Encounter in the park.

This is where she came from.

The metro line pulled into the ACDC station, screeching to a loud stop. "Well we made it back." Layla smiled, "How do you feel buddy?" She was referring to the upgrades she had installed during the not so long train ride back home.

"Hmmm, I feel great. I'm ready to test out my new abilities." The lion navi cracked his knuckles, awaiting his next journey in the net.

"Well let me get a quick work out in at the park, and we can go somewhere and jack in." She replied while exciting the station. It was a beautiful day outside. The sun was bright, and high, only hiding itself partially behind a few thick fluffy clouds. It was a perfect day to go through an exercise routine at the park. ACDC's park was nice, and never too cluttered with people, but maybe the good weather today had brought out the small crowd there now. Kids and adults alike gathered for what looked like a family cook out, while there was another group of teens there just hanging out around the semi sphere play are.

"This seems like a good place to stretch." She walked over to the elephant slide, which was positioned right next to a small body of water. With a detailed squirrel statue sitting above the water for decoration. Layla first set down, and did a few stretches to loosen up her thighs and calves. Not really paying attention to any of the passer by around her, the young woman stood up and began touching her toes. The neon pink yoga pants gripped her bottom even more as she bent over. This stretch was sure to garner any male's attention as it presented a picture perfect view of one of her main assets.

Finishing up her stretches, she started a soft jog around the park. Minding her business and focusing solely on her exercise it was easy to get lost in the moment. Before Layla knew it, she had already ran a good few laps around the park, working up a mild sweat. "Whew that's a good run." She panted, stopping at one of the trees near where she started.
"Aaaaaugh!" He might not have been in pain, but a certain young man in ACDC was certainly in anguish. "So...bored..."

"I'm...honestly kinda impressed, considering how long your to-do list was last night. Maybe you went TOO fast?"

"I guess...but nothing needs to be planned out for the next LARP meeting, I'm all caught up on gaming, I don't even have any homework left!"

"And...that's why you're walking aimlessly around the neighborhood?"

"More or less. I'm just prayin' something interesting comes up." Sigh. "Maybe a nice 'damsel in distress' situation..."

"Good luck with that happening out of thin air. You know, you COULD let me do some virus busting. At least then we're not both bored."

"I guess that's an option...all right, we'll compromise. I'll go to the park and jack you in, and I'll do operator stuff. But, I'm still going to walk around and try to find something interesting. Sound good?"

"Whatever. So long as I get to slice apart stuff, I'm not too picky on the hows and whys."

"All right then! We're off to the park!...And we're here!"

"What?! That was like, a second!"

"I was literally right next to it! Neat twist, huh?"

"...Whatever. Just, jack me in already."

"Sure thing, just gotta find that squi-" Gary was suddenly stopped by a force so great, not even a LARP session could've pulled himself away from it. "...Whoa."

"...Squwhoa? What on earth is that su-"


"Don't shh me! I-" Fortunately, it wasn't hard to see from the PET what his operator was looking at. Hint: it was pink, large, and appeared to be covered in spandex. "Well, that explains it."

"We'll have to sideline your busting for a bit. Right now, time to show the world how it's done!"

"How to get rejected by a woman? I'm watching."

"I said shh!" Though it pained him to do so, the actor shifted his gaze off the woman's butt, to come across as more civilized to her. Though, as long as she wasn't looking, he took another quick peek or two as he approached her. "Greetings, milady! A most glorious day, is it not? And yet, 'tis but a shadow compared to your beauty!"

In his PET, WarriorMan facepalmed. Where did this guy learn to flirt, 16th century Creamland? Although... "...And whose beauty is that?"

"Hers, of c-" ...Wait, where'd she go? "Um..."

"Ha. Okay, that was a good distraction. But can we get to the part where I slice things up for fun and profit?"

"Oh, fine...wait!" Aha! There was a familiar pair of yoga pants attached to a woman running this way! "Hang on, time for take two!" He approached her again...only to see her go sailing by. "Er, she DOES at least know I exist, right?" Oh well. Hated to see her go, but loved to watch her leave.

"Ah ha ha! Wow, you just got ignored. You know what? Keep at it, this is getting pretty entertaining."

"Ugh...wait, there she comes again! And she's slowing down...and stopped! Perfect!" Third time was the charm...right? Gary walked over to the lady yet again, taking a moment to make sure that she was, in fact, aware that he was there. "Good day to you, milady! How do you find yourself on this fair day?" He would've bowed, but at this rate, that would've just erased him from her existence...
Layla was unaware of the young boy who seeked her attention, that is until her run was finished. She was getting ready to leave once she heard the peculiar greeting. Milady? She looked around finally locking eyes with the grayish brown haired boy. "I'm sorry? Were you talking to me?" She letbour a subtle giggle.

Not that his approach was bad... it did come respectfully, yet she had to almost be twice his age. Layla didn't want to be rude though, so she decided to entertain the young one. "Hmmm I don't know? How am I finding myself? A little sweaty I guess." She smiled pointing out the obvious.

"This is a new one. I've seen plenty men hit on you since we've moved here... but this is a meee child." Frio's voice chuckled from the PET that was clipped at her waist. Like he had room to talk... his body was drained after that of a young teen anyways.

"Frio, that's not nice. Maybe he just wanted to talk" Layla added, "Anyways, forgive my navi Frio. He's itching to get back on the net. How's your day going...?"

"Indeed, it covers you like the morning dew." Ooh, that rhymed. Nice. "And, if I may say so, it quite accentuates your beauty." A voice chipped in, and since it wasn't WarriorMan...it had to be her Navi. And he already could tell that he didn't like it. Still, he shouldn't insult it, she might not care for that. "Worry not, his words do not wound me, miss."

"Oh, brother..." The Navi wasn't sure which was more groan worthy, his operator's current behavior, or a male Navi named Frio. Eh, both were worth it. Ugh. Ugh.

"Hmm...how am I today? Truthfully, I find myself devoid of purpose. I wandered the streets, in search of something to fill my heart's void...and lo! I have found you! Surely, the fates have intervened, to ensure that we have met!"

"Yeah, about that." WarriorMan's hologram formed over Gary's right shoulder, arms folded, but surprisingly not looking as sour as usual. "I've got an idea that should make all of us happy."

"...And what, pray tell, might that be?" This was a first. He just hoped he hadn't given his Navi a blank check to make fun of him.

"Her Navi's got a busting itch, I've got a busting itch...maybe we should team up. Gives you two some time together, and we Navis can satisfy our bloodlust."

Huh. That actually wasn't a bad idea. "Ah, a splendid plan! Our may join forces, such to ensure our meeting is not but fleeting! But hold! Without the fair maiden's approval, this scheme is but empty words!" Oh, please say yes...he might not be able to bear losing the combination of spending time with a lovely lady and WarriorMan being relatively selfless by consenting to team up with a Navi he probably considered inferior despite having never even met them. A true double whammy to the heart.
Layla giggled again. He was cute, for his age. Everything about him seemed presentable except the denim shorts, and fanny pack. "Why do you keep talking like that?" She asked with a slightly flushed face. Though he was young and a little weird, the compliments still brought joy to her soul.

The image of WarriorMan appeared adding another to the conversation. His input was greatly appreciated by Frio himself, as his hologram followed suite. It was projected in front of her, so everyone could see. "That sounds like a might fine idea if I do say so myself."

"Hmmmm, well teaming up does seem like a fun idea. Where should we jack in at? I know a pretty good ice cream place up the street. A perfect snack to top off a workout." She suggested, while also asking, "By the way... what are your names? My name is Layla, and this is my navi Frio. He might be a little childish and cocky sometimes but hes my best friend."
"Hmm? Would milady prefer it if I spoke more...plainly?" Bummer, looked as though she wasn't taken by his fancy speech. "If you'd rather I talk regularly, I can do that. Whatever makes you happy!" Since she now knew he existed, and that fact wasn't about to change, Gary performed a rather grandiose bow. "Ah, my name, how rude of me! My name is Gary! It's a true pleasure, Layla!"

By now, WarriorMan's hologram was leaned up on his operator's head, staring off into space. "Name's WarriorMan, created to be one of the strongest Navis ever. I'll make sure you're fully aware of that by the time we're done." A shame about technology advancing to wipe that out. Then again, that he was on par with current Navi tech right now, with zero updating, showed how far ahead of his time he was.

"Cool, isn't he? My dad found him and gave him to me, so I'd have a proper NetNavi! The attitude needs a little work, but his strength is for real!" Hmm, an ice cream place nearby? He knew the place well. "Gelata's Ice Cream, right? Heh, I might not look like it, but I've actually lived in these parts for a couple of years, ever since my dad transferred to SciLab." ...Hmm. Maybe he should talk less about his father...probably made him sound like a kid. "So, Layla, what brings you to DenCity? You don't look like a native, either."
"It's not about what I prefer, more so just why? You're talking like you were a knight straight out of a book." Layla replied, still a little blushed from Gary's consideriate statements. "Hmmm Gary, that's a fine name."

"Well I guess we were created to be the same thing, because I AM one of the strongest navi's ever" Frio stepped toward flexing his muscles confidently. "Can't wait to see what ya got Mr.WarriorMan."

""Yea he's pretty cool. I have a feeling him and Frio will get along nicely." Layla continued, "Yea Geleta's is great." She directed him to follow her, taking the lead at a decent pace. The second part of his question caught her off guard... and wasn't one she felt so comfortable answering truthfully. With a short hesitation she answered, "Oh... I moved here recently from Sharo. Thought maybe I'd study abroad or something.."

They quickly made their way to Geleta's. Would be a great place to get a snack, and jack their net navis into the web. Walking up to the counter she asked the young server, an older teenage girl with long black hair, green eyes, tan skin clothed in the Geleta's traditional work outfit, "I would like a small caramel sundae, and what ever this young man wants as well."
"Heh, what can I say? Theater's in my blood!" ...Not by birth, it just kinda ended up in there somehow. "Yeah, it's...an experience, living in a different country. Electopia really threw me for a loop at first, but it's a neat place once you get used to it!"

"Don't flatter yourself. We'll see soon enough if your boasting is empty or not." WarriorMan still hadn't bothered to get a look at his counterpart. He'd see him plenty soon enough, anyway.

And so, they were off, in pursuit of ice cream. They walked up to the counter, and...wait, she was paying? He wasn't a fan of letting the lady pay for him...then again, he was a bit low on cash...dang. "Yeah, uh...hey there." He'd, uh...already met the girl at the register. The less said about that, the better. "I'll take a small chocolate sundae, please." If he was getting something on Layla's tab, he sure wasn't going to get anything fancy.

"Well, someone's not in the mood for their usual."

"It's called mixing it up! Try it sometime!"

"I'd love to mix it up, but until I have viruses to fight, I can't really do that, now can I?"

"Yeesh, one track mind, much?" They still had one last detail to iron out before that, though. "So, Layla. Any part of the net you have in mind? I don't really care where, and I know WarriorMan doesn't care."
"What do you mean? You're an actor? Like in movies, or plays??" Layla's facial expression was puzzled with a little mix of doubt in her voice. What did Gary mean by theater?

"That just makes me more dedicated to show you how its done." Frio responded, followed by a loud lion roar. "Ill show you for sure!"

At Geleta's the lady behind the counter prepped the ice cream for her customers fairly quickly, giving Gary a somewhat fierce look, Layla didn't catch it though, since she was focused on getting her food. The young lady handed the older of the two, the tray that held the two ice cream sundaes. The food was a wonderful creation, that definitely tasted as good, if not better then it looked. It was sure to devoured by the newly aquainted Layla, and Gary.

Layla led the group to a table. The tables were great, they had a port that was connected directly to the ACDC net. So they could eat their food and enjoy virus busting at the same time. "So Gary, why did you come and talk to me anyways?" She asked plugging the cord of her PET into its designated slot. The unique thing about these tables, was underneath a thin layer of glass was a tv screen, that could show whatever part of the net that the navis were connected to.

"That's a good question. We haven't been to Scilab yet... hows that work for you?" She answered his question calmly. "Frio.EXE jack in, execute!" On that note her frozen friend was sent directly into the net.

This is where her navi went.
"What, a guy can't have a hobby?" The more he talked to her, the more Gary got the feeling this lady was...less than bright. There were only so many ways to take 'theater is in my blood'...oh well, he wasn't attracted to her for her giant brain. And while she didn't see the glare he got, he certainly did, and gave the other woman a nervous smile before slowly backing away.

Soon enough, the pair was sitting down, with ice cream and PETs at the ready. "SciLab, eh? Sure thing!"

"Fine with me. I was gonna have to have a homecoming sooner or later, anyway." There was a lion's roar coming from the other PET, but WarriorMan's hologram didn't even flinch, much less look over. "Somehow, I have my doubts that you'll show me anything worth remembering."

"I'll...take that as a sign you're antsy to get started." To be fair, he probably had been for a while...okay, let's just aim it at the port, and..."Jack in! WarriorMan, Execute!" The hologram vanished, and a red beat shot into the table...

"Hey Gary, thanks for hanging out with me today. I haven't made any friends since I moved here, but I would love to hang out with you again sometime... Maybe you could teach me some of that larp stuff you were talking about." She began writing her email on a little piece of paper, "Here's my contact info, reach out to me if you want to get together again. Now let's finish this bat...."

Her PET began to chime as someone was calling through, it was a private caller.

"Weird... who could this be?" She held the PET up to her ear, "Umm hello?''

A low raspy voice came from the other end, even though it was quite she recognized it from somewhere. "Layla... you thought you could hide from us? In ACDC? I'll be seeing you real soon..." Giving her no time to respond there was a CLICK signifying that the call was over. Gary wouldn't have been able to hear, but his new friend's facial expression would let him know something was up.

Layla's already pale complexion grew even paler as a look of grief and horror colored her face. "I'm sorry... Gary I have to go." Her words came out in a low pitched squeak almost. Whoever it was on the other end of the phone seemed to terrify the young girl. As soon as Frio was able to flee his battle, she would log him out and shed speed out of Geletas and head home.
[+8 FXP Frio/WarriorMan]
"Heh, of course! When it comes to LARPing, the more the merrier!" Especially more people like Layla. Gary collected the paper, and reciprocated. "It'd be rude for me to not return the e-mail favor!"


By the time WarriorMan was back in the PET, the situation had soured considerably. He formed as a hologram, and looked around. "Where's that woman you were with?"

"She...had to leave. I guess she got an important call. She didn't seem happy about it, though. Hope she's okay..."

"Not much you can do about it now. ...Even if you followed her or something, and it turned out to be major, what could you even do? You're still a kid. And not even a particularly big one at that."

"Now that's just adding insult to injury..."

"Just saying. Sometimes, you have to know when to not play the hero."

With that, Gary leaned back in his seat, and sighed. WarriorMan was right, there probably wasn't anything he could do that Layla couldn't. And yet...

"There's no need to be so dour. What happens, happens. I'm sure she can take care of herself just fine."

"I know..."

"I'm going to go ahead and play this message now. Are you going to mope, or are you going to watch it, too?" The knight-like Navi notably waited for his operator to slowly look down at his PET, before activating the program, and watching the hologram form once more.

"This is a warning message. Before the Armor System can be activated, the internal storage area for them must be formatted. This may result in dizziness or unconsciousness, so avoid going into battle until it is finished."

"...Well, that would've been nice to know BEFORE it happened."

"You'd think it'd be set up to automatically play that one, since it's important..."

"No kidding."

"So, that can't be it, can it?"

"No, there's a second one. Notice how the hologram hasn't vanished."

"Oh, right."

"Playing now."

"The third cipher has been broken...WarriorMan, you have become true allies with a Navi of the times. Because of this, the Armor System is now yours to use as you see fit. However, note that you do not immediately have the full power of the armor you have unlocked. To do that, you must continue to foster the bond you have formed, and that will grant you access to its maximum potential. Also, while it lasts for an entire battle, any used armor enters a cooldown period before you can reuse it, so it would be ill-advised to use it without thought. ...With this, you now possess all of your abilities, albeit in a weakened state. How you use that power is ultimately up to you, but I believe you will use them to help, and not harm. That is why I have given you the means to access to them once more. And should you unlock or upgrade any armors, I have installed a program that will scan your systems, then inform you of its capabilities. ...And that is all the information I am able to impart. To my death bed and beyond, I will continue to believe in you, WarriorMan, and that you shall choose to become the legendary hero of the Net you were destined to be. That I KNOW you can be." The hologram vanished for a moment, but before Navi or operator could speak, it reformed.

"The Tundra Armor is an Aqua elemental armor, that focuses on the power of the earth. While under its effects, all terrain effects created by you cannot be overridden on the first try. You may also convert non-elemental chips to Aqua by absorbing water-based terrain. Your charge attack becomes a hammer-like attack that attacks with an icy shock wave. You may turn the ground to Ice periodically, and you may also create an icy burst capable of freezing on cold terrain. Of course, you also gain a small boost to the power of Aqua elemental chips. Bring the harshness of winter to those that would harm the Net!" The hologram faded, and this time stayed that way.

A moment passed, as both took a moment to process what they had just heard. "So, uh, wow..."

"The Armor System...you know, now that I know what it does, doesn't it sound an awful lot like the Cross System?"

"You know, now that you mention it...yeah, really does. Except you don't end up looking like the Navi you're linked to. But it's still really cool, you know? Pretty sure the current version of the Cross System is a recent thing. But you had access to it at peak strength 30 years ago!"

"True. If nothing else, it's a good reminder that I'm less relatively strong in this day and age."

"Heh, look at you, admitting your own shortcomings!"

"Shortcomings? Hmph, 30 years passed and technology's only just now caught up to me, and you call that a shortcoming on my part? If anything, society should be ashamed they haven't blown past me yet."

"That's not fair. I mean, you were made by some of the best and brightest scientists to ever live!"

"Fair or no, it's true."

"Well, yeah..." Okay, time to change the subject. "So, what do you wanna do now? Your battle itch all scratched now?"

"Good one. Like I'd ever turn down a fight. One within reason, anyway."

"Aww, come on, I've got a castle to set-"


"Great, NOW what?"

"You've got mail. It's from...someone named Yuri Saitou. Name sound familiar, but-"

"Yuri Saitou?!?!"

"Hrk! Keep it down! You want other people think you're...well, even more of a whackjob than they already do?"

"She's the daughter of a scientist Dad works with. My age, really smart..."

"Oh, you mean that girl we've seen in SciLab a couple of times you drool over every time?"

"I do not drool! I'm far too suave to perform such a base act!"

"Do you want to know what the e-mail says or not?"

"Yes please!"

"Fine, let's see...ahem. 'You're the boy that got that super powerful Navi from SciLab, right?' Ha, at least someone appreciates my skill. 'If not, please stop reading and delete this. I don't know if you remember me, but our fathers work together. But, uh, I have a problem...me and my Navi were taking a stroll through Yoka, and, uh...we might've used an experimental program to make her stronger than she really is, so she could actually fight back. Long story short, she lost it! I think I know about where she lost it, but I need someone that can NetBattle, and that I can tell this to that won't get me into trouble. You're the only one I could think of, so please, help! If my father finds out what I did, I...oh, I don't even want to type it! Meet me at the MetroLine station if you're free!' ...And that's it. ...Gary?"

"Huh? Sorry, was getting a ticket for the MetroLine. Yoka, here we come!"

"...Utterly hopeless." Ah well. One not overly long train ride, and he should be able to continue taking a back scratcher to his battle itch. And his operator would be too distracted by the pretty girl to interrupt.