Title: Secrets of the Undernet

Chapter 12: Returns and Sickness

Disclaimer: I do not own, you do not sue. Or, the whole thing starting with 'Kay-fuzz does not own' and ends with, 'Kay-fuzz not a company. Kay-fuzz sad'.

Warning: Insane stupidity here- not me, the peoples. Darn them...

Rating: T... I think...

Black, more black, blackness... ooh, there were some colors. No, wait, those were just the colors on the inside of his eyes from squeezing them shut so tightly.

And... ("OOF!") that was the floor. Why did floors have to be so hard? I mean, why couldn't they be nice and squishy? Then falls like this one wouldn't hurt so much. Actually, any fall wouldn't hurt so much. And then one could sleep on the floor... well, if there wasn't that annoying revving in his ears. Wait a second...


Slowly opening his eyes, Megaman took a good look around him. They were in a semingly abandonned area of the Cyber Matrix, with a strange pattern on the floor in black. Ignoring that as one of the odities of the Network, he instead turned to the pre-mentioned 'revving'.

Violet stood over him, a black Net Bike with silver and white detailing beside her. She smirked down at him, and he groaned, realizing that she probably thought he was a wimp- or that he had passed out. He slowly stood up, before walking over even slower to her and leaning on the bike.

"How long...?"

Violet shrugged. "I dunno. You were laying there for about thirty seconds after I woke up, though. Not bad, considering on your first trip you were out for a good hour at least."

He grumbled, trying to figure out whether what she said was a compliment or an insult, before swining a leg over the Net Bike, feeling some of his energy be replenished. She eyed him, and he turned around, an eye twitching. "Well? Are you getting on or not?"

Violet shrugged, swinging over the bike behind him and loosely wrapping her arms around his waist. "Alright then. Tell me if you're going to go really fast."

"Yeah yeah." He muttered, before turning around. "Wait a second. When I woke up, there was a revving noise, but I thought that you didn't know how to drive a Net Bike?"

Violet blinked, before her usual impassiveness appeared on her face. "There wasn't any revving. Are you sure you're okay enough to drive?"

"Well, whether I am or not, I want to get back to L- er, my Op, so if you don't want to be on the bike with me..."

"Sorry, but you can't get rid of me that easily. Eria's orders: Get you back to your Op safely, and make sure you stay there."

He rolled his eyes, revved the engine, and gunned it. Violet nearly shreeked before getting used to the un-natural speed, and leaned down as the blue Navi infront of her was, allowing them to go even faster. They were out of the open area within barely two seconds, a dust cloud and tail-wind forming beind them.

On a ledge above the area, hidden in darkness, a group of Navis standing with other 'special' Net Bikes looked at the two as they quickly disappeared out of site.

"Not bad... might be an interesting race, don't you think?" One muttered as the others all made low sounds of approval. "I want one person on that blue navi, 24/7. No one, and I mean no one, gets to hurt him- not until I get what I want. I leave it to you. Now, go!"

Everyone except for the single dark figure disappeared out of site, while the one remaining Navi smirked, a small amount of light shining off his red armor.

Lan and Mayl slowly woke up slowly, unsure of where they were. Well, until somehow their eyes ended up meeting. Silence reined over the room, until-


Yuuichiro and Haruka burst into the room, the surprise on their faces turning to smiles, staring at the scene in front of them. Both Lan and Mayl, having had screamed in surprise, were currently sitting on opposite sides of the bed, holding either their hearts or head, trying to calm their breathing.

Yuuichiro chuckled while Haruka dragged him out of the room, calling to the two as they left, "Breakfast will be ready in ten!"

Slowly, Lan and Mayl's eyes met each other again, a heavy blush appearing on their faces. Both quickly looked away again, wondering what the other was thinking. Another silence filled the room, before Mayl stood up, gathered his shirt, vest, and bandana, and held them in her arms, sitting down beside him. She sighed then, leaning her head on his shoulder, and he slowly wrapped one of his arms around her waist.

Their blushes intensified, eyes not meeting each other- but, none-the-less, they sat in a now-comfortable silence, simply existing.

Well, before the unmistakeable sound of a motor cycle was heard through-out the room (drowning out Haruka's call of "Breakfast is on the table!" and Yuuicihiro's "I don't think they're listening..."). Both blinked before turning to the computer screen (Lan quickly slipping on his shirt, vest and bandana). Instead of who they hopped to see (looking at the HP), they instead found the slightly smaller (but not by much) group of search Navis, with Protoman standing at the front (beside his Net Bike), looking for all the world like some kind of king.

Lan rolled his eyes at the sight, while Mayl shook her head. The slight motions caused them to be noticed by the Navis and their Net-ops, most of whom had never actually seen either Lan or Mayl- well, besides on the TV or sitting in the audience, during the N1 Grand Prix. Everyone stopped what they were doing to look at the two (more so Lan, who was nothing short of famous for coming in second in the N1, and the defeat of the Virus Best).

Mayl sighed, standing up. She turned to Lan saying, "I'll go down and get breakfast. Fill me in on what happens?", and waved at the screen before leaving the room. Now everyone's attention was focused on Lan, who's blush (which had noticably paled when Mayl had left) increased ten-fold.

"Er... morning?"

Chaud smirked. "You're actually up this early? It's... what, ten? Eleven? Noon?"

Lan glared slightly. "Ha ha. Now... what's up?"

As Chaud and Protoman started organizing everyone into groups, and told them to try to not repeat the same information, Lan sighed and leaned back. The last few days were taxing on him- not so much physically, but really mentally, especially with all the strange emotions running rampant through him.

As everyone headed off for the day, Chaud and Protoman cast a look back at Lan, who seemed to be staring at the ceiling. Deciding that the currently Navi-less Op wouldn't mind them not being there, Protoman stepped onto one of the many links which had somehow filled up the HP, and went off to the Hall, to see if anyone hadn't been able to make it to the meeting and needed to be filled in.

The small beep signalling that the last guest had left the HP startled Lan out of his thoughts, making him look down at the screen. Seeing no one there, he turned over onto his back, and buried his head in the sheets.

That was just about how Mayl found him when she entered the room barely two minutes later with their breakfast. Not having the heart to tell him to move, she set the food down on the desk carefully, trying to not make any noise. Carefully making her way over to the bed, Mayl sat down lightly beside Lan and gently rubbed his back.

His eyes flickered open, and he looked at her. "...Mayl? What-"


Both blinked and turned to look at the computer screen where a mainly black with silver and white trim Net Bike was happily squishing it's two riders, who were on the HP floor- and arguing. Loudly.

"Why did you try to take the controls!"

"Because I wanted to drive!"

"You said you didn't know how!"

"I know! So sue me!"

"I think I will- for bodily injury!"

"We can't sue for bodily injury! We're Net Navis!"

"What's your point?"

"My point is-"

"Er... Lan? Mayl?"

Both teens rushed over to the computer screen, looking intently at the two figures there, barely visible beneath the bulk of the Net Bike."Megaman?"

The blue bomber grinned and pushed the bike off him and into the air, where it quickly returned to the small bits of data it was created from. Violet slowly stood, unsure whether she should leave or not. Lan and Mayl were staring openly at her, until Mayl noticed what they were doing and, whapping Lan on the back of his head, she addressed Megaman.

"How are you? Where were you? And who's this?"

"Mainly where were you, though."


"What? You would be asking the same thing!"

"But not mainly that!"

"So? I-"

"LAN! MAYL!" Megaman ended up screaming out, Violet looking shocked before deciding that this seemed to be normal for them. "I'm fine, thanks for asking. In all honesty, I'm not sure what it's called, or where it is exactly, but that's where I met Violet. She showed me how to get back. Violet, this is Lan and Mayl."

Violet bowed slightly to them, muttering, "Nice to meet you," before bowing once to Megaman, stepping on the link, and getting out of there asap.

Mayl blinked. "Er... yes... so... who was that?"

"Violet- a friend. She's originally from the Undernet. I asked her and her... er... 'sisters', let's say, to keep an eye out for Roll and to tell me if anything happens."



"...so... you wanna go look for Roll now?"

Megaman groaned. "I would love to- if I can recharge for about half an hour."

Lan nodded. "Sure. In the meantime- LET'S EAT!"

Guinto smirked, hearing the report from one of his squadrons.

"Well, Violet is helping the blue brat? Maybe the other females are too, then. Keep an eye on them."

The Biker squad bowed before speeding out of the room, their 'engines' loud and clear against the normal hustle and bustle of the large palace.

Nightman looked over at the leader of the URAUN, watching his movments carefully. Guinto was upset, annoyed- angered, almost, beyound anything Nightman had ever seen before, and the younger Navi couldn't understand why. The Upper Navis hadn't done anything recently, and everything seemed to be going fine for the URAUN- with the exception of this Violet-Megaman thing- but there shouldn't be any need for the usually emotionless leader to show emotion.

Guinto noticed Nightman staring at him, and in turned stared back, this prompting a three-second contest, which Nightman quickly lost. "Sorry, Guinto."

Guinto snorted. "Nightman. I want you to take a small squad of the most trusted Navis- preferably only around two or three others- and go search some of the darker parts of the net. Anything so obviously out-of-place, report it immediately and have someone stay there with it. Understood?"

"Yes sir." Nightman bowed, before going to find some others to help him.

Guinto glared at the now-closed door, imagining Eria walking through there, with that special power of hers ready to be used.

"It will be mine. She will make it mine. And it- she- will be no one else's."

Lan stretched, getting ready for some Navi-searching.

"Alright, Megaman. Ready to face the wrath of the pysco-leaders?"

Megaman laughed in return as Mayl quickly whapped Lan over the head again, a small smile on her face.

"They're going to kill me, I know it." The blue bomber replied, causing his Op to shrug.

"Not like that hasn't happened before."


Mayl frowned. "Play nice you two, or don't play at all."

Megaman smirked while Lan succomed to being whapped, punched, kicked and just plain hit for a very off-the-cuff comment that had somehow reached Mayl's ears. "I'll just be going now..."

Lan nodded, recovering slowly while Mayl stalked out of the room, "To get some soap for your mouth," or something along those lines.

Linking to the Hall, he was quite surprised when nearly all the Navis there jumped and/or dropped what they were holding, meeped, and scampered away from him.

Megaman sighed, about to say something, when a very big, very strong hand clapped him on the back. "Welcome back, Megaman."

Said blue bomber gasped, smiling gently as he tried to catch his breath. "Oh... yeah... feeling great, Risuko... ow..."

Risuko looked worriedly down on the smaller navi. "I did not hurt you, did I?"

Forcing himself to stand up straight (and wishing that he had been paying more attention) Megaman nodded. "Oh, no. I'm fine."


Turning his attention to the stair-like... thing, he briefly saw something that looked like Protoman, before it turned into a quick flash of red as the raider jumped down to land in front of him.

"There you are! Where have you been?"

Megaman sighed. "I think I just went through all these questions with Lan."

Chaud's eye twitched, having opened a viewing screen upon hearing Protoman cry out. "Well, you're going to answer them again."

Another eye twitched- this one being Megaman's. "And if I don't feel like it?"

A third twitch- Protoman. "You still have to answer the question, kid."

One final twitch- Risuko. "Can you PLEASE get back to researching whatever you are doing? If not, OUT OF THE HALL."

Stalking away, three pairs of eyes followed the larger form of the navi, before Megaman shook his head. "Listen. I don't know where I was. All I know was that I met another Navi there- Violet- who's originally from the Undernet. She helped me get back, and promised to look out for Roll there, too."

Chaud and Protoman blinked, before the former went back to whatever he was doing before hand, and the latter grabbed Megaman by the elbow and began leading him back up the stairs. "You're staying here, where we can keep an eye on you, kid."

Megaman frowned, wanting to protest, but remembered the little de-briefing that Lan and Mayl had given him before going back to the Hall.

He sighed, which quickly turned to a grin as he saw another familiar Navi. "Hey, Quersoæn!"

Said navi blinked and looked up from her work. "Hm? Oh, MEGAMAN! You're back! Er, here! Er... not where ever you were! How are you?"

Megaman laughed. "You're the first person to be concerened about how I am. And I'm fine, thanks."

"That's good. Tialsia would have my head if not. And, er- are you going to help us search?"

Megaman sighed. "I think that's just about the only thing I'm allowed to do."

Quersoæn shook her head, before letting Megaman quickly check up on some of the files he had been following. Taking them, he retreated to a back corner, where people would be less likely to notice him, being hidden behind lots of shelves of tons of files.

It was here Protoman cornered him. "So."

Megaman blinked. "Er... what is it, Protoman?"

Protoman eyed him, before slowling sitting down beside the bomber. "Are you really feeling okay?"

"Well... not one hundred percent, but pretty close to. Why?"

The raider looked as though he didn't want to say what he was going to- or didn't know how to phrase it. "Megaman... when you were... well, gone... something happened to Lan. No reason, no excuse, and the rest of us have no information on it. Mayl might know something, but it's becoming harder and harder to talk to her."

"...that sounds like the most you've ever said in one go, Protoman."

"Whatever, kid. You have any idea?"

"Hm... some strange ways of transportation, but other than that, I can't think of anything that would harm Lan. And even then, why would anything I do hurt him?" Megaman looked suspiciously at the other, wondering how much he had found out in just a few hours.

"It's nothing, just a suspicion." Protoman stood up, and made his way out of the alcove. Before he left, however, Protoman paused for a moment, calling back over his shoulder, "Be careful, kid...


Megaman stopped, looking at the raider's retreating back. Submerging himself into his thoughts, the hybrid couldn't concentrate on anything else for the next few hours.

Eria glared at the leader of the URAUN from her position at the foot of this throne pedestal. "What is it, Guinto?"

Said leader smirked in response, gesturing to the conspicuously empty room. "No one is here- they're off training, or working, or following my orders."

She tilted her head towards the ceiling, eyes remaining on Guinto, watching his every movement. "Alright. A private meeting. Tell me- what is so important and secret that you send everyone else out of the room, and seal it off from eavesdroppers?"

Guinto stood up and walked slowly down the steps, coming to stand beside Eria- while she still faced the throne, he faced the large double-doors at the end of the hall. "You see, Eria, there is a rumour among certain people in certain levels of society. A rumour that, if it were true, could over-throw everything, and bestow unlimited power on whoever holds it."

Eria simply turned her head slightly. "Oh? And what do you want me to do? Find it for you?"

Guinto laughed. "No, Eria. Not find it... exactly."

"But still, on some level, find it."

He paused, before coninuing. "Every once in a while, it is said in those circles that someone is a key to finding it- someone who, if only subconciously, knows exactly where it is and how to use it."

"And you think that that person is me?"

"No." Guinto said slowly, running the idea- not for he first time- through his mind. "I think that you- on a subconcious level- know who the key is."

"And you want me to find this person for you, so that they can find the key for you."

Guinto was silent, and Eria, although fuming inside, remained emotionless outside. She turned away from him, stalking out of the area. Anyone who got in her way felt her wrath, regardless of who they were or their position.

About to go back to her 'special' place, she was suddenly aware of what the consequences of that action, and instead changed her mind. She needed to go talk to someone, someone who understood her mind-set... someone that might be able to help her...

She moved into an open area of the net, and, sighing, stepped through a link. As much as she didn't like the Cyber Matrix, there was no way getting around going there this time.

Risuko looked upon the throng of Navis that had- quite uncerimoniously and loudly- just entered the Hall. Frowning, he wanted to tell them off for the noise level, but remembered the sudden re-appearance of the blue bomber, and instead merely shushed them- not that they payed attention.

Upon deciding to go check on the hybrid, Risuko found him sitting in a small corner, away from everything else, and frowning at the ground. Of coruse, worried for the other's mental stability and a number of other things, Risuko suggested that he at least sit at a table. Mega, however, merely said that he liked the corner. Risuko frowned, but uploaded a table and four chairs from one of the back-up servers, and placed it in the corner.

Although unsure of the sudden act of kindness, Mega gratefully took a seat at the table- and had been sitting there for the rest of the time, staring at a seemingly random packet of data that had appeared just after Risuko left.

And, wondering what had happened to him, any and all Navis that were able to make their way to the Hall had decided to hide behind a stack of books, and watch over the one who many considered to be their 'guardian angel'.

The rest decided to tail Protoman, another 'angel' sent from heaven.

Risuko shook his head, deciding to let the Navis have their fun. He had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, and the sudden appearance of so many Navis, especially those from the Undernet, did not bode well.

He was about to go 'shoo' some of the newer Navis away from the specially restricted sections, when another Navi walked through the door. Normally, Risuko wouldn't mind or care about some Navi walking through the door. What he did care about was that she was new- meaning she would have had to fight off the swarms of viruses outside- and yet she wasn't tired at all. Her HP was higher than the most customized of Navis, there wasn't a single mark, dent, or scratch on her armor and she walked with her head high, forest green eyes scrutenizing everything.

Risuko watched her move over to the stairs, and for a moment his interest was piqued. But moments later a crash was heard, and his attention was diverted to the other new Navis, having somehow managed to blow up a large portion of the restircted area.

He sighed, and walked over to them, looking back at the new Navi. He certainly hoped that she would not be any kind of hindrance to what everyone was doing- especially Mega.

Said blue bomber was reclining in the chair, staring at the data packet again. He had found it moments after Risuko had uploaded the table and chairs, originally just some extra data that came along with the set. But, after some poking, he had been able to make it into a semi-normal packet, and was watching it as it changed from one kind to another, no real purpose in mind it seemed.

It changed color, too, which was strange- data packets usually remained the strange, aqua color, though slightly differing in shades. This one changed from reds to blues to greens to yellows, and every shade in between.

He had heard a number of Navis moving by his hidden area- and knew that every single one of them had stopped to look at him, maybe to check if he was okay, or if he was real. Prodding the packet with his finger, he noticed that it had began to change colors far more rapidly, as though reacting to something. He prodded it again, but when it didn't stop, he changed his arm into his buster and prodded it for the millionth time it seemed.

It didn't stop- if anything, the changing sped up so that it whizzed by his eyes, almost impossible to see.


The whispered question made him start and look up, his eyes finding something else to stare at now. Having no attention or thought of anyone to hold it in existance, the datapacket simply disintegrated, leaving no data behind. Megaman frowned at that, but let his concentration wander back to the person who had taken one of the seats at the table, the other Navis there staring on in amazement.

Megaman blinked a few times, before he sighed and sat back in his seat, trying to relax- and failing miserably. "Eria... what brings you here?"

She sighed, proper and 'royal' countance dropping all at once and slamming her head into the table. Mumbling something, she tilted her head a fraction of an inch and eyed him, wondering what his reaction would be.

Mega blinked. "...what did you say?"

She used her hands to lever herself up off the table and looked at him then, questioningly. "I said I think I need help."

He sighed. "Don't we all? Alright... what do you need help with?"

Ignoring the question, she blinked and looked around. "Wasn't there a data packet around here?"

He sighed, forgetting what he asked. "Well, there was... and it was really weird, too." This seemed to pique her interest, and he continued on. "Well, it just randomly formed out of some spare data,and it wasn't just a blue or green- it changed colors, randomly. And it started to changer faster just a few moments ago."

She blinked at him, and leaned forward. "That's it?"

"What do you mean 'that's it'?"

Eria stretched then, leaning back to mirror his position. "Anything like this ever happen before?"

He blinked. "Why? Should it have?"

Eria shrugged. "I dunno."

"And why are you playing detective?"

Eria smirked and waggled a finger at him. "No way. I believe I was the one asking the questions, and you were the one answering."

Mega tilted his head slowly, eyeing her, a small smirk on his face. "Really? Then I don't suppose that you would be kind enough to answer my questions afterwards?"

"It depends how helpful you are with your answers."

"Fair enough. Shoot."

"Alright. One: has this ever happened before?"

"Didn't you just-" seeing one of those looks on her face, though, he quickly re-thought his answer. "Not recently, no."

"Recently? So this has happened before?"

"I'm not sure- I don't remember much from about a year or two ago back."

"You're being very vague."

"You're being very annoying. Next question."

Eria looked at him again, this time in a whole new light, before sighing. "I don't suppose you have some free time?"

His eyes darkened. "I'm not going-"

"I'm not asking you to go anywhere- okay, I am. But for a walk, to get rid of all these eavesdroppers."

At that his eyes lightened. "If that's all, then sure."

She nodded, as did he, and, both standing, they made their way out of the Hall.

Chaud groaned, glaring at the screen of the PET currently sitting on his desk, seeing the figures displayed on it rise and fall ridicuously quickly, too fast for his eyes to keep up with. Giving up, he pushed back from his chair, walking over to some windows that showed the city skyline.

A slight haze covered the city, product of a strange, sudden, heat wave, brining with it sweltering temperatures and the wish that the AC Penguins hadn't been made and/or tampered with by Grave. It also came with ice cream trucks, long line-ups at the nearest Ben and Jerry's, Baskin Robbins and/or other ice cream joint, long line-ups at pools,a sudden surge of people trying to buy pools, sprinklers, and water fountains, and many employees slacking off work.

It was probably too bad, then, that BlazeQuest employeed the greatest number of workers in ACDC, Akihara Region.

It was also too bad that the vice-president of AyanoTech loved pink- as proclaimed the bright pink limo currently driving up the driveway towards the main building.

"Protoman, what is Yai doing here?" He asked, glancing over his shoulderat the PET screen again and the red figure who stood beside the constantly-changing window.

"I'm not sure, sir. But Megaman left the Hall just a few moments ago, accompanied by an unidentified female Navi."

Chaud turned his attention fully to the screen. "Do you have a picture?"

Another window popped up in answer to his question, and Chaudstarred at the figure protrayedwithin. "Is it just me, or does she remind you of Roll?"

Protoman nodded. "There is an uncanny resemblance- but it seems their countenances are completely different- there is no way they can be the same."

"That's not what I meant."

"Then I highly doubt that Megaman would give up looking for Roll."

"That's not what I meant, either."

"Then I highly doubt that Megaman would choose someone else over Roll."

Chaud glanced at his Navi slowly. "And why would you say that?"

The red raider shrugged. "He shows an almost... human compassion for others, and a deep loyalty to those who he holds close, as has been proven constantly in the last year."

Chaud paused for a moment, hearing the buzzing on his intercom.A voice came through quickly, "Would you let us in?"

TheVP of BlazeQuest smirked, hearing his long-time business rival's voice. "Ah, Yai. And how may I help you today?"

Yai soundedabout to speak, when another voice cuther off. "Chaud, let usup. We need to talk to you."

The voice of his other rival, Chaud mused, was almost more welcome than Yai Ayaono's. "Fine, Lan. But make sure to wipe your feet on the carpet."

There was a definate snort. "Which part of which one?"

Chaud shrugged, though the other's couldn't see it. "Which ever you think is least expensive."

There was grumbling on the other end before it wentdead, and Chaud nodded to Protoman. "Let them in."

A rumbling coming from floors below them signalled the opening of the gate, and Chaudhooked up his PET to the building's main monitoring system. "I'm sure that Yai knows where my office is. Come on up if you wish."

Protoman seemed emotionless, staring at a window inthe PET, before turning to his Op. "Sir, maybe you should powerdown that monitor over there."

Chaud blinked and looked at the screen in question, before nodding and hitting a button that made part of the wall slide closed over the bank of monitors, each showing both statistics, and different clues to a mystery that had been bugging Chaud since the first N1 GrandPrix.

The elevator doors dinged open, admitting a rather... large group of people into the room.

'Maybe I should give whoever makes Yai's limos a call- if they can fit that many people into one car, I wonder what they could do for accessories...' Was his amused thoughts as a small smile tugged on his lips and he gestured them to different seats around the room.

Ms. Mari sat on the couch, accompanied by Higsby, Miyu, Sal, and Haruka. Yuucihiro and Yai sat on chairs all their own, while Tori and Dex chose spots on another by the back wall.

Lan remained standinging, slightly supported by Mayl. Chaud couldn't help but notice the smallest bead of perspiration trickle the other Op's face, an almost undistinguishable pain showing on his face. Mayl's support went unnoticed, though her closeness to him did not.

"Hey, Mayl! There's room on the couch over here! Come and sit!" Dex called out, watching the young red-head over his shoulder.

She shook her head, but refused to say more. Chaud belatedly noticed a strange, almost guilty on Higsby's face, and began to wonder just what the chip otaku had done. But, before he could say more, Yai's eyes drew his own, and he held his tounge, letting the young woman speak.

"Chaud, since you've become the little 'leader' of this opperation, what do we do now?"

The question was straightforward, and yet he couldn't seem to come up with any kind of answer. He paused then, thinking, before pulling his chair from behind his desk and made to sit down on it- until a beeping from the PET caused him to stop and look at the small, red device. "What is it, Protoman?"

The red raider paused for a moment, as though gauging whether or not to speak with so many others in the room, making Chaud think it was company-related, when he finally ventured an explanation: "It's an email from Tialsia."

There was a tense silence in the room as Chaud quickly opened another bank of monitors on a side of the room that everyone could see from their positions, sitting or standing. The sixteen screens had been fused together seemlessly to form either one giant monitor, or four seperate monitors, or sixteen monitors... or any combinations of sixteen squares one could make.

Regardless of the combinations he could have used, Chaud chose to use the one full monitor, making the type bg enough for all to see.

Chaud and Protoman,

I hope you got the last email? I hope that you've stopped poking your noses where they don't belong- they might get stuck there, and we wouldn't want that now, would we? Well, you wouldn't- not too sure about my own opinion...

Thank you for the slightly more comprehensible collection of information- the time it took to sort was cut in half. Now if we could just keep shrinking that time, wouldn't everything be so much better and- dare I say it to the VP of such a large company- economic?

However, I've already gotten one report today- that's what I get from stretching my legs, I guess- and I trust that you won't repeat any of this information:

1. Megaman reappeared sometime this morning (why must people be so... vague?)
2. He spent most of the time in the Hall staring idly into space and playing with a weird-looking datapacket.
3. He just went for a walk with a UFO.
4. Explosions and sightings of Undernet Navis have dramatically increased in just the last two hours- up nearly 500.

And, for anyone else who ends up reading this, MOVE YOUR BUTS! Information from Yggdrasil is severly lacking due to a number of reasons, the two top ones being that I have extremely limited access to the system, which will soon be rectified when Fæ-chan comes back- then we can have just limited access. The other reason is that Yggdrasil keeps the Chronicles- records of the past. The Hall is where the current information pretaining to the Cyber Matrix is kept- if you can't find anything there, maybe history might help, or whatever information one of Operators can dig up when they're not monitoring Gunir- which, mind you, isn't that often at all.

And, Chaud? That 'move your buts' thing means you, too.


Ja matta minna-san... and remember, the longer someone is 'missing', the more critical the situation gets. And, frankly, it's critical enough right now. Now... MOVE IT!


Silence reigned over the room, before Ms. Mari, hesitantly, asked, "Pardon me, but... who is Tialsia and Yggdrasil?"

The silence turned to sweatdrops, Yai finally ventured forth, "she's a Net Navi who seems to know everything that goes on in the Cyber Matrix. She's sorting and making sense of the random bits of information we collect."

"As well as collecting herself- which she doesn't seem to be doing." Dex interjected, glaring at the message as though daring it to say something in defense.

Yuuicchiro frowned then, eyes sweeping over the message. "Apparently Yggdrasil isn't the all-powerful group of people we thought it was."

Haruka sighed, giving her husband a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, dear. I'm sure that this will all work out."

Higsby smiled at Ms. Mari. "Don't worry! Me and Numberman will have everything back to normal soon!"

"Which is more than you did for poor Lan." Sal scolded the otaku, frowning as she looked at the two by the doors. Quickly, everyone's attention was transfered to them, and, realizing this, Lan tried to stand more straighter. However, this only seemed to make the pain worse and he slumped, Mayl hurrying to take some of his weight, a small groan escaping from his parched lips.

Miyu was over to him first, Haruka and Yuuichiro right behind the Seer. Pressing her fingers to his forehead, she pressed his head back against the wall, eyes intently watching his breathing patterns before backing away and turning to his parents. "Has Lan ever been this way before? Is there a history of illness relating to him, or any in your family?"

Both Haruka and Yuuichiro looked surprised about the question, before Haruka managed to get out, "Why?"

Sal had joined them, gently dragging Lan over to the couch where Ms. Mari was sitting, the young teacher quickly standing up to make room for them, Mayl taking her now-accustomed place by the Op's head, hand pressed against his forehead. "Because he seems to be really sick- any kind of illness, even if it hasn't surfaced in your family for a while, may be the cause of it." The flower woman explained, fishing out some specially prepared spices and herbs from the pouch around her waist.

Mayl looked up worriedly as Sal gently removed her hand from his forehead, and instead led her over to a small table, all the while the red head looking over her should worriedly at the young man on the couch. Sal tsked, and turned to Chaud. "Is there a pot, a stove or something to boil the water with around here?"

Chaud snorted, and walked through a wall that was previously though solid- a holigram to keep others out. Returning moments later with a small, portable heater and pot, the young VP quickly set them up on the table, looking at his rival as he did so. "What do you think it is, Miyu? Sal?"

The two Officals shared a look, before Sal sighed, putting Mayl warming the liquid. "We're not sure. As of right now, it could be anything- but more than likely some kind of disease that is either new, or is in his genes."

Tori nodded his head. "So that's why you were asking about that before."

Miyu nodded, sitting down beside Lan, looking at him worriedly as Haruka and Yuuichiro stood around, the rest keeping their distance.

Lan managed a small smile. "I'm... fine..."

Dex snorted. "No, you're not, so stop trying to be hero."

Lan frowned, before he let his eyes closed a bit- snapping them open when Miyu pinched him. "Ow... Miyu... what?"

She frowned as Sal quickly pulled Mayl's hand back from the now almost-boiling pot of water. "No sleeping, Hikari. Stay awake- we don't know what this is."

From their distances, Lan and Mayl were able to share a small look, before Miyu started talking again and Mayl had to turn back to the water, now almost boiling over the sides of the pot. Turning it off quickly, she poured some into a cup and handed it Sal- but the older woman held up her hands, and instead offered the small pouch of herbs to Mayl.

Looking down, Mayl examined the packet, taking it carefully in her hands and looking at Sal in surprise. "Wha-"

Sal winked. "You'd know better than me, having someone like Roll as Navi."

Mayl looked on after the flower woman as she joined Miyu, Haruka and Ms. Mari in their fretting about Lan, and pondering what it could be. Mayl's was able to catch Yuuichiro's eye, and even then for the briefest of moments- but in that small amount of time, it was obvious that he knew something, something he wasn't telling them.

Mayl frowned, turning back to the tea. She pinched out a small bit of herbs, surprised to see such a combination in the packet, before pouring a bit more out into her hand, sorting through them and picking out certain ones which were dropped into the tea. Satisfied with the result, she turned around and brought it over to the couch, Haruka smiling graciously down on the younger woman, respect and pride in her eyes.

"Thank you, Mayl. But, maybe you should give it to him."

Mayl started, almost dropping the cup, before moving closer to the couch, while Dex growled out, "She doesn't need to feed him!"

He was silenced with glares and looks from the others in the room.

While Haruka helped Lan sit up, Mayl waited patiently on her knees by his head, cup held gently in her hands. When he looked relaxed, she lifted the cup to his lips, tilting it slowly and letting the hot liquid scald his tounge and slide down his throat, waiting until he winced to pull the cup away.

Sighing contentedly, he leaned back against the couch, swinging his legs over the side for to make room for people to sit. Haruka took the seat eagerly, Yuuichiro choosing to lean against the side of the couch, Mayl remaining on the floor by Lan's head, body turned towards him, head to everyone else. Miyu and Sal took that last bit of room, while Higsby and Ms. Mari chose the wall and aplush chairrespectively.

Chaud frowned at the chip otaku, turning to Ms. Mari. "I'm not entirely sure who you are, Ms."

She grinned up at him in that evil, teacherly way. "My name is Ms. Mari, Mr. Blaze. I am Lan, Mayl, Dex and Yai's teacher at school."

Chaud found himself fighting to not sweatdrop and laugh nervously at the look on her face, and instead cocked his head towards the nerd who was leaning against his wall. "What happened between Lan and this guy?"

Ms. Mari frowned. "I'm really not sure. I was just walking along when I heard Mr. Higsby and Mayl talking, and I went over to see what was going on. When I got there, Lan was leaning against Mayl, and Higsby was busy apologizing. I offered to help them, and we walked to Yai's house. However, I'm not even sure why we're here, nor why they were going to Ms. Ayano's home in the first place."

Yai had a superior smirk on her face as Chaud turned to her. "Since I'm the one with all the best technology- who is willing to lend it to friends if they need it-" she glanced meaningfully at Chaud as she said this, "-I offered for everyone to come to my place to continue the search. This way the Ops can talk straight to each other, and not worry about e-mail or video mail."

Chaud nodded his head in approval, before he frowned. "And what prompted this sudden excursion here?"

Yai bit her lip, refusing to say anything. It was Yuuichiro who spoke up. "Because we weren't sure where else to go. You seem to be the center of information- or at least someone who's close to it- and we were at a loss as to what to do."

Chaud frowned. "Well then, this has just been a waste of time. I know nothing more than the rest of you- Tialsia has been kindly witholding information until she 'can put it together into something that resembles a sentence', quote on quote."

Lan frowned at Chaud from his spot on the couch- which was especially hard, all things considered. "So you're telling me that we know nothing?"

Chaud frowned right back at him. "Nothing more, nothing less. At least we know something."

All eyes turned to him. "What?" Was a unanimous question, and Chaud groaned, wondering how people so close to the center of this little opperation couldn't have heard.

"There's been a rumour that the Undernet is completely decimated- there's nothing what-so-ever left, except for one apparentl BIG structure."

Lan sighed. "I will bet anyone in here that that structure is the new 'secret base' of either an old enemy or a new enemy."

Tori sighed as well. "Either way an enemy."

Dex growled. "Well if they're they ones who have taken Roll, I'm gonna take 'em down!"

Mayl cocked an eye brow. "And if they're not?"

Dex glared at her, realized who it was, and instead smiled gently. "Then I'll still take 'em down! They're the enemy!"

Ms. Mari frowned. "Dex, you don't know that for sure."

Lan sweatdropped. "Yeah, come on dude, it was just a suggestion!"

Dex glared at Lan, embarassed by his sudden outburst. "I'm gonna give you a suggestion: shut up!" The larger boy picked up a pillow and lobbed it in Lan's direction, barely missing Mayl's head and the now half-filled cup of tea. It did, however, hit Lan squarely on the chest, right about where his heart would be.

His eyes widened and he gasped, sitting up suddenly and clutching his vest where his heart would be.

Mayl had the tea in Haruka's hands and was holding onto the Op's shoulders strongly, sitting down beside him and watching his face intently. Haruka wrapped her arms around Lan comfortingly, looking between Lan and Mayl, as did Yuuichiro. Dex was motionless, surprise and fear written on his face.

Panting, Lan clawed at the area around his heart, as though trying to get at it, to the organ out. All he did was have Miyu and Sal's hands clasp over his own, holding them down. He cried out in pain, sweat trickling down his face. Higsby looked on in horror, clearly convinced this was fault, while Ms. Mari looked in wonder and fear. Tori, Yai and Chaud watched frightened, wondering what had gotten into their comrad.

Mayl gripped his shoulder's tightly, digging her nails through the thick vest and thin white long-sleeved shirt, before removing one hand and placing over his heart, putting pressure on the area. Lan stopped breathing so heavily, and instead leaned into the hand and slightly onto Mayl, his expression changing from one of pain to one of slightly more relaxed pain.

Chaud frowned even more, turning on Higsby. "Alright, what did you do?"

The otaku gasped in surprised, spinning around to face the VP. "Me? Oh, I didn't do anything..."

Glares from all over the room were centered on him, and he sighed. "Alright, alright. I don't really know what this has to do with it, but-"

"Any information would help." Haruka pleaded, eyes nearly filled with tears.

Higsby gulped, looking down. "Alright. I was just walking along, minding my own business, my briefcase under one arm- ("Isn't it always?" Dex asked in hushed tones to Tori, who responded with a whap over the head and a "Quiet!") -when I heard something behind me. When I turned around, I saw a blur moving straight towards me, when we both crashed. My briefcase went into the blur- which turned out to be Lan's-chest, before dropping to the ground, as did Lan. Then Mayl came up on her scooter and was right at his side in an instant, asking him if he was okay and what happened- didn't even bother to help me pick up my chips."

At this another round of glares were sent his way, and he continued without his usual rant. "Thing is, when I finished picking up all my chips, I looked over at Lan- and he was in really bad shape. I didn't think that briefcases could hurt so much. So when we stood upI asked Mayl if there had already been a problem, and then Ms. Mari walked over to see what had happened."

All eyes now focused on Mayl, who had been trying to get Lan to relax again, shooting furitive glares at Dex occasionally. She blinked, feeling the other's staring at her, and she looked up. "What?"

Haruka gently squeezing Mayl's hand that was resting now on Lan's back, no one other than Yuuichiro, Sal and Miyu seeing the small gesture. "Please, Mayl? What has been going on these last few days?"

Mayl sighed, giving into the silent pleading that was evident in the female Hikari's voice. "I... well... since yesterday... afternoon, I guess, every once in a while-"

"Mayl..." Lan muttered, leaning more on the young girl. She stopped speaking, a peaceful look coming over her face as she watched as he fell into a slumber, now-empty tea cup held in his hands.

Smiling gently, she let him lean completely onto her, using the back and arm rest of the couch to gain some support. "Lan's been... getting weaker. Collapsing at the weirdest times, having trouble breathing, pains in his heart so strong he wants to tear it out... it originally scared me. But he gets better everytime after just a bit of rest, and goes around like nothing happened. Then if something or someone hits him anywhere near his heart or lungs he goes back to how he was just now. Then the cycle repeats itself."

Absent mindedly stroaking his hair as he slept, the tenderness she showed towards him was displayed for all to see, and it touched all the female's hearts, while the males looked on in silent wonder, silent happiness, or silent fury.

Ms. Mari sighed happily. "If only I had someone who could depend on me like that!"

Higsby looked about to say something when Dex stood up, anger in his eyes. But the anger immediately disapeared when Protoman coughed, looking at the scene from his PET. Questioningly, Chaud walked over to the red device. "What is it?"

"Megaman just came back into the Hall- and he doesn't look too happy, whatever that other Navi said to him." The raider replied, eyes and emotions hidden behind the black visor over his face.

Chaud sighed, turning back to the group in the room. "Alright, Megaman apparently isn't too- and isn't going to be too happy about what happened to Lan, either."

"No, ya think?"

Heads swivelled to the bank of monitors that still had Tialsia' email displayed- only now the email took up twelve of the sixteen screens, the other four showing images of the Hall, the BlazeQuest network, outside, and Megaman's face- which was currently contorted into a frown.

"Megaman..." Chaud began, but was cut off by the blue bomber himself.

"Was it..." He said slowly, remembering what Mayl and Lan had told him about eariler that day.

Mayl nodded, worry etched on her face as she watched the bomber's frown deepen.

"If I had been there..."

Higsby looked up. "If you had been there? No disrespect, but what could you do? You're only a navi."

Megaman looked shocked for a moment, as though getting a realtiy check, before he lowered his gaze, frown back on his face and deeper than ever. "Only a navi..."

Looking up, he turned to Chaud. "I don't suppose you could jack me out?"

Chaud nodded, reaching over to Mayl who plucked the PET from it's case and handed it over to the VP. Jacking the device in, everyone watched as the blue navi disappeared from the screen in a shower of pixels, leaving an empty blue space as the only thing remaining on that one monitor.

Glancing back at everyone, Chaud sighed. "I could probably find some place to lay Lan down- if you really need it-" Cut off by Haruka's fervent nodding, his gaze rested on Yai. Getting the message, the young heiress stood up, walking towards the elevator.

"Alright, everyone. As it seems that we've got everything we can out of Chaud, shall we head back?"

There was some grumbling, but everyone with the exception to the Hikaris and Mayl stood up and walked over to the door, all of them saying their good-byes to those remaining behind.

Once the elevator doors had shut, Chaud turned to Protoman.

"Is there-"

"There are eight empty rooms twenty floors up where Lan could lay down. How long they will still empty, however, is another story."

Chaud turned back to the small group left in the room. "Alright. There's a few rooms upstairs, or we could just lay him here, or there's my Private Office, through the holo-wall."

Opting for both privacy and least amount of movement, five minutes later found Lan sleeping on a very nicely upholstered couch in Chaud's Private Office, completed with tables scattered with papers and a small cupboard filled with food and drinks. "Don't let Lan see that cupboard, though." Chaud warned them, walking out of the room.

Mayl, impatient after sitting still for nearly half an hour in the oppressing silence, stood slowly, stretching her muscles, from her chair across from Lan, Haruka having taken the red head's normal position and Yuuichiro sitting at the other end of the couch. Turning to the cupboard, she spoted a small box and let a smile creep onto her face.

"Does anyone want tea?" Mayl asked kindly, grabbing a tea bag from the cupboard.

Haruka smiled at her gently. "That would be wonderful, Mayl."

Looking around for the heater and pot, Mayl sighed, realizing where they were. Throwing the bags of tea onto the table, she slowly walked through the 'door' into the front office through the holo-wall. Looking around, she expected to at least hear Chaud and/or Protoman voices asking her what she was doing.

However, the room was deserted, and Mayl easily spied the heater and tea pot on the small wooden table. She had gathered them in her arms in no time, shifting them around so that she didn't drop them, when her leg bumped the table and something fell to the floor.

Looking at it, she shifted the heater and pot again, so that they were both in one arm, and bent down to grab the small packet. The moment her fingers touched it, Mayl realized that it was Sal's herb packet- the flower woman must have forgotten it when she left. Then Mayl sighed, realizing that it was because she hadn't given it back to Sal that it was still there. But now, at least, she was able to get a good look at it.

It was small, made of tanned deer-hide, two inches wide by three inches long. A tanned leather strap ran through pin-sized holes in the hide, showing how the packet was held together and tied off when not in use.

Peering at it closer, Mayl slowly remembered what the strange mix of herbs inside did for Lan- both before and after Dex attacked him with the pillow.

She stared at it for a moment longer before pocketing it.

'Just in case.'


Can I just say that can be a real pain sometimes? You can be logged in for 72 hours- max- and then, when that time is up, they log you out. Now, my problem with THAT is that I had this whole chapter written, AN, Song and all, 45 minutes worth of work (I hadn't even done the editing yet) and then- poof!- I'm logged out. FOURTY FIVE MINUTES OF WORK DOWN THE DRAIN! Gah! And I have to type it all up after I upload the document, because then I can work on it at school, too.

I also originally had this cute little scene with Sal and Miyu at the end- but, I decided that their little conversation will be the beginning to next chappie, because a)I want to get this up, b) this is already double the length of my last chapter, and c) I completely forgot what I wrote.

So, no biggie.

But aren't you PROUD of me? After not being here for- well, a LONG time, I finally update! So, my new, REVISED, schedule (order of when I update stories, and possible finish):

1. Running
2. Return
3. Secrets
4. Fate
5. Anything else

But I think I'm just gonna skip 4 and 5 and get straight back to 1, as I haven't updated Running in a while, either. And I already have two other YGO thingies half-done, and the now-second-scene of the next chap. of this, so I want to do something on that story.

And I just figured out you can use ctrl and b, i or u to bold, slant (italisize is too hard to spell) or underline your words. Wowow... we are special.



Considering I was listening to it non-stop when I wrote this, Cruel Angel Thesis. Well, in all honesty, I put in my Enya: Sheppard Moons CD for a round, but other than that, it was the absolutely wonderful opening for Neon Genesis Evangelion (let me count the ways in which I LOVE that thing). But I cried... poor Shinji... funny Auska and Rei...


Bakura, now well into the next room, grinned as he heard Ryou move towards the closet door.


'Wait for it…." Bakura told himself quietly.

"…Is that SPANDEX?"

'Damn straight.'

From Chapter 1 of JewelValentine's "A Crossing of the Ways".