised. I'm sure I'd feel the same if I were you! Now, there's the matter of where to bust. This room has a computer hooked up to the net, and bookmarks all around the world!"

"...How about SciLab? There, you've always got a shot of stumbling onto some useful data."

"A fine idea! Are you ready?"

"A little sleepy, but that'll change once I'm there. Send me in."

"Then let us commence!" Even from across a room, Roderick had no issues aiming his PET at the aforementioned computer. "Jack in! LightningMan, Execute!"

"Urgh!" Roderick burst through the door, closed it, and pushed against it as though he was trying to keep someone out. "That man puts most of our schemes to shame...and I don't mean that as a compliment!"

"Yeah, no kidding. His Navi's nothing like him, at least, though sadly she's not really BIOS material. ...Oh, I got a message from Edgar. Says he's going to grab you and him something to eat."

"Ah, good! I do hope he brings back something Electopian! It would be nice to try something different! Though, shouldn't he be readying the meeting?"

"Why? That's not until tomorrow."

"...What? Then what were you talking about when you mentioned we had business?"

"Oh, I was just lying so you could make your escape. But, we can always investigate some locales for the HQ. I'm starting to get the feeling that if we don't get it up soon, some of our underlings will get a bit peeved."

"Yes, I can see how that would be a problem for them...very well! Let us investigate!"

"Hold on a sec. I've done some...folder manipulation on the way back."

"Do enlighten me."

"Well, I coughed up that stupid Ratton chip for the latest giveaway. Got back CurseShield. Two. I have no idea how they can do that and claim it's for charity, but I'm not complaining."

"Well, that's quite fortuitous!"

"It doesn't stop there. Remember that Sunshine we got a while back? I found someone on the trade board with a Strike. ...I think you can figure out the rest."

"Excellent! I imagine those won't be leaving your folder for quite a while...I suppose you're dying to test them, so onto the net we go!" And in his case, up to his room he went. "Now, where would you like to head? We've got ACDC and SciLab investigated...more or less."

"Right. ACDC's an option, but it didn't wow me. And SciLab...that's not going to work as a central location. I suppose sticking to local areas would be the most reasonable thing for about ElecTown? Sadly not as electrically themed as you'd hope, but it should still suffice."

"Hmm...truthfully, given that area's urban layout, I doubt it would make for a good location for the HQ. Wouldn't you agree?"

"Only one way to know for certain, wouldn't you agree?"

"Ha, I see your scheme...but it's not like it'll take all night. Very well, a brief respite to ElecTown!" Point the PET at the computer was always done. "Jack in! LightningMan, Execute!"

Almost the instant his Navi was nice and safe in his PET, Roderick began typing. Type type type. And then, a click. That would more than suffice.


"Hmph. I cannot find anything that suits Mr. Franklin's tastes...I suppose it's to be expected, this is a foreign country." The large, intimidating man that served as the head of BIOS's right hand man was wandering the streets of ACDC, attempting to carry out his self-assigned mission. One...of satisfying hunger. A beeping noise brought his attention to his PET, though it was simply his Navi desiring his attention. "Yes, LanceMan?"

"First of all, I believe if he heard you speak so formally of him, he would...what's the saying? Blow a gasket?"

"...Is that all?"

"No. You've received an e-mail, via the secure channel. Shall I open it?"

"At once."

TO: Edgar
FROM: Roderick
SUBJECT: Errands

I've gained enough money to get LightningMan to higher levels. I've transferred what you'll need in this e-mail, so unless you've already grabbed us supper, could you be a lamb and pick the following items up?

- From Soryu's Chip Shop: ClusterShot1, Attack+10
- From Suitachi's Navi Shop: HPMemory x 2

With those, we'll be able to gain access to (a mission for) a SP Base, which in turn will provide a huge boon for Project GF. The dream of a Cybeast in our control may be drawing near!

"...Mmm." Both operator and Navi read silently, and nodded as they finished. "It seems he's given us a decent sum of cash for it. Very well. Our food search has been disastrous, so let us run these errands." Soryu' his memory served, that was nearby. He should start there.

"I have returned, Roderick."

The head of BIOS had been sitting back and relaxing, when a large man entered his house. Unlike certain shop proprietors, however, he simply waved, not missing a single beat. "Welcome back, Edgar. I assume you have what I sought? Unless you're carrying it in your pockets, I doubt you have any eats..."

"My apologies. I haven't located any good places yet. I shall continue my search shortly." He fished out the chips and upgrades, and gave them to his boss and friend. "I believe this is what you requested."

"Indeed it is!" Roderick whipped out his PET, and with great speed installed the expansions. He then quickly inserted the chips into the proper slot, and registered them for easy access. "There. 15 registered chips in the folder, and those NaviCust expansions...that will give LightningMan a Navi level of 5, which means the GNA will be willing to give us a mission for an SP base. How deliciously ironic...the very organization dedicated to keeping a facade of balance on the Net, shall soon be handing me the keys to its ruin!"

"Let us hope that is the case..."

"...Let us hope that scientist knows what he's doing, at least! I suppose the whole keys to ruin thing somewhat hinges on his abilities."

"Precisely. I do not doubt his loyalty to the cause, but he is a bit...out there."

"Maybe, but I think he's onto something with his latest idea. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt!"

"Of course. ...Now, if you'll excuse me, I should go find us some supper before the day comes to a complete close."

"Yes, best of luck in that endeavor! I, on the other hand, shall commence the resumption of Project GF!" And so he was alone, aside from his own Navi. "Shall we, LightningMan? Or should I say, BoltMan, at this point?"

"Cute. Now let's get this undoubtedly idiotic mission over with. I want the destructive power of a Cybeast at my fingertips!"

"As you wish. Let's see here...activate internal security protocols...bring up BBS address, make new post..."


(to be continued)