The Punch-Drunk Jester

"Around here," Regina muttered as she looked at her flip PET. After she had prepared for another day of school she decided it was time for a personal moment. Clad in a long brown coat with a black loose shirt and denim jeans, she had travelled looking for a new pub. But was she going to be alone for this journey. There was a mysterious entity known as Burt, only known by a name she had seen on a BBS. And a task given by a Navi, not even an Operator. Deep in thought Regina entered an alleyway and looked around until she saw a small pub with a banner hanging above its door. 'The Punch-Drunk Jester' was its name, pictured by a dizzy jester sitting in a mug of beer. Regina opened the door into the building and looked around to explore the atmosphere. Wooden tables and wooden chairs were put together in the front, a bar with wooden stools with a man behind it and in the back a set of private booths designed with a table in the center and a plush red sofa halfway around it. Tapping a few keys on her PET, she decided to send the Burt figure a message that she'd be here and sat down at a private booth. "Just one water to start with," Regina said once a waiter stopped by to get her order.

"Travelling was a mistake!" Veda exclaimed, appearing on the screen of Regina's PET, "ResQ and Exorcist must be waiting for us already! Just because you want to get drunk!"

"Just water... To start with..." Regina repeated, her mind elsewhere. She took off her coat and put it down next to her while relaxing her back against the back of the sofa. "I'll send you in advance," Regina continued as she looked down at Veda. After finding a local network to use, she tapped a few more buttons to send Veda to the location they had been given. Looking around the pub again, Regina realized it was pretty calm and empty. "Mhmm," Regina hummed before resting her ample chest on the table in front of her and closing her eyes for a moment, "It's been a long day..." She crossed her arms in front of her, resting them on the table along with the rest of her upper body.
One good clown deserves another, or so someone once said, and as such, Burt wasn't long in seeking out the Punch-Drunk Jester once he arrived in Netopia. "Even corrupted by evil, technological minds of this world manage to come up with some nice things every once in a while. A net full of cute girls and planes that can take me from ACDC to Netopia in short notice and at such speed! That's good, because no amount of distance was going to keep me from my date," the professor chuckled, rubbing his hands together eagerly before stepping into the pub.

Exorcist's reaction was more or less just the same as Veda's. "Burt... I know you want to meet new people, but this is a little ridiculous, isn't it? And isn't it a little... er... sketchy to meet someone you only know from a few lines over the GNA?" she asked.

"Aaaaw, someone's just jealous that their favorite guy is spending time with another girl! That's cute, Exxy. You're cute!" Burt giggled, his eyes scanning behind shining glasses as he looked for the girl who'd summoned him. "Anyway, people do meet ups like this all the time. In fact, I think I already did one before, since I started operating you! There's not much danger in it. I'm sure Regina is a nice, pretty, very busty woman," he reassured his navi, although only one of those descriptors was really relevant.

The worst part is, he was sort of right in Exorcist's motivations. It always made her a little jealous when other folks were able to speak to Burt outside the glass, so to speak... Not that she necessarily wanted a physical relationship with her operator, of course, especially given his hygiene. But she always resented that barrier between them regardless. "Well... Okay. But try to be nice, at least... If you you behave just like you usually do, she's likely to get up and leave," the navi sighed.

"Ha ha ha! Don't think you've seen every move in Burt's Pick-Up Playbook," Burt whispered, while looking around carefully. It wasn't actually a really crowded place, so once he focused, it wasn't hard to find the one woman in the area who didn't seem like a drinky old man, or rather, didn't seem like the type of person to frequent a back-alley tavern. "There she is! Time to turn on the old black magic... Figure of speech, this is more like white magic, if anything. For the purpose of good, you know?" With that, Burt sauntered over to the booth. If Regina was still looking for him, she'd definitely know he was coming. He was still wearing the suit he'd dressed in earlier for Na'im's visit to his home, meaning he'd stick out like a sore thumb in a dive bar like this.

"Ms. Regina, I persume?" Burt began, placing one hand down onto the table and smiling in a deceptively friendly way. "I'm Burt! Burt J. Blanchard, great to meet you!" Assuming she confirmed that was her name, he'd scoot into the seat opposite her, keeping his thin hand flat on the table as he did, though sliding it down as he scooted in. "You may not know me yet, but we've got a lot to talk about! Counterinfectualism is chief on that list, but first things first: I better jack in my star pupil and her, er, co-stars." Luckily, most drinking establishments came with electronic payment systems, even a hole-in-the-wall like this place, so it wasn't hard to find a network connection.

Once that was done, he placed both hands onto the table and tapped them up and down annoyingly, while his face held a big, unaware smile. So far, he liked what he saw: short but well-filled-out, just the way he liked them. He disregarded her seemingly no-nonsense personality... he never was good at reading the writing on the wall, as far as people's reactions towards him went. "Now, let's start being buddies! At least until the server shows up to get my drink order... then we can start being drunk buddies!"

((Jacking in to NPC Homepages))
"Regina!" bellowed Veda's voice from the PET. Regina, on the other hand, was still in her own little dreamland of electronic sheep. "Regina! Regina!" the Navi kept shouting. It was annoying, for sure, but not something she had encountered for the very first time. She coughed silently to herself before speaking at Regina loudly, but with reservation. "Excuse me, miss, what can I get you to drink?"

"Drink..." Regina muttered as she looked up, only to see nobody waiting to find out what drink Regina wanted at all. But looking to her left and right sides, she also didn't see the man she was supposed to meet. Rubbing her tired eyes and straightening her back, she peered around the bar. "Is he not here?"

"That is not important right now!" Veda exclaimed from the flip PET, "We need to get back-"

"Wait a moment..." Regina told her Navi before turning her head to a man and woman standing elsewhere in the bar, but still near her position. "Burt J. Blanchard" is what she and her Navi could hear, followed by what could only be a man's desperate attempt at being impressive.

Then Veda realized what was going on. "I think that's Exorcist's Operator," Veda commented, "I recognize his voice and name, so that must be him!"

Looking closely at the woman Burt had decided to talk to, Regina did confirm that they were of a very similar build. And it's not like Burt had met her prior to this. She stood up, intent on stopping the man before it would get out of hand. But clearly it was too late. After Burt reached the end of his story to the stranger, which Regina still managed to hear entirely, the contents of a glass of water was flung at his face. The woman also quickly stood up and escaped from the scene before Burt could continue his story and/or his advances. Regina walked to the table where Burt had sat down at. "Hello there," she greeted him kindly, "I think you got the wrong person, Burt. My name is Regina."

"Yes! And I'm Veda!" the Navi exclaimed in mood that was swiftly headed towards a tantrum, "I got booted out of the homepage! I landed at some weird webpage and the link we got to get to the homepage in the first place isn't working anymore!" Regina looked at her Navi, who had returned to the PET safely, pressing the link they got for the mission repeatedly. "It's a dud! They cut us off!" And having been with her Operator a long time already, she knew what she was going to ask. Veda just raised her arms and exclaimed, "I don't know! One moment I was flying, the other I was surrounded by... Weird things." Partially out of fear and partially out of wanting to rectify the situation, she didn't take the time to check the webpage she had landed on. Having explained her part of the story, Veda just turned towards the link for the mission. After raising the link a bit, she just continued to bash her head into the link while hoping it'd work and she wouldn't have to disappoint her allies.

Regina looked at the Navi for a bit before turning to Burt. "I'm very sorry for what happened with Veda," she said while rummaging through her pockets. She pulled out a clean white handkerchief, which she offered Burt so he could dry himself from the previous encounter. "But I think we may have ran into a glitch... We can't seem to return to the homepage." Regina checked her PET for a moment, but Veda was still hitting her face into the link. "And from the looks of it, I think all links are one use only... I'm afraid we'll have to sit this one out. I hope your Navi the best of luck and please send our apologies to the other Navi." Regina was fully intending to leave the bar after the awkward scenario her Navi made. But before leaving, Regina produced a piece of paper and wrote a long number on it. "But if you're still interested in 'drunk buddies'," she said with a smile and slid the paper over to him, "Feel free to call me."

With those final words, Regina turned away and left the bar behind herself.