Settled near the hospital of Beach Street, in between a cafe and clothing store, is a small flower shop with all sorts of flowers in front of the window and a large wooden sign at the top that says 'Sunflower☼Sunshine'. The owner of the little shop is Alexis Darling, a woman whose family has been into running flower shops since ye olde days.

The shop is two stories tall, the bottom floor being used entirely for the shop and the top floor being used as Alexis' actual house. A small round fountain is in the middle of the bottom floor with water lilies and other aquatic plants, while the ground flowers and plants are aligned by the walls and the window. All the way in the back is a counter with a cash register that has a screen in front of it and lacks any sort of buttons one would expect. This register is operated by Alexis' Navi, VenusMan.EXE, and people can pay here with credit card, cash or have their Navi hand it directly.

The top floor has a living room, bedroom, a small kitchen and a small bathroom. All appliances Alexis and VenusMan need are in this building, from PC to refrigerator.

"Thanks for the purchase, sir," VenusMan's voice sounded from the cash register, his image being depicted on the screen, "I hope your wife enjoys the flowers." As the satisfied business man left the store, VenusMan leaned against the side of the screen and generated a cigarette through data. Having a lighter in his other hand, he was about to light it until...

"Aaaah!" Alexis exclaimed as she spotted the Navi's actions, "No smoking during the times when we're open. Wait until your break." The Navi looked at Alexis, back at the cigarette and eventually put the lighter and cigarette away as if nothing had happened and nothing was going to happen. "That's better," Alexis said and turned to look at the shop's interior. It was a peaceful day, not a lot of customers and the flowers were all doing well. "The funds haven't been doing well lately though," Alexis sighed.

"How about busting?" VenusMan commented nonchalantly, putting away the new cigarette he had created as Alexis pointed her attention to him. "Yeah, we can use the gains of that for the shop," he continued, just staring ahead of him which was the other side of the screen, "Maybe even get some big cash prize eventually."

"That doesn't sound too bad," Alexis said, putting a finger by her chin as she thought, "But what about the shop?"

"Evening busting," VenusMan simply said, pushing himself off of the screen's side and standing back in the middle as he pointed at a customer who had entered the shop.

"Welcome!" Alexis excitedly said as she noticed the new customer, "How may I help you?"

--- That evening ---

"Beach Net, here I come," VenusMan said, the PET in Alexis' hands as the two were back in the living area of the building. The TV was on, a documentary about bees was shown, and Alexis sat relaxed on the couch. "Gotta start out well right from the start," VenusMan continued.

"Of course," Alexis started, putting down coordinates into her PET, "That's why I'm sending you to ACDC."

"Wait wha-" VenusMan began, but his voice was cut off by the transmission intermission, his data being sent to the ACDC Net.
"-you mean 'Nope', Alexis?" VenusMan asked as he reformed in the screen of the PET, a background of vines behind him. Of course he knew it was late and Alexis had to take care of the shop, but it was always the shop first and fun later. The shop was still doing well and busting would've helped them get additional funding, but VenusMan preferred to do this for his amusement rather than work.

"It's late," Alexis said as VenusMan had expected, "And the shop won't open without us." In her hands was the new chip they had received, the PET on the table before her, and she looked over it curiously while she spoke. "But I think we can do that again," she stated. It was always interesting to try something new and with this new 'game' they had, VenusMan could show off his botanical prowess and maybe even advertise the shop.

"Of course," VenusMan stated, "Now go to bed. Another day of work is ahead of us. And put me in my usual spot, if you could."

Alexis rubbed her eyes and nodded silently, then went on to undress, brush her teeth and eventually slip into her bed. Before doing so, however, she had placed her PET by her window, allowing VenusMan to look up at the sky whether it was starry or completely dark. It was a cool and mysterious thing to do.

--- The Next Morning ---

The sun was shining brightly outside and the flower duo was standing in the shop area. It was a peaceful day with barely any customers, which was relaxing but in the end painful on the cash register. VenusMan was just sitting by his PET at the cash register, hands behind his head and his eyes closed behind his sunglasses. Alexis, on the other hand, was taking care of the flowers while it was still empty in the shop.

"I suppose there aren't a lot of injured people in the hospital," VenusMan commented, as most customers were people shopping for family or friends in the hospital.

"That's not something you should joke about," Alexis replied while watering the land flowers. The colors were vibrant and the smell of damp flowers spread throughout the store. The door was open and inviting, but it didn't help much for the amount of customers. "Can't always be a busy day."
Dharma's private yacht touched down at Beach Street harbor nearly a day after leaving NetVegas. Stretching, the president of Heart Payne Pharmaceutical Industries got up from her overly luxurious, black-sheeted bed, rubbed her eyes, and peeked outside. A glorious, sunny day. "Good; that'll make manipulating that poor sap flower-shop lab rat all the easier. Pawns like sunshine at the beach," she reminded herself with a cheerful smile.

Unbuttoning the back of her jet-black sleeping gown, Dharma began to realize an error. She'd taken her limousine to the harbor, then taken her yacht here... but now she was at the end of the rope. The only private property she had capable of moving around Beach Street was Phillip, and she'd die before she'd let anyone see him carrying her around. Hiring taxis or hitch-hiking was also very against her code. She couldn't be indebted to anyone, nor could she use such common means of travel.

Sighing, she realized that her option now was to walk.


After dressing, Dharma left Phillip upon her yacht, grabbed Phero's PET, and headed out towards the beach, still in her black dress miniskirt and lab-coat. Unfortunately, her wardrobe was presenting problems at every turn. She hadn't gotten halfway up the beach and towards the street before she realized that all-black was not terribly suited for hot, summery days. Neither were high-heels, for that matter. She soon realized that her lab coat just couldn't be worn; sullenly, she pulled it off, folded it, and hung it over one arm.

By the time Dharma was up at the street-light, she was beginning to contemplate whether she could do without the tie as well... or possibly the shoes... maybe she should have just come in a swimsuit? No, all of these were below her dignity. She tried to ignore the sweat rolling down the back of her neck as she waited for the walk-sign to change. As it turned out, long hair and expertly applied make-up weren't ideal for long, summery walks either.

The tie had come off by the time she reached Alexis' shop; her collar was still tastefully left only one button open. She was in luck, however; one look at the shop told her that the element of love must be present. Someone obviously used this as a combination store/home. That someone was clearly a pawn to be taken advantage of. Smiling and wiping sweat from her forehead, Dharma entered the store.

Unfortunately, there weren't a lot of customers inside... any customers, really. The only one inside was a sort of lower-class woman, obviously dressed for work. She was hoping to do the business and gain the lab rat separately, but it didn't look like that was an option. Dharma made sure her philanthropist smile was properly plastered across her face, but she just couldn't fix those eyebrows. "Hello! Pardon, but do you have time for a chat? I'm looking to buy as well, of course," she asked, giving a cute wave as she walked through the door.
'A CUSTOMER!' flashed through the minds of VenusMan and Alexis once Dharma had entered, their eyes turned to the new woman. VenusMan's eyes were pitch black and Alexis was a human, but if they could they'd be having the mark of zennies popping from their eyes. "I am always available for a chat," Alexis happily said to Dharma as she approached the woman. The smell of money flew into Alexis' nose, easily mistaking any other smell Dharma could have at that point. "And most certainly available for purchases!" Alexis continued, forcefully grabbing the hand Dharma had waved with and guided her along the store.

"As happy as you are with the customer," VenusMan stated from his screen in the register, "It's looking more like she just wants to talk with you." As Alexis' partner in this store, he still wanted to sell something as well so the two could go out once in a while for a break. As cool or cold he wanted to be, he still enjoyed staring at the real sky and watching clouds drift by or counting stars.

"You're right," Alexis said after she had dragged Dharma to the vicinity of the fountain in the middle of the store and turned to her captured customer, "I apologize for my behavior. I got a bit excited since business hasn't been so well recently. What can I help you with?"
Dharma smiled; the casual observer would see sympathy, but the observant would definitely identify it as a belittling expression. "It's a good thing they have lots of hand sanitizer in these places. I don't want to go around with fertilizer-stained hands," she sighed inwardly, resisting the urge to wipe her hands off on her lab coat. Of course, in reality, she wouldn't have had the option, since Alexis was keeping a pretty tight grip on her.

"We can talk business first if you like," she cooed, broadening her smile. If there's one thing her family cash had taught her, it was that no position gives you more leverage than the ability to take back all of your promised money at a whim. Discussing the purchase early on would make it a carrot and stick, causing Alexis to do whatever was asked of her. "I'm looking to purchase flowers in large quantity. The arrangement is not as important as... other less tangible attributes. I want flowers that symbolize love, you know? Can you find me something like that?"

She stood still, indicating her hope that Alexis would scurry off and pick out a lovely flower sample for her. "I have another proposition for you too, if you like. My name is Dharma; I represent Heart-Payne Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. I'm looking to perform some field tests of very safe, ethically-produced net-chemical compounds using my navi, Phero. Do you happen to have a navi who might be willing to participate in some tests?" she asked, lowering her eyelids ever so slightly. Dharma's odd eyes watched her prey almost unblinkingly.

Phero knew pretty well how unlikely it was that the compounds were either safe or ethically tested, but said nothing. She was, however, looking forward to her chance to meet another navi. Phero had literally never seen another navi in her entire life, so just imagining the experience was thrilling.

"The tests are really quite simple. We would jack in to any network you choose and then do some runs against ordinary viruses. Throughout these battles, Phero would lightly spritz your navi with one of our company's experimental net-pheromone products. Of course, when I say 'experimental,' I imply no danger to your navi's safety," she assured Alexis, gently brushing a few strands of black hairs away from her cheek. The simple gesture was actually thought out; it was a motion she used to suggest that she was calm and not particularly invested in her conversation partner's answer.
Alexis had already gone looking for flowers that Dharma had requested. Roses were a common object for romance and love. While not exactly a rainbow, Alexis had picked multiple colors of roses between a spectrum of yellow and red. Sunflowers held a personal place in Alexis' heart, so she took some to offer Dharma as well. Aside from those she got some that customers usually bought when it was painfully obvious it was for a loved one.

While Alexis was searching and while Dharma's voice was not specifically directed at him, VenusMan began to speak up. "Phero, huh? Sounds like I have at least 33% chance that it's a girl." But in the end it was Alexis' decision whether they were going to participate in this 'net experiment' or not. "I guess I'm game if the lady wants to."

Returning to Dharma with the flowers, Alexis continued to speak. "VenusMan is fine with assisting you. I'm still new to the fighting of viruses, but I'm sure it'll work out!" she said to Dharma, then began to explain about the flowers in detail. It didn't take much time, but Alexis wanted to make sure Dharma was up-to-date on the details.

"If I'm not going alone," VenusMan started, "Then let's go to the network of this area." They had only one chip, so mostly he was putting some hope in the arrival of his new ally being stronger than himself. "Besides, we'll need any chance we can get to improve ourselves," he ended with.

Alexis tilted her head from side to side, thinking, then eventually nodded. "I have more of these flowers in the back," Alexis mentioned, "Let's make arrangements for the flowers after we've done your experiments."
"Good, good. I like the sound of it," Dharma nodded, keeping her plastered-on smile. The company president wasn't particularly fond of talking to people who knew more about relevant topics than she did, so Alexis' knowledge of flowers started to work her nerves. "I'm sure whatever you pick out will be excellent and I will, of course, purchase in large quantities. I'll ponder the specifics as we continue," she suggested.

"Madam President, if you don't mind my asking, have you seen the navi I'm going to team up with?" Phero inquired curiously, wishing she could peek out of her PET. "I'd like to know details so that I can prepare myself to meet him." Of course, all of this was over speaker, as Phero had no practice yet with using private channels (nor did Dharma, for that matter).

"Now now, Phero, be patient," her operator replied, smiling her fake smile and pushing her hair from her face in a quick, graceful flick. "You'll meet your partner soon enough." For now, Dharma's preoccupying thought was making her navi's first impression as impacting as possible. If Phero could instill love, that'd help her to understand the phenomena. And of course, once she understood the phenomena, it'd be easy to bottle it and sell it to consumers.

"It stands to reason she'll need something appropriate for the beach network. I don't have the design team with me right now... but I'm sure I can come up with something if I put my mind to it. I am a genius, after all. A genius in all things," Dharma reminded herself, punctuating her thought with a devious laugh. "Well, if you're ready, point me to a jack-in spot and we'll get started," she requested, keeping her smile as she quickly pattered away on her PET to get Phero appropriate beachwear ready.
"Of course," Alexis said after Dharma requested the location of the jack-in spot and pointed at the fountain that was in the middle of the room, "You can access the net through with infra-red through the fountain's point. The connection point is in the top." She then lowered her arm and looked at Dharma again, "But if you have no infra-red connection you're free to use the slot at the cash register." After those words Alexis left Dharma by the fountain and headed for the register herself, since her PET was still there.

"Didn't I hear another voice...?" VenusMan asked himself, crossing his arms and staring out of the screen. But before he could inquire about this, he was sent into the Beach network through the connection of the cash register while Alexis removed her PET from the stand.

"VenusMan will be waiting for your Navi, miss Dharma," Alexis said as she returned to Dharma, her PET in her hands this time, "I made sure you can't miss him." She felt proud that she got the connection to cooperate with her and set 'VenusMan' as the destination for others entering. The truth was that she had issues with the connection at times, having a Navi originally to destroy the viruses in the cash register, but this was unnecessary information and might've made Dharma turn away.
Dharma's smile widened briefly and her eyebrows lowered amiably; the expression, which made her look somewhat sentimental and happy, was actually her trying to hold back a laugh. "Dharma Heart-Payne? Using an outdated, low-grade wired PET?" she joked to herself. "If only this sunshine girl could fathom the irony..." With a grin, she prepared herself to speak. "Sure, Phero's looking forward to meeting him."

As excited as Phero was, Dharma may have been equally so. There was just something about testing out unstable chemical compounds on unwittingly volunteering lower class guinea pigs that put a smile on her face and a song in her heart. Fortunately for her, she got the opportunity to do that a lot due to the nature of her industry and the capital of her business.

"We're going to have a lot of fun," she finished with a smile, folding her hands in front of herself while she waited for her pheromone dispenser to meet its new victim/ test subject.

((Jacking in to Beach Net))
"Well, it's been a pleasure, but I'd better get back to the boat before Phillip begins to worry," Dharma finished, withdrawing her PET. Of course, Dharma could really care less if Phillip was worrying; she hoped he was. In reality, she just needed to get Phero far away from the plant guy before she became too enlightened about traditional netop/navi relationships. The last thing she needed was the key to her research becoming convinced she should be treated as a regular navi. "I'll place the order electronically, if that's alright with you. I'm sure I'll find you online," the president continued, leaving the store quickly.

"I was really enjoying working with VenusMan," Phero sighed, looking upset. "Did we really have to leave so early?"

"That's exactly the problem, Phero. If you become too attached to the test subjects, how are we supposed to experiment? Please try to keep a professional distance between yourself and them from now on," Dharma explained, walking at high speed.

"But I thought I was supposed to inspire love! How will I do that if I-?"

"We'll discuss this later!" the operator huffed, clenching her fists and speeding up even further.


Shortly after, Dharma's ship took her to Scilabs, where she planned to do a little shopping.

((Leaving for Scilabs))