Welcome to Sharo!

Jared stepped out of the airport terminal, and-- "JESUS, IT'S COLD!" Jared shouted as he did an about face and quickly retreated back into the building to buy a much heavier coat and coveralls from the duty-free shop. Several people looked at the Netopian man, and laughed, shook their heads, rolled their eyes, or whatever they tended to do when another idiot foreigner came to their country ill-prepared.


Sometime later, Jared, after wandering the huge terminal building for quite a while, finally locating the duty free shop, and making his purchases, eventually emerged from the terminal. Only this time he was properly equipped to handle the cold. He'd also had the presence of mind to purchase an insulated pack for toting his tech gear around in. After all, my portable network gear wasn't designed for this sort of climate.... Huh, I'm glad I put it all in my carry-on luggage, now that I think about it.

These thoughts carried Jared all the way to the bus stop, where he promptly boarded and went on his way to Mr. Makov's address.


An hour or two later, Jared arrived at.... "Is this a joke? I just flew to Sharo to make a house call? Wait, no, even better; I just paid money to fly here to make a house call." Jared muttered to himself as the utter ridiculousness of the situation hit him. He buried his head in his hands as he realized what complete overkill calling him out here really was. "Couldn't they have called a local technician?"

Jared sighed and lowered his hands. His breath made a misty cloud before his face as he did so. He calmed down and shunted those thoughts aside as he shifted to professional customer service mode. He stepped forward, and made his way across the property to what appeared to be the front entrance. He then rang the doorbell, and waited, patiently.
A few seconds of waiting in the cold later, the door of the house opened to reveal a man appearing in his forties. The man wasn't exactly intimidating, being fairly short with what could have been well-kept brown hair if not for the look of having messed it up out of frustration, slightly roughened features turned soft with middle age, and a faint stubble rounding out his face, while wearing a gray sweatshirt and typical blue jeans.

"Yes, can I help you?" he asked in what was intended to be a polite tone, though a slight hint of impatience crept into it. The source of this was obvious, as his computer rested just within view one room over from the entrance of the house, its monitor displaying what was probably the man's homepage. Or rather, trying to display it; the screen was choked with explosions and weaponsfire while the speakers echoed this in the sound of gunblasts, leaving very little room to show the actual homepage.
Jared did his best not to look at the screen past the frazzled gentleman at the door, and instead focused on delivering his canned professional field-tech introduction to the man at the door. "Hello, sir. I'm Jared Farnam. I am a technical support contractor currently working with the Global Network Administration." He kept his tone business like, but kept his manner more relaxed. This approach usually assured the customers they were dealing with a professional, but didn't serve to set them on edge with unnecessary sternness. Though I'm pretty sure this guy is happy to see me either way, his nerves are already shot from dealing with whatever's infected his computer... No need to add to it.

Jared was fairly certain this was the man he was looking for, but he went ahead and did what any field tech would do and asked anyway... "Would you happen to be Mr. Jeff Makov?"

"I would be, yes, I'm glad you could make it," the man named Jeff said, stepping out of the door frame to allow Jared access. "I hope you didn't go through too much trouble getting here," he added as he led him into the next room, where the scene portrayed on the monitor and in the speakers was relatively unchanged.

The man's PET sat beside the computer, projecting his navi's status and image next to the monitor. It was through this that Jared could get his first real glance at the situation inside the computer. The navi: an orange-armored knight with pink hair and a sword to match was riding a beaver SP and facing off against a trio of DarkMechs, while shots from something very large in the distance hit the ground around all four combatants. Judging from their proximity to the viruses, it could be inferred that whatever was firing had been aiming for the viruses, but might have been missing deliberately. Adding to this theory, another shot hit the knight square in the chest with precision that could not be accident. The HP bar under the image dropped by most of its current, albeit low, amount, lowering the navi to critical condition.

"I got this thing about a week ago," Jeff explained, "after my computer got infested from an injection attack. I hate to say it, but my navi's never been very good at virus busting, so I've had to rely on automated programs like this. But as you can see, it's just gotten worse since this one was installed."
As Jeff stepped back from the doorway, Jared stepped through it and tactfully replied to the customer with: "Oh, it was no big deal." And, this was true as far as Jared was concerned. Or, rather it should have been. The GNA is making way too much fuss over this. Any local tech would have sufficed, I imagine. I'm not about to tell the customer that, though.

Jared's thoughts were interrupted when he looked upon the screen and saw the source of all the noise coming from the computer. What he saw there made him rethink his personal position on this assignment... O---okay, that's really bad. Not just DarkMechs, but something in there is doing a really good job of impersonating Broadside. Serves me right for thinking this was going to be easy.

As the Navi on the screen took a hit, Jared decided to abandon standard procedure. Normally, he'd take the time to setup his portable server and console, then tackle the problem after he'd setup his software to do the job. But, in this case, while he still had that luxury, the Navi on the screen didn't. "Ok... Plan B." He muttered to himself as he took out his monitor glasses, put them on, and plugged them into his PET. "Hey, Broadside. Get ready to jack straight into a battle in progress."


Broadside heard his Net Op's warning, and signaled Ro to ready himself. As Ro jogged over to the arms rack, and retrieved rifles for the both of them while Broadside turned back to his Net Op and made an unusual request... "Jared, I request that you send some chip data to us before we enter combat. I wish to be fully prepared before hand."

Jared blinked. "Umm... sure, what do you want?"

"First, I'd like to know more bout the situation."

"It looks like the customer's Navi is facing off against DarkMechs while riding on an SP. Meanwhile some thing's out there firing cannons into the melee; consider it hostile. Also, the Navi is critically injured, so we need to act fast."

"Then I request two RageClaw1s, the ElecKnife, a MagBomb1, a Shotgun, and a ZapRing1." As Broadside finished speaking, Ro whistled at him to get the Navi's attention. Broadside looked over at the SP just as his Guard Rifle sailed through the air between them. He raised his right arm and managed to catch it somewhat clumsily. "Thank you."

"No problem, chief." Ro replied as he activated the field generator on his riot shield. He then busied himself with tuning the generator to double it's output.

Just then, something stirred in the back of Broadside's mind.... Whoa, whoa, wait-a-second. The errant thought began with what seemed to Broadside to be mock-shock. Did Mr. Stoic just thank someone? All on his own, no less! Impressive.

Broadside managed to tune it out as he opted to focus on sorting out the newly incoming chip data instead. He removed his left arm from the sling it rested in and materialized one of the RageClaw1s on it. He then walked over to Ro, nd tapped the SP's left hand with his own. "You will need this to defend yourself." Ro nodded as the RageClaw transferred over to the SP's left arm, forming a powered gauntlet over it.

"You should also use this as a bayonet." Broadside said as he materialized the cylindrical shape of an unlit beam sword in his right hand, then proceeded to hand it over to the SP. "Let me know when your equipment checks are done."

"Roger that." Ro replied as he opened the bottom section of his rifle, and installed the new device.

While Ro adjusted his Guard Rifle to accept the ElecKnife, Broadside materialized a new RageClaw1 powered gauntlet over his left arm. He then summoned his suit of combat armor, and slotted a chip clip into his rifle. He heard a final clack-ing sound a moment later, followed by Ro's voice. "Ready."

Broadside nodded in acknowledgment as he contacted his Net Op. "Jared, we're ready for combat."


"Good luck." Jared said as he jacked the two into the computer....

((Jack-In: SharoNet))

((Note: Rule Exception: The equipping of battlechips prior to combat has been approved in this instance.))
((From: SharoNet))

As soon as Broadside and Ro returned to the PET, Jared took off his monitor goggles, and set them and the PET both on the desk. He then moved over to the computer tower, grabbed it, and tilted it forward. He reached behind the case, and felt for the rocker switch to turn the system off, found it after a few seconds, and turned the infected machine off. "There, now things can't get any worse."

Jared stood up, walked back to his bag, and took out his technician's tools. He selected a bit driver and a hooked probe for pulling jumpers and cables, then turned back to the case. "Next, we disconnect it from the internet, and stop the flood of viruses.... Hey, Broadside, while I'm pulling this case apart, post up the chip data I have listed under Trade.Dat in the chip trader BBS. After I pull the plug on this NIC, I'll be along to add text to it."


"Good." Jared replied absently as he pulled the side cover off the expensive tower, and froze. After a moment a long, low pitch whistle escaped his lips. Now that... that is some serious hardware. An NMTC Hex-D Core server processor. That's two months of my pay right there, and that's just the start...! Jared took a deep breath and managed to look away from the computer he wished he owned while he laid out the anti-static mat. With the mat in place, and his tools at-hand, he turned back to the tower. Okay, here we go.

---- Half an hour later....

Jared had long ago pulled the NIC out of the computer in less than half a minute of reaching into the box. Since then he'd been trading battlechip data across the net while consulting online knowledge bases about the threat his Navi had already faced, and would face again. Both endeavors aimed at making the next incursion into the infected PC more successful than the last. Unfortunately, his web search turned up very little. Nothing Jared had learned about the Trojan had gone beyond his basic knowledge of how to deal with them... and he's already taken those steps. Well, that just goes to show Jeff isn't quite as culpable as I thought. This virus has only been around for maybe a week, tops. Which means, I'm the guy on the spot for documenting how to take it down.... Lovely.

The chip trading had gone much better. In the last while, Jared had completed no less than a half dozen transactions, and the results had been worth while. It's a sad statement about just how powerful this virus is that I'm actually okay with the idea of giving my 'walking collateral damage disaster' of a Navi enough firepower to de-format a Hard Drive just to deal with it.... This thought carried the Netopian across the room to the shut-down computer. He flipped the power switch on, and allowed the system to post and boot into a 'safe-mode' run level while he donned his monitor goggles once again. "Okay, Broadside. We're going to take another crack at that Trojan. Only, this time, I want you going in as a mech."


"Good." Jared started up the firewall to prevent viral intrusions, plugged the PET into the now isolated PC, and jacked his Navi into the computer the old fashioned way.

((To: SharoNet))
As Broadside fired his main cannon, Jared's view screen flashed and died. and his monitor goggles went completely clear. The video drivers had gone into safe mode temporarily, and were now in the process of rebooting. I am somehow glad Jeff didn't see that. Truthfully, he was also fairly glad he'd turned off the sound, too. Which means Jeff also didn't hear it. Then again, I'm glad I didn't hear it either. I'm betting that one would have done a number on my eardrums and the PET's speakers-- Oh? Jared's thoughts were interrupted as the chips he'd slotted in ejected themselves from the PET, prompting him to raise an eyebrow. I know Broadside hasn't used all of them yet. He didn't have time... He looked at the status indicator on the PET that indicated whether the Navi was in the PET or not, and saw the light remained off. The indicator for a solid connection hadn't died, either. Jared wasn't exactly sure if this was a good thing or not. He wasn't entirely sure whether or not his Navi had blown himself to pieces... the screen wasn't coming back up fast enough for Jared to tell. Okay... I'll just try slotting in a few more chips, and hope for the best.

With that thought, Jared picked up the chips off the floor and started slotting them back into the PET. After the first two were in, he picked up an ElecReel1 and hesitated. Yeah... no. The Netopian returned the chip to his custom carrying case and selected another in its place. He then found the second ElecReel1 chip sitting on the floor, and put it away too. I'll be damned if I'm going to make matters worse. He slotted in a trio of new chips from his chip case, and mashed the [Send] key before collecting the remaining two chips from the floor and placing them back in the case. Here's hoping.
Jared was frustrated by this time. The PET had stopped ejecting old chips in order to accept new ones, and the screen still wouldn't give him a visual of the inside of the PC. He'd begun searching for replacement drivers for the PET's blown video and audio software when the indicators on the PET changed, signaling the return of his Navi. Jared was relieved to see it, but didn't have a means of communicating with Broadside for the time being. Instead he simply took solace that the Navi had made it back, and went back to looking for new software online.

----Two hours later....

Jared had replaced all of the trashed software in the PET, and had gotten the story from Broadside on what had transpired in the final battle with the Trojan. When his Navi had shown him the massive destruction wreaked upon the drive partitions, Jared had gone online, and arranged a trade in order to acquire a MetalZone chip. He'd then sent Broadside back into the PC to fix the partitions manually. When that task was completed, Jared had then reconnected the network hardware, and restored the PC's network access. As an added bonus, he went ahead and setup proper security for the system, and updated all of the OEM drivers to better after market and open source versions. The last of those updates had just completed, and the Netopian Net Tech was more than happy to start packing his tools away at last. "Alright, Mr Makov, your computer is fully repaired, updated, and protected from future virus threats."
Makov put on a relieved face when Jared actually talked to him. He had sat anxiously for hours, sitting on his hands. Now, the knowledgeable would have finished the job. The man walked up to the computer, which was starting to boot back up after a round of driver updates. Bending over the screen, Jeff reached for the mouse, and started clicking. He looked for any sign of damage, mostly through a multitude of documents sprayed out across the screen in little windows. Jeff breathed a sigh of relief, and shut down the computer.

"Thank you. I don't know what I'd do without you. There's some files messed up, but they're old, and I can live without them. I'll transfer your payment to the Network Administration," Jeff said. He then seemed to fidget around a bit, not sure of what to say next, not feeling like showing the technician to the door himself.
"Alright then. Glad I could help." Jared replied as he picked up his pack, and headed for the door. That certainly could have gone better. The moment the Netopian stepped outside, he discovered the sun had gone down. He also discovered it could, in fact, get colder. He closed the door behind him, and trudged ahead into the frigid night, thinking ahead to the invite he'd received to visit the Yoka Springs Inn. I will be so glad to get back to Electopia. Maybe a soak in the springs will chase the cold from my bones. No doubt they'll be covered in frost by the time I get there. Ugh.

Fifteen minutes later, and Jared sat down at the covered booth next to the bus stop. He huddled in the plexiglass structure, and waited for the next bus to drive by 20 minutes from now. He made sure he had his passport and return plane ticket handy, and passed the time filing his request completion report....

((To Yoka))