Crimson Blossom Ryokan - The Encounters

Cara looked irritably at the piece of voucher stuffed into her hand a day back by Tremblay. On the voucher read a handwritten message: "An all-expenses-paid-for escapade for the irritated Cara and the baby Navigator Kirlian! Aren't you happy? By the way, get a hold of yourself. You'll get old faster if you're always so angsty. -Regards, CK".

"Since when did he start giving out free stuff?" the angsty Cara muttered, stopping in front of the inn. The building's main entrance read "Crimson Blossom Ryokan", of which the last word meant nothing to her. "People like to dig into foreign words and stuff, I guess. It's what sells," Cara said to herself, taking a step into the almost-empty lobby lounge and dropping the voucher onto the registration counter.

"Can I redeem this for cash?" Cara asked the receptionist, not wanting to beat around the bush, AND to waste time here.

[[Awaiting AR and Shur.]]
Kiri was in the middle of organizing the records of the Inn Guests, putting away old guestbooks and transaction records in large file binders. She stumbled across an old photograph stashed deep away inside the cupboard. As she reached over and pulled it out, the photograph was recent, but the dust and dirt accumulated from the lack of cleaning because someone neglected to re-organizing everything produced a layer thick enough to actually conceal the image. As she brushed the dust off the image, it revealed to be the Inn's workers 4 years ago.

Kiri herself was in the photograph, and she smiled when she remembered the first time she found herself a job in the Inn. Some of the workers there had left too, but when she flipped the photograph around, she noticed that there had been scrawlings all over the back of the photograph. Some of them phone numbers and some of them well-wishes.

Her reminiscing was suddenly interrupted by a customer - or rather, someone actively resisting trying to become one, given that she was trying to claim a fund return on the voucher itself. Something Kiri found strange given that the Inn doesn't actually give out vouchers for stays, at least not to her knowledge.

"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid the Inn doesn't actually accept vouchers..." Kiri said, smiling. Though the woman's demeanor meant she had no intention of staying here, she noticed the handwriting on the 'voucher' had allowed her to identify the woman as "Cara". She booted up a nearby display unit and searched through the registry, and it confirmed her suspicions. Looks like someone reserved a suite for her in the Inn under the company name E&E Consultation Inc.

"...However, there -is- a record here with reservations for a room for one 'Cara Windfield', which I assume would be your name?" She asked.
"What the-- bogus vouchers?!" Cara exclaimed, grabbing the 'voucher' and ripping it in half in anger... then stuffed the ripped pieces of paper into her pocket. "Alright. Yeah, that's my name," she said irritably, a hand reaching up to scratch at her head.. and messing up her already messy hair further. "Think I can get a refund for that instead?"

"W-well, you can always just take up the offer, ma'am," an anxious voice blared from the older woman's pockets, much to her irritation. "Nobody asked you," she hissed, and the voice fell silent.
Kiri simply gave a puzzled look, before tapping into the display screen. "I'm terribly sorry, miss, but I'm afraid I can't. It appears that Mr. Phoon here has left me explicit instructions, on paper no less, that whatever I do I am not allowed to refund this reservation." She says as she pulls a small envelope out, handing it over to Cara with both hands.

"Incoming outburst in 3... 2... 1..." a voice chirped from a device that hung from Kiri's sash. Kiri tapped it lightly to signal it to shush.
"This looks like it's the one," Satou said, standing outside the inn. He couldn't exactly use his PET as VenusMan was occupied already and was too busy to bring up any sorts of menus. But Satou was a clever boy and he had at least memorized the name of the inn. "CBR..." Satou muttered, actually only having memorized an abbreviation to make it easier on himself.

Satou, being a dear fan of the Sentai genre, had gotten wind of a live action show being in the area and had gotten a reservation at the inn through his aunt. As such, some of his accessories were matched with the occasion. While his favorite black sweater and a his pair of baggy black jeans were normal enough, his bee-themed full head helmet was not. At the front were large circular black eyes that easily took up 10% of the surface and, from up close, smaller eyes were within them. The mouth and nose area of the helmet was a steel gray and the left and right sides of the helmet were completely black. A line going between the eyes of the helmet, all the way to the back, had alternating lines of yellow and black like a bee. Along with the helmet he wore a black and yellow striped scarf that ended with a harmless stinger.

"Bee Rider has arrived!" Satou exclaimed as he stood in the entrance of the inn. He had his fists in his sides heroically, but before he could continue with a short sketch about Bee Rider he noticed that something was going on at the counter. "Oh..." he muttered, not expecting anyone else. He had heard from his aunt that the inn was a quiet one, but with a nice atmosphere. Quietly he stood behind the woman at the counter, smiling behind his mask while sometimes checking on his wrist-strapped PET.
The outburst came as an extraordinary one-time explosion.

"DAMN SNAKE! I'LL GET YOU FOR THIS!!" Cara began, voice turning hoarse and a fist meeting the counter. She grabbed the envelope from the receptionist's hands, turning around and ready to make full use of whatever.. this escapade was. Ugh.

Little did she know, however, that the moment she turned, she would've stepped on a boy in a kiddy costume's feet with her own. "What the-- get out of the way, brat! I've got an escapade to kill!" Cara shouted at the boy, but somehow showing restraint as she refrained from uttering a slew of foul words. Calm, she thought to herself then-- there was no need to make the worst out of this. "J-just enjoy the moment, I guess, ma'am," the voice stuttered again. Cara sighed, holding her head as she shook it. "I can't just enjoy the moment, Kirlian... use your head, ugh," the middle-aged woman muttered, looking at the sofas placed in the lounge. Goddamnit, she'll just sit there or something.

And that was what she did, not caring whatever further outburst that may come from the boy, or the receptionist. Screw it all; all she wanted now was the goddamn sofa. "S-sorry, little boy!" the voice continued, then turned silent as Cara shot a dangerous glance down at her PET's general direction.

As Cara sat down, she noted idly the texture and decorations the inn had. Not bad, she mused half-heartedly, crossing her arms as she just sat there on the lounge. Obviously, she had no idea on how to make use of the 'escapade'... or was just intentionally ruining it for god knows what reason.
"Called it."

Another light rap on the PET, although this time a little more forceful.

Symptoms of workaholics, Kiri mused. It wasn't a particularly uncommon sight, especially given the economy climate today. Everyone needed to work twice as hard to make ends meet nowadays, and taking a break for some people often meant a drop in productivity, which would then lead to a drop in profits, which would then lead to a cut in salary, and then eventually the collapse of a compa-

Kiri shook her head. She was over-thinking things again, and simply sighed before noticing a young boy wearing a sort of... bee mask? Was the little boy lost in the city? He had announced himself as 'Bee Rider' when he entered. And then, like an ant in the path of a rampaging 12 year old, Cara almost shoved the boy but restrained from doing so. Good, at least she still had control over her body, Kiri thought as she left the counter and walked towards the young boy. She knelt down until she saw eye to eye with the child.

"Don't mind the cranky old lady, boy. Is there something I can help you with?" She quietly whispered.
Behind his mask Satou's mouth was just a circle as he looked in the situation unfold in front of his eyes. But something in his mind made things click differently than what was actually happening. In between the situation, he suddenly realized that his entrance disabled him to carry around his luggage. Quickly running out of the door and back, he returned with a suitcase just in time for a Navi's voice to apologize to him. "That is alright, noble soul!" he exclaimed, trying to make his voice sound older than he actually was, "I completely understand the situation..." The true reason why Satou required his suitcase for this was a specific item, which he quickly grabbed out of it after opening it. "You are here to vanquish our common foe!" he exclaimed at Cara and held out a picture of humanoid being with a leathery green snake's head for actual head in sturdy black and neon green sci-fi armor, "The dreaded Don Snake!" Obviously, Satou had misheard 'damn' for 'Don' but in his mind the woman in front of him was also a Bee Rider fan who tried to enact a scene in her frustration.

After making his claim Satou put the picture back in his suitcase, crossed his arms and nodded his helmeted head. "He is a fearsome enemy, but us Riders must stand together and unite our powers," he continued, before realizing that the inn's attendant was trying to get his attention. "Oh, sorry," Satou said and walked closer to the counter. From his suitcase came a receipt and verification of his payment to the inn, which he placed onto the counter. "My name is Bee Ri-Shirai Satou. My aunt made the reservation for me," he said. His PET remained oddly quiet despite the screen being on. Still standing by the counter, Satou just smiled behind his ridiculous mask and awaited the reply of the attendant.
"... What?" Cara just muttered, an eyebrow raised as she turned back to look at the kid, as the latter enthusiastically brought out his toy and played heroics in front of the middle aged woman. And the receptionist. One thing that did happen that was out of Kirlian's expectations, however, was that Cara smiled-- smirked, more like, but still some form of a smile. It was as if she was imagining how her boss would be like if he was a Don Snake villain, or whatever. Amusing thought.

As soon as the little boy's antics was over, Cara took out her PET and placed it on the lounge's coffee table, that was complementing the spacious sofa. Taking that as a free-roaming instruction, Kirlian projected himself out onto the table, a tiny holographic image of his digital form as he stared and marvelled at the tapestry and decoration of the inn. "Whoa," he whistled, running towards the edge of the table, his three bits enthusiastically leading the way. "Tch. Keep your foolishness to yourself quietly, Kirlian," Cara scolded absent-mindedly, leaning fully against the sofa now. Hey, the sofa ain't half bad.

"I... see." Kiri said in bewilderment at the child's imagination. Still, it was a good sign, it meant the child's creativity was flowing and that also meant that his brain was fully active during this stage of his life. Kiri felt oddly compelled to join in this session of Role-playing, though she knew it was also a wise idea not to drag the kid's imagination too far, since that way lies madness.

In either case, she simply raised herself up and returned back to the counter, holding onto the receipt and the ticket, and she tapped into the computer to bring up the registry of guests. She lightly ran her finger over the holo-screen until she eventually came across an entry for a "Satou, Shirai", booked for a temporary room. She tapped a key to confirm that the registration of the guest.

Nothing happened.

She tapped it again.

Yet, nothing returned.

It got to the point where she had a nonchalant face on, but her body motions (i.e. banging on the holo keyboard with a fist) obviously revealed a hint (read: obvious) of irritation. It took around 3 minutes before she realized the PC had been compromised. She sighed, more pests in the computer system. It was a bad idea for everything to be wired to the internet, even more so when it came to business computers. Still, the viruses today were less industrial espionage and more wild pests in the general network. It wouldn't take much to actually purge the systems.

At least, not until the antivirus program actually reporting a massive clog in the systems. It was going to take a long time to sanitize the system, Honoo could only do so much in so little time, which put Kiri in a dilemma. What was she going to do?
Satou was just staring over the counter, his hands on it the borders as he was just tall enough to just barely look over it. The large eyes of the mask stared directly at Kiri as the boy's actual expression was that of a smile with hint of playfulness.

"Beep," sounded something in Satou's vicinity, quickly followed by the eyes of his mask lighting up brightly. As the light faded, it revealed VenusMan standing in the right eye with his arms crossed. "I'm back and what is this?" VenusMan asked as he noticed the inn attendant standing in front of him, tampering with her PC. His head shifted around as he looked around, but he kept his stoic pose with his arms crossed.

"This is the inn where I'm staying for..." Satou started, pausing his sentence for a short moment and ending with his a fake deep voice, "The event." The eyes of the mask were made with a reflective screen, allowing him to see outwards without issues while having the other side work as a PET screen. "How'd it go at your event?" Satou asked, not having checked his PET for a while.

"Yeah, we won," VenusMan answered, "Insert a chip into the PET so you can download the chip." Satou did as VenusMan instructed while VenusMan walked from the right eye to the left eye. "So what's the matter here?"

Satou shrugged. "I don't know, but she seems angry?" he wondered, not actually knowing the cause of the delay. He had already given the things for the reservation confirmation after all. "Miss, is everything alright?" Satou asked, the mask's eyes fixed on the woman and VenusMan standing nonchalantly in the left eye.
Cara was about to doze off on the comfy sofa when something awfully familiar came in through her ears.




Fist banging on a solid object, possibly a desk.

As Cara turned around to the commotion, she saw exactly what she faced every day at work-- broken things that needed troubleshooting. She sighed, standing up and heading over to the counter once more... her horrible demeanor from before was nowhere to be found, as the Engineer-on-vacation-that-wasn't-really-a-vacation entered business mode.

Without warning, Cara took a glance at the monitor displaying the results of the antivirus search, her pose looking ready to maul the entire counter as she reached out. "Tell you what, little miss," Cara addressed the receptionist, "I'll troubleshoot this for free if you let me get a refund back. How about that?"

Kirlian's holographic image disappeared as it resynced with the PET's new location, and reappeared on the counter. "U-um, I'm not sure if I can do it alone, m-ma'am," Kirlian whimpered, but not loud enough for his Operator to hear. Artificial sweat and anxiety was written all over his face as he did.
"I wouldn't say alright at the moment, Mr. Satou. It seems our registry system has a little bit of an infestation problem, so your process may or may not be completed immediately..." Kiri said hesitantly. It was in bad form to inform customers of internal problems, but Kiri felt letting the customer know what's going wrong could help alleviate any sense of impatience, assuming they had the patience in the first place, of course.

"Honoo, we're going to need to perform a purge. Get yourself ready."

"aw yeah, action time!" Honoo exclaimed excitedly.

Then, Cara suddenly popped over to the counter, obviously taken note of Kiri's hardware problems. Her offer was tempting, but to deny her superior's request would no further customers from that particular company, so she seeked a compromise with the no-nonsense businesswoman.

"I'm afraid I still can't fulfill that request. However, I could provide you free meals for dinners and breakfast tommorow at least, if you wouldn't mind that as payment...?"
"Ah," VenusMan uttered as he understood what was going on. The image of VenusMan on the screens of Satou's mask slapped his hand towards Satou's forehead before he started to continue talking. "I was getting rusty with all the faffing about at the contest," he said while twisting his right shoulder as if getting ready for combat, "So we might as well help out too."

Satou just frowned behind his mask. The truth was that with the mask on he couldn't see very well, due to not being able to wear his glasses. But right now he just needed his ears and he understood what was going on as well. "Yeah, but I don't know if we're allowed to," Satou replied.

"Just ask," VenusMan said, "You already got a 'no' from yourself. Maybe she'll get you a 'yes'."

Satou nodded, knowing the Navi had a point with his statement. Turning his face up to Kiri, he pointed at the eyes of his mask to show VenusMan. "We would like to help if you want us to. We won't let you down," he said and then turned to look at Cara, figuring that if they were to cooperate he had better introduce himself. "My name is Satou and this is my Navi VenusMan," he said, pointing at the mask's eyes again before turning his hand to Cara for a handshake although the size of their hands wouldn't exactly match.
Cara gave the receptionist a look that was mixed with unbelievableness and anger, before drooping her head slightly. "Well fine, if that's how you and your... policy rolls," the middle aged woman hissed as the word 'policy' rolled off her tongue, making the sentence sound more acidic than usual (which was already terrible).

The workaholic turned to watch idly the little boy introducing himself and his Navigator. She shrugged; Kirlian will need every little help he needed, considering he was still freshly baked right out of the oven. "Shake the hands of someone your own size," she mused, tapping a button on her PET as it sent Kirlian into the computer's network.
"Excellent, Mr. Satou! I'll try and see if I can upgrade your room reservations after this little debacle as thanks, as well as our agreement too, Miss Windfield." Kiri said with a smile as she tapped a few keys on the holo-display. A large "JACKED-IN" in blocky letters suddenly appeared on Kiri's PET as Honoo found herself hurtling through cyberspace and into the PC.

Let's hope this ends quickly, Kiri thought to herself.

[[Jack-in Yoka Net.]]
With VenusMan back in the PET he turned to look at the inn's lady, Siri, and raised his suitcase into view. "Would it be OK if I leave this here? I really need to head out," he said and looked around with his mask still on. He noticed a table without any people around it and decided he could just place his suitcase there until he'd return. "I'm really sorry for this," he said and put the suitcase on the table, "VenusMan, don't you have something to say?"

It was quiet. The screen was black. VenusMan was momentarily recollecting his thoughts.

The boy started to run in place and waved at the two ladies. "I'm sure we'll see each other again," he said and dashed off with his arms stretched out like a superhero, happy that soon he'd get to meet one of his heroes.