Maybe it was the fact that nobody else in the bar looked like they had ever stepped foot onto a college campus.

Maybe it was the fact that Suien was probably the only person in the bar not carrying a weapon.

Maybe it was the fact that after the bartender had looked at him funny at his initial request for a Lychee Martini, he had been forced to "settle" for a White Russian with extra cream. Or maybe it was the two gentlemen in the corner that were engaged in a stomach punching competition. Or maybe it was the fact that there was enough leather in the room to make it look like a slaughterhouse. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the fact that when he had entered, every patron in the area was staring at him as though to say "you shouldn't be here, shrimp!"

For whatever reason, Suien Matsumoto could not have looked more out of place, and for whatever reason, he didn't give a damn.

The dark-haired and now red-faced netOp absentmindedly stirred his brownish drink with a fork, listening to the ice bump against the metal. "I'm totally telling youse," he said suddenly, causing several heads to turn toward him in annoyance, "I'm... I'm done with this Oper-aytin bull...bullcrap! It doesn't pay well, it's stressful, and worst of all, the only avay-lable chicks are fuggen underaged!" He immediately stopped stirring and downed the mixed drink in a single gulp, coughing and hacking as the alcohol burned down his throat. One of the nearby patrons shook his head and turned away, muttering something about "damned lightweight kids," or something to that effect. Suien pretended not to hear him, and moved over toward a rather provocatively-dressed young woman seated at the end of the bar. Before he could open his mouth to speak, however, she turned around, brushed a lock of her blonde hair to the side, and said sharply, "Answer's already 'no,' twerp."

"Hah!" shouted Suien, with a silly grin plastered on his face, "I was going to ask you if you weren't not willing to go out with me!"

"You're pathetic," was the woman's icy reply, "and if that were actually your question, the answer would still be 'no,' idiot."

Suien paused and struggled to understand the negation of his double negative, but quickly gave up and slumped back down in his stool. Summoning the bartender with a wave of his arm, the dark-haired netOp sighed and drummed his fingers on the bar counter as he waited for his drink. Drowning his sorrows in alcohol had never worked in the past, and despite his despondent mood, Suien was forced to grudgingly acknowledge that his sequence of tactical blunders was hardly "sorrow" material. Nevertheless, Suien was never one to take failure lightly — the young man had always prided himself on his ability to outthink adversity and to find himself unable to do so — particularly in a situation

Oh come on Suien, it was only a test, he reassured himself, as his fifth drink of the night appeared in front of him, Besides, they probably rigged it so we couldn't win. I mean, they have to make it difficult for us, right?

...but what if it weren't just a test? What would have happened if it had actually... happened?

Suien's thoughts were interrupted by a series of groans from several patrons. In a burst of static, the big-screen TV had fizzled and died in the middle of the night's boxing match and until it was fixed, all bets were off. Suien glanced over at the slightly-smoking box and squinted his eyes to dispel the double-vision. "Looks like... a virus," he muttered to nobody in particular, "Maybe I oughtta..." Suien's hand dropped instinctively to his PET holster, but before he could withdraw it, he froze. Was this really the best idea? Trying to operate a navi while clearly under the influence of alcohol? Wasn't he just saying that his tactics were inadequate? Wouldn't drinking further inhibit his strategy? Heck, wasn't operating under the influence illegal?

Apparently Suien Matsumoto was too far gone to care. Withdrawing his PET from his holster and pointing it at the TV monitor, he shouted uncharacteristically loud, "Rass.EXE! Battle... Routine...Ecks-cute!" As his NetNavi was transferred toward the broken television, Suien slammed his chipfolder on the counter and flipped it open in a disorganized rush.


"Did that nerd over there just do what I thought he did?"

"Man, what an idiot."