Alexander's Domecile

Nestled in a small community not far from one of Sharo's many military bases, Alexander's duplex home seemed to blend in with the rest of the neighborhood. The duplex itself was two stories tall, and split between the two residents straight down the middle. The first floor had the pair of front doors and matching covered garages, each with a stairway leading up to the second floor. Alexander's dark blue compact SUV sits in the garage. While he tries to keep it clean, it's a constant battle due to the snow and salt on the roads 8 months out of the year. The floorplan was very simple: two suite-style bedrooms sharing a bathroom, which is attached to a living room/kitchenette. Alexander took one bedroom for himself, making the second room a den/workout room with a simple folding futon to function as a guest bed. The living room had a couch with a long table between it and the flatscreen TV on the wall. The kitchenette was separated from the living room by a bar-style island, with two tall chairs facing the living room. Overall the area was very clean and orderly, denoting its occupant's tendency towards organization and hygiene.

Alexander trudged up the stairs, closing the door behind him before sliding off his boots in the "foyer" attached to the living room. He'd bought an angled, slatted shoe rack to put on the stone foyer floor, allowing the boots to slowly defrost into the drip pan below. Luckily for him the floor heaters still worked, otherwise the living room floor would be frigid, even though it was heavily carpeted. After hanging up his trusty parka on the peg-style coat rack above his boots, he stretched as he walked into the living room, causing a few snaps and pops in his shoulders and upper back. He let out a relieved sigh and walked to the kitchenette, pulling the PET out of his pants pocket and placing it on the granite bar top before pulling a mug out of the cupboard. He prepared a cup of hot cocoa in silence, he didn't have a spouse, a housemate, or even a pet; he didn't have enough motivation for a wife, enough space for a housemate, or enough free time for a pet.

However, he did have a new quasi-housemate as of today, but she resided solely in the PET on the counter. He'd worked with Navis and other programs before at work, but this was the first time he'd been authorized, and ordered, to bring the Navi home for interaction off duty. He was volunteered by his commander to be an "adoptive NetOp" for a Navi from the previously unknown Navi-Exclusive Rehabilitation Focused (NERF) program. His commander put him in for the job due to his high job performance, professional demeanor, and good leadership/followership skills. It wasn't exactly his idea to take on an additional assignment, but orders are orders. He sipped his cocoa as he looked down at the PET. "ResQ.EXE, hm... Odd name for a Navi." He propped the PET up on the counter before sliding open its internal stand to keep it upright. He tapped the power button on top of the PET before stepping back a bit. "ResQ.EXE, report," the NetOp said authoritatively before taking another swig of his warm cocoa.

The PET's screen had illuminated, showing ResQ's Navi Symbol: four main rotors arranged in a + formation, with a pair of outstretched feathered wings in the background. The symbol disappeared, showing a view of the internal netspace inside the PET. There was a simple table/chair combo sitting next to what looked like a dresser, which were off to the left of a simple bed. A female figure laid on the bed, wearing an olive green jumpsuit with breech-style pant legs and black knee-high boots. One couldn't easily tell the figure was female from the neck down, due to her small bust and comfortably loose-fitting jumpsuit. She had raven black hair with a single drill-like ponytail, she's supposed to have amber colored eyes, but they were closed and her arms were behind her head in a relaxed position. She didn't appear to hear the NetOp, and remained motionless on the bed. Alexander raised an eyebrow and placed the mug on the counter before leaning in towards the screen and repeating his command, "ResQ.EXE, report." No response. "ResQ.EXE, report. How copy? Alexander repeated, raising his voice a bit.

The Navi's brow furrowed as she sighed. "Ugh, I heard you the first time," she responded with her eyes closed, as if she was telling off someone trying to wake her up. Alexander was rather surprised by her casual response, and started to question the Navi. "If you heard me the first time, then why didn't you report?" She developed a slight grimace on her face before she finally opened her eyes, revealing their intense amber color. She didn't change her posture though, and looked straight up the bed instead of towards the pop up window with the NetOp's face. "Whatever. Fine, ResQ.EXE reporting for duty, sirrr..." she responded sarcastically, sliding her right arm out from under her head before rendering a limp-wristed salute. [ Great,] Alexander thought, [I get volun-told to take care of a Navi, and she's a damn slug! What gives?] He nearly barked at the Navi, "You will stand at attention and report properly, ResQ. Understood?" The navi quietly chuckled before sitting up and facing the NetOp, but her eyes still peered uninterestedly at some point outside the pop up window. "Another government lapdog trying to order me around like a little toy soldier, how original~" the Navi said calmly, toning down the sarcasm with an almost threatening smoothness in her voice.

Alexander was at a loss for words. The Navi was supposedly "rehabilitated" by the program, but she was acting like a cocky, spoiled recruit at boot camp. She was a problem, and it looked like she was very well set in her anti-authority ways. However, he knew he couldn't just request to transfer the Navi to someone else; his commander put his neck out for him to get the assignment, and the man had a reputation for making life hard for subordinates that disappointed him. It looks like he's stuck with this unruly Navi. Since he couldn't just cry uncle and give her back, he fell back on his training and *limited* experience. [How would I approach this if she was any other boot under my command?] he thought. He changed tactics, lowering his voice and trying to make it more of a conversation. "Alright, let's back it up a bit. Let me introduce myself: I'm Lieutenant Sloan, the NetOperator assigned to work with you. What's your name? The Navi sat up a little straighter, but rolled her eyes at the question. "You already know my 'name,' "sir." " Her emphasis on "name" was easily noticed by the NetOp, he guessed "ResQ" wasn't in fact her name, but a code name or callsign. She didn't seem to want to reveal her true name though. "What's the problem then? It's obvious you have something on your mind, don't be afraid to speak up," Alexander said, focusing less on being authoritative and more on trying to figure this Navi out. However, while ResQ's expression was unchanged, she was amused by the NetOp's redirection. [i][Don't be afraid to speak up? Aww, Captain Buzz-cut wants to be my friend so I can spill my guts,[/i]] the Navi thought mockingly. She wanted to verbally thrash the man, or at least tell him off enough to get him to shut up and leave her alone, but she didn't want to overdo it and get herself sent back to the facility, or even worse: lockdown/deletion. Playing along seemed to be the lesser of two evils, for now.

"Nothing that concerns you," the Navi responded as she turned her head away. Alexander didn't see the need to press the issue any further, so instead he changed the subject. "Maybe later then. For now, let's lay down the expectations here. My job is to supervise you and monitor your progress in regards to your rehabilitation. In layman's terms, my job is to be your Operator. Yours is to simply operate as a Navi, per usual. " Alexander stood up straight and crossed his hands behind the small of his back as he continued to speak. "From your file, I assume you already know how to bust, so we'll skip the intro spiel and go right to show and tell." Alexander stepped forward and started to open up sidebar menus on the PET's screen. ResQ had been listening to his speech, but kept up an uninterested expression. Her eyes finally glanced directly at the pop up window, catching a full view of her "captor's" face. [Hm... at least he isn't hard to look at. I may not be able to play him like a violin, but we'll just have to see.[/i]]

After he punched in a few commands, the floor beneath ResQ started to rumble slightly. She kept her composure, but she was mentally on edge. A pair of blast doors appeared in the floor ahead, and they started to slide open. She could see the flicker of amber flashing hazard lights below, and heard a subdued klaxon coming from beneath the doors. They fully opened with a heavy metallic clang and locked into position before something started to rise from the freshly opened hole in the floor. She only glanced sideways towards the object, but she was intensely studying it as it appeared. [], the Navi thought. Wreathed in a metal rack-like support frame stood a large, humanoid looking mech. The gunship grey mech stood nearly over 12 feet tall, supported by a pair of angular legs whose feet narrowed down to blade like points, it looked like the thing would fall over if it werent for the small fold-out struts keeping the feet upright. Those legs led up to a pair of curved engine intakes positioned on the mech's hips, and it appeared the engines were just behind them, with the exhausts fanning out like a short skirt. ResQ could clearly see apertures for the pilot's legs just above a saddle-style seat just barely obscured by an arc-shaped spar. The area where the pilot would sit appeared well-padded, with what appeared to be strap buckles secured over where the pilot's shoulders would be. Supported by a network of pistons and push-rods, the mech's surprisingly compact shoulders held up its large mechanical arms. Its right looked fairly standard, but the left had a large, three-fingered grappling claw instead of a default hand. Just above the shoulders stood an odd track-like structure which curved over the top of the suit before rounding out into a halo shape. It also had some weird looking "hair" extending down nearly to its feet, but the "strands" were very wide and flat with angular tips, looking more like blades than hair. The suit's platform eased to a halt, causing its shoulders and knees to very smoothly bounce slightly as it stopped moving. The hair blades seemed to sway and bend slightly as well. There was another box-like support frame off to the mech's right side, containing what appeared to be a large blade of some sort. The hazard lights attached to the upper corners of the mech's support frame flickered off as the klaxon went silent.

Alexander spoke up with what seemed like a bit of pride/boasting in his voice, "Introducing... the A.N.G.E.L. armor suite. The 'ANGEL' is a powered exoskeleton specialized in virus busting and rescue operations. She's equipped with twin T-33 turbine engines, capable of producing over 3500 net shaft horsepower and spinning its 8 counter-rotating main rotor blades at approximately 400rpm. She has enough power to travel at a max speed of nearly 200 knots..." The man continued his brief on the ANGEL, while ResQ herself mostly ignored him, looking the mech over herself and making her own evaluations. [[i]Hm, so it's a helicopter... It's not my AL-E "Kat," but it looks like it's well designed. ...Is he still talking? He's either reading from a script, or actually knows his stuff...
] "... which can currently support a maximum payload of 1000 net pounds. Any questions so far?" ResQ, still looking at the ANGEL, raised her eyebrows with an absent-minded "Hm?" She was still doing a good job at seeming disinterested, even possibly bored. She laid back on the bed and put her arms back behind her head, closing her eyes. "Big robot, lots of power, maximum payload, bla bla bla. We done here?" Alexander was starting to get used to the Navi's demeanor, guessing she was just being stubborn. She hadn't focused on anything other than the ANGEL this entire conversation, causing him to question her apparent disinterest. "Not yet, the ANGEL still needs to be fit to her pilot. Want to hop in and take her for a spin?" he asked innocently.

ResQ flinched mentally, she didn't hope the NetOp would continue to press the issue. She really, really wanted to run this "ANGEL" through 'her'... ["He keeps calling it 'she' and 'her'... Is he for real?"] the Navi thought. Mental derailment aside, she wanted to run the ANGEL through 'its' paces, but she didn't want to break character and agree to anything the man had to say. ["nnngh, damnit..."] The Navi kept her eyes closed, moving one arm and making a shooing motion with her hand. ["No, we're done here. You can go back to... polishing your boots or whatever you people do."] She grinned with satisfaction, after telling him off and going back to whatever, she'd just give the mech a good once-over while he was g- "Alright then, I'll put ANGEL back in the hangar," Alexander replied. He couldn't help but grin, he was calling her bluff. He started to return the ANGEL to its storage hangar, causing the amber hazard lights to flash again. ResQ opened her eyes out of reflex, sitting up and reaching out towards the mech. "Wait!" she blurted out, illiciting a raised eyebrow from Alexander as he paused and looked towards the Navi. She had a look of shock on her face, and only then did she realise what she just did. ["... shit,"] she cursed to herself. She slipped up, and scrambled to try and weasel her way out. "N-no, leave it. That noise it makes when it moves is annoying, a-and I just want something in here other than this boring-looking furniture. It's like a damn prison cell in here." It wasn't the best excuse she's pulled out of her butt at the last minute, but it would have to work. She put on her disinterested expression "mask" again as she regained composure. "Now go away."

Alexander canceled the platform retraction, causing the hazard lights to go dark. He kept his composure, even though he'd won this battle of wits. He would continue to press the Navi more, but she'd likely turtle up at this point and flat-out ignore him. "Fine," he said with feigned disappointment. He went back to his cocoa, taking a sip and making his way towards the living room. As he did so, he reached out with his other hand and spun the PET around. "Suit yourself," he said as he sat down on his couch, reaching for the remote and turning on the TV. The PET's screen was still on, but it timed out a few minutes later and switched off automatically.
About an hour later, Alexander got up from the couch and went back to the kitchen, dropping off his now empty mug in the sink. He was about to head over to his room to boot up his PC to check email, but stopped upon realizing he now had a perfectly good PET that could do the job. He grabbed the PET and messed with the menus a bit to pull up his email. With no new messages, he closed the application and returned to the home screen. He paused, his finger hovering over the Navi button. [Hm, wonder what she's up to. Twenty zenny says she's crawling over the ANGEL.] He tapped the button, opening a window into ResQ's ready area.

[Yup.] ResQ was indeed on the ANGEL, and she even figured out how to get herself properly situated in the saddle-style seat, and her lower legs nestled inside the protective armor sleeves. She also managed to power it on, but the support structure surrounding it held the ANGEL in place. ResQ was apparently trying to free the ANGEL, causing the suit to strain against its metal "cage," causing it to squeak and groan. She heard the window open over the noise of her struggle, causing her eyes to snap towards the display of Alexander's face. She blushed slightly, having been "caught with her hand in the cookie jar." "Tch," she muttered as she turned away. The NetOp kept a straight face, and got straight to business. "The support braces require operator authorization to unlock. Looks like she's already powered up, stand by for support release." The Navi tried to keep her composure, though she was surprised he wasn't somehow chastising her, etc. The brackets surrounding the suit slowly swung open, leaving the ANGEL free standing.

ResQ looked around, noting the suit's stability. "When the ANGEL is powered on, a series of gyros in the hips and back allow for stability at rest and low speeds. They'll spin down automatically whenever the main rotor is active. Before we start, have you gone through the control checklist?" he asked. ResQ kept her eyes forward, moving her hand over the arc in front of her and pulling up the aforementioned checklist on a holodisplay. "Yes," she said with a sigh. "Good, go through it again. Let me know when you're done," Alexander said sternly. He had given her some leeway with her attitude thus far, but he wasn't going to let her pilot this complex (and expensive) piece of equipment by the seat of her pants, regardless of how much experience she had in exoskeleton frames. "Are you serious?" she asked in protest, glancing over towards the NetOp. Alexander looked directly at her, keeping a calm expression as he responded. "Absolutely. The ANGEL is not calibrated to you yet, and any deviation from the checklist will cause errors and sluff in the calibration process. If we mess this up, it'll take upwards of a day and a half to reformat the suit to default configuration. Also, this ANGEL was inspired by and designed after the helicopters I used to work on for the last 4 years. Because of that, I was part of the team that built her. A lot of time and effort went into the ANGEL; she's as much mine as she is yours." "Okay, okay, I got it," the Navi replied before she started to scroll through the checklist. [[i]Hmph. That would explain why he knows so much about it. I should just break this thing just to show he can't boss me around like a little toy soldier. However,... she's such a cool suit... damn it now I'm calling this thing a "she."...[/i]]

ResQ looked through the checklist step by step, it was fairly straightforward and easy to understand, she probably would've gotten it right without even reading it beforehand. "Done," she said as she completed the checklist. Alexander nodded and glanced towards the ground ahead of the suit. As he did so, a multitude of green lights materialized in front of her, extending out from the platform approximately 50 yards ahead in two parallel lines. "Alright, double check the gyros are active, then slowly walk straight down the middle of the lighted path. This will be done without the lance, so let it sit in its rack. Once you reach the end of the lighted path, turn 180 degrees and stand by." ResQ responded by easing the ANGEL into a slow, steady walk. The struts behind the ANGEL's blade-like feet slowly retreated into their housings as it began to walk. The suit's movement was very smooth, showing a slightly feminine gait, with each foot moving slightly in front of the other and causing the hips to subtly sway, but it didn't look at all wobbly or unstable. Each footfall made an almost bell-like ring due to the pointed shape of its feet. ResQ calmly eased the suit forward as she looked ahead, occasionally glancing down at the instrument panel. Alexander watched intently, he had a diagnostic window open as well to monitor her progress. ResQ made it all the way to the end of the path before slowing to a stop. She moved one foot back, before causing the entire suit to rotate on its vertical axis in a flawless "about face" maneuver. "Very good," Alexander exclaimed before giving her further instructions.

About a half hour passed before Alexander finally moved back from the PET screen. "Alright, good work. I'm showing all green for the calibration. Stand by while I lock in these settings," he said before putting in a few commands into the PET. ResQ didn't show it, but she was quite excited as she piloted the ANGEL throughout the calibration process. It gave her the chance to test the full movement of its arms and legs, even activating the rotors. She wasn't too keen about the noise whenever the rotors were active, but she was told the included helmet would tune out the engine and rotor noise while allowing her to hear other outside sounds. She raised her right arm, looking at the glowing lines on her gloves, and the suit's own right arm mimicking her movement. She moved her fingers, watching the suit do the same with seemingly zero lag. She formed a fist, causing the suit to follow. He had to admit, it felt good being back behind the controls of a machine like this again. She wondered what ever happened to her AL-E "Kat," but assumed it was either fragged or archived somewhere. It also felt good to hear her NetOp praise her performance during the process. She was starting to figure him out a bit, he was strict, but seemingly fair and not unwilling to praise good behavior.

Alexander finished locking in the custom settings from the calibration, and returned to the Navi screen as he spoke up. "Now with that out of the way, think you can manage a network training sortie? This PET doesn't have enough storage space for effective field training." [[i]Wait, he's letting me go out into the net? Just like that? Doesn't he know I can just bolt and leave him in the dust? Hrmm... he can probably deactivate the ANGEL remotely, so I'd be alone out there without it... damn, guess he still has a leash on me,[/i]] the Navi thought. She didn't like it, but limited freedom was better than no freedom at all. "Yes, I'm tired of being cooped up in this stuffy PET anyway." she replied. "Understood," he said, as he picked up the PET and sat down on the couch. "We'll start off in ACDC Net, via the NetSquare. While the ANGEL's existence is unclassified, don't let programs snoop around too close; we don't need folks trying to copy our tech. Take a heading of 030 to get to the net portal." He pulled a jack in plug from the side of the pet, spooling out the cord to reach a small port beneath the arm rest on the front of his couch. It had been a long time since that port was used, but it appeared to still have an active connection. ResQ eased the suit towards the portal, and disappeared in a flash of light as she was logged into the network.

((To NetSquare))
((From ACDC Net due to partner inactivity))

ResQ found herself suddenly warped back into the Netspace of the PET, in more-or-less the same pose she was in a split second before in ACDC net. She paused, then her amber eyes darted left and right as her brow furrowed. "Wait, what the hell?" She turned back, and opened a window to look through the PET's camera. She saw Alex's face, albeit just barely, as the entire room was dark save for the scant light coming in through the windows. "Bah, they didn't say they'd do any grid work today..." Alex grumbled, then bent down to look into the PET's screen. "Everything alright in there? Looks like we had a power failure, so we disconnected."

ResQ stood up straight, then put her right hand on her hip, causing the ANGEL to do the same. "Seriously? Can't even afford power?" she insulted. [[i]"Way to go, Private Poorhouse,"[/i]] she thought to herself, not holding back on the level of contempt for her "captor." "Grid modernization," Alex retorted before placing the PET down on the table, and got up from the couch. "New tech has a bad tendency of not working well with old infrastructure. It's not common, and usually they schedule these outages in advance, so we know about it," he continued to explain as he carefully made his way to the electrical control panel near the foyer. He opened the panel and used a small pen-light to check the breakers. Nothing popped, but he reset the master circuit breaker anyway with two heavy "clicks."

"So what now?" ResQ called out through the PET's speakers. Alex could still hear her clearly, and walked back to the room. He checked around with the help of his pen-light, and put his hand over the floorboard heaters, thankfully still feeling a steady warmth coming from them. "We wait. The heat comes from hot water, so they should still work without power for a bit, but I'm not opening the place up unless it's absolutely necessa-" He paused as the lights in the room suddenly came back on. "Nevermind then, we're good to go," Alex declared while looking around to see if the lights in the previously lit rooms were on, everything seemed to be functioning as advertised. "Greaaaat..." ResQ groaned with obviously fake enthusiasm.

Alex chose to ignore the blatant disrespect, theorizing she's just doing it for attention and/or to rile him up for her own amusement. He sat back down on the couch, and started to mess with the PET's screen. "With power and... yep network back online, I'm going to put in an order for some upgrades, since we have some zenny to spend. In the meantime, go ahead and park the ANGEL in her frame and take a breather," he advised while continuing to work on the PET. ResQ looked over to the metal frames inside the yellow and black striped square emblazoned on the floor. She was reluctant to give the suit back, since it sounded like she'd just go back to being bored. "I'll do it when I'm good and ready," she protested.

Alex sent the order in, then looked down to the window showing the temperamental Navi stubbornly remaining in the suit. Raising an eyebrow, he gave his two cents. "Then while you're in it, you can do another calibration, and get to work fixing her up. That said, it's a bit easier to do the latter with engines off." ResQ rolled her eyes and huffed, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, causing the suit's hips to smoothly swing to an opposite cant.
As Alexander moved about while cooking up an evening meal, the PET remained on his low-set table in front of his couch. Inside, ResQ had finally resigned to letting the ANGEL rest in its standing hangar, but stood in front of the machine with her hands on her hips, looking her suit over. So far it's served her well, but she hadn't yet exploited its full potential; which begrudgingly became obvious when Alexander intervened to activate some suit functions to keep her from wrecking the thing.

A few minutes later, an email notification scrolled across ResQ's vision like a scrolling status bar, accompanied by a tell-tale tone chirped through the PET's speakers. Alexander heard this, and paused for a moment while slightly crouched over the stove. "Got my hands full here, go ahead and read out the email," he requested. "Psh," ResQ sighed, rolling her eyes. "Read it yourself, I'm not your secretary," she retorted haughtily as she crossed her arms.

He exhaled audibly and shook his head. [It's only been a day, and this is already getting old. Hopefully the long game works out, or I'm returning this slug,] he thought to himself, then thought of a different approach. "Please?" he asked, though his tone sounded more annoyed than genuine. ResQ's eyebrows raised as a grin spread over her lips, showing thorough amusement at the sudden change of tone. "Ha, trying the nice-guy card now? You must be getting desperate, I'm disappointed, sirrrr," she countered, drawing out her NetOp's honorary title in a sarcastic fashion.

Alexander chose not to respond, since he felt he walked head-long into that response. He'd gotten enough progress so far, trying to get her to like him by day one was stretching it. He finished up in the kitchen, turning off the stove and putting the applicable dishes in the washer. He put a plate of still steaming-hot pasta on the table before sitting down in front of the PET and going through the email itself. His requisition order was approved, and a new recovery program was attached, along with installation and use checklists. "A "BUBL" system, hm? Was hoping for something more kinetic, but beggars can't be choosers," Alexander mumbled to himself before starting the installation process. "ResQ, I'm installing an upgrade for the ANGEL, keep her shut down 'till it's complete." "Yeah, fine," she responded dismissively as Alex made the preparations and initiated the install.
Some time later, Alex opened the PET and yet again checked on the ANGEL's status. The new program installed perfectly, but he made it a point to double, then triple check for any glitches or errors. ResQ could see him fiddling with the settings through her viewscreen, and just sighed and shook her head before turning away and heading back to her plain looking bed. She sat down, looking bored and scooted back to kick her legs up. "Totally a man of action, you are," she mocked before yawning.

"Just doing some pre-sortie checks. I'd look lively, we roll out in 15," Alex countered, his eyes still focused on the menu screens. ResQ tilted her head to the side with a nonplussed look. "Huh?" Alex paused and looked down at the Navi, and with a few button presses a flashing notification icon appeared nearby. "Sent the details to you about an hour ago, guess you didn't read them. We have a mission for some upgrades, possibly a SP base." ResQ's expression turned to a frown as she slid off the bed and opened the notification. She did get the notification a while ago, but ultimately ignored it, she had better stuff to do, like complain about how bored she was.

After reading through the basics of the mission, she noted the "formality" of the mission's locale. She looked down at her own outfit, which was more or less a color change from a prisoner's outfit. "Sure, I'll look just great in this... smock," she remarked sarcastically. As she did so, a rectangular object started to rise from the floor. As it rose, it appeared to her to be some sort of storage locker. It finally stopped, and stood slightly taller than her, with a single plain door. She walked up and opened it, revealing an eye-level shelf containing a pair of lightly polished black pumps, neatly folded black leggings, and some grey... thing. Socks? Below that were a trio of hangars, one had a grey long-sleeved button-up shirt and a black tie, the second had an equally gray suit jacket, and the third had a medium-length skirt. "Modified 'Service Dress,' scrubbed of any Sharo military insignia of course," Alex remarked. "Standard issue, but tailored. It should meet the requirements for the mission."

ResQ rolled her eyes and gave the uniform a good once-over. While she hated the idea of wearing an "uniform," the overall design wasn't that bad if it was indeed tailored. "Go ahead and get changed, let me know once you're ready. I plan to send you in without the ANGEL, but she'll be on standby for rapid deployment if needed." ResQ's eyes narrowed before she turned and shot a venomous glance to the viewscreen to the outside world, half expecting to see Alex's prying eyes staring back at her. However, all she saw was Alex's back as he appeared to walk away. "Hm," she remarked before turning back to the closet. [[i]At least he's not a perv,[/i]] she mentally commented before deactivating her jumpsuit and made her wardrobe change.

A few minutes later, ResQ heard Alex's voice call out. "You about finished? We're less than 5 minutes from heading out." ResQ was cinching up her tie, looking at the mirror program on the inside of the closet door. "Yeah yeah, jeez; I don't remember seeing anything saying we had to be there at a specific second," she complained before finishing up the knot and turned around to see Alex moving back into view. She could see his eyes looking over her, but they seemed more... calculating and inspecting than prodding and leering. "Excellent, looks good on you. Feel comfortable? We have a minute or two for adjustments if needed," Alex said, his eyes still looking at the details of her uniform, making sure there wasn't anything out of place. ResQ didn't expect the complement, and in turn chose not to recognize it. "It's fine, for a suit. Let's get going already," she changed the subject, her personality still prickly as always.

Alex chose to pass on this battle, and moved to get her ready for transfer to the provided coordinates. "Alright, preparing login. As a reminder, your 'customer' is "CrypticMan," while your allies are "Veda," and "Exorcist." It appears the latter has at least one Support Program, named "Bhikkhuni." I'll maintain visual and comms, with the ANGEL on standby. Any questions?" Alex asked after giving a "cliffnotes" version of the mission perimeters. ResQ shifted uncomfortably in place, almost feeling naked without the ANGEL, before she looked sternly at Alex. "I got it, let's just get this over with." Alex nodded with a slightly casual "Alright," and sent her out. The Navi beamed up and out of the PET and into the network, while her ANGEL stood in its hangar, ready and waiting.

((To Mission Area))
((From NPC Homepages))
ResQ beamed back down to the PET, with the ovoid SP base program notably missing from her hands; it was downloaded to the PET during the transit. ResQ exhaled and stretched her neck a bit before she walked towards the storage locker from which she originally retrieved her dress uniform. Her expression was that of slight fatigue and consternation, due to the nature of their "employer" and his apparent in-depth knowledge of her past. While the mission was ultimately successful, the relationship between ResQ and her NetOp didn't seem to improve at all, which didn't change the slightly heavy atmosphere of the room. Alex went through a brief post-logout check, to make sure everything was returned to the PET's storage intact, then sent away a requisition order he had prepared beforehand.

"It would've been nice to know more about Exorcist and her SPs, since we were pretty much solo for most of the mission, but I understand why you were looking to pull chocks; CrypticMan seems like nothing but bad news." Alex commented after he re-adjusted the PET on his table, no longer needing to put in any active commands. [[i]"Nothing gets by you,"[/i]] ResQ quipped back sarcastically as she started to unbutton her jacket. [[i]"I'm going to change, go shine your boots or something,"[/i]] she ordered, not bothering to look at Alex's pop-up window as she opened the storage locker, which had a mirror on the inside of its door. Alex rolled his eyes, but admittedly he was starting to get peckish, so he shut off the PET's screen and went off to get some dinner. ResQ could still see into the outside world from the PET's camera, and checked out of reflex to make sure Alex wasn't trying to sneak a peek, then went off to remove her jacket and place it on one of its hangars. She also slipped the data crystal from her sleeve and placed it in the locker, for "safe" keeping. The locker was disappointingly bare, the only other outfit was the olive green zip-up flight suit. [[i]My kingdom for some actual clothes,[/i]] she mentally lamented before she started to undo her tie. It wasn't long until she unbuttoned and removed her shirt, revealing her frilly black brassiere. She'd long kicked off her shoes and bent over to remove her leggings, then her skirt, giving her a nice view down her cleavage in the mirror. She was wearing a matching black pair of bikini-style panties, which she inspected and re-adjusted as she stood back up to full height in front of the mirror. A frown grew on her face as she cupped her hands over her bra-covered chest. Nearly every one of her allies, with the exception of maybe Bhikkhuni, had a much more impressive bust from what she could tell. She gave her breasts a reassuring squeeze as she twisted her hips around while her eyes looked down to her lower torso. At least her other 'assets' were quite nice, and she managed to keep in shape while in the prison that was the NERF facility. She briefly considered taking some alone time to "relieve some stress," but the thought of CrypticMan kept creeping in and made her skin crawl.

[[i]"Tsk"[/i]] she remarked in frustration before she re-adjusted her bra and moved to put on her undershirt, flight suit, and boots. It didn't take her long to finish changing, mainly due to the simple nature of the flight suit's design, it was basically fancy pajamas with more pockets. A few minutes later, Alex came back into view after he prepared some soup. A notification message started to flash on his PET's UI, which he opened and read the attached email. It didn't take him long to read it in its entirety, and nodded contently.

"It looks like the requisition order went through," Alex concluded as he applied the Sharo-supplied "overlay program" to the SP shell and configured it to "activate." Meanwhile in the PET, a hunter-green 3ft square container materialized on the ground about a dozen feet from the ANGEL's standing hangar. The letters "SNF" were stenciled in white paint on two of its sides, but otherwise it was oddly smooth in construction, devoid of features like carrying handles or tie-down rings. ResQ tried to look aloof and mostly uninterested as she crossed her arms and stood a few feet away from the container.

With a series of metal clicks, the "lid" and front face of the container opened towards ResQ, then unfolded and clunked down at ResQ's feet while the other three sides fell away. Situated in the middle of the unfolded container sat a single large, ballistic helmet with several mounting brackets on its front and sides. The helmet was painted in a similar shade of gray to the ANGEL, and had two "cutouts" where the wearer's ears would be, which were covered by what appeared to be a low-profile tactical headset. The right earpiece had a small antenna that extended up and back at around a 30degree angle, and stretched only a couple inches above the top of the helmet. Though not easily seen by ResQ, there was a slightly lighter gray medical pack secured to the back of the helmet, with a subdued red cross emblazoned on the fabric.

"Hm..." Alex remarked after looking the helmet over, and opened the manual that was attached to the order. "Ah, that explains the design, this one's specialized," he commented, the question in his mind apparently answered. [[i]... All this, for a helmet? This day is just getting better and better,[/i]] ResQ grumbled to herself, and glared down at the helmet. It seemed she "spoke" too soon, because the helmet twitched a second later, and ResQ raised an eyebrow as her narrowed gaze eyed up the object suspiciously

The helmet then started to rise, and two boot-covered feet emerged from underneath, begging the question of how they managed to fit. It finally raised up to full height, and ResQ was able to get a good look at the Metool-inspired SP, who stared back with large eyes through its protective ski mask-like visor. The 2" tall program glanced to the left and right, then focused back on ResQ before it scuttled forward several feet, then came to a stop directly in front of the significantly taller Navi, and did its best to look up at her. As it stopped, it appeared to click its heels and snap to a position of attention as it "spoke" with a slightly high-pitched, grainy voice, like it was speaking through a two-way radio. [[color=brown]"Meep!"[/color]] it chirped as its eyes looked straight forward.

ResQ's expression changed from a disapproving leer to a more neutral and slightly curious look. [[i]So... a brainwashed Metool? It looks... different though, more than just random stuff taped to its helmet. It's actually kinda cute, in a weird way...[/i]] she thought to herself, and not quite sure how to react to the Met standing at attention in front of her. Alex didn't let the uncomfortable silence last for long, and decided to introduce the new arrival. "This is your new SP, a "ParaMet" program. To be honest, this is the first I've seen one; typically the NF use standard "ArmyMet" programs, this one looks to be specialized to your abilities." The Met continued to stand perfectly still and look straight ahead, keeping itself in a position of attention. [[i]"A pint-sized drone, great~"[/i]] she replied sarcastically, then turned her head and looked at her fingers, showing a lack of interest. If she looked back at the Met, she'd catch a glimpse of its eyes occasionally glancing about; it had been standing at attention for a while, as if it was waiting for a salute back from its "commander."

Alex furrowed his brow at ResQ's reaction; he was starting to get used to her attitude towards him and the military, but he felt it was just outright rude to their new SP. Though small and virus-inspired, it had an AI, just like her (albeit not quite as advanced). He'd have to address that later. For now, he focused back on the Met. "At ease, ParaMet," he ordered, and the SP seemed to relax its posture and freely look around. "Welcome to the team. It looks like you have a loadout of field gear, feel free to inventory and store them as appropriate, I'll work on getting you a more permanent "cot." Any questions for me for right now?" Alex asked with a professional, but calm and conversational tone. ParaMet responded with a [[color=brown]"Meep,"[/color]] and shook its head. "Very well, dismissed."

The Met nodded before it turned away from ResQ, and scanned the area for a nice spot to settle down. It scuttled off towards the storage locker where ResQ's retrieved her uniform, then settled down nearby. After looking around the floor and apparently deeming it suitable, it pulled a tiny rolled sleeping bag seemingly from out of nowhere, and put it on the floor, rolling it out with one of its boot-covered feet. ResQ started to walk back to her bed, but couldn't help but glance over at the SP making his adorably small encampment on the floor. ParaMet then produced a rifle, holding it in front of itself somehow, even though it had no arms to speak of. Well, it doesn't really look like a rifle due to its deformed proportions, more like a machine pistol or micro SMG. Its slightly curved magazine extending down from the back of the rifle and large barrel shroud suggests it was a suppressed bull-pup design. It then proceeded to fiddle with the rifle, removing the magazine and opening the chamber, then started to field-strip the weapon in a flurry of small mechanical clicks and scrapes, and placed all of the individual pieces in deliberate spots on the floor next to its bed roll.

After ParaMet fully disassembled the weapon, it then started to inspect and clean each piece. The novelty of watching the little met wore off quickly, and ResQ went to her bed and hopped in, and remained on top of the covers as she lounged out. The built-up fatigue of the mission seemed to ultimately rear its ugly head, and ResQ found herself finally getting caught by the exhaustion. There was nothing else going on, so she felt no qualms in taking a load off and getting some shut-eye.

Several minutes later, Alex returned from washing the dishes from his meal, and opened the the PET back up. ResQ was laying on her bed, quietly snoozing away, while the ParaMet had its weapon re-assembled and leaned up against the storage locker, while itself sat on its bed roll, looking a bit bored. The night was still somewhat young, but he elected not to bother the Navi. She'd gone through a long mission with little prep, little guidance, and had to deal with a number of belligerents on top of their creepy client. Even though her attitude was still abrasive and disrespectful, a little R&R was well-earned. He decided to focus on ParaMet, and opened a pop-up window nearby. The Met perked up and looked to Alex with its big, cartoonish eyes. Alex gestured towards ResQ with his eyes as he spoke quietly. "Sorry for her rudeness, it's been a long day for her, but she worked hard to get you added to the team. I know you're probably itching for some action, but it's time to turn in for the night. Do you need anything else to comfortably bed down here?" he asked of ParaMet. The short SP looked down at its bed roll, and apparently satisfied, shook its head quietly. "Alright then, good night." ParaMet nodded, then seemed to step into its sleeping bag, and hiked it up around its mostly round body, making an adorably puffy synthetic cocoon around itself before it laid back.

Alex had some stuff to do, but he would turn in soon enough.
The next morning, Alex turned on the PET's screen and carefully set his mug down on his low table, on a coaster of course. It was the weekend for him, so there was a bit more than just black coffee in his dark colored mug, which had a monotone white Sharo Cyber Command logo printed on its surface: a white ring with a white double-headed eagle in its center, its outstretched wings reaching beyond the ring's left and right sides, with several white lines arranged like channels on a circuit board within the ring.

ResQ was still in her bed, but had crawled under the covers sometime during the night, and was still snoozing away. Oddly, her single drill ponytail remained just as pristine as it was the night before. ParaMet; however, was up and about, with its sleeping bag neatly rolled up next to the locker. The rifle was now in ParaMet's "hands," and it seemed to be inspecting it for any dust or defects and checking its iron sights. Alex's pop-up window opened within the PET's netspace, and the opening notification got ParaMet's attention, prompting the SP to look in its direction. "Good morning, ParaMet," Alex greeted the SP, it was pleasing to see at least someone was up and functioning as well, unlike his Navi...

He input a few commands in his PET, which caused his pop-up window to glide towards ResQ, who was still content to snooze away. "Rise and shine, ResQ," he stated in a sufficient conversational volume to hopefully wake the Navi. She grumbled something unintelligible and rolled away so her back faced the pop-up screen. [[color=green]If you want to play games, at least be original or challenging,[/color]] he mused before he panned his window towards ParaMet. "Mind helping me out here?" The Met nodded before it scuttled to the foot of the bed, and somehow grabbed hold of the sheets that were within its invisible arms' reach. It then started to back away, tugging at the sheets and pulling them away from the Navi, who quickly started to grimace. [[i]"Ngh, really? We're really doing this?"[/i]] she groaned before yawning. "I was saying the same thing a few minutes ago," Alex retorted, then input a couple commands into the PET. The top of the dresser beside ResQ's bed suddenly became host to a swarm of data, which quickly formed into a small morning spread: a warm bagel with a couple buttery or fruity spread packets along with some hot scrambled egg whites, accompanied by a small cup of yogurt (spoon included) and a steaming mug of coffee.

She couldn't help have her attention drawn by the flurry of data, then rubbed her eyes as she got a better look at what appeared on her dresser. Compared to the gruel she was served at the NERF facility, this was at least a 'continental breakfast' and actually didn't look half bad. "Have some chow; I didn't really say this yesterday, which is bad on me, but you did a good job. I'm impressed with how well you handled the ANGEL, considering how little time you've had with her so far." ParaMet, who also had a similar spread materialized in front of its feet, seemed to cue in to the mention of the "ANGEL," but the cant of its helmet made it appear it was curious, but had no idea what the ANGEL was.

ResQ sat up from the bed, not risking any unplanned exposure thanks to falling asleep in her flight suit, and groggily focused on the breakfast in front of her. [[i]"No problem, I guess..."[/i]] said somewhat incoherently, thanks to the sleepiness combined with the unexpectedly warm wake-up. She cupped the mug in her hands and took a sip, then glanced over to ParaMet, who was folding the sheets it had pulled off the bed instead of just leaving them in a heap on the floor. "Today I'm thinking we could go on a busting run or two; our funds and arsenal can use a boost, and it's better to practice squad tactics on real targets. Plan is to set off in 30 minutes," Alex stated, not really giving ResQ much of a choice in the matter. ParaMet looked happy (?) enough with the plan, and finished up folding the sheets before it settled down to eat breakfast. Though it completely lacked any visible arms or hands, it still didn't have any problem chowing down. ResQ sighed, but decided it was too early in the morning to start a fight, plus she was admittedly quite hungry from yesterday...

About 20 minutes later, Alex reappeared clean-shaven and checked up on his Navi and SP. ParaMet was completely done with its meal, while ResQ still had a bit of coffee left in her mug, which she carried as she checked herself over in the mirror. "I'm bringing the ANGEL up, you mount up in a few minutes and we'll do brief systems check," he advised before putting a few commands into the PET. The large metal doors set in the floor rumbled open, followed by the amber flicker of hazard lights and a warning klaxon. Once they fully opened, the ANGEL rose up in her latticework of metal braces. This obviously caught ParaMet's attention, and though it initially looked apprehensive, it stood awestruck once the ANGEL came into view. ResQ gave the machine a brief glance, then looked back to the dresser after finishing off her coffee. When she did, she saw ParaMet's star-struck eyes, like a child seeing a shiny new toy for the first time. [[i]My maker, that's cute,[/i]] she thought to herself and did her best not to coo at the adorable sight.

She placed her mug back on the dresser next to her empty dishes and used spread packages, then walked towards the ANGEL, passing the met on the way. The klaxon turned off as soon as the ANGEL's housing eased to a stop, and the hazard lights turned off soon afterwards. Having had some practice, ResQ deftly climbed up the ANGEL's leg and opened the hoop-shaped command console to allow her to get settled in on the ANGEL's thin saddle-shaped seat and slide her legs into their respective housings. As soon as the console snapped closed at her waist, it came alive with different holo-projected prompts and status displays, and ResQ used them to start up the mech. After an electrical hum and a muted whine of the gyros spinning up, the majority of her statuses changed from ambers and reds to green.

Satisfied with ResQ's startup sequence, Alex disabled the mounting locks, causing the housing brackets and restraint arms to unlock in a wave of mechanical thunks, then swing open to give the ANGEL a clear path. ResQ brought her arms up as the lines of her gloves glowed amber, and the ANGEL's arms did the same without delay. ParaMet was still somewhat dumbstruck, but it had waddled forward to get a closer look, peering up at ResQ and looking the entire mech over as ResQ made sure the ANGEL's arms and hand/claw were functioning and tracking properly. Alex's pop up window resized and moved over the ANGEL's right shoulder as he mainly addressed ParaMet. "Last night I added a few braces and attach points so you can ride along and dismount without restricting the ANGEL's movements. There's one above each intake, and a third mounted vertically on her lower back. All three include tie-off points, so you can fast-rope down when dismounting, but I still need to figure out something to let you mount up by yourself. In the meantime, ResQ, mind give him a hand?" he asked.

ResQ responded by walking forward a couple steps, then crouched/leaned down slightly so she could put her right hand palm-up on the floor in front of ParaMet. The squat SP didn't hesitate to hop up into the ANGEL's hand, then nodded to signal it was ready. She eased the ANGEL back to a normal standing height, and carefully hoisted the Met up before she placed the side of her palm up against the front of the intake on her left hip, so ParaMet had only a small step up to its attachment point, lined out in rough, black grip tape. It carefully stepped up and did its best to keep its footing before it turned back around, facing forward. It then glanced down at its own feet, and slid them into the slightly raised foot outlines in the metal. As it did so, one could hear metal clicks as its feet were locked into place. To test it out, ParaMet proceeded to wiggle its body and tugged at its feet, but remained firmly anchored to the mech. "I've given you remote access to the attach brackets, you can engage and disengage any of them at will. If you have issues with that, there's a black rectangular button between your feet. Press it and it'll manually disengage the locks. Any questions?" Alex explained. ParaMet looked down at the button, taking note of its location, then uttered a short [[color=brown]"Meep."[/color]]

"Alright, let's roll out. Head to the portal; I've read about a new virus bounty program in Netfrica, that'll be a good place to start and get a simple seek-and-destroy objective for our busting run. Sound good?" [[i]"If I even get a whiff of CrypticMan being there, I'm gone. Got it?"[/i]] ResQ responded coldly, but notably didn't protest to the idea. She hadn't heard of it before, and admittedly liked the idea of a nice and simple workout of smashing viruses. "Preaching to the choir," Alex quipped back, prompting ResQ to huff before walking into the portal and disappearing.

((To Netfrica Bounty Shop))
((From NAXA Net))

ResQ and ParaMet re-appeared in the PET, looking rather worse for wear. As soon as ResQ felt herself back on solid ground, she called out to her NetOp with a bitter scowl on her face. [[i]"Great plan, you damn moron! I thought I'd never get my ass kicked as soon as I get into a network, but your incompetence has proven me wrong, yet again!"[/i]] Alex, who wasn't pleased with the situation either, shook his head. "Look it wasn'-" [[i]"Wasn't your plan, huh?"[/i]] ResQ interrupted. [[i]"What was it then? To get me deleted? Then I'm sorry your 'masterfully executed' strategy work out. God, have you always been this worthless?!?"[/i]] she spat, really laying into him. Meanwhile, ParaMet detached from the ANGEL, then waddled away towards its little encampment, kicking at its bed roll in tiny frustration.

Alex inhaled deeply and his jaw clenched, before he audibly exhaled, then started to shake his head again as he looked towards the opposite wall of his apartment. "Alright, screw this. I'm not dealing with this anymore," he said calmly to himself, but loud enough for ResQ to pick up on his monologue. [[i]"What, you're going to give up NetBattling? Best decision you'll ever make."[/i]] she quipped back with a haughty tone. "I'm giving up being your operator. I'd rather go in ,on my day off, and even piss off my boss than spend another minute with you. We're done."

Alex's declaration then prompted a steady stream of expletive-laced insults to blast out of the PET's speakers, which he promptly muted and shut off the PET's screen, before he stood up and went back to his room. A few minutes later, he re-emerged, wearing his uniform, and picked up the still-silenced PET. He could almost feel the tirade that was likely rampaging within, and briefly stopped to think if he should go through with it. He'd basically get himself put on this commander's shit list for failing at a job he was essentially hand-picked to do, especially after such little time. However, he believed his previous deeds would likely overshadow one misstep or black mark on his record, so it *shouldn't* ruin his career...

He exhaled with a huff as he made up his mind, and put the PET into one of the larger pockets of his hunter-green parka, then walked out the door, squinting as the snowy weather burst its way into his doorway before he trudged out and closed the door behind him.