Student Field Trip at the HP Electown Research Facility

After the travesty that occurred in Yoka, whereby Dharma had stumbled into a blackmail situation, uncharacteristically menial labor, and an unexpected exploration of a previous unknown hot streak for showing off in a way unbecoming of a company president, Dharma had gone swiftly to sleep as soon as she made it to her yacht. Phillip and Agnis, her head researcher and lead research assistant respectively, had exchanged a bit of small talk, offering each other a couple of theories about where she'd been and why her mood had been so foul, but understandably, neither managed to hit the nail on the head. The two remained similarly ignorant as the night past, and even to later that morning, where Dharma approached them again, speaking about a campaign to reform her public image. The two had understandably wanted to know why; after all, from their standpoint, the president had a sterling reputation, one which could only have been improved by her in-person advertisement of new vitamins for children at the recent BeeCon event. Seeing the storm coming, however, Dharma pushed on, insisting that arrangements be made to hold a field trip at one of her Electown facilities, where a nearby school had youngsters and would likely be chomping at the bits for a low cost field trip option, to a facility that was rarely open to any, let alone to children.

... In fact, the presence of children was one of the only reasons Dharma felt confident in the plan. There had been a rush to hide confidential projects and various evidence of less than ethical testing, but once it was complete, the research lab had been presentable... but only to those who did not know what to look for. For that reason, children were the perfect audience; they would barely understand what they were shown, not that Dharma thought there was much danger of the outside world understanding her research, regardless of their age. That said, she didn't want to take chances. The kids would proceed in with Phillip, while she and Agnis saw to keeping the attending teacher occupied. With the children and teacher arriving soon, all that was left was for Dharma to make certain that they were separated.

"Madam President!" a young, blond girl cried out to Dharma. The girl was short to the point that she might be mistaken for a student in other circumstances, but not at all badly filled out, otherwise. Her blond hair was done into into two pigtails, which curved outwards from the sides of her head, which itself seemed to constantly nod, as if in confirmation of each word that she or others spoke. Her clothing consisted of a white labcoat over a red pencil skirt and white, sleeveless, button-down top. The top-most button at the collar was undone, revealing only a bit of her neck. An ID badge on her right breast showed her cute, grinning face and displayed her name: Agnis Agnu. Her eyes were generally squinted shut, but were bright blue when they weren't. "I wish that I was a kid again, so that I could attend a tour of your research facility myself! These little kids don't know how good they've got it!" she exclaimed, wringing her hands together with something like genuine distress, as if she was not simply making idle conversation. Her face had begun to redden a bit and tighten up into a scarier grin, as it sometimes did when she became agitated and her unique blood pressure condition got the better of her.

Looking unimpressed, Dharma Heart-Payne sighed and raised her eyebrows. "Why would you care about such a trifling experience when you have free reign, as my assistant researcher, to view any of the facilities in their entirety?" she asked, causing Agnis to nod harder and grow redder, clutching at her chest as the stupidity of the statement was pointed out. "For the love of medicine, fix your face... You're going to scare off the children before we have a chance to speak to them," she murmured quietly. "Look: the teacher just arrived with them." Dharma was dressed to meet them. In the past days, she'd worn many outfits, including a sling bikini, a cowgirl outfit, and... another sling bikini... but today, she was dressed in the classic: a black labcoat over a black, business-casual button down, black slacks, and black high-heels. Her heart-shaped earrings made a light, tinkling noise as she turned her head towards the monitors, viewing the front gate. Similar monitors would allow the teacher to see, but not hear, his students throughout the tour, in case he was the type to worry about such things, once Dharma called him up to the office she'd stolen from the plant manager. "Agnis, go to the front gate to greet them. Bring the teacher to me and have the children continue with Phillip, as we discussed."


When the children arrived at the Heart-Payne Electown Research Facility, they might not be quite as excited as Dharma and Agnis thought they ought to be. The complex was large, but with little vertical orientation, mostly spread out in a series of long, white buildings, a few with glass roofs and walls, but mostly ordinary metal. The Heart-Payne heart logo as a means of branding was in full effect, placed all over the facility in plain sight to let visitors know who the place belonged to. Once they were let through the gate by a stern-looking security guard, the children and teacher would proceed through in their bus, then ditch it in the parking lot, heading towards the visitor receiving area. There, in a perfectly pleasant office setting, Agnis and another man would be waiting for them.

The other man, Phillip, wore a badge displaying his full name, Phillip Albright, on his chest. His coat was much stiffer fit onto his thin frame, unfashionable, but much better for allowing his name-tag to be read at all times. On the note of unfashionable, the rest of his outfit consisted of a starched, white office shirt, a black tie, and black slacks, along with black loafers and black-framed, rectangular glasses, all which combined made him look like the stuffiest, most stereotypical scientist imaginable. His hair was brown and combed over, that comb-over being necessary to hide his rapidly receding hair-line. While most of his features were very thin, his lips were unfittingly sized for his face and ordinarily drawn into a tight frown, in contrast to Agnis' smile, that would probably make the kids wish they were going with her instead of him. "Students," he'd greet them, pushing his glasses up with two fingers before continuing his address. "My name is Phillip Albright; I'll be your guide today through Heart-Payne Pharmaceutical's Electown research facility. I hope you all have come eager to learn, because I am eager to teach," he introduced himself, not doing much to alleviate his stuffy first impression, despite his apparently earnest interest in attending to the children.

"And I'm Agnis Agnu, Assistant Lead Researcher, just below the Head Researcher and Dharma Heart-Payne herself!" Agnis announced, perhaps gloating a bit. Right now, her face was still in an amiable, rosy smile, since nothing was pushing her into one of her fits. "Some of you could have promising careers to look forward to here, so I recommend you all keep your eyes and ears open!"

Phillip coughed into his fist, his side-long glance hidden behind the thick, white frames of his glasses. "All of you," he corrected her in a quiet voice.

Agnis face momentarily flashed red for a moment, her eyes squinting harder, before she laughed and waved her hand dismissively. "R-Right! All of you! Each and every one of you could one day be a researcher, just like me!" she laughed, not bothering to explain how such a large group of children could all inhabit the single spot of Assistant Lead Researcher. "Now, why don't you all run along with Phillip? He'll take good care of you! In the mean time, your caretaker... Vincent Miles," she said after a pause, leaning over to check Phillip's clipboard, "can head upstairs to meet the president herself, who just happens to be here today, overseeing operations! Isn't that fantastic?" she announced, glancing around with an open-mouth smile on her face, urgently hoping that everyone would understand what a great opportunity Vincent was getting. If they did, she'd smile with self-satisfaction. If they didn't, her blood pressure would begin to spike again, turning her face into a warped, red, panting, nightmare-inducing grin, which would be bad for everyone. "Ready to head upstairs with me?" she asked Vincent, regardless of her present condition.
"Are we there yet?"

"Yusuke, budge over, I'm falling outta my seat here!"


"Vincent, are you alright? You look a little, uh...cramped."

Vincent snapped out of his light doze, disoriented for a brief moment before being rather painfully reminded of his present state: bent almost double in his seat on the school bus. It was one of Electown West High's larger buses, and his Physics students and the Chemistry class fit within it without consequence...but the man's prodigious height was simply too much for the vehicle's dimensions, and his skeleton was rather heatedly protesting the abuse.

"That may be because I am a little cramped," he answered, trying his best to turn bitterness over his physical constraints into dry humour. He didn't attempt the contortionist feat that turning to face the speaker would have to be; there was no need, for only two people on the bus tended to address him by his first name. Phase was busy flitting around in her hologram, attempting to reign order over the rowdy teenagers, so that just left Flora Hanahara, resident biology teacher of Electown West High and co-chaperone for the Heart-Payne lab field trip. "You're sure you're okay with going with the kids? We could swap if you wanted," he added. The field trip itinerary had called for two teachers, one of which would remain with the students, while the other would remain with the eminent Dharma Heart-Payne herself. With both science teachers very intrigued at the opportunity to meet the entrepreneur, they'd settled for a good old-fashioned coin-toss to determine who would get that chance.

"No, you won fair and square...though I'm still wishing I'd called tails," Ms. Hanahara waved away the goodwill with a scoff and an eye-roll; on a normal day, teachers were expected to retain a certain level of decorum among one another during school hours. However, field trips were arguably just as exciting for the teachers as they were for the students, and some leeway was allowed on all fronts.

"Tails never fails," Vincent managed to turn enough to offer half of a meek grin, and was answered with an even larger eye-roll. "Anyway, I believe it's just a couple blocks away from here. Shall we muster the troops?"

Flora nodded, and turned in her seat to address the students; under the canny eye of their Biology teacher, the schoolkids muted their small-scale pandemonium. "You've all heard the field trip spiel a thousand times before, so I'll save you the bulk of it," she started, and was rewarded with a collective sigh of relief. She grinned, and continued, "That being said, being able to see the inside of an HP facility is a privilege, and I expect all of your behaviour to reflect said privilege. No funny business, no sneaking off, no bothering the employees, blah blah blah, you know the drill, oh hey we're here!" Her perfectly-timed speech was capped off with the bus lurching to a sudden halt in the facility parking lot, and a round of applause from her audience, Vincent and Phase included.

Thanks to his dimensions and the constraints pretty much any motor vehicle imposed on them, Vincent was the first one allowed off the bus while Flora organized the rest of the kids and dealt with the security guard, and he did so with relish. Every step down the bus' stairway was more room to fit his massive body in, and he was unable to help the groan of relief as he was finally able to stand up straight outside the bus. He took a moment to straighten his tailcoat and don his gear-spangled top hat, and leaned on his cane and let the protests of his joints wear themselves out. He grinned wearily when Phase...well, phased through the side of the bus and came to rest on his shoulder. "I'm alright, just need a moment," he preempted her concerns.

"If you say so," Phase replied, a hint of sadness colouring her cherubic smile - it had and always would hurt her to see her Operator's gigantism taking its toll on him. "Still, though, this really is exciting, getting to tour a Heart-Payne research centre! Think of all the amazing reactions they must have going on in there...kind of makes me wish we were the ones chaperoning the tour instead of Flora!" Her bright force of presence reasserted itself the moment she was reminded of the massive quantities of science (or to her, SCIENCE!!) that the kids would be bearing witness to.

"Now now, Phase, you know that science like this usually has to involve some diplomacy to be granted," Vincent chided gently, tapping his nose with a wry grin. "Think of this as the price we pay to allow the kids to watch some of the lab goings-on." Phase giggled and gave a mock-salute, which in turn lightened much of the giant's piercing visage. A short distance away, the two classes had converged before Flora into a more-or-less cohesive unit, or at least as cohesive as a group of largely people-shy science geeks could manage. The other teacher flashed Vincent a couple quick shorthand hand signals over the sea of heads, and Vincent crossed the distance with twin clinks from his brass-plated boots, and a single thump of his cane against the pavement.

General itinerary shenanigans were covered and tackled, one final attendance was taken, one narcoleptic schoolgirl was woken up and shooed off the bus, and finally the field trip was off and running. The troupe followed their directions, and were landed in an office space that had probably been chosen purely for its ability to hold a few dozen high school students without issue. With Vincent's stride greatly slowed to accommodate the much shorter legs of everyone else present, he had plenty of time to observe his surroundings. He was summarily impressed by the apparent span of the complex...and quite thankful that there wasn't much vertical traversing to be had, as stairs gave him rather more trouble than they were worth. He wasn't alone in his observations; the whole class was struck with a sudden case of the roving eyes, and everyone was looking around with curiosity. "A tad heavy-handed on the heart decor," Vincent's stylistic sense chimed in, "but then again, I'm one to talk on heavy-handed." He glanced down at his full steampunk regalia ruefully, before shrugging to himself and continuing on.

Once settled in the office space, Vincent turned his attention to the mismatched duo that had been waiting for them. The lady, Agnis Agnu if he was reading the nametag right, was short and slight enough that she could probably squeeze into a schoolgirl's uniform and fool everyone in the room, and seemed quite friendly and approachable. She made for a fitting contrast to the man standing beside her: Vincent had known many men of the so-named Phillip Albright's ilk in his time in the scientific community, and the sight of such a consummate professional was oddly refreshing; some things never changed, after all. The introductory banter between the two mismatched individuals threatened to make Vincent break out chuckling, but he refrained on account of maintaining his professionalism. Instead, he doffed his top hat and gave a shallow bow (for any deeper and he'd end up headbutting a student). "Indeed, I am Vincent Miles, I am," he indicated himself to Agnis, doing his best to inject a little steampunk-y pomp and bombast into his tone, "and my fellow teacher, Ms. Flora Hanahara, will be chaperoning the kids alongside Mr. Albright. I, er, hope that won't be an issue." Sadly, he lost steam midway through, and his natural meekness won over. Thankfully for their innocence, the students that had gone on the field trip were largely a scientifically-minded lot, and were enthusiastic enough about the field trip and their teacher's rare opportunity to avoid Ms. Agnu's nightmare face.

"Pleased to meet you," Flora held her hand out to Phillip for a perfunctory handshake. "The students shouldn't be any trouble, but I'll be here to help with note-taking...and to keep them busy with the surprise assignment I was waiting to hand out!" The schoolkids groaned in near-unison as she withdrew a sheaf of papers from her own clipboard, but the disappointment was short-lived in the knowledge that at least they were getting to hang out with Ms. Hanahara all day. Vincent, though a perfectly fine teacher, was largely thought of as a little intimidating, between his ridiculous size and his unintentionally-unnerving stare. It certainly helped that their Biology teacher was a very pretty woman, her long black hair pulled back into a lustrous ponytail, and dressed in a professional blouse and pencil skirt that her figure nonetheless did everything to flatter.

At the sound of the word 'upstairs', Vincent couldn't help but balk a bit, but mentally refused to make it an issue. "Yes, let us be off!" he answered her, and around that point realized that he was moments away from meeting with the president of an international pharmaceutical company. In a last-second bit of nerves, he took a mental inventory of his appearance. He'd brushed his hair, which had the unfortunate side-effect of highlighting his receding hair but was otherwise necessary, and his top hat was resplendent. His classic steampunk regalia was all present and accounted for: navy tailcoat and slacks, white shirt and black cravat, an endless amount of little brass chains and doodads, and the lot of it steam-cleaned and polished from top to bottom the night before; even his cane had been buffed to a mirror-shine. He supposed he couldn't help his natural icy stare, but figured he made up for it elsewhere: he looked like a gigantic (in every sense of the word) eccentric, but at the very least, a well-groomed one.
"Um, wow..."

"Let it go, HunterWoman."

"I wanna, but that was just so...MEAN..."

"He had it coming."

"...Even if he did, to tell someone that they...augh, I can't even say it secondhand!"

"Well, it worked. I'm in the building now, after all." Not that she really cared for it, though. It was too artificial. Too clean. It was just all so...unnatural. She didn't like that. She narrowed her eyes for a moment, part out of displeasure, part out of consideration. "Now, where do I begin..."

Her thought processes were instantly severed as the sounds of a bunch of kids overrode anything going on in her head. "Well, that's quite a racket. Guess there's a field trip today."

"Yeah, and look! There's a couple of company officials waiting for them!"

"Well, that's convenient. But let's not pounce yet...let's see if they say anything useful first." Introductions, blah blah blah...wait, 'can head upstairs to meet the president herself'? Well, that would make things incredibly simple for her. She walked around the crowd, making her way to...Agnis Agnu? That sounded familar...ah, of course. That was who she'd spoken to when she tried calling before. "Miss Agnu. Diana Hawkins, from DNN. I'm here to have a word with your boss. ...I believe we've actually already met. We've talked on the phone a couple of times. That may give you some insight about the reason." In the end, whether the other woman objected was moot. She was coming with them anyway. ..Wait, them? It occurred to her that there needed to be someone else, and all she saw was that that, on further inspection, was actually a man. She...really shouldn't have missed that. "...Well, you're a big one."

"Whoa, you're huge!" Because things were going far too smoothly thus far, HunterWoman popped up as a hologram on her operator's shoulder, taking inventory of him. "And that's a lot of metal! Aren't you afraid of magnets, with all that? I mean, if you ran into an industrial one, you'd be all 'whee!', and then BAM! Pain! ...Say, if you're that tall, is uh, EVERYTHING proportional?"



"Shut up."
The introductions between Vincent, Flora, and the two researchers were cordial enough, but something about Vincent's words had caused Agnis' face to become red and screw up in a frightening way, despite her well-meaning grin, while Phillip tensed his eyebrows and frowned in Flora's direction. The truth of the matter was that they hadn't planned on a second teacher staying with the kids; Dharma had just finished explaining to them that the saving grace of this plan was that no one would be along who had significant scientific knowledge to question the few particularly outrageous experiments they'd be seeing. That said, Phillip saw no way to exclude her from the tour now; worry was clear on his face, although no one would know the reason why.

Agnis came up with the closest thing she could to a solution. As Phillip accepted the teacher's hand for a professional handshake (though a cough seemed to be rising in his throat, judging by the movement of his Adam's apple), the assistant lead researcher giggled and brought her face back to a normal hue. "Great, great! A special assignment, hm? These sorts of pressure situations are the things that you kids will have to know how to adapt to if you want to succeed in a field like medical research!" she announced with a sense of pride, although pressure situations certainly seemed to take their toll on her, physiologically at least. "Phillip, I am positive that President Dharma will be pleased if you work closely with Miss Flora for the rest of the trip! In fact, if the lady is feeling up to it, we have a demonstration section near the front where she can try out some of our latest products!" she asked, raising her eyebrows and glaring at him through the thin slits of her squeezed eyelids. "Like PU#3800! Remember that one?"

The researcher gulped, seeming a mixture of offended and ready to object, but nodded slowly. "You're right. Miss Flora, I'll be certain to point it out to you once we get started," he murmured, putting on as much a smile as his face would allow him. It looked unintentionally creepy, which he seemed to realize, correcting it to a frown as soon as he got the chance. "As you might know, we produce not only medicine, but also perfumes, bath products, meditation aides, and a surprising variety of other chemical products. You'll see some of those in different departments as we move through," he added, turning his head back and forth between the students. He didn't address the question of why the company made such a variety and instead quickly ushered the kids and Flora towards the front door.

The lead assistant researcher seemed cheery again now, pointing towards the door for Vincent to follow her. Just then, another visitor arrived, this one bringing even more unwelcome news in terms of disrupting their original plan. Worse yet, for Agnis, their misfortune was due to a mistake that would be levied entirely against her. Her face rapidly accelerated from cute and cheery into a nightmarish, red, nervously chuckling mask once Diana revealed why she'd come. "Oh, well... there seems to have been a scheduling mistake! Hahaha... Y-You see... Ordinarily..." she began, wringing her hands behind her back and trying to find the most PR-appropriate way to say, "the president sees less than 1% of those who manage to filter through an extensive screening process." Unfortunately, people didn't often try to bypass that chain by talking to Agnis instead, and as a result, the girl had made some hasty promises, thinking they'd never really come to fruition. They wouldn't have, either, if Dharma hadn't been here this exact day... and if security had done a better job of keeping Diana at the gate while they decided what to do. "Ordinarily the president has to sign off on such visits herself and, wouldn't you know it, she hasn't gotten through her extensive backlog of requests yet to properly-"

Making matters somehow even worse, HunterWoman chose that moment to interject. Her words sent Phillip into a hacking fit, while causing Agnis to flare up worse than ever. With her shoulders heaving and her face beet red, she pointed towards the door that she'd instructed Vincent to go towards. "Perhaps we should not talk about this in front of the students?!" she questioned, although certainly not out of concern for their well-being. It was unclear whether she meant "perhaps we should not talk about your DNN business" or "perhaps we should not talk about Vincent's potentially giant manhood." "Come, come! Phillip, get the tour started!"

Still clearing a rumble from his throat, Phillip leaned on the door and ushered everyone in with one arm, effectively separating the two groups. "Hrmahrm... I apologize, students and Miss Flora. As you can see, things are always busy, here at the research facility," he waved off the previous scene. The hall behind the door was lined with lockers and rows of safety equipment, including white labcoats, which seemed ironic considering the president herself wore a black one. "Everyone, please take the time to put a labcoat on over your clothes. You will also need clean gloves, close toed shoes, and safety glasses, as we proceed. If you have long hair, you will need to tie it up, or otherwise wear a hair net," he announced, pointing toward each item in turn, picking them up and putting them on himself, with the exclusion of the coat and shoes (which he was already wearing a copy of), as well as the glasses. "My glasses are also approved safety gear," he announced, adjusting them momentarily on the bridge of his nose and addressing the question before anyone could pose it. "For certain areas, safety masks or hazardous material safety suits may be required, but we're going to avoid those areas through the course of this walk. If you need assistance securing any of your safety gear, please tell me before we begin."


Phillip may have calmed down, but Agnis was having a hard time of it; she'd already been trying to think of how best to wrap the news that Flora would be accompanying the children when Diana had dropped the new bombshell on her, and this one pointed directly back towards her own incompetence in assuring Diana there would be a meeting for her, which she'd done just to get her Diana off the phone. The staircase was not long, but it was a bit narrow, to the point where no one would be able to pass Vincent as he was going up. "Follow me, follow me," she sang, although she was breathing a bit hard to be singing right now. Once she got to the top, she opened up the door and held it open, standing behind the door itself as if to hide herself from everyone.

The president was already standing when they entered, bent over the chair that sat in front of a console, which appeared to be monitoring various efficiency measurements rather than camera footage. Her sympathetic smile came naturally as she spotted Vincent first up the stairs and walked over to begin her introduction. "It's great having you here, Mister Vincent Miles. I'm the president of Heart-Payne Pharmaceuticals, Dharma Heart-" she began, then spotted Diana, as the girl emerged from behind Vincent's giant frame. Her expression didn't change, save for her eyes momentarily glancing in Agnis direction, where the assistant lead researcher was still hiding behind the door as discretely as she could manage. "... Payne." Her eyes finally moved back to Diana; she grinned and tilted her head, but offered her head all the same. "And who might you be?" she asked, hiding her teeth as her lips settled back into a curious smile. "I'm afraid I've only prepared tea for the three of us: Vincent, Agnis, and myself. That won't do... Please, have my drink. The three of you can sit at the table; I'll simply pull up my work chair," she announced.

"N-N-Nonsense!" Agnis cried, suddenly vaulting from behind the door. "My drink! D-D-Diana can have my drink!" she shouted, raising her voice as if to talk over everyone else.

"No, no. You've been doing all the walking about. It's only right that I offer mine, seeing as I'm not in need of refreshments," she chuckled, already taking her seat. Her face, like Agnu's, was a mask, although hers was transforming into a gradually more pitying and humane smile, rather than a horrific grin. "You'll take it, won't you?" she asked Diana, as she scooted the rolling chair up to the table where the others would be seated.

The room itself clearly belonged to someone else, as the photos here and there all showed some portly gentleman, sometimes photographed with his family, but never with Dharma. The room had been cleaned in anticipation of Dharma and everything looked to be in its right place. A low table (which would be a bit unaccommodating to Vincent, as he'd have to scoot his chair back to make room for his legs) was surrounded by three leather chairs, and now one additional metal chair that the president was seated upon. Three teacups sat steaming in saucers on the glass surface of the table. The console that Dharma had been seated at showed several live-updating metrics of performance, represented as numbers and charts. Another console to the left of that one, placed beside glass that overlooked a large work-floor where some of the most standard products were being made and tested, held many monitors showing different parts of the plant. Interestingly, the chairs had been placed such that it would be hard to get to that set of monitors, as if the one arranging the room had not wanted anyone looking at the plant views...
"...Did I say something wrong?" was all that Vincent could wonder in beholding Agnis' deaths-head grin. He rocked back a little on his heels like a tree swaying in the breeze, unsure of what he could possibly say in the face of such a horrific expression. Across the floor, Flora cast a bemused glance Vincent's way, but refrained from comment herself. Somewhere from within the crowd of students, a tiny animal whine sounded off. "Something feels off about this," the teacher took a second to compose himself, and the moment passed.

For all that Philip's attempt at smiling made Flora want to cringe, she managed to reduce it to the slightest widening of her almond eyes (a career's worth of dealing with teenagers' antics, as it turned out, made for an impressive poker face). "I'm sure we've got time in the itinerary for a few product tests, as long as we keep on schedule. Alright, class, fall in behind Mr. Albright!" she mustered the proverbial troops, and was ushered off towards the door by the stiff-backed scientist, leaving Vincent to contend with Agnis...and the mysterious newcomer that had just barreled across the room towards them with purpose.

Vincent regarded Diana (for she introduced herself as such) with a curious air. He wasn't one to judge on a first impression, but he couldn't help a bit of surprise at the casual, almost insensitive butting-in on his and Agnis' business. "Er," he tried to interject, but failed before Agnis' desperate scrambling to save face. He opened his mouth several times as the two ladies went back and forth, but no noise came out of him. At last, Diana turned to him, and the surprised double-take as she did the classic slow pan up was nothing Vincent hadn't been through a thousand times before. He revised his earlier note: she hadn't been insensitive, merely unaware of his presence.

HunterWoman spoke up, and the sudden appearance of another Navi made Phase pop onto Vincent's shoulder in turn. The giant almost sighed in relief at the excitable diatribe; this, he could manage. In the momentary pause after her magnet-related queries, he attempted to launch an answer of his own back. "Hah! A true patron of science has no fear of the tools of our trade, no fear! I have..." And then HunterWoman interrupted with one more question.


Vincent sighed a heavy, put-upon sigh, and turned his gaze to the (thankfully) high ceilings, in a silent plea to nobody for nothing in particular. As was the norm when given such a question, he chose not to dignify it with an answer. Instead, he turned his gaze, which had gained another couple shadows around his ice-coloured eyes, to Agnis and gestured towards the same door. "Lead the way, Ms. Agnu," he demurred, compartmentalizing his irritation with practiced ease; by this point, he was no longer phased by the diminutive woman's persistent nightmare-face.

Anyone of the few present looking for an actual answer to HunterWoman's request would have merely needed a quick look at Phase. Living with a human full-time meant that inevitably, at some point the human would get walked in on without clothes on - the chance of such an occurrence is rather expedited when the walker-in is a Navi capable of appearing in a hard-light hologram from the Operator's PET at any time. Suffice to say, even as Phase clapped her hands over her mouth in shock, the incandescent blush that stained her cheeks spoke volumes of Vincent's 'endowments' regardless.

Across the room, Flora looked suitably embarrassed on her colleague's behalf, as she did her level best to calm a bunch of teenagers that heard a dick joke about their teacher; success was, unsurprisingly, somewhat limited. "Yes, please, let's be off!" she gave Philip a somewhat manic grin, all but shoving the mass of giggly students through to the adjoining hallway. The safety gear was promptly pounced upon by the small horde, and the teacher-come-chaperone was forced into wrangling the lot into the right sizes and equipment. It took a fair bit of doing, as there was always those few mama's boys that hadn't learned their own shoe size yet, or complained of itchy material, and Flora was forced to request the aid of Philip in making sure everyone would pass inspection, but at last everyone was properly clad and shod and ready for Field Trips. "I believe we're all set to go here!" she finally said with a sigh of relief, gesturing for Philip to take them onward.

As Vincent had suspected, there wasn't a lot of vertical scaling to the HP compound, but the one set of stairs that they were forced to take still gave him its share of grief. Despite having long enough legs that a single stride could easily clear three steps, his overstressed leg bones strongly discouraged such haste, and he was forced to take the stairs one at a time like an old man, leaning heavily on his cane as he did so. A fair two thirds of the way, Phase finally recovered from her mortification enough to quietly ask, "Alright, Vincent?"

"Alright," Vincent grunted back, and gave her a slightly pained smile as he finally got his legs over the last step onto the landing. He gave Agnis a courteous smile of thanks, and ducked through the doorway into a standard-looking office, presumably on loan from whoever normally managed the complex. There was a single person inside, and the moment she turned to face Vincent, the giant knew she could be none other than the eminent Dharma Heart-Payne. Her introduction was confirmation enough; she didn't offer a handshake, and Vincent wasn't quite sure of the politics involved in dealing with genius CEOs, so he settled for a shallow bow and a tip of his top hat. "An honour to meet you, Ms. Heart-Payne, an honour," he gave what may have been the most genuine smile in the room. "The local scientific community hasn't stopped raving about your company since I moved to Electopia." This was also true; whatever the eternal rumours about the company's eccentric CEO might contain, there was no denying her success story, and as a man of science, Vincent made a point of knowing the names and faces of People of Interest. "This is my classroom assistant, Phase," he introduced the Navi on his shoulder in kind, who was silent but looking at Dharma with sparkly, gleeful eyes. "She's an avid follower of science herself, and wished to tag along." Phase still didn't say anything, too tongue-tied at being in the presence of a scientific VIP to say much of anything.

While Dharma addressed the newcomer that had tagged along with him and Agnis, Vincent took the time to observe the room and its occupants. The room itself was nothing he hadn't seen before; he spied several monitors and consoles around the edge of the room, presumably there to look upon what parts of the laboratory the manager couldn't see right out through the windows. Not particularly keen on attempting espionage when the CEO of the whole company was a scant few meters away from him, Vincent instead turned his attentions to the three ladies before him. The woman from DNN, Diana if he was hearing Agnis correctly, seemed rather direly out of place in the sterile office, looking more like she was dressed on a nature hike, or perhaps a walk along the Beach Street seawall. The rather obvious knife strapped to her leg gave him pause, but she didn't seem like much of an assassin either, so he figured he and the rest of the company were safe.

Dharma, on the other hand, was much more interesting to study. Her black lab coat and pantsuit combo was as eccentric as his copies of Scientific Outlook liked to boast about ('not that I can really talk', he reminded himself with a rueful glance down), but it was her face that captured Vincent's attention. Her smiles were as perfectly even as the rest of her face, and her voice was so measured he could set a metronome to it. Moreover, for all that he prided himself on being good at reading people, a useful trait for a teacher, he was utterly unable to get a bead on Dharma. She was so put-together as to be unreadable, less a mask than an entire mastercraft woodcarving of a person. Realizing he was woolgathering, he snapped to attention and followed her example, pulling back a leather chair and taking a seat. As he took the offered teacup and saucer and held them both in his massive hands, knees a fair bit above his waist from dwarfing the chair, he looked rather like a parent attending a child's tea party.
"'Ordinarily', if you don't answer a question immediately, you get back to them in a reasonable time frame. That's why I've been sent." While she didn't really mean anything beyond DNN sending someone to get an answer, her relatively flat delivery and snide remark almost made it sound like they'd sent her specifically, knowing she'd get results. Which, to be fair, was also possible. "Now, shall we move on?"

Meanwhile, the hologram on her shoulder looked a bit dejected as she proceeded to be completely ignored after her question. She was just trying to make conversation...and she was curious about it. She sat down cross-legged and pouted for a moment, until she glanced up and noticed the other Navi in light form. While that was more of a reddish glow, the huntress immediately lit up via a nice big grin. "Yay!" Answers! And the kind that didn't involve listening!

As they began going up the stairs, Diana turned to her Navi, not especially happy about that extra question. "I saw that sulk. Don't tell me you really expected an answer."

"Well, inquiring minds! Besides, I think I figured out the answer anyway!"

"...Uh-huh." ...Great, now she was curious as well, albeit in a more morbid sense. But unlike her Navi, she knew enough to keep that under wraps. "Listen, HunterWoman. We're about to see an actual company CEO. Let's not embarrass ourselves too much, mmm?" To be fair, that was almost directed as much at herself as it was to her Navi.

"Right! And ditto to you!"

"I'll keep it under advisement."

Eventually, everyone was inside without getting stuck in the doorway, and as Dharma introduced herself, the ex-poacher literally stepped out from Vincent's shadow. Naturally, this caused some confusion, but she didn't so much as flinch. "I'm Diana Hawkins, here on behalf of Mr. Horatio Wilde. Since it seems we're introducing our Navis as well, the hologram on my shoulder is mine, HunterWoman."

"Heeeeeya!~" The hyper Navi happily waved both of her arms; sadly, this probably WAS about the least embarrassing way she knew how to greet. It certainly beat a friendly sniffing. "Nice to meet ya, Miss Heart-Payne!"

"...Charming." The CEO managed to make Diana raise an eyebrow, with offerings of one thing her nationality compelled her to accept. "Well, if you're certain you won't miss it, I accept. I'm quite sure it's forbidden for a Creamlander to refuse tea." That said, she allowed Vincent to take a seat first...he looked like he needed it the most, anyway. As she waited, she looked around the room, but couldn't say she found much of it interesting. The family pictures brought back bad memories, and even if she had a good view of the monitors and data, she wouldn't know what to make of it.

Once she sat down (making sure she was directly across from Dharma), she reached over to grab the cup and saucer, and had a small sip from the former. As she expected, it hit the spot, as tea often did. "Excellent tea. My compliments to the brewer. ...Now, since I have your attention, Miss Heart-Payne, let's move on to business. DNN has repeatedly contacted your company as to whether or not you would be interested in being a sponsor for the Virus Zoo they're building. Thus far, we have heard nothing, and construction is nearly we need to know one way or the other, to know if we should pursue someone else. Of course, doing so will allow you to advertise on the premises, within reason of course." She had another sip of tea, and awaited a response. It dawned on her that, compared to everyone else, she was decidedly not dressed for the occasion. Which made sense, as she didn't exactly expect to be doing this when she put her clothes on. Not that she had any business attire anyway. She noted certain parties eyeing her knife for a moment, which made her set the cup and saucer down for a moment, and pulled it out to show it wobbling the blade back and forth with her finger. "Don't worry, it's not a real one. It'd be a pain to get by security if it was." That, and she was court ordered to not have one. "Ah, that reminds me. You may want to change the guard at the front gate. The one out there is in no shape to do his duties. ...Well, physically, he is. Mentally, he's going to need therapy. ...LOTS of therapy."

Her Navi, however, stared at, surprisingly, Dharma herself, and not just because she didn't have a Navi on her shoulder. Thus far, she'd been a model of perfection, in demeanor and speech. Almost TOO perfect, especially for a human. It was making the alarm in her gut go off, and that was never good.
"... When did open-toed shoes become so popular with students?" Phillip remarked under his breath, in awe of the alarming number of children who were now having to be fitted for shoes, bringing the tour to a stop before it could really get rolling. Flora had done a good job with keeping them moving along swiftly, but with safety being paramount, no one could proceed until every foot of every kid was covered just right. "Very good. It looks like everyone's properly equipped. Of course, the research facility is ordinarily perfectly safe to walk around in, regardless of your state of dress, but it would be negligent of us to be anything less than fully prepared. Nothing spits in the face of scientific progress like a perfectly preventable workplace accident that occurs from one's recklessness, after all. I'll lead the way..." he continued, crossing his arms behind his back as he walked forward, standing to his full height and using better posture than normal.

The entrance hall traded some of the welcoming, clean atmosphere of the lobby and dressing area for a more professional, even-further-cleaned set of white floors, walls, and fluorescent lighting. The students and Ms. Flora would see many doors, but most of them were labeled only with "Lab" followed by a series of numbers. "We have a rule here in the facility: if a room is in use, the light stays on. If the room is not in use, the light stays off. Thereby, you may reasonably assume that the many labs you see here are in use... These are where teams of bright young researches conduct experiments after reserving the laboratories. All kinds of experiments take place here and it's not uncommon to find new breakthroughs and exciting developments from the work that they do. None of this work is "classified," so as guests and researchers, we could freely enter any of these rooms and speak to the students. Because they aren't expecting us, however, there might not be much to see; some could be using these rooms for meetings, planning sessions, etc. I'd rather not spend too much time here and instead continue straight on our New Product Room, where our late-development-stage items are put through final tests, reviewed by researchers, business representatives, and even random samplers, and fine-tuned before being handed over to marketing. There, we'll even give Miss Flora a chance to try out one of our latest great achievements, PU#3800, a relaxing new perfume that calms the mind and smells of honey... and is thus best not to apply too strongly and not at all in the company of bears," he joked. Despite that joke, he wasn't smiling, and something looked slightly dark about his expression, behind the white lenses of his glasses.

The New Product Room was the next door at the end of the hallway; it didn't appear that there was any way to walk around that room, so even if one was going further into the facility, they'd have to go through this way. The researchers here appeared to be younger than Phillip as well; between Agnis and those that Phillip had mentioned earlier, one could easily begin to wonder if it was rare for a man as old as Phillip to be employed here. "To reach the main floor of the facility, one proceeds straight down the walkway in this room, to the double doors," Phillip explained. "To the left, there is a waiting area outside of several test rooms, which are generally used for market research purposes. To the right, you'll find many of our scientists at small work stations, some using their navis for research, others using microscopes, miniature test environments in enclosed glass, and other such tools to continue their investigation. As a rule, the chemicals in this room exist in no quantity large enough to cause illness, injury, or death. Also as a rule, they are generally harmless," he reassured everyone. "That is why the atmosphere is so relaxed in here. On that note, I'll speak to our scientist handling compound PU#3800. Howard!" he called with surprising volume and sharpness, gesturing for a young, dark-skinned man to come and join them.

The guy was wearing headphones to listen to music while he worked, but was attentive to know to return them to his labcoat pocket with his PET as he heard the summons. He walked over with a smile that was genial enough, but he was clearly impatient to get back to what he was doing (and, presumably, to his music). "Hey Phil! What's up?" he asked, looking between the students and their supervisor more than at Phillip. His hair was crisp and short-sheared, hid body thin but in much better shape than the elder researcher.

Phillip adjusted his glasses, then crossed his hands back behind him. His frown was very stable as he continued. "Everyone, this is Howard Causey, a promising member of our research team. He's been integral in the management of PU#3800: its development, many revisions, and its optimization. I'd like a sample of it to show Ms. Flora, the visitor, here," he began.

"Oh, sure, man! I'll get it-" Howard stopped, but Phillip placed a hand upon his shoulder as he began to leave.

"That product... It's nearing the release phase, correct? Let's be generous with Ms. Flora. We also keep track of possible allergic reactions... I can assure you, PU#3800 has none. It is safe, foolproof, really. The only warning we put on the bottle is not to drive while using it, as it can cause light drowsiness," he continued, smiling in a way that was reassuring and upsetting at the same time. "I don't want to use too little, so that she doesn't even feel it."

Howard looked back, still smiling, but looking almost challenging with a suspicious gleam in his eyes. "Uh... Okay! You the boss. But I'm just wondering... I mean, you know I've worked on this, right, to the point where all you really need is a thumb-sized spray-"

"Oh, I understand. But please. Bring the bottle," Phillip muttered, keeping that same smile on his face. "We'll splurge a bit this time." Howard nodded, then turned his smile back to Miss Flora. "Howard will be back shortly..." Indeed, very quickly, Howard Causey returned, carrying a plain, clear bottle full of vibrantly pink liquid, low in viscosity. The top of the bottle was capped with a plunger which, when depressed, would spray the substance like perfume. "Of course, the final product will be packaged more attractively," he reassured them all. "Now, Miss Flora, would you do the honors? Please, spray and apply the compound very liberally to your hands, then rub it into your exposed skin... I'd recommend the hands, cheeks, and neck... If you don't, I'm afraid you won't really get the scent," he requested, drawing up his frown very tightly. Behind him, Howard opened his mouth as if to say something, but then closed it again and began to replace his headphones.


In the manager's office, Dharma beamed cordially in response to Vincent's greeting, but held up one hand to indicate he didn't need to bow. "Raving? All good things, I hope?" Dharma joked, but it was actually a very valid question... A lot of good was said about her, but even more questions were asked, and every now and then, a foul 'rumor' would emerge... Also, very recently, there were some murmurings that she'd been spotted naked in a restaurant in Yoka, but no one really knew what to make of that. "As for the state of business, you can thank my father for that... He did good work and my legacy is inextricably tied to his own. If I'm half the scientist he is and I'm able to continue to contribute to the field, I can ask for no better praise," she reassured him, although she already figured she'd surpassed him as a scientist when she vowed not to get caught in an intimate relationship that, once severed, would drive her to ruin and ultimately death. "As for your assistant, I'm sure there will be much for her to learn, even if she doesn't take the tour here. We're quite capable of an intellectually stimulating conversation right here, I'd wager. As a matter of fact, regarding your young assistant, I have someone I'd love for her to meet-" Dharma began. Her impression of Phase was someone who didn't look dangerous, in terms of either threatening her navi or investigating her work too closely.

She stopped speaking as she noticed someone who was neither of those things. Where Vincent was here on an innocent tour, Diana was here meddling and trying to squeeze funding out of Dharma for some sort of virus zoo, of all things. While Vincent was excessively cordial, the other girl was no-nonsense, and already seemed miffed about having been given the run-around by Agnis. Dharma's only regret there was that Agnis hadn't done a better job of giving her the run-around; the best run-arounds, in her estimation, tended to end with their recipient around, rather than right in front of her. "Well, it's pleasant to meet you, Miss Hawkins, and you, HunterWoman," Dharma lied, smiling all the same. Strong-willed folks were not her cup of tea. Speaking of her cup of tea, Diana had taken hers once it was offered. She shot Agnis another discrete look, as if saying, "you're the one who's going to pay for this," before returning her attention to the others; Agnis seemed content to stand by the door and breath heavily for a while longer, rather than getting seated and drinking hers.

"Thank you for saying so, Ms. Hawkins, although really, it's more Agnis' tea than mine. Her navi, Boil, is an expert on tea... perhaps you'll have the chance to meet her some time," Dharma chuckled. That begged the question of why they couldn't meet her now, but Dharma offered no explanation and simply continued. "DNN's virus zoo, you say? Agnis, did you know anything about this?" she asked, with a look of surprise shock. The truth of the matter was that she, indeed, was vaguely aware that DNN was seeking her sponsorship, but had been ignoring their request for some time now. Given Agnis' position, though, the girl was more than ready to take one for the team.

"I apologize, Madam President! I-I was, er, examining our budget and trying to determine what sort of resources we might be able to spare for them, a-and then I remembered, with the Bee-Con product reveal and all, we should divert funds to-" Agnis began, but Dharma shook her head again.

"I'm not blaming you for any of this," she laughed, lying again. "This has presented me with a splendid opportunity, actually. You see, I was just about to mention to Vincent here that I'd love an opportunity to spend some time with the both of you, have your navis collaborate with mine, possibly even let them visit the GNA and take on work together. The way I see it, Diana, I can learn a lot about you and your business by working alongside you, and my navi with your navi. What do you say?" she asked, crossing her legs and woefully not drinking tea. While Dharma's attention was thus focused, Agnis shambled closer, trying to get into her seat next to the president with as little noise as possible. "Before you answer, why don't I introduce you to my navi? This is Phero... She is a navi designed to help us test some of our net-based products. It surprises some folks, but new 'chemical' products are rolling out every day on the net, capable of producing all sorts of useful effects when introduced to other navis. Phero manages those, tests them in practical situations, and together, we perform research during our day to day lives," she explained.

Phero popped up via hologram, nearly tumbling over, as if she'd been pressed against some door for a while, trying to break through and join the conversation. Her white, metallic dress left a little less to the imagination than the wardrobes of the other girls, but her youthful appearance and her gregarious, enthusiastic nature seemed to be mostly the same. "Greetings! I'm happy to meet you... To be honest, I've really been looking forward to our part of the get-together! I can't wait to work with you all!" she announced, bowing in a way that showed off her cleavage and the pink swimsuit underneath the tube-like, rose-shaped hem of her breast armor. Ironically, this provocatively dressed navi specializing in distributing experimental drugs on the net was probably the least suspicious of the Heart-Payne employees the group had met so far.

Smiling blankly to hide her irritation, Dharma suddenly remembered one more point she ought to address. "Oh, don't worry about the knife... You had that sort of rustic look to you, so I was assuming it was something related to your job," Dharma giggled, secretly glad to have an answer as to who the hell let a knife-wielding girl into the room with Dharma. Agnis sunk into her chair again. "As for the guard outside, that's troubling to hear... Good mental health is something that we here take very seriously. We'll make sure he gets a full psychiatric evaluation and that he's relieved of his duties in the mean time," the president ensured. "Agnis, would you be so kind as to contact the front gate and make those arrangements?"

"Right away, Madam President!" Agnis squeaked, almost all as one word, before hopping away from the table and bringing out her PET to call the gate.
If teaching at a high school and working with teenagers had taught Vincent any one skill, it was the art of reading people. Such as it was, the man couldn't help but pick at Dharma's response in his head. "Deflecting with humour, diverting the've a skeleton or two you're hoping I haven't picked up on, don't you?" he mused. It made sense enough to him; a celebrity wasn't a celebrity without the odd scandal tucked away, even considering the young CEO's chaste reputation. The rest of her reply was sincere enough to his ears to nod in approval, formulating a response in his head...only for Dharma's attention to be diverted off to their uninvited guest. A barely-perceptible sigh escaped Vincent's lips as he turned his attentions down to his tea, forgotten for the moment. While the two women conversed, he hid his expression behind his teacup and ruminated, his eyes icing over.

"...Vincent?" A tiny voice whispered right into his ear. The giant turned his head, and locked eyes with Phase's tiny hologram, still standing on his shoulder. She was biting her lip, concern for her Operator written all over her face; Vincent couldn't help but notice the smudgy redness lingering around her eyes, remnants of tears she was still learning to shed. He smiled softly at his Navi, wordlessly conveying an apology for worrying her, and was pleased to see some of the tautness ease off her elfin features.

Dharma's crisp overtures sounded Vincent's name, and the overgrown man roused himself from his woolgathering to give a cordial nod in his host's direction. "Not as though it's any of my business, anyway," he concluded, taking in her words with a slightly bemused look. "The GNA? I'll confess that Phase and I don't access the Net World much at all, no, not much at all. That being said, if you don't mind us tagging along, we'd be happy to accompany you."

Phase's eyes lit up upon spotting Phero's entrance. "Pleased to meet you, Phero!" she waved from Vincent's shoulder. "Your Operator said you help her with experiments? That's so cool, I love experimenting! I work at a medical lab in Netopia Net; we should collaborate on something while we're out on the field!" Always eager to make friends, the chance to meet a real lab-Navi was enough to set Phase off; her hologram was practically vibrating with excitement, hands clasped under her chin and stars dancing in her eyes.

At this, Vincent finally turned to the third present party; his ruminations had led him to the conclusion that he'd never actually stopped to introduce himself earlier, an oversight his manners would not stand for. "You'll have to forgive me my rudeness," he started, offering a sheepish smile, "for I never introduced myself: Vincent Miles, at your service. I'm a teacher over at Electown West High, and Ms. Heart-Payne has quite generously allowed my class the chance to take a field trip through her company complex - quite generously at that!"

"Ahh, whoops, I didn't introduce myself either! How rude of us, Vincent!" Phase cried out, turning to address the two other holographic Navis. "I'm Phase.EXE; I look forward to working with you two!" She capped off with an ear-to-ear grin, bouncing on her heels from her perch on Vincent's shoulder. Her Operator gave a fatherly-looking smile at her enthusiasm, sipping his cuppa and looking as dignified as he could in a chair rather too small for his dimensions.

Elsewhere in the Heart-Payne complex, Flora Hanahara was in full-tilt Science Mode (as Phase would have put it). She stood amid her students, maintaining order and jotting notes on a clipboard as she went, looking for all the world like a shepherd among her herd. With Phillip leading the procession, the gaggle of teenagers was guided deep into the internal workings of the facility. "Oh my, you must have quite the manpower to conduct so many projects at once!" she exclaimed, slightly in awe of the sheer amount of science going on around her. "I would love to check out some of the ongoing experiments, see how research is conducted on this large a scale, but we are operating on a schedule here. Everyone, be sure to take a few notes while you're here! It's rare for kids your age to get this kind of chance!"

"Yes, Ms. Hanahara," the class chorused with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Near the back of the group, one unremarkable-looking teenage boy murmured to another youth of similar make, "Bro...are we literally just gonna stand around watching Ms. Hanahara try on perfume?"

"Uhh...yeah, bro." Bro #2 was rather too busy watching the back-and-forth sway of their teacher's derriere to really notice or care for his comrade's plight.

Bro #1 sighed with all the put-upon pathos of a true adolescent. "Bro...this sucks."

"Uhh...yeah, bro." Bro #2's eyes were glazed over.

The gaggle continued onward to the New Product Room: Flora lectured on such scintillating topics as empirical research and the scientific method, the studious dutifully took their notes, the lackadaisical oohed and ahhed over the eggheads and the bleeding-edge equipment they were working with, and the Bros grumped and perved to their respective hearts' content. Flora was rather surprised to see so many young faces running the trials; her stint in the research sector had inured her to being among the youngest in any given room. In particular, the swarthy gentleman in charge of PU#3800 was a far cry from the sorts of faces she was used to.

"Not that I'm complaining, strictly speaking," noted the side of her that occasionally remembered she was attractive, single, and under 30. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Causey," she greeted Howard with a winsome smile, only for the man to dash off to retrieve the bottle the very next second. Rolling her eyes, Flora turned her attentions back to their guide. "Mild drowsiness, I think I heard you say?" Flora asked Phillip, looking like she couldn't decide whether to be skeptical or not. Finally, she shrugged. "I don't tend to wear much perfume, but I suppose today is for doing as the Netopians do. Kids, time to run an experiment!"

As Howard returned, Flora stepped up to the front of the group, accepting the perfume bottle with a smile and nod. "Alright, class, so here's your test subject," she indicated herself with a flourish, "and here's our test! I will apply the perfume to my person, following which I'll give as accurate an account of its effects as possible. Your jobs are to form a hypothesis - which you should be jotting down about now - of what you think will happen; remember, Heart-Payne is a company dedicated to the alteration of emotion through chemistry, so think along those lines, and then you'll want to take notes of my reaction to the product. Everyone had enough time to write? Brilliant, then let's commence the experiment!" Without further ado, Flora gave each wrist a couple of spritzes, rubbing her wrists together to let the chemical sink in. A generous helping was then spritzed into her hand, which she dabbed along her neck and jawline. "Oh my..." she started, raising her eyes skyward as she concentrated, breathing deep and trying to feel for the onset of foreign sensations. "Okay, I believe I feel it starting. Class, get ready to take notes!"
Diana shot Dharma a puzzled look as she explained the tea's origins; she hadn't given anyone specific credit for it, aside from 'the brewer'. Kinda self-centered for her to assume she meant her. Meh, whatever. Her suggestion, however, was a bit more interesting. But before she could speak, Phero appeared, eager to get things under way. "Well-"

"Come on, Diana! You gotta let me join in! You gotta you gotta you gotta!" HunterWoman had her hands clasped in front of her chest, giving her operator puppy dog eyes. "You wanted to see what taking a GNA mission was like anyway, right? So this kills two birds with one stone! Bam! One bird! Ricochets off and hits the other one! Blamo! And since stones don't break easy, you can walk over, pick it up, and you've got supper AND you didn't even lose any ammo! And that's just super awesome!"

"You can drop it now, Hunter. I was going to accept anyway." She turned back to the CEO, and nodded. "If it'll help convince you to sponsor the zoo, then we'll do it. She may be a bit hyper, but you should see that HunterWoman's actually quite capable."

"Yeah, quite capable!" The huntress raised her hands in the air. "Though I'm more than that! I'm SUPER capable! If I was any more capable, I'd self-delete from having too much competency data!" Somehow, it turned out that she hadn't noticed Phero and Phase appearing until just then, causing her to wave her arms at the other holograms. "HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY other Navis! Great to meet you! I'm HunterWoman, and uh, I'm not a researcher, or ever been in a lab before, but that doesn't mean we can't be awesome friends and totally crush our mission into tiny pieces you can't even see! Um, unless you have zoom features in your eyeballs, in which case you'll totally be able to see them anyway, but otherwise nope, no pieces!"

Ah, the large guy didn't actually introduce himself. Not too surprising, they hadn't really had a chance, what with her sudden entrance and all. "Well, pleased to meet you, Mr. Miles. I'm sure you heard it before, but I'll say it again as a proper greeting...I'm Diana Hawkins, current underling of Mr. Horatio Wilde. It's a pleasure." Somehow, she almost seemed happy over the phrase 'current underling'. "Can't say I know where ElecTown West is...this is actually the first time I've ever been in ElecTown. I know little about DenCity, aside from Beach Street and Okuden." She stopped to drink more tea, giving the others time to react to what had been said.
In their own ways, both sets of operators and navis seemed content to help Dharma in her work for the day. "Splendid," Dharma thought to herself as she clapped her hands together. "All that really matters is that I can keep my eyes on these inconsequential, unwanted interlopers until I'm certain they're prepared to depart from my labs without discovering anything I'd rather them not inspect too closely." "Splendid!" she externalized, smiling warmly to go along with her gesture. "The important part is that it ought to be a great chance to get acquainted. Well, not only that, but I'm a bit of a workaholic. A chance to meet people and be productive at the same time is right up my alley."

Dharma could fake giddiness all she wanted, but Phero brought the genuine article, jumping up and down and somehow looking just as childish as Phase in the process. "I've never tried collaborating on an experiment before! Usually it's sort of one sided, with me as the experimenter and the other person as the test subject," she giggled, despite her ominous statement. "And you're a teacher, Vincent? Neat... You're right, it's pretty rare for anyone to get a tour through here," Phero mused, tapping one finger to her lip. She couldn't help but feel jealous of Phase's and Vincent's relationship, one factor dragging down her otherwise jovial meeting of a new friend. The two looked like they really cared for each other... Or, perhaps, Vincent was actually evil like Dharma and Phase just tried to be as cheerful as possible despite her daily trials? It had looked like the girl had been crying when she first showed up... "I'll have to investigate during the mission," she thought to herself, thinking that perhaps they could put their heads together and figure out some way to stick it to their operators together.

The pharmaceutical president gave her PET a knowing smile, realizing that when Phero when into contemplation, it usually meant she was not doing something befitting an obedient science project. Just as she'd planned to keep anyone from looking too far into her experiments, she'd need to similarly make sure that the others didn't discern more than she wanted about Phero's true purpose as a being created solely to distribute potentially dangerous compounds, testing each until she discovered her new hypnotic wonder drug. On the note of things that were dangerous, Dharma found herself very happy that this gang of habitual bounce-up-and-downers weren't going to be getting anywhere near the testing equipment inside her laboratory's network... none more so than HunterWoman, who instantly became Dharma's least favorite person in the group with her boundless enthusiasm. "Good to meet you," she said simply, then put her tea back up to her mouth.

All of the excitement was feeding into itself, making Phero more and more energetic. "Another new friend... and she's super competent! That ought to come in handy," Phero smiled at Dharma, thinking her operator ought to be pretty on-board with competent folks. Actually, competency in others was not something Dharma sought from anyone but those she intended to use, and she was more so diverting Diana and HunterWoman than 'using' them, so she had no reason to favor them. "I want to see the stone trick later, too! I've never heard of anyone being able to do that," Phero mused.

"Perhaps we'll get a chance? Let's see what our employers have in store for us. Phero, why don't you go make the request now?" Dharma urged, to which Phero happily agreed. There weren't many orders Phero was happy to carry out for her operator, but this was certainly one of them. Dharma raised her eyebrows and spread her hands out. "Jack in wherever you like. The table has jack-in ports, the coffee-maker, the tablets under each seat..." she offered, hoping they'd go for the table for ease of keeping an eye on them. She made certain to exclude the foreman's console from a list of places to jack-in, as she hoped to keep them away from that if at all possible. "That's the foreman's taste, not mine," the president chuckled. For her part, she'd already jacked her navi in, and Phero was making excellent time headed to the GNA.

((Jacking in, headed to Internet City GNA Mission Board))


Phillip smiled in a slightly less eerie way, happy to have the company of a fellow science enthusiast and professional. "'Man-power' might not be quite the right word for it... While engineering new products is a part of this, the main goal is to invest in the future, providing students the tools they need to break in to the field. We hope that the lessons they learn here will be invaluable in their future career, be it in pharmaceutical research or perhaps another field of study. Ideally, we hope to see them come back to us... we're always interested in hiring out of this talented pool of young minds." He smiled to the children for a moment, intending to indicate, "yes, you children too could be part of this program," but something about it looked a little sympathetic... or perhaps like a warning? It was hard to tell. Seeing that nobody was really biting at that comment, Phillip adjusted his glasses, pursed his lips again, and led on.

Howard had a good chuckle at being called "Mr. Causey." "Oooh, no, Flora! Call me Howie, or Howard; something like that," he laughed as he walked off, seeming to have no problem dropping both the "miss" and the "Hanahara" from hers. He and Phillip exchanged glances of approval as Ms. Hanahara took the bottle of suspect perfume, though a bead of sweat was running down Phillip's thin, flat face; he was pretty prone to nervousness and didn't hide it well. Howard stepped in again to answer for Phillip. "Yeah, drowsiness... It won't be anything to worry about. If you're feelin' a little funny, we have antidotes and all that. But in our clinical tests, we haven't see anything that set off any alarms," he reassured her again. The young man snapped his fingers, then pointed one towards the unsuspecting teacher. "You're fine to drive a car after this! Not that we tested that..."

The supervisor for the trip gave him a glare that might have been, "you're trying too hard now, kid," before turning his white, reflective glasses back towards Ms. Hanahara. He felt a nervous cough coming on in spite of himself, but attempted to smile all the same. It was hard to tell what his eyes were doing behind his glasses, but it was easy enough to see where Howard's went when Flora indicated that everyone ought to get a good look at the test subject. A smirk had come on to his face; not an evil smirk, more of a yeah, that's right smile of flirtatiousness. Phillip liked that even less and transfixed the student by coughing loudly into his fist; Howard replaced stuck his hands behind his head and leaned against a wall nonchalantly. Phillip shook his head slowly, smiling in a way that again seemed almost pitying. "A nice thought, Ms. Flora, but I don't think there's much of a chance that we're going to see any notes worth recording. As I mentioned, any psychological effects of this compound are mostly felt subconsciously; they'll barely be perceptible to the one who's administered the perfume, let alone to observers," he assured her. This time, it was his chance to be transfixed by a glance. Howard was shaking his head a little bit, discretely, but still looking to the side and trying to play it cool. "That is, with the regular sample size, you wouldn't... But with a larger sample size, it should be... perhaps a bit more noteworthy," he added.

Jonathan mouthed the words: "never tried this much at once on aaaanybody."

The scientist suddenly felt another coughing fit coming on, clenching his teeth for a moment before covering his mouth with his shirt sleeve. "M-Miss Flora," he stammered, before bellowing a loud series of hacks that caused a few of the students scurrying about the lab to jump dangerously. "That's enough," he warned her, before she had the chance to apply any more. "The smell, er, should be quite potent enough already. I just thought I'd warn you, s-since you said you weren't accustomed to perfume," he elaborated, trying to save himself from the hole he'd dug himself into. He reminded himself of one important factor: "if the drug was lethal, it wouldn't be in here... it would be in the locked room near the back of the compound..." That somehow calmed him down, he adjusted his glasses again and managed to stop hunching over.

Speaking of things Miss Flora Hanahara probably wasn't used to, she could smell the scent of honey as soon as the lid came off the bottle, and did indeed feel a slight tingle as she applied the first bit to her flesh. She probably wouldn't feel her mental state change at all. However, with the more thorough application, there came a buzz a little like being drunk, then finally, something akin to having a goofy reaction to anesthesia at a doctor's office. Worse yet, the drug had begun to act as an aphrodisiac, something that the testers had never realized due to never experimenting on a human subject at such a dosage (though Phillip would have protested the application of that dosage had he known and Howard probably wouldn't have gone along with it either had Phillip not pressured him). The mental state, overall, was fast growing towards something like being hammered, so the class would soon know what kind of drunk their teacher was. Her physiological state would be hot and bothered, something that she probably ought not to be in front of her students in general. "Miss Flora... Are you feeling different?" Phillip asked again, barely managing to avoid begging her to say she was feeling fine. Hopefully she was the kind of drunk who would never admit to being buzzed.

"I can get you some water if you need it, I think you might be having, uh, some kinda..." Howard murmured, pushing slowly off the wall and watching Phillip to see if he should continue. Phillip shook his head very discretely, to indicate that in no way, shape, or form should they acknowledge that anything out of the ordinary was happening. "Some kinda... thirstiness," he finished, unable to avoid smiling now at the absurdity of the situation. If he knew what was likely to happen to him if Dharma found out, he'd probably be significantly less jovial, but right now, he had to admit it was pretty funny to watch Phillip try to reign in the situation.
Flora Hanahara was feeling good. Veeeeeery good. So good, in fact, that the tiny rational voice in her head screaming about things like indecency before students was being given the swift boot, and instead she was relishing in the pure intoxication she'd just invited upon herself.

" Ms. Hanahara, like, high or something?" Nobody would ever head a list of Bro #1's traits with 'observant', but even he could not ignore the massive leer, caught somewhere between 'drunken' and 'bedroom', spreading across their teacher's rosy cheeks. She ignored the buzz of whispers among her class, and unabashedly eyed the tall-dark-handsome gent like a slab of meat that was also waving around a bottle of tequila.

"Uhh...yeah, bro." Bro #2 was far more interested in the completely unsubtle heaving of Flora's chest.

"Bro...this is freaking gold." The two bros exchanged a silent, mutual glance, which carried the agreement that this had metamorphosed into the greatest field trip they'd ever partaken in.

On the other side of the room, the Class Rep, a mousy-looking girl who probably covered her bedroom walls with straight-A report cards instead of boy band posters, was frantically trying to regain control over her classmates, the field trip, and their teacher simultaneously. After several unsuccessful attempts at distracting Flora from her attempts at sneaking off with Howard (whether he was consenting or otherwise), she finally dug through her Class Rep-borne stack of papers to find the field trip itinerary, and dialed Vincent's emergency number in a mad panic.

Said teacher was sequestered off in Dharma's commandeered office, enjoying the back-and-forth verbal fencing and delicious tea provided. He regarded the phone ringing in his jacket pocket with a distasteful glower, but got up with several apologies to his hosts and exited the room, leaning against the other side of the door. "Vincent Miles speaking," he droned.

"Mr. Miles! You-you've got to come and get Ms. Hanahara, she tried some weird perfume and now she's - oh, she's gone all funny and hanging off some guy and oh, please, Mr. Miles, can you help?" The high-pitched piping of his Class Rep was on a higher order of magnitude than usual, and Vincent fought the dog-whistle headache to reply.

"Could you go into a little more detail?" he asked, and regretted his question the instant he began receiving the answer. He listened to the tale of his colleague's inadvertent drugging, pinching the bridge of his nose hard enough to leave angry red half-circles when his fingers withdrew. "So...let me get this straight. Ms. Hanahara tried on a perfume they offered her, and now she's acting intoxicated and disrupting the field trip?" he summarized, glaring out at nothing in particular. The Class Rep squeaked an affirmative, and he vented a bit of frustration into a long, wordless grumble. "Right, then, nothing else for it. We can't very well have a field trip with the teacher out of commission; I'll get her back on the bus, and we'll perhaps try this trip again some other time."

"Does this mean I won't be able to take the mission with Phero and HunterWoman...?" Phase piped up, voice about as small as her little shoulder-bound hologram.

"Yes, I'm afraid it does. Come on, then, we'll have to apologize for all this," Vincent stepped back inside, eyes cold and hard with frustration. He addressed Dharma succinctly, "I'm afraid there's been a bit of an incident with my fellow teacher, and we'll have to leave to get her treated. Terribly sorry to waste your time like this; I do hope we can try this field trip again another time." And without another moment to lose, he dashed out the door as fast as his long, brace-clad legs could carry him, off to sound the death knell on what might have been the most interesting field trip in ElecTown West High history.
Even if she had known that she'd fallen headlong into Dharma's trap of not checking out anything she wasn't supposed to, it was hard to say that Diana would've cared. She was sitting in a cozy office, drinking tea, and had the opportunity to boost HunterWoman's arsenal, all while fulfilling her duties as Mr. Wilde's aide. Everything was aces as far as she was concerned. "Indeed. I know I've never cared much for wasting time." She shot a quick look in Agnis's direction, before letting everyone else carry on.

"Really?" With a grin, she reached back, and donned her crossbow to show it off to Phero. "It's not too hard, you just need to make sure they don't see it coming ahead of time! And hopefully you end up with a rock that doesn't whistle, like 'WHEEEEEEW'! Once, I had a perfect shot, I bet I could've knocked three or four birds out of the sky, but I grabbed a rock with this weird hole on it, and it made a noise like that, 'WHEEEEEEW', and the bird I was aiming at instinctively got out of the way, so I didn't hit anything. I was sooooooooo mad, that I just got out an arrow and shot it so I wouldn't be empty handed! Also spite!" Naturally, at no point did she find anything wrong with admitting to cold blooded bird murder. "But yeah, it's not hard at all! It's a bit easier for me with a crossbow, though, since I'm super trained in using it! Just throwing it adds lots of variables I'm not really used to, like arm strength, and it makes the optimal angle of ricochet way harder to get, and-"

"As...fascinating as this surely is for everyone, perhaps we should move on to some other topic?"

"I dunno, Phero looks pretty interested..." The hologram looked over, but noticed that the other Navi was suddenly gone. "Hey, where'd she go?"

"Requesting the mission, by the sounds of it. You should go on ahead, as well."

"Oh, okay! Yeah, let's get this show on the road!"

"Let's." According to Dharma, there were several ports on the table, one of which was right in front of her. And why waste time searching when there was already a suitable answer in front of her. "Jack in! HunterWoman, Execute!"

Once her Navi was in, she took a sip of tea, and looked over at the CEO. That last bit she'd said made no sense whatsoever. Did she think she said something she didn't? "Hmm? What's the foreman's taste, exactly?" Might as well ask while they were waiting.

Around this point, Vincent suddenly got up to take a call. While she couldn't exactly tell what was being said, his expression upon made it clear there was a problem. And sure enough..."Well, that's a shame. At least it sounds like it's treatable, whatever happened." But exactly what happened? Hmm. "Ah well, if you must go, you must. Do take care." A terse farewell. Or, as she called it, a good farewell.
((Continued from events in this topic.))

Dharma nodded along with Diana's extortion efforts, suddenly all business as she grabbed a business card off the plant manager's desk, as well as a pen, and began writing down her contact info. She bent over slightly so that she could bare down with one elbow, given that she needed to use the other forearm to cover her chest. "There," she finished, handing it over. "Remember: we did a good thing today. It was all to help that man. So there's no reason either of us should feel ashamed over our role in it... it's just the optics, you understand. I can't be directly linked to this, I just can't. If I was, it would be bad for both of us," she explained, keeping it cryptic, though it wasn't hard to read a threat in her words. "Let's just forget it ever happened."

She'd been pretty eager to get out of her clothes moments ago, but now, she was very desperate to get back into them. Unfortunately, before that could happen, Agnis re-entered the room, this time not announcing herself by carrying a heavy tray. "Oh, Dharma! I cleaned up the spill but there could still be shards from the broken cups, so you should-" she began, before taking a look around. The blond girl's face went from a baffled frown to a scary, beet-red mask of discomfort and some negative emotion as her condition kicked in. "Wh-Wh-Wh-?!" she asked, unable to get the words out of her throat.

Dharma held up one hand for her to be quiet.

"... Am I going to be cut loose?" Agnis asked, hesitantly.

"Nonsense. Please hand me your PET, I'll need it for just a moment. In the mean time, I'll need you to go downstairs and watch the front of the staircase to ensure that neither Phillip, nor the plant manager, nor anyone else come up," Dharma answered in a cool, calm voice, despite her half-nakedness. Agnis nodded, moved quickly, handed it over, then skittered back out the door. Hopefully, Agnis would be alright when next Diana encountered her, but it was equally likely her head was going to explode on her way downstairs. Dharma focused her attention on the PET, working with it as she again spoke to Diana. "Please, produce my clothing ASAP," she insisted, sounding a little less patient now. There was no telling what she was doing with the PET...
"Of course." With a simple agreement, Diana checked what Dharma had written. There was no way she could confirm or deny that the information was real, but considering how easily she could leak the story to the press...the CEO would have to be an idiot to try faking it here. And she was fairly sure that, of all the things she thought Dharma was, an idiot wasn't really one of them. Still, she should probably note as much. "...Yes, it would be bad. For BOTH of us." They could either swim together, or sink together. And she wasn't above sinking the ship if she was deceived.

Regardless, the huntress was satisfied, and so she flung her partner in stripping her clothes. She certainly didn't want them. Too formal for her taste. And the bra was just a bit too big for her..."See? That wasn't so bad, was it?" With that, she gathered her own clothes, and put them on as she obtained them. "Well, this has been, educational, but if you've nothing to add, I believe I should be on my way once I'm dressed." If nothing else, she certainly learned more about Dharma Heart-Payne today than she'd ever cared to. But, gotta stay professional, even after being on camera with her in her underwear. "I assume there's no other message you'd like me to pass on to Mr. Wilde before I leave?"
As usual, Dharma found it very difficult to allow anyone to step on her for any reason, even if the offense was only temporary or merely circumstantial. She inwardly continued to plot what miserable end would be most befitting of a virus zoo and its caretakers, although there wasn't going to be any opportunity to enact any such plan any time soon. "Well, I wouldn't call blackmail my idea of a good time, but at least it will help a good cause," she sighed. Internally, she thought to herself, "What good cause? There's nothing good about these people and certainly nothing useful about viruses."

The president dressed back quickly and cautiously, slowly transforming from some weirdo in panties and a gas mask back into the stately business figure, Dharma-Heart Payne. "Oh no, I have nothing else to say. You can tell Mister Wilde that I wish the both of you only the best in your conservation mission," she responded, though Diana had probably caught on by this point how little such platitudes really meant. "It's probably best if I go down and meet Agnis first, saving you the hardship of dealing with her in her current state," she chuckled, heading down without a word more. Once downstairs, she'd quickly grab Agnis by the arm and drag her away, a little further into the plant and inside one of the rooms that Flora and Philip had passed by earlier. If Diana was close enough behind to see that transpire, she'd probably assume Dharma planned on a little "damage control," but if not, she might assume Dharma and Agnis had simply left together.
"Don't think of it as blackmail. Just think of it as being nudged towards a valuable business opportunity." Via blackmail. "At least you can see it's a worthy cause. Not enough people realize that just yet. But as Mr. Wilde has personally taken charge of it, you can rest assured that it will serve as a wonderful place to learn about viruses, nothing more, nothing less."

Soon enough, each woman was now fully presentable to the outside world. Dharma wished her and Mr. Wilde well, alarm was going off in Diana's head. She really didn't think she meant it...but she was cooperating with them, so it didn't really matter one way or the other to her. What did matter, apparently, was the order in which they left. "...Indeed. I hope your company manages to find a cure for...whatever it is she has, before her head explodes from it, or something." And with that, she was alone. She noted that she hadn't received a goodbye, even though it was fairly obvious that this meeting was over. "...Dharma Heart-Payne. Like a turtle, it's impossible to tell what your insides are like from looking at you. Let us hope you don't renege on me, or else I'll have to smash your shell, and reveal the contents to the world..."

"Who ya talkin' to?"

"Just myself, HunterWoman. I assume you...enjoyed yourself?" Diana pulled out her PET and took a look, finding immense relief upon seeing her Navi fully dressed.

"It was great! I won!"

"So I saw. I believe we'll make good use of your winnings very soon..."

"Yay! Ooh, are we gonna get even MORE CHIPS? Or maybe upgrades! Yeah, upgrades! I want to feel super upgrady!"

"We'll go over our options on the way to SciLab. Come. And bring up a list of the Navi shop's stock, if you please. The sooner we make up our minds, the sooner the new and improved HunterWoman can come to pass." Heading down the stairs, Diana noted that there was no red faced woman in sight. Made it that much easier to nonchalantly head out, her mission a resounding success.

With Diana out of her hair and both of them supposedly complicit in their silence by means of mutual blackmail, Dharma moved on to her next problem: a very confused Agnis Agnu, who was now in a perpetual state of wincing, sweating, beet-red head-explodiness. She'd taken Agnis' PET for reason of keeping her from sending any panicked messages to friends or family, but now, having her underling alone in a small student laboratory, she was coming up with a plot to best win Agnis' silence, and the PET might factor into that. Truth be told, Agnis was too devoted and slavish to say anything about what she'd seen anyways, but as far as the navi... Dharma couldn't take any chances. "Agnis," she finally spoke.

The other girl looked as though her head was about to pop then, but she managed to speak anyways. "D-Dharma?!" she got out, wringing her hands together.

"What you saw just now was... business. I can't describe how. All I can ask is that you trust me as you always have," she suggested, fiddling with the PET in the mean time.

"Of course, Madam President!" Agnis agreed, calming down a little.

"Unfortunately, while I know your loyalty, I have not tested that of your navi. As such, I'm going to keep her close for a while. Phero will benefit from the experience and I will be able to... learn her," Dharma spoke calmly, as though suddenly swiping someone's navi and holding it for ransom was a normal part of business. "Thank you for your understanding. I'm converting her to an SP now."

"Ah... Uh..." Agnis murmured, seeming lost, before shaking her head and reddening up again. "M-Madam President! Boil is my life planner, I can't just let her go! It's going to be hard to, er, function at work without her!" she complained. Dharma gave her a calm but somehow withering smile, as if asking if she really wanted to go the route of protest. "I-I mean, er... I look forward to the challenge! Of learning to... navigate the world with a new navi, who doesn't know anything about my schedules, how to access my important files, or the proper dosage for my blood pressure medicine," she continued weakly.

Dharma reflected that, in hindsight, it was a good thing such a weak-willed and subservient person had been the one to walk in on her. "Very good. Boil will be kept safe, so long as you and she both remember that my business stays private," the company president finished, smiling and handing back the now empty PET to Agnis. "Feel free to spend the rest of the day shopping for a new navi. We are in Electown, after all. You can also write it off as a business expenditure and submit that to me when your're finished."

"Thank you, Madam President!" Agnis responded. "And I know Boil will serve you well! I always wanted her and Phero to be friends, anyway. There's so much they can-!"

"You're dismissed," Dharma finished, sighing and returning her attention to her PET. Agnis scampered away, but Dharma was left with many questions that she'd be unable to answer until she saw the new SP in action. "This is her, hm? It's clear that aesthetics weren't a priority like they were for Phero," the young lady sighed, vainly. "Very well. I'll put her through the paces in a GNA mission. That's the best way to learn what makes her tick," she whispered to herself (megalomaniacs are allowed to monologue to themselves, after all). "I'll let Phillip finish his tour or... whatever it is he's doing." She found an empty outlet and jacked Phero in.

((Jacking in and headed to NetSquare))