It began with a mess

It was a gorgeous sunshine filled day in DenCity, and the Yoka area was full of life. Children were laughing and playing at the zoo, adults were relaxing at the hot springs after a long week of work, and there were some colorful songbirds chirping happily atop the Inn. All of this, of course, went un-noticed by Roger Faust.

In a small apartment on the edge of town, Roger was hard at work in his lab, or rather, the spare bedroom that he was using as a lab. Most of the apartment wasn't much to look at, in fact it was almost painful to do so; a simple living room with an old brown couch and an overstuffed aqua bean bag chair (Both of which he found at a tag sale in Electopia), a bedroom with pristine looking lavender bed sheets (As such because Roger hasn't slept in his bed since he put the sheets on four days ago), and a bathroom painted a pale yellow (All of this because Roger isn't exactly color-coordinated). Of course, he never really noticed how mismatched his place was, because he spent most of his time in the spare room. All of the windows therein had been covered with black construction paper to block out the light, and the furniture was packed in so tightly that it was a wonder Roger ever managed to find his way in and out. There was an exceptionally large wooden desk, shaped like the letter L that took up most of the center of the room. Blocking the way from the right side to the door was a pair of (Again mismatched) filing cabinets, both of which looked like they were ready to burst from all the paperwork inside. Seated behind them was a massive pile of assorted books, preventing the door from opening more than a 45 degree angle, which was an oddity in itself, because along the left wall was a half empty bookshelf. Roger was wriggling into his "lab" at this time, and paused to grab a book about advanced programming off the shelf on his way. Further in the room, a small stand with an old black and white television set stood at the end of the other "arm" of his work desk. Roger absentmindedly adjusted the antenna without looking up from his book as he squeezed past. Running parallel to the back wall, a work bench littered with tools, gadgets, and random trinkets also barred an easy path to the center of the room. Turning the last corner, Roger stepped over the corner of a square table that had been placed at a 45 degree angle to the room, so that he could still reach his entire workbench and his cabinets. Finally, he turns away from the table to reach the heart of his lab, and flops down in his old chair.

With an exasperated sigh, he closes the book and tosses it behind the filing cabinets.

"You do realize that eventually you'll run out of books that way, and you'll just have to shelve them all at once later, right?", says a small female voice from the table. Roger picks up his pet, its dark purple looking almost black in the low-light.

"Not necessarily", he quipped. "I could always get more books instead."

"With what money, Roger?" she sighs, "You're unemployed with a degree in Pharmaceuticals, and you're PET Mod skills aren't exactly first rate."

"Don't remind me Gretchen," Roger grumbled. After a quick stretch, he leaned over a stack of manila folders and turns on his trusty desktop computer (Also a tag sale find). "I'm working on both of those things, but in the meantime I need you to bust some viruses to scrape up a little cash. We're in this together, right?" A smile plays on the corner of Gretchen's lips.

"Of course Roger."

{{Jack-In, Sci-Lab net}}
Roger leaned back in his chair as Gretchen finished compiling the data from the days exploits. A small pile of Zenny, and a few battle chips were the tangible spoils, which was the goal. But we learned three distinct things in the process, each more disturbing than the last. First and foremost, at least in Gretchen's mind, were the viruses with personalities. Two Bunnys and two Cannondumbs had flames painted on their bodies, and they were traveling together as if they were a gang. If they had been Navis instead of viruses, it would make sense. But these were characteristics not usually seen in supposedly mindless programs bent on the destruction of the net, were they? Virus busting is so commonplace; it had become the most widely used form of earning money that he could think of. But if it turned out that these programs weren't just wandering monsters, and could in fact be communicated with, did we really have the right to simply bust away? Roger shook his head. Ethics on the net have always been loose, but something here simply didn't feel right. "Hey Gretchen, why don't you put a post on the SciLab BBS; see if anyone else has seen viruses like the ones we fought."

"Yeah, that one Bunny is still out there somewhere. I hope it's all right..." Roger stood and gave a quick stretch, and started cleaning up some of the mess at his station. His mind was still reeling with the other two problems. Gretchen still wasn't cut out for prolonged battling, and that could be dangerous. The net was filled with dangerous programs, viral or otherwise. If they were going to continue busting, he was going to have to start investing in some upgrades. You had to spend money to make money, right? He couldn't help but sigh as he looked down at the numbers on the PET. Gretchen sensed his frustrations. "Hey, don't get discouraged Roger. We'll have enough money to get you back on your feet. This may not be much, but it's a start. Besides, this was one days worth of work. If we can pull in this much again every day, we'd have over thirty thousand in a month's time. And if we can spend some of that on upgrades, I'll be able to take on stronger viruses, and bring in even more money." Roger gave a half-hearted smile. He was putting her in harms way, and they were still so far out from just being able to pay the bills. Thirty thousand sounded nice, but was nowhere near what was needed for rent alone.

But even worrying about all of that was only part of the problem. The most worrying ordeal of the entire day was that fiasco with the burnt out wire. Roger opened the back cover of the PET again and examined the contents. The yellow wire still had a scorch mark at the connection point, and a slight char had formed on Gretchen's coin. A chill shot down Roger's back. Maybe self modifications to the PET were a bad thing at this point. He carefully closed the device back up, and began to hunt for his coat and cane. He was worried about that, and wanted some answers, but Gretchen seemed fine now, and he really didn't feel like bringing the even up again. For now, he would focus on the other two problems, and keep this one filed away for later examination. "All right Gretchen, let's go and get you some upgrades." He paused for a moment, contemplating their next move, "Why don't you post on the Mission BBS while you're out posting. See if we can't find someone who needs help that could get our funding a little higher."

Gretchen nodded, "Sounds like a plan. A couple of posts, a little shopping, and we'll be ready in no time!"

{{To the shops, then to BeachNet }}