Vaccine Antiviral, Storefront

The clock chimed a nondescript hour of night. The shop floor was deserted.

The provided link would deposit Tutoria and QuestMan outside a shopfront in a nondescript, even slightly run-down commercial district; . In a row of flickering signage, Vaccine's front-of-house alone was crisp and resplendent. A Navi emblem took centre stage in the banners, a flaming (*゚▽゚*) emoji that radiated light-hearted goofiness and fire in equal quantity. The sliding glass doors opened into what resembled a traditional drugstore: aisles of mundane, over-the-counter merchandise for common virtual maladies, and a pharmacy in the back for more specialised care.

Only two Navis were present on the premises. One paced ferociously up one aisle and down the other in a patternless bundle of nervous energy. He wore, or perhaps he was an enormous, inexplicably sharp black greatcoat, arms folded at right angles behind him. He didn't seem to have a head; a top hat was perched most precariously atop the high collar of his coat, under which lurked a pair of cartoonish angry eyes, and a spectacularly curly moustache. A pair of  clompy black boots beat down on the tiled floor until it cried for mercy. Between his appearance and general demeanour, it was small wonder any other prospective customers had long-since fled.

The other Navi was manning the pharmacy counter, though 'manning' might have been the wrong word to describe him. More or less connected to the countertop was a tremendous oven, propped up on tiny metal strut-legs. Two massive mechanical claw-arms twiddled the dials along his front absently; they appeared to control the movement and size of his head, which was little more than a fireball careening in distressing parabolas atop his torso's range. His face was a distressed ( ゚д゚) in magnesium-white against the red and orange flames. "Oh, wherever are they?!" he bemoaned, "We'll have to close soon and then we won't be able to get the search started 'til we open tomorrow and RunningMan will have a whole day's head-start and who knows where he'll have gotten off to by then and-

"QUIEEEEET~!" the shady-looking Navi bellowed; Calcinatio (for that was the distressed oven's name) jolted to a dead stop. His mustache bristled like a live thing as he clomp-clomp-clomp-ed across the store - just like that, three loud clomps, breadth of a large room, right up in the shopkeeper's face. "Back up a moment," he waved a tightly-clenched fist in front of him, as though he were trying to fan away an unpleasant thought while utterly incapable of straightening his fingers. "Why would we have to wait 'til tomorrow? Why not simply wait here after closing? Explain! EXPLAIN!!" 

For all the Navi's bluster, Calcinatio's face morphed into a happy : D, complete with sideways text. "Vaccine Antiviral operates on a strict schedule!" he points one claw-arm skyward triumphantly. "I have optimised the closing procedure to such extent, I can jack out immediately upon locking the doors!" His distress from not ten seconds prior had, it seemed, vanished without trace.

"But why jack out," Shady Navi hissed, face so close to Calcinatio's it was a wonder he wasn't suffering burns, "when we are both obligated to wait...FOR...MY...MINIONS?"

"Then let's hope they looked up our opening hours!" The : D was unending.

"<WORDLESS SCREAMING>" How he managed to communicate precisely that sentence was truly a mystery. This was the scene that would greet Tutoria and QuestMan upon their arrival.
QuestMan appeared on the Net in a wipe of flat, coming together from left to right to form a two-dimensional image that became his 3D form. He raised his sword hilt high in both hands, giving a flash of light that quickly dissipated and would likely do little but annoy any others in the street, seeing as the only person who might be looking for him was inside. The Navi cleared his throat and looked around to see if Tutoria had arrived yet… not seeing her, he called for his operator. When she didn’t answer either, he reasoned it was time to figure things out himself.
“FIRE,” Maguffr helpfully commented, a demonic growl briefly emanating from his sword’s gemstone.
“Of course,” QuestMan agreed, nodding with a confident smile. “This flame and its mysterious runes guide our path. I’m sure that when Tutoria is here, she will be able to divine their purpose. As for me, my journey is ever towards flame and… ahem. Stores.” The Navi let out a small sigh. ”Shame it’s not an equipment shop… Would have been nice to get some cool armor before Tutoria shows up…”
The Navi approached the doors, failing to sell his “boy from a rustic village” persona as he kept moving through the sliding door without stopping to gaze in awe. Once inside, he idly took note of the store’s stock. ”Medicine. Not the most glamorous inventory, but invaluable to any adventurer. This may be the type of adventure where it’s not required, though… I’ll remember to ask Tutoria’s advice.”
As he got closer to the source of the clomping noise he’d been hearing closer to the back of the store, he cautiously readied Maguffr. So far, all of his encounters with Navis had been business associates or coworkers. From his understanding, though, the Net could be as dangerous as any dungeon. At a glance, either of the two creatures he was sharing a room with could be something dangerous, and he couldn’t be too careful. His grip relaxed as it became more clear the strange talking machine was probably the Calcinatio he’d been communicating with. Try as he might, though, he couldn’t make sense of the emotions the Navi was displaying in his fire, observing each carefully as he racked his brain trying to connect them to the spoken word and decipher their meaning.
He watched the scene play out before clearing his throat and equipping his brightest grin. “Was someone waiting on… wait, minions?” he stopped, unable to hide his annoyance. “Are you talking about Tutoria and me? Listen, I’m always happy to help, but we heroes don’t go by ‘minion,’ okay? ‘Hero’ is the preferred term. Otherwise, ‘assistant’ is acceptable. ‘Employee,’ perhaps. ‘Hired help.’ But a ‘minion’ is, you know, a monster or a swarthy henchman. So fear not, your hired help has arrived! I’m QuestMan.”
His introduction and correction out of the way, the Navi swapped his blade to his off hand and extended his leading hand for a shake to whoever (whatever?) would take it. “Also, if it’s okay, Calcinatio, can you please, erm, stick around for a little bit longer? Tutoria and I will work with haste due this insidious RunningMan, but it will be a most anticlimactic and premature end to our quest if you depart in its midst.”
“MEANINGLESS,” Maguffr agreed from the hand kept at his side.
Shortly after QuestMan appeared and moved inside the store, Tutoria would appear in a flash of lightning, descending from the sky and creating trails of sparking electricity across the net's floor that briefly followed along the trailing hem of her robe. She observed the emblem on the shop's banners, tapping one finger to her cheek and finding herself unable to make heads or tails or face of it either. "I wonder... if it's to advertise the shop... what is it supposed to be?" she asked, hoping Cassiel would have some advice.

Cassiel was paying a rare bit of attention; he shrugged his broad shoulders. "I seen that in games before, Electopian ones. It's some spam people use in chats. It's 'sposed to look like a face, I guess. But man, you use somethin' like that, you turn the ladies off of you real quick. Ain't that a biltz? You girls like cute shuz like this, but if a brother does somethin' like that you think he 'ffeminate or some shuz," he complained, going off topic.

"Firstly, no, it is not a biltz. The biltz is a humanoid canine species that form small tribes, craft weapons, and attack adventurers with lethal, malevolent intent. And secondly, most girls don't like shuz or think it's cute... shuz is a slime creature that tries to devour adventurers as well," Tutoria pointed out.. Kelsey was a little persnickity on the subject of Tutoria lore, but Tutoria herself was always a strict teacher. 

"Okay. Okay. In about two secs' my fine-ass boss is gonna be back in some kinda yoga pants or some shuz so I am just gonna let you do your thing and ain't gonna say another thing. Peace," Cassiel dismissed himself, having much greater topics to devote his mind to than deciphering emotes or listening to his navi's lectures.

Tutoria sighed, having no objection. She took in a deep breath of air. Helping others was her passion, but fairly commonplace; she hadn't had a chance to assist QuestMan in any such task, however. "My great calling," she reminded herself. "Cassiel informed me that QuestMan is to be my companion in manifold quests going forward. We will form a bond, warrior and supporter, starting here. The beginning of our journey in its historic first venue: this Vaccine Antiviral store!" she psyched herself up, clutching her book in both hands with a bit of anxiousness as she passed through the electric door.

From the sounds of the moaning when she entered, she had spent a little too much time savoring the start of a new quest; the store's proprietor seemed like he'd have preferred if she skipped the text on that one. As she entered, she spotted noteworthy navis with designs that spoke to a sense of particular purpose and also longevity on the net... and one navi with a design that spoke to nothing at all, like a blank slate. "My ally is... unassuming," she admitted to herself, "but that just means he's brimming with potential. It is my sworn duty to hone that potential." However, honing QuestMan's potential wasn't her purpose here; she'd been hired to help Vaccine Antiviral recover a stolen item.

Tutoria set her hood down to her back as she entered; even if her operator insisted on wearing shades inside a building, that was no excuse for her imitating his poor behavior. She took up place next to QuestMan and extended one of her long robe sleeves out, revealing a hand clad in her thin, brown skinsuit, with gold lines tracing the outside of the knuckles. "Greetings. Tutoria, at your service," she began with the other two. "And QuestMan, my ally. May our first adventure together be fruitful and productive," she introduced herself with a smile, keeping it brief since one in their company was very impatient and the other in their company was close to closing the door on their mission before they had a chance to step through. 

Initially, she nodded along with his protest to being named a minion, but a sudden bolt of lightning arcing above her head taught her otherwise. "No... I see it! He's saying that to treat ourselves as anything other than minions is hubris on our part. No, to begin our quest, we will be brought low, that we may rise to great heights!" she explained, raising her book from low to high above her head. "Calcinatio, to understand this evildoer, we must think like this evildoer; I understand what you're trying to say. QuestMan, we must be prepared to step into the shoes of low criminals and perpetrate evil deeds if we are to capture this bandit. Do not worry; as you brief us on the situation, we will both be contemplating the sorts of things we would steal from this store and how we would do it."
The door to Vaccine dinged like a great brass bell with each entrance; the quirk had been a gift to Calcinatio from a coworker, and the involuntary startle it tended to invoke in new customers was an endless source of amusement to him. "Aha! " he exclaims, interrupting the Navi's impressively creative spree of invective. His head rises high enough to see over their impressively large top hat, 🤔'ing at the newcomer. Almost immediately he very literally lights up. "That outfit! That blade! That bag of holding!" he might have sang, had his voice the necessary quality of tone, "I believe we've found our adventurer, DastardlyMan! And before closing time too! Oh, this is already going so well!" 

The finally-named DastardlyMan snarled at the sound of his name; perhaps he'd wished to introduce himself, but it was looking more likely that was simply the sort of person he was. "I seem to recall requesting TWO min-huhwhat now?" he finally realized someone else was talking. His frown deepened, itself an impressive feat when one considered he had no more than eyes to emote with. "A swarthy henchman? Why, that is precisely the term to describe you! A minion, summoned to do the bidding of the e~vil NetPolice, and by extension me, the nefa~rious DastardlyMan!" He seized his moustache in a clenched fist and twirled it most aggressively. The introduction rang, if strangely phrased, a little hollow when Calcinatio had just shouted his name for all to hear.

The dubiously-sentient countertop was quick to accept QuestMan's handshake, eagerly offering something that combined the handiest features of a crane-game arm and an industrial vice. His grip, at least, was gentle enough. "Understood! I will do my very best to stick around!" he promised, as though staying after closing was something that required true toil and effort. It was at this point that Tutoria made her grand entrance, announced by a brassy chime. His other arm came up seamlessly to offer a simultaneous second handshake. "Aha, and now the both of you are here! At this rate, RunningMan will be behind bars in no time!" He seemed not to react at all to Maguffr's input, though DastardlyMan certainly took offence enough for the both of them.

"Meaningless?" he repeated at QuestMan as though he had spoken and not the sword. "It most certainly is not meaningless!" he barks. "You are to smooth down the path which the Department of Prosecution may travel, in the apprehending of the foul, good RunningMan! Accept your mission with gratitude, minion!" He threw his top head high with an imperious sniff from a phantom nose, then looked down the length of said nose at the green-clad sorceress before him. He gave a snort of grudging approval at her words, even as Calcinatio began to visibly panic at the thought of potential thievery. "This one seems to understand her duty. One must do anything in one's power to uphold the e~vil NetPolice, and further their dark ambitions! You will need to utilise all of your guile, your every inkling of cunning and trickery if you are to succeed in your appointed task!" His version of approval, it seemed, was not yelling at the top of his lungs, but merely talking somewhat louder than necessary.

"Please don't rob us we aren't doing very well this month and we were going to give you a discretionary fund anyway so if you could maybe not..." Calcinatio fussed, and was drowned out almost as soon as he began speaking.

DastardlyMan walked around Calcinatio and stood over him like the stovetop he was; the oven-man obligingly shifted his head out of the way, in favour of bobbing the flaming emoji distractingly over the man's top hat as he continue. Digging a fist through an inside pocket, he withdrew a paper dossier and held it open. Upon it was an image of a Navi that could only be their quarry. RunningMan's design harked back several generations through Navi fashion, more mechanical than humanoid in the shine of his bodysuit and the lines of his face. He was dressed head to toe in alternating panels of black and white, with a few racing stripes thrown in across his torso and down his legs. The only real identifying feature besides his crosswalk-man emblem was a metal panel that looked more-or-less grafted to his chest, containing a few small lines of text preceding a large block-text of [O-13-954].

"RunningMan has a long history of evading capture from the forces of evil and bounty hunters alike," DastardlyMan began, offering the paper across Cal's torso for either QuestMan or Tutoria to take. "The facts we have on him are as such: he's guilty of many crimes but is most partial to theft and smuggling, or whatever can be best accomplished at high speeds. He works alone, or at least for his sole benefit, and doesn't appear to jack-out. He tends to use .GMOs when operating, usually of generic Navis, but is recognisable for the branding plate we've managed to hardcode to him...and his speed." He paused for emphasis. "He is very, very fast."

"Which brings us to your true objective!" Calcinatio took the moment to add his two cents. "The data he stole was a capsule of exotic material; the sample itself has little value, but losing track of it would be disastrous! He was last sighted headed for a black-market trading post he's known to frequent, where it's likely he'll be trying to sell it off. If you see a shot to catch RunningMan off-guard before he parts with it, by all means try your luck, but ultimately we are only concerned with the retrieval of our sample!"

"Time, of course, being of the essence, the egre~gious DastardlyMan would prefer we keep our briefings brief, such that the running pest doesn't escape my grasp!" DastardlyMan slams a fist down on Cal's stovetop, uncaring or perhaps unfeeling of the heat rising from it in shimmering waves. "As such, unless you have any pressing issues or comments to see to, I suggest you two make haste!" 

Calcinatio's face was a D: of dismay. "But I was going to...I had more to...ohhhhh..."
QuestMan equipped a smug smile, thrusting his chest out at Calcinatio’s excitement, particularly the acknowledgement of his sword. Of course, DastardlyMan had less kind things to say about his role. The hero put a hand to his chin and rubbed his lower lip, still trying to decide whether the posturing creature was friend or foe. In any case, he gave Calcinatio his hand to shake.
This meant that when Tutoria arrived, her ally was still mid-shake. QuestMan had definitely been planning on making some grand introduction to the great Tutoria he’d heard so much about, and that chance was all but spoiled now. Nonetheless, his face lit up boyishly when he laid eyes on her: she was, after all, one of the few anchoring, recognizable constants he already knew of in the vast unknown of the Net, and would certainly be one of his closest allies in his coming adventures.
More importantly… ”She’s so cute!” he thought to himself, drinking in the details of her carefully modeled visage for the first time as though Kelsy hadn’t shown him a mountain of official art depicting Tutoria beforehand. ”A truly beautiful lady. And… and the robes that obscure her figure… if she has womanly features to match her mature demeanor, she might be… just my type,” he thought with a gulp, fixing his goofy face after noticing his mind wandering. “Well met, Tutoria,” he responded succinctly, both of them still locked in Calcinatio’s handshake.
Any further introductions would have to wait for DastardlyMan’s outburst… and, for that matter, Tutoria’s outburst. QuestMan looked thunderstruck himself, immediately furrowing his brow as he tried to carefully consider Tutoria’s words… and swallow his pride. ”Darn it, I’m supposed to be a hero! It’s one thing to start out on the Net as a penniless adventurer, now I’m to be a villain, as well?! How am I supposed to forge my legacy of heroism as a villain?!”
He mulled it over as he considered DastardlyMan’s continued presentation. He took the paper and studied the details of the Navi, RunningMan, who had more in common in aesthetically with the Navis he’d done business with recently than anything currently in the room with him. “O-13-954… a password of some sort…?” he muttered, probably incorrectly. “Ah, no, of course. A criminal designation,” he reasoned, flushing a bit as he wished he could withdraw his first guess. “Not to worry. No matter what disguise he uses and what speed he has been granted by what dark deal, he shall be no match for our combined wits and persistence.”
It sounded like their quest would take them to a den of thieves… “Aha. Now it is clear to me, DastardlyMan, Tutoria. I am fortunate to have the two of you as my tutors in this matter. Without properly adapting the appearance and mannerisms of a merciless, cut-throat, no-good, vermin-riddled, black-hearted dog of society like you, DastardlyMan, I’ll be unable to gain entrance to this black market.
”EVIL,” Maguffr added, unnecessarily. ”… GOOD.”
“As such… Tutoria! I am afraid that I am, at the moment, penniless,” he admitted, turning to her and scratching the back of his head. “As such, I am unable to afford any supplies or medicine for our adventure. However… would you, um, advocate that we perhaps, relieve… I mean, uh… Are you, suggesting we steal medicine for our adventure from Calcinatio? If you are, I’m ready to do what it takes,” he reassured her, putting a fist to his chest in a half-hearted motion and grinning less than reassuringly. “That said, I will remind you that, er, Calcinatio has made plain the case of why this would cause him especially great stress in the present cycle of his business. Also, there is an officer of the NetPolice here, which could make our departure more difficult. Also, being so detained could hinder our ability to complete the rest of our quest. And maybe, uh, even if we do steal it, we can return the unused portion to Calcinatio later? Or maybe have the cost deducted from our reward?” As he spoke, QuestMan was subconsciously lowering his voice to more and more of a conspiratorial whisper, as though his earlier loud declaration wouldn’t have been heard by everyone else in the room. “Well, I’ll leave the… particulars of it to you. You can… do what you feel necessary while I keep them distracted. And figure out where we’re going.”
With that, speaking at a normal volume again and transparently moving to put himself between Tutoria and DastardlyMan, QuestMan addressed the unlikely NetPolice officer. “DastardlyMan! Merely point the way, and Tutoria and I will leave to our duty post-haste.” QuestMan kept his eyes locked on DastardlyMan’s, his already swelling guilt keeping him from looking at Calcinatio at all.
When Tutoria had first suggested that QuestMan and she ought to start thinking like criminals, it made made some warped degree of sense to her. The more she listened to DastardlyMan's confusing adjectives, however, the more she began to question her own flash of inspiration from earlier.  She tried to hide that sense of doubt and keep pace with the conversation. "Deep inside the criminal mentality, yes. That's what we are going to be," she tried to rationalize, although, DastardlyMan's unique descriptors of his own faction were pretty hard to rationalize. "Do not fear, good shopkeeper... it is only a thought exercise, although I appreciate you approaching it so seriously " she clarified, noting that QuestMan seemed pretty confused about it himself. "We only need think the parts, not act the thieves. But you are correct that if we were to steal anything, healing medicines would be an excellent choice."

The bad guy probably hadn't stolen medicine for its healing properties so much as its "exotic" effects, but their briefing kept the details very vague. Tutoria inspected the perpetrator's image and knit her brow seriously. "He looks very... fast," she spoke quietly, wishing she could remember the words to chant for teleportation (or find them in her book).

She nodded solemnly with DastardlyMan's request, then opened her eyes wide as another peel of thunder clapped. "Haste, correct! And to that end, QuestMan, we should also attempt to emulate our opponent's speed! As such, we should practice jogging as much as we are able!" she insisted, beginning to jog in place. Despite her usual diligence, the job ended up being a pathetic, slow switch of her legs while she held her fists up to hip height. Her face was serious but her technique was still ridiculous. The sorceress' hood and ponytail both flapped up and down with her pace.

"I'm eager to run out right away, but please, could you give us some basic idea of what direction he went in? Also, because I can foresee- hah- a problem down the line, can we jack out and come back once we have the sample, or will it not carry during a jack out? I ask because once we manage to claim our prize... there is a decent chance the criminal will chase us down to recover it. Or so my 'placing myself inside the criminal mind' tells me." She had a bad mental image of lucking out and grabbing a vial off of RunningMan, only for him to run up and swipe it back from her.
DastardlyMan's chest puffed out farther with every 'compliment' QuestMan unleashed upon him. "Evil, VERY evil!" he clapped his fists together in glee, though it was becoming more apparent that 'evil' wasn't, perhaps, the word he thought he was saying. "Infiltrating the black market will require precisely that sort of judgment! We'll make fine minions of you yet...PROVIDED, of course," he stopped to eye Tutoria's dubious demonstration, "this one learns to imbue action with intent! Your legs will have to move twice, no, THRICE that speed if they hope to match your fair quarry!" His cartoonish eyes followed Tutoria's unerringly, before straightening and coughing into a fist. "But DastardlyMan digresses. The link, shopkeep?"

"Ah, that's me!" Calcinatio seemed to remember he was, in fact, the store manager. His body disengaged from the modular countertops and tucked to the side, opening a gap for QuestMan and Tutoria to step through. Behind the cash register was a small alcove, just large enough for the jack-in panel on the floor. Against all odds, the walking oven snapped his fingers, and the panel lit up in the flashing red-white of a direct uplink.

"Now!" Their fiendish superior sized up QuestMan. "This link will transport you directly to your destination, deep within the wild space of Yumland Net. However, before you depart!" he dug a fist around his inner coat pockets, before withdrawing and brandishing a small black sack distressingly close to the adventurers' faces. "You say you are penniless? This, QuestMan, should suffice naughtily. The NetPolice has agreed to provide an advance on your reward, to better facilitate your movement within the black market. Should you require transportation, for instance, or if buying back the sample becomes necessary, this Zenny will make a fine tool. You will find, of course, that the bag will refuse to transfer to your Operator's PETs until your mission is successful. Thus, you will need to carry the money on your persons." He paused a moment to loom over his would-be minions, as though emphasizing how important a fact this was. Whichever fact that may have been, he coughed once more into his fist and finished hurriedly, "The NetPolice will reimburse any money spent in successful completion of your mission."

"Oh, I can answer that!" Calcinatio piped up as Tutoria voiced her concerns. "Your PETs wouldn't like trying to process the sample at all, but thankfully we've devised a way around that! So now it's my turn to give you stuff!" Mirroring DastardlyMan's earlier motion, he opened his oven door and rummaged around the various racks within. Rather than a sack of money, clutched delicately in his clawtips was a small metal gadget, about the size and shape of a pill bottle. It was largely unadorned but for the giant red button protruding from one tip. "This is a portable hyperlink! Upon retrieving the sample, a push of this button will warp you and anything on your person right into Vaccine's homepage. Err...I was only able to make the one, you understand. But as long as you're holding onto the person activating the link, it can take ride-alongs no problem! That should work, right? You humanoids are great at hugging, your torsos are so conveniently shaped for it!" He held it out in offering.
QuestMan looked visibly a little miffed when Tutoria not only didn’t seem to respect his efforts at going against his heroic nature, but apparently hadn’t intended him to go that far to begin with. Oddly enough, though, he brightened up a bit when he saw Tutoria begin jogging for no readily apparent reason. It reminded him he wasn’t supposed to understand the Lady’s flashes of inspiration: best that he simply did his part. Tutoria was already trying her hardest, in her own way. “I wouldn’t worry about Tutoria, DastardlyMan. We have our roles, and if it comes to a footrace, I’ll be your man. I’ve no lack of confidence in my speed and stamina.”

QuestMan began stepping around the counter before he was suddenly presented with an allowance for his journey. He wasn’t used to having such things thrust at him, but he was glad to see it, all the same. He grabbed the pouch and stowed it in his tunic, nodding. “Naturally. It would be against my nature to accept any reward for a quest I hadn’t completed.” He took the gadget with more consternation, trying to think exactly how to safely store it. Ultimately, he placed it carefully in his belt next to the sack. He listened to Calcinatio attentively, though his goofy grin returned as he questioned the end. “Hugging…?” he considered, finding himself picturing again what kind of conveniently-shaped torso his ally might have. Chiding himself, he shook his head to clear it, equipping his less embarrassing smile once more. “I’m sure we’ll manage. Thank you, Calcinatio, Officer. We’ll delay no longer.

“Are you prepared to depart, Tutoria?” The Navi offered his hand, to his ally. “We could simply… hold hands, or I’d be happy to carry you if you think we might need to sprint post-haste upon arrival. The… princess carry… may be suitable? Or a classic piggyback, but respectful for m’lady, of course… o-or over the shoulder if we’re still putting ourselves in the villainous- Oh! Oh,” QuestMan interrupted himself with a blush and a grin. “I forgot we don’t need to in order to depart, just to get back. Well… if there’s nothing else, I’ll go first,” he offered, stepping to the portal himself.
"Splendid! A hero needs stamina, which goes hand in hand with determination! Together, the two allow a hero to undertake the greatest of journeys all the way to their conclusions," Tutoria spoke between breaths. "Journeys such as this, upon which we soon depart."

She jumped a bit as DastardlyMan pointed out that such half-hearted jogging would be wholly insufficient to capture their quarry. Her eyebrows tilted beneath her circlet and the metallic covers on her ears drooped slightly. "My apologies. But as QuestMan has stated, his legs are the ones that are nimble and true. My only strength is to guide those legs... and cast the occasional spell. If only I had access to my HASTEN spell... or my SLOW-DOWN... this would be a much easier task," she admitted, though she attempted to keep up the pace of her jog.

Things continued in a much more traditional briefing fashion after that. QuestMan took possession of the zenny and transportation device they had been promised. Just as it seemed like they were ready to depart, she received a troubling final note. Her ears twitched again as she noted QuestMan's expression. "It would not be proper to make for the two of us to hug, QuestMan. We are going to be questing together for the foreseeable future and that could, er... complicate things," she attempted to advise him.

"Yeah! You just throw her on over your shoulder like a sack of potatoes," Cassiel advised from audio, eager to head off anything that sounded like the two navis getting romantically involved. His boss didn't want that, and therefore, it was to his benefit to make sure it didn't happen. "Trust me, her weight is like, uh, half that cloak she's wearing."

"Well, my cloak isn't going anywhere. So I fail to see your point," Tutoria responded, tensing her eyebrows. Just then, another bolt, this one brief with only a minor rumble, flashed. "Ah yes, I see it clearly. The proper way to make contact will reveal itself through another bolt, closer to the time. We needn't worry about it for now, but should heed it when the time comes."

She looked between the other two, then gave another brief nod. "Let's get started. Thank you for your briefing. We are off to Yumland, then."
Thus suitably equipped, the portal derezzed QuestMan into a nostalgic pixel art, and promptly scattered the sprite skyward. When neither a sack of money or a hyperlink widget clattered to the ground in his wake, Calcinatio sighed in relief, dabbing at a sweaty-face emoji. "Thank goodness it worked! That would've been really embarrassing otherwise!"

He turned to Tutoria, who had yet to leave, and his 'expression' turned inquisitive. "Why would hugging complicate anything? Hugs are great, we at Vaccine are big advocates of their therapeutic energies. Like my Operator always says: when in doubt, hug it out!" He wrapped his machine-shop arms around his own torso as though to demonstrate. It looked...well, uncomfortable was a polite word for it; DastardlyMan gave a great sniff like he'd just smelled something foul, to which the oven-Navi affected a very literally-bright smile. "Good luck to you both, though I'm certain you won't need it!"

The link awaited, blinking happily away with each tick of the clock.

<{QuestMan GET: Vaccine Hyperlink; Bag of 9000z}> (da-na-na-naaaah~)

<{Thread opening in Yumland Net}>
"Therapeutic? Hm..." Tutoria asked their employer, while lowering her eyes to his decidedly non-human torso. "Well... As QuestMan's guide, I would prefer to remain at a respectful arm's length when possible rather than getting too friendly. But that is still preferable when the other option is being treated like a sack of potatoes," she admitted. She tried giving a smile in return. "It is good advice. If anyone can appreciate that, it ought to be me."

There was no more time for advising... well, here, anyway. "I take my leave, for now," she finished, before putting over to Yumland Net.

((Headed to Yumland Net))
QuestMan failed to hide his obvious disappointment at Tutoria's decision, his smile falling flat. "Ah, I see... well, I'll yield to your wisdom... Hm? Who was that?"

"That was Cassiel, Tutoria's operator, you recall," Kelsy spoke to him on a private vc channel. "However, I recommend you heed Tutoria's advice, as usual. Even an unromantic carry may spark certain feelings unbecoming of a hero."

"Of course," QuestMan responded, forcing a smile as he stepped into the inappropriately chipper teleporter.

((Headed to Yumland Net))