Campus Experience

"Hyah! Hah! Take THIS!"

It was just another day on the DenTech quad. It was a nice day, so everyone was out and about, and Mei Fuujimoto was no exception. She laid on the grass, using her own long hair as a sort of makeshift pillow, seemingly about to drift off. Yet, every time she did so, she heard shouting. The lack of specific direction make it obvious where it was coming from, though..."Hey, Skye? Can you stop it for a bit and just chill?"

In her PET, a Navi was swinging around some sort of spear. That wasn't overly common, but for most, the fact she was atop a Fishy was a bit of an eyebrow raiser. "Sorry, but Ray and I need to keep training. Right, Ray?" She reached over and patted the virus atop the head, which made it happily close its eyes for the duration.

"I know, I know, the whole Virus Rider thing. But I just finished that huge project, so I'd like to reward myself with a little nap..."

"...All right, I guess we can take a break." The Navi hopped off the virus, and made her weapon vanish. "So, uh, about that problem we've been having..."

"Problem? ...Oh, you mean the one where Ray can't fly with you riding him?"

"Be a little more gentle! He's sensitive!" Sure enough, it looked like the Fishy was flinching. "But, for the general point, yeah, that. I talked to WyvernMan about it earlier today, and I think I found a remedy!"

"Please don't let it be some legendary item hidden deep in the Undernet..."

"Of course not, don't be silly. WyvernMan believes that it's a result of Ray and I bonding, and essentially becoming a single entity in battle. When that happened, he lost the ability to fly, because I can't fly."

"I...guess that makes sense. So, how do you plan on learning how to fly?"

"Well...it's not exactly cheap, getting the proper programs. But, he told me there was a way to get them without spending a single zenny!"

"What's that?"

"The mission BBS! You ask for a mission, and state your desired reward, and the board will set you up with one that offers that!"

"Sounds like mercenary work. Well, if you want to do that while I take a siesta, go right ahead."

"Well, here's the thing...some missions require an operator to do things, instead of a Navi. And others require both. What if I end up with one of those?"

"..."

"I know, I hate to bug you like this, but if I DO get one of those, will you help me?"

"...It's not like I can really just say no, can I? All right, if that's what it takes to get over Ray's erectile dysfunction."

"Don't make light of it! There there, Ray, she didn't mean it like that..." She gave her virus companion a hug, then brought up a screen in front of them. "Now, how should this go..."

-----

A few minutes later, the request was all typed and sent. "Now we just need to wait...huh? Th-That was fast!"

"What do you mean?"

"They already gave us something! Take a look."

"Hoo boy..." Mei managed to force herself up into a sitting position, and took a look. "...Tech savvy? I'm more into the physical side of stuff..."

"Yeah, but if we've learned anything from college, it's that you need to have tech skills AND mech skills if you're going to-"

"Um, yeah, I know. I've been there at all the classes, remember. It's true that I'm better at it now, though..."

"Trust me, you've always had a knack for it. You made me, and that was before you claim to have gotten better at it!"

"You can quit buttering me up! I already decided that I won't refuse because of that."

"Yay! So, let's see, what else...they need us to be 'photogenic'. A couple of cute girls like us, there's no problem there!"

"Uh-huh...mm-hmm...well, I guess we're qualified? I mean, I just read the whole thing, and I think we meet the criteria..."

"Great! I'll write that we accept!"

"Hold on! I didn't say...oh, whatever. As long as we're careful, I doubt we'll run into anything dangerous."

"And...they sent us the location coordinates! It's in Kotobuki Town, but that should be covered under your pass."

"It is. This really isn't how I wanted to spend my day, but if that'll let you and Ray fly, I guess it'll be worth it."

"It will! And, thank you for doing this. It really means a lot to me."

"You're welcome. But tomorrow I'm coming here and taking that nap, and you're going to let me do it, understand?"

"Of course!"

"All right then. A day of rest and relaxation is on the line, so I can't fail this!" Now, to get up, and walk to the station...

(TO KOTOBUKI TOWN)
"Unhhh..." The various horrors that had occurred the previous night almost seemed like a bad dream as Mei came to. "...Wait a sec. For once I feel great! That shower was amazing! And really sleep inducing..." She pushed back the sheets, revealing her sleeping attire...a large T-shirt that extended halfway down her thighs. It wasn't clear to anyone looking if there was anything on underneath. "Let's see, what time is it...10:02? Sounds about right. And on this day...Erika should be in class right now. And just as importantly, bathroom should be clear! Another shower might be nice, just to make sure last night is totally washed off..." She headed off, ready to handle some business.

Over in her PET, however, Skye was too busy to notice. She was actually in a video call with someone: a Navi in red, draconic armor, completely encased in it aside from the eyes, and with a large, fiery axe strapped to his back. Wherever he was, there were several deep holes behind him, and if one was looking, a Lavagon virus could be seen popping out of one every so often. "...And after all that, it was a mission clear."

"Hmm...quite the tale, I must admit." The other Navi thoughtfully stroked his chin...possibly. If he were a regular human, it'd have been his chin, but the armor covering his mouth somewhat resembled a dragon snout. Who knew whether or not it was flavor? "Yes, missions can be perilous to mind and body, even in non-violent contexts. Particularly for female Navis, as I understand."

"Yes sir. I definitely felt my body was in great peril at that one point...and Mei wasn't really better off. Next time, we should be more careful."

"The important thing is that you now understand that missions are not merely about rewards. Even the most harmless sounding one could place you and your operator in danger. They should not be taken lightly."

"Yes sir."

"I won't harp the point further. You understand clearly. Now, I take it your friend virus can support you in flight now?"

"Yes sir! Mei installed the necessary upgrades last night. We can fly to the outer reaches of NAXA if we want!"

"Excellent! Yes, I suppose the time has finally come..." Skye grew noticably more excited as he trailed off. "The time...for your final trial!"

A deflated balloon would aptly describe her body language, though she did perk up. "Er, final trial? So if I pass this, I'll be-"

"The first inductee into the Virus Riders in many a year, yes."

"Then I eagerly await trial instructions, sir!"

"You've most likely already done the hard part. This is simply to confirm your bond and riding skill. I shall place two pieces of data bearing my data signature in ACDC and SciLab Areas. Neither shall be placed too deeply in them. Your task is to retrieve both without dismounting your virus. A laughable task for a true Virus Rider."

"ACDC and SciLab...not difficult areas, as I recall. With Ray, we'll obtain the data in no time!"

"Ah, it's been so long since I've encountered such a spirited prospect! Remember that you are merely part of a team, and you shall prevail. And at that point, you shall be inducted as a Class E Virus Rider!"

"A Class E Virus Rider...but I haven't earned the title yet. Sir, we shall acquire the data without fail!"

"Of course, you cannot begin right this moment."

"Yes, I need Mei to operator me while we search..."

"...Actually, I was referring to the fact that I must first go and place the data. It does not simply sprout from the ground."

"O-Oh...right."

"You still have much to learn, but you're young. It's to be expected."

"Luckily, Mei's a bit indisposed right now. Hopefully, when she's done, we can get started."

"The timing is up to you. You needn't rush. But as I suspect you'll be beginning soon, I believe I'll go place the data in their proper spots."

"Yes sir! I won't keep you any further!"

"Mmm. ...Red! We have work to do!" The Lavagon that had been appearing from the holes suddenly rose, and the connection was cut.

"I wonder what it would be like to ride a dragon virus? ...Though, I think a Fishy suits me more." The Virus Rider hopeful looked over at her mount, hovering as he slept soundly. Not a surprise, considering how much celebratory flying they did last night. "Rest up further, Ray. Once you're up, our novice training comes to an end!"

----------

Around 30 minutes later, Mei re-entered her room, now fully dressed and munching on the last bit of a piece of toast. "All right, it's my free day, so what do I want to do...maybe I can finally catch up to where Erika is in Last Illusion? Or maybe practice some Hyper Crash Siblings? Wow, I guess I'm apparently really in a gaming mood...hmm, yeah, that'll kill some time. Then when she gets back, Erika and I can go do hunt down some one night stands. Haven't been able to do that for a while, what with that huge project. And...since I'm thinking out loud to myself, man, I just REALLY need a good di-"

"Mei! Mei, is that you?"

"Oh, hey Skye." The college student walked over to her desk, grabbed the PET from its charger, and placed it gently in the appropriate pocket. "You overhear all that?"

"Yeah. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, a woman's body just craves a man."

"...I meant the part where I was gonna spend the next several hours binging games."

"Oh. Well, that should be...no, wait, that's terrible!"

"I know you're not concerned that I'm not going outside to play, because I'm not 7, so explain."

"Well, you see, while you were out, I reported our mission from last night to WyvernMan."

"Okay. That's...wait, that's a huge deal! You didn't give him ALL the details, did you?"

"Well...yes. Of course I did."

"...Damn it, Skye! That's humiliating stuff!"

"I know, but I trust WyvernMan. The only soul he'd tell is Red, and she definitely won't be telling anyone."

"And Red is...?"

"His Lavagon mount. You really don't pay attention when I talk about Virus Rider stuff, do you?"

"I've had a lot on my mind, you know. But now that it's over, I guess I'll try remembering."

"That's true, but it's a little rude to not remember your Navi's mentor, I think."

"Um, I just forgot what he rides."

"For a Virus Rider, there's little distinction. But, anyway, the point is, we have a final test to perform. If we pass, we're officially Virus Riders!"

"Is there any chance my clothes are forcibly ripped off?"

"None."

"Is there any chance your clothes are forcibly ripped off?"

"...Well, I suppose the odds aren't zero, per se, but it seems really unlikely. Ray and I just need to locate a couple of pieces of data that WyvernMan has hidden on the net."

"So, our clothes are remaining intact, and aren't coming off unless for some reason we really want to."

"Yes, that's correct."

"Fantastic. I'm game."

"Wonderful! He said the data pieces are in ACDC and SciLab Areas. It didn't sound like they'd be too deep inside, but I have a feeling we may run into a battle or two first."

"That explains why you need me. All right, I think I remember how to virus bust. Send you chips, try to see what you can't, don't let you get hit too many times..."

"With Ray at full speed, they'll be lucky to hit me once, much less too many times!"

"Though, that reminds me. We had to uninstall a couple of those programs so you could fly. I know your HP dropped a bit, but what else was it?"

"UnderShirt. It's a last resort thing that prevents me from being outright reduced to 0 HP from a lethal blow, and leaves me at 1 HP. Of course, if I'm hit then, it's over."

"So no safety net, basically. But you'll only be in ACDC and SciLab, so you should still be pretty safe. Ariel gave us some good chips, after all. Although...with a name like that, does that mean you don't have, you know-"

"I wear a BRA. Not an UNDERSHIRT. And yes, I still have it."

"So it's not literal. Neat." Mei plopped in her chair, and looked over at the small computer on her desk. It didn't take up a ton of space, and lacked really high specs, but it was dependable and good enough for school work. Then, she took out the smaller computer next to her hip. "Lemme guess. You were programmed ready, right?"

"...I was going to use that exact phrase if you asked, too..."

"Heh heh. Let's start in ACDC. I think that's supposed to be the easiest Net ever, or something." Aim PET at jack in port, like a good operator..."Jack in! Skye, Execute!"

(TO ACDC NET)