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Program R.E.N. Activated/

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Kyoko stared dejectedly at her smoking computer, if the scene hadn't been so pathetic Kanae would have laughed. Kyoko Mogami had long had a… deficiency… with technology. Basically anything that used electricity and looked even slightly complicated had a habit of… not working correctly (to put it lightly). The Company had already had to replace five different desk tops in the two years she'd been working here, and said desk tops had gone through extensive repairs, manytimes before finally biting the bullet.

Kanae coughed, fighting the rising hiccup of laughter. Correction six computers, this one did not look like it was going to be revived.

As Kyoko's eyes traced the wisps of smoke drifting out of the vents she groaned, "Nooo… I just lost all my paperwork! I spent hours on that stupid report for that stupid stupid Tsuchibara deal… What am I gonna do now?!"

Kanae Kotonami felt a small stab of jealousy, even at times like this when she lost everything and started whining she still managed somehow to get her work done and turned in to the higher ups in pristine condition, like she'd had weeks and not hours to redo the damn things. She rolled her eyes, "Haven't you learned by now? Backups you idiot! You need backups! It'll save you a lot of time and trouble."

"But Miss Moko, I don't know how to do that stuff remember how long it took just to get me this far?"

Kanae winced both at the nickname she'd had since age 3 (when they first met) and the memory of introducing Kyoko to the world of technology, computers to be exact. That had not been a pretty encounter. Several computers had met their terrible and smoky end (like now) at the fingertips of Kyoko Mogami. "Well, not like it matters, your work is always exemplary anyway. Just a suggestion, you may actually sleep at night if you learned."

It was Kyoko's turn to wince, she wasn't looking forward to another sleepless night, and the documents were due tomorrow… but at the same time she couldn't risk taking the time to learn how to use backup disks, no telling what disasters could befall her with that little adventure. She shook her head, "not worth the risks," she mumbled.

Kanae fought back yet another bout of hysterics, keeping her face as neutral as possible. Kyoko sighed and glanced at her, "I know you're trying not to laugh, no matter how good you are at acting, you've never been able to hide what you're feeling from me Miss Moko." With that, Kanae gave in and started laughing, uninhibited. She already knew it was futile to hide her feelings, since she had met her, Kyoko had had a strange ability to sense others' feelings. Kanae supposed she'd be called empathic, strange as it sounds Kanae stopped doubting Kyoko's claims that she could feel what others felt when, no matter what she was doing or how schooled her face was, Kyoko could always see straight through any act.

She was most receptive to the anger 'vibes' as Kyoko called them, and boy when Kyoko was angry… Kanae mentally shivered and ripped away from that train of thought, very much sober now. Kyoko gave her a questioning look, sensing the mood swing. Kanae shrugged and said, "I'll go tell Mr. Ogata we'll need yet another computer for you. You're lucky he likes you as much as he does, I think even he would have fired you by now if he didn't."

Kyoko gave a wry smile, Mr. Ogata was soft spoken and often took a back seat to others around him, however underneath the 'pushover' façade was a will of steel, if needed. Kyoko was lucky that she was liked by the handsome executive, it was her high quality work and insightful input that kept her around. It was also her unique 'ability' which got her into some of the high profile meetings and projects her company held, after all knowing an opponent's emotions gave her employers a huge leg up. Yes indeed, once she'd proven herself to Mr. Ogata time and again she'd become an indispensable commodity… albeit a high maintenance one.

"Thanks Miss Moko, if he asks tell him I've gone home for the night. I'll have to recollect data and rewrite this damn thing for tomorrow." She stood up and walked out of her little office, giving one last sheepish glance at the dead monolith on her desk before leaving. It was an older computer anyway, Mr. Ogata stopped buying high end computers for her after the third one kicked the bucket and simply bought cheap dinosaurs that got the job done.

Out in the parking garage Kyoko turned her attention from where she was walking, to the inside of her purse searching for her keys. An idea that proved to be a bad one when she ran into someone walking into the building she had just left. The resulting collision sent her to the ground, purse and miscellaneous items flying everywhere.

Stuttering apologies and crawling on her hands and knees to reclaim her stuff, Kyoko then ended up bumping heads with the one she'd run into. Looking up she made to apologize again, only to come face to face with someone she really did not want to deal with.

Hikaru Ishibashi was grinning stupidly back at her. She could already feel his will to flirt with her oozing off his body in waves. It made her nauseous.

From the first time she'd met him, Hikaru had tried time and again to go out on a date with her, and though there was really nothing wrong with a guy taking a liking to her… it was his misfortune that he had fallen for her when he did.

Kyoko had sworn off guys not long before she met him, and she still disliked interacting with them. Ever since He had gone and done-

Kyoko shook her head briskly, best to twist away from that train of thought before she got angry… no telling what damage she could do in a garage filled with high end cars.

"Mr. Ishibashi, what a coincidence! Forgive me for running into you I couldn't find my keys!"

Hikaru's smile widened, he held up the elusive aforementioned keys, dangling from a tinkerbell keychain. "You talking about these?"

Kyoko's eyes widened, and a grateful smile graced her face, making her goldish brown eyes sparkle, "Tink!" She cried out, and snatched the keys from Hikaru's hand and scrambled to her feet. "Thank you very much Mr. Ishibashi but I really must be going, I lost my work again today and now I must start again from scratch."

Hikaru's face grew somber, he knew her stint with computers, "I guess that means you can't hang out tonight huh?"

Well, give the guy points for persistence. Kyoko thought with mild irritation. "Sorry but no Mr. Ishibashi." She turned to race off, and Hikaru's voice called out behind her:

"Next time then! And I told you, call me Hikaru!" Kyoko only waved in response not slowing down. Hikaru shook his head sadly, that chick was a tough nut to crack, he'd have to try harder it seems… not that he hadn't already been trying 'harder' over the past three years.

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Kyoko was listening to the radio as she drove home, a very dangerous thing she knew but she loved music to much to completely give it up, regardless of consequence. She bobbed her head to the beat, humming along to the lyrics. Her mood soaring with the song.

No, she could never give up music, regardless of the big stain it had in its industry.

Abruptly the song cut off, interrupted by a disembodied voice declaring breaking news. "This is breaking news, apparently Slicer has struck yet again." Immediately Kyoko focused on what the news announcer had to say. "Armadillo Industries just announced that last night at midnight the Slicer managed to hack into the mainframe and steal a prototype security program they had been working on in total secrecy. This top of the line security program was one of a kind, and apparently Armadillo must now start from scratch because the Slicer managed to inject their mainframe with a virus that grows the more it devours. According to Executive William Devuer, nothing survived. Details on what the security program is capable of, however, is still under heavy wrap. We fear that with this advanced piece of technology under the Slicer's control, the task of catching the hacker has just gotten much harder." And with that somber end, the music came back.

Kyoko snickered, what a bunch of morons! They didn't stand a chance.

She parked in front of her condo, still suffering from the occasional bout of giggles as she turned off the BMW and got out, approaching her door. Pulling out her keys she unlocked the heavy wooden door and stepped inside, immediately she was run to the ground by Corn, her immense golden retriever.

After receiving her customary slobbery bath, and shaking with genuine laughter Kyoko managed to push the big boy off and roll to her feet. Running a hand through his silk spun golden fur Kyoko walked into her living room. It was simple really, a stairwell leading to the bedrooms and bathroom was on her right, a kitchen with a counter and cabinets parting it from the living on her left. The walls here a light blue, the carpet a slightly darker shade of blue and the couch and lazy boy a shade of grey. The wall directly across from her had sliding doors that led to a small backyard, she opened those doors to let Corn out and then turned to the wall to her right, a small smug smile on her face. Hanging from said wall was a 72 in. DLP flat screen TV. She was very proud of it, and on the stand under it (along with assorted DVDs and Cds) was a black modem with a red alien head on its front, the ALX X58. Now that was her baby, the latest and greatest technology had to offer… albeit with some extra tweaking from Kyoko to make it even better. Kyoko turned that all powerful modem on, and then turned on the TV she'd rigged it up to.

Collapsing into her Lazy Boy, she withdrew her keyboard with the mouse touchpad attached. She probably could have gone with something that looked more high tech (like everything else) but she had to admit to herself she loved the sound and feel of the old fashion keys clicking beneath her fingers.

An evil smirk crossed her face, the identity of the Slicer would forever remain unknown. After all, who could ever look at Poor Technology Deficient Kyoko as a potential suspect? She was quite comfortable in her security. Her smile (if possible) became even more mischievous, especially now that she had that new security program by Armadillo. Apparently it was a learning program. The more it encountered, the better it worked, the more efficient it became. She had only just got the thing and already it was taking a quick tie for first with her modem, that's how good the damn thing was, and security was of the utmost importance to a hacker. Because she loved it so much she had dubbed the program Prince.

There was a loud beep from her speakers and she looked up at the screen. A black window had opened up, on it was a simple one word message.

Ready?

Like a bolt of electricity, adrenaline washed through her body. She loved her less-than-legal job, the excitement, the thrill… and her very dependable Source. Nothing got past her mysterious partner, and tonight they had something big. Very big.

The theft job for Prince last night had been nothing more than preparation for the job she was going to do now. To hack the mainframe she was targeted she needed the best of the best protection she could get, and Prince was it. Her Source didn't want to give her details on what exactly she was taking, he (or she) said it was best left as a surprise.

But it was no doubt going to be big, After all LME was an elite company dealing with technologies decades ahead of where the world stood now.

Kyoko rubbed her hands together and typed her response into the window.

Ready!

Alright Slicer, came the immediate reply (neither knew the other's identity, just a cautionary measure), activate all your security programs and false sigs. Your gonna need to pull out all the stops. Even someone as good as you will be hard pressed to make it out with this job. But trust me, this is well worth it.

Kyoko smiled again, Already done. I've been looking for a challenge, wanna tell me what I'm stealing?

A short pause then: You won't believe me until you see for yourself. Let's go.

And with that Kyoko started the long process of hacking the LME mainframe. There were quite a few nasty surprises, but Prince took out all opposition admirably. She had to admit, this was the most dangerous thing she'd ever done. But finally…

I'm in, tell me what to take.

Wait for it this isn't going to be easy. What you need to take is huge, and very complicated. Not to mention delicate, find the most heavily protected file and wait for my signal. You'll need my distraction for this one.

Kyoko did as told, searching until she came across something that made her eyes nearly pop out her head.

Oh it was very, very big. And getting into it would be like trying to get into Fort Knox, and every soldier was armed with a bazooka.

That was nothing compared to the size of the thing being protected though. It was huge, a network of complicated files and subroutines… just glancing at its code, the makeup of the thing she was after… well, it was going to take a lot of memory. Yikes.

GO! The bright red message flashed across her screen, and Kyoko didn't hesitate. Most of the security around Fort Knox leapt after another perceived intruder, that would be her Source.

Prince took care of the remaining defenses, and just like that Kyoko had her virtual hands wrapped around hernewest prize, she immediately started the process of downloading the thing from LME's mainframe onto her computer, and uploading a virus that would destroy any remaining blueprints or clues as to who had been there, and where the complicated program went.

Then something unexpected happened, something or someone found her and tried hacking her. Kyoko bit back every swear word she knew, trying to fend off the attacker while still trying to get the program onto her managed to fend the interloper off for several seconds, but whoever found her was very skilled, and very good at what they did. They had almost gotten past her defenses and discovered who she was when swearing she pulled the cord to her internet connection.

It took her a moment to realize that, even with the connection cut, something was still loading on her computer. She unleashed another string of curses, wondering if the bastard had managed to hack her after all and leave a virus. She watched, completely helpless at this point.

Install Process Initiated…

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Installing Physical Management Coding to your system… Complete.

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Installing Subconscious Algorithms to your system… Complete

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Installing Main Consciousness Matrix to your system… Complete.

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Installing Main Personality Matrix to your system… Complete.

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Main Installation Complete

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Project R.E.N. Initiating…

Activation Complete.

Kyoko stared in horror as her entire screen went blank following the extensive download, it showed nothing but white. Then slowly, an image began to form, many colored pixels started melding together forming black loafers, followed by white pants…

… Wait, what?!

Kyoko's eyes grew wider and wider as she followed the pixels' progress, feet… legs…long legs, she couldn't help but think, then a torso clad in white business suit and blue tie… arms… neck…

Kyoko's heart froze as the pixels finally finished forming the figures face. Everything seemed to freeze as she looked over the digital being, he (for it was certainly male) wore a very business like white suit with a gray shirt and dark blue tie. Blonde hair fell to his shoulders and the left side of his face. His eyes were closed.

Slowly, Kyoko's own systems seemed to reboot. Taking a deep breath, and feeling her heart restart, she let out a long sigh. Relief flooded her as she collapsed back into the chair. No virus, she had gotten out in time and apparently gotten the thing she was after but…

"What exactly are you supposed to be?" She asked, she wasn't' expecting an answer… She got one anyway.

Slowly his eyes opened, and Kyoko's heart stopped for the third time that day. Bright blue eyes stared out at her from the screen, seeming to see straight through her. He opened his mouth and suddenly a deep heavenly voice came through her speakers

"Robotically Engineered Neuro- Intelligence. You may call me Ren."

Kyoko fought the urge to faint, choking on the air in her lungs and fighting to clear the shocked fog from her brain.

No way…

A goddamn AI?!

/To Be Continued…