The hub of high-commerce in Netopia and the source of high-fashion the world over, Millions Street was named after Ms. Millions, the famed capitalist that purchased every shop along the street and gained an absolute monopoly in the area. The shops in this area are as high-class as they come, with even the most basic of purchases costing tens of thousands of zenny easily. The buildings range from one-story bistros and shops to towering buildings that constitute a small mall. The buildings are semi-uniform, with color and trimming setting them apart. The street is almost always busy, and most traffic is focused on Millions Galore; the jewelry shop that Ms. Millions centered her financial empire from. The store is now a museum to fine jewelry and Ms. Millions’ many achievements, but it still acts as a hub to the Netopian network as well. In spite of all of these riches, not everything here costs a proverbial arm and a leg. The street is also host to a sprawling, almost utopian park. This park, unsurprisingly dubbed Millions park, sports a life-sized statue of Ms. Millions in the center, and has a river literally coiling out from around it and flaring out at the entrance to the park, forcing travel to be made via a set of elaborate metal bridges.
A rush of black. 3 minutes 25 seconds. That's how long it took for armed militants to storm the world's largest shopping center. A siege of steel and guns. Real guns. The mall was taken by storm, the death toll currently unknown.
Match: "This is ZNN reporter Matt Match reporting on the developing situation within the Millions Street. We have reports from the Gigamerican N.I.A. that the militants have no known affiliation with any terrorist groups, including World Three or the Revolution. The ONB have been contacted but have not responded. The N.I.A is requesting assistance from all available troops from all major countries, and reports that the militants just inside this building number in the thousands!
Wait... this just in, the militants have some kind of E.M.P. What could they-
Snowflakes fill the television sets across the world. What could so possess people to do such a nefarious thing, and why Millions Street? What new villain was this? Eon? Forte? So many questions remained collectively in the minds of the people. It was a chilling reminder that peace was a balance, and one that was tipped all too easily. The agonizing moments waiting for an update to the quickly deteriorating situation filled everyone's hearts with dread.
Eventually, the screen came to a press conference, held by the High Prime Minister of Netopia, Mr. Tezuka.
Tezuka: "Hello, citizens of Netopia, and the world. We are alerting you to the first major terrorist attack since the likes of the Armored Destroyer. We know not the intentions of the belligerents and we are trying to communicate with them. Our prayers go out to the victims. That is all we can communicate for right now."
Elsewhere, two men, intertwined with shadow, deeply ingrained in the art of deception and manipulation, discussed.
Tenma: "So, explain to me how three-thousand extremists get a hold of weapons, armor, and an electromagnetic pulse bomb? How does that even happen Ochanomizu?" Tenma was loud, if someone didn't know him better it might be mistaken for anger. It was quite simpler, Arrogance. The glass walls of the restaurant rebounded with the sound of his voice. People would turn and stare if there were any, but tonight, they were dining alone.
Ochanomizu: "We don't know. The questions are too broad and the details too scarace. Could it have anything to do with World Three? We know they have weapons that haven't been tech-locked." Ochanomizu actually believed in the good of people. It's why he's second to Tenma, destined not to succeed, not soon at least. Despite his advanced age - he was innocent.
Tenma: "Couldn't be. Genius and Magician have disappeared from the scene. That leaves Queen, who we've been keeping close tabs on. No one's even close enough to W3 to get this level of equipment without us knowing."
Ochanomizu: "You say no one - what about Gust?"
Tenma: "Harmless. The Warrior could do more damage, and we've seen that in Bayside."
Ochanomizu: "Well, enough of how - we need to control this, and quickly. I'm thinking we should contact Pele. And activate The Numbers."
Tenma: "We can't activate The Numbers. We don't have enough data yet. Contact Pele and go from there. We need to touch a base point with his... Genius."
The last word tinged with a sort of sarcastic irony.
We close our scene with an email to Mr. Pele.
To: Mr. Pele. From: The Association Body: We'd like a word with you. We invite you to Choina. All expenses paid.
<Attachment: 20 000 Zenny>
Returning to Millions Street, the group that had infiltrated the Supermall have made their demands: None.
They said, quite clearly, defiantly, that there was nothing stopping them. Nothing in the real world or the net world would stop them. So confident in themselves, the belligerents issued a challenge:
A single network would open, a sort of "Shell Netowork". Enter if you feel like a hero, or you just have a deathwish.
In the real world, there was only one way into the Street, a windowless wall facing south, with a single entrance to the North.
Glass shattered, but there were feet faster than the shards that swarmed the tiled floor of the mall.
The pitter-patter of sandals trampled the tiles as quick as each bullet passed through the glass of the mall’s stores. There was a darting left, a right, another right, and another left! Their pattern was chaotic, or so it seemed. Her brain was on fire, synapsis burning as her brain charted a map like any other world had ever seen if any beyond the Earthly realm of existence. Where she spun on her heel and turned in direction, her small hand pulled at something in close proximity behind her. A tall feminine figure that had such fear and dread that the moment she came to a stop and ducked near the building’s alley exit only meters away from Million’s Street.
“This isn’t good!” the young girl breathed, “Big brother! What’s happening?! Who are these people?”
Of course, the young female may have been a genius, but she still had the frightened heart of a little sister. She had those eyes a little pre-teen girl would have when looking up to an elder brother: as if he was God. At that moment, the young male could only return an expression that was lost with confusion on how to answer, or even to process all that happened. As quick as the area was invaded, it was the young woman who acted in his stead navigating the mall with her natural ability of recall. He admired her, but he could not show her inferiority to her: not at a time like this.
“I don’t know but,” he paused to catch his breath, “We’ll be okay. I-It’s just we’re at the wrong place at the wrong time. We need to get out of here.”
Himself, stating the obvious, Xenneth had looked to the street hearing footsteps, the sound of sirens suddenly ceasing from the sudden shock of the electromagnetic pulse. The only blessing was that it was quiet and most likely no one would hear the banter of two nearby students who were touring the Netopia area looking about for a mystery NetNavi. It was still hard to fathom what the world was coming to: there was that of the collapse of the network and now it was re-awakening to this terror. Xenneth still had his own issue to deal with; his own heartbreak that brought him to Netopia.
“They seemed like soldiers,” Rosetta noted, “Do you think this...do you think this is about Megami-chan?”
It was still hard to grasp such a concept: Megami, or whatever looked like her, was one of many first programs that had come online. She had seemed to be spotted all over the internet with a familiar appearance, but yet a totally new face and persona to match. Rumors were that she was like a ghost of herself, striking down viruses and NetNavis that stood in her path. At first, he passed it off as rumors; ghost stories that would scare a child with a wild imagination and everything alike. However, after seeing one peculiar Netopian report and seeing an image: there was no doubt about it...Megami was....different.
“I-I...” hesitant, Xenneth was not sure how to respond, “I don’t think we should start thinking like that. It could be anything! We need to hurry and find Megami, but I know I can’t do this alone. I am sorry Rosetta-ni, but...”
“It’s fine!” her words were a loud cry that cut into his apologetic speech like a sword into the flesh, “Stop apologizing! You did not drag me here! I came with you and it’s because I want to find Megami-chan too! Besides, with this ‘thing’ in Nu, I think it’s something only I can do! Something I can do for once to help big brother!”
Rosetta gripped her P.E.T, tightly in a bone crushing grip. She had a piercing look in her eye like arrows that would fly thorough the most thinnest of targets. Staying true to her determination, she said not antoher word as her eyes averted themselves to the nearest electronic item that seemed as if it would access the net from the alleyway.
A thrown out wireless printer? No!
A cash register? No!
A dusty old boom box? Well...
Time had taught it a lesson in pain and it was coveted with soil and djust that potentially made it a fossil. Looking at it, it was a piece of junk to the most overseeing of eyes, but to Rosetta Dee Lu, the natural Sharo University dually-enrolled student, it was a treasure that could be tweaked for her own purposes! It only taken her a good minute to set up the small stereo, re-tweek the wires, and activate the dash-panel’s nearly old and discarded four giga-byte network access speed. It was a small opening, but it was all she needed.
“Nu, it’s time!” she declared as she pointed her P.E.T. to the stereo, ”Program Nu, uploading! Observe and assimilate!”
There was a flooding of the Netopia network with a benign data that threatened to weigh the bandwidth, but in mere seconds it compressed itself. Sure, Nu had a noisy entrance into the network, but it was all she needed before she could show what she could truly do in her most glorious of form. Regardless of her unruly tactic, the young grade school girl had faith in her, and shown it with a nod and spoke into the P.E.T.’s communication.
“Try to find Megami-chan,” she commanded, “Me and big brother will try to go on from here! Keep in touch!”
There was no confirmation that the mischievous program heard her, but there was not the slightest response back to say that she did not. Leaving all her faith in the benign program, Rosetta turned to the nearest doorway entrance on the wall to Million’s Street. Her courageous, mature spirit died as impulsively she became that little sister that reached for her older brother’s hand, grasping it tight to show fear and uncertainty.
“Let’s...let’s go through there, Big Brother!” she suggested, “Maybe we will find something while Nu searches the net for any leads.”
Xenneth had given no verbal response as much as it agreed with his little sister with a tug of her hand and walking towards the doorway leading to the North of Million’s Street. Whatever was awaiting them, he would find out together with his dear sister.
Rosetta and Xenneth found themselves in the back halls of the Shopping Center. White brick and coffee-stained tile floors were their scenery. Ahead of them was yet more hall, to their immediate left a map of the building, and just towards the end of the hallway a sharp turn, light shimmering out from the apparent opening that it lead to. Ahead and to their right was a rust-red door, complete with a "staff only" sign. No other humans were nearby, but there wasn't an absolute silence. Despite the shutdown of all things mechanical, a strange whirr of electricity could be heard in the ears of the siblings, it was quiet, but surrounded them on all sides.
(Xenneth and Rosetta current location: Staff Hall, F1)
*Amid the chaos in the make-shift command center, two more individuals make the scene. Both of Gigamerican descent, as could be easily seen at a glance, yet that same glance would also reveal that each is very different from the other. One matches the overall appearance of a high-ranking ONB official to a tee: a black suit with a black tie, well groomed and kept from his dark brown hair down to his shoes which are shined like polished silver. Overall, he has an extremely serious air about him as he walks up in silence. The other wears a dusty brown bomber jacket with slacks and what barely passes as a dress shirt with a poorly knotted black tie. His bright brown hair is only semi-groomed as it falls into his face, framing what is the most distinctive feature of this individual; a large scar from his forehead down to his right cheek, and a brown eyepatch engraved with what one can only assume to be the mark of his Navi; a rather determined looking, aqua-green eye. The two approach the official group, flashing a set of badges as they do so in order to gain access as the more professional of the two makes his address*
Victor: I'm agent Wily, and this is agent Regal. We've been sent here from the Electopian ONB to provide whatever support that we can.
In response, the general in charge of containment of the current situation, stepped forward, identifying himself as General Signas of the Netopian Information Agency.
Signas: "Agent Wily, Regal, we appreciate the assistance. I'll be brief. Our chances of rescuing the hostages are low. All of our weaponry is Tech-Locked and the enemies' E.M.P. field make it impossible for us to enter the building without losing power.
The insurgents refuse communication and seek only violence. Our only path right now is through the Shell Network, and we have a man on the inside, collecting recon data as we speak. A few Joes have met some 'volunteer' navis, and they're making an initial effort to enter the Shell.
Rosetta’s voice gave Xenneth pause as he was stepping forth surveying the corridor before them. He forbid the thought of looking back to see that pained expression on the face of his little sister who had seemed to utter those words. Hearing “something was wrong” from a girl with such perception was not usually a good thing, but the way she looked bothered him even more. Her eyes were closed and her shoulders relaxed. There was only her still body looking as if she was dozing off.
“I can hear…turbines?” she asked as her eyes opened, “No, not turbines but…something. It’s weird, right?”
“What?” Xenneth had begun as he looked at Rosetta puzzled, “I don’t get it. This is a mall, right? It’s only natural it has a big power source. I think you’re just worrying a little too much.”
He was a nice brother, even if he was not truly bonded by that by blood. Still, he was reassuring and comforting; knowing that deep inside he was probably was terrified as she was. He must have been trying to be strong for her sake. Still, it could not work this time, not while Rosetta was feeling the obvious as her eyes slid to a corner to see the door behind them from which they entered. There was something different out there than it was from in here and she thought she knew.
“Let’s find somewhere safe!” Xenneth urged, “We should go in deeper where no one will find us, and then we’ll find Nu-chan and see if that…thing has appeared on the net again.”
Rosetta and Xenneth bolted past the map of the area. It was useless anyway from what they were searching for. They needed to think of a place that was more secure than usual and not expected. The staff room? A gentle tug from Rosetta’s arm assured it was not the best idea! It was one of the most common places to be checked when a raid or something chaotic was happening.
“We should be able to plug-in and check on Nu from there,” Rosetta’s face shown a pained expression as she taken a breath, “Also, the cameras. Big bro, we need to know what’s going on!”
Rosetta had scampered towards the door before Xenneth could even utter something out, eligible that is. She knew he was probably saying something like “wait!” or something along the line. She attempted to push opened the staff door after turning the knob to see what was inside.
Signas shook his head. Unfortunately they were lost insofaras motive or technology. They had a guess though.
Signas: "No. We don't know the motive our how they arrived at the technology. From what we can tell, it's a chaotic event, similar to the World Three attacks eons ago. We are also unsure about the EMP. We do know however, that secondary blasts have been pulsing out every five minutes, and that somehow-"
And this was a big somehow.
"Somehow the E.M.P. generator is on the move. It should be impossible, something capable of causing blasts as far as it is should weigh a ton- but it doesn't. If we are to get MagnetMan onto the EMP network, we don't know how long it will be before extraction. We need to recover the EMP intact, so direct destruction is not a possibility."
The orders were given, Wily and Regal debriefed, and it was only a matter of time before the enemies act - precious time needed for the operators to react.
encore: HOW DO I ADULT EGG, COLIN Colin: it kinda just happens eggs
Meanwhile, Rosetta and Xenneth entered the staff office. What they met however, was not a friendly face. An armed assailant, body armor et all, was standing in front of them. Unfazed by the two new hostages, he lifted his long-barrelled weapon, the end of the gun inches away from Xenneth's face.
"HANDS UP!" The man shouted. The danger of lurking around had caught up with the duo, and now was their chance to act.
"GET IN THE CORNER! FACE DOWN!"
Can they save themselves?
encore: HOW DO I ADULT EGG, COLIN Colin: it kinda just happens eggs
*Victor shakes his head at the prospect... the facts didn't add up yet. There had to be more to the situation. Glancing down to his PET, he looks back to commander Signas, wrapping his hand around his chin in thought as he does so*
Victor: MagnetMan is entirely safe-guarded against EM weapons and can shield others against their effects as well. If we can get him close, he can take it down for sure.
*Victor then looks back to the epicenter of the chaos, still half lost in thought as he speaks*
Victor: Why is it so important to recover it intact? MagnetMan can prevent a surge, and if destroying the source can save so many lives, it seems to me that that's an endgame worth pursuing if a less drastic road becomes unavailable.
A gun to the face? Lack of hesitance? Being taken hostage? This was not good!
Rosetta could see they were serious and meant business; not only that, but they already had Xenneth in the crosshairs. She had moved without thinking all of the sudden and placed herself between the assailant and Xenneth with what little good that did. She was too short to block a shot and she was even worse at trying to jump up and get someone’s attention. She was still a little girl after all, and she could only do so much! Her mouth flew off as if words escaped her and there was only things that came from the heart than the usual head.
“Please, don’t!” she cried out the only true answer at that moment, “We’re just lost and scared! I-I don’t know where we are! I-I want my mommy! I want my daddy!”
Rosetta had not cried for her mother or father for years, and she was not starting now. However, the tears were real! If there was one thing that caused her to show such raw emotion and such sadness, it was the thought of what would happen to Xenneth if that man were to pull the trigger. She feint her helplessness, but shown genuine affection as she reached to the violet haired boy and hugged his torso tightly with her arms wrapped around him. She buried his face into his white clothing as it stained to a dark wet hue of color. There was only one movement to Xenneth and it was that of his arms reaching over to her as he held her close and complied with them.
“F-fine! I-I mean, it’s alright! We’ll go, just please…” he said making his way to the dark corner, “Don’t shoot!”
Rosetta’s sobs were still audible, still loud as she maintained the guise of a frightened young woman. Just as Xenneth had gotten on his knees and gotten down, Rosetta’s body still hugged his own. He looked nervous as he looked to the man not able to crouch anymore for one reason…
“Can I please just sit like this?” he asked. “My sister…is scared.”
A title he had not addressed formally mostly, but for her, he had to. Her thinking she had a big brother, himself whom she was most attached to, might calm her down. Although he was oblivious of Rosetta’s child-like state, he still had played true to the gentle nature he had. He held Rosetta close while on his knees, looking at the man as if he was God and carrying his faith in his hand. His electric blue eyes had held a look of continuous terror while his body remained trembling at what the answer may be…let alone what the man could possibly do!
Further inspection of the man would reveal that he seemed off, his eyes a little too blue, his smile a little too wide. For some strange reason, the man was the source of the strange whirring noise that the cornered duo had heard earlier. An oddity of sorts, but nothing too concerning. He wore a mask, not anything complex, but a traditional, Guy Fawkes mask.
"Hi, I'm here to help" The man said, in a silky smooth voice. All the while holding out his hand.
This man was smooth. Nice looking. Not to mention he was a stranger.
What the hey! Anywhere was better than this, and that’s exactly what Rosetta thought as she had looked up, snatched Xenneth’s wrist, and pulled him along at a surprising rate. She had looked up to him after he was jerked up to his feet and nodded her head with a serious expression. With her piercing blue eyes, you would probably not be able to tell she was crying a moment ago unless you sharpened your eye’s to see the moist trails on her cheeks.
“Bro!” Rosetta called, “We gotta go!”
It was her standard prompt. When she wanted him to go on good faith and not think, but just go! Xenneth complied without a second thought and reached for the guy’s hand accepting. He had looked at Rosetta a bit curious to how her composure changed so quickly, but amidst all of what suddenly transpired, he thought to best leave it alone as his attention was going to this mysterious stranger’s hand whom he was holding.
A new individual entered the area. He wore white dress pants with a black belt, black dress shirt with a white tie, and a white blazer. He carried a briefcase in his right hand. A satchel hangs off his left. He flashed his badge at the official after being asked for ID, because he looked so young. After seeing the ID, the official nodded him past. He walked up to Lance and Victor and gave a slight bow. Using his arm as a table, he opened up the briefcase. He pulls out a single, sealed letter and handed it to Victor.
"Sorry I'm late, Sirs. Ran into some traffic. D sent an email when I landed, saying he apologizes for being unable to join in. The case back home took a wrong turn."
Turning to Signas, he bowed again.
"Commander, I apologize for being late. I'm Agent White. But the others know me by Xyph. Pleasure.".
The teen computer wizard/ Hacker offered his hand. Hopefully, he would be useful for his first time out in the field.