A low noise rippled through a small, abandoned area of the net. This one was an old virtual reality system, long since lost to the Undernet. The graphics about were choppy and block-like. Something probably made in the 1900s. This noise that could be heard if one strained their ears was like a cross between a purr and static. Slowly, a blue shape paced around a digital pool of water. The liquid form of the beast made it stand out against its background. Like a drop of water in a barren desert. Red eyes watched the water, watched its reflection copy its every move. It stood up straight as it paused, looking at itself, admiring itself. Then it rolled its shoulders, watching with interest as it discovered itself. It knew it was a monstrosity. A freak. A warped, infected version of its parent program. Yet, the way its skin shone and seemed to shimmer with constant data fluctuations mesmerized it.
Once done learning its own movements and appearance, one single thought rolled through a newborn consciousness, echoing in an otherwise empty head. A curiosity, really. What did the program he came from look like? Was it as beautiful as it?
As if in response, its skin changed, hardening from its usual slimy self. Another face, young and pale in features, replaced its own, shifting face. Black and gold adorned the armor of this new form. Another static-like purr escaped the pale lips, and a voice as terrible as nails on a chalkboard squealed unnatural first words.
- #$&!) %Sixteen !$ Years $%^ Later !%$#&*%-
"Meijin! We need a dimensional area!" A teen-aged Netto called into his PET, skating at high speeds from a giant Metool. Again.
One 'no need for formalities' later, and the surfaces all turned psychedelic colors. Netto grinned and was quickly in Cross Fusion. With six years of near-perfect peace, the study of Cross-Fusion was almost considered complete. The actual fusing was now quicker than ever, done in a single second. The synchronizing systems were close to perfected, causing next to no fatigue due to the fusion after it finished. Weapons and armor had been upgraded vastly as well, making the one giant Metool no problem for the brunette, as he easily sliced through it. Another virus appeared behind him, but was sliced down by a certain red-haired Jawaiian. Netto smiled at Dingo and turned to face the last two viruses of the group.
Groups of viruses had been appearing in the real world, but after a massive and greatly funded research effort, it was discovered that these were simply random occurrences due to residual data from Duo's Dimensional chips, rather than done on purpose by any group of criminals. The attacks were so common, many of Netto's friends had become Net Saviors just to keep the viruses under control. Now, they were becoming less and less as the data left over was used up.
One RockBuster blast and Tomahawk Swing later, and the dimensional area was taken down. The two friends caught their PETs when they rematerialized and Netto turned to Dingo.
"Thanks for getting that virus behind me." He grinned.
Dingo scoffed, "As if it could have hurt you anyway." Yet, the native Jawaiian grinned at him, "Let's go get something to eat, I'm starved."
"Yeah! Race you to MaHa's!" And Netto took off on his roller blades.
"No fair!" Dingo growled, running after him.
TomahawkMan sighed as a disgruntled Dingo plugged him into the net at Maha's a few minutes later, rolling his eyes, "I swear, they just won't ever outgrow their stomachs, huh?" He glanced over at Rockman, who'd been plugged in moments before.
Rockman laughed, "Nah, probably not. They'll probably have pudding-eating contests when they're old."
The resulting image of old versions of their operators arguing over mashed-up food made them both crack up quite a bit.
Roll, Glyde, and Iceman joined them a while later.
Everything seemed perfect. Peaceful. No one even seemed to notice when an outdated Police Navi plugged in. He waved shyly at the group and went to stand in one place all on his own. They invited him over once or twice, but he simply shook his head.
Then, Tomahawkman got curious and plugged back out into his PET.
"Hey, Dingo? Who's this guy's operator?"
"Huh? Who? There's no one here but us." Dingo blinked at Tomahawkman.
"Eh? Weird... There's an old Police Navi in here, we thought maybe a retired officer had come by..."
"Maybe he's just wandering around." Dingo shrugged, "His operator might be house-ridden or something."
"He isn't wandering..." Tomahawkman suddenly seemed concerned, "He's just standing in one place..."
Dingo rolled his eyes, "He's an old Navi, leave him be. Maybe he's here to reminisce or something." He waved his hand, "No need to worry."
Tomahawkman sighed, "I guess not." He plugged back in and passed on what Dingo had told him.
Then, of course, Roll had to make Tomahawkman's nerves worse.
"Yeah, we shouldn't worry about him. If anything, we should be keeping an eye out for the 'Copy Cat'." She giggled.
"The what?" Every pair of eyes turned to her, even the nearby navi's.
She grinned, "It's just a rumor. A few navi have been disappearing after their PETs were having issues. Some people think a virus is attacking the Navi and copying them to make others think they're the navi. Everyone's calling it the Copy Cat. I think it's just people not taking care of their PETs and losing their Navis because of it."
Rockman frowned, "Are you sure? Maybe we should really check it out..."
Roll raised an eyebrow, "Why? And feed the rumor? Come on. I heard it from that crazy Navi that lives down the street from Meiru." She shrugged, "Sorry for spooking you guys, I thought we'd get a good laugh out of it. I did."
Tomahawkman sighed, "Whatever."
"Hey, Rockman, let's head on home! It's getting late." Netto's face appeared in a screen beside Rockman.
Then Dingo appeared, "Hey, we're gonna stay later. Dekao says he needs help closing up."
Tomahawkman sighed, "Alright." He told his friends goodbye, then looked at the police Navi, "You ought to head home soon, they're closing."
The Navi nodded slowly, then spoke up, "Forgive me for having eavesdropped, but that 'Copy Cat' you mentioned earlier, you shouldn't have let it get to you." His voice was deep, gravely, almost. It held the authority of an officer, which helped Tomahawkman's nerves immensely.
"Ah... I know. It's just, with these virus attacks recently everyone's been on the look out for someone to pin the blame on, so something like that could spark something huge..."
The Navi nodded, "It is true. Rumors start wars, after all. Perhaps you could walk with me back to my Home Page? I would enjoy the company."
"Ah, let me ask my operator real quick, but sure!" He grinned and logged out real quick, "Dingo!"
The red haired NetOp looked up, "What chya need?"
"Can I escort this Navi to his home?" He tilted his head.
"Yeah, just be back pretty quick, okay?"
"Alright!" He went back and grinned at the Navi, "Let's go, then!"
The navi smiled gently and lead the way.
"So, where's your operator?" Tomahawkman's curiosity would hold no longer.
"KIA." The Navi glanced at him.
"...Oh... I'm sorry..." Tomahawkman immediately regretted asking.
"It's fine. Her husband takes good care of m#$e." The Navi coughed as his voice made a strange error-like squeal at the end, "Ah, forgive me. Old programming, you know."
"It's fine. How far off is your Home Page?"
"Not long now. Thank you for the company."
"It's nothing!" Tomahawkman chuckled, "What's your name, anyways?"
"...My name?" The Navi stopped, looking at the ground with an odd concentration to his eyes.
"Yeah. You do have one, right?" Tomahawkman chuckled nervously, suddenly a bit worried. He hoped he hadn't triggered a panic attack on the old Navi.
"Yes..." The Navi looked up at him, the gentle smile returning for a split second, then changing, a glitch like effect appearing over his mouth, making it warp into a twisted grin, filled with sharp, black fangs, "My name... is CopyCat."
((Please review! I'm losing a bit of inspiration for this one, but I'll try to keep going if you guys like it.))