New Country, New Adventure(r)s!

A man stood at the bottom of a set of escalators with his hands in his pockets and his eyes trained upwards. Taller and darker skinned than those around him, his stillness only added to how much he stuck out in the crowd of busy travellers hustlings about.

"Dad!" An excited yell from the top of the escalator: a young female barely into adulthood waving furiously with one arm. The other is holding one strap of a backpack. A woman of clear Sharoan descent standing with familial closeness to the one waving also lifts her hand in a much more subdued gesture.

The man laughs and waves back then bends down to pick up a brightly wrapped blue box with a green ribbon and wave it in the air. Roughly the size of a shoebox it appears to have a rather sizeable dent in the bottom but has otherwise kept its shape.

"How? We couldn't find it at baggage claim!" She demands as she steps off the elevator and promptly attempts to leap and grab the box. Her father laughs and walks backwards, leading the group away from the bottom of the stairs.

"I have eyes like a hawk! And an in with airport security. Hello, honey." He teases, quieting to lean over and press a quick kiss to the Sharoan woman's lips. She rises on tip toe to meet him, the lines of worry on her face fading for a moment. The younger girl makes an exaggerated face of disgust and shakes her head.

The father laughs and relinquishes the box to her then wraps both hands around his wife. "JUst don't open it until we get in the car! Don't want to scatter paper around." The teenager sighs in exaggerated exasperation.

"Fiiiiinee! I'll be patient, this once!"


The faithful backpack is rewarded for its services during the long flight by being tossed into the backseat of the rental car with little fanfare. The package is pushed more carefully along the seat as the girl slides into her spot.

"Don't forget your sea-" The mother's voice is cut off by the loud click of the seatbelt and an eyerolls from the teenager who is already pulling the box back to her.

"Yeah, yeah! I'm not going to forget to do that just because we're in a new country!" is the irritated reply. The father slides into his seat behind the steering wheel and laughs at the irritated huff from his wife.

"You can blame me for that, I told your mother they are much stricter about that here than in Sharo." He remarks, buckling his own safety strap. He watches her examine the package in the rearview mirror and chuckles at the sight of the teenager's fingers sliding across the thin transparent layer that lies over the paper. "Yeah, you're uncle really didn't want it coming open! Shame about the dent, hopefully it isn't broken. If you need to wait until we get to the house I've got scissors unpacked and ready to go."

"Nope, I've got this!" The teenager's father chuckles and begins talking with his wife. The sound fades into quiet background noise for the teenager. In the back she slipped her fingers along the edges of the tape. She traced it over and under and around the box until she finally found the end. After several more minutes there was an 'aha' moment when she managed to pry the end up.

Eventually the tape is removed (much of the paper going with it in the process) and the teenager drops the shredded remnants to the floor. Unbeknownst to her the front has gone quiet in anticipation of the reveal, the present has been on everyone's mind since it was handed over at the airport in Sharo.

The top is popped off and tossed to the floor to join the discarded tape and paper on top of the backpack, the floor, the rest of the seat, everything. The teenager rips straight through the middle of the tissue paper in the box, pausing when her fingers hit something hard.

"I've got it!" She declares triumphantly, hurriedly ripping through the rest of the tissue paper to pull out her prize. Abruptly she falls silent as if overcome by excitement or tragedy. It is hard to tell which with the state of the box.

"What is it kitten?" Her mother asks as she peers into the little mirror on the back of the sun visor in front of her seat. For a moment she curses her brother-in-law and his thoughtless ways, a little more planning would ensure that the gift would have survived its travel intact!

"It''s a PET!" The question brings the teenager back to the moment and she pulls something black and green and too familiar for the mother's liking. Her lips go thin and tight as she finds a new reason to curse her brother in law. Creases appear on the father's forehead as he glances at his rear view window, to the road, to his wife, and then back at the road. He can see trouble brewing, even "It's a custom PET! A little scratched from baggage handling but it's in really good shape!"

"Give it t-"

"Is anyone home?" He cuts into the conversation with a practiced cheer. His wife gives him a look but he just reaches out with one hand to lightly squeeze her own.

"I-maybe? I don't know how to turn this on, there's an orange flashing light. It's not broken is it?" Wafts to the front from the back and he steels himself against the apprehension in the last line. His wife shifts beside him and mutters something unkind that he hopes his daughter doesn't hear before pulling her hand from his and turning to look out the window. His smile is a sad one as he puts his hand back on the wheel. He had hoped that walking into the new house together would be a happy occasion.

"I'll look at it when we get home. It is probably just on standby mode or low on batteries. It was an eleven hour flight with that weather delay, plus however long it has been since it was last plugged in."

"Yeah, that makes sense. I'm sure it’s fine!"
There are lots of two story houses in the suburbs of DenCity. The most well-known suburb is ACDC Town and it is here that the family in the rental car pulls into the driveway of an off-white two-story house with a green room and attached garage. They each grab their respective things from the car and the father seems relieved that the previous tension has been halted, however momentarily, by the sight of what will hopefully be their new home.

"This place is huge! And so new!" The teenager says as she steps through the front door and onto the hardwood floors. Her father chuckles and steps pass her to flip on the ceiling fan and the lights within it.

"Welcome to Casa de Valens!" He cries. He stretches his arms wide and gestures as if he is a realtor giving a tour. "Old houses aren't really a thing here in Electopia, and I can promise it'll look much smaller once we get all the furniture in."

"Even with furniture we still have much more space than in Sharo. The kitchen isn't as open as everywhere else but.." The mother replies thoughtfully as she steps toward the kitchen. She runs her hands over the painted walls and then gives a loud squeal when she opens a door under the stairs leading up. "So much room! This is easily twice the size of my previous pantry! I can have a separate shelf for pasta and my canned goods and cereal and still have lots of room left over!"

"Not even five minutes here and you're already thinking about dinner!" Her husband teases, coming up behind her and resting his hands on her shoulders.

"Well with a couple of big eaters in the house I have to! I'm sure you'll both be crying in a couple minutes about how there's no food and you are simply starving to death and doesn't anyone love you?" She replies, twisting around to run a finger along his smile while she fights to keep her own face stern and an answering smile off it.

"Speaking of do we have any snacks?" The teenager asks, poking her head over the railing of the stairs at the end with a grin of her own firmly in place. There is a huff and a glare from her mother that isn't entirely teasing and she cackles loudly, pulling her head back over the railing and continuing on her way upstairs.

The adults pause to listen to her clamoring her way over them and the woman's expression falls into something serious and pinched.

"You need to get that PET from her. I just don't know what Sergei was thinking gifting that to her!" She sounds close to tears as she makes her demand and perhaps that is what prompts her husband to lean over and wrap his arms around her shoulders. He rests his head on her head for a moment.

"I know and I will. Sep and I will make sure everything is on the up and up. For now just try to enjoy the new house, okay?"

She sighs and then nods, plastering a smile on and slipping out from his arms to explore the house further. "Alright, alright.. Furniture drop-off should be tomorrow right?"

"Yes dear~" He calls and follows after her with a grin on his face again.

Later before the family eats dinner (takeout from a local restaurant that offers some of the local fare), the daughter offers up her new PET freely and without argument for her father to take off to what will become the in-house office. During dinner it is all but forgotten when the daughter sneezes and one of the noodles she was slurping manages to flop out of her nose to the disgust and humor of the others at the table.

The incident proves beneficial as well as hilarious: she doesn't even think to ask for the gift back until five days later.

When she does it is with trepidation and concern.

"Does it work? Do we have to ship it away somewhere for repair?" She asks as she rocks back and forth on her heels. She stands in the doorway to the office and with how the desk has been placed he merely has to lift his head to look at her. He hit the mute button on his computer when he heard her knock. Now he looks down at his computer screen where a humanoid-Navi with moose antlers shrugs. He is quiet for a moment longer, a serious expression on his face.

"..Alright. It is your gift and I personally think Uncle Sergei is right." He finally says. She gives him a look of confusion as he taps a sequence into his keyboard. The serious express fades into something self-righteous and pleased as he pulls the black and green PET from the cradle on his desk and hands it to her. "Here you go! Everything appears to be in working order. Your mother might give you grief about it but I will support you in this." He gets another short look of confusion but as he is already digging through a drawer. "I'm just going to give you the basic starter pack of chips, she's already got an Undershirt and Set Soil installed so if you want anything else you're going to have to earn it."

"Uh, why is what my Navi wears important?" She asks, dutifully taking the chips he hands her and shoving them in her pocket. She glances several times at the screen of the PET but it is frustratingly blank and the light is back: no longer blinking but a steady amber.

"Really, Soph?" He asked with an eyebrow raised and a half-smile on his face. When she shrugs at him he gives an exaggerated sigh and reaches down into the drawer and pulls out a dusty and thin book labeled 'Net Navis 101'. He throws it at her like a frisbee and it hits her stomach before she catches it. Her face scrunches as she looks at the dust it leaves on her hands and shirt. "Take that and at least read the section on busting how to see what chips do on the PET before you go on to the Net. It'll take fifteen minutes for the PET to wake back up anyways. Have fun, and don't get into too much trouble!"

"Thank you!" Despite the mess, despite the admittedly well-deserved condescension about what she doesn't know about NetBattling it is with a cheerful heart that she leans over the desk to give him a kiss on the cheek and then dashes from the room.

With a sigh the man looks back down to his screen and the message from his Navi there.

[ Your wife is going to be pissed. ]

"I know, Sep. I know."
Fifteen minutes later the daughter is obediently but impatiently flipping through the book she was given. Flopped on her side on her bed with the book held over the side and the PET laying between her and the edge. Her eyes have the glazed look is the same of a zoned out student in class.

The screen to the PET flicks on.

The daughter grabs it by the side and sits up, dropping the book to the floor.

There's suddenly a circle of wood on the screen topped by what could only be an exaggerated witch's hat. There's a body and the gold-circle around a shape that the daughter knows comes with all Navis. The figure on the screen fidgets while the daughter says nothing: white gloved hands fumbling with each other as the curl at the end of the hat tightens. A small bead of water appears on the side of the wooden head near the bottom of the hat and slowly rolls down.

"Uhm, are you Sophia Valens?" the doll-like figure finally asks, the tail of her hat curling tight. The ends of the ribbon on her back flutter as her torso shifts forwards and back. A disconnected boot taps anxiously on the ground and the daughter grins.

"Yes! That's me! You are amazing! Did Uncle Sergei design you? Are you really a witch? You have the hat and shoes for it! I really like your colors!" Sophia all but squeals. The tip of the doll's hat uncurls part way, the head bobbing in a hopeful manner.

"Y-you do? I mean, I'm Vasilia.EXE! I'm honored to be your Personal Net Navigator!" She proclaims and sweeps one disconnected hand in front of her while the other remains flat and to side the side. Her torso and head all tip forwards in a deep bow then bounce back up with a flourish. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Sophia Valens!"

"Aaah! That's too much!" Sophia pushes her palm against the screen of the PET while the other covers her face. She drops both hands pretty quickly and the smile she wears is still half-embarrassed. "That's too adorable! And the way you bounce around is just like a bath toy!"

"Oh! Oh no, oh no! I'm very sorry I didn't mean to embarrass you!" Vasilia cries as she grabs the sides of her hat and pulls them down low on either side of her head. Bright pink spots have appeared on either side of her head and the tail of her hat has curled up tight again. Her head shifts from side to side under the hat as if searching for something with her torso twisting in mimicry. Eventually she turns toward Sophia again and releases the sides of her hat. "Um, I have a message! From your uncle if you want? Will that ah, be good? Can I play it?"

"You're okay! You didn't do anything wrong! I just ah, wasn't expecting you to be so cute! I do that when I see baby animals too!" Sophia is quick to reassure the hand-wringing Navi who is squeezing her hands in front of each other. Luckily that seems to stop the fretting and Vasilia perks up, her parts bouncing up a little higher before settling back to where they were before. "Go ahead and play the message!"

[color=#6A287E]"Right! Uhm..." Vasilia straightens up and goes still, the curl of her hat back to its normal degree of curl. She raises her hands in front of her flat, one above the other with the thumbs pointing to the fingers of the other hand. The top hand is turned palm outwards towards Sophia with the thumb pointed down, giving the new NetOp a clear view of the swirls on Vasilia's finger tips. The other is turned toward Vasilia herself with the thumb pointed up.

A quiet static filters through the speakers as blue light outlines the rectangle between her hands. A still image of Sharoan man with a bushy beard and kind green eyes, then grows larger as the hands pull away from each other in opposite angles. Eventually the hands stretch the image to be larger to Vasilia herself and the photo takes up the entire screen of the PET.

"Ahem, Sophia! Congratulations on moving! If you're getting this that means you and Vasilia have been united! I will admit I'm worried if this message will ever reach you but if its playing I guess it has! Ahaha!" The man breaks off into a cough then settles down and continues his message. "I hope I am not overstepping by gifting you this, well, not overstepping with you at any rate. A lot of young folks these days want to design their own Navi but you honestly never seemed to have much interest in that and Vasilia needed a home so I thought this might make a good match! One Navi, bereft of Operator! One soon-to-be Operator without a Navi! Anyways, I hope you two have a marvellous time together! Don't forget to call! I look forward to hearing about all your adventures in Electopia!"

With that the virtual screen between Vasilia's hands turns black and the Navi shrinks the screen the same way she enlarged it to begin with. It disappears with a quiet pop as the sides of her hands hit each other, and then the white pointed gloves drop back to her sides. She looks back 'out' at Sophia then draws back, startled.

"Oh dear, oh no, are you okay? You're leaking! From the eyes! Should I call a hospital? Should I call a doctor?" The Navi asks, hands fluttering as she rushes around in a cartoonish circle as if desperately searching for something to do.

"No no! It's fine, I'm just crying a little. Haven't you seen anyone cry before?" Sophia asks as she reaches up to brush the liquid away with her thumb. She had been startled by the tears suddenly welling up. She hadn't cried at all when she said goodbye to her uncle at the airport.

"Oh!" Vasilia halted her running and faced the screen again. "I haven't really..uhm, I'm suppose to send an acknowledgement back that you got that message. Do you mind if I do that now?"

"No, go ahead! I want to see how this is done." Sophia says as she picks the PET up off the bed and walks over to the computer. "You need to be connected to the NET to send it, right? Is there anything else I need to do besides jacking in?"

There's a moment when Vasilia hears 'No' first and more drops of 'sweat' appears on the side of the wooden ball. The rest of the sentence clears things up and the Navi clears the liquid away with the back of her hand. "Thank you! I just need to go to uhm, the place! With all the Navis and buildings on the Net!" As the Navi speaks she moves her hands about in a swirling motion, blue sparks trailing from the ends of her hands as a steadier line of blue trails from her fingers and hangs in the air. Sophia tracks the movements with her eyes.

"I...don't really know where that is? I'm super new to the Net as well. Uhm..." She trails off as she pulls her eyes away to look over her desk and nibbles at the tip of her thumb. The description sounds familiar, if only she had a guide-

Her eyes fall on the 'Net Navis 101' book on the floor by her bed and she gives a quiet 'aha!' before she slides her foot under the arch of the opened book and lifts it to her. She winces at the crumpled pages and makes a cursory effort to flatten them out before flipping to the index. "I didn't read a lot but I remember seeing! Internet City! That sounds like the place!"

"Yeah! Let's go!" Vasilia agrees as Sophia snaps the book shut and sets it on the desk next to the monitor. This part should be easy for Sophia: she has seen enough Net Battlers in daytime dramas do much the same thing. The PET is swiftly picked up and the cord pulled from its semi-recessed position. Sophia strikes a pose then plunges it into the port on the computer.

"Vasilia! Jack-in!"

Darkness gathers beneath Vasilia and the small, glowing blue envelope in front of her hand. The Navi's head tilts down as a large red exclamation mark pops up over her head. The darkness separates into dozens of shadowy black hands that dig into the ground beneath her feet then wrench it open into a dark circular hole. Two more exclamation marks join the first and then Vasilia abruptly plunges down into the black.
(From Charcoal Buddies)

Watching the end of the fight from Sophia's side had her stuck with no real way to assist. The last of their chips had been slotted in and while it had integrated with Vasilia's broom the witch-puppet had flung said broom aside to deal with the weird ball-headed thing in the lava. Sophia nipped at the fingernail of her smallest finger as she watched Vasilia charge up her attack.

Really attacking from a distance was probably the smart thing, right? The little witch-puppet was made of wood so going into the lava wouldn't be too smart! But this was the Net, did common sense really apply here?

With a groan Sophia smacked her forehead with her hand. This right here was exactly why she had almost failed her Netbattling classes! THe Net just didn't make any sense!

Regardless she dropped her hand as Vasilia fire and bit down on her lower lip as she leaned closer to the screen. The little red bar displaying the virus's hp dropped to zero and the PET pinged a triumphant melody as it downloaded the money and chip data. Sophia glanced at it distractedly but more important was Vasilia reaching up to snag the wayward envelope out of the air!

"WHOOO! WE DID IT!" Sophia leapt to her feet and pumped a fist in the air, only slowed for a moment by the resistance of the plug nested in the port. It promptly, predictably, came flying free from the socket and Sophia's glee promptly turned to horror.

"Vassie! Are you okay?" She gripped the edges of the PET as the screen momentarily turned black with a bright red ERROR message in bold typeface. She shook the PET out of desperation as the message flashed. Once, twice, and then miraculously as she brought it to a still point for the final time the screen cleared to the normal blue background with Vasilia stumbling in the foreground and a burst of static from the speakers. "Vasilia!"

"W-wha? I-is it an earthquake?" She called back as she stumbled into a more upright position. She pressed both hands against the side of her head to stabilize her view toward the camera while her body and feet continued to fumble around, sometimes in different directions. Immediately her tone changed. "Sophia! Did you see, did you? We WON!"

With a sigh the girl pressed the PET to her chest and looked up at the ceiling, her mouth moving in a wordless prayer of thanks before she moved the PET to a better viewing spot. Vasilia's body was looking more put together now, or at least everything seemed to have synced back up. "I did! You hit that mean virus and then it shot itself I think? I didn't even know they could do that."

"Mhm! Mhm! I did it! It was weird and neat but it's gone! And-and, did you see what else I did?" Vasilia leaned toward the PET screen, her fingers seeming to push against the surface as she pressed her 'face' against the screen in her eagerness.

"I saw you grab the response, but where is it?" She watched as Vasilia peeled herself off the screen and stepped back, her hands hurridly patting down her sides.

"Ah, it's here it's here! I'll find it right away!" A bead of sweat formed as her hands worked their away around her body. More beads of sweat appeared on her face and she wiped it off with one hand, her body language abruptly changing as she straightened up with a snap of her fingers.

"I remember! When the light came down I put it somewhere safe!" With a happy hum the Navi swiped her hat off her head with a flourish to reveal the envelope perched atop the sphere. Sophia cheered and Vasilia bowed low as she plucked it off her head again and held it up to the camera. "Ta-daaah! Here it is!"

"What is all the yelling about?" Sophia lifted her head as her dad opened the door to her room and stuck his head in. He wore a good-natured smile on his face but Sophia still winced.

"Sorry dad! I'll do better about the indoor-voice thing, I just got excited. Vasilia won her first fight! I mean she had help, but it was really cool! There was fire and lava everywhere it went Bang-Whizz-THUNK!"

Mr. Valens raised his eyebrows at the description and his eyes twinkled as he stood in the doorframe. "Uh-huh. Why don't you tell me all about it?"

With a grin and a deep breath Sophia prepared to do just that.
"Ugggh! Why is almost everything to do with the Net so boring?" Sophia whined as she let The Comprehensive Guide to Netbattling fall onto her face. She was sprawled on her back on her unmade bed. Her bright yellow tank top had ridden up at some point and now was bunched around the bottom of her chest revealing just a peek of dark blue. She gestured with her free hand above her as she spoke. "All NetOps do is stand around, talk, and slot in chips."

"Oh, I guess it is kinda boring from your perspective!" Vasilia said as perkily as ever. She straightened up from yet another leap across the PET's screen and put a thoughtful finger on her face. "I mean, when I'm on the Net I'm really there ya'know~? I'm runnin' and jumpin' and skippin'!"

Sophia rolled onto her stomach with a groan and let the book flop onto the mound of her blankets. She adjusted the waistband of her black shorts with one hand while she propped up her head with the other. "I know," she whined. "but on my end it's really boring! And like, with the tiny PET screen I can't even see as much of the action. Also reading about it is even worse!"

"Is this why you had to retake your Netbattling class so many times?" Vasilia asked. She skipped to the edge of the screen and peered out past the cover of Netbattling for Dummies that was precariously perched there to the bed where Sophia was. The dool rocked back and forth while her hands swung in an opposite rhythm. "He said it took you a lot of times! It must have been really hard."

With a groan Sophia let herself flop on top of the book then immediately pushed herself back up so she could see her Navi's reactions more clearly. "Ugh! Why'd he have to bring that up? I know it's suppose to be easy but its just so boring I just couldn't pay attention! Everyone else seemed to get through it quickly, I just feel like such a loser."

"I don't think you're a loser!" Vasilia cried out earnestly. She put both hands on her chest then waved them in the air. "You helped give me chips when I needed them, and encouraged me too! We just have to find a way to make it interesting for you too!"

"That's sweet of you Vassie, but I could've really messed you up if the emergency plug-out protocols hadn't kicked in!" Sophia brushed her bangs out of her face with a huff as she shifted her scowl back to the book in front of her. "I just wish I wasn't so slow at this. Why don't you go see what Sep's doing? Dad shouldn't be working right now."

"Okay! I'll go try to find him!" On the desk she could see a little bit of movement as the puppet shrunk from view until she disappeared from sight. Sophia pressed her lips together. The little Navi was very supportive but that wasn't actually making studying any easier no matter how adorable she was!

After what felt like at least another hour of futility trying to make the words in front of her face stop squirming on the page Sophia was studying. She was trying to get through the book, through all the books her dad had heaped on her after what she had thought was a very successful first fight!

Then her dad had sat her down and told her all the ways that was wrong. And then he had taken dug out every book he owned about Netbattling and had handed it to her with the very helpful and very vague instructions to 'make a point of learning something' before she went out on the net again.

She groaned and flicked through the book, pausing on a section titled Doing Damage. Clearly if she and Vasilia just hit the opponent really hard then the fight was over and she didn't need to think about anything else, right? She slid her finger over the introductory paragraph before hitting a pair of equations. A flip to the next page showed her more equations.

"Oh great, now there's math? I guess that's a little better..." She complained. She sat up on her bed and settled the book across her knees as she forced herself to go back to the top of the introductory paragraph again and began to read. "So five Elements but one of them is nothing? And doesn't do anything? Why does this book call it an Element?"

She scowled and reread the paragraph again. Her brown knitted together as she read over information about concepts like 'Source Modifiers' which were divided into three main groups and then a lot of other groups under that. Part of the way through she gave up on understanding any of it and flipped a couple pages until she hit Environmental Modifiers which looked pretty straightforward at first.

"Okay so I get why Sea amplifies the damage of an Elec attack, but why does Lava amplify Aqua damage? That doesn't make any sense! And what's a Wind-Type? That's not even one of the Elements!" Without her noticing it her head had sunk onto a hand she had propped up on her crossed knee.

"It sounds as though you need to go back and reread the section on SubTypes."

With a yelp Sophia jerked upright and twisted to glare at her PET while tugging down the hem of her tanktop with one hand. She could see Sep standing there with Vasilia peering around his bulky frame. "You should ask before just showing up like that!"

"How could I ask if I wasn't hear already?" The moose-based Navi asked mildly, one gloved hand coming up to rest on his chin. "Besides which, did you or did you not send Vasilia to fetch me? I believe you had a conundrum to solve?"

Sophia narrowed her eyes at his overly-mild demeanour. The good news was that it meant her father was off the clock! The bad news was that it meant Sep was going to be difficult at best tod eal with. She took her own revenge though: she pushed the book she had been reading off the bed so it would flop onto the floor and was rewarded with his twitch. Her lips twitched into a smile and she mirrored his thoughtful expression with one hand on her chin. "I suppose that's true. So? You got any ideas on how to make this more interesting?"

"..Have you considered that your father is merely lending those books to you?" He asked instead. Her grin widened as his eyes stayed stuck to the book tumbled on the floor among her discarded clothes both clean and dirty. She shrugged boredly and swung her feet to the floor. With a light kick she flipped the book over so it was at least laying open on its spine instead of its pages. "...Well anyways, you do seem to have attempted to be studious. Your father will allow you to try for any of the one-star ranked Nets."

"That's great and all but those Nets are going to be super boring after Hades. I know it was super dangerous for Vasilia, but it was actually a lot of fun for me too." said Sophia. She folded her arms under her bosum and looked rather guilty at the words. "I know I shouldn't find Vasilia being in danger fun and it wasn't really that which made it fun but..."

"But it was more engaging? Hm.." Sep sounded sympathetic and thoughtful, and then Vasilia pushed him out of the way of the screen so her 'face' could get right up against the glass.

"It's okay! I don't mind danger as long as you have fun, Sophia!" She called enthusiastically. Sophia could just barely glimpse her hands moving in a blur at the corners of the screen. Vasilia had gotten so close to the PET's internal camera that the rest of her could barely be seen. The thought made Sophia want to smile, but Vasilia's words did the opposite and so Sophia grimanced instead.

"I don't you don't mind Vassi, but there's got to be a better way." She said. The puppet Navi seemed to sag on her invisible strings, and then abruptly began to flail as Sep easily picked her up under one arm and pulled her back away from the camera.

"That is enough of that. I'm pleased to announce I believe I have a solution!" Despite his annoyance with Vasilia it was obvious he was feleing rather pleased with himself with his puffed out chest and a twinkle in his eyes. "One that will keep Sophia engaged, if a little distracted, and one that will allow Vasilia to explore the Net."

After a moment's pause were Sep didn't continue to speak but continued to look insufferable Sophia sighed and leaned over to grab The Comprehensive Guide to Netbattling again, her tank top hanging loosely on her frame. She groped around on the floor until she snagged the corner of the cover and pulled the book toward her, then carefully shut it and set it on a clear spot on her bed. When she straightened up Sep was politely looking not at her and Vasilia reached up to tug twice on his sleeve.

"She's done! She picked up the book."

"Excellent!" With a clap of his hands Sep turned back toward Sophia and grinned widely. "In that case, why don't you visit downtown Electown? There are a number of gyms, several of which offer the opportunity for a physically-minded NetOp to plug their Navi into the Net while they run on a treadmill or a few of the other interesting things they have there."

Sophia tilted her head and thought it over for a moment before she odded decisively. "Alright, we'll try it out! Thanks Sep!"

"Of course! Just remember you are currently cleared for one-star ranked Networks only. You may want to consider grabbing upgrades. Your dad has guest passes for Net-Fit, I've given one to Vasilia already. Goodbye, and don't forget your battle chips!" He flicked a digital ticket to Vasilia then turned and headed for the exit of the PET's digital space.

That last reminder got an eyeroll from Sopia but she immediately hopped to her feet to pad across her messy bedroom floor to the desk where she swept Vasilia up and spun her and the PET around.

"How about it?! Doesn't that sound perfect? Running on a treadmill can be boring too, but if I'm trying to keep track of what you're up to that might be just the thing! I'll grab the chips,mm, he mentioned upgrades, how about it?"

[color=#6A287E]"Ah! Yes yes! If you think it's a good idea, I do too!" Vasilia stumbled around as the PET was swung to Sophia's delight then immediately hopped upright and smacked a hand into her head in a really bad imitation of Sep's salute, the ticket fluttering between her fingers. "I'm just happy I can spend more time with you! I was almost worried your dad wasn't going to give me back."

Sophia hesitated then bit her lower lip and tilted the PET so Vasilia wouldn't see. That was bothering her. Right after she had recounted her tale of their accidental Hades trip, Dad had taken the PET away again for a check up. Maybe it was just all the studying that was getting to her but it seemed like the process had taken a lot longer than anytime he had done so for Mom or himself.

She honestly wasn't sure what to make of that. Maybe it wasn't A Thing at all, maybe it was just because Vasilia's PET was an older model? She shook her head and angled the PET back so the camera caught her face.

"It's okay! He just had to make sure you were okay." She forced a smile she didn't quite feel onto her face as she slung her light grey jacket over one shoulder then began sweeping the chips on her desk both blank and imprinted into the open mouth of her blue jean backpack that was obviously too small to be anything other then a purse replacement. She surveyed the half-unpacked disaster zone that was her room one last time then scooped up Net Navis 101 before she flipped off the light and shut the door behind her.

[To: Electown: Net-Fit]