A Quest with a Scarf

"A green scarf," Na'im told himself with his PET in his hands. He had already been standing in front of the university when he got the first message, just taking it easy until the second one. He put his PET in one hand while making it lean against the side of his body after closing the message's window and looked around for a path to the other side of the university.

As Na'im searched, Djinni popped up in her holographic form and sat on the side of the PET which swung back and forth in Na'im's hand. "This is the third attempt to get that SP file, right?" Djinni asked as she looked around, sometimes giggling to herself at the 'fashion' of some students walking around. She, however, also got some weird stares at her for her lack of clothing with a quick glance at Na'im for him having put Djinni in those clothes.

After a couple of seconds, Na'im figured he didn't really fit in this environment and decided to get a move on to a path at the side of the building. "That is correct," he finally answered to Djinni, "We'll just have to make the best of it." Out of the sight of most students, Na'im had taken a path along the side of the university and looked around curiously. "Why the desolate meeting place?" he asked himself and in a short time reached the back of the building. As expected he found a person with a green scarf, as such decided to approach the person. "Are you the contact person?" Na'im asked and extended his hand towards her, "My name is Na'im bin Asad."
Upon reaching the gardens, Na'im, or any normal person really, should've stopped and taken in the wonderful layout of the area. Currently, Na'im had just walked through a gate made skillfully out of ivy hedges. A fountain adorned the center of the area and there were three other hedge gates in the cardinal directions. There were four planters surrounding the fountain, each separated from the fountain and a small circular walkway around it by a low hedge. The same planters could be found in the corners of the square area Na'im had entered, each planter decorated fully with flowers of all colors. It was actually kind of hard to pick out a woman with a green scarf here, but Na'im found her all the same.

The woman who Na'im approached turned at his voice, as did a tall old man next to her. The woman could be no more than 4'8", she had a petite frame, golden hair that frayed at the sides, and teary green eyes. Besides the green scarf, she was wearing a dark orange vest over a white blouse, a forest green ballooning skirt, and weirdly, dark orange clogs. She seemed kind of nervous and intimidated by Na'im's stature, but nodded and shook Na'im's hand. "N-nice to meet you, M-mister Asad!" the girl squeaked, standing up straight, "M-my name is Lavender Forrester, I'll be in your care," Lavender said, introducing herself and letting go of Na'im's hand to back up and do a low bow and curtsy.

"And I am Professor Aurelius Rowan, Professor of Botany. It is a pleasure to be your acquaintance," the old man greeted, introducing himself and also shaking Na'im's hand firmly. The Professor seemed to be around the same height as Na'im, the difference only an inch or two, but he spoke in a grand, elegant manner, and carried himself in a regal manner. One might wonder if he was from Creamland in this case. Rowan seemed to be built blockily, and all of his white hair, sideburns, mustache, and beard were connected. It certainly gave him a gruff appearance. His eyes were a deep blue, Na'im got a feel that if he stared at them too long, he would get a sinking feeling. The Professor was dressed in a white long-sleeved dress shirt, black tie and pants, brown loafers, and a lab coat to fit his image. Though why a professor of botany needed something white was a mystery.

"T-thank you for taking m-my request," Lavender started, gulping and looking down nervously. "I requested to meet at this location because..." the girl continued, starting to sweat nervously. The professor sighed and put his hand on Lavender's shoulder and spoke for her.

"Ahem. At any rate, this location is closest to the epicenter of whatever's been causing these plant structures to appear," Rowan explained, taking out a black chrome PeT and pulling up several holoscreens displaying vines and giant roots clinging all over structures in the digital world. Rowan enlarged one and turned it to Na'im, pointing around the base area of one root. "The structures we could get rid of easily, but the problem is these non-native viruses that have been protecting them. The numbers are quite staggering, so it's been hampering our progress in clearing the area," the Professor continued, displaying pictures of mainly Wood type viruses.

"B-but we've determined that the cause of this problem in the first place... that is, if it were to be ejected from the network, the plant structures would i-immediately die out!" Lavender spoke, still squirming around.

"That brings us to another problem," Rowan commented, sighing and rubbing his forehead as he brought up another display, this time showing a red dome covered in bulky plant roots and vines. "The source has generated a defensive field around it using the root system spreading across the network for energy. These bulky roots..." Rowan started, tapping the roots along the dome barrier. "...are quite special. How? Well..." Rowan pondered before looking at Na'im curiously. "I think you'll find out when you attack them."

"S-so this fountain has the closest link to the epicenter of the problem. I-I wish you luck!" Lavender squeaked again, gesturing nervously at the jack-in port on the fountain.

Rowan sighed and turned to Na'im, "Forgive her, she's not the most confident person, but..." the Professor looked at the sky fondly. "...she has quite some skill as a student." The Professor raised his PeT as well. "I'll be assisting you in some areas with my navi as well. Are you ready, Mr. Asad?"
"So let me get this straight," Djinni started as she looked up at the professor from her position on the PET's side, "We are sending a fire Navi down a water fountain to a machine-like mainframe infested by giant plants." She stared at the professor with a serious look on her face for a few seconds, then nodded and sent a thumbs up at him as she extended her arm. "Sounds like a plan!" she exclaimed excitedly, then turned to Na'im, "Let's go already!"

"I came here knowing we were in for a fight," Na'im told the professor after the question whether he was ready or not, "We are ready as can be at this point." Passing the two he had spoken with, Na'im walked over to the fountain and sat down on the ground with his back against the side of the fountain. Glancing over at the two for a moment, then looking at his PET, he initiated the process of jacking into the Network of the school. "Also..." he said carefully while his gaze turned to the girl, looking at her from over his sunglasses, "Just try to relax. I don't bite. If you were the one to request this task to be done, instead of the teachers, I understand you hold some connection with this happening. If there is anything I should know beyond what I've been told, let me know." A small smile surfaced on Na'im's face and he peacefully held his back against the fountain while enjoying the sound of the water hitting the liquid surface.
Strolling wistfully through the rest area, Burt kept his hands in his pockets and kept his eyes out for a girl with a green scarf. As he continued, a thought egged at him: "Don't I know a guy named Na'im with a navi named Djinni?" He struggled to come up with a recollection of their faces, but all he could remember is that they looked very foreign and weird at the time. "Ah, well, I'll just look for the green scarf," he muttered to himself as his eyes scanned the area from behind their half-oval spectacles.

"Is it fine to just jump into somebody's SP mission like that? Furthermore, is that even what your superior really wanted you to do?" his navi asked uncertainly, keeping her hands crossed in front of her.

"Psh, it's helping! Those kids don't appreciate me anyways. It'll do em' good to sit waiting on me for a while!" he laughed carelessly, ignoring the fact that this certainly wouldn't be the first time that he'd left his students to wait on him till the end of his allotted teaching time. Burt continued his search, but before he could actually find the girl with the scarf, another figure jumped out at him. "Ah, right! That huge guy with the keyboard, I remember him," he chuckled. "We met at the tournament. As I recall, his navi is quite a looker!"

Exorcist's brow knit again with irritation. It was beginning to get really annoying how easily her operator was distracted by other women. That feeling ignited again as Burt saw Na'im's companions.

"Well hey, who's this little cutie?" he started, moving to introduce himself to the unfortunately shy 4'8" girl, then stopping. His eyes shifted behind his glasses to the large man standing beside her. Not only did he look like he might not approve of any advances on the part of a man on the young girl, but he looked even more familiar than Na'im... although they'd never spoken before, Burt recognized the man as another professor from somewhere within the school. Drawing himself up, the professor decided to abandon that greeting and try again once they'd initiated, figuring it was as easy as that to erase his earlier advance on the girl.

Turning to Na'im he greeted the tall Whazzapian by raising one hand for a hi-five. "Hey man, how's it hanging? Where's that cute navi of yours?" he asked, his eyes again shifting around anxiously. "And uh, where are we supposed to jack in anyways?" he continued, totally ignoring the fact that Na'im probably didn't even know that he had butted into participation in the mission.
At that moment, Na'im received an e-mail notification. He figured it had something to do with the strange man who had just wandered into the gardens and started talking to him.

Rowan raised his eyebrows in surprise, and Lavender seemed to jump five feet into the air before running behind the Botany Professor, as Burt made his way over to the gardens. Rowan determined that Burt seemed to be acquainted with Na'im, but the man of his same height hadn't responded yet.

"Mr. Blanchard... I was under the impression that any visit you made to the campus was due to Professor Darwin notifying you that there was a class to teach... yet this area is nowhere near your assigned classroom for the semester... How very peculiar... What do you think, Lavender?" Rowan mused, stroking his beard thoughtfully as he turned to the cowardly student behind him.

"O-oh! Uh, me!? Um, I-I think he's here t-to help with the situation! Yeah! T-that must be it!" Lavender replied, bolting up straight in Rowan's presence. The professor sighed and shook his head, before warily turning to face Burt.

"I believe... Mr. Asad shall make the final decision on whether you can participate or not.. Be prepared, Mr. Blanchard," Rowan advised gruffly, popping up a holoscreen on his PeT. "We are in the middle of battle at the moment... What shall the next move be... I wonder." Rowan pondered, as Lavender reached around in a knapsack full of what looked like battlechips. Where did that come from?
Still looking over the top of his sunglasses, he noticed Burt arriving and without much effort mingling into the conversation and situation. As Burt approached the girl and professor, Na'im just quietly kept his eyes on them. "She evaded the question or maybe there's really nothing more to it," he thought, listening to the three. Something was bothering him though, but couldn't quite place it. Once Burt had moved towards him, Na'im seeing Burt's raised hand for the high-five, he wasn't really sure what to think of the entire situation. He had read the e-mail he had received and noticed Burt had reacted to the same topic Na'im had sent for the mission. But what was driving this man towards him, other than wanting to meet the girl. Na'im scratched his forehead, still looking at the raised hand of Burt, and figured there was no real harm to him cooperating. It's not like he would receive only half an SP now.

"The fountain," Na'im said as he stood up, holding one arm beneath the PET and using his empty hand to return the high-five although it wouldn't have looked incredibly enthusiastic from a different person's view. "There's an infra-red connection in the fountain," Na'im repeated himself with more information, "I am fine with you tagging along. And my Navi is already in the network, waiting for your companion to join her." Na'im pointed at his own screen, then started to settle down against the fountain again. "You had better hurry up if you still want to seem viable for the reward, Burt," Na'im said as he moved downwards and once he had sat down, "Glad to have you at our side, Exorcist."
"I jack in right here? Alright then," Burt said with a smile, happy that his high-five was returned. He couldn't remember the last time somebody had actually accepted a high-five from him. That Na'im was a real swell guy. "Don't worry, with Exorcist and me here, your mission will get wiped up twice as fast! Counterinfectualists like us are really good when it comes to clearing out infestations on the net," he laughed smugly, crossing his arms across his chest with baseless confidence.

"I'm glad to be working with you both again, Mr. Asad," Exorcist replied with a respectful bow. Bhikkhuni gave a shorter, stiffer bow, since she was unsure of why her master was bowing in the first place. Smiling, Exorcist conjured to memory what she could of Djinni... she was pretty nice back when they met. It seemed like she always had the benefit of teaming up with nice people, which was essential to balance out the weird personality of her operator.

Bhikkhuni elbowed her partner in the side. "Hey, Ex! Who's the navi we're working with?" she asked with a shifty look. It appeared that the SP no longer trusted anyone that her master associated with after meeting Burt.

"Oh, she's a good person. She's um... well, she's not the type of person you can look over or forget," she answered enigmatically, pressing her hands together to indicate finality. "You'll like her though... I think."

The SP stared back warily as the two jacked into the Dentech network.
"Welp, buddy, it was fun, but I just remembered a pressing engagement with an SP order site!" Burt expressed to Na'im, clapping his unreceptive buddy on the back with one hand. "Good meeting you, Rowan. Try not to let your navi get into trouble, Lavender. You don't want to end up with a navi like the one we just fought, riiight?" he snickered unknowingly.

He was also very conveniently brushing off the issue that he'd been called here to resolve regarding his own class. As far as he was concerned, having helped out Dr. Rowan repaid that debt.

"This is the most fun I've had in a while... And with another girl joining my delightful crew, I'm sure the good times are just getting started!" Burt giggled whimsically, heading back out to the metroline.

((Headed to Scilabs))
"It was fun, yes," Na'im confirmed in a reply to Burt and while it was tempting to return a similar blow to Burt, maybe his shoulder, Na'im just jotted it down on his mental note to return the favour one day. After Burt left, the Operator checked his PET and noted a brightly lit up image of Exorcist's emblem. "As expected," he muttered as he began motions to stand up.

"I apologize for the rough handling on Ivy," Na'im commented as he turned his eyes to Lavender. He had figured there was a connection between Ivy and Lavender even before they had entered the network to investigate and fight. After all, what was she doing here if Rowan had taken care most of it. "Well then..." he told the two and nodded, then turned around in an attempt to remove himself from the scene.

"Hold on!" shouted Djinni's voice from the PET, "I'm still getting dressed, but I want to see them off too!" With a defeated look on his face, Na'im turned around again to face the two and raised his PET to chest level. Only a few seconds passed before Djinni appeared, completely clothed again although her facial mask was lowered. "Ivy," she started, looking at Lavender, "Next time try to cooperate with your Operator instead of rebelling against them. We are programs, but the Operators care for us as if we're one of them. If you had asked, they would've listened." She then crossed her arms below her ample chest, turned her face away and continued with a louder voice than before. "And that is enough wisdom from me!" she exclaimed, her hologram immediately vanishing afterwards.

"You've heard it," Na'im said, "We'll be taking our leave now." With those words he turned around again and left from the path he came from. "Oh, and..." Na'im said on his way out, but loud enough for Lavender and Rowan to hear, "If you have more trouble or if one of you wants to chat, my e-mail is still with the NetPolice." That was the last they heard or saw of him.