The Blanchard Household

Burt J. Blanchard maintains an overwhelmingly cheap lifestyle, typical of a bachelor on relatively low pay, but does so in a very large house. The house, inherited from one of his uncles, is paid for by another relative so obscure that Burt doesn't even remember their name. The house, even with its large size and high estimated value, looks shabby due to Burt's poor skills of upkeep. The whole place is full of dust and religious reference material and theology, largely comprised of his own scribbling on Counterinfectualism. Some of the older tomes are actually worthwhile, however.

Nowadays, other clutter accompanies this charming scholarly décor, including disgusting noodle bowls and discarded cans of Net-Cola, the professor's favorite drink. The fall of the former prodigy is evident in his surroundings, as the majority of older clutter is worthwhile theological reference and the newer is junk food, loose notebook paper, and even scandalous reading material.

Burt now sits in his favorite study at his favorite rolling chair, kicking his feet up on his favorite desk and using his PET to browse the net with his favorite personal net navigator.

"Burt, you've got an incoming message. It's from someone named... Bonnie Blanchard," Burt's favorite net navigator told her operator as he finished downing his favorite soda. Exorcist's soft blue eyes looked troubled, Burt noticed. His mother had not contacted him for about a year. He wasn't even sure if she knew that he'd gotten a net navigator or whether he was still employed or not. He'd tried to explain his new theology to her a long time ago but she didn't buy it, to his amazement. Ever since then they'd mostly fallen out.

The operator shook his dark hair slowly shifted as he shook his head, then smiled sadly. "I wonder what Mom's got to say? Maybe she read some of my latest work and finally saw the light, eh? Or maybe she just called to bi- Heeeey, Mom!" he slid off in his sentence, skidding to a halt as his mother's face appeared on his PET screen. Her tightly rolled hair, tight-drawn skin, and tight lips all seemed to oppress him immediately upon coming into view. However, she appeared to be in no mood to criticize him, looking more worried about the outcome of the conversation than angry with him. "Huh? What's the matter?" he asked hesitantly. He couldn't see her going into tears and begging him to give up his lifestyle or anything saintly like that, but it would make sense if she wanted to.

"Burt... did you know your sister Gillian is dead?" she asked, raising one eyebrow behind her pointed glasses.

The professor froze up, not sure what to think. No feeling of grief in particular hit him; he and his sister had hated each other to the point of constant antagonizing. On the other hand, he knew the information must have hit his mom hard, so he pretended to be sympathetic. "Oh, that's terrible!" he cried, crossing his arms and lowering his head.

"Burt, she's been dead for nearly a year now! If you'd answer the phone I gave you..." his mother groaned, slapping one hand to her forehead.

Laughing and shrugging, destroying the façade, Burt gave a lackadaisical dunce routine. "You got me! Who uses a phone in today's day and age, huh? You should have just called me over my PET earlier!"

"You never gave me the number!" she growled, her painted lips curling up into a snarl. "Regardless, there's something I need you to do for the family. I don't ask a lot of you, not that you ever help out anyways, but this time it's non-negotiable."

Burt's eyebrows rose. His mother's ordinarily serious face now looked even graver than ever. "W-What is it, Mom?" he asked, fearing the worst and adjusting his spectacles, already going over all possible routes of escaping responsibility in his head.

"Gillian's kids... They've been staying with your father and me, but there's just no way we can get them to a decent school here. We've talked through it and it's really best if they come and live with you. Believe me, if there was any other viable option here, I'd take it," she explained, taking numerous long-winded pauses to straighten her ideas.

The smile faded from Burt's face. Kids? Here? In his house? Gillian's kids? The very idea was ridiculous. "N-Now come on, Mom. I can't take care of two kids! My whole pantry's full of nothing but microwave food and I've got er... books... scattered everywhere!" he pleaded, trying to get out of the situation.

"Burt, it's the only way. I'm no happier about this than you are. You're just going to have to grow up a little and stop being such a child. Child's putting it nicely, more like stop being such a dumbass," she sighed, straightening her own glasses and glaring him down from behind them.

Burt then straightened his own glasses, as if trying to counter her. "No no no! I'm going to board up the house before you can bring them here! I can't raise kids, sheesh! Just think about what you're saying!" he complained, stomping around the house. "The world needs me to develop my theology of Counterinfectualism! I'm far too busy for such nonsense as child-care. Also, I need to get a good wife and settled down and then make my OWN family; I don't want Gillian's!"

"Too late, Sweetie," she said with a triumphant smirk, then closed out the transmission.

"Exorcist, where was that transmission coming from? Do you know?" Burt asked desperately, running to lock the doors.

His navi looked back at him in confusion. "Burt, your sister's dead!" she cried, pointing out the obvious and spreading her arms. "Shouldn't we give her a moment of silence? Is this really important right now?"

"Psh, she never gave me a moment of silence; I don't owe her any favors like that," he snapped back, crossing his arms across his chest. "Now where the hell is my mom?!" Before Exorcist could answer, the screech of spinning wheels sounded in Burt's driveway. Making a horrified expression, the professor ran to his front doorway and looked through the glass, pressing his long nose against the pane. "She's here! Oh my God, she has a key from my uncle!" he screamed, locking one hand under the lower lip of his mouth in terror.

Moving like a hurricane, Burt's mom leaped over one side of her white convertible, ignoring the constrictions of her business dress and skirt, then stormed towards his house. He doubted she really needed the key to get through the door, so he backed the hell up, anticipating her to perhaps ram it down with her shoulder. Fortunately, she spared the door and simply unlocked it, but with an unnatural swiftness. Burt's terror increased as he observed two other smaller figures climbing out of the back and passenger-side seats of the car. "Oh my God! Exxy, save me!" he blubbered, hiding underneath the desk in his hallway.

Before Burt's net navi could magically save him from the confines of her PET, Bonnie Blanchard was ushering in the two children of his estranged sister. The younger of the two was a small boy with scruffy black hair and clothes littered with sports insignias. He was still at a young, cute age, though, so he didn't seem too dangerous. The other, however, was a girl that was the spitting image of his dead sister, only younger. She was at the young adult and rebellious age and provided a mirror reflection of his sister who had once bullied him and tore up his poetry. Worse yet, he realized with a sinking feeling that she was his ideal age, still growing and somewhere around fourteen. It was like he'd suddenly felt sexual urges towards his hated older sister; that fact tore him up far more than any implication of being a pedophile would have.

"These are your new guests, Burt," Bonnie said, giving the most accommodating smile she could manage.

"Hey, U... Uncle Butt," the younger child said with a heartwarming smile. Burt returned a pleased smile, happy to see such an empathetic youngster. Before he could respond, however, the older sister shook her head and returned an icy glare towards Burt.

"Don't talk to it, Joey. Stupidity and arrogance might be contagious," she warned him. The sister had obviously been informed of Burt's character beforehand.

"This is Jerry. Try to be nice, Jerry," Bonnie encouraged the girl, managing a forced smile but not seeming willing to oppose Jerry's view of her new caretaker. It was less "He's really not stupid and arrogant" and more "I know he's stupid and arrogant, but try to deal with it."

"What if he turns us into cultists, Grandma? He's a cultist, you know. Mama said so," she asked warily, eyeing Burt suspiciously as his hands clenched angrily into fists. His mother simply shook her head, unable to say "no, he's not a cultist" either. "Well anyways, I heard he's a lunatic cheap pedophile who gets off on making up stupid rules and calling it a religion. All religion's stupid, you know, but this one's worse than other religions because he's like... the only one following it and still thinks it's absolute. It's more like he's insane," she continued to berate him.

Here Exorcist stepped in, unable to hear any further slandering of her operator's character. "Burt's not a lunatic!" she cried, not caring to debunk the "cheap" or "pedophilic" claims. "He's helping me to rid the net of evil. We're working together to stop forces of malice across the net and making a lot of progress. We're getting stronger every day and killing more of the evil spirits."

"That's virus busting," the girl countered haughtily. "Every navi does it. It's not a religion. That's like making a religion about recycling or something; it makes the world better but everyone already does it anyways, so who cares?" she asked, rolling her eyes.

Annoyed and unwilling to listen to the girl, who reminded him so much of his sister, he turned to get in good with Joey and make a nice first impression. Unfortunately, Joey seemed to come with his own set of problems. The child had picked up a book and was now in the process, of tearing out each of the pages quietly and efficiently, apparently deriving a tremendous sense of satisfaction just from the possession of empty book covers. By the looks of it, the kid had already gone through three pieces of fine, practical theology. "No Joey, no! We don't tear the books! We read them and become valuable scholars like Uncle Butt, er, Burt!" he instructed the child, waving his arms in panic.

The child didn't stop, however, until Exorcist called out to him from the PET; by that point, he'd gone through three books. "Joey, please don't mess with Burt's books, alright?" she asked in her sweetest voice. The child nodded, staring vacantly and sitting down complacently upon the floor.

"Mom, how am I going to work?!" Burt groaned, ignoring Jerry as she went off on another tirade about how useless all of his theological reference was. "I've still got a job up at the university!"

"Poppycock, I know that the better part of your job is spent goofing off on the net anyways. You don't exactly have long hours," Bonnie laughed. "And furthermore, Jerry here is more mature than she looks. She'll be mostly alright and take care of Joey herself. All you have to do is walk them to the school nearby and make sure they get fed." Taking no further argument, Burt's mother headed for the door. "No complaints now, Burt. This might be just the turn you need to turn your life around and make up for all of the bad blood between you and Gillian."

"I don't think this is going to make me any more fond of Gillian's memory," he muttered, looking irritably down at Jerry. Before he could argue any further, however, his mom was stepping out the door.

"Jerry's got some funds and edibles in her pack there and they've both got their clothes and books. They're already enrolled at the school. All you have to do is get the rest of the essentials and take care of them. This is serious, Burt; don't screw it up," she sighed, moving to her convertible. As the door closed behind her, Burt was left in the awkward front room of his house with his two new guests.

Looking uncomfortably down at the two children, Burt tried to decide how to proceed. "A-Alright kids, uh... you're going to be staying with Uncle Burtie for a little while, so make yourselves at home!" he smiled insincerely, desperately hoping that they would not make themselves at home. "I've got a guest room upstairs that you two can sleep in right across from my room, so-"

"Ugh, like I want you watching me while I sleep, you creep," Jerry sneered. "We'll take the one further down the hall."

"That is a personal study, not a library! But, it's not my favorite study, so I guess you can use it... for now," Burt muttered.

Jerry stared at an adult magazine that was lying across one chair arm, her eyes widening as she tried to pull them away. "Uh, is this place really safe to live in? You don't have cult meetings or anything, right?"

"Right," Burt answered, moving to the kitchen. "Come on kids, we're going to get some pimento cheese sandwiches to tie me over, then you two had... better come with me down to Scilabs so we can talk some things over. Thank God I'm free today," he sighed with self-pity, moving to the kitchen...
((Heading to Scilabs))
The man of the Blanchard household returned with his nephew and niece in tow, feeling exhausted. He'd only watched Exorcist and DNR fight during their mission, but the quick sprint home to keep his loud-mouthed niece out of harm's way had taken a lot out of him. Burt doubled over and placed his hands on his knees, gasping and out of breath. His glasses slid off his nose slowly, but he replaced them quickly with two fingers. "Geez, Jerry! You're enough of a problem complaining to me, but don't go ranting where it's going to get you in trouble! One of the biggest things you have to learn about being a radical thinker," he panted, sounding a little more astute than he actually was, "is that it's all about presentation. If you make your weird anarchy, atheist, whatever sound as lame as you do, people are just going to get angry and chase you off!"

"Look who's talking!" Jerry retorted irritably, crossing her arms and trying to hide her own fatigue. "As if running around in a stinky sweater and your bedroom slippers is any better for your religion's image!"

Burt shrugged, navigating quickly to his fridge and carrying Joey by one hand. "Listen, by religion says it's okay for everybody to walk around like this, alright? Because of that, it's fine if I choose to go out like that. I'm not telling everybody they're a bunch of idiots, I'm telling them all to see the light and stop giving a damn about things that don't matter. Which is everything besides killing viruses," he sighed, as if all of this was common knowledge. Fishing around in his fridge, he popped out a can of his favorite drink, gave the tab a pull, then drank deeply from the can. "Aaaah, so good!" he whispered, giving a small jittery twitch.

His niece didn't seem to be buying it, but she dismissed the issue temporarily. Walking up, she handed him a small package. "This was on your doorstep, by the way. It looks like it's some kind of foreign mail... It's about the right size to be software. T-This isn't some kind of ero game, is it?!" she cried, suddenly dropping the package as if it might infect her with uncleanliness.

With an audible intake of air, Burt gasped and dove for the package, grabbing it safely in both hands and skidding across his kitchen floor. "Chill out, Jerry! It's not some ero game... This is my new SP!" he announced, unwrapping the package quickly. Unfortunately, the inside he had to display was a very boring brown cardboard box. Opening the lid quickly, he tried again: "This is my new SP!" Unfortunately, he now held a wrap of stuffy brown paper in his hand. Growling, he tore the paper away until all that remained was a tiny chip, seemingly designed to plug into a PET. "What the heck? That's a bit of a letdown... I sorta thought there'd at least be a little instruction manual or something."

"There's a person on there, Uncle Butt?" Joey asked, looking curiously from his place at the kitchen counter's bar-style seat.

Burt's eyebrows raised and he smiled enthusiastically. "Oh, yeah. You wanna see, huh? Sure, come right over and see my new SP. I'm plugging her in right now for Exorcist to meet her," he chuckled. "How's it feel, Exorcist? Our team's up one member! One new Counterinfectualist to help tow the line!"

The PET screen came on to reveal Exorcist's shining eyes; she apparently was just as interested as Burt was to see the new SP. "I can't wait!" she exclaimed, clapping both hands in front of herself anxiously. As Burt plugged in the chip, a figure slowly materialized on the net... "Wow, she's... so small," Exorcist gasped.

"Yeah, tell me about it. What's going on here, eh? You uh... You didn't ship as advertised, so to speak," Burt grunted, raising one eyebrow and ostensibly keeping his language clean for Joey's sake. "I mean, the breasts. In the picture it looked like you were hugely stacked, but that's like a washboard. Unless they're taped down, but like... you're so short, it's hard to imagine."

The new arrival's face was obscured by a black straw shade and her body mostly hidden by a green robe and black chest protector. The shaking of her body was made more noticeable by the jingling of the golden rings of her shakujo staff, intertwined in a complex but familiar structure. A bit of sweat rolled down the side of her dark-skinned face and the four rings of her hair seemed to twitch. Finally, she exploded. "WHO CARES IF I'M SHORT?!" she roared out, throwing her hat down angrily.

Exorcist waved her hands apologetically, somehow intimidated by the SP despite her tiny size. "F-Forgive me, I-I didn't mean anything bad! Y-You're cute, really! Guys like short girls!" she babbled, not sure what to say.

"Hey, I'm not letting you off that easily! When I went to order you online, you looked tall and like you had a huuuuge rack! This is a ripoff!" Burt cried, stamping his foot against the ground angrily. Joey clapped both hands to his head and pulled his cap over his eyes with fright.

"S-So?! You just revealed that you only ordered because of the picture! Doesn't that make you a bad person?!" the SP exclaimed, pointing a finger accusingly towards the monitor.

The operator led out a huge raspberry, crossing his arms defiantly across his chest. "Who cares? You're the one who lied to me! I didn't mean to order some little pipsqueak with a bad attitude!" he started, then stopped as he got a better look at her now unshaded eyes. The bright blue color and familiar shape... Something about them made the burden of his bad purchase easier on him. "You know, it's alright. I mean, I guess I'm stuck with you anyways. I didn't see any receipt in that bag..."

Sensing the tension of the situation, Exorcist tried to make good of it and restore harmony. "Well anyways, it's great to have you. You look just like a real Buddhist priestess! What's your name?" she asked, tilting her head curiously.

Picking back up her hat and tilting it upward slightly on her head so that she could look into Exorcist's eyes, the SP gave a satisfied smile. She fastened the chinstrap and then continued. "My name's Bhikkhuni. Like the Buddhist priestesses! You must know a lot about religion, I guess; I'm happy you were able to recognize me!" she laughed, proud that she'd been recognized as what she tried to appear to be.

Exorcist's eyebrows strained a bit, showing her characteristic worry. "But, hrm..." she muttered. She'd become slightly confused; it didn't seem like a Buddhist priestess would have any reason to sell her services, nor that she would allow herself to feel pride over being a priestess. She decided not to mention those observations, however, for fear of further upsetting her new SP. Instead, she figured she'd assess Bhikkhuni's combat abilities. "So, what do you do as an SP?" she asked, smiling in a friendly way.

Bhikkhuni stiffened up a bit, to Exorcist's surprise. The girl had looked so confident and official that Exorcist was certain she must at least have a certain amount of professional integrity. "Well, you see," the SP coughed into her fist, tilting her shade back down a bit for serious effect, "it's my job to clear areas and make them safe for exorcists such as yourself. I also use this thing to call people to us! I'm like walking advertisement for your religion!" She laughed uncertainly, not sure how the two would take it.

The navi had become confused, but Burt was delighted. "Oh, shoot, I know that thing! You wave it around and people hear it and give you donations, right?! Awesome! Now we're finally going to start getting some cash inflow for Counterinfectualism!" he cried giddily, clapping his hands together. Bhikkhuni laughed along with him, but was obviously confused at the foreign word. Sensing this, Burt adjusted his glasses seriously and looked back down into his monitor. "Bhikkhuni, I know you were a devout Buddhist, but the time's come to drop that."

The SP looked on with a blank stare.

"You see, Counterinfectualism is my religious doctrine and you're now a part of it. It's my mission in life! My one purpose for existence! We rid the net of viruses and thereby purify the world. It's a beautiful ideology," he sniffled, nearly crying into the sleeve of his sweater. He provided her with a quick link to his writings to expedite the learning process. "Whaddya say, huh? The rewards are great and the adventures are many!"

Looking dubious, the SP tapped her foot, trying to come to a decision. With surprising quickness, she came to one and shrugged her shoulders in a nonchalant way. "Eh, why not?"

Exorcist looked surprised, perhaps a little indignant. "N-Now, we're not rushing you into anything," she muttered with a small, officious smile. "We understand that you're currently a Buddhist, but we'd just like you to be open-minded and consider Counterinfectualism and all it has to offer as we progress through our travels. You don't mind, do you?"

With a small laugh, the SP again gave a small shrug, further irritating Exorcist. "Yeah, who cares? I'll just come back to Buddhism if I want it, but the way I figure it, this is just like Buddhism but easier! I get to keep all of my material possessions AND I get nirvana? Sounds like a sweet deal to me!" she chuckled, dollar signs practically glowing in her eyes.

Jerry seemed to let off a tangible burst of miasma from somewhere in the background of Burt's kitchen, a mixed reaction to so much material greed and religious flightiness in one statement. Burt was pleased, however. "See, she gets it! Alrighty, Bhikky, let's find something nice to jack you and Exxy into and we'll get started!"

His navi sighed, feeling ill at ease. Her initial impression was that she and her new SP were going to have a hard time getting along, but the future would hopefully reveal otherwise. Burt quickly moved over to his study, which had a good jack into the net through the large TV, and then sent Exorcist in, bound for Electown's network.

((Jacking in and heading to Electown Net))
"Welp, now that you two have gotten accustomed to each other, I've got something far more pressing to take care of. Let me ask you two: what's the greatest thing about this world of ours? What is the basic human understanding?" Burt asked as he pushed off from his counter, then stared seriously into his PET.

Exorcist and Bhikkhuni looked back and forth between each other and the floor, neither quite sure how to respond. "Um, it's happiness, right? The perfect happiness that comes from a world untainted by evil?" his navi asked, tilting her head.

Burt took a long draw from his Net-Cola, then placed the can down on the counter. "Happiness is right, but I'm speaking less broadly! What brings man the most happiness of all concepts on this great stage of life?" he asked with a dreamy grin.

The navi's brow tensed as she contemplated the difficult question. She crossed her arms across her sizable breasts and thought seriously. "It's helping others?" she asked. "Selflessness! When you can increase the happiness of yourself and others simultaneously, you're gaining the greatest net benefit of happiness, right?" she answered, feeling proud of her reasoning.

"Nyahahaha!" he laughed, nearly spitting out his cola. He began to gag, seeming to choke for a second, then gave an audible swallow and got the soda down his throat. Leaning on the counter and wiping his mouth, he gave a stupid smile. "No, psh! You're thinking too hard! It's our nation's agreed upon lust for women, so powerful that women will dress in skimpy clothes, dance and sing on stage, then leave with a smile just to please people! There really is nothing greater in the world than this understanding between the weary spirit of man and the hospitable spirit of woman!"

Exorcist's face turned bright red; she didn't want her operator, the founder of her religion, saying such immature things in front of his niece, nephew, or SP. "Well... I guess it does take a certain amount of self-sacrifice to do that sort of thing..." she muttered to herself, wringing her hands.

"Right, right?" Burt chuckled carelessly. "Jerry, you can take care of Joey for a while, right? Burt has an audience to attend with Electopia's greatest idol, the lovely Chiho-chan!"

Jerry raised her eyebrow dubiously. "I'm confused... You made it sound like you were talking about a mature woman. Isn't Chiho-chan a child idol? Like... my age?" she asked, growing more critical by the second.

Her legal guardian whistled suspiciously, grabbing up his things and heading for the door. "We must be thinking of different Electopian singing sensations!" he shrugged. "My little Chiho-chan is an aaaangel~!" he sang as he strolled out the door, snuggling an imaginary under-aged girl in his arms.

His niece and nephew looked on after him, until finally Jerry sighed and dropped her malice. She then picked it right back up and placed a hand on her brother's shoulder. "Hey Joey, I'll bet Uncle Butt has some great Chiho-chan posters and novella for you to snack on in his study." The two then wandered up to Burt's favorite study...
Burt had grown used to living alone a long time ago and had become a great fan of it. Leave things wherever you want, never clean your stuff, shout if you wanted to, go to sleep whenever, masturbate wherever and whenever you want... what's not to like? Since the kids had come to his house, he'd been doing a lot less of all of that, especially the masturbating part, but not so much the shouting. He'd felt like shouting a lot recently. Now, he realized, he would have yet another guest: one less impressionable but more important to impress. As he walked down his driveway under the light of a setting sun, he felt remarkably like a burglar approaching his own house.

"She was right... I need a friend," he murmured, feeling cripplingly sorry for himself, so much so that he could barely move his legs. "I'm going to be slaughtered if I go in there, sandwiched on one side by those two kids who are going to pester me and on the other side by some old bag of a spy-slash-lawyer for Georg J. Jackass," he sobbed. In his mind, Flo Gladhammer was already just like his mother: a creepy old woman looking to make his life a living hell under the guise of being a decent person with his best interests in mind, a phrase used only by stuff people with no idea of what he wanted from life!

"You know who knows what's best in life? Na'im Sheebatan!" he reminded himself, pounding one fist into his hand while mispronouncing the name of his supposed savior. "That guy was with me during the best of times and really knows how to make a navi, more than most of the jerks I meet by far! With him here, I could really take some of the edge off and prove that I'm a great and likeable guy!" Part of his mind really believed that; the other part of his mind just wanted to spread the misery around. It was kind of unfair that he was having to go through all of this alone, wasn't it?

A light came on above him... In his bathroom? How many times had he told Joey and Jerry to stay off of the king's throne?! "You two! Get off my blasted toilet and don't touch any of my special magazines back there! They're not comic books even if they show cartoon characters on them, alright?!" No one called down in response...

Without wasting another moment, Burt moved into the shade of his own garage (again, looking very much like some kind of smelly burglar who'd robbed a hipster one day and never gotten around to washing any of the clothes) and sent a priority one message to his good buddy in the realm of Whazzap.
"My good buddy! I knew he'd come through for me! Now I will just send him the address and pick a movie and... wait... he lives in Wazzap?! I guess be does look foreign. Geez, even with modern super planes that's going to take a few hours... unless he has some kind of teleportation or something. Am I really going to wait out here under my own garage until it gets dark? It's my house! I'll just march in and show that oldster what for! Burt monologued to no one but himself.

... But instead he hesitated, sending out the e-mail and watching the sun fall. "I-I'm sure that things will be fine.. I'm just charging my chi... That's all," he reassured himself.

"Charging your chi? What for?" Exorcist piped up with a hopeful tone in her voice. Burt had told her to keep herself and the SPs calm for a while so he could sort things out and she'd done an admirable job of hiding her own frustration at losing the opportunity to take out a Cybeast.

"To uuuuuuh remember where I put my spare key! That's all! Hnnnnnnn.... Got it!" he lied, producing the key from the right pocket of his black skinny jeans.

"... You keep your 'spare' key in your pants pocket?" she questioned, her eyelids drooping into a sad expression that struck Burt in the heart. He knew that she could tell she was being lied to.

"Yes, I do! A-anyways, you girls are going to need to watch the kids for a bit. I have a houseguest I need to see to," he explained.

"Is it Na'im? I peeked at your e-mail," she admitted, sounding hopeful.

"He's coming later; this is someone else," he explained, omitting all of the troublesome information. Even the fact that she was a female guest was troublesome. He said a small prayer to thank whatever being prevented her from reading the e-mail he had received back at Halstead. "Just entertain Jerry and Joey for a while!"

Exorcist nodded reluctantly, noting the hesitation with which he opened the door and snuck inside. She further noted how both kids ran to meet him in a state of excitement; he slapped one hand over each of their mouths and leaned down.

"We're going to play a game! It's the watch the door and wait for a knock game! You quietly watch the door and wait for somebody to knock, then answer of and say: 'Come inside! Burt will he down in a sec!"

"I'm too old for games, for starters, and besides that, what kind of a sucky game is that?" Jerry managed after slapping his hand off of her mouth. The two both seemed disappointed that try weren't getting any answer to the burning question of Flo Gladhammer's identity.

"Just play it! If you win I'll get you a present later!" he called back to the two of them, all the while nervously peeking into each room of the house's lower floor. The two children pouted and took spots on the couch together, watching the front door. "We're going to have a party! It'll be super fun!" His attitude sure didn't seem to match his words.

More cautiously now, Burt ascended the staircase to the upper floor of his small mansion. Without thinking about it, he picked up a decorative candlestick for protection and held it in front of himself, shaking. How did the woman know so much about him? What kind of stalker was she? Was it normal to get a boner while creeping through the shadows looking for a home intruder? All of these questions burned in his mind as he approached his master bedroom, where a small light peeked out from a crack in the door.


The two children watched the DimensionMan Galaxy Squad premiere on TV, so enthralled that they'd forgotten about the "game" they'd been assigned. They may have lost it entirely if it weren't for two things: the guest's arrival and the shrill, babyish wail that shook the house, coming from the master bathroom, where a single light still shined. The screech was do loud that it reached out to the nearby street past Burt's lawn...
A long drawn out sigh was heard on the street as Na'im walked across the sidewalk with Burt's place as destination. "So many things we could've done... And this is our choice," he complained. The truth was, however, that he was still in a mental debate whether he considered the man as a friend or not.

"Aren't you glad you're meeting your buddy again?" Szand asked, a teasing tone in his voice. The holographic image of the SP was visible on Na'im's shoulder, while Oasis and Djinni were still in the PET. Dim voices were heard once in a while and it seemed like Djinni was trying to teach Oasis how to speak properly.

Stopping in his pace for a moment, Na'im looked over his shoulder and just stared for a while. "It's not too late to return..." Shifting his head to look in front of his feet, he continued walking while still looking over his shoulder a few times again, "Still not too late..."

"I don't get what's bothering you so much," Szand said and looked at Na'im's face as he sat down on Na'im's shoulder with his legs and arms crossed, "Just get there already. I want to at least thank Exorcist." Having said his words he looked forwards again and noticed the house they were heading for. "See, already there."

"Still not too late..." Na'im said, his voice almost a dog's whine, but before he could say it again his thought were disrupted by a sound that could only be described as a 'shrill, babyish wail'. Yeah, now he had to find out what was going on. Friend or no friend, if Burt was in danger it was Na'im's duty to step up as hero. But even then, he did not want to meet or save Burt that badly as his pace continued as a smooth stride rather than a hurried dash.

"Suddenly I'm not so sure myself if we should go there..." Szand said, him having stood up after hearing the same sound.

"Whatever it is I'll be fine," Na'im said as he walked up to the front door, "But honestly... Worst case scenario would be... If Burt is unharmed." Stopping in front of the door, he rang the doorbell and hoped for the best... Or the worst.
Small footsteps came to answer the door; certainly nothing that sounded like a crazy man in bedroom slippers. Na'im might be missing his last chance to escape haunting by the ghost of the recently deceased Burt Blanchard. Then again, maybe Exorcist could help him out if that happened. Before he had time to give it any further thought, the door opened, revealing Burt's niece, a small girl with black hair held in a sideways ponytail. Her face shared a lot of Burt's thin, pretty features, but with less craziness and better hygiene. She wore a long, black tee with a big "A" printed on the front (could stand for anything), do big on her that her shoulders showed a bit and the hem nearly covered her white shorts in their entirety. She was barefoot and altogether looked like she wanted to get back to her cartoons.

"You're Burt's 'friend?'" she inquired, seeming at once surprised at his appearance and keenly aware that Na'im had misgivings about the term. "You're not a religious nut too, are you?"

A little boy with shorter make in a bowl cut, dressed in a pair of blue suspender overalls with a white, black-striped shirt, sprang off the couch and ran to their visitor, as if suddenly remembering something important. "Come in! Uncle Butt will be down in a... a hour," he started excitedly, then slowed down once he realized he couldn't remember the message. Regardless, be gave his sister'd shirt a little tug. "I won, right?"

"Knock it off, Joey. Anyways, I'm Jerry, and that lunatic just went upstairs. There's a woman up there too. I heard him yell but I have no idea why. Maybe he tried to kill him or something? Anyways, it's been quiet for a while... You wanna wait down here and watch DimensionMan on TV?" she asked, shutting the door behind him.

"MensionMan hooooo!" Joey cried enthusiastically, having already taken his place back on the sofa.
Na'im looked at the girl in front of him as a little voice cried out in the back of his mind, thankful it wasn't Burt opening the door. "As peculiar as it sounds," Na'im replied to the question of him being a friend, followed by him answering to the religious nut question, "Not at all. I'm not fond of religions." He had decided not to rattle on about the religious cult that was part of Djinni's origin, because what would a little kid do with such a story.

Shortly after this, he was met with the other child. As Na'im saw him approaching, he squatted to get a better view of the boy's face and listened to his words. "That's alright, there's no hurry," he replied, just smiling through the little scenario of the kids and their 'game'.

"My name is Na'im," he said after Jerry introduced themselves and explained where Burt actually was. Tilting his head he glanced he upwards, but decided to not go up there. Through the last mission he had at least made some guesses about Burt's interests and if anything about those interests were up there, he did not want to see any of it. The two children had already ran back to the TV to watch their cartoon. As he looked around, curious about how Burt lived, he took off his jacket and put it down in a place where no dust was. "Does he really live here...?" Na'im asked himself.

"So now what?" Szand's voice sounded. All 3 Navis were back into the PET's interface again, Djinni in particular as she knew what kind of person Burt was.

Na'im simply shrugged. Without even shouting at Burt to make himself known or any action whatsoever to get Burt to him, he just started to go around the room(s) in order to find the kitchen. "Joey, Jerry, would you two like a snack or something?" Na'im asked once he found the kitchen. "Does Burt even have snacks in here..." he asked himself as he went through the cupboards, "If not I'll just go the store to get something... Maybe even make some myself."

"Hey Na'im!" Djinni's voice sounded from the PET, causing Na'im to take it from his back and look at the screen, "Can you put us by the TV? Oasis would like to watch the cartoon too." Oasis, standing next to Djinni, was waving her arms enthusiastically while Szand was sitting in the corner with his arms crossed. "Pleeeaaase? We're not fighting yet anyway."

"I guess there's no trouble in that..." Na'im mentioned and walked back to the children. He placed the PET front up on a table near the TV and looked at the Jerry and Joey. "My Navis want to watch TV too. Can you keep an eye on them?" he said as three holographic images surfaced from the PET's screen.

"Well, we don't have a couch..." Djinni said as she sat down, "So this'll have to do." Looking over at her SPs, she gestured at them to get closer and sit down as well.

Oasis, being in a good mood, made a short dash at Djinni and quickly sat down on Djinni's lap to look at the TV. Her head was quickly smothered between Djinni's large bust, her pigtails flowing over them.

Szand, however, had no interest in a 'children's program' and decided to lay back on the PET's surface with his arms crossed behind his head. "Wake me when we're fighting," he said, followed by him closing his eyes and ignoring the rest of existence.

As Djinni and co. made themselves comfortable by the TV, Na'im had already returned to the kitchen and awaited the children's request for a snack while exploring the ins and outs of the Blanchard kitchen.
"Not fond of religions...?" Jerry asked, squinting at Na'in like she was suspicious of something. Finally, she gave up with a big, childish smile. "That's great! I was beginning to think I was the only rational person here between Burt and that new girl." Even if he wasn't 100% truthful, Na'im had earned some brownie points. "Yeah, he lives here alright... it's still not pretty, but it's a lot better than it was this morning. Flo cleaned up before he got back, so yeah. He'd never clean this place himself..."

The two kids happily agreed to both Djinni's team sitting down for cartoons and to the new guy's offer to get them a snack. "I'm warning you, though: this guy has a house full of crap. Anything you find in his drawers is just gonna be more crap! We've searched the ones we can reach before and haven't found anything good... Flo hasn't gone in there either yet..." Jerry cautioned Na'im. Jerry turned her head to look at Djinni , then tilted it a bit. "Actually, I think I see one thing you guys have in common..."

The Whazzapian left her to her thoughts, entering the war zone known as Burt's kitchen. The decor may have been pretty at one time, but instead, what now awaited him was mountains of pizza boxes and Net-Cola crates (because he apparently purchased the drink by crate-load). Cup ramen and chow mein bowls, some only partially eaten, littered every flat surface, including pizza box tops. A lot of the crates had been refilled with empty cola cans.A narrow walkway would allow him access to a tiny table with three chairs (which had likely been sold as a cheap card table rather than a dining set), the refrigerator, or the cupboard.

The lower shelves were just as the two had said: barren and empty except for some pots and pans that looked like they hadn't been touched in years. In the upper cupboards, Na'im found a few interesting collections: drawer one held bowls and silverware (an odd place for silverware, drawer two held plates and cups, drawer three held many varieties of microwave dinners, packed incredibly dense into the small space, and drawer four held, of course, a wide variety of pornographic reading material to start Burt off right every day.

Finally, a lifesaver emerged: somebody had left two kid's meals on the table, along with two medium sized burgers and four Net-Colas. It almost looked like a trap...
The switch was flipped. Combat had officially started in the workplace that one had once called 'kitchen' as Na'im stared onto the mess in the kitchen. In his mind he could hear the sounds of life bars raising and an announcer shouting "Go!", immediately going for the first strike. With lightning fast moves he had opened a window, taken the pornographic magazines and thrown them out of the window. He dug with his hand into his pocket for his 'special move' as he took out a box of matchsticks. In a dramatic motion he lit a matchstick and threw it out of the window and onto the magazines. "Cleanse the impurities," he muttered to the window and then, with a quick turn on his heels, began his assault onto the kitchen.

While the battle of the century was ravaging in the kitchen, Djinni and co. were at the television minding their own business. "I'll have you know," Djinni started speaking, her attention momentarily directed at Jerry, "I chose the way I look myself." But after saying this, she realized there was little else to talk about. The little boy seemed to be engulfed in the story of the cartoon they were watching and the girl... Well, there was just nothing else to talk about. "I wonder where Exorcist is..." Djinni thought, looking at the TV screen.

Today was a day for weird sounds in the home of Blanchard as a loud cackle came from the kitchen. "This is clean! This is clean! This is clean!" Na'im chanted as he went through the entire kitchen while piling up bags of filth. While not immediately noticeable about the Whazzapian man, he was very fond of cooking and considered the kitchen as a place to treasure. It was not certainly not the first time a dirty kitchen flipped his switch. There was not a single damn in his body about the rest of the house, but the kitchen had better be clean and remain clean.

Moments later Na'im surfaced from the kitchen with two plates of sweet and spicy, but not too spicy for children, Whazzapian food and two sets of cutlery. But as his focus was completely on the kitchen and making something to eat, he had not realized that none of the tables were actually available. He also just now realized his PET was on a small pile of documents. He walked over to the kids on the couch and held out the plates to them. "I tried to make something good for dinner," he said, "You can keep the plate on your lap to eat, but..." He stopped for a moment, looked at the table and then back at the children, "You can also remove any of the documents to make place for yourself." With this said he handed the plates to the children with the cutlery on the sides of the plate, then picked up his PET to place it somewhere that wasn't a table.

Eventually he placed the PET vertically against the wall, while Djinni and Oasis sat on the top side of it. "So now what?" Djinni asked.

"We're just going to enjoy our meals," Na'im said, smiled at her and returned to the kids. "Also... When Burt appears..." he started as he brought his face closer to theirs, "Don't give him any." With those words he returned to the kitchen again, but stopped halfway and turned his face towards the kids. "Enjoy the meal. I am from Whazzap." At the kitchen again he took his own plate of food and decided to sit by the kids so they could talk. In a way it would've been nice if Burt would never show up.
The kids watched Na'im in awe as he worked some sort of Whazzapian magic on the kitchen, like their very own fairy godfather. Jerry looked away for a moment to pull a PET out of her shorts pocket and place it next to Djinni's, then scampered to the door frame to watch Burt's friend work, peeking out slightly from behind it and keeping a curious and wary frown.

The PET she had taken out contained Exorcist and co.; despite being charged with the care of the kids, they'd been placed aside and forgotten about. The group didn't project out as holograms, but did hear Djinni's voice. "Djinni! That means Na'im is already here. Now that I listen, I think I can hear him... laughing," Exorcist claimed, deciding that it sounded better than "cackling."

"Are those navis old friends of yours?" Mary asked her sister in Counterinfectualism.

"Yes, although the other girl is an SP. I'm not actually familiar with the male yet. Bhikkhuni got along pretty well with Djinni and Fhyre, as I recall! Although the girl looks different than I remember," Exorcist responded. "They're powerful and reliable friends."

"Counterinfectualists?" Mary inquired, more out of curiosity than actual concern.

"... Probably not?" Exorcist sighed, unsure is anyone they'd ever explained the religion to could be labeled a believer any further than by virtue of Burt's optimism. "Anyway, it's good to hear your voice, Djinni. I was just speaking with Mary, who has joined the cause of Counterinfectualism since we last met."


Jerry nor Joey had ever had curry before, but the two of them accepted it eagerly and plopped down at the table, using Burt's theories and divine inspirations as coasters for their plates and drinks. "Careful, Joey! It's super-!" Jerry started, surprised by the heat of the food. Joey was already shoveling through it, however, with the same ironclad stomach that allowed him to consume so much of Burt's writing. "... Don't worry, I don't think there will be any for Burt when he gets down here anyway..."

"Attention! Your attention please, little ones! I present to you your new-!" a young girl's voice rang out from somewhere in the house. It shut off once the voice's owner realized that the kids she was looking for were no longer seated at the couch. "Jerry? Joey?"

"In the kitchen!" Jerry exclaimed in a voice that reverberated through the open area.

"Uncle Butt's friend fixed us...! Uh... Hurry n'rice with spices!" Joey shouted, not wanting to be left out.

An unfamiliar face peeked into the room, wearing a confused expression and giant, circular glasses with swirls that only made her look more confused. Her rusty orange-red hair was tied into two twisted braids that bobbed like thick, backwards antennae as she looked in. She was clad in a ridiculously long greenish tye-dye shirt and a twisted white headband. Her feet were bare and although she might be about 3/4 of a decade older than Jerry, she was no taller. "Who's that?" she asked, adjusting her glasses with one hand while keeping a thin, plastic-bound book pressed to her chest.

From around the corner emerged a complete stranger, dressed in a black suit with a starched white collar and dark gold tie. His feet were clad in shiny black shoes rather than slippers and his long, shining black hair was drawn back into a ponytail, rather than hanging loose. He looked a little confused at first, but a combination of the half-oval spectacles he wore and the stupid grin on his face revealed his identity. "Na'im, buddy! I hope you brought that tasty, red-hot angel of a navi with you!" Burt exclaimed, then embraced his friend in a hug that smelled of shampoo and decent hygiene, as opposed to weeks of unwashed filth and masturbation.

"Wow, did you clean this all up yourself? We really double-teamed this house!" the little girl cheered. "I'm Flo, nice to meet you! I'm Burt's mistress!"

"I still don't believe you!" Jerry called back from the table.

Burt smiled and said nothing, perhaps because he could neither lie nor tell the truth without incriminating himself in some fashion. He stepped back, then patted his friend's shoulders. "Are you ready for another Djinni/ Exxy rendezvous? This is gonna be a good one, I can feel it!" he inquired, raising both eyebrows expectantly.

While this was going on, Flo grabbed up the fast food and moved it off the table quickly, as if worried someone would see it and the illusion of a happy family with a good friend would be lessened. "Are you guys going to do a little operating? Sounds awesome! I love seeing Counterinfectualists in action!" Flo exclaimed.

"Me too!" Burt cheered, gladly allowing his friend to be lumped in with his cult. He seemed utterly and genuinely unconcerned now about the girl who had broken into his house and whatever had caused him to be so urgent over the e-mail. "I'll put in a mission request right now. It'll be just like old times!"
"It's good to hear you too," Djinni exclaimed at Exorcist, after standing up and balancing herself properly on the vertically challenged PET, "Say we haven't seen your Operator yet! Where is he?" Right as Djinni asked this, she saw a man and a woman pass her vision on their way to the kitchen. Despite seeing them, she continued shouting at Exorcist. "You think he's still upstairs?"

Oasis had climbed his way onto Djinni and had her arms around Djinni's neck while hanging from Djinni's back. She just remained quiet and peeked at the PET over Djinni's shoulder. Szand, on the other hand, noticed the voice and got out of sight nonchalantly whether it was holographic image or on the PET's screen.

But while the Navi groups had new faces to introduce, the Operator group had new faces too and frankly, Na'im was confused. Many things confused him about this scenario. Burt looking like a decent male human being. Flo had a weird cute charm about her, but why was a girl like her so clingy around Burt. What was with the use of 'mistress' in their sentences. Jerry didn't seem to like Flo a lot. What was counterinfectionalism again. Why was Djinni considered tasty. It was a good thing Na'im's eyes were almost permanently in a squinted state or he would've had a really confused look on his face.

Realizing he must've looked like he was in a trance, he finally opened his mouth, "Ah, I apologize. I had something on my mind." Was he going to ignore the presence of this Flo and commence hanging out with Burt? He turned his eyes to Flo and smiled. "It's nice to meet you, Flo. I'm sure being Burt's mistress must be quite the chore, but I have worked as a maid once so I guess I can kind of understand the skill this requires."

He then turned to Burt and smiled again. With his 'friend' looking like this, he seemed to have no issues in actually considering him a friend and to be seen with him in places. "It's good to see you," Na'im said, adding 'like this' in his mind, "I hope you picked a good movie for this get-together. Or maybe Flo knows a good movie?" The presence of Flo still puzzled him, but maybe he just had to consider her as, say, Burt's girlfriend. Eventually he decided to trap himself in the delusion that the Burt he knew was all a dream and this 'new Burt' was the actual Burt. He just smiled and held his hand out to the living room. "But let us not keep our Navis waiting. Just as us, I'm sure they'd like to see each other again."
"Charmed!" Flo responded, doing a curtsey with her long shirt. She didn't seem to care to debate his understanding of the word "mistress," as if the title really held no meaning for her. Burt didn't seem to care either.

"Oh, a movie?! Terrific, I thought you were going to back out! Alright, before we start, I ought to ask: are you a 2D or a 3D guy? And next, I don't know your culture of anything, but what do you consider 'legal age?' Like, is it okay if they just say they're 18 or is it one of those things where if you know they're 17, it-?" Burt rambled on. Apparently, beneath the creamy, pristine exterior, the same old Burt was still lying in wait.

Realizing he was getting out if line, Flo gave a massive, throaty, rumbling cough, one that seemed like it must be coming from a large man rather than a little girl. There was a loud sound like a microphone being tuned just wrong, then silence. "Burt, why don't we let the kids choose?" she asked, continuing as if nothing had happened.

Before Burt could protest, Joey shot off the couch. "DimensionFriends Versus the Rouge Elephant!" he exclaimed, raising both hands.

"Okay, fine! Na'im, buddy, this is like the sixteenth time I've had to watch this movie with him cause he always gets scared when Drakkas comes on screen. You get a pretty good look at DimensionGirl's butt all the time though and there's like... a brother and sister who act like they're going to make out... but then they don't... kind of a letdown, but anyways, please, sit!"

Joey and Jerry each took either side of the sofa, wanting Na'im to sit between them. The other two sat down in a loveseat together, although they kept a respectable distance from each other. Burt grabbed up his PET and kicked up his feet, making it clear that Joey was going to have to pet up the TV himself; thankfully, he didn't object. "How's it shaking, Exxy? Did you speak with the Djinni bunch?" he inquired.

"Just a little. We can catch up more later, but for now, I'm eager to do the work of Counterinfectualism," she responded, although and seemed a little preoccupied.. probably with her own questions about Burt's mistress... As a matter of fact, she had the sense it was all a little fishy, even Na'im's sudden arrival.

"Just jack in to my mini-fridge there and we'll head over to the mission board," Burt suggested, calling attention to the tiny refrigerator next to the couch, shoved under a side table where it just barely fit. In the background, the booming narrator's voice announced that DimensionFriends Versus the Rogue Element was beginning. Burt just stared at his PET, as if intentionally trying to dissuade Na'im from asking any questions.
Burt had finished up the day with Na'im while paying relatively little attention to his SP; they'd had to jump out of the mission partway, which Exorcist was feeling bitter about. Flo had been insistent, however; something was bothering her and it had amazed Burt, his navi, and his SPs at just how forceful she could be about getting her way. "This won't work," she notified Burt, adjusting her glasses with one hand and pointing an accusatory finger at her supposed lover with another.

Na'im had just vanished (literally vanished, possibly via magic) and Burt was already missing him. It was actually hard to say who was missing him more: Burt or his niece and nephew, who had been recipients of his friendship, warmth, and above-average curry. "C'moooooon," Burt groaned, sinking into his couch in front of the TV with a beer in one hand and the other on the crotch of his nice suit, which was being not so discretely adjusted. "I tried really hard, okay!? Na'im didn't seem as grossed out as usual, either! Until he disappeared, I mean. But he probably just had somewhere to be! See, I realized today that he's actually some sort of magic-man, or shaman, or maybe like a witch-doctor, so he's probably got all kinds of places to-"

"Not even the point!" Flo sighed, throwing up her hands.

"No fighting!" Joey pitched in, throwing his hands up as well, which didn't actually added enough to his height to put them over Flo's head for a moment.

"Sorry Joey," she smiled, before rubbing his head in an overly familiar gesture that his sister, Jerry, resisted. Burt didn't get a head-pat. "I'm just saying that if you really want to give me something we can use to prove to Mr. Justice... or at least the court... that you're not such a terrible person, you're going to have to try harder! You were acting like a perv all throughout that mission and you just sat around while Na'im and I cleaned up your house! I need you to do some actual good, somehow, and I need you to not act like such a creep while you do it!"

"H-Hey! You're my mistress, don't lecture me," Burt grumbled, wondering if other guys had to put up with the same sort of lip from women who mysteriously entered their homes and started professing to be their paramours. "What do you think I should do then, huh?"

"The only thing you seem to be any good at, I'd say."

"Well, we haven't actually done that part yet, hm hm hm. Let's not talk about it in front of the kids, though," Burt smiled, wiggling his eyebrows behind his oval-shaped glasses. When she didn't look amused (nor did the kids), he tried another stab. "You want me to go to the university and teach? Fine, but even if I'm doing the best religious studies teaching in the world- which I am, since I'm teaching the only worthwhile religion in the world- those kids will never acknowledge me! They'll make me look like a huge dou- er, dummy," he whined, pulling his punches slightly in the presence of his adopted family.

"Maybe if you'd just teach class like you used to, that would work. But you don't, so it won't," Flo disagreed, shaking her head. "More accurately, I should probably say what Exorcist and her company are good at: helping others. If you spend some time operating them and really pay attention this time, and try not to act like a total di- er, dummy, then maybe I'll have something good enough to show off!"

"Fine, fine! You want to see benevolence? Altruism? Geniality and goodwill towards my fellow man? Consider this: I'm a prophet! I brought the word of Counterinfectualism to man! I'm like uh... Jesus or Prometheus or one of those other fakers people think actually accomplished something, only difference being my stuff is real! What could I possibly do for humanity that's any greater than that?!" the professor ranted egotistically; he was cleaned up physically, but otherwise just as foul as ever. "Fine, fine! Pbfffft!" he blew a raspberry, perhaps making him the only divine prophet ever to have done so. "It'll be like when Jesus just palled around with all of those sinners and whatever. I'll lend a helping hand through the GNA, even though I highly doubt the recipient of my gift will be worthy of Exorcist's presence!"

Exorcist decided to interject here herself, trapping Burt in a pincer attack between women with better attitudes than his own. "You taught me Counterinfectualism isn't about worthiness, though! Anything in a person's worse nature is a result of the evil that's crystallizing all over the net, right? E-Even yours, maybe!" she started strongly, then tapered off into a whisper at the last part.

"What was that?"

"Even... Mary's maybe!" she corrected. Mary smiled and nodded, indicating that perhaps that theory for her behavior was as good as any. "Besides, I know what a great operator you are! The whole net needs to see that too. And when they see it, Miss Gladhammer will have what she needs to present to Mister Justice too!"

That show of optimism from his navi was just what Burt needed to lift his spirits. "You're right! Let's give the whole net the gift of your heavenly body!" he cried, raising one fist. Exorcist shook her head rapidly and babbled protest, to show that she didn't agree with that phrasing. "Hm hm hm! Don't be modest! Whoever we end up helping will be just as eager to see your full splendor as I am, indubitably! But we'll deny them that pleasure because, what the hell man, don't be a perv." With that hypocritical thought, Burt jacked his navi and SPs into the net (via his TV, which seemed decent a place as any) to search for someone to extend a helping hand to.
Very soon after Burt had jacked his navi into the television, he pulled her back out again. "Welp, folks, I've got to relocate. It's the evening and I," he paused, slicking his already slick hair and adjusting his coat, "have a date!" Of course, what he had was really more of a meet-up, but in his mind it was already a date. "The lovely Miss Regina and me! We'll bond over drinks and then when it's all over we can finish up at her place," he boasted, regardless of the children in the room and his supposed mistress.

Flo lowered her eyebrows behind her giant, circular-framed glasses. "Uh... So, are we coming?" she asked. "You know you don't have all the time in the world to do appease Mr. Justice. If you don't, then you could lose... everything." Her words carried gravity, but as usual, Burt was ready to deflect.

"Look, calm down, alright? The proof's in the pudding! If Exxy and the girls do a good job, we'll have it all documented on the GNA responses and all that. It'll prove what a great person I am!" he explained, placing both hands on his hips and grinning contentedly. "My disciples act for my religion, after all! Their good work is my good work. So that means that while my navis are on the clock, I can get Miss Regina on my c-" he started, pausing with a lewd face and looking to his niece and nephew. He thought the better of his rhyme. "I can knock back a few drinks with her, is what I meant. Anyway, I'm off to do that! You three enjoy your movie night!"

"Now, wait! The last thing you need to do while you're in Justice's crosshairs is to go out, get hammered, and neglect your adopted kids!" Flo protested, but Burt was already on his way out. Since she couldn't stop him physically, she urged the kids to follow her instead. "Rrrgh! Well, I'm driving you to and from the plane station, anyway! The last thing... well, the other last thing... we need is you drunk driving."

"Huh? You're old enough to drive?" Burt asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yes, stupid! I'm only a little younger than you," she murmured, looking unamused. "And what... did you think you were getting a mistress that wasn't driving age? Wait wait wait, hold on-"

"Ha ha ha, uh, right! That was just a joke! See, that's something good people do, make funny jokes!" he joked in a non-good way, as the four made their way to his old car, the low evening sun casting shades of orange and gray across the surroundings. "Wait... plane? Oh right, it's in Netopia. I guess even if I'm a prophet, I still can't walk across the ocean."

((Heading to Electown))
"Look, we got paid, right? That means my navis showed how good they are! By extension, Counterinfectualism, by extension, me! Exorcist proved how good I am! It was basically like I was there, beating up those navi slave traffickers with Exxy and Mary! It's like I was really there with Bhikkhuni, when she... nah, maybe not that part," the man of the household mused, adjusting his glasses and smirking with fond memories, before resuming a tone of outrage. "That means I proved how good I am and Georgie Boy can call the whole thing off, riiiight?!"

"It doesn't," Flo complained, lowering her eyebrows. She was still in the same foul mood she had been since Burt's date.

"Come ooon! Have a heart! Have some pity! My date dumped me! I'm at my lowest low right now!" he complained, stamping his feet like a child and ignoring the sighs of his children. "But you know what'll cheer me up? A gift!"

Flo raised her eyebrows, as if checking whether he honestly expected her to get him a gift. She was trying to be a good mistress, after all, so if she had to...

"And by that, I mean a new disciple! This one is a believer in Counterintectualism and all she had to do was read our manifesto! Comes from a Hindu monastery or something. That's kinda neat, huh? Maybe she's a cutie like Veda! Though I wouldn't mind if she was a little more, you know, hehehe..." he murmured, making orb like fondling motions at his chest. He glanced around the room with a grin on his face, searching for someone who would share his enthusiasm for the subject. He found no such person.

"Let's not be rude to Veda. She ended up in a pretty unfortunate spot on that mission," Exorcist spoke up from the PET, recalling how Veda had been EJO'd early into their adventure by colliding at high speed with some vendor's stall... then Regina had been too upset with Burt to stick around. She turned her attention to happier thoughts. "Tell me about the new disciple, though!" Exorcist wasn't always pleased with Mary and Bhikkhuni's questionable dedication to their sworn religion, but still, it was nice to have friends in any case. Past precedence indicated that she should approach this newcomer with cautious optimism.

"You didn't pick based on the picture again, did you?" Bhikkhuni added. "Cause let's not forget how I pulled one over on you!" She sounded pleased with her trickery, ignorant of her indirect insult to herself. It was also questionable what she had really won anything in this arrangement.

"I'm telling ya, this one reached out to me! No picture, but ya just know she's a hottie, cause I'm like... two for three so far! Though, little cone-head here moved herself up to at least .5 a hottie with her performance in that last mission," he chuckled, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his long nose and smiling meaningfully. Exorcist gave a small sigh of confusion while Bhikkhuni fought him back on topic. "Alright, alright! Her name is Yajna and she's a torch carrier, uses mantras and stuff to power up her allies. Everybody needs someone like that in their religion, right?" he asked, as though powering up was normal for most religions. "She sounds a little fuzzy on the details; she calls the evil spirits 'Ashura', nyehehe! Being all confused like that is kinda cute in it's own way."

"I see.." Exorcist murmured, crossing her robe sleeves and recalling what she knew of Hinduism from her studies. So far, the ally sounded ideal, from the standpoint of battle effectiveness and the alignment of their beliefs with Counterinfectualism. Part of her wanted to ask "so what's the catch?" but it would be rude to her allies to do so. Instead, she kept a positive tone. "I'm excited! When do we get to meet her?"

"... Well, I mean... She's already in the PET. Did you not see her?" Burt questioned.

The others looked around the net space in confusion, before spotting the alit torch of their ally's helmet; Bhikkhuni and Exorcist jumped back in alarm at the sight of fire, holding tightly to one another, before slowly calming down. The unfamiliar girl, Yajna, was just standing still, watching them with an expression that showed no amusement or severity. Exorcist thought she looked rather solemn. Bhikkhuni thought she looked either bored or dumb. Mary thought she looked well hidden by her robe. Having been quiet so far, the latter of the three spoke up. "Welcome! It's nice to meet someone I have an elemental advantage over for once, hm hm," the nun joked harmlessly. "Which means there's no problem if I get you wet, right?" she continued, lewdly.

"Ha ha ha. Sounds like you all are getting along!" Burt chortled.

Exorcist turned her head to one side to glance over her shoulder, with the look in her conveying "are we?" Yajna hadn't said a word yet. "I-it's good to meet you, Yajna. I'm happy you've already taken to our religion," she greeted her ally with a short bow.

"Yes. It seems favorable," the other girl answered in a low murmur. Under her breath, she seemed to be whispering additional mantra... boredly.

"Do you have any hobbies?" Bhikkhuni asked with marked dryness, sounding like a kid at a church group her parents had forced her to go to.

"Not really... I suppose... Prayer," the girl answered plainly, staring at Bhikkhuni with unchanging eyes. "I enjoy performing puja and various rituals... the burning of incense... burning of ritual tokens, often via Yajna, my namesake... the lighting of aarti..." she spoke quietly, finally managing a small smile as she gave her list. Exorcist thought to herself that it seemed like a very spiritual, impressive list of prayer rituals, privately wishing that Counterinfectualism placed that much- or really, any- value in prayer.

"And your preferences?" Mary jumped in, smiling sweetly.

"... Ablaze," the girl murmured, then went back fo humming mantras, as if she had said nothing strange.

"Excuse me?" Exorcist asked, with a face full of concern. "I don't think I heard correctly..."

A clap broke her train of thought. "Well! That was fun! Yes we learned a lot about how Yajna loves Counterinfectualism, likes all kinds of outdated Hindu crap, and is gay," Burt wrapped things up, unhelpfully.

"I think she said ablaze-"

"No, no, that's silly. I'll be looking forward to the gayness," Burt quashed that theory with a short shrug. "Now, you know what's a great bonding experience? Another mission!"

"Really?!" Bhikkhuni piped up indignantly. She was still getting over the excitement of the last one. Said excitement was the type that made one want to rest afterward.

"You can sit it out if you want, sheesh," Burt pouted, placing his hands on his hips and glaring into the PET. "But Exorcist and Mary want to get closer with Yajna! Right?"

"Right~" Mary cooed.

"R-right," Exorcist murmured, eyeing the fire on top of Yajna's helmet.

"Good! Off you go! Show me more Counterinfectualist goodness! Or like... if you can't find any opportunities to destroy evil spirits, at least find a good chance to prove we're great so we clear my name with Flo and this George guy, m'kay?" he requested, plopping lazily into his armchair for another session of busting.

With some trepidation, Exorcist nodded, wondering what secrets her mostly silent ally was hiding. The restless work of a Counterinfectualist didn't bother her... but she had some significant concerns about her new ally.

((Jacking in for mission board))