Fission Mailed?

The computer beeped, attracting David's attention to the monitor. The screen simply displayed [Filer Received]. "Alraiighht." He smiled to himself as he closed the window, and quickly unplugged the PET from the PC. He slid the PET into the holder on his belt, and logged off the library computer. David inhaled as he stood up, stretched a bit. He then picked up his book bag and headed towards the door of Dentech's campus library at a brisk pace. He had a Religious Studies class to make, and a presentation to give.

And he was determined to get that A he'd worked so hard for.


Five or so minutes later, David walked into the classroom. He found the roll, and signed his name before walking up the stairs to his seat in the small auditorium-like classroom. He sat down, then got his notes out to study in preparation for giving his presentation on his research project.

David didn't much like this class. Rather, he really didn't like Professor Blanchard; the teacher who taught it. He'd inquired about substituting another course, but it was required by the school that he take the course to complete his degree. Still David did his work, and turned it in on time. He figured he could ride it out until the end of the term, get his passing grade, and move on to better things.

Or so he hoped....
Unfortunately for the students of Dentech University, Professor Blanchard had been successfully coerced back into doing his job shortly after the tournament let out and, however poor the quality, had been doing his job for several weeks now. Burt had a lot on his mind with very little attention left in reserve for David, who was fully prepared to give his all and earn an A. The class had been ruthlessly difficult for David and his classmates who, after a short period of agony before understanding they would never be able to fill out their assignments like Burt wanted them to, finally had resolved that this course would be left up to the wind. David had persevered, however, devoting a lot of time to what should be a freebie class for most people. This final presentation would ensure his A.

But, as stated before, Burt didn't have a lot of attention for poor David right now. His mind was occupied not only on a pressing domestic situation, but also on a few minor alterations to the code of Counterinfectualism (his makeshift religion) that he'd been planning to make. The alterations became clouded in his head and he reasoned that what he really needed was something to shake them loose, to really inspire him back to the great and clear glory of his faith. He needed someone to speak on Counterinfectualism.

Here was David, ready to give that very speech! "Alrighty David, I'm giving you the rare benefit of my full attention, nya ha ha. Your presentation was on religions of history and their comparisons to Counterinfectualism, riiiight? I want to hear it from the top, pristine and perfectly organized. This will help me perfect the religion that will one day be the mantra of all of mankind! Do you understand its importance?" he asked again, leaning forward on his desk and making an eerie smile, a charming curve that quickly twisted into a teeth-bared snarl. "If David nails this, class, I'm going to drop the lowest test grade for everyone. No homework for a week! All if David does this perfectly!" he announced, clapping his hands together.

The class perked up, all eyes focusing on David intently. A spiky-haired, rebellious girl at the back of the class raised her spike-banded wrist passionately, then slammed one fist into the other to show what would happen if David failed. "Capiche?" she called out, between loud smacks of her gum.

"Go on David, present," Burt smiled, leaning on his podium and adjusting his glasses in a falsely mild manner.
David didn't so much as bat an eyelash as his professor's self serving motives for giving out this assignment surfaced (again). By now, he was quite used to doing really odd-ball work for this class, all in the name of Burt Blanchard attaining his degree. Certainly, anyone with any sense would have been angered and outraged at, for all intents and purposes, being made to research (read: formulate) a whole new religion that held about as much validity as L. Ron Hubbard's hoax of Scientology for the benefit of a man as unscrupulous as Burt Blanchard. And all this with one's grade held hostage against the production of results satisfactory in the forum of opinion (and Burt's opinion, no less), rather than the realm of measurable fact. Young Mr. Grisham, on the other hand, just wanted to pass quietly. Moral rage could wait until after his scholastic progress was no longer within meddling distance of one Professor Blanchard.

No... Instead of moral rage, David took a moment to consider what a week blessedly devoid of a mountain of Religious Studies 1102 course work would be like... A week... A week free of mind numbing info trawling through the Netopian National Library's archives on our fail-tastic student network connection. That would be so awes-- Then it occurred to David that the rest of the class would be thinking the exact same thing. A quick glance around the room was all it took for him to confirm he was socially a dead man if he didn't produce. A thud from one of the rows behind him told him it might not be limited to just socially after all.... Good thing I put a ton of effort into this, since it looks like good old Burt just set me up.

David stood up with a nod, and walked quietly down to the computer terminal that operated the room's holographic projector. He plugged the old model PET into the machine, and, with a bit of difficulty, brought up the projector control program. In truth, David was far from technically savvy by the day's standards, and only just barely managed to get by on what little knowledge he had. Though, that often meant it took David a little more time to get a computer to do what he wanted it to do than more computer-literate people would have spent on the same tasks. In this case, it actually took him three tries to get the programs he needed to read the directory he'd put the project files in by telling it to 'display all, without exception' when the computer insisted the files weren't there. Sadly, David never actually thought to look in the folder and confirm what was really in it....

As the projector hummed to life, David gathered his notes in his hands, and turned to face the class. "Good afternoon. Today I will cover the results of my research into the theology of Counterinfectualism." He paused a moment to pick up the projector's remote, and position his thumb over the 'next slide' button. "Counterinfectualism is--" Is what David started to say as he pressed the button and turned to face the image on the projector.... that.... was... not... his presentation. He never finished his sentence as his thoughts came to a crashing halt, and he dropped his sheaf of notes on the floor. They hit the floor audibly in the momentary stunned silence of the classroom. The computer had done exactly what David had asked of it: Display all, Without exception.

Sitting in the middle of where David's presentation holographics should have been was the life-sized image of a custom female Navi, and one David had never seen before. The Navi looked like she was taken straight out of a fantasy novel one could normally expect to find dragons and wizards in, especially since she looked to be one of those wizards herself. The young lady Navi sat comfortably atop a large block of ice as she stared off to one side with a plainly bored look on her face; oblivious to the fact that she was being observed by a class full of college students. And oblivious to the fact that she clearly was supposed to have been a grade-making presentation on counterinfectualism.... And wasn't.
The class stared for a while, wondering what David was getting at by showing them the bored-looking female navi. Optimists thought that maybe he was saying "This is Counterinfectualism: trained navis on the net, on the call to destroy evil." Pessimists thought "Is he saying Counterinfectualism is boring? That's not a good idea." Still others thought, "That's it, David's getting an ass-kicking."

The teacher stared at the navi on the screen blankly for a moment, like David, before his calm smile curved into a big, lecherous grin. "Why, is this your navi, David? Wow, I like the way you went with her! She's almost like a magazine model or something. But uh, seeing as she seems to be a little on the quiet side, I cannot award you simply for bringing your navi to class." Snickering, he brought his hand upward to push his glasses up with two fingers. "How about this: I'll give you two options. Either you produce that presentation now, even though it's obvious you were hoping to scoot by this project, distracting me with your hot navi, or..."

He paused here to run up to David, leaning in uncomfortably close enough for David to smell his greasy hair. "Tell her to make the sexiest pose she can think of and say 'Counterinfectualism is the world's greatest religion,'" he goaded David, prodding the student's side with his elbow. "Make her do it and you've got an A, no questions asked."

The class watched on at the edge of their seats, praying that their teacher had whispered some doable option into David's ear.
"Err, that...s..." David began as Burt started snickering, but his voice trailed off as he realized it was useless to tell the Professor that wasn't his Navi. Everyone else in the class that associated with David already knew his PET was an older model that included a run-of-the-mill green and yellow Generic Navi. Burt, being Burt, possibly didn't know this, or if he did, didn't give a damn. And with the uttering of 'hot Navi distraction', David was certain it was the latter.

David had a very bad feeling about what was to come after the 'or', and that sense quickly grew to dread as the professor stopped talking and approached him. As Burt leaned in close to whisper, David resigned himself to attempting whatever this second and *only* option was. As he listened to the morally bankrupt second option, he throttled the urge to turn and ask: 'Are you serious?' Of course he's serious about this. He's Burt, David thought unhappily to himself. He then looked up at the students seated around the room, and saw the depressingly hopeful expressions on their faces... I am so screwed unless I go through with this.

David sighed, then raised his left hand high above his head and snapped his fingers twice. "Hey, Ross." The student in question sat back in his chair and raised an eyebrow at David. "Yeah, uhh, could you uhh... could you come here for a minute?" Ross nodded at David's request, and got out of his chair. David stepped away from Burt, and waited for his friend to make his way down to the floor. When Ross arrived, David looked at Burt and said "Could you give me a minute?" as he held up his hand and made the 'wait one' gesture. He then turned back to his friend, and motioned towards the entry alcove with a tilt of his head and a thumb point.

David and Ross walked over and stood next to the door, where David began explaining what was going on in hushed tones. A minute later and a not so hushed "What?" escaped Ross' lips, only to be met with David's immediate "Shhhhhhh!"-ushing. A minute, some more whispering, and a tandem glare at Professor Blanchard later and the two walked back over to the computer terminal that controlled the projector. Ross sat down at the terminal desk while David looked over his shoulder and thought: I can't believe this is happening. I'm about to ask a Navi I don't even know to strike a sexy pose and spout nonsense for that sleeze bag's amusement.... David sighed and stared blankly at the screen. Well, that's life, I suppose. If this works, great, I get my hard earned grade. If it doesn't; oh well, and at least Burt didn't get anything out of it.... I almost wish she'd say no, but I need this grade so badly.... He looked over at the professor and thought ...Damn you, Burt Blanchard.

Just then, Ross reached up and tapped David with his hand, drawing the troubled student's gaze back to the screen. The communication link with the mysterious female Navi had been established. Ross and David switched places, and David began speaking to the Navi through a small mic that Ross had indicated with a hand wave. The class couldn't hear what David was saying, but the Navi apparently did because her holographic image appeared startled, then attentive. She sat there and listened, her expression blank and unreadable for several long minutes until David finished. When he was done speaking, the female Navi then stood up, and looked directly at the virtual camera program, and, by extension, out at her audience. Perhaps she was going to comply with Burt's demands David's request...?

Not so. Without changing her expression, she stretched one arm out before her, hand pointed at the virtual camera program. She then spoke for the very first time... "This is my answer, pig." The space before her hand flashed, and the image blacked out immediately. She took that well. Yeah... David thought sarcastically as he stood up, looked at Ross, and quietly asked his friend: "Tell me, how screwed am I right now?"

"You don't want to know." Ross muttered as he sat down at the terminal.

"Get my books, and bring em by for me later?" David asked as he unplugged the PET, and attached it to his belt.

"Sure." Ross responded just before he looked up at Burt and said aloud: "We're experiencing technical difficulties. I'll have them sorted out shortly. David, could you get me a bottled water? You owe me for this."

"Thanks, man." David whispered to friend just before he looked up at Professor Blanchard. He then hurriedly asked and answered his own question, and excused himself: "Is that ok? Yeah. I'll be right back." He turned and walked calmly to the door as if he was indeed going to get a bottle of water for Ross, opened it, and stepped out. However, once David was three steps down the hall, and out of sight of the class door's glass, he bolted for the building's exit. Behind him, the classroom door opened and punk girl who had promised him a pummeling yelled "HEY!" after him. David's mind shouted FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF--- as he continued to run for his dorm. He did not look back. He didn't dare....
--- A while later, at David's dorm room...

David sat back in his desk chair, and rubbed his hands over his face. He growled in frustration, but allowed it to taper off into a tired sigh. He had been sitting at his computer for the last three hours, trying in vain to locate either his Navi or his project work. David was not the most technically proficient individual on the planet, and was having no luck whatsoever in his solo search endeavors. He was at his wit's end.

David signed again, and looked down at the PET sitting on his desk. He stared at it, and pondered yet again to ask the lady Navi he'd discovered residing in his PET earlier, the very same one he'd stupidly alienated in pursuit of a passing grade, for help. I don't have anything else to lose at this point. All she can say is 'no'. With that thought, David swallowed his pride, and prepared to beg the cold Navi for help...

David picked up the PET and looked at the screen. He was mildly surprised to see the image of the Navi's face staring back up at him from within, and hesitated. He was mindful of what had occurred earlier... namely his having asked this Navi to strike a sexy pose and utter that ridiculous phrase completely out of the blue. Not that he would have objected at all if she'd complied with the former, at least.... Still.... "Hello there." David said experimentally.

"...." The Navi gave him a cold stare, but said nothing.

David got the impression he'd made the wrong impression, and set about fixing that. "Look..." David began calmly, "...What happened earlier wasn't my idea, miss. And I'm sorry I asked you to do such a demeaning thing. My back was to the wall, and I caved in. I own that, and I apologize." He sighed as he saw her expression remain unchanged. "The truth is, I'm in serious trouble right now. The same trouble that led me to say what I said earlier in class. See, my Navi was supposed to have returned with my project work earlier today. He never turned up, and neither did my work. Now, here you are." David leaned forward, and rested his chin on his hand. "I'm not going to ask you to help me, not after what I did earlier. But... I would like you to at least tell me if you know what happened to my Navi. He's an old model yellow and green N72 standard class Navi named Charlie. If you can tell me anything about him, I'd appreciate it."

The female Navi continued to give David an icy glare for a moment, then closed her eyes. David lowered the PET back to the desk, sat back in his chair, and stared up at the ceiling while wondering what he would do next. Then suddenly.... "Are you the one that unplugged the cable from the network?" David catapulted forward in his chair, and looked down at the PET screen. The Navi spoke again, her tone cool. "Are you?"

"Yes. This is my PET."

"All right. I'll help you look for him." The Navi responded with the same cool tone. "After this, we're even. Understand?"

"That's.... fine with me, miss." David said, not exactly sure what the Navi was talking about. He couldn't fathom how her helping him balanced out the scales, but he wasn't about to complain.

"Good. Plug the cable into the Net."

David jerked into action, realizing he'd frozen in place while trying to figure out what this Navi was thinking. He reached to the reel on the back of the PET, and unwound a couple of feet of ultrathin terminal cable, and plugged it in....

[To: DenTech Net]